Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to join the debate, surrounded by colleagues of the Conservative caucus, as we continue to debate this motion on the future mission against the Islamic State.
I thought I would start with bit of background information for the members, and for those perhaps watching on television, about the mission to date, particularly the mission regarding Canada's CF-18s. I think the numbers speak for themselves about what our brave women and men have already accomplished with respect to this mission and how it has impacted on the general mission, Operation Impact.
As of the beginning of this month, Canada's CF-18s have successfully embarked on 249 missions against ISIS fighting positions, 83 missions against ISIS equipment and vehicles, and 24 sorties against ISIS improvised explosive device factories and storage.
Clearly our women and men have been very impactful in Operation Impact, and they have contributed importantly to a very important mission. Canadians agree with that. Public opinion research has been very steady on this matter since the debate was raised by the current Liberal government. Over two-thirds of Canadians in fact support the continuation of the mission, that is to say, the use of our CF-18s in air strikes against ISIS positions.
That is the reality on the ground in Syria and Iraq, and that is the reality here in Canada as we go forward.
The Conservatives firmly believe that Canada should maintain its air combat role in the fight against ISIS and terrorism and that our CF-18s should be part of that fight.
That is our position. We have expressed it in this place in question period, and during this debate as well. We believe that the withdrawal from the combat mission against ISIS is a step backward from Canada's traditional role as fighters for human rights and international security.
Canada has a long, proud history of defending innocent and vulnerable populations by taking on those who commit mass atrocities. That is exactly the situation that is being countered by our allies in Iraq and Syria as we speak.
I would make the point that the ISIS and ISIS-inspired attacks have now spread beyond Iraq and Syria. This is an issue and challenge that is spread all around the world, in North America and other places where Canadians have been attacked.
Canadians have been attacked in recent weeks. Therefore, halting and degrading the Islamic State is more critical than ever to keeping people safe, not only perhaps in what some Canadians would view as faraway lands, but this has a direct impact on our safety and security here at home as well.
There is no question that Canada is a key ally.
Canada is a key ally in the air combat mission. It is currently the fifth-largest participant. It is extremely irresponsible of the government not only to reduce Canada's contribution, but to do so for political purposes.
It is very clear that the current Liberal government is using its past positions in this place, and its rhetoric during the election campaign, to step back from a critical mission. I would say to my hon. friends on the other side that if they need political cover to do the right thing, believe me, on this side of the House, we would be standing with them. If they would come clean to the people of Canada and say that things have changed since the election, that things are different after the Paris attacks, that they have seen the important work that our brave women and men were doing in the aerial campaign and they want to change their minds, on this side of the House, we would be applauding them.
We would not make any partisan jabs or jibes. This would not be a time where we would try to one-up them and say they are flip-flopping. There are a lot of issues they are flip-flopping on, but on this one, we want them to do the right thing.
They are willing to blow past their promise on a $10 billion deficit, and it is going to be multiples of that now. That promise they do not want to keep: the fiscal responsibility promise. However, now the Liberals feel that they have an important promise to keep at a time when we are needed to be side by side with our allies. That is the unconscionable part of the motion before us, and why we feel so strongly that we have to move to another position on this side of the House. We will, of course, be voting against the motion.
ISIS has declared war. At one point, Canada's said that there is no real war here. On the contrary, when the other side declares war on us and has the military means to act against our interests and against the safety of our citizenry, then whether we like it or not, there is a war going on.
ISIS has declared war on Canada and our allies. It is critical that the government continue to fight alongside our allies to defend and protect the safety of Canadians here and abroad.
I would say more in sorrow than in anger that the Liberals remain incoherent on this air combat mission. They have not provided a scintilla of explanation as to how the withdrawal of the CF-18s will help the coalition more effectively defeat ISIS.
Despite the Liberal government's opposition to the bombing, Canadian aircraft are still there refuelling the planes that conduct the air strikes and identifying targets for them. The Liberals are against the bombing but they are helping the bombing. This is the kind of incoherence that confuses our allies and that makes us, quite frankly, a laughingstock in the corridors of power of our allies. This is why we on this side of the House demand a more coherent strategy to work with our allies, to be on their side not only behind the scenes at the meetings we know take place, but to be up front. That is the message we want to send to the enemy. That is the help we want to give our allies. The government's motion is incoherent and contrary to the interests of Canadians.
We are a great country. We can do a lot of things simultaneously. We can be involved in the diplomatic mission, we can be involved in the humanitarian mission, and we can be involved in the aerial mission. We can contribute to the air strikes alongside the training, the humanitarian support, and the diplomatic endeavours to seek to contain the Islamic State.
Our personnel have been very effective over the past year. President Obama has said that air strikes are a key pillar in the fight against the Islamic State. Members do not have to believe me. They can believe the Democrat in the White House if they so choose.
While we support having a focus on humanitarian and security assistance, which is simply a continuation of what the Conservative Party did whilst in government, we should not distract from the effectiveness of the CF-18s in the mission.
The is sometimes prone to a bit of rhetorical fancy. He said, “The lethal enemy of barbarism isn't hatred. It's reason.” If reason is the answer, what reason justifies backing away from a just fight? This fight is just. This could be the fight of our generation. Alas, it could be the fight of future generations. I wish it were not the case but it could very well be the case.
The and the Liberals have said that Canada is back and yet one of the first substantive things that government did was to back away from the fight of a generation. We on this side of the House cannot countenance that. We cannot support that. We cannot vote for that. We will be voting against this resolution.
Mr. Speaker, today I speak with conviction and satisfaction as I present the humanitarian aid and development and resilience programming elements of our government's plan to address the crisis in the Middle East.
My remarks will focus on the human dimension of the ongoing crisis in Iraq and Syria and its impact on the men, women, and children who have been forced to flee their homes and who now live in fear. Too many of them live in inhumane conditions. I will also talk about the neighbouring countries and the citizens of those countries who have shown tremendous generosity toward the refugees.
We hear numbers related to the crisis in Syria all the time. Over 11 million people have fled to other countries or been displaced within Syria because of the violence. Over 250,000 Syrians have been killed, and over 13.5 million Syrians need humanitarian aid. The conflict has devastated cities, ravaged whole neighbourhoods, and set the stage for indescribable atrocities.
The situation in Iraq is no better. Over the past two years, the conflict has displaced three million Iraqis. Right now, nearly four million people are living in ISIL-controlled areas to which humanitarian organizations have little or no access.
Considering the scope of the devastation, it is hard to fully appreciate the repercussions this crisis is having on the millions of people affected, including those who are living as refugees in other countries. The international community has a duty to act. We have a duty to act.
Earlier this month, I travelled to Jordan and Lebanon to try to get a better understanding of the needs of the families, communities, and governments affected by the crisis. I saw for myself the unimaginable hardship these people are going through. I also heard the perspectives of senior government officials, representatives from the UN and NGOs, teachers, community workers, and Syrian families who have been driven from their homes.
In hundreds of schools in Jordan and Lebanon, school days have been shortened to half a day so that refugee groups can be received in the afternoons.
Despite the generosity of local communities, hundreds of thousands of refugee children are still forced to work illegally and in deplorable conditions to provide financial support for their families.
