House of Commons Hansard #123 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was isil.


Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


John Baird Conservative Ottawa West—Nepean, ON


Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

October 6th, 2014 / 12:30 p.m.


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister throws out the word “Progressive” as if it were a slur. Yes, she was a Progressive Conservative.

In the Saturday, October 4, 2014, edition of La Presse, Agnès Gruda wrote an article about this war, which is looking grim. It reads:

Australia has done so, as have France, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. A dozen countries have already agreed to participate in the American air strikes [not UN air strikes, American air strikes] against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) armed group. And Canada will join them next week. The debate on this military engagement brings back bad memories of the war against Saddam Hussein, in which Canada had the good sense not to participate... However, the Iraq of 2014 is different from the Iraq of 2003. This time, we are not facing an imaginary threat. Since it took Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, four months ago, ISIS has had ample time to show what its men are capable of. A report published by the UN on Thursday describes the abuses that have been committed against Iraqi civilians in the past four months. Summary executions, gang rape, abductions and public hangings: the men of ISIS are slaughtering civilians without remorse. On the ground, jihadists are threatening to expand their territory. Yesterday, the battle continued for the Syrian town of Kobani on the Turkish border. So yes, there are excellent reasons to want to stop these bloodthirsty fanatics, including by means of an international military offensive, if necessary. But not just any military offensive. Unfortunately, the United States' military operation is rather haphazard... “The strikes so far have had a negative impact politically,” notes Robert Blecher, an International Crisis Group analyst who believes that the coalition is repeating past mistakes. One of the main risks associated with this offensive is that it could end up alienating the very people the coalition is claiming to save from the Islamists. Robert Blecher gave the example of Syrian villages that were bombed one day by the American army and the next by the Bashar al-Assad regime. “On the ground, it is very difficult to understand where, exactly, the missiles are coming from. And it is very difficult to explain to the dominant rebel groups why Assad is not being bombed.” Rebel groups that are waiting for western aid are left with the impression that they are being fed to the sharks, whereas civilians feel as though they are the target of fire meant for the Sunni. According to Robert Blecher, “This is creating an extremely difficult situation politically.” And exactly who are the targets? Two weeks ago, the Americans bombed a brigade affiliated with another group of jihadist rebels, the al-Nusra Front. However, this group is fighting on two fronts: it is fighting against Bashar al-Assad AND against ISIS, its arch-enemy. By raining down fire on the al-Nusra Front, the United States lent a helping hand to the “bad guys” they are trying to destroy. That is rather ironic.

Let us come back to Iraq. There too, the line between the good guys and the bad guys is not always clear. According to the UN report, the Iraqi army and various Shia militias are not all sweetness and light. Here too, then, the air strikes might have unintended consequences, including radicalizing those we claim to be protecting, in all the confusion. “No one knows exactly what the coalition's strategy is”, sums up the German weekly Der Spiegel in a lengthy analysis. This current offensive raises more questions than it answers. Is this fight against ISIS only, or all Islamists, including the members of the al-Nusra Front? That raises another question: how do we avoid helping Bashar al-Assad, thereby alienating the Syrian rebels we might not want to alienate? More broadly, is there a post-war political strategy, both for Iraq and for Syria? Finally, is enough care being taken to ensure that there is local support for this offensive, without which is it doomed to fail? When ISIS appeared in Iraq in the mid-2000s, the response did not come from the sky...but from the local Sunni tribes, which managed to contain it. It has been able to expand as much as it has this year because those same tribes no longer trust Baghdad's Shia power. To deal with the very real threat that ISIS represents, we need to offer a “political solution to Iraqi and Syrian Sunnis”, suggests Robert Blecher. He claims this solution exists, even in Syria, where there are still Sunni rebels that are entirely acceptable to the international community. The problem is that the current war against ISIS might convert these potential allies of the West into enemies... With all these religious faiths, tribes and civil wars, the situations in Iraq and Syria are extremely complex. Simply put, yes, ISIS can be fought with weapons, but this war is looking pretty grim. Nothing in the [Prime Minister]'s speech suggests that he plans to use his power of influence to realign things.

That was an opinion piece in French by Agnès Gruda in La Presse.

Peggy Mason, Canada's former UN ambassador for disarmament and special advisor to former Progressive Conservative minister of external affairs, Joe Clark, was quoted yesterday in the Ottawa Citizen, as follows:

“[Prime Minister]'s Iraq plan may make matters worse, says former ambassador”.

