House of Commons Debates Thursday, March 26, 2015 VOLUME 147 NUMBER 190

House of Commons Debates Thursday, March 26, 2015 VOLUME 147 NUMBER 190
House of Commons Debates
VOLUME 147
●
NUMBER 190
●
2nd SESSION
●
OFFICIAL REPORT
(HANSARD)
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer
41st PARLIAMENT
CONTENTS
(Table of Contents appears at back of this issue.)
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HOUSE OF COMMONS
Thursday, March 26, 2015
GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS AND ESTIMATES
The House met at 10 a.m.
Prayers
ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
● (1005)
Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I have
the honour to present, in both official languages, the 9th report of the
Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates in
relation to its study of the certificate of nomination of Joe Friday to
the position of Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. The committee
has examined the qualifications and competence of the nominee and
agrees that the nomination of Joe Friday as Public Sector Integrity
Commissioner be concurred in.
***
[English]
CONFLICT OF INTEREST CODE
The Speaker: Pursuant to section 15(3) of the Conflict of Interest
Code for Members of the House of Commons, it is my duty to lay
upon the table the list of all sponsored travel by members for the year
2014 for the supplement as provided by the Conflict of Interest and
Ethics Commissioner.
***
INTERPARLIAMENTARY DELEGATIONS
Mr. Randy Hoback (Prince Albert, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to
the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian
delegation at the Canadian section of ParlAmericas respecting its
participation at the bilateral visit held in Cartagena, Medellin, and
Bogota, Colombia, February 6-13, 2015.
***
COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
PROCEDURE AND HOUSE AFFAIRS
[Translation]
FACILITATING THE TRANSFER OF FAMILY FARM OR
FISHING CORPORATIONS ACT
Ms. Francine Raynault (Joliette, NDP) moved for leave to
introduce Bill C-661, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (transfer
of family farm or fishing corporation).
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to submit to the House the
study of the facilitating the transfer of family farm or fishing
corporations act.
Many of the farm and fishing corporations in Canada exist
because of families that have sacrificed everything for their passion.
I know farmers in my region who live on land that has been passed
down through nine generations. This bill will help these families
keep their traditions alive by recognizing the interdependence that
unites the brothers and sisters who take up the torch.
This minor but essential correction to the Income Tax Act will
facilitate the intergenerational transfer of agricultural corporations.
Many people in the agricultural sector have been asking for this
change, and it is critical to the economy of our regions.
Mr. Joe Preston (Elgin—Middlesex—London, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages,
the 34th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House
Affairs concerning the question of privilege regarding the free
movement of members within the parliamentary precinct.
I hope that my colleagues will join me in supporting our farmers
and implementing a simple solution to a serious problem. Having
been a farmer myself, I am very happy to be introducing this bill.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
NATIONAL DEFENCE
***
Hon. Peter Kent (Thornhill, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I have the
honour to present, in both official languages, the 9th, 10th, and 11th
reports of the Standing Committee on National Defence in relation to
the order in council nominations of John Forster to the position of
Deputy Minister of National Defence, John Turner to the position of
Associate Deputy Minister of National Defence, and Greta
Bossenmaier to the position of Chief of the Communications
Security Establishment.
[English]
PUBLIC SECTOR INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER
Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House
of Commons, CPC) moved:
That, in accordance with subsection 39(1) of the Public Servants Disclosure
Protection Act, and pursuant to Standing Order 111.1, the House approve the
appointment of Joe Friday as Public Sector Integrity Commissioner for a term of
seven years.
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March 26, 2015
Routine Proceedings
The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
[Translation]
Some hon. members: Agreed.
AGRICULTURE
Some hon. members: On division.
The Speaker: I declare the motion carried on division.
(Motion agreed to)
***
PETITIONS
AGRICULTURE
Ms. Linda Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I wish first to table three petitions from residents of
Alberta calling on Parliament to respect the rights of small-scale
family farmers to preserve, exchange, and use seeds, and to adopt
policies supporting those same rights in the global south.
Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada and the House
of Commons to adopt international aid policies that support small
farmers, particularly women, and recognize their vital role in the
struggle against hunger and poverty, as well as to ensure that
Canadian policies and programs are developed in consultation with
small family farmers, and that they protect the rights of small family
farmers in the global south to preserve, use and freely exchange
seeds.
● (1010)
THE ENVIRONMENT
ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
Ms. Linda Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, the second petition from hundreds of residents across
Alberta calls on Parliament to call a full national public judicial
inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.
AIDS
Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Mr. Speaker,
I have the honour to rise today to present two petitions.
The first is from residents of British Columbia and Manitoba,
calling on the House to assemble a national strategy on AIDS,
focusing on the principle of treatment as prevention. I table this
petition.
PUBLIC SAFETY
Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Mr. Speaker,
the second petition is from residents of British Columbia, Ontario,
Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island.
The petitioners are calling on this House to reject all aspects of Bill
C-51 that fail to respect Canadian constitutional rights; and to ensure
that any new legislation actually focuses on making us safer by
fighting terrorism as opposed to what this bill would do, make us
less safe while trampling on our rights.
ASBESTOS
Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am
proud to introduce a petition signed by literally tens of thousands of
Canadians who call upon the House of Commons here and
Parliament assembled to take note that asbestos is the greatest
industrial killer that the world has ever known and, in fact, that more
Canadians now die from asbestos than all other industrial and
occupational causes combined.
Therefore, these petitioners call upon the Government of Canada
to ban asbestos in all of its forms; institute a just transition program
for asbestos workers in the communities they live in; end all
government subsidies of asbestos in Canada and abroad; and stop
blocking international health and safety conventions designed to
protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam Convention.
Ms. Isabelle Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present a petition in the House
today. This petition has been signed by hundreds of people who are
calling for the owner of the Kathryn Spirit to complete the work as
soon as possible for the seaway. This wreck has been moored in Lac
Saint-Louis, which borders my riding, since 2011. The petitioners
also want assurances that the boat will be safely towed out of
Canadians waters before the seaway closes for the season. It is very
important that the government take action on this as soon as
possible.
[English]
AGRICULTURE
Hon. Ralph Goodale (Wascana, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have a
petition today signed by a large number of people in and around
Regina who call upon the Government of Canada to adopt
international aid policies that support small family farmers,
especially women. The petitioners also encourage the government
to ensure that the rights of small farmers, particularly in the global
south of the world, are respected with regard to the preservation, use,
and free exchange of seeds.
Mr. Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
have two petitions to present today.
The first is signed by hundreds of people in Vancouver Kingsway
and the Lower Mainland calling on this Parliament to recognize the
inherent rights of farmers derived from thousands of years of custom
and tradition to save, reuse, select, exchange, and sell seeds.
The petitioners are concerned about current and newly proposed
restrictions on farmers' traditional practices resulting from commercial contracts and legislation that criminalize these practices and
harm farmers, citizens, and society in general.
March 26, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
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Government Orders
CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
Mr. Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the
second petition follows my Motion No. 558 in this House calling on
the current government to negotiate 10-year multiple-entry visas for
Canadians to go to China, which I would congratulate the
government on adopting. This is an important measure that will
help millions of Canadians over the years ahead, help business, help
families unite, and encourage tourism and cultural exchanges.
I want to table these petitions because it was the efforts of
thousands of Canadians across this country pushing the government
that resulted in this positive—
● (1015)
[English]
QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of
the Government in the House of Commons, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I
ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
GOVERNMENT ORDERS
The hon. member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant.
[Translation]
[English]
AGRICULTURE
MILITARY CONTRIBUTION AGAINST ISIL
Mr. Sylvain Chicoine (Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to present a
petition signed by hundreds of people in and around my riding. They
are concerned about the rights of small family farmers to preserve,
exchange and use seeds. The petitioners are calling on the
Government of Canada to adopt international aid policies that
support small farmers, and especially women, and recognize their
vital role in the struggle against hunger and poverty. They also want
assurances that Canada's policies and programs will be developed in
consultation with small farmers and that those policies protect the
rights of small farmers in the global south to preserve, use and freely
exchange seeds.
Hon. Rob Nicholson (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC)
moved:
[English]
SCIENCE
That, whereas:
(i) the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
has repeatedly called on its members to target Canada and Canadians at home
and abroad;
(ii) ISIL poses a clear and active threat to the people of the Middle East,
including members of vulnerable religious and ethnic minority groups who
have been subjected to a brutal and barbaric campaign of sexual violence,
murder, and intimidation by ISIL;
(iii) unless confronted with strong and direct force, the threat that ISIL poses to
Canada and to international peace and security, will grow;
(iv) Canada desires, consistent with Canadian values and interests, to protect
the vulnerable and innocent civilians of the region, including through urgent
humanitarian assistance;
Mr. Kennedy Stewart (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I rise today to present a petition signed by dozens of citizens from
across the country. The petition calls on the Government of Canada
to support my bill, Bill C-558, which would establish a non-partisan
parliamentary science officer.
(v) the Government of Iraq has requested military support against ISIL from
members of the international community, including from the Government of
Canada;
The petition also notes that since 2006, the federal government
has undermined scientific integrity, ignored scientific evidence, and
unduly muzzled scientists working in the public service. An
independent science watchdog would provide Parliament with
expert advice on scientific matters.
(vii) the United Nations Security Council remains seized of the threat posed by
international terrorism with the unanimous passage of United Nations Security
Council Resolution 2178;
While I cannot say whether I support this petition, I urge the
government to stop its war on science and support my bill.
(ix) the advise and assist mission of the Canadian Special Operations Forces in
Northern Iraq has increased the capabilities of Kurdish-Iraqi Security Forces to
combat ISIL; and
[Translation]
(x) continuing to degrade ISIL will require striking its operations and
infrastructure where they are located, including in Syria;
FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault (Sherbrooke, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
am honoured to rise in the House to present a petition on behalf of
hundreds of people in Sherbrooke who are calling on the federal
government to use all of the diplomatic resources at its disposal to
secure the release of blogger and prisoner of conscience Raïf
Badawi. Since his family has sought refuge here in Canada, the
petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to take action
and do everything it can to secure his release and reunite him with
his family here in Canada.
(vi) Canada is part of a broad international coalition of allies and partners,
including numerous countries of the Middle East, committed to the fight
against ISIL;
(viii) the deployment of Royal Canadian Air Force assets has played an
important role in degrading, destabilising, and weakening ISIL's position and
operations in the region;
Accordingly, this House:
(a) continues to support the Government's decision to contribute Canadian
military assets to the fight against ISIL, and terrorists aligned with ISIL, including
air strike capability with authorisation to conduct airstrikes in Iraq and Syria;
(b) supports the Government's decision to extend the mission to a date not beyond
March 30, 2016;
(c) notes that the Government continues not to deploy troops in a ground combat
role; and
(d) offers its resolute and wholehearted support to the brave men and women of
the Canadian Armed Forces who stand on guard for all of us.
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Government Orders
He said: Mr. Speaker, over the last year we have witnessed the
growth of global extremism and brutality. It has shocked Canadians,
and it has compelled their government to act.
Instability plaguing Syria continues to spill across the borders
with refugee camps the size of cities emerging throughout the region.
I visited one of those camps just a couple of weeks ago in northern
Iraq and spoke to the Yazidis, Syrian Christians and others. They
recounted their tales of horror.
I rise before this House to report that of all those I have met, those
who were persecuted, people are on the run because the tyranny that
was about to be levied on them was too great to bear. Indeed, the
campaign that the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has
launched is also being felt around the world, from North Africa to
South Asia, from social media to the streets in front of our own
Parliament.
ISlL's campaign threatens Canadian citizens. It threatens the very
foundation upon which our society is based. It does so through fear,
oppression and tyranny. It does so through a culture of violence,
ruling by brutal and barbaric intimidation.
Although the threat of terrorism continues to evolve, our reaction
to this threat persists as the greatest test for this generation. This is
fundamentally a test of our values, of our national character and a
test of our will as a country and as a nation. The resolve of
Canadians has carried us through wars and depressions, through hard
times and through great uncertainty.
Like every other test of tyranny, Canadians will rise to the
moment. My faith in our country to meet this moment with moral
clarity, as we have in every other moment that has defined our
nation, will never be diminished.
The scale of ISIL's ambition cannot be overstated. From between
the ancient Euphrates and Tigris rivers, these brutal terrorists seek to
establish a caliphate from which it promises territorial expansion and
religious persecution.
the Syrians being forced from the Nineveh Plains, their ancestral
homeland, and early churches desecrated as they sought shelter in
schools and churches in northern Iraq.
We pray for those who were unable to escape, those who have
fallen into ISIL's tyranny, and those who have been murdered by
ISIL's gangsters or enslaved by ISIL's thugs. We pray that their
families know justice, that our efforts from our afar offer some
comfort.
Needless to say, this is one of the greatest humanitarian
catastrophes of our century thus far. Let me be clear, this catastrophe
was not caused by an act of nature. It was created by acts of
unambiguous evil inspired by a fanatical ideology. ISIL is based on
an ideology of hatred and brutal persecution, one that seeks to erase
a history of cultural diversity and pluralism, and rewrite it based on a
depraved narrative that utterly rejects the inherent dignity of every
human being.
However, ISIL's ideology is not limited to Iraq and Syria alone.
Beyond the region, it has inspired a cult of violence with a global
reach. Left unchecked, this terrorist threat is sure to grow and
continue to grow quickly. Indeed as recent events have shown,
Canada is not immune to ISIL's ideology. While the loudest threats
emanate from abroad, they exist here at our home and have been felt
in these very halls.
● (1020)
As our Prime Minister has noted, ISIL seeks to destroy the kind of
open, free, diverse society that Canadians have chosen and have
defended throughout our history. As this menace grows, so too does
our responsibility to act to do our part in defence of human dignity
and values.
We know that ISIL has set upon the task of organizing their
campaign of atrocities. In areas where they operate from inside
Syria, they enslave countless people, many Muslims, under the socalled Sharia-based courts. They fashioned a so-called capital for
themselves inside Syria in the ancient city of Raqqa, once the capital
of the Abbasid caliphate. Their leadership al-Baghdadi has crowned
himself a so-called caliph while preaching his perversion of Islam
from a Mosul mosque.
In his response to the statement of the Prime Minister in the House
on Tuesday, the leader of the Liberal Party stated that our
government's case must be, “based on clear and reliable,
dispassionately presented facts”. The facts are clear. ISIL has
declared war on Canada by name and seeks to wage its jihad against
our people. No matter how these facts are communicated, Canadians
know that the leaders of the opposition parties will dismiss them and
with that are dismissing Canadian values.
What has come of this? In their wake, they have a left an
unprecedented humanitarian crisis drenched in the blood of the
persecuted: millions of refugees, including religious minorities,
fleeing for their lives across the region; brutal mass executions,
surmountable to war crimes; the widespread use of rape and sexual
violence against women and children; the emergence of slave
markets where minority women are bought and sold as sex slaves by
violent terrorists; the destruction of ancient relics and treasured
religious heritage.
[Translation]
Just over six months ago, the world witnessed the Yazidis, who
braved the heat with nothing but the clothes on their backs, as they
made their way up Mount Sinjar surrounded by ISIL. We witnessed
Canadians want their government to take action, and that is
exactly what we are doing.
[English]
Over the last six months, in concert with our western and regional
allies, like the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Jordan, we
have been standing in support of the Iraqi state to maintain stability
in the region and to halt ISIL's campaign of terror in Iraq.
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COMMONS DEBATES
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Government Orders
As my colleague, the Minister of National Defence, will more
fully describe, we have provided valuable military resources to the
coalition. Through our combat mission, Canada is degrading ISIL's
operations and is advising and assisting those who aim to reclaim
ISIL-held territory. However, as our government has consistently
said, a military contribution is only part of Canada's response. In
fact, our government is pursuing a multi-faceted approach in the face
of this crisis. We are acting with both compassion and strength. That
is what standing up for Canada means.
Through our humanitarian support, Canada has provided food to
1.7 million people, shelter and relief supplies to another 1.2 million
in need, and has improved access to education for up to 500,000
children. Our assistance has helped to provide four million litres of
kerosene to 23,000 families across Iraq.
● (1025)
[Translation]
Our assistance has also helped to provide safe drinking water for
760,000 people, half of them children.
[English]
We have provided hygiene kits for 466,000 people. We have
provided rapid life-saving assistance to over 240,000 highly
vulnerable people through UNICEF's rapid response mechanism.
With the onset of winter, we have reached almost 60,000 children
with warm clothing and materials. Almost 1.5 million people
received food assistance through our support through the World
Food Programme. We have also helped support Syrian refugees in
Iraq with food, water, shelter and protection.
While in Erbil this month, I visited one of the refugee camps and
saw first-hand the devastation caused by this crisis. However, I also
saw Canadians providing medical aid at a clinic funded by the
Canadian government. Seeing the tangible difference we are making
to the victims of ISIL is a reminder to everyone of the important
humanitarian assistance Canada is rightfully providing.
[Translation]
Indeed, Canada is ranked sixth among the major donors of
humanitarian aid to Syria, and fifth in aid to Iraq. This makes Canada
one of the largest per capita donors in the world.
[English]
We are also providing support and protection for survivors of
sexual violence and assisting those targeted on the basis of their
faith.
Canada must continue to address the growing abuse of women
and girls, bringing justice and relief to survivors, and ensure that
perpetrators are ultimately held to account. These actions are
abhorrent violations of the most basic principles of civilization and
of human decency.
Together, we are proud of the efforts that Canada and our coalition
partners are doing to help millions of innocent civilians recover from
ISIL's terror. In addition, and in concert with our coalition partners,
we are working to disrupt ISIL's illicit financing, counter extremist
narratives, and stem the flow of foreign fighters to and from the front
lines.
Through our diplomatic efforts, Canada has also heightened its
engagement with regional leaders. In the last weeks, I have met with
our allies in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Iraq, including the
Kurdistan region, and we will continue to work closely with them.
In the face of this ongoing humanitarian catastrophe, more will
need to be done. Our government will ensure that more will continue
to be done.
I can assure Canadians that our government intends to provide
large-scale humanitarian and stabilization assistance to help alleviate
the suffering this terror group is inflicting. However, in order for this
assistance to be effective, we must degrade ISIL. This is why we
seek the support of this House for our decision to extend and expand
Canada's military mission for up to one year so that, with our allies,
we can continue to fight Islamic jihadism, which threatens both
national and global security.
Although we have seen ISIL's capacities degraded, we continue to
see it move its fighters and material across the border into Syria. We
cannot permit violent ideologies to fester in ungoverned spaces. ISIL
cannot have a safe haven.
This is why seek support to join our allies, who have been
attacking ISIL in Syria. We ask that the Canadian Armed Forces
conduct air strikes against ISIL targets in Syria on the same basis as
our coalition allies: the threat that ISIL poses to Iraq.
Our air strikes in Syria have one goal and one goal only, and that
is to degrade ISIL. These threats cannot be wished away by pious
rhetoric. Canada will not choose to stand on the sidelines during a
crisis that demands both strength and compassion.
● (1030)
[Translation]
The road ahead will not be without obstacles.
[English]
The region's deep-seated ethnic and sectarian divisions will not be
resolved overnight. The volatile security environments of Iraq and
Syria will not be easily stabilized, and the humanitarian crisis that
afflicts these nations, sadly, cannot be reversed at once. While we are
working with our closest friends and trusted partners, there are others
who are pursuing their own agendas at the expense of our shared
goals of lasting stability and unity.
We harbour no delusions about these obstacles, but the fact
remains, in responding to this threat, Canada stands at a crossroad in
history. We may either stand on the sidelines or take real and
measured actions.
ISIL's barbarity is an affront to human dignity and to the civilized
world. It threatens the very principles that shape Canada's national
identity and guide our engagement on the global stage. Its violent
ideology and expansionist agenda jeopardize Canadian interests and
threaten Canadian citizens.
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Government Orders
When Canadian values and Canadian citizens are under siege, we
cannot afford to stand on the sidelines and preach moral virtue. We
cannot speak of supporting the mission and our soldiers in one
breath while voting against them in the next. These serious and
consequential times call for serious and consequential leadership.
We have made progress and we have been very upfront with that.
ISIL is in the process of being degraded. They have withdrawn from
certain areas and have been confined to certain areas. They have had
equipment and individuals destroyed.
[Translation]
That said, we cannot let them have free rein in Syria. We cannot
have a situation that allows them to cross the border, and that is
exactly what we are aiming at with this motion.
We must act with compassion, with strength and with moral
clarity. We must defend what is right.
[English]
● (1035)
In partnership with our coalition allies, Canada is working across
multiple lines of effort to halt ISIL's campaign of terror and restore
the stability that those in the region so greatly deserve.
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the
Liberal Party has been clear that it is not in the Canadian national
interest to enter into a combat mission in Syria when the combat
mission that has been proposed there is unfocused and potentially
unending.
Our resolve in this operation remains strong. Let me be clear, our
commitment is ultimately to the people of Syria and Iraq for whom
terror and tyranny have been inflicted, and for whom must remain
the promise of a future in peace and freedom.
With that, I urge all members of the House to support this motion.
Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the
government had taken the position, first of all, that we were going to
go to Iraq for 30 days to advise and assist, but then we went into a
six-month mission, which was to engage in combat, but not to
accompany any Iraqi forces to the front lines, to engage in combat or
to do anything of that nature on the ground. Yet, that is what
happened.
I did not hear anything in the minister's comments that would
clarify what the on-the-ground objectives are—“degrading ISIL” is
pretty broad—or what an exit strategy for Canada might be in this
conflict. In fact, when Evan Solomon, on Power & Politics, asked
the Minister of National Defence who would take over should ISIL
be cleared from Syria, he answered, “I don't know how this is going
to end.” This is not a signal that there is a clear objective and an exit
strategy.
Now we are there for another year, but that is not the end. The
Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of National Defence and the
Prime Minister have said that we will be there for the long haul.
Our concern is that this would enable the Syrian president to
consolidate power as someone who has murdered 133,000 of his
own citizens. Could the minister explain just what might happen
should the coalition be successful in removing ISIL from the Syrian
area? Who would be in power?
This mission has no end. In fact, today we are hearing different
objectives from the Minister of Foreign Affairs than we have heard
from the Minister of National Defence, who is talking about not
degrading ISIL but defeating ISIL.
Hon. Rob Nicholson: Mr. Speaker, I would like to have a debate
sometime and have the Liberals explain exactly where they are on
this thing, but I appreciate that is for another time and another day.
What is the objective of the Conservative government? Do the
Conservatives plan to keep shifting the sand when it suits them, or
are they going to have a defined objective so that the people of
Canada would then know how long we might be in this war?
Hon. Rob Nicholson: Mr. Speaker, that is exactly one of the
things this government has done. We have been open and
transparent. We have given continual upgrades to the public and to
the members of the opposition and we have brought this matter
before Parliament.
It could be argued that this is within the crown's prerogative, and it
certainly is within the crown's prerogative. However, the government
has placed these matters before the House of Commons for its
support, and I think appropriately so, so that Canadians can be aware
of exactly what we are doing.
As you read out the motion before this House, Mr. Speaker, it is
very clear. We are extending this mission up to a year. We will
continue with our special forces and their advise and assist role with
the Kurdish peshmerga, and we will extend the air strikes of the
Royal Canadian Air Force in concert with our allies from Iraq into
Syria as well.
The idea that just because we do not support the Assad regime—
and we do not—ISIL should therefore have free rein or a free ride to
move into Syria is completely unacceptable. We have seen, as ISIL
has been degraded within Iraq, that they have been moving heavy
equipment and personnel into Syria, and they cannot or should not
be given a free ride just because we disagree with the government in
Syria. We are not prepared to do that. That is exactly why we are
doing this. It is so there is no safe haven for ISIL.
We know of the terrible consequences that ISIL has inflicted upon
people in the region. It is completely unacceptable, and unlike the
Liberal Party, our efforts have been completely consistent in that
regard. The idea that we should sit on the sidelines and babble about
this and be completely incomprehensible is unacceptable to this
government and, I think, to the people of Canada.
Mr. Robert Goguen (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Justice, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it was pretty apparent from the hon.
member's speech that the basis of our actions is a war that has been
declared against Canada and its values, and of course ISIL is the
ominous enemy.
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Government Orders
It is pretty apparent that the objective of this mission is to protect
Canadian citizens. While the war may seem very far away, is it not
true that, in essence, the whole issue of this war is to protect
Canada's soil, Canada's citizens, and ultimately the public safety of
law-abiding Canadian citizens?
I wonder if the minister could comment on that objective.
Hon. Rob Nicholson: Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to. I want
to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice for all
of his help, support, and interest in this important mission.
We have been very clear that there is a direct threat to Canada. I
have to say it. Maybe we will hear this in the speeches today. When I
heard the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the Liberal
Party talk, I did not hear anything about the direct threat to Canada.
ISIL has declared war on Canada. We have seen that. We have seen
its rhetoric. We have seen its actions.
We have made it very clear that, yes, we are there to support Iraq.
We are there to support Syria. We are supporting our coalition
partners in that area, but in helping to degrade ISIL there, we are
helping to protect ourselves against this menace.
ISIL has made it very clear that we are targets as well. That is
another reason that we have always been so consistent that it is
impossible for this country to stand on the sidelines against this
threat.
● (1040)
Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Mr. Speaker,
perhaps the Minister of Foreign Affairs just misspoke, and I will give
him a chance to correct what he said. I just heard him say “We are
there to support Syria.”
This is a deeply complex and mutually contradictory position that
the administration and the Prime Minister are attempting to put
forward. It is the idea that we can violate the sovereign integrity of
another nation state, Syria, by conducting bombing missions in that
state. We seem to think that international law only applies when we
want to criticize Mr. Putin for violating the sovereign integrity of
Ukraine. When we play games with international law, we are looking
at finding ourselves with nowhere safe to stand.
As this mission is being proposed, we will put Canadian pilots
into harm's way and violate the sovereign integrity of a country run
by a brutal dictator, Bashar al-Assad, in the hope that he will not
retaliate against that violation of his sovereignty because we will be
taking aim at his enemies, ISIL. In the west, we used to think that
ISIL members were rebels against Bashar al-Assad, so certainly they
were better than Bashar al-Assad. We now seem to think that they
might not be better than Bashar al-Assad.
Whose side are we on? Do we have any idea how this will play
out in international law?
Hon. Rob Nicholson: Mr. Speaker, again, we have been very
clear that we do not support the Assad regime. We have been very
clear and consistent on that. However, the innocent people within
Syria and our allies within Syria do need the support of the coalition,
and that is exactly what we are providing.
The hon. member is worried about the legal risk. I believe that the
legal risks are low, but the risk to security if we do nothing is very
high. That is something that the hon. member does not seem to get.
The idea that ISIL could have free rein within Syria because we do
not like the government of Assad or do not support the Syrian
regime is no excuse.
Consistent with international law and consistent with what our
allies have had to say, we will join the coalition, and we are asking
for the support of Parliament.
Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, there is
no doubt or question from the opposition side that the crimes
perpetrated by ISIS are appalling and abhorrent. There have been
mass killings, sexual violence, slavery, forced displacement, and the
destruction of holy and historic sites. In Iraq alone, the violence has
led to the displacement of 2.5 million civilians and left 5.2 million in
need of humanitarian assistance.
[Translation]
ISIL has committed heinous crimes, including mass killings,
sexual violence, forced displacement and the destruction of holy
sites. The violence ISIL perpetrates is entirely unjustifiable and
entirely contrary to Islam. The crisis in Iraq and Syria is undermining
peace and stability in the region.
[English]
The situation in Iraq and Syria demands an international response.
The NDP has called for Canada to contribute to that international
response since last June.
When I first asked the government to help Iraqis displaced by the
ISIS invasion of Mosul, it was last June, and at the time the issue
was obscure to the government. In fact, I raised the threat with the
minister directly. His response was blunt. He pointed to previous U.
S. failures in Iraq and said, “They broke it; they fix it.”
One month later, we called on the government to support Iraqi
governance and security in response to the ISIS threat. We
recognized then, as we do now, that only responsible, inclusive
governance in Iraq will allow Iraqis to take control of their own
country and their own destiny and build their own peace.
Canada must act. We must do so in a way that we can best add
value to the international coalition and in a way that respects
international law and our values as a country.
● (1045)
[Translation]
We believe that Canada must act immediately to save lives. We
remain as clearly and resolutely opposed as ever to the Conservatives' ill-defined combat mission.
[English]
Unfortunately, the concerns I raised when I spoke on the original
motion six months ago are still very valid. In fact, I want to read out
now what I said then, six months ago. This is what I said:
The motion we are debating today is ill-defined and ill-conceived. It offers no
plan and no exit strategy. Shockingly, there are no new humanitarian commitments....
Just as shockingly, there are no territorial limits on operations. Nearly every other
member of the coalition has explicitly ruled out air strikes in Syria; the Prime
Minister explicitly ruled them in.
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...the motion we are debating today would open that door to air strikes there—or
anywhere, for that matter.
There are also no restrictions on who could be included in the category of
“terrorists allied with ISIL”. ...
There are very few details in the motion on our deployment of “military assets”.
Could these go beyond the nine planes and 600 troops currently committed? We just
do not know.
Also, there is no requirement for Parliament to be consulted...if the mission is
expanded or extended.
That was all true then. Unfortunately, it is also true now, except
now it is worse. The new motion does not rule out the possibility of
deploying ground combat troops in the future. In his speech earlier
this week, the Prime Minister opened the door to a further expansion,
saying: “...we must avoid if we can taking on ground combat
responsibilities in this region. We seek to have the Iraqis do this
themselves....”
Of course, civilian deaths increase the ability of ISIS to use air
strikes as a recruitment tool.
Third, bombing ISIS in Syria supports the brutal dictator Bashar
al-Assad. The Assad regime has used barrel bombs and chemical
weapons against children, women, and men in Syria. Assad is
directly responsible for a civil war that has cost some 220,000 lives,
over 100 times more than ISIS.
We have heard disturbing reports that the Assad regime is
collaborating with ISIS, and Syrian opposition groups report that
Assad's forces are exploiting the gaps created by bombing to take
over more territory. By bombing in Syria, we reduce the prospects
for a lasting political solution without Assad, which is needed to
resolve the broader conflict.
In other words, the government will do its best, but there are no
promises. With the government's record, that is far from reassuring.
● (1050)
There are other disturbing features of this new mission as well.
Whereas the previous objective was to “degrade” ISIS, now the
Minister of Defence apparently wants to “defeat” ISIS. This implies
a much longer commitment. It also highlights the need for an exit
strategy that the government does not seem to have.
[Translation]
Of course, the new motion extends Canadian air strikes into Syria
without a UN or NATO mandate and without the permission of the
Syrian government. This is dangerous in three ways. First, the action
may well be illegal. Second, the government has done nothing to
show otherwise or to show that it takes international law seriously at
all.
After the Prime Minister belittled and joked about international
law yesterday afternoon, the government was forced to move quickly
to cover up the fact that it had not sent notice of its intention to the
UN Security Council, as is required in cases of self-defence. The
legal case that bombing in Syria constitutes any form of self-defence
has not been made.
The legal case for this war is made even weaker by a change in the
text of this motion compared with the one from October. The
previous motion targeted ISIS and its allies. The motion in front of
us targets ISIS and “aligned groups”, opening the door to a much
larger role for Canada in the so-called war on terrorism.
Second, since Canadian pilots will be flying in Syria without
ground support, the likelihood of mistakes that kill innocent people
is far greater. In fact, the U.S. has excluded Syria from its own
standards to prevent civilian casualties and has admitted that it does
not have a clear idea of the results of its bombing in Syria. The
government is apparently preparing a messaging campaign for if and
when civilians are killed, but it has not said how it will prevent
civilian deaths in the first place.
Even if pilots are able to identify targets, they will sometimes,
inevitably, identify the wrong targets. As Lieutenant General James
Terry, the top U.S. commander overseeing the anti-ISIS operation,
said last year:
We have some great capability in terms of precision. What's in the balance here if
you're not careful is you can be precisely wrong.... And you could create a very bad
situation.
It goes without saying that Canada must do something about ISIL.
Our response must be serious and significant. The question is, what
should Canada do? How can we be most helpful, not just in the short
run but in defeating ISIL over the long term?
I want to make one thing very clear: we do not need to shoot
missiles or drop bombs in order to prove that we take this threat
seriously. Over 60 countries are helping to defeat ISIL, and the vast
majority are not taking part in air strikes.
[English]
From the beginning, the NDP has been proactive and consistent
not just in opposing the military mission but in proposing a practical
and principled alternative. In the fall, New Democrats called on the
government to do four concrete things: support the construction of
refugee camps, help victims of sexual violence, assist in protecting
ethnic and religious minorities, and encourage the international
prosecution of war crimes. To the former minister's credit, he agreed
to all of these. He even acted on some of them, but there is so much
more that remains to be done.
I have been disappointed to hear the new minister repeat time and
time again that Canada is doing its share. There are children freezing
in Dohuk refugee camps in Kurdistan. A quarter of Lebanon's
population is, in fact, Syrian refugees, pushing that already fragile
country to the brink.
A majority of the UN humanitarian appeals for Iraq and Syria
remain unfunded. When the need is so great, so obvious, so tragic,
and so compelling, I do not find it acceptable for the minister to
shrug and say that Canada has done its share. The truth is that most
of those in need in Iraq are not in ISIS-controlled territory. They are
refugees, internally displaced persons, and people whose livelihoods
have been stolen from them by chaos and carnage. They are victims
of ISIS, and Canada can help them now.
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During last year's debate, I told the story of an encounter I had
with a group of young Iraqi children in a refugee camp. I hope those
children survived the winter. If they did, they almost certainly still
need our help. Now as then, we need to be smart about how we
deliver.
At the foreign affairs committee, we have just concluded a study
that the NDP requested on Canada's response to ISIS. The committee
has heard from a diverse group of witnesses, including academics,
civil society representatives, and community organizations. The
message from witnesses has been clear: Canada must respond to
ISIS; a response must be smart, responsible and comprehensive; and
we need a strategy based on international co-operation to both
respond to ISIS on the ground and to prevent radicalization and
extremism abroad.
We have clear guidance in these areas from existing UN Security
Council resolutions on ISIS: 2170, 2178, and 2199. None of these
authorizes a military mission. However, the Security Council is
requiring action to prevent the flow of foreign fighters, financing,
and resources to ISIS and other terrorist organizations. While air
strikes are being used as a recruitment tool for ISIS, these UN
measures tackle the networks and structures that ISIS and other
extremist organizations use to recruit and spread their ideology and
their influence.
present the following amendment on behalf of the official
opposition.
I move that Government Business No. 17 be amended by the
following:
(a) replacing the words “the threat that ISIL poses to Canada and to international
peace and security, will grow” with the words “from capable and enabled local
forces, the threat ISIL poses to international peace and security, including to
Canadian communities, will continue to grow”;
(b) replacing the word “2178” with the words “2170, 2178, and 2199”;
(c) deleting sections (viii), (ix) and (x); and
(d) deleting all the words after the word “Accordingly,” and substituting the
following: “this House calls on the Government to:
a. end the participation of Canadian Forces troops in combat, air strikes and
advise-and-assist training in Iraq and Syria as soon as possible;
b. boost humanitarian aid in areas where there would be immediate, life-saving
impact, including assisting refugees with basic shelter and food needs; and
investing in water, sanitation and hygiene, health and education for people
displaced by the fighting;
c. work with our allies in the region to stabilize neighbouring countries,
strengthen political institutions and assist these countries in coping with an influx
of refugees;
d. contribute to the fight against ISIL, including military support for the
transportation of weapons;
e. provide assistance to investigation and prosecution of war crimes;
The Government of Canada should take immediate and specific
steps to meet its international obligations in these areas. As part of
that effort, the government should immediately sign and ratify the
Arms Trade Treaty, which it refuses to sign, to demonstrate
commitment to ending the flow of weapons to illegal armed groups
and human-rights abusers.
The government should also partner with domestic communities
to develop a strategy to counter radicalization here in Canada. In
fact, the one program that had existed the Conservatives cut. Canada
can lead the way as the international coalition develops a strong
campaign of counter-extremist messaging, exposing the brutality of
ISIS and the lack of a religious basis for its atrocities.
Finally, Canada can do a great deal more to help build the
inclusive, responsible governance in Iraq that all the experts agree is
needed for a lasting solution after ISIS.
As one of the witnesses at committee, University of Waterloo
professor Bessma Momani, stated, “If you don't provide sustainable
institutions that can fill that vacuum, it will just be another acronym
that will fill that space”. I could not agree with her more.
That is where Canada's expertise and Canada's potential lie. We
can save lives. We can build peace to help the people in Iraq.
● (1055)
[Translation]
We in the NDP strongly believe that Canada has unparalleled
expertise to respond to this crisis, and we must put that expertise to
good use.
[English]
This country is better than the legally dubious and strategically
ignorant motion of the government. That is why I am very proud to
f. increase assistance for the care and resettlement of refugees impacted by this
conflict;
g. work to prevent the flow of foreign fighters, finances, and resources to ISIL, in
accordance with our international obligations under United Nations Security
Council Resolutions 2170, 2178, and 2199;
h. put forward a robust plan of support for communities and institutions working
on de-radicalization and counter-radicalization;
i. report back on the costs of the mission and humanitarian assistance provided to
date on a monthly basis to the Standing Committee on Foreign affairs and
International Development, until Canadian involvement is concluded; and
j. continue to offer its resolute and wholehearted support to the brave men and
women of the Canadian Forces who stand on guard for all of us”.
● (1100)
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I find the
NDP's position as expressed in that amendment to the motion
completely incoherent. The amendment calls for war crimes
investigations, but opposes military action to prevent the commission of the very said war crimes.
In the last two days we have been visited in Ottawa by leaders of
the Canadian, Iraqi, Syrian, Chaldean, Yazidi, Kurdish, Shia, secular
Sunni, Arab communities, all of whom have enthusiastically
endorsed the motion before the House on the extension and
expansion of the Canadian military operation against this genocidal
terrorist organization. I emphasize the word genocidal.
There used to be a time when the NDP, representing the Canadian
left, supported efforts to combat genocide. Whatever happened to
that NDP? Whatever happened to the NDP's commitment to the
international convention on the prevention of genocide? Whatever
happened to its support for the concept of the responsibility to
protect?
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If the responsibility to protect means anything, and I do not mean
the kind that is encumbered by the vetoes of Russia and China at the
United Nations Security Council, but the principle of it, does it not
mean that in instances such as this, preventing genocide, preventing
ethnic cleansing, preventing sexual slavery of women and preventing
the execution of gay men by throwing them off towers?
Mr. Paul Dewar: Mr. Speaker, I know it is difficult for the Liberal
Party on this one. We have been very clear. We would take our
soldiers out of theatre. The reason is by example of the government.
It was never defined what they should do.
The member talks about humanitarian relief. The point of our
military operation is to prevent more IDPs, more refugees, more
victims and more genocide. Does the member not understand that
had we not begun this military operation several months ago, there
would have been thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of additional
victims of ISIL's genocide? Does he not think we therefore have a
moral responsibility to actually act and prevent the creation of yet
more victims?
When the government first came forward and said that we would
send forces on the ground, we said that we should have a debate and
a vote as per the Prime Minister's promise, which he broke. The
Liberal Party said that was not a problem, that it would keep an eye
on it, but that the government had better not cross the line. The
Conservatives crossed a couple of lines, including the front lines.
Therefore, unlike the Liberal Party, we believe we should have a
clear strategy with clear oversight. We did not have that.
Mr. Paul Dewar: Mr. Speaker, it is sad when we hear the minister
and his conflated rhetoric. Here he goes again. He cannot get his
head around the fact that out of the 60 countries in this coalition, we
are all seized with dealing with this crisis.
With the Conservative government, it is all about its domestic
politics. What have the Conservatives done? They have conflated the
situation to the point where they are actually being reckless in their
actions. Let me give a couple of examples of how reckless they are.
Just yesterday, the Prime Minister ridiculed the whole notion of
Canada being a responsible actor vis-à-vis international law. Either
the Conservatives had no idea of what our responsibility was with
regard to section 51, or they decided they would just make it a joke.
Either way, it is irresponsible and entirely reckless.
It was really interesting, because just after our leader asked the
Prime Minister, in a very sanguine way, if we were going to abide by
international law, if we were going to fulfill it at least the bare
minimum, because it is still controversial in the way that section 51
could be used, the Prime Minister made fun of him as being
somehow in line with the lawyers from ISIL.
Just an hour after that, the government flip-flopped and had to
admit that it was going to be informing the UN. That shows the
credibility of the government, the credibility of the minister and the
credibility of this action being taken in the motion.
It is reckless, it is ill-informed and it shows the kind the rhetoric
the Conservatives use, unfortunately, on a very serious issue.
● (1105)
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
listened to the proposed amendment by the member with a great deal
of interest. There are certainly some amendments with which the
Liberal Party would agree.
He mentioned that the NDP would oppose the military training
mission in Iraq. Is the NDP opposed to all aspects of a military
mission, even if it were well behind the front lines, which is where
the advise and assist mission was intended to be and was promised to
be by the Prime Minister in the first place? We know it then morphed
into something more of a combat role, but it was originally planned
for training and assisting Iraqi troops so they could protect their
peoples and their communities. Is that something the NDP does not
support?
The former minister of foreign affairs and I were asked to provide
humanitarian support, all the things I enumerated, of which
apparently the Minister of National Defence was not aware. I do
not know if the two talked about this before. However, these were
the things we were asked to do, including by the religious minority
groups. That is why it is in our motion. All of this to say that what
members see in the amendment in front of them could not be clearer.
The problem for the Liberal Party is that it does not know where
it stands. It is important in this debate that it be absolutely clear.
What would it do if it were to become government? Would it
withdraw or not? We have said we would because we believe the
smart and responsible thing to do is to do what we have been asked
to do by the Iraqis, by the people on the ground.
[Translation]
Ms. Ève Péclet (La Pointe-de-l'Île, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
remember debating the government's position on the war in Syria a
few years ago in the House. The government refused to pressure
Russia and China into helping Syria, where civil war had just broken
out. It even refused to help the neighbouring countries, such as
Turkey and Lebanon, which are currently taking in millions and
millions of Syrian refugees.
The government was unable to be proactive about that conflict and
now it is telling us this is the only solution there is. It refused to act
in the early days of the Syrian conflict and, four years later, it is
telling us there is no other choice. It refused to be proactive about the
conflict, refused to help the countries that were helping Syria, and
refused to pressure its own allies into passing a UN Security Council
resolution on Syria.
Now, here are the Conservatives, trying to teach us a lesson, but
we have no lessons to learn from them. I would like my colleague to
say a few words about.
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[English]
Mr. Paul Dewar: Mr. Speaker, it is indicative of the government
to come to the game late and then react instead of act. What I mean
by that is when I went to the government back in June and said that
we needed to be seized with this and I offered some contacts of
people to get in touch with, it was not interested. It was not interested
in reaching across the aisle.
I will give the former minister of foreign affairs credit because he
did ask me and my colleague from the Liberal Party to go and do an
assessment on the ground. The problem was our assessment and
what we heard and what the government did were two different
things. No one asked us to send in air strikes. The government could
not even tell the truth about how we ended up in the air strikes. It
made it sound as if it was asked to do it. We offered it, and of course
the Americans said sure. Why would they not? This is how
misdirected and reckless the policy of the government is.
I will finish with this. If we oppose the government in its
direction, it is viewed as if we do not care. I would have thought we
were passed that point. We saw that when we debated Afghanistan.
Clearly, that is in the DNA of the government. It cannot reach across
the aisle. It cannot have a debate without going for the jugular. It
undermines this debate and also undermines the institution of
Parliament. We should be able to bring our ideas forward and say
what we think about it. It is insulting and demeaning for the
government to then say that because our ideas differ from its that we
somehow do not care. Canadians deserve a lot better.
● (1110)
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
rise today to speak to the government's motion to extend and expand
Canada's mission in Iraq. Liberal Party members do not support this
motion to seek Parliament's consent for an unfocused and potentially
unending mission because it is not in the Canadian interest.
ISIL poses a real and serious threat to security around the world
and in Canada. We recognize that. Liberals believe that Canada must
be part of the international effort against ISIL. As one of 60 nations
participating in the coalition against this ideological extremist and
terrorist scourge, Canada must play a constructive role. We must
make the best contribution we can, one that serves our national
interest.
The mission proposed by the Prime Minister does not measure up.
It has an unclear legal basis, unclear mission objectives and an openended scope. Overwhelmingly, it fails the national interest test.
Why else do Liberals oppose the Prime Minister's present motion?
Let us discuss this.
Last fall, Liberals did support the government's plan to send
special forces into Iraq to help behind the lines, training, advising
and assisting Iraqi forces. We believe that ISIL will be stopped when
local Iraqi forces can fight successfully against the ISIL rampage,
can protect local people and their villages, can succeed in capturing
and holding lost territory, and can commit to respecting minority
rights. We want to help them to do those things.
However, the Liberals did not support the Prime Minister's
October motion to go to war in Iraq, because he failed to offer a clear
objective for his combat plan. He failed to outline a responsible plan
to achieve it. He failed to make the case that a bombing role was the
best contribution Canadians could make. Regrettably, the motion
before us has similar deficits.
Earlier this week, the Liberal Party leader's speech in the House
reminded Parliament of four core principles Liberals set out for the
October combat mission in Iraq, and they still stand today. The first
principle is that Canada has a role to play in confronting
humanitarian crises in the world. That is an important Canadian
value. Over many decades, Canadian governments have generously
contributed help, military and non-military alike, in human
emergencies abroad.
We opened our country's doors to the oppressed. We welcomed
refugees to come, to rebuild their lives here, and those refugees have
helped build Canada. Refugees from Vietnam, Uganda, Cambodia,
Somalia, Nicaragua, from every corner of the world, have come to
Canada and made our country better. This current motion contains
no new ideas, no new funds, no new proposals to help alleviate the
catastrophic humanitarian crisis in the region.
● (1115)
[Translation]
Under the second principle, when our government considers
deploying our men and women in uniform, there must be a clear
mission and a clear role for Canada. The October motion did not
respect that principle and the motion that was moved today is just as
vague about Canada's mission and role. In October, the Liberals
expressed grave concern that lack of clear objectives masked the
Prime Minister's real intentions, namely involving Canada in a
longer, deeper combat engagement.
The motion moved today validates that concern. The Prime
Minster is saying that the objective is to weaken the Islamic State,
whereas the Minister of National Defence is saying that it is to defeat
and completely eliminate the group. Those are two very different
mandates.
Once again, the new motion on the combat mission does not set
out any clear objectives or any plan as to when or how Canada will
extricate itself from the multi-party conflict affecting this complex
region, which is mired in deep-rooted divisions, tension and hate.
[English]
On the contrary, section (a) of the motion gives the government
exceedingly vague and broad latitude to conduct this war. It reads
that this House:
(a) continues to support the Government's decision to contribute Canadian
military assets to the fight against ISIL, and terrorists aligned with ISIL, including
air strike capability with authorisation to conduct air strikes in Iraq and Syria;
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That is a pretty open-ended permission slip, and both the Minister
of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs appear eager
to use to it. They explicitly compared this new mission to
Afghanistan, stating that “we're in this for the longer term”. In
Afghanistan, the longer term meant a decade; the longest war in
Canadian history.
When asked who takes over should ISIL be cleared from Syria,
the Minister of National Defence told Evan Solomon on Power &
Politics that he does not know how this is going to end.
No clear objective is not good enough. Without objectives, clarity,
or boundaries in the motion, Canada's war on ISIL in Syria could
well result in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad consolidating his grip
on power. This president oppressed and terrorized his own people. In
just four years, he bombed, gassed, and killed more than 130,000 of
his own citizens, the vast majority of them civilians, and almost a
quarter of the victims were women and children. Enabling Mr. alAssad is not in Canadians' interest.
Now the government gives false reasons for participating in the
Syria bombing mission. The Conservatives claim Canada has been
asked because only Canada has precision-guided smart bombs to
assist the United States. That is false. Even Saudi Arabia and the
United Arab Emirates have these munitions and use them very
effectively in the region, according to the chair of the U.S. Joint
Chiefs of Staff, General Dempsey.
Voting yes now to a longer, deeper war for Canada, led by a
dishonest government we cannot trust, is simply not in Canadians'
interest.
Our final principle is that Canada's role must reflect the broad
scope of Canadian capabilities, so we help how best we can.
The third Liberal principle is that the case for deploying our forces
must be made openly and transparently, based on clear, reliable, and
dispassionately presented facts.
● (1120)
The current Conservative government has not been transparent
and open on this mission, not with parliamentarians nor with the
Canadian people. The Conservatives refused to provide cost
estimates to Canadians until shamed into it by the Parliamentary
Budget Officer. They refused to provide critics with briefings until
yesterday, while troops were first deployed last September.
Given the Conservatives' massive defence cuts, the Liberals are
concerned about asking our Canadian Armed Forces to do more. The
Conference of Defence Associations Institute reported that the
forces' current international deployments “mask a considerable
decline in their capabilities and readiness”. Today's soldiers injured
in the Afghanistan war are still waiting to receive timely professional
mental health care. How unacceptable.
It is facts not fantasy that underpin the moral value of honesty.
Honesty in turn earns trust. We cannot trust the current government,
which has been dishonest to Canadians. At every opportunity,
ministers promote the myth of stable increasing funding for defence,
the myth of investment in state-of-the-art equipment. The fact is that
the Conservatives have been cutting the budget for the last four
years, they reduced the defence share of funding to 1% of GDP, the
lowest in 70 years, and they failed to replace our rusting military
planes, ships, trucks, tanks, and rifles.
The Minister of National Defence himself was caught in a string
of falsehoods, misrepresenting a photo of a religious ceremony to
promote his war rhetoric, making false claims about the NDP's past
record on combat mission votes, and concocting false statistics on
former Liberal government defence spending—statistics that are on
public record.
Much more serious is the fact that our military was sent into
ground combat operations in Iraq despite the Prime Minister's
repeated, explicit assurances that this would not happen. Canadians
were assured by government and by the generals that the special
forces would not accompany troops to the front lines, they would not
do what is called “close combat advising”, and they would not
engage in combat. However, in fact, they did and they are.
In January we learned that, since last November, the mission had
“evolved”. Canadian troops are active on the front lines. They
regularly engage in direct combat activities. Unlike our closest allies
whose advisors stay behind the wire, we are needlessly risking our
soldiers' lives. Tragically, Sargent Andrew Joseph Doiron lost his life
in this combat zone.
What are Canada's capabilities? How can Canada play a
constructive role in this very challenged region? What roles reflect
Canadian values and our national interest? What do Liberals
support?
Canada can do better. Canada can act on the values it was known
for throughout the world. These are values like working constructively with others, helping the less fortunate, doing more than our
fair share, and being honest.
I will talk about three areas that the Liberals support. First, Canada
can work constructively with coalition allies to accelerate the
training and capabilities of more Iraqi soldiers. According to MajorGeneral Michael Hood, 69 special forces members currently work
with Americans to provide strategic and tactical advice to security
forces in the Iraqi army. To date, they have conducted 42 training
courses with 650 peshmerga soldiers.
Canada has a clear expertise in helping to train Iraqi forces to fight
and stop ISIL. Surely there is a need for more trainers. Canada
supplied more than 1,000 fine trainers in its final years in
Afghanistan. Surely Canada can do more now in Iraq. We can,
and must, do it away from the front lines.
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This is an area in which we differ from our NDP colleagues, who
have been all over the map about military missions, sometimes
talking about potentially being supportive of strategic airlifts or
military use to bring supplies. Today, we heard that the NDP is not
interested in any military involvement at all, while we, the Liberals,
have respect for our Canadian Armed Forces members. We know
that they can play an essential role here.
[Translation]
Second, Canada could lead a well-funded and well-planned
international humanitarian aid intervention to help people in need in
the Levant region. The United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees, António Guterres, has said that there are now 3.8 million
Syrian refugees registered and 12 million displaced persons who
need help within Syria itself. That is not including the millions of
other displaced persons and refugees from Iraq.
Last month, the High Commissioner launched an appeal to gather
$3.7 billion in humanitarian aid for 2015 alone. He said that the need
for humanitarian aid in Syria is growing much more rapidly than the
contributions from the international community. He encouraged
donor countries to give a lot more aid to support refugees and host
communities. This refugee crisis is threatening the stability and
security of the region. Neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon and
Jordan, have been destabilized. Turkey is feeding and housing
millions of refugees.
● (1125)
[English]
What is in Canada's best interest? We must do more to help
vulnerable refugee families, because it is a Canadian value and so
that these families' soldiers can confidently fight ISIL.
Third, Canada should expand our country's target for Syrian
refugee settlement. Let us give more victims of war an opportunity to
start a new life in Canada. The Conservative government's promises
have been weak, and its delivery has been even weaker.
Here is an example of past Canadian governments' generosity. In
just 1979 and 1980, 50,000 Vietnamese refugees settled in Canada.
These immigrants, known as boat people, were both urban and
rural dwellers. They did not speak English or French, by and large,
they had no Canadian relatives, and they arrived during an economic
downturn in Canada. This made integrating into Canada and
achieving economic independence a difficult struggle. Today, these
Vietnamese Canadians are recognized for their successes, their
strong communities, and their tremendous contributions to Canada.
We should keep the figure of 50,000 over two years in mind.
In contrast, the Conservative government has been miserly in its
treatment of Syrian refugees. Originally targeting only 1,300
refugees over 18 months, the government resettled less than half
by its target date of last December. At opposition members' urging,
the government recently increased its pledge to 10,000 refugees in
three years, but refugee aid groups are skeptical of this pledge
because much of the funding must be raised by sponsoring families
and private organizations, not provided by government. It is not a
Canadian value to do less than our fair share. Canadians believe in
helping more, and that is in the Canadian interest.
Finally, of the four commitments in the government motion,
Liberals enthusiastically endorse only the last, which I will quote:
Accordingly, this House:...
(d) offers its resolute and wholehearted support to the brave men and women of
the Canadian Armed Forces who stand on guard for all of us.
[Translation]
The Liberal Party respects and recognizes the professionalism,
courage and dedication of all those who serve our country. We have
never hesitated to deploy our extremely competent Canadian Armed
Forces to combat zones when doing so was very clearly in the best
interest of Canada and Canadians. In each of those cases, the best
interest of the nation was very clear.
[English]
A mission designed to uphold Canada's interest must have
transparent objectives, a responsible plan to achieve them, and a plan
to exit the theatre of war. That is missing from this motion and from
this proposed combat mission.
Liberals encourage the government, as quickly and as responsibly
as possible, to shift Canada's role in Iraq, shift it not into a bombing
role in Syria but back to a non-combat mission, focused on expanded
Iraqi troop training, humanitarian aid leadership, and a far more
generous and warm-hearted welcome to this war's refugees. That is
the Canadian way.
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, that speech
perfectly summarized the risible and illiberal position of today's
Liberal Party under the leadership of the member for Papineau,
departing from the long tradition of the Liberal Party of responsible
internationalism and action in the face of genocide and of ethnic
cleansing.
I was disappointed, but not surprised, that the member did not
even mention the largest refugee resettlement program that Canada
has had since 1980, which has been the resettlement of more than
20,000 Iraqi refugees. I launched that program in 2009, and not a
single Liberal MP ever asked the government to, and they have
never even commented on it.
Yesterday, I met with several of those who came here as Iraqi
refugees—Assyrians, Chaldeans, Yazidis, Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and
Shia Iraqi Canadian refugees, among the more than 20,000 that this
government has welcomed in the past five years—and every single
one of them enthusiastically endorsed the expanded Canadian
military mission proposed in this motion and every single one of
them expressed profound disappointment with the Liberal Party for
abandoning its pretension to support the responsibility to protect and
the prevention of genocide.
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I have a very simple question for the member. Why does she
ignore the more than 20,000 Iraqi refugees we have already brought
to Canada, more than any other country in the world, by the way, and
why does she want us to allow more refugees to be created by
inaction? Does she not understand that genocide does not stop
through good wishes, it does not stop through diplomatic
resolutions, and it can only be stopped in this instance through
kinetic action? Why is the Liberal Party abandoning its own tradition
in that respect?
● (1130)
Ms. Joyce Murray: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to hear the minister
sliding down the slippery slope of exaggeration and rhetoric and
going right into the zone of myth and falsehood. In fact, the
responsibility to protective doctrine is very clear. It requires the UN
Security Council's approval and it requires the invitation of the state
that the country wishes to enter.
The minister would do well to look at his own record of saying
things that are simply not true, and look at his own government's
record of rhetoric, whether it is on a bill where the minister said,
“You’re with us or you’re with the child pornographers”, and now
we hear that we are either bombing people in Iraq or we are sitting
on the sidelines.
This kind of simplistic, untrue rhetoric is undermining the
discourse about how we can actually help with this important
coalition in Iraq to address the threat by ISIL. If the Conservatives
actually wanted to have a collaborative approach across the House,
they would not be using this kind of rhetoric, which tells us this
whole thing is a purely political initiative on the part of the
government and it is unworthy of the Government of Canada.
Mr. Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
have to say that I was absolutely flabbergasted to hear out of the
mouth of the Liberal defence critic a description of the NDP position
as being all over the map.
The Liberal leader, a month ago, initially spoke for intervention
but then ultimately voted against the mission in Iraq. On Bill C-51,
he is against the bill but he is going to be voting for it. Last week, he
publicly spoke in favour of an extension of the mission in Iraq; now
the Liberals are voting against it. Yesterday, when asked, if they
formed government, would the Liberals who are against the mission
bring the troops home, the Liberals said no. The only party in this
House that is all over the map, not only on this issue of ISIS and Iraq
but on pretty much every issue in this House, is the Liberal Party of
Canada.
I would like my hon. colleague to set the record straight and tell
us this. Are the Liberals in favour of intervention in Iraq or not? Are
they in favour of Bill C-51 or not? If so, why are their actions not
consistent with their words?
Ms. Joyce Murray: Mr. Speaker, in fact the Liberal Party has
been consistent from day one that we support the trainers; we
support the Special Forces behind the wire, assisting the Iraqi troops
to defend their peoples and their territory. We maintain that position.
We said at the time we are not for a combat role, and we remain
against a combat role.
What I am concerned about is that the New Democrats have been
talking about military versus non-military as opposed to the real crux
of the issue being combat versus non-combat. They are not
supporting a military mission, which means they do not believe
that the men and women in uniform have any role to play that could
be constructive in addressing this threat in Iraq and in Syria. The
New Democrats do not believe in the professionalism of our men
and women in uniform; they do not see their going there to be
constructive to supply goods and to train. I think it is shameful that
they have such little faith in the men and women in uniform.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
● (1135)
The Deputy Speaker: Order please. Can I draw to the House's
attention to the fact that this is questions and comments and debate,
not question period, and that the conduct from both sides of the
House needs to have a greater degree of decorum than we have seen
in the last little while.
The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
I enjoyed the member's speech and I am glad that she brought up the
apparent inability of the government to plan properly for this
mission. In fact, it is consistent with its inability to plan a budget of
its revenues and expenditures for the next year.
I am also pleased that the member raised the issue of Vietnamese
refugees and how generous Canada was at the time and how many
refugees we welcomed. I believe also that we were very generous
and acted very decisively in accepting Iranian refugees after the
revolution.
The point of the matter is that to accept refugees we need
resources. Citizenship and Immigration needs resources to process
refugees. I would like the member to comment on the resource issue,
as well as on the resources available to the Canadian military.
Ms. Joyce Murray: Mr. Speaker, as we all know, the government
has chosen to bring forward tax breaks to the wealthiest families on
the backs of the Canadian Armed Forces who are contributing a full
one-quarter of the budget cuts that are being used to provide those
tax breaks. That is at the cost of the men and women in uniform and
the equipment they need to be safe and do their jobs.
The government has a shameful record of undermining refugees in
our country, cutting health care benefits, making it less likely they
will receive social support from the provinces when they need it.
This is a government that touts its 10,000 refugee target from Syria,
yet 60% of that target would have to be funded by families and
individual groups not by government.
The government has been clear. It is the government that started
the discourse when the Sun Sea Tamils came from the Pacific Ocean.
It started saying these are queue jumpers and cheaters as opposed to
human beings running away from a country that has been at civil war
and where their lives are at risk. It is a shameful record on refugees.
The government has not one thing to teach the Liberals on that.
Mr. Harold Albrecht (Kitchener—Conestoga, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, I do not think there is any more serious conversation that
the House could engage in than the one we are engaging in right
now.
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I listened to my colleague's speech and many times she referred to
humanitarian aid. All of us in the House know that if we are going to
deliver humanitarian aid we need security. We need security on the
ground to allow the NGOs to actually deliver that aid to the people
who need it.
Most troubling about the comments I heard in regard to
humanitarian need is the fact that the member chooses to ignore
the many large investments in humanitarian aid that our government
has made since the last debate in the House. On January 7, we
announced an additional $40 million to Iraq. We announced another
$25 million for neighbouring countries to help them with the refugee
settlement issue. We announced another $25 million for direct aid,
directly inside Syria. As it relates to refugee settlement, we
announced that we would accept 3,000 more Iraqi refugees and
10,000 more Syrian refugees.
My question is simply this. Would the member at least acknowledge to Canadians that the government has a stellar record when it
comes to providing humanitarian aid but we need to do that with
security on the ground?
● (1140)
Ms. Joyce Murray: Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of words in the
Conservative members' mouths about humanitarian issues, but not a
single dollar, not a single promise and not a single project in this
mission.
Furthermore, when the member calls on us to have a serious
conversation in the House, I hope he will have that conversation with
his leader, the Prime Minister, who when asked about the legal basis
for this bombing raid in Syria, dismissed it by making a joke about
whether he would be attacked by ISIL lawyers. He undermined the
seriousness of our responsibility to the international community and
to Canadians as the government proposes to take our country to war
in Syria.
Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Mr. Speaker,
I am honoured to be allowed to speak today on the motion before us
to extend the mission in Iraq, to expand it into Syria and to conduct it
over the next 12 months.
I want to start by saying I appreciate your words, Mr. Speaker. The
disrespect and the heckling on both sides of this House and the
allowing of this discussion to fall into the disrespectful patterns that
we see in question period would certainly be unfortunate.
We are talking about sending Canadian Forces, for another 12
months, into an even more dangerous mission. We should be able to
discuss it like grownups, on both sides of this House, in a respectful
debate, a serious debate, which would allow Canadians to help form
their own opinions about what Canada should do.
I do not think anyone in this place believes that Canada should do
nothing. I do not think anyone in this place underestimates the threat
that is ISIL or ISIS. Both names are used, but the Islamic State of
Iraq and the Levant is a more dangerous force in many ways than
what we have seen before. They claim to have the ability to set up
their own perimeters, their own sovereignty and their own caliphate.
They have shown themselves to be excessively brutal, sadistic
and to shock the conscience of the world. They are practising a 9th
century extremist interpretation of Islam, and they represent a quite
dangerous force. I do not think anyone around this House of
Commons would deny that.
The question then becomes what best can Canada do to degrade
ISIL, which is the wording of this motion, to deal with the fact that
there are numerous criminal thug organizations around the world
now. Back in 2001, I do not think anybody in North America would
have imagined that there was a worse group than al Qaeda. We have
al Qaeda still exerting its influence, and al Qaeda behind the attacks
in Paris. We have Boko Haram kidnapping innocent schoolgirls in
Nigeria. We have the presence of groups that are as yet unnamed that
could emerge.
Our discussion should be one of how we, as a western community
of nations, best deal with the general threat of terrorist organizations
around the world. One of the ways to do this, of course, is to ensure
that the west not appear to be at war against Islam. This particular
narrative of west versus Islam is a rallying cry in the propaganda that
has people gather.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Ms. Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate it if
members opposite would not heckle. I am trying to speak
respectfully. I have never heckled them.
We must not allow ourselves to enforce the propaganda and
rhetoric of those people we would like to defeat. With that said, let
us move to what is being proposed in this mission.
I did want to stop and say that I commend the administration, the
Conservative government for the humanitarian efforts we have taken
so far. I would have said that on Tuesday morning had I been
allowed to speak. I was pleased to hear from the Prime Minister that
we are feeding Iraqi children, that we are taking steps to assist people
who are in situations of unbearable suffering, but there is much more
that needs to be done on the humanitarian side and I will return to
that later.
This mission as described is to extend, for a 12-month period, the
continued bombing in Iraq where we have been invited by the Iraqi
government, but also to extend bombing into Syria. I would like to
spend a lot of my time this morning, and I do not have much time, on
the question of what this mission will do in Syria and how absolutely
fraught with peril that is.
When I spoke to this idea of bombing in Iraq last October, I
worked on the general theme that the road to hell is paved with good
intentions. Canada tends to be a country of great intentions.
Certainly, I do not take away any of the intentions of the
Conservative government on this issue.
However, we had good intentions when we went into Libya. We
had good intentions when we said that we were there under the
doctrine of responsibility to protect, to protect the civilian population
of Libya against a brutal dictator, Moammar Gadhafi. We then
switched our purpose and said that we were not actually there for the
responsibility to protect, that we would not accept a ceasefire
proposal and would not move to peace talks as long as Moammar
Gadhafi was in charge.
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I remember John Baird said, and I can use his name since he has
left this place, that while we may not know who will replace
Gadhafi, we could be sure of one thing, that it could not be worse
than Gadhafi.
● (1145)
In so doing, we missed our chance. That is why I was the only
member of Parliament to vote against the continued bombardment of
Libya. I voted against it because I knew that the rebel forces that we
were embracing as a legitimate government of Libya included al
Qaeda forces. It seemed all too inevitable to me that the warehouses
full of weapons that were held by Moammar Gadhafi in Libya would
fall into the hands of extremists and terrorists. In fact, those weapons
have now been traced to the hands of ISIS.