Nearly two million children are no longer going to school in Syria, and another 700,000 Syrian children are in the same situation elsewhere in the region. An entire generation of girls and boys is not getting an education, which will have enormous long-term human and economic consequences.
Education is the cement that allows societies to build a democracy and maintain peace, and it forms the foundation of economic growth. The impact of this educational deficiency will be felt not only in the countries that are welcoming refugees, but also throughout Syria and Iraq when it comes time to rebuild there.
I heard from the head of one Syrian family who took shelter in a warehouse, with her nine children: nine mouths to feed, bodies too close, minds to teach, futures to prepare for, all without access to employment. Her husband is still in Syria.
I heard from children who wanted to be doctors, journalists, and teachers. It was uplifting to hear how typical their hopes were. They were not very different from the hopes and dreams of our children in Canada. Yet, these children all face dire obstacles before they can see their dreams become reality. Despite their endless energy, determination, and resolve, they were out of school without permission to work and, for many girls, facing the prospect of early marriage.
The majority of these children will face adult challenges long before they rightly should.
These countries, communities, and the refugee families that have escaped violence in their own country, desperately need our help.
It is for these reasons that I was pleased to support the in announcing our government's comprehensive strategy for the Middle East, which includes a significant funding package to address the needs of the poorest and the most vulnerable ones in the region.
The strategy will serve as a comprehensive and significant contribution by Canada to respond to the humanitarian crisis, and to lay the foundation for greater peace and security in the region. It provides direction for considered and timely military and security assistance. It reinforces our role as a compassionate, forward-thinking nation that will not turn away from those most in need; it prepares them for the trials of tomorrow; and it sets out the essential task of engaging in meaningful political dialogue to help end these dangerous conflicts.
By taking this approach, we recognize, as do our international partners, that this is one of the worst crises the world has ever had to face. Unfortunately, the crisis in Syria and the region could last a long time, as could the reconstruction period that will follow. With that in mind, I consulted with the communities affected and our partners in order to assess what was needed.
I am very proud that our plan involves humanitarian aid and significant resilience and development programming over a three-year period. This is the first time in the history of our country that the government has made a multi-year humanitarian commitment. This new way of doing things shows my commitment to fulfilling the mandate that I was given by the to make Canada a leader in development innovation and effectiveness.
As part of our overall strategy, we will invest $1.1 billion over three years in humanitarian assistance and resilience and development programming for the most vulnerable people affected by this crisis in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria. Of this $1.1 billion, $840 million will be spent on humanitarian aid programs designed to provide life-saving assistance, such as food, emergency health services, water, housing, basic education, and protection.
This contribution over three years will allow Canada to work more effectively with the United Nations, international organizations, and donors to improve the delivery of humanitarian aid in the region.
Given the ongoing nature of this crisis, the number of people in need is constantly growing. With the help of trusted partners who have experience on the ground, we will be able to assist the most vulnerable, including children and victims of sexual violence, gender-based violence, and early and forced marriage.
Canada is aware that the resources available to deal with new and existing humanitarian crises throughout the world are limited. That is why we will look at forming new partnerships in order to mobilize other resources to support humanitarian work throughout the world and make sure that such assistance is effective and efficient in the Middle East.
Our department can count on a skilled team and the experience of our partners in the region to determine where the needs are greatest and where Canadian assistance will be most useful and best complement that of the other donors.
I am proud to remind hon. members that Canada has always upheld the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, independence, and humanity. I want to emphasize how important it is that all donors adhere to these principles, as the safety of the humanitarian workers and access by humanitarian organizations to people under siege, such as the people of Madaya, depend on all parties involved in a conflict recognizing these principles.
Upholding humanitarian principles does not preclude the necessary review procedures that my department follows with regard to all its partners. By taking a stringent approach to analyzing and monitoring the projects and organizations that we support financially, we ensure that we are dealing with reliable partners that have all the skills necessary for providing relief to civilians caught in the middle of the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in the world.
These experienced partners have long had strict accountability systems in place to help provide assurances that the money is used only for its intended purposes and as efficiently and appropriately as possible. The purpose of these systems is to ensure that every dollar spent has the greatest impact possible on the lives of the people in need of our assistance.
We assess the partners with whom we work and make every effort to ensure that they comply with appropriate anti-terrorism requirements. UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations have put in place strong accountability measures to counter the risk of diversion of humanitarian assistance, including agency staff accompanying relief convoys and the use of third-party monitors.
Let us speak about development and resilience programming now. As much as this crisis represents a human tragedy, it also has implications for the security and stability of nations. We need to ensure that greater chaos across the region is avoided.
When I met with my Jordanian and Lebanese counterparts, I heard from them about the grim conditions that pose an immediate and ongoing threat to the stability of their countries. Before the Syria crisis, unemployment levels were already high. Rents were steep, and income levels were down. With more than 625,000 registered refugees arriving in Jordan and 1.2 million arriving in Lebanon over the last three years, these pressures have brought their societies and economies to the brink.
I would ask my colleagues to picture their own communities having to contend with a sudden increase of 30% or 40%, and indeed in some cases, communities have doubled in size. This is simply unsustainable. How would our constituents respond in the face of such pressure?
During my time in the Middle East, I also heard from the city mayors who saw the population of their municipalities increase by one-third in 14 months. The pressure this is placing on health clinics, water networks, electricity grids, and other municipal services is something that would alarm any government official or local citizen.
Local citizens of countries neighbouring Syria have done far more already than the international community could ever have expected of them. However, the tremendous strain that the influx of people has placed on certain municipalities is about to fuel social tensions between local citizens and refugees. We cannot stand by and watch as the social fabrics, the economies, and the very infrastructure of refugee hosting countries in the region begin to fracture. How can they be expected to suffer for their generosity?
With $270 million in resilience and development programming, also over three years, we will extend our work, in particular in Jordan and Lebanon, to help communities transcend their ability to manage the crisis on a sustainable basis. We will help develop the capacity to provide services to host communities as well as refugees. We will work with affected populations to ensure that they have the tools required to start to rebuild their fractured society when the crisis is over.
Our programs will help create jobs, increase children's access to education, and ensure that people have access to the essential services they so desperately need.
Our programs in the region will teach local officials how to operate water supply systems, an effective means of preventing water-borne diseases associated with unsanitary conditions.
We will provide a safe and healthy learning environment for the children of the local populations and the refugees, which will entail renovating schools and improving water supply, water treatment, and sanitary facilities.
Our new strategy will focus on a comprehensive, integrated, long-term approach to dealing with the crisis. We will show leadership by drawing on our areas of excellence, and we will work with experienced and effective multilateral partners who have strategic access on the ground.
We will use new and different methods in working with the people and countries affected. For example, we will support Jordan's commitment to put in place conditions that will create jobs for Syrian refugees in exchange for greater targeted development aid and better access to foreign markets for Jordanian exports. This will allow us to provide strategic assistance and take into account the long-term nature of the crisis.
I want to emphasize that the aid we are providing will do more than just meet immediate needs. It is clear to everyone that this will be an ongoing crisis with long-term consequences even after the end of hostilities.
Under our new three-year approach, we will take strategic action and implement programs, with careful planning and adequate funding. We will develop programs that help strengthen local populations and countries that accept refugees, to ensure that their societies can cope with these devastating events and come out stronger.