[The Prime Minister] will put Canada’s proposed combat military mission in Iraq to a vote on Monday. Recent polls have suggested that Canadians slightly favour the bombing mission to confront the threat posed by the extremist organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). It comes as no surprise that Canadians want to help and “do something.” But [the Prime Minister]'s plan to send Canadian warplanes to join the U.S.-led coalition’s bombing of Iraq may just make matters worse. [The Prime Minister] and his allies are underestimating their opponents as a bunch of religious extremists bent on spreading wanton mayhem and terror. Islamic State may be brutally ruthless, but they know exactly what they are doing. Their core is made up of seasoned, motivated fighters and an extremely experienced leadership that go back to the “dirty war” waged by the American and British Special Forces in Iraq between 2006 and 2009.

ISIL is playing a strategical game of chess with its every move, while the West is playing military tic-tac-toe. ISIL is not just a military organization, it is a political movement with a well-thought-out ideology, however abhorrent it may be to the West. It governs the huge areas it controls in Iraq and Syria. Ruthless in eliminating any potential opponents, it also provides electricity, food and other vital services for ordinary people in the areas it controls. That is why American air strikes against ISIL recently targeted not only oil and gas facilities but also grain elevators – a highly problematic course of action in both legal and humanitarian terms, particularly if the conflict is to be a long one. To date Western military action has been disastrously counterproductive. [The Prime Minister] says “we” are not responsible for the chaos in Libya. Yet it is absolutely clear that the NATO-led military victory in Libya was a pyrrhic one which paved the way for the civil war that followed. We have to remember how we got to this point. Time and again in the past, we have chosen war over negotiations. Look at the lessons of Libya. Had we not exceeded the UN mandate in Libya (which excluded regime change), we could have negotiated a power-sharing deal...that would have promoted incremental democratic reform and not left a power vacuum to be filled by extremists, including ISIL. Exactly the same lesson can be learned from Syria. Had the West not insisted on Assad's immediate departure and refused to allow Iran a seat at the table, Kofi Annan's power-sharing arrangement within a transitional government would have paved the way for incremental democratic reforms in Syria and, once again, would have left much less room for extremists like ISIL to operate. A UN mandate privileging inclusive governance and democratic reforms in concert with robust military support has been central to recent progress in Somalia and Mali. A UN mandate is also possible for effective intervention in Iraq and Syria if all necessary players, including Russia and Iran, are brought fully into the negotiations, and Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are at the core of the political strategy, not just token participants. A comprehensive, broadly supported and UN-mandated approach is long overdue in the heretofore disastrously counterproductive war on terror. Let this enlightened approach be the basis for Canadian action in Iraq and Syria.

As I said, that is from Peggy Mason, Canada's former UN ambassador for disarmament and advisor to then Progressive Conservative external affairs minister Joe Clark.

Twelve years ago, the Government of Canada launched a reconstruction mission in Afghanistan, a country ravaged by the war that began in 1979 with the invasion by the former Soviet Union.

The objective was to bring stability and security to the new government in Kabul. Over the years, the Liberal government radically transformed the mission. What began as a reconstruction mission quickly transformed into a combat mission. This did not change when the Conservatives came to power. On the contrary, the mission and the combat role were extended.

A few dozen specialist members in a mission that had a very short timeframe became 40,000 Canadian soldiers in the longest combat mission in the history of our country. We spent at least $30 billion, 160 soldiers were killed, thousands were injured, and let us not forget—because we tend to forget them—the thousands of men and women who returned suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. The Canadian Forces strayed far from the original reconstruction mission, which had turned primarily into a combat mission.

What is interesting—and you know it because you were there, Mr. Speaker—is that despite all the vicious attacks against him by the Conservatives, Jack Layton had the courage to do what had to be done and to say what had to be said.

Jack Layton asked tough questions to the Conservative minister of defence at the time. It was the member for Carleton—Mississippi Mills who was the minister. Here are key questions that the former minister might remember Jack asking him:

What the goals and objectives of this mission and how do they meet Canada's foreign policy objectives? What is the realistic mandate of the mission and how is it being enforced?

What are the criteria that [we will be using] to measure progress? What is the definition of success...?

