Mr. Chair, if I could just speak to this, first of all, specifically, in the context of this committee, we had the opportunity, an opportunity that members of this House, of course, in the chamber, did not have. I think we have the responsibility to relay what we received from them.
We heard from activists within the Yazidi community. It was some of the most moving testimony I have ever heard, talking about the existential threat that their people face. They were very clear in the language that they used. They were very clear not only in using the word “genocide” but in emphasizing the importance of the word “genocide”. For us to say that there is strong evidence...I think one member of this committee used the term that the actions are clearly “genocidal”, but stopped short of calling them genocide.
Maybe some people who aren't from the region or intimately connected with what's happening in the region might see these differences between “genocide” and “genocidal”, or there isn't strong evidence versus there is, as not being that consequential. However, it was clear from what we heard from the representatives who were here specifically from that community to speak on behalf of that community that these words are important to them. It's pretty clear why. It's because genocide is that kind of focusing word that cuts through, that is very clear, and that crystalizes our obligations. Anything we do that detracts or derogates from that, whether it's adding “al” or qualifying it with a “there might be” robs that concept of the punch that we would really expect it to pack.
I think of my own background. My grandmother was a Holocaust survivor. If anyone were to derogate from the clear emphasis that what happened to members of her family was a genocide, all of us would quite justly find that offensive and wrong. The response from the Yazidi community, as we heard represented here at this committee, was very similar.
There's discussion here of evidence, yes, but at some point evidence demands a verdict. I read at the time, and it's important to read for members again, what the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as:
...any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such :
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
In this definition, the definition is clear that it's not required that all of these conditions be met to define something as a genocide, but only one of these conditions is required to qualify it as such. Yet we know from following the news, from testimony we've heard here, and from debates we've had in the chamber that ISIS is doing all five of these things.
It seems that it's only here that this is even disputed. ISIS, pardon me, Daesh—I prefer the term Daesh—has been clear about what they're doing. They don't seek to hide it.
I'm paraphrasing, but John Kerry said something to the effect that they are not just genocidal in their actions, they are committing genocide in their actions, but they're also by ideology, by confession, genocidal.
They talk about this. They don't hide it. They talk about it. They advertise it. They post images, of course, and videos all over the Internet. There is no denying it.
It's strange to me that we're again here presented with a proposal that does not seek to confront the reality of what is happening. It instead tries to introduce these other kinds of words that maybe are meant to sort of imply a similar kind of thing, but in reality they don't use the crystallizing clarity that is associated with using the actual word “genocide”.
That's clearly a problem. It's clearly a problem for the witnesses we heard. It's clearly a problem for the community.
It's not clear to me why we as a Parliament and we as a committee would not go the distance that others have gone. The point has been made before that if you look at other parliaments around the world, such as the European Parliament, the American Congress, the American administration, and the British Parliament, in all cases, unanimously, or nearly unanimously.... I lived in the U.K. for a while. Their Parliament is very diverse, with a range of different kinds of parties, yet they all had no problem getting behind the qualification of this as genocide.
Daesh doesn't deny that it is involved in genocide, so it's strange that the Canadian Parliament and members of this committee, who are proposing this motion, do not seem prepared to, in fact, go the distance that many, if not all, of our partner countries have gone.
The best we have here in response was the minister, in question period the other day, saying that the Swedish Parliament rejected a similar motion. That's too bad, but identifying one country when you had—