In a prolonged crisis like the one in the Middle East, we strongly believe in resilience programming to help fill the gap between humanitarian assistance and development projects. We are in a position to be one of the leaders in this area. For example, immediate access to temporary, informal education is the first key step supported by our humanitarian assistance.
Also on the topic of resilience, we must work with local authorities to strengthen the education system and improve access to and quality of the services over the long term for the next generation. This approach is the most sustainable way to respond to this prolonged crisis.
By creating immediate access to basic services like education through our programming, we are creating the conditions within communities that protect individuals. Our projects will help keep children safe from the dangers of conflict, protecting young boys from the attraction of extremist groups, and girls from early and forced marriage.
We also realize that a lack of good governance and poor economic growth create a vacuum that extremists can exploit by providing false hope and promises to desperate populations. Our programming will therefore be designed to foster inclusive economic growth and employment in order to advert the human costs of failing to do so.
These are crucial long-term goals that require long-term engagement in and commitment to the region.
We will provide assistance that meets the needs of the refugees themselves, who must be able to earn a living, go to school, and maintain or develop skills so they are able to rebuild Syria as soon as the security and political situation permits.
We will work to help prepare for the longed for peace in the region. We will work with the international community to help establish the human capital required to rebuild when the time is right. We need to act today for the good of tomorrow and prepare for peace.
Our comprehensive strategy will show the people, local governments, and Canadian and international partners that Canada takes this crisis seriously and that we realize that a multi-faceted approach is the only way to put an end to this crisis.
We know that this is a complex crisis, which must be taken into account in our actions. We must be consistent in developing and managing our actions. Although we respect humanitarian principles, we will continue to be extremely vigilant in ensuring that Canada's contributions are used only for their intended purposes.
Our $1.1-billion contribution in humanitarian assistance, and in resilience and development programming is a key part of this action. This contribution is an acknowledgement that we can and must do everything possible to help those who are suffering and who need our help.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for .
I rise today to speak in support of the government's motion and the overdue reorientation of our mission against Daesh to reflect a more comprehensive, robust, and effective contribution to the international coalition against this heinous and barbaric terrorist group.
There is no more serious thing that a government can do than deploy its armed forces overseas. As the daughter and a sister of army officers, I know first-hand the stress and the worry that deployment places on service members and their loved ones back home.
We in this House owe it to our military members and to their families to make this a substantive and respectful debate, to ensure that this mission is both necessary and important, and that our armed forces members are supported with the equipment and resources they need to succeed.
Any time we deploy our armed forces overseas, there will be risk. However, the threat we are facing is especially grave. Daesh is a threat to peace, and global stability and security. It must be defeated. Its list of crimes and barbarous acts is long. It targets the most vulnerable and has uprooted the lives of millions. According to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, 6.5 million people have been internally displaced within Syria, and over 3 million have fled to neighbouring countries.
Such a multi-faceted crisis and threat requires a comprehensive whole-of-government response, and that is just what our government has proposed. We will increase military training, increase our humanitarian and development assistance, and work to enhance regional stability.
Canada is part of a broad-based international coalition determined to defeat Daesh and end this humanitarian crisis. We are proud to stand with our international partners and allies, each of whom makes a unique contribution based on their capabilities, experience, and capacity. Canada cannot do it all ourselves. As part of the coalition, we do not have to.
This motion proposes that Canada make a more comprehensive contribution to the international coalition in the fight against Daesh, based both on our capacity and what we are able to do well, and what is necessary to defeat Daesh once and for all.
It is clear to me that the solution to the crises in the region must, first and foremost, be political. Accordingly, we will increase our diplomatic role in working for a political solution to the crisis in Syria by supporting the UN-sponsored peace process as well as the reconciliation efforts of the Iraqi government.
In recognition of the worsening humanitarian crisis, we will undertake a $1.1 billion, multi-year commitment for humanitarian and development assistance that targets the most vulnerable, including children and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
It is that feeling of desperation, of lack of options and opportunity, especially by young people, that hate groups like Daesh feed on, and it is that instability that allows them to flourish. So with our local partners, we will work to build the capacity to provide basic social services, foster inclusive growth and employment, and advance inclusive and accountable governance. We will also expand our capacity-building efforts with Jordan and Lebanon to help stop the spread of violent extremism.
We must also respond militarily. By tripling the size of our training force in northern Iraq and significantly increasing our intelligence gathering resources, Canada will make a more substantive and effective contribution to the military effort against Daesh.
Like all Canadians, I am proud of our Canadian army and the success of their training mission in Afghanistan. Our soldiers are among the best in the world when it comes to training, and this new, expanded training mission will build on the hard-won lessons of Afghanistan and make a valuable and much-needed contribution to the international coalition.
As I have said, Canada cannot do everything. Our resources are limited. We must be strategic in choosing the most effective contribution we can make to the international coalition, and that is exactly what this government has done.
We are proud of the contribution that our CF-18 fighter pilots have played in the fight against Daesh and we welcome them home with thanks and appreciation. However, Canada cannot do everything. As we promised the Canadian people in the election campaign, we will bring our fighters home so we can focus on an expanded training mission.
The ground seized by Daesh, displacing millions of refugees and throwing the region into turmoil, will only be taken back by efforts on the ground. If our local allies are to retake that ground, they need better training and support. We must build that local capacity to take the fight to Daesh directly and allow people to return to their homes. That is what Canada's training mission would do.
This is a more substantive and comprehensive military contribution. Our complement of military personnel taking part in Operation Impact will increase from approximately 630 to 850 and will be focused on operational planning, targeting, and intelligence.
The size of Canada's training, advice, and assist mission will also be tripled and will include equipment such as small arms, ammunition, and optics to assist in the training of Iraqi security forces. Our CC-150 Polaris aerial refuelling aircraft and up to two CP-140 Aurora aerial surveillance aircraft will continue to make key contributions to the international effort.
This is a comprehensive and substantive contribution by Canada and not one that we take lightly. We make this contribution to bring stability and peace to a region in crisis and in recognition of the threat that Daesh and other such extremist groups represents to the world, including Canada.
We are not an island. Canada is not immune to the growing threat of global extremism and the hatred that groups like Daesh seek to breed and exploit. However, we will not be deterred. We will remain a strong member of the international coalition overseas and at home. We will continue to welcome Syrian and other refugees displaced by this conflict. Canada is on pace to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees to the country by the end of February and to reach the goal of 25,000 government-sponsored refugees by the end of the year. Canadians from coast to coast to coast have opened their arms and their hearts to these people who have had their lives torn apart by this conflict and are looking for what all of us take for granted, a safe place to raise their families and to give them a better life.
We are very lucky to be Canadians and to be able to live in peace and prosperity. We are privileged, and with that privilege comes responsibility. With millions suffering, we have a responsibility to act. The government's plan is in the best Canadian tradition, utilizing our capacity and our strength to make a real meaningful and effective contribution to the international coalition.
The road ahead will not be easy. I stand in solidarity with our military members, with our development and diplomatic officials, and especially with their families. They have made Canada proud and we stand with them.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by paying tribute to the excellent work done by our soldiers and veterans who fought overseas and who helped protect Canada. I also want to commend them for contributing so much to international peace and security.