Does it sound familiar? Of course, it does. Those are the same questions that the NDP are asking today about the deployment in Iraq. In fact, the very same questions were asked about the mission in Afghanistan to the Liberal government just a few months before they were asked to the Conservative member for Carleton—Mississippi Mills, with good reasons. These questions are legitimate, and Canadians deserve answers.

The NDP also forced a debate and a vote in the House of Commons. At the time, the Prime Minister managed to extend the mission in Afghanistan with the support of the Liberals. The NDP opposed extending the mission, and I am still very proud of that today.

Even if we have not always agreed, there is a proud tradition in Canada and in the House of working together respectfully on issues of war and peace. In 1991, for example, NDP leader Audrey McLaughlin was sworn in to the Privy Council so that she could receive classified information on the first Gulf War. The same courtesy was extended to Bill Blaikie, and the Prime Minister himself, at the beginning of the Liberal engagement in Afghanistan. Later, that was extended to Jack Layton as well. It is only fair to say that the Prime Minister continued this tradition at first. The Prime Minister briefed Jack Layton on our mission in Libya, and he briefed me on our mission to Mali. Yet now, as the Prime Minister takes Canada to war in Iraq, there is silence. Worse yet, Conservatives have gone out of their way to stifle informed debate.

The Prime Minister, with the support of the Liberals, launched us into the war in Iraq with what he claimed was a 30-day non-combat mission. He promised Canada's involvement would be “re-evaluated at the end of this first deployment”. On September 15, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence said there were already 69 Canadian soldiers on the ground. On September 26, the Prime Minister himself claimed there were “several dozen Canadian Forces personnel in Iraq”.

However, according to Radio-Canada, these claims were false. The first 26 Canadian Forces did not arrive in Iraq until 23 days into the 30-day mission. The Prime Minister did not deny that when I asked him the question specifically in the House last week. How can we evaluate a mission when troops have been on the ground for only a week? It sounds disingenuous. The promise that Canadian involvement in Iraq would be re-evaluated after a month, frankly, was just that; it was disingenuous, if not a sham: a 30-day mission to get Canada into this war without a debate or a vote in Parliament, setting the stage for this escalation.

The lack of clear and honest information from the government only continues. The Minister of Foreign Affairs refuses to state where Canadian aircraft will be based. He said it is an operational detail that he is not prepared to discuss.

However, other countries have been told where their forces are stationed. For that matter, Canada has always revealed where its aircraft have been based in past conflicts. Why the refusal to provide this information now?

In one breath the Minister of Foreign Affairs insisted that Canadian Forces will be under the command of the Chief of the Defence Staff of our country, but he said in the next interview that it will be “working under the leadership of the United States”. What is that supposed to mean?

Just as the Prime Minister has refused to provide clear information about the mission, he has been unable to clearly explain the mission's goals. We are a long way from the boast of the minister at the beginning of his remarks today.

On September 30, when asked how he would define victory in Iraq, the Prime Minister said that ISIS was planning attacks “against large populations in the region” and “against this country”, Canada. He said Canada would “work with our allies on a counterterrorism operation to get us to the point where this organization does not have the capacity to launch those kinds of attacks”.

However, in his speech to the House last Friday, the Prime Minister was already walking back on that description of his goals. Then he said we needed only to “degrade the capabilities of ISIL”, specifically their ability to conduct large-scale military movements and operate in the open”.

This weekend, the Minister of Foreign Affairs lowered expectations even further, saying that if they could “contain this problem, stop it growing”, that alone would be a “significant accomplishment”.

Inaccurate information and shifting definitions of success have been the hallmarks of the American war in Iraq since the invasion began.

Remember the United States has been in this conflict for over 10 years. It has been fighting ISIS, under one name or another, for over 10 years. While ISIS has renamed itself several times since 2004—al Qaeda in Iraq, the Mujahideen Shura Council, the Islamic State of Iraq, and al-Sham, Syria—it is literally the same insurgent group that U.S. forces have been battling for over a decade. Why does the Prime Minister think he can use military force to accomplish what others have been trying unsuccessfully to do since 2003?

The Prime Minister has twice insisted in this House that the mission will not become a “quagmire”. It is his word, and he keeps using it over and over again, saying that it will not be a “quagmire”. Wìth the Prime Minister throwing around the word quagmire multiple times when this mission has barely begun, let me be honest, we do not think it bodes very well.

