The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I am proud to rise in the House today to endorse a motion that supports the government's decision to broaden, improve, and redefine Canada's contribution to the effort to combat ISIL. This decision will help better leverage Canadian expertise and complement the work of our coalition partners to ensure maximum effect.
I am also proud of and grateful to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the diplomatic corps for doing their part in the fight against terrorism. I also want to thank the Canadian humanitarian workers for their efforts to provide much-needed help to the people affected by the conflict. I want to reiterate my support for our country's continued commitment to our coalition allies in the fight against the Islamic State.
This decision will refocus our military contribution by expanding the advise and assist mission of the Canadian Armed Forces in Iraq. It will significantly increase intelligence capabilities in Iraq and theatre-wide, and see the deployment of CAF medical personnel. It will enhance capacity-building efforts with our defence partners in Jordan and Lebanon to advance regional stability. As well, it would see the withdrawal of our CF-18s while we maintain air force surveillance and refuelling capability.
This decision will help to improve the living conditions of those affected by the conflict, and help to build the foundations for long-term regional stability, including in Lebanon and Jordan. It will lead to significant investments in humanitarian assistance, and an enhanced role for experienced humanitarian partners working to support the basic needs of conflict-affected populations, including children and victims of sexual and gender-based violence.
This would allow us to engage more effectively with political leaders throughout the region. It would help us increase Canada's contribution to international efforts aimed at finding political solutions to the crises affecting the region and would reinforce our diplomatic presence to facilitate the delivery of enhanced programming. This decision would see us increase CAF deployments, strengthen dialogue with local and international partners on the ground, and generally give Canada a stronger voice in the region.
As well, this decision will see us complete our goal of welcoming tens of thousands of Syrian refugees to Canada.
Last month, constituents throughout Fredericton, New Maryland, Oromocto, and the Grand Lake region were proud to welcome home troops leading Operation Provision, an important part of this whole-of-government approach to combatting ISIL. On January 12, in the wee hours of the morning, 58 soldiers returned to 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown, after working in Beirut and Amman to process Syrian refugees destined to Canada. These military personnel spent months supporting staff from the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, aiding with security patrols, data entry, and medical screenings.
I am proud of these soldiers' contribution to this operation. When they returned in January, I was also happy to see them reunited with their loved ones and colleagues. We all owe these women and men our gratitude for their service and praise for their work.
We cannot understate the tremendous effect that this nationwide community resettlement effort has had on the over 21,000 Syrian refugees who have come to us as vulnerable global citizens.
As has been recognized numerous times by the , my home province of New Brunswick, and the riding I have the honour to represent, Fredericton, have punched well above their weight in this resettlement effort. New Brunswick has now welcomed nearly 1,000 new residents, and I am proud to say that Fredericton now boasts of 400 new community members.
The leadership and support of our military, our community resettlement agencies, and the outpouring of generosity and support from everyday citizens in Fredericton and clear across this country has been nothing short of inspiring, outstanding, and heartwarming. All of these community leaders deserve our gratitude for their tireless efforts.
There is no doubt that, as part of this government decision, military efforts will continue to play an important role in setting the conditions necessary to deal with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
In the town of Oromocto, 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown, Canada's largest military training base and home to some 6,000 military and civilian personnel, will surely play a leading role in the mission to defeat ISIS, deliver increased stability to the region, and develop capacity for local good governance, peace, and security. Consisting of two large formations and numerous larger units, the Combat Training Centre at Base Gagetown is organized around five distinct training schools: armour, artillery, infantry, tactics, and military engineering.
As Canada triples the size of its train, assist, and advise mission to help Iraqi security forces plan and conduct military operations against ISIL, the expertise and sophistication delivered from our women and men in uniform, many of whom will have passed through Base Gagetown, will prove essential and vital to efforts.
These CAF members will provide high-demand expertise in the areas of operational planning, targeting and intelligence. CAF medical personnel will provide training to Iraqi security forces in the conduct of casualty management in a battlefield context. Our personnel will examine ways to enhance in-theatre tactical transport.
Another key objective of this government's whole-of-government strategy is to promote security and stability. Canada's efforts will help prevent the spread of violent extremism by enhanced capacity-building efforts with security forces in Jordan and Lebanon.
Other Government of Canada security initiatives include $145 million over the next three years for the fight against terrorism and for stabilization and security programs.
Canada will also continue efforts to support capacity-building and training of security forces of law enforcement organizations, stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, and prevent ISIL from accessing funds.
Canada will work with experienced partners to deliver $840 million in humanitarian assistance over the next three years to support the basic needs of those hardest hit by the conflict, including children and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. Canada will also deliver $270 million over the next three years to build local capacity to provide basic social services, enhanced infrastructure, and help with accountable governance.
Canada's new approach also gives priority to enhancing Canada's diplomatic role.
Canada's new policy to address the ongoing crisis in Iraq and Syria and the impact it is having on surrounding regions will make a meaningful contribution to the global coalition's fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. It will help to strengthen the ability of regional governments and local authorities to defend themselves, and allow them to rebuild over the long term.
It is a whole-of-government approach that allows several federal departments to work closely together to enhance security and stability, provide vital humanitarian assistance, and help partners deliver social services, rebuild infrastructure, and help with good governance. It is a whole-of-government approach that requires the ongoing leadership of the hard-working citizens of the riding of Fredericton, including men and women in uniform who pass through Base Gagetown.
It is a whole-of-government approach that I am proud to support.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this important debate on Canada's effort to defeat ISIL. There has been a considerable amount of debate on this matter, although there is one aspect of the motion that needs full exploration and that is really the crux of the motion.
Before going into the details of our refocused mission, I would like to read the preamble, which says:
That the House support the government’s decision to broaden, improve, and redefine our contribution to the effort to combat ISIL by better leveraging Canadian expertise while complementing the work of our coalition partners to ensure maximum effect...
That we better leverage our expertise is the crux.
We have heard from the and other hon. members, but we need to look at that the last part of that sentence, and that is complementing the work, which is very important because it maximizes our strength. It explains why the government is refocusing the mission. It explains why we are making the contribution we are making, and why the fine work done by our CF-18 pilots is no longer the most pressing need.
As part of a very broad coalition, we each bring our strengths and contributions to the table. We have allies and partners we can trust by our side.
Co-operation and collaboration have long been part of the Canadian way. We should recall the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, the Balkans, the liberation of Kuwait and the mission in Afghanistan. In all these cases, Canadians fought side by side with partners and allies, and we were part of a wider strategy. It is our responsibility to contribute into that large strategy if we wanted to defeat ISIL.
