That, given that ISIS has taken responsibility for recent deadly attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Africa, and has declared war on Canada, this House: (a) acknowledge that now is not the time for Canada to step back and force our allies to take on a heavier burden in the fight against ISIS; (b) remind the government of its obligation to our NATO partners and its responsibility to protect the freedom, democracy, safety, and security of Canadians; (c) call upon the government to maintain the air-combat mission of the RCAF CF-18 fighter jets; (d) express its appreciation to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces for their participation in the fight against terror; and (e) reconfirm our commitment to our allies to stop ISIS.
He said: Mr. Speaker, although it is not my first time standing in this new Parliament, I do want to congratulate you on your election as Speaker. I would like to congratulate all MPs for their respective elections. I would in particular like to thank the people of Parry Sound—Muskoka for returning me to office for the fourth consecutive time.
I am sure all colleagues would agree that it is a great honour to be here, under any circumstances. We look forward to this Parliament over the next few years.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
The basis of our motion today is a straightforward one. Canada must always stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies. We believe that the government needs to maintain our commitment to the air combat mission against ISIS and to leave our CF-18s in the fight. While our coalition partners are stepping up their efforts to degrade and defeat ISIS, the Liberal government is stepping back.
The Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Air Force have been carrying out both training and air strikes successfully in the region for almost a year. Our troops have been making a difference. Pulling them out of the fight now is not only contrary to the interests of Canada and our coalition partners, but it is an insult to our women and men in uniform; and to suggest that their role has been insignificant is perhaps the greatest insult.
Our troops have damaged ISIS and slowed its progress. That must continue.
The Conservatives have said that in order to stand shoulder to shoulder with its allies, Canada needs to maintain its commitment to the air combat mission against ISIS and leave its CF-18s in the fight. That is why the is urging the Liberal government to reverse its decision to withdraw the CF-18s. We fully support that change.
The still has not explained how withdrawing Canada's CF-18s from the fight against ISIS will help our coalition partners.
The brutality of ISIS has no bounds. It is an unadulterated evil scourge that must be confronted with full force and without hesitation. Unfortunately, recent history tells the horrific tale.
In San Bernardino, California, on December 2, 14 people were killed and 21 injured in a terror attack consisting of a mass shooting and an unsuccessful bombing at the Inland Regional Center by supporters of ISIS.
In Paris on November 13, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks claimed the lives of 130 innocent people.
On November 12 in Beirut, Lebanon, two suicide bombers killed at least 43 people. The attack in the south suburb of Beirut is one of Lebanon's deadliest in recent years. ISIS targeted civilians, worshippers, unarmed people, women, and the elderly. It only targeted innocent people.
On November 4 in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, at least four police officers were killed when a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle full of explosives next to a police club in northern Sinai.
In the Sinai Peninsula on October 31, after a Russian plane crashed in the mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, a Sinai-based group affiliated with ISIS claimed responsibility for planting the bomb on the plane. There were 224 people killed.
In Aden, Yemen, on October 6, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on a luxury hotel hosting Yemeni officials and a gulf military base in Yemen's cosmopolitan port city of Aden, as well as a mosque bombing in the Yemen capital of Sanaa. At least 15 troops were killed, including four UAE soldiers.
In Sanaa, Yemen, on September 24, ISIS militants targeted Shiite Muslims who were praying during the religious holiday of Eid and killed 25 people at a mosque in Yemen's capital city of Sanaa.
Then there are the ISIS executions. The full scale of ISIS' year of terror has been detailed in a recent report that claims the jihadist group has executed more than 3,000 people in the past 12 months, a tally that includes 74 children.
According to a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, produced to mark the first anniversary of the establishment of the group's so-called caliphate, ISIS has carried out 3,027 execution killings in a year. Among the thousands of Arab and Kurdish civilians executed by the group in Syria last year, 86 were women.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child released a report in February, documenting the many horrors ISIS has imposed on children who are Kurdish, Yazidi, Christian, and Muslim. Children, even those who are mentally challenged, are being tortured, crucified, buried alive, used as suicide bombers, and sold as sex slaves, according to this report, and there is no reason to doubt its veracity.
The international community and our allies are at one. Here is what some of the leaders around the world, our coalition allies, have to say about the fight against ISIS.
David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, stated:
ISIL has brutally murdered British hostages. They have inspired the worst terrorist attack against British people since 7/7 on the beaches of Tunisia, and they have plotted atrocities on the streets here at home. Since November last year our security services have foiled no fewer than seven different plots against our people, so this threat is very real. The question is this: do we work with our allies to degrade and destroy this threat, and do we go after these terrorists in their heartlands, from where they are plotting to kill British people, or do we sit back and wait for them to attack us?
The President of the French Republic, François Hollande, has had quite a bit to say about this.
He has said that France would battle ISIS “without a respite, without a truce... It is not a question of containing but of destroying this organisation”.
President Obama stated, “ISIL is the face of evil. Our goal, as I’ve said many times, is to degrade and ultimately destroy this barbaric terrorist organization.”
It is evidently clear where our allies stand on this issue, but, sadly, Canada's position, once clearly defined under our previous Conservative government, is now hazy and hesitant. Canadians can be extremely proud of the efforts of the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces in Operation Impact. Our special operations forces have been able to train over 1,100 peshmerga forces, allowing them to combat ISIS more effectively on the ground.
For nearly a year, the Royal Canadian Air Force has been working with our allies and successfully launching air strikes against ISIS' fighting positions, weapons caches, training facilities, IED facilities, critical infrastructure, and command centres.
I have to say this. Regrettably, we have no plan from the Liberals on what our mission against ISIS would look like. There was no mention of what our plan will be in the throne speech. Canadians support the fight against ISIS. They deserve to know why we are stepping back.
Madam Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to be able to rise today. I want to thank my colleague from , our critic for global affairs, for bringing forward this motion today. This is important.
I am disappointed that the government never brought forward this motion. When we were in power as government, we established the principled position that all military deployments and all changes in missions should be debated in this place.
It is important to engage every member of Parliament in making the decisions on how we use the Canadian Armed Forces in fighting terrorism, deploying our troops, going against oppressors, and making sure that we stop mass atrocities.
It is disappointing that changes are going to be made to this mission. We are still not sure why the Liberals made this promise in this first place during the last election campaign. We have still not heard from the , the , or the on why it makes sense to withdraw our planes from the fight against ISIS.
Later today leaders from all parties, I believe, are going to Toronto to welcome the first planeload of Syrian refugees. All these refugees are fleeing ISIS. If we want to stop the humanitarian crisis, if we want to stop the genocide that ISIS is carrying out, we actually have to defeat ISIS itself. We do not do that by taking a back seat.
We have to remember that ISIS has declared war on Canada. As the member for was saying earlier, when we were talking about the atrocities, the terrorist acts, and the murders that were committed in San Bernadino, Paris, Beirut, and Egypt, let us not forget that ISIS inspired the attacks that took the lives of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo.
ISIS has declared war on Canada. It is paramount that the government defend and protect our nation and our citizens.
The United Nations gets this. The Security Council determined on November 20 that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or al-Sham or ISIL or ISIS or Daesh or whatever one wants to call them constituted an unprecedented threat to international peace and security, calling upon member states with the requisite capacity to take all necessary measures to prevent and suppress its terrorist acts on territory under its control in Syria and Iraq.
The council urged member states to intensify their efforts to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters into Iraq and Syria, and to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism.
As our global affairs critic said, this is a three-legged stool. We have a humanitarian crisis and we have to deliver humanitarian aid in a major way, and refugees are a part of that. We have to stop the ability of ISIS to fund itself and finance its war and its terrorism. Ultimately it comes down to stopping ISIS in its tracks. The only way to do that is with military intervention.
Canada has a long, proud history of taking on those who commit mass atrocities. Let us think of Passchendaele and the Canadians cutting their way through on Vimy Ridge. We can talk about how they fought the Nazis and led the attack on D-Day on Juno Beach. We can talk about how they stood up against the genocide in Bosnia in the Medak Pocket. We can talk about how they took the fight to the Taliban in Afghanistan, in places like the Panjwayi.
We have always distinguished ourselves. We have tremendous Canadians, the best Canadians, who are members of the Canadian Armed Forces. In every discipline that they have, whether it is in the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, or the Royal Canadian Air Force, each and every member is always up to the fight and up to the task that Parliament sometimes has to put upon them.
We want to make sure that we are doing what is right, and in the absence of a motion from the government to define what its plan is, the Conservative Party brought forward our motion today so that Parliament has a chance to pronounce itself on the battle against ISIS.
More importantly, I was concerned that if we did not have this motion today that we would hear the change in the new plan withdrawing our CF-18s, maybe taking out the entire air task force, including bringing back our Polaris refuelling Airbus, our Aurora reconnaissance aircraft, and the 600 members of the Royal Canadian Air Force and others who are stationed right now as part of the air task force in Kuwait, bringing all of them home without doing anything to increase the military training for the Kurdish peshmerga, and that those decisions would be made and announced when Parliament was not sitting over the Christmas break, when Canadians would be busy doing other things and not paying attention to what is taking place on the international scene. So it becomes even more important that we have this debate today.
