|| That the House agree that ISIS is responsible for: (a) crimes against humanity aimed at groups such as Christians, Yezidis, and Shia Muslims, as well as other religious and ethnic minorities in Syria and Iraq; (b) utilizing rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war and enslaving women and girls; and (c) targeting gays and lesbians who have been tortured and murdered; and, as a consequence, that the House strongly condemn these atrocities and declare that these crimes constitute genocide.
She said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to the Conservative motion calling on this House to recognize the actions of ISIS as genocide.
I will be splitting my time with the member for , who has for many years been an advocate for human rights.
As we all know, this past Monday marked the 72nd anniversary of D-Day and the allied landing at Normandy. Every year on June 6, we take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of the Canadian troops, generations past, all in the name of stopping a tyrannical and bloodthirsty regime.
World War II saw the rise of fascism and anti-Semitism across much of the western world. Our troops fought valiantly for Canada, but they also fought to put an end to the horrors that were being inflicted across Europe by the Nazi regime through the Holocaust.
It was a campaign of genocide and is rightly recognized as such. Since that time, Canada and our allies have made a solemn commitment to never forget, and we recommit ourselves to that promise every year.
A commitment to remember also requires a commitment to act. Let there be no mistake: there is a need to act once more now. The terrorist group ISIS continues to leave a trail of destruction across an already unstable Middle East, and thousands of innocent lives have paid the price.
It is sometimes easy to forget how real the ISIS threat is, protected as we are here in Canada where we enjoy relative peace and prosperity.
Yet as we speak, the brutal, jihadist terrorist regime known as ISIS is systematically exterminating Christians, Assyrians, Yazidis, Shia Muslims, and countless other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq. They have tortured and beheaded children. They have raped women and sold them into sexual slavery.
There is a word for this kind of deliberate slaughter of specific groups of innocent people. It is genocide.
This campaign of genocide is waged against some of the most ancient and most venerable peoples of the world, many of whom can trace their heritage well into antiquity.
They have for many years lived as small, defenceless minorities; in fact, for centuries. They have faced prejudice and persecution before, but the strength of their faiths and communities kept them together in their historic homelands. Against the vicious onslaught of ISIS, however, they must leave or face enslavement and certain death.
Stories coming out of Iraq are chilling. ISIS has set up so-called sex-slave markets where girls literally have their teeth checked before being sold on the market. We just heard this week about another 19 Yazidi girls who were burned alive because they refused to become sex slaves.
The girls are regularly beaten, whipped, burned, and raped. This is both disturbing and heartbreaking. In 2016, it cannot be tolerated.
Not only is ISIS committing unspeakable crimes against humanity, it has deliberately destroyed dozens of ancient churches, mosques, temples, and monasteries, looting the artifacts within them for sale on the black market.
Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, has called this despicable vandalism “cultural cleansing”. It is an attempt to erase these communities from history by demolishing the most cherished symbols of their past.
ISIS has a simple goal: to create a new reality in its image across the Middle East and to wage war against the west, including Canada. Yet, under the current government, Canada has only been committed to half-measures.
The previous Conservative government was part of an allied effort to bring the fight to ISIS through an effective and forceful air strike campaign, halting its progress and severely depleting its resources. Sadly, under the current government, that effort was withdrawn. Canadians are still looking for an explanation as to why.
We can strengthen Canada’s response to this terrible threat being visited upon innocent men, women and children by calling ISIS’ actions what they truly are: an act of genocide.
Canada's has avoided calling these actions genocide. He has said in the House of Commons that he wants to investigate whether a genocide has taken place. I do not know what more he needs to see.
While the minister stalls, our allies are moving forward.
In the U.S., the Secretary of State John Kerry has said, clearly, that ISIS is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control. In fact, on March 15, the United States House of Representatives unanimously declared that genocide was taking place in Iraq and Syria by ISIS.
The House of Commons in the United Kingdom also has followed suit and voted unanimously to recognize that Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria were suffering genocide at the hands of ISIS.
The European Union has also declared this a genocide.
Even the United Nations has made its voice heard. UN investigators have accused ISIS of committing genocide. Their evidence clearly suggests that ISIS intends to destroy the Yazidi as a group.
In just one example, the UN found that ISIS fighters rounded up hundreds of Yazidi men over age the age of 14 and summarily executed them.
The previous Conservative government also recognized the actions of ISIS as genocide.
Let us be absolutely clear. It is a dark spot on Canada's record that the and his government cannot gather the moral courage to name the threat that has driven families from their homes, seen women and girls sold into sexual slavery, or murdered outright, and forced thousands of innocent people into refugee camps.
Yet, the other side of the House remains silent on this issue. It remains silent, in particular, on the case of the persecution of young Yazidi girls who have been subjected to horrifying campaigns of sexual abuse and slavery. Despite all the government's photo ops and press conferences, it forgets to mention that only nine cases of Yazidi families have been processed since Canada' refugee plan was put in place. Only those few Yazidis have found safe haven in Canada, while many thousands more remain at risk of ISIS brutality. Its silence is just as bewildering to Canadians and as insulting to our allies as the 's unjustified decision to withdraw Canada's fighter jets from the air campaign.
With no explanation coming, we are only left to conclude that the 's inaction is in fact a political manoeuvre, not one of principle.
There are times when we must call things as they are. Today, we are witnessing an ongoing campaign to wipe these ancient nations from the face of the Earth. There is no more fitting description for these terrible acts than the declare them genocide.
Having made this declaration, I invite all members of the House to reflect on what must be done to stop this genocide and whether Canada is doing its utmost to this end.
Now is the time for all 338 members of the House of Commons to stand up and be counted on, including the members opposite.
I ask them to do the right thing and vote in favour of this motion, and declare this a genocide.
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to support the motion by the member for .
It is tragically incredible that in 2016 any minister in any country that considers itself a democracy, committed to the rule of law and recognizing the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide refuses to speak the word that specifically and powerfully defines what has been happening in full sight, and has been horrifically documented in Syria and Iraq for years now. It is the brutal persecution of any and all who refuse to convert to the Islamic state's perverse interpretation of Islam, kidnapping, sexual enslavement, rape, torture, mass murder, in other words, genocide.
Today we have heard, and I suspect will hear many more times, convoluted attempts from the government side to excuse Liberal ministers from uttering that word. More than seven decades after the word was created from Greek and Latin roots, the Greek word genos for race or tribe and the Latin word cide for killing, lexicologists, diplomats, politicians and ordinary people have quibbled and quarrelled over a precise meaning and when it should be applied.
The House passed a motion unanimously just last year, put by the former Conservative member of Parliament Brad Butt, that reaffirmed recognition of four genocides of the 20th century: the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, the Ukrainian Holodomor and the Rwandan genocide. However, many of us felt that motion fell short of recognizing all of the 20th century genocides, such as the Great Chinese Famine, Cambodia's Khmer Rouge killing fields, Srebrenica, and Darfur, to reference several yet unrecognized genocides. Now we have Syria and Iraq and the so-called self-proclaimed Islamic state.
The evidence is overwhelming. The most clearly defined instance is the massive atrocities committed on the minority communities of Nineveh province in northern Iraq. Before June 2014, Nineveh was Iraq's most diverse province. The ethnic and religious minorities included the Yazidis, the Assyrian Chaldean Christians, the Sabaean-Mandaeans, the Shia Shabak, Turkmen, and the Kaka'i. More than 800,000 men, women and children were forced from their homes and communities. Shrines, temples and churches were systematically destroyed. Many thousands were killed in barely three months, and the slaughter has continued since.
In September last year, during the Canadian election campaign, the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide conducted a bearing witness expedition to Iraq. The group documented the brutal forceable displacement, forced religious conversion, rape, torture, kidnapping and murder. Just to explain for the House what the Simon-Skjodt Center is, it conducts work on genocide and related crimes against humanity for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The Simon-Skjodt Center is dedicated to stimulating timely global action to prevent genocide where possible and to, as it states, “catalyze an international response when it occurs.”
In August 2014, the report found that more than 200,000 Yazidis were surrounded on Mount Sinjar without food and water. Another 50,000 were isolated and captured by Islamic state terrorists. Only have U.S. humanitarian food drops and bombing raids created a safe corridor for escape was the siege of Mount Sinjar ended.
Detailed testimony, recorded by the genocide expedition, was given by refugees in Iraq's internally displaced persons camps and those at large in the area.
One man's quoted testimony in the expedition's report characterizes, I believe, the Islamic State's campaign of forced exile and actual extinction. “We have no future“, he said, “Our generation has gone”.
The Simon-Skjodt genocide report, and it is a report I would suggest all members of this House read for its well-documented detail of what has happened under Islamic State's brutality, concludes with the statement:
||...our belief is that [Islamic State] perpetrated genocide against the Yezidi people.
The next sentence is one that will be debated, I know, throughout the day today, but the next sentence is the sentence the Liberal government has been hiding behind. The sentence says:
|| Any formal determination of whether genocide was perpetrated needs to be made by a court based on careful consideration of the evidence.
That is exactly what has not happened. It has not happened as Islamic State has continued to perpetrate genocide and crimes against humanity ever since, and still today.
The International Criminal Court will not, on its own, initiate proceedings to consider and declare Islamic State guilty of genocide. The ICC must first be directed by the United Nations Security Council to act. Because of veto dysfunction on the Security Council, and the blockage of such genocide and crimes against humanity resolutions by Russia and China, repeatedly, none of the democracies on the Security Council have bothered to put such a motion regarding Islamic State.
As a bit of an aside, this is just another powerful reason to shake up, to renovate, to recreate the United Nations to be the international institution it was originally created to be and is so often not today.
However, and this is a point we will argue through the day today, the inability of the United Nations to direct the International Court to act should not be used by sovereign democracies like Canada to not meet our individual responsibility to speak the g-word out loud and to take the necessary action with like-minded countries.
We know well, and we heard from the , the list of those who have spoken out. Our mother Parliament, the British House of Commons, voted unanimously to define Islamic State action as genocide. So too the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the Vatican, the U.S. House of Representatives, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the U.S. Secretary of State, the council of bishops in Europe, and others, and there are more, almost by the month, have dared to speak the word the Liberal government refuses to say.