This weekend on The West Block, with Tom Clark, the Minister of Foreign Affairs was already contemplating returning to the House of Commons for another extension after the next six months, planning for the next escalation before this one has even begun, before it has even been voted on in Parliament.

Robert Fowler, Canada's longest-serving ambassador to the UN and advisor to three Prime Ministers on foreign policy, said, “Our coalition's mission will inevitably creep.... [we] will bomb evermore. ...predators will hunt more widely and more indiscriminately.... [we] will kill and maim many, many more innocent civilians than the caliphate could behead in its wildest dreams”.

In fact, the Prime Minister has already acknowledged that he is prepared to extend the bombing to Syria. What is more, the Prime Minister has even set the bizarre and distasteful standard that he will launch air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria if asked to do so by the regime of brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad. The list of Assad's own atrocities is almost unspeakable, and we find it reprehensible that the Prime Minister would give him any credibility at all, much less a voice in determining what our brave women and men in uniform do to defend our country.

Let us look at a list of those atrocities from official sites. Assad's attacks are ongoing. The United Nations has noted that there were 29 massacres by forces loyal to Assad in 2014 alone.

There has been the use of chemical weapons. The attack in the Ghouta area of Damascus is the most significant confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since 1988 and the worse use of weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century. The United States estimates that just under 1,500 civilians were killed.

There has been the indiscriminate use of barrel bombs. Syrian government forces have dropped barrel bombs on civilian areas, including hospitals and schools, with devastating results. Some believe that barrel bomb attacks have contained the chemical agent chlorine in eight incidents in April 2014.

There has been the targeting of civilians by snipers, including children and pregnant women. There has been the targeting of doctors, nurses, paramedics, hospitals, ambulances and pharmacies for attacks.

There has been the systematic torture and deaths of detainees. As many as 11,000 people in jails have been killed between March 2011 and August 2013. Assad's forces systematically arrest wounded patients in state hospitals to interrogate them, often using torture, about their supposed participation in opposition demonstrations or armed activities.

There have been summary executions and extrajudicial killings, including the massacre at Houla, where over 100 civilians were killed, half of them children, and entire families were shot dead in their homes.

There has been sexual violence against women, men and children in detention to degrade and humiliate detainees. Women and children have been sexually assaulted during home raids and ground operations.

Starvation has been used as a weapon of war with at least 128 civilians starved to death in a besieged refugee camp near Damascus in 2014. Of the camp's 18,000 to 20,000 civilians, 60% suffered from malnourishment as of the spring of this year.

In his speech in the House on Friday, the Prime Minister of Canada said that if the person responsible for those atrocities makes the request, he, the Prime Minister of Canada, will answer positively. We find that shameful.

This is among the many reasons that so many of our allies have expressed concern with so many elements of this mission. This mission has no mandate from the UN and no mandate from NATO. The Prime Minister and the foreign minister have listed some of our traditional allies that are participating, such as Great Britain, Germany, Italy and Denmark. However, Britain and Denmark refuse to engage in bombing in Syria, even if Bashar al-Assad asks them. Italy and Germany have rejected any involvement in the combat mission altogether.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has tried to cover for the serious questions being raised about this mission. This weekend he claimed:

...the Security Council has been seized with this issue and has passed a resolution unanimously with respect to the operation in Iraq.

That statement is outright and unquestionably false.

To quote just one source, and it is worth reading the resolution because it is quite long, The New York Times, on September 27, simply stated that the UN Security Council resolution on Iraq and Syria “does not authorize military action by any country”.

That is everyone's analysis because that is what is in the UN Security Council resolution. We cannot make it say something that it does not say.

There is overwhelming agreement here at home and abroad about the need to confront the horrors perpetrated by ISIS. However, there is no agreement that western military force is the answer.

Nearly three weeks ago the Israeli newspaper Haaretz was already reporting that ISIS had recruited more than 6,000 new fighters since the United States began its air strikes in August. At least 1,300 of these fighters come from abroad.

Alexander Panetta of the Canadian Press reports:

...the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that five civilians were killed in airstrikes on oil refineries; two workers were killed in a Manbej grain mill; and six male civilians were killed in the southern countryside at al-Hasakah. The group says it’s aware of at least 73 people joining ISIL in the Aleppo area, in the wake of the first U.S.-led airstrikes.