We have yet to hear one of our coalition partners say it is great that Canada is taking a step back. The only people who seem to be excited about withdrawing our CF-18s are the Liberals and ISIS, and that is downright embarrassing and dangerous. We have to continue to step up. The Canadian way is always to go in and punch above our weight, and I expect that of our government, especially in light of the recent attacks, especially in light of how the coalition partners have really coalesced around a more robust military intervention, bombing ISIS positions on a more frequent and upscaled basis. Canada should be doing the same. At a bare minimum, we should be leaving the CF-18s in the fight.
Yes, we can do more on training. If the government wants to come forward with a proposal on putting more planners, more special operations forces, in the field to work alongside the Kurdish peshmerga and Iraqi security forces, it would have our full support. We believe that ultimately it is boots on the ground that will win this fight. Those who are most at risk there are the ones who are going to have to take up that fight.
If we look at the record we have been able to achieve under the special operation forces training with the peshmerga, by far, it is the most successful in the region. Why is that? Not only are we giving them the tools and skills that are required in training, but we are also a part of the command structure. It is an aid, an assist, and it is training, and they are required to go to the front lines to observe how the Kurdish peshmerga forces are performing. There is definitely more danger involved in that, but it has been, by far, more successful.
A Mr. Hillier, a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces who went and fought with the Kurdish peshmerga, came back and said that our training has been very successful. He also said that the CF-18 bombing strikes have been even more successful. When we heard from the Kurdistan regional government officials, they said that if it were up to them, they would ask Canada to keep the CF-18s in the fight because they have saved lives and have destroyed the enemy.
Now, we as Parliament, really do need to look at how we can best contribute. That is what we keep hearing from the and the . They think the only way we can contribute this is through the training mission, but this has to be a whole-of-government approach and it has to involve all aspects of our military assets. We have already expenditured for the establishment of the air task force. We have already set up camp, we have already deployed troops, and we already have equipment and materiel in theatre. It is more important now that we leave those assets there and maximize their use in the fight.
As my friend from pointed out earlier, if it is okay in the first week of December to continue to send our CF-18s out, flying their sorties, collecting intelligence, and making the ultimate decision on whether or not they drop bombs on ISIS targets, why will it not be good enough next week, in January, or all of next year?
We should stay involved until we actually defeat ISIS. That is what we are hearing from world leaders. That is what we are hearing from the United Nations.
It is important that Canada stays engaged if we want to be a serious player on a global scale. Our allies expect us to do our share. Stepping back, away from—
Madam Speaker, the motion by the hon. member for , as well as the current member opposite, raised a number of points regarding our ongoing commitment to the fight against ISIL. I thank the member for the opportunity to speak about this important issue.
First, I would like to thank my constituents of Vancouver South for electing me as their member of Parliament. I am proud to be their representative in these chambers.
On October 19, following the longest electoral campaign in the history of our country, Canadians elected a government committed to standing up for both our security and their values. This government will live up to that commitment.
Canadians from coast to coast to coast are in agreement that the twisted behaviour of this so-called state is contrary to the democratic principles that are the foundation of our great country. We are united in this regard with our international allies.
The attacks we have seen most recently in Beirut and Paris demand a unified response, and Canada will play a role in this fight. The question is how we will confront this challenge. I am pleased to offer a summary of the government's point of view on this matter.
There is an ongoing and serious security threat in the Middle East posed by ISIL. It has claimed responsibility for horrific attacks on innocent civilians around the world, and it must be stopped. However, ISIL is not only a threat to innocent victims in this war-torn part of the world. It represents a clear and present danger to international security and stability to our allies and to Canada as it has called for direct attacks against Canadian citizens on Canadian soil.
As we saw last year, this twisted ideology infected a few individuals leading to the brutal murders of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo. This is why the Canadian Armed Forces must continue to be flexible, agile, and ready to defend our interests.
This government is committed to ensuring that our men and women in uniform have the support they need to do that job. This is why we have made significant commitments to predictable and consistent funding for our military.
We know this is a long-term fight that must be fought on many fronts. We know that to defeat this menace, we must continually assess our contribution and apply a multi-layered approach, utilizing the Canadian Armed Forces, which has a wide array of capabilities, and bringing our military member skills and battle-honed experience to bear against this cold-blooded enemy.
However, it is important to remember that we are not fighting alone. We have allies and partners that are in this fight with us, that face the same challenges that we do, and that are equally determined to combatting the twisted goals of this so-called caliphate. It is the sum of these parts, not each individual component, that we have brought to bear against ISIL.
Canada will continue to contribute to this important fight and fulfill its commitment to work shoulder to shoulder with our coalition partners. We will continue to engage with those partners, most notably our closest ally, the United States, to ensure our contribution is one that can make a difference.
The hon. member for is calling upon the government to maintain the air combat mission of our CF-18 fight jets. However, this government believes that Canada can make a long-term contribution that addresses more than one aspect of the fight against terror in that region.
When planning a fight, we have to look at the entire picture, not each individual piece of the puzzle. We have to look at what we are bringing to the table, what our allies are also bringing to the table, and how the enemy is evolving. If we focus too closely on a singular, short-term option, we lose sight of what is needed to win the fight in the long run.
As career warriors moulded by training, exercises and deployments, our military members are adept in helping other nations build capacity and enabling them to defend themselves. Having spoken with many of our key allies on this matter, it is this strength that is most needed right now. Therefore, this fight continues, and we will continue to take on a different burden.
Canada has an outstanding military, one in which I had the honour to serve. We routinely provide a meaningful and effective contribution to international engagements. Our approach is always to tailor our response to the specific situations at hand, while working in concert with our government partners and maintaining a high level of readiness and flexibility.
This change in approach is no different from the decision our country faced in 2011 when we shifted from our combat mission in Afghanistan to one where we focused on training. That mission was known as Operation Attention. It was a successful one for both Canada and Afghanistan.
Over three years, our soldiers trained 116 Kandaks or battalions in everything from basic military skills to advanced techniques. The expertise we acquired during that mission, not only in the skills that we were passing on but in how best to teach them to others, is exactly what is needed in the fight against ISIL right now. Our special forces are more than capable of carrying on this mission. They are some of the most highly trained and knowledgeable soldiers in the world.
By increasing the number of advisers, which is one option that has been suggested, we will help turn citizens bravely fighting to protect their loved ones into professional soldiers, people expelling this cancer from their midst and preventing it from returning.
However, there are many other options on the table and we are examining all of these possibilities in consultation with our allies and partners to determine how we can help to establish long-term security for the people of Iraq and Syria.
The respect for Canada's military cannot be understated. We are well-known for punching above our weight. We continue to bring incredible military acumen to the table with highly trained personnel that contribute in a tangible way because they know what to do and how to get the job done.
In his motion, the hon. member for has specifically expressed his appreciation to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces for their participation in the fight against terror, so I would like to address that for a moment.
The Royal Canadian Air Force has performed outstandingly as part of the air task force in Iraq, and this is nothing new for it. Indeed, the Royal Canadian Air Force has a proud history that is steeped in tradition, dating back to First World War flying aces like Billy Bishop, through the Battle of Britain, and in its daily operations in support of NORAD, protecting North American airspace. The aircrew, aircraft maintenance crews, weapon systems teams, and support personnel involved in these missions embody the fighting spirit of their predecessors and they are making all Canadians proud every day. To them, I want to make it very clear their work on behalf of Canadians is as appreciated today as it has been in our history.
Contributing to international civility is a role that Canada takes seriously. We are committed to seeing this fight continue and be won. So we must ask ourselves,how will it be won? How can we best contribute to this goal? To destroy ISIL and its twisted ideology over the long term, we will need a local force professionally trained and ready to defend its territory.
While ISIL is a complex, interconnected threat, in addition to its military power, it seeks to inspire terrorist attacks for the mass displacement of refugees and for the intimidation of others. These separate problems are all part of the same threat, ISIL, but none of them can be defeated with military power alone. To combat these threats, we need to be flexible and measured and have a multi-faceted approach, an approach that will continue to battle ISIL on multiple fronts and which addresses the political, social and economic drivers fuelling the conflict in Iraq and Syria. These approaches include hindering the flow of foreign fighters, addressing the humanitarian needs, and halting ISIL's financing and funding.
We are taking important steps on these fronts, not the least of which is the acceptance of 25,000 Syrian refugees. As the indicated yesterday in the House, the first such refugees will be arriving tonight in Toronto, with more coming on Saturday in Montreal.
The best way to show Muslims that they have a place in our society is by accepting these refugees with open arms, as we did with the Vietnamese boat people in the 1970s and the Kosovars in the late 1990s. I hope members of the House will join me in expressing our welcome for these people and wishing them all the best as they begin the next phase of their lives in Canada.
I can assure the House that we will maximize the use of our Canadian skill set, offer a valuable contribution to the coalition effort, and have a meaningful impact on the situation on the ground. Our commitment remains steadfast. However, the battle against ISIS is a complex one and demands a sophisticated response. We will ensure that our contribution to the coalition response represents the best of what Canada has to offer.