In conclusion, I would urge all colleagues, across parties, to stand today and support the motion put by the member for to declare that this House strongly condemns the atrocities and declares these crimes to be genocide.
Mr. Speaker, as members of the House are aware, Canada has responded to the current situation in Syria and Iraq and the horrific acts of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, by putting into action a comprehensive strategy.
The people of Syria and Iraq, who do not believe in ISIL's warped methods, are targeted and have suffered horrible losses. Individuals belonging to minority communities, including religious and ethnic groups, have been especially affected by the conflict in the region and by ISIL's barbarism.
Our strategy focuses on degrading and defeating ISIL, and most importantly, on preventing its return.
The instability resulting from the crises in Iraq and Syria caused by ISIL, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is affecting the entire region. Religious, ethnic, and other minorities are among the most vulnerable groups and have already suffered greatly.
We condemn the terrorist acts committed by ISIL, and we actively support efforts to determine whether some of the acts committed by ISIL constitute genocide.
No one is disputing that ISIL has committed many abuses of international human rights and violations of international humanitarian law. The motion put before the House, however, fails to reflect the need to complete an independent investigation of the facts being gathered about ISIL's crimes and to then present these facts to a competent court or tribunal.
No one uses the word genocide lightly. That is why Canada has supported the efforts of the United Nations and civil society organizations to document and investigate crimes committed in ISIL-affected areas. Canada and our partners must continue to work at this on multiple fronts, assembling evidence and supporting judicial processes, while we work toward reducing suffering and stifling this horrendous conflict. This is the right way to go about holding ISIL accountable.
Our strategy is designed to put an end to ISIL's brutality, to address the terrible humanitarian crisis, and to contribute to political solutions and stability in the region.
Canada is investing $1.6 billion over three years to respond to the crises in Iraq and Syria and to address their effects on Lebanon, Jordan, and the wider region. Implementation of the strategy is under way in Canada and abroad. We are going far beyond that of the former government.
We believe that this strategy provides strong support, as well, for the brave men and women engaged in the fight against ISIL. Our efforts in the region strengthen the resilience of local populations, institutions, and legitimate governance actors because it is they who confront and manage the challenges associated with extremism and conflict. This is how our efforts will succeed.
Conflict prevention and resolution depend on many factors. Chief among them are the promotion and protection of human rights. On May 17, we announced the creation of the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion. The new office expands on the work undertaken by the former office of religious freedom. It is yet another example of how proactive our government is in including all human rights. The integration of freedom of religion or belief within a broader human rights framework provides Canada with additional ways to advocate for all rights and freedoms.
Extremism flourishes in non-inclusive environments that lack respect for diversity and difference, that lack respect for human rights. Under our new international human rights framework, we are continuing our policy, advocacy, and programming work to promote freedom of religion or belief in Iraq, Syria, and around the world.
The budget dedicated to the promotion of human rights is $15 million. That is three times the amount originally committed for the former office of religious freedom.
Canada has taken concrete action to stop ISIL and the scourge of extremism. With respect to the military, Canada's refuelling and surveillance aircraft continue to provide air support and intelligence gathering capabilities, which are invaluable to the coalition's military operations.
Canada and other coalition members are also providing strategic training for Iraqi security forces in order to help them plan and conduct their own operations against ISIL.
Canada is tripling the number of personnel assigned to its train, advise, and assist mission to help Kurdish security forces in northern Iraq. Efforts to strengthen the capacity of local security forces will improve their effectiveness against ISIL and provide long-term security for the Iraqi people.
It should also be noted that Canada is one of a few members of the coalition contributing to all the goals, namely stemming the flow of foreign fighters, cutting off funding for ISIS, countering the organization's propaganda, and contributing to security and stabilization in the region.
Canada supports a full judicial investigation into ISIL's crimes and endorses calls for the UN Security Council to refer these crimes to the International Criminal Court. This is why Canada has requested that the UN Security Council establish a mechanism to investigate violations of international law by ISIL in Iraq and Syria to determine whether these violations constitute acts of genocide or other serious international crimes, to identify the perpetrators of such crimes, and to identify measures to ensure accountability, including a referral to the International Criminal Court.
One week ago, on May 30, our wrote a letter to the president of the UN Security Council that states:
|| In March 2015, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report, which concluded that there is evidence to suggest that ISIL may have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Iraq. The report called for an independent investigation and for the Security Council to consider referring the situation to the International Criminal Court. The Government of Canada agrees with the recommendations made in the report.... We, therefore, ask the Security Council to act pursuant to its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security by establishing a mechanism to investigate reports of violations of international law by ISIL in Iraq and Syria...
Canada is also deploying additional diplomatic resources in the region. We have made strong statements in February before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on the situation of conflict-affected populations in Syria, especially including the situation of women. We have given our support to ensure that the voices of women are properly reflected in Syrian peace talks and high-level engagement with the Syrian opposition. We have been present for the last three rounds of UN-led intra-Syrian peace talks in Geneva.
It is important to correct the record as stated by the opposition. The vote in the U.S. was by Congress and has not gone any further. The vote in the U.K. did not have any members of cabinet there. The vote in the EU was a motion, and the governments are not acting. We are following through, as reflected in the letter by our .
Civilians are the first victims of these conflicts and of the ISIL scourge. Canada is among the major contributors of humanitarian aid in the Middle East region, and we continue to respond immediately to the essential needs of civilian populations affected by ISIL.
On September 12, 2015, the Government of Canada also launched the Syria emergency relief fund to support humanitarian relief efforts. Since then, we have matched that and more. Those who are most affected by the crisis, notably women and children, are the greatest beneficiaries.
Nor should we forget the incredible efforts that Canada and Canadians have dedicated toward the resettlement of Syrian refugees in this country. The Government of Canada, working with Canadians, private sponsors, non-governmental organizations, and provincial, territorial, and municipal governments have welcomed more than 25,000 Syrian refugees since November 2015.
Given that the original initiative included privately sponsored refugees, more government-supported refugees will be settled to meet a specific target of 25,000 government-supported Syrian refugees.
Our development assistance is helping governments, communities, and families hosting those affected by the conflict by providing them with adequate services and helping to rebuild infrastructure. It is helping to create jobs for parents and ensuring that children go to school. We are identifying the children who are not going to school, and supporting them every step of the way.
We cannot meet the essential short-term needs of those affected by conflict, particularly the most vulnerable minority groups, unless we also build and maintain the resilience of communities hosting refugees and displaced persons. Over 600,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan, and over 1.2 million to Lebanon in the past three years. We know that Jordan and Lebanon are suffering under this huge burden, and so are their infrastructures and services. We must help to avoid a situation in which host populations and displaced persons are competing for resources.
Among those who have been targeted, of course, are women, girls, and gender minorities. There is growing recognition of the need to involve women and gender perspectives in responses to this immediate threat. The inclusion of women in all stages of conflict and peace-building processes proves to be an underutilized but immensely effective method of reducing radicalism and violent extremism.
The inclusion of women must be a part of our own comprehensive strategy, recognizing that women and girls are particularly vulnerable and suffering from the atrocities at the hands of ISIL. We know women are bearing an increasing burden of the conflict.
In Jordan, for example, our development assistance will build the capacities of vulnerable women and youth, empowering them to care for themselves and their families, and to work. Just last month while I was at the Women in Parliaments Global Summit in Amman, Jordan, I announced, on behalf of the , a $16-million project to support the empowerment of women in decision-making in the Middle East. Canada is recognized for its leadership in that regard.
The evidence is clear, the inclusion of women leads to more sustainable peace and enhanced prevention efforts. When proper funding, committed and viable leadership, inclusive rights-based and gender-equal processes and plans are in place, tangible results for security and stability are achieved.
We know that sexual violence plays a prominent role in the insecurity that ISIL inflicts. The UN Secretary General's April 2016 report on conflict-related sexual violence provides ample evidence of the ways in which ISIL uses sexual violence, notably against Yazidi women in the areas it controls. We have witness accounts from survivors of rape, sexual torture, and sexual harassment.
As territory is retaken from ISIL, evidence of these horrible crimes continues to emerge. The UN Secretary General's special representative for Iraq told the Security Council last week that more than 50 mass graves have been discovered so far in several areas of Iraq. It is precisely for this reason that Canada has supported organizations that are investigating and documenting sexual violence crimes and other abuses by ISIL.
These efforts are invaluable. It is these organizations that will assist all of us in holding those responsible to account.
In a response to a request from its coalition partners, Canada is also coordinating stabilization efforts connected to gender equality matters. We are working with our coalition partners, including the government of Iraq and the United Nations Development Programme, to ensure that the coalition's stabilization efforts consider input from women and gender equality considerations.
To that end, Canada supports the removal of explosive remnants of war so that communities can get on with their lives. Furthermore, Canada provides technical support to local authorities to help restore the rule of law. To help reduce the risk that ISIL and other extremist groups acquire and use chemical and biological weapons, Canada is helping Iraq improve its methods of combatting this type of weapon.
Our assistance to Jordan will help it to counter terrorist groups like ISIL while integrating human rights and rule of law standards into its investigation and enforcement activities. Working in co-operation with Jordanian officials, we are building resilience against radicalization.
As part of our strategy, on May 5 our government announced the signature of a new memorandum of co-operation with Jordan on security and stabilization. The memorandum of understanding lays out our framework for co-operation in which the two countries agree to collaborate in addressing the challenges faced by Jordan. This is doing more.
With respect to Syria, Canada seizes every opportunity to find a political solution to the conflict, including support for efforts to counter ISIL's narrative in ISIL-controlled territories. Canada, through the global partnership program, has recently contributed over $6 million to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons towards investigating chemical weapons use as well as the verification, monitoring, and destruction of chemical weapons.
By helping those responsible for local governance in Iraq and Syria provide essential services, our strategy helps civilians return to areas that have been liberated by ISIL. We help to prevent violent extremist organizations from exploiting the political vacuum created when local authorities are unable to provide citizens with essential services.
Canada's strategic programming greatly contributes to the coalition's efforts to weaken ISIL, restore stability, and promote regional security.