In the case of air power, our CF-18s have done an outstanding job. As the Chief of the Defence Staff said last week, when the CF-18s were initially deployed, it was in order to stop the rapid advancement by an aggressive enemy. If we think back to those times, ISIL was quickly claiming territory. Its members were seizing equipment that had been abandoned. They were committing atrocities on civilian populations, and were threatening Baghdad itself.
Thanks to that initial deployment of air power, the advance of ISIL was checked. The United States central command, which has overall responsibility for coordinating the coalition's efforts, has stated that the areas under ISIL control are shrinking. Thanks to the coalition's efforts, the complete effort of air strikes, we have reduced them from 30,000 to 19,000 and we continue to do battle with them.
Yes, there will be a need for air power in the short term, and those needs are being met by the coalition as a whole. The coalition has conducted more than 10,000 air strikes, most of them by newer fighters, but in addition to Canada, many of our close allies have also been participating in the air campaign. They include almost a dozen countries, including Australia, France and the United Kingdom, and beyond the air strikes, more than 65,000 sorties have been flown by the coalition's assets as a whole.
As I said earlier, the government acknowledges that there is a continued need for air power in the fight against ISIL, but that need is covered. We should get it straight. There is strength within which the coalition brings its whole community together. What remains truly needed to defeat ISIL is a trained, well-equipped, motivated, local force. This is an area where Canada as a whole has a great ability to provide that need.
That is why, when Canada changed its mission, the Pentagon spokesman, Peter Cook, said the following, “The Canadian announcement is the kind of response the secretary's been looking for from coalition members as the United States and our coalition partners push to accelerate the campaign against [ISIS]...”. He was speaking of the U.S. defense secretary, Mr. Ashton Carter, who met with the last week in Brussels, where Canada was held up as an example of what other countries should be doing in the fight against ISIL.
He wants other countries to follow our example, because it is the right way to do it, such as: adjust to the evolving conflict; bring our strengths to the table and put forward what is truly needed; do a gap analysis and determine what the coalition requires; and, above all, work with our allies to ensure the coalition mission is a success.
As a Canadian, I am proud of the work of our men and women in uniform and what they have done to date, including the pilots and support crews who fought to stem the advance of ISIL and pushed it even further back. They have done good work and they deserve the thanks and appreciation of all Canadians. However, the situation has evolved, the mission has changed, and the needs of the coalition are different than they were a year ago. This newly focused mission will bring our strengths to the table and allow us to make a meaningful contribution to this global effort.
As we move forward, Canada will continue to be a major contributor to the coalition efforts in Iraq and Syria. By ending air strikes in Iraq and Syria, the Canadian Armed Forces will increase its presence on the ground and increase the number of trainers and advisers to train and support the local ground forces to deal with the security threat and, ultimately, lead to sustained stability in the region.
I will end with a quote from Colonel Steve Warren, who was the Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman. He said:
We are not going to bomb our way out of this problem, right? It's never going to happen. So we've got enough bombers — you know, we always could use more but what we have has worked — but we can't lose sight of the fact that we have to train this Iraqi security force. This Iraqi army needs to be trained, it's one of our primary lines of effort and as we see nations like the Canadians agree to triple their presence, we find that extraordinarily helpful.
I am thankful our friends and allies who have our backs, just as we have theirs.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from .
Yesterday, like every Thursday, there was a peace vigil in downtown Regina. Activists distributed literature warning against endless war in Iraq and Syria. Some of those activists, like Florence Stratton, are adamantly non-partisan. Others, like Paul Gingrich and Stephen Moore, worked hard on my election campaign and I would like to thank them for their support.
Now whether we agree with a particular political party or not, the peace movement in Regina and around the world has been warning against misguided western intervention in the Middle East for years. I believe that the House should listen.
Some of the new MPs that occupy these fold-down seats in the outer reaches of the House were born at around the time that the Soviets started fighting in Afghanistan. What did the west do in response? We started funding and arming the mujahedeen, which led to the Taliban taking over Afghanistan, which really enabled the September 11 terrorist attack and ultimately entangled us in a prolonged war in Afghanistan with decidedly mixed results.
Also in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq on the false pretext of there being weapons of mass destruction there. Of course, the Conservatives were clamouring for Canada to participate in this invasion. Although Prime Minister Chrétien ultimately decided to keep Canada out, it is worth remembering that Paul Martin and many other Liberals were also agitating for Canada to engage in that invasion. I am very proud of the fact that it was only Jack Layton and the NDP that provided a consistent and credible voice against that misguided war.
After years of death and destruction, what has been accomplished? Western countries validated the jihadist narrative that we are crusaders who want to invade Muslim countries. We created a power vacuum in Iraq which was filled by ISIS. We sent large quantities of arms to Iraq, many of which fell into the hands of ISIS. We laid off the former officers of Saddam Hussein's army, many of whom are now leading the ISIS army.
In Syria we see a somewhat similar pattern more recently. Western countries and allied Gulf monarchies decided to fund and arm rebels against President Assad, but most of the rebel groups in Syria are jihadist organizations that are not much different from ISIS. Unsurprisingly, many of the weapons and many of the funds sent to the Syrian opposition ended up in the hands of ISIS.
We are now left with a situation where ISIS controls large parts of both Iraq and Syria. And what solutions have been proposed in the House? We have heard calls for more bombing. We have also heard calls for more arms to the Kurds. What could possibly go wrong?
At least the Conservatives have been consistent in constantly calling for bombing of the Middle East. It seems that they hope that democratic governments will magically rise like a phoenix out of the embers of that bombing. However, the Liberals campaigned against bombing. The Liberals campaigned against Canada playing a combat role, but being Liberals, they cannot just make a progressive promise and then follow through on it. They have to play both sides of the issue. I think it is in their DNA to campaign from the left and then govern from the right.
Today, we are looking a motion to keep their election promise to end bombing, but then to send in ground troops. We will not often hear the government describe it that way, but I was interested to hear the say almost exactly that just now in question period.
The Liberals cannot say they are ending Canada's military mission. They will not admit they are expanding Canada's military mission. Instead, they say they are “refocusing” Canada's military mission. It is a verb that we have heard from the and from the previous speaker, the hon. member for . However, it is an odd choice of verb, because the motion has absolutely no focus. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that the motion is the opposite of focused. We have no clear objective, no way to measure success and, of course, no exit strategy.
What should be done to counter ISIS? First, Canada should be using diplomacy to try to negotiate a peaceful settlement. That would be very difficult to do if we are directly engaged in the fighting.