Madam Speaker, since this is my first full speech in the House, I want to take this opportunity to thank the people of Laurier—Sainte-Marie for their renewed trust in me. It is an honour to debate the motion moved by the member for , since it essentially calls on us to continue with the Conservative government's policy. It goes without saying that this is really not a good idea. That government kept expanding a mission that began with providing assistance and advice. The mission progressed to bombings and even led to the death of a Canadian soldier on the front lines. There were boots on the ground.
Under the previous government we also saw the prime minister make light of questions about whether the bombings in Syria were legitimate under international law. He essentially made light of international law, which is, I should point out, our greatest guarantee of security.
This motion also refers to NATO. I must point out that the coalition's activities are not led by NATO, nor are they led by the United Nations. I do not want to spend all of my time talking about what the previous government did, but it had no exit strategy and, more importantly, no peace plan.
We still do not know exactly what the Liberal government's plans are. We will have questions about that. We know the bombings are still happening. When will they stop?
They talk about training, but we do not really have any details or a timeline. As with any such action, we need more details. Although we have a lot of questions and doubts about the current approach, it would be ideal to have an exit plan. We would like to know all of that soon.
We have always made it clear that we do not think Canada should be involved in this war. That does not mean we should do nothing at all. Yes, we have to fight ISIS and terrorism in general, but we have to do it with the right tools for the current situation. We also need to respond to the emergency.
Humanitarian aid is another issue. Canada will be receiving quite a few refugees. That is excellent, and we applaud that initiative. Nevertheless, everyone has to understand that helping refugees solves only a very small part of the problem. There are three million displaced people in Iraq and 6.5 million in Syria. There are also 4.5 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries. That is making for some very difficult situations in those countries. For example, in Lebanon, a significant proportion of the population is now made up of refugees. We must do everything we can to prevent the situation from destabilizing those countries and to prevent the chaos—and it is chaos—from spreading to other countries.
People have been displaced within Syria, and seven million people have serious humanitarian aid needs. We absolutely have to do something about that. We have to work on water supply and education. We do not want a lost generation, but that is what could happen. Not only have children been traumatized, but they will have gone years without access to education.
We need to think about the future. Once the situation in Syria has been resolved, we will have to start thinking about what the country will need to rebuild. Syria needs young people who are strong, well educated and able to contribute to the national effort.
Clearly, I am not even talking about shelter. It is winter for the people who have been displaced as well. Perhaps it is not Canadian winter, but even Canadian winter is changing. These people need medical attention. There is so much to do. Humanitarian aid is absolutely essential in the name of our humanity and our obligation to show solidarity. It is also essential to the fight against ISIS.
Obviously, this is not a traditional war. When I hear answers that reflect traditional warfare thinking, namely the whole idea that they are enemies and therefore must be bombed, I cannot help but think that this is a last-century or even last-millennium reaction, philosophy or approach.
At this point, we are up against a propaganda war, and it is crucial that we win hearts and minds. Tragic attacks have been carried out all over the world, including the recent attacks in Paris. The people who perpetrated those acts were born and raised in France. The attacks were planned in Belgium. These people were inspired by anger, by resentment and by the Islamic State and its ideology. It is that ideology that we need to fight.
I have spoken with a number of people from humanitarian organizations working on the ground who happened to be in Canada. I even visited a refugee camp myself. Everyone I spoke to underscored the fact that this is complicating their work and creating confusion among the population. Even those who were being helped by the humanitarian groups did not understand why they were being helped and bombed at the same time. People do not necessarily make that distinction. As everyone knows, this kind of action often and unfortunately leads to collateral damage or mistakes in one form or another.
Humanitarian aid is absolutely crucial. It is a tool that goes beyond what we should do for the sake of dignity or solidarity. It can also help prevent radicalization in the entire region. It is another form of action that is absolutely crucial.
We have to cut off the money supply to ISIS. We also have to stop it from recruiting and that is done by combatting radicalization here and abroad.
The refugee camps surrounding the Central African Republic are now being used for recruiting new jihadists. Canada is no longer giving anything to UNRWA, which can no longer fund schools for young Palestinians. Those young people therefore have less hope for the future and more time on their hands.
We have to address these issues to combat radicalization all around the world. We must also combat radicalization here at home. That can only be done by working with the communities. If we want to cut off their resources, then we must also stop the flow of weapons.
Earlier today, I had the opportunity to ask whether Canada would finally sign and ratify the arms trade treaty, which is an essential tool. Unfortunately I did not get a response. Nevertheless, I encourage the new government to address this important issue as soon as possible. We must also stop the flow of money from all sources. We know there is private funding and funding from oil-rich countries.
I will be told that oil facilities could be bombed, but another option is to have better monitoring of the flow of oil at the borders. We also know about the trafficking of art, in particular, and hostage-taking. There are a number of tools available, and we have been given a very clear mandate by the United Nations to work together in taking action. The President of France said that we must start doing much more about this issue. I would very much like to see Canada show leadership on these matters.
Above all, we must find a path to peace. ISIL was able to establish itself in Syria because of the chaos in that country. It also has a foothold in Iraq because of the country's prevailing problems with governance and exclusion. This has helped ISIL pit one segment of the population against the other. These are the fundamental problems in those countries and, I repeat, in others.
We have heard a lot about prevention. We must start looking elsewhere, where this kind of thing is going on. We know what is happening in Libya right now. We must do something about all those things that help terrorist groups thrive. We need a political solution in Syria. As Dominique de Villepin, France's former foreign affairs minister, said, we need to use tools for peace because, so far, all we have seen, with our bombings elsewhere and interventions in Iraq, war nourishes war. Let us try a new approach, since the approaches we have taken in the past have not been very successful, and let us focus as much as possible on tools for peace.
We must find a political solution in Syria. I hope that the new government will work with our allies, participate in the discussions that are currently taking place and try to make a contribution.
I know that, unfortunately, the Conservative government's policies have seriously undermined Canada's ability to contribute to these kinds of negotiations, but I think that we need to get back to work. We need to build a governance structure in Iraq, which is absolutely essential.
As I said, we need to work on promoting democracy around the world. I know that seems like the kind of work that will produce only long-term results and that I might sound like a dreamer, but we need to face the facts. So far, our approaches to these challenges have not worked, so we need to try something else.
The words of Ban Ki-moon seem fitting here. I think they sum the situation up quite well. He said that, over the longer term, the biggest threat to terrorists is not the power of missiles, it is the politics of inclusion. I could not agree more. Some political leaders, particularly among our neighbours to the south, have decided to adopt the politics of exclusion. That plays right into the terrorists' hands, and that is what we must not do. With respect to dropping bombs, many analysts say that kind of knee-jerk reaction also plays into the terrorists' hands because that is what they want us to do.
In light of the atrocities committed by ISIS and the Bashar al-Assad regime, I find it striking that they are not mentioned in the motion moved by my colleague from , if I am not mistaken. Naturally, the initial reaction calls for violence, aggression, and warmongering.
However, we should recall the words of Ban Ki-moon and try to develop more appropriate and comprehensive approaches.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for .
I am very proud to speak today in the House on a subject that is very important to me.
I had the honour and privilege of working for the Canadian Armed Forces for more than 20 years and I earned the rank of lieutenant-colonel, like our colleague from National Defence. I am therefore in a position to talk about something that concerns me and many Canadians, specifically the withdrawal of our CF-18s from Syria and Iraq.
Our allies, including the United States, France, and England have decided to ramp up their attacks and bombing against ISIS. An international coalition is being formed on a consensus that it is their common duty to combat ISIS, which has made no secret of the fact that Canada and many other allied countries are potential targets for deadly attacks.
The has not provided a single plausible explanation to justify withdrawing our CF-18s from Iraq and Syria, from this so-called asymmetrical warfare, for our NDP colleagues who may need some information.
The explanations from Canada's were nebulous at best, and completely incomprehensible at worst. He spoke about potentially increasing training for local police, providing governance assistance, without defining what that means in the middle of a war against ISIS, and helping create democratic institutions in Iraq. Does the minister understand that when we are in the middle of a war, that is not the time for teaching, but the time for combatting the common enemy?
This government does not seem to have a plan. The promised us a plan soon, and I cannot wait to see this plan in writing, since the minister is not even able to explain it to us in the House. We cannot wait to see it.
Canada must now make a clear commitment to combatting ISIS by keeping our CF-18s in Iraqi and Syrian territory. The Iraqi government openly called for military support from members of the international community to combat ISIS.
My NDP colleague mentioned the United Nations Security Council. Does she know that the United Nations Security Council remains seized of the threat posed by international terrorism? On September 24, 2014, the UN unanimously passed resolution 2178, which states, and I quote:
Reaffirming that terrorism in all forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed, and remaining determined to contribute further to enhancing the effectiveness of the overall effort to fight this scourge on a global level...
Yes, you can make what you will of a UN resolution. However, we saw what happened in Rwanda in 1994 when we put General Dallaire in an impossible situation where he was unable to prevent the massacre of 800,000 Tutsis.