In 10 years under the Conservatives, Canada's reputation on the world stage changed, and not for the better, as most Canadians know. During this decade, the Conservatives distanced themselves from a long tradition of responsible international engagement. Our country even skipped out on a number of major international talks. Canada lost its non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
I remember October 12, 2010, very well. We had to take our name out of the running for a seat on the United Nations Security Council after losing the first two rounds of voting. That was the first time that Canada had experienced that kind of loss for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. Canada had won that seat every time since 1948.
The dismay was palpable on October 12, 2010. Like many people, I felt ashamed. Canada no longer represented a diplomatic force in the world. This did not come as a complete surprise. We were well aware that the then Conservative government's controversial position on combatting climate change probably had something to do with the reservations some UN countries may have had when they voted in October 2010. One thing had become clear: we had lost our reputation as a diplomatic force and a peacekeeper.
I went into politics for many reasons. First, I wanted to actively assist my region in getting the tools it needs to revive its economy. Second, I wanted to help rebuild Canada's international reputation.
Canada has a long-standing tradition of responsible engagement in international affairs, which is an integral part of our country's identity. Canada should be using its exceptional expertise to serve as a world leader in international co-operation. To be seen and heard, we need to enunciate clearly, speak loudly, and send a strong, clear message.
On October 19, 2015, Canadians sent a clear message that resonated throughout the world: Canada is back on the international scene after a decade of diplomatic disengagement under the Conservatives.
I will repeat: Canada is finally back. Canada will increase its support for UN peacekeeping operations and reinvigorate mediation, conflict prevention, and reconstruction efforts in the wake of these very conflicts.
Canada will do more, but in a different way. Our approach is clearly distinct from and more beneficial than the Conservatives' strictly military approach because of the emphasis on humanitarian assistance, welcoming refugees, and diplomacy.
The mission in Iraq and Syria will be redefined on the basis of this new approach. Our objective is very clear: improve the effectiveness and make better use of the Canadian Armed Forces in order to meet the coalition's current needs.
The Conservatives are surprised. However, we repeated many times that we would stop the air strikes by the CF-18s in Iraq and Syria and focus instead on training local forces fighting on Iraqi soil. The day after we were elected, the informed President Obama of our intentions. The attended many bilateral meetings to explain our approach and to contribute additional resources to help meet the need for training, transportation, and medical assistance.
We are expanding the humanitarian assistance component as promised. The diplomatic component will also be bolstered by increasing staff in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. We will also deploy more military personnel in the region to carry out different duties, including training.
I want to remind members of the House of the changes we will make. We will increase the number of Canadian Armed Forces members deployed as part of Operation Impact from 650 to approximately 830.
We will triple Canada's train, advise, and assist mission in northern Iraq to boost local security forces' independence. We will provide additional intelligence resources in northern Iraq and theatre-wide to better protect coalition forces and those of the host country. That will enable the coalition to develop a more detailed understanding of the threat and improve its ability to target, degrade, and defeat ISIS.
We will continue to support coalition operations with our Polaris aerial refueller and up to two Aurora surveillance aircraft. We will provide training in the use of military equipment supplied by the Government of Canada in accordance with Canadian and international law.
We will offer to participate in the coalition's ministerial liaison, which supports Iraq's ministries of defence and the interior. We will enhance our capacity-building efforts in Jordan and create a new program in Lebanon. Finally, we will deploy Canadian Armed Forces medical personnel to support Canadian security forces and their Iraqi counterparts.
The changes I just listed constitute an informed, clear plan. Our allies recognize that Canada continues to support the air mission by providing two surveillance aircraft and one refuelling aircraft. We will also be contributing something that is considered crucial to the long-term success of the mission, and that is training for Kurdish soldiers.
Let us be clear: we never said anything about a total end to military participation, which is what the NDP promised. We are focusing on training over air strikes. Canada will be more useful in this way, since it has developed real expertise in that area.
Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance recently pointed out that we should not fall into the trap of describing the Iraq mission as something other than a support operation. While air strikes can be useful in the short term, they do not offer any long-term stability. To achieve that, we need to provide the population with the means to ensure its own defence and security.
The decade of isolation under the Conservatives is over. Canada is resuming its diplomatic role in order to help find political solutions to the crisis in the Middle East by supporting the peace process backed by the United Nations and contributing to the efforts by the Iraqi government to promote reconciliation.
Our government is taking a pragmatic and modern approach. That is the promise of a responsible Canada that is engaged in the world in a positive way.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on the motion before the House regarding the redefinition of Canada's role in the fight against ISIS.
I will be splitting my time with the member for .
First, I am proud of the men and women of the armed forces. They defend not only our country, but also protect Canadians' interests and promote Canadian values abroad. Men and women in uniform are the backbone of our defence capabilities, following a strong and noble military tradition since Canada's conception.
It is never an easy decision to send our men and women into combat, and it should not be. When Canada is attacked at home and Canadians are attacked abroad, it is Canada's fight. Yet the has pulled our fighter jets out of the coalition effort to stop ISIS. No justification for withdrawing the CF-18s has been provided. We are willing to paint targets, conduct surveillance, provide fuel for our bombers, but we will not drop any Canadian bombs. Withdrawing from direct combat against ISIS sends the wrong message to Canadians and to our allies.
The proposed motion increases the risk to Canadian Armed Forces members, but reduces Canada's air support. Our Conservative Party strongly believes that our CF-18s should remain in the fight against ISIS. It is my view and that of my party that withdrawal from this mission is a step backward from Canada's traditional role as defenders for human rights and international security. We have a long and proud history of defending innocent and vulnerable populations by taking on those who commit mass atrocities.
In my previous career in the RCMP, having been part of a specialized emergency response team, we provided backup to members in the field during emergencies. As inert officers, we were there to assist in the successful resolution of dangerous situations, thereby enhancing public safety and the security of our regular members. It would have been irresponsible then for our leaders to remove us from that duty, leaving our members in the field to deal with situations on their own without specialized backup. Is that not exactly what the government is doing now with our men and women in uniform?
The air strikes now grounded by the Liberal government provided the necessary air support for our troops battling ISIS. If we are to provide more boots on the ground, we need to ensure that proper protection is in place. We should not rely on our allies to protect our soldiers. Should our troops come under attack now, we will be 100% reliant on allies to provide the backup support. This will lead to unnecessary multiple channels of communication instead of one direct line to our ground troops.
Let me give a couple of examples of what I mean.
In Afghanistan, in 2002 and 2006, miscommunications led to our allies dropping bombs on our troops.
I ask everybody to recall what transpired on the Hill in October 2014. At that time, there were multiple security services on the Hill. This created issues in communications and carrying out an efficient response. In an RCMP review of the events of that day, it was concluded that:
The working relationship between the House of Commons Security Service, the Senate Protective Services and the RCMP is inadequate....All three agencies work as separate entities, with limited interaction or sharing of information.
To avoid having to go through multiple lines of communication and to more effectively and efficiently respond to future events, security on Parliament Hill has since been merged into one single unit.
The above examples prove that the Liberal government will complicate the ability of any air support to respond and assist our troops on the ground. Our CF-18s provided that direct link to the safety of our soldiers.