Second, Canada should be stopping the flow of arms to the Middle East. One way of doing that would be to sign the UN Arms Trade Treaty. I am concerned that the government's plan to arm the Kurds carries great risk of escalation. I am also concerned that arms that we may sell to Saudi Arabia will likely end up in the wrong hands.
Third, Canada needs to stop the flow of foreign fighters into the Middle East. That means real engagement with our Muslim community and a strong de-radicalization program.
Those are some concrete steps that we could take to counter ISIS.
I do not have a perfect or complete solution to the problems of the Middle East, but I do believe we need to stop making those problems worse. Therefore, I ask the House to vote against the Conservative amendment, to vote against the Liberal motion, and to vote for peace.
Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege to stand here to speak to this issue today. It is also a great privilege to be in the House in general.
As this is my first speech, I hope I will be allowed to thank my constituents in Burnaby South who elected me for the second time. It was a tough-fought campaign, but I am happy to be here to serve my constituents.
Burnaby stands at the centre of what I do in the House and it has an important place in this debate. Over 100 languages are spoken in Burnaby. It is probably one of the most diverse places in the entire world, in Canada definitely. I have meetings every week with people who have come from four corners of the globe. There is a huge refugee population in Burnaby. This motion specifically talks about refugees and that is an important component of what we are doing here in this Parliament. We are making sure that refugees are properly taken care of.
We have to be careful to represent the views of Canadians, and this debate is an important part of that. Most Canadians, and most of my constituents, would say that peace is a central component of our foreign policy, that peace should be the main driver of our foreign policy. That is why this debate is so important to us here today.
We know what the Conservatives think about our place in the world because we had 10 years of their government. This debate is really about defining what the new government will do for Canada, what will be our face to the world. The decisions that we make with respect to this mission will tell the world what Canada's new position will be and how the world should think of us. We in the NDP hope that the new government will be one of the main drivers of peace in the world and will get us back to our role.
The has said that Canada is back, but Canada is not back yet. We are not back to the point of previous Liberals like Nobel Peace Prize winner Lester Pearson, who was known for bringing peace to the world. We are not there yet. We are not at the point where the previous government was, but we are not back to where we should be and that is a driver of peace in the world.
The parliamentary secretary put forward an interesting invitation for us. He asked us to reconsider this motion. I have been looking over the Conservative amendment and the Liberal motion and they both have merit worth considering. The government's motion calls on the House to expand our mission in Iraq and have more boots on the ground. The second component of the motion calls for the withdrawal of the CF-18s and the third calls for more investment in humanitarian assistance. From my reading of the Conservative amendment it asks to reverse the decision to withdraw the CF-18s and then to limit humanitarian relief.
That is really what we are debating here. We are debating whether we should amend the Liberal proposal with the Conservative amendment. I have looked at this and I think we can safely reject the Conservative amendment to the motion. We did not think the jets should have been there in the first place and we definitely do not want them to go back.
It is disappointing that the minister did not wait for a vote to make that decision. That was raised here earlier in question period. We were promised a debate and a vote on this issue but the decision seems to have already been made. As somebody who tries to defend the institutions of Parliament, I think that does not seem to be the way we are supposed to work here. The minister should have carefully considered both sides of the situation, waited for the vote in the House, and then made the decision. Perhaps he is not used to how this place is supposed to work and that is why he made this early mistake.
With respect to the planks of the main motion, expanding the mission to put more boots on the ground is really the core of what we have been discussing here and something I cannot seem to get a straight answer on. We hear examples from the other side of the House about how we have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with people in other wars, but that is combat, that is us shooting at other people and people shooting at us. That is about killing other people and being killed. That is a combat mission. It is unclear as to how the government views this mission. We hear about training people and marking targets for other bombing runs and those kind of things. That sounds like forays into enemy territory where our soldiers would be at risk.
Of course if they are fired at, they will fire back. To me that is combat, otherwise there would be no shooting at people and no getting shot at. It is very unclear and the government needs to clarify. As the debate continues on for the rest of the day, I hope we will get that clarification as to whether this is a combat mission or not. That would be crucial to us deciding whether or not to change our minds and perhaps consider a different approach to this motion.
I believe that withdrawing the CF-18s is a good idea. They should not have been there in the first place.
Increasing humanitarian assistance is a key proposal. I hope that if the Liberals decided to entirely withdraw the troops from the region that they would always consider sending humanitarian assistance because the way that peace moves forward is by wealthy nations like ours investing in and helping people in troubled areas.
On balance, I have not heard anything here that would convince me that this is a good thing to do for either the Conservative motion or the Liberals' main motion.
We are talking a lot about Iraq. I think the Liberals have a right to be proud about Mr. Chrétien's decision back in the 1990s to not follow the U.S. and the U.K. into Iraq in a fighting capacity. However, right after that, Canadians put a huge amount of effort, money, and troops into Afghanistan. A lot of us saw that as a bait and switch. We do not go into Iraq and the Liberals get all the kudos for not doing so, and rightly reinforcing the idea of Canada as a peaceful nation, but then going to Afghanistan almost covertly and almost tricking Canadians into thinking that these two things were somehow not connected. I feel that this might be what is happening here as well, that they will withdraw a few jets but then greatly increase the number of troops and send them to Iraq. I do not feel like we are getting the whole story.
I asked a question earlier today of the parliamentary secretary about casualty counts. It is uncomfortable to talk about people dying but we need to have an estimate. The said that there was an increased risk. An increased risk to whom and by how much? What is the risk that I as a parliamentarian, representing the people of Burnaby South, have to consider? When I stand up to vote yes or no to this motion I have to answer to my constituents. If I said that I changed my mind and I voted for this motion, they would ask if I had all of the information I needed, to which I would have to say no. I do not have any. I do not know what the exit strategy is here. I do not know the constraints of this operation. I do not know whether we will have a lot of casualties or none. I do not know how much this would cost. I know that some of those things have to remain secret. However, I think the Liberals could divulge more information about this, and they are not doing that.
The last thing that is not in this motion is increased aid for soldiers who are returning and for veterans. My wife teaches at Douglas College, which is a good educational institution. A lot of soldiers who return there do so to get more education and go to her classes. They have been traumatized by what they have seen in these regions and suffer from PTSD yet there is very little support for these veterans. What I would like to see in the motions and the government actions going forward is a firm commitment for more resources for returning soldiers. If we in the NDP cannot stop the Liberals from what we think is a mistake in action, at least we can call for more assistance when these soldiers return to Canada.
Therefore, I will be opposing this motion and, unless I hear something very different from the other side of the House, I will be opposing the Conservative amendment.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I am pleased to take part in this important decision regarding Canada's refocused approach to the situation in Iraq and Syria.