From my experience, I know that in this fight against ISIS, it is critical to destroy the enemy's resource base. We must not forget that ISIS is advancing on the ground and that refugees are being hunted down. Our involvement keeps ISIS from advancing and thus helps the local population. In an armed conflict, our air force supports the supply effort, does locating, and so on.
Why take away the final resource, the one required to destroy located targets? The answer is obvious. Our CF-18 fighter jets must continue their mission in Iraq and Syria. We have special forces that are assisting the Kurds. We have soldiers who are giving valuable advice and getting a lot of information. If we withdraw the CF-18s, what will we do with the intelligence that our aircraft gather on their radar missions? We will send it to our American and British allies so that they can do the bombing.
By withdrawing our CF-18s, we are failing to complete the job. Soldiers do their job from A to Z. By withdrawing the jets, we are forgetting about Z. We are stopping at Y and letting others finish the job. As a former military officer, I can say that our Conservative government raised our Canadian Armed Forces to unprecedented heights.
Why beat a retreat? Why stop?
That would be a slap in the face to all of our men and women in uniform who laboured for years to perfect their skills, an insult to the sacrifices their families were forced to make when they spent months away from home being trained to do their work well.
I would like to make another important point. When I was teaching in France, at the military school in Paris, I would ask my students to stop making long speeches about their plans and to focus on the ultimate mission. I can assure you that I got results that way.
Canada's goal and that of our allies is to destroy ISIS. That is what everyone wants. President Obama even said last week that we have to put an end to ISIS because it is a major threat to humanity.
In the battle against a mobile and formidable enemy, our CF-18 fighter jets are making a valuable contribution to eliminating ISIS targets. We are blocking its progress by attacking its caches of supplies, weapons, munitions and fuel. That is extremely important.
I am appealing to the government's good sense to preserve Canada's international reputation. I am asking the government to keep our CF-18 fighter jets in Iraq and Syria. “Army” rhymes with “credibility”. As a country, we need to preserve our credibility.
Madam Speaker, the sauntered into NATO headquarters the other day suggesting he did not have to do much of a sales job to sell the government's misguided campaign pledge to withdraw Canada's CF18s from the coalition air mission in Iraq and Syria. The minister reportedly has made much of the fact that Canada, according to him, delivers only 2% of the bombing strikes.
While the minister and his leader may try to diminish the importance of 2% in a military context, they are certainly going off wildly in the other direction over the less than 2% of global greenhouse gases Canada emits every year. Therefore, my question is this. Is 2% a lot or a little? I believe Canadians deserve an answer and an explanation as to why the new government defies the will of Canadians, and I know many in the Liberal caucus.
There is no apparent logic to remove the sharp point of our Canadian forces' spear. We are told that the surveillance aircraft will remain; that the fuelling aircraft that enables strike aircraft from across the international coalition and their missions will remain; that the technology and personnel, which paint targets for the smart bombs and other munitions for the coalition, will remain; and that our ground trainers, who work with peshmerga and Iraqi troops in battlefield situations when there are few identified front lines, will remain. However, we have not yet had a logical, credible reason offered as to why the CF-18s will be withdrawn.
Not breaking a campaign promise in a season of broken campaign promises is simply not acceptable justification. Therefore, I am moved to wonder if it comes down to a matter of sort of conscientious objection. I understand that an individual might choose to stand back from the actual delivery of death and destruction in time of war and to pick and choose alternatives. However, conscientious objection by an individual, or even a group of individuals on the other side of the House, is quite different from imposing one specific belief on a nation where a clear majority of Canadians support the complete military mission.
Now is not the time for Canada to step back and force our allies to take on a heavier burden in the fight against ISIS. The new government inherits a standing obligation made to our NATO partners and our responsibility to protect the freedom, democracy, safety, and security of Canadians. That is because whether it is called Daesh, ISIS, or ISIL, it is not only a threat to the region; it also poses a serious danger to Canada and the world. The terrorist death cult, and that is exactly what it is, has called on its sympathizers around the globe to target those who do not agree with its ideology, using any means, no matter how barbaric. We have seen in recent weeks, months, and now years, just how much death and destruction such calls to violence can cause.
It is true that many terrorist plots have been interdicted, but far too many have been carried to deadly completion. Furthermore, ISIS has threatened Canada, and Canadians specifically, urging its supporters to harm disbelieving Canadians in any manner possible. We have seen plots intercepted on our own soil. There were deadly terrorist inspired attacks in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, at the national war memorial just down the street, and not that many metres from where we sit today, in the chamber of what ISIS spokesmen have described as Canada's infidel Parliament.
Across our country, certainly in my riding of Thornhill, Canadians are justifiably concerned. We know they expect their government to take strong action. That is why our government committed the Canadian Armed Forces to the broad international coalition against ISIS.
I would like to take a moment to again express profound appreciation to all our members of the Canadian Armed Forces, at home and in theatre, for their meaningful engagement in this fight against terror.
Our government had a three element commitment to this tragic region of the Middle East, which included many hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian relief on the ground to assist in the comfort and care of the millions of displaced civilians. As well, since 2009, Canada welcomed some 25,000 refugees from first Iraq and then increasingly from Syria, with commitments this year for 20,000 in a continuing compassionate but security-conscious process.
Then there was the third essential element, and perhaps in the long run Canada's most important contribution, our commitment to the international coalition's military mission. That is because, in the long run, the most important thing that democratic nations around the world can deliver to the millions of suffering people of the Levant is peace and the ability to return to admittedly destroyed homes and communities to begin to rebuild their shattered lives.
Last year, during the prime minister's historic visit to Israel and Jordan, I had an experience that will be burned into my consciousness for the rest of my life. While the prime minister and official party visited the vast Zaatari refugee camp in the northeast quarter of Jordan near the Syrian border, a number of us were flown by Jordanian helicopter to the far northwestern Jordanian border with Syria and Iraq.
In my previous life as a journalist, I saw many terrible scenes and natural disasters, manmade tragedies, and wars—Vietnam, Cambodia, Rhodesia, Uganda, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Israel—but that scene on Jordan's border with Syria and Iraq was like no other. We saw scores of men, women, and children carrying their remaining life possessions in blankets and bags and knapsacks, trudging out of the distant desert haze toward the small detachment of heavily armed Jordanian soldiers at the border.
It was not a typical border crossing. It was just a bulldozer-scraped scratch in the sand and gravel of the desert. The guns of the Jordanian army were not aimed at the refugees but at the terrorist gangs still roaming the area, though not present that day. These soldiers were not trying to stop the influx of refugees; they were there to welcome them to sanctuary. In fact, given the low threat risk that particular day, some of the soldiers laid down their arms and walked across the border into Syrian no man's land to assist, to carry bags and children and the infirm back to vehicles that then transported the refugees to a nearby transit camp for food, water, medical support, and comfort before then being relocated to the ever-growing Zaatari camp on the other side of Jordan.
We spent time with these folks. Some had struggled many hundreds of kilometres to reach safety. Some of these people may well be among the lucky few who will be welcomed to Canada or to other developed countries in Europe and elsewhere. However, in the camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, many of the refugees still hold out hope—admittedly faint hope at the moment—that they will one day be able to return to their home communities in Syria and Iraq. The reality for most of these displaced millions is that this dream is the best dream they have.
That is why the international military mission is so important as a key part of Canada's three-pronged commitment to the people of the Levant. That is why I consider the ' flippant measurement of the Canadian Forces' valiant service in percentage terms so demeaning to our men and women who put themselves in harm's way for democracy and freedom. I believe an apology is in order. That is why it is so important that Canada not leave the heavy lifting of this war to our coalition allies.
Mr. Speaker, today I will be sharing my time with the .
The international community will defeat ISIL, and Canada is and will be a part of that fight and ultimate success. This government wishes to profoundly thank the members of the Canadian Armed Forces for their dedication, courage, and hard work as part of Operation Impact.
The women and men of our Armed Forces deserve to be protected from attempts to politicize their mission and sacrifice. Unfortunately, the former Conservative government did that too much, and it is one of the reasons why they are today in the opposition. Conservatives did it in giving the sense that they were alone in support of our troops and alone willing to fight terrorism. This kind of dogmatism exaggerated partisanship. This blatant distortion of the truth is one of the explanations why they are in the opposition, and I wish them a good reflection about that, so they change their attitude and come up with a debate that will be a tribute to our ability to understand that we might have different views about how to tackle the danger, but we are all patriotic, we all want to fight terrorism, and we all want to protect our citizens even though we disagree about the ways to do it.
The terrorist activities that ISIL, or the so-called Islamic State, undertakes in the territories controlled in Iraq and Syria have resulted in thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions of people.
It continues to target members of religious and ethnic communities, has licensed rape and the enslavement of women, and has callously destroyed places of worship and irreplaceable archeological sites.
While there remains much to be done, the coalition has made significant progress over the past year.
The so-called Islamic State has been pushed back from territory in Iraq and Syria that it used to occupy, and thousands in those countries no longer live as prisoners in their own cities.
In Iraq, the cities of Tikrit and Sinjar have been liberated, and Iraqi forces are currently fighting to free Ramadi. Refugees and displaced people have returned to their homes to rebuild their lives and communities.