On December 17 of last year, if we all recall, Canadian special forces that were training Kurdish fighters came under a major attack by ISIS militants. Two of our Canadian CF-18s conducted air strikes to take out the ISIS fighting position that was supporting the extremist offensive, helping our troops dramatically. This proves that our troops are at risk on the ground and need air defence to keep them safe. The CF-18s provided that backup.
General Vance has said that by tripling the number of special operation forces on the ground, it increases the risk. That was also confirmed by the in the House. If this is the case, why is the government taking us out of the fight against ISIS and putting our troops at risk? We believe in ensuring our troops have every tool available to directly protect them and get the job done. Fighter jets are one of the best tools.
Knowing that ISIS attacks have spread beyond Iraq and in Syria and claimed the lives of Canadians recently, halting and degrading ISIS is now more critical. Canada has been a key ally in the air combat effort. Canadian air strikes have been an effective element of the coalition's campaign in destroying ISIS and providing air support to Canadian and allied ground troops. It is extremely irresponsible for the government to downplay Canada's contribution, and all for political reasons.
Canada has the capacity to continue to contribute to air strikes alongside training and humanitarian support. Instead, the government is focused solely on humanitarian and security assistance already being done. There are many times when stronger military action is necessary and fighting is necessary. It is paramount that the government stands shoulder to shoulder with our allies to defend and protect not only our troops on the ground, but the safety and security of all Canadians as well as our allies.
The and the must ensure our troops are protected by our CF-18s. Let us ensure they come home, and may our troops on the ground over there take care.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be in the House today. I am pleased to rise to speak to the mission against ISIS and the contribution that Canada is making to the important international coalition fighting ISIS.
However, before discussing the details of this new mission, I would like to take a moment to ask us all to recognize the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, who unselfishly and willingly have fought to protect Canadian values around the world. There is certainly no greater service to our country, and I thank each and every individual who has fought overseas to protect us here at home.
Today I would like to talk about Canadian values. The and his colleagues seem content to use this term to justify this mission. However, their actions on the ISIL mission certainly do not back up those hollow words.
To me, the way to tell what someone's values are is not by what they say, but what they actually do. There is an age-old adage that “actions speak louder than words”. When it comes to the mission against ISIS, our international partners are hearing very loud and clear that Canada is content on leaving the heavy lifting to everyone else. That is not what Canadians do.
Let us look at what our international partners are gearing up for while our jets are coming home.
France has expanded its air strikes. The United States has expanded its air strikes. The British Parliament just recently approved a motion to expand air strikes. While our partners get ready to take the fight to ISIS, Canadian fighters are packing up to come home.
I think I speak for many Canadians in saying that Canadian values have never been to turn our backs when the going gets tough. Canadian values have never been to leave our friends in the dust, and they most certainly have never been to run from a fight to protect those who need our help.
Let us look at some past conflicts and what the precedent has been for Canadian responses when called upon to act.
World War I was a true testament to Canadian character and forged our identity in the global community. Nobody can dispute that. As a relatively new nation, and a nation that was largely viewed to be under British rule, many players on the world stage did not know what to expect from Canada. Canadian soldiers showed true strength during this conflict and were a crucial part of numerous missions.
I can think of no greater testament to Canadian strength than the Battle of Vimy Ridge. In this battle, Canadians were handed the task of attacking German forces and capturing the ridge that they occupied. In the end, Canadian soldiers did what over 200,000 British and French soldiers could not do; they captured Vimy Ridge. The victory at Vimy Ridge in 1917 was the single largest advance against German forces since the beginning of the war and paved the way for the end of the conflict. This victory did not come without a cost, though, as more than 10,000 Canadians were killed and wounded during the mission. When called upon to act, Canada did not cut and run.
During the Second World War, Canadians fought bravely at a lot of places, among them Juno Beach, and again showed true strength and determination in service to their country. At Juno Beach, Canadians stormed the beach during Operation Overlord, and ultimately seized control. Approximately 574 Canadians were wounded, and about 340 made the ultimate sacrifice during this operation.
However, the successful Canadian mission at Juno Beach would provide a crucial access point in bridgehead, which ultimately led to the liberation of Europe. Once again, Canada did not cut and run.
Most of us have a story that goes back to the Second World War or other conflicts. I have a great uncle buried in Holland, in Groesbeek cemetery. That was the sacrifice that he ultimately gave to help free Holland. There are a lot of brave moments like that, which show the example of what many soldiers did. They did not cut and run.
Then, there was the Korean War. Between 1950 and 1953, about 26,000 Canadian soldiers came to the aid of South Korea during the Korean War. There were 516 Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice in this effort.
Looking at the contrast today between North Korea and South Korea, it is clear that this was a battle worth fighting. Once again, Canada did not cut and run.
The reason that I presented each of these historic conflicts was to demonstrate that Canadians have never valued running from a fight that was worth fighting. When democracy, freedom, tolerance, and the rule of law are under threat, it has been the Canadian response to respond in a meaningful way.
This is no different today. An Angus Reid poll from February 6 found that 63% of Canadians said they would like to see Canada continue bombing ISIS at its current rate or to go even further. Furthermore, only 18% of Canadians polled thought that pulling our jets from the fight would have a positive effect on our international reputation. If 18% want to cut and run, that means that 82% do not.
Prime Minister David Cameron said it best recently when he stated, “We shouldn't be content [to outsource] our security to our allies. If we believe action can help protect us, then—with our allies— we should be part of that action...not standing aside from it”. The same logic should stand for Canada. If we truly believe that action is required to defeat ISIS, then let us take action. Let us not base decisions on campaign rhetoric; let us base them on the true needs of our international partners.
With that, I am going to close shortly. However, I want to thank many members in this House for standing up and trying to make the point on what Canada should be doing as our responsibility and obligation around the world. The member for , the member for , and many others on this side of the House have argued very clearly as to why Canada should not cut and run. It is not what we do, and it is not what we should do. With that, I am happy to take questions.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time this afternoon.
I would like to begin this debate with a statement of gratitude to the many men and women who are serving in our military in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world, and the many public servants who have offered and will continue to offer their service and dedication in the Middle East on our behalf and on behalf of all Canadians.
It is indeed a great privilege to discuss this important undertaking by this government and the people of Canada. There is no doubt that we need to play a role in the geopolitics of our time and support our NATO allies in the Middle East. I believe we are doing just that on this side of the House, moving forward in a bold and confident manner. We will not only play a role in the world and fighting ISIL, but will ensure that part of world builds itself and has the capabilities to fight on its own behalf and to develop a long-term approach to stabilizing the region.
Our motion has essentially five points to it, which I will address before getting into further merits of the debate.
First, we would refocus our military contribution by expanding the advise and assist mission of the Canadian Armed Forces in Iraq; significantly increasing the intelligence capabilities in Iraq theatre-wide; deploying CAF medical personnel; offering to provide the Government of Iraq ministerial liaison personnel for the ministries of defence and the interior; enhancing capacity-building efforts with our defence partners in Jordan and Lebanon to advance regional stability; and as mentioned by many in this House, withdrawing our CF-18s while maintaining air force surveillance and refuelling capabilities.
Second, we would improve the living conditions of conflicted populations, and help to build the foundations for long-term regional stability of host communities, including Lebanon and Jordan.