Canada is acting as a reliable, responsible contributor to security in the region. Canada is acting as a reliable and responsible contributor to holding ISIL accountable for crimes against humanity. This is comprehensive. We are following through. We are not using terms lightly. We are confident that ISIL will be held responsible by the world.
Mr. Speaker, we all agree that what ISIS is doing in Syria and Iraq is absolutely atrocious.
Here are some figures. The violence of ISIS has led to the displacement of 2.5 million civilians in Iraq alone and left 5.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Over 5,000 people have been killed by ISIS. In May, 50 mass graves containing the bodies of civilians who were murdered by ISIS were discovered in Iraq.
The UN has reported gross human rights abuses, including attacks directly targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, executions and other targeted killings of civilians, abductions, rape, and other forms of sexual and physical violence.
A March 2015 report issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights indicated that the following atrocities were being committed against the Yazidi community: the brutal and targeted killings of hundreds of men and boys in Nineveh province, northwest of Baghdad in August 2014; the rape of girls as young as six years old; the abduction of women as the spoils of war; and the forced separation of families, where boys as young as eight years old were taken and forced to become child soldiers. These are just a few examples of the horrors committed by ISIS.
In light of these facts, we have no problem joining our voices with those of the U.S. Congress, the Obama administration through the Secretary of State, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and the British Parliament, which we have talked a lot about, to say that the evidence is quite clear that in all probability there was a genocide, particularly against the Yazidi community.
However, simply saying that in the House has very little impact. Obviously, the motion of Parliament carries moral weight, but it does not involve any obligation on the part of the government.
An analysis was done in order to determine what would happen if the government ever said that genocide was taking place in a particular location, generally speaking. The conclusion was that this would open the door to restrictions on imports and exports, the reduction or withdrawal of international development assistance, the expulsion of diplomats, and the suspension of diplomatic relations. That is the list.
Obviously, this would have no impact on a non-state actor. In order to have a discernible impact, it has to go through the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. Many of our global partners have adopted this kind of motion. I hope these motions will help maintain the pressure on institutions like the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court, so that we can get to the bottom of this.
As I said a little earlier, I am a little surprised that the motion does not suggest referring the issue to those international bodies and continuing to work with them to move forward with the investigations.
The motion has a moral impact, more than anything else, but unfortunately, words are not enough, as one of my colleagues said. Very specific action needs to be taken.
First and foremost we need to investigate the war crimes and crimes against humanity that are being committed in Syria and Iraq. Of course ISIS is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, but we must not forget those being committed by the Bashar al-Assad regime. I am not sure why we do not talk about that more. There are also those committed by armed groups like the ones fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime, which are not lily-white themselves, by any means. We have to admit, this is another flaw in the motion.
If we had drafted the motion, I think it probably would have been written better, but, well, that is life.
We absolutely have to investigate what is happening on the ground. Naomi Kikoler, deputy director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, said:
|| There’s been virtually no effort to systematically document the crimes that have been perpetrated, to preserve evidence, to secure and preserve forensic evidence, to ensure that mass graves are being protected so we can actually have successful prosecutions in the future. This is one area where Canada can play a crucial role in supporting financially, but also sending experts to areas that have been liberated from the Islamic State.
That is absolutely essential. Canada has tremendous expertise in this area. We have been calling for the government to get involved for years. The little bit of funding voted last year has run out. We would like some solid details about what the Government of Canada intends to do about this.
These crimes must be investigated so that they can be prosecuted in the future, but we must also act now. That means helping people on the ground, helping refugees, providing humanitarian aid in the camps, continuing to welcome refugees to Canada, giving them enough help when they get here, ensuring that they can integrate into society, and ensuring that they have opportunities to learn English or French. We also have to help neighbouring countries a great deal. I commend the government for doing that. Helping Jordan and Lebanon is critical to preventing the instability from spreading.
We also need to ensure that all regions of Syria receive humanitarian aid. There is an enormous amount of diplomatic work to be done in that regard, and Canada needs to put a lot of effort into that. Clearly, that work alone is not enough. We need to attack ISIS itself. We have always said that the first thing that needs to be done is to cut off ISIS's funding. We need to cut off ISIS's access to money.
We know that in Iraq and Syria, ISIS is funded in part through extortion. However, the group also continues to engage in trade, oil trafficking, and other activities. The international community really needs to focus on that. Everyone is familiar with the expression “money is the sinews of war”. If we can cut off ISIS's funding, then we will have made a significant amount of progress. We also need to cut ISIS off from its weapon supply.
I want to reiterate and stress that the Canadian government needs to quickly accede to the arms trade treaty. That is absolutely essential and it will help us to convince other countries to work toward that goal. The global movement of weapons is one of our biggest threats. We obviously also have to prevent ISIS from recruiting more members. I will not get into the details because we have talked about it often enough, but there is a problem here, because some of the measures being taken by various countries seem to be providing ISIS with more opportunities to attract supporters.
These things are also part of the mandate that we were given by the United Nations. It is essential that we focus on them. It is also essential to work on deradicalization here in Canada. We need to remember that radicalization is not just an Islamist phenomenon. Right-wing radicalization and other radicalization movements also exist. We need to do more in that regard.
Finally, above all, we need to find a peaceful solution in the region. I was pleased to see that Canada is now being invited to the major international meetings to try to find a sustainable diplomatic solution and, we hope, to start to think about rebuilding and the future.
General Dallaire, for whom I am sure everyone here in the House has the utmost respect, said recently in an interview that what is happening in Syria is the Rwandan genocide all over again. We have to reach an agreement. We have to find a solution.
I would add that we must also work on prevention. As one of my colleagues whom I admire greatly said, these terrorist groups these days are like the Hydra from Greek mythology. When we cut off its head, two heads grow back in its place. A few years ago, we were dealing with al-Qaeda. Then it was al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, followed by the Islamic State. We must focus on prevention. Prevention is not simple. It is not easy and it takes time, but it is essential. Prevention takes good governance. To prevent conflicts, we must ensure that justice is served in every country. This also means ensuring that justice is served when crimes against humanity are committed.
We all agree that the atrocities committed by ISIS in Syria and Iraq are pretty awful. I will not go into all the details, but we are talking about 5,000 people killed by ISIS, for example. We are also talking about using rape as a weapon of war. We are talking about young children being taken from their families and becoming child soldiers. We have all seen the images, such as the beheadings, which are awful, but it is the day in day out atrocities that are committed.
In that respect, we have no problem with adding our voices to those of the American Congress, the Obama administration, through the Secretary of State, the European Parliament, the European Council, or the British Parliament to say that with regard to the Yazidis, the evidence is quite clear that in all probability there was genocide.
However, words are not enough. Today's motion has no legal consequences on the government. Even if the government were to say it were genocide, no legal consequences would apply in this because it is a non-state actor. If it were about a country, then we could cut diplomatic links, or recall our diplomats or things like that. That does not apply in this case.
We have to act, and Canada could act through many avenues. We could investigate the war crimes of not only ISIS, but the war crimes of the Bashar al-Assad regime, which has done terrible things, and the war crimes of some opposition groups that also have committed atrocities and crimes against humanity. Canada can play a key role in that respect. We can provide money and expertise to gather evidence and treat it properly.
A little over a year ago, the previous government announced $1.2 million. I would be interested in getting more details about what the current government is planning and whether it will go full steam ahead in investing both atrocities and those war crimes. This is absolutely essential.
We also need to continue our fight against ISIS. We need to starve it of money. We need to work together with the international community to ensure ISIS cannot sell any more artifacts or petroleum, all of the sources of its money, or as we say in French, l'argent est le nerf de la guerre. We have to starve ISIS of arms. In that respect I trust the government again to accede to the arms trade treaty as soon as possible so we do our share. We need to encourage other countries to control the flow of arms.
We have to deprive ISIS of militants, of jihadists. We can do that by preventing people from going abroad and by having finely tuned policies in place, policies that place a lot of emphasis on humanitarian assistance so the people of the region see we are with them, not against them. That would help to prevent ISIS from recruiting more militants.
We need to help on the ground and provide humanitarian assistance. We need to help countries like Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey that are dealing with a difficult situation. We need to receive refugees here.
We also have to work on the peace process. I am happy that Canada is now a part of the process. This is good news. Retired lieutenant-general Roméo Dallaire has said that the genocide in Rwanda has repeated itself now in Syria. That can be resolved, but key to that is finding a political solution.
We have to work at prevention. We have to work around the world to avoid new groups. It is like the Hydra. We cut off one head and two new one take its place. We have to work on human rights and good governance. We need a good justice system around the world for conflict prevention.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I rise in the House today to speak to and support a motion that calls on the Liberal government to agree that ISIS is responsible for crimes against humanity aimed at groups such as the Yazidis, Shia Muslims, Christians, and other religious and ethnic minorities in Syria and Iraq; utilizing rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war and enslaving young girls and women; targeting gays and lesbians, who have been tortured and murdered; and, as a consequence, the House strongly condemns these atrocities and declares these crimes as genocide.
This is a motion that I believe all sides of the House should support. The Liberal government cannot and must not turn a blind eye to this situation.
Just within the past few days, and we heard this earlier today, 19 Yazidi girls who refused to have sex with their captors, were put into iron cages and burned alive. Ján Kubiš, UN Special Representative for Iraq, told the UN Security Council that “More than 50 mass graves have been discovered so far in several areas of Iraq” and that ISIS continues the atrocities against women and children.
A United Nations report stated that Yazidi boys between the ages of eight and 15 are being trained as child soldiers and forced to watch beheadings.
As well, the UN estimates that over 3,500 Yazidi women and girls are being held, with many used as sex slaves, while others are sold. In fact, not only have they set up slave auctions in the marketplace, but they have turned to social media and created digital auction blocks. The unfortunate fate of an 11-year-old girl was widely reported just last week when she sold for $9,000.
It is also reported that more than 5,300 Yazidi have been abducted and more than 3,000 men have been murdered. The UN estimated that another 5,000 Yazidi were killed by ISIS in northern Iraq.
The systematic rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war against women and girls, some as young as the age of six, is an atrocity beyond anyone's comprehension. As well, ISIS uses this as a recruitment tool, letting men know that women and sex are available for the taking at will.