We went into Libya, and I do not think there is any question we
made things very much worse. Equally, there is no question that our
intentions were good.
Let us look at Syria. We have ignored the suffering in Syria far too
long. We have allowed a brutal butcher, Bashar al-Assad, to murder
his own people. We have been allowing this for four years. Since the
Arab Spring in 2011, we have turned a blind eye to the cries for help
from the rebel forces of Syria and those who want to get rid of
Bashar al-Assad. There are now four million Syrian refugees, and
over 220,000 people have been killed in Syria by Bashar al-Assad.
That is the most recent estimate.
Why did we not go into Syria? We had the permission of the UN
Security Council to go into Libya under the provision of
responsibility to protect, and when we shifted our mission from
responsibility to protect to regime change, we forever lost the ability
to get the support of Russia and China to use responsibility to protect
to go into Syria to protect civilians there.
I would not blame neighbouring countries suffering under the
burden of trying to take care of four million refugees. The
populations of Lebanon, of Jordan, and of Turkey are straining
under the weight of trying to take care of the refugees who have tried
to escape Bashar al-Assad. Now we show an interest in going into
Syria. Why? We say it is because ISIS is in there.
Of course ISIS is there.
A few years back we saw U.S. Republicans posing with ISIS
fighters because as rebel forces against Bashar al-Assad, they were
the good guys. Now that we believe ISIS forces represent a threat
around the world, we are interested in Syria. Now we are going to go
in without any legal sanction, without any international law on our
side. We are going to have to hope that Bashar al-Assad regards our
efforts as somehow friendly to him, or we could have Syrians
shooting down Canadian planes.
We now know from the Minister of National Defence, and I accept
his word, that ISIS fighters do not have anti-aircraft missiles. Do
Syrian government forces have anti-aircraft missiles? They just shot
down a U.S. drone.
We know we do not want to ask Bashar al-Assad for his
permission, because that would make it completely transparent that
the net effect of our first efforts to engage ourselves in the crisis that
is the civil war in Syria will be inevitably to assist Bashar al-Assad.
We do not want to admit that if we are successful in Syria, we will
have made Bashar al-Assad secure by removing a dreadful force that
also happens to be against him.
As I describe this, I hope that anyone can see, whether watching
from home or in this chamber, that what faces us in Syria is, at a
minimum, messy. It is conflicted. The opportunities for things to go
wrong are almost infinite. We will be sending Canadian fighter
planes to a remote distance without the support of the government of
the region, as we have currently in Iraq, and we will be doing so in a
war zone that is fraught with sectarian violence.
We know that Bashar al-Assad is supported by Hezbollah and by
Iran. We know that the rebel forces include some who are
legitimately seeking a democratic transition, but we have stood on
the sidelines of butchery in Syria. Now, clothed in moral rectitude,
we think we can go in and bomb Syria and nothing will go wrong.
I will go to the words of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
for the best way to defeat terrorism in the region. The best way and
the biggest threat, as he put it, to terrorism is not from missiles; it is
from a strategy of political inclusion. We should be doing much
more to get the countries in that region, themselves threatened by
ISIS, to take on the ISIS threat.
● (1150)
I congratulate the existing humanitarian efforts, but much more
needs to be done for the four million Syrian refugees. Much more
needs to be done to stem the flow of weapons to ISIS. Much more
needs to be done to stem the flow of money to these terrorist groups,
and we should, as a community of nations taking the threat of
terrorism seriously, work to end the threat of Boko Haram, al Qaeda,
ISIS, and groups of criminal thug organizations as yet unnamed.
This mission does not do that.
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate
the contribution of the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands to
this important debate and I appreciate her heartfelt and informed
views.
However, first, would she not agree that Canada's humanitarian
contribution has been extraordinary? We have contributed over $700
million to Syrian refugee relief and $57 million to humanitarian
support for Iraqi internally displaced persons, making us the sixthand fifth-largest contributor in the world to those two humanitarian
operations and the largest per capita contributor of all the developed
countries. Would she not reflect on that being a robust Canadian
commitment?
Second, she talked about the responsibility to protect as it applied
to Libya. Would she not share my concern that the responsibility to
protect policy, as incarnated at the United Nations, is problematic
insofar as it grants vetoes to people like Vladimir Putin and the
Chinese Politburo?
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Would she not agree with me that the spirit of the principle of
responsibility to protect applies, as does the UN convention on the
prevention of genocide, in preventing ISIS from a carrying out a
campaign of explicit, violent genocide and ethnic cleansing of
religious minorities? As well, does she really think that Canada—
and I look also to UN Security Council resolution 2178, which
specifically dealt with this issue and pointed out there are many
things that countries around the world in that coalition can do to
ensure that we provide humanitarian aid.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for
Saanich—Gulf Islands.
UN Security Council resolution 2178 also calls on nations to
control radicalization within their own borders. In the context of the
debate we are having on Bill C-51, I regret that when the
government put forward anti-terrorism legislation, it ignored the
measures that the U.K. has put in place. The U.K. is putting forward
resolutions and programs for prisons and schools to abort efforts at
radicalization in those institutions.
Ms. Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I do not think that I suggested
we should stand on the sidelines. I just think that whatever we do
should not make matters worse.
I will start with the first part of his question. Yes, I acknowledge
that Canada has been one of the major contributors to humanitarian
relief, but it is a drop in the bucket when we see the four million
refugees in Jordan, in Lebanon, in Turkey.
I also want to acknowledge that when the minister was Minister of
Citizenship and Immigration, I came to him with personal cases. I
have many constituents trying to get relatives out of Syria, and he
assisted in reuniting some families. However, now the same families
are coming to me with stories of getting across the border with
children loaded in the back seat of the car, making it all the way to
Beirut, but not being able to get to the Canadian Embassy and being
sent back into Syria.
There is an ongoing humanitarian crisis, and our efforts so far
have not been even remotely sufficient. The budget of the UN
commission on refugees to deal with this crisis is coming up short. It
is one of the biggest humanitarian and refugee crises the world has
ever seen.
To the second part of his question, responsibility to protect, as I
mentioned in my speech, is complicated by needing the support of
the UN Security Council. I hoped I made it clear that one of the ways
we made matters worse was by contaminating and potentially fatally
hobbling responsibility to protect forever by using it as an excuse to
get into Libya and then shifting to regime change.
The reality is that we have ignored the crisis in Syria, but now we
are interested in protecting people from ISIS. Who will protect them
from Bashar al-Assad?
Ms. Linda Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member specifically if she is
supportive of the amendments that the New Democrats have put
forward. We have put forward 10 measures that we think are really
important.
I note the member speaks of the great importance of Canada
contributing. We do have a 62-member international coalition, many
of whom are also simply focused on providing humanitarian and
non-combat contributions.
I am wondering if the member agrees with and will support the
amendments that we have put forward. I think I am hearing her say
that she supports us and that there is a lot more we can do within
those ten recommendations, including intensifying the aid to the
refugees who are pouring out of Syria and Iraq.
● (1155)
Ms. Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I do support those measures
that were put forward by the official opposition as an amendment,
[Translation]
Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour,
BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois would support an
intervention if it put the humanitarian mission first and if it
addressed the issues at the root of this crisis as well as the barbaric
acts perpetrated by the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
However, the motion that the Conservatives are trying to adopt
requires the blind trust of the House. The motion primarily calls for a
military solution and is vague about the mission's objective and its
assessment. The Bloc Québécois stands by its usual position and will
not give this government a blank cheque.
This motion is even less clearly defined than the one moved six
months ago in the House. Instead of restricting and better defining
the type of intervention, the motion opens the door to a deeper and
longer engagement. However, we can learn from experience, from
our past successes and mistakes. For example, we can take lessons
from the intervention in Kosovo, Canada's refusal to participate in
the Iraq war, the deployment of troops in Afghanistan and the Libya
intervention. We also have to take into consideration the complexity
of the domestic and foreign policies of the countries in the Middle
East. We have to consider the territories, countries, relations among
the peoples living in the region and the religions practised there.
The motion proposes that we pursue our intervention in Iraq, true,
but it also proposes that we intervene against the Islamic State and
against terrorists aligned with the Islamic State, including the
capacity to conduct air strikes in Syria. I will come back to Syria in a
bit. However, we take the word “including” to mean that this motion
would allow Canada to intervene against the Islamic State anywhere,
regardless of borders, countries or political situations. The government is prepared to intervene everywhere. Who decides? No one
knows.
However, the United Nations was created to provide a framework
for international intervention. UN action is guided by its charter,
which sets out the objectives of the United Nations. The objectives
include “1. To maintain international peace and security”, which
obviously includes sending troops, if necessary; “2. To develop
friendly relations among nations”, which goes without saying; and
“3. To achieve international co-operation in solving international
problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian
character”, which means solving problems by whatever means
necessary, under the auspices of the United Nations.
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Its action is based on some fundamental principles, including the
“sovereign equality of all its Members”, which “settle their
international disputes by peaceful means”, if possible, which “refrain
in their international relations from the threat or use of force” and
which give the United Nations “every assistance”. There is not a
single provision in the Charter of the United Nations that authorizes
the UN to intervene in affairs that essentially fall under national
jurisdiction.
The Bloc Québécois believes in these principles, which form the
basis of our analysis of any action taken by the international
community in cases of conflict. Any action taken by Quebec and
Canada as part of our commitment to international solidarity should
be focused on humanitarian action. The Bloc opposes all unilateral
action and opposes the notion of a pre-emptive war in the absence of
an imminent, established threat.
The motion moved by the Conservative government demonstrates
a one-dimensional approach that calls for air strikes and in which
urgent humanitarian assistance plays a secondary role. The Bloc
Québécois agrees with the UN Secretary-General in that we need to
address the underlying causes of this crisis. Following the adoption
of resolution 2178, the UN Secretary-General said that “terrorism
must be defeated”, and that “this objective could only be achieved by
mobilizing international solidarity and tackling the underlying
conditions that provide fertile soil for extremism.” The SecretaryGeneral stressed that “the most powerful weapons against this
extremism are education, jobs and leaders who listen to their people
and follow the rule of law”.
● (1200)
Although the motion is open to the protection of civilians,
particularly by providing emergency humanitarian assistance, the
Minister of Defence is rushing to close the door on such assistance,
saying that Canada has given enough.
When the government says that it is prepared to take military
action and that Canada has given enough in the same sentence,
despite the millions of Syrian refugees, we are far from the
multilateral approach proposed by the UN and the Bloc Québécois.
When the government is prepared to intervene in a country that
did not ask for it, to interfere in a civil war where our intervention
will inevitably favour one of the belligerents, who should already be
facing war crime charges, there is cause for concern.
Using the right to self-defence granted by the UN to justify future
bombings against the Islamic State in Syria is a misguided
interpretation.
The Bloc Québécois has not changed its mind and will not hand
out a blank cheque. The proposed motion would enable Canada to
intervene everywhere. We say no to that.
The UN was founded to provide an intervention framework in
international relations. That is what we are defending and that is why
we will vote against this motion. Our position is clear: yes to an
intervention under the UN banner, and only under the UN banner.
Ms. Ève Péclet (La Pointe-de-l'Île, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I know
that my colleague touched on this a bit in his speech, but the
government has been rather restrained in its approach since the
beginning of the civil war in Syria. It did not provide the necessary
help to places like Turkey and Lebanon, neighbouring countries that
took in millions of refugees. The government's approach paled in
comparison to its allies in terms of pressuring Russia and China and
trying to get a resolution passed at the Security Council.
The government has truly abandoned Syria since the start of the
current conflict there. That is partly why we are in this quagmire.
Then the government comes to Parliament to tell us that there is no
other solution, no other choice but to bomb Syria.
Could the government not have been proactive before coming to
Parliament to tell us that bombing is the only solution? I would like
my colleague to talk about the government's approach.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon.
member when she says that Canada was late in intervening or asking
the United Nations to intervene, when there was the debate on what
was called “the revolution” there. This allowed the Islamic State to
infiltrate that country.
Now we are faced with the problem of a rebel group and the fact
that the Islamic State wants to overthrow the government. The rebels
proposed democracy, while the Islamic State is proposing another
form of dictatorship, perhaps one that is even worse than the current
dictatorship.
To be honest, in the post-analysis of any conflict, we can always
find a reason to say we should have done something sooner. Indeed,
in the current conflict in Syria, Canada has been remarkably silent
when it could have taken action to pressure the UN into intervening
first through resolutions and then through a possible peace accord.
● (1205)
Mr. Dany Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
want to ask my colleague a question about the involvement of the
men and women who will be sent to Syria and Iraq. CFB Bagotville
is located in my riding. I expect that some of those individuals will
be asked to serve their country during the course of the year-long
mission.
The government lied to Canadians, to parliamentarians and to the
armed forces when it said that there would be no military
intervention and that it would not send our soldiers to the front line.
What does my Bloc colleague think of a government that is
dishonest with its own armed forces personnel, who will obey the
government's orders and go serve in those countries?
Mr. Louis Plamondon: Mr. Speaker, in any mission, of course
our military personnel should be informed and aware of all action
they will be asked to take.
Initially, the intention the government articulated in this House
was to carry out a mission to strengthen, train and advise Iraqi
troops. Then it added air strikes on very specific targets, including
ISIL munitions dumps and troop movements that could be blocked
with air strikes.
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However, the government went beyond the original intention of
the mission when it sent in ground troops. It goes without saying that
that was not part of the request put to the House. The mission will go
ahead, since the Conservatives have a majority, but our military
personnel definitely need to be told exactly what role they will be
asked to play.
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am honoured
to join in this debate on extending our vital, military and
humanitarian mission in order to help the innocent in Iraq and
Syria, who are victims of this terrorist and genocidal organization,
the so-called Islamic State, also known as Daesh or ISIL.
[English]
Let me be clear. Canada has always had a sense of moral
obligation to act in concert with our allies when faced with grave
threats to our security and to global security. We also believe in a
moral obligation, wherever possible and prudent, to defend the
innocent from the deprivations of genocide and ethnic cleansing, as
is the case today in Iraq and eastern Syria.
Let us understand, first of all, the nature of the enemy, I would say
the common enemy of humankind, in the so-called Islamic State of
Iraq and the Levant, ISIS, or Daesh. It is hard for some, perhaps with
the enlightened western paradigm, to grasp the nature of this
organization, because it is profoundly irrational in its entire ideology,
in its motivations, and in its actions. This is an organization that is
motivated by a dystopian vision of imposing, through violence, a
caliphate: the idea of a theocracy grounded in a particularly violent
iteration of seventh century Sharia law.
This organization and its fellow travellers regard anyone who does
not share their dystopian vision of a caliphate as a kafir, as an infidel,
as an enemy, as someone who is marked for, at best, slavery,
dhimmitude, or at worst, death, and often a particularly gruesome
one.
This is an organization that, according to the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights and various independent human
rights observers, is responsible for some unthinkable depravities.
They are responsible for beheading children; for mass sexual slavery
of girls as young as eight; and for targeting gay men by, in one
instance that is recorded on film by them, throwing a gay man off of
a tower, and when he did not die, stoning him to death.
This is an organization that has sought to erase from the face of
the earth the small and vulnerable minority community of the
Yazidis, an ancient religious and ethnic community. ISIL has sought
to obliterate the ancient Assyrian Chaldean peoples of the Nineveh
plains, who are the indigenous people of that region of Mesopotamia, whose ancestors have been there for thousands of years, and
who, for the better part of 1,700 years, have observed the Christian
faith but for even longer have spoken their own ancient tongue,
Chaldean and Aramaic.
ISIL is an organization that has quite literally no regard for the
sanctity of human life, that regards girls and women as property
rather than people, that regards minorities not as people worthy of
protection and respect but rather of obliteration and elimination.
Let me share with members one specific example of its barbarity
that was related to me by Archbishop Louis Sako, the leader of the
Chaldean Iraqi church. He told me that after ISIL invaded Mosul, the
second-largest city of Iraq, and issued a fatwa of death or conversion
or dhimmitude for the Christians of Mosul, they fled with their
possessions, the rest of which were all taken by ISIL. However, a
handful of infirm, handicapped, elderly Christians were left behind
in hospitals. They could not move, as they did not have relatives.
● (1210)
The Daesh, ISIL, went into these hospitals and after the allotted 48
hours had passed for the fatwa, they approached these infirmed
handicapped elderly Christians in their hospital beds and told them
that if they did not convert on the spot, they would be killed, they
would be beheaded in their hospital beds. Let there be no doubt
about the kind of barbarism, the kind of evil, with which we are
dealing.
In light of this, I believe it is incumbent upon us to act for
humanitarian reasons. I believe doing so is consistent with the
principle of the responsibility to protect. Admittedly, the actual
incarnation of that doctrine at the United Nations requires the
approval of Vladimir Putin and the Chinese politburo. However, we
ought not to encumber Canadian policy with the approval of
Vladimir Putin. We should be able to act independently to prevent
genocide, to prevent yet more victims from being claimed.
We also have a national security imperative to do so because, as
members will know, ISIS has explicitly declared war on Canada, has
called on its supporters to kill Canadians wherever they find them. It
is rather evident that the two terror attacks on Canadian soil that took
Patrice Vincent and Nathan Cirillo in October of last year were at
least inspired by the barbarism of ISIL.
Had the world not begun to act, had the coalition of some 24
countries involved in the military combat against ISIL in Iraq and
Syria not begun last September and October, had the other 40 allied
countries supporting non-military action against ISIL not done so,
had these things not occurred, it is clear that ISIL would have
continued to gain more territory in Iraq, more resources, more oil
fields, more wealth, more armaments and, most worrying, more
legitimacy in the eyes of those who are susceptible to radicalization.
● (1215)
[Translation]
It is one of the threats to Canada. More than 100 Canadians have
gone to Syria and Iraq to join this terrorist organization. Obviously,
when they return to Canada, they pose a threat to our security. This is
also the case in almost every developed country.
We have to show those individuals who are likely to be radicalized
and recruited by the group known as the Islamic State that it is not
the champion of a caliphate but rather a crazed organization.
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[English]
That is why the Government of Canada has committed the Royal
Canadian Air Force, with six CF-18s, one Polaris aerial refuelling
aircraft and two CP-140 modernized Aurora aircraft, to join the
allied air combat mission against ISIL targets. It is also why we have
committed 69 special operations forces members to an advise, assist
and training mission with the Kurdish peshmerga near Erbil in
northern Iraq. I am pleased to report that, thanks in part to the
brilliant work of our men and women in uniform and our allies, we
have moved ISIS from being on the offence of gaining new territory
last summer and fall to being on the defence of losing territory now.
We now note ISIL moving some of its heavy equipment that has
not yet been struck by allied aerial bombardments from Iraq back
into Syria. We hope that, with the assistance of allied air support,
Iraqi security forces will in due course launch an effective ground
combat counteroffensive in which we will not participate on the
ground but which we will support from the air.
All of this indicates that in due course the centre of gravity of the
fight against ISIL is likely to move westward into eastern Syria,
which is the centre of its operations. Its capital is located in Raqqa in
central east Syria. This is an area that for all intents and purposes the
brutal Syrian regime has ceded sovereignty over to ISIL.
We therefore believe, pursuant to legal advice received from our
own Judge Advocate General and the position taken by President
Obama's administration, that we have every legal prerogative to
pursue the ISIL targets in eastern Syria, in part at the invitation of the
government of Iraq under article 51 of the United Nations Charter to
give practical expression to the collective right of self-defence.
I believe this modest expansion of the mission and the one year
horizon proposed in the motion provides precisely the kinds of rules
of engagement that our military need to play a meaningful role in
this international coalition.
We ought not to expect others, like the Netherlands or Australia,
France or Britain or our Arab partners, to do all of the difficult heavy
lifting. This is a responsible democracy. Our country is a champion
of human dignity and freedom. We must act now, as we always have
though our history, to defend those values and indeed our own
interests.
● (1220)
[Translation]
Mr. Dany Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
my question for the minister is simple. He knows full well that we
must take very seriously the fact that we are asking our soldiers to
put their lives in danger by participating in a foreign military
mission. As the federal MP who represents the riding where
CFB Bagotville is located, I take this mission very seriously because
I know the men and women who might be called on to participate in
this mission.
Therefore, I am asking the Conservative minister whether
CFB Bagotville will be asked to participate in this extended mission.
I know that it was mostly CFB Cold Lake that participated in the first
phase of the intervention in Iraq.
Hon. Jason Kenney: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon.
member for his question. He is right because until now the CF-18s
that have flown to Kuwait for the air strikes against the Islamic State
in Iraq have been from CFB Cold Lake. I cannot say exactly which
resources will be deployed. That is obviously up to the commanders
of our military forces. They will decide which bases and squadrons
will participate, depending on their needs and resources.
[English]
Which squadrons will be called upon to contribute is a question I
will leave to our military commanders to decide in future rotations
for the operations out of Kuwait. However, there are periodic
rotations of equipment and personnel. We will notify the member in
the House if there are changes in this respect.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
I was reading a while ago that the Parliamentary Budget Officer
claimed that budget cuts had harmed the military's capacity to
undertake missions in the long term. It looks like we will be in this
conflict for quite a while, based on what the government has said.
Apparently Canada only spends about 1% of its GDP on the
military, whereas Canada's allies, Britain and the U.S. notably, have
asked that we spend 2% of GDP on our military. Therefore, does the
government plan to cede to our the request of allies that we spend
2% of GDP on the military?
Hon. Jason Kenney: Mr. Speaker, I should point out that since
our government came to office in 2006, we have increased the
budget for the Department of National Defence from $14.3 billion in
2005 to $20.1 billion, which will be the full and final estimates for
the current fiscal year. That represents a 27% increase, vaster than
the increase in inflation or the economy during that period, at a time
during which most of our principal allies had been reducing their
military budgets in absolute terms.
We increased the automatic escalator for the DND budget so it
receives a 2% increase every year, effectively protecting the DND
budget from inflation. No other department benefits from that. It also
has a special capital accrual budget for procurement of equipment.
By the way, next Monday I will be receiving our fifth new C-17
Globemaster strategic airlift airplane at CFB Trenton.
We have made important investments. Most important, the men
and women of the forces are able to do the job we assign to them. In
many missions Canada has been punching above its weight. We will
continue to give them the resources they need.
I can confirm for the House that the government will be allocating
to the Department of National Defence incremental resources above
its baseline budget to cover the incremental costs associated with
Operation Impact in Iraq and Syria.
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[Translation]
Ms. Élaine Michaud (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I am very proud to join with my colleagues in this very
important debate we are having in the House today on the
government's motion to extend Canada's combat mission in Iraq.
Before I begin my speech, however, I want to thank my colleague
from Ottawa Centre, who spoke a little earlier in this debate. I
particularly want to thank him for the amendment he moved. The
amendment really highlights the actions Canada could take
immediately to help the victims of ISIL's atrocities.
I am glad that some measure of calm has been restored in the
House. It was a little noisy on this side. I hope my colleagues across
the way will pay attention to what I have to say. That way, it will be
easier for them to ask pertinent questions, or so we can hope.
To get back to my speech, as I was saying earlier, the NDP,
through my colleague from Ottawa Centre, has tabled a proposal that
would allow Canada to have a real impact and save civilian lives
immediately. That is the NDP's primary concern at this time.
Millions of people have been displaced as a result of the atrocities
taking place right now in Iraq and Syria. Those are the people we
should be helping immediately.
No one on either side of this House would deny that ISIL has
committed absolutely atrocious acts of violence against civilians. I
will not go through all the incidents that are reported regularly in the
media. We hear about them all the time, and we are all shocked and
horrified by the atrocities reported. We are all aware that ISIL
represents a threat to Canada and the rest of the world and that we
need to act. However, it is not through today's motion by this
government that Canada will have the kind of impact it should have
or be able to play the kind of role it should play.
The Conservatives have been completely vague on this since the
beginning. Even back when we were still talking about a one-month
mission to advise and support, the government was sharing very few
details despite the many questions being asked in the House. That
turned into a six-month air strike mission, which morphed into a
front-line combat mission that, unfortunately, we were not informed
about. The government will try to deny that fact, but the evidence is
clear. We know the facts. Unfortunately, Sergeant Doiron died just a
few hundred metres from the font line. Now the government is about
to commit us to a one-and-a-half-year mission, or so it says. It is
trying to convince Canadians that this is truly the only possible way
of overcoming ISIL, but there has not been a real plan since the
beginning, and there is still no plan. The government has not shared
a single specific objective or even an exit strategy.
We have a proposal for a mission of one and a half years, but if we
look at what happened in Afghanistan, we were there for 12 years.
We had a similar proposal then too: relatively short missions, lasting
only a few months or just a few years. However, we were there for
12 years. We do not really know where we are going with what is
being presented to us right now. The Conservatives are not capable
of being honest with Canadians about the real role of our soldiers on
the ground. They are not even capable of being honest with the
troops waiting at home.
We were greatly saddened, but also surprised, to learn of Sergeant
Doiron's death near the front lines, when we had been clearly told in
this House that our troops were not supposed to accompany Iraqi
troops to the front lines. According to the text of the motion the
House voted on, that was very clear. However, we are faced with a
completely different situation. The government is playing with
words and is asking us to trust it blindly to ensure our security. It has
been caught off guard. The Conservatives are saying that they will
drop a few bombs here and there and that they will feel better
because they will appear to be doing something.
● (1225)
However, in reality, Canada is not contributing as much as it could
be. Frankly, I am wondering how Canadians can trust a government
that refuses to be transparent about the most basic things. Elected
officials in the other allied countries in the coalition have been more
forthcoming.
For example, in the United States, President Obama was very
clear. He presented the plan and objectives to both parliamentarians
and the public. Americans were even told how much the mission
would cost. It is extraordinary. Here, the Parliamentary Budget
Officer has to fight and use information from the Americans and
others to try to estimate the cost of the Canadian mission in Iraq.
Under these circumstances, I do not see how we can give the
government a blank cheque and tell it to go ahead and extend the
mission in Iraq.
What is worse, the government is now proposing that we drop
bombs on Syria, or in other words that we side with Bashar alAssad's regime. That is an absolutely incomprehensible decision.
Earlier, I heard the Minister of National Defence criticize the NDP
for abandoning its commitment to preventing genocide. How can he
accuse those who oppose extending the mission in Iraq of supporting
the genocidal activity of the Islamic State and then propose joining
forces directly with Bashar al-Assad's regime? That argument does
not make any sense.
The country has been in a state of civil war for at least four years
now. The civilian population is being slaughtered. Horrific things are
happening there. Schools and hospitals are being bombed and
children are the victims of horrible crimes. Civilians are being
subjected to chemical weapons attacks by their own government,
and Canada is suggesting playing Bashar al-Assad's game, knowing
full well that he has used the Islamic State at various points in the
conflict. We would be falling right into his trap if we decide to
intervene on the ground.
This is a legal mess, since by explicitly asking for permission from
Bashar al-Assad, as the Prime Minister told the House a few months
ago he would do, we are giving legitimacy to the regime. If we
decide to completely ignore this provision of international law, we
are flouting international conventions and international law.
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The government has already made a mockery of the notion of
international law, but this is an essential principle. Canada is a
democratic country, which means that we must comply with the
conventions we have signed and negotiated over the years with other
countries. Canada could do much better than aligning itself with the
Bashar al-Assad regime. I cannot stress that enough.
is an enemy? Is she saying that we turn our back on all of the
innocent victims who have been brutalized by the genocide carried
out by the ISIL jihadists?
Everything seems so simple to the Conservatives. As I said earlier,
they will carry out a few air strikes and then withdraw once they are
satisfied with their intervention. However, what will we leave behind
after this military intervention? We will leave a political vacuum that
will be filled by other groups that could be worse than the Islamic
State. We do not know what is coming. The Conservatives think that
their quick-fix solutions are just what is needed, but they could
actually make the situation worse.
Ms. Élaine Michaud: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my
colleague opposite for his kind words. He gives me new hope that
we can occasionally find colleagues we can work with on the other
side. I would like to return the compliment.
I want to share a quote from an article Pierre Asselin wrote
yesterday in Le Soleil, which summarizes quite well the problem we
are facing:
Jihadism feeds on the chaos and violence that lead to structural collapse. In the
absence of a strategy to remove Assad, victories against the Islamic State could be
fleeting. Is the strategy to push ISIL out of Iraq or to fight it as far as its Syrian
strongholds? Who would fill the void left by a hypothetical defeat of ISIL in Syria? If
our intervention enables the Syrian regime to recover the territory lost to Islamist
zealots, we will never be forgiven by its millions of victims.
That is what we need to keep in mind, and that is why the NDP is
proposing that we help the civilians who are going through terrible
situations. There are victims of sexual violence and horrendous
abuse who need our help right now. Canada has expertise in this
area.
● (1230)
We can help them and ensure that the refugee camps are
winterized to prevent further deaths.
[Translation]
However, what he seems to be ignoring here is that although this
mission would not provide direct and outright support for the regime
of Bashar al-Assad, going along with him and conducting air strikes
in Syria would be giving him a form of tacit support. We need to
keep that in mind.
The NDP has never said that we should simply turn our backs on
the victims of the Islamic State. On the contrary. We are asking the
government to act now and provide victims with the resources and
help they need right now. There is a desperate need for drinking
water, drugs and assistance to victims of sexual violence. As I
mentioned earlier, children have been separated from their parents,
among other things.
There are millions of things that Canada could do right now to
help the victims of the Islamic State and save lives. We could also
use our diplomatic resources to try to help Iraq and Syria build their
institutions, which could then protect civilians and ensure that Iraqi
and Syrian law enforcement agencies could do their job and properly
protect their people.
During question period I hope to have the opportunity to speak
more to the NDP's proposed solutions. Frankly, in light of everything
I mentioned, it is impossible for my colleagues and me to support the
proposal to extend the mission, as moved by the Conservatives.
● (1235)
Mr. Marc-André Morin (Laurentides—Labelle, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, there is one thing we must not forget. Every time we try to
examine the roots of the chaos in that region, the members opposite
carefully avoid looking at the past.
[English]
Mr. James Bezan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, my friend across the way
and I serve on the national defence committee together. She comes
from a military family and always provides interesting commentary
and input to our debates.
When the crisis started in Syria, Canada was the country's secondlargest foreign investor. A Canadian company was supplying
electricity and managing the entire infrastructure that provided
electricity to three-quarters of the country. The company was forced
to stop doing that when the United Nations imposed sanctions.
I have to point out that in no way is the Government of Canada
working to support the Assad regime in Syria. We recognize that this
is a brutal regime that has used chemical weapons on its own people,
killed thousands of people, and displaced millions. We are hoping
that the U.S.-led coalition will find a diplomatic and political
solution to the civil war in Syria.
Is the member saying that we should turn a blind eye to the ISIL
terrorists who are trying to establish a caliphate in eastern Syria and
Iraq? Is she saying that we should allow them to entrench themselves
and to generate revenues to ensure they have the artillery and heavy
equipment to fight in the region and to launch terrorist attacks
around the world, including here in Canada, whom they have sworn
It is easy to accuse us of supporting Bashar al-Assad's regime and
ignoring the cruelty of these barbarians. I think we need to look at
what our allies are doing. Right now, Wahhabi units are training in
the Golan Heights, and when the Syrian army tries to attack them,
those units are being defended by the Israeli army.
The situation is more complicated than it looks, and if we act
without a plan, we will cause more chaos, which will claim even
more innocent victims.
Ms. Élaine Michaud: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his
very relevant comment that reveals, as he explained so eloquently,
how complex everything happening in the Middle East is in general.
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That is why an intervention as simplistic as the one proposed by
the Conservatives—bombing all over the place and hoping that will
solve the problem—is problematic. Members of ISIL are blending in
with local populations. It is very difficult to figure out which rebel
groups in Syria we should be helping and which groups are
committing other atrocities against people. It is extremely complex.
It is our duty here in the House to have a much more in-depth debate
that sets aside the dogmatic approach we all too often see here.
● (1240)
Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for
giving me the opportunity to rise in the House to participate in this
important debate.
It is important to remember that our Conservative government is
the one that committed to consulting Parliament regarding Canada's
involvement in military engagements overseas. The reason why I am
here today is that this is a specific kind of military engagement
because it does not involve a state in the traditional sense but an
entity that refers to itself as the Islamic State.
I would like to remind the House that these jihadi terrorists have
declared war not only on Canada, but also on our French, British,
Australian and Danish allies, who have all been the victims of
terrorist attacks. Members will remember the attack on Charlie
Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris. They will
remember the terrorist attacks that occurred in Sydney, Australia,
during the holidays and the more recent attacks in Denmark. These
terrorists targeted Canada, urging supporters to attack disbelieving
Canadians in any manner and going so far as to vow that we should
not feel secure even in our homes.
[English]
I should apologize for saying this, but to illustrate the horrific
threats that we Canadians and all of our ally countries are facing,
here is what the spokesperson for the so-called Islamic State said:
If you can kill a disbelieving American or European—especially the spiteful and
filthy French—or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the
disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a
coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any
manner....
These bone-chilling statements are precisely why I am standing up
in the House and supporting our actions both here and abroad to
target those terrorists and protect our Canadian citizens. As a
government, we know that our ultimate responsibility is to protect
Canadians from those who would do harm to us and to our families.
We have seen first hand that this is not a problem in some faraway
land. This is not someone else's war, as the leader of the NDP said
yesterday. No, it is not.
[Translation]
What happened on October 20 in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu was
not a traffic accident. A terrorist who wanted to commit a dramatic
act of violence for ideological purposes brutally attacked Warrant
Officer Patrice Vincent, who died at the hands of a terrorist clearly
inspired by ISIL.
Earlier this week, on Monday evening, the sister of Warrant
Officer Patrice Vincent appeared before the committee to support the
measures proposed by our government to fight terrorism, and to
show us the dozens, hundreds, if not thousands of letters and
messages of support she has received not only from across Quebec
and Canada, but from around the world. Families have sent
handmade cards to show their support for Warrant Officer Patrice
Vincent's mother and entire family, who have been devastated by this
heinous crime. As Louise Vincent put it so well, an act of terrorism
touches more than just one community; it touches Canada as a
whole, and the entire world.
That is why we have a moral responsibility to take the necessary
measures to prevent something like this from ever happening again.
Since this was a terrorist-inspired attack, we clearly see the
relationship and the connection between the measures we are taking
here in Canada to fight the terrorist threat and the measures we are
taking in the Middle East to attack that hotbed of violence and
terrorism.
On October 22, Corporal Nathan Cirillo was murdered. As he
stood guard at the National War Memorial—the very symbol of the
sacrifice made by all the Canadians who served their country in
times of war in defence of peace and freedom—he was murdered by
another terrorist inspired by the extremist ideology of the Islamic
State. He was a target simply because he wore the uniform of the
Canadian Armed Forces in his own country, in times of peace, to
commemorate the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for their
homeland, for our homeland.
That is why Canada cannot stand on the sidelines, which is what
the Liberals and New Democrats would have us do in the face of this
threat. On the contrary, we are a partner of the free and democratic
countries against the Islamic State. We are a partner of this
international coalition to defend our rights, our freedoms and our
security here on Canadian soil.
It is important to combat terrorism abroad, but we must also
combat the ideologies that inspire people to radicalize and embrace
this violence, both here and abroad.
That is why our Minister of National Defence is participating,
with the international coalition, in efforts to degrade the Islamic
State's capabilities abroad. That is why our government is committed
to taking effective public safety measures to give our law
enforcement agencies and police forces the means to respond to
the evolving terrorist threat here in Canada. That is also why we
introduced a counterterrorism strategy more than two years ago,
which the New Democrats did not support. This strategy focuses on
preventing radicalization.
We must take concrete action before a criminal act takes place and
before young people become radicalized and want to travel abroad to
commit terrorist acts or, even worse, commit them here. This
strategy has four elements: prevent, detect, deny terrorists the
opportunity to act and respond to the terrorist threat.
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● (1250)
[English]
We also passed the Combating Terrorism Act, which made it
illegal to travel for terrorist purposes. This is an important legislation
to combat the recent phenomenon of western-based individuals,
including, unfortunately, a number of Canadians, who have become
radicalized and are seeking to travel to Iraq and Syria to fight with
the Islamic State.
However, we must go further, because as we speak, we do not
have the capability to prevent these individuals from boarding an
airplane if we have reason to believe that they are willing to commit
a terrorist attack. That is why the legislation before the House, the
anti-terrorism act, is to important.
I am more than open to answer questions, but we need to track
terrorists abroad and at home. That is why this government has a
coherent approach to target those who want to harm us here on
Canadian soil.
[Translation]
Ms. Françoise Boivin (Gatineau, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am
pleased to be able to ask the Minister of Public Safety and
Emergency Preparedness questions about government Motion No.
17.
I am very proud of my party's position. In our careers as
politicians, we may never be asked to make a decision more
important than the one we are making today. I take this role very
seriously. I always take exception when opposing positions are
attacked as being ridiculous or are belittled. That certainly does
nothing to elevate the debate.
That being said, the minister made a point of talking about
something he might be more familiar with in his role as the Minister
of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and that is
deradicalization, if I can put it that way. I am curious to know
whether in Motion No. 17, the minister sees any commitment by his
government to counter this radicalization on Canadian soil. I do not
see any such commitment in any part of the motion. No reference is
made to it whatsoever.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her
question. I believe it is important to refer to the facts in a debate.
When our government wanted to introduce a counterterrorism
strategy, the NDP opposed it. That is a fact. The votes are on the
record.
Likewise, the opposition did not support us when we wanted to
ensure that passports are revoked from people who travel abroad to
take part in terrorist activities, let alone when it came to revoking the
citizenship of those convicted of terrorist activities. Those are the
facts.
As we speak, my Conservative colleagues are listening to
evidence, such as that provided by Louise Vincent, the sister of
Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. This morning, we heard from the
representative of a Muslim association who supported Bill C-51.
That anti-terrorism bill contains a number of provisions to
improve our radicalization prevention measures. The NDP does not
want us to have effective tools to protect the public.
[English]
Ms. Linda Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, there do not seem to be that many people interested in
discussing this matter on the other side, but I appreciate the
opportunity after my learned colleague.
I listened intently when the Minister of National Defence spoke,
and similar to the issue that my colleague has just raised, the
Minister of Public Safety is saying that this motion also deals with
trying to prevent radicalization in this country, which seems to be
absent in the motion.
Another thing is absent in this motion. Even though the Minister
of National Defence started out by saying that the motion is all about
humanitarian aid, invoking our troops in military combat, there is
absolutely nothing in the motion that mentions humanitarian aid.
The minister spoke of supporting greater humanitarian aid to these
areas under strife and turmoil, which is appreciated. If the minister is
so strongly committed to what he has said, then it would follow that
he would support the amendments that we put forward that call for
greater engagement, such as Canada boosting humanitarian aid,
stabilizing neighbouring countries and strengthening political
institutions. Does the minister in fact support those measures that
we have put forward?
● (1255)
Hon. Steven Blaney: Mr. Speaker, there is a clear link between
terrorism that took place here and what is taking place in the Islamic
State. That is what my speech was all about.
It is because people here on our Canadian soil are inspired and
activated by this terrorist threat abroad. The core of the problem is
over there, and it is also here. That is why we have to work on both
fronts. Attacking one does not excuse not attacking the other.
We have seen Canadians willing to travel abroad. We have begun
to destroy and degrade the capability of ISIS with our allies. We
cannot stop halfway. We have to go on and continue with what we
have been successfully doing.
That is why the mission abroad is important. That is why our
actions here are important.
Mr. Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the
issue before this House right now is a serious one, an issue that raises
serious questions, and I think it gets to the heart of some of the most
important and profound subjects that can be debated in the House of
Commons.
We have the spectre of violent movements in the world, and that
spectre is real. It is serious. Acts of oppression, of kidnapping, of
rape, of ethnic and cultural targeting, of armed conflict and violence
are present all over the world.
We have ISIL in Iraq, Boko Haram in Nigeria, events in Ukraine,
civil war in Syria, recent conflicts in Israel and Gaza, tension in the
Caucasus between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and conflicts all over
Africa and in the second and third world.
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The government today is asking this Parliament and the Canadian
people to commit Canada to war in one of these conflicts. The
Conservatives assert that the acts of ISIL in Iraq are of such a nature
that war is the only reasonable response of Canada, and that ISIL in
Iraq represents a threat to Canadians here at home. I respectfully
disagree with these assertions.
I have been privileged to represent the good people of Vancouver
Kingsway in this House for the last seven years, and we debate many
important issues and have done so over that time, but in my view, no
issue is more important or warrants more serious scrutiny and
attention than discussion of committing our troops and committing
Canada to war.
I would like to start in my remarks with a review of some history.
The old adage that those who do not pay attention to history are
doomed to repeat it, I think, is time-tested and true. I will review
what has been the experience of the west in terms of western military
interventions in the Middle East.
Let us just take a brief synopsis of the last 30 years. In
Afghanistan in the 1980s, the United States armed the Taliban. At
that time the Taliban was the Americans' friend when it was
attacking the Soviets. It did not matter to the Americans at that time
that the Taliban's orthodoxy, doctrines, or dogma were oppressive,
misogynist, sexist, and culturally intolerant and insensitive. At that
time the United States armed it because they had a common mutual
enemy.
Then 9/11 happened. The U.S. demanded the Afghani government
deliver up what it believed were the perpetrators of 9/11 who had
been, in its view, hiding in Afghanistan. When the Afghani
government either could not or would not do so, the United States
and a coalition of western countries attacked Afghanistan, including
Canada.
Canada was mired in Afghanistan for 10 years. We lost well over
150 brave soldiers. Thousands more Canadian soldiers were injured,
traumatized to this day, and Canada spent billions of dollars in
Afghanistan.
What is Afghanistan like today? It is not a democracy. Tribal
divisions are intact. Opium production is at record levels. It is a
country that has been devastated, where western values have failed
to take root and in fact are rejected today as strongly as they have
ever been.
Let us talk about Libya. Just a few years ago in this House the
government stood here and said it had to commit Canadian Forces to
enforce a no-fly zone in Libya, and the opposition, despite what the
Minister of National Defence has erroneously told the Canadian
public, endorsed that mission. We warned, however, at that time that
we would not support a mission that morphed into a regime-change
one, and that is exactly what happened.
We committed to a mission that eventually resulted in the removal
of the Gadhafi regime in Libya, and what happened as a result of that
military intervention? The country descended into chaos, with
violence on an almost unprecedented level today. There is no
democracy, stability, justice, or rule of law in Libya today. I have not
heard the Conservatives say a word about the situation in Libya since
they urged the Canadian public to go to Libya to remove a despotic
government, and they have run away from accountability for those
actions.
● (1300)
We have the other example of Iraq. I have a feeling of déjà vu
today, because this is not the first time that a western country has
been asked to intervene in Iraq in a military manner. In 2003, the
United States led a coalition and attacked Iraq. This was based, as we
now know, on fabrications and outright deception. Iraq was accused
of importing yellow cake uranium from Africa to fuel its nuclear
program. It was accused of developing weapons of mass destruction.
American diplomats at the highest levels asserted that this was the
case. It turned out that these were outright lies, absolute fabrications.
Massive military force was unleashed on Iraq. Hundreds of
thousands of people were killed. Massive infrastructure damage
totalling in the billions of dollars was inflicted on Iraq. Regime
change occurred. Saddam Hussein was removed and replaced with
what the west said was a better government, the government of Mr.
Maliki. What happened after we installed him? There was brutal
oppression of minorities, corruption on a massive scale, no
democracy taking root, and a country shattered, divided, and
socially fractured.
As a result of massive bombing in 2003, which we said was going
to restore democracy, human rights, and the rule of law to Iraq,
where are we today in 2015? We have ISIL in Iraq. One could argue
that not only did military intervention not accomplish any of the
goals that always are the goals asserted at the beginning of a mission,
but they created the opposite situation. There was no ISIS or ISIL
back in 2003. There is today.
If bombing and military intervention is a way to make Iraq and
countries around that region safer and more conforming to western
norms, then that would have been the case after massive bombing
and military intervention occurred for eight years and eight months,
from 2003 to 2011. Thirty years of a western approach to countries
in the Middle East and that region based on violence, based on
military intervention, and based on deception, have resulted in only
one conclusion for anyone who is viewing the situation objectively:
an utter, absolute failure to meet any of the objectives that were
stated at the beginning of those missions. Worse, there is a complete
absence of accountability on behalf of governments like the
Canadian government, like the American government, or the British
government, who told the people of these countries that they should
be intervening in these countries to make their population safer. It
has made the world more dangerous.
What should Canada do? Canadians whom I talk to and represent
want a different foreign policy from that characterized by the current
government, different from the one characterized by war and military
intervention and demonizing and jingoistic exhortations to violence.
They want a Canada that resorts to our history, which characterizes
our foreign policy for most of our time as a country, where Canada
was a peacekeeper, where Canada was a peacemaker, where Canada
was regarded as an honest broker on the world stage, where Canada
was regarded as a fair dealer, where we practised diplomacy and took
a leadership role.
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There are other ways that Canada can be addressing this very
serious problem. We could shift Canada's warlike approach to one of
democracy building. We could help countries like Egypt, Iraq, Syria,
and Yemen develop democratic responsible governments that build
respectful rights-based societies. We can help these countries build
strong civil societies, assist with constitution making, help them
build public infrastructure, help them raise the educational levels of
their populations, help with poverty alleviation, provide economic
aid, and provide humanitarian assistance. These are the roles that
stand in contrast to the one being proposed to us here today, which
is, “Here is how we can help the people of Iraq: We will go in and
add more violence to a violent situation”. The biggest myth of all is
that this will make Canadians safer.
● (1305)
The truth is that we have not had one ISIL-inspired terrorist attack
on this soil yet, objectively; not one. However, if Canada commits to
force and starts bombing ISIL and ISIS positions in Iraq, it is a
matter of logic that it would increase the chances that those people
would feel entitled to take retributive action here in Canada.
To keep Canadians safe and to restore Canada to a position on the
world stage that Canadians want, I urge all members of this House to
reject this ill-conceived motion that is not based in fact and has even
less logic and principle behind it than any other motion I have seen
in this House.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
there is much to discuss about the motion that is before us today. I
know that I was really taken when the leader of the Liberal Party
emphasized how important it is for us to understand what is
happening in Syria, where the government is trying to move us into
taking action.
It was interesting when he cited that the United Nations is telling
us that, after four years of all-out war, more than 11 million Syrians
have been driven from their homes, which is over half the
population. Syrians are fleeing their country by the millions. He
said that this exodus of refugees is causing a terrible crisis. In five
years of combat, more than 210,000 Syrians have been killed,
including more than 10,000 children. This is something that the
leader of the Liberal Party brought to the House's attention in
addressing the motion.
The question I have for the member is this. Does he believe that
the government is even considering the many other options for a role
for Canada to play in assisting, let alone what is taking place in Syria
today?
Mr. Don Davies: Mr. Speaker, the short answer is no. I do not
believe that the government is seriously considering that.
I want to quote one of my constituents who wrote to me and who
answered that question directly. He wrote to me and said:
The “conservative” election propaganda is been unbundled and the Prime
Minister seems to be shifting his strategic emphasis from the economy to terrorism.
Prime Minister Harper is reported to have said that “Jihadi terrorism is one of the
most dangerous enemies our world has ever faced” and “a great evil has descended
on our world.” Does this alarming rhetoric sound familiar? Have we forgotten the
"axis of evil" speech by President Bush more than a decade ago?
Information and government actions are again being shaped to sell security and
military policies? In a democracy perception management is not a substitute for
government accountability and transparency? A discussion of the recent experience,
current objectives and policy options would better serve our democracy?
That was Dr. Robin Hanvelt who wrote to me.
The nub of what he is saying is that he, as a Canadian voter, is
perceiving that the current government is using the external threat of
ISIS and ISIL to shape the political debate in this country, not
coincidentally because we have an election coming up.
I do not think there is a real consideration, as my friend
suggested, of alternatives to deal with the real humanitarian issues
facing people in Syria and Iraq.
● (1310)
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): Before we go to
questions and comments, I will just remind all hon. members that it
is not permitted, of course, to use the names of other hon. members,
even when the names actually appear in something that the hon.
member might be citing in the course of his comments. I am sure the
hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway is aware of that; nonetheless,
those things do occur from time to time.
Questions and comments, the hon. member for Laurentides—
Labelle.
[Translation]
Mr. Marc-André Morin (Laurentides—Labelle, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, does my colleague believe that, by using the same
recipe in Syria as in Iraq, there is a slim chance that the outcome will
be different?
We are seeing what happens wherever this type of intervention has
been undertaken, like in Libya. Libya was freed from a horrible
dictator, and it is now under two dictatorships, one in Parliament and
one on a boat, off the coast. Libya is now the most unsafe country in
the entire region.
Is it not a bit ridiculous to imagine that the same recipe will yield a
different outcome?
[English]
Mr. Don Davies: Mr. Speaker, it is my view that we cannot bomb
a nation into changing its values. We cannot force a country by force
of arms to build a legitimate homegrown democracy or the rule of
law. If that were the case, then today we would have thriving
democracies in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, and Syria. We do not.
The truth is, after decades of military intervention, billions of
taxpayer dollars, and massive loss of life, we do not have democratic
regimes. We do not have peaceful societies. We do not have
harmonious countries. We do not have functioning countries in those
areas.
Just as a matter of fact and evidence, I would think this would be
enough to prove to the government that adding more bombing and
violence to the situation in Iraq, regardless of how serious the ISIL
situation is, is not an approach that is going to make anyone any
safer, not there or here.
Hon. Julian Fantino (Associate Minister of National Defence,
CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand in the House to speak on an
issue that is of grave importance to Canadians and to free and
democratic societies.
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Today's debate on Canada's role in the international effort to
combat ISIL is, indeed, an important one. As we all know, ISIL is,
simply put, a group of inhuman barbarians. It exists to create havoc
and to infringe on global security from the Middle East to right here
at home. It is a threat to basic humanity and is a murderous threat to
even innocent children.
The opposition does not want to stand up to this barbaric
organization motivated by a culture of brutality and murder. Listen to
the words of the NDP leader only last week on this very issue. He
stated:
[T]here's no reason for us to be involved....
Although no one’s trying to understate the horrors of what’s occurring there, the
question is, “Is that Canada’s fight?”
I take exception to these comments from the opposition that pay
more lip service than actual contribution to dealing with the horrors
ISIL has wrought, especially on the most innocent of them all, that
being children.
Canada cannot simply stand by as ISIL barbarians slaughter
innocent men, women, and children. As it collects women and
children as sex slaves and breeds terrorism globally, as we have seen
right here on Canadian soil, the leader of the NDP loudly proclaims
that this is not Canada's fight. However, throughout our history,
Canada has stood up when peace, safety, and security were
threatened. As a nation, we have always been deeply committed to
defending freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
I know it will be uncomfortable for some to hear, but I want the
House to fully understand the evil we are actually dealing with. It is
all too easy in this debate to consider a mission against ISIL in the
abstract, to forget the unspeakable crimes against humanity
committed by this radicalized group. That is why I am going to
speak of the unspeakable. For that, I will refer to the February 2015
report of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child
entitled, “Concluding observations on the combined second to fourth
periodic reports of Iraq”. I will quote from that report, which states:
● (1315)
Renate Winter, the well-respected international judicial expert
who founded the International Institute for the Rights of the Child, is
an expert who helped draft the United Nations report. I ask the
opposition to hear her words. She stated:
We are really deeply concerned at torture and murder of those children, especially
those belonging to minorities, but not only from minorities. The scope of the problem
is huge.
Ms. Winter went on to say:
We have had reports of children, especially children who are mentally
challenged, who have been used as suicide bombers, most probably without them
even understanding.
Mentally challenged children have been used as suicide bombers
and other children have been tortured mercilessly. I know that many
members of this House have been blessed to have children of their
own, and some, like me, have grandchildren. We must think of our
own children and our own grandchildren being tortured, sold as
slaves, forced to be suicide bombers, raped, and murdered. That is
the stark reality of what ISIL is doing as we speak.
We can look at what ISIL did in places like Ar-Raqqah last May.
We can look at the photos of people being crucified or decapitated.
We can think about the Yezidis, a peaceful religious minority group
in a mountain town that was targeted and surrounded by ISIL until
its members faced starvation, dehydration, and eventually death.
Some escaped, but many did not.
We can look at the many videos of the beheadings ISIL has
produced and posted widely for all to see, such as of James Foley, a
freelance journalist, who had his head sawed off as the ISIL
barbarians cheered. We can watch the more recent videos of ISIL
beheading 21 Coptic Christians on the shores of Tripoli. This is the
reality of the ISIL terror we all face.
The Committee abhors and condemns the targeted and brutal killings of children
by the so-called ISIL and in particular: (a) The systematic killing of children
belonging to religious and ethnic minorities by the so-called ISIL, including several
cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings and crucifixions of
children and the burying of children alive....
Does the NDP not think this is Canada's fight? I suggest that it is.
Everyone is disgusted and repulsed by these acts performed by a
death cult of barbaric thugs with no moral compass. Why would the
NDP have Canada stand by and do nothing?
The report further goes further to state that there are a high number
of children who have been abducted by the so-called ISIL:
Even though I have spent over 40 years in law enforcement
combatting the worst criminals and witnessing horrific crimes, I can
only begin to grasp the destruction and havoc created by ISIL.
Families have been murdered and destroyed. Mothers' hearts have
been broken. Children have been buried alive.
...many of whom are severely traumatized from witnessing the murder of their
parents and are subjected to physical and sexual assault.
Let those words sink in: beheadings, crucifixions, and burying
children alive. Again, I ask the opposition, should Canada simply
stand by on preventing these horrendous acts committed against
children and not consider it Canada's fight?
I ask the opposition to read this United Nations report. I ask it to
fully grasp the inhumane and deplorable acts ISIL has committed,
acts such as, quoting again directly from the report:
...the continuing sexual enslavement of children since the emergence of the socalled ISIL, in particular of children belonging to minority groups who are held
by the so-called ISIL. It notes with the utmost concern the “markets” set up by
ISIL, in which they sell abducted children and women attaching price tags to
them; and the sexual enslavement of children detained in makeshift prisons of
ISIL....
Canada has a duty, and indeed a responsibility, to confront this
evil alongside our growing list of allies from all regions of the globe,
a coalition, of which Canada has been very much a part, that to date
has halted the advance of ISIL, regained strategic territory, and
significantly degraded ISIL's capabilities.
The opposition would take an isolationist stand. The opposition
has claimed that this is a distant threat, not Canada's concern or
problem. However, that is not the case here. From the great wars to
the Canadian peacekeeping missions in places like Rwanda, the
Congo, and elsewhere, Canada has stood up to terror.
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I would also remind Canadians of the attacks and threats made by
ISIL against Canada right here at home. Warrant Officer Patrice
Vincent was killed by a violent jihadist in Quebec, and Corporal
Nathan Cirillo was murdered point blank here in Ottawa.
Make no mistake: the international jihadi movement, ISIL, has
declared war on Canada. As a government, it is our moral duty to
protect Canadians from those who would do us harm. To sit on the
sidelines is to let evil thrive.
I hope the opposition will join our government in support of this
mission. However, with or without the support of the Liberals and
the NDP, we will confront this evil and protect the safety and
security of Canadians. Our government is proud of the work done by
our brave men and women in uniform. We will continue to support
them as we continue to fight this evil.
● (1320)
Ms. Françoise Boivin (Gatineau, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I resent
the expression from the minister that the NDP stands for nothing on
the situation.
I read the amendments that were proposed by our foreign affairs
critic carefully. Here are just a few:
...boost humanitarian aid in areas where there would be immediate, life-saving
impact, including assisting refugees with basic shelter and food needs;
....work with our allies in the region to stabilize neighbouring countries,
strengthen political institutions and assist these countries in coping with an influx
of refugees;
...contribute to the fight against ISIL, including military support for the
transportation of weapons;
...provide assistance to investigation and prosecution of war crimes;
...increase assistance for the care and resettlement of refugees impacted by this
conflict;
...work to prevent the flow of foreign fighters, finances, and resources to ISIL, in
accordance with our international obligations under United Nations Security
Council Resolutions 2170, 2178, and 2199;
...put forward a robust plan of support for communities and institutions working
on de-radicalization and counter-radicalization;
Are all these nothing in the eyes of the minister?
Hon. Julian Fantino: Mr. Speaker, if the NDP is really serious
about fulfilling the responsibilities that we as Canadians have toward
countering this very serious threat that is in fact also targeting
Canada and Canadians, they should join with us and champion this
work. We could all feel that much better for our collective
involvement here.
Just to be specific on the issue of humanitarian aid, Canada is
already doing a great deal of work in that particular area. It is a twopronged approach, involving both military support and humanitarian
aid. The military components allow for the aid to flow to more areas
and allow for more accountability and security. That, of course, is
what aid workers need. We cannot help these people in need with
this threat looming over their heads.
● (1325)
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
was listening with interest to the minister's remarks. I was very
disappointed that it was really a long list of graphic atrocities.
Yes, we understand those atrocities are happening, but we are
trying to have a debate in this country, a debate that educates people
as to the complexities of the situation, a debate that educates people
as to what is in the Canadian interest, what is good public policy, and
what the ways are that Canada can contribute.
The minister wants to just narrow this down to the Conservative
playbook, which, in a previous bill with a previous minister, was
called “You are with us or you are with the child pornographers.”
Canadians do not buy that kind of simplistic rhetoric, and I would
appreciate it if the minister could discuss the importance of the
diplomatic efforts to bring people together in this region so that there
is respect for minority communities as ISIL is removed from areas.
As to the ethnic cleansing that has happened in some of those
areas, how can that be stopped through the good work of the
government and the minister's departmental officials in the
Department of Foreign Affairs?
Hon. Julian Fantino: Mr. Speaker, none of these things are
mutually exclusive.
As I indicated earlier, we are operating on the humanitarian front
very actively and every effectively, to the extent that we can.
However, until such time as the threat of terrorism and the atrocities
and inhumanities that are taking place in that part of the country are
stopped, the effort and impact will be greatly diminished.
We are not alone. From what I understand, most Canadians are on
side. Let me read a quote:
The Conference of Defence Associations welcomes the government's decision to
extend the military mission against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
They go on to say:
ISIL represents a direct threat to Canadian national security since it has singled
out Canada as an enemy and urged its members and supporters to kill Westerners,
military and civilian alike. The group also serves as an inspiration for lone-wolf
terrorist attacks, such as those committed....
here in Ottawa and of course in Quebec.
Mr. Craig Scott (Toronto—Danforth, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
would like to begin by pointing out what I think is obvious for many
here. The position that the Prime Minister has taken for the last
couple of days in the House suggests a serious continuity with the
position he took in 2003. He was one of the cheerleaders and
apologists for George W. Bush's decision to engage in a manifestly
illegal and profoundly stupid invasion of Iraq.
There were two cheerleaders of note at that time. One was south
of the border and became the leader of the Liberal Party. That was
Michael Ignatieff. He was immediately recruited by the Liberal elites
to become the anointed one. The other was the current Prime
Minister. He did not give a hoot then about international law, and he
does not now.
All we have to do is look at is the contemptuous response he gave
in the House yesterday to the Leader of the Opposition. In the end,
what the Prime Minister is telling us is “What I say is the law.” That
is how he is used to running—and, frankly, ruining—this
parliamentary democracy.
[Translation]
“I am King. I am the law.”
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[English]
That is the Prime Minister.
We then heard from the Minister of Foreign Affairs today. It was a
more measured speech, but at the same time, he slipped. He started
saying that if we vote against this motion, we are “voting against”
our own soldiers. This kind of argumentation, this kind of attempt to
suggest that any concerns about wisdom—and, in this case,
lawfulness—is somehow beneath debate in the House of Commons
is destructive of our democracy. We talk about a goal of degrading
ISIL, ISIS, the Islamic State or whatever it is called, and at the same
time we are engaging in debate that helps to degrade democratic
discourse in the House of Commons.
One thing that is obvious from the last two days is that the
government, or at least the ministers, did not have a clue about what
the legal basis would be that they were going to be putting forward.
They had not bothered to clarify in their own minds what it was.
Their answers were all over the map in the House. Yesterday they
were scrambling to cross their t's and dot their i's because they finally
acknowledged that if they were going to be following the American
model, the justification would be one of collective self-defence of
Iraq, for which they need an invitation from Iraq. We will see
whether that gets backdated, because there is no invitation from Iraq
to go into Syria at the moment. They will also need to write a letter
to the UN in the way that the U.S. did in order to go into Syria on
September 23, 2014.
What that suggests is that legality is an afterthought. Not knowing
and not reading whatever legal opinion they purport to have in order
to know how they are allowed to go into Syria, so as to then know
what the purpose of the mission can be in law, suggests that it does
not matter to them. They are going in for other reasons.
Some of the reasons might be very good ones, in the sense that
there is this visceral response to the brutality of ISIS. The imagery
from the former minister is of that ilk. The government is mixing in
justifications about how maybe this is actually a humanitarian
intervention, although I have not heard the government give that as
the legal basis. It is also on that side.
Frankly, there is also just politics. The government wants to go in
for reasons that have as much to do with electoral politics as they do
with the actual need for Canada to be involved in this way, especially
by extending the mission to Syria.
We debated this question back in early October. At the time, the
motion that was passed by the House included Syria. We knew that it
did. It was clear, and there was a condition set by the Prime Minister
that Canada would not extend its active mission, particularly the
bombing part of it, without the consent of the government of Syria,
namely Assad.
The U.S. had already put out its legal rationale for going into Syria
a full two to three weeks before, on September 23, 2014. Surely any
competent Canadian government and its advisers would know what
that rationale was by the time we had the debate in the House, yet the
only legal basis that the government put forward then for going into
Syria was one of the consent of the Syrian government. No mention
was ever made of the U.S. rationale.
Was that because the government had legal advice from somewhere within the government that the U.S. rationale was dubious, or
even not valid? If so, how the government went about getting a legal
opinion that it liked a lot better is a question that has to be asked.
Maybe there is a hint. Newspaper reports suggests that it was the
Judge Advocate General, based in the Department of National
Defence, who gave that legal opinion.
● (1330)
It is one, of course, we are never going to see, because the current
government will raise the bogus argument of solicitor-client
privilege as the reason we cannot see the legal opinion. However,
the Judge Advocate General has no business giving legal opinions
on ius ad bellum, the use of military force as set out in general public
international law. That is the role of the legal adviser to the
Department of Foreign Affairs, who in every other government and
every other Westminster system would be the one giving the
opinion.
The question is begged: did the legal adviser give an opinion back
in September and October? Was it favourable to the government? If
so, why do we not know about it? If it was not favourable to the
government, is that why the Department of National Defence has
inserted itself and overridden the Department of Foreign Affairs in
its proper role of advising the government on the lawfulness of going
to war?
These are questions we have to ask. I would remind members that
we have asked them and will continue to ask them. We will want to
see the legal opinions. It is not for the sake of legality itself, but in
order to know what the government sees as the basis for going in and
to be able to hold the government to account for the reasons given,
under law. It is also in order to be critical, to scrutinize, and have
others who are also experts say “case made” or “case not made”.
The fact is that unless the government changes its ways, it is going
to say, “Sorry, solicitor-client privilege”, which is so bogus. First of
all, the client is the government. Second, this is the ultimate public
interest. There is nothing reasonably confidential in what the
government hears about whether it can go to war that cannot be
shared, not just with Parliament but with Canadians as a whole.
Therefore, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs here in the House,
I do ask him to make sure that any legal opinion that has been
received by the government is tabled, and tabled forthwith.
I will briefly go over the three kinds of legal justifications that
have been circulating.
One is that when things are finally clarified, it is beginning to look
like the government realizes that for the Americans, the primary
justification is one of collective self-defence of Iraq. Not surprisingly, the U.S. needed Iraq to request it to defend itself against
whatever threat it sees coming from Syria. This is based on a very
tenuous theory that does not have firm grounding in international
law, possibly not even firm grounding in emerging international law:
the safe haven theory.
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The safe haven theory is that if another state is incapable or
unwilling to eradicate safe havens from which non-state groups like
ISIS are crossing the border into another state, that state can attack at
will in order to deal with the threat. The fact is that the leading
judgment in international law on this point, from the International
Court of Justice in the Nicaragua case in the mid-1980s, specifically
said that it is not a basis for exercising the right of collective selfdefence.
The leading definition set out by the United Nations in 1974, the
Definition of Aggression, does talk about a scenario like this, a
scenario of non-state groups crossing borders to attack another state.
It is not as if this issue has not arisen. However, the issue is whether
another state is sending, by or on behalf of that state, or is
substantially involved in sending, armed groups across the border.
That does trigger a right of self-defence.
People have cited the 9/11 response. After the towers came down,
after that brutal terrorist attack on New York, the response was to go
into Afghanistan. People said the attack meant that we can go after
any safe haven in response to a non-state terrorist attack.
That is absolutely wrong. At the time, everybody thought and
understood that al Qaeda and the Taliban government of Afghanistan
were so interpenetrated that any al Qaeda attack was, in effect, one
that had the substantial involvement of the Taliban government. That
was the basis on which self-defence was exercised, and nobody
objected at the time. However, to stretch that into this broader theory
requires seeing the legal opinions. Maybe the law has marched on.
Despite being a public international lawyer, maybe I have not
watched enough in the last five years to know it has, but we need to
see to know.
The last thing floating out there, especially coming out of the
mouth of the Minister of National Defence, is the idea of a George
Bush-style GWOT, a global war on terror. It is the idea that all that is
needed is a threat by a non-state group to allow a state to go around
the world bombing, whether with drones or airplanes, if another state
is somehow or other not doing the job that this state says needs to be
done.