Third, we would invest significantly in humanitarian assistance, working with experienced humanitarian partners to support the basic needs of conflict-affected populations, including children and victims of sexual and gender-based violence.
Fourth, we would engage more effectively with political leaders throughout the region, increasing Canada's contribution to international efforts aimed at finding political solutions to the crisis affecting the region, and reinforcing our diplomatic presence to facilitate the delivery of enhanced programming; supporting CAF development; strengthening dialogue with local and international partners on the ground; and generally giving Canada a stronger voice in the region, which has to be emphasized. Without question, that is what we are doing on this side of the House.
Fifth, and this is not a minor thing, we are welcoming tens of thousands of Syrian refugees to Canada. This is an important commitment we made in the election, and we are following through on it as we speak. I believe 20,000 Syrian refugees have already arrived in this country, and we will be continuing with those efforts.
This is a strong signal to the world and to the region of our long-term commitment to support what is happening over there, and allowing a sense of dignity and humanitarian aid that I believe reflects well in the world community. More importantly, this reflects Canadian values of helping out, giving people shelter from the storm, and helping people in these regions rebuild their lives.
That is essentially what we as a government are doing, and I am very proud of those efforts.
I would point out what, in my view, we are losing track of when we focus only on the narrow issue of taking out our CF-18s. We have to look at this in the broader context of what we are doing writ large to support our NATO allies, the 65 partner nations that are over there combatting ISIL, and what we are adding to that contribution, and how we can best play a meaningful role. There is no doubt that Canada is fulfilling those commitments to our NATO partners. If we look at the comments coming from the American generals and our partners throughout the world, they are satisfied that Canada is playing a meaningful role. We can see that.
If weighed in their overall capacity, our contributions are superior to what was being offered by the former government. We are moving in with more personnel, more aid, more technological support, and the like. This will assist the region in the short term by enabling the Iraqis forces and others on the ground to develop more capabilities to take the fight to ISIL. It will also assist in the long run in the humanitarian, nation-building, and political contexts, and through our whole-of-government approach, effectively working throughout the region to hopefully secure it and to make it more peaceful. If one looks at our efforts compared to those of the former government, it is clear that we are actually doing more.
When we look at this situation, there seems to be much rancour about the pulling out of the CF-18s. There is no doubt that the reformulation of our mission has allowed our NATO partners to continue with the bombing mission. Clearly, this is not cutting and running. We are staying in the fight. We have just re-calibrated our capacity to do these things and move forward with a different approach, one that not only fits in with the kind and character of what we said in the election but will support the region over the long term, and is what Canadians have been good at throughout our history.
As we are coming up on our 150th year as a country, I would be remiss not to note that we have taken part in the events of the day going back to the Boer War, World War I, and World War II when we stormed the beaches of Normandy. I note our role in the Cold War, and our efforts in Africa, Bosnia and Afghanistan. Canada is not being isolationist, nor is it attempting to be at this time. I sense that our approach to foreign policy, and how we will develop that and work through our United Nations partners to play a meaningful role in humanitarian organizations, and the like, will serve this nation going forward.
The former government did not play that meaningful partnership role that governments in Canada have essentially done through Mr. Pearson, Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Clark, Mr. Mulroney, and Mr. Chrétien. That approach changed under the former government. Many people saw it retreat from what Canada was good at, which is being a true partner of the institutions around the world that are looking to see peace, order, and good government come to other regions of the world, and for Canada to take a meaningful part.
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the members of the Canadian Armed Forces who are currently in Iraq and Syria. Their courage and their skill have made it possible for us to articulate a broader policy to help everyone in the region.
I would like to focus my remarks on three broad themes: first, our mandate; second, the nature of the team play, so to speak, in the mission; and third, some thoughts about leadership. I will use some sports metaphors not because this is not a serious issue but because we are trying to understand the nature of team play. It is often useful. I have been a teacher for 20 years at the university level, so I understand that sometimes, in order to make what we are doing clear to Canadians from different walks of life, it is useful to take analogies and metaphors from other areas, and that is precisely what I will do.
First, as regards our mandate, Liberals were clear during the course of the election campaign that we would withdraw our fighter jets from Iraq and that we would review our role generally in the fight against Daesh, and that is precisely what we are doing. We were clear as well on our condemnation of Daesh and everything it stands for and everything it is trying to accomplish, and that we would stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies come hell or high water—at the risk of being a little crude—and that is precisely what we are doing. In this reformulation of the mission, we are fulfilling our mandate; and in focusing on humanitarian aid, training, and intelligence gathering, we are providing the necessary means to help win this battle, as this battle has now evolved.
I am going to use some sports metaphors now, but it is to clarify in terms that all Canadians can understand.
I was a soccer coach for many years, and I have played hockey all of my life. I was a coach and manager, and I was responsible for selecting players. I therefore have a lot of experience in formulating team strategies and assessing players' strengths and weaknesses. It is very important that I tell Canadians that I have that experience so that they know exactly what we are doing with our mission against Daesh.
When I was the associate dean of my law faculty, people joked that I was a full-time soccer coach and part-time law professor. Every player on a team has a role to play, and every player has strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes roles change, depending on the circumstances. It is important to always consider how the circumstances change on the field and over the course of a season.
I will give a few examples. I had a player named Benjamin on my team. During the winter season, he was my top scorer in a seven-on-seven league. During the summer, the team's needs changed and he switched positions to centre fullback, a very important position for the team. We lost our best scorer from the winter season, but that is the sort of thing that a coach has to do from time to time after assessing the team's strengths and weaknesses and the circumstances.
There was also Benoît, who was another great scorer. When our goalie was injured, Benoît had to take his place. Sometimes you do what you have to do.
I will now give an example that everyone will be able to relate to. Every four years, when it comes time to form the Canadian Olympic hockey team, top scorers from the NHL are sometimes asked to play defence. It is not necessarily because they are not as good as other players. Sometimes they are better at playing offence than other first- or second-line players. However, they also have other strengths that make them better able to play defence.
We win often enough. All of that to say that this is a winning strategy. The context also changes. We cannot ignore the context and what is going on in Iraq and Syria.
Here is another example. I put together a team focused on controlling the ball. One day, I got to the field and saw that the grass had not been cut. It was 10 centimetres long. I immediately told my players that our style of play would not work in these conditions and that we would kick the ball far and run to catch up with it. It worked well. We quickly picked up two or three goals and won the game.
Sometimes you have to take a look at the field, analyze what is going on, and then make a decision.
That is exactly what is happening here with our mission against Daesh. Not everyone can be a goal scorer, even if they are so talented. Not everyone will be the primary defender, even if they may be the best defender on the team. It is just the way it is. The team has to be filled. Different roles have to be played.
When I asked the hon. member a question a moment ago, about whether or not he knew of other allies who were putting more effort into the humanitarian mission, into the intelligence-gathering mission, he was unable to answer.
We are doing this, not because we are weak, not because we do not have a role, not because we are not leaders within this action against Daesh; we are doing it precisely because we are leaders, can fulfill this role, and have seen the conditions on the ground change over the past number of months. We know that what is needed is intelligence gathering, training of local fighters, humanitarian aid, and diplomacy.