We must always keep in mind our ultimate goal: peace and stability in the region and the eradication of ISIL. As we debate our current and future involvement, we must consider how this conflict is evolving, the critical follow-on phases of the mission, all possible contributions the Canadian Armed Forces can make, and which roles and capability the coalition needs the most.
In past missions, following the initial military engagements, control of regions had fallen to extremists in some parts of the world. Part of the reason for this is because some may have underestimated the importance of those follow-on phases. We do not want to make the same mistake again. By taking a leadership role as we transition to the next phase, we will secure and safeguard all the gains made by our CF-18s and the other forces in the air campaign, and all the work that has already been done.
It is the overwhelming consensus of the coalition that a well-trained and properly equipped local security force is of critical importance as we transition to this critical next phase.
We will stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies on the ground by providing them with the appropriate training and tools to set the conditions for their success. While our support is necessary to set these conditions today, we aim to ultimately enable our local partners in the region to maintain this stability themselves.
This is why just last week, in consultation with our allies and consistent with the evolving needs of the mission, we made the commitment to tripling our training, advise, and assist capacity in Northern Iraq.
The Canadian Armed Forces has a strong record in training local forces.
While no two missions are the same, there are lessons to be drawn from past experiences.
From May 2011 to March 2014, Canadian Armed Forces members were deployed on Operation Attention, a training mission based out of Kabul, Afghanistan. They did incredible and invaluable work, establishing basic individual recruit training institutions and helping to train more than 160 battalion-sized units. Canadian Armed Forces members also provided specialized training in fields such as combat first aid, logistic signals, and target designation.
However, the mission provided so much more. The advice and assistance we provided helped Afghan forces become self-sufficient, so that they are now protecting their own national sovereignty.
We are also seeing positive results from our ongoing training efforts in Ukraine, through Operation Unifier, in which a contingent of 200 Canadian Armed Forces members is providing military training and capacity-building to Ukraine's personnel. Working closely with our allies, we are supporting the country with its efforts to maintain sovereignty, security, and stability in the region. The Royal Canadian Engineers are training Ukrainian forces in the skills they need to prevent the devastation from explosive threats, including unexploded ordinances and mines.
Due to the nature of the recent Ukrainian armed forces' operations, military personnel are required to operate in urban environments, a skill that the Canadian Armed Forces mastered during our tours in Afghanistan. We are also teaching them how to efficiently conduct searches for weapons, ammunition, and parts used to build improvised explosive devices that may be deliberately hidden or disguised. These practical and tactical skills will dramatically increase the effectiveness of the Ukrainian armed forces.
Through these missions, such as Op Attention and Op Unifier, the Canadian Armed Forces is helping nations set the conditions for long-term peace, stability, and prosperity in troubled regions all over the world, and we are viewed as experts in just this kind of mission.
With the help of a training program designed by the Canadian Armed Forces members, and in conjunction with the United Kingdom and the United States, Ukrainian soldiers are learning advanced military skills.
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces have been training, advising, and assisting Iraqi security forces since September 2014. The visited the region in December to spend time with our troops, assess the situation on the ground, and meet with coalition partners.
This trip provided the minister with valuable insight into hardships faced by those living in the region, the challenges our Canadian Armed Forces members are facing, and what precisely is required to achieve our goal: the eradication of ISIL and stability in the region.
The work our Canadian Armed Forces members are doing is absolutely essential. Without this work, the chances of long-term success in the region would be greatly diminished. We are extremely proud of their efforts and stand behind them 100%. First, they are aiding local security forces in operational planning. This has led to more precise and successful operations. Second, they are working with commanders to determine, design, and implement the skills they need to defeat ISIL on the ground. They are assisting local security forces by implementing a training regime to hone these fighting skills. Then our mentors will be able to create development programs to build on the skills that local forces have already acquired. The Canadian Armed Forces are also providing advice and assistance to local security forces on how to apply these valuable lessons on the battlefield.
We are also teaching Iraqi security forces in basic shooting and marksmanship skills, platoon, and indirect weapons support skills. This enables them to fire more accurately and more effectively and to engage targets farther than before. It also reduces the risk of casualties and collateral damage.
The men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces currently deployed have also assisted by providing combat first aid training. Another focus of our training mission is providing tactical mobility by teaching the Iraqi security forces how to detect and avoid IEDs. We learned a lot from our experience in Afghanistan through our counter improvised explosive device task force, which focuses on disarming these explosive devices and dismantling the network responsible for financing, creating, and planting the explosives. I am happy to let my colleagues know that according to Canadian Armed Forces' reports, these local forces have successfully located and neutralized several IEDs, saving tens, maybe even hundreds, of lives.
Furthermore, our men and women in uniform are intimately aware of the need to respect the rule of law, and the tenets of the law of armed conflict are infused in every program of instruction they offer.
The success of our mission in Iraq will be determined by the effectiveness of local ground forces in co-operation with our security partners. We are proud of the progress to date. In other words, local security forces are manifestly better now than they were when we started, but more is needed. They are now taking the fight to ISIL. We are helping, but they are the ones fighting, and that fight is more efficient and effective, thanks to our men and women in uniform.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Canada's diplomatic engagement in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. As the and members of cabinet have said, we are approaching the fight against ISIL through a comprehensive, integrated, succinct plan strengthened by active diplomacy.
Our diplomatic engagement builds on military efforts, and on humanitarian assistance and development support that we will be providing to the region. Our comprehensive strategy will contribute to the security and stability of the entire region, both in Iraq and beyond Iraq. Our integrated strategy will bring together resources and experience drawn from throughout government and Canada's international partners. Our multi-year commitment addresses the nature of this complex and protracted conflict, and enables us to seek and support long-term solutions.
Diplomacy is a long-term proposition, and so too is our diplomatic engagement strategy which seeks lasting political solutions. After all, the Syrian crisis we are facing today started as part of the Arab Spring, when the Syrian people called for freedom and dignity. We all know that they need our help. They need our support as they work to repel ISIL, and to build a better future for themselves. The people of the region need our help in ways that are non-military. They need our leadership to engage with key players in the region to support efforts at mediation, reconciliation, and peace negotiations. They need our assistance to strengthen local conflict management and local governance. If we are not doing these things now, we cannot defeat ISIL over the longer term. Canada is well placed to play a strong diplomatic role. We have expertise from years of hard work at the centre of peace negotiations, regional security initiatives, conflict prevention programming, transitional justice, and institutional reform. The international community welcomes our engagement in this way.