The European Parliament agrees that the atrocities committed by ISIS are genocide. The British members of Parliament agree that the atrocities committed by ISIS are genocide. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom agrees that the atrocities committed by ISIS are genocide. The Vatican agrees that the atrocities committed by ISIS are genocide. The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously that the atrocities committed by ISIS are genocide. The UN Special Representative for Iraq said that violent acts by ISIS—killing, kidnapping, rape, torture—constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes, and even genocide.
Canada is a signatory on an international agreement, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes of Genocide, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, and it states that all participating countries are required “to prevent and punish” acts of genocide, whether carried out in war or in peacetime.
Article II of the convention defines genocide as:
||...any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
||(a) Killing members of the group;
||(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
||(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
||(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
||(e) Forceably transferring children of the group to another group.
Every single point of this definition has been violated. It escapes me as to why the Liberal government cannot see what everyone else sees. How many more mass graves need to be discovered? How many more young girls need to be sold and raped? How many people need to be burned alive or beheaded? How many people need to be tortured and murdered? How many families need to be destroyed?
There are 10 million people right now in immediate need of humanitarian aid. Canada has a responsibility to show leadership and to act in a meaningful way. We have the opportunity to ensure that the people who have committed these horrendous acts of violence are held to account. We need to be there for the people who continue to suffer, the women, the young girls, the boys, and the men who have lost their wives and daughters. For all of those who are buried in more than 50 mass graves, we need to show we care. We need to show that they matter and that Canada has not forgotten them. The very first thing we need to do is to bring Yazidi women and children to Canada. It is shameful that only nine families have been brought here and that the Liberal government has cancelled the Iraqi program.
The UN does not recognize the Yazidi people as refugees. They are internally displaced persons. This is the very first step we can take to effect change. It is a concrete action that we should undertake and that the current government should rectify immediately.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from .
I want to start by commending my colleague from and the for the excellent work they are doing on this issue.
It is important to note what we are talking about here. We are talking about recognizing a genocide. One of my colleagues asked for the definition. Genocide can be defined as follows:
|| A crime against humanity committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Acts of genocide include deliberately endangering life or causing serious bodily or mental harm, inflicting conditions of life calculated to endanger the life of the group, imposing measures intended to prevent births, and forcibly transferring children.
This is a serious topic, but it is an important one that has marked our collective psyche for bad reasons. Everyone is familiar with the so-called final solution, which took six million lives; the Rwandan genocide, which took between 500,000 and one million lives; the Armenian genocide, which took 1.8 million lives; and the Srebrenica genocide, which took more than 7,000 lives.
This is a human tragedy on a massive scale. We are talking about systematically eliminating a segment of the population. This shows just how evil human beings can be.
This is particularly relevant here because of the Canadian mosaic. People from all over the world, of all religions and beliefs, have come to Canada. When ethnic cleansing takes place in another part of the world, it often affects the distant family of a neighbour, colleague, or friend, who is devastated. The concern is also palpable in Canada.
It is partly for that reason that I am pleased to speak to such an important issue. However, I am also extremely disappointed to have to do so. If the government had had the courage to call a spade a spade, we would not be here today debating this motion.
This week, to cite one of countless cases, the media reported that 19 Yazidi women were burned alive for refusing to have sex with their ISIL captors. It was reported that they were burned alive in the public square, closed in a cage, in front of several hundred people in Mosul. Young Yazidi women are captured, raped, and sold as sex slaves by the Islamic fundamentalists belonging to ISIL.
The jihadists demand that members of the Yazidi religious minority convert to Islam. After separating the men and women, they strip the villagers of their jewellery, money, and cellphones.
According to accounts in a United Nations report, ISIL rounds up all the men over 10 years old, takes them out of the villages in trucks, and shoots them, as was the case in previous genocides. ISIL militants then drive the Yazidi women to markets in Mosul or in Raqqa, Syria, to sell them. They even put price tags on the women, like items in a store.
I would invite my Liberal colleagues, who love consultations, to ask Canadians across the country if they think that ISIL is committing genocide in the areas they occupy by targeting religious minorities, including Christians, Yazidis, and Shia, and selling people from those groups like slaves.
ISIL's cruelty is not limited only to those whose religious beliefs are different. Homosexuals, gays and lesbians, are also being targeted by ISIL torturers. In ISIL's world, human life no longer has any value. Anyone who is paying the least bit of attention knows this. They know that everyone in ISIL-controlled territory is living in a reign of terror under one of the most archaic, brutal regimes in the history of the human race, a world that makes the Middle Ages look very civilized.
Everything we see on television and all the reports from ISIL-controlled areas indicate that this is indeed a genocide, but those who are tormenting minorities can sleep in peace because our government does not like to bother totalitarian regimes that threaten the lives of thousands of people. Best not to interfere.
That world is light years away from the society we have built here in Canada, an open society where people of any sexual orientation and any religion need not fear for their survival.
The expressed his position on the matter on April 28, 2016. Quite frankly, it was a letdown. In response to the , he said:
||...the official recognition of genocide is so serious that it should only happen following a proper international investigation. That is what we are pushing, and it is absolutely in line with our allies.
Apparently that is what passes for responsible conviction.
That is not surprising coming from someone who so brilliantly explained that it is hard to set priorities. As a proper academic, the would rather wait until it is all over so that he can count the number of bodies before deciding if it really is a genocide or not.
Apparently that is what responsible conviction means: making claims, saying that Canada is back, but not really doing much to help the people targeted by these atrocities. The also says that his position is in line with what our allies are doing. We must have a different understanding of what an ally is. What we have heard from the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, differs significantly from what our has said. I would like to share a quote from Mr. Kerry:
| Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions—in what it says, what it believes, and what it does. Daesh is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities....
|| I want to be clear...Ultimately, the full facts must be brought to light by an independent investigation and through formal legal determination made by a competent court or tribunal. But the United States will strongly support efforts to collect, document, preserve, and analyze the evidence of atrocities, and we will do all we can to see that the perpetrators are held accountable
The fact that those responsible for these crimes admit their own guilt does not seem to be enough for the . Really, when the time comes to protect victims, here in Canada and elsewhere, the Liberals are nowhere to be found. The American government, our greatest partner and ally, recognizes that this is a genocide. In the U.S., Congress and the Obama administration have said that Daesh is committing a genocide in the territories it occupies.
The British Parliament voted unanimously in favour of recognizing the atrocities committed by ISIL as genocide. It also asked the government to call on the International Criminal Court to intervene and investigate to ensure that the guilty parties are arrested and tried. I would also like to point out that all those who acknowledge that ISIL is committing genocide in the territories it occupies are doing far more than Canada is doing in the fight to eradicate this terrorist group.
Before I conclude my remarks, I would like to come back to the definition of genocide. A genocide is a crime against humanity with a view to the total or partial destruction of a national, ethnic, radical, or religious group. That is pretty much what is currently happening in the regions under ISIL's control. Mass executions are common currency.
Genocide is a wilful attack against the life and physical integrity of a group of people, and the deliberate infliction of conditions of life calculated to endanger the lives of those in the group. When people have no choice, and have to convert or be executed, that is pretty much the definition of genocide. Considering all these facts, we wonder what it will take for the government and the , world leader in setting priorities and master of the responsible conviction policy, to apply the word “genocide” to the atrocities committed by ISIL in its occupied territories.
On this side of the House, we would like to see the government do more to fight against ISIL to put an end to the massacre of religious minorities and groups whose views differ from those of the terrorists who are trying to impose their caliphate. Acknowledging that this is a genocide will be a step in the right direction, but much remains to be done to end the genocide currently being committed.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the hon. member for .
I would like to thank the hon. Leader of the Opposition and member for for putting forward this motion and today's debate.
I believe that I am not mistaken, as I start, by saying that all members in the House are outraged by the pervasive and unrelenting violence in the conflict in Syria and Iraq. Our government is outraged by the deliberate targeting of health facilities, as we have seen in Aleppo and in Kamounia camp, near the border with Turkey.
Canada deplores the deliberate targeting of civilians and the continued disregard for international humanitarian law. The continued cost in the lives of innocent men, women, and children from such attacks is unacceptable and further demonstrates the need for an urgent de-escalation of violence. The appalling acts of violence perpetrated by Daesh have resulted in the deaths of thousands of people of all faiths in Iraq and in Syria. The atrocities and widespread abuses perpetrated by Daesh against religious and ethnic communities, including Yazidis, Christians, Shiites, and Sunnis, is an affront to human dignity and Canadian values of peaceful pluralism and respect for diversity.
Freedom of religion and belief and the ability to worship in peace and security is a universal human right. Human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent, and interrelated and must be enjoyed by all people, without discrimination and without distinctions of any kind. Canada stands in solidarity with those facing oppression as a result of their religious beliefs.
I am outraged, and Canadians are outraged, by the use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war. Sexual violence as a specific tactic, as well as the enslavement of women and girls, is not unique to the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. However, its systematic employment by Daesh in Syria and Iraq needs to be recognized, and its perpetrators will ultimately need to be held to account.
We are equally outraged by acts of violence against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In February, the UN commission of inquiry on Syria reported that Daesh continues to target sexual minorities for execution. The report contains shocking examples of Daesh's intolerance and brutality. This includes a video that shows two men being thrown from a building. Why? It was because they had been accused of committing homosexual acts. Our government deplores this violence and any kind of discrimination or intolerance based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
Let me reiterate that our government strongly condemns the terrorist acts committed by Daesh, and we firmly support investigations into their crimes and the prosecution of perpetrators. However, while we respect the emotion behind this motion, and what fair-minded person would not, unfortunately, democratic governments cannot only be guided by emotion.
I understand that members opposite disagree with the approach we are following, namely to arrive at a legal determination and not simply a political or emotional one. Why are legal determinations important? It is so we do not risk acting in a manner that undermines our intent.
As part of our broader engagement in the Middle East region, Canada is taking substantial and concrete actions that contribute to preventing and halting war crimes, and possibly genocide, by Daesh.