The wording of the motion actually plays exactly into that idea,
because the new motion—as my colleague, the critic for foreign
affairs, brought up earlier today—specifically says that it is not just
against ISIS but ISIS allies, which include, for example, Boko
Haram in Nigeria.
● (1335)
It also says that the actions Canada can take “include” air strikes
in Iraq and Syria. It does not create an exclusive list. There are good
reasons the official opposition is asking for legal clarity and to see
the legal opinions.
Hon. Rob Nicholson (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, I listened with interest to the comments of my colleague. At
one point he said there was something from National Defence
overriding Foreign Affairs on these things. These things are done
collectively. We are given advice and we are on firm legal footing.
It was of interest to me what he said with respect to solicitor-client
privilege. Yes, the government does get legal advice. I think he
described it as bogus, but I would suggest to him that the concept of
solicitor-client privilege actually underpins our collective legal
system in the country and it is extremely important.
That being said, we have been very clear with respect to article 51
of the UN charter. We have indicated we are on the same legal basis.
Iraq has asked for international assistance and we are going to do
that.
● (1340)
Mr. Craig Scott: Mr. Speaker, first, the hon. minister is a lawyer.
He knows that the solicitor-client privilege can be waived by the
client. The analogy between private sector solicitor-client privilege
and advice the government receives, especially on a question of
going to war, is completely inapposite and he knows it.
Second, the government has not been clear. No one on that side
could articulate for two days that they were acting in accordance
with article 51 of the UN charter. There was so much scrambling
going on behind the scenes, it was actually embarrassing.
The last thing is, the minister can reconstruct government relations
all he wants but having an opinion from the Department of National
Defence, if the newspaper reports are true, that the judge advocate
general, as the minister who is now in the House has said, is the one
who has given the go-ahead advice, is completely inappropriate
unless there is parallel advice coming from the legal adviser of the
Department of Foreign Affairs. If there is, we would like to see that
opinion.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): I would just remind
hon. members that they should try to avoid references to the absence
or presence of other hon. members in the House as a general matter
of routine.
Questions and comments, the hon. member for Vancouver
Quadra.
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
was interested in the member's comments and his focus on the legal
basis for the proposed mission. In fact, in my earlier remarks I made
the point right up front that the mission and the motion failed to meet
the test of whether they are in the national interest or not. That test
failed because the mission has an unclear legal basis, unclear mission
objectives and an open-ended scope, which means we could be
embroiled for a very long time in a mission that does not have a clear
plan or exit strategy.
I want to focus on unclear mission objectives. The member is I am
sure aware that the Minister of Defence is saying the objective is to
defeat and eliminate ISIL, whereas theMinister of Foreign Affairs is
saying the objective is to degrade ISIL, which is a far different
objective. Does the member have any comment about the
effectiveness of a mission in which the two ministers have totally
different views on what the point of the mission is in the first place?
Mr. Craig Scott: Mr. Speaker, I do not have any particular views
other than to say a well set up question is asked and answered. Both
ministers I am sure are capable of dealing with the conflict that exists
between their rationales.
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However, it goes back to the fact that, again, the government is
content with wholesale, feel-good arguments in the sense of, let us
lash out and attack brutal terrorists. It feels good to all of us. Who
does not want to do that? That is the bottom line kind of justification
they are getting to. Then, when they are really going for the moral
impulse, they talk about all of the brutality. It is correct to be talking
about that, but they are not linking it to any specific legal
justification either.
All I am asking for, truly, is straightforward clarity. That will also
come with seeing the legal opinions, although the government is
rather afraid of the legal profession in this country. It is afraid of law
professors who give opinions on Bill C-51, for example. It is
disdainful of the Canadian Bar Association. I rather doubt it would
want to see its legal opinion subject to the scrutiny of other experts.
Ms. Lois Brown (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
International Development, CPC): Mr. Speaker, that we are again
discussing Iraq speaks to the gravity of the current situation and to
the reality of the struggle that many Iraqis are facing. As the socalled terrorist group ISIL attempts to spread its flawed ideology
across Iraq and the country's civilians who stand in the crosshairs.
They are targets, unfairly victimized by a group whose only rule is to
be ruthless.
We know that ISIL is waging a campaign of terror in Iraq and
across the region, preying on the vulnerable to advance its alleged
cause and doing so with wanton disregard for any and all who dare
stand in its way. This group is morally reprehensible, one that
willfully kills innocent children, that murders humanitarian workers
and innocent journalists just to make a point and that uses rape as a
weapon of war.
It is a group that we must continue to take steps to confront and to
degrade, in order to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East
and to protect global security, but also, to lessen the incredible
burden that has been so unfairly placed upon Iraqi civilians. They are
the ones living on the front line of this conflict, the people whose
lives have been turned upside down as ISIL has captured vast
stretches of territory from the Syrian border in the northwest to the
outskirts of Baghdad.
I want to focus on that, on the humanitarian aspects of this crisis
and on the role that Canada is playing to help Iraq's children and its
terrified mothers and fathers find the relief and safety they so
desperately seek. Armed clashes have driven displacement, causing
the humanitarian situation in Iraq to rapidly deteriorate. When such
violence erupts, not only does it force masses of people to flee their
homes and communities, it creates havoc in the entire country.
Businesses have trouble operating. People lose their jobs. Food
production and clean water services are disrupted. Normal supply
routes are blocked. Families are separated and they suffer
tremendous shock, especially when losing a parent, a child, a
sibling or a friend. They are left to grieve amidst the turmoil of their
own circumstances which for many has included fleeing homes,
villages and the familiarity of everyday life. There has been concern
that children will fall behind in their education because of the
disruptions caused by the conflicts and displacements.
Canada is actively working with partners to address children's
needs. To date, we have contributed $8 million to UNICEF's no lost
generation initiative in Iraq, which is providing education and
protection assistance to conflict-affected children. We are also
working through experienced partners such as Save the Children and
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help provide
child-friendly environments for displaced children and to give them
the psychosocial support they need. Although conflict is a disruptive
force in the lives of children, we must do everything possible to see
that their education continues. Education is essential in Iraq right
now. It gives children and youth a sense of normalcy, stability and
structure. When schools are open, they are places for children to free
their minds of the anxiety of war and instead focus on the pursuit of
knowledge and improving their skills.
For most Canadians, the situation in Iraq is simply unimaginable.
Canadians will say that the actions we have undertaken in response
to this crisis are a direct reflection of their own values and of their
understanding that a country like ours cannot possibly stand idle
while millions of Iraqi civilians are suffering.
● (1345)
Since the beginning of the crisis, Canada has committed $67.4
million in humanitarian assistance for conflict-affected Iraqis. In
addition, we have provided $9.5 million to respond to the needs of
approximately 215,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq. This makes us the
fifth-largest donor in response to this crisis. These funds have been
provided to United Nations agencies, the International Red Cross
movement and non-government organizations to provide life-saving
assistance to those who are most in need. In the last six months, we
have helped feed 1.7 million people, provide shelter and relief
supplies to 1.25 million people and helped with education for half a
million children.
Canada's assistance is also supporting organizations that are
responding to incidents of sexual and gender-based violence by
establishing safe places, providing psychosocial support, specialized
health services, case management, community outreach and other
services to up to 35,000 women and children. In addition, Canadian
contributions include $10 million to strengthen accountability for
sexual and gender-based violence crimes and support victims and
additional programming to protect the rights of religious minorities
in Iraq and in the region.
Religious persecution of those seeking to practise their faith in a
peaceful and secure way is unacceptable to Canada, and we are
supporting efforts to assist in the protection of these rights. Through
all these actions on the humanitarian front, Canada is showing it
stands by the people of Iraq. We will continue to look for more ways
to respond to the needs of all Iraqis.
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In June, Canada established a bilateral development program to
address short-term needs and to support resilience and prosperity in
Iraq over the long term. This bilateral program will enable
communities to cope with increased demand for basic services
including water, sanitation and health services; mitigate the negative
economic implications; and sustain institutional capacities through
this protracted crisis. Canada recognizes that without resilience and
hope for a more prosperous future, Iraqi communities will continue
to struggle with instability. However, the world must unite to
confront and downgrade the ISIL threat. Canada is contributing to
the allied effort in order to do just that and to bring some normalcy
and stability back to the lives of Iraqi people.
In summary, the military measures we are taking against ISIL do
not in any way preclude humanitarian actions. There is no either/or.
Canada is the fifth-largest country donor in the humanitarian
response to the crisis in Iraq and the sixth-largest donor in Syria.
Security on the ground is absolutely essential to providing
humanitarian assistance. Degrading the capabilities of ISIL is key
to achieving this, while accessing those most in need.
It is concerning to me that the Liberals and the New Democrats
failed to acknowledge the real threat posed to Canada by ISIL and
the jihadi terrorism. Both leaders had an opportunity to speak to the
threat ISIL poses to Canadians, and they opted for partisan attacks
over serious dialogue. As I mentioned earlier, it is often innocent
civilians in Iraq who are the victims of ISIL, and the focus of my
remarks has dealt with Canada's humanitarian response to the crisis.
However, ISIL has made clear that it targets, by name, Canada and
Canadians.
We cannot protect Canada by simply choosing to ignore this
threat. We will not sit on the sidelines, as the Liberals and the New
Democrats would have us do. I will be voting in favour of this
motion, and I encourage all members of this House to do the same.
● (1350)
[Translation]
Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault (Sherbrooke, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
thank the hon. member for her speech. However, since she spoke
after my colleague from Toronto—Danforth, who eloquently
expressed his views on the lawfulness of Canada's action in
extending its mission into Syria, I was expecting her to address my
colleague's concerns in her remarks.
Could she then at least answer the question about the lawfulness
of this intervention, which will now extend into Syria, with respect
to international law? Can she answer these questions, which are not
only on my mind but also on the minds of most of my colleagues in
the House and of most Canadians?
[English]
Ms. Lois Brown: Mr. Speaker, I believe the Minister of Foreign
Affairs responded directly to that question. We are working with
allies from around the world, some five dozen countries that have put
their efforts toward degrading the ISIS threat to the world.
I spoke to the humanitarian initiatives that Canada is taking. We
cannot continue to put humanitarian assistance into a place where the
lives of the very people who are trying to deliver it are threatened.
This brutal group of people, ISIL, have taken the most barbaric
threats to the people of Iraq and Syria. We have seen them use rape
as a weapon of war. We see them beheading people before our very
eyes.
We have a responsibility to help. Canada will do everything it can.
● (1355)
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
listened to the member's speech with great interest and appreciated
her focus on humanitarian matters.
She could not help herself from adding to the long laundry list of
graphic visuals about brutality and barbarity, of which the opposition
members are very well aware, and agree that ISIL poses a threat to
security internationally and in Canada. We also agree that we need to
be part of the coalition addressing this ISIL threat.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer has released a report today. As
we are debating sending our air force to bomb Syria, the government
is being warned that the Conservatives have not booked enough
money to fund our military over the coming years.
Does the member support asking the men and women in uniform
to do increasingly dangerous work with fewer resources? I do not
think Canadians want to see that.
Ms. Lois Brown: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for making
reference to the PBO's document. What he indicated in that
document was that the greatest cuts to our military came under the
13 years of the Liberal administration.
We have done an enormous amount to catch up. It was the
Liberals who sent our military into Afghanistan wearing jungle
uniforms, not wearing desert uniforms, making our military a direct
target for the opposition in Afghanistan.
We have built our military through skills development and
through equipment. We have committed enormous amounts of
money to our military. We stand behind the great men and women of
our service and we thank them for the tremendous job they are doing
every day.
Hon. Erin O'Toole (Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, I always enjoy my colleague from Newmarket—Aurora
speaking in the House. She brings her passion and experience, and
particularly her work on international development.
One of the most important parts of the Prime Minister's speech in
the House earlier this week was showing Canadians that this was not
a choice between either Canada working alongside our allies and
stopping terror or choosing to do humanitarian assistance and aid.
Canada, from the very beginning of this crisis, has been involved
in both. In fact, we have been a leader in providing aid, humanitarian
assistance, working with expanding refugee populations. Canada has
a proud tradition of being willing to fight alongside our allies on
principle, but also, importantly, administering aid and humanitarian
assistance alongside that.
Could my colleague elaborate on our leadership in that regard?
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Ms. Lois Brown: Mr. Speaker, Canada has been the leader. As I
said earlier, though, getting humanitarian aid into the most
vulnerable places and to the most vulnerable people needs the
security that we can offer through our military.
I ask the House to join me in encouraging Canadians to learn more
about epilepsy to build greater understanding of the challenges faced
by people living with it.
A few examples of some of the things we have generously
donated to assist are: 1.5 million people receiving food assistance;
1.26 million people receiving shelter and essential household items,
such as hygiene kits, cooking materials, jerry cans and blankets; and
500,000 internationally displaced people and host community
children accessing education opportunities.
***
Canada will continue to work with our allies. We will continue to
assess the situation daily.
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
WORLD THEATRE DAY
Mr. Gordon Brown (Leeds—Grenville, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
today is World Theatre Day and worldwide people are celebrating
live theatre in their communities.
Live theatre creates energy and spirit. It is a catalyst for ideas,
understanding, creativity and economic development. It helps us
look at ourselves and better understand who we are as it explores the
meaning and value in our lives.
[English]
CANADIAN BLOOD SERVICES
Mr. Wladyslaw Lizon (Mississauga East—Cooksville, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I was proud to partner with Canadian Blood Services to
host a blood donor clinic at the Heartland Town Centre in
Mississauga.
As the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres messenger
Mieko Ouchi says in part:
Drama shows us again and again that we are made up of many selves and wear
many different identities....any place that even a single performer and a single
audience member can gather, theatre can offer a potent and powerful moment of
communion and connection for the performers and viewers watching the same
human experience acted out before them. That is what theatre does best.
During a special ceremony, we heard a moving presentation from
Vinesha Ramasamy, a courageous young woman who is a cancer
survivor and blood recipient. There were tears in so many eyes when
Vinesha looked toward those as they were donating blood and
personally offered her thanks to them for giving the gift of life. She
thanked Debbie, who bravely made her first donation; Ernie, who
was giving his 75th donation; and Robert for his 100th blood
donation. I also rolled up my sleeve. One must lead by example.
I wish to congratulate all those who work in theatre, including
those at the Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque and at the St.
Lawrence Shakespeare Festival in Prescott, in my riding of Leeds—
Grenville, as they celebrate World Theatre Day.
I am proud to say that a total of 33 units of blood were collected
on that day, which is estimated to save the lives of 99 patients. I
encourage all members of the House and all Canadians who are able
to donate blood to give the gift of life.
CONGREGATION BETH SHALOM
***
● (1400)
EPILEPSY
Mr. Murray Rankin (Victoria, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I rise
because it is Purple Day, a day that has been recognized all over the
world when we come together to support people living with epilepsy.
More than 300,000 Canadians are living with epilepsy and over
15,000 people learn each year that they have it. It is believed that the
number of Canadians living with this disorder is even higher, but due
to prejudice and stigma, many people are reluctant to seek treatment.
We must remember to lend our support to people living with
epilepsy everyday, in the workplace, in social settings and at home.
Let these purple ribbons and our purple clothes be a launching point
for discussions, questions, compassion and acceptance.
I would also like to recognize the work of Epilepsy Canada, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of what epilepsy is
and raising funds to support people living with this condition and
research into treatment.
***
Hon. Mauril Bélanger (Ottawa—Vanier, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
rise today to express my solidarity with a venerable Ottawa—Vanier
institution, Congregation Beth Shalom, which has been located in
the core of Ottawa, at Chapel and Rideau Streets, for almost 60 years
now. It still remains very active, dynamic and open to all ages.
On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, I congratulated the
congregation for embracing a vision shared by many of us that
Canada is an open, pluralistic and democratic society. Now a
decision has been made with a great deal of thought that the shul will
relocate to the Soloway Jewish Community Centre in the western
part of the city.
The Torah is the most sacred text read on a weekly basis. Because
the Torah are so sacred, they need to be handled and transported with
the utmost of respect. Therefore, the congregation is organizing a
relay walk from Chapel Street to Broadview Avenue on Sunday,
March 29.
Although I regret its departure, I will have the privilege of walking
with the congregation in a spirit of appreciation and respect.
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HUNTERS AND ANGLERS
Mr. Robert Sopuck (Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette,
CPC): Mr. Speaker, as chair of the Conservative hunting and
angling caucus, I have had the honour of meeting with hunting and
angling groups from across Canada. Hunters and anglers were
Canada's first environmentalists, and that conservation legacy lives
on to this day.
I have visited many hunter-supported conservation projects in all
regions of Canada, and I am amazed at the dedication and
effectiveness of hunting and angling groups in creating conservation
projects that deliver real conservation results.
This view was confirmed by a recent Cornell University study that
looked at the contributions of hunters to conservation. The study
noted:
—hunters were more likely than non-recreationists to enhance land for wildlife,
donate to conservation organizations and advocate for wildlife—all actions that
significantly impact conservation success.
The study went on to label hunters as “conservation superstars”
and concluded that “The more time we spend in nature, the more
likely we are to protect it”.
Hunter and angler conservation projects benefit all society through
the conservation of biodiversity, improving water quality and
enhancing the health of ecosystems.
***
● (1405)
TROUT LAKE YOUTH COUNCIL
Mr. Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
recently I had the privilege of meeting with the Trout Lake Youth
Council. Led by coordinator Bernie Dionne , the council comprises
some 80 students in grades 8 through 12 from Gladstone,
Windermere, and Vancouver Technical secondary schools in
Vancouver.
These outstanding young people meet every week in Vancouver
Kingsway and are dedicated to helping our community. They
adopted John Hendry Park and committed to leading a community
cleanup once a month. They organized an electronics recycling
pickup and doubled what all other city sites combined have done.
They volunteered at the community centre's Family Day event,
which drew 2,500 parents and children to a full day of activities.
They invite speakers on a variety of topics to expand their
knowledge and to connect with community leaders.
At a time when Canada needs leadership and citizen engagement,
this outstanding group of young people is setting an example for us
all. On behalf of the Parliament of Canada, I want to thank the
fantastic members of the Trout Lake Youth Council.
***
BATTLE OF VIMY RIDGE
Mr. Brian Storseth (Westlock—St. Paul, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it
is with great honour that on April 11, I will be marching down the
main street of St. Paul with the Mallaig Army Cadets in
commemoration of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
As members know, the Battle of Vimy Ridge was significant not
only for its military contribution to World War I. This battle marked
the first time that all four Canadian divisions, comprising troops
from across the country, fought as a cohesive unit. It is this image of
national unity and triumph that gives the battle importance to
Canadians. The Battle of Vimy Ridge was essentially the event that
came to symbolize Canada's coming of age as a nation. For this we
honour the men who fought and are eternally grateful to those who
lost their lives that April of 1917 in France.
The people of St. Paul dedicate April 11 to remembering the great
sacrifice made by those soldiers who fought to end the Great War
and bring peace to the world. The Lakeland region has always been
proud of Canada's exceptional military past. Our brave soldiers, past,
present, and future, are a symbol of the great achievement and
sacrifice that defines this great nation.
***
FIRST ROBOTICS CANADA COMPETITION
Mrs. Pat Perkins (Whitby—Oshawa, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I rise
today to recognize and congratulate the partnership between FIRST
Robotics Canada, Durham College, and the University of Ontario
Institute of Technology on their successful semi-final robotics
competition, which attracted over 47 teams of students from Canada
and the United States as well as over 3,000 spectators.
FIRST Canada's partnership with Durham College and UOIT
allowed both visiting and local competitors to be inspired and
engaged with robotics and technology institutions. The students said
that these events helped improve their teamwork skills, selfconfidence, and problem-solving abilities.
I would like to especially recognize and thank all the teacher
mentors for volunteering their time with each of the elementary and
high school student teams. Lastly, I would like to thank Durham
College and UOIT for hosting this fantastic event.
***
PUBLIC SAFETY
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, Bill C-51's provisions are broad and vague, with huge gaps
in oversight and accountability. These broad new powers could
target, for instance, peaceful anti-pipeline protesters on Burnaby
Mountain, citizens in Burnaby and in New Westminster who protest
the government agenda, environmentalists and first nations opposing
pipeline expansion to the B.C. coast, or aboriginal communities
engaged in peaceful civil disobedience to protect their traditional
territories.
March 26, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12373
Statements by Members
The government has refused to listen so far to the Canadian Bar
Association, the BC Civil Liberties Association, the Union of British
Columbia Indian Chiefs, over 100 of Canada's top legal professors,
and countless others who have unequivocally exposed Bill C-51's
dangerous flaws. New Democrats will relentlessly stand up to this
dangerous bill.
Canadians deserve better, and on October 19, they will get better
with the new NDP government that respects democratic rights and
freedoms in Canada.
***
SEALING INDUSTRY
Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon (Miramichi, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our
government has always been clear about its support for our Canadian
sealers and the sealing industry. Unfortunately, earlier this week, we
learned about a woman from Newfoundland and Labrador who
recently had her seal skin purse confiscated by U.S. Customs and
Border Protection because seals are on the endangered species list in
the United States. She is now forced to pay a $250 fine for trying to
take her purse across the border.
The seal hunt is the most humane hunt in the world. Sealing is a
proud and historic tradition, one that is part of rural, northern, and
Inuit life. It is always a way of life. Our government remains
steadfast that the seal harvest is a humane, sustainable, and wellregulated activity. We stand behind the thousands of Canadians in
coastal northern communities who depend on the seal harvest to
provide a livelihood for their families and recognize the important
role sealing plays in the management of aquatic ecosystems.
TAXATION
Mr. Larry Maguire (Brandon—Souris, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the
high-tax, high-debt Liberals and NDP will raise taxes on Canadian
families to pay for their gigantic spending promises. However,
Canadians do not want their money funnelled to bureaucratic black
holes. Hard-working Canadian families do not need higher tax bills.
What they need is tax relief and direct support they can use as they
see fit.
That is exactly what we are delivering. Under our family tax cuts
and benefits package, we will put money back in the pockets of
parents, something the Liberals and NDP have objected to and have
voted against every chance they have had. Under our plan, 100% of
families will benefit, with the vast majority of these benefits flowing
to low-and middle-income families.
The choice is clear, voting Conservative gets Canadians more
money in their pockets to spend on their priorities. Voting for the
opposition just gets them higher taxes and more debt.
***
PURPLE DAY FOR EPILEPSY
Hon. Geoff Regan (Halifax West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is an
honour to stand in this place to help promote awareness of epilepsy
by recognizing Purple Day. Thousands of people across Canada will
wear purple today as they celebrate our nation's leadership in
epilepsy awareness. I thank my colleagues, many of whom are only
too familiar with epilepsy, for their generous support and for wearing
purple with pride today.
***
● (1410)
PUBLIC SAFETY
Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Scarborough—Rouge River, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, we cannot sacrifice the fundamental freedoms that are
central to Canadian society in the name of bolstering public safety.
We can and must protect both. The government must listen to the
experts who testified before the committee on public safety who
warned against Bill C-51 and the overarching attack on fundamental
freedoms. The experts agree with the NDP that the bill gives broad
and new powers to CSIS, without enhancing oversight, including
provisions that could impact legitimate dissent, and does not produce
a plan to counter radicalization in Canadian communities.
My main concern is the vague definition of what constitutes a
terrorist in the bill. Being born as a Tamil in Sri Lanka, I have
experienced what a broad definition of terrorism can mean for an
entire people. I have seen and heard from innocent people who have
lost everything because of vague definitions of “terrorist”.
As a Canadian parliamentarian, I demand oversight and a clear
definition of what is a terrorist and what is legitimate protest. I will
stand with the NDP to defend our charter of rights for our
fundamental freedoms and for what makes us a strong nation.
Purple Day was founded by Cassidy Megan, of my riding, to raise
international awareness about epilepsy, a condition affecting 300,000
Canadians and 50 million people worldwide. We all owe a debt of
thanks to Cassidy for her courage and her commitment to improving
the quality of life for people with epilepsy.
***
PUBLIC SAFETY
Mrs. Kelly Block (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, this Conservative government has a strong record of
keeping communities safe from dangerous and addictive drugs. This
week we passed the respect for communities act, which will
guarantee residents, law enforcement, and community leaders a say
when drug injection houses want to open. Unfortunately, the Liberals
voted against communities having this important say, and the Liberal
leader has called for more injection houses to open across the
country.
Drug injection houses allow the use of dangerous and addictive
drugs that tear families apart, promote criminal behaviour, and
destroy lives. The Liberal leader's pledge to blindly open drug
injection houses in communities across Canada is both disturbing
and wrong.
12374
COMMONS DEBATES
March 26, 2015
Oral Questions
Our Conservative government will continue to support treatment
and recovery programs that work to get addicts off drugs while
ensuring that our streets and communities are safe for Canadians and
their families.
***
SENIORS
Mr. John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, every day that the Conservatives fail to produce a budget is
another day that they are failing Canadians, especially seniors living
in poverty. Introducing a budget is the most basic responsibility of a
government, but the Conservatives cannot even manage to do that.
Provincial governments are being forced to introduce budgets
without any certainty. It is unacceptable and is yet another failure in
a decade of Conservative mismanagement.
Canadians are working harder but are falling further behind.
Enough is enough. It is time to replace the current Prime Minister,
repair the damage he has done, and lift seniors out of poverty. The
NDP has a plan to do exactly that. We will return the eligibility age
for OAS to 65, increase the GIS to eliminate poverty among seniors,
and increase the CPP so that every person can retire in dignity. That
is what seniors deserve, and that is what an NDP government will
deliver.
***
● (1415)
TAXATION
Mr. Scott Armstrong (Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, CPC): Mr. Speaker, we know that the high-tax, highdebt Liberals and NDP believe that bigger government and more
taxes is what is best for Canadian families. However, on this side of
the House, we believe in keeping more money in the pockets of
moms and dads. Our low-tax plan is working, and we are making
sure that 100% of families with children benefit with almost $2,000
back in their own pockets.
Now the vast majority of these benefits will go to low- and
middle-income Canadians so that they can spend their hard-earned
money how they want to. If given a chance, the high-tax Liberals
and the high-debt NDP would take those benefits away for pet
projects and a larger and growing bureaucracy.
The contrast is simple. Liberals believe that bureaucracy knows
best when it comes to Canadian families, while on this side of the
House, we believe in giving money back to the real child care
experts, and their names are Mom and Dad.
At a time when refugee claims in Iraq and Syria have reached a
record high in 22 years, can the government explain its inaction?
Hon. Chris Alexander (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, CPC): Mr. Speaker, quite the contrary, the government has
been taking action since the beginning of these conflicts in Iraq and
Syria. That is why, since 2009, we have resettled more Iraqi refugees
than any other country, on a per capita basis. That is why we have
also decided to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees who will be welcomed
in Canada over the next three years. This government is taking
military action to fight the threat posed by the Islamic State as well
as measures to address humanitarian and refugee resettlement needs.
Ms. Megan Leslie (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the government
has just achieved its 2013 objectives. It took two years longer to
welcome 1,300 refugees from Syria, without taking into account its
promise to welcome 10,000 more refugees in the next three years.
What is the minister's plan to ensure that the government will
honour its promises in a timely manner?
Hon. Chris Alexander (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the NDP is oblivious to the facts in this
matter, just as in many others. From the outset, we achieved our
2013-14 objective, and in January we announced the much more
ambitious objective of welcoming 10,000 Syrian refugees over the
next three years. That is the most ambitious objective of all the peer
countries around the world that are part of the refugee resettlement
network. Canada is proud to welcome one in ten refugees resettled
each year worldwide.
[English]
[Translation]
Ms. Megan Leslie (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Conservatives
congratulate themselves for being two years late when it comes to
fulfilling a promise to bring Syrian refugees to Canada and measures
that would save the lives of ISIL's victims are now left on the
backburner. Yet the Prime Minister cannot move fast enough when it
comes to launching Canada into a war with no exit strategy and no
end in sight.
CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
Ms. Megan Leslie (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the
Prime Minister chose to ignore our concerns about the war in Iraq
and in Syria, at the expense of the humanitarian assistance those
countries need.
Could that minister explain why the motion of the Conservatives
does not include any new money for refugees?
ORAL QUESTIONS
March 26, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12375
Oral Questions
● (1420)
Hon. Chris Alexander (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the member is completely wrong. Two
years ago, we announced our first objective for Syria. We have met
and surpassed that objective, and we have announced that 10,000
refugees will be resettled in Canada this year, next year and, if
necessary, in 2017. That is the largest commitment to refugee
resettlement from Syria by any country yet made publicly. It is in
addition to 21,000 Iraqis resettled here. That is on top of asylum
seekers who come here in the thousands.
We have indicated that the government of Iraq has the collective
right to self-defence under article 51 of the United Nations. It has
officially requested international help, so we will comply with that.
We will work on the same basis as our American allies are doing and
report that to the United Nations.
***
[Translation]
We are taking action against the Islamic State, which is the force
creating refugees in Iraq and in Syria. We have to act militarily, in
humanitarian terms and also to resettle refugees.
***
NATIONAL DEFENCE
Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, according
to media reports, yesterday's briefing from the Department of
National Defence was clear about how long it saw the mission in
Iraq and Syria lasting: years.
CBC/RADIO-CANADA
Hon. Stéphane Dion (Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, we have learned that many more jobs at the CBC are being
cut and that this round will affect local stations. Will the minister
finally admit that this recurrent downsizing is due to the
Conservatives' cuts? Since 2006, they have slashed $227 million,
in 2014 dollars, which is about one-fifth of the CBC's budget.
The Minister of National Defence has admitted as much, and the
Minister of Foreign Affairs has compared the mission to Afghanistan.
Will the minister at least try to convince her government to restore
that money in the next budget? We hope so.
Could the government confirm that this one-year extension of the
mission is actually only the first step in a much longer engagement?
How long do the Conservatives expect the Canadian Armed Forces
to be in Iraq and Syria?
[English]
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the terms of
the motion for the government's extension are clear for the next 12
months, based on the RCAF commitment of six fighter jets, two
surveillance aircraft, a refueller and sixty-nine special operations
forces in a training mission near Erbil. That is the mission we are
seeking support for from this place.
To get back to the last question, we just had a visit here from Iraqi
refugees, among the 21,000 accepted in Canada. They told us to
please ask the opposition parties to support this military program
because they wanted their people to be able to go back to their
homes in Iraq. They want protection for those minorities. That is
what they want.
Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, yesterday,
the Minister of National Defence said that the legal case for dropping
bombs in Syria was based on criminality, or Canada's independent
right of self-defence, or it was because of the genocide dimension, or
perhaps it was article 51 of the UN charter. The Prime Minister said
that international law was not really applicable.
Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell us what the legal
rationale is today, or does he too believe the question is only a joke?
Hon. Rob Nicholson (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, I am glad to hear that members of the NDP are concerned
about the legal justification and once they hear it, I take it they do not
support the mission. Is that a fair comment? Those are all the
questions we are getting.
Mr. Rick Dykstra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
Canadian Heritage, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, the
CBC is responsible for its own operations. It is up to the CBC to
provide programming that Canadians actually want to watch and
listen to in both of our official languages.
Our government provides, on a yearly basis, the CBC with very
significant funds. Let us be clear that these changes, and the member
is probably aware of this, are part of the CBC's restructuring and
strategic plan, which it began implementation of in 2014.
***
THE ECONOMY
Hon. Ralph Goodale (Wascana, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Alberta is
the epicentre of the energy downturn and yet Premier Prentice was
able to table a budget today on time in this fiscal year. Premier Wall
did the same last week in Saskatchewan.
The economists who advise the government say that there is no
credible reason for procrastination. Will the Minister of Finance stop
playing peekaboo with Canadians and table a budget investing in the
real drivers of economic growth: infrastructure, access to higher
learning, innovation, effective trade and environmental credibility.
Will he do that in this fiscal year?
12376
COMMONS DEBATES
March 26, 2015
Oral Questions
● (1425)
Mr. Andrew Saxton (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Finance, CPC): Mr. Speaker, we know very well that we are in a
fragile global economy and of course our country has been impacted
by the dramatic fall in oil prices. That is even more reason to stick to
our government's plan that has generated almost 1.2 million net new
jobs since the end of the recession. It is because of our actions that
the overall federal tax burden is at its lowest level in 50 years.
However, the solution is not a tax hike on the middle class like the
Liberal leader is proposing and the solution is certainly not a $20
billion carbon tax that would hurt Canada's economy and kill the
jobs of Canadians. Our government has a low-tax plan for jobs and
growth for all sectors of the Canadian economy, which is working.
Hon. Ralph Goodale (Wascana, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, decent
economic growth is not Canada's reality and despite the government's boasting, it is not doing better than the rest of the world.
Last fall, before the oil downturn, the IMF projected 139
countries would grow faster this year than Canada. In the OECD,
there were 16, including Greece. More recently, the OECD has
downgraded Canadian growth, while upgrading many others: the U.
S., Europe, Japan, Germany, France, India.
Why is the government content to have the worst economic
growth record in eight decades?
Mr. Andrew Saxton (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Finance, CPC): Mr. Speaker, since forming government, we have
had the strongest economic growth record of any country in the G7.
We have created almost 1.2 million net new jobs and we have
launched the largest federal infrastructure plan in Canada's history.
The G20 summit's action plan singled out Canada for our strong
growth. The IMF and OECD both project that Canada will have
among the strongest growth in the G7 in the years ahead.
We will not take lessons from the Liberals who think that budgets
balance themselves.
***
[Translation]
PUBLIC SAFETY
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre (Alfred-Pellan, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
Canadians have heard from many groups and experts across the
country, and they are getting more and more worried about the scope
of Bill C-51. The Conservatives are wrong to reject serious criticism
of their bill.
That is why the NDP will move a motion to broaden the debate.
We want to talk about a counter-radicalization strategy and better
oversight mechanisms for intelligence agencies.
Will this government support our motion?
Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness, CPC): Mr. Speaker, when it comes to fighting
terrorism, the New Democrats are behind the times. Over two years
ago, we implemented our counterterrorism strategy, which the New
Democrats did not support.
I would like to thank the committee members, who are doing
important work and have listened to dozens of witnesses in recent
weeks. They will hear from more this evening.
We have observed tremendous support for a bill that will protect
the rights and freedoms of Canadians and will also protect them from
the terrorist threat.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre (Alfred-Pellan, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I am not sure if we are talking about the same meetings of the
Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, but as
for witnesses supporting Bill C-51, give me a break.
Yesterday in committee, we heard others criticizing Bill C-51 for
being too broad in scope and lacking oversight provisions for
intelligence agencies. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association was
clear: a significant part of Bill C-51 is unconstitutional and would
infringe upon our basic rights.
Does the minister realize that this ill-conceived bill will violate
Canadians' rights and freedoms?
Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I hope our NDP friends will
listen to the Supreme Court, which finds that our Canadian model, in
other words, the review committee, strikes the perfect balance
between procedural rights and privacy.
Bill C-51 targets Islamist jihadists to prevent them from achieving
their stated objective of carrying out terrorist threats against the west,
including Canada.
In this context the measures proposed in Bill C-51 to deal with the nature of
threats Canada faces are quite rightly and urgently needed to protect and keep secure
the freedom of her citizens.
That was professor Salim Mansur from Western University, in
Ontario—
● (1430)
The Speaker: Order.
The hon. member for Alfred-Pellan.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre (Alfred-Pellan, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I would like to talk about the witnesses who appeared before the
Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to
oppose Bill C-51.
The Canadian Bar Association criticized the new, almost
unlimited powers to disrupt that would be given to CSIS.
The association said:
It is untenable that the infringement of Charter rights is open to debate, in secret
proceedings where only the government is represented.
Why is the Conservative government so determined to pass its
flawed bill that waters down our fundamental values?
[English]
Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Justice and Attorney General
of Canada, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as the Minister for Public Safety
has said numerous times and others who are learned on the bill, they
see the legislation for what it is. It is there to protect Canadians. It is
there to do so in a balanced way.
March 26, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12377
Oral Questions
With respect to the powers that are vested in judges, the Canadian
Bar Association has somehow indicated that this is putting judges in
a compromised position. This is what judges do each and every day
in a pre-emptive way when they examine warrant applications. This
is exactly what judges should be doing in a pre-emptive way.
This is an undertaking judges at the federal court will do that we
believe is necessary to enhance the protection of Canadians.
Mr. Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, the ministers over there still do not get it. Bill C-51 is
chockablock full of measures that threaten Canadians' rights and
freedoms, but missing key elements that would actually help keep
Canadians safer.
The committee heard today from community leaders, like Zarqa
Nawaz, who are working on the ground to prevent radicalization.
They desperately need more resources, not divisive rhetoric from the
government.
Why is de-radicalization not a priority for the government when
we know it works and it can actually prevent future attacks?
Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am proud to have attended a
cross cultural round table. However, he should also have listened. I
hope he was there when Ms. Raheel Raza, the president of the
Muslims Facing Tomorrow, appeared. What did she say at
committee? She said that legislation was important to combat
radicalization, that we needed better tools to track jihadists who
travelled overseas. That is the reality. She does not have a problem
with sharing information because the larger picture is that of the
security and safety of Canada. Ms. Raza gets it. When will the NDP
get it?
Mr. Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, one of the things the minister forgot to mention she said
was that the bill lacked sufficient oversight. He is selectively quoting
from his own witness.
Despite the fact that leaders from faith communities have testified
at public safety, they all agree that we urgently need a national
deradicalization strategy and that Bill C-51 lacks critical oversight
mechanisms that would prevent abuse.
How can the minister refuse to act in the face of overwhelming
evidence that his bill is fatally flawed, when 45 out of 48 witnesses
are telling us that this bill needs to be amended or abandoned?
Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am proud to know that we will
enable the left hand of the right hand government to know what is
happening.
I am proud that we will provide the capacity to our intelligence
officers to speak to the parent of a young individual who is being
radicalized.
We reject the argument that, every time we talk about security, our
freedoms are threatened. Canadians understand that their freedom
and security go hand in hand. They expect us to do both and to
protect both.
There are protections, of course, in that legislation. The fact is that
our police are there to protect us against terrorists.
CANADA REVENUE AGENCY
Ms. Peggy Nash (Parkdale—High Park, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
the Conservatives' spy bill will criminalize environmentalists, but
they are not even waiting until the bill is passed. Conservatives have
already attacked members of the environmental movement, calling
them radicals and foreign threats. Meanwhile, they are just regular
Canadians who care about protecting our natural world.
The Conservatives are spending $13 million on a charity audit
witch hunt to silence people who disagree with them. Meanwhile
they are cutting CRA auditors and giving out the wrong information
to businesses.
When will the minister stop deflecting and call on the Auditor
General to look into the mess she has made of CRA?
● (1435)
Mr. Gerald Keddy (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
Agriculture, to the Minister of National Revenue and for the
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, CPC): Mr. Speaker, that
is total nonsense.
The member knows very well that CRA audits occur at arm's
length. They are conducted free of any political interference or
political motivation. The CRA charities directorate acts independently. The rules regarding charities and political activities are long
standing; and without question, charities must respect the law.
The only political interference here is the political lobbying by the
member opposite.
[Translation]
Ms. Peggy Nash (Parkdale—High Park, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
that is not true.
The conclusions of the study by the University of Victoria's
Environmental Law Centre are clear. The agency is currently
conducting 44 investigations into the political activities of environmental groups and anti-poverty organizations such as the David
Suzuki Foundation, Canada Without Poverty and Équiterre.
Will the government stop this witch hunt and ask the Auditor
General to look into the CRA's activities?
[English]
Mr. Gerald Keddy (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
Agriculture, to the Minister of National Revenue and for the
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, CPC): Mr. Speaker, there
is nonsense and there is more nonsense.
12378
COMMONS DEBATES
March 26, 2015
Oral Questions
Let us take a look at what CRA actually does. CRA audits 1% of
the charitable sector every year. This means, on average, that only
0.4% of all charities end up having their status revoked, for cause, in
a given year.
Let us look at the other facts here. There is $14.24 billion in tax
receipts for charities, and 86,000 charities across the country. Does
that member believe that we should not look at any of these charities,
or is she just defending the charities of her choice?
***
[Translation]
THE ECONOMY
Mr. Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the time for excuses is over.
The Government of Quebec is tabling its budget today, and so is
the Government of Alberta. Meanwhile, the Conservatives are
continuing to ask Canadians to wait to find out where public funds
will be invested.
We need measures now to help seniors who are living in poverty.
We need measures now to help families that cannot afford child care.
My question is this: when will the government deliver a budget
that makes families and the middle class a priority?
Hon. Denis Lebel (Minister of Infrastructure, Communities
and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic
Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec,
CPC): Mr. Speaker, we are keeping a close watch on what is
happening in the provinces.
As members know, our government's priority continues to be job
creation, long-term prosperity and working in partnership with the
provinces.
We will have an excellent budget. The Minister of Finance works
on it every day.
[English]
Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, the news out of Alberta today is that somehow, despite
low oil prices, the government managed to actually table a budget,
and that is in a province that is much more impacted by low oil
prices than here in the federal government.
Here in Ottawa, it seems that the Minister of Finance has enrolled
in the witness protection program, and the federal budget is still just
a gleam in the Prime Minister's eye. Yet Canadian seniors living in
poverty need answers, Canadian parents needing affordable child
care need a plan, and the increasing number of Canadians who are
out of a job need some hope.
When is the Minister of Finance going to show up and do his job?
When are we finally going to see a federal budget?
Hon. Pierre Poilievre (Minister of Employment and Social
Development and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, the NDP names seniors who are on hard times. The only
plan by the NDP and Liberals is to raise their taxes.
They talk about parents who are in need of child care. The NDP
and Liberals only offer them higher taxes and ending the universal
child care benefit that is actually helping parents.
They mentioned Canadians who are out of work. The only plan by
the NDP and Liberals is to raise taxes on those who might hire
people.
We will not be introducing a budget to raise taxes the way the
NDP and Liberals would propose. Instead we will continue our longstanding record of lowering taxes for families and job creators,
which has created 1.2 million jobs, and we are just getting started.
[Translation]
Mr. Emmanuel Dubourg (Bourassa, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
Statistics Canada and the TD Bank have been clear. We are facing
the worst job growth in the past 40 years, and the unemployment rate
is going to continue to rise.
The Minister of Finance of Canada would rather sit back and
watch as Quebec and Alberta table their budgets today instead of
tabling his own. The Conservatives are hamstrung and have no plan.
They do not have a budget, and they do not have any solutions.
What is the Conservative government waiting for? When will it
demonstrate leadership, work with the provinces and finally table a
budget in the House?
● (1440)
Hon. Pierre Poilievre (Minister of Employment and Social
Development and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, taxpayers understand what the leader of the Liberal party
does not: the budget is not going to balance itself. Families have to
balance their budgets by earning a good salary without punitive
taxes.
That is why we cut taxes for families and introduced a child care
benefit of almost $2,000 for each child under the age of six and $720
for those aged 6 to 17.
The Liberals want to take away all of those benefits. We are not
going to let that happen.
[English]
Hon. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canada's
economy was weak before falling oil prices, and it has flatlined
since. We need a budget now to kick-start the economy and to help
Canada's struggling middle class, but the Minister of Finance is
saying he cannot do it because of oil prices.
Alberta is far more dependent on oil prices than Canada, yet it is
actually delivering a budget today. If Alberta can deliver a budget,
why can this Minister of Finance not? Why can he not even tell us
the date of a federal budget? Why can he not answer budget
questions in the House?
March 26, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12379
Oral Questions
Hon. Pierre Poilievre (Minister of Employment and Social
Development and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, he has answered the call of Canadians by lowering their
taxes and putting more money directly in their pockets. That is why
our recent low-tax plan for families will allow parents to split their
income to reduce the family tax burden by up to $2,000. The
Liberals want to take that money away and raise taxes. We are
giving, through the fall update, $2,000 per preschooler and $720 for
each child 6 through 17. That is money directly in the pockets of
parents, which the Liberals would take away.
Parents understand that budgets do not balance themselves.
Conservative low-tax plans do.
Hon. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canadians know that budgets do not write themselves. They actually
require a finance minister who shows up, does his job, writes
budgets, responds to questions on budgets in this House, and creates
jobs and growth for Canadian families.
TD reports today that precarious employment is worse than it was
before the recession. We now have the Bank of Canada, the PBO,
CIBC, and TD telling us that Canada's job market is weak.
When will the Conservatives deliver a budget with a plan for jobs
and growth? Why can the Minister of Finance not answer budget
questions in this House?
Hon. Pierre Poilievre (Minister of Employment and Social
Development and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, since the recession, our economy has created 1.2 million
net new jobs, 85% of which are full time, and two-thirds of them are
in high-wage industries. After tax and inflation, take-home pay is up
by 10%. That is the result of a low-tax plan that encourages hiring
and lets the workers who get hired keep more of what they earn.
The Liberals' only plan is to let the budget balance itself and raise
taxes on Canadian families. That is why the Canadian people have
entrusted us with the responsibility of the economy and that is why
we are delivering.
***
[Translation]
system, and we have a lot of common interest in actually working on
the issue of innovation in the health care system.
We already provide from the federal government $40 billion
annually in terms of stable and predictable funding. That is health
transfer increases of almost 70%.
A lot of health ministers, including me, are focused on health
innovation and finding better ways to make that money work in a
more sustainable way and a more cost-effective way.
Mr. Murray Rankin (Victoria, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the truth is
that the government's failure of leadership and lack of vision is
putting our cherished public health care system at great peril.
The Conservatives have failed to address important challenges
like the high cost of prescription drugs. They have unilaterally
slashed funding, and they have taken no steps toward the next
generation of health care, like taking action on pharmacare or home
care.
When will the Prime Minister sit down with the provinces and
territories to work on strengthening our public health care system
together?
● (1445)
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I
just had a conversation with the Minister of Health from British
Columbia, and we talked about the need to work together on a
pharmaceutical strategy.
The bottom line is that Canadians pay some of the highest costs
for drugs in the world because we are purchasing separately and it is
a divide-and-conquer situation.
We are working with the provinces. They are already doing a lot
of bulk purchasing, but we would actually like to be at the table. We
have started to work with them on that and we think we can save
hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, to the
system.
***
EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
HEALTH
Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, Roy Romanow, the former chair of the Commission on the
Future of Health Care in Canada, told us that our health care system
has reached a turning point.
Mr. Robert Chisholm (Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, both the current and former minister of employment and
social development have nothing but praise for the parliamentary
secretary for his “important work” in producing a report on
employment insurance processing.
The Conservatives' inaction is leading us straight towards
privatization of the system and an increase in costs. That is in
addition to their cuts in transfers to the provinces. Our health care
system needs leadership.
People in Atlantic Canada are keen to read this wonderful work,
because under the government, they have been struggling with
longer and longer wait times to receive their EI benefits.
When will the Conservatives sit down with the provinces to
ensure that our universal health care system is sustainable?
Unfortunately, the government has not made this work available to
Canadians. When will the minister release the report? Will he table it
in the House here today?
[English]
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I
speak to the provinces on an ongoing basis. I have sat down with
them twice now in the last two years to talk about the health care
Hon. Pierre Poilievre (Minister of Employment and Social
Development and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC): As I
mentioned, Mr. Speaker, my parliamentary secretary has done great
work on behalf of his constituents and all Canadians.
12380
COMMONS DEBATES
March 26, 2015
Oral Questions
The reality is that the majority of EI claims are now processed
within 28 days of making the claim. Two-third are now fully or
partially automated. We have increased efficiency in this area by
42% over the last decade. We are also hiring more staff during the
peak seasons for employment insurance.
More important, our economy has created 1.2 million net new jobs
as a result of our low-tax plan, giving people who are on
employment insurance an opportunity to get off and get into a job.
[Translation]
Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the
victims of the massive cuts to the employment insurance system
keep piling up.
Numerous studies and people have confirmed that the Conservatives' reform is very harmful to seasonal workers. The current
employment insurance system is not adapted to the reality facing
business owners and workers in the agricultural, tourism and forestry
sectors in Quebec and New Brunswick.
Instead of simply making things harder for employers and
seasonal workers, will the minister finally take action to promote
economic activity in the regions affected?
Hon. Pierre Poilievre (Minister of Employment and Social
Development and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, the New Democrats keep spreading fear about our reforms.
All of their statements and warnings are obviously false. None of
that has actually happened. We are trying to create jobs. That is why
we have 1.2 million new jobs, 85% of which are full time and twothirds of which are in well-paid industries. We will continue to lower
taxes and increase job opportunities for all Canadians.
***
[English]
STATUS OF WOMEN
Mrs. Joy Smith (Kildonan—St. Paul, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
earlier this week the House debated and voted at second reading on
Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. While
our Conservative government is taking a strong stance against
harmful barbaric practices, the opposition members fail to stand up
and take action.
Could the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration please explain
to this House how important this piece of legislation is to protect
women and girls in Canada?
Hon. Chris Alexander (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to
thank the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul for her excellent
work on these issues and on human trafficking. She is a leader.
With Bill S-7, this government is taking action to ensure that no
woman or girl in Canada is a victim of early or forced marriage,
polygamy or so-called honour-based violence. We are showing zero
tolerance for barbaric cultural practices because violence against
women and girls is always wrong. It is never okay, even when some
falsely defend it in the name of tradition or culture.
Sadly, that is exactly what the opposition members have been
doing. The New Democrats spoke strongly against this bill in this
House. The Liberals refused to call this violence “barbaric”. They
have avoided a recorded—
● (1450)
The Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.
***
FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, how
about some action on murdered and missing aboriginal women?
Mr. Fahmy's passport went missing after it was seized by Egyptian
authorities and now his life is in limbo without proper identification.
Recently, I brought this to the attention of the Minister of Foreign
Affairs, and yesterday Egyptian authorities paved the way for the
Canadian embassy in Cairo to issue a new passport to Mr. Fahmy.
This would allow him to move on with his life.
The question is this. What steps has the Canadian government
taken to issue Mr. Fahmy a new passport?
Hon. Lynne Yelich (Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and
Consular), CPC): Mr. Speaker, when Mr. Fahmy is able to travel,
we have a travel document ready.
[Translation]
Ms. Hélène Laverdière (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, since he lost access to a passport, Canadian journalist
Mohamed Fahmy has been in a very difficult situation, but
fortunately the Egyptian courts apparently authorized the Canadian
ambassador to issue him a new passport.
Can the minister confirm this information and tell us whether the
government will respond positively and quickly to this application
for a temporary passport, which would enable Mr. Fahmy to live a
normal life before returning to Canada?
[English]
Hon. Lynne Yelich (Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and
Consular), CPC): Mr. Speaker, Canada does continue to call for an
immediate and full release of Mr. Fahmy. We also have a travel
document ready when Mr. Fahmy is able to travel.
***
FINANCE
Mr. Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway, NDP): Mr. Speaker, as
the Conference Board has just demonstrated, the Conservative trade
strategy for Asia has underperformed, with Canada losing ground to
our competitors in investment, services and value-added exports.
March 26, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12381
Oral Questions
Now we are missing another opportunity. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is being launched and will be a major
international institution providing access to billions in Asian
infrastructure projects.
The deadline to become a founding member is March 31. The
U.K., Germany, France and Australia have all joined. Will Canada
join too, or will Conservatives miss another key opportunity to
engage with Asia?
Mr. Andrew Saxton (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Finance, CPC): Mr. Speaker, Canada continues to assess whether
it will become a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment
Bank, and will make a decision that is in Canada's national interest.
We have also been informed that Canada's participation will be
welcome at any time.
***
[Translation]
CBC/RADIO-CANADA
Ms. Anne Minh-Thu Quach (Beauharnois—Salaberry, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, we have just heard that the CBC will have to cut
another 100 jobs to balance its books. One hundred positions. Eight
positions are being cut in Toronto, seven in Sudbury and 11 in
Acadia.
[English]
For the CBC, it means 144 positions lost because of the
Conservative cuts.
[Translation]
Will the minister stop slashing the CBC and finally reinvest in our
public broadcaster?
[English]
Mr. Rick Dykstra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
Canadian Heritage, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am happy to repeat the
answer I gave to this question earlier in question period.
The CBC is responsible for its own operations. It is up to the
CBC to provide programming that Canadians actually want to watch
and listen to in both English and French. Our government provides
the CBC with significant funds on a yearly basis. Let us be clear. As
I stated earlier, the fact is that the CBC has put forward its
restructuring and strategic plan for the future endeavours that it will
partake in. That plan was tabled in 2014. It is now being
implemented.
***
MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY
Hon. Judy Sgro (York West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday when
asked about the government's weak commitment to southern
Ontario's manufacturing, the minister flippantly answered with spin.
Ontario families who have lost their manufacturing jobs are sick and
tired of his spin. They are looking for jobs.
It has been more than two years since Parliament authorized over
$200 million to help rebuild Ontario's struggling manufacturing
sector. Can the minister list even five projects that have been funded
by the advanced manufacturing sector specifically or is he just going
to give us more spin?
Hon. James Moore (Minister of Industry, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it
was not spin, it was a direct answer to the question. What I described
was exactly what the member has asked for, a specific project. It was
a robotics project at SickKids hospital that helps kids, which will
now be sold around the world.
If the member wants another example, on Monday I was in
Burlington, Ontario, at L-3 WESCAM for an investment that will
save over 800 jobs in Burlington and expand them into Don Mills. It
is creating world-class technology for earth observation on land, at
sea and in the air. This is creating jobs all throughout southwest
Ontario. Our government invested in it. The Liberal Party voted
against it. We will keep ignoring them and keep supporting
southwest Ontario.
***
● (1455)
INFRASTRUCTURE
Mr. Adam Vaughan (Trinity—Spadina, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is
not just the private sector that is being fed false hope by the
government, the public sector is also being dished out some pretty
empty rhetoric as well. Let us be clear. It is boasting about a plan that
will not fund cities for 10 years, does not build housing today, will
not fix a bridge tomorrow and certainly will not solve gridlock
anytime soon.
The current government's so-called action plan is actually an
inaction plan. This week it is the mayor of Calgary who is pleading
with Ottawa to cut out the fake cheques and cut a real cheque to get
infrastructure built.
When will the Minister of Finance come out from under his desk,
wherever he is, and draw up a budget, fund cities, and get real
Canadians working on real projects and real cities now?
Hon. Denis Lebel (Minister of Infrastructure, Communities
and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic
Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec,
CPC): Mr. Speaker, the member knows very well from when he was
in municipal politics some years ago that there was no support from
the federal government, and the Liberals either. There are 26 other
members of our caucus who are former municipal politicians. When
we talk about municipal politics, we know very well what it is on our
side.
We met at 13 meetings across the country to prepare the new
building Canada plan with the municipalities, the Federation of
Canadian Municipalities, and all provincial organizations representing municipalities. We are delivering for them and they know it.
12382
COMMONS DEBATES
March 26, 2015
Oral Questions
[Translation]
AIR TRANSPORTATION
Ms. Élaine Michaud (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, on March 16, a plane crashed at the end of the runway
at the Neuville aerodrome, 150 metres from an inhabited house.
Municipal officials are now asking that the activities at the
aerodrome be suspended during the investigation. People are
worried. This is the second incident in four months. There is clearly
a serious safety problem.
The Minister of Transport promised to meet with the municipal
council over a year ago, but she never returned their calls. Will the
minister finally keep her promise and meet with Neuville officials to
solve the problem at this aerodrome?
[English]
Hon. Lisa Raitt (Minister of Transport, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
with respect to air safety in Canada, despite substantial increases in
air traffic in general, Canada actually boasts the lowest rate of
accidents in the modern era. Transport Canada inspectors and
inspectors of the Transportation Safety Board are those who should
be contacted with respect to accidents that happen at aerodromes.
They do the investigation to tell us what is going on. I know that
these incidents are being looked at by officials and we look forward
to their reports.
***
ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
Ms. Niki Ashton (Churchill, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have denied funding for a life-saving airstrip for a remote
northern Saskatchewan first nation. Without an air strip that can
accommodate an air ambulance, the community of Southend is
forced to rely on ground ambulance service. It is a five-hour round
trip on a gravel road. The lives of people are at risk and first nations
deserve better. Will the minister stop making excuses, come to the
table and fund this life-saving airstrip?
Hon. Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and
Northern Development, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the member should
get her facts right. The airstrip that she is referring to is under
provincial jurisdiction. Our government provides a nursing station
for that community. The first nation in question currently receives
medical emergency evacuation by helicopters or planes.
We will continue to work in partnership with first nations for
stronger, healthier and self-sufficient communities.
Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Justice and Attorney General
of Canada, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Wild Rose
for his well-articulated question.
In fact, we are the only party in the House that is trusted to get
tough on the worst and most violent offenders in this country. I want
to commend my predecessor, as well as the Prime Minister and
members on this side of the House, who have supported this
initiative.
As the Prime Minister said when this bill was introduced, there are
certain crimes so repulsive that only lifelong punishment adequately
reflects their awful nature. Bill C-53 would ensure that the most
heinous violent offenders and the most horrific crimes will receive a
life sentence in Canada, and it will mean just that: a sentence for life.
***
● (1500)
INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Ms. Kirsty Duncan (Etobicoke North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the
crisis in Syria has entered its fifth year, with extensive human
suffering. The UN estimates 220,000 have died and more than four
million are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. Today, the UN
High Commissioner for Refugees said the conflicts in Syria and Iraq
are pushing asylum claims to their highest levels in 22 years.
Next week, the UN Secretary-General will chair a donor
conference on the enormous humanitarian needs in the region. Will
the minister attend this important conference?
Hon. Christian Paradis (Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
Canada will be well represented at the conference, and I must remind
the House that Canada is sixth-largest donor country to Syria. In the
last six months, especially in Syria, Canada's support has meant that
16 million people have access to safe drinking water, 4.1 million
Syrians have access to food assistance, and emergency assistance is
provided to nearly three million refugees in neighbouring countries.
We should be proud of this record and we encourage the other
countries that have committed to pay what they pledge.
***
JUSTICE
Mr. Blake Richards (Wild Rose, CPC): Mr. Speaker, Canadians
simply cannot understand why the worst of the worst violent
offenders would ever be let out of prison. Thankfully, our
government is listening. This is in sharp contrast to the opposition
parties that promote and support policies like the Liberals' faint hope
clause and oppose tougher sentencing regimes for murderers who
also commit sexual assault and kidnapping.
Can the Minister of Justice please update the House on our
government's actions to protect Canadians?
***
[Translation]
PUBLIC WORKS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES
Mr. Denis Blanchette (Louis-Hébert, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Davie
Canada employs over 1,100 workers at its shipyard in Lévis. Today,
Davie has the largest dry dock in Canada and the highest production
capacity. The shipyard has hard-working managers and employees.
Davie Canada is waiting for an answer from the federal government
on a major contract with the Royal Canadian Navy.
March 26, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12383
Business of the House
Can the minister promise to support Quebec's shipbuilding
industry and the people of Lévis by finally making a decision?
[English]
Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Public Works and Government
Services, CPC): Mr. Speaker, with respect to the Davie shipyard, in
fact, our government already has provided contracts to do important
work on the Louis St. Laurent and on the Des Groseilliers
icebreakers. Just recently, we announced another federal contract
for the Davie shipyard in terms of extending the life of the Canadian
Coast Guard ship, the Earl Grey.
Davie is welcome to bid on any and all future government
opportunities. There are, indeed, billions of dollars left in the
national shipbuilding procurement strategy for which it could
qualify.
***
TAXATION
Mr. Jim Eglinski (Yellowhead, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our
government knows that there are many costs involved in raising a
family and every little bit counts, especially when there are children.
That is why our government has cut taxes of all kinds: personal
taxes, business taxes, the GST.
Can the Minister of State for Social Development please update
the House on what our government is doing to help Canadian
families?
Hon. Candice Bergen (Minister of State (Social Development),
CPC): Mr. Speaker, what we are doing to help families is we are
actually listening to families. Yesterday I was in Vancouver at the
West Side Family Place talking to everyday families about our
universal child care benefit expansion and enhancement.
Some moms and dads from a variety of walks of life are having a
hard time making ends meet. They are so happy about the expanded
benefit. They are happy because it is going to be increased, because
every month they count on that cheque. We are going to continue
that and we are going to continue to listen to the real experts on child
care, raising families, on families' priorities. That is mom and dad.
***
[Translation]
CONSUMER PROTECTION
Mr. Claude Patry (Jonquière—Alma, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the
number of credit card purchases is growing, but small businesses are
still paying the highest fees in the world with rates ranging from
1.5% to 3%. This is costing many small retailers in my region and
Quebec a lot of money.
Will the Minister of Finance use the next budget to regulate these
excessive fees at last, as Australia and England have done by setting
rates at 0.5% and 0.3%?
[English]
Mr. Andrew Saxton (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Finance, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our government introduced the
debit and credit card code of conduct. Clause 4 says that merchants
that accept credit card payments are not obligated to accept debit
card payments.
The code promotes fair business practices. Shamefully, the NDP
has voted against all of these initiatives to strengthen the code.
***
[Translation]
CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
Mr. Massimo Pacetti (Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, Ind.):
Mr. Speaker, recently, at the UN's request, the government promised
to accept 10,000 more Syrian refugees by 2017.
However, Syria is still not on the list of moratoria countries. That
is upsetting to asylum seekers already in Canada who are worried
about being deported to a country in crisis.
When will the government put Syria on the list of moratoria
countries to protect Syrian refugees already in Canada?
● (1505)
Hon. Chris Alexander (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question
and for recognizing this government's commitment to resettle 10,000
Syrian refugees in Canada.
We are certainly looking at everything we are doing in Syria and
Iraq from a humanitarian perspective. We examine each case closely
and encourage all families and social organizations in Canada to
sponsor refugees so we can achieve our objectives as soon as
possible.
***
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I have good news for Canadians. First, it is important to
know that there are just a little more than 200 days left in the life of
this government. On October 19, Canadians will have the
opportunity to put an end to this government. I know that the vast
majority of Canadians are fed up with this government.
I have other big news. Even though this government is intolerant
when it comes to debates in the House and even though it cut the list
of witnesses at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and
National Security, it is important to note that Canadians are
following the debates of that committee. The majority of Canadians
may have approved of Bill C-51 during the initial days of the review
in committee, but now the majority of Canadians disagree with this
government and this bill. That only goes to show the importance of
the House debates, which Canadians are obviously following with
great interest.
That being said, I wanted to ask my colleague, the Leader of the
Government in the House of Commons, a question: what is on the
government's agenda for the next week?
[English]
Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House
of Commons, CPC): Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue
debating government Motion No. 17, respecting Canada's military
contribution to the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and
Levant. Considering the importance of that debate, we will be
continuing it, under an order of the House, until midnight tonight.
12384
COMMONS DEBATES
March 26, 2015
Government Orders
ISIL has stated its intention to target Canada and Canadians. In
fact, ISIL issued a call to action for people to attack targets in
Canada. So far two attackers have responded to that call. That is why
we have to take on ISIL, take on the threat it poses and keep it from
establishing a geographic foothold from which to operate. We intend
to continue to degrade and destroy ISIL.
That is why we are seeking the support of Canadian
parliamentarians for our decision to extend and expand Canada's
military mission with our allies so we can effectively fight this
jihadism which threatens our national security and global security.
We will return to that debate on Monday afternoon and complete it
that day.
are prepared to take the necessary actions to protect Canadians as a
whole.
Terrorism is not new. In fact, if we go back to the 9/11 incident,
the falling of the twin towers, we would see that the world responded
relatively quickly. At that time, the then prime minister, Jean
Chrétien, understood the importance of what Canadians thought and
believed a government needed to do.
Different pieces of legislation and different types of discussions
took place so Prime Minister Chrétien was able to set at ease the
issues of terrorism and safety at home. He underlined for the Liberal
Party how important it was to recognize that Canada had a role to
play.
[Translation]
Tomorrow, we will continue—and, hopefully, conclude—the
third reading debate on Bill C-26, the Tougher Penalties for Child
Predators Act.
Monday, before question period, we will start the second reading
debate on Bill C-52, the Safe and Accountable Rail Act. This
legislation will improve railway safety and strengthen oversight
while protecting taxpayers and making the rail industry more
accountable to communities. This debate will continue on Tuesday.
[English]
On Wednesday, the House will resume the second reading debate
of Bill C-42, the common sense firearms licensing act. The bill meets
the government's objective to cut red tape for law-abiding firearms
owners and provide safe and simpler firearms policies. Changes to
the Criminal Code would enable the government to take steps to
ensure the rights of lawful firearms owners would be respected. The
debate will continue on Thursday, when we will adjourn for Easter.
GOVERNMENT ORDERS
[English]
MILITARY CONTRIBUTION AGAINST ISIL
The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the
amendment.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
notice a number of Conservative members consistently have raised
the issue of ISIL in trying to appeal to Canadians about the type of
behaviour in which ISIL conducts itself, and has been for years now.
I know this with 100% certainty in the Liberal caucus, but it goes
far beyond that, but I think it is safe to say that virtually all
Canadians agree that the way ISIL has conducted itself over the last
number of years is completely unacceptable. I do not think the
dictionary has the words to best describe how its behaviour abhors so
many of us. The graphic images of events portrayed by this terrorist
organization are very telling why Canada needs to play a role in the
fight against ISIL and terrorism.
I would not want anyone who might be listening to feel, in any
fashion whatsoever, that the Liberal Party of Canada does not
recognize the detrimental role that ISIL plays on the world stage. We
The Liberal Party has never opposed the deploying of our armed
forces into combat when it clearly serves Canada's national interest.
Military missions designed to uphold our interest have transparent
objectives and a responsible plan to achieve them.
However, let me be perfectly clear. The Liberal Party does not
support the government's efforts to deepen this combat mission and
to expand it into Syria.