Make no mistake: this battle is going to be won ultimately by local fighters who are taking back territory. We are helping to train them. Yes, air strikes help. However, now we need people to perform a very necessary role of training and continuing to train local fighters in order to position ourselves for a final victory.
It is not a unidimensional mission. Sometimes it is, frankly, quite bizarre to hear the members opposite focus on air strikes, as if this were the only way to win, and not taking into account the capacities of the coalition where we are very strong on air strikes.
Let me give one other example, a little more academic. The 19th century economist David Ricardo gave us the laws of comparative advantage, on which our international trade mission is effectively based. It may be, according to Ricardo's observations on comparative advantage, that a country can have the best pilots and have the best training, humanitarian, diplomatic, and intelligence-gathering capacities, and still be asked to use that second set of qualities, simply because it fits better with the rest of the picture, in terms of the whole strategy for winning this battle against Daesh.
Our allies are not confused. Our allies have developed this policy with us, and it is a comprehensive one.
I now want to talk a little about leadership. Leadership can sometimes take different forms. Our leadership must be broad and wide-ranging, and we must remain aware of changes, which is exactly what we are doing.
The opposition takes a very simplistic view of this issue. Having only one approach would be disastrous, as we saw with the United Nations Security Council a few years ago.
I am a proud Canadian, confident in our soldiers, our men and women in service, confident also in our leadership capacities and in our ability to work with our allies in order to defeat Daesh. We stand shoulder to shoulder with them.
This reformulation of our mission against Daesh is needed now; it reflects our capabilities and our capacities; it is what our allies want; and it is the best way to move forward.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the House that I will be splitting my time with the member for .
Like all MPs, New Democrats welcome the opportunity to have this debate in the House on how best to engage and defeat ISIS.
It is interesting to see that the Liberal government is following the precedent set by the Conservatives of asking Parliament to approve the deployment of Canadian troops in active conflict zones. I say that carefully because both the Conservatives and the Liberals are saying that the motions they brought before the House were not for combat missions.
What are we asking the House to do? I guess the precedent is now approving the deployment of troops in active conflict zones.
We in the New Democratic Party believe that this is entirely appropriate, as there are few other decisions that governments make that could be more important than placing Canadian troops in harm's way. Yet, public debate seems to have veered into a narrow cul-de-sac over this question of whether or not this is in fact a combat mission. This is peculiar to me, in that the military mission at the core of the motion before us today seems virtually identical to the previous Conservative mission, however we label it.
No, Canadian jets are not going to be the ones dropping the bombs, but Canada will remain fully a part of the allied bombing mission, with our two Aurora surveillance planes and a refuelling plane. In addition, we will also be sending four helicopters to fly missions over Iraq; not to mention that, as General Vance confirmed on Friday, Canadian Forces will continue to help paint targets on the ground for the allied bombing missions.
The other part of the military mission in this motion, what is sometimes loosely called a “training mission”, still explicitly includes advising and assisting local troops, including accompanying Kurdish troops to the front line and, according to General Vance again, fighting ISIS when necessary.
With the tripling of this part of the mission, Canada is clearly headed into greater involvement in on-the-ground fighting, and for most Canadians, if Canadian Forces are at the front lines and fighting ISIS when necessary, then this is in fact a combat mission.
Once again, let me say that I believe that all members of the House have confidence in the Canadian Forces and that none doubts their capabilities, whether we are talking about a bombing mission or a training mission; nor does anyone doubt their willingness to fight or stand in harm's ways, as required, in the service of Canada and world peace.
I would go further even and defend the Canadian Forces, and in particular General Vance, from being sideswiped by this semantic debate over the nature of the mission, because I believe the Canadian defence staff has always been clear in describing the Iraq mission as a hybrid mission, one that is somewhere between traditional combat and non-combat missions.
For the Liberal government, the problem is that it argued previously that the Conservative mission was a combat mission and it clearly and specifically called in the campaign for an end to what it described as Canada's combat mission in Iraq. Now, what we are seeing is that the Liberal mission label has morphed, rather than the actual mission itself. Unfortunately, as one of my friends has begun to say, sometimes it appears that red may be the new blue.
Returning to the motion before us today, it seems clear there is a convention that Canadian governments should bring motions before the House for a debate and vote. It is just ironic that we have both the Conservatives and Liberals saying that their motions were non-combat missions.
However, there is something more at stake here than just the ironies of political spin. The motion before us is more than just the military component. In fact, a wag might even describe it as an omnibus motion.
Nevertheless, New Democrats are glad to see the renewed emphasis on diplomacy, the renewed commitment to aid conflict-afflicted populations in the region, and the ongoing commitment to refugee assistance in this motion. New Democrats have always argued that Canada needs to do its part in humanitarian aid to the region and with regard to refugees.
The government's lofty goals for refugee assistance are laudable, even if most of the on-the-ground delivery so far has been provided by private sponsorship groups, and even if significant gaps remain in this program. As the government well knows, I remain very concerned about the effectiveness of government measures to assist those most at risk: LGBT refugees in the region.
The need for increased humanitarian assistance in the region is increasingly urgent. When I was in the region two weeks ago, there was enormous concern that the pressure of 1.9 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, 1.2 million in Lebanon, and more than 650,000 in Jordan might engulf Iraq's and Syria's neighbours in the conflict. There is little doubt that Lebanon and Jordan face imminent economic and social collapse, with refugees equalling 20% and 10% of their populations, respectively.
So, the measures called for in this motion to provide that aid are extremely important. However, again, the question before us is at its core how to best contribute to the struggle against ISIS.
Once again, every one of us in the House recognizes that ISIS is a threat to global peace and security. New Democrats, like all other parties in this House, have condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist acts of ISIL and its violent extremist ideology. We deplore its continued gross, systematic, and widespread abuses of human rights. We not only believe that the international community has the obligation to stop ISIS expansion, to help refugees, and fight the spread of violent extremism, but we also believe that Canada should be a leader in that effort. However, New Democrats have been clear in our position that the current mission is not the right role for Canada. We see little difference between the Conservative and Liberal versions. We think this military mission should end rather than be expanded. We are concerned at the open-ended nature of the commitment we are now making.
The bombing and the other measures taken so far have not stopped ISIS from administering territory and acting like a state, and that is the key to its legitimacy in its own ideological terms and the key to its authority to command loyalty from its followers, both locally and abroad. The bombing remains a strategic failure, whatever its tactical successes.
The government's alternative of training Iraqi forces to combat ISIS also seems to suffer from the same narrow tactical focus. Even if successful, it is unlikely to achieve the strategic goal of defeating ISIS. It suggests that we can accomplish the short-term goal of eliminating the threat with a tactic that, at best, takes years to accomplish.
After more than a decade of assistance in air and ground campaigns, followed by an on-the-ground training mission involving up to 3,000 Canadians over an equally long period, where are we in the struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan? In December, the Kandahar airport was overrun for a day, with more than 70 people killed; and just last week the Afghan government admitted it was conceding control of virtually the whole province of Helmand to the Taliban.
What is the NDP advocating if it is neither the Conservative option of more bombing nor the Liberal option of surrogate bombing and more training? The best strategy for eliminating the threat from ISIS is to deprive it of that ability to control territory through means other than the military fight it wants and needs. This is exactly what the UN Security Council called for in its resolutions 2170 and 2199. These two resolutions lay out exactly the kind of leadership role Canada can play in fighting this threat to global peace and security.