Our participation in the international coalition, our provision of humanitarian, development, and security and stabilization assistance, and our diplomatic engagement all support the protection of vulnerable populations.
To this effect, on February 8, the , the , the , and the shared Canada's commitment to deliver a multi-faceted response to the crises in Syria and Iraq and their impact on the surrounding region. This commitment includes $1.1 billion in much-needed humanitarian and development assistance over three years.
From this funding, $840 million will help provide much-needed humanitarian assistance, such as food, urgent health services, water, shelter, education, and protection, including from sexual violence, for the most vulnerable people affected by conflicts in the Middle East.
On April 13, the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie took the first step in delivering on this commitment by announcing $100 million in humanitarian assistance funding to support the responses to the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.
This announcement included $31.8 million to UNICEF to match the generous donations of Canadians to charitable organizations responding to the crisis. This funding will increase education opportunities, provide child protection services in Syria and Jordan, and support immunization efforts for children in Syria, responding to critical needs and building the resilience of conflict-affected communities.
The funding announced is also supporting our humanitarian partners to provide emergency physical and functional rehabilitation services to people injured by the violence in Syria and Iraq, psychosocial support to people traumatized by violence, and clean water, food, shelter, and primary health care to people who have fled the violence in Syria.
In addition, this government is supporting the provision of confidential medical assistance, case management, and referral services to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
Canada's humanitarian partners work in some of the most dangerous and challenging environments. Every day, humanitarian staff, many of them Canadians, put their lives on the line to make sure that vulnerable civilians affected by conflict around the world, including in Syria and Iraq, get the assistance they need. The price they continue to pay for their dedication to their mission is tragic. Since the conflict began in Syria, over 87 humanitarian personnel have been killed.
One need not travel far from the House of Commons to appreciate the dedication of Canada's humanitarian community.
Given the inherent challenges in delivering humanitarian assistance, Canada's long-standing practice is that Canadian humanitarian funding is provided to experienced humanitarian partners to meet the life-saving needs of civilians caught in the middle of conflict.
With decades of experience, our humanitarian partners have developed practices and processes to ensure the integrity of the assistance they deliver. Canada's humanitarian partners adhere to the principle of humanity, meaning that all victims of conflict or civilians affected by conflict deserve protection and assistance, no matter where they are found.
In order to fulfill this goal, our partners also adhere to the principles of impartiality, neutrality, and independence so that they can work wherever those in need are located. This is an essential point. The ability of humanitarian workers to have access to people in need is predicated on their actions being neutral. This means providing assistance with no military or political objective, only the objective of saving lives and alleviating suffering.
In many contexts, the safety and security of aid workers depends on their ability to demonstrate that they have no other motive than providing assistance to those in need. Humanitarian principles remain the foundation of this trust, and we must be careful to protect their integrity.
Canada is committed to promoting and enhancing respect for humanitarian principles, international humanitarian law, and the protection of civilians.
We must uphold the spirit and the letter of the law, improve compliance, and hold violators to account. For this reason, our humanitarian partners and the Government of Canada are extremely careful that humanitarian assistance is provided in full respect of humanitarian principles and in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
Last month, I participated in the World Humanitarian Summit, in Istanbul, Turkey. I represented Canada at an event entitled “A Call to Action for Addressing Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies”, because we continue to be concerned about the fact that there is an increased incidence of sexual and gender-based violence during a humanitarian crisis. Women and girls, in particular, continue to face increased protection risks, such as sexual violence, trafficking, and child, early, and forced marriage during crises.
I wish to reiterate this government's commitment to helping the most vulnerable and this government's commitment to do so in a manner consistent with humanitarian principles.
I understand that members opposite disagree with the approach we are following, namely that we be guided by principles, principles that have served Canada for decades, under governments of all stripes, and not by emotion or politics.
We all abhor what Daesh is doing. We all want it to stop and to hold the perpetrators to account. To do this, we must work with our allies through the international legal process. To not do so both elevates the structure of Daesh to something it is not, a government, and risks having Canada condemn it in a manner not consistent with how our country approaches addressing such acts. This is the appropriate process, and we are following in line with our allies and the international bodies responsible in that assessment.
This government stands with the United Nations and its international partners in calling for a judicial investigation and an end to impunity for the perpetrators of serious international crimes.
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to engage in this debate.
As I said earlier, I think the member for said it best when he said that these are important things and they need to be debated here in the House of Commons.
The government and people of Canada stand together in solidarity with the victims of ISIS atrocities. The and I share the determination to eradicate the threat. Our government is taking substantial and concrete actions to degrade ISIL and to ultimately help Iraq security forces to defeat this villainous plague themselves.
Every member of the House surely feels that the carnage and slaughter committed against minority groups and communities by ISIL demonstrates an undeniable evil intent. On that point, I think the phrasing of most of the motion is actually quite accurate.
All Canadians are appalled by ISIL's murderous acts, and they fill our news feeds almost daily. No matter what we label them, no words are strong enough to reflect our opposition to ISIL's actions.
All members of this House debated Canada's response to the crisis in Iraq and Syria back in February. Indeed, over 98 members of this House took part in the debate, which I consider to be an outstanding participation. We voted on the motion on March 8, and our collective view of ISIL is unequivocal that it must be stopped.
For all the opposition's good intentions with the motion, finding the right words to express our outrage and condemn ISIL will not get the job done. ISIL is a complex and multi-faceted phenomenon that demands a complex and comprehensive response. It has thousands of fighters, a sophisticated social media strategy, and the support of pervasive criminal networks that are adaptable and unhindered by geography.
While coalition forces have achieved remarkable success in degrading ISIL's strength, it still retains enough power to cause damage. The challenges associated with defeating ISIL were evident when the Chief of Defence Staff visited northern Iraq. In late April, General Jonathan Vance visited our special operations for our training, advising, and assisting forces in the fight against ISIL. He saw first-hand the crucial role that our Canadian Armed Forces will play in supporting the Iraq security forces who will battle in Mosul, Fallujah, with Mosul being the critical Iraqi city that remains in the extremists' stronghold.
What General Vance witnessed aligned strongly with what the saw and heard as he travelled in the region. It is clear from their experiences that our new three-year strategy to address the ongoing crisis in Iraq, Syria, and the wider region is the right approach.
As members know, following consultation with our coalition allies and partners, and a comprehensive review with Canadian Armed Forces here at home, Canada has refocused its role in the global coalition to counter ISIL. Our efforts are directed at the countries most affected in the crisis: Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. Our revised engagement reflects the needs and requests expressed to Canada, while at the same time leveraging Canadian capabilities and value-added expertise.
It is a whole-of-government approach to enhance security and stability, provide humanitarian assistance, and help our partners to deliver social services, rebuild infrastructure, and ensure good governance. In line with this new strategy, Canada has extended our military mission in Iraq and Syria until March 31, 2017.
Canada is increasing its total complement of military personnel to approximately 830 as well as its support for coalition members and Iraqi security forces in the planning and execution of our military operations, in particular, in the areas of planning, targeting, and intelligence. We are tripling the number of forces personnel assigned to our training, advise, and assist mission for local forces in Iraq. Last month we also added three Griffon helicopters to the mission to enhance in-theatre tactical support transport, including medical evacuations.
On the intelligence front, an all-source intelligence centre was opened in theatre in late April. This capability responsible for collaborating, synthesizing, and analyzing information is derived from a variety of sources. This intelligence is then used to inform operational planning, ultimately contributing to the protection of coalition forces in the conduct of coalition operations. As we have announced, we are significantly increasing our intelligence capacity, because we understand that this is a complex interplay of forces that underlines the conflict environment in Iraq and Syria. We need to have a clearer picture of how all the pieces fit together so that we can better anticipate the impact of our actions. Our enhanced intelligence contribution will be invaluable in this regard.
Brigadier-General David Anderson, director of the global coalition's ministerial liaison team, and other Canadian Armed Forces members who are part of the multinational team, are now in Iraq to lay the foundation on which the team will provide strategic military support for the ministries of defence and interior. The role played by Brigadier-General David Anderson cannot be understated. It is extremely important that he coordinates the coalition forces and ultimately the Iraqi ministers who will be responsible for this head-on fight with ISIL. The ministerial liaison team will work with the Government of Iraq to further synchronize coalition efforts to clear ISIL from Iraq.
Members have heard in the past about various contributions of various amounts of money in humanitarian assistance, all of which has been implemented and was committed in budget 2016. The updated approach makes sense.
When Canada's military mission began in the fall 2014 it was a response to an emerging and immediate crisis. Since then the reality on the ground has changed dramatically. ISIL has lost territory and freedom of movement. It has lost over 45% of the areas it once controlled in Iraq. Its leadership is being targeted along with its organizational capability. We can trace from one point to the next point to the next point how intelligence allows the coalition forces to target the very heart of ISIL. Now that we have significantly degraded ISIL's capabilities, the coalition is focused on dismantling this extremist and violent threat.
A lasting solution rests on the shoulders of the indigenous ground forces, the Iraqi security forces that we are training. We are now able to conduct offensive operations and reclaim territory once held by ISIS. Our training and advising is empowering the local forces to establish the necessary security conditions for the return of the displaced persons we are talking about here today and follow up on stabilization activities.
I am extremely proud of the tremendous service our men and women in uniform have deployed on Operation Impact and I know that all members of the House feel the same way.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
On the relationship between peace and justice, there is a theoretical tension between these two. The pursuit of peace may on certain readings in certain situations require us to let go of things we would rather address, to allow to pass by things which we would rather confront but the confrontation of which would lead to a loss of peace.
On the other hand, the pursuit of justice may put us in conflict with others, with the purveyors of injustice and with those who, while desiring justice of a certain kind, have a different conception of justice than we do. When peace is valued over justice, we are inclined to leave injustice unaddressed. When justice is valued over peace, we risk regular conflict even between those with good intentions on the basis of rival conceptions of justice.
I do not just mean military conflict in the context of loss of peace but also conflict as in a disruption of favour and goodwill, and perhaps conflict in terms of being opposed in our ambitions. The pursuit of justice always upsets the tranquillity of life, in this context, the relative potential tranquillity of Canadian international diplomatic relations.