I have looked at some of the comments put on the record. I would
like to go specifically to the other day when the leader of the Liberal
Party addressed the House on this very important issue, and the
expansion of the mission. Here is what he had to say:
—the government's desire to expand Canada's presence into Syria represents a
worrying trend. We can call it evolution or escalation or mission creep. Whatever
term is preferred, the pattern is the same.
First we discovered that our role included ground combat operations, despite the
Prime Minister's assurances to the contrary. Now we are being asked to expand our
involvement into Syria. It is hard to believe the proposed timeline, given the public
musings of the ministers of defence and foreign affairs. Indeed, the Minister of
Foreign Affairs explicitly compared this war to Afghanistan, stating that we are in
this for the longer term. In Afghanistan, the longer term meant a decade.
However, how can we trust a government that so openly misled Canadians? This
government is proposing that the Canadian Forces participate in a vague combat
mission with no clear end point, and we cannot support that.
● (1510)
That is what the leader of the Liberal Party said just the other day
in the House of Commons. It is applicable to the debate we are
having today.
ISIL is a threat, and we recognize that. It is important to make it
clear how the Liberal Party supports our men and women in the
Canadian Forces. I had the privilege of being a member of the
regular forces during the 1980s, and what an honour it was to serve
Canadians in that capacity.
As parliamentarians, many would argue that our greatest
responsibility is when we call upon the members of our forces,
those brave men and women, to execute a direction from here in the
House of Commons. It is an issue we should not be taking lightly.
On that note, I would personally like to send my condolences,
prayers, and best wishes to the family and friends of Sergeant
Doiron, who was our first casualty in the Iraqi situation we are
currently in.
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Canada has a clear interest in training Iraqi forces to fight and
destroy ISIL. We can and should do this training away from the front
lines, as our allies have been doing. Canada should participate in a
well-funded and well-planned international humanitarian aid effort.
The refugee crisis alone threatens the region's security, overwhelming neighbouring countries. We need to recognize the
magnitude of what we are talking about. We are talking about
millions.
I would like to reinforce what the Liberal leader stated the other
day regarding the United Nations. He said:
The United Nations is telling us that, after four years of all-out war, over 11
million Syrians—over half the population—have been driven from their homes.
Syrians are fleeing their country by the millions, and this exodus of refugees is
causing a terrible crisis. In five years of combat, over 210,000 Syrians have been
killed, including over 10,000 children.
That is a horrendous number. Imagine every resident in western
Canada being displaced, and then some. The population of western
Canada is less than 11 million. Could members imagine every person
in western Canada being displaced? We are talking about a mass
displacement of people that is taking place, and the government's
response has been found wanting.
Let us talk about the four core principles that the Liberal Party has
talked about. First, Canada has a role to play in confronting
humanitarian crises in the world. Second, when a government
considers deploying its men and women in uniform, there must be a
clear mission and a clear role for Canada. Third, the case for
deploying our forces must be made openly and transparently, based
on clear, reliable, and dispassionately presented facts. Fourth,
Canada's role must reflect the broad scope of Canadian capabilities
and how we best can help.
● (1515)
This is the test we have put to the Prime Minister, the Minister of
National Defence, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the
current government has failed to meet that test. Canadians need to be
aware of the Conservatives' inability to present their case.
● (1520)
Hon. Erin O'Toole (Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, I would like to thank my friend from Winnipeg for his
intervention. He talked about his time in the Canadian Armed
Forces. We have done work here on the Hill together for veterans
and on military-related issues, and I always appreciate his thoughts
on these matters.
Our Prime Minister is taking a radically different approach. This is
the second time we are having this debate into the evening. We are
voting in this House on a combat-related deployment, a modest one
but an important one. Why is the Liberal Party not supporting a
mission that is clearly and transparently laid out, unlike the Liberals'
Afghanistan mission?
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, that is just not true. It is not
the case.
Let me be very clear. The government is proposing an unfocused,
unending combat mission for the Canadian Armed Forces. The
Conservatives have failed to clearly articulate the mission objectives,
with the Prime Minister and his Minister of National Defence
offering conflicting arguments.
Let us reflect on the debates and discussions that took place both
inside and outside the House on Canada's role in Iraq. It took a great
deal of courage for then Prime Minister Chrétien to recognize that it
was not okay for Canada to play a role in Iraq back then. There was a
case made and put forward in regard to Afghanistan.
I believe that the Liberal Party has taken a very responsible
approach to dealing with our Canadian Forces and world politics. We
can be very proud of the way we have dealt with foreign affairs. This
is something I personally take great pride in. However, it is very
important that Canadians be aware of just how much—
The Speaker: Order, please. I will have to stop the hon. member
there to allow for another question.
The hon. member for Sherbrooke.
[Translation]
Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault (Sherbrooke, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
thank my colleague for his speech.
I wonder if my colleague can help us understand the vague
objective of Canada's mission in Iraq, which the government is now
trying to demonstrate. There seems to be no clearly defined objective
for the end of the mission in Iraq.
The problem is that the government has decided to undertake a
combat mission without having a clearly defined objective at the
outset about when the mission will end and when we will be able to
withdraw our soldiers from all of these conflicts.
Can my colleague comment on the problem of not identifying a
clear end to this mission?
One thing I have to raise is that he outlined his leader's list of
considerations, and what I find striking, because the member went
back to the 1980s, when he served, was that he said we should bring
a clear and transparent debate to this House of Commons on a
military combat deployment. However, that very approach was not
followed by the Liberals before there were 12 years of Afghanistan.
In fact, the Kabul and later the Kandahar missions were not brought
to this House.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, that is the essence of what I
believe many Canadians are quite concerned about. It is that there
has not been a clear game plan put on the table. There has been a
lack of transparency from the Prime Minister's Office, which we
should all be concerned about.
I am going to be speaking later this afternoon and using some
speeches other Liberal leaders have given. We cannot find a speech
from former Prime Minister Chrétien or others in the House of
Commons before Afghanistan, because they did not bring it to the
House for a debate and a vote.
What I would like to do is bring home a few points on what the
Liberal Party of Canada is actually saying. Canada has a clear
interest in training Iraqi forces to fight and destroy ISIL. We can and
should do this training away from the front lines, as our allies have
been doing.
[English]
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Canada should participate in a well-funded and well-planned
international humanitarian aid effort. The refugee crisis alone
threatens the region's security and is overwhelming neighbouring
countries. Here at home we should expand our refugee targets and
give more victims of war the opportunity to start a new life here in
Canada. There are many things we can do. We will have to wait and
see how the debate continues.
● (1525)
Hon. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for welcoming me back from the
little break I took.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to discuss the continued
crisis caused by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,
known as ISIL, which is an ongoing crisis and a critical international
issue.
I want to add a personal dimension to this debate.
I grew up in multicultural countries such as Tanzania and India
before I arrived in Canada. In Tanzania, my best friend, whom I
treated as a family member, was a Sunni Muslim. His name is
Shakot Malik. In India, close friendships developed during my
school years with members of the Muslim community. Here in
Canada, members of the Sunni, Shia, Ismaili, and Ahmadiyya have
all been strong supporters and personal friends. Let me name a few:
Naseem Mahadi, Albert Elkadri, Ray Sarout, Nagah Hage, Moe
Amery, Moe Suliman, Jamal Rafai, Mohammad Rasheed, and
Mohamod Yasin.
Why do I say these names? It is because they are outstanding
members of the Muslim community who have strongly contributed
to making Canada the best country in the world.
There are a few others I can also name, such as Dr. Habiba
Chakir, a leading scientist, and Nazreen Ali, with whom I held a
symposium a few years ago here on Parliament Hill called “Women
in Islam”. I will also soon have one as a family member too.
We are proud of the contributions made by these great Canadians.
I have also had the privilege to represent Canada abroad and have
made strong friendships with Muslims from across the globe. They
are all outstanding citizens of the world.
Therefore, it is wrong to say that ISIL represents Islam. ISIL is a
bunch of murderers. What its members are doing is definitely against
Islam. They kill the innocent, they rape women, and they target
minorities. Terrible stories have come out of Syria and Iraq where
ISIL is in control. Let me say how barbaric they are. They even kill
their own who disagree with them. The Economist magazine, in a
recent issue, captured what members of ISIL are doing. They are
spreading fear.
The international community has not only an obligation but a
responsibility to stop the murderous rampage of these barbaric
individuals who take pride in killing.
Over 60 countries have come together to stop these atrocities
being committed where ISIL has a presence. Why? It is because we
all believe that we not only have an obligation but a responsibility
toward the innocent victims of ISIL.
May I remind the House that it was Canada that spearheaded the
discussion at the United Nations on the “responsibility to protect”
following the Rwanda genocide. It proposed that when a state fails to
protect its people, either through a lack of ability or a lack of
willingness, the responsibility shifts to the broader international
community.
ISIL has already arrived on the shores of Canada. I have talked to
Christianne Boudreau, whose son Damian Clairmont died in Syria.
We have lost two soldiers here in Canada because of individuals
brainwashed by ISIL propaganda.
Our security service continues to disrupt those who choose to
target Canadians. We have to stop them.
Their headquarters are in Syria, where they hide, because they
know that they will not be attacked. Well, we have said many times
that Assad must go. That remains our position. Assad must go, but
ISIL must not find shelter in Syria. Hence, this resolution authorizing
extending the mission on ISIL in Syria, before it becomes a global
threat, is essential.
I will remind members that ISIL is already present in Libya,
Nigeria, and Yemen. Recently we heard that ISIL is targeting
American soldiers in the United States by naming them.
I fail to understand the logic of the opposition parties that fail to
see the threat. Recently the Liberal candidate in Calgary Forest Lawn
said that we should not be in Iraq. We should not be fighting ISIL.
This was from a police officer who spent his entire career helping
innocent victims. Why is he blind to helping innocent victims of a
terrorist organization? Even Pope Francis has said that ISIL must be
stopped.
However, ISIL members must also face justice. They must be held
accountable, otherwise they will give rise to more terrorist groups,
creating more havoc for peaceful societies around the globe.
● (1530)
As my friend Goldy Hyder said, “Why should we remain idle
when there are those who are trying to destroy everything that we
believe—everything that we love?”
Canada will not stand idle. I am very proud when I go to the
Remembrance Day parade held in my riding where people stand
with pride for how they fought for democracy, how they fought for
human rights, how they fought to ensure countries remain free.
These are people who gave their lives.
Contrary to what the NDP and the Liberals and are saying, this is
the same party that without debate sent Canadian soldiers into
Afghanistan because they felt it was the right thing to do. They did
not even bring the debate to the House, as this government is doing
so that they can talk. As far as the NDP is concerned, we know from
the debates we had on Afghanistan that the NDP would oppose
anything. They even opposed World War II, when the whole world
was fighting evil.
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This government, contrary to what the NDP is going to say and
contrary to what the Liberal members are going to say, is going to
stand for the long Canadian tradition of helping the innocent around
the world.
When peace is threatened around the world, Canada will be there.
Canada is going there. I am very proud to support this resolution.
Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I have to
suggest that it is no wonder that Canadians do not trust what they
hear from members opposite. When they get excited about certain
ideological things or they want to raise people's passion, they lose
their connection with the truth and with reality. When the
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs talks
about the NDP's support for World War II, he was not here and
neither was I, but I have read the record, and the motion in relation to
World War II was supported by the NDP.
I criticize the member and the Minister of National Defence when
they state publicly that the NDP does not support and never
supported any military intervention, because he was here. Both of
them were here when the two motions on Libya, the initial one and
the first extension, were supported by the NDP. We got off board
when the mission went off board and changed its mandate entirely to
regime change. We saw the result of that.
Hon. Deepak Obhrai: Mr. Speaker, I was here too when we
debated Afghanistan and when New Democrats opposed everything
about defending Afghanistan. When they say that they have
supported something like Libya, sometimes when they see public
opinion has changed, they will change their position, but very soon
they go back to their original position and stop supporting any of the
missions.
New Democrats keep saying humanitarian aid. Yes, that is a very
important component, but that is after what has happened. We have
to stop the root cause of these refugees. As the Minister of National
Defence said during question period, Syrians are saying they would
like to go back home. They want to stay home. Let us now help them
stay home. That should be the goal, and that can only be done if we
fight the terrorist groups back there.
● (1535)
Ms. Yvonne Jones (Labrador, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I say to my
hon. colleague opposite that public opinion is how you make
decisions, but it is not necessarily how we make decisions. We make
decisions in the best interests of Canadians for the long haul.
I would say to the government members opposite that what you
are proposing in the motion has been unfocused. We have seen that
from the beginning. We have seen an unending combat mission for
the Canadian Armed Forces with no exit strategy being proposed by
your government.
In addition to that, why did the government opposite feel it is
important to extend this mission into Syria right now when all of the
other countries, with the exception of the United States, have not
done that and have refused to do that? Why is your government not
prepared to provide more aid for refugees, more humanitarian efforts
for the people of Syria, for the children and the many families that
need it right now?
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): Before I call on the
parliamentary secretary, I have just a reminder in reference to using
the “you” or “your” word. Try to direct commentary or questions
through the Chair and to use the third person. That works out pretty
well.
The hon. parliamentary secretary.
Hon. Deepak Obhrai: Mr. Speaker, let me remind the hon.
member that our government has brought the debate into the House.
When the Liberals were in power, they did not bring the debate to
the House when they sent troops to Afghanistan. They made their
own decision, so for them to say that they did the right thing is
wrong.
Why are we going into Syria? It is because ISIL is in Syria. Their
headquarters are in Syria. They run their murderous organization
from there. It is therefore necessary to go and fight in Syria, where
they are, so that we stop them. I have said before that Assad must go.
We are not supporting Assad, but we need to stop ISIL, and ISIL is
in Syria.
As for what this mission is, it is very clear in the motion. It is for
one year. The objectives are there. Everything is there. They were
briefed, as well as the opposition critic, so I do not understand what
the whole problem is that they keep bringing up.
Mr. Rick Norlock (Northumberland—Quinte West, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, welcome back. I am glad you are looking better.
I just heard the hon. member mention Afghanistan. Of course, the
Liberals did not come to the House for that, and they did not have an
exit strategy or say at the time what their exit strategy was. We were
there for quite a long time.
We did agree with it because it was an honourable and appropriate
mission. I think the hon. member mentioned that in his response. I
wonder if he feels, as I do, that it is rather juvenile and naive to
expect that one would have an exit strategy when one is beginning to
win.
We are winning in Iraq. They are getting supplied by Syria—
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): Order, please. We
have just a short bit of time to get another quick response in. The
hon. parliamentary secretary.
Hon. Deepak Obhrai: Mr. Speaker, we do have an exit strategy.
The exit strategy is when we defeat ISIL. That is the exit strategy.
Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, first let
me commend my colleague, the member for Ottawa Centre and the
official opposition foreign affairs critic, on a clear and forceful
speech this morning outlining the NDP's position on the motion
before the House on the government's intention to expand the
combat mission in Iraq to Syria and nominally add another year to
the mission. I also want to commend my other colleagues who have
spoken in the debate thus far.
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I also want to acknowledge the appalling and abhorrent abuses
and atrocities committed in Iraq and elsewhere by this vicious group
known variously as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh. These include mass
killings, sexual violence, slavery, forced displacement, and the
destruction of holy and historic sites. In Iraq alone, the violence has
led to the displacement of 2.5 million civilians and left 5.2 million in
need of humanitarian assistance.
ISIL claims an old goal of parts of Islam, one that was even
promoted in the Middle East by the west for its own purposes 100
years ago, which is the establishment of a caliphate. Its methods are
brutal and are opposed by the rest of Islam. ISIL is fomenting and
carrying out a most extreme battle between the Shiite and Shia
branches of Islam, extreme intolerance to the point of death, and a
radical ideology that in no way represents Islam.
The current crisis has been created by ISIL in the vacuum of
governmental authority in Iraq after 10 years of military intervention
by the United States and others. In response, the current international
coalition of some 60 nations, led by the United States, is now
working to deal with the threat of ISIL and the fallout of its actions.
The coalition has undertaken the so-called “five lines of effort”, of
which only one involves military combat. What is more, only a small
minority of coalition partners are actually engaged in military
combat. Canada is one of them.
The government started last September with a 30-day mission to
advise and assist the Kurdish peshmerga in northern Iraq. Then it
became a six-month air combat mission with the assurances of no
ground combat, no painting targets, and no accompaniment of the
Kurds into combat. Now the government is nominally adding
another year to Canada's commitment and expanding into Syria
without its consent, a condition set by the Prime Minister last fall.
I continue to say “nominally add another year” for a very good
reason, which is that the Conservative government, through
statements by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of
National Defence, and the Prime Minister himself, has made it clear
that it is headed toward a long-term military combat mission for
Canada with no clear end. We will be faced with this decision as
long as the Conservatives are in government.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of National Defence,
and the Prime Minister have all stated that ISIL poses a direct threat
to Canada. The Prime Minister said:
We will deal with it as long as it is there. We will not stop dealing with it before
that.
Hearing that, we know we are in this for the long haul.
We have to look at how the government has defined the threat.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs said in his speech this morning that
Canadians are under siege. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the
Minister of National Defence, and the Prime Minister have
repeatedly said that ISIL has declared war on Canada. The Minister
of National Defence actually invoked Canada's independent right of
self-defence in international law as a justification for the actions
being taken by Canada.
These overblown statements by the most senior leaders of the
Canadian government risk the credibility of Canada in the
international world and the credibility of the government at home.
They are clearly designed to raise the level of fear among Canadian
citizens. What kind of respect and reputation in foreign affairs can
Canada expect with this kind of leadership on the most serious
matter of state—going to war in foreign countries?
We do know, of course, that terrorists exist in Canada. That is not
new, but neither the attacker on Parliament Hill nor the one in SaintJean-sur-Richelieu was sent here by any foreign entity.
● (1540)
As pointed out in one of Canada's foremost national newspapers,
TheGlobe and Mail, despite attempts by the Prime Minister to
closely tie ISIS to the terrorist threat in Canada, the actual
connections are thin to non-existent.
Instead of dealing with the actual threat in Canada by engaging in
robust and well-resourced anti-radicalization and counter-radicalization programs here at home, by working with the Muslim
community instead of alienating them, by preventing the flow of
funds to ISIL, by confronting the dire humanitarian situation in a
significant and increased manner, and by doing all of those things
that my colleague the member for Ottawa Centre emphasized in his
speech this morning and that are contained in the NDP amendment,
the current government is going down the road of war from mission
creep to mission leap with no clear goals, no honesty with the House
of Commons and the Canadian people, no clear end or exit strategy,
dubious legal justification and no end gain.
In a television appearance the other day the Minister of National
Defence stated that the strategy has gone from one of containing ISIl
to defeating it. We just heard the same thing from the parliamentary
secretary. The Minister of Foreign Affairs said something else today.
However, when the Minister of National Defence was asked what
happens in the event that Canada reaches the objective of defeating
ISIL, he admitted that he would need to look for a crystal ball. That
will give members some idea about where the government thinks
this is going and how it would lead to the actual resolve it is
proposing. The objectives keep changing depending on who is
speaking, and without a clear objective the uncertainty about this
mission and its length is obvious.
We cannot trust what the government will do in the course of this
military action. We found that out over the last six months as the
mission “evolved” without Canadians knowing about it at the time,
and evolved contrary to the express promises of the Prime Minister.
This time he has given us a hint. On Tuesday in the House the
Prime Minister said, “We have made important deployments...those
deployments could easily be changed”. He also opened the door to
further expansion, saying, “we must avoid, if we can, taking on
ground combat responsibilities in this region. We seek to have the
Iraqis do this themselves”. With the government's record, that is far
from reassuring.
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Have we learned nothing from our experience most recently in
Afghanistan and Libya? Neither can be called a success. In Libya it
was relatively easy to destroy the Government of Libya, although
that was not the stated intention going in, which has changed from
the “responsibility to protect” to “regime change”. The result was a
disaster of instability, chaos and a vacuum into which numerous
terrorist groups, including al Qaeda and ISIL are now free to operate.
Now we are dealing with the fallout from a 10-year military
intervention in Iraq. When will we acknowledge the limitations and
significant potential for failure and disaster by taking this military
approach again and again?
Let me be clear. The NDP supports the coalition, as do 60 other
nations, with only a handful of our western allies engaged in air
strikes, and none engaged as Canada is on the ground. This debate is
about what role Canada should play as part of the coalition. Canada
must act, but we must do so in the way we can best add value to the
international coalition, and in a way that respects international law
and our values as a country. We cannot support the long-term, illdefined, military combat mission proposed in the motion. We have
therefore amended it to conform to the important steps that Canada
can and should take, both within Canada and in the region, to
support those affected and to help build the long-term stability of
Iraq and the entire region.
● (1545)
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I believe the
member's statement was filled with a number of mischaracterizations
of the government's policy. I strongly disagree with his conclusions.
First, the member characterized a small number of countries as
being involved in the military campaign. In fact, there are 24
countries that have committed military assets to the campaign,
amongst which are the social democratic governments of Denmark,
Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and France. As well, other
countries with military assets including involvement in the air
campaign whose governments' decisions are supported by the social
democratic parties are the United Kingdom, Australia and New
Zealand, and the democratic administration in the United States.
Parties of the centre left all through the democratic world see an
urgent security imperative and humanitarian imperative to stop this
genocide, to stop the metastasization of this genocidal terrorist
organization into actually becoming something resembling a state.
Why does the NDP take such a radical departure from the
mainstream view on international security of the centre left parties?
Second, the member says we have no clear goal. The goal is very
clear. It is to degrade ISIL to the point where it no longer constitutes
a security threat to Canada or the world. That is what I characterize
as defeating that organization.
The member says there is no exit strategy. We have 600 personnel
in Kuwait and 69 in Erbil. The exit strategy is very simple. When the
Government of Canada decides that their mission is over, they get on
planes and return home.
Would the member please stop repeating this nonsense.
● (1550)
Mr. Jack Harris: Mr. Speaker, I find it amusing that the minister
likes to play with words. About the exit strategy, there is a wellknown strategic matter that militaries should and can and do
consider whenever they are engaged in battle. When they go into a
mission, deciding how to get out is a very important part of deciding
whether to go in.
As to the goal, the goal is expressed differently today. We heard
from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, then we heard from the
parliamentary secretary. We do not know what goal the government
has.
We do not trust the government, frankly. I do not know what the
other parties in other countries do with their governments, but we
certainly have reason not to trust the government as to what they will
do, when they will do and how far they go.
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
would like to ask my fellow defence critic a question of his party's
position.
First, I will say that our position is not to support this motion
because we do not see it being in the national interest. The Liberal
Party of Canada has never shied away from sending the Canadian
Armed Forces into combat when it does serve the national interest.
We received a briefing yesterday. In that briefing, foreign affairs
was very clear that it is important that Iraq's own army become
sufficient to take on ISIL on its own. What it said is that it is
becoming stronger thanks to advise and assist, and training efforts by
coalition partners, including Canada.
We agree that these efforts should be behind the wire and not at
the front lines. Why would the NDP not support behind the wire,
back of the front line training that could help make the Iraqi forces
stronger so that they themselves can protect their people and
territory, and take it back from ISIL?
Mr. Jack Harris: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that we
have never objected to the notion of assisting the Iraqi army to train
and transport weapons to the Iraqi army, which was done from the
Czech Republic and from Albania. We supported that. That was
never put to a motion in this House.
What was put to a motion in this House in early October was the
whole package, which we voted against. We did have trouble, of
course, getting the truth from the government during the month of
September, even as to how many people were going and how many
people were there. When questions were asked as to when they were
going, the response was “What do you want? The air schedule? The
flight numbers?” Those were the kinds of responses we got. It took
about three weeks to find out how many were going.
We would certainly support efforts to assist the Iraqi army. What
we ended up getting was a combat mission with combat involvement
by those ground troops.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): Before we resume
debate, I have a comment.
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With the nature and the gravity of the debate before the House
today, members may have observed that we are only really getting
about two questions during the five minutes allowed for questions
and comments. This is something the chair occupants have been
watching closely.
We will do our best to fit more questions in, but it is quite
understandable that members, and those responding to the questions,
want to take their time to speak on the kinds of points that are
pertinent to the question that is before the House this afternoon and
this evening, I understand.
With your co-operation and indulgence, we will do our best to
accommodate as many as we can, but I do not expect we will get
more than probably two questions or comments in during that five
minute period.
Resuming debate, the hon. Minister of Veterans Affairs.
Hon. Erin O'Toole (Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, whenever we talk about the deployment of the men and
women of the Canadian Armed Forces into a combat or combatrelated mission, it is one of the most important debates we have in
the House. Certainly as someone who served in the military, I take
very seriously my chance to speak in the House of Commons.
I was proud to speak on October 7 of last year on the mission
against ISIL, when the Prime Minister first brought it to the House.
Now I speak in a unique role as well, as Minister of Veterans Affairs,
recognizing that when we send our men and women into areas of the
world like this, there are risks. I think of those risks and of those
people, the moms and dads who are serving their country, the sons
and daughters, people like Sgt. Andrew Doiron and his comrades
who in their training mission encountered friendly fire. It just shows
the risks and uncertainty when we send the Canadian Armed Forces
in. We send them because they are professional and among the best
in the world. As Minister of Veterans Affairs, I am not just proud of
them, but I am here to assure those men and women and their
families that we will serve them after their deployments and after
they leave uniform.
I think back to October 7 and look back at my speech to see where
we have come as a country, as one of the allies fighting the ISIL
movement worldwide, and what has happened since October 7. I
read the Prime Minister's speech to the House. It is important
because we are bringing this debate and a vote to the House, unlike
the Liberal Party before the 12-year Afghanistan mission. The Prime
Minister said in October of last year, “It has never been the Canadian
way to do only the most easy and praiseworthy of actions and to
leave the tough things” to other nations.
Our country has had a proud history of playing a role
commensurate with our size and ability. That is what we have been
asked to do here alongside our allies like the United States and
others, and that is what we are doing with professionalism.
Let us look at the world and indeed Canada since the first debate
in the House in October of last year. We are now renewing the
mission because we have taken very concrete timelines that were
monitoring the impact of our mission to degrade and restrain ISIL
from its advance and to halt its activities of barbarism in that part of
the world.
What have we seen since October? We have seen attacks in the
Middle East, terrorism attacks in Africa, Europe, and here in Canada.
We have seen the rise of the foreign fighter phenomenon. Last year
there were estimates of 20,000 foreign fighters joining the ISIL
mission in that part of the world, 500 or more from Great Britain and
Germany and more than 1,000 from France. There have been
Canadians. We have been troubled by the fact that there are
Canadians who have been misled and swept into this global jihadi
movement, who are actually travelling there to commit these
atrocious acts. That gives us a further responsibility as a leading
nation of the world to not ignore what is happening.
There has also been progress. Sgt. Doiron and the CSOR, our
F-18 squadrons, our Aurora crews, our Polaris crews, Canada, and
our allies are making a profound impact. Religious minorities have
been protected. There are refugees leaving these areas where their
lives are at risk. We have degraded ISIL and we have constrained it
out of large parts of Iraq, which it was essentially overrunning last
year.
However, there is still progress to make. There are still inherent
risks with allowing a terrorist force that has as its mission to create a
state and execute and encourage attacks throughout the world.
Canada is not immune. We have seen that in this city. Therefore, we
have a responsibility to play an active role.
I am proud when the Prime Minister also highlights our leadership
on the humanitarian aid side of the mission, because the subject of
refugees and aid cannot be divorced from the fact that we need to
bring security and safety to that region. Just this week in the House,
the Prime Minister said, “We do not...choose between fighting...
[terror] and helping its victims. We will continue to do both”. We are
providing some of our world-class expertise from the Canadian
Armed Forces, but we are also one of the lead nations in aid. We are
one of the lead nations responding in the refugee crisis. We will
continue to do that.
● (1555)
In my speech on October 7, I said debates like this define the very
character of Canada.
[Translation]
The fact that we have the opportunity to have this debate is part of
our Canadian values, values that we must defend.
[English]
A debate like this calls for a Churchill quote, because he was a
leader to whom many parliamentarians from around the world look.
Churchill, in debates like this, would say let us worry less about
action but worry more about inaction. That is paraphrasing Winston
Churchill. Our government is taking deliberate and measured action
against not just a threat in that region but a threat to the world and to
stability.
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It is measured in that we are back debating a timeline of this
deployment. We are also in a limited combat role where our fighter
aircraft can degrade and pin down ISIL. We are doing a training
mission to help the Iraqis and the peshmerga defend their own
territory, to give them the tactical knowledge to help them defend
against the atrocities. It is a limited, measured, and temporal mission
that we are bringing to our Parliament to debate.
One of the most troubling parts of the debate in October and,
indeed, this week is the sad position of the Liberal Party of Canada.
In fact, it is a deviation from that party's traditional approach to
Canada's position in world affairs, and it is troubling. In my speech
last October, I quoted Mackenzie King from 1939 in this place, who
thanked Conservative leader Robert Manion, a Vimy Ridge veteran,
for taking the politics out of the debate about World War II. King
said, “This deep-lying instinct for freedom is, I believe, characteristic
of the citizens of Canada from one end of this great country to the
other”. That was said by Mackenzie King in this place, thanking the
opposition for supporting Canadian involvement against tyranny.
What did Lester Pearson, another leader of the Liberal Party of
Canada, say in 1951 in the era of Canada in Germany as part of the
Cold War and the Korean mission? Pearson said, “We should accept
without any reservation, the view that the Canadian who fires his
rifle in Korea or on the Elbe is defending his home as surely as if he
were firing it on his own soil”. These are not foreign acts that we can
ignore. Indeed, Canadian security is inherent in what is happening
across the world.
Even in 2001, the foreign affairs minister and deputy prime
minister for the Liberal government, John Manley, said in that very
foyer, after 9/11:
Canada has a good reputation...in the world, but let‘s make no mistake about it:
Canada does not have a history as a pacifist or a neutralist country.
Canada has soldiers who are buried all over Europe because we fought in defence
of liberty....
Those are three quotes from three generations of Liberal leaders in
Canada. What will historians look back on as the current Liberal
leader's profound quote in defence of liberty? Would it be that this is
not about whipping out our CF-18s to show how big they are? It is
sad. The Liberal Party has disappeared from what most Canadians
knew that proud party to be. Even its defence critic today criticized
what she called the laundry list of atrocities being conducted by ISIL
that we are trotting out. This is what we are fighting. Canada does
not let a laundry list like that be read and say that it is not our
mission, that we have no role there.
We are a proud country that benefits from globalization, that
benefits from trade, that gives aid and helps on a humanitarian basis
around the world, and we are doing that, but we also do not shirk our
responsibility to play a role that is commensurate with our size and
ability. I am very proud of the men and women of the Royal
Canadian Air Force. I am very proud of all uniformed figures in the
operations centres working with our allies. I am very proud of our
soldiers from JTF2 and the CSOR units who are giving the tools to
some of the people on the ground to prevent these atrocities.
● (1600)
Canada has a role to play. Our party, our government, is bringing
this to the House of Commons to show Canada that this is an
important role. I truly hope that those members in the Liberal Party
remind their leader of his responsibility in that regard.
● (1605)
Mr. Dennis Bevington (Northwest Territories, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I am glad to have an opportunity to stand and ask my
colleague a question.
At the end, he spoke very strongly about how he sees that Canada
has a role to play. Canada could have many roles to play. This is a
role that the Conservative Party has chosen to play in this conflict.
My understanding is that the conflict in Syria and Iraq is moving
into the urban centres. We are going to be playing a role in which our
airplanes, without guidance from allied sources, are going to be
bombing urban centres. That is going to lead to civilian casualties.
That is the role Canada is taking on with this conflict right now. This
is a role that I do not think is appropriate for Canada right now.
Canada can do much better in the field of humanitarian efforts.
How does my colleague feel about the situation that is going to
occur when Canadian airplanes are causing civilian casualties
throughout that region?
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the
member for Northwest Territories for that question and remind him
of what I quoted from the Prime Minister's two speeches in the
House on this mission, just this week, in which he said that we will
do both. We will not only try to contain and destroy a terrible force
that is causing risk to Canada and to that region, but we are also
going to help the victims affected by ISIL. This is not an either/or
debate. We are doing as much on a humanitarian level as a leading
nation, both giving and assisting, as we are playing a critical role in
the security debate.
I would note that in my remarks I mentioned the Royal Canadian
Air Force and its Aurora observation aircraft and the Polaris
refuelling our CF-18s. We have the most modern and well-trained air
force in the world. In conducting an air mission like this to contain
and destroy ISIL and to cut off its supply line, we analyze every
mission. Nothing goes if there are risks of collateral damage to
civilians. Only an air force of our professionalism can do that, in
which its members can actually assess targets and then learn from
each strike.
The sincere hope, as the Minister of National Defence said, is that
once we degrade and destroy it to that point, our exit strategy is
called a flight plan back to Canada.
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Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
was quite surprised that in that laundry list of examples of past prime
ministers, the minister left out former prime minister Jean Chrétien
and his decision not to take Canada into the war in Iraq in 2003. The
member's own leader, the current Prime Minister, strongly supported
going into that war, with arguments based on the very provocative
kind of rhetoric, and not reason, that is being used in the talking
points from the Conservative members today. That war proved to be
disastrous and the ground for the very chaos and terrorism that is
happening in that country today.
When I hear from the member about his experience in the armed
forces, I wonder what he would do if he had leaders who were doing
what the two ministers are doing, where one is saying that the goal is
to degrade ISIL and the other that it is to destroy and eliminate ISIL.
These are two very different objectives. How would that member
have responded to having very different objectives from leaders
when he was in the armed forces? Would it not have given him
concern that perhaps it would not have been in his interest to follow
those very conflicting and fuzzy directions?
Hon. Erin O'Toole: Mr. Speaker, I am quite shocked that the
Liberal defence critic accuses me of using talking points here today.
My talking points were actually how previous Liberal leaders talked.
I quoted three generations of leaders of the once-proud Liberal Party:
MacKenzie King, Lester Pearson and John Manley, who was Jean
Chrétien's deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs.
They knew Canada had a role to play in the world. In fact, Mr.
Manley became the Time magazine newsmaker of the world
essentially for that remark he made, showing that Canada would
respond. We responded by going into Afghanistan to stop the
gathering threat that was being perpetrated through the Taliban,
allowing terrorists to train in that country.
What is interesting, that might not be in her talking points, is that
Jean Chrétien did not bring that to a debate here or vote in the House
of Commons. He used his executive power to deploy Canada for
what ended up being a 12-year mission.
The stark difference between the talking points, which were really
the speeches of past and current Liberal leaders, shows the decline
and shows how the Liberal Party is out of touch with Canadians.
● (1610)
Mr. Matthew Kellway (Beaches—East York, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, the Conservative government is formally today seeking
from all of us in this place our support for extending and expanding
Canada's military mission against the Islamic State of Iraq and the
Levant, commonly known as ISIL. With this motion the government
is asking that we agree to continue to put men and women of
Canada's armed forces in harm's way in Iraq and over, if not in,
Syria.
That harm may find them is most obvious now in the wake of the
recent and tragic death of Sergeant Doiron. May he rest in peace and
may those who knew him and loved him find solace in some way.
May his life and his fate be at the forefront of our minds as we
consider this motion. Not just Sergeant Doiron's life, but let us also
think about the 158 Canadians who died in service to this country in
our war in Afghanistan, about the thousands who were injured, about
the thousands more who will wrestle forever with post-traumatic
stress disorder and about those who could not live any longer with
the experience or memory of their service in Afghanistan and took
their own lives.
This is the inevitability of war. This is what the Conservative
government is asking us to accept with this motion. This debate then
is about our responsibility for their lives, the lives of the men and
women of our armed forces. Sometimes circumstances warrant our
approval of military action. History, including our own Canadian
history of military action, tells us that sometimes circumstances
warrant that we say yes, knowing that those who go into military
action on behalf of this country may not come back whole, if at all.
It follows that a few important requirements need to be met before
“yes” can be the answer, before support for military action can be
forthcoming. The first and most fundamental of these is trust. Trust
in the government, trust that the government will abide by the
language of the motion before us, trust that it will hold sacred the
consent and the limits to that consent as set out in the motion before
us given to it by the House.
We know the answer to this question. It has been provided to us
many times over in many ways, but we need not reach any further
than this mission before us. The House has been misled and the
consent provided by the House for the mission to date has been
abused. On September 4, the Prime Minister announced the
deployment of several dozen military advisers for up to 30 days to
help the Kurds in Iraq. We were told that this was an advise and
assist mission.
On September 30, the Prime Minister told us in the House that
Canadian soldiers are not accompanying the Iraqi forces into
combat. Over and over again in so many different ways, the Prime
Minister has been asked in the House about the role of Canadian
ground troops in Iraq, about the engagement of Canadian ground
troops in combat. Over and over again in the House, we were told
that they would not be so engaged. By February it became clear. The
answers provided by the government, by the Prime Minister himself,
were not true.
Canadian soldiers providing ground support to air strikes
exchanged fire with ISIL ground units. At least three such firefights
were reported between the end of January and mid-February. Now
we are being asked to approve a motion that “notes that the
Government continues not to deploy troops in a ground combat
role”. We know that not to be true. The government knows that not
to be true. We have had ministers rise in the House to acknowledge
the engagement of Canadian soldiers in ground combat. We have
had the death of Sergeant Doiron to confirm this truth for us.
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What it betrays is a government that is not just untrustworthy, but
takes far too lightly its responsibilities, a government that falls far
short of its responsibility to deal with this matter with the seriousness
it deserves. It is not merely just about planting this strange clause
about combat troops in the motion, the issue extends to the reference
in the motion to UN Security Council resolution 2178. Its reference
suggests that the resolution is somehow in support of this mission,
that the United Nations Security Council resolution somehow
confers support for this mission or legitimizes it. Resolution 2178
deals with the issue of the travel of terrorists and the financing of
terrorism.
It is perhaps an obvious point that has not escaped the attention of
so many analysts of these circumstances that it is in the context of
tearing down state institutions and tearing asunder civil society that
we provide fertile ground for radicalization. Surely we have
witnessed this enough times that not hundreds of thousands of
troops on the ground much less bombs from on high is the
prescription for peaceful development and security.
● (1615)
Mr. Bernard Trottier (Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister of Foreign Affairs and for La Francophonie, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to the speech, and I know that the
hon. member's intentions are perhaps good.
Moreover, on the matter of the conduct of the current government
to date, and the proposed extension and expansion of this mission, it
is difficult to read into the resolution anything other than
contradiction to the motion in which it is embedded.
It recognizes, for instance, “...that international cooperation and
any measures taken by Member States to prevent and combat
terrorism must comply fully with the Charter of the United Nations”.
It reaffirms respect for “the sovereignty, territorial integrity and
political independence of all States in accordance with the Charter”.
It further reaffirms that:
Member States must ensure that any measures taken to counter terrorism comply
with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human
rights law, international refugee law, and international humanitarian law, underscoring that respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law are
complementary and mutually reinforcing with effective counter-terrorism measures,
and are an essential part of a successful counter-terrorism effort and notes the
importance of respect for the rule of law so as to effectively prevent and combat
terrorism, and noting that failure to comply with these and other international
obligations, including under the Charter of the United Nations, is one of the factors
contributing to increased radicalization and fosters a sense of impunity...
We have asked the Prime Minister and ministers of the
Conservative government whether they have in fact complied with
their legal obligations under international law. In response to that
question from the leader of the official opposition, a question that
arises straight from the text of the Security Council resolution
embedded in their motion, the Prime Minister saw fit to crack on
wise about ISIL lawyers. He said:
I am not sure what point the leader of the NDP is ultimately making. If he is
suggesting that there is any significant legal risk of lawyers from ISIL taking the
Government of Canada to court and winning, the Government of Canada's view is
that the chances of that are negligible.
While he sends our Canadian Armed Forces around the world to
stand up for the rule of law, while he cites in this motion the Security
Council resolution reaffirming it, we have a Prime Minister who
flouts the rule of law, who openly mocks it in our Parliament.
I have one final point about the text of the resolution as it relates to
the motion. It tells us not only that compliance with international
legal obligations is mandatory, but it explains why. It is the view of
the Security Council, as reflected in this resolution, that compliance
with international law complements and reinforces effective counterterrorism measures, and that the converse is also true, that the failure
to comply with international obligations, including under the charter
of the United Nations is “...one of the factors contributing to
increased radicalization and fosters a sense of impunity”.
Canada must respond differently from now on. We must
accordingly say no to this main motion and support the motion as
amended by the NDP.
The member talked about the legal case, as if the other 59 or 60
countries that are participating in this mission to combat ISIL have
no legal case. It is a very important consideration. Many countries,
by the way, are participating in the initiative against ISIL in Syria
also. Those countries have legal standing.
We have explained our position with respect to legal standing:
article 51 of the UN charter. We will be notifying the UN as per
article 51.
More importantly, and I think members of our party phrased it
today, if the legal case is made, will that party then support this
mission?
I think everybody agrees that there is a humanitarian disaster.
There is a military imperative on the ground in order to be able to
save people from the brutality being put in place by ISIL.
● (1620)
Mr. Matthew Kellway: Mr. Speaker, we are virtually alone
among all those coalition countries in expanding this mission into
Syria. It is only the United States that has assumed aerial
bombardment of Syria, and we are alone as the only country that
has committed ground troops to combat as part of this mission.
I think what the member misses is the very fundamental point
here, which is our ability to trust the government, our ability to trust
that this government takes its responsibility for the lives of Canadian
Armed Forces men and women sufficiently seriously. It is the very
fact that this government holds great disregard for the rule of
international law, as reflected in the comments of the Prime Minister
in this House. That disregard for international law, as reflected in the
fact that the government has not taken the necessary steps required
under the UN charter to get legal approval for this mission, is what
informs our position, in part at least, on the mission that the
government is proposing to undertake.
Ms. Yvonne Jones (Labrador, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Liberals really
believe that we have a role in the campaign against ISIL, and we feel
that the role should be in the best interests of the people of Canada.
However, we also feel that the government has not articulated its
objectives, and Liberals cannot support a mission that could very
well result in Assad consolidating his grip on Syria. As we know,
Mr. Assad has oppressed and terrorized the people of Syria, and we
have to do everything we can to ensure that does not continue.
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I ask my colleague if New Democrats support this view that has
been taken by the Liberal Party of Canada.
Mr. Matthew Kellway: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, it is not
clear what the Liberal position is on this matter.
in a security situation that does not allow humanitarian organizations
to operate, and the persecution of minority groups is an ongoing
concern.
Resolution 2178, which I cited, talks about the complementary
measures of respect for law, for human rights, for freedoms, et
cetera, and effective counterterrorism measures, yet we have the
Liberal Party standing up in support of Bill C-51 before that bill is
even tabled and remaining on their feet in support of that bill while
knowing that it robs Canadians of rights and freedoms and
fundamental human rights.
A key challenge for the humanitarian community continues to be
the difficulty of being able to get into conflict areas in order to reach
the people who need their help. The military measures we are taking
do not preclude humanitarian actions also being taken. There is no
either/or. In fact, security on the ground is essential. It is essential to
providing humanitarian assistance, and degrading the capabilities of
ISIL is key to achieving this while assisting those most in need.
The Liberal position on the broader issue of counterterrorism, on
the broader issue of the public safety of Canadians, and on this issue
of the expanded mission in Syria is perfectly unclear to me and, I
think, to the majority of Canadians.
Ms. Hélène LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard, NDP): Mr. Speaker, an
editorial in The Globe and Mail yesterday said:
Canada is the fifth-largest donor country in the humanitarian
response to the crisis in Iraq. In the last six months, in Iraq we have
helped feed 1.7 million people. We provided shelter and relief
supplies to 1.25 million people and helped with education needs for
half a million children.
But the logic behind the...government's Syrian plan has gaps, inconsistencies and
blind spots.
I would like my colleague to comment on that.
Mr. Matthew Kellway: Mr. Speaker, that is a very modest
criticism of this mission. We have seen over and over again in this
area of the world that responses from western countries in the form
of military action, even to the extent of well over 100,000 troops on
the ground in certain countries, do not reap the goals that we hope
for the rest of humanity, which is the ability to live in peace and
security and fulfill our potential here in this world.
To suggest that there is a blind spot here is a very modest
conclusion. There is no end game that the Conservatives have in
mind. They talk about “defeating” and “eliminating”. They use all
sorts of words to characterize what they hope to do in the end against
a counterterrorism movement that currently occupies territory the
size of the United Kingdom in Syria and Iraq and through associative
groups has spread through other continents.
We hear today from the Minister of National Defence that the end
game is that we will leave when we have had enough, and that is
more than a blind spot to this mission. That tells us that we really do
not have a mission.
● (1625)
Hon. Lynne Yelich (Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and
Consular), CPC): Mr. Speaker, Canada is deeply concerned by the
recent increase in violence in Iraq and its humanitarian consequences. Canada condemns, in the strongest terms, the targeting of
civilians and religious minorities, and we are deeply concerned by
reports of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. I would
like to provide some context that would help members understand
the dire situation being faced by the victims of ISIL.
The humanitarian situation in Iraq and neighbouring countries
continues to deteriorate as armed clashes drive displacement. Since
January 2014, more than 2.4 million people have been displaced
throughout the country, representing one of the largest cases of
displacement in the world. Basic services, including health care and
water infrastructure, have been disrupted, resulting in acute
humanitarian needs. Intense fighting in ISIL-held areas has resulted
Since the beginning of the crisis, Canada has committed $67.4
million to experienced humanitarian partners, such as United
Nations humanitarian agencies, the International Red Cross and
Red Crescent movement, and non-governmental organizations, to
get life-saving assistance to those who need it most. Canada is
providing food, hygiene kits, cooking materials, blankets, tents,
medical supplies, and other essential supplies, as well as making
emergency repairs to water and sanitation facilities.
The religious persecution of those seeking to practise their faith in
a peaceful and secure way is unacceptable to Canada, and we are
supporting efforts to assist in the protection of these rights. Our
assistance is also supporting organizations that are responding to
incidents of sexual and gender-based violence.
In addition, we have provided $9.5 million to respond to the needs
of Syrian refugees in Iraq. Last October the former minister of
foreign affairs announced an additional $10 million contribution to
support the innocent victims of ISIL's brutality, in particular to
respond to the heinous acts of sexual violence and human rights
abuses being committed against women and children.
We have deployed humanitarian relief supplies to Erbil from our
stockpile located in the International Humanitarian City in Dubai.
These supplies included kitchen sets, jerry cans, tents, blankets,
hygiene kits, and mosquito nets. These supplies, distributed by Save
the Children and the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees in partnership with Iraqi organizations, are providing
much-needed relief.
The size and pace of displacement have overwhelmed local
communities and governments in the region. We know the suffering
is spilling across borders. That is why Canada has been a leader
among the international community in our response to the broad
crisis in the region.
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In Syria, Canada is the sixth-largest country donor in the
humanitarian response to the Syrian crisis. Canada has made
significant contributions in response to the Syrian crisis, including
more than $700 million in humanitarian, development, and security
assistance for Syria and neighbouring countries.
Our government has committed additional humanitarian assistance for the needs of Syrians within the country and for those
seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, and we support UNICEF's
“no lost generation” strategy.
It is very concerning that both the Liberals and NDP fail to
acknowledge the real threat that ISIL and jihadi terrorism pose to
Canada. Under the leadership of our Prime Minister, our government
will continue to take this threat very seriously. ISIL has made it clear
that it targets, by name, Canada and Canadians. We cannot protect
Canada by simply choosing to ignore this threat.
● (1630)
We cannot provide humanitarian assistance to victims of ISIL in
other countries by ignoring the threat. We will not sit on the
sidelines, as our opposition, the Liberals and the NDP, would have us
do.
This is to provide education and protection for conflict-affected
children. With this funding, UNICEF in Syria provided 162,000
children with school material and reached 20,000 children with
critical support.
I will be supporting today's motion because it is clear that Canada
must help. We must help to confront ISIL. We must help to degrade
ISIL. We must help to confront and degrade ISIL until it is no longer
a threat to Canada.
In Jordan, UNICEF provided for 52,000 children and youth to
attend child- and adolescent-friendly spaces and reached 36,980
women and men with awareness sessions on prevention and
response to violence, on protection, and on referral, as well as on
sexual and gender-based violence.
Canada has committed over $230 million in development
assistance to countries hosting numbers of Syrian refugees, including
Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon. This assistance focuses on building
resilience in refugee-hosting communities to provide basic services
such as education, municipal services, water, and sanitation. The
assistance is also to foster social cohesion.
In Egypt, Canada is supporting 195,000 Egyptian and Syrian
refugee students through school feeding, and over 60,000 students
through initiatives supporting access to quality education.
In Jordan, over one million Jordanian and Syrian refugee students
are benefiting from improved access to quality education, water,
sanitation, and hygiene initiatives. Canada is supporting the
provision of municipal services to more than 1.1 million Jordanian
and Syrian refugees.
In Lebanon, Canada is providing water, sanitation, and hygiene
support in schools to 18,750 Lebanese and Syrian refugee students.
Thanks to Canada's support, our partners are responding to
numerous humanitarian needs. They are providing drinking water to
16 million people, as well as food assistance to 1.4 million Syrians
inside the country and emergency assistance to nearly three million
refugees in neighbouring countries.
As mentioned, there has been a concern that children will fall
behind with their education because of disruptions caused by conflict
and displacement. We are addressing the protection and education
needs of displaced children, who are being denied the right to a
childhood, an education, and even a future. Canada is taking steps to
address this issue across the region.
We will continue to work closely with our partners to ensure that
humanitarian assistance is provided to those affected by the barbaric
group ISIL. Canadian officials will continue to monitor the situation
closely and assess the security and humanitarian challenges that are
facing the Iraqi people.
● (1635)
[Translation]
Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault (Sherbrooke, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
thank my colleague for her speech.
I would like to pick up on a question that a lot of Canadians are
asking and that many MPs have asked, because it is hard to get an
answer. At what point will the government be able to say that the
mission has been accomplished?
We have heard several definitions of “mission accomplished”
from various ministers. Some say that it is about degrading the
resources and capabilities of these groups; others say that it is about
defeating or completely annihilating them.
Can the member tell us at what point the Conservative
government will be able to say that the mission has been
accomplished and whether it is even realistically possible to
permanently annihilate terrorist groups like the one we are talking
about today?
[English]
Hon. Lynne Yelich: Mr. Speaker, as long as ISIL has a safe haven
in Syria and that continues, which is why we made the decision to
join our allies to attack ISIL in Syria, and as long as Syria is not
resistant, we will be expanding our mission.
To speak about the end is very difficult when the mission has not
been passed in the House.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
the minister made reference to the Liberals and the New Democrats
not recognizing the threat that ISIL posed. I will not speak for the
New Democrats, but the Liberal Party recognizes the terrorist threat
that ISIL poses and its barbaric behaviour. We believe there are ways
that we can deal with this.
It is interesting that the former minister of Veterans Affairs went to
great lengths to applaud former Liberal prime ministers on the
wonderful approach they had in dealing with war and getting Canada
engaged. What the former minister of Veterans Affairs did not
acknowledge was former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien and
his decision that Canada not be engaged in Iraq.
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Especially when we look at the lack of transparency with the
Prime Minister on this important issue, it does not mean that in all
circumstances the Liberals have to support what the government
proposes.
With hindsight, does the member believe her government would
have supported Canada going to war against Iraq back in 2003?
Hon. Lynne Yelich: Mr. Speaker, in hindsight, I look back to
October 22, 2014, when we had a clear threat. Our threat was ISIL,
and Canada was at war with ISIL and the jihadists. I think back to
how the military and the men and women in uniform were targets
from then on. From that day on, ISIL's target was anyone wearing a
uniform in Canada, on our soil.
That is what I think back to, and that is why we have to do what
we have to do.
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the last New
Democratic MP to enter the debate characterized my remarks as
having being that “we would leave when we had enough”. I would
like the minister to comment on that. I do not know if she heard my
speech, but that is a complete fabrication. I said no such thing. I said
that we had a very clear mission, which neither opposition party
seemed to want to hear.
Does the minister not agree with me that our clear objective is to
degrade ISIL to a point where it no longer constitutes a threat to
Canadian or international security? Does she not agree that this is the
clear objective?
Would she not also agree that the government has been
extraordinarily transparent here at the second debate on a second
motion, with weekly technical briefings for the public and the media,
and briefings offered to the opposition? In fact, I do not think any
Canadian government has ever been more transparent about a
military operation.
● (1640)
Hon. Lynne Yelich: Mr. Speaker, I could not have said it better
myself. I do agree. Yes, the international jihadist movement has
declared war on Canada. That is clear. As I said, I think back to the
recent months. There is nothing to compare with what our country
went through on those days and the threats around the world.
We have no doubt that it is an important part of our work to do
what we can to stop ISIL.
[Translation]
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): It is my duty,
pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the question
to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon.
member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, Rail Transportation.
Resuming debate. The hon. member for Sherbrooke.
Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault (Sherbrooke, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
would like to thank the House for the opportunity to speak to the
very important motion we are debating today. I am pleased to be
addressing parliamentarians on behalf of the people of Sherbrooke,
who have afforded me the privilege of being here today.
This is a very important motion. As parliamentarians, one of the
most important decisions we must make is to deploy the men and
women in uniform who defend Canada on our behalf. This is clearly
the most important decision that we are asked to make.
Therefore, it is with a great sense of responsibility and duty that I
will make this decision. I will try to state my position as clearly as
possible, a position that I share with many of my colleagues who
have already spoken on this subject.
I would like to go back to the beginning of the Canadian mission
in Iraq, which the government now wants to expand into Syria. In
the beginning, the mission proposed by the government was to last
30 days. It simply consisted of advising the Iraqi and Kurdish
soldiers.
However, when those 30 days had passed, the government made a
request to extend the mission by six months. Six months ago, we
also debated a motion about this mission in Iraq. Today, the
government is asking us to vote on extending that mission for
another year. We went from 30 days to six months to a year, and each
time, we had to ask dozens of questions to try to get clear and
consistent answers from the government.
People like me who watch question period every day noticed that
the government kept contradicting itself. For example, some
ministers were saying two different things about whether we would
accompany or assist Iraqi troops. Contradictory answers were given
about whether or not our soldiers would be engaging in combat and
whether or not they would be near the front lines. How can the
government say that our soldiers are far from the front lines when
they were only 200 metres away?
In that respect, an unfortunate incident occurred not that long ago.
One of our soldiers lost his life for his country. I want to express my
sincere condolences to his entire family and to thank them. This
soldier gave his life for our country. He was 200 metres from the
front lines, when the government told us that our troops were two
kilometres away from Islamic State positions. Two kilometres may
seem like a lot but it really is not in situations such as this. Unlike the
Americans, who did not get that close to the front, our government
allowed Canadian soldiers to get only 200 metres away. That also
shows that the government is not giving us clear answers about what
our soldiers are doing. Just in the past few days, we heard new
contradictory remarks.
This time, they had to do with the purpose of the mission. Will the
government say that the mission has been accomplished when the
Islamic State's capacities have been degraded, when the group has
been eliminated completely or when it has been stopped in its tracks?
The government has been describing the goal of the mission in
several different ways.
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● (1645)
● (1650)
Sometimes their descriptions were even contradictory. Has the
government earned our trust? That is the question I asked myself
when I was assessing the motion and deciding how to vote. Can we
trust the government, based on the seven months that have passed
since the start of Canada's mission? The answer is no. As the leader
of the official opposition clearly demonstrated on Tuesday, any trust
we might have had in this government going forward was broken as
a result of its contradictory statements and unclear information.
Without that, I cannot support the one-year extension of the
mission in Iraq.
I will not vote in favour of the main motion today for several
reasons. As I just said, I cannot trust the government going forward.
In addition, there is a lot missing from this motion. As military
experts have said, there are two things we are supposed to have when
deciding to engage in a mission: a clear and specific objective, and a
planned exit strategy. We cannot simply get on a plane and leave, as
the government is implying. It is more complicated than that.
Military strategies are more complicated than getting on a plane and
leaving. It is rather rich to hear Conservative ministers say that it is
as simple as that.
Thus, there are these two things: establishing whether there is a
clear objective and whether there is a clear and well-defined end to
this mission. The answer is obviously no. That much is obvious.
Earlier I mentioned that there are several definitions for the end of
the mission. Some ministers spoke about degradation and others
about annihilation. The ultimate objective of the mission is not clear.
When will the government say that Canada has done its part, that the
mission has been accomplished and that we are withdrawing? It is
not clear. We cannot support a mission that, in our view, does not
have a defined objective and is still unclear. In this case, the
objective is vague to say the least.
We are supposed to learn from our past mistakes. When we make
a mistake, we try not to repeat it. However, if we look at the outcome
of George W. Bush's war, which began in 2003, the results are
mixed. After many years in Iraq, the results of the U.S. government's
efforts in that conflict are uncertain.
The situation we are in today might, to a certain extent, be a result
of that conflict, which created a situation and internal conflicts in that
country. Perhaps the impact of those conflicts is being felt today. The
resulting situations are certainly not pleasant for the civilians in those
countries.
Mr. Bernard Trottier (Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister of Foreign Affairs and for La Francophonie, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the remarks by my colleague across
the way.
Canada and Canadians around the world have been targeted by
ISIL fighters, but Canada is not the only country that has been
threatened. Many other countries that guard the rights and freedoms
of their people, such as Denmark, Australia, France and the United
Kingdom, have been the target of attacks, attacks that are still
happening because too many young people have been seduced by
ISIL's barbaric message. We all agree that we need to end this
situation.
The NDP says that we should do nothing and that Canada should
not get involved in fighting this extremism. My colleague talked
about strategy and ways to get out of this situation. However, before
we can get out of it, we have to get involved.
How would the NDP go about fighting ISIL's barbaric
fundamentalist Islamic forces? I must repeat that some 60 countries
around the world are involved in this fight.
Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for
his question.
I agree that we need to confront this problem. Where we disagree,
however, is on the role Canada should play. We should determine
that role by looking at what resolutions international organizations
like the UN have adopted. The United Nations Security Council has
adopted three resolutions on Iraq, and none of them authorizes
military action.
The United Nations Security Council is calling for action to
prevent the influx of foreign fighters and the funding of terrorist
organizations, including ISIL. Putting pressure on governments in
the region to prevent cash transfers to ISIL is a real diplomatic effort
that Canada can and should prioritize. That would be effective.
These UN resolutions give Canada a mandate and a role to play.
The Conservative Prime Minister supported the war back then; he
was in the opposition. We might ask ourselves whether the mission
being proposed reflects the Prime Minister's desire to go back to his
2003 position, which was to wage war. We could say that this is the
Prime Minister's war and it has no legal basis. This will be my last
point, since I do not have a lot of time left.
We need to combat the rise of extremism and terrorism, both
inside and outside our borders, by taking action against radicalization. However, I am not hearing anything about that from the other
side of the House.
Today, we are talking about the motion to expand the war into
Syria. I will not repeat the entire argument made so well by my
colleague from Toronto—Danforth, but the legal basis is questionable and unfounded. We are having a hard time getting answers from
the government on this legal basis. If the government wants to move
forward, it will have to prove that there is a legal basis in
international law.
Mr. Frank Valeriote (Guelph, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the people of
Guelph who I talked to several months ago were of mixed feelings
about our engagement in Iraq, some for and some against. However,
I have talked to them recently and they are concerned. They are
concerned because of the extension for an entire one year. A lot can
happen in one year. They are also concerned because we are now
going into Syria.
[English]
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We know the government is prone to exaggeration and sometimes
misinformation. It told us we would not be on the ground at the front
line. In fact, we have had a death on the ground at the front line in
Iraq. Then there is the more recent exaggeration about Canada and
the United States possessing smart bombs. We know that is not true.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have them.
Does the member opposite have some concerns, as do the people
of Guelph, about now going into Syria and this becoming far more
than anyone has planned for and given the evolution or the mission
creep that has already existed, whether it is likely to continue even
further?
● (1655)
[Translation]
Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault: Mr. Speaker, I certainly share the
concerns of the people of Guelph.
Going into Syria poses a number of problems with respect to
international law. To say that a group that poses a threat to Canada is
a good reason to bomb another country, even though that group is
not even a recognized state, creates a dangerous precedent, so the
people of Guelph have every reason to be concerned.
Hon. Chris Alexander (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to
present what I hope are some new perspectives on this very
important debate. We are talking about Canada's mission against the
Islamic State in order to combat terrorism, which we all know is a
threat to Canada.
It is a threat not only far from our borders, for civilians living in
the Middle East and other regions of the world, but also within our
Canadian borders and in our communities, where these networks and
individuals who have been radicalized to believe in this harmful
ideology are present. Luckily they are very few in number in
Canada.
[English]
I would like to begin by reflecting, as we often do in this place, on
the historic context.
A hundred years ago, in March of 1915, the men of the 1st
Canadian Division were already in France, at the front line. They
were waiting to move from France into Belgium where they phased
into the Ypres salient and faced their first major action at St. Julien
later in April. That battle, as we recall, included the first use of
chlorine gas.
In 1940, it was election day, 75 years ago. Prime Minister
Mackenzie King was re-elected with the support, however, of a
Conservative leader and Conservative Party under Manion. It called
itself a national government because it believed in the importance of
what Canada was doing and obviously Canada was already at war. It
had declared war, forces were deployed, pilots were in the air and we
were facing a major threat. It was one we hoped would remain
unprecedented and one that led to the peace of 1945 and the
institutions, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It has
maintained order on our shores and in much of the world since that
time.
These were fights against forces of disorder, in the context of
world wars, in order to bring about a stronger order. In one case it led
to the League of Nations, which lasted barely a couple of decades,
and is not seen as a terribly successful exercise in the management of
international affairs. Then there was the United Nations and the UN
charter, with the support of NATO, the Bretton Woods organizations
and all of the trading relationships, the WTO as it is called today. It
made the international system much more successful today than it
was in 1945 and much more a home for peace, order and good
government, for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of
law than we ever dared to hope in 1945.
We have only to turn on our television sets or tune in to the
Internet media stream to see that this order is under threat in many
parts of the world, from Boko Haram in Nigeria, from the Taliban,
still, in Afghanistan, from Putin in Ukraine. However, the scale of
the conflict in Iraq and Syria today is without precedent in the world
today. The scale of the threat from terrorists to both regimes in Iraq
and Syria is without parallel in the annals of terrorists, which itself is
a hideous litany of atrocities and conflicts in which Canada has been
involved, on the larger scale in Afghanistan, but elsewhere in the
world.
In Syria, of course, a vulnerable population faces a double threat
because even before terrorism became the hydra headed monster it is
today in both countries, its own president, Bashar al-Assad, was
repressing the population and inflicting excruciating casualties,
which now number well over 200,000 deaths. Many of the deaths
were inflicted by the government of Syria.
● (1700)
We have a situation where terrorism and terrorists have been both
a threat and part of a larger proxy war involving regional powers,
jockeying for position. Iran and Russia obviously want to prop up
Syria. Others have unfortunately lent their support in the early stages
to groups associated with al Qaeda, to groups that now call
themselves the Islamic State. The result is a massive humanitarian
crisis, the likes of which this world has not seen since at least
Rwanda, the genocide there and the ensuing crisis in the Great Lakes
and in eastern Congo, but perhaps a crisis without parallel since the
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which led to one of the largest
exoduses of humanity ever recorded.
In Iraq and Syria, we see Sunni and Shia being victims, especially
when they are in minority positions on the territory of the other, on
the territory of their armed enemies. We see Alawites and Ismailis
suffering, having to protect themselves, vulnerable. We see Kurds
and Jews being slaughtered in indiscriminately.
These are only the cases where it is documented. There are very
few journalists in Syria. It is increasingly difficult for journalists to
cover what is happening in Iraq unless the ISIL media make a video
and post it on YouTube. We know that the atrocities are on a much
larger scale than we have even recorded so far.
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Whether it is Assyrian Chaldeans, Chaldeans, Mandeans, Cyrillic
Orthodox, Circassians, Turkmen, Armenians, Yazidis or Shabaks,
Kizilbashs, humanity and all the populations of these countries are
under threat of indiscriminate violence, and hundreds of thousands
of them have lost their lives. The diversity of civilization left by all
three Abrahamic faiths in these countries over millennia is under
threat. That threat—we know from documented sources that no
member of the House is going to challenge—includes a threat to
those who would help these minorities, like the United States and
our Europeans allies, but explicitly including Canada. That threat
needs to be addressed.
The opposition response is to sit on the sidelines and watch the
slaughter continue. That is what we are hearing, both from the
Liberal Party and the NDP, and it is unacceptable to us and
unacceptable to most Canadians. Even in the face of this scale of
challenge, the other parties in this place choose to do nothing. The
NDP is opposed in principle to military. The Liberals are opposed by
stealth and ambiguity, ignoring the principles they articulated earlier
in the 20th century, the responsibility to protect which they said
would protect vulnerable populations. Now they are honouring in the
breach more than the observance.
Our response is military. Our response is humanitarian. Our
response is generous. However, it also includes the resettlement of
refugees. Let us remind ourselves that this response by Canadians,
by private sponsors and by our government has been extremely
generous and on a large scale, thanks to the great work of my
colleague, the Minister of National Defence, when he occupied this
portfolio.
Since 2009, Canada has resettled 21,000 Iraqis, more per capita
than other country outside of the region, unheralded by the
opposition, unacknowledged most of the time by those on the other
side. We are well beyond the commitment we made to Syria and are
on our way to resettling 10,000 Syrians. That is the largest publicly
announced commitment to refugee resettlement, not to accepting
asylum seekers or to accepting people across the borders, because we
do not have borders with these countries. It is the largest
commitment to resettling refugees from a long way away by any
country. In addition, we will continue to work to resettle 5,000
refugees from Turkey, Syrians, Iraqis, Iranians who have been there
for a long time, and we will accommodate 3,000 more Iraqi refugees
this year.