The military campaign against ISIL is critical, and Canada's contribution has been and will remain significant. The issue is how we can make it optimal.
This fight is not about religion or civilizations. It is about human civilization against terrorism. Every country involved in this fight has a responsibility to identify its strengths and to see how these strengths can complement those of its allies, in order to defeat terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere.
This past month, I spoke to many of Canada's partners in the coalition at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in the Philippines, the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta, and the NATO and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe ministerials. The did as well.
The message was always the same: our allies respect and understand our choices, and they welcome our decision to focus our contributions in areas where they will have maximum long-term impact, in full consultation and complementarity with our allies.
Why do our allies want Canada to be involved in all these files? It is because they tremendously respect the men and women in uniform for their professionalism, dedication, and ability to protect the population. We must all be proud of them.
Canada's contributions moving forward will be part of a long-term comprehensive strategy to address this key global concern. I understand that the opposition would like to see the full plan right away. It is its job to ask us to do so. It will come. It is important to do it. We cannot do it alone in a corner of the table. We need to do it in full co-operation and consultation with our allies, which is what we are doing.
We have put in place a broad array of mechanisms to disrupt or stop the flow of foreign fighters. We need to improve them to be more effective. Working closely with our allies, we are sharing information, best practices, tools, and programs to better understand who these people are, how they are radicalized, get trained, and move, and how can we win.
In the past year, the coalition has launched a comprehensive campaign to cut off ISIL's finances and disrupt and prevent this terrorist organization from raising, moving and using funds, and from abusing the international financial system.
Canada is playing a leadership role in advancing this international effort, including through our work in the Financial Action Task Force and the G7. We want to improve this role. It will be part of the plan.
Canada has also initiated domestic efforts and is providing support to international efforts to thwart ISIL's recruitment efforts and reduce radicalization leading to violence, through activities aimed at exposing and countering ISIL's hateful message and ideology. This is something that we need to strengthen as well.
On the ground in Iraq, Canadian funding to local organizations contributes to delivering stabilization projects to address short-term needs and to support resiliency and stability. We must boost assistance for these local organizations.
The antidote to ISIL's nihilist non-state is a functioning state. As the world has witnessed, this is difficult, time consuming work that requires intense international collaboration. Canada has a lot of skill to strengthen the institutions of Iraq, and we will mobilize these skills.
Iraq, therefore, requires a political solution as well as a military one. It requires a political solution that addresses the root causes of its instability, that unites Iraqis and gives them a reason to place their trust in the central government and to fight for their country. Our closest allies and coalition partners recognize this.
To prevent another group from replacing the defeated ISIL, to prevent a series of Middle East civil wars that span generations, we must look at what Canada can do to contribute to long-term political stability.
With regard to security assistance, we are aware that there is a crucial need for continued training of Iraqi forces, and the Canadian Armed Forces are well placed to help prepare Iraqis in this area. Training the Iraqi forces must be an important part of our new plan. By contributing in this way, we will ensure that Iraqis are able to defend themselves and take the lead on the battlefield.
We are also actively considering if the RCMP can make a contribution in the training of the Iraqi police, and our current talks with our allies indicate that this is a possibility that they would highly welcome.
By increasing our contribution to stabilization programming, and protecting the most vulnerable populations, the internally displaced members of ethnic and religious minorities who have suffered at the hands of this so-called Islamic State, and the victims of sexual violence, we need to increase our humanitarian assistance and make sure it helps those in need.
In conclusion, we are proud of the contributions of the Canadian Armed Forces in this fight, and they will continue to play an important role in Canadian contributions moving forward.
Canadians want us to have a robust fight against ISIL. They want us to choose the best tools that we have in Canada and to have a plan that will contribute to the efforts of the coalition with our allies. We will do so together, colleagues, because it is our duty, because we need to support our brave men and women in uniform as well as diplomats and citizens on the ground, and do everything we can to provide peace and justice in Iraq.
Mr. Speaker, I believe this is the first time you have been in the chair and it is a pleasure to recognize that you have attained this august position.
It is also the first time I have had an opportunity to thank the people of Scarborough—Guildwood for returning me for a seventh time to this chamber over the course of 18 years. It is an honour to represent the people of Scarborough—Guildwood again. I want to thank my wife, my family, and what I consider to be the best campaign team in Canada for helping me to return here.
It is always a privilege to recognize that we are 1 of 338 people in all of Canada who gets to come into this chamber and debate the important issues facing our nation. It is, from time to time, something that one has to remember, but it is an incredible privilege. I welcome all new members here for this debate and others.
Turning to the matter at hand, I want to look at the motion and make three comments. The first is with regard to the following:
...ISIS has taken responsibility for recent deadly attacks...and has declared war on Canada
The first issue with the motion is that only a state can declare war. Words matter in this House. I am assuming, and I am going to give my Conservative colleagues the benefit of the doubt, that they did not intend to recognize ISIL or ISIS as a state. It is not a state, and therefore it cannot declare war.
I would just raise that as a point of drafting. As I said, in this place, words do matter.
The second issue is that the motion makes an assumption:
(a) acknowledge that now is not the time for Canada to step back and force our allies to take on a heavier burden
That is a presumption. There is no factual basis that could point to any indication on the part of either ministers or the government or even during the campaign where we have agreed to step back. I would be quite interested in any fact to support that presumption.
The third point is:
(b) remind the government of its obligation to our NATO partners
That is a curious point. Indeed, the has visited many of our NATO partners, and possibly all of our NATO partners, over the last two, three, or four weeks. He has had a direct conversation about Canada's involvement in this conflict with President Obama. He has had a direct conversation with Prime Minister Cameron and with President Hollande.
More importantly, the , and indeed everyone who is in this House, has had a direct conversation with the people of Canada and our constituents. I dare say, the message was loud and clear that Canadians want us to re-profile our involvement in this conflict, with a working presumption, which I presume all members of this House share, to bring this conflict to an end.
Really, working on the good faith of colleagues here, the question is merely how to bring this conflict to a conclusion and, indeed, what is the best contribution that Canadians can make to bring this conflict to a conclusion.
I know we are approaching the Christmas season, and I want to recommend to my colleagues a little Christmas reading. It is a book called Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Scott Anderson.
I do not intend to promote the sale of Mr. Anderson's book, but I think it is a helpful context for us to consider how we got from there to here.
Members will recollect that during World War I, the British and the Germans were in effect fighting for the support of the various tribal groups in that area, known as the Ottoman Empire and the Caliphate. The British had one very, very capable individual in this area, Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence of Arabia took the time to get to understand the area, the language, the religion, and the various customs of these various tribes. Ultimately those tribes supported the British in the war, and that indeed contributed to the ultimate allied victory in World War I.
In a disgraceful piece of history, the French and the British, under the Sykes-Picot agreement, carved up this area into arbitrary states, and hence laid the seeds for the conflict that we see here today.
The point I want to draw out of this book is that Lawrence of Arabia was successful because he made a huge effort to understand the area, the language, the customs, the people, and the various tribal loyalties. In my judgment, we are actually making the same mistakes all over again.
We do not get it. We do not understand what drives the conflicts there. There has been for the last number of years, in effect, a low-grade genocide going on. Various groups that are not majority groups have been driven out of their own countries and are now refugees, many of whom are on our television screens on a daily basis and some of whom will land here tonight in Toronto.
My first concern is that we start to understand all of that conflict in a deep fashion, and as the government reprofiles its commitment to reduction and resolution of this conflict, that we start to understand the various pushes and pulls that are there.
I want to reiterate the point that in no way can it be interpreted that we are pulling back. In fact, we might well be re-engaging in a fashion that I think will be more effective, will possibly be a means by which we encourage the resolution of this conflict, which I assume everyone agrees is a good idea, and that we are in fact a robust partner with our allies and we are fully and completely engaged in this conflict.
I want to congratulate the ministers who are leading this review and encouraging us all to contribute to how Canada may contribute to the resolution of this conflict. I would be remiss if I did not mention, on behalf of the government and our caucus, the robust participation and help that our people in the military have contributed thus far. We look forward to how they will contribute in the future.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for , who shares similar views.
The Syrian war and the destabilizing effects of ISIS have displaced nearly 15 million Iraqis and Syrians. To put this mass displacement in context, that is equal to every man, woman, and child living in the province of Ontario being displaced simultaneously. The scope and scale of human crisis and tragedy that continues to befall Iraq and Syria is beyond comprehension.
With respect to the terrorist organization ISIS, it now occupies nearly 82,000 kilometres of territory, a land mass larger than the province of New Brunswick. From bombing passenger aircraft, burning opponents alive, sex slavery, murdering fellow Muslims who disagree with its extreme jihadist views, targeting Christians and religious minorities for total extermination, there is little depravity that ISIS has not shown.
The choice for those impacted by both the Syrian civil war and the tyrannical rule of ISIS is to stay in a war zone, be oppressed, and die, or flee and have the chance to live. The heart-wrenching images of asylum seekers and refugees risking their lives and those of their children to escape the civil war and terrorists have rallied Canadians to be generous in welcoming those who are suffering into our country, known for its stability, tolerance, and prosperity.