Turning to our diplomatic effort in Syria and Iraq, it is quite clear that without a broader political settlement in Syria and without inclusive government in Iraq, together with the greater capacity of Iraqi forces, the crisis will continue. This has been mentioned by every member of the House over the course of this debate. Our approach recognizes this fully and recognizes that this has been raised very well by everyone. Without ongoing diplomatic effort, the sources of instability will remain and will re-emerge, even though the threat from ISIL may have been defeated. In Iraq, we will work with the Iraqi government to ensure that our support reflects our desire to respect and protect the territorial integrity of the country.
Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi inherited a daunting set of challenges when he was appointed over a year ago. Since then, he has made notable progress on the political front. He has established a balanced government that is inclusive of major ethno-religious groupings. He has undertaken reforms in the security sector, improving the collaboration and recruitment of Sunni tribal forces in the fight against ISIL. He has reached out to leaders of the Kurdistan regional government and taken steps to resolve long-standing tensions related to revenue sharing and oil exports. More recently, he has undertaken an ambitious reform agenda, aiming to root out corruption and improve the delivery of basic services. Though progress has been made on the political front, significant challenges remain. Obviously, years of division and mutual distrust cannot be undone quickly. The Iraqi parliament remains heavily polarized, which has slowed the pace of reform and impeded the advancement of key legislation.
Iraq's internal fragility is exacerbated by the conflict in neighbouring Syria. Syria requires a lasting political solution as well, endorsed and supported with the full weight and intent of the international community. Otherwise, we cannot create the conditions for the Syrian people to withstand extremism. To that end, Canada will remain a steadfast partner for the United Nations and the International Syria Support Group in our mutual ongoing effort to reach a solution. We urge all parties to undertake necessary steps to make it possible to return to the negotiating table to save lives and to advance peace. We will stick with Syria in this.
The conflicts in Syria and Iraq continue to destabilize the very neighbouring countries that are key to ensuring broader regional stability. Jordan and Lebanon are among the countries of the region most affected by the Syrian crisis. Along with Turkey, they have absorbed the burden of hosting millions of refugees, with thousands more arriving at their borders every day seeking shelter from the horror.
This is the greatest human crisis since World War II. Lebanon and Jordan are struggling under the weight of a crushing burden. Lebanon currently hosts over one million refugees from Syria, and yet its population is barely more than four million. As such, Lebanon has the highest rate of refugees per capita in the world. This unprecedented flow of refugees threatens the stability of the Lebanese state and its institutions.
Tensions in adjacent host communities are heightened, as people experience the strain of severe competition for underfunded services and the stress of scarce employment opportunity. The Jordanian and Lebanese people need the support of the international community. These continuing pressures threaten to widen the sectarian fault lines in Lebanon, with consequences for the precarious political and social balance that holds this country together, barely.
The influx of refugees also presents challenges to Jordan's ability to respond to the expectations of its own population, and this fuels the type of socio-economic and political marginalization that can potentially drive individuals toward extremism. Countries such as Jordan and Lebanon need sustained support. Their ability to withstand pressure from the crisis in neighbouring Syria is integral to the wider stability of the region.
The recent outpouring of generosity by Canadians welcoming refugees throughout our country reflects Canadians' desire to act and to make a difference, in the same way that Canadian individuals, families, associations, and communities have become actively involved. This government is making a positive difference to our concerted regional engagement effort to strengthen economic, social, and political resilience in Jordan and Lebanon. We will encourage those political leaders to embrace compromise and work together to secure a stable future.
Only realistic and lasting political solutions, achieved through sustained diplomatic efforts, will help to resolve the challenges that Syria and Iraq face. Moderate, tolerant, local voices, supported by Canadian diplomatic efforts in concert with our international allies, can help to stabilize the region. A Canadian policy of diplomatic engagement utilizes our strength and complements the wider coalition efforts.
Canada is among the foremost humanitarian donors to this crisis. We are a leader among development donors in targeting assistance to building the resilience of the region. Canada has set an example by opening our doors and committing to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees. We have demonstrated that this can be done efficiently and without compromising our security or values. In the process, we have strengthened Canada's role in the world.
The warmth and generosity of Canadians has not gone unnoticed by the Syrians, nor by our Turkish, Jordanian, and Lebanese partners in this operation. The broader international community has recognized Canada's compassion and contribution.
In conclusion, our strategy recognizes the scope and complexity of the ongoing crisis. It recognizes the need to reinforce Iraq's capacity and to assist Jordan and Lebanon. It recognizes the role that Canada has to play in this effort, and increases our contribution to the coalition. Diplomacy is a fundamental part of our comprehensive plan for the fight against ISIL, and I am very pleased to share that with members of the House.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
I am pleased to rise on this debate in part as the former minister of defence, to thank the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces for their brilliant service to this country in her defence, in the defence of human dignity against a genocidal terrorist organization which simply must be stopped.
Daesh is not a traditional political movement. It is an organization that is trying to eliminate all peoples, including the oldest Middle Eastern peoples, who do not share their ideas or their theology of violence and murder.
This is a death cult that seeks the complete destruction of all of those who do not share its distorted theology, its effort to create a caliphate, and to impose on the entire region, and perhaps the entire world in their distorted minds, a particularly violent iteration of 7th-century sharia law.
It is always important in this debate that we remind ourselves of the nature of this organization. This is where the position of the Liberal government has gone wrong. Quite simply, if we listen carefully to many of the statements of the right hon. , the hon. , and other members of the Liberal government, we will hear what I submit is a radical misunderstanding of the nature of threat that we face.
We heard in this place the bizarre suggestion by the Minister of Defence that the millenarian death cult of ISIL was somehow the creation of climate change. We recall the statement of the right hon. Prime Minister following the Boston bombing, which was motivated by the same kind of ideology and hatred. He suggested that somewhere there must be people who feel excluded. We have heard from Liberal MPs the suggestion that Daesh is just another manifestation of a reaction to western foreign policy, or an unequal distribution of wealth. All of these attributed motives indicate a radical misunderstanding of the nature of the threat that we face.
Let us be clear. Daesh does not seek a conventional political outcome. It does not seek a change in economic policy. It is not a reflection of climate. It is a death cult that is motivated by dystopian theology that seeks to impose a caliphate and to eliminate, in the most brutal fashion imaginable, all of those who stand in its way. This is why we, the civilized world, can have no quarter in, not opposing, but eliminating this threat.
Here is the challenge. As long as Daesh is seen by potential recruits, often young men who are seduced by its idea of a caliphate, as long as it is seen to be on the winning side of history, as long as it is seen to be the fulfillment of that Quranic prophecy, more and more will go to join Daesh. That is why we, the civilized world, must demonstrate that it is on the losing side of history, that it is not the realization of the prophecy of a caliphate but rather, just a bunch of murderous thugs, and incompetent ones at that.