We are defending Canada's values in doing this. We are defending
the international order, both by supporting Iraqi forces and by
opening our doors and our hearts to those who need and deserve
protection.
● (1705)
We have no illusions on this side about terrorism. We have no
illusions about the kind of protection victims of terrorism need, and
that has to include the kind of response the House is preparing to
endorse with this motion: a humanitarian response, a refugee
response, and a military response.
Mr. Craig Scott (Toronto—Danforth, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
would like to ask my hon. colleague whether he has any concerns at
all that the Minister of National Defence is going out there and
usurping the role of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and making
completely erroneous claims about the state of international law. The
Minister of National Defence said yesterday:
I would further state that Canada has an independent right of self-defence here
insofar as this organization has explicitly targeted Canada.
The idea that threats from a terrorist group give us the right to use
military force in another country is a completely erroneous and
ridiculous statement of the state of international law. I am
wondering, as someone who comes from the foreign affairs field,
whether my colleague has any concerns at all that we are looking at a
kind of reverse takeover by the Minister of National Defence of an
area the foreign affairs department should be leading on.
Hon. Chris Alexander: Mr. Speaker, what we are witnessing is a
takeover of the opposition by some of the most eccentric, unsound
thinking that has ever been pronounced in a western democracy on
an issue as important as this.
The United States, Canada, and others went to war against al
Qaeda in Afghanistan under the authority of the right to self-defence,
as guaranteed and formalized by the UN charter. The government of
Iraq, our partner in this venture, is under attack by a terrorist
organization that wants to take over that country.
Terrorism, if the hon. member would take the trouble to read the
dozens of resolutions on this score, is illegal. Terrorists are subject to
international forms of punishment as well as to some of the most
hard-edged national forms of punishment, and rightly so.
There is no legal question in other democracies, even among
socialists, about the authority for undertaking this military operation,
including its combat aspects, including aerial bombardment of ISIL.
Why do other socialists get it but not the NDP?
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, at
the beginning of the minister's speech, I was hopeful that a speaker
was finally going to bring forth some thoughtful ideas on this
situation in Iraq and the choices facing us and actually discuss the
issues on the ground and the options. However, sadly, it was not long
before he was trotting out the same sad clichés and the myth that
opposition members either agree with the government's efforts to
deepen this combat mission and expand it into Syria, with unclear
objectives and no exit plan, or do nothing. Nothing could be further
from the truth, as Liberals have laid out in their remarks today.
The Liberal Party is for doing a number of things and is for being
part of the coalition against ISIL. It is specifically talking about the
need for more trainers to work with Iraqi troops to prepare them to
defend their own peoples and territories. However, I notice that there
is nothing about more trainers in this motion, and indeed, the
minister has said that it is not in the cards. I wonder if it is because of
the Conservatives' budget cuts.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer has confirmed that the
government is approaching the time when it cannot maintain the
structure and function of the Canadian Armed Forces, the way the
budget has been declining. I would like to ask the minister if that is
why this very important work of training Iraqis is not going to be
expanded. Instead there is bombing in Syria. Is that because the
budget is not—
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● (1710)
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): There needs to be
some time remaining for the hon. minister to respond.
The hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
Hon. Chris Alexander: Mr. Speaker, that is from the party of the
decade of darkness. That is from the party that jokes about CF-18s,
and certainly would never have deployed them in this context, and
certainly is not supporting a motion to continue their deployment.
That is from a party whose leader, in speaking to this motion, could
not even bring himself to pronounce the word “terrorism” or
“terrorist”, not once in his speech, nor did I hear it from the hon.
member.
If we had a situation where this debate and this motion were in
any way governed by Liberal thinking, we would be discussing all
night. Meanwhile, ISIL is beheading people. ISIL is victimizing
people. ISIL has caused two million people inside Iraq to flee. Four
million who have left Syria are now refugees, and six or seven
million are displaced inside Syria, many of them by ISIL's allies and
ISIL itself.
Inaction and sitting on the sidelines is not an option, but that is
exactly what the Liberal Party of Canada has now fallen into, its
lowest point in history, advocating. It is shameful.
Mr. James Bezan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, this is one of those times
when as parliamentarians we take on one of the greatest debates.
Something that happens only under the Conservative government is
that we debate deploying our troops and putting them in harm's way.
It is a practice we began with the Afghanistan mission. We did it
with Libya, and this is the second time we are doing it with
Operation Impact.
I know that our troops are always prepared to go into harm's way.
This is a mission they volunteer for. This is a life career they choose.
I know that their training, skill, and bravery will serve them well as
they carry out the mission in Iraq and Syria.
With that, I would like to pay tribute to Sergeant Andrew Doiron
for his sacrifice for his country. He unfortunately was killed in a
friendly fire accident that occurred in the Kurdish region, where he
was working alongside our Kurdish peshmerga partners training
them, advising them, assisting them, and essentially making sure that
they can execute their battle plans, win back territory, and liberate
villages that have been taken by ISIL.
At the same time, we have to remember some of the first
casualties ISIL was able to inspire. They included Corporal Nathan
Cirillo, who died at the National War Memorial when the attack on
Parliament Hill occurred on October 22, days before we ever
deployed any air force, and Warrant officer Patrice Vincent, who was
targeted October 20, in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, when he was
getting a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons, of all things.
ISIL is an incredible threat. It has been said that they are using
21st century social media and 20th century weaponry to carry out
13th century barbarism. This is a threat we have been witnessing on
television as they have promoted their genocide. This jihadist
terrorist organization has documented the crucifixion of Christians
and how the death cult trapped so many Yazidis on the mountain.
They sell women and girls into sexual slavery. We have seen them
behead all other ethnic minorities, including Shias and what they call
apostate Sunnis. They have not stopped with the adults; we have
watched them murder children.
This ethnic cleansing was horrific and gut-wrenching for anyone
who saw it. Of course, it was played in the media.
They did not stop there with their ethnic cleansing, with their
genocide, with their jihadist, warped ideology and screwed up ideas
on religion. They captured aid workers and journalists. They sold
some off for ransom. Ultimately they beheaded most of them on
national television and bragged about it. Then we witnessed the
barbaric and sadistic burning of the Jordanian pilot.
This really did establish what was happening in Iraq and Syria and
the threat they represent to the region. We also saw them inspire
westerners, including Canadians, to sign up and travel to Syria and
Iraq and become jihadist warriors. We saw them inspire people
around the world, including here in Canada, to become terrorists in
their own countries. We saw what happened in Copenhagen, France,
and Australia.
This organization, this jihadist genocidal death cult called ISIL,
the Islamic State, has to be stopped. It is in Canada's national interest
to go to Iraq, as we have for the last six months, and expand this
mission to include Syria to ensure that ISIL does not establish its
caliphate, headquartered in the so-called capital of Iraq.
● (1715)
If they do that, they will continue to bring their terror to Canada,
to our allies, and continue to have their genocide grow in the region.
It has never been the Canadian way to sit on the sidelines. It has
never been the Canadian way to take a pass when we have these
types of brutal regimes gaining ground, and because of our
intervention, along with our allies, 25% of the territory in Iraq
now has been won back.
The aid and assist role that Canada and our coalition partners have
played with our special operations forces in training Iraqi and
Kurdish militias and security forces has been so far successful. Our
air strikes have supported them and have degraded the capability of
ISIL within Iraq, but they are coalescing and consolidating their
fighting team in eastern Syria. It is a lawless land in the east, and
ISIL has control.
The terminology and, really when it comes down to it, the reason
we need to go to Syria to uproot ISIL and degrade them so they are
not a threat to us here in Canada is no different than when the
Liberals first deployed Canadian Armed Forces, without debate in
this House of Commons, to Afghanistan because of the safe haven
that the Taliban was offering to Al Qaeda for allowing them the
ability to go out and attack our allies, which included killing
Canadians in the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington.
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Of course, Al Qaeda had been perpetrating these types of attacks
around the world against predominantly U.S. interests and U.S.
facilities, but those targets were ultimately nailed by the terrorist
activities. However, that principle, that objective, which the Liberal
government of 2002 saw as being necessary and committed us to a
war that lasted 12 years, was done without any debate, without any
transparency. That national interest is no different today than it was
back then.
Through this whole process, we have been extremely accountable.
Today I have been hearing the opposition criticize us for not being
accountable. We are the first government to bring forward
resolutions for full debate and full disclosure on these missions
before we deploy or extend. We are the first government to have held
ongoing technical briefings with the media and with parliamentarians on what is happening on an ongoing basis. Over 15 technical
briefings have been held in the last six months on our activities, plus
the ministers of National Defence and Foreign Affairs have been
appearing before committees of both foreign affairs and national
defence, ensuring that parliamentarians were informed.
We talk about the Liberals and how they have abandoned their
values. I listened to the Minister of Veterans Affairs very closely,
how he clearly documented the Liberals' proud history of ensuring
that Canada always does the heavy lifting when we needed to be in
military interventions, which they have totally abandoned today. The
Liberals do not replicate or resemble themselves in any way, shape
or form from a decade ago.
I do not understand why New Democrats would not want to
participate. Social democratic parties in Europe, like that of the
leader of France, are involved in Operation Impact with our allies.
The Danes and the Dutch are all involved, and New Democrats are
prepared to sit back and watch this genocide taking place. They are
prepared to sacrifice more lives, and that is not acceptable.
We will go forward into Syria under the UN charter, article 51,
which clearly states that for self-defence or collective self-defence,
we have a right to go into another nation where attacks are being
launched. The Government of Iraq has made the request. The United
States has already reported to the UN that they will participate, as
they already have for several months, and we will do the same to
ensure that we degrade the capability of ISIL to carry out their
terrorist attacks and brutality in the region, and of course prevent
them from being able to do it here in Canada or any other allied
nation.
● (1720)
We will continue with our humanitarian aid because it is
important. Canada has been very generous. The taxpayers of
Canada, via the government, have already been charitable and
donated over $700 million to help feed 1.7 million refugees in the
region. They have helped clothe and shelter 1.25 million and allowed
half a million kids to get to school.
In closing I will say that we will continue to do that in the long
term, as the Prime Minister has said, to ensure that once we achieve
peace and stability in the region, we will help rebuild it as Canada
has always done because we are a generous nation.
Mr. Dennis Bevington (Northwest Territories, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for giving us his interpretation
of the events here. When we look at the situation in Syria and Iraq,
we see that ISIL is the most well-funded and most well-positioned
terrorist organization that we have seen in the world to date.
What has the government done in terms of working diplomatically
through its allies to reduce the financial resources of ISIL, to close
off the exchange of oil from its territories that it is occupying now, so
that we can actually stifle the ability of this group to do the type of
aggressive action that it is doing right now?
Mr. James Bezan: Mr. Speaker, as you know, Canada and our
allies have been working very hard to ensure that terrorist
organizations like ISIL do not have the ability to raise revenues
nor make it possible for people to donate money to them through
financial instruments that are available to them. We are always
searching out through intelligence agencies to figure out how money
and transactions are being made.
On the issue of oil, we realize that there are ships that leave ports
with oil from ISIL that come back empty and nobody ever knows
where they dock. There has to be more surveillance on that
standpoint. We have to prevent terrorists from actually having the
ability to pump oil and make money off other natural resources.
They control the lawless lands of eastern Syria.
If we are going to be effective, we have to stop the caliphate. We
have to stop it from being able to establish an area from which it can
generate revenue, train fighters and stage its war and terrorism
around the world.
● (1725)
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the
parliamentary secretary and many of his colleagues would have the
listeners and the Canadian public think that this debate is about
whether the opposition members are concerned about the risks and
threats of ISIL. That is not what this debate is about.
On this side of the House, we understand how egregious the
behaviour and how unacceptable the behaviour is of that terrorist
organization and we have said so all along. Rather than misleading
the public, I would encourage the parliamentary secretary to be clear
that the debate is on how best to help that situation. We have
different ideas than the Conservative members do. That is what this
debate should be about.
In his discussion, the parliamentary secretary asked why we are
saying that his government is not accountable. I would say it is
because the Minister of National Defence has a bad habit of being
creative with the truth. The Prime Minister sent special forces into
the front-line combat when he explicitly said that he would not. This
is a mission with no clear objectives, no plan and no exit strategy.
The Department of Foreign Affairs top people in this area say that
they encouraged the Iraqi leaders to move away from militias and
put their efforts into a strengthened, professional and inclusive Iraqi
army. They say that the Iraqi army is insufficient but it is becoming
stronger because of training like Canada is doing. The Liberals want
more of that training, more Canadian trainers to train more
peshmerga. Why is the—
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.
12402
COMMONS DEBATES
March 26, 2015
Private Members' Business
Mr. James Bezan: Mr. Speaker, nobody is more creative with
numbers or the truth than the member for Vancouver Quadra.
She has gone after the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
about the issue of the Parliamentary Budget Officer's report today on
military spending. In the Parliamentary Budget Officer's report, on
page 10, it says that, by far the most devastating cuts to the military
happened from 1995 to 2004. Who was in government at that time?
It was the Liberals who were in power during that time. They gutted
our military. It corresponded completely with the decade of darkness.
In eight out of ten years, spending by the Liberals on the GDP
percentage was 1% or less. For the other two years, it was 1.1%
GDP. We cannot fight the numbers or the truth in that matter.
Unlike the Liberals, who sent our troops to Afghanistan without
the proper equipment and with very little notice, and who committed
us to a battle that lasted for 12 years, I can tell members that our
troops are going in well equipped, well trained and with all the
backing that they need to get the job done as quickly as possible.
healthy and fulfilling life and to prove to them that a physical
limitation does not have to hold them back, because it is courage and
determination that count.
Handicap Action Intégration also raises awareness among
employers to encourage them to hire people with a disability. A
recent report in The Globe and Mail talked about the benefits of
hiring a person with a disability. That diversity is often very
rewarding for a workplace. It creates bonds and allows people with a
disability to work, whether or not their disability is due to a spinal
cord injury that forces them to use a wheelchair.
Those who are integrated into the workforce will not only benefit
from a well-paying job and, often, get out from under financial
difficulties, but will also be able to contribute a great deal to society.
The article mentioned a number of cases where employers benefited
from the rewarding experience of hiring people with a disability. I
would like to quote the article:
● (1730)
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
[Translation]
NATIONAL SPINAL CORD INJURY AWARENESS DAY ACT
The House resumed from February 25, 2015, consideration of the
motion that Bill C-643, An Act to establish National Spinal Cord
Injury Awareness Day, be read the second time and referred to a
committee.
Ms. Hélène LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard, NDP): Mr. Speaker, this
afternoon, I am pleased to express my support for Bill C-643, An
Act to establish National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day.
Bill C-643, which was introduced in the House of Commons for
the first time on December 8, 2014, designates the third Friday of
September in each and every year as national spinal cord injury
awareness day. Like my NDP colleagues, I want to voice my support
for this legislative initiative.
In Canada, there are 86,000 people with spinal cord injuries and,
unfortunately, 4,300 new cases are added each year. These injuries
cost almost $2.67 billion per year and cause a great deal of physical
and psychosocial suffering for those who sustain them. This national
day is important to raise public awareness of the reality of people
living with these injuries and the difficulties they have to face, as
well as the work done by their caregivers and the scientists who are
trying to improve their lives.
In my riding of LaSalle—Émard, many organizations work not
only with people who have spinal cord injuries, but also with people
with reduced mobility, people in wheelchairs, in short, people with
any type of disability. Many organizations work to try to help people
with disabilities integrate into society and especially to raise public
awareness in order to make that integration easier.
I want to mention the organization Handicap Action Intégration
and its director, Mody Maka Barry, who also has reduced mobility
and uses a wheelchair. He wants to use his organization to help
people with reduced mobility find their inner strength and have a
[English]
The article is entitled “Working wisdom: How workers with
disabilities give companies an edge”. It says:
Opportunity for many people like him [a person living with a disability] is still
scarce.
It means that there are not a lot of opportunities, as not a lot of
employers are bold enough to hire people with disabilities.
It continues:
More than two million Canadian adults, or 11 per cent of the population, have
some sort of disability and only about half of them participate in the labour force. Of
those who do look for work, the jobless rate is 40 per cent or more for some groups.
Underemployment is higher and even if they hold a job, incomes among adults with
disabilities are typically far lower than the rest of the population.
● (1735)
[Translation]
I think a day like the one proposed in Bill C-643 could raise
awareness about what life is like for people with a disability and how
vulnerable many of them are. It could also help us see what we might
do to help them integrate into the workforce and improve not only
their financial situation, but also their physical and psychological
condition.
I will share an example of an employer who hired someone with a
disability. These are the benefits he discovered.
[English]
The benefit for the [employer], he added, is that it has a work force that more
closely resembles its customer base. And its workers can give insights into how to
reach different customers and keep them happy.
March 26, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12403
Private Members' Business
[Translation]
In other words, someone who has a disability or who uses a
wheelchair to get around can bring new ideas to an employer such as
a bank, for example. If the employer provides services to a broad
clientele, the employee with a disability will be more in tune with the
clientele's needs. What other employers have found is that many of
these employees are very loyal and are also hard workers. They pour
their hearts into their work and diversify a company's workforce.
This article also shows very clearly that employers who recognize
the strength of their employees and hire people who live with a
disability, have reduced mobility or use a wheelchair gain a clear
advantage.
The day of awareness proposed by Bill C-643 will promote all
these benefits. First and foremost, it will shed light on the situation
and the vulnerability of many people with disabilities and show how
society in general can benefit from their integration.
I would like to reiterate the NDP's support for initiatives that foster
the employment of people living with a disability and make our
society even more accessible. The NDP is also a strong champion of
the fight against poverty, whether it affects people with disabilities or
people in precarious situations in general.
We continue to support people with disabilities and to work
towards a more open and inclusive society. We also want to make
our workplaces more inclusive.
I reiterate my support for Bill C-643.
[English]
Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it
is with great pleasure that I rise today to speak to the private
member's bill, Bill C-643, an act to establish a national spinal cord
injury awareness day, put forward by the hon. member for
Montcalm. It is important that she has brought this issue of spinal
cord injury before the House.
Bill C-643 recognizes the courage and determination of Canadians
living with spinal cord injury, and raises awareness of the importance
of creating environments that encourage an active return to an
inclusive society.
The bill also recognizes the dedication of their caregivers, which
may include their families, friends, and professional health care
workers who provide them with the vital support they need.
It also acknowledges the important contributions of leading
Canadian scientists, whose research has improved the lives of
hundreds of people with spinal cord injuries.
Spinal cord injuries include damage to any part of the spinal cord
and may be traumatic or non-traumatic in nature.
Traumatic spinal cord injuries can result from many different
causes including falls, traffic accidents, occupational and sports
injuries, as well as violence.
Non-traumatic spinal cord injuries typically involve an underlying
cause, such as an infectious disease, tumour, a muscle or bone
disease such as osteoarthritis, or spina bifida
Regardless of how spinal cord injuries occur, both traumatic and
non-traumatic injuries can be devastating for individuals and their
families.
In terms of how traumatic spinal cord injuries occur, based upon
hospitalization records from 2010 to 2011, there were 577
hospitalizations in Canada attributed to spinal cord injuries. Of
these, 54% were the result of non-sport related falls, while 31% were
attributable to vehicle accidents, and 4% were a results of a sport
injury.
To gain a better understanding of neurological conditions in
Canada, our government made a $15 million investment in 2011 to
initiate the national population study on neurological conditions. It
was led by the Public Health Agency of Canada and Neurological
Heath Charities Canada in collaboration with Health Canada and the
Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The study was composed of
thirteen research projects, three national surveys, and seven
simulation models.
After the study was completed, Alzheimer's disease, multiple
sclerosis, epilepsy, and Parkinson's disease were all added to the
existing Canadian chronic disease surveillance system, which is
managed by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The study has improved our understanding of the incidence and
prevalence of neurological conditions such as spinal cord injury. It
has also shed light on the impact of neurological conditions on
individuals living with these conditions, their families, and their
communities.
Through this bill, we can create greater awareness for spinal cord
injuries and their impact on the lives of those affected. We can
highlight federal injury prevention efforts and showcase advancements in spinal cord injury and stem cell research in Canada, so that
we as a country can make further gains.
Bill C-643 aims to establish the third Friday in September every
year as national spinal cord injury awareness day.
Our government recognizes the impact spinal cord injuries have
on Canadians and has directed significant financial investment into
research to generate new knowledge and technologies to improve
patient outcomes and quality of life.
This would seek to reduce the risk of spinal cord injuries through
increasing awareness and prevention, and it would also benefit those
currently suffering from a spinal cord injury by shining a light on
this important health issue across our country—with local government, non-government organizations, volunteer groups, and the
private sector.
Through our support for research on the functioning and disorders
of the brain and spinal cord, I believe we are making a difference.
With federal support, the work of top researchers has contributed to
our understanding for the changes in nerve cells that could prevent
and alleviate chronic neuropathic pain syndrome and improve
recoveries of limb function following spinal cord injury or trauma.
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COMMONS DEBATES
March 26, 2015
Private Members' Business
● (1740)
● (1745)
Through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, our
government funds research that covers the full spectrum of spinal
cord research. This includes basic biological and clinical research to
population health, health services, and quality of life and health
determinants.
[Translation]
Since 2006, our government has invested $57 million toward
spinal cord injury research to generate new knowledge and
technologies to improve patient outcomes and quality of life. We
have also invested $470 million in stem cell research since 2006 and
over $53 million in 2013-14 alone.
Research in stem cell clinical therapies has the potential to
revolutionize the treatment of degenerative diseases, such as spinal
cord injury, and greatly improve the quality of life of many
Canadians.
In September 2014, the Minister of Health announced a federal
investment in support of 32 new research projects under the Canada
Brain Research Fund. One of these included the development of the
Rick Hansen Alberta Spinal Cord Injury Registry through the
University of Calgary.
As some may recall, the Rick Hansen Foundation was founded in
1988 after Mr. Hansen so bravely and with such determination
completed the Man in Motion World Tour in Vancouver. The
foundation works toward removing the barriers that limit the
participation of people with disabilities in society. Our government
proudly supports the Rick Hansen Foundation, an organization that
is inspired by the dream of creating an accessible and inclusive
world, and driven to finding a cure for spinal cord Injury.
An investment of $30 million was provided by our government to
the foundation from 2007 to 2013, to implement a spinal cord injury
data system across Canada, support spinal cord injury research and
promote best practices in spinal cord injury care. This investment
aims to improve health care and quality of life for Canadians living
with a spinal cord injury.
In order to maintain the momentum of the Rick Hansen
Foundation, our government announced a further investment of
$35 million to this foundation until 2018.
Bill C-643 would add to significant efforts already under way in
Canada for people living with spinal cord injury.
In Canada, other jurisdictions such as Saskatchewan and Manitoba
have commemorated spinal cord injury awareness. In 2009, the
government of Saskatchewan, in collaboration with the Canadian
Paraplegic Association, proclaimed May 2009 as Spinal Cord Injury
and Physical Disabilities Awareness Month to raise awareness about
spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities. Manitoba
declared a similar Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day in May 2011.
I hope my comments today have given everyone an understanding
of the impact spinal cord injuries has in our country.
I would encourage each member to lend their support to Bill
C-643 to establish the third Friday in September as the designated
day for national spinal cord injury awareness day across Canada to
increase awareness of spinal cord injury.
Mrs. Djaouida Sellah (Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, the bill we are debating this evening would establish a
national spinal cord injury awareness day. I support this bill and I
encourage all of my colleagues to support it, since people with spinal
cord injuries face daily challenges, and the public needs to be made
aware of that.
We need to increase awareness of what these individuals go
through. They face many problems in dealing with their disability. It
is not just a matter of highlighting the dangers of high-risk activities,
as is often the case in awareness campaigns. We also need more
awareness about the needs people with spinal cord injuries have and
the obstacles and challenges they face.
A spinal cord injury cuts communication between the brain and
the body and leads to full or partial paralysis of the limbs and torso.
The extent of the paralysis depends on the location of the injury on
the spinal column and its severity. A low injury causes paraplegia,
which refers to paralysis of the lower limbs, while a high injury
would cause quadriplegia, paralysis of all four limbs.
Given that the spinal cord controls the functioning of the lower
and upper limbs, people with spinal cord injuries often must use a
wheelchair. The consequences of this type of paralysis lead to very
costly care. The cost of traumatic spinal cord injuries is estimated at
$2.7 billion a year for every newly injured person. In addition to the
costs for care, the costs of reorganizing one's daily life need to be
factored in. When you are in a wheelchair, you need to reorganize
your home or space to have access to everything without too much
difficulty. That is very expensive.
Awareness days are a useful tool to educate people and raise
funds. We must not overlook that.
Making the third Friday of September national spinal cord injury
awareness day will help the cause of organizations that run
campaigns across the country to raise funds for research, care and
financial support for victims. Even a small contribution from the
general public would make it possible to change the lives of those
affected by spinal cord injuries, their loved ones and their families as
well.
In 2013, about 86,000 people and their families were affected by
spinal cord injuries in Canada, and some 4,300 new cases are added
each year.
Investments in the health care system are necessary. The
government must show leadership and must not abandon the
provinces. This bill reminds us just how much we need investments
in our health care system. An awareness day makes it possible to
highlight the needs of people with disabilities in terms of both health
care and resources. We need to be able to count on a federal
government that is willing to work with the provinces and territories
and make long-term investments to ensure that our public health care
system meets the needs of all Canadians.
March 26, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12405
Private Members' Business
Health care is a priority for all Canadians, and it should be a
priority for their government too. However, the Conservatives are
undermining our cherished public health care system.
● (1750)
They have unilaterally imposed cuts of $36 billion in transfer
payments to the provinces for the next 10 years. These cuts are
undermining our health care system. Currently, Canadians are not
receiving health care in a timely fashion when they need it. Our
seniors, for example, are receiving inadequate levels of health care.
Most federal government expenditures are dropping alarmingly at
the very time when the population of Canada is aging. As a result,
the provinces and the territories are inheriting a huge financial
burden.
Concretely, we are seeing medical clinics close their doors. In my
constituency of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, three clinics have
closed already and a fourth will do so in 2015. This is unacceptable.
The government must adhere to the principles of the Canada Health
Act.
If the Conservative government is not capable of maintaining a
funding formula that will allow the provinces and territories to fund
universal access to quality services, it should step aside and let us do
it. We on this side of the House will listen; we will sit down with the
provinces and territories in order to find appropriate solutions. The
NDP has a plan to strengthen our health care system because we all
deserve to have access to care, regardless of where we live.
In fact, the NDP will fill the gaps that the Conservatives are
leaving in health, especially the health of those with disabilities. The
Conservatives have had five years in which to come to grips with the
problem of the real poverty that many people with disabilities are
experiencing. They have done nothing to improve the workplace
accommodation measures for persons with disabilities who are
trying to be part of the workforce. The caregiver tax credit is of no
use to many people with disabilities, since they do not even have a
taxable income. It does not even apply to the spouses who care for
their disabled partners. As we can see, much remains to be done to
help those living with disabilities in our country.
In conclusion, I invite all my colleagues to support designating the
third Friday in September as national spinal cord injury awareness
day. Let us not forget that most accidents happen in the summer and
the third Friday is a busy time for spinal cord rehabilitation centres.
This is the reality surrounding this bill that we should keep in mind. I
hope that, for once, the Conservative government will consider it.
● (1755)
[English]
Hon. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I stand
today to say that the Liberal Party will be supporting Bill C-643,
which, as we know, seeks to establish a day to recognize the impacts
that spinal cord injuries have on Canadians, the health care system,
and the economy.
This bill would bring awareness to this serious and debilitating
condition. We support that idea because not a lot of people
understand and know about spinal cord injuries. They think it is
something that happens after a car accident and do not understand
the full nature of it, the costs to the health care system, and the longterm residual effects on its victims.
The front end of a spinal cord injury is acutely traumatic and
places great costs on the acute health care system, such as long-term
hospitalization. A lot of care is necessary, depending on the severity
of the spinal cord injury.
Then there are the long-term health implications. People who have
suffered spinal cord injuries tend to have very reduced mobility and
life expectancy. They also have impaired neurological recovery and
are unable to recover some of the use of their central nervous system.
What is surprising to a lot of people is that currently 95,000
Canadians are living with spinal cord injuries. This number is
expected to rise with the increasing age of the population, because
age, interestingly enough, is a factor in spinal cord injuries.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal is predicting 4,300
new cases each year. The number of persons suffering with spinal
cord injuries will increase as the population ages. Approximately
51% of spinal cord injuries are a result of trauma, such as car
accidents, skiing injuries, and so on. We know that is true. Most
people think that is the only reason, but there are also non-traumatic
injuries, such as ALS, cancer, and degenerative diseases of the
neurological system that cause the spinal cord to be severed or
damaged so that the spinal cord is not continuous and does not work.
The Rick Hansen Foundation estimates that the economic costs
for newly injured Canadians is approximately $2.7 billion. That is a
huge amount of money. This cost includes not only acute, long-term,
or chronic health care but also new equipment and modifications
made to people's homes to enable them to live with the long-term
injury they have sustained. For instance, the lifetime medical costs
for a quadriplegic exceed $3 million in the lifetime of that one
person. With respect to a paraplegic, we are looking at $1.6 million
in lifetime costs. For many Canadian families the average cost of a
simple manual wheelchair is $4,000 to $5,000, and the average cost
of a power wheelchair is about $10,000 to $15,000. Those costs are
not currently covered under the health care system.
We also know that people who are confined and unable to move
because of long-term injuries, such as spinal cord injuries, suffer
from higher levels of depression and ill health consistent with a
changed ability to cope with life. Depression in people with spinal
cord injuries is one of the biggest reasons they tend to go to see
family physicians.
With respect to awareness of spinal cord injuries, people do not
know or realize that while 51% are from trauma, the other 49% are
from other effects, such as seniors becoming older and falling or as a
result of basic neurological defects such as ALS and the like. People
think the spinal cord has to be severed to cause a traumatic injury.
12406
COMMONS DEBATES
March 26, 2015
Private Members' Business
Therefore, if we do anything this day, we need to bring awareness
of this problem to Canadians with respect to the costs to the health
care system, to families, and to society, as well as the loss of persondays of work. Many people are not able to work in the system or can
only do certain jobs. It is important for people to understand this and
to realize the importance of research on spinal cord injuries with
respect to how we can bridge that damaged spinal cord to allow
people to live with some quality of life. We are now finding out that
research is showing that if a spinal cord injury is caught early
enough, some regeneration of the spinal cord is possible.
● (1800)
This is good. It is helpful for all of the people for whom the
tragedy of a spinal cord injury is not only one of cost and loss of
productivity but also of loss of ability to do things they used to do
before, as well as the depression and the mental health problems that
come with it.
If this day would improve awareness for Canadians, then we can
get the political will to do the necessary research in prevention of
spinal cord injuries, treatment of spinal cord injuries, and recovery
from spinal cord injuries.
We learn. I was one of the Chair-Leaders on the Hill trying to get
around in wheelchairs and suddenly realized that ordinarily I should
not use the disabled section of the women's washroom. I had this
realization because I was waiting there in a wheelchair while
someone who was able was using it. Lack of consideration in that
simple area was enough to show how difficult mobility is for people
with spinal cord injuries.
Motor vehicle accidents, including those involving all-terrain
vehicles, account for 31% of spinal cord injuries, so we might want
to look at how we regulate the use and safety of all-terrain vehicles.
Seniors and age are issues, as 46% of injuries result from falls, while
5% result from acts of violence and 18% result from sports and
recreational injuries and other unknown and degenerative diseases.
New methods for treating spinal cord injuries are being worked
on, but we need to ramp it up, because the ability to continue with
life the way one knew it is invaluable. We cannot even weigh the
cost of not being able to do that to the human person.
Work is being done at UBC, my home province, and in 2012
CIHR gave a grant for research on cardiovascular health in persons
with spinal cord injuries. The main cause of death of persons with
spinal cord injuries has become cardiovascular disease, because of
their inability to be mobile and the inactivity that followed, so work
is being done now to see how we can prevent cardiovascular disease
in persons with spinal cord injuries. There is hope for that.
We can improve the quality of life and save the health care system
up to $70 million annually, but the most important thing is to give
back to persons with spinal cord injuries the ability to regain their
lives, do the things that they formerly could do, and have a full
quality of life.
● (1805)
Mr. Mike Wallace (Burlington, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it is my
honour to speak to Bill C-643, An Act to establish National Spinal
Cord Injury Awareness Day. We have a number of awareness days in
the House, and for me, this is one of the more important ones we
have had since I have been here, which is nine years.
I would first like to congratulate the member for introducing this
legislation. It is obviously an important issue to the member for
Montcalm, but it is also important for members from ridings across
the country. Spinal cord injuries are happening all over Canada
because of accidents and other things. As the previous speaker
mentioned, disease can cause issues with the spinal cord.
My spouse works for an organization that helps young people
with physical disabilities, and spinal cord injuries is one of them. It is
a tremendous burden, if that is the right word to use. “Challenge”, I
think, would be a better word. Such an injury is a tremendous
challenge not only to the individual who is suffering from a spinal
cord injury but also to the family members and friends who are asked
to look after them.
The previous speaker from the Liberal Party mentioned that about
95,000 Canadians live with neurological conditions caused by spinal
cord injury. My research shows that it is actually likely that in 2011 it
was closer to 120,000. There are a significant number of people in
this country suffering from issues due to spinal cord injuries. They
are often life-altering, of course, to individuals and their families. We
see that in the House with our colleagues. We have been very
fortunate that our colleagues who have spinal cord issues overcame
those challenges, ran for office, and were elected to the Parliament of
Canada. It took a tremendous amount of courage on their part to
make that happen.
These injuries also have a significant impact on the Canadian
economy. It sounds cold for me to say that, but there is a loss of
opportunity both for individuals who suffer from spinal cord injuries
and for their families, who have to take time and effort away from
what they might otherwise be doing in terms of being productive in
jobs or other areas and instead look after their loved ones. That is a
loss.
In 2013, a study supported by Health Canada and the Rick Hansen
Institute estimated the following:
...the lifetime economic burden per individual [with traumatic spinal cord injuries]
ranges from $1.5 million for persons with incomplete paraplegia to $3.0 million
for persons with complete tetraplegia....
Bill C-643 reminds us of the importance of recognizing the
courage and determination of those with spinal cord injuries as well
as the perseverance of the scientists whose research has improved the
lives of hundreds of people with spinal cord injuries.
We have a lot of bills these days. This one in particular is
important, because it would bring attention at least once a year to the
challenges that individuals face and would also bring awareness to
the public. We need to leverage these days that we have and not just
pay lip service to the issue.
March 26, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12407
Private Members' Business
That particular day of the year would be an opportunity for all
organizations, individuals, and families to rally together to make sure
that governments, organizations, not-for-profit organizations, communities, and even community planning have an understanding of
the issues and challenges facing people who suffer from spinal cord
injuries. It would be an opportunity to make sure we have the
resources and opportunities for those who have suffered from a
spinal cord injury, whether those resources are in finance, research,
or a physical plant, as was previously mentioned.
● (1810)
I think the mover of this bill should be fairly excited, because I
think the vote is going to be unanimous in the House. I certainly
support it. I know that our government supports the actions we need
to take to help prevent these injuries in the first place and supports
research for the development of innovative treatments for those who
are suffering from spinal cord injuries.
From 2006 to 2014, the Government of Canada invested close to
$57 million in spinal cord injury research, including more than $6.5
million in 2013-14 alone, through the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research, which we all know is a great organization. It provides
support in a number of areas of health research for the betterment of
Canadians.
Research projects supported through this investment cover a broad
range of issues related to spinal cord injuries, from regeneration to
repair of damaged nerves and nerve fibres in the spinal cord to the
development of new guidelines on best practices for the treatment of
patients. This investment also contributed to improving our understanding of how the spinal cord transmits neural signals between the
brain and the rest of the body.
For example, last June, CIHR announced an investment of $1.7
million for a research project at Dalhousie University on mapping
how a family of neurons in the spinal cord controls subconscious
movements. This fundamental knowledge is an important first step
in the development of new tools to restore movement in patients
suffering from neurological injury or disease.
As we learn new things that are brought to us, it always amazes
me the importance and quality of scientists we have in this country.
We are proud as a government to be supporting those scientists who
are doing great work, which is way beyond my comprehension. I am
very thankful that we have people with that skill level, knowledge,
and commitment to finding health solutions, including for spinal
cord injuries in this country.
Another good example of research supported by CIHR is the
project of Dr. Yves De Koninck of Laval University. It aims to
improve our understanding of how nerve cells regulate pain and how
this process is altered in the spinal cords of individuals with nerve
damage. This research will contribute to designing treatments for
preventing and alleviating chronic neuropathic pain or increased pain
sensitivity in people with traumatic spinal cord injuries.
This fantastic scientist received the Barbara Turnbull award for his
contribution in this important area. The annual award has been
presented since 2001 by CIHR, the Barbara Turnbull Foundation,
and Brain Canada to raise awareness of the thousands of Canadians
who are living with a spinal cord injury and to promote research in
this area.
CIHR is also supported by a number of research initiatives that
have contributed to advancing knowledge on the effects of spinal
cord injuries and the most effective treatments to address them. For
example, from 2004 to 2010, CIHR and its partners invested more
than $82 million to support a major strategic initiative called the
regenerative medicine and nanomedicine initiative. Research
supported through this investment focused on the renewal of bodily
tissues and organs, the restoration of function with natural and
bioengineering means, and the development of new materials to
diagnose, treat, and repair damaged tissues.
Many of us have a friend, a neighbour, a family member, or a
colleague right here in this House who have suffered a life-altering
spinal cord injury. While there have been many scientific
advancements to help in treatment and sometimes in recovery from
these injuries, there is still much to be done. Bill C-643 will help
raise awareness so that everyone can learn how they can play a role
in preventing spinal cord injuries.
I would like to thank hon. colleagues for their attention and invite
them to support this legislation when it comes to a vote.
● (1815)
[Translation]
Ms. Manon Perreault (Montcalm, Ind.): Mr. Speaker, my
thanks to all the members who participated in this debate. Everything
I have heard here this evening is truly heartwarming. This debate
was held in an exemplary fashion and with the utmost respect for our
function.
Creating a national spinal cord injury awareness day will make a
positive contribution to Canadian society. I would like to tell all my
distinguished colleagues that persons with disabilities from all over
Canada have contacted my offices to express their gratitude, and I
have to share their thanks with my colleagues.
Let me also thank all those who made the study of this bill
possible, all those who helped design and draft the bill, and all those
who helped move it forward. The seriousness of their commitment
shows an exemplary level of concern with prevention and with
raising awareness not only of the challenges facing those with spinal
cord injuries, but also of the treatments and research in this area of
expertise.
By going through the many stages that led to this bill, which I am
honoured to put before the House today, I think I have gained a
better appreciation of the real needs of those living with spinal cord
injuries. Let me explain.
I have gained a greater understanding of what an initiative like this
special day can contribute. This bill is representative of the purpose
of the political work we are all here to do because it helps us better
ourselves as a society in meaningful ways.
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Sometimes we get the feeling that we are not doing enough, but in
this case, even though this bill seems like a modest initiative at first
glance, it is an incredible tool that leads us to a new stage in our
progress toward accepting people with disabilities in Canada. This
step forward will lead to others and so on.
The quality of life of all our fellow citizens, whether they are
affected by spinal cord injuries or not, will improve. The goal is to
make social acceptance more universal and to raise awareness
among employers of the unsuspected qualities of those with spinal
cord injuries, thereby making our communities more effective,
productive and just.
The practical nature of this reality and the idealism of these
principles work well together in this much-needed bill. We have to
promote acceptance within social networks and value inclusion
because it is both compassionate and for the common good.
In my opinion, one of the foundations of our work is ensuring that
the best decisions are made to help our society progress, that the best
policies are employed for the common good and that our measures
are effective when they are implemented.
I truly believe that this bill to create a national spinal cord injury
awareness day is a step in the right direction, and of course I will
continue to speak in support of this bill until it passes in the House of
Commons.
To back my point of view, I turned to a number of stakeholders. I
asked a lot of questions and tried to get some answers, and I listened
to the opinions of many experts and workers on the ground. I also
learned about many approaches and initiatives in the area of spinal
cord injury.
There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done, but we
have reached a consensus regarding the best actions to take. Creating
a national spinal cord injury awareness day seems to be the approach
that best meets the various needs of that community. This measure
has the potential to be extremely beneficial to a broad cross-section
of Canadians, all without any cost. We simply cannot do without this
crucial bill. The ball is now in our court. We have examined the issue
and reached our conclusions, so now let us make it happen.
There has been so much brainstorming, collaboration and
passionate discussion; so many people have invested in a common
goal; so much effort has been made and energy spent selflessly. Let
us follow the example of these often anonymous people who, by
doing their small part, have managed to put together a simple, yet
effective bill. We must take this opportunity to do our part and vote
in favour of the bill to create a national awareness day.
I want to mention two organizations: Spinal Cord Injury Canada,
whose director, Bobby White, has supported me from the beginning,
and Moelle épinière et motricité Québec, with Walter Zelaya.
I am sure we will get there. We can, we must, and we will.
Canadians are dignified and proud. Let us create a spinal cord injury
awareness policy that reflects that.
● (1820)
Let us see this bill as a positive reflection of our society, a
commendable unifying effort that everyone can stand behind. On
behalf of people with disabilities in Montcalm, Quebec and Canada,
I want to sincerely thank my colleagues. I am deeply touched by
everything they had to say about spinal cord injuries.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): The vote is on the
motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Accordingly, the bill
stands referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources,
Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with
Disabilities.
(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a
committee)
GOVERNMENT ORDERS
[English]
MILITARY CONTRIBUTION AGAINST ISIL
The House resumed consideration of the motion.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Before we resume
debate, I would just like to remind all hon. members that in this
debate, members have 10 minutes for their speeches and five
minutes for questions and comments. It was noted earlier today that
sometimes the questions have been a little long and the answers have
been a bit long. Unfortunately, this will ultimately lead to not as
many members being able to participate in the debate. If members
will bear with the Chair, with five-minute questions and comments,
to have two, that would be two-and-a-half minutes per turn, which
would be about one minute and 15 seconds for the question and the
response.
The Chair will give an indication at around a minute. At a minute
and 15, members ought to be finished. At one minute 30, even if
members are at mid-sentence, the Chair will interrupt in order to
move on to the next question.
The Chair would certainly appreciate the co-operation of all
members. The purpose of this is to allow as many members as
possible to participate in the debate.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for B.C. Southern Interior.
Mr. Alex Atamanenko (British Columbia Southern Interior,
NDP): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for the wise words
you just said, encouraging us to have a full debate and giving us time
to answer questions.
I wish I could say that it gives me pleasure to speak to this motion.
Unfortunately, I cannot. It is not with pleasure that I rise here. It is
with a sense of duty that, with the expansion of our mission in Iraq
and now into Syria, I see there is no question that we are being
drawn into what will turn out to be a long and costly prolonged
conflict.
March 26, 2015
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The Prime Minister tells us that our country is under threat. His
Minister of National Defence states that if we do not do anything,
and allow this organization to metastasize into an actual state with its
resources and army, ISIL will recruit and radicalize people from all
over the world. The implication is that somehow they will all head to
Canada to attack us. Therefore, by bombing ISIL in Iraq and Syria,
this will be prevented.
There has been a horrendous number of atrocities right across the
world. We just need to bring into question central Africa, which our
leader and foreign affairs critic talked about. Millions of people lost
their lives. We did not have this debate about going into central
Africa. We did not have this debate about going into other areas
where people were being liquidated and where atrocities were being
committed.
The question is why we have chosen this. I just mentioned the
train of thought. I believe that its logic was supposed to send us into
combat, and that merits some careful analysis.
It is my understanding that all of the threats to Canada have come
over the Internet. There have been messages encouraging fanatics to
take up the cause. If that is the case, do we realistically believe that
these messages will stop as we continue to bomb the hell out of this
region? I submit that they will increase, and ISIL will recruit more
deranged individuals to its cause.
From what I have been able to ascertain, Canada is one of roughly
ten nations carrying out air strikes. Only one of the other nations,
Jordan, is from the immediate region. Another, Morocco, is from
northern Africa. The first question that comes to mind is this. If this
campaign is so vital to the security of this region and to the world,
where are the other countries? We could legitimately state, whether
we agree or disagree on this mission, that we have done more than
our share. Our resources are limited. In my opinion, they could be
better spent reinforcing our protection right here on the ground in
Canada under the existing legislation, not what the government is
trying to ram through here.
Most of all, we could ensure that no more veterans have to come
to Ottawa to demand the assistance that they so rightly deserve. I
spent time in the Royal Canadian Navy, and as a former naval
officer, I would say that our navy is in a state of disarray. Instead of
bombing in other countries, we could spend a lot of this money to
beef up our protection and ensure that we have good vessels to
protect our coastlines, as an example.
I would also like to submit that we send troops into war as a last
resort. This is not a last resort. We need to take a moment to reflect
on Afghanistan. In 2005, the previous government was pressured by
the then-chief of the defence staff, General Hillier, to send our troops
into combat. Other nations and other allies stayed on the sidelines.
This tragic conflict cost us 160 lives, 170 deaths by suicide, and
hundreds of veterans with permanent physical and mental disabilities. The tragedy in all of this is that we cannot safely say that
Afghanistan is a secure country based on all of the democratic
principles for which our country stands.
The United States and its coalition of the willing invaded Iraq in
2003. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians died.
Iraq's army was dismantled. The country turned into chaos. What we
are seeing today with ISIL is a direct result of the destabilization of
Iraq by the George Bush regime.
The question arises, therefore, of what will happen if Canada
withdraws from this conflict. The answer is probably not a lot. It
seems to me that the countries who were initially responsible for this
mess, in addition to those in the immediate area, should be the ones
that take up the charge against the threat of ISIL.
● (1825)
A leading Iraqi researcher, Munqith al-Dagher, stated that as long
as the political and social grievances of Iraq's Sunni community go
unaddressed, Canadian air strikes against the Islamic State will not
defeat the group. Without giving Sunnis hope for the future, the
international coalition fighting the extremist groups will not be
successful. That is an interesting point. He goes on to say:
ISIL is not the disease; (it) is just the symptom. If we want to (push Islamic State)
out of Iraq and the region, we should deal with the real reasons behind this disease....
(Canada’s) prime minister, like U.S. politicians and other politicians in the
world...all they think about is sending troops and aircrafts. This is not the way to
have a victory over ISIL....
No matter how strong the army is...there will not be any victory without a full
cooperation from the people who are living there.
The question, then, is why we are there without having made an
effort to seek co-operation, to make sure that the current government
of Iraq is in place and works on a solution. The solution to this
problem needs to rest with the Iraqis themselves as well as the
Americans and others who were responsible for the 2003 invasion.
This is not Canada's role. I submit this tragic conflict is not worth
any more Canadian lives.
As I mentioned earlier on, in a speech a few months ago, Bernard
E. Trainor, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant general states the
following in an article that was published in the Washington Post and
appeared in the September 26th edition of the National Post:
The Islamic State presents a problem to be managed, not a war to be won....
The U.S. role should be limited to helping Kurdish forces and the new Baghdad
government better organize to keep the pressure on, with U.S. air strikes contingent
on their progress....
The idea of destroying the Islamic State...is nonsense....
The situation in Mesopotamia is a violent game of mistrust and self-interest. The
Saudis despise the Iranians but will cut deals with them if doing so is in their interest.
Iran will play any card necessary to achieve regional hegemony, while Turkey is coy
about its own quest for preeminence. The Gulf States talk out of both sides of their
mouths. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad uses the Islamic State to create problems for
other rebels. Iraq plays at democracy as long as it can subjugate the Sunnis. Shiites
and Sunnis fight each other while carrying on intramural warfare with their kinsmen.
The double-dealing is almost endless. It doesn’t make sense to us, but it does to the
players. After more than a decade of frustration and humiliation, the United States
should have learned that the Middle East is no place for Wilsonianism on steroids.
This is a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant general. As our
leader stated in his eloquent speech on this issue a few days ago,
what happens when we go into Syria without the permission of the
Syrian government? Do we become allies of this despotic regime?
What is the end game? Who are we going to support? Are we
supporting the regime, or are we supporting other factions fighting
against ISIL? What do we make out of all this confusion?
None of this makes any sense.
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● (1830)
[Translation]
We went from an advise and assist mission to a six-month
bombing mission, to a front-line combat mission. We are now
getting involved in an 18-month conflict where Canadian troops will
exchange fire with members of the Islamic State.
[English]
In conclusion, I would like to say that I have been here for nine
years, and I have watched the debate unfold on Afghanistan. I have
watched the spin coming from the government, as we have watched
our people dying on the field and suffering.
We do not need any more of this. We need to look at this, step
back, and ensure that war is a last resort.
Mr. Bernard Trottier (Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister of Foreign Affairs and for La Francophonie, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to the member's speech, and given
the opportunity, I will maybe correct a couple of things he has said.
He mentioned that he thought Jordan and Morocco were
conducting air strikes. He should know that Morocco is actually
not participating in air strikes.
Countries that are—and these are countries from the region—
include Bahrain and Kuwait, which has been providing logistical
support to the mission. Bahrain has actually been a participant in the
U.S.-led air strikes in Syria since September 2014. Qatar is actually
facilitating U.S. air strikes by providing a staging ground for the
mission. The United Arab Emirates has also been participating in the
air strikes since September.
I will read a quote, and I would like the member to comment. It is
from the Kuwaiti minister of foreign affairs. He said that the military
attacks are crucial and that their impacts are already providing
greater security for the region. Kuwait is a country that knows a
thing or two about hegemonistic expansion. It is very close to the
region. It is very engaged.
I would like the member to comment on that, please.
Mr. Alex Atamanenko: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my
colleague for his question and clarification. I will try to be quick, in
following your wishes.
I believe it is mainly up to the countries in the region and I am
happy to see that other countries, other than the ones I mentioned,
are in there on the ground. They are the ones that are faced with this
threat in their region and obviously there should be more countries
working together with the Iraqi government and all the different
factions to work this out.
We are told this is a direct threat to us here. I do not buy that, as I
said in my speech; it is not.
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
appreciated the comments from the member for British Columbia
Southern Interior. It is always refreshing to have a member enter the
debate from the perspective of what is the best way forward, given
ISIL, which is a real and serious threat to security around the world;
rather than the debate being just about whether “they agree with us,
and if they do not then they are doing nothing”.
Something that the Liberals think we could really contribute to
this situation is enabling Kurdish forces to protect their own
communities and people. The member quoted the general talking
about it being key to help the Kurdish forces. That is what the
Canadian trainers have been doing. We are calling on the
government to increase the training force, because only 650 people
have been trained and they need more help.
I just wonder why the NDP is not supporting the idea of more
trainers behind the wire to enable the Kurdish forces to defend their
peoples.
● (1835)
Mr. Alex Atamanenko: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my
colleague from British Columbia for her question and thank her for
her hard work on this file.
The way I look at it is this. We have seen here that the training
mission has gone into a combat mission. We do not believe, and I do
not believe, that our people should be in a combat mission in Iraq or
in Syria. The other thing is that we have seen the results. We have
had one unfortunate death.
The Kurdish have been fighting for years. They have combat
experience. I often question why we would be there telling them how
to engage in combat experience. I have not really understood that
from the point of trying to help them in training, which we have seen
has turned into a combat mission.
Hon. Michelle Rempel (Minister of State (Western Economic
Diversification), CPC): Mr. Speaker, today's debate contemplates
what Canada's role should be with regard to how we respond to the
atrocities that ISIL has committed, threats and actions made against
the security of Canadian people, its expansionist nature and the
humanitarian and human rights crisis it has created.
This morning, the member for Vancouver Quadra said that the
motion in front of us, which presents the government's position on
this matter, fails our national interest test. I refute this argument and
seek the House's unified support for the government's motion.
Those resting their position on this argument should think first
that Canada's security, and that of the people we represent, is in fact
one of the most important national interests we are seized with. The
longevity of Canada's pluralistic peace is born from our collective
ability to uphold the freedom from persecution that in turn enables
the freedoms of speech, opportunity and personage on which the
prosperity of our nation rests.
March 26, 2015
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In this context, the question of national interest as it relates to the
motion first rests on whether there is a clear threat to the national
security of Canada's people. While it may be difficult for any of us to
watch the manifesto video left by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, it clearly
shows that attacks by radicalized jihadi ISIL sympathizers have in
fact happened on our own soil, even in this very place that I speak
today. While this alone should be evidence enough of this threat to
our national security, the leadership of ISIL has sent out clear
directions calling upon its followers to kill Canadians. ISIL's
leadership is on record as stating:
If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and
filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever ... then rely
upon Allah and kill him in any manner or way however it may be.
Further, the footprint of ISIL working within our country to recruit
followers is also evident, with the RCMP recently laying charges
against Ottawa area men who now stand accused of the same.
Beyond this clear and direct threat to our country, in which this
conflict poses a unique interest to Canada, any so-called national
interest test applied to the motion should be made within the context
of the Liberal leader's opposition to the motion. He has implied that
the motion does not adequately acknowledge that Canada has a role
to play in confronting humanitarian crises in the world. This is false,
especially given his use of the word “confront”.
The humanitarian crisis caused by ISIL's atrocities will not end
unless it is first confronted by the international community using
force to stop its expansion. ISIL is expansionist. We have seen the
rapid growth of the territory it has taken by force quickly increase.
Its adherents seek to expand ISIL's territory in order to establish a socalled caliphate, which would subjugate more of humanity to their
warped, wrong and insulting interpretation of Islam and would also
enable seizure of assets, which are used to fund and sustain its
recruitment and military efforts. Simply put, if ISIL is left to expand
its territory unchecked, the scope and severity of the humanitarian
crisis it causes in its region, and the attacks it plans on foreign soil,
will also continue to increase.
When paired with the acknowledgement that ISIL and its
radicalized jihadi sympathizers have in fact carried out attacks
against Canadians and have made direct threats to the security of our
nation, saying that Canada should only have a humanitarian aid role
in the international effort to contain ISIL is akin to saying that it is
not in our nation's interest to prevent assault before it happens, rather
to stand by and watch it occur and be satisfied in providing food,
shelter and victim support services only after the crime has been
committed.
This is not to downplay the need for Canada to continue its strong
record of funding and delivering humanitarian aid to ISIL's victims.
To date, Canada's aid support for the victims of ISIL has provided
food to 1.7 million people, shelter and relief supplies to 1.26 million,
improved access to education opportunities for up to 500,000
children, and provided psychosocial support and other services for
35,000 women and girls who have experienced gender-based
violence in the region. In addition to degrading ISIL's ability to
expand and entrench its territory, the military component of the
motion allows for Canada's aid to flow to more areas and allows for
more accountability and security of aid workers.
It should be clear to all of us that, as the Prime Minister discussed,
this debate should not be about choosing between fighting the socalled Islamic State and helping its victims. Rather, to truly confront
this humanitarian crisis, we need to do both.
The opposition has implied the motion does not present a clear
mission and a clear role for Canada. This is also false. The motion
enables a mission to work with our coalition allies to degrade,
destabilize and weaken ISIL's position in the Middle East. Under this
objective, the Royal Canadian Air Force has played a significant
role.
● (1840)
Our special forces have increased the capability of Iraqi security
forces to combat ISIL, including their ability to better plan, mount
and execute operations against ISIL with increasing confidence and
precision. Recently, Iraqi forces have made several advances, for
example recapturing Tikrit. As Iraqi forces do not yet have the
capability to conduct large-scale offences without coalition support,
our continued support in the region is critical.
There is a clear and defined scope for our special forces. They are
not allowed to operate in a combat role and are not to seek out
combat activities. However, if members of our special forces are
fired upon, they will fire back. Our special operations forces are
working in an advise and assist role for Iraqi security forces and the
Kurdish peshmerga. This is not a role they could undertake outside
of Iraq.
With regard to the need for expansion of this mission into Syria,
ISIL has been consolidating and moving some of its heavier
equipment into Syria because of the significant impact that coalition
air strikes have had on ISIL operations in Iraq. Given the threat ISIL
poses to our country and the atrocities it has committed, we cannot
allow ISIL to have safe refuge anywhere in the world.
Our coalition partners recognize that Canada is well placed to
support the coalition objective to counter ISIL's power base in Syria,
specifically by utilizing our CP-140 Aurora aerial surveillance, our
CC-150 Polaris refuelling craft and our CF-18 air strikes.
To be clear, with regard to the involvement of the Assad regime,
we will not seek its permission to conduct the mission outlined in
front of us today. Given the request for military assistance from the
Iraqi government in its fight against ISIL, the United States is
arguing the collective self-defence of Iraq as the basis for operations
in the area. The United States has reported to the United Nations that
it is taking the necessary and proportionate military action in Syria in
order to eliminate the ongoing threat to Iraq on the basis that Syria is
unwilling and unable to prevent ISIL from staging operations and
conducting attacks into Iraq from Syrian territory.
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As the U.S. has done, Canada will report to the UN Security
Council that Canada is operating in Syria on the basis of collective
self-defence, pursuant to article 51 of the United Nations charter.
After waffling back and forth on his personal knowledge and
personal position on this mission, including making a phallic joke
about the role of the Canadian air force, the Liberal leader has also
said, “...that the case for deploying our forces must be made openly
and transparently, based on clear and reliable, dispassionately
presented facts”. It is worth noting the irony of this statement,
given that our government has improved upon the abysmal record
the Liberals established on this front when they deployed the
Canadian Forces to Afghanistan for a combat operation without a
vote of Parliament. This shows who would not be trusted in this
place on military missions.
reason why he was unable to go to Iraq or establish connections with
Daesh is that he did not speak Arabic. He tried for several months to
make contact with Daesh but did not succeed. He was so frustrated
that he could not go and fight that he committed a desperate act with
a car and a knife. That is certainly not the equipment typically used
by a terrorist group.
By contrast, as we said six months ago, the government is again
consulting Parliament on the extension and expansion of Operation
Impact. We have provided updates on the mission to the Canadian
public. As we have done over the last six months, we will constantly
evaluate Canada's role in the region, which is why we have put a
clear end date on the expansion of the mission in this motion. This is
the essence of transparency.
Hon. Michelle Rempel: Mr. Speaker, let me be perfectly clear.
No one on this side of the House will ever stand in this place and try
to rationalize or conduct an academic exercise on the root causes of
terrorism, or perhaps murdering a Canadian officer is not terrorism,
maybe, sometimes, sort of.
As for treating the knowledge of ISIL's rape of thousands of
women; genocide; beheadings; persecution of religious minorities,
journalists, aid workers and LGBTQ; treatment of women as
subhuman; and the encouragement of attacks on Canadians as
dispassionate facts, I beg to differ. We should be passionate about
these things, as they are the antithesis of Canadian values. They are
evil and they are wrong. Support for this motion shows that our
country is not willing to explain away the nature of ISIL's barbarism
or be intimidated into trying to appease an evil that has formed the
core of its governance around opposing the freedoms we enjoy by
murdering, raping and seeking subjugation through fear.
The risks that we ask our country's men and women in uniform to
undertake should not be taken lightly. However, the targeted and
defined mission that has the capability to degrade a clear and direct
threat to our country, both to its people and pluralistic peace, is the
reason many choose to serve our country in the first place. It would
be easier for us to turn a blind eye to these facts. However, as we
head toward the 150th anniversary of the birth of our nation, we
should not take the peace and security we enjoy as Canadians for
granted, trading history's proof of what is right and wrong for a
Liberal academic exercise, so that we become complacent in
protecting its very existence.
In closing, those who have fought for our country in years past
have left both a legacy of peace and a clear call to future generations
of Canadians. We must always recognize and confront threats to our
country's people, values and peace. We stand so charged today. Let
us not fail in our choice on how to respond.
● (1845)
[Translation]
Mr. Tarik Brahmi (Saint-Jean, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I listened
carefully to the speech given by the Minister of State for Western
Economic Diversification. I am very surprised every time a member
uses the argument that Daesh represents a clear and direct threat to
Canada. Let us look at the example of Martin Couture-Rouleau, who
was responsible for the attack in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. The
My colleague spoke about a clear and direct attack on Canada. I
would like her to explain this contradiction.
[English]
It is terrorism. It is wrong. It is a direct threat to our country, and
we are acting.
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
am pleased to have a chance to put a question to the minister of state.
It has been clear in this debate that all sides of the House see ISIL as
a security threat, and want to talk about how to be the most effective
in addressing that threat.
The Liberals are strongly for Canada being part of the coalition
against ISIL, and the question is how to do that in a way that is in the
Canadian national interest. We are clear that it is not with an endless
mission to bomb in Syria and potentially strengthen the menacing
Bashar al-Assad, who kills his own people. We are looking for a way
that we can really contribute.
The trainers are doing such important work in strengthening the
Kurdish forces so that they can protect their people and their areas,
and take those areas back. It is mystifying to me why the
government's motion does not include doing more with training,
rather than bombing in Syria and all of the consequences of that.
DFAIT is clear that military operations are a key component
defeating ISIL. We agree with that, and the trainers are a part of that.
Ultimately, it is only political reconciliation and government
inclusiveness that will determine Iraq's stability in the future.
Therefore, a political solution is critical to degrading ISIL and
stabilizing the state. Where in the motion are—
● (1850)
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): The hon. Minister of
State.
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Hon. Michelle Rempel: Mr. Speaker, I think the member's long
preamble and rambling question about openness and inclusivity
involving ISIL is a wonderful example for those watching today of
the Liberals' lack of any sort of understanding of the gravity of the
situation, and their inability to construct a coherent position.
Let me be clear. There is no middle ground to be had on this issue.
There is no populist opinion to pander to, as the Liberal leader has
shown over the last months, going from phallic jokes to suggesting
that Canada's role involves parkas, saying that it is not our role, and
embarrassing our country on front after front because of their lack of
a position on this issue.
I would just appeal to my colleague opposite, who has stood in
this place for many years. I know that of her own volition, she can
articulate a position to understand what is right and what is wrong,
and finally stand for it. She can look through the substance of this
motion, which includes the training of Kurdish special forces to
helping the fight against this, grow a backbone and support it.
Mr. John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, unfortunately the last question was long and rambling, and
I had a question for the minister. The minister talked about the
barbaric acts of ISIL. One can argue that in any war there are always
a lot of barbaric acts. I want to ask the minister a question, and
perhaps she can talk to me later. What is the government doing to
stem the flow of funds to ISIL forces? It is a good question and a
legitimate one. Perhaps she will have an opportunity to answer that.
We are calling on the government to increase assistance for the
care and resettlement of refugees impacted by the conflict.
We are calling on the government to work to prevent the flow of
foreign fighters, finances and resources to ISIL in accordance with
our international obligations under United Nations Security Council
resolutions 2170, 2178 and 2199.
We are calling on the government to put forward a robust plan of
support for communities and institutions working on de-radicalization and counter-radicalization.
We are calling on the government to report back on the costs of
the mission and humanitarian assistance provided to date on a
monthly basis to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and
International Development until Canadian involvement is concluded.
We are calling on the government to continue to offer its resolute
and wholehearted support to the brave men and women of the
Canadian Forces who stand on guard for all of us. I am sure
everyone in the House agrees on the last one.
I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to this today. I want
to concentrate on the humanitarian effort, but I also want to
concentrate on the our amendment to this motion and outline it for
MPs in the House and those who are following this debate closely at
home.
There is a concern, which I have heard from a number of
constituents over the last few days, that the Prime Minister is taking
us from what we call mission creep to what I guess we could call
mission leap, sort of sleepwalking Canada into a wider and everwidening conflict without any real accountability or exit plan. The
Prime Minister indicated the other day that Canada would be there
until the end. That sounded like George Bush, but it does not sound
like anyone on that side reads history. There is no end. Wars morph
and re-morph into something else.
My belief is that the Conservatives have simply not been honest
about this mission from day one. I believe they have misled
Canadians about our soldiers being involved in ground combat and
have failed to make the case for Canada's military involvement in the
Iraq war. That is the premise on which I will base my comments.
We just have to look at Lybia, which, arguably, is worse off now
than it was when we were part of a coalition that intervened there.
Afghanistan, arguably again, is not any better off for us having been
there. As things change and morph, I would suggest that there really
is no end.
Let me talk about the NDP amendment to the motion. I hope the
government and the folks at home will listen closely. To me it makes
sense, and I think it does to many Canadians.
● (1855)
We are calling on the government to end the participation of
Canadian Forces in combat, air strikes, and advise and assist training
in Iraq and Syria as soon as possible.
We are calling on the government to boost humanitarian aid in
areas where there would be immediate lifesaving impacts, including
assisting refugees with basic shelter and food needs, investing in
water, sanitation, hygiene, health and education for people displaced
by the fighting.
We are calling on the government to work with our allies in the
region to stabilize neighbouring countries, strengthen political
institutions and assisting those countries that are coping with a
large influx of refugees.
We are calling on the government to provide assistance to
investigate and prosecute war crimes.
The Conservatives have repeatedly misled Canadians about what
is happening on the ground, from the combat role being played by
our special forces to the cost of the mission, even going so far as to
break the law and hiding information from the Parliamentary Budget
Officer.
Let me be clear. Canada has no place in this war, and there is a
better role for us to play. We should be helping save lives on the
ground now, by addressing the deepening humanitarian crisis
unfolding in both Syria and Iraq.
