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Conservative MP for Ajax—Pickering (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 44.10% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Situation in Iraq September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, we have just had the definition of an ill-defined mission from the member opposite. He wants to protect minorities who we agree are in danger, religious minorities, ethnic minorities, many of whom have been resettled in Canada. More of them are stranded on mountains, fearing for their very lives in villages. However, he wants to do it without a military mission. There is no way to protect minorities, to protect these civilian populations without effective military action by Iraqi state forces, and they have asked for our support.
It is incredible that members opposite complain about the lack of a vote having, on this opposition day, forfeited the possibility of having a debate on just this issue that would have come to a vote.
Does the member opposite understand what he has heard here today, that this is a non-combat mission. It is an advisory mission for very specific numbers of Canadian Forces members, numbers that have been given in the House today, and that as such, it is unlike our first deployment to Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, which was a combat mission from day one, and more like the training and advisory mission that we had for the last few years of our time in Afghanistan. Does he understand that elementary distinction?
Situation in Iraq September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the truth is that military missions happen all the time without votes in this House. We deploy people to join NATO missions, to join training missions, to join reassurance missions throughout the NATO area of operations without votes in this House. For the reassurance mission to stand up to Vladimir Putin's aggression, we did not hear the Leader of the Opposition complaining that we deployed Canadian Forces there.
Let us ask the leader again. Is it that he does not believe, that he does not understand or that he still does not know that this a combat mission, or is he still gobsmacked to learn that Osama bin Laden is actually dead?
Situation in Iraq September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition just laughed about the issue of weapons of mass destruction with his caucus members just over one year after chemical weapons were used against the population of Syria.
If he does not realize that these terrorist groups did their utmost to try to acquire that capacity, that they operate in both Syria and Iraq, that the Taliban and al Qaeda went to great lengths to try to acquire nuclear materials, he is showing deep ignorance. I think he has shown us today the least serious speech by a leader of the opposition in this place on an important matter of international peace and security in the history of this place.
I have a question for the Leader of the Opposition. Is he listening?
A CC-130 Hercules, a CC-177 Globemaster supported by 75 Canadian Armed Forces personnel in the Mediterranean, 69 special operations members of the Canadian Forces advising the government of Iraq on how to enable security forces in the northern part of the country to be more effective against the threat they face, providing strategic and tactical advice in an advisory and assistance role, not in a combat role.
Does he understand that? Does he know what our troops are doing, after so many people have told him in plain English exactly what this mission amounts to? How would he vote if it were brought to a vote in this place?
Situation in Iraq September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, anyone who has left this country to commit an act of terrorism will be investigated and, if the evidence is sufficient, prosecuted. We hope that all members opposite will join us in making sure that the effort is thorough and complete, and that it not only leads to justice being done in those cases but also prevents and deters others from joining in.
However, I would like to ask the former solicitor general opposite why it is at that point that he stops his concern about terrorism and his action to deter it. We are prepared, as Canadians have always been, to draw a line where the privilege of citizenship ends. Unlike the Liberal Party and the NDP, we will revoke citizenship of dual nationals who are found guilty of acts of terrorism and who are so convicted.
Let us not be under any illusions here. This terrorism is not a made-in-Canada phenomenon. This Islamic state is not a made-in-Iraq phenomenon. This is not solely a series of violent non-governmental organizations; there has been state sponsorship of these groups in the Arab world from South Asia, and that issue too needs to be addressed if we are going to finally come to grips with this terrible menace to international peace and security.
Situation in Iraq September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, we have many roles to play. One of them is setting a good example.
The Muslim community of Canada has spoken against the scourge of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. They are co-operating with Canadian authorities to try to prevent young people from choosing this dangerous course.
We as a government are at the forefront of efforts to criminalize any activity that would strengthen these groups. It is now a crime to leave Canada to join these groups and commit acts of terrorism of this kind, and we are proud of that fact.
In addition, we have already resettled over 18,500 Iraqis since 2009, which is the largest number of any immigration country to my knowledge. Most of these people are religious and ethnic minorities who had been experiencing this deadly persecution.
We also set a great example in Afghanistan by combining tough military effort with state building and development, which has been successful. The Islamic state is not a threat to Afghanistan at the moment and the Taliban is not an existential threat to Afghanistan at the moment, largely thanks to Canadian effort.
We can and must do more to prevent an entire state from being consumed in the hateful fire of this terrorist entity and becoming a new safe haven for terrorism to be projected elsewhere in the world. And, yes, that does involve military effort.