It is in diminishing and eventually destroying the organization, and in the long run its affiliated organizations around the world, that we can stop the flow of new recruits, new energy resources, and prestige to that organization.
That is why the previous government in consultation with all of our allies, including the sovereign Republic of Iraq, the United States, and all of our traditional allies, decided upon a multi-faceted strategy to counter and ultimately destroy Daesh.
I find the current government's claim a bit puzzling.
That is why we invested. I find it puzzling that the current government claims to have invented the idea of a multi-faceted strategy to counter Daesh, including development and diplomacy.
The previous Conservative government was the fifth-largest donor of humanitarian assistance for victims of Daesh in Iraq and the region. The previous government welcomed nearly 25,000 Iraqi refugees. The current government, on the other hand, has closed the door to these refugees with its current policy. The previous government engaged all of the partners on the diplomatic front.
I was in Baghdad with the former prime minister to meet Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi. We were in Erbil, in northern Iraq, to meet Barzani and the leaders of the Kurdish regional government. That is why we organized the summit for the most important partners in the military campaign against Daesh last year in Quebec City. I think it is disgusting that Canada was not included in the same meeting this year.
That means the former Conservative government had a comprehensive strategy: humanitarian, diplomatic, for refugees and military. All of our partners called on Canada to contribute to the air campaign. I am very proud, and we should all be proud of the men and women of the Royal Canadian Air Force, who flew over 2,000 sorties since the beginning of the mission and conducted more than 200 air strikes.
Our men and women in the RCAF have successfully hit over 200 ISIS targets, degrading that organization, eliminating equipment, reducing its personnel and its power to inflict genocide on the innocent people of that region. Let us all express our gratitude to them.
However, the government has invented endless, often contradictory, and typically incoherent rationale for its policy of retreat from the combat element of this campaign. By the way, the and the do not even seem to be able to answer the question to whether the mission they propose in the motion constitutes a combat mission. Of course, it does not, as clarified by the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Vance, yesterday.
Let me be clear about this. The rationale is simple, crass, and political. When the previous Conservative government proposed to participate in the international air campaign against Daesh, the current , then leader of the third party, said infamously that the only reason for this was that the former prime minister wanted to “...whip out our CF-18s and show them how big they are”. This was a juvenile, puerile, immature reflection on the most serious security question the House had faced in a very long time.
It was a political calculation in a competition with our pacificist friends in the NDP not to participate in that mission. It was criticized by former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, by former Liberal leader Bob Rae, by former ministers like Ujjal Dosanjh, Jean Lapierre, and so many others who understood that the Liberal Party used to represent a spirit of responsible internationalism, that we never stood by idly when others were in the fight against evil, particularly of a genocidal nature.
The government suggests that an air campaign is not sufficient to defeat Daesh. Of course, it is not. Nor is a ground campaign led by the Iraqis sufficient to defeat Daesh. However, both are necessary. Both elements are necessary but not sufficient. This is why we will oppose this motion. Canada should have a strategy that operates at all levels, including at the level of combat, and it is not in keeping with the best values and traditions of our country to abandon the fight as the government is doing.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here today. Those of us who have been here for a while have almost seen this conflict roll out in several chapters. Some of us will remember 2003, the beginning of the Iraq War, when the conflict began with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the conflict that took place in Iraq over the period of time following that. It ended up with almost a civil war in the country.
In 2005-06 I believe it was then that Nouri al-Maliki became prime minister of the country. There was some hope when he was elected that there would be some elements that would put peace in place, and that he would build some institutions there that would serve the Iraqi people very well.
Unfortunately, he chose to be a leader who was more divisive than helpful. The Sunni minority was soon alienated there, and many of the problems that we are still facing today came out of the activity of that government and the failure of that government to be able to welcome and bring people together within Iraq. It came at a time, as well, when the support the government needed there, the strength that was being supplied by some of the military from outside Iraq, was reduced as well.
We saw those kinds of conflicts begin to re-emerge in Iraq. We are all familiar, as well, with Syria, and the fact that the Assad family has been in power there for many years. If I remember correctly, I think we are all aware that was considered one of the rogue governments. It was on a par, basically, with North Korea and some others that were seen as sponsors of terror, but also basically terrorist governments that were holding their own people hostage, threatening them, torturing them, and had one of the worst human rights records in the world.
In 2011, when the Arab Spring unrest began in the Middle East, Syria was impacted by that as well. It took a little longer than with some of the other countries, but certainly unrest spread there, and soon it began to respond as it always did with violent crackdowns, and basically a civil war has emerged out of that.
We find that area in the conflict that it is in today, the conflict that has been so much a part of its past. Through all of this time, there were different organizations that were arising, kind of forming and reforming within the area. In 1999 to 2003, we saw the development of a number of organizations that ended up coming together and then forming what is now known as ISIS or ISIL.
In 2013-14, virtually everyone was surprised by the sudden emergence and the surge that this organization was able to show and the amount of territory it was able to take over.
It was interesting that in July 2013, I believe the Syrian government had approximately 40% of the country's territory and 60% of the population, and two years later it had shrunk to an area of about 30,000 kilometres, and only 16% of the country was controlled by that government. That was an example in Syria, but it was similar in Iraq, the area and the territory that the government lost because it was not able to provide security for its people.
We are familiar with the situation that took place in Mosul, the massacres that took place when ISIL moved through there, and particularly in the Sinjar Mountains with the Yazidis who were living their lives. They had their own religion, their own culture. ISIL swept through there, slaughtered as many of the men as they could find, and took the women and girls hostage. Many of those young women and girls have been turned into sex slaves. They have been traded, bought, and sold.
I had the opportunity to be on the foreign affairs committee last Parliament, and that was a topic of conversation. Several of our meetings were talking about the situation that particularly the Yazidis found themselves in. However, many other minority groups in the area were obliterated by ISIL as it moved through the area.
Through all of this, we have been partners in a coalition that has been trying to push back ISIL, and particularly recently has been very successful in that. We can see the area that ISIL had earlier on and the area that it has now. We can see that it is being forced back. It cannot happen any too soon.
We have been very effective. We have been a part of a coalition that started in 2014, kind of on the sidelines of a NATO meeting. Countries came together and put the coalition together. Canada was proud to be part of that. Our contribution has been large. It has been in a number of areas. It has covered most of the areas that we see mentioned in the Liberal motion today. I want to talk about that a little later, if I have time.
We have been particularly successful in terms of how we have been able to use our fighter jets.