I am also proud of the Canadians who are taking the time to prepare for the arrival of Syrian refugees, many of whom live in my riding. I marvel at those who reach deep into their own pockets to raise the money needed to offer hope and a new future for those who make it here to Canada.
While I am proud of Canadians for their efforts, I have serious concerns about the Liberal government's haste in seeking to bring tens of thousands of people to our country by February. While the Liberals smartly reversed course and adopted the Conservative plan for 10,000 refugees by the end of the year, the current Liberal plan to resettle 25,000 refugees or more by February 2016 is fraught with many problems and inconsistencies. I do not deny the plan of welcoming 25,000 refugees is laudable, but the lack of proper planning and the screening of health and safety as well as fulsome security screening is very troubling.
It must be asked: Have we put the proper supports in place to help those refugees to succeed, those we are bringing to Canada in the midst of the winter on an ill-conceived election promise?
It must also be asked: Why is the government abandoning our modest military contribution in Syria? Should we not be increasing our military efforts, supporting the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the United States?
Canada requires a two-pronged approach to this crisis. First, we need to ensure that refugees we bring to Canada are properly integrated and supported so they can succeed and become contributing members of Canadian society. Second, we need to stay in the fight and arguably increase our military support and commitment to the coalition fighting ISIS. We need to help stop the forces that are causing one of the largest displacements of human beings in this century.
Most of us cannot imagine the pain, the anxiety, the fear faced by those willing to abandon everything they have, leaving their homes and starting anew in a new land. Many of these families are fleeing a double threat, that of a cruel Assad regime and the religious or ethnic persecution of the terrorist group ISIS.
Canada has a great history of welcoming people who are seeking a better life. This is a terrible humanitarian crisis and Canada needs to help. Canada needs to get this resettlement right and ensure that the supports and mechanisms are in place to help these refugees succeed.
Canadians rightly expect their government to ensure the safety and security of this country. They do not want to see security nor health screening compromised. Canadians need to know what assurances the government can give that it is keeping would-be terrorists off Canadian shores.
We need to ensure that health and safety protections are in place for Canadians. The health of Canadians must come before hasty decision-making related to an election promise that the Liberals simply had not thought through. We also need to know what additional services are needed for the refugees who are coming to our country. What mental health services do they need? Many refugees have been through abhorrent and traumatic stress and may need extensive and intensive mental health services. Not only will this put a huge burden on our country's mental health services which are already stretched to the limit, but it may stymie access to care for refugees to deal with these issues. Canadians' and refugees' mental health and family health services are all put at risk.
Most importantly perhaps, what screening is the government doing, and what questions is the government asking to ensure that people we bring to Canada share our values? Are they willing to embrace tolerance and pluralism, equity of gender, orientation, creed and religion, and giving back to Canada and society as a whole when one can afford to do so?
This brings me to the second issue. That is Canada's foreign policy in the Middle East, and in particular ISIS and the Syrian regime. The Syrian despot has wrought a civil war to keep his iron-fisted control over his people. ISIS has seized territories in two sovereign nations, and its modus operandi is in direct opposition to Canadian values, and to all that we believe. ISIS hates our values and our way of life. It believes that the world would be a better place if we regressed to the Dark Ages.
Those opposed by the confluence of the Assad regime and of ISIS are left with no alternative but to flee. Most Syrians do not want to leave their homes. Their preference would be to stay in their own homes. They look to the world to help eradicate this evil in their region and give them back their homes. That is why the government's decision to withdraw our modest military contribution is so disappointing.
Our forebears who died at Vimy Ridge did not leave the battlefield mid-fight. Canadians, in both peace and war, have shown our resolve to face tyranny in the fight for freedom and democracy. Retreating and leaving the battlefield in the middle of the fight is simply not Canadian, leaving aside the damage to our reputation that withdrawing our government's military support is doing when it comes to our relationships with Europe and the United States. Staying in the fight and increasing our commitment is about doing what is right.
On this side of the House, our view is clear. We have a moral obligation to help stop ISIS and ultimately bring peace back to Syria. Leaving the battlefield mid-fight is cowardly and tells our allies that we cannot be depended on when we are actually needed the most.
What are the results we seek as Canadians? First, we need the government to get serious about taking the time to screen refugees. Extending timelines until the spring and summer to ensure there is housing, clothing, and language training would be prudent and appropriate. Extending timelines to ensure that refugees who are the most vulnerable to harm abroad are prioritized and brought to Canada first would be the right thing. We also need to assure Canadians that those we are welcoming embrace the Canadian values we cherish: tolerance of others, seeking to build a better quality of life and standard of living for one's family, working hard and not taking the generosity of others for granted, appreciating our history by celebrating and respecting it, and giving back.
Let us also recognize that some day these refugees and their children will want to visit their homeland again. Let them be able to reminisce that their host country and their new home did its part, through both humanitarian and military action, to help make sure their homeland and that part of the world were safe once again. Let us take the steps now to ensure that Syrians and the land seized by ISIS can again return to the people who are fleeing from it today.
Let us put to rest the causes of this mass displacement of human beings and relegate the Assad regime and ISIS to where they actually belong, the history books.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to give my maiden speech in this prestigious House.
I would like to thank the good people of Sarnia—Lambton for placing me here with their confidence. I will do my utmost to represent their views in the House. I would also like to thank the many volunteers on my campaign team for all the hours and miles they put in.
On top of that, I would like to congratulate every member of the House on their election or re-election, and I look forward to working together with them to continue to build our great country of Canada.
On a personal note, I thank my daughters Gillian and Katie for their love, and also my mother, who at 90 years of age has started watching CPAC and Power and Politics for the first time.
I also pledge that as science critic for the opposition, I will be fact- and evidenced-based in my approach to this portfolio. As a chemical engineer with more than 30 years of experience, from fundamental research to construction, it is my goal to use my expertise to advise my party and to work collaboratively with the , the , and my critic colleagues, to achieve the best results for Canadians.
I want to speak today about my riding and my constituents' concerns about the ISIS threat.
For those members who are not familiar with Sarnia—Lambton, this beautiful community, with its lovely beaches, forests, and fields, is located on the shores of the St. Clair River and Lake Huron. It is also on the border of the U.S. and Canada, at Port Huron.
We are the birthplace of oil in North America. We provide the gasoline in members' cars, if they are driving in the middle of the country. We have evolved into a diverse industrial heartland that produces almost one-third of this nation's petrochemicals, as well as being a biohub for both the biochemical industry and renewable energy. Collaborative partnerships between agriculture, academia, industry, and community have made this happen. One of the largest solar farms in North America is in my riding, and wind farms cover the rural landscape.
However, as I was canvassing over 20,000 homes in Sarnia—Lambton over the course of the campaign, I continually heard concerns about the threat from ISIS. As members can appreciate, with the volume of fossil fuels and chemicals produced and stored in my riding, any terrorist action could have a devastating impact.
In addition, as a border city, the concerns of our closest neighbour regarding security in Canada and threats from the border are important to us.
The events of October 22, 2014 changed the view we had of Canada as a safe and secure place to live. The murder of Corporal Nathan Cirillo at one of Canada's most sacred monuments, the National War Memorial, rocked not only the nation, but the residents of Sarnia—Lambton, as we considered the threat not only to those in Ottawa, but also to our previous member who was greatly loved in our community.
We also need to remember that, just a few days before, in the beautiful town of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed in a vehicular homicide that the RCMP determined was an act of terrorism.
These events demonstrated that the threat was real, that the threat was against Canada, and that safety was not a guarantee.
I would briefly highlight the importance of the fact that in our mission against ISIS to date, we were conducting it in full co-operation with our allies and we brought it to this House for votes at every possible time. We have not seen that from the new government.
During the campaign and thereafter, the majority of people of Sarnia—Lambton were proud and grateful for the brave actions of our air force in the fight against ISIS. The Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Air Force have been carrying out both training and air strikes for years. Therefore, we have this resource to bring to the fight.
During many of the Remembrance Day events I attended in my riding, I had opportunity to hear from many veterans who had previously defended Canadian freedoms and were proud that we were standing with our allies to fight the foe, the so-called Islamic State. It is a cancer on the world, killing and raping innocent women and children, killing those with religious beliefs that are not their own, and committing genocide. It is against all of the beliefs we hold most dear in Canada: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of choice, and gender equality.
The has suggested that we should not give them what they want by speaking about them, but not speaking about them will not make them go away. We need to not just talk about this threat, but step up our actions and stand with our allies and the over 60 nations that have come together to fight this threat. We need to answer the plea from our Kurdish and Iraqi brothers and sisters. The people in my riding understand this.
There are several reasons why the people in my community are prepared to support this fight. One of them is that our women are not prepared to give up their equality.
As a woman who has experienced the rise in gender equity over my life, from the time I was told, “You can't be an engineer, because that's a man's job”, to the early days when harassment and discrimination were common, to our current state, where we are approaching equal opportunity and respect among our peers, I will not rest while this threat to restore women to a place of subjugation exists.