Peggy Mason, the former UN ambassador for disarmament whom I quoted earlier at length, had this to say:

[The Prime Minister] and his allies are underestimating their opponents as a bunch of religious extremists bent on spreading wanton mayhem and terror....

ISIL is playing a strategical game of chess with its every move, while the West is playing military tic-tac-toe....

To date Western military action has been disastrously counterproductive.

Robert Fowler, our longest serving ambassador to the UN, as I said, who has indeed advised three prime ministers, had this to say:

[ISIS] know the propaganda value of poking sticks into American eyes, or knives into Western throats.... They know full well that ill-informed and poorly executed Western forays into “Muslim lands” have been disastrous for us—and they are anxious to lure us into further folly. They are confident that by so doing they will dramatically increase their recruiting base, their authority, and the scope and impact of their movement; and they simply do not give a damn about the numbers they will lose in the process. Truly, in their eyes, such losses are a blessing....

We have, in other words, responded in precisely the way they counted on us to do.

The German weekly Der Spiegel said, “no one knows exactly what the coalition's strategy is.”

This is what Robert Blecher, an international relations analyst, had to say:

The strikes so far have had a negative impact politically...On the ground, it is very difficult to understand where, exactly, the missiles are coming from. And it is very difficult to explain to the dominant rebel groups why Assad is not being bombed...This is creating an extremely difficult situation politically...

However, military force is not our only option. New Democrats have called on the government to dramatically increase humanitarian aid in Iraq, which at last count stands at just $28 million. I will say, though, that I was very happy to hear an announcement, which we have been calling for, for a specific sum. The sum of $5 million was mentioned for victims of sexual violence. That is a good thing that the government announced today. We wanted to say clearly and on the record that we congratulate the government for that part of its announcement today.

In one of the government's few actions to co-operate with other parties here in the House, the Minister of Foreign Affairs brought his counterparts in the opposition to Iraq. It was humanitarian aid, not air strikes, that leaders on the ground requested.

We can also help forces in the region to build the capacity to confront ISIS itself. Canada is already aiding in the shipment of weapons to Kurdish Iraqi forces. We agree with that. That is the gist of the United Nations Security Council resolution—give the Iraqis the ability to defend themselves.

It should be a priority for Canada to determine exactly which groups can be trusted with such aid. Ultimately, the solution to this tragic conflict will come from those in the region and the international community as a whole, not simply the west. There, Canada's phenomenal diplomats can play a key role.

Allow me once again to quote Peggy Mason, former UN ambassador for disarmament. She said:

We have to remember how we got to this point. Time and again in the past, we have chosen war over negotiations....

A UN mandate privileging inclusive governance and democratic reforms in concert with robust military support has been central to recent progress in Somalia and Mali. A UN mandate is also possible for effective intervention in Iraq and Syria if all necessary players, including Russia and Iran, are brought fully into the negotiations, and Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are at the core of the political strategy, not just token participants.

A comprehensive, broadly supported and UN-mandated approach is long overdue in the heretofore disastrously counterproductive war on terror. Let this enlightened approach be the basis for Canadian action in Iraq and Syria.

Robert Blecher also said that to deal with this threat, we need to offer a “political solution to Iraqi and Syrian Sunnis”.

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. With the well-deserved credibility Canada earned by rejecting the initial ill-advised invasion of Iraq, we are in a position to take on that task.

The tragedy in Iraq and Syria will not end with another western-led invasion in that region. It will end by helping the people of Iraq and Syria to build the political institutions and security capabilities they need to oppose these threats themselves.

It is for these reasons that I move:

That Government Business No. 13 be amended:

a) by deleting clause iii) and replacing it with the following:

iii) accept that, unless confronted with strong and direct force from capable and enabled local forces, the threat ISIL poses to international peace and security, including to Canadian communities, will continue to grow;

b) by deleting all words after “accordingly” and replacing them with the following:

a. call on the Government to contribute to the fight against ISIL, including military support for the transportation of weapons for a period of up to three months;

b. call on the Government to boost humanitarian aid in areas where there would be immediate, life-saving impact, including contributing to building winterized camps for refugees; and investing in water, sanitation and hygiene, health and education for people displaced by the fighting;

c. call on the Government to provide assistance to investigation and prosecution of war crimes;

d. call on the Government to not deploy the Canadian Forces in combat operations;

e. call on the Government to seek House approval for any extension of the mission, or any involvement of Canadian Forces in Syria;

f. call on the Government to report back on the costs of the mission on a monthly basis to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs; and,

g. continue to offer its resolute and wholehearted support to the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces who stand on guard for all of us.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Durham Ontario


Erin O'Toole ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the leader of the official opposition for his remarks. However, I find it disappointing that for someone who a few weeks ago suggested that there should be a debate in the House any time the Canadian Forces deployed, it is a little disappointing to see him outsource a good portion of his contribution to this debate to La Presse, the Ottawa Citizen, The Globe and Mail, The New York Times and Der Spiegel.