Our CF-18s have been a major part of the coalition. Canada has been a major contributor to it. From the information I have received, we have run almost 1,400 sorties, 800 aircraft flights, over 250 air strikes, and over 400 ISIS targets have been destroyed.
One of the reasons this is critical is because ISIS depends so much on oil revenue. It depends on foreign currency and being able to buy and sell that oil. Canada has been effective in destroying those targets. We have seen recently that we have been able to disrupt that supply line.
My colleague talked a couple of days ago in the House about how those supply lines have finally been disrupted, to the point that ISIL fighters are now fleeing to Libya and other places. ISIL has lost its money. It has lost its source of revenue. It is not able to pay its fighters and it is starting to break down. It is unfortunate that just at the time when these things are taking place, our government has decided that it is time to cut and run. This is not the appropriate time to do that.
I want to talk a bit about the government's motion. From those of us who have been here and understand the situation, a lot of this looks like window dressing. Most of what the Liberals are suggesting we have been doing effectively.
There is one place, among others, that we would completely disagree with the government, and that has been the government's focus on changing the mission. When I read in the motion that the government wants to refocus, I do not see this as refocusing a military contribution. I see it as weakening the military contribution.
We have talked here in the last few days about why the government would elevate the risk. The last question that was asked in here was about the risk that our troops would be put under. Why would the government want to elevate risk? There may be good reasons why we need to elevate risk if we are engaged in a situation like this, but why would we reduce our combat capability at the same time? It does not make any sense. The government is going to move ahead with putting people in place who will be at risk. The government does not seem to be able to answer the questions that we have been asking in the House. It cannot tell us how it is going to protect our troops there. We completely disagree. This refocus is not a refocus but a weakening of our military capacity that will put our troops at risk.
The motion talks about improving the living conditions of conflict-affected populations. We have been a big part of that discussion over the last few years on the foreign affairs committee. We talked a lot, particularly to refugee communities, and asked them what they would like, what we could do to help.
In light of our discussion about our refugees over the last few months, it is interesting to note that virtually all witnesses who came to committee said they would like to go back to their home village. They would like to have peace. They would like to go back to the life they had before. Whether it was Yazidis, Syrian Christians, or Kurds, they wanted this settled so they could go back and live their lives as they did before.
We needed to build strong institutions. That continues to be a need in the area. That was one of the reasons why, when the Arab Spring broke out, a lot of people in that area had great hope for what would happen. However, the institutions that needed to be put in place at that time were not strong enough to handle the opportunity that they had.
We talk about investing significantly in humanitarian assistance. We have done that in the past. We are proud of the commitment that we made. There is a challenge. In order to deliver that humanitarian assistance, we need to have a secure situation. We have heard time and time again about the challenge to deliver, for example, food aid securely. We heard that food aid was being hijacked. We heard that in Syria in particular the government would take over the food aid. There was no idea where it was going. Without a strong military presence, without that strong military capacity, we cannot even guarantee that humanitarian aid will get to where it needs to go.
It is all fine and well for the government to talk about these things but we need to understand that it is not going to have the capacity to be able to deliver on the kinds of things it is talking about.
We have heard from the other side that there are all kinds of reasons why this has happened. Climate change was mentioned. The talked about how this is a criminal organization, that this is all about criminal activity. The reality is that in order to deal with this death cult, as my colleague called it, we need to have a strong military capacity, a strong military response. We need to be part of a coalition that can do that.
I am afraid we are just not doing our job. We are not pulling our weight. We did in the past and we need to do that again. The Liberal government needs to reconsider the direction it is going in.
Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure and a privilege to stand in the House to address many of the issues that come before us. Let there be no doubt that on the issue of putting our men and women of the Canadian Forces in harm's way, we should all take this very seriously and, where possible, try to contribute to the discussions.
I have listened at great length to members on all sides of the House who have contributed to the debate and in many ways we will have to agree to disagree. I like to think of some of the strengths on the government side.
I served in the Canadian Forces, which was a great privilege, for just over three years. That is a rather small period in number of years when compared to a number of my caucus colleagues. Whether they are generals or leaders of regiments performing in Afghanistan or anywhere around the world, there are Liberal caucus members who have been engaged. As indicated earlier, mothers of young adults are engaged today.
There is a great deal of interest in the issue of when we call upon our men and women to go abroad or even to perform work within Canada. We cannot express enough gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices they and their family members make.
I want to specifically comment on a number of issues, to which the Conservatives need to listen. They seem to be of the impression that for Canada to be engaged, there have to be CF-18s, and that if the CF-18s are not engaged, then the Canadian Forces are not engaged.
I am very proud of our CF-18s and the many people who have flown them over the years. In fact, I served in Edmonton, in Lancaster Park, which had the longest runway at the time, 14,000 feet. I was an air traffic control assistant, which means I watched CF-18 after CF-18 touch down and take off. I was also afforded the opportunity to meet with numerous pilots. No doubt we have some of the best-trained pilots in the world, but along with that, we have technicians and engineers, and many different personnel in occupations within the Canadian Forces. We should be proud of each and every one of them and the contributions they provide when it comes time for Canada to get engaged.
Here is the difference between the Government of Canada, the Conservative Party, and the New Democrats. The Conservative Party, on the one hand, says that there is no such thing as getting the Canadian Forces engaged unless the CF-18s are there. On the other hand, the New Democrats seem to be of the opinion that Canada has no role to play when it comes to fighting terrorism or, at the very least, fighting ISIL. That is what is becoming very clear and apparent in the debate.
We disagree, and it is not only Liberals in the chamber who disagree. We just went through an election and there was a very clear indication from the that if Liberals formed government, the CF-18s would not be part of the Canadian Forces' contribution in fighting ISIL in that area. It was very clear that we would support the combat of terrorism in a different way, a more appropriate way, based on what our coalition partners had to say and possibly ask us to do.
Members of the Conservative caucus have stood and said that Liberals did not get 50% of the vote plus one. No, we did not get 50% of the vote plus one, but on this issue, the Liberals, the New Democrats, and the Greens, which far exceed 50% of Canada's population, believe the CF-18s should not be engaged any longer with regard to what is happening in the Middle East.
It was a very clear platform issue, and I listened to Conservative after Conservative say we have to have the F-18s. What they are asking us to do is to break our election platform. Time after time, the Conservatives stand up and ask about our election promises. I will remind each and every one of them that this was an election promise, and it was a good, sound election promise.