During our previous Conservative government we regularly put the pursuit of justice ahead of tranquillity in international relations. We stood for what was and is right. We stood for the rights of persecuted religious, ethnic, and linguistic minorities. We stood for the right of self-determination for any peaceful community. We stood for the right of the Jewish people to a safe and secure homeland. We stood for the right of the Russian people to know that human rights abusers from their country will not be able to travel to and invest in the west. We stood for the rights of Chinese Uighurs, Afghan Sikhs, Crimean Tatars, and yes, Yazidis, Christians, Kurds, Turkmen, Shia Muslims, and other groups in the path of Daesh.
We were willing to stand up and upset our tranquillity in the process. We believed that a country in pursuit of justice might have to pay a price for its stand, but that it was right that we be prepared to pay that price.
This government has a fundamentally different approach when it comes to foreign affairs. While we believed and believe deeply in the pursuit of justice, this government values peace, values tranquillity, over justice. The Liberals are not prepared to speak clearly about international human rights. They are downgrading our capacities in this respect and they are refusing to speak the truth about injustice. In this particular case, they are refusing to call a genocide what it is.
Now many of my colleagues have already spoken eloquently about why using the term genocide is not only justified, but is necessary in the case of Daesh actions towards Yazidis and Christians in Syria and Iraq.
The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as:
|| ...any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
||(a) Killing members of the group;
||(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
||(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
||(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
||(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Any one of these conditions is a sufficient basis to qualify as genocide, but there is clear, documented evidence that Daesh has engaged in all five of these things. That is why the American administration, the American Congress, the British Parliament, and the European Parliament have all recognized this as a genocide. Are we to seriously believe that our is wiser or happens to know something these august bodies do not?
The best that the Liberals can come up with in opposition to this is to assert that our membership in the International Criminal Court in some way prevents us from calling this a genocide.
The only thing worse than using legalese to cover moral cowardice is using bad, ill-informed, made-up legalese to cover moral cowardice. Every single EU country is a member of the ICC. They have all recognized the genocide through a motion very similar to this. The parliamentary secretary said it was just a motion in the European context. This is a motion as well, and our recognition of genocide should not be and need not be held up by a Security Council veto.
These arguments are obviously not the point. The evidence is clear and international law is clear with respect to what genocide is. We know it is clear, they know it is clear, and we know that they know it is clear. However, they still will not use the word “genocide”, quite obviously because there is a certain safety, a certain comfort, a certain tranquillity, in resisting taking a stand and holding back on the call for justice; because using the word “genocide” upsets our peace. It is a disruptive word because it crystalizes and clarifies the truly evil nature of Daesh and our moral and legal obligation to respond in a serious way. The government prefers similar but sufficiently unclear language in this, so as to appear to be roughly on the same page but not to upset the Liberals' desired foreign-policy focus of peace and tranquillity as opposed to the pursuit of justice.
Why is it necessary to speak the truth in this case? Why is it necessary to call a genocide a genocide? Why do we take the denial of genocides, historic or present, so seriously? I have spoken before in the House about my grandmother's story. My grandmother was a Holocaust survivor, one of millions of European Jews who suffered in some way because of Hitler's efforts to exterminate them.
On August 22, 1939, about a week before the invasion of Poland, Hitler gave what has come to be known as the Obersalzberg speech to his military commanders, in which he laid out his genocidal intent, in this case toward the Polish people. For our understanding of history, of how and why genocides happen, it is important to know what he said:
||...our war aim does not consist of reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formations in readiness...with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space...we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?
In this seminal address to his commanders, it was important for Hitler to reflect on the absence of international recognition or regard for the Armenian genocide. This was not the first time that Hitler invoked a comparison between the Armenian genocide and his intended plans. He inferred from the experience of the Armenians that nobody would care if he killed the Jews.
When we stand in the House to remember and recognize the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, the Holodomor, and other such events, we are not just engaging in a collective exercise in the study of history. We are remembering because reminding ourselves of the reality of past evil, ensuring that violence against the innocent is condemned over and over again in the strongest possible terms, is a way of ensuring that we finally learn the lessons of history. As much as it upsets our tranquillity from time to time to call out evil, in the past or the present, it must be done. What good is remembering the past if we only pay attention to genocides that happened decades ago? The failure to confront evil in the present is precisely what leads tyrants in the future to conclude that their contemporaries will not care either. To call out evil, to speak the truth about international human rights, to do so in a way that is clear and unambiguous may cost us friends and goodwill; it may cost us more still. However, it is the only thing that prevents would-be tyrants of this world from believing that they will get away with it.
On the relationship between peace and justice, there is, yes, a theoretical tension between the two, but there is also an essential unity between the two. Those who violate the basic rights and dignity of their own people invariably become a menace to their neighbours and the entire community of civilized nations, as Daesh has already become. It is not in the nature of tyrants to, on the one hand, overthrow the domestic rule of law and then to respect international law, on the other. It is a certainty that those who are a menace to justice in their own land will be a menace to peace, if not right away then eventually. Even on consequential grounds, it makes sense to stand up for justice in the first instance, but more important, we cannot call ourselves a just society if we refuse to speak clearly about justice on the international stage.
That is justice in the pursuit of peace, and justice that is disruptive to peace, because the 19 Yazidi girls who were burned alive in a cage this week are every bit as human as the members here or my daughter or their daughters. If members would call it a genocide for themselves or their people group, then they should do it for someone else's.
Mr. Speaker, it is with a significant measure of urgency, combined with a degree of perplexity, that I stand before the House today and ask the government to take a stand for human rights.
The urgency comes from a place of care and compassion for tens of thousands of innocent Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in Syria and Iraq who are being abducted, tortured, raped, and turned into slaves or killed at the hands of ISIS.
The degree of perplexity of which I speak is in response to the government's lack of willingness to call these crimes what they are. The atrocities committed by ISIS are genocide. Today, we call on the government to join with the U.S. and our allies in the U.K. and to declare that these crimes do in fact constitute genocide.
Those of us who sit in the House are free people. This chamber hosts 338 remarkable men and women who come from all walks of life. Many have had to overcome difficult situations. Others have been blessed with good fortune. However, all of us embody a story, a story of stewarding our freedom, the freedom that was granted to us simply because we were born or became Canadian citizens, freedom to dream and have hope for a vibrant future, freedom to go to school and acquire an education and training, freedom to work and earn a living, freedom to make purchases, freedom to enjoy recreational activities, freedom to worship, freedom to speak about our beliefs and our values, freedom to move from one province or territory to another, and freedom to run for public office to become members of Parliament and sit in this chamber. As residents of Canada and members of the House, we are incredibly blessed. We are among the world's most privileged.
I am confident that each of my colleagues, myself included, ran for public office because we believed that we could make a difference, because we wanted to contribute to make Canada better, a better Canada domestically and on the world stage. However, what I find is that the four walls of this chamber sometimes have a detrimental side effect for those of us who reside in this place. In the short time I have been here I have become increasingly aware of the amnesia that sets in when we neglect to look beyond the ideals and the theory of this assembly room and into the space beyond these walls called reality.
Beyond these walls and across the ocean there exists a very different reality for tens of thousands of innocent Yazidis, Christians, and other ethnic and religious minority groups. In their reality, there are no plush green chairs, cheese platters, or mineral water. For this group, reality looks like living in fear, fighting for survival, men and women being abducted, men being lined up and shot to death in front of their loved ones, women and girls being captured, tortured, raped, and sold into slavery. In their reality, they are no more than a commodity on a black market.
Young virgins, some as young as nine, are a prized possession and sold for a price well above the average rate, determined by the powers that be within this lucrative and criminal world of commerce. Meanwhile, those who are pregnant will be killed or subjected to barbaric and excruciatingly painful abortions.
This is but a small glimpse into the real life situation faced by tens of thousands of innocent men and women in Syria and Iraq who find themselves at the mercy of ISIS. Rape is being used as a weapon of war. Torture is the daily norm. Of course, death is the only foreseeable escape route.
Meanwhile, Canada's present government appears to be undisturbed, content to sit on its hands and do nothing of significant meaning.
Just a few days ago, 19 Yazidi girls were marched through the public square in Mosul and forced into an iron cage where they were burned alive for refusing to have sex with the ISIS soldiers. Hundreds of people watched as this atrocious human rights violation took place. No one could do anything.
This is the reality beyond the four walls of this chamber and across the ocean in a not-so-distant place called Iraq and Syria. This is the reality that I call upon Canada's government to acknowledge as genocide.
I call upon the government to do so because it is the definition that goes along with the wrongful practice that we are witnessing. The crimes that I speak of are crimes against humanity for the purpose of extinguishing a group of people.
Dr. Widad Akreyi who works for Defend International has called upon the international community to call these grave atrocities what they are: crimes against humanity, crimes against cultural heritage of the region, and ethnic cleansing.
One survivor who was interviewed had this to say, "If we're not protected soon, there'll be none of us left in the country--which is our country...“
On December 9, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly, within the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defined genocide as:
|| ....any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
|| (a) Killing members of the group;
|| (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
|| (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
|| (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
|| (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Based on this convention, which bears Canada's signature, I call upon the upon the Canadian government to acknowledge the brutal acts committed by ISIS as genocide.
For over two years now, the persecution of minority groups, such as Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims has gained international attention, starting with the U.S.-led air strikes against ISIS. Iran was close at hand. Shortly thereafter, 14 countries, including Canada, joined together in a U.S.-led coalition to execute air strikes on ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
When Canada's new government took power, however, efforts were significantly thwarted. For the most part, a blind eye was turned to those who are being persecuted at the hands of ISIS. I am perplexed as to why our will not join with those in the European Union and the United States of America to declare these acts for what they are.
In 1948, we joined our allies to legally define genocide for a reason, that we would be empowered to take action, action that defends freedom and acknowledges the value of human life. I would speculate that the current government is refusing to define these horrific human rights violations as genocide because doing so will require it to take action. It viewed the decision at hand as an unwelcome obligation rather than an opportunity to take a stand for the most vulnerable and defend human rights.