He mentioned a few genuine, legitimate questions about any military deployment: cost, how to define success, and the complexity of the situation on the ground with ISIL. However, I did not hear in one clear and articulate sentence a reason why the NDP feels that, at the request of our allies, we should not play an active role but should only be transporting weapons and trying to bring humanitarian aid to an area that is in severe conflict.

I would ask the leader of the opposition for a simple sentence articulating why he does not feel Canada should serve alongside our allies.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is quite obvious to anyone who has been following this debate that the Prime Minister is outsourcing to his parliamentary secretary. We would like to hear from the Prime Minister in this important debate.

New Democrats have been saying for some time now that a lot of our NATO allies feel exactly as we do. They feel that there is no reason to be involved in these air strikes, because, as the experts that I quoted have clearly said—and we share that view—at this stage, air strikes are not what is required.

When my colleague and friend, the NDP representative who speaks for us on foreign affairs matters, the member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, went to Iraq just a couple of weeks ago, what he heard were requests for humanitarian aid, not for more bombing in an area that has already seen more than enough.

The government has its approach. New Democrats are cognizant, as I have mentioned in my speech and has been taken up by the papers, that a slight majority of Canadians are in favour of that, but on this side of the House, we have always stood on principle. When we realized that everything that is unfolding before our eyes is a direct result of the wrong-headed mission in 2003, we know that more bombing is not the answer.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, a little over a month ago, as we prepared for the 30-day mission, the Liberal critics and I were invited to participate in information sessions on this non-combat mission, as were all official opposition members, I am sure.

Today, we are talking about a combat mission that will surely last a long time—surely more than the planned six months. This is a much more serious mission.

Could the hon. member for Outremont confirm what he just said, because I cannot believe it. Is it true that, as leader of the official opposition and member of the Queen's Privy Council, the hon. member did not receive any additional briefing from this government to receive information and explanations to justify the proposed combat mission and this government's desire to send Canadians to war in Iraq?

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what he means by “briefing”, but if my colleague wants to know whether I got any kind of information from the Prime Minister, as I did for the mission in Mali, the answer is no. I did not receive any communication from the Prime Minister regarding this mission. That is clear, and I repeat what I said in my speech.

What is also important for Canadians to understand is that the Liberals can try to do whatever they want today to put that toothpaste back in the tube, but they supported the government for the mission in Iraq, and that will be a part of history they will have to live with.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his very inspiring speech—as always—and for the detailed measures we are proposing in this amendment.

These measures will affect refugees and displaced persons within the country. They also make me think of the Syrian refugees in Iraq, since the government had promised to take in 1,300 Syrian refugees here, in Canada. The last I heard, fewer than 300 had arrived here.

Could the leader of the opposition speak to that?

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is often said that the first casualty of war is the truth.

In my earlier remarks, I showed how this government has been sincere about one thing after another. We heard one version one day, another the next and a third the following day, each delivered with as much sincerity as the last. Not all of these things can be true at the same time.

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration hung up on the CBC's Carol Off because she dared to ask him for real numbers of people who have come to Canada. The minister's behaviour was absolutely unheard of in Canada.

When he came here on the night of the emergency debate, which the Liberals requested but during which the Liberal leader did not see fit to speak, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration evoked George W. Bush's canard of weapons of mass destruction to justify the war in Iraq. With truths like that, it is not surprising that nobody is willing to give exact numbers.

However, it is clear that, unlike other allies, such as Norway, Canada is not pulling its weight. It is not shouldering its share of this important burden with those kinds of refugee numbers. Just ask Turkish representatives, who are begging Canada to help them with the more than one million refugees in that country. We are definitely not doing our part in this international humanitarian crisis.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of quick comments and a question.

The Leader of the Opposition cites some comments made by people about command as being somehow contradictory and misleading, but for his clarification and