I was here for those debates, and I participated in the debates when the government brought in the CF-18s and its approach to combatting ISIL. When the Conservatives did that, even prior to the debate—and Hansard no doubt will show it—I made reference to the Kurdish community that I met in Winnipeg. Their take on this was really interesting. We know that bombing plays a critical role, yes. However, bombing is not going to determine the issue finally and bring it to rest. It is going to be the infrastructure, both social and capital infrastructure, the buildings and so forth. The individuals I met reaffirmed what many are being told, not only here in Canada but all over the place, which is that we have to look at other ways in which Canada can contribute and to question whether providing the CF-18s is the most effective way for Canada to participate.
There is a huge expectation that Canada demonstrate leadership in combatting terrorism, and Canada will do that. A Liberal government will ensure that takes place. Let us look at what the Liberal government is actually doing. It is significantly different from what the previous Conservative government did. We are saying that it is time that we pull the CF-18s out, but that does not mean the bombing will end. There are coalition partners, many of which are very content with Canada's new role in combatting terrorism.
What is Canada actually doing? We are tripling the size of our training force in northern Iraq. That is a significant increase. We will be increasing our intelligence-gathering resources. Intelligence is absolutely critical when combatting terrorism, especially in that region of the world. Actually, all over the world it is critical. We will be increasing our diplomatic role in helping to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria by supporting the UN-sponsored peace process and assisting the efforts of the Iraqi government to foster reconciliation.
More specifically, we will expand our capacity-building efforts with Jordan and Lebanon to help stop the spread of violent extremism. Our humanitarian assistance is going to increase by hundreds of millions of dollars, with a special focus on those who are vulnerable, including children and survivors of sexual- and gender-based violence. We will be looking for international partners to build local capacity to provide basic social services, maintain and rehabilitate public infrastructure, foster inclusive growth and employment, and advance inclusiveness and accountability in governance.
I listened to the former Conservative government's minister of defence. He talked about ISIL. I would not question many of the comments that he made about it, but who is he trying to kid? I do not think there is anyone inside the chamber who supports ISIL. We all want to see the demise of ISIL. My colleague, the said that she was in favour of the eradication of ISIL; I think all Canadians would like to see it eradicated. We are familiar with the horrific, barbaric actions that it takes. No one here supports it. However, we have to acknowledge that sometimes there is a better and more effective way of using our Canadian Forces. We have a lot to offer.
The parliamentary secretary referred to Ukraine as an example. We have members of our forces and others participating in Ukraine today. I am very appreciative of that. As we know, the president of Ukraine also wanted to see Canada involved, and this government has responded to that need by using the Canadian Armed Forces.
I often hear about the issue of peacekeeping. Canada at one time had a very strong reputation in peacekeeping throughout the world. That was greatly diminished by the Conservative government. However, a Liberal government under our leadership is also committed to restoring Canada's leadership role in peacekeeping. Let us not just sell our Canadian Armed Forces short by saying, well, if it is not the CF-18s, we are not contributing.
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces cannot be fooled. The forces operate as a team. It is not just one branch here and another branch there and so forth. Even though I was in the regular force for three years, I never participated overseas. However, I had the opportunity when I was in the forces to support that. All members of the Canadian Armed Forces are a team, and that can be extended to include members of their families. All participate in ensuring that we have the most effective forces in the areas we engage in. That is really what is important.
When we talk about tripling our contribution to assisting other forces become better at what they do, we actually have the expertise, the numbers, and the support service to make sure that will happen. Other coalition partners maybe do not have the same qualifications or qualities that we can provide or bring to the table, so why would we not do that?
I believe that the bombing is important and will continue, but it is not necessarily the role that Canada needs to play. We have enhanced significantly our contribution, not only in terms of people resources but also in terms of financial resources, equipment resources, and departmental resources in making our world a safer environment.
That is why we in Liberal caucus recognize that when we talk about world peace, we just cannot stand by and do nothing. That is the attitude of many New Democrats. They do not think outside of Canada's borders. We believe that Canada does have a role to play that goes beyond our borders. If we are going to fight terrorism, we do not wait for it to occur here in Canada. There are other things we can do that will make a difference and that will ultimately make our backyards safer. However, that is not the only motivation.
Canadians have very strong values of compassion and caring, which is one of the reasons we are increasing dramatically the amount of humanitarian care we provide to the region. Not only are we sending resources into the region dealing with that issue, we are also taking in and fast-tracking a significant number of refugees. Some would say that we are fast-tracking them a little too much; others might say we are not doing it fast enough. We will maintain, at the very least, the numbers that we committed to in the last federal election.
We said we would take in 25,000, and I can tell the House that the , the , other ministers, and many members of the Liberal caucus have talked about how many refugees we have coming to Canada.
We do it because it is the right thing to do, and it is something that Canada has done over a hundred some years. We are getting very close to our 150th anniversary as a nation, and I expect there will be a lot of wonderful events for it, but when we talk about Canadian heritage and values, we have members of this House who came to Canada as refugees. Most individuals here, at one point or another, have come through generations of immigration. We are a very diverse country. We are a country that understands and appreciates our role.
As a relatively young country, we carry a great deal of influence. Based on our population, we do exceptionally well in being able to contribute to what is happening in societies around the world. I think that we should, as much as possible, encourage our government to continue to demonstrate leadership on this issue.
I was very proud of what took place yesterday in the debate on foreign affairs and of the ' comments about reaching out and providing education. There is so much more that we could be doing as a country.
At the end of the day, this is a motion that people should get behind. We want to indicate to members with the motion that the issue we are debating today will in fact come back to the House. It will come back two years from now with a new motion on Canada's contribution to the region and on where we might want to go at that point.
One of the things I have noticed, in the name of transparency and accountability, is that members, whether Liberal or from other caucuses, should feel free to communicate what they believe should be taking place, not only formally on the record in the House, but also in the standing committees, or the informal discussions after question period with other ministers. We very much want to build a consensus on this issue.
At the end of the day, I believe everyone agrees that ISIL is a problem in the world today. I believe that most recognize that Canada does have a role to play, and if there are ideas out there, then we should encourage them. We should look to what is taking place with our global partners on the coalition and work with them. I am confident that the coalition will be there going forward, making sure that nations of goodwill that want to be engaged will in fact be able to participate in a way that is most effective.
I would like to conclude my remarks with what I started off with, which is recognizing the fact that our men and women of the Canadian Forces have done phenomenal service for our country throughout the years, and they will continue to do so in whatever is asked of them by the House. However, let us not just limit the applause and give thanks to one small faction. I believe that every one of our forces has contributed to combatting terrorism. I believe that whatever it is that we ask of them, they will do it in an honourable fashion and represent our country well in doing so, keeping all of us safe in our homes.