Situation in Iraq September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here this evening for this debate and to speak on behalf of a government that is committed in full across these benches and the country to doing what is necessary to support the people of Iraq. It is a government that is committed to doing what is necessary to stop, contain and, if possible, eliminate this scourge of terrorism from a proud region and a world that is many decades into its history of considering terrorism in various forms of Islamic extremism a top threat to peace and stability not just in Iraq but in many countries, a world that deserves better. It is a world that deserves to say that for once we are working together, not just Canada with its allies but with partners across the Middle East and around the world, to ensure that terrorism will never again usurp state authority, take over, replace the authority of a state. It did that in Afghanistan in the 1990s and it has been threatening to do it in Iraq in recent days and weeks.
It was with pleasure that I listened to the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie who endorsed the government's actions and difficult decision to support the military strategy being pursued under the leadership of the United States, but with the participation of dozens of countries. It was with some consternation that we were subjected to the partisan tirade from the member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra. She did not say much about Iraq, but made a variety of unsubstantiated allegations and comparisons that I will not dwell on because these issues are too important.
For the member for St. John's East, the legal authority they are under is very clear. We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. We are there at the invitation of the Kurdish regional government. We are there with the strong support of the Iraqi people, who fear this menace as much as we do. This time in Iraq, it is a situation that very much mirrors the invitation and welcome that Canadian Forces received in Afghanistan in 2001, 2002 and then again on a larger scale in 2003 when faced with similar circumstances.
Let us look briefly at the roots of this terrorism that is causing us disquiet when we watch our television screens, which is causing deep concern to the Iraqi people and which is costing lives. In Syria, it has cost almost 200,000 lives over the past three years. In Iraq, the numbers are growing to those kinds of proportions because of the presence of this absolutely perfidious terrorist entity.
In the 1980s, al Qaeda, founded in Pakistan and operating in Afghanistan, brought part of this ideology to the fore. Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam, neither of them are with us today, were inspired by the teachings of Sayyid Qutb of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1960s, someone who championed the idea that states were not necessary for Islam, in his perverted understanding of it, to be practised and, when necessary, enforced in Pakistan, Afghanistan and countries of the Arab world.
Before it is too late, Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the outstanding member of Parliament for Calgary East, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who will have much more substantive comments to add.
We know that al Qaeda almost consumed the destiny of an entire nation, thanks to the Taliban, its affiliate, ally and franchise, that ran Afghanistan for five years. This ideology of al Qaeda also flourished in the Chechen war and in other smaller conflicts in the Middle East over the past 20 years.
Then in Iraq in 2003, following a U.S. invasion, following the liquidation of the Baathist state, following the dismissal of Iraq's army and police, we in Afghanistan saw a huge phenomenon of hardened terrorist fighters, some Afghani, some Pakistani, many from dozens of other countries around the world, literally going to Iraq to fight the United States, Shiites and moderates of all kinds. They have been there ever since, building on that legacy, to the point where in Syria, after 2011, after the U.S. had succeeded in restoring state authority through most of Iraq found a new state teetering on the brink of collapse, established new spaces in which to train, build and base themselves to continue the fight against President Assad and to then resume it across the border in Iraq.
We find ourselves today with major two countries, Syria and Iraq, countries facing a common threat from a terrorist organization that is now fighting on a scale that we have not seen before. I do not think there was ever a time in Afghanistan when 20,000 to 25,000 foreign fighters with this kind of training and this kind of fire power were arrayed against the Afghan state. They certainly were not ever a threat to two states at once.
We are in a very worrying predicament. We are in a situation that poses a major threat to international peace and security. Let us remember the complicity of certain other states in allowing things to go this far. There was a chance last year, as the parliamentary secretary and the Minister of Foreign Affairs well know, to do more in Syria to counter these menaces.
Vladimir Putin decided that this was not a good idea and that it was better to ensure that the suffering of the Syrian people, and later the Iraqi people, would mount to new heights, and to prevent the international community from coming together to take decisive action to prevent this terrorist menace from growing to the scale that we now see.
This is not just an organization that represents a danger to us all. It is an ideology. They do not want to just replace the Syrian and Iraqi states; they want to replace states all the way from South Asia to Al-Andalus on the Iberian Peninsula. This is their dream, this is their ideology and this is our nightmare. It is combined with terrorist capacity, not just small arms and fast trucks, but a willingness to indoctrinate young people to literally give up their own lives to take lives from innocent civilians, suicide bombers.
There is the use of weapons of mass destruction, if they can get their hands on them. We have seen that. We have seen efforts by al Qaeda, by groups inspired by it, to try to get hold of chemical weapons and dirty bombs. Thank goodness they have not done so to date.