There are some unanswered questions, and these are the sorts of
questions that I am beginning to get in ever larger volumes from my
constituents. Contradicting statements from the Prime Minister, the
Minister of National Defence and senior military officials have left
my constituents and many Canadians confused about what our
troops are doing in Iraq.
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In October 2014, Chief of the Defence Staff General Tom Lawson
told the media that the mission had evolved, while the Prime
Minister and the Minister of National Defence maintained that
exchanging fire with the enemy at the front lines was part of
Canada's original advise and assist mission.
By refusing to call this a combat mission, questions are being
raised about the effect on the risk allowance and danger pay made to
members of the forces. The Conservatives have refused to provide
clear answers about the criteria for success in this mission or about
an exit strategy.
Despite repeated questioning from the New Democrats and the
Parliamentary Budget Officer since September of last year, the
government only released details of the incremental costs of the
mission on February 16 of this year. The full costs of the mission are
still unclear. The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that the full
costs will be at least six times higher than the incremental costs.
What I really want to talk about today are the humanitarian needs
in Iraq. It is important to give some statistics and to give people
listening to this debate a really clear understanding of the
humanitarian crisis that exists.
As we hear in the news every day, humanitarian conditions in Iraq
continue to deteriorate. The United Nations has declared the
situation the highest level of emergency. Since January of this year,
an estimated 2.5 million people have been displaced, and the
conditions they are living in are worsening every day.
Of the 2.5 million people displaced so far by this conflict, at least
20% have critical protection needs, including those related to trauma
and sexual violence. This is compounded by the regional effects of
the Syrian crisis, with neighbouring countries still trying desperately
to deal with refugees and violence in Syria. Neighbouring countries
that would typically host refugees from Iraq are already overwhelmed by high numbers of refugees from Syria.
Canada should continue to focus on humanitarian needs of
displaced communities, including minorities that have been the
worst affected, and the host communities caring for them. Food
prices continue to rise throughout the region, particularly in Iraq.
Children are disproportionately affected by armed conflict and by
displacement. Canada should increase its focus on the welfare for
children. Over 70% of internally displaced children remain out of
schools across Iraq. Over half a million children between the ages of
6 and 17 are not accessing education services.
What are the immediate needs? They are water, sanitation and
hygiene, food security, shelter, health, protection, including
psychosocial support and education.
● (1900)
Where can Canada help? The New Democrats have urged the
government to boost humanitarian aid in areas where there would be
immediate life-saving impact, like building winterized camps for
refugees, water, sanitation, hygiene, health and the list goes on.
Mr. Brad Butt (Mississauga—Streetsville, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I
certainly understand that NDP members will not support this
mission.
However, in the first week of March, our March break week, I was
in Kurdistan. I was on the ground and met with refugees. I met with
young women who had been tortured at the hands of ISIL. When I
asked these people what they wanted, they said that they just wanted
to go home. They wanted to go home to the cities, communities and
neighbourhoods they had lived in for centuries.
If we do not push ISIL out, if we do not remove it as a threat, how
do we get those people back into their homes that they have had for
hundreds and hundreds of years? The Yazidis, Christians and
Chaldeans have all lived in these regions for years. They have no
way to get back home unless ISIL is removed. Why does the NDP
not understand that we have to remove the threat?
Mr. John Rafferty: Mr. Speaker, on the surface, that question
makes sense. However, it does not make sense when it is understood
that ISIL will simply morph into something else. We could bomb
ISIL for the next 20 years, but other groups will take its place.
If we look at Iraq now and the fighting that is going on there, I
would suggest that the American involvement originally in Iraq
really solved nothing. In fact, it has formed all kinds of other groups
that are now fighting.
While it makes sense if we could actually get rid of the group
completely and free up those homes and homeland for people to go
back to, that would be ideal, but that it is an impossibility.
We need to ensure that those who are displaced have the
wherewithal to continue to raise their families, grow and live and,
hopefully, at some point, be able to gradually get back home.
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my
friend from Thunder Bay—Rainy River noted that I had so much to
say I never got to put my question the last time I rose. It is true that
this is such a complex issue that it is difficult to condense into a
minute. However, sometimes it is the journey and not the destination
that is the point. Now I will have a chance to ask the question I was
planning for the member across the aisle.
The senior diplomats at Foreign Affairs believe that political
reconciliation, good governance, inclusiveness and these political
solutions are very important, if not more important than military
solutions. However, that is missing completely in the motion and in
any of the discussion from the Conservative benches.
What does my colleague suggest in the way of actions that Canada
could take to help change the political climate in that area so there
can be long-term peace and stability?
● (1905)
Mr. John Rafferty: Mr. Speaker, it is a good question. We do not
need to be one of the leaders in war. We need to be one of the leaders
in reconciliation. We need to be one of the leaders in terms of
humanitarian aid. We need to be one of the leaders in terms of war
crimes. We need to be one of the leaders that moves forward to
ensure that stability can get back into the region, but not through
arms, not through weapons, not through war and, quite frankly, not
through killing.
March 26, 2015
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Mr. Brad Butt (Mississauga—Streetsville, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I
am pleased to speak in support of this important motion concerning
Canada's continuing response to the situation in Iraq.
As we have heard, the terrorist organization, the so-called Islamic
State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, has killed thousands of
innocent people, seized significant portions of Iraqi territory over the
last year, and threatens to further destabilize the region. In fact, were
it not for the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces and our
coalition allies, it would continue to spread.
In early March I visited the Kurdistan region of Iraq as part of a
delegation of One Free World International. This was my second
visit to the region and it gave me a first-hand view of the ISIL
attacks. I met with government officials, peshmerga troops, victims,
and refugees. I personally heard their stories. Young women who
had been captured and brutalized by ISIL shared their horrific
experiences with us and reinforced why this barbaric group must be
stopped.
Amid the unfolding crisis, Canada is committed to helping the
Iraqi people and assisting Iraq's security forces. As the direct result
of military action by Canada and our coalition allies, ISIL's alarming
spread and expansion has stopped and it is currently, thankfully, on
the defensive. However, we cannot back down. We need to continue
degrading ISIL until it is no longer a threat not only to the region but
to Canada. Doing so is not only a moral imperative, but it is also a
continuation of the strong leadership role Canada has taken in many
international operations. From responding to natural disasters to
defending unarmed populations, our nation's interventions are
guided, in part, by our moral compass and our determination to
assist those in need.
The moral imperative we face in this mission is clear. The death
cult, ISIL, has declared war on Canada. It has called explicitly for
attacks against Canadians. The savage brutality of ISIL is one that
requires us to act. It is military and expansionist in its scope. It is
genocidal and merciless. It disproportionately targets—and this is
one of the most disgraceful parts of it—religious minorities, women,
and anyone who disagrees with its savagery. This is not a distant
fight that we can debate in the abstract. This is not an enlightening
philosophical examination of our role in the world. This is a fight
that is very real and it is right here at home. These terrorists hate our
society and the Canadian traditions of freedom, democracy, and the
rule of law.
● (1910)
There has already been blood spilled in Canadian streets because
of ISIL. We cannot say that is not our fight. We owe that to all of
those who have been affected by this death cult. We owe that to all of
those who fear for their sons and daughters being brainwashed by
ISIL propaganda. We owe that to those who live under the tyranny of
ISIL right now.
I can assure the members of the opposition who have suggested
that we refocus our efforts on humanitarian aid that there is, indeed, a
strong role for Canada in providing humanitarian aid in response to
this very troubling situation. When I visited the Kurdistan region, I
was told by several officials that Canada was an absolute leader in
providing humanitarian aid, and they were very thankful. In
particular, they paid tribute to our ambassador to Iraq, His
Excellency Bruno Saccomani, for the leadership role he has played
in working with them. We should be very proud of that.
Our ability to provide food, education, and shelter to those in need
can only be done effectively if ISIL is pushed back. I heard that
again from the government officials. Yes, there is an Iraqi security
force, but we cannot give this fight to it alone.
Canada has the capacity to make a difference in this fight, and the
first six months of this mission have demonstrated that. ISIL
continues to be on the defensive, which is a welcome new trend.
ISIL's recent attempts to regain territory in northern and central Iraq
both failed as its onslaughts were successfully fended off by our
coalition. By keeping ISIL out of these areas, we are saving lives.
We know the difference it makes, because we know so well what
ISIL is doing.
We have all heard about mass executions, and I heard that firsthand on my recent visit. We have all heard about the rape and sexual
violence. I heard that from brave young women who told me their
stories. We have all heard about the horrors that ISIL wages. We
have discussed these already in this very place. This is why we
cannot let ISIL have a base of operation from which it is
unchallenged. ISIL cannot have a safe haven.
ISIL has called for attacks against Canadians. It has called for
attacks in our streets against innocent bystanders with the deliberate
intent of making us all feel unsafe. It is doing this by preying on
those who are vulnerable, on our most impressionable, on the
isolated and the young, through its network of disgusting
propaganda, and turning them against us.
The last six months in Iraq have shown that our coalition has the
capability to counter this evil head-on. We have decided to join our
allies, who have been attacking ISIL in Syria without resistance from
the Syrian government. The United States and other coalition
partners have had six months of experience attacking ISIL targets in
Syria. We will conduct air strikes against ISIL in Syria on the same
legal and operational basis as our allies have been doing.
This is the nature of the evil we face. There is no reasoning with
an evil like ISIL. We are not sitting down to have tea with its
members. There is no reasoning with a death cult that wants to
massacre, rape, and pillage the developed world. We cannot
condescendingly dismiss this as not our fight. ISIL has declared
war on us. It has called for attacks on us. It has inspired attacks on
us.
ISIL fighters and equipment have been moving freely across the
Iraq-Syria border. ISIL has been consolidating and moving some of
its heavier equipment into Syria because of the significant impact
that the coalition air strikes have had on ISIL operations in Iraq. We
have had success attacking ISIL targets in Iraq, and we will now
expand to where ISIL is consolidating.
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The Canadian Armed Forces record on the world stage is truly
impressive. The men and women who serve our military continue to
demonstrate their skill and dedication. Thanks to the readiness and
agility of the Canadian Armed Forces, Canada is able to provide
strong leadership and support to the international community.
It is because of our commitment to promoting international peace
and security that we are assisting the people of Iraq. That is why I am
proud to stand in the House tonight to support the government's
motion for our continued role in helping people around the world
who need our help and support. Canada is a world leader. We have
so much to be proud of, and there is much more that we need to do.
God bless the people of Iraq and Syria as they go through the
terrible situation that they are dealing with. Canada will always stand
with them.
● (1915)
Mr. Alain Giguère (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
listened to the sound of defeat, the sound of another Vietnam war. It
is clear those wars are lost. The government lost the Afghanistan
war. Now it is another defeat. It is clear.
One of the problems, if we do not attack the first problem, is the
corruption of the Iraqi government. We do not attack the cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the Islamic State.
There is no possibility to win this war with only military attacks.
The government clearly does not understand one important point:
that one important part of the Sunni population of Iraq supports the
terrorist organization. That is the problem. Why does the population
support the terrorist group? That is the problem.
I listened carefully. I am interested in a clear response.
Mr. Brad Butt: Mr. Speaker, from my personal experience in
actually meeting with victims of these very vicious attacks in Iraq
and listening to their stories, all I can say is that they were only
attacked, raped, and brutalized because they were women. They
were only attacked, raped, and brutalized because they were
Christian, or Chaldean, or Yazidi, or any of the other religious
minorities that had lived in Iraq for centuries with no difficulty. They
got on with their lives and raised their families, generation after
generation.
We are there to support our fellow human beings who are being
viciously attacked by this barbaric cult. That is our role. I am proud
our government is standing up for these people and helping them
out.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
think we need to be very clear on the point that voting against this
resolution does not mean supporting ISIL. The government tries to
give the impression that there is no other option and no other choice
and that those who do not vote for this motion are supporting ISIL.
I have news for the government. We in the Liberal Party and, I
believe, Canadians as a whole do not support ISIL. Their barbaric,
revolting actions that they take against humanity are abhorrent and
should be acted on, where we can.
The issue is the manner in which the government seems to want to
bring Canada more and more into a situation without any clarity, end
game, or anything of that nature. The Prime Minister's Office, the
Minister of National Defence, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs
have not been transparent and open with Canadians on this mission.
I have a question for the member. We have a wonderful Kurdish
community that I met with just last weekend. Its members have
thoughts in terms of their role. What does this member believe their
role could be and how Canada might be able to enhance the Kurds'
role?
Mr. Brad Butt: Mr. Speaker, first, this is coming from the party
that took us into Afghanistan and never had a debate in the House of
Commons on that. There was never a debate in the House of
Commons like we are having tonight.
Second, I am glad the hon. member met with members of the
Kurdish community. I did, too, last Friday, with the Minister of
National Defence. They said that they want Canada there protecting
their people. They want us to do more. They want our military
presence there. They support Canada's involvement in fighting ISIL.
They made it extremely clear.
Only the Liberal Party can have it both ways. Liberal members
can pretend they support these things, and vote against them. We are
taking action. We are standing up for the people in Iraq and Syria
who have suffered at the hands of this barbaric cult. We will continue
to work with our coalition allies to do the right thing to make sure
people can live in peace and freedom in their home countries.
● (1920)
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime
Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
I am very pleased to rise to take part in this important debate. I want
to make it very clear, because the opposition does not seem to
understand, that we are debating this today because jihadi terrorists
have declared war on Canada and our allies. That is why we are here
today and why this debate is taking place. They have specifically
targeted Canada and have urged their supporters to attack
“disbelieving” Canadians “in any manner”. They said they should
do that to make us feel insecure in our homes.
I want to take another second to reiterate something that a number
of members have talked about. This is what the so-called spokesperson for the Islamic State said:
If you can kill a disbelieving American or European—especially the spiteful and
filthy French—or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the
disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a
coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any
manner....
That is what this brutal group has said. Those bone-chilling
statements are exactly why I am very proud to be supporting this
government and this Prime Minister as we move forward with
another motion to do even more in the fight against the Islamic State.
As has been mentioned by a number of speakers already, one of the
most important things a government can do is protect its citizens, and
that is what I believe this motion would do.
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We have seen first hand that this is not a problem in a faraway
land, or as the Leader of the Opposition said, that it is someone else's
war. That is simply not true. On October 20, Warrant Officer Patrice
Vincent lost his life at the hands of an Islamic State-inspired terrorist.
On October 22, Corporal Nathan Cirillo was shot as he stood on
guard at the National War Memorial. He was killed by an Islamic
State-inspired terrorist simply for wearing the uniform of a member
of the Canadian Armed Forces.
That is why Canada is not sitting on the sidelines, as the Liberals
and the NDP would have us do, and that is why we are very proud of
the fact that we are part of this international coalition to push back
and save the people in this region against the Islamic State.
It is, of course, very important that we fight terrorism and the
ideologies that drive people to engage in violent extremism both at
home and abroad, and I am proud that this government has been
succeeding on both fronts. I want to speak just a bit about what we
are doing here at home.
Our government introduced Canada's first counterterrorism
strategy. It has four pillars: prevent, detect, deny resources, and
respond. We also passed the Combating Terrorism Act, which made
it illegal to travel for terrorist purposes. This is important legislation,
because we have recently seen the phenomenon of westerners,
including Canadians, travelling to Iraq and Syria to join in the fight
with the Islamic State.
We also passed the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act,
which allows the government to revoke citizenship from dual
nationals who engage in the traitorous act of taking up arms against
the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces or from
those who are convicted of terrorist offences. Shockingly, the leader
of the Liberal Party suggests that it is not a Canadian value to revoke
the citizenship or even the passport of a dual national who takes up
arms against a Canadian or who commits a terrorist act. That is what
the leader of the Liberal Party thinks.
On this side of the House, we find it completely unacceptable that
we would share the gift of Canadian citizenship with anyone who
thinks that the way to solve a political disagreement is by capturing
people and cutting off their heads or capturing people and putting
them in cages and lighting them on fire. That is not what we stand
for, and that is one of the other reasons we are so engaged in this
fight. These are barbaric actions, and we will continue to do our part.
● (1925)
We also introduced the protection of Canada from terrorists act
and recently introduced the anti-terrorism act, 2015. This act is
important for a number of reasons. It would update the no-fly list,
which would give our partners better power and better authority to
ensure that our airlines are safe. It would criminalize those who
would seek to promote terrorist activity, such as with the videos I
spoke about earlier. We know that the Islamic State uses videos to
encourage people to commit terrorist acts in countries around the
world, including Canada. It leads to their radicalization. Under the
bill, that would become a criminal offence. It would give our law
enforcement partners, those we task with keeping our country and
our communities safe, important new tools so that they could do that
job. It would enhance oversight and would include judicial
authorization for the new authorities we would give these security
agencies to keep us and Canadians safe.
We have also heard and understand that it is very important that
we also address the humanitarian impact of ISIL in this region.
Canadians have said this and our government believes this. That is
why we have been working with United Nations agencies and
agencies such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and
other non-governmental organizations in the area to provide
assistance. What does this assistance provide? It has provided food
for up to 1.7 million people and shelter and relief supplies for 1.26
million people. It has also improved access to education opportunities for up to 500,000 children.
Finally, I want to take a moment to speak directly to the people of
my riding of Oak Ridges—Markham. Obviously the decision to send
the Canadian Forces into harm's way is one that is very difficult.
Many speakers have already highlighted the fact that it is one of the
most difficult decisions a member of Parliament or a government
will ever make. I want to say very sincerely and directly to my
constituents that I believe that it is very important for Canada to
continue to play a role to ensure the safety and security of our
country and our community.
Throughout the great history of my riding and the communities
that make up Oak Ridges—Markham, mainly Markham, Whitchurch-Stouffville, Richmond Hill, and King City, we have always
been ready to answer the call to service both at home and abroad.
Our local regiments, the Governor General's Horse Guards and the
Queen's York Rangers, have always been prepared and have always
answered the call when conflict was brought to our shores or when
our assistance was needed abroad. I am very proud of the fact that
we have such a rich history.
In my riding we have very important non-governmental
organizations, churches, and community groups that are willing
and ready and are always providing assistance to people in need.
While I understand that not all of my constituents might
necessarily agree with the actions we have taken or the actions we
will continue to take, I do know that all of my constituents agree that
it is very important that we do whatever we can to ensure the safety
and security of our nation and our community. I believe that what we
are doing here and what we have done over the last six months is in
the very great tradition of Canada as an important ally, a reliable
partner, and a nation that seeks peace but is always willing to fight
anyone who would seek to destroy what generations of Canadians
have built here.
It is with that that I say to my constituents and the House that I am
very proud to support the motion. I hope that the opposition will
reflect on that and the dangers to Canada and will do the right thing
and support the motion to support the extension of the mission.
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● (1930)
Mr. Tarik Brahmi (Saint-Jean, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I attended
the funeral of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. He was the victim of
a despicable act, but I do not understand how the parliamentary
secretary can pretend that this despicable act had a direct connection
to the group Daesh, which specifically targeted Canada. The reason
Martin Couture-Rouleau committed that despicable act was that he
was not able to make any connection with the Daesh group. The
reason he was not able to make any connection, although he tried for
several months, was that he did not understand or speak Arabic. He
was so frustrated that he committed this crazy act and randomly took
an innocent member of our proud Canadian Forces. How can the
member explain this contradiction?
Mr. Paul Calandra: Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat confused by the
member's question. Warrant Officer Vincent was targeted by an
individual who committed a terrorist act on Canadian soil. He killed
a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. Two days later, another
Canadian Armed Forces member, not 500 metres from this place,
was gunned down by another radicalized terrorist.
These are people who have declared war on Canada. These are
people who have suggested that other people should kill not only
Canadians but our allies. It is for that reason that Canada has taken
the steps we have taken to ensure that Canadians can be safe not only
at home but abroad.
I would ask the member to reflect on some of the things we have
talked about here today and some of the stories we have been told, in
particular what we heard earlier from the member for Mississauga—
Streetsville. These are people who are asking for our help, and in the
great tradition of Canada, we will respond with that help.
This is what I think the Liberal Party understands. The Liberals
understand that Canadians realize that this is very important. It is
important to our national security that we are there, and it is
important to Canadian safety and security that we be there. The
Liberals understand that they are on the wrong side of Canadians and
now are trying to pretend that they are on the right side and are
trying to find all kinds of ways around it. They want to deploy the
soldiers but not that far and not the way we have done it.
Here is the reality. The Liberals have an opportunity next week to
vote in favour of a motion that sends Canadian troops and that
continues to expand our mission in an area where we can protect
Canada's national interests and can provide the best opportunity to
save millions of lives. I hope the Liberals will reflect on that and will
actually join us in this, as opposed to talking out of both sides of
their mouths.
● (1935)
Mr. Peter Braid (Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure
and Communities, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to
rise in the House this evening to speak to and support our
government's motion to expand and extend our campaign against
ISIL in Iraq.
This so-called Islamic State has threatened and attacked those who
stand up to their barbaric form of Islam across the globe. It has also
indicated that it is specifically targeting Canada and its allies. It has
made it clear that Canada is a target. Why? It is for the same reason it
targets most of humanity: in ISIL's view, anyone who does not
accept its perverse interpretation of religion should be killed.
That is why we are in Iraq with our allies. It is to fight the threat
that ISIL poses not just to the region but to Canada as well.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
just to be very clear, the Liberal Party of Canada has never been
opposed to deploying our armed forces for combat when it clearly
serves Canada's national interest.
Our motion clearly lays out precisely what military activities we
will be undertaking in Iraq to degrade and destabilize this so-called
Islamic State. I would like to go into some detail about the
contributions being made by Canadian air assets.
Military missions designed to uphold that interest must have
transparent objectives and a responsible plan to achieve them. To
give an example, Canada has a clear interest in training Iraqi forces
to fight and destroy ISIL. We can and should do this training away
from the front lines, as our allies have been doing. That is an
example of the type of thing Canada can excel in. There is no doubt
about that, and Canadians as a whole would support that sort of
action.
To date, our very capable CF-18 Hornets have conducted over 416
sorties, resulting in the destruction of vehicles, heavy weapons,
checkpoints, buildings, and bunkers. By damaging or destroying
assets like these, the Canadian Armed Forces are not only degrading
ISIL's combat capabilities and preventing ISIL fighters from
establishing safe havens but also enabling Iraqi forces to go on the
offensive. Ultimately, it will be for the Iraqi security forces to bring
sufficient pressure to bear on ISIL and eliminate the grave threat that
it represents.
What the government does not seem to recognize is that it has not
been straightforward with Canadians. Can the Parliamentary
Secretary to the Prime Minister explain to the House why, for
example, the Prime Minister was evasive on the issue of the original
combat role Canadian soldiers were going to be putting themselves
into? At one point he said no, and then we—
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Order, please. The
hon. parliamentary secretary.
Mr. Paul Calandra: Mr. Speaker, the Liberal position on this is
really obscure. What the member just said is that the Liberals support
deploying the Canadian Armed Forces to the region, but they voted
against the motion that sent them there six months ago. That is what
the Liberals are saying now.
Our CP-140 Auroras, outfitted with advanced imaging systems,
radar, and other sensors, have conducted over 116 reconnaissance
missions, collecting the critical intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance data that is used to identify and strike targets
accurately as well as to assess battle damage. The modernized
Aurora really is a cutting-edge platform. The information that this
aircraft collects not only enhances the effectiveness of air strikes but
also helps avoid collateral damage by ensuring that targets are
limited to military objectives. In fact, our Auroras have made crucial
contributions to what is considered the most precise close air support
campaign in history. This is a specific capability that the U.S. views
as extremely useful for Canada to provide in the fight against ISIL
and Syria.
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Lastly, the CC-150 Polaris refueller has conducted over 105
sorties, delivering more than six million pounds of fuel to coalition
aircraft. By delivering fuel to fighters in the air, it acts as a force
multiplier by allowing these aircraft to lengthen their sorties and fly
further into the battle space. Our Polaris is helping the coalition to
maintain pressure on ISIL throughout Iraq.
Moreover, our special operations forces, who are so incredibly
capable, are on the ground. They are working hard to advise and
assist the Iraqi forces and make them more effective. They are
increasing their confidence and ability to plan, mount, and execute
operations against ISIL, and they are making a real difference in
helping to professionalize the Iraqi security forces.
Any operational mission carries with it a degree of risk. We all
recognize that, but I am confident that the men and women of the
Canadian Armed Forces are as prepared as they can be to face these
challenges. They are rigorously trained prior to deployment overseas, equipped to the highest standard, and operate within specific
rules of engagement that mitigate risks where feasible. They are also
provided with the required intelligence and legal advice to ensure
that all Canadian Armed Forces activities comply with international
law and Canadian law.
● (1940)
Moreover, risk to Canadian personnel is also alleviated by a
dedicated coalition personnel recovery capability, which includes a
high-readiness combat search and rescue capacity prepared to
respond should it prove necessary. Thank goodness we have such
brave, courageous, highly skilled, professional Canadian Armed
Forces members.
However, there is no either/or between military action and
humanitarian aid. As members know, military operations enable the
flow of humanitarian aid and other assistance programming by
creating secure conditions on the ground. In order for aid to be
delivered effectively, we need security. Therefore, along with our
military contribution to assist the people and the Government of Iraq,
Canada has taken significant steps to address the suffering of Iraqi
civilians.
needs during the continuing crisis and to contribute to support and
stability over the long term.
However, ISIL is a group that decries modern civilization. It
equally abhors anything that does not accord with its twisted world
view. As part of its relentless campaign to eradicate culture, over the
last few weeks we have witnessed the destruction of the 3,000-yearold Syrian city of Nimrud; the 7th century statues from the ancient
city of Nineveh, housed in a museum in Mosul; and, most recently,
the bulldozing of the ancient city of Hatra, which dated to the 2nd or
3rd century BC.
The head of UNESCO has declared that this “...deliberate
destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a war crime.”
ISIL is not nearly content to threaten the present and the future of
the people in the Middle East; it is determined to erase their culture
and their past in an attempt to revise history.
In conclusion, this is why I am supporting our government's
motion, which provides for military support to degrade and
destabilize ISIL as well as significant humanitarian aid in the
Canadian tradition to ensure that displaced people are taken care of.
I would ask that all of my colleagues in the House support this
very important motion.
● (1945)
Mr. Tarik Brahmi (Saint-Jean, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the member
mentioned the special forces helping Iraqi security forces. He
mentioned the term “advise and assist”. When I received my basic
military training in the French army in 1992, it was clearly explained
to me what the role of the special forces was. The role of special
forces is to carry out special operations.
I wonder if the member opposite really believed the Prime
Minister when he said that they would only advise and assist. Did he
believe that the Canadian Forces would only advise and assist Iraqi
security forces, which, by the way, are not even aware sometimes
that they are being trained?
In fact, Canada is at the forefront of international efforts in Iraq.
We have committed funding for humanitarian aid, stabilization, and
security programming to Iraq over the past year. This support
includes over $67.4 million to address humanitarian needs in Iraq,
$15 million to strengthen front-line security measures and combat
the threat of foreign fighters and violent extremism, and $10 million
to address sexual violence and additional human rights abuses
perpetrated by ISIL—human rights abuses the likes of which we
have never seen.
Mr. Peter Braid: Mr. Speaker, it is clear that it is our very skilled
and highly capable CF-18 pilots who are in a combat role. Our
special operations forces, who quite literally are among the best
soldiers in the world, are on the ground not in a combat role but in an
advise and assist role. Should our special operations forces be fired
upon, of course they would be expected to defend themselves.
All of this support is helping to feed 1.7 million people in Iraq,
providing shelter and relief supplies to 1.25 million people, and
giving some education to over half a million children.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if
the member were to go onto National Newswatch right now, he
would see an interesting article. The article headline is “Syrian
airstrikes could help Al-Qaeda”, which I thought was an interesting
headline.
Iraq has also been designated as a partner country. This means that
it qualifies for bilateral assistance to enable it to meet long-term
development objectives and build resilience to withstand the
ongoing conflict. We are working swiftly to deliver new development assistance programming in Iraq, both to address short-term
However, that is the purpose of those two aspects of our military
mission. It is very clear.
Like ISIL, Al-Qaeda was, and still is, a threat to the world in terms
of its terrorist behaviour. I would ask the hon. member to provide a
comment on that.
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Second, over the last number of years, Syria has literally had
almost half of its population displaced because of the current regime.
To what degree does the hon. member believe that the Government
of Canada has done its homework in regard to everything from the
compassionate side of dealing with refugees to the issue on which I
posed a question to the member and his caucus earlier with regard to
how we might be able to best fight ISIL? One of the ways might be
to better support the Kurds.
Mr. Peter Braid: Mr. Speaker, on that final point, we are
providing significant support to the Kurds.
This mission has been and will continue to be a mission against
the depravity of ISIL, whether ISIL is in Iraq or in Syria. This is a
cult of violence, and the purpose of our mission is to degrade and
destabilize ISIL.
The power base of ISIL, the nerve centre of ISIL, is in Syria. That
is why it is appropriate at this time that the government consider
extending our mission, which is clearly against ISIL, into areas of
geography within Syria. This is for the express purpose of
destabilizing and degrading ISIL, because ISIL represents a threat
not only to Iraq but to Canada's security. That is why Canada is
participating. That is why our forces are part of this important
coalition effort.
[Translation]
Mr. Pierre Lemieux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Veterans Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the
motion the government moved to ask the House of Commons to
recognize that the terrorist group called the Islamic State of Iraq and
the Levant, or the Islamic State, has called upon its members
numerous times to attack Canada and Canadians. I would also like to
express my support for our government's decision to extend
Canada's military mission in Iraq.
The Islamic State is a serious threat not only to the security of the
Middle East, but also to international peace and security. The group
has caused a serious humanitarian and security crisis in Iraq and
neighbouring countries. It has displaced over 2 million people. It
persecutes religious and ethnic minorities and has killed thousands
of innocent men, women and children. It has committed acts of
incredible barbarity by beheading journalists and humanitarian
workers on camera and burning a Jordanian pilot to death.
The Islamic State's behaviour is sending us a clear message. By
destroying the remnants of ancient civilizations, it is showing its
contempt for culture and history. Every time it enslaves a woman, it
shows its contempt for human equality. Every time it kills an
innocent person, it shows its contempt for the sanctity of life.
● (1950)
[English]
ISIl claims to have established a caliphate in the territory it
controls. It sees this as a means to legitimize its rule, enact sharia law
and provide a rallying pride to foreign fighters who believe it is their
duty to live under the aegis of the Caliph. They are extremists who
believe that anyone who follows a different interpretation of Islam,
including moderate Muslims, are all apostates. ISIL seeks to
eradicate all people thus identified in the Middle East. We have
seen extremely disturbing examples of the atrocities it has committed
in the territory it controls, including the death of more than 10,000
civilians.
[Translation]
This terrorist group has called for direct attacks against Canada
and Canadians. It inspired and applauded the terrible tragedies in
Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa and was delighted by the
attacks against innocent people in Sydney, Paris, Copenhagen and,
just recently, Tunis. Its propaganda incites terrorists to attack
civilians and encourages potential fighters to join its fighters on the
battlefields of Iraq and Syria.
It is clear that the Islamic State poses a real threat to Canada and
Canadians. Our government, together with our allies, has resolved to
address this threat directly. We want to respond with force and show
that, individually and collectively, we have the necessary determination to significantly degrade their operations.
Last August, the Royal Canadian Air Force began transporting
essential military equipment provided by our allies to the Iraqi
forces. In total, 25 Hercules transport flights and one Globemaster
strategic airlifter delivered more than 700 tonnes of equipment,
which was desperately needed.
In September, at the NATO summit held in Wales, the Prime
Minister announced that Canada's special operations forces would be
deployed as part of an advise and assist mission and would provide
tactical and operational advice to improve the effectiveness of the
Iraqi forces and the Kurdish peshmerga on the ground.
Then in early October, the government moved a motion asking
Parliament to support the extension and expansion of Canada's
military contribution to the Government of Iraq.
[English]
Canada's current military efforts are part of Operation Impact.
This mission is composed of approximately 600 Canadian Armed
Forces personnel and it includes a strike force of six CF-18 Hornet
fighters, with associated aircrew and logistical support elements,
which conducts air strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq in co-operation
with coalition partners. An aerial enabling force, comprised of a
CC-150 Polaris aerial refueller, up to two CP-140 Aurora aerial
surveillance aircraft, and an associated support crew, as part of a key
coalition reconnaissance and support capability, contributes to
situational awareness, command and control, and logistical support
as well as assist with coalition air strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq.
The contributions of the Canadian Armed Forces have not only been
highly effective but are also highly valued by the coalition.
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Over the past six months, the coalition has seen real signs of
progress. Through the aerial campaign, the coalition has destroyed
ISIL targets in central Iraq and north and northwest of Baghdad in
areas that are both controlled and contested by ISIL. These efforts
have reduced ISIL's freedom of movement and territorial gain.
Thanks in part to Canada's military efforts, ISIL's ability to raise
funds for its reign of terror has taken a major hit. Iraqi forces have
wrestled the city of al-Baghdadi back from ISIL control and are
working to regain Fallujah. In northern Iraq, Iraqi forces are
gradually taking back ground east of Mosul, where ISIL is now in a
defensive posture.
[Translation]
● (1955)
We cannot let the hate and fanaticism of the Islamic State spread,
take root in the weak and the easily influenced, and create terrorists
ready to attack those who do not share their beliefs. That is why we
are asking Parliament to support our government's decision, a
decision that will continue to help the people of Iraq, a decision that
will weaken the Islamic State's threat that looms over Iraq and Syria
as well as the threat it poses to Canada, and, lastly, a decision leading
to action to combat the atrocities that the Islamic State is committing
in the name of a jihad that seeks to spread nothing but death.
[Translation]
This progress proves that the situation is improving, but there is
still work to be done. More than ever, we must remain steadfast.
More than ever, we must demonstrate our commitment, and more
than ever we must recognize the importance of continuing this fight
that will define a generation. We are combatting a radical
interpretation of Islam, an interpretation that results in innocent
people being subjected to unbelievable violence and that inspires
terrorist threats against Canada and our citizens.
That is why our government is asking Parliament to approve an
extension of the Canadian Armed Forces mission in Iraq for a
maximum of 12 months, until March 30, 2016. We are also asking
Parliament to approve the expansion of the scope of the mission.
As we all know, the Islamic State poses a serious threat to regional
security and peace. Although the coalition has managed to stop the
advance of the Islamic State, it continues to control a vast territory
that covers part of Syria and Iraq. It draws its strength from its
presence in these two countries. Since the coalition's air strikes have
depleted its reserves and weakened its strongholds in Iraq, it has no
choice but to rebuild its forces, take refuge and resupply in Syria.
If we stop the fight at the Iraq border, we will never be able to
eliminate these support bases and we will never be able to eliminate
this threat. That is why our government is calling on Parliament to
support an extension of the air mission so that we can hit targets in
Syria. We will not be alone in this mission. The United States is
already carrying out air strikes in Syria, with the co-operation of
Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Morocco and the United Arab
Emirates. We will certainly make a considerable contribution,
especially if we consider our targeting capabilities with precision
munitions.
[English]
There are those within the opposition parties who would reject
such action in Syria for fear of even indirectly helping the barbaric
regime of Bashar al-Assad. What the opposition MPs refuse to admit
is that ISIL is a threat to Canada and Canadians and that we must
therefore engage ISIL not only in Iraq, but also in Syria. We continue
to hope the Assad regime will be replaced by one that respects
human rights and democracy, but in the meantime, we will not allow
ISIL to take advantage of the situation in Syria to further victimize
people in the region and we will not allow it to continue its threats
against Canada.
The terrorist group that we call the Islamic State in Iraq and the
Levant has asked its members to attack Canada. The Islamic State
targets ethnic and religious minorities, commits crimes of sexual
violence and massacres civilians. That is why we, together with our
coalition partners, must deny them freedom of movement in Iraq. We
must eliminate its hiding places in Syria and we must do everything
in our power to put an end to the horrific violence that it is inflicting
on innocent civilians.
● (2000)
Mr. Alain Giguère (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
listened carefully to my distinguished colleague's presentation and I
have a major problem with it. He is asking us to go and wage war on
terrorists, barbaric in the extreme, I agree, but who have been
created, financed and armed by our current allies, Saudi Arabia and
Qatar. There is a problem here. The government is asking us to go
and disarm barbaric individuals who got those arms from our socalled allies. How many times is he going to tell us that joke before
we realize that we are not cannon fodder for a bunch of oil dictators?
Mr. Pierre Lemieux: Mr. Speaker, that question proves that the
NDP does not understand what is happening with the Islamic State in
Iraq and the Levant, and the threat that it poses here in Canada.
[English]
The NDP is completely disassociated from Canadians and their
understanding of what is going on with ISIL. As I mentioned in my
speech, ISIL presents a very clear and present danger to the people of
the region in which it operates, and it presents a very clear and
present danger to Canadians.
Just before Christmas, we saw the results of its threats to Canada. I
do not know why the NDP will not admit that ISIL has targeted
Canada. It has to account for that to Canadians.
The NDP members will have the opportunity to vote on this
motion. I ask them to change their ways, be reasonable and support
the motion we have put forward in Parliament.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
know the member would be aware that al Qaeda was the
organization that ultimately caused and precipitated the 9/11 attacks,
the collapse of the twin towers, and heightened terrorism to a level
that was never really recognized until that incident.
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I am looking for an opinion from the member. There is a headline
that I think is causing concern. I raise it just to get feedback from the
member. The headline is, “Syrian air strikes could help al-Qaeda”.
“Experts warn that the West's focus on attacking ISIS is boosting its
equally dangerous rival”.
As Canadians might be following the debate, or are reading or
hearing what CBC is reporting, I am sure they are asking questions.
Could the member provide some understanding from the Government of Canada's perspective on that report, or does he feel there is
no merit whatsoever to the report?
Mr. Pierre Lemieux: Mr. Speaker, what I find very troubling
about the position of the Liberals is that they would advocate,
primarily, to do nothing, let the threat exist, let the violence continue,
let terrorists attack Canada and do nothing.
The Liberal position, as well as the NDP position, is incomprehensible to Canadians. In fact, I believe the Liberals have only given
two speeches on this topic tonight. It is an extremely important
debate in the House of Commons. I believe they have only given two
speeches because even they, and their MPs, do not understand their
position.
Our position is very clear. It is ISIL that poses a threat, not only to
the people of the region in which they operate, but also to the people
in Canada.
As I mentioned in my response to a question from a previous
colleague, Canada has experienced the tragic effects of ISIL reaching
out to misguided Canadians, one of whom attacked Parliament and
killed Nathan Cirillo and another who killed Patrice Vincent in SaintJean-sur-Richelieu.
I do not understand why the Liberals cannot see that, why they
will not accept that, and why they will not push back against ISIL.
Why will they not stand up and defend the interests of Canada and of
Canadians?
[Translation]
Mr. Alain Giguère (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
atrocities have been perpetrated in this world, and Boko Haram and
ISIL are responsible for many of them.
Such barbaric acts can only be condemned. We have seen terrible
things. A London taxi driver chose to serve his fellow humans by
driving a truck to transport food to hungry people. ISIL punished
him for his good deed by slitting his throat. It goes without saying
that such things are reprehensible.
However, the members of this group are not the only ones. Saudi
Arabia has committed atrocities too, such as sentencing a man to
1,000 lashes. Raif Badawi, whose family has sought asylum in
Canada, would also like to be shown some compassion. There was a
major problem when Muslim peoples learned that the American CIA
had systematically tortured all of its detainees. It goes without saying
that reports and information about the torture meted out by the CIA
proved a powerful motivator for young Muslims to join the terrorist
movement. That is dangerous. That is the worst thing that could have
happened.
There is also Congo. Five million people have died there since
1998. That is more that the populations of Kuwait, Afghanistan and
Vietnam combined. Nobody is asking us to drop bombs there. No,
that place is not interesting. There is no oil there, just Africans, and
they are not worth much. However, Boko Haram is in Nigeria.
Members of that organization have declared war on the whole world,
and they kill anyone who is not with them. No exceptions. Some
groups have threatened Canada and Australia, but Boko Haram
believes that everyone in the world is an infidel. We are not going to
Nigeria though. There are terrorists in Mali and many other places.
Libya is a good example, but we are not going there. We pick and
choose based on what the Americans want.
However, we are Canadians here. We do not want to be a
caricature of George W. Bush. We do not want our Prime Minister to
be the clone of George W. Bush. Clearly, we do not agree with them.
They had promised—a promise that smacks of George W. Bush—
that Canadian troops would not participate in combat. That was
promised, sworn up and down. On September 30, the Prime Minister
said so in the House. We now know that this is not true and that
Canadian troops were on the front lines. They were directly
accompanying the troops into combat. However, we have just been
told that Canada will make a big change.
For 11 years, the Americans dropped a lot of bombs in Iraq. They
sent in an army of 250,000. The result is that we are now forced to
go back. We should perhaps realize that the military approach and
bombings do not give long-term or reliable results. When the
Americans withdrew from Iraq, they told the Iraqi people to be
democratic and respectful of rights. Influenced by an Iranian
government, they did not really turn to democracy. In light of the
Iranian influence in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar created a resistance
force to combat the dangerous Syrian regime that was too close to
Iran and the government that was sympathetic to Iran. They created
the army of the Islamic State. On that day, frankly, they did not ask
us for our advice. With friends like that, who needs enemies?
● (2005)
How is it that the Islamic State, which, with about 40,000 men, is
not particularly big, was able to get to the gates of Baghdad? It is
quite simple. The Iraqi army, with a force of 200,000 men, did not
fight. We saw 60,000 Iraqi soldiers be beaten by 800 terrorists. With
odds of 1 against 75, the 75 lost. They deserted in droves, and,
anyway, those 60,000 men were not 60,000 men because in the very
democratic Iraq, officers commanding battalions of 500 men really
have only 250. They take the salaries of the 250 phantom soldiers
and put the money into their own pockets. In the Iraqi army, officers'
ranks are bought and sold. We can understand how, in the face of
such corruption, Iraqi soldiers are not very motivated to fight.
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There is a second problem. Not only does the Iraqi army have no
interest in fighting, but Iraq's Shia population is also quite
sympathetic to the Islamic State. People may well ask me what is
happening: we cannot have any sympathy for barbarism. But there is
barbarism on both sides of the border. People have been murdered
and oppressed because they were Sunni. Sunni journalists, Sunni
politicians, men and women, have been murdered by the Iraqi
government. That is oppression. Christians have been oppressed by
the current Iraqi government, a government that is neither
democratic, nor very respectful, nor very civilized. This has led to
the situation where, when the Islamic State appeared in many towns,
the people were sympathetic to their cause. Bombing them is not
going to stop them from being sympathetic. Perhaps they need
something other than bombs.
When the machinery of government is destroyed, we see the rise
of armed gangs and warlords—and, heaven knows, that machinery
can so easily be destroyed in places like that, like Libya, Yemen, Iraq
or Syria. Clearly, something has to be done about the situation.
Twelve years of American bombings created a new generation of
young people who see the western world as a threat, not as a source
of assistance, not as an example, but as an enemy who destroys
everything, including water systems, power supplies and schools.
Obviously they do not think we are very nice. What is more, people
watch television. They see the barbaric acts of the Islamic State, but
they also see the barbaric acts committed by the CIA, which tortures
people. I do not need to say it. Everyone is saying it. Even the
Americans themselves recognize it. That was the worst and most
foolish thing they did. They created their own enemies. They
provided them with free propaganda.
Of course, Canada has other more powerful weapons. Fortunately,
the NDP is the historic heir, if you will, of Lester B. Pearson. We
want peace and we are going to build it. We will get there not by
going to war, but rather by preventing war and preventing terrorists
from getting weapons. Some countries are providing them with
weapons. It might be a good idea to stop that. Some countries are
buying oil produced by the Islamic State in Iraq. Perhaps that needs
to stop. That would be practical and useful action. In short, we need
to take away their funding and their military resources; no weapons,
no war. That is how we would intervene and it does not require
bombing civilians.
● (2010)
This is the type of action that the NDP is going to promote. Of
course, we are also going to promote food aid for all those in need.
We cannot just donate a few tents and say that we are supporting the
civilian population. We have to make that a priority. The Red Cross
and the Red Crescent need and deserve support.
humanitarian aid contribution to Syrians in the world, and the
largest per capita among developed countries.
We have spent nearly $70 million to provide humanitarian
assistance through the Red Cross and UN agencies for people who
are displaced in Iraq as a result of ISIL. That is the fifth-largest
financial contribution and the largest per capita in all of the
developed world. We have already done this.
My colleague shared all of the typical left-wing anti-American
conspiracy theories, and he could not stop talking about George W.
Bush, who has not been president of the United States for six years.
He blamed the CIA and all of the conspiracy theories.
However, I must point out that the left-wing social democratic
governments in Europe, in countries like France, Holland, Belgium
and Denmark, as well as the Democratic Party in the United States
and the Labour Party in the United Kingdom, Australia and New
Zealand and almost all of our allies are involved in the military
campaigns.
Why do all of the mainstream social democrats abroad, in the
democratic world, support our policy of military action and why are
the New Democrats the only western social democratic party that is
against it?
Mr. Alain Giguère: Mr. Speaker, it is appalling to see the
Minister of National Defence in such denial.
The U.S. Senate acknowledged in a unanimous report that the
CIA systematically tortured its prisoners. This is not a fabrication or
a conspiracy theory; it is from a report that was crystal clear.
Like it or not, it is a fact of history: the Americans bombed Iraq
for 12 years. They occupied it militarily, and now we are seeing the
result of that. Now we have to go back. Maybe some day the
Conservatives will understand that bombs are not the best solution.
We are proposing something altogether different.
They say that food aid is good, but that some military assistance is
also needed. Instead we should be making sure that people cannot
get their hands on weapons or munitions. Perhaps we should be
convincing some governments to keep quiet.
We need to make sure that Turkey does not become a refuge for
ISIL, that people cannot go and seek medical care or sell their oil in
Turkey. That would be helpful.
These are the kinds of measures we should be taking to win the
war. This is certainly not what the Conservatives did in Afghanistan.
● (2015)
[English]
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the hon.
member just said that we need to prioritize humanitarian assistance. I
have good news for him: we have already provided a great deal of
assistance.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if
I may, at this point I would like to reiterate something I indicated
earlier today.
We have already provided assistance to Syrian refugees by
investing more than $700 million, which is the sixth-largest
The Liberal Party will not support the government's efforts to
deepen this combat mission and expand into Syria. It is for good
reason. The government is proposing an unfocused, unending
combat mission for the Canadian Armed Forces.
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The Conservatives have failed to clearly articulate the mission
objectives, with the Prime Minister and the Minister of National
Defence offering conflicting arguments. We believe that Canada has
a role to play in the campaign against ISIL. The role must serve our
national interests. The mission proposed by the Prime Minister fails
to meet that test.
I am wondering if the member would agree with everything that I
have just stated.
[Translation]
Mr. Alain Giguère: Mr. Speaker, that is a real problem.
When I said that this feels like another Vietnam, that is a fact.
Earlier the Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification
said that her objective was to destabilize the government, in order to
weaken its position. That will not mean victory.
The real victory will come when people no longer want to support
a terrorist movement. That will be the real victory. The only thing the
Conservatives are proposing right now is limiting the influence of
these terrorist organizations.
As with the Vietnam War and the war in Afghanistan, this strategy
does not have a clearly defined objective, and more importantly, we
do not know how we will get out of this mess once we are in it.
● (2020)
[English]
Mr. Corneliu Chisu (Pickering—Scarborough East, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this motion. As a
veteran from the war in Afghanistan against the evil of the Taliban
and al Qaeda, I consider it my sacred duty to raise my voice in this
debate and warn that ISIL must be stopped before it causes any more
destruction and claims any more innocent lives.
Let me speak to something that seems to have been lost to so
many in this debate. ISIL has called for brutal attacks on Canadians,
specifically Canadian civilians. Through its propaganda network, it
has already inspired attacks here on Canadian soil. Within the last
year, we have buried Canadian soldiers who died on Canadian soil.
One of them was mere steps from this place.
Countering ISIL is a debate that concerns each of us here. This is
something that in and of itself is beyond the scope of a humanitarian
mission. I urge all members in this place to support the motion in
order for Canada to extend its commitment to the multinational
coalition supporting the Government of Iraq in its fight against the
so-called Islamic State.
We have heard much about Canada's role in Iraq, its mission and
the capabilities being brought to bear by the Canadian Armed
Forces. It is the result of their work that ISIL is being pushed back.
ISIL is now on the defensive in nearly 25% of the areas that it
previously held. While ISIL made rapid advances last year, it is now
on the defensive. In fact, ISIL has not made any territorial
advancement in months as the direct result of the air strikes being
carried out by the Royal Canadian Air Force and coalition allies.
In northern Iraq, the Iraqi forces are gradually taking back ground
east of Mosul. In western Iraq, the city of Al-Baghdadi has been
reclaimed by Iraqi forces, and they are working toward regaining
control of Fallujah. In central Iraq, coalition air strikes have
degraded ISIL's ability to conduct operations in those areas, and
contribute to the gains made by Iraqi forces. These air strikes are
saving lives.
Here is what United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had
to say about air strikes:
These air strikes and military operation which was done at the request of the
government of Iraq was able to help the United Nations and other actors to ... save a
lot of human lives.
He also said it is clear that Islamic State militants are “a threat to
international peace and security, as has already been declared by the
Security Council”.
What ISIL is carrying out is a complete assault on human dignity.
The atrocities that it wages are beyond reprehensible. Its actions and
values are those of complete savages. This is genocidal terrorist
organization. It has explicitly stated its desire for genocide. It
disproportionately targets ethnic and religious minorities with its
sheer brutality.
Moreover, this is an organization that seethes with hatred for
women in particular. It is estimated that 7,000 Yazidi women and
girls are being kept as sex slaves by ISIL. These reports are
numerous and they are troubling. Young women are captured and
distributed as objects among ISIL fighters.
A recent report by the United Nations Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights contains countless reports of
abduction, rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence
perpetrated against women and children. The report cites several
ISIL sex slaves who have escaped, including one who said that the
guards raped her three times a day for three days. The UN report also
contained an account of an 8- or 9-year old girl being raped openly
in the hall by ISIL members in a Tal Afar school, where ISIL
reportedly kept more than 100 small children. Many of the women
enslaved by ISIL, according to the UN report, are forcibly married to
ISIL fighters or sold as slaves in auctions. They are subjected to
sexual and gender-based violence.
● (2025)
This is a brand of hatred that they want to export to Canada. This
is what they are advocating for. These are the sickening values they
champion, for which they will murder, for which they will behead.
They have called for attacks in Canada on Canadians, which makes
it very much our fight.
Through the terror network, ISIL has been able to obtain
weaponry and heavy artillery. They use these heavy weapons to
stake claim to a swathe of land across Iraq and into Syria within
which they carry out their atrocities. They cannot be allowed to have
a safe haven in Syria to carry out these atrocities freely without fear
of repercussions.
This is why a humanitarian response, and if the official opposition
members were to get their way, the only response, is not enough on
its own.
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Government Orders
Canada is punching above its weight in terms of humanitarian
response. We are the world's sixth-largest donor for humanitarian aid
to Syria, and we are the fifth-largest for Iraq. In fact, through our aid
efforts, Canada has provided food for 1.7 million people in Iraq, and
1.26 million people in Iraq have received and relief supplies.
Over 500,000 children have received education opportunities. We
are countering ISIL through our humanitarian efforts also, but this
alone does not stop the brutal savagery of ISIL. That is why our
approach to countering ISIL is both humanitarian and military. We
are facing the threat head on and also doing everything in our power
to provide help to their victims who desperately need it.
This is not an either/or scenario. In fact, we cannot protect Canada
by failing to acknowledge these threats, turning our backs and
simply continuing to provide aid to those affected by ISIL's growth
and expansion. ISIL must be degraded to the point where they no
longer represent a threat to Canada. They are a direct threat not only
to regional and international security, but a threat to the very security
of Canadians right here at home. Through our military response,
through the work of the brave men and women of the Royal
Canadian Air Force, we are facing these threats head on and pulling
our weight internationally. As Canadians, we have a moral
obligation to our fellow men and women facing the onslaught of
ISIL today, and a duty to protect Canadians from ISIL, who have
declared war on us.
There is no splendid isolation in a troubled world, and that is why
I encourage the opposition to vote in favour of this mission
extension. Let us do the right thing. Let us get the job done.
Mr. Tarik Brahmi (Saint-Jean, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I certainly
commend the dedicated work of my colleague across the aisle at the
Standing Committee on National Defence.
He is an engineer; I am an engineer. He served in the Canadian
Forces; I served in the French forces. Knowing his military
background, I wonder how he was able to believe that in the first
place, Canadian special forces were in Iraq, not to carry out special
operations, but to carry out training.
He is very knowledgeable about military operations. How can he
explain that Sergeant Andrew Doiron was killed in action by the
very people he was supposed to be training?
Mr. Corneliu Chisu: Mr. Speaker, when my colleague said the
special forces are there for training purposes, that is by the rules of
engagement, and that is very clear. They cannot do anything else but
what is mandated for them to do. My colleague must know this also.
When they are speaking about the special forces, which are
training, they are training, not doing anything else. As we know,
accidents can happen in the military. My profession when I was in
the military is not without danger. However, I can assure the House,
what we are telling Canadians is the truth, that they are for training
and to assist.
● (2030)
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
last weekend I had the privilege to participate in a very special event
that was hosted by the Kurdish Association of Manitoba. I had the
opportunity to have a number of discussions with people of Kurdish
heritage. The Kurdish community in Iraq can have a very significant
impact. These are the people who are fighting ISIL on the ground.
One of their greatest needs is for expertise and support from Canada
in different forms.
Would the member acknowledge that one of the ways we can fight
ISIL is to support organizations or people such as the Kurds in Iraq
who are doing the hand-to-hand fighting today against ISIL?
Mr. Corneliu Chisu: Mr. Speaker, I understand that my colleague
was in the military and served for a couple of years. What my
colleague should understand is to be able to deliver humanitarian and
other aid, we need to create a safe and secure environment. The
Kurds are fighting their enemy and we are supporting them.
Hon. K. Kellie Leitch (Minister of Labour and Minister of
Status of Women, CPC): Mr. Speaker, obviously our Canadian
Armed Forces are doing outstanding work, so let me quote the
Government of Iraq's statement with respect to the Canadian Armed
Forces:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns in the strongest terms the brutal criminal
act carried out by a terrorist group targeting the innocent Canadians who were
performing their daily duties.... The Ministry announces solidarity with the Canadian
government, and expresses thanks for its participation within the international
coalition in the campaign against terrorism and the brutal attack against Iraq, and
through providing humanitarian aids and logistical support, in addition to its
willingness to participate in providing air cover within the coalition.
What are those specific gains that the Canadian Armed Forces
have been able to make in pushing back against ISIL and Iraq? They
are doing outstanding work, but maybe the member could outline the
specific gains that the Canadian Armed Forces have made?
Mr. Corneliu Chisu: Mr. Speaker, our Canadian Armed Forces
stopped ISIL's capability to advance further and helped the Iraqi
forces to hold their ground and to be able to regroup and fight the
evil of ISIL.
[Translation]
Ms. Mylène Freeman (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel,
NDP): Mr. Speaker, we are here this evening to talk about the
government's motion to extend Canada's combat mission in Iraq in
response to the atrocious acts of violence and serious human rights
violations perpetrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Before us we have the Prime Minister's request to shift the advise
and assist mission that began in September to a front-line combat
mission, after the air campaign that began in November 2014, during
which Canada conducted 53 air strikes in Iraq.
After just completing our commitment in Afghanistan, where
troop deployment was the longest in our history—12 years—
resulting in 40,000 veterans, 160 deaths, thousands of injured and
thousands more with post-traumatic stress disorder, we are now
embarking on another conflict.
In the meantime, many of our veterans and their loved ones still
do not have access to adequate health care, benefits and other types
of support, because of how this government is managing Veterans
Affairs.
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Since the fall, the government has deployed 69 members of the
special operations forces and roughly 600 additional Canadian
Forces troops to Iraq. The government has maintained that this is not
a combat mission, but we know that since January, the Canadian
special operations forces have exchanged fire with Islamic State
militants on Iraqi soil.
The death of Sergeant Andrew Joseph Doiron confirms to us that
the situation is much more complex, and reminds us of the risks
associated with deploying our troops to the front lines and of our
duty as members of Parliament to take our role here seriously.
In light of the government's refusal to call this a combat mission,
we wonder what impact that will have on the compensation and
danger pay of Canadian Forces members. Let us not forget that in
2013, danger pay was reduced for our troops in Afghanistan who
were training the Afghan army because of the supposed lack of
danger.
● (2035)
[English]
Paul Heinbecker, Canada's last ambassador to the UN Security
Council, said in The Globe and Mail on March 23 that our women
and men in uniform have no place being in Iraq and they certainly
have no place being in Syria.
[Translation]
Canada does not have to participate in this war. We should instead
help save lives on the ground by finding solutions to the
humanitarian crisis.
[English]
I will recall that the U.S. ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman,
said on CBC's The House on September 27:
We'd like as much more as Canada is willing to contribute, whether it's...
humanitarian, whether it's militarily, at every level. By the way military alone isn't
going to solve this problem...we're going to need help at multiple levels to ultimately
destroy and degrade ISIL.
[Translation]
Norway, South Korea and New Zealand, among others, do not
have a combat role. They are making a strictly humanitarian
contribution, which is truly needed. There are serious human rights
violations, including attacks that directly target the people and
civilian infrastructure, executions and other civilian murders,
kidnappings, rape and other forms of sexual and physical violence.
To date, the violence has caused the displacement of 2.5 million
people in Iraq alone, and 5.2 million others require humanitarian
assistance. At least 20% of the 2.5 million people displaced by war
have a crucial need for protection, especially against trauma and
sexual violence. This situation is made worse by the effects of the
crisis in Syria on the region, because neighbouring countries are
desperately trying to deal with the refugees and violence in Syria.
Syria has been in turmoil for five years, mired in a war that makes
no distinction between civilians and combatants. Hundreds of
thousands of people have been killed and half the population has
fled. Neighbouring countries, which normally would accept Iraqi
refugees, are already overwhelmed by the high number of Syrian
refugees.
[English]
How can we address this dire situation? As Nelson Mandela said,
our greatest weapon in the struggle for peace is education. That is
because education is key to security and economic opportunity. We
know children are disproportionately affected by armed conflict and
by displacement. More than 70% of internally displaced children in
Iraq remain out of school. Canada should increase its focus on the
welfare of children and access to educational facilities.
We need to ensure that immediate needs such as water, food
security, shelter, health, and psychosocial support are met. We must
fight against sexual violence, support survivors, and protect
minorities. We need to support the development of social
infrastructure, supporting the communities themselves, and that
means addressing the structural inequalities underpinning the
violence in order to eliminate the possibility of more extremism
arising.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said:
Over the longer-term, the biggest threat to terrorists is not the power of missiles—
it is the politics of inclusion.
[Translation]
We know that peace and equality are linked. The empowerment of
women is a powerful force behind economic growth, social and
political stability and lasting peace. Women who are empowered are
the foundation of communities that can fight radicalization and
extremism.
For that reason, the NDP is asking the Government of Canada to
work on contributing to the creation of responsible, democratic and
peaceful governance in Iraq and to fight the threat of the group
known as the Islamic State and other militant groups.
● (2040)
[English]
I want to cite for the House an article co-authored by the executive
director of UN Women and Under-Secretary-General of the United
Nations, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and Radhika Coomaraswamy.
This article in Foreign Policy is called “Women Are the Best
Weapon in the War Against Terrorism”. It was published on
February 10, 2015. It states:
Militarized counterterrorism operations disrupt economic and social activity, and
destroy civilian infrastructure—the schools, markets, and medical facilities relied on
by women in traditional caring roles. When governments focus resources on
expensive military operations, social ministries like health, family services, and
education are often the first to face budget cuts. Civilian displacement leaves women
and girls vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence, including, with grim
regularity, crimes committed by the security forces supposed to be protecting them.
The failure to prevent these negative impacts constitutes willful negligence. It
results in women’s re-victimization, and ultimately in more poverty, more
desperation, and more radicalization. Militarized responses always risk civilian
casualties and threaten to drive marginalized young people into the ranks of
extremists. Indeed, as increasing media reports show, despite the brutal and wellknown crimes committed against women by the Islamic State, teenage girls are
reportedly running away from their homes to join it.
[Translation]
In closing, I must say what the leader of the opposition and of the
NDP said so well during his speech on Tuesday:
March 26, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
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Government Orders
ISIS has thrived in Iraq and Syria precisely because those countries lack stable,
well-functioning governments capable of maintaining peace and security within their
own borders.
Canada's first contribution should be to use every diplomatic, humanitarian, and
financial resource at our disposal to respond to the overwhelming human tragedy
unfolding on the ground and to strengthen political institutions in both those
countries…
…the tragedy in Iraq and Syria will not end with another western-led invasion in
that region. It will end by helping the people…to build the political institutions
and security capabilities they need to oppose these threats themselves.
What we are seeing today is only a continuing of decades of
violence not being addressed in long-term, sustainable ways.
Obviously, what is happening right now is a humanitarian crisis of
the highest level, but it did not arise out of nowhere.
The Islamic State is already reacting to the air campaign by
dispersing its troops, sheltering in civilian areas and frequently
changing location. Air strikes elicit violent responses in local
communities, leading to further instability and insecurity.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
even though the Liberal Party does not support the NDP's position,
there are certain aspects of the position that are quite acceptable. I
would like the member to provide comment on the issue the
government is trying to shape on this. The Conservative spin that is
coming out of the Prime Minister's Office is that, if we vote against
the motion, somehow we are supporting ISIL.
Instead of engaging in an unending military combat that is not
supported by the United Nations Security Council, the NDP urges
Canada's Conservative government to make its contribution on a
humanitarian level.
[English]
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I do not know
where to begin with that speech. The member said that the coalition
response to this genocidal terrorist organization is what is creating
civilian displacement. Frankly, what planet is she living on?
One hundred percent of the civilian displacement has been caused
by this genocidal organization that is trying to create a seventhcentury caliphate through ethnic cleansing, mass rape, sexual
slavery, and barbarism of the worst kind. This is why people have
been displaced from their communities. This is why the Assyrians,
Yazidis, and Mandaeans of the Nineveh Plains had to flee after that
being their homeland for millennia
I happen to know the Iraqi Canadian community quite well. It was
a result of, frankly, my initiative in 2009 to open the largest refugee
resettlement program in 25 years, in which we have welcomed more
than 20,000 Iraqi refugees.
I know them quite well. We had a bunch of them here this week
from the Kurdish community, the Yazidi community, and the
Assyrian, Chaldean, Kurdish, Sunni Arab, and Shia communities.
Every single one of those communities in this country supports the
motion, supports the allied military campaign, and is actually calling
on us to do more in terms of a military response to protect the
civilians, to prevent the displacement of even more civilians.
My question for the member is this. What does she say to those
Yazidis, Kurds, Chaldeans, and Assyrians in Canada who are asking
for a military response to protect their people and prevent the
creation of yet more victims? What is her response to them?
● (2045)
Ms. Mylène Freeman: Mr. Speaker, I find it really too bad that
the minister has, apparently, only a knowledge of the history of Iraq
going back about two years. It seems as though he has forgotten that
there have been decades of violent dictatorship in Iraq that have
caused extremism to rise; and building political institutions that are
democratic, strong, and inclusive has been very difficult. It has not
been a priority of the international community. Rather, in 2003, the
United States invaded Iraq against the will of the international
community.
We need to understand what the consequences are of intervention
in Iraq and what it is going to mean decades in the future.
We in the Liberal Party, and I suspect all members of the chamber,
understand and appreciate just how abhorrent and revolting ISIL and
its actions are. However, there are other alternatives. I wonder if she
might want to provide some comment on the way the Conservatives
are trying to spin this issue, which is definitely misinforming
Canadians.
Ms. Mylène Freeman: Mr. Speaker, indeed it is very difficult to
see what is happening with this sort of discussion and the way it is
being taken out of context, when we are talking about intervening in
a humanitarian way, as though that means I am not concerned. I am
in fact alarmed by the situation.
I do want to stress that there is a completely different vision of
how we should be intervening globally in conflicts; how we need to
be able to support countries and communities; and how we need to
be able to support development of communities economically. We
need to be able to support the equality of women. These are things
that create sustainable development. That is what we need to be
going in and doing. Of course, right now there is a need for direct
humanitarian aid, but also going into communities to prevent the
spread is something we could be doing, rather than intervening
militarily.
Mrs. Cathy McLeod (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Health and for Western Economic Diversification, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, it is certainly an honour to rise in the House today. The
debate we are having is one of our most solemn responsibilities. We
are talking about our government's motion that seeks an endorsement
from the House of Commons for the government's decision to
contribute military assets to the fight against ISIL.
As the motion before the House clearly outlines, the terrorist
group known as ISIL has repeatedly called on its members to target
Canada and Canadians at home and abroad. It is clear that ISIL poses
a clear and active threat to the people of the Middle East, especially
members of vulnerable religious and ethnic minority groups. ISIL is
boastful in posting videos to the Internet of its brutal and barbaric
campaigns of sexual violence, murder and intimidation.
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Canada cannot sit on the sidelines while innocent men, women
and children are slaughtered by a genocidal death cult that also wants
to bring brutal violence to our shores. The Prime Minister has made
it clear that unless ISIL is confronted with strong and direct force, it
will continue to grow and expand its territory. This is a threat to not
only international peace and security, but also a direct threat to
Canada and Canadians.
The situation is improving from last spring when ISIL was
spreading at a terrifying pace. ISIL has more or less been halted and
pushed back at the margins. This is in large part because of the
breadth and intensity of the international opposition against ISIL not
only in the west but throughout the Arab world as well.