I am not yet used to the politics of the House where questions are asked and not answered. It seems like questions that would provide Canadians the answers they need are sidestepped, like pressing a button and getting an auto-campaign party policy message. However, in this case, the questions of a very serious nature are being asked and they need to be answered with more than rhetoric.
I understand that the government made promises to withdraw the Canadian CF-18 fighters from the fight against ISIS, but a lot of campaign promises have been broken, such as promises to keep the deficit to $10 billion, to make the tax cuts revenue-neutral, to restore home mail delivery, and to bring in 25,000 refugees by year end. The plan to withdraw our fighters from the fight against ISIS is a promise that needs to be broken.
When new information comes to light and when Canadians speak, it is time to listen and modify our plans accordingly. With respect to the Syrian refugee crisis, we brought to the government the concerns of Canadians to ensure that our safety and security was preserved over any arbitrary timeline, and the government broke its promise so it could improve the security measures. I applaud that.
In the same way, new information has come to light with the ISIS attacks against Paris, Beirut and Africa. Our allies are stepping up the fight. I am so disappointed that President Obama, when he mentioned his allies, did not include Canada in the list.
As a border city, we need to stand with our friends, our closest trading partner. In addition, France has declared that it is at war. Did Canada disappoint France when it was at war before? Not at all. We stood at its side. We took Vimy Ridge. We delivered on D-Day, and we need to deliver today.
Every week we sing in the House, “God keep our land, glorious and free”.
It is not enough to do humanitarian aid, to give people blankets and food when their heads are about to be chopped off. It is not enough to give refuge when people are being forced to flee their land in fear. It is not enough to train others to join the fight.
We need to join all the nations involved. More than 60 of them are coming together under the UN resolution to eliminate this mortal threat before these terrorists come back onto our soil to kill again.
I repeat that it is not enough to do humanitarian aid, to give people blankets and food when their heads are about to be chopped off. It is not enough to give refuge when in fear people are forced to flee their land. It is not enough to train others to join the fight.
We need to join all nations, more than 60 of them coming together under UN resolution 2178 to eliminate this threat.
I ask that the not withdraw our CF-l8 fighters from this most important fight against ISIS.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House for the first time. It is a real honour to represent the people of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country in beautiful British Columbia.
I will be splitting my time with the member for .
The recent terrorist attacks in France, the United States, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, and elsewhere, acts of barbarity that the government has condemned in the strongest terms, have shocked us all. We are in complete agreement on that. On behalf of the people of Canada, the government has conveyed its condolences to the victims and assured them that Canada stands with them in facing these difficult times.
The motion we are debating today raises a number of important issues related to the fight against ISIL, and I would like to explain the government's approach further in direct response to questions that have been put forward by the opposition.
One of the elements of this motion maintains that the government has an obligation toward its NATO partners within this context. First, to help inform the Canadian public, the coalition to combat ISIL is composed of over 60 nations. The 28 nations that make up the NATO alliance are all participating in the anti-ISIL coalition. However, it is important to note that although this matter was discussed at last week's NATO ministerial meetings, the NATO alliance itself is not at this time a member of the coalition.
For this reason, while Canada remains a proud founding member of the NATO alliance, our commitment to the anti-ISIL coalition is not derived in any way from our membership in NATO, although I am very pleased to report that our government is working closely with its NATO allies, partly motivated by a desire to restore our international reputation in the world that was somewhat diminished by the former government.
ISIL continues to present a serious threat to regional and global security, including a threat to Canadian citizens at home and abroad. ISIL has been carrying out a campaign of unspeakable atrocities against children, women and men, including members of religious and ethnic communities in Syria and Iraq. It has tortured and beheaded people, raped and sold women into slavery, slaughtered minorities, and kidnapped innocent victims whose only crime was to have a different ideology than ISIL.
To face these challenges, the international community has come together under the coalition with one common specific aim: to defeat ISIL. There is a broad consensus in the international community that the struggle to defeat ISIL and prevent its corrupt and apocalyptic ideology from enduring and expanding requires a comprehensive and multi-pronged approach, which I am very pleased to share with the House today.
The coalition has five lines of effort: one, military efforts; two, stabilizing affected populations; three, stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to and from the region; four, stopping financial flows to ISIL; and five, countering ISIL's narrative. Canada is one of few countries that contributes to all five lines of that effort, both military and civilian.
The first of these lines of effort is a military one. Our airmen and airwomen have done, and continue to this day to do, a tremendous job. They have the gratitude of all Canadians for the amazing work they have done. In my few short days in the House, I am impressed by the service of some members to our forces, which every party shares.
In addition to Canada's air assets, Canada has also deployed several dozen special operations forces personnel to advise and assist Iraqi forces fighting ISIL and has delivered critical military supplies donated by contributing allies to Iraqi Kurdish forces. The government has indicated that Canada will withdraw the CF-18 aircraft from the coalition. This was a clear campaign commitment. Canadians provided our government with a clear mandate to do so, and our government will honour that commitment. We will be refocusing Canada's efforts to areas where we can be most effective, and I would argue more effective, and have the greatest impact, including by providing training for local forces.
The second line of effort relates to stabilization. This includes the restoration of critical basic services such as sanitation, water, electricity, and the removal of hazards, such as unexploded ordnance. Canada is playing a significant role in this line of effort. This immediate work is essential before areas in Iraq that have been affected by ISIL can eventually rebuild as viable communities.
The third line of effort relates to foreign terrorist fighters. Canada is working with partners in a range of multilateral fora to address the issue of returning foreign fighters. The presence of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq poses a risk, as individuals with experience gained in terrorist activities may return to Canada or third countries to radicalize and recruit others and potentially to conduct attacks. Over the medium term, the presence of unprecedented numbers of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq could create a new generation of terrorists with social networks spanning around the world. We are acting proactively to prevent this.
The fourth line of effort is related to terrorist financing. Canada is demonstrating its commitment to tackling this critical issue by contributing to numerous initiatives in this regard through the work of the coalition's counter ISIL finance group, the Financial Action Task Force; the G7; and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, with a view to ensuring that ISIL cannot use the international financial system for its evil ends. This is the kind of thing the opposition has asked us to be clear about.
The fifth line of coalition effort relates to countering ISIL's narrative. That too has been raised by the opposition. Canada is working with partners to support local and international efforts to debunk ISIL's propaganda and thwart its recruitment and radicalization efforts.
We remain fully dedicated to ending ISIL's reign of terror and brutality. Our resolve, and it is a collective resolve, is unshakeable. The international community will defeat ISIL and Canada will be a part of that fight and ultimate success.
Mr. Speaker, since this is the first time that I have risen in the House, I would like to take a few minutes to thank some people.
First, I would like to thank Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, the outgoing member for my riding. I would like to acknowledge all the work that she did for the riding. I would also like to thank the people of Pierrefonds—Dollard who elected me and gave me the opportunity to represent them in the House.
My good fortune in being elected was the result of the efforts of a whole team. I was really lucky to be surrounded by a wonderful team of people and I would also like to thank them. Finally, I would like to thank my wife, my children, and all the members of my family who supported me throughout the entire process. I want to thank them, particularly my parents.
With respect to my parents, I could say that everything good I am and everything good I have achieved is ultimately due to them and their support. In that light there are no words I can say, there are no gestures I can make, that would ever repay them for all that they have done for me. As I cannot pay them back, I plan to pay it forward.
I have come to the House to work to the best of my ability for the betterment of my riding, my city of Montreal, my beautiful province of Quebec, my country Canada, and my world.
With respect to the motion at hand, the Government of Canada has an important role to play, and we are committed to working with our allies to fight against Daesh. To this end, as my colleague the member from Vancouver west has said, we are taking a multi-faceted and multi-pronged approach. This group is unquestionably a menace to the Middle East and throughout the world. We are, and will remain, a part of the coalition that will defeat them.
This multi-front approach we are taking is based on numerous points—ideological, humanitarian, and military. All of this will be pulled together by our , the hon. member for , a combat veteran who has shown that he knows that area and how to work there.
On the ideological front, I would say that we do not legitimize Daesh. The first and most important way not to legitimize this group of terrorist thugs is by not allowing them to speak for the religion of Islam. They do not represent Islam. Therefore, our government has not given in to Islamophobia. We have refused to give into that because they are speaking for a religion they do not have to the right to do so. Therefore, we are actively combatting them every day by refusing to give in to Islamophobia in any way, shape, or form. That is our entire philosophy and approach. It is the approach that our leader, the right hon. member for , has given us.
On the humanitarian front, we have made a significant commitment to humanitarian aid. We have put aside $100 million dollars in funding for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help those people who are suffering in Syria, Turkey, and the Middle East. We have also made a major commitment to bring 25,000 refugees to Canada as quickly and safely as we can.
On the military front, we have a clear interest in training and equipping the Iraqi and Kurdish forces to fight Daesh. Our men and women in uniform have years of combat experience in places like Afghanistan. We will have a major impact on ensuring that Iraqi and Kurdish forces are well prepared to defeat Daesh once and for all. The training of forces to fight for themselves was the strategy the previous government employed in Afghanistan. Therefore, I am somewhat perplexed why its members suddenly see this as a bad strategy here. Through all of this we are privileged to be led by a who is a combat veteran, who has done three tours of duty in the region, and who will bring that excellent knowledge to those people. Therefore, I personally find this new approach to be a ray of light, an opportunity, a hope for us to do better and to be better in this area. I think we can expect a different and a better outcome because of it.