We also see this ideology of takfirism, something that is absolutely foreign and antithetical to the true values of Islam, which is the doctrine embraced by the so-called Islamic state in Iraq, that it is the right of Muslims, in their dark vision, to take the lives of either Muslims who do not share that vision or of non-Muslims. It is an arbitrary decision.
We have seen it practised time and again, recently, not just in executions but in the murders of Yazidis and religious minorities, and the massacres of populations across Iraq.
That is why we are proud to be taking action. We are proud to have deployed the Canadian Forces to advise and assist. We are proud to be delivering relief supplies from a stockpile Canada had the foresight to create in the UAE. We are proud to be a leading contributor already to humanitarian assistance, to have been there on the ground, present in Kurdistan, with our Minister of Foreign Affairs and members of the opposition to see the gravity of the situation first hand, and to provide security programs, as well as to assist in the delivery of military equipment from Albania and other countries.
Our goal is to prevent and deter terrorism worldwide. Our goal is to prevent Canadians from being involved more than they already are. The Combating Terrorism Act has done that. The new citizenship act has done that.
Our action in the region will do more than any of our previous efforts to finally start to build the coalition, the capacity and the international will to ensure that this terrorist threat does not continue to grow and is ultimately brought to yield.
Citizenship and Immigration September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, Canada has a fair and generous asylum system where decisions are made by the independent Immigration and Refugee Board, not under political pressure but according to the facts.
Where claims fail, there is recourse to appeals. When those appeals are exhausted, we all expect failed claimants to leave our country.
Questions on the Order Paper September 15th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, insofar as Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is concerned, the Government of Canada is deeply concerned about the crisis in Syria and will continue to do what it can to best help the Syrian people. Canada has a long and proud tradition of providing protection to those truly in need. We have one of the most fair and generous immigration systems in the world. We welcome about one out of every 10 of all resettled refugees globally, more than almost any industrialized country in the world. Canada is one of the world’s largest providers of humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees. To date, Canada has committed more than $630 million in humanitarian, development and security assistance to the Syrian crisis.
In response to the June 2013 UNHCR appeal for assistance with extremely vulnerable cases, Canada committed to permanently resettling 1,300 Syrian refugees by the end of 2014, 200 refugees through the government-assisted refugees, or GAR, program and 1,100 through the private sponsorship of refugees, or PSR, program.
It was only in late 2013 and early 2014 that the UNHCR began to call for increased resettlement efforts as an expression of international solidarity and burden-sharing while providing much needed protection to the most. To meet Canada’s commitment the UNHCR began referring cases to Canada in late 2013.
In total, since the start of the Syrian conflict, Canada has received over 3,070 applications from Syrians seeking Canada’s protection through the asylum and resettlement programs and we have provided protection to more than 1,230 Syrians.
As of June 11, 93 Syrian refugees out of the 200 that the government committed to resettle had arrived in Canada. As of July 2, as the minister confirmed to The Globe and Mail newspaper, 177 Syrian refugees of the 200 the government had committed to resettle had arrived in Canada. That number continues to rise. CIC reports processing times on a 12-month rolling period, based on the calendar year, so 2014 processing time data is not yet available. CIC also does not report processing times based on a client’s country of origin but rather by processing centre. As such, this information is not available. That said, robust backlog, and wait time reduction strategies and resources have been implemented to reduce processing times generally.
Current processing times vary depending on the category. To see our processing times, please visit our website: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/times/perm-other.asp.
Processing times have begun to improve, and where working inventories have been established, cases are being put into process quickly. We continue to work toward processing times at all missions of 12 to 18 months for newly received PSR cases.
The Government of Canada remains committed to upholding its humanitarian tradition to resettle refugees and offer protection to those in need. CIC continues to work as effectively as possible to resettle refugees given operational and security limitations.
Canada is working closely with the UNHCR and resettlement countries to determine how best to respond to the needs of Syrian refugees, given the overwhelming scale of the displacement. Canada is reviewing an additional request from the UNHCR for Syrian resettlement as part of our broader response to this crisis. The Government of Canada remains committed to upholding its humanitarian tradition to resettle refugees and offer protection to those in need. CIC continues to work diligently and as effectively as it can to resettle as many refugees as possible.
Committees of the House September 15th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to the report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration entitled “Protecting Canada and Canadians, Welcoming the World: A Modern Visa System to Help Canada Seize the Moment”.
Citizenship and Immigration September 15th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, what the opposition does not want to say, especially not here or outside the House, is that Canada is still a country that welcomes the world's refugees and is the envy of all our partners.
Canada continues to welcome one in 10 refugees sent to third countries by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. We are proud that over 18,000 Iraqis have been welcomed in Canada since 2009. That is what I call action and generosity. We will not take any lessons about that from the NDP.