ISIL continues to attract jihadi terrorists from around the globe
and is attempting to increase its network of jihadi forces. ISIL
continues to threaten nations like Canada and inspire attacks across
the globe in many western nations. The Islamic state has clearly
indicated that it will continue to target Canadians, Canada and our
western allies that believe in standing up to its barbaric form of
Islam. It is a disturbed, perverted ideology and anyone who does not
accept ISIL's form of religion it believes should be killed. It is as
self-evident to it as it is incomprehensible, barbaric and evil to us,
but it is no idle threat.
ISIL does not just kill its enemies in the battlefield; it targets
journalists, workers, and innocent men, women and children. There
have been horrific and disturbing attacks against vulnerable and
peaceful, ethnic and religious minorities. We know about these
incidents because it brags about them. We must prevent and contain
this peril before it leads to the entrenchment of repressive rule across
the region.
Extending the current Canadian Armed Forces mission is not an
impulsive or knee-jerk reaction, but a decision borne of necessity to
protect Canada, an acknowledgement that we must continue to fight
with our allies and partners in the pursuit of Canada's national
interests to protect Canada and Canadians from an evil death cult
that has declared war on all of us.
Our experience over the past few years has shown that we cannot
expect quick and decisive victories, but it is no less necessary to act
when confronted with the savagery of the enemy simply because we
cannot affix an end point to the mission. It does not mean that we
should walk away from our responsibilities as an international
citizen. If we falter now, ISIL will continue to gain in strength,
increase its brutality and ruthlessness, and consolidate its territory.
This would plunge the Middle East into new depths of volatility,
chaos and bloodshed. If ISIL's fundamentalism is not dealt with
soon, we risk seeing it spread. We simply cannot allow that to
happen.
There is not an either/or, and we are hearing that in the debate
tonight when the NDP talk about humanitarian assistance. It is what
the opposition parties would have us believe. We have been
committed to humanitarian assistance. As the Prime Minister has
said in the House, in the past six months we have helped to feed 1.7
million people in Iraq, provide shelter and relief supplies to 1.25
million children and give education to at least 500,000 children.
It has been said time and again that in order to provide
humanitarian relief, there has to be stability. To be honest, the
preference of the people who need humanitarian relief is to not have
that need but to live in their countries in peace and return to their
homes.
● (2050)
We have help to support 200,000 refugees in Iraq with food,
water, shelter and protection. Canada is the fifth largest donor of aid
to Iraq, and the sixth largest donor of aid to Syria. Through these
efforts, we continue to provide one of the largest per capita donations
of aid in the world.
Our participation in this multinational mission is in Canada's
national interest. This much is clear. Indeed, it is a broad
international coalition of more than 60 partners, approximately 30
of which contribute to the military effort led by the United States
which has coalesced to confront ISIL.
Canada is collaborating with some of our closest allies and
partners, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France,
the Netherlands and Australia to degrade and defeat ISIL. Moreover,
Middle Eastern countries are playing a vital role in the coalition.
Again, this demonstrates this is not just a western conflict against
Islam. We have partners from many countries in the Middle East.
Rather, it is a fight that pits broad international concerns for Iraq and
Syria, regional stability and humanitarian assistance against
murderous extremism.
That is why I will be supporting the government's motion before
the House. I support our continued deployment of Canadian military
assets to fight against ISIL and terrorists aligned with ISIL, using air
strike capability to bomb ISIL in Iraq and Syria. I support the
government's decision to extend this mission to March 30, 2016. I
support the government's position that there should be no
deployment of troops in a ground combat role.
I, like all parliamentarians, offer my resolute and wholehearted
support and thanks to the brave men and women of the Canadian
Armed Forces who stand on guard for all of us.
● (2055)
[Translation]
Ms. Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe (Pierrefonds—Dollard,
NDP): Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. I think
that we all want peace and an end to violence, but this debate is not
really about the ends, it is about the means. In that respect we
disagree profoundly.
After so many years of military intervention in that part of the
world, I do not understand how the member can believe that by
extending the mission for 12 months we will manage to restore peace
and allow people to go back home. Frankly, I think that we can learn
from the past, come up with a more constructive approach and
recognize the importance of local players. That is the key to all of
this.
One thing the NDP motion is asking for is an end to the
participation of Canadian Forces troops in combat and air strikes.
Does the member think that, rather than participate in combat and
air strikes, we can find another approach to achieving real results?
March 26, 2015
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Government Orders
[English]
Mrs. Cathy McLeod: Mr. Speaker, I watched the maps and the
maps showed a rapidly growing caliphate that was spreading across
Iraq and Syria.
Like many in the House, we are aware of the horrific videos. We
are aware of issues that have been inspired, whether they are in Paris,
Australia or in Canada, in terms of the spread and the direct threat to
Canada and other countries around this world.
These need to be degraded. It has been working. Again, if we look
at a map today compared to where we were, that expansion has been
stopped. It is due to the coalition efforts of many of our partners that
are willing to do the very tough work that needs to be done to
degrade this horrific threat.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
the government member just indicated that this had not been a kneejerk reaction by the government, but that it had been well thought
through.
The question I have for the member is a question that no one else
in her caucus has answered. I have posed it a couple of times.
On CBC, there is a posting in the National news watch section that
reads, “Syrian air strikes could help al-Qaeda”. Does the member
have any comment on that issue? The sub-headline is, “Experts warn
that the West's focus on attacking ISIS is boosting its equally
dangerous rival”. Could she provide any comment on that story? I
am sure many Canadians are concerned about it. It is a story that has
just appeared on CBC.
● (2100)
Mrs. Cathy McLeod: Mr. Speaker, we know there are many
incredible challenges in the Middle East. We are talking about the
need to degrade ISIL.
There has certainly been significant work done in Afghanistan in
terms of al Qaeda and other organizations, but, again, right now we
are looking at a significant threat posed by ISIL, and not just against
us. There is a huge coalition, whether it be France, Australia, many
countries, that has identified the same needs as the Canadian
government and is moving to take action.
Mr. James Bezan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my
colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo for her support
for the motion.
Could she quickly touch on how much humanitarian aid in the
region and how important it is for the people who have been
displaced by this terrorist organization?
Mrs. Cathy McLeod: Mr. Speaker, in my speech, I briefly talked
about the significant efforts we had made in being one of the biggest
donors per capita. We heard earlier from one of my colleagues who
had visited some of the camps. There is tremendous respect, support
and gratitude from the people who have such needs.
Again, I have to go back to my original point. These people want
to return to their homes and homelands. Being a refugee is not their
choice. Most important, they want peace in their country.
Mr. Murray Rankin (Victoria, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is a very
sobering responsibility that we all have as parliamentarians in
addressing this issue this evening. It is an issue that will involve
sending brave men and women into harm's way. Therefore, I wish to
say from the outset that I will be speaking against this motion, but
wish to do so in a context and with a spirit of concern for the
individuals that the government is prepared to send into harm's way
in this quagmire. That is what I think we are asking them to do.
I would like to begin by providing an overview and then talk
about issues of legality, which I believe are at issue here this
evening.
First of all, this was initially a short mission, then a longer one,
and now it is going to be a year-long mission to push us over past the
election. After that, who knows how much longer it will be? Our
experience in Afghanistan and the Americans' experience in Iraq
would lead us to believe that it is not likely to be a short mission.
That is probably why this issue is even more significant this evening
than it would be if we took the Prime Minister at his word that it will
only be until March of 2016.
To extend and expand for one year is misleading, given the history
that anyone who studied in this part of the world would have to
concede exists.
Some six months ago, the Leader of the Opposition asked the
Prime Minister specifically whether Canadian troops would be
involved in painting targets for air strikes or would accompany Iraqi
troops to the front line. The Prime Minister said no. Of course, the
tragic death of Sergeant Andrew Doiron proved that the Prime
Minister had misled Parliament and the Canadian public.
The Leader of the Opposition stood up two days ago and very
eloquently explained what military planners have told us from the
get-go, which is that a successful mission requires two things. They
are defined objectives and an exit strategy. It is our submission that
the Conservative government has neither. It has no strategy, other
than the obvious political one of dividing Canadians. It does not
even know whether this is a mission to degrade or destroy, as
different people in the government have said different things. One
day it was to degrade; then the Minister of National Defence said
that it was to destroy. Frankly, who knows? The Conservatives have
no objective, except issues that are more political than otherwise
whose goals are to divide Canadians.
Exit strategy? There is no such thing. I will speak a little later
about the issues of legality in this context.
I suspect that polls have made it clear that we need to talk about
radicalization, but where is there anything about the de-radicalization
of our youth in this particular initiative? There is nothing. Rhetoric
such as “it is an attack on Canada” and “we are at war” is misleading
to the extreme and serves the Conservatives' purpose of getting us
into this quagmire even further.
Do we have an alternative? Obviously we do: protect refugees and
offer humanitarian support. Children are freezing to death in nonwinterized camps. Families are destroyed.
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I was talking to a friend I visited in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
That economy is being destroyed by the millions of people who are
surging across that border. Lebanon simply cannot afford it. Turkey
is in the same position. I am not even talking about the internal
displacement in Iraq and Syria.
The second thing that we think needs to be done, which Canada
has done very well as a country, is assist in regional diplomacy.
Canada used to be a country that did that. It is not anymore.
Third, we need to counter the extremist messaging and expose the
brutality of ISIS. In a sense, we need to deal with that issue on the
ground in order to turn public opinion, which I think is going to be
required.
I have been to the mosque in Victoria a couple of times. I am
going to Friday prayers again next week to see if the solutions that
they are proposing to deal with any concerns arising in our
community about radicalization can be dealt with, because if there is
a threat, and if it is to Canada, it will be within our borders that we
will solve that problem.
We have certainly see lone wolf extremists, as they are called, here
in Ottawa. That does not mean there is a jihadi war against our
country, rhetoric to the contrary.
In the words of our foreign affairs critic, this has gone from
mission creep to mission leap. We do not even know what the costs
are going to be. Apparently the effort by the member for St. John's
East to get the information from the Parliamentary Budget Officer
was denied. We do not know what it is going to cost, or if the
government knows. There is a new report today from the
Parliamentary Budget Officer, who believes that our defence
spending has become or will become unsustainable. I would have
thought that was something that Canadians would be concerned
about.
● (2105)
The humanitarian crisis that other colleagues have talked about is
what I think ought to preoccupy the House, rather than painting
targets and assisting in what can only be described, if any use of the
English language is to be clear, as a combat mission to which the
government wishes to commit our brave men and women. It is a
combat mission that has no sanction from the United Nations, no
sanction even from NATO. It seems we are the only NATO member
other than the United States that is prepared to go into Syria.
As the official opposition, we were not opposed to and voted in
favour of a mission that had the United Nations sanction. I speak of
Libya. That is not what this is about, and I will talk about legality in
a moment because that is what Canadians really wish to know about
as well.
We can talk about the brutality. We all look at the pictures on TV.
We all know how horrible ISIS is. This is not a situation of standing
in Parliament and talking to each other about just how horrible this
group is. We all know that to be true, but as a country, are we doing
the right thing in committing our brave men and women in this
context? That is what we are here to talk about, and I will be arguing
that it is entirely illegal and that we have no trust in the Prime
Minister in committing our troops in this fashion.
The mission has gone from 30 days to six months to a year, and
now, we assume, forever, or another decade, or whatever it takes
before we find ourselves in the same situation we found ourselves in
in Afghanistan. Why is it any different here? Why will it be any
different from what happened in that context? Somehow we are
supposed to make an unholy alliance, like it or not, with Bashar alAssad, the brutal dictator who kills his own people. It is unclear
whether we are going in at the request of the Syrian people or not.
Sometimes an article captures things very well. Today's article by
Mr. Siddiqui in the Toronto Star starts with “[The Prime Minister's]
flip-flop on war fits pattern of deceit”. I commend it to Canadians to
read because it so clearly describes what is going on before our very
eyes today. It says:
The non-combat mission featured combat. The short-term commitment has
become long. No involvement in Syria has evolved into a war on Syria.
His reasons for extending and expanding the mission are patently false. The
Islamic State did not move into Syria yesterday — it was there last year as well. It
does not pose a direct threat to Canada the way the prime minister frames it in order
to scare us, just as George W. Bush whipped up fear about weapons of mass
destruction and terrorism to justify his wars and get re-elected.
If the Islamic State poses as big a threat to Canada as the Prime Minister says it
does, why has he committed only six planes and 69 Special Forces soldiers?
And on and on. What we are dealing with in this context is so
disingenuous.
In the time available to me, let me now turn to the legality of this
issue.
The proposed motion by the Conservative government involves
Canada engaging in an illegal act under international law. The only
time an engagement is deemed legal is if it is sanctioned by the UN
Security Council, unless some kind of anticipatory self-defence
argument can be conjured up.
I commend to Canadians the speech given by my colleague, the
MP for Toronto—Danforth, earlier today, a colleague who is a
Rhodes Scholar in public international law who I suggest, on careful
reading of his analysis, has eviscerated any pretext of legality by the
government for what it is doing by claiming that somehow we
should use the Judge Advocate General to give us legal opinion.
Whatever happened, in our civil context, with the opinion from the
Department of Foreign Affairs? Why are we using military advisers
expert in the law of war to tell us whether this mission is indeed
legal?
Of course, today we heard the Minister of Foreign Affairs say it is
about solicitor-client privilege, so Canadians have no right to see the
legal basis. To that I would say, with respect, nonsense. The
government is the client and can reveal that information should it
wish to do so. From my perspective, that argument is as bogus as
could be in the context of this discussion. If Canadians do not have a
right to know this kind of information, how can we trust the
government with the mission leap that I have described in this
context?
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If I may just end with one comment, Kofi Annan, the former UN
Secretary-General, said the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was a mistake
and helped to create the Islamic State militant group. He also blamed
regional powers for making the conflict worse. If the Prime Minister
had been in government then, Canada would also have been
contributing to the development of ISIS.
● (2110)
In other words, the various acts of military aggression by the west
have directly contributed to the radicalization that has led to the
deplorable state that we are here to debate today.
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, there were a
number of mistruths in the member's speech.
For example, he said the government has not been clear about our
objective. We could not be more clear. Our objective is, in cooperation with our allies, to degrade the so-called Islamic State to the
point where it can no longer pose a threat to Canada or the
international community and, I would add, to degrade it to a point
where it no longer has the seductive power to radicalize or recruit
individuals, including Canadians. That is how I would characterize
defeating that organization.
He says that we are in a quagmire but then goes on to quote an
article saying we have only contributed six aircraft and 69 ground
personnel. Which is it? In terms of a quagmire and a so-called exit
strategy, it is very simple. Once Canada believes we have achieved
our objective or we are no longer able to make a useful contribution,
we bring back the aircraft—nine, actually—and the 69 ground
personnel.
He says humanitarian support is an alternative to what we are
doing. No, it is not, because we are already doing humanitarian
support with the largest per capita contribution of any developed
country, the fifth-largest contribution overall, at nearly $70 million.
He says we do not know the cost. That is not true. We revealed the
costs of the mission for the first six months in this fiscal year and we
have revealed the estimated costs of the mission going forward.
He says that we require sanction from the United Nations. Is it
now the position of the NDP that President Vladimir Putin and the
Chinese Politburo should have a veto on Canadian foreign policy?
Mr. Murray Rankin: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his
questions. I think there were five or six of them, and I am expected
to answer them in, I suppose, one minute or two.
The first question I think was about what the mission is and
whether it was clear. The Minister of Foreign Affairs initially said on
Wednesday that our commitment is to degrade ISIS, and that will be
the focus of our operations in the region. Then the Minister of
National Defence, who just spoke, earlier had told CBC's Power and
Politics that the goal was to defeat ISIS. I do not know if that is clear
to him, but it certainly is not a clear objective to me.
A quagmire is something one gets into deeper and deeper, as we
saw in Vietnam and Afghanistan. It seems to me that if he is proud of
our humanitarian support, we would like to make him even prouder
by doing more for the poor people of the area.
Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Mr. Speaker,
one of the things that has been oft repeated in the debate tonight is
that we are with our allies in the strike into Syria. While there is no
doubt there are a lot of countries contributing in general to the
campaign against ISIS, we make a mistake in jumping to the
conclusion that many other countries are willing to conduct air
strikes into Syria.
In fact, we know that the European nations of Denmark, France,
the Netherlands, and Germany, as well as Australia, are not prepared
to bomb inside Syria. Of western allies, only the United States is
conducting those bombing campaigns, and they are much more
problematic in a country like Syria in civil war.
Even now, the air strikes in Iraq that the U.S. is conducting, with
the invitation of the Iraqi government, have made groups of militia
angry at the United States, and they are withdrawing from being
willing to work with the U.S. to retake Tikrit. I only mention these
things and ask my friend from Victoria if he would not agree that
western military involvement in largely local sectarian violence can
have many elements go awry, and that even with the best of
intentions, Canada's current government may regret this decision.
● (2115)
Mr. Murray Rankin: Mr. Speaker, of course I agree that military
involvement of this sort can go awry, to use her phrase.
What we will be doing is joining a very small contingent of
nations in going into Syria. Right now only America, Saudi Arabia,
Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE, and Morocco have launched
strikes on Syria. Canada will be only the second NATO nation to join
the Syrian side of the mission, which I think is telling.
Hon. K. Kellie Leitch (Minister of Labour and Minister of
Status of Women, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to
speak in the debate this evening to support this important motion.
Our objective remains the same: to degrade ISIL so that it no longer
poses a threat to Canadians and the international community, as the
hon. Minister of National Defence just stated.
We know that the threat ISIL poses is real. It is a threat to the
world and to Canadians right here at home. The international jihadist
movement has declared war on our country, and we must respond.
That is why our Conservative government has shown leadership and
has put forward measures to protect Canadians.
Throughout our nation's history, brave Canadians have fought
against immeasurable odds for what they believed was right. We
have not abandoned that tradition.
Our government's approach is multi-faceted and includes both
military support and humanitarian aid. As a physician and as the
Minister of Status of Women, I know that it is especially important
for Canada to continue to support the victims of ISIL's sexual
violence. These are truly barbaric acts: sexual slavery, forced
marriage, and rape. ISIL has no respect for human life, and its
actions represent all that is evil in this world.
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Canada is providing a variety of services, including medical
support, legal advice, counselling, and clinical care for sexual assault
survivors. ISIL's victims require our support, and that is what we as
Canadians are providing. However, they also require security and
freedom from ISIL's reign of terror, something the opposition would
do nothing to address. The military component of our approach
allows aid to flow to these areas and allows for more accountable
security for aid workers. Aid workers simply cannot get to the places
they need to be unless they are protected. The opposition seems to be
completely blind to this issue.
Our Conservative government has committed substantial funds to
international aid agencies, including the UN and the Red Cross,
which have provided food for upward of 1.5 million people, shelter,
and relief supplies to over 1.25 million people, and improved access
to education opportunities for over 500,000 children, something the
opposition again turns a blind eye to. In fact, a previous member
stated that we have not done any of these things, which I found quite
abhorrent.
In addition, we are working with our British partners in Iraq and
are looking for other opportunities to make sure that we address
these heinous crimes. The priority is and will continue to be those
who are most at risk because they are religious minorities, sexual
minorities, or victims of sexual abuse. The reality and gravity of this
situation needs to be addressed, and we are doing just that.
I would like to turn my attention to Canada's response. Canada is
at the forefront of international efforts to address the situation in Iraq
and Syria, and we will continue to co-operate with like-minded
partners in responding to this crisis. Canadians have never shied
away from our responsibility to our international partners. Our
actions with our partners are focused on five key areas: military
support to our partners, working to stem the flow of foreign fighters,
taking steps to stop ISIL's financing and funding, addressing the
humanitarian crisis in the region, and undermining ISIL's narrative.
Canada has deployed six CF-18 fighter aircraft to join the air
strikes against ISIL in Iraq as well as several dozen armed forces
personnel to provide strategic and tactical counsel to Iraqi forces
fighting ISIL militants.
Canadian and allied air strikes are making a difference in Iraq.
They have destroyed ISIL equipment, reversed some of the territorial
gains, and affected ISIL's leadership, command, control, and
logistics. They are stopping the advance. They are making efforts
to make sure that individuals can get back to their homes. This is
important. That is what the Syrian people want. They want to be in
their own homes.
In response to the crisis in Iraq, Canada has committed over $102
million in humanitarian, stabilization, and security programs, and as
was just mentioned by my colleague, the Minister of National
Defence, these are the largest per capita humanitarian donations.
Canada is at the forefront of international efforts to address this
situation. We are working rapidly to deliver new development
assistance programming in Iraq both to address short-term needs
during the crisis and to support stability and prosperity in Iraq over
the long term.
In addition, Canada is deeply concerned about the reports of
foreign fighters, including Canadians, participating in terrorist
activities perpetrated by ISIL. To this end, Canada has recently
committed an additional $5 million in assistance to support regional
efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria and has
listed ISIL as a terrorist entity in Canada under the Criminal Code.
We have had success attacking targets in Iraq and are now expanding
to where the terrorists are consolidating.
● (2120)
As I and my colleagues have said before, the jihadi terrorists in
ISIL have declared war on Canada. They have specifically targeted
Canada by urging supporters to attack disbelieving Canadians in any
manner and vowing that we should not feel secure even in our own
homes. I am not sure what part of this threat opposition members
missed, but it is concerning to me that they do not believe that we
need to actually make sure that Canadians are safe and secure.
Unlike the NDP and the Liberals, we actually take this threat very
seriously. We believe that unless confronted with strong and direct
force, the threat ISIL poses to Canada will continue to grow. That is
why Canada is not sitting on the sidelines, as the NDP and the
Liberals would have us do. We instead are proud members of the
international allied coalition fighting ISIL.
Finally, I would like to express my personal thanks to the men and
women of the Canadian Armed Forces, who put themselves in
harm's way selflessly every day to protect our democracy and to
protect Canadians
Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, there is a
bit of a theme I would like to put to the hon. minister concerning the
kind of exaggerations we hear from the other side. It is the point
about Canada being the largest contributor per capita in humanitarian
efforts.
The country of Turkey, which is a coalition partner, has spent $5
billion looking after 1.7 million refugees in Turkey and Syria, and it
has had international contributions of up to $265 million for that.
How does that make Canada the single largest contributor, whether it
is per capita or otherwise, to the humanitarian effort?
Why does the government keep fantasizing about some of these
things just to try to bolster the case? A lot of people, frankly, are
wondering whether they can trust the Conservative government
about anything.
Hon. K. Kellie Leitch: Mr. Speaker, I guess I would ask the
member opposite why his party thinks we can deliver humanitarian
aid without having the humanitarians supported and secured. I stood
on the ground in Afghanistan. I actually had to have Canadian
Armed Forces members with me to make sure that we could do our
jobs. I encourage the member opposite to understand how
humanitarian aid is actually delivered in these places.
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Canadians are doing what we should be doing on safety and
security to make sure that we can deliver humanitarian aid. There are
1.7 million people who have received food; 1.2 million people, in
fact more than that, have actually received shelter and relief. Over
500,000 children have received education. Obviously the opposition
has no idea how to read, because they have not actually read the
documents on what Canadians are doing to make sure that these
individuals are safe, secure, and receiving the humanitarian aid they
deserve.
● (2125)
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
would like to make a point about the government and the Prime
Minister not being clear about their objectives.
Depending on which minister it is, or even the Prime Minister, one
might say “destroy ISIL”, another might say “degrade”, another
might say “defeat”. In fact, the Minister of Foreign Affairs explicitly
compared this war to Afghanistan, stating that we are in this for the
long term. In Afghanistan, of course, we all know that it meant a
decade.
How long does the member believe we will be in Syria? Are we
talking about destroying ISIL completely, or are we talking about
degrading it? I wonder if she could provide some comment on those
two specific questions.
Hon. K. Kellie Leitch: Mr. Speaker, I actually answered this at
the beginning of my speech. I encourage the member opposite to
read that again. I will not repeat myself.
As opposed to focusing on semantics, our government is focused
on the safety and security of the individuals whose lives need to be
saved and also on making sure that there is peace in the region.
Let me be very clear. This is a huge undertaking by members of
the Canadian Forces. We should be supporting them and making
sure that they are able to move forward in what they have to do.
Our government has outlined that we have made a one-year
commitment with respect to what we are moving forward on. That is
what the Prime Minister announced earlier this week.
I will be very clear: we need to make sure that there is safety and
security in the region to make sure that there is humanitarian aid
delivered.
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, the minister said that the opposition does not know how to
read. However, obviously the minister does not know how to add,
because she talks about the humanitarian aid and the so-called
benefits the humanitarian aid from the Conservative government has
actually brought to the 2.5 million refugees who are out sleeping in
extremely harsh conditions tonight, but it adds up to five cents a day
per refugee. The minister seems to think that for five cents a day,
they can provide a lot of food for those refugees. Five cents a day is a
few grains of rice and perhaps a tablespoon of powdered milk.
My question is very simple. Since the Conservatives seem to be
unclear, if not speaking mistruths about every aspect of this mission,
why have they tried to cover up the fact that the humanitarian aid
amounts to five cents a day per refugee?
Hon. K. Kellie Leitch: Mr. Speaker, this is absolutely false. I
would encourage anyone who is listening to this to know that
actually this is absolutely false.
Let us be very clear. The Canadian government has made
substantive investments to make sure that there is available
humanitarian aid. What I care the most about is making sure that
women and children, religious minorities, and sexual minorities are
protected and that they receive humanitarian aid. That is what
Canadians are doing. That is what the Canadian Armed Forces are
doing.
We are supporting that effort. The opposition is completely
against supporting any of these efforts to make sure that individuals
receive humanitarian aid or the security they need to receive it.
Mr. Larry Maguire (Brandon—Souris, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I
am pleased to rise today on a critical international issue, the ongoing
crisis caused by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
While the military dimension of this crisis is important, it
constitutes but one aspect of Canada's response. Indeed, Canada's
contribution is also aimed to address the political, security,
humanitarian and human rights dimensions of this crisis. I will
elaborate on this in the second part of my speech, but first let me
point out Canada's part in the international coalition against ISIL. In
the summer of 2014 when ISIL broke through Iraq's borders, its
rapid territorial gains resulted in significant internal displacement
and abhorrent acts of violence against civilians. In response, Canada
joined a U.S.-led coalition of over 60 partner countries to counter the
ISIL threat.
Most coalition partners' contributions include military equipment
and humanitarian supplies. Canada is part of a small group that is
also contributing military support to forces combating ISIL. This
small group includes many of Canada's closest allies and partners,
such as the United States, the U.K., France and Australia as well as a
number of key regional partners, including Jordan and Kuwait.
Coalition partners recognize that ISIL's advance has destabilized
the region and poses a very real threat to global security. Defeating
ISIL and bringing stability to Iraq will require a long-term multi-year
effort.
The only sustainable solution to defeating terrorism and creating
stability is an inclusive Iraq government that serves all of its ethnic
and religious communities. For too long, marginalization and
discrimination have marred Iraq's political process. Political
reconciliation is needed to effectively address Iraq's sectarian
challenges.
To foster conditions conducive to this political reconciliation,
Canada and its coalition partners are working along a number of
lines of effort, namely carrying out military efforts to degrade ISIL,
stemming the flow of foreign fighters, limiting ISIL's financing and
funding, providing humanitarian assistance, undertaking stabilization efforts and countering ISIL's message.
In February 2015, the coalition established working groups
around these lines of effort, and Canada is a full participant in each
area of engagement. I will now provide a more detailed outline of
Canada's contribution to each line of effort.
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In response to this crisis, Canada's military contribution has
included six CF-18 fighter aircraft to participate in air strikes against
ISIL's extremists in Iraq. Canada has also committed a number of
support aircraft, including one CC-150 Polaris tanker, two CP-140
Aurora surveillance aircraft and one dedicated airlift aircraft.
religious and ethnic communities that reject ISIL's extremist
ideology underscores the barbaric nature of ISIL's terrorist actions.
The Office of Religious Freedom is developing projects to monitor
and protect the rights of religious minorities in Iraq and the region.
Canada has also deployed several dozen armed forces personnel to
provide strategic and tactical counsel for Iraq forces fighting ISIL,
and has assisted in the delivery of critical military supplies from
contributing allies to Kurdish peshmerga forces.
On the development side, in 2014, Canada identified Iraq as a
partner country for Canadian bilateral assistance. It will aim to
address short-term needs during the crisis and support stability and
prosperity in Iraq over the longer term.
Canada is extremely concerned by reports of foreign fighters,
including Canadians, participating in terrorist activities perpetrated
by ISIL. Additionally, when these Canadian foreign fighters return,
they pose a serious domestic security threat. That is why Canada is
working with partners to address this threat, including to the Global
Counterterrorism Forum's foreign terrorist fighter working group.
During the former Minister of Foreign Affairs' visit to Iraq in
September, Canada announced $5 million over the next three years
to support regional efforts to detect, deter and interdict foreign
fighters at source, destination and transit points, and to limit their
movement in Syria and Iraq.
On March 4, 2015, the Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Iraq as
part of his first overseas trip as Minister of Foreign Affairs. He met
with the Iraqi Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and the Speaker of
the Council of Representatives, and at these meetings, our Minister
of Foreign Affairs reaffirmed Canada's support to Iraq.
Canada is also very concerned about the financing generated by
and provided to the terrorist group ISIL. We have demonstrated our
commitment to stopping terrorist financing by contributing to the
financial action task force report on ISIL financing, as well as by
participating in the Manama meeting on combating the financing of
terrorism in November, 2014.
Canada's efforts to fully and effectively implement the financial
action task force's recommendations on terrorist financing are
ongoing, and Canada is also supporting capacity building efforts in
the region to help governments protect their financial systems from
terrorist financing efforts.
● (2130)
Canada is also making important contributions in the area of
stabilization and development efforts. One of the government's main
priorities is responding to sexual and gender-based violence
perpetrated by ISIL. UN reports of women and girls being bought
and sold in Mosul was one shocking example of the sexual violence
being inflicted on women by ISIL.
That is why Canada has made a contribution of up to $5 million to
Justice Rapid Response and the Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights to investigate sexual violence and other serious
human rights abuses. Canada also made a $5-million contribution to
the prevention of and response to sexual violence and related abuses.
Our support is being used to increase access to services and
treatment for Syrian and Iraqi refugees and displaced persons who
have been victims of violence in ISIL-affected areas.
Another major Canadian priority in this area is the protection of
religious minority communities. The ongoing severe oppression of
On the security front, Canada has provided $10 million in nonlethal security assistance for equipment, including personal protective gear, vehicles, GPS and robots to disable improvised explosive
devices. This amount is in addition to the direct military support
being provided by the Department of National Defence and the
Canadian Forces that I mentioned earlier in my remarks.
The security of the broader region is critically important to
Canada, as well as to our coalition partners. Therefore, Canada is
assisting Jordan in its efforts to contain ISIL by providing equipment
and training to enhance Jordan's ability to identify and respond to
terrorist threats. Canadian assistance will also support Jordan's
efforts to manage the influx of refugees.
The humanitarian situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate as ISIL
perpetrates acts of brutality. That is why since the beginning of the
crisis, Canada has committed $67.4 million to respond to the
humanitarian needs of Iraqis affected by the violence.
ISIL has been adept at recruiting supporters. Canada is working
with its allies to support local and international initiatives to counter
ISIL narratives. At the Global Counterterrorism Forum ministerial
meeting in September 2014, Canada announced $1.5 million funding
for the Hedayah centre of excellence on countering violent
extremism and the Global Community Engagement and Resilience
Fund.
In January 2015, Canada announced up to $9 million for the
Munk School of Global Affairs' digital public square project. This
initiative will increase digital space for free expression, open
political dialogue and engagement in places where civil society and
citizens' participation is under threat and counter extremist
narratives. This initiative complements our work to reduce
radicalization at home through enhanced community engagement
and dialogue.
Collectively, these efforts are designed to impede the recruitment
of foreign fighters to ISIL, diminish financial and material support to
the group and discourage the ideological support it seeks.
In addition, Canada has been very active on the diplomatic front.
Along with our allies, Canada is encouraging Iraqi leaders to
embrace inclusion and to implement a comprehensive program that
addresses the divisions in their society.
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Canadian diplomatic efforts have also focused on strengthening
international processes to address illicit financial flows, countering
violent extremism, supporting persecuted minorities and keeping
ISIL-perpetrated sexual crimes on the international agenda. In this
regard, Canadian ministers and diplomats have maintained an
intensive level of dialogue and engagement with Iraqi leaders and
our coalition partners.
In conclusion, our engagement in Iraq incorporates a range of
measures to tackle the various security, humanitarian, human rights
and political aspects of this conflict. The challenges that Iraq faces
are enormous.
The good news is that the international community is united in
responding to the threat of ISIL. The threat posed by ISIL is broadbased, and Canada is taking a holistic approach in response to this
crisis. We are doing our part, and Canadians can be proud of this
contribution.
● (2135)
Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I listened
to the listing of the contributions and we agree with many of the
contributions the member talked about in terms of Canada's efforts.
However, I want to ask the member this.
The government and the member talked about terrorists, and used
the word often, particularly in terms of Canada and Canada's fears.
However, yesterday there was an editorial in the Globe and Mail
with respect to Syria which talked about the actual threat that ISIL
poses to Canada. It stated that the Prime Minister:
...has repeatedly tried to closely tie ISIS to the terrorist threat in Canada. The truth
is that the same nihilistic ideology may motivate both. But so far, the actual
connections are thin to non-existent.
Again and again we hear of the direct threat ISIL poses to Canada.
However, Canadians do not even believe that, and more and more
people are understanding that this is part of the current government's
propaganda. A recent poll showed that the majority of Canadians
supported the mission and the former mission in Iraq, or did at that
point at least. I believe the extension is a different matter. However,
in the poll a wide margin, 38%, saw the war as more dangerous to
Canada and only 19% making us safer, so what I am trying to
understand here—
● (2140)
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): Order, please. This is
only the first question in our five-minute round, so we need to give
some time to the hon. member for Brandon—Souris.
Mr. Larry Maguire: Mr. Speaker, I would not expect the member
to understand or agree with very much of what I said because the
NDP have been voting against us all along. The only thing that is
thin and non-existent is the NDP support for keeping Canadians safe.
The New Democrats do not seem to believe that jihadists are
terrorists and that these jihadist activities of ISIL are connected to
what exactly happened in this very building. Therefore, I do not
know how much of a realistic example they need to make sure that
we are defending ourselves from this group that has declared war on
Canada and Canadian citizens. As has been said many times in this
House, and I think they have even heard some New Democrat
members say so themselves, this is the opportunity we have as a
government. The most responsible issue that a government can
handle is keeping its citizens safe.
Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Mr. Speaker,
we have been exchanging a lot of information about the scale of
humanitarian aid. It is clear from my comments that I am pleased
that Canada is contributing humanitarian assistance. However, at this
point we are really contributing a drop in the bucket in relation to the
need.
The UN has said that this Syrian conflict and the humanitarian
crisis in 2014 required $5.9 billion in response. The world
community collectively came up with 60% against that need. We
are talking about four million refugees found in camps in Turkey,
Jordan and Lebanon. We are talking about an extensive humanitarian
crisis where at this point the world community is failing the people
of Syria. Therefore, while we are debating military action, I think it
behooves us that we look at the scale and the scope of the need
before we pat ourselves on the back for having done enough.
I ask my hon. colleague if he would not agree.
Mr. Larry Maguire: Mr. Speaker, when we started out in this
process the opposition said that we had no humanitarian aid. I just
talked about $67 million that we have committed to respond to the
humanitarian needs of just the Iraqis affected by the violence. My
colleague from Simcoe—Grey has just indicated the millions of
citizens there who we have helped with food, education and a
number of other supports with respect to humanitarian aid, so when
is it enough? Certainly, we would always like to do more, as the
member has indicated, but first we must ensure that the people we
are getting the humanitarian aid to are safe, that the people who are
delivering it are safe, and that they feel comfortable knowing that we
can direct this humanitarian aid to where it is needed the most.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): Before we carry on, I
would just comment, more than anything, that obviously with the
debate this evening and through the course of this day there is great
interest in participating by hon. members, not only of their remarks
but also through the five minute question period. We only have five
minutes for questions and comments after each ten minute speech.
The Chairs will do the very best we can to try to get all of those
involved.
Hon. members should know that the time they take—extra time
perhaps with their preamble and/or remarks—is taking away time
that might be available to other hon. members. We do our best to be
judicious to ensure all hon. members have the opportunity to
participate and do the best to share that out in the way we typically
do. However, we beg the hon. members' indulgence in keeping their
interventions at least concise enough so other hon. members will
have the opportunity to participate. Of course, it is always a good
idea for members to watch the Chair from time in the course of their
remarks so they can see how they are doing time wise.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Montmagny—L'Islet—
Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.
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● (2145)
[Translation]
Mr. François Lapointe (Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska
—Rivière-du-Loup, NDP): Mr. Speaker, many of us are rising this
evening to take part in the debate on the most important decision we
have to make as parliamentarians. We must decide whether to send
our armed forces personnel into combat.
I am so tired of hearing the Conservatives' rhetoric in this House.
If any other party takes a more pacifist position, they equate that with
contempt for our armed forces.
We need to be careful and think long and hard about where we
send our armed forces, why we are sending them and the possibility
of success, and we must have an exit strategy. These are important
fundamentals and a way to demonstrate our profound respect for our
armed forces.
Through all these months of debate, we have heard so many
childish comments from across the aisle that one would think this is
high school. I am sick of hearing them. I must reiterate, we need to
be very careful about our decision. Our positions must show our
profound respect for the members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
We must therefore rise and decide whether to vote for or against
the motion to extend Canada's combat mission in Iraq. The
organization that prompted this evening's debate, and indeed a host
of other problems around the world for months now, is the Islamic
State of Iraq and the Levant, a terrorist organization. I will also refer
to it as ISIL and the Islamic State. Although I hate to admit it, there
is a certain poetry to its name, but let us stick to the basics.
What is the Islamic State, exactly? It is an organization that has
displaced 2.5 million civilians in Iraq by conducting military
operations that are completely barbaric. Because of that organization,
another 5.2 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian
assistance. It has killed at least 5,000 people. That is one number I
came across, but I think it actually is much higher.
Another troubling thing about the activities of the Islamic State is
that it finances its activities in large part by exporting oil from the
lands it conquers and charging the residents arbitrary taxes. It simply
kills a woman's husband, then taxes her and tells her she has no say
in the matter. It also collects ransom from kidnappings. While they
are at it, why not take barbarism to the extreme? My colleagues all
agree: the extreme barbarism displayed by the Islamic State has to
stop.
As always, the Conservatives start with a consensus and then brag
about taking action. That is where the problems begin. On the basic
issue there is consensus, but when it comes to how to approach the
issue, once again, we are headed for a frigging mess. I apologize, Mr.
Speaker, I am not sure if that is considered unparliamentary
language.
We cannot vote in favour of the motion on extending the mission
in Iraq for two fundamental reasons. The first reason is the lies. For
months we have a heard a litany of lies. When the government asks
the public to accept major expenditures because we are engaged in a
conflict and asks members of our armed forces to risk their lives,
then it has to be transparent.
The Prime Minister lied. He is miring Canada in a conflict without
being accountable and without having an exit strategy. The U.S.
Army was the last major army to go to Iraq without an exit strategy.
For nearly two decades, it sent troops there and bombed the country
and so forth, all without an exit strategy. Two decades later, what is
the result? Have things calmed down in the MIddle East, Iraq and
Syria? Are these people building co-operatives and voting freely?
No.
● (2150)
The situation now is even worse than it was 20 years ago. We are
having another go at it without an exit strategy.
We went from a mission that was supposed to be an advise and
assist mission to a six-month bombing mission, and then to a combat
mission on the front lines. Unfortunately, the death of Sergeant
Doiron, killed by friendly fire, is proof of that. Canadians at home
understand that you cannot be involved in a friendly fire incident if
you are not at the front. That is impossible. If you are behind the
front lines, allies will not turn around and fire on you. If such
situations arise, it is because you are at the front. I am pleased that
one of my colleagues who was in the army told me that my analysis
is correct.
On September 30, the Prime Minister said “there is not a direct
combat role”. A few months later, in January, Canadian soldiers who
were providing ground support for air strikes exchanged gunfire with
Islamic State forces. There were at least three such exchanges
between late January and mid-February.
Another aspect of the motion that is really worrisome is that it
allows us to now take action in Syria. People at home need to know
that. Syria is led by Bashar al-Assad. He is running a monstrous
regime in an extremely complex situation involving rebel clans and
unclear affiliations.
Bashar al-Assad is responsible for over 220,000 civilian deaths
and 4 million refugees in just four years. This regime's armed force is
made up of about 50,000 people, but these rebels are sometimes a bit
disorganized.
I want to ask the House a fundamental question. In such a
complex environment, with a tyrant in power, with rebels who, while
somewhat disorganized, are fairly well armed and more or less
radicalized, and with refugees scattered all over, where should the
bomb be dropped? Where are they going to drop this magical bomb
that will improve the situation? Can they show us on a map? I would
like the Minister of National Defence to show me an exact point on
the map where he wants to drop bombs in order to improve the
situation.
The situation is so complex, he would not be able to point to a
single location on the map. Dropping bombs is not a magic solution.
It is absolutely not.
Worse still, under lies and arguments that make it impossible for
us to support this motion because we cannot trust the government,
information was hidden from the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
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On February 16, the Minister of National Defence announced that
so far, Canada had spent $122 million on the combat mission in Iraq.
The next day, the Parliamentary Budget Officer released his
estimates, which were on the order of $166 million. We have barely
entered the conflict, and we are already in an F-35 situation, and we
are wondering if there will be any transparency about the costs.
I do not always agree with how our neighbours to the south decide
to intervene, but at least they have the advantage of being very
transparent about reporting their expenditures to the American
people. I gather that costs are updated publicly every 48 hours. That
is not at all the case here. We cannot trust a government that cannot
even be honest about the costs stemming from its own decision to
enter a conflict.
The government has also awkwardly offered up a whole series of
false arguments, including false claims about the coalition.
Most of the nations that make up the coalition, including Norway,
South Korea and New Zealand, are not participating in combat. They
are giving tens of millions of dollars to address humanitarian needs.
There have been lies about the effectiveness of the mission. When
we started bombing ISIL forces, which I am loathe to give any credit
to, as everyone can understand, they moved and hid among civilians.
We have serious doubts about whether this plan can even be
effective.
● (2155)
Small advances were the result of the courage of the Kurds, who
were engaged in dangerous combat on the ground.
In conclusion, the government also lied about the UN. The UN did
indeed put forward a resolution, but it said that what was important
was to target sources of funding for the Islamic State and cut them
off as quickly as possible. The UN never said to send in soldiers or
put boots on the ground. That is not true.
Does the member think that participation in this coalition is
misguided? After all, this coalition is made up of 60 countries that
are focused on humanitarian assistance and military services.
Mr. François Lapointe: Mr. Speaker, I think it was my NDP
colleague from St. John's East who set the record straight earlier
because the members opposite kept saying that Canada was the
country that had invested the most in humanitarian aid. Now
suddenly we are in fifth place. Good work. We are finally getting a
little bit of transparency. I want to thank my NDP colleague for
setting the record straight. We are in fifth place.
I have the numbers here. There are crying needs. As a result of
what is happening, there are hundreds of thousands of new refugees
every day. There is an urgent need for aid with respect to water,
sanitation, hygiene and food security. Shelter and health care are
lacking. Canada has contributed nearly $67 million in this regard.
That is good, but we have contributed over $160 million to the
military effort. We are putting three times more resources into
sending military jets over there than we are into meeting the
humanitarian needs of these people. I would like to take this
opportunity to remind the House that Norway, South Korea and
other countries are doing the opposite. Some countries have
contributed to the transportation of weapons and things like that,
but they have put most of their resources into responding to the huge
humanitarian crisis caused by the Islamic State's barbaric actions.
I would like to come back to the last comment that I made in my
speech, because my colleague spoke about the coalition. If the
current Prime Minister of Canada said that he thought we needed to
take military action, I still would not agree with him. However, if he
did a world tour, showed the kind of leadership that one would
expect from a real leader, spoke to the leaders of NATO, the UN,
Germany and China, and sought support, then I could at least respect
him, but that is not at all what he is doing right now.
[English]
If at least our Prime Minister thought we needed to take military
action and he had panache, courage and a good sense of his office,
and he met with world leaders to convince them that NATO and the
UN should take action, I might not agree, but I could respect him.
That is nothing like what we are seeing here.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as
members know, the Liberal caucus will be voting against the motion.
However, Canada has a clear interest in training Iraqi forces to fight
and destroy ISIL. We can and should do this training away from the
front lines. What is the position of NDP on that issue?
Mr. Bernard Trottier (Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister of Foreign Affairs and for La Francophonie, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by my colleague
opposite. He lauded the involvement of Norway and New Zealand,
but does he know that Canada is the fifth-largest donor of
humanitarian aid in Iraq and the sixth-largest in Syria?
● (2200)
If he is lauding the involvement of New Zealand, Norway and
other countries, he should also laud Canada's involvement on the
humanitarian front. He could at least give us that. The military
coalition has some 60 members. It includes countries like Bahrain,
Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Qatar. These are
countries in the region that know there is a serious threat to public
safety. The coalition also includes countries like the United States,
France, the United Kingdom and Australia. These are countries that
know threats have been made against them. Canada is participating
in this coalition.
When we supported the first motion, for example, we supported
the notion of helping with the transport of weapons, which
logistically speaking could help the Kurds. The Kurds are having
a very difficult time because they really are on the front lines.
[Translation]
Mr. François Lapointe: Mr. Speaker, quite honestly, I missed the
beginning of my colleague's remarks. There was something wrong
with the interpretation.
Consequently, we are not saying that there is nothing we can do to
help in terms of the logistics. What we are saying is that boots on the
ground and air strikes have absolutely not been effective and will
solve nothing. We were not completely against the idea of logistical
support, for example. I remember that it was in the motion.
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This resonates with me. When the Conservatives have an easy
solution to a complex issue, most of the time the fundamental
problem is that it is the wrong solution. We are dealing with a
complex problem. We are not against a nuanced position, but we are
not going to play the Conservatives' games. The Liberals are going
to vote for this motion. For three months they said that is not a good
idea, but now they will support it. That is really so absurd.
From an estimated population of 1.3 million Christians in Iraq in
2003, some estimates now put the number of Christians remaining in
Iraq at approximately 130,000. ISIL threatens to wipe out the
region's pluralism, rooted in the presence of faith communities of
diverse creeds living together side by side for millennia. The
maintaining of such diversity is crucial for lasting stability.
[English]
Without tolerance and respect for religious diversity in Iraq, the
chance of building a democratic country grounded in the rule of law
is greatly diminished. Iraq's religious minorities have also been
targeted under a horrific campaign of sexual and gender-based
violence. Unspeakable acts of rape, sexual enslavement and forced
marriage against women, girls and boys have been perpetrated by
ISIL in the territories it holds.
Hon. Tim Uppal (Minister of State (Multiculturalism), CPC):
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to this very important motion.
The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, and jihadi
terrorists have declared war on us and pose a real threat. They have
targeted Canada specifically, are urging supporters to attack
disbelieving Canadians in any manner, vowing that we should not
feel secure, even in our own homes.
As a government, we know that our ultimate responsibility is to
protect Canadians from those who would do us and our families
harm. That is why Canada is not and will not sit on the sidelines.
ISIL has committed heinous acts of brutality against religious
minority communities in Iraq and the region. The world watched in
shock and horror as tens of thousands of Yazidis were stranded on
Mount Sinjar last August after fleeing ISIL en masse under threat of
torture, enslavement and death. While many of those Yazidis have
since been relocated to safety, ISIL continues to seek out and
violently persecute the region's diverse and ancient minority
religious communities.
Just recently, ISIL abducted over 220 Assyrian Christians in
eastern Syria. Their fate is still unknown and their disappearance,
coupled with the worsening state of safety and security in the region,
has forced over 1,000 Assyrian Christian families to vacate their
homes in fear. This is part of a much wider campaign by ISIL to
expel or destroy all those who oppose its warped ideology of
division and hate, including Shia and moderate Sunni Muslims.
This extends into ISIL's destruction of Iraq's religious and cultural
heritage, where it has targeted sites of shared significance to the
Christian, Muslim and broader Arab communities in Iraq. ISIL has
sought to destroy the inherent religious diversity Iraq has maintained
for hundreds of years and to erase the history of a region known as
the cradle of civilization.
Earlier this year, ISIL desecrated the ancient city of Hatra, a
UNESCO world heritage site. It ransacked and vandalized the Mosul
Museum, destroying hundreds of irreplaceable Assyrian artifacts.
Last July, it demolished Jonah's Tomb in Mosul, a site revered by
both the local Christians and Muslim communities.
The realities faced by Iraqi Christians epitomizes the severity of
ISIL's brutal campaign of persecution. Hundreds of thousands of
Christians have fled their homes, joining an estimated 2.4 million
now displaced by the violence. By some estimates, the near total
disappearance of Christians from the region is unfolding. Should
ISIL's campaign against Iraq's religious minorities continue
unencumbered, the fate of the Christian population in Iraq could
mirror that of the Jewish community in Iraq, which dwindled from
approximately 135,000 in 1948 to less than 100 today.
Canada has been a strong supporter of international efforts to end
sexual violence and conflict. Such barbaric acts are an affront to
human dignity and Canadian values, and add to the urgency of the
call to stop ISIL and re-establish peace and security in the region.
The twisted, hateful ideology that motivates ISIL is spreading like a
cancer. It is fuelling violence in East Africa, Nigeria, Afghanistan,
Pakistan and throughout the Middle East.
● (2205)
While our government has rightly directed the Canadian military
to support our friends and allies in stopping ISIL's advance on the
ground, military force alone cannot root out the long-term threat
posed by jihadi extremism. Extremism flourishes in an environment
without respect and tolerance for religious diversity and religious
difference. Legal and social restrictions on religious freedoms,
including the prohibitions against blasphemy and apostasy that we
have been seeing elsewhere in Muslim-majority countries cannot be
allowed to take hold in Iraq; not just because they infringe on the
rights of Christians and other minorities to practise their faith, but
because they discourage the liberalizing voices within Islam that are
crucial to countering the influence of the extremists in the long term.
This is precisely why the government has committed to advancing
freedom of religion as a central component of our response to the
situation in Iraq. Through the Office of Religious Freedoms, we will
be working over the medium and long term to promote interfaith
dialogue, to encourage understanding and respect among Iraq's
religious communities, and to help build a political and social
framework that allows all Iraqis to express their faith freely and
without fear.
To that end, the Office of Religious Freedoms has been working
diligently to identify and implement initiatives to assist in these
efforts. Through the religious freedom fund, the office is supporting
a two-year project with minority rights groups internationally that
will increase the capacity of local Iraqi civil society organizations to
monitor and respond to violations of religious freedom, as well as
assist religious communities of all faiths to access vital services.
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We will also continue reaching out to our friends and allies to
build recognition for the important role religious freedom will play
in ensuring long-term sustainable peace in Iraq. Our Ambassador for
Religious Freedom, Dr. Andrew Bennett, continues to conduct
outreach with Canadian Iraqi religious leaders to identify how best to
help Iraq's religious communities under threat and support longerterm religious tolerance and freedom. Ambassador Bennett has also
held fruitful discussions in the region with a number of faith-based
organizations to explore opportunities for partnership with Canada
on the ground.
As a multicultural and multi-faith society, Canada is uniquely
qualified to promote the peaceful coexistence of Iraq's various
religious and ethnic communities. We have a rich and proud tradition
of diversity, respect, and tolerance, a tradition that has yielded peace
and prosperity for Canadians. Through our engagement in Iraq, we
will honour this tradition by acting against hate and persecution, by
championing the values of pluralism and religious freedom and
ultimately keeping Canadians safer here at home.
[Translation]
Mr. Denis Blanchette (Louis-Hébert, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
listened to my colleague's speech and noted his deep compassion and
concern for ethnic and religious minorities.
However, in my opinion, there was a problem. Does he really
believe that by bombing left, right and centre we will truly be able to
engender tolerance and diversity? Is that how we want to go about it?
Or will this only give rise to further intolerance?
● (2210)
[English]
Hon. Tim Uppal: Mr. Speaker, this is kind of the main difference
between the opposition side and the government side in this case. We
on the government side believe that we can do both, that we can
secure security and still work on humanitarian issues that continue,
after there is security in the region, to then work and develop the
nation further, and to help the nation further.
At this point, with the security there in Iraq and the movement of
ISIL, where it has gone now into Syria, we need to first move in with
our military, our air forces, and support our allies to ensure the
security of the region, and then we can move on with humanitarian
assistance. Even right now, we are supporting with humanitarian
assistance where we can. We are providing emergency shelters and
medical assistance to thousands of Iraqi civilians in addition to largescale financial assistance to other governments in the region
impacted by the crisis in Syria.
We have the ability to do both things: create security and help in
the humanitarian way as well.
Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Mr. Speaker,
I appreciate the remarks from my hon. colleague. I have been hoping
for an opportunity to put to him some of the briefing notes that were
prepared for our former minister of foreign affairs who has now left
the House, John Baird. Over a period of time from 2012 forward, the
briefing notes to the minister warned that Syria is not Libya, that
getting involved in Syria had different risks. I will quote from them:
There is no Security Council mandate for international military intervention. The
Arab League has not called for intervention nor has the Syrian opposition....
...military option not viable, would likely worsen situation.
All of the above factors remain true. There is no UN Security
Council resolution. There is no request from the Arab League. There
is no request from the Syrian opposition. Could the hon. minister tell
us why the government currently believes that a military operation is
viable when it had been warned for many years by the Department of
Foreign Affairs that it is not?
Hon. Tim Uppal: Mr. Speaker, at no time have we ever said that
we were going to get involved in the Syrian civil war. That war
would require a much different approach.
What we are dealing with in the motion in front of us today is the
expansion and extension of our mission against ISIL. Whereas ISIL
was in Iraq, it has moved some of its assets and bases farther into
Syria, so we are joining our allies to also move into Syria. There are
more than 60 partners with whom we are working. We are joining
the U.S., Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Morocco, and the United
Arab Emirates, who are already conducting strikes in Syria. It is
important that we join those partners in fighting against ISIL.
Mr. James Bezan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I would like to know if the
member would elaborate quickly on this. If ISIS is able to establish
its caliphate in eastern Syria and Iraq, not only what type of situation
that would bring to peace and security in the region but also how it
might affect us here in Canada?
Hon. Tim Uppal: Mr. Speaker, allowing ISIL to create a strong
base in that region would obviously affect that region in such a brutal
manner. We have already seen what it is doing now, and it can only
get worse, also for us here at home in Canada where ISIL has
directly asked Canadians to attack non-believers within our country.
We see situations where we have Canadians who have gone over and
trained with ISIL and are trying to come back to Canada. We have
the mission against ISIL, which is important. We also have
legislation being brought forward in the House now to help us
protect Canada before terrorist attacks happen. This is a multipronged approach and it is very important to keep Canadians safe.
● (2215)
[Translation]
Mr. Denis Blanchette (Louis-Hébert, NDP): Mr. Speaker, here
we are six months later, once again talking about extending the
mission. What has happened in the past six months? One outcome
has been clear: the progress of Daesh has been slowed.
In all honesty, however, in six months and with 60 countries
involved, there has not been much progress on the ground. The
Kurds won the battle for Kobani. For the first time since June 2014,
when the Iraqis fled Mosul, Iraqi forces engaged in attacking Tikrit.
However, as we speak, they have decided to stop their advance.
If we look at what is happening right now with the government
motion, the strategy seems simple: charge in and see what happens
later. There does not appear to be a long-term vision here.
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One of the things we have heard over and over, but bears
repeating, is the question of whether air strikes in Syria are lawful.
When our military allies are not at risk—and for Canada, that means
NATO—we cannot go into a country unless it invites us to do so, or
a resolution is adopted by the United Nations Security Council. At
this time, of course, those criteria do not apply. In fact, despite the
fancy footwork of the Minister of National Defence regarding
section 51, everyone recognizes that we are not in a situation of
legitimate defence, but rather in a pre-emptive war, which is quite
different. In his speech, even the Minister of Public Safety and
Emergency Preparedness said that the tragic attacks against Canada,
which we deplore, were inspired by Daesh. They were not
perpetrated by Daesh, but inspired by that group, which is an
important distinction.
As for the mission itself, the mandate before us is not clear. We
have a mission, but we know nothing about the objectives or the
strategies. However, we do know the Conservative government's
strategy at home in Canada, namely to twist Canadians' arms. The
government presents something small, plays with words and then
things escalate. That is the government's technique. That is a
problem because we do not really know where this is leading us. I
would remind the House that this is not the first time the West is
intervening in that part of the world. There is a risk of getting stuck
there.
What has happened in Iraq since 2003? Of course, Saddam
Hussein left, as everyone remembers. I am not saying I would have
wanted someone like him to come back, that is not the issue, but
what followed his departure was chaos and violence. In fact, the
Americans and a coalition went to Iraq to take down a dictator. They
stayed there for almost 10 years and after all that, the situation is
worse than ever. Are we to believe that using the same recipe is
going to lead us to a different outcome?
I have not heard much about what we are going to do once we
take care of the Islamic State. History tells us that time and again,
violence escalates. Everyone is thinking about ways to thwart the
Islamic State's plans, to get rid of all this, but no one is thinking
about how to bring stability back to that region.
● (2220)
I would now like to talk about geopolitics in that corner of the
world. A few days ago, former general Petraeus, who commanded
the American forces in 2007-08, called the conflict zone in Iraq and
Syria a geopolitical Chernobyl. That is what he called it. We need to
look at what we are getting into. We are talking about Iraq and Syria
here, but we cannot forget neighbouring Turkey or, obviously, Iran.
There is also the religion aspect, which we do not hear much
about, but it must be taken into account when we look at the different
forces at play, whether we are talking about the Sunni, the Shia or the
various religious minorities like Christians. There are also the
Azerbaijanis. A religious war is not that far off in that part of the
world, which could be even more damaging, if that were even
possible.
There are also armed groups. Obviously, there are the Kurds. In
Syria there is also Hezbollah, which is on the government list of
terrorist organizations. It is funny to see that the government and
Hezbollah currently have the same objectives in Syria. It is rather
bizarre. I know it is hard to swallow, but it is the truth. It is a question
of opportunity, is it not?
There are also small ethnic groups we do not hear much about.
These are the victims we do not hear about. For example, there are
the Bedouin tribes. In the early days of Daesh, 500 Bedouins from
one tribe were massacred in just one or two days. Did that make
international headlines? No. Did anyone care about what had
happened to them? No, of course not, because they are herders. No
one took an interest in them, but they paid a very high price in blood.
We are also seeing something else going on. I am referring to what
is going on in Yemen. People forget to connect things. Right now,
major cities in Yemen are under siege by a minority Shia group
called the Houthis.
There is a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, our ally in Iraq and Syria.
It is currently bringing some unusual pressure tactics to bear. Saudi
Arabia has 150,000 troops at the moment in an operation with 100
fighter jets. The United Arab Emirates have 30 planes. Bahrain and
Kuwait have 15 each, and Qatar has 10. The other countries in the
coalition are Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Pakistan and Morocco. There is a
religious context to this because behind the Houthi minority are the
Iranians, who themselves also support Shia militias in Iraq as well as
Hezbollah and the Syrian government.
With all of those ingredients in the mix, we are approaching
something truly catastrophic on a planetary scale. Given the number
of Muslims on the planet, the context is very difficult. Has the
government taken all of that into account? Absolutely not.
Bombs cannot resolve such a complicated conflict. I do not
believe they can. To ease its conscience, the government has been
talking more and more about humanitarian aid. What that means is
that the Conservatives are not very comfortable with their own
position.
Let us think about this. Right now, are we really protecting a
religious ethnic minority that has found refuge in Iraq? Not really.
Have we created safe places to protect them? Not really.
● (2225)
If the government had chosen the NDP's approach six months ago,
would things be any different on the ground? Would minorities be
better protected? I think so.
In conclusion, I think that the government's approach—embarking
on a crusade—is juvenile, immoral, dangerous and irresponsible.
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, if I am not
mistaken, I think the member used the word “crusade”. If that is the
case, I hope that, as a reasonable member, he will withdraw it. It is
very delicate and irresponsible to use such a word in this context.
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The member asked if we have created safe places for religious or
ethnic minorities in Iraq. The answer of course is no, because Daesh
still controls the Nineveh Plains, the central region of northern Iraq,
which is the historic home of the Christians, Assyrians, Yazidis and
all those small minority groups.
Furthermore, I am very familiar with that diaspora in Canada.
There representatives were here this week. All of those communities
and minorities being persecuted by Daesh in Iraq support the use of
military force against Daesh, because they understand that there is no
other way to win back their historic territories and create a safe place
for those communities.
Why does the member not agree with the victims of Daesh?
Mr. Denis Blanchette: Mr. Speaker, I will respond in two parts.
First, considering that this is a very sensitive issue, I have no
problem withdrawing the word “crusade”.
As far as the hon. member's other question is concerned, everyone
agrees that the Islamic State is evil. However, what we are saying is
that there are enough members in our coalition to share the tasks.
Canada, whose citizens are more sensitive, should do more in terms
of providing humanitarian assistance. We have always said that.
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I very much appreciated the speech the hon. member just
delivered. He really understands the issues.
I would like to come back to the humanitarian aid issue. This
evening, the Conservatives bragged about giving large sums of
money, when they are giving only 5¢ a day to the 2.5 million
refugees living in abject poverty.
What does my colleague think people can do with that 5¢ a day,
when they need schools, hospitals, housing, tents, shelters and so
forth? Is that enough money?
Mr. Denis Blanchette: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my
colleague for his excellent question. No matter where in the world
you live, 5¢ a day does not go very far. You cannot buy what you
want.
You have to start with the basics in order to combat radicalization
and eventually achieve peace. You must first meet people's basic
needs. As I was saying earlier in response to the previous question, it
is important to enhance this aspect of the international collective
effort.
It seems easy to invest in bombs and much more difficult to invest
in humanitarian aid. When the immediate crisis has been resolved,
everyone will forget the ongoing humanitarian crisis. At that point,
new hotbeds of radicalization will be created and we must avoid that.
Earlier today, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness explained in detail to the House that ISIL has indeed
targeted Canada and Canadians by name. Just a few hours ago, we
heard from Canada's Minister of National Defence about the
devastation ISIL has caused in the Middle East and the magnitude
of the problem if we permit ISIL to continue to perpetuate such
atrocities not only in the Middle East but around the world. He
explained the threat it poses right here at home in Canada to all of us
as Canadians.
As the Prime Minister said, we cannot protect Canada and our
communities by simply choosing to ignore this threat. I was
concerned by the remarks of both the Leader of the Opposition and
the leader of the Liberal Party. While the Prime Minister outlined the
grave threat ISIL poses to Canada and the international community
as a whole, both leaders of the opposition parties refused to even
acknowledge it. It is evident that they do not take the threat of
jihadist terrorism against Canadians seriously, even when it has
already struck us at the very core of our democratic institution, right
here in Canada's Parliament.
Both opposition leaders and their parties are woefully unprepared
to take the steps necessary to protect Canadians. On this side of the
House, we will fight to thwart this threat against us and will help in
the protection of millions of innocent lives caught on the front lines
of this conflict.
It is important to note that while our government is contributing to
the military mission against ISIL, Canada is also among the top
humanitarian and development assistance donors in both Iraq and
Syria.
As we consider Canada's involvement in the international mission
against the Islamic extremist jihadist group known as ISIL, the
Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, it is important that we take into
account its effect on our government's efforts to resettle refugees.
Indeed, the ongoing violence in the region has led to a high number
of refugees and forcibly displaced persons, not to mention
indiscriminate, shocking, and horrific brutality toward civilians.
Our government has been, and will continue to be, a world leader in
permanently resettling refugees.
[English]
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the
United Nations Refugee Agency have described the ongoing
catastrophe as the largest humanitarian crisis in a generation. Both
the violence in the region and its accompanying refugee crisis are
utterly tragic situations.
Mr. Costas Menegakis (Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I
am very pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this debate,
which addresses the Prime Minister's announcement of a motion to
debate an extension and expansion of Canada's military mission
against ISIL.
Our country has a long history and a great humanitarian tradition
of providing protection for those who have been persecuted on the
basis of their religion, their ethnicity, their group identity, or their
political beliefs and have had to flee their homelands.
● (2230)
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This tradition of refugee protection predates Confederation.
Canada was a place of refuge for slaves fleeing the United States
in the 18th and 19th centuries, and later for Poles, Jews, and
Ukrainians, among others, fleeing oppression in eastern Europe in
the late 1800s. In the second half of the 20th century, Canada
welcomed thousands of Hungarians and Czechs who had escaped
Soviet tyranny. More recently, we have brought in refugees from
Africa and the Middle East. Now, we have been called upon to help
with the ongoing crisis in Syria and Iraq.
It is because of this crisis that the world is now witnessing a level
of forced displacement that we have not seen in decades. Canada is
answering that call.
● (2235)
Earlier this year my colleague, the Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration, announced that Canada would resettle an additional
10,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years on top of our 2013
commitment of 1,300 resettled spaces for Syrian refugees. This new
commitment represents 10% of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' appeal to help resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees,
and it is in keeping with Canada's record of resettling one in ten of
the world's resettled refugees.
The minister also announced that Canada would resettle an
additional 3,000 Iraqi refugees, bringing our total Iraqi resettlement
commitment to 23,000 Iraqi refugees resettled in Canada since 2009.