The matter of which I speak today is not to be taken lightly. In Syria and Iraq, tens of thousands of Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities are living in incomprehensible fear. These are the people that would consider themselves fortunate. Others have been slaughtered, and still others have been kidnapped, tortured, and raped.
These are crimes against humanity committed by the hands of Islamic State militants for the purpose of ethnic cleansing. The wicked acts committed by ISIS are deliberate in nature and calculatedly committed against specific religious and minority groups.
What I have described today is in fact genocide as defined by the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. I thereby call upon the government to join with our allies and recognize the atrocities committed by ISIS as genocide, and to take action to prevent those who are responsible.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the member for .
This government shares the opposition's outrage at the atrocities committed by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL.
ISIL continues to commit widespread abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in Iraq and Syria, including indiscriminate killing; deliberate targeting of civilians; persecution on the basis of ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or gender identity; destruction of cultural and religious sites; kidnapping; forced displacement of communities; and rapes and other forms of sexual violence. These appalling acts often target the most vulnerable of victims.
The motion introduced today by the opposition lists some of the deplorable acts committed by ISIL. It is this government's position that these atrocities, some of which may comprise war crimes, and crimes against humanity or genocide, must be independently investigated and the perpetrators must be held to account. The victims deserve no less.
The sentiment of the opposition's motion is commendable, but sentiment is not enough. Political declarations do not result in justice for victims of atrocities. What is needed is an impartial, independent determination by a competent court. This is why Canada has supported efforts to document and investigate ISIL's crimes.
Canada has called for the UN Security Council to establish an investigative mechanism with a mandate to investigate allegations of violations of international law by ISIL in Syria and Iraq to determine whether these violations constitute acts of genocide or other serious international crimes, to identify the perpetrators of such violations, and to identify measures to ensure accountability.
Canada has provided support to UN partners and domestic authorities to document and investigate atrocities committed in ISIL-affected areas, and to end the impunity by ensuring that individuals are held to account for committing these heinous crimes. Canada has also provided funding to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to document violations and abuses of human rights, and is also supporting local efforts to collect evidence and investigate serious international crimes.
The approach taken by the government demonstrates our leadership, and is consistent with the body of international treaties that define these serious international crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
Canadian investigators, prosecutors, and judges have worked and continue to work tirelessly in international criminal courts and tribunals across the world, from Cambodia to Sierra Leone, investigating and prosecuting atrocity crimes, all in effort to see justice done for victims. Canada has a long and proud history of contributing to international criminal justice.
The crime of genocide is one of the most serious international crimes, and the legal test to be met is set out in the genocide convention. This government shares the views of the United Nations, the United States, and others, that an independent investigation into ISIL's crimes is required. However, we do not serve justice when we presume to prejudge the outcome of eventual investigative and judicial processes.
This government is outraged by acts of violence committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The government is also firmly committed to do more for the promotion and protection of human rights globally.
As part of this commitment, on May 17, the government announced the creation of the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion. The new office expands on the work undertaken by the former office of religious freedom, and will bring our efforts together and our comprehensive vision that includes all human rights, not just some. We are enhancing our work to promote freedom of religion or belief in Iraq and Syria, and indeed around the world, and we are committed to strengthening the global human rights architecture.
ISIL poses a threat, not only to the stability of Iraq, Syria, and the entire Middle East but also to global international peace and security. ISIL has recruited thousands of foreign terrorist fighters from across the world to travel to Iraq and Syria to participate in its campaign of violence and terror. Combatting the horrible acts of violence and oppression that ISIL perpetrates requires a strong contribution to security through military and civilian means.
The UN Security Council recognized that a sustained and comprehensive approach is required to defeat ISIL and noted, in UN Security Council resolution 2170, that the participation and collaboration of all states is required to defeat the terrorist threat posed by ISIL.
Canada is answering this call. Sixty-six countries and organizations have joined forces in the global coalition against ISIL and have committed themselves to a broad international coalition to eliminate the threat posed by ISIL. Canada is committed to working with other members of the coalition and with the Government of Iraq to ensure that ISIL is degraded and, ultimately, defeated.
As the UN Security Council rightly identified, a comprehensive approach to countering ISIL is required. Canada's new strategy includes comprehensive contributions along all lines of coalition effort.
We are significantly increasing our military train, advise, and assist mission for the Iraqi forces who are on the front lines in the fight against ISIL.
We are tripling the number of Canadian Armed Forces officers assisting the Iraqi forces.
We are contributing to improving the fighting skills of these forces to ensure that they are capable of holding areas liberated from ISIL control.
The Canadian Armed Forces are also contributing aerial surveillance and refuelling assets to the coalition fight against ISIL.
Canada's strategy for engagement in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon includes the provision of $1.9 billion, over three years starting in 2016, in humanitarian and development assistance as part of an integrated approach and response for the Middle East. On April 13, the took the first step in delivering on this commitment by announcing $100 million in humanitarian assistance funding to support the response to the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.
Canada's bilateral development assistance is programmed using a gender-sensitive approach, recognizing that women and girls affected by conflict face a unique set of challenges. Canada remains committed to gender equality and the promotion of women and girls' human rights in situations of armed conflict.
The horrific abuse perpetrated by ISIL against women and girls is well known. We condemn ISIL for all these crimes, in the strongest terms, and are working with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and others, to address sexual violence in the region.
We must not lose sight of what matters most. What matters most are the families whose loved ones' lives have been taken, the communities forced from their homes, and the people who continue to suffer atrocities and oppression at the hands of ISIL.
It is for these people that Canada is working together with its coalition allies and partners, including the Government of Iraq, to put an end to this senseless violence.
In conclusion, while we fully respect the motion of the opposition, it gets ahead of the process and does not address punishing the perpetrators.
Whether genocide has been committed or not is not for members of the House of Commons to determine. It should be decided by a legal and competent court, not a political one.
Mr. Speaker, the motion introduced today by the describes crimes and atrocities committed by ISIL. It asks for formal recognition of these acts as genocide.
What is genocide? The UN definition of genocide is set out in the 1948 international Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, specifically in article II, which describes the acts that constitute genocide.
There is no question that the acts committed by these terrorist groups are heinous and have caused a menace to the region and to the world. However, there is a process to determine if genocide has been committed. The motion gets ahead of the process.
There are two courts that determine genocide, the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.
The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The court can consider two types of cases: one, contentious cases between two states; and two, requests for advisory opinions submitted by the United Nations and its specialized agencies.
The International Criminal Court, on the other hand, is an independent permanent court with jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute individuals for serious crimes of international concern; namely, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
Whether or not the acts committed by this group can be described as genocide is not for members of the House of Commons to determine. This determination should be a legal one submitted to a competent court in the international community. It should not be a political determination.
It is undeniable that the actions and crimes committed by this group stir up emotions among all of us. They are heinous, despicable, and inhumane. However, as lawmakers we should ensure that our actions are informed by legal framework. In this light, on May 30, the formally requested that the United Nations Security Council establish a mechanism to investigate violations of international law by ISIL in Iraq and Syria. He requested a thorough, in-depth investigation of whether these violations constitute acts of genocide.
We condemn the atrocities and the widespread abuses perpetrated by this terrorist group. These do show the hallmarks of genocide, but we should not rush to judgment, as the motion asks us to do. We must follow a rigorous legal process, and that is exactly what we are doing under the leadership of the .
I would also like to point out that today's motion fails to propose any concrete solutions. On the other hand, our government is an active member in the coalition against ISIL. Canada's new role in the global coalition has provided an important contribution to shifting the momentum against it. Canada is in Iraq at the request of the Government of Iraq, and we are proud to be providing this assistance when asked by a partner in need.
When our government took over responsibility for the fight against ISIL last November, the terrorist organization controlled a large part of Iraq and Syria. It was able to project an image of strength, attract fighters from all over the world, and generate significant revenues from illegal oil sales and other criminal activities.
Six months later, ISIL is not the same organization. Coalition efforts have successfully halted its expansion and reduced its presence primarily to a handful of areas.
Canada's new, comprehensive, integrated, and sustained strategy has been part of that shift—
Mr. Speaker, today it is my privilege to speak to Canada's new contribution to the coalition, noting that Canada is proud to have degraded ISIS's ability to manoeuvre its financing and to attract foreign fighters, which had dropped from 2,000 a month to 200. Most importantly, we have allowed Iraqis to begin to return to their communities and to rebuild their lives.
From a security perspective, defeating ISIL is the top coalition priority. Once ISIL is driven out of Iraq, a key part of that stability will be to ensure that Iraqis can provide their own security. That is why Canada's new strategy focuses on building the capacity of the Iraqi forces to enhance their own effectiveness against ISIL.
In terms of military capacity, ISIL is much less the traditional military force it was when this campaign began against it. What is truly needed at this phase of the campaign is the ability to confront ISIL on the ground, and this can only be done successfully through an Iraq-led campaign. Our government is committed to training local forces. This is the way to success.
With this in mind, Canada is tripling the number of Canadian Armed Forces advising and assisting Iraqi forces that are leading in the crucial battles against ISIL. Canada has also developed a good rapport with Iraqi Kurdish forces in northern Iraq, and thanks to coalition efforts, these forces have improved their combat skills and cohesion.
Beyond its military contributions, Canada is also playing a crucial role in ensuring the stability of liberated areas. We will help displaced populations return to their homes by assisting with efforts to clear areas of unexploded ordnance, by assisting to restore security, and by bringing about basic services, such as water, electricity, and schools. The coalition has truly shown that the international community can come together and work in a constructive manner on a very complex, dangerous, and long-term crisis. This is why, when Canada refocused its strategy, it was important that it be comprehensive, integrated, and sustained.
As I already mentioned, Canada's contribution is very important. However, it would not be complete if we did not commit to helping in the long term. This complex crisis requires more than military efforts to weaken and conquer Daesh. It requires efforts to prevent other similar crises.
Therefore, we must sustain our support if we are to succeed, and the people of Iraq must know that Canada will be there with them for the long term.
The chances of Daesh creating a caliphate are lower today than they were six months ago. However, it is important to continue to exert the same pressure on Daesh. The coalition still has many challenges to overcome.
We must continue to support the Iraqi government to ensure that financial assistance is available to help the most vulnerable and to ensure Iraq's long-term development. There is no simple solution to this crisis.