In summary, we have a multi-pronged approach. We are going to go after them by providing humanitarian aid. We are going to attack their ideology and we are going to help victims in a humanitarian way. By working together on this new approach, we can look forward to a new and improved situation.
Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to be able to stand here today and support this motion. I will be sharing my time today with the member for .
I believe that my job as a member of Parliament is to do three things. First, it is to represent my constituents, their values, and their beliefs. Second, I need to stay true to what I believe as an individual. Third, I have to do what I believe is in the best interests of Canadians as a whole. That is why I am so proud that I can support this motion and speak in favour of this motion and, indeed, encourage all members to support this motion, because their constituents would be happy, and the members themselves would be able to have satisfaction that they have done the right thing, and Canadians overall would be served to the best of our abilities.
The motion, among other things, would reaffirm our commitment as Canadians to remain true to our allies and stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the fight against ISIS. It would also reaffirm that a government's top priority should always be to protect the freedoms, democracy, safety, and security of its own citizens. In this case, the Canadian government's top priority should be the safety and security of Canadians.
Supporting this motion is indeed in the best interests of Canadians and, again, it is something I believe my constituents would want me to do. The riding of Portage—Lisgar, which I am very proud of, has a proud and solid history of military service. Men and women from right across the riding have volunteered throughout history to fight for the freedoms we enjoy here in Canada. My riding is just under 13,000 square kilometres. It used to be 14,000 square kilometres, but it has gotten a little smaller. Even within that 12,600 square kilometres, it includes the communities of Portage la Prairie, Oakville, Roseisle, Darlingford, Morden, Winkler, Altona, Carman, Treherne, La Salle, and Morris. That is just to name a few. November 11 is very busy in my riding because all of these communities are honouring not only veterans who have served and those currently serving, but veterans who come from those very towns, cities, villages, and communities.
I am very proud of that, and the people in Portage—Lisgar are very proud because they have never shirked away from their responsibility, whether it is to serve as volunteers, to give, to work and contribute, or in this case, to fight and to sacrifice for military service. For them to now see Canada step back from the fight against ISIS, under the new Liberal government, goes against the very values and history of the people whom I represent in Portage—Lisgar. In fact, many of our pilots who are bravely and skilfully bombing and degrading ISIS right now were trained in Southport. Southport is also located in my riding of Portage—Lisgar. It is just south of Portage la Prairie.
Southport is a former Canadian Forces base, and is now a primary pilot-training centre for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Canadian fighter pilots are some of the very best in the world, and most of them have come through Southport or been in Southport at some point in their career. Today in Iraq, they are doing exactly what they were trained to do and given a mandate to do. That is to bomb, kill, degrade, and destroy barbaric, cruel, immoral, cowardly jihadist terrorists who call themselves ISIS.
Sadly and wrongly, the Liberals have reversed that mandate, based on what, we are actually not quite sure: a campaign pledge; not enough money, they are now saying. We are actually not sure. They have not explained the logic as to why they are withdrawing our military action of our air force against ISIS. Whatever their reason—and again, it has not been clear—it is not based on what is in the best interests of Canadians. It is also not in keeping with Canada's ability to stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies.
A couple of days ago, the was asked about this. It was actually the first day of question period. He was asked about what our allies' position was. We asked why we were not standing with our allies and why we were shirking away. The Prime Minister said, “I have engaged with our allies on these issues and they have reassured me that we are continuing to be helpful”.
The fact that the has to go cap in hand and look for validation and reassurance from our allies for his plan to pull away and back out of being an equal partner just shows that even he is not confident that we are doing enough; nor should he be, because reluctant validation from our allies that we are simply being “helpful” just is not enough. Canada should stand side by side with the international coalition—the Kurds, the people of Iraq and Syria—in their attempt to physically degrade and defeat Daesh.
While Canada should promote the additional humanitarian assistance and step up in the training of local forces, this should not stop us from continuing the bombing campaign alongside these initiatives. As we have reiterated on this side, we support both initiatives. We are not advocating for the status quo; we look forward to a plan from the Liberals, but we should not be backing away.
This morning, in fact, the acknowledged that Canada's CF-18s played a phenomenal role in this mission and around the world. He is right. If they are doing a phenomenal job degrading Daesh, and we agree with him, why should they not continue to contribute in such a meaningful way, alongside the additional proposed trainers and humanitarian aid workers, either civilian or military?
There have also been some questions about our legal obligation under the UN to participate. Some would argue that we do not have a legal obligation. I believe we have a moral obligation to fight this death cult. In fact, in 2014 Ban Ki-moon looked back and said that the UN was ashamed of its failure to prevent the genocide in Rwanda.
Do Liberals want us to look back 20 years from now and be ashamed? As one of my colleagues mentioned on this side, this is not a short-term battle; this is long term. I do not believe any of us on this side of the House or on the other side want us to look back 20 years from now in shame. Rather, we want to be able to stand proudly together and know that we did everything we could to fight this death cult.
This is a cult that kills thousands of non-Arab, non-Sunni Muslims, as well as homosexuals, Christians, and other minorities, with summary executions, crucifixions, beheadings, burning people alive, drowning, using rape as a weapon of war, forced marriages to ISIS fighters, and trading women and girls as sex slaves.
Today is the international day of human rights. What a perfect day for us to stand together, to be able to say, 20 years from now, that both Conservative governments and Liberal governments fought the fight against ISIS, and we did not shirk. Liberals traditionally would stand in this fight.
I hope we can look back on this day and be proud that, together as Conservatives and Liberals, we took the fight to ISIS, we did not step back, we stood up, and we were proud Canadians as we did it.
Mr. Speaker, like many of my colleagues, I want to speak in this honourable House today to talk about ISIS. To do so, I must first address some of the consequences of the very existence of this terrorist group, specifically for free societies around the globe. Second, it is important to discuss the need for us, Canadians, to respond decisively to the international challenges that can arise at any time, especially those that can have dangerous consequences for this country and for our allies.
As I have previously indicated, my family has served in the Canadian Armed Forces since the 1890s. It should therefore come as no surprise that many of the decisions recently made by this government regarding our armed forces and their overseas engagement are particularly important to me.
I am referring of course to the hasty decision made by this government to withdraw Canadian CF-18s from the combat mission currently under way in Iraq as part of a coalition led by the President of the United States.
Colleagues, for both historic and contemporary reasons, this decision strikes me as misguided and ill-considered. Need I remind the House that our country has never shirked its duty to the international community? Need I further remind the House of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere around the world?
Colleagues, ISIS controls several cities in Iraq, many of which are home to dozens or hundreds of thousands of people. In those cities, the so-called Islamic State has set up tax collection systems, a major economic activity within the area it controls. It has a stranglehold on the region's economy and even hands out parking tickets.
The self-styled Islamic State is pillaging many regions of Iraq and Syria, appropriating the resources and destroying cultural and historic property. Let us not forget one more important fact: this terrorist group collects billions of dollars a year, enabling it to recruit thousands of people to its cause around the world every year. Because of that, this group is a major threat to our country, Canada.
The election is over. As the President of France said, we are at war against terrorism. Canadians understand that. Does the understand that? Does the Prime Minister and this government realize that following the recent terrorist attacks on its soil, in the city of light no less, France effectively asked for help and expects us to stand by its side?
We on this side of the House want to know: when is Canada going to offer its unwavering support to a country that has been an ally at every moment of Canada's history?
Hon. members of this House need to understand that terrorist attacks are looming. The threat is not limited to some faraway place on another continent. On the contrary, terrorism can strike anywhere here in Canada, even at the heart of our democratic institutions. Need I remind hon. members that terrorism has already targeted us more than once and spit its venom right here in the Parliamentary precinct?
What the official opposition wants is simple. We are calling on this government to get serious on both domestic issues and international issues. We are calling on this government to take the right approach to terrorism, and to acknowledge that it is a serious problem and that ISIS is the brains behind these low-lifes.
We must remain strong in our belief that we are right. We must remain determined to make no concessions to those who want to destroy us. We must remain united in the face of this threat. That is why we must hit the terrorists precisely where they are plotting against us, before it is too late.
My colleagues opposite are saying that we need to combat ISIS more effectively. We agree. Indeed, we should help train local anti-terrorism forces. We should increase aid to the hundreds of thousands of poor people driven from their homes by terrorism. That is all good. We must increase our efforts, not reduce them. Everyone agrees on that, of course. However, that would also mean that we need to keep our fighter jets where they are. Our colleagues opposite keep repeating over and over that the Royal Canadian Air Force's participation is basically not very significant and that they simply do a few strikes here and there. I want to ask these members what they are waiting for to take action, to do something and to reverse their decision to recall the Canadian CF-18s currently participating in the mission. As a G8 country, should we not contribute to this international mission in every way we can?