We have met this commitment by already resettling more than
20,000 Iraqi refugees since 2009, the vast majority of these refugees
have been resettled out of Syria. We have also committed to resettle
5,000 additional refugees from Turkey, a commitment that the
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration made in his visit to Turkey
a couple of years ago.
This morning I heard the member for Vancouver Quadra speak,
and I was troubled to hear her say that we had not provided any new
humanitarian aid. As I previously mentioned, on January 7, the
Minister of International Development and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration announced increased humanitarian effort and
that Canada would accept additional refugees from the region. I have
also heard in this debate that we need to give more humanitarian aid,
not military intervention.
The military actions our government is proposing today do not
preclude humanitarian action. This is not a case of either/or. It is a
case, indeed, of both, and Canada, this government, is stepping up to
the plate.
These commitments are in keeping with Canada's long-standing
and well-respected international reputation for generosity, for
humanitarianism and leadership in providing protection to the
world's most vulnerable people. Indeed, since the Second World
War, Canadians have provided refuge to more than one million
people.
Given our relatively small population, we have reason to be proud
of Canada's record in resettling displaced and vulnerable people
around the world, and we are pleased to be able to continue to do
that with the support of the Canadian people.
Today, we maintain one of the world's largest and most generous
resettlement programs, welcoming one in ten refugees resettled
worldwide, more than almost any other industrialized nation in the
world.
I would like to take a moment to talk about my personal
experience that occurred last year. I had the opportunity to travel
with our Prime Minister to Israel and Jordan. When we arrived in
Jordan, a number of colleagues and I had the opportunity to visit a
crossing point from Syria into Jordan. As it happened, we were there
no more than 20 minutes when the sirens went off. We looked out
into the desert. We were right on the line there, and sure enough,
about 150 people were walking across the desert after having walked
three days through the desert to find Jordan, to find a place of refuge.
I had the opportunity to speak with some of these people, to hug
them, to aid them and to see how much humanitarian aid we did
provide, through different programs through international aid in
Canada and through out partners in Jordan, to those people, and the
importance of that assistance to them.
I was moved to know that our government permanently resettles
and assists the world's most vulnerable individuals, as the refugees I
witnessed crossing into Jordan.
As a Canadian, I am very proud of our compassionate traditions. I
am glad I have had the opportunity to discuss Canada's remarkable
efforts to resettle in the context of today's important debate. I am
proud to stand in support of our government's extended military
effort against ISIL, and infinitely proud to stand in support of our
brave men and women in our armed forces who serve our country
today.
● (2240)
[Translation]
Ms. Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe (Pierrefonds—Dollard,
NDP): Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on my colleague's
speech.
First, he began by saying that the Leader of the Opposition did not
even recognize the threat posed by the Islamic State. To say such a
thing is tantamount to admitting that he has not followed the debate
in the House or that he only hears what he wants to hear. The Leader
of the Opposition has recognized the threat that this group represents
on several occasions. Not only has he recognized the threat to
Canada and Canadians, but he has also recognized the government's
duty to protect the people and help achieve international peace and
security. That has to be said.
Second, the parliamentary secretary spoke about the aid provided
by Canada to Syria. Since we are talking about it, we should point
out that it was not until this week that the government honoured its
two-year-old pledge to take in 1,000 Syrian refugees. We should also
point that out.
The question I have for my colleague is this: what responsibility
does he believe the UN has and what international rights are
involved in Canada's participation in a war? Is the UN just a nice
symbol that serves only to protect national monuments or does it also
have a role and a say in a country's decision as to whether or not to
participate in an armed conflict as significant as the one we are
facing?
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[English]
Mr. Costas Menegakis: Mr. Speaker, first, the member came in
defence of her leader, the leader of the official opposition. On CBC,
he said all that was asked of Canada by the Iraqis was help with the
humanitarian crisis. It is totally and clearly a false statement. How a
leader of a political party in Canada, who was here the day we had
that intrusion by a terrorist who killed a very bright, young soldier
with a future, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, not a stone's throw away from
Parliament Hill, could make a comment like that is beyond logic.
talking about a mission of war that Canada wants to continue
overseas.
It is important that all members of the House set aside their
partisan lines and party positions. It is important for us to realize
what we are dealing with here. We are dealing with a jihadist
movement that has declared war on our country and on Canadians. It
is incumbent upon us as parliamentarians to do something about that.
The members of the opposition need to reflect on their actions
because, truthfully, I believe it is shameful.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
the Liberal Party came to make its decision to vote against the
motion based on four principles articulated last fall.
Unfortunately, when we asked the government questions about
that six months ago, when it decided to send our men and women in
uniform to fight abroad, the mission was not clearly defined. When
we asked clear questions about the mission to find out what our
soldiers would be doing there, the government said that the mission
would simply involve assistance, advice and support. It was never
meant to be a combat mission.
First, Canada has a role to play in confronting humanitarian crises
in the world. Second, when a government considers deploying our
men and women in uniform, there must be a clear mission and a
clear role for Canada. Third, the case for deploying our forces must
be made openly and transparently based on clear, reliable,
dispassionately presented facts. Fourth, Canada's role must reflect
the broad scope of the Canadian capabilities in how best we can
help. Obviously, the government has fallen short.
The question I have for the member is quite specific. The Minister
of Foreign Affairs compares this war to Afghanistan, which implies
that it could be a 10-year war. What does the member believe? How
long does the member believe this war will go on?
Mr. Costas Menegakis: Mr. Speaker, I need to point out a couple
of key elements that I think elude my hon. colleague opposite.
The international jihadist movement has declared war on Canada.
We are talking about an organization that just a few months ago lined
up 21 Coptic Christians after having beaten them, tied their hands
and feet behind their backs, the terrorists hid their own faces and
proceeded to behead them.
Canadians are not fooled. We all know the Liberal Party does not
support this mission. The Liberal position on combatting ISIL, this
threat, is typical of that party. Once again, those members have their
feet firmly planted in thin air. They should stop looking at their own
internal polls and see what is important for that region and what is
important for Canadians.
We are talking about a jihadist movement that has declared
barbaric war on families and is displacing people from their homes
by the tens of thousands.
● (2245)
[Translation]
Mr. Hoang Mai (Brossard—La Prairie, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it
is 10:45 p.m., and I am pleased and proud to rise in the House today.
As a new parliamentarian—even though I have been here four
years now—I think that this is a very important debate. We are
When we think about the impact of this war, we need to think
about the men and women in uniform that we are sending abroad,
because they are going to be risking their lives and making every
possible sacrifice to keep our country safe. We therefore have to
wonder exactly what they will be doing.
Today, we know that our soldiers are unfortunately facing fire.
Our men and women in uniform who are there have to protect
themselves and fire on the enemy. They are very close to the
fighting. What is more, we have unfortunately lost a soldier, who
was killed by friendly fire, even though there was nothing friendly
about it.
This decision goes way beyond the intention that the government
claimed to have initially, when it said that we were only there to
provide advice. Even then, we were opposed to this mission. I was
very proud of the NDP's position and I still am. We proposed that,
instead, Canada focus its efforts on humanitarian aid, since we know
that this conflict is having a serious impact.
I heard my colleagues opposite saying that the NDP is not taking
the threat seriously. On the contrary, we are. However, the solution
the NDP is proposing is very different from the Conservatives'
solution.
Our amendment to the motion is very clear, so I will not get into
the details of our proposals, but we think the most important thing is
ending the participation of Canadian troops in combat, air strikes and
the advise-and-assist training in Iraq and Syria as soon as possible. I
am proud of our position.
I got into politics for a number of reasons. The first was Canada's
involvement in Afghanistan when Jean Chrétien's Liberals were in
power. I am actually a little disappointed that we have not heard from
our Liberal colleagues because I had a lot of questions for them.
Unfortunately, all we have heard from them is questions. We have
not had a chance to hear them explain their position in speeches, nor
have we been able to ask them questions, and I am very disappointed
about that.
Let us remember that it was the Liberals who sent Canada to
Afghanistan. They did pretty much what George Bush did after the
events of September 11, 2001, which shocked not only Canadians
but the whole world. They reacted by sending our troops to fight in
Afghanistan.
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The Liberals are so proud of themselves for not getting involved
in Iraq. The Prime Minister, who was a member of the opposition at
the time, wanted to get involved in Iraq. However, all these years
later, it has become clear that getting involved there was a mistake.
To illustrate the Liberals' doublespeak, during the last election, the
Liberal candidate I was debating admitted that the mission in
Afghanistan was a mistake.
In 2003, the Conservative government said that we had to
intervene in Iraq because there were weapons of mass destruction
there.
● (2250)
Then they took our position. They realized that it was basically
nonsense. Now they want to continue the war that we unfortunately
did not wage at the time—or so the Conservatives say. They are very
disappointed that we did not take part in it in 2003.
We need to think about the repercussions. Once again, perhaps it
is because of my roots and my parents that I think this way. I often
talk about the Vietnam War when I am addressing the House, but
that is also one of the reasons I am here in Canada. It is also one of
the reasons I believe we need to learn from our past mistakes and
from history. There was a war in Vietnam, which was bombed all
over the place. The question we need to ask is whether, in the end,
that was a good way to help the people. If you were to go there today
and ask the Vietnamese people if they were happy to have a war and
be bombed, if it helped their society, many would say no.
That is a question we need to ask ourselves now. We need to learn
from our mistakes. I do not know whether my colleagues opposite or
anyone can say that it was a really great thing for us to go into
Afghanistan. There were 160 Canadian soldiers who lost their lives
over there. Thousands of soldiers were wounded and they still suffer
from post-traumatic stress disorder back at home in Canada. Was that
a good thing? That is why I am very disappointed that we were not
able to have this debate with the Liberals, whom I unfortunately did
not hear from tonight. However, apart from the partisan side of this
whole debate, the fundamental question we must ask ourselves as
members of Parliament is whether this is the best course of action.
What is the best option?
I can understand the Conservatives who say that they want to
protect the people in Iraq. However, it is very simplistic to say that
dropping bombs will fix the situation. The other side has been
talking about humanitarian assistance. Canada is providing assistance, but it is not much compared to what is being invested in the
military, with all of the consequences and devastation.
One thing we cannot forget and that is rarely mentioned here in
the House, especially on the government side, is what we call
collateral damage. How many people will die as a result of a
bombing? We apparently have all the new technology and, by some
miracle, the government thinks that there will be no impact. I am not
just talking about the innocent people who will die, the civilians, the
men and women. The damage extends to the entire families that will
have to live with this.
The government tries to simplify everything when it talks about
bombing some group. Initially, the government started by targeting
Iraq, but now it is increasingly targeting Syria. What is the objective?
Just where will this deployment end up? That is what the
government is not capable of answering. These questions make it
obvious that the government does not have a clear vision.
We know—and the government has said it—that we are talking
about years and years of war. I remind the House once again that we
were in Afghanistan for 10 years. It was Canada's longest military
mission. Can we truly say that with pride? Can we truly say that we
managed to fix the problem? Is this really the solution?
The government is asking for a one-year extension. It initially
talked about six months, but now it is one year. We are getting
ourselves into a quagmire.
That is why we are saying that right now we need to be looking at
humanitarian assistance and how we can truly help people. The
simplistic solution is to drop bombs, but that will not fix the
problem.
I am expecting some attacks, and we have already heard some. I
remind members that the mission in Libya had the support of the UN
and the NDP went along with it. However, we did not support the
government's decision to go further.
● (2255)
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am again
hearing in this speech the NDP's empty rhetoric and the pacifist
ideology that refuses to consider the complexity of the situation. He
is talking about a simplistic approach based on dropping bombs.
[English]
Does he really think that the approach of Canada or the 24 other
allies involved in military action against this genocidal terrorist
organization is just randomly to send bombs, or as one of the NDP
MPs said to bomb here and there, bomb east and west? This is the
House of Commons. This place deserves a serious debate, not just a
bunch of slogans from protest signs.
Of course we do not believe that military action alone can resolve
the problem of this emerging caliphate. However, we also are
realistic enough to understand that while military action is not
sufficient, it is necessary. It is necessary, to push ISIL back, away
from the territory that it has gained so that the indigenous people of
those areas can go back to their homes and live, one hopes, one day
with security and peace.
My question for the member is this. I have posed this to a number
of New Democratic MPs and none of them has even come within a
mile of answering it. Every organization in Canada representing the
Assyrian, Chaldean, Mandean, Yazidi, Iraqi Canadian communities
support military action against ISIL. Is this member willing to meet
with them and tell them that they are all wrong?
Mr. Hoang Mai: I would love to meet with anyone who wants to
talk about it. I would love to explain my position, and that is what I
did tonight. We all have different solutions. That is why I am very
proud of the position that the NDP has taken. I invite the minister to
read the amendment that was proposed. I hope the minister will
actually look at it and realize what we are proposing here.
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There are different visions in terms of how we can solve a
problem and obviously from the other side yes, it is true that the
Conservatives want to send troops.
[Translation]
On this side of the House, we want to bring our Canadian Armed
Forces home. The UN, among others, talked about solutions. Why
not tackle funding directly? The Conservatives did not talk about
that solution. We know that the Islamic State makes money by
selling oil. Why not target that specifically? That is one way to cut
them off. Why not address the radicalization taking place here? That
is what we are proposing. These are solutions. It is not as simple as
the minister claims.
[English]
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
do take exception to the member's comments in terms of the Liberal
Party's absence, what he refers to as being absent in terms of
contribution to the debate. As the deputy House leader and a member
who has served in the Canadian Forces, I have been deeply engaged
in this process. We have had several members who have been
speaking and asking questions in regard to the motion.
When the member wants to ask a question, I am always happy to
provide answers to the member. He makes reference to Afghanistan
and Iraq. I think Canadians as a whole are very appreciative of the
role that the former prime minister Jean Chrétien played. When they
use hindsight it is wonderful, but Canadians were very supportive of
Mr. Chrétien's role in Afghanistan.
Might the member want to acknowledge the fact that the UN and
NATO played a very critical role in encouraging Canada's
involvement in Afghanistan. Were the UN and NATO wrong?
● (2300)
Mr. Hoang Mai: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member
for being here tonight. It is true that he is very hard-working. If we
look at his record, he would be the one who probably speaks the
most in the House, and I would like to congratulate him for that.
It is true that he talks a lot for his party. However, when we are
here to have a debate and ask questions, unfortunately we are not
hearing from everyone on that side with respect to what they have to
put forward.
On the member's question, we were against the war in
Afghanistan. That is why I got involved with the NDP. The
member's position is why I actually got into politics. The fact that
Canada went to war in Afghanistan is why I am here as a NDP
member and that is why I am in politics. It is their vision that I didn't
agree with, and that is why I got into politics.
Mr. Mark Strahl (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House on behalf of the people
of Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon to speak in favour of the government
motion to extend and expand the military mission against the socalled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.
Like the previous speaker, I count it a great privilege to stand in
this House of Commons to debate a motion like this, which is
something that has been unique in this country since our government
came to power. The Liberal Party never put motions like this before
the House for its support. Certainly I am proud to be part of a
government that does.
Since early last year, ISIL has cut a wide swath of ethnic
cleansing, massacres, assassinations, abductions, rapes, kidnappings,
and destruction across parts of Iraq and Syria. It wears its heinous
crimes as badges of honour and broadcasts its barbarism widely in
order to try to win depraved individuals over to its jihadist terrorist
cause. ISIL speaks openly of wanting to establish a cross-border
caliphate stretching from India to the south of Spain.
As the Minister of National Defence has mentioned, before the
international community of 24 nations from North America, Europe,
the Middle East, and around the world stepped in to militarily assist
Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, ISIL was operating in the region
with impunity. It was rolling across the region and wiping out
anything and anyone in its path that did not conform to its twisted
ideology.
While efforts to degrade ISIL's capabilities to operate in the open
have proven successful, jihadi terrorism continues to threaten
vulnerable minority communities in the Middle East. ISIL also
continues to pose a danger to the security of Canada, as is evidenced
by its attempts to establish a region from which it can launch and
inspire further international attacks and by naming Canada
specifically as a target in multiple directives to its followers.
When Canadians are threatened by terrorism, the Government of
Canada will act. Canadians support the mission against ISIL, as do
the vast majority of my constituents, who have taken the time to
indicate that they are overwhelmingly in favour of Canada's military
action against ISIL because they believe that civilized nations of the
world must not remain on the sidelines when a threat of this nature
presents itself.
I followed the debate today closely, and unfortunately many
opposition members have chosen to focus on everything but the
mission outlined in this motion. That is why we are here: to talk
about why this mission is so necessary and why Canada must do its
part and engage with our allies to say that we and other civilized,
capable, and free nations will not stand idly by while genocide is
perpetrated against so many innocents.
Allow me to focus for a few moments on one example of ISIL's
actions in Iraq so that all members might understand the gravity of
what is taking place.
ISIL is systematically targeting communities and individuals who
do not share its twisted, fanatical beliefs. Entire religious minority
communities are at risk of disappearing forever under the tyranny of
ISIL. Nowhere is this clearer than on the Nineveh plains, where
Christian communities dating back to the time of the first apostles
are being systematically erased from the landscape. These Christians
are among the last people on earth still using Aramaic, the language
spoken by Jesus Christ. It is estimated that 100,000 Christians have
been driven from their ancestral lands. Religious artifacts have also
been desecrated, and ancient manuscripts dating to the first century
have been destroyed by ISIL.
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In a disturbing parallel to the Nazi practice of marking property
owned by Jews, ISIL marked the homes of Christians in Mosul, one
of Iraq's largest cities, with the Arabic letter “N” for Nazara, an early
Islamic term for Christians. Once identified, Christians were given
the choice to convert to radical Islam, pay a massive fine, or face
death by the sword. Most chose to flee for their lives.
Canon Andrew White, known as the vicar of Baghdad, has
described the situation in Iraq as “the worst reality of religious
persecution since the Holocaust.”
Amnesty International investigator Donatella Rovera has said:
The massacres and abductions being carried out by the Islamic State provide
harrowing new evidence that a wave of ethnic cleansing against minorities is
sweeping across northern Iraq.
William Youmaran, president of the Assyrian American National
Federation, made the following comments, which all members of
this House would be wise to heed. He said:
We understand that not all peoples see the tremendous religious and regional
implications of such a loss, but if the world community no longer fear the judgment
of God, let us all fear the judgment of history for failing to act at this critical and dire
moment for millions in the Middle East.
● (2305)
The crimes against these Christians are just one example of the
unspeakable acts that ISIL has perpetrated in Iraq and Syria. We are
all aware of the others: rape being used as a weapon of war, women
and children being sold into slavery, beheadings, people burned alive
in cages.
Canadians have seen these images and read these stories. They
know that evil like this cannot be confronted armed only with
strongly worded resolutions or good intentions. That is why they
support targeted military action against ISIL.
At the same time that we participated in these types of military
strikes in Iraq, Canada was and is one of the largest humanitarian
donors to Iraq and displaced Syrians. This is not an either-or
proposition. Canada was among the first to recognize and address
the significant needs of the Iraqis and Syrians affected by ISIL's
reign of terror in the region.
As the Prime Minister said in his address to this House on
Tuesday, over the last six months we have helped feed 1.7 million
people in Iraq, provide shelter and relief supplies to 1.25 million
people, and give some education to at least half a million children.
We provided support to the over 200,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq
with food, water, shelter, and protection.
What the opposition fails to recognize is that aid cannot be
delivered without security and security cannot exist in an
environment where aid workers are routinely taken as hostages
and decapitated in front of the cameras, nor are we satisfied to
merely offer a hot meal or a warm coat to those who happen to
escape the clutches of ISIL. We believe Canada's obligation to a
vulnerable population is to prevent refugees and displaced persons
from being created in the first place.
Canada has never been afraid to do its part when it comes to the
responsibility to protect innocents. We have done it throughout our
history, and Canadians can be proud that we are doing so again.
It is clear that the depravity of ISIL knows no bounds. Barbaric
practices such as stoning, crucifixions, torture, rape, and murder,
including that of children, have become their common practices. It is
also clear that if left unchecked, ISIL would pose a real and present
danger to Canada and Canadians. ISIL spokesmen have praised the
cowardly attack on Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Office
Patrice Vincent. They have encouraged others to conduct similar
attacks here. They have made repeated and specific threats against
our country and Canadians, and if allowed to establish their
caliphate, they would use it as a base from which to launch terrorist
attacks against us and our allies.
As long as Canada remains a pluralistic, tolerant, and open society
where individuals are free to believe and worship, or not worship, in
a manner of their own choosing, we will be a target of ISIL.
The world has been confronted by a group of jihadi terrorists, the
likes of which we have never seen. ISIL will not stop committing
atrocities until it is stopped by force, and we have been asked by the
Iraqis to help provide it. That is why we must continue to work with
our coalition partners to diminish and degrade the capacity of ISIL to
operate in the open. We must not allow ISIL to establish a base from
which it can launch further terrorist attacks. We must not allow ISIL
to continue the barbaric assault on innocents without a response.
Canadians support this mission, and I am proud to support this
motion in the House of Commons on their behalf.
● (2310)
Mr. Tarik Brahmi (Saint-Jean, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the member
opposite mentioned that Canada was directly attacked by ISIL. He
mentioned the despicable crime against Warrant Officer Patrice
Vincent.
However, the truth about the mentally disturbed individual who
committed that despicable criminal act is that he did it because he
was not able to make any connection to ISIL in Iraq or in Syria, and
the reason for that was that he did not speak Arabic.
Although he tried for months to make connections with ISIL, he
was so frustrated that eventually he decided, in a moment of
craziness, to use his car and run into Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.
It is a contradiction. The reason he committed this crime was that
he was not able to connect with ISIL. He wanted to go to Iraq or
Syria to fight. He was not able to get anyone in the local mosque to
connect him with anyone abroad. That is the reason he committed
this crime.
How does the member explain that contradiction?
Mr. Mark Strahl: Mr. Speaker, what was committed was an act
of terrorism in Parliament. That is clear from the tapes that have been
released now.
What I said in my speech was that ISIL had used that attack and
asked others to conduct similar attacks in the future. He was inspired
by ISIL as well. I know those members want to talk abut all these
technicalities of was it terrorism, was it mental illness. There was a
soldier shot in the back at the National War Memorial by a terrorist
who was inspired by ISIL.
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ISIL has used that incident and has said in particular that it wants
others to do that again. This is the type of organization with which
we are dealing. To think we can just wish it away, ignore it or let
someone else deal with it, is irresponsible. Canadians want us to act.
They overwhelmingly support the motion and the mission. I will be
happy to support it as well.
Mr. James Bezan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and
Northern Development for his passion on this matter and for his
clear illustration of some of the atrocities that are being committed
by ISIL, as well as clearly making the argument of how ISIL has
inspired terrorist attacks here.
Could my colleague and friend talk a bit more about how
dangerous it would be if we allowed ISIL to entrench and fortify
itself in a caliphate in eastern Syria, headquartered in the city of
Raqqa?
Mr. Mark Strahl: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence for his
work today in this debate as well as for his support for our men and
women in uniform.
If we allow ISIL to operate out in the open, as happened before the
international military interventions, the attacks it would perpetrate in
the region and internationally would just grow. Because of the air
strikes in Iraq, it has now retreated across the border in Syria. That is
why we have expanded the mission to allow Canadian pilots to target
ISIL targets in Syria.
Giving ISIL unfettered access to a region where it can do
whatever it wants, plan, train and carry out attacks, would be a
disaster even greater than what is already there. We cannot stand by
as an international community and let that happen.
● (2315)
[Translation]
Mr. Bernard Trottier (Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister of Foreign Affairs and for La Francophonie, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, since last fall's debate about Canada's participation in
the fight against the Islamic State, the threat that this vicious and
repugnant organization poses to the region and western countries,
including Canada, has persisted. This group continues to commit
horrible acts of violence against innocent civilians and to threaten the
safety of countries in the region and elsewhere.
The weekend of March 14 and 15 marked four years since the
beginning of the conflict in Syria, a crisis resulting from President
Bashar al-Assad's brutal repression of his own citizens. I wanted to
mention that because the chaos and violence spawned by the Assad
regime created an opening for the Islamic State to wade into the
conflict and extend its reach. The Islamic State's disgusting and
hateful persecution of civilians, ethnic minorities and religious
groups in Iraq and Syria and the resulting humanitarian crisis make it
clear that there is a need for strong intervention.
I am proud to say that Canada is getting involved on all fronts and
that it is combining its diplomatic and military efforts with those of
its partners in over 60 countries who share a common perspective.
The air strikes and other deployments that the courageous members
of our armed forces are participating in are making an important
contribution. Our soldiers deserve our unwavering support.
ISIL's horrific campaign of terror and violence has been
tormenting the people of Iraq and Syria. It also threatens stability
and security in the Middle East and beyond. Over the past few
months, we have noticed that groups affiliated with ISIL in Libya
and Egypt, and more recently Boko Haram, a group whose violence
was unequalled before the emergence of ISIL, have pledged
allegiance to that organization.
Countries in the region are more affected by the crisis and are
working to overcome this serious humanitarian crisis by taking
strong action. Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt have welcomed
over two million refugees who have fled the war in Syria and the
brutality of ISIL. Saudi Arabia has given hundreds of millions of
dollars in humanitarian aid to help the Iraqis displaced by the
conflict. Kuwait and other countries in the region are also providing
humanitarian aid, and so are our western allies and many other
stakeholders.
The barbaric acts perpetrated by ISIL demonstrate not only its
total indifference to human rights, but also its absolute contempt for
other cultures. Earlier this month in Iraq, ISIL deliberately destroyed
the renowned historic site of Nimrud, which dates back over 3,000
years. ISIL is destroying not only Iraqi and Syrian archeological
sites, but also cultural treasures that belong to us all.
I believe that we all agree on the need to fight with resolve against
the threat that is the Islamic State, not just in Iraq and Syria, but also
in the region and around the world. Canadians are guided by values
such as peace, democracy, religious freedom and pluralism. We want
everyone to be able to live in a free and democratic society based on
respect for human rights and the rule of law. Canada supports the
aspirations of the people of Iraq and Syria to establish stable and
democratic societies that protect the fundamental rights of their
people. They deserve our help in the fight against the Islamic State
so that they can make progress in achieving this objective.
The fundamental question is this: how can we defeat the Islamic
State and what is the best way to work together with our partners to
help make the Middle East safe for everyone?
This question has been studied by our partners, the United States,
Europe, Australia and New Zealand and, with more urgency, by the
countries in the Middle East.
Last September, 10 countries in the Middle East and North Africa
met in Jeddah in order to join the international coalition against the
Islamic State. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar
and Bahrain joined the air campaign against the Islamic State in
Syria a few weeks later.
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● (2320)
Turkey, a NATO ally, decided not only to fight against the Islamic
State in Syria and Iraq, but also to give foreign troops access to its
military bases for that purpose. Active participation of regional
powers in the international coalition against the Islamic State is
essential. What is more, their participation in air strikes helps to
degrade the Islamic State group.
The participation of predominantly Muslim countries, such as
Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, also helps to undermine the
simplistic and twisted propaganda spread by the Islamic State
holding that their opponents are enemies of Islam. Nothing could be
further from the truth. In fact, religious Muslim leaders strongly
denounce the Islamic State and its beliefs. The war waged by this
group is not between Muslims and non-Muslims, or between Sunnis
and Shiites. The number of countries and people opposed to the
violent and extremist ideology of the Islamic State continues to
grow, and includes a number of predominantly Sunni Muslim
countries.
The Islamic State makes no secret of its expansionist designs. The
threat it poses to Iraq's neighbours and Canada's friends in the region
is not indirect. On the contrary, it is immediate and very direct, and is
at their borders and even within their territories.
[English]
As we know, the issues of terrorism financing and the recruitment
of foreign fighters that affect western countries are particularly acute
in countries in the region. ISIL is not only actively recruiting fighters
in several countries in the region, including in the Maghreb, where it
has set up clandestine cells, but is reaching out to target young
people well beyond the region. The cases of young people from
North America and Europe being lured to join ISIL in Syria and Iraq
are worrying, especially for their families.
The horrific threat posed by ISIL has drawn together nations from
across the world, stretching over religious, ethnic, and geographic
divides. ISIL's aims and ideology have generated near universal
disgust among civilized peoples.
Iran and Syria claim to stand on the right side of history in the
fight against ISIL, but make no mistake, Iran and Syria are not
partners. It is the ideology and actions of these regimes that helped to
create the conditions that have allowed ISIL to flourish. They do not
stand for peace and stability. They stand with terror. They support
sectarian forces across the Middle East, and they continue to
persecute and deny the human rights and freedoms of their own
citizens. Their violent aims further inflame sectarian divisions and
continue to destabilize the region.
The Assad regime in Syria has for four years violated international
law on many occasions. It can no longer be regarded as a legitimate
member of the international community. As documented and widely
reported, the regime has repeatedly unleashed the terror of chemical
weapons against its own people, combatants and civilians alike.
ISIL continues to threaten Iraq and other states in the region from
its bases in Syria. Canada will support the people of Syria in
achieving their democratic aspirations and welcomes efforts aimed at
ensuring that the Assad regime does not unduly benefit from efforts
to combat ISIL in Syria.
A development of serious concern to Canada and its partners is the
role Iran has assumed in Iraq over the past several months to fight
ISIL with its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds force.
Members may remember that the IRGC Quds force is a listed
terrorist entity responsible for some of the deadliest terrorist attacks
of the past decades. This force can only compromise and complicate
efforts to bring long-term peace and stability to Iraq and the region.
It is arming and directing Shia militias within Iraq and is
undermining attempts by the new government to gain the trust of
its Sunni population and and to build an inclusive government in
Baghdad.
This is no accident. An independent and inclusive government
representative of Iraq's diverse communities would not be in Iran's
interest. There is no way that Syria and Iran can be part of a peaceful
long-term solution when they refuse to change their ways. They
remain a large part of the problem.
Over four years ago, the forerunner of ISIL was considered
defeated in Iraq. A lot has happened since then. The reality is that the
only way to defeat ISIL definitively is to eliminate the conditions
that have allowed it to grow. A just political solution to the war in
Syria must be found, and the government of Bashar al-Assad must
fully commit, in word and deed, to addressing Iraq's sectarian and
ethnic divides.
We know that a stable, secure, and prosperous Iraq that embraces
pluralism and religious diversity is a key factor for regional stability
and would be a model for others in the Middle East.
● (2325)
We know that ISIL is recruiting its fighters from all over the
world, including from Canada. We are aware that ISIL's propaganda
includes threats to destroy Canada. We cannot treat ISIL as a remote
problem that only affects countries in the region. We should continue
to be part of the international coalition and do everything in our
power to stop ISIL.
Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I wonder
if the hon. member could comment on the fact that renowned experts
in the Middle East have said that the campaign again ISIS in Syria
helps the Assad regime and also helps al-Nusra, which is a branch of
al Qaeda that is emerging as well and wants to form its own network
to support al Qaeda in the region.
Is it any wonder that so many Canadians are worried about where
this expansion and move into Syria will lead? Even the minister said
that even if we are successful in defeating ISIL in Syria, he does not
have a crystal ball to know what the consequence and the result will
be. Is it really any wonder that people feel that this is a mistake and
that it will lead we do not know where?
Mr. Bernard Trottier: Mr. Speaker, the biggest threat to stability
in the region is ISIL right now. I know that the member opposite
thinks there are potentially other threats. Currently the international
coalition of about 60 countries is focused on degrading and
ultimately defeating ISIL. That is the biggest threat to stability. It
is the biggest threat to pluralism. It is the biggest threat to democracy
and human rights. That is the battle we are fighting right now.
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Kuwait has had some experience with this in the past. The foreign
minister of Kuwait talked recently about the effect of the military
action in degrading ISIL. He really thinks that it is critical. Without
that sustained military effort against ISIL, they cannot move forward
in that whole region. It is absolutely essential, and that is the main
focus of all of our efforts right now.
We recognize at the same time that while we are having this
military campaign, the humanitarian assistance Canada has been
providing has been well more than our share. We are the fifth-largest
contributor of humanitarian assistance in Iraq and the sixth-largest in
Syria. Only large countries like Saudi Arabia and the United States
are providing more. Canada is doing everything it can to fight this
menace.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if
I may, I will quote the leader of the Liberal Party from two days ago,
when he stated:
This government is proposing that Canadian Forces participate in a vague combat
mission with no clear end point, and we cannot support that.
One thing is clear: Canada has a role to play in the campaign against ISIL. That
role must serve our national interests. The one being proposed today by the Prime
Minister does not meet that test.
Can the member explain why this motion does not limit the
government's action to just Iraq and Syria?
Mr. Bernard Trottier: Mr. Speaker, we will take the battle to
ISIL. Currently it is established in Iraq and Syria, and that is why we
are there. As events change, we will adjust, but right now, it is Iraq
and Syria. The objective of this motion is to root out ISIL in Iraq and
Syria. I cannot be more clear than that.
I know the member's leader makes adolescent comments about
our CF-18s and compares them to body parts. I think we need to
have a mature debate about Canada's role in fighting this menace.
Canada in the past has stepped up and taken on challenges like this.
We are doing our share. It is not a problem Canada created, but it has
come to our own shores in terms of terrorist menaces in Canada and
in terms of the recruitment of ISIL fighters in Canada going to fight
the battle there.
Canada needs to do its share. We need to take the military action,
as I mentioned many times, and also the humanitarian efforts we are
sustaining there.
● (2330)
Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Mr. Speaker,
I want to put to my hon. colleague the following quote from our
former ambassador to the United Nations, Paul Heinbecker, because
he is not someone who rules out that some military action might be
needed, and I differ with him on that point. He said recently:
If out of fear of Islamic State and of a desire to stop them, the Coalition were to
ally itself, de facto or de jure, with Bashar al-Assad for fleeting tactical advantage, it
would be the ultimate betrayal of the Syrian innocents. And of our own values.
because that is menace right now to the entire region, and we will
deal with Assad in due course.
We have to, of course, root out ISIL, and we are going to provide
conditions at some point, not Canada specifically but the international community, so that peace and human rights can exist once
again in Syria.
Mr. Jasbir Sandhu (Surrey North, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I rise
today on behalf of my constituents from Surrey North to speak on
the government's Motion No. 17, which seeks to extend Canada's
combat mission in Iraq and further extend it into Syria.
I talked to many of my constituents over the last two weeks and I
will summarize some of their concerns today.
The issue that we have at hand is deeply concerning and should
not be taken lightly. With the motion before us, the government is
basically asking the House of Commons, myself as a member of
Parliament, and Canadians as a whole to commit to war. The motion,
if passed, will require our brave women and men in uniform to risk
their lives overseas. A decision like this needs to be carried out with
the utmost responsibility and should not by any means have any
political motivations.
There is no doubt that the crimes perpetrated by ISIL are appalling
and deeply concerning. We are witnessing heinous acts of
oppression, kidnapping, rape, ethnic cleansing and cultural targeting.
There also other conflicts around the world. We have ISIL in Iraq,
Boko Haram in Nigeria, the conflict in Ukraine, civil war in Syria,
and there are tensions in the Balkans and other parts of the world
with violence happening as we speak.
However, what the Conservatives are asking from us today is to
risk the lives of our soldiers for a mission that is not defined. It is not
part of an international response, and clearly has not been taken into
consideration with the seriousness and responsibility that it deserves.
Could my hon. colleague respond to that? I think we run a serious
risk, in focusing on ISIS, of actually assisting Bashar al-Assad.
As a representative from Surrey North, as I said, I have talked to
many constituents. I cannot, in good conscience, agree to blindly
commit the lives of our women and men in uniform to a mission that
has no plan and no exit strategy.
Mr. Bernard Trottier: Mr. Speaker, all I can say about the Syrian
regime is that it is a state sponsor of terror. It is not part of the
solution, it is part of the problem. It has created the conditions in
Syria that have allowed ISIL to flourish. We are taking on ISIL,
How can we support this mission when the Conservatives have
misled Canadians about our role in Iraq since day one?
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It was not too long ago when the Prime Minister insisted that we
were only sending troops for a month, and it was only to advise and
assist deployment. On September 30, we all saw the headlines when
the leader of the opposition, the member for Outremont, stood in this
House and asked the Prime Minister specifically whether Canadian
troops would be involved in directing air strikes in Iraq. The Prime
Minister denied it. However, the mission has quickly escalated to a
potential year-long conflict where Canadian troops have been on the
front lines exchanging fire with ISIL. Now the Prime Minister is
openly considering a massive expansion of the mission into Syria.
The Syrian President Assad has committed heinous crimes against
civilians. Now the Prime Minister wants to treat him as a friend.
Assad is not an ally. He is a war criminal who uses chemical
weapons against his own people and bombs schools and hospitals.
We have seen this on television stations. Canada should not be
allying itself with Assad or strengthening his hand in any way. This
is why none of our western allies, except the United States, are
conducting air strikes in Syria.
Paul Heinbecker, Canada's last ambassador to the UN Security
Council, was quoted in The Globe and Mail on March 23. He said:
If out of fear of Islamic State and of a desire to stop them, the Coalition were to
ally itself, de facto or de jure, with Bashar al-Assad for fleeting tactical advantage, it
would be the ultimate betrayal of the Syrian innocents. And of our own values.
Simply put, our women and men in uniform have no place being
in Iraq and they certainly have no place being in Syria. It is very
disturbing to see that the Prime Minister is willing to sleepwalk
Canadians into a war without accountability.
● (2335)
The Conservatives have been very dishonest about our role in Iraq
since day one, but for the Prime Minister to still deny Canadian
troops are involved in combat is simply disrespectful to our forces.
The Conservatives continue to mislead us about our soldiers being
involved in ground combat, and now they want to put our troops in
danger.
They have not gained our trust for us to commit to this mission.
They have not gained the trust of Canadians because they have not
put out all the facts for Canadians to judge. They have not done that
for parliamentarians to be able to look at the facts and decide
whether this mission should be approved. The Parliamentary Budget
Officer is having trouble getting some facts and figures from the
government with regard to how much this war is going to cost.
The recent death of Sergeant Doiron reminds us of the risk of
deploying troops to the front lines. History has shown us the
dramatic horrors that war can bring. Let us not repeat history. The
Prime Minister does not seem to be at all concerned about the risks
or lack of clear objectives. He seems to want his war in Iraq just as
he wanted George W. Bush's war in 2003. However, history showed
us that Canada was right in not participating at that time.
We also need to remember Canada's involvement in the war in
Afghanistan. Just like our current mission in Iraq, the war in
Afghanistan started with Canadian Forces participating in a very
limited operations. We know what happened in Iraq and in
Afghanistan. It was the longest mission, which was 10 years. New
Democrats stood in the House and opposed both of those wars.
Today, after 10 years, we can see why the NDP made the right
decision, because NDP members make their decisions based on
principles. We do not base them on fear or political motivations. We
stand up for what is right.
There is a lot we can learn from our military intervention in
Afghanistan. Only a few days ago, March 5, the Minister of Foreign
Affairs actually said in the media, “Being in this for the long term—
it’s similar to what we did in Afghanistan, for instance”. That is what
the foreign affairs minister said. I would like to point out for the
minister that the deployment in Afghanistan is nothing Canadians
want to see repeated. It was the longest mission, 10 years, cost
billions of dollars, and resulted in 166 soldiers, brave men and
women, being killed, more than 1,000 injured, and thousands of
others who suffered and are still suffering today from post-traumatic
stress disorder.
We ask our soldiers to go overseas. We ask them to fight for our
country, to defend our freedoms, to ensure our right to practise
religion, to freely speak in the House, and yet when those soldiers
come home, we have seen the record of the government over the last
number of years on the treatment they have given our soldiers. That
is shameful. It is time we invested in various services that our
soldiers require when they serve for this country.
The Conservatives do not like to look after our veterans, but when
it comes to war, they seem to be more than willing to blindly spend
money to ensure that we go into some sort of war with no plan and
no exit strategy. We must learn from history so that we do not repeat
it. Another example is the Libya situation, and we know what
happened there. There is a lawless society there. There is no rule of
law. We continue to see the same pattern of the Conservatives
following in the footsteps of the United States and sleepwalking into
military interventions.
● (2340)
I want to quote Mrs. Jaisri Margaret Lambert. She is a constituent
of mine, and she sent me an email that came to my office.
Canadians are peacemakers, not warmongers. This is a critical time to disallow
the government to even seek the right to kill and find a way of making it “legal”.
Canada is historically wisely governed by a foreign policy of peacekeeping. Let not
my taxes be used to bomb. Help! Life and death issue most important. Please make
my voice heard in the House of Commons!”
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, that speech
was regrettable for a couple of reasons, one of which is that about
80% was verbatim the template speech of New Democratic MPs. I
have been here for 11 hours. I think I have heard that speech four
times verbatim.
Point two, I think it is really unfortunate for the member to
characterize those who believe we must use military force to stop the
growth of a genocidal terrorist organization as being “warmongers”
who want to kill people.
March 26, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12451
Government Orders
In point of fact, what the government and 24 other countries want,
including the many social democratic governments of Europe, such
as those of France and Denmark, which have similar policies and
similar military activity, is to save lives, to save ethnic minorities,
and to save women and girls from the brutality of this organization.
The hon. member quoted one constituent. That is fine. However, I
would point out to the member that I have been several times to the
Chaldean parish in his constituency in Surrey North, which is the
home of about 1,000 Chaldean-Canadians, almost all of them
refugees. The size of the parish has tripled in the past several years
because of this government's Iraqi refugee resettlement program.
I have spent a lot of time with the Chaldeans in his riding. I
wonder if he has. If he has, would he not admit that every member of
that community wants Canada to engage in a military action against
ISIL? They want their relatives to be able to go back to their homes
in the Nineveh plains. They understand that region. They understand
Iraq, and they know that only through an appropriate use of force
will ISIL be stopped.
Has he talked to them, and why does he disregard the voices of the
Chaldean-Iraqi refugees in his own constituency?
Mr. Jasbir Sandhu: I want to thank the hard-working Minister of
National Defence for his question. He has actually been working
way too hard over the last number of years.
While the Minister of National Defence was asking a question, I
had a chance to tweet and find out what has been happening. I
googled his name, and voilà, what comes up? This is what the
Minister of National Defence said the other day. He was pressed by
one of the journalists at CBC, who asked him whether he has an exit
strategy, whether he has a plan to get out of Syria, and whether the
land that will be cleared of ISIL will be reclaimed by President
Assad. This is what the minister said:
I don't have a crystal ball to tell you exactly how this is going to end but I can tell
you that Canada has a responsibility to play a role with 20 other like-minded
countries in degrading this organization.
Mr. Jasbir Sandhu: Mr. Speaker, absolutely there is a role that
Canada can play. As one of my constituents said to me today, we
have traditionally played a role of peacemakers and of humanitarian
aid. We can play that role. We can help the very refugees who need
our help in Syria. That is a role Canada has traditionally played, and
that is how we brought the world together. We were able to resolve
and lead in that field.
Unfortunately the Conservatives are meeting their 2013 targets for
Syrian refugees in 2015, which is two years late.
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, the theme from the Conservatives has been that they care
about keeping Canadians safe.
After a decade now of Conservative governments, where we have
seen their complete incompetence and irresponsibility around 1,200
missing and murdered indigenous women, where we have seen
Canadians who have died because of their cutbacks in food safety
and the appalling incident that we saw in Lac-Mégantic where we
lacked rail safety that led to the death of dozens of Canadians, we
take no lessons from Conservatives on keeping Canadians safe. They
have an appallingly poor record on that, and that is something on
which I think Canadians will judge them on October 19.
The second point I want to make is that I am profoundly
disappointed in the fact that the Liberals have not shown up to the
debate this evening. They had three speaking spots and time after
time this evening they simply refused to stand and defend their
position. I have been following the position of the Liberals over the
last six months. They reversed themselves three times over that time.
First they were in favour of the mission, then they were opposed,
then they were in favour, then they were opposed. It would have
been nice to have Liberals actually stand to explain and defend their
position.
Sometimes it is degrading. Other times it is that we are going to
finish them off. Is the minister's exist strategy to tweet his way out of
Syria?
● (2345)
Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Mr. Speaker,
I wanted to comment on the criticism of the member for Surrey
North by my friend, the Minister of National Defence. I have also
been here for many hours today.
My family history is very similar to so many other Canadian
families across the country. When people go to New Westminster,
they will see a cenotaph in front of city hall. Two members of my
family have their names inscribed on that cenotaph, having given
their lives for their country. There is no doubt that many Canadian
families have the same story. Many Canadian families have shown
great courage. The reality is that our men and women in uniform
show great courage all the time.
First, compliments to the Minister of National Defence. He is the
only minister who consistently attends debates on any item under his
portfolio, including when he was Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration and now as Minister of National Defence.
It is important, though, as the Leader of the Opposition stressed
earlier this week, that when we send our men and women in service
overseas, we are honest and forthright with them. The government
has been anything but.
However, having sat here, I have also heard a lot of canned
speeches that have emanated from the PMO. I do not find the
member for Surrey North to have repeated anything verbatim.
I will start with the history of the Minister of National Defence. I
am happy he is here this evening, but he cannot deny that his record
has been less than forthright when we look at it in cabinet.
However, I would ask the member for Surrey North if he would
also offer in a brief comment what it is we can do instead, because I
do not believe any of us want to stand on the sidelines and allow
ISIS to get any stronger.
Back in 2011, he manufactured a fake citizenship ceremony. It
was bizarre and unprecedented. He has never apologized for what
was an essential fib that was put forward.
12452
COMMONS DEBATES
March 26, 2015
Government Orders
Since he has become Minister of National Defence, we have seen
a number of these fibs, misleading statements, statements that are
completely manufactured. First, there was the photo of a woman
taken at a religious ceremony, that the minister purported to be of a
woman being abused. More recently, there was an incident that was
manufactured where a Russian jet supposedly buzzed a Canadian
warship. NATO had to openly contradict the minister and say that
incident simply did not happen.
These are not isolated incidents, because it comes into the
narrative that we have seen from the Prime Minister.
On September 24, the Prime Minister and the government said
that Canada was considering a request from the United States to
provide assistance in the fight against ISIL. On September 25, as
many of my colleagues have outlined over the course of the day, it
was actually revealed that the Canadian government was going to the
U.S. government asking to provide options for Canadian support. On
September 30, we were told that our forces were not going into a
combat mission, not going to the front lines, but the casualties that
we have seen so far belie that fib. The tragic death of Sergeant
Andrew Doiron as well shows very clearly that the statement by the
Prime Minister in the House of Commons was simply not true.
The most egregious comments coming from the Conservatives,
and we have heard them tonight repeatedly, was the point that
somehow this was a balanced approach, that somehow there was just
as much emphasis being put on humanitarian aid as there was on the
bombing mission. We have already seen from the Parliamentary
Budget Officer that the government has deliberately hidden
information from the Parliamentary Budget Officer and actually
broken the law, and that the actual size, scope and extent of the
bombing mission is perhaps as high now as $1 billion.
● (2350)
We cannot get accurate figures on that because the government
has been hiding information, contrary to the law, from the
Parliamentary Budget Officer.
The reality is the government seems to be willing to spend
unlimited amounts of money, even hiding it from the Parliamentary
Budget Officer, for the bombing mission, bombing people and
targets in Iraq, and now looking to bomb targets in Syria.
However, to say that somehow the government is emphasizing,
equally, a humanitarian mission is simply ridiculous. The government itself has tried to spin its figures. Tonight we heard from the
Minister of Labour that the Conservative government has fed
millions of the 2.5 million refugees who are living in appallingly dire
circumstances right now in areas of northern Iraq and southern Iraq.
Let us look at the figures the Conservatives themselves have
released, and this is a figure that we have started to raise today, and
not one Conservative has been able to answer the question. When we
do the math, it amounts to five cents a day per refugee.
We are being asked to believe, if we listen to the Minister of
Labour, that somehow at five cents a day per refugee we are feeding,
clothing, putting tents up, creating hospitals and educating millions
of refugees. That is a whopper that defies any attempt at realistic and
constructive debate. It is simply a whopper that, compared to
inventing incidents with Russian jets, inventing fake citizenship
ceremonies, having the Prime Minister invent that somehow the
United States was asking Canada to come in, pales in comparison.
It is a myth that somehow the Conservatives are providing
humanitarian aid in such a way that we are helping the millions of
people who are living in appallingly dire circumstances.
As members well know, we have had the Kurdish government and
the Iraqi government hamstrung by the extent of the humanitarian
crisis. Canada is simply not there in any meaningful way at five
cents a day per refugee. That is what the government's own figures
tell us about the extent of the humanitarian aid. It is five cents a day.
A few grains of rice, maybe a tablespoon of powdered milk.
However, to say that there are tents and somehow there are
schools being constructed, somehow there are hospitals and medical
facilities being constructed, somehow sanitation is being taken care
of, somehow water programs that are desperately needed are being
taken care of, it is simply not true. It is the biggest whopper of all the
whoppers the Conservatives have brought forward tonight.
It is simply the reason we are seeing that steady erosion in support
for this mission since the beginning. It is because the Conservatives
have simply not been honest and forthright with the Canadian
population. That is why we have seen, over the course of the last few
weeks, a steady decline in support for this mission.
It is because Canadians have fundamental values. They
understand that ISIS is terrible and has created a terrible
humanitarian crisis. Canadians can also see that what we should
be doing is offering that immediate humanitarian support, not at five
cents per refugee per day, enough for a few grains of rice or a
tablespoon of powdered milk.
Canada really should be stepping up to a humanitarian mission.
We really should be looking at this, instead of pretending that
somehow we are building schools and hospitals. We really should be
putting and investing so that we can help stem that extent of the
humanitarian crisis. That is the appropriate role for Canada.
The government has said yes to $1 billion for bombing, that it is
willing to do that, it will even hide funds from the Parliamentary
Budget Officer, it will not be straightforward, and it will not be
transparent.
The reality is there are millions of people suffering tonight. They
need support tonight. What Canada should be doing, and if
Conservatives support the amendment that was brought forward by
the member for Ottawa Centre, what Parliament would be directing
our military forces to be doing and the government to be doing is
providing humanitarian support now for the 2.5 million refugees
who are living in such dire circumstances.
We should be looking at providing schools and medical support.
We should be looking at sanitation. We should be looking at
providing food and water, and not at five cents per refugee per day,
which is what the Conservatives have ultimately admitted is what
they are actually providing in humanitarian support.
That is why we are urging Conservative members to support the
NDP amendment and put in place real humanitarian relief.
March 26, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12453
Adjournment Proceedings
● (2355)
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I regret to
say that the member's entire speech was based on complete rubbish.
He is confusing two completely different facts.
government will not even offer a signal of intent on the proposal
to wean the service off the subsidy in only five years. All we are told
is that Transport Canada is working on the file and that everybody
has to wait.
Yes, there are some 2 million Syrian refugees to whose
humanitarian relief we have contributed more than $700 million as
the sixth-largest donor nation. He is confusing that population of 2
million with the $67.1 million that we have contributed to the some
200,000 internally displaced Iraqis since last August, which actually
works out to about $335 per refugee. He is wrong by a factor of 20.
We are the fifth-largest contributor to humanitarian relief of the
200,000 IDPs in Iraq. That is not 5¢ a day. It is 20 times that.
That is not necessarily the case, though. There are workarounds
that are not even being explored, and the lack of creativity from the
government on this is disheartening for people waiting to see if they
will be able to transport guests to their businesses, get to their camp,
or even make their way from their small town to a larger one for
something as simple as a doctor's appointment.
We are the fifth-largest contributor, and we are by far the largest
per capita contributor of any developed industrialized country. We
should be proud of our enormous, disproportionate contribution.
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the Minister of
National Defence, has all of his exaggerations and all of his
whoppers he has been telling, like Russian jets buzzing Canadian
war ships. It was not true, NATO simply said. The Minister of
National Defence simply was making it up. There was the fake
citizenship ceremony, and now he has fake figures. The reality is that
the figures that the Conservatives have put forward are exactly that,
5¢ per refugee per day in one of the greatest humanitarian crises that
the world has seen in recent times. The Conservatives should be
ashamed of themselves.
The Speaker: It being 12 midnight, pursuant to the order made on
Wednesday, March 25, the debate is now adjourned.
The first and most obvious solution that is not being explored is
reclassifying the line as remote and recognizing the plight that
residents of Oba will face if forced to rely on a sporadically
maintained private road to travel from that community. It was clear
from the get-go that Oba was being stranded by the reclassification
of the ACR passenger line, but the government refused to budge. If
the line were again considered remote, it would be eligible for the
same subsidy that kept trains rolling for years, and CN could be
asked to bridge the gap that is created while Railmark's paperwork is
sorted out. For the purposes of safety clearance, which I understand
is one of the items holding up Railmark's ability to take the line over
on April 1, CN already has the green light.
The second solution would not require reclassification of the line,
but only an answer to the proposal in the affirmative. This, again,
would allow CN to consider bridging the gap, which it well may
view as doable with the knowledge that it would not be an act of
charity.
ADJOURNMENT PROCEEDINGS
A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed
to have been moved.
● (2400)
[English]
RAIL TRANSPORTATION
Mrs. Carol Hughes (Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing,
NDP): Mr. Speaker, Tuesday of next week has everything it takes
to be a black day in northern Ontario if the government continues to
drag its feet on a proposal to save passenger services on the Algoma
Central Railway. Despite a mountain of work that has been done by a
working group trying to pull these trains from the ashes of the fire
that was set by the government when it made a questionable change
in the designation of what rural and remote passenger routes are, if
no signal of intent is received before Tuesday, the last passenger cars
for the ACR will pull into the terminal.
It will put a knife into a localized economy that averages $250
million in business a year, and it will threaten hundreds of jobs and
businesses. It will even isolate the community of Oba, whose only
option to get out will be a private road, which is not maintained for
its use at all.
Despite no end of lead time and the diligent efforts of the working
group to find a third party deemed acceptable by CN, the
I have outlined just a couple of the scenarios that could be used to
save passenger services on the ACR. I am sure the government will
be able to find even more options if it chooses to. In any scenario
that will keep the trains running, there is bound to be some back and
forth, but that it is what is missing and that is why I am raising this
tonight. There just has not been much in the way of dialogue, and the
reason for this is the unfathomable lack of interest shown by the
government in the process.
Time is of the essence. Will the government signal its intent on the
proposal that has been made to protect this important piece of
northern Ontario infrastructure? The people who rely on the trains
deserve an immediate answer.
Mr. Bernard Trottier (Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister of Foreign Affairs and for La Francophonie, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I would like to acknowledge the hard
work of the member for Sault Ste. Marie on this file for his
constituents.
It is often said that Canada is a country that is tied together by its
railways. We have one of the largest rail networks in the world. With
some 48,000 kilometres of track, it could circle the globe.
12454
COMMONS DEBATES
March 26, 2015
Adjournment Proceedings
For over a century, Algoma Central Railway has played a part in
the network, providing passenger train service to numerous people in
this area. The ACR passenger rail service runs almost 500 kilometres
between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst. In particular, it has served the
canoeists, snowmobilers, cottagers and tourists who wish to travel to
the beautiful wilderness recreation sports that this region offers.
[Translation]
As the member is aware, budget 2013 renewed funding for the
Algoma Central Railway for a period of one year, until March 31,
2014. As the Minister of Transport announced last year, our
government was pleased to extend funding for another year, to
March 31 , 2015, to continue operation of the the Algoma Central
Railway. This funding gave local stakeholders time to explore
sustainable, long-term solutions for passenger rail service in the area.
Given its reluctance to communicate with the parties involved,
any chance of an exchange of views is growing slimmer given the
limited amount of time left to save passenger service on the Algoma
Central Railway.
Over the past year, the Algoma Central Railway passenger
service working group has been examining the feasibility of
continuing the service and has identified a potential new operator.
Recently Transport Canada received a proposal to provide temporary
funding support. The Minister of Transport has asked departmental
officials to examine the proposal and the process is under way. The
proposed new operator will also require a railway operating
certificate. That request was submitted to officials last week and
officials need adequate time to conduct their review. This work by
officials is essential to ensure that the proposed passenger rail
operation is safe for all Canadians before beginning operations, and
that any funding provided is an effective use of taxpayer dollars.
The Government of Canada has no role in operating the Algoma
Central Railway. The current operator, CN, is a private company that
makes its own decisions concerning its operations, and which
services and routes are offered to its customers. Similarly, the
potential new operator must also make a thoughtful decision
regarding whether or not to proceed. Any decision to terminate the
Algoma Central Railway between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst will
be a business decision made by the owner or operator of the Algoma
Central Railway.
Lastly, I would like to remind all members that this government
has supported and will continue to support the transportation needs
of northern Ontario. In the transportation sector alone, we have
committed more than $150 million to improve northern Ontario's
highways, rail infrastructure and border crossings since 2006.
● (2405)
Mrs. Carol Hughes: Mr. Speaker, it is the current government
that has been dragging its feet.
If the government wanted to support this initiative, I suppose it
would want to add some conditions. However, this late in the game,
such conditions would be considered inappropriate in negotiations in
good faith and would most likely seem harsh.
If the train stops running, businesses will close, jobs will be lost,
and the local economy will disappear. The government will have to
live with those consequences for a long time.
Northern Ontarians are patient, but they have good memories, and
they deserve better.
Will the government make this issue a priority and do something
to save passenger service on the Algoma Central Railway?
[English]
Mr. Bernard Trottier: Mr. Speaker, recognizing the increasing
number of transportation options available to citizens of Sault Ste.
Marie, Hearst, Hawk Junction and Oba, including highways and
other rail lines, in budget 2013, the Government of Canada made the
decision to terminate the subsidy to Algoma Central Railway on
March 31, 2014. Last year the Minister of Transport extended the
$2.2 million subsidy for an additional year to allow time for
stakeholders interested in continuing the service to come up with a
long-term, self-sustaining solution.
Transport Canada officials are reviewing a proposal submitted by
Sault Ste. Marie for a possible new operator to provide passenger rail
service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, Ontario. Currently, the
department is also reviewing the application from the potential new
operator to obtain a railway operating certificate, ROC. It is
extremely important that Transport Canada has an opportunity to
assess whether or not the proposed passenger rail operation is safe
for all Canadians before it begins operations, and that any funding
provided by this government is an effective use of taxpayer dollars.
The Speaker: The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to
have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until
later this day, at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 12:09 a.m.)
CONTENTS
Thursday, March 26, 2015
ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Conflict of Interest Code
The Speaker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12339
Interparliamentary Delegations
Mr. Hoback . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12339
Committees of the House
Procedure and House Affairs
Mr. Preston . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
National Defence
Mr. Kent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Government Operations and Estimates
Mr. Martin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Facilitating the Transfer of Family Farm or Fishing
Corporations Act
Ms. Raynault . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Bill C-661. Introduction and first reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and
printed) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Mr. Van Loan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(Motion agreed to) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Petitions
Agriculture
Ms. Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Aboriginal Affairs
Ms. Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
AIDS
Ms. May . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Public Safety
Ms. May . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Asbestos
Mr. Martin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Agriculture
Mr. Godin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Environment
Ms. Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine) . . . . . . . . . . . .
Agriculture
Mr. Goodale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Citizenship and Immigration
Mr. Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Agriculture
Mr. Chicoine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Science
Mr. Stewart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Foreign Affairs
Mr. Dusseault . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Questions on the Order Paper
Mr. Lukiwski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12339
12339
12339
12339
12339
12339
12339
12339
12340
12340
12340
12340
12340
12340
12340
12340
12340
12340
12341
12341
12341
Military Contribution Against ISIL
Mr. Nicholson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harris (St. John's East) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Goguen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. May . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dewar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Amendment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Péclet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Scarpaleggia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Albrecht . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. May . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Plamondon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Péclet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Scarpaleggia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Michaud . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Bezan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Morin (Laurentides—Labelle) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Blaney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Boivin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Morin (Laurentides—Labelle) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Fantino . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Boivin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Scott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Nicholson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Brown (Newmarket—Aurora) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dusseault . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. O'Toole. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12341
12341
12344
12344
12344
12345
12345
12347
12347
12348
12348
12349
12351
12352
12352
12352
12353
12354
12355
12355
12356
12356
12357
12358
12358
12359
12360
12360
12361
12362
12362
12362
12364
12364
12364
12366
12366
12366
12368
12368
12369
12370
12370
12370
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
12341
Canadian Blood Services
Mr. Lizon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12371
12341
Epilepsy
Mr. Rankin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12371
World Theatre Day
Mr. Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
...........................
12371
Congregation Beth Shalom
Mr. Bélanger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12371
Hunters and Anglers
Mr. Sopuck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12372
Trout Lake Youth Council
Mr. Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12372
Battle of Vimy Ridge
Mr. Storseth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12372
FIRST Robotics Canada Competition
Mrs. Perkins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12372
Public Safety
Mr. Julian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12372
Sealing Industry
Mrs. O'Neill Gordon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12373
Public Safety
Ms. Sitsabaiesan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12373
Taxation
Mr. Maguire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12373
Purple Day for Epilepsy
Mr. Regan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12373
Public Safety
Mrs. Block . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12373
Seniors
Mr. Rafferty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12374
Taxation
Mr. Armstrong. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12374
ORAL QUESTIONS
Citizenship and Immigration
Ms. Leslie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Alexander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Leslie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Alexander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Leslie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Alexander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12374
12374
12374
12374
12374
12375
National Defence
Mr. Harris (St. John's East) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harris (St. John's East) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Nicholson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12375
12375
12375
12375
CBC/Radio-Canada
Mr. Dion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dykstra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12375
12375
The Economy
Mr. Goodale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Saxton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Goodale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Saxton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12375
12376
12376
12376
Public Safety
Ms. Doré Lefebvre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Blaney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Doré Lefebvre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Blaney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Doré Lefebvre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. MacKay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Garrison . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Blaney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Garrison . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Blaney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12376
12376
12376
12376
12376
12376
12377
12377
12377
12377
Canada Revenue Agency
Ms. Nash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Keddy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Nash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Keddy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12377
12377
12377
12377
The Economy
Mr. Caron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lebel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Cullen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Poilievre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dubourg. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Poilievre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Brison . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Poilievre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Brison . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Poilievre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12378
12378
12378
12378
12378
12378
12378
12379
12379
12379
Health
Ms. Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Ambrose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Rankin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Ambrose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12379
12379
12379
12379
Employment Insurance
Mr. Chisholm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Poilievre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Aubin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Poilievre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12379
12379
12380
12380
Status of Women
Mrs. Smith. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Alexander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12380
12380
Foreign Affairs
Mr. Dewar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Yelich . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Laverdière . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Yelich . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12380
12380
12380
12380
Finance
Mr. Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Saxton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12380
12381
CBC/Radio-Canada
Ms. Quach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dykstra. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12381
12381
Manufacturing Industry
Ms. Sgro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam) .
12381
12381
Infrastructure
Mr. Vaughan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lebel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12381
12381
Air Transportation
Ms. Michaud . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Raitt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12382
12382
Aboriginal Affairs
Ms. Ashton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Valcourt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12382
12382
Justice
Mr. Richards. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. MacKay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12382
12382
International Development
Ms. Duncan (Etobicoke North) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Paradis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12382
12382
Public Works and Government Services
Mr. Blanchette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Finley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12382
12383
Taxation
Mr. Eglinski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Bergen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12383
12383
12396
12396
12397
12397
12398
12399
12399
12400
12401
12401
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day Act
Bill C-643. Second reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Wilks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Sellah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Fry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Wallace. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Perreault . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred
to a committee) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12402
12402
12403
12404
12405
12406
12407
12408
GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Consumer Protection
Mr. Patry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Saxton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12383
12383
Citizenship and Immigration
Mr. Pacetti . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Alexander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12383
12383
Business of the House
Mr. Julian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Van Loan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12383
12383
GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Military Contribution Against ISIL
Motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. O'Toole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dusseault . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Obhrai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harris (St. John's East) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Jones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Norlock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harris (St. John's East) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. O'Toole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Bevington . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kellway . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Trottier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Jones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Yelich . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dusseault . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dusseault . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Trottier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Valeriote. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Alexander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Scott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Bezan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Bevington . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12384
12384
12385
12385
12386
12387
12387
12387
12387
12389
12389
12390
12391
12392
12392
12393
12393
12394
12394
12395
12395
Military Contribution Against ISIL
Motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Atamanenko. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Trottier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Rempel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Brahmi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Rafferty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Butt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Butt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Giguère . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Calandra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Brahmi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Braid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Brahmi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lemieux. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Giguère . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Giguère . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Chisu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Brahmi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Leitch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Freeman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12408
12408
12410
12410
12410
12412
12412
12413
12414
12414
12415
12416
12416
12416
12418
12418
12418
12419
12419
12420
12421
12421
12422
12423
12423
12424
12425
12425
12425
12425
12427
12427
Mrs. McLeod . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Blanchette-Lamothe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Bezan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Rankin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. May . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Leitch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harris (St. John's East) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Julian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Maguire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harris (St. John's East) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. May . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lapointe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Trottier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Uppal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Blanchette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. May . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Bezan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Blanchette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Julian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12427
12428
12429
12429
12429
12431
12431
12431
12432
12433
12433
12433
12435
12435
12436
12437
12437
12438
12439
12439
12439
12439
12440
12441
Mr. Menegakis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Blanchette-Lamothe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Mai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Strahl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Brahmi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Bezan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Trottier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harris (St. John's East) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. May . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Sandhu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. May . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Julian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12441
12442
12443
12443
12444
12445
12445
12446
12447
12447
12448
12449
12449
12449
12450
12451
12451
12453
ADJOURNMENT PROCEEDINGS
Rail Transportation
Mrs. Hughes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Trottier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12453
12453
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the House of Commons
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du Président de la Chambre des communes
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