The motion before us proposes no concrete action. On the other hand, we have referred this important matter to the proper bodies, and this is the proper process to follow. In the meantime, we are actively engaged as part of the coalition to fight ISIL, and together we are impacting where it truly matters.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I have been in this place for 19 years, and rarely have I been more disturbed than by what I have heard from the government benches on this matter today.
What we are seeking through the motion is very simply a recognition of the reality that the indigenous ethnic and religious minorities of Mesopotamia are the victims of an ongoing genocide at the hands of a barbaric terrorist organization.
This is not really a matter for debate, because the organization in question, Daesh, in English the so-called Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, admits openly, brags proudly, that it is engaged in genocide. Part of its doctrine is the destruction of those it deems to be apostates in the areas under its control, its so-called caliphate.
Since when do we question the reality of a genocide when the very perpetrators admit it? It is almost like admitting a redundancy.
This is the doctrine of Daesh, to create a caliphate, on the basis of a particularly violent 7th century conception of sharia law, to impose that violent Quranic law on all who fall within the sovereign territory of that ersatz caliphate. If those people are deemed to be apostates, like the Yazidi people, they are marked for death, torture, or slavery. If they are deemed merely to be kafirs or infidels, they are marked for dhimmitude, which, as expressed in the particularly perverse version of sharia of Daesh, means, effectively, slavery. The women and girls who fall within the custody of Daesh are not considered human beings. They are considered property to be bought and sold, traded, and raped.
The factual basis of this is not in doubt.
Nearly all organizations and experts on genocide have stated that what is happening right now in Iraq and Syria at the hands of Daesh constitutes genocide. Father Patrick Desbois, a French Jesuit priest and expert who uncovered thousands of mass graves of Jewish victims of the genocide in eastern Europe and wrote about it in his book, The Holocaust by Bullets, is in Iraq right now doing research. He has stated that there is no question that there is a genocide happening there right now.
We have heard the Liberal members repeat this canard. There are unparliamentary words I am not allowed to use to characterize it. It is a completely misleading, specious notion that there is some established international legal procedure whereby committees meet and determine whether there is genocide. There is no such procedure.
I encourage the Liberal members reading the canned speeches written by the political staff in the ' office to actually cite what procedure they are referring to. It does not exist.
I have right in front of me the 1948 convention on genocide. It does not speak of such a process. This document, drafted by Raphael Lemkin, defines genocide as committing “...any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:”
I was the co-sponsor of a motion in this place, in 2004, to recognize the historical reality of the Armenian genocide, which is recognized as such by the overwhelming majority of genocide scholars and of course is supported by the facts. It has never, however, gone through some international legal tribunal.
Let me remind the Liberals of another shame that will always hang over the heads of the Liberal Party. The position of the Martin government in 2004, the position of the cabinet of the Liberal government then, was to vote against recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide. The Liberals denied the first genocide of the 20th century, just as they are denying this genocide today.
I accuse the government of denying the basic facts for one clear reason: it does not want to fight a genocidal regime. That is why it is denying history. Quite frankly, the reason the Liberal government denied the Armenian genocide in 2004 was that it did not want to upset Turkish diplomats.
When genocide happens, governments must not allow themselves to be swayed by diplomatic or political considerations. They must recognize the truth.
We are happy to have here in Ottawa, members of the Yazidi community who are friends of mine, members of the Assyrian community, members of the Chaldean community, and members of the Armenian community. They are pleading with this place to recognize this genocide. They know what is happening and they expect Canada to speak the truth.
Not only is the current government making things up from home cloth about some imagined, non-existent international process for the recognition of genocide, which has never before been referred to by this Parliament in the recognition of five genocides in the past, but the is making up the notion that Secretary of State Kerry of the United States did not actually recognize the genocide. The minister said in this place that Secretary Kerry said it requires more study.
I have before me the March 16 statement of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was responding to a unanimous vote of the United States House of Representatives in this regard when he said, on behalf of the Government of the United States:
|| My purpose in appearing before you today is to assert that, in my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions—in what it says, what it believes, and what it does.
We call on the Government of Canada to do what the Government of the United States has done in recognizing that same genocide, because we are talking about the most vulnerable.
The Yazidis, the Assyrians, the Chaldeans, and the Armenians are indigenous people. The current government just signed a convention about the rights of indigenous people. We have indigenous people who were there long before Islam, long before any self-styled caliphate. Long before people spoke Arabic in that region, they were speaking their own languages and worshipping in their own religions. This is not the first genocide that they have faced. The Yazidis and the Assyrians faced genocide as well back in 1915 and before then.
Let us be clear. There is only one reason why the current government is denying the motion, as it did against the recognition of the Armenian genocide in 2004. That is because its recognition would compel the government morally to engage in the international combat mission to degrade and destroy ISIL.
I mentioned Father Patrick Desbois, the world's greatest living genocide scholar. In closing, when asked by CBS about this and how you stop the machine, he said that it can be only stopped militarily and that is how we stopped Hitler. CBS said, “You had to defeat him on the battlefield”. Father Desbois said, “In one way or another”, and to kill the idea and to “kill the people who carry” the idea of genocide.
Our government was doing that in the combat mission. Let us recognize the motion and let us stand by the indigenous peoples of Mesopotamia to protect them from this genocide.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from for his very passionate speech on how critical this debate is, and how disappointing it is that the Liberal Party and the Liberal government is not supporting the motion.
They seem to be caught up in this whole idea that what is happening today in Iraq and Syria, and is being perpetrated by Daesh, the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, is actually not a genocide. I could not disagree with the government more.
I want to take some time to explain to the Liberals what genocide is. As my colleague stated earlier, he brought a motion before the House about the Armenian genocide and the Liberals voted against it. I was proud that I was able, when we were in government, to bring forward a motion to recognize the Ukrainian Holodomor in 1932-33 as a genocide, which was supported and passed.
If we look at the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly back in 1948, that resolution which was drafted and advocated for by Raphael Lemkin clearly lays out what genocide is. His experiences in witnessing the genocides of the 20th century, starting with the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, and Holodomor, really informed his definition, which was accepted by the world.
I just want to remind everyone what article II says in the convention, as it defines genocide. It says:
||....any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
|| (a) Killing members of the group;
|| (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
|| (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
|| (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
|| (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Then it goes on in article III to say that these crimes can be punished under the convention:
|| (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
|| (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
|| (d) Attempt to commit genocide;
|| (e) Complicity in genocide.
If we look at what ISIS has been doing in Iraq and Syria, in trying to perpetrate their genocidal tendencies around the world, every one of these articles in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide are checked off. There is no debate on what ISIS has perpetrated and the atrocities they have committed, the way that they have bragged about committing genocide, the way that ISIS has gone out and targeted groups and encouraged hateful crimes against ethnic minorities and religious minorities throughout the region in their attempt to establish their caliphate.
I agree wholeheartedly with the members of the U.S. Congress, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, members of the United Kingdom's House of Commons and the entire British Parliament, and members of the European Union Parliament, who have all said that ISIS has committed a genocide. They have passed resolutions, they have passed motions, and they have condemned the actions of ISIS as genocide.
Why will the Government of Canada not? Why should this Parliament not stand with our most trusted allies?
The government keeps saying there is a process we have to go through under the United Nations, and that takes a resolution through the Security Council. However, we have human rights abusers who hold vetoes and sit on the Security Council. Because of the dysfunction of the United Nations Security Council, we will never get the United Nations to condemn the genocide that is being perpetrated and committed by ISIS.
In that vacuum, without that leadership from the United Nations, it is inherent upon this Parliament, this government, to stand and call ISIL's atrocities what they are, and that is genocide.
We do not have to go into great detail about all the atrocities. My colleague, the member for , just clearly outlined how ISIS had gone out of its way to target the Yazidis, the Chaldeans, the Christians, the Shias. Anyone it considers apostates, who will not convert to its demented ideology and its warped sense of religion, is systematically executed.
We just learned this past week of 19 Yazidi girls who refused to convert to ISIS' way of thinking, to its view of Islam. They refused to be sex slaves to the ISIS terrorists so they were put in a cage and burned alive.
We saw the Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar. We saw how the ones who were captured were executed. We have seen how ISIS has gone after Christians. We have seen how it has gone after Turkmen. It continues to isolate and exterminate those who are not like them. That form of racism turned into genocide should never ever be tolerated.
I am sure everyone is wondering why the Liberals will not come out and call this genocide what it is. Even though they like to talk about the United Nations' responsibility to protect, they do not want to go out there and exercise that responsibility to protect.
A case in point is that one of the very first actions of the Liberal government was to pull out of the combat mission against ISIS. Rather than stand with their coalition partners and rather than be there with our fighter jets bombing ISIS, degrading its capabilities, they decided we would step back, let others do the heavy lifting and not be there in a combat role.
As we heard earlier, and as we have seen and witnessed on TV today, ISIS' degradation and its ultimate defeat is only going to be possible through combat and the heavy bombing that our coalition partners are carrying out. The uptake that had to be shared among other member nations of the coalition because Canada pulled back our CF-18s really speaks to what the Liberal government really feels about exercising the responsibility to protect, to protect those who cannot defend themselves, to protect those who are the target of ISIS hate, to protect those who are being killed, eliminated, and displaced because of the genocidal tendencies of ISIS.
We really need to exercise our moral and ethical beliefs and stand up for the words that are spoken by all members of the House.
Raphael Lemkin said, “If you act in the name of conscience you are stronger than any government in the world.” It took great conscience for the Government of Canada, during World War I, to step in and stop the genocide that was taking place by the Ottoman Empire. It took great conscience and strength by Canadians who volunteered and signed up for the Canadian Armed Forces to stop Hitler's Holocaust in World War II.
It was Canadians who went in and fought genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia. It was only effective when they could actually fight, not peacekeeping but fighting.
The only way we can actually stop what is happening in Iraq and Syria today is to fight. I call upon the government to do the right thing, to admit that what is happening today in Iraq and Syria is a genocide. I ask the government to do the right thing and put our jets back in the fight, to do the right thing and stop these atrocities.