Each day, ISIS is still earning between $1 million and $3 million from its sale of oil on black markets. This has to be stopped if we are to have any hope of beating ISIS. It is again ironic that we are seeing reports that low oil prices are beginning to do this job for us, as ISIS is reportedly having trouble meeting payrolls due to declining income from oil sales. The end of ISIS might come much faster if we acknowledge that oil is not sold in buckets or paid for in cash and if Canada took a leadership role in bankrupting ISIS. Instead, Canada has registered just one conviction for terrorist financing, in 2010, and nothing since then.
In 2013, the global Arms Trade Treaty was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to keep weapons out of the hands of those who would use them to commit war crimes, abuse human rights, or engage in organized crime—groups exactly like ISIS. Three years later, Canada remains the only NATO country that has refused to sign the global Arms Trade Treaty despite the Liberal campaign promise to do so.
When it comes to the flow of foreign fighters to ISIS, Canada clearly lags behind its allies. Communities across this country have reached out to the federal government, both under the Conservatives and the Liberals, asking for help to protect youth from ISIS's sophisticated recruitment techniques. However, the motion before us contains no mention of, let alone any plan, to step up deradicalization efforts.
Why are we not leading on these broader goals? Why are we instead sticking to a tactical rather than a strategic approach? It is hard to understand, unless, of course, the measures that we would have to take to end the flow of funds and the flow of arms might end up embarrassing some of Canada's allies and friends. Not one of the actions we are proposing in any way backs away from the confrontation with ISIS. Some would eventually require the use of military forces to seal the borders against oil exports or arms movements. The contribution they would require from Canada would require in turn a robust Canadian military equipped with the tools it needs to get the job done.
Despite promises to return to the House in two years, what we really have in this motion is an open-ended commitment of the same kind that saw Canada remain in Afghanistan for more than a decade and, as I said, with questionable results against the Taliban. The NDP is not afraid of committing Canadian Forces to difficult tasks on the international scene, but it should be with a clear mandate from an international organization like the UN or NATO, and it should be with clear goals and clear measures of success, alongside a clear exit strategy. Canada has a long and proud history of this kind of contribution. We can and should step up as leaders again. Unfortunately, this motion does not offer us that opportunity.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from on his excellent speech and his thorough understanding of the subject. We are lucky to have members who are experts in this domain right here in the NDP. We are very happy about that.
This is a very important debate. This debate is about the government's motion to prolong Canada's military mission against the so-called Islamic State and other related issues. It is very important to discuss this today. This issue affects everyone in Canada in general and, from my perspective, the people of greater Drummond in particular.
Before we even talk about the government's proposal, I would like to talk about what is missing from the proposal. One thing that is missing is deradicalization. The motion says nothing about the importance of fighting radicalization right here in Canada and fighting to ensure that all of the communities that make up our great nation feel included.
I would like to thank the Regroupement interculturel de Drummondville for the wonderful event it held on Saturday and congratulate the organization. Drummondville has welcomed close to 40 Syrians. They have been welcomed in Drummondville, and we are very proud of that. We will ensure that these people feel welcome and that they can learn French and be integrated into our community. We will create opportunities for cultural exchange. That is what happened on Saturday. We sampled Syrian food and talked to the Syrian newcomers with the help of interpreters. We also had an opportunity to give them warm clothing. The people of Drummondville knitted hats and scarves and gave them to the new Syrian residents who arrived a month or even just days ago. We are very proud of that.
Before I get into the details of the motion currently before us, I would like to talk about what happened on November 20, 2015, at the UN Security Council. Resolution 2249 was adopted unanimously. It calls upon member states to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed in the territory that has fallen into the hands of ISIL in Syria and Iraq. The resolution does not authorize military intervention. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “Over the longer term, the biggest threat to terrorists is not the power of missiles—it is the politics of inclusion.”
That is what is so crucial. That is also why I want to recognize what has been achieved in my riding by the Regroupement interculturel de Drummondville and the Goûts du Monde co-operative. It is important to ensure social cohesion and the inclusion of all communities. It begins with small steps like the ones in Drummondville, and I hope similar things are happening all across Canada. That is also what needs to be done locally, on the ground. I think that is far more important than bombs.
In that respect, the NDP has been very clear about our positions. That is very important to us. The Liberal 's new mission raises some questions that remain unanswered. On the contrary, the new mission is very vague. Canadian Forces personnel are being pushed even further into a combat role, even though the Liberals said early on that they wanted to pull away from a combat role and focus on training. We find this very troubling.
Furthermore, by increasing the number of soldiers on the front lines, as the Prime Minister said, the Liberals are committing Canada to a larger military role with no end date or parameters to define the success of the mission.
As I mentioned, the NDP is truly concerned by the direction being taken by the Liberals. They said they wanted to withdraw from the military role, but that does not seem to be the case. On the contrary, there will be more soldiers on the ground. Unfortunately, we need only think of what happened to Sergeant Doiron, who was killed even though he was supposedly there in a training role. We have learned that when missions are not well defined or clear and do not have specific parameters, we find ourselves in situations where we run the risk of having even more problems and where the lives of soldiers will probably be at risk. That is not what the people of the Drummond area want.
It is very important to us that the mission in Syria be clearly defined, which is not currently the case. On the contrary, the Liberals will triple the number of so-called advisers working with Iraqi security forces. Some of them will work in a battlefield context. Others will explore means of enhancing in-theatre tactical transport. Consequently, instead of reducing the number of armed forces members, they are talking about tripling the number of members deployed. That is very worrisome.
That is why the UN Security Council is urging member states to increase their efforts in the fight against ISIL, particularly by stopping the influx of terrorist fighters to the region and by cutting off the group's funding. We would have liked the government to focus on these areas and to fight radicalization here in Canada.
The matter of the Arms Trade Treaty is of great concern. As members know, it is very worrisome that the current government has not yet signed this treaty. It must be ratified. That is the first urgent order of business. It would help to stop ISIL's advance and would be more effective than deploying our soldiers on the ground in the short term.
As I mentioned, we are very concerned about this mission and we hope that, in the short term, the Liberal government will sign this non-proliferation treaty. It would be a big help.
We have had some concerns for a long time. First, this combat mission was not being run under a United Nations or NATO mandate. The NDP believes it is important to take a multilateral approach to armed conflict. That is why we are calling on the government to sit down with representatives from the United Nations and organizations like NATO, in order to find long-term, multilateral solutions, and not solutions motivated by special interests. The United States is essentially running the coalition right now. We need a neutral coalition, such as a multilateral UN mission. That is very important to us, and that is missing from the Liberals' mission and motion. This is a big concern for us.
In closing, I want to come back to the importance of working on an international scale, as we mentioned, either by signing the non-proliferation treaty or by ensuring that we are participating in a multilateral UN-sanctioned mission. Furthermore, we must continue to combat radicalization within Canada and to do more, to get involved, as we saw in Drummondville on Saturday. The Regroupement interculturel de Drummondville, or RID, and the Goûts du Monde co-operative recently took action on including and welcoming all communities.
If we want our country to be more welcoming, these communities will have to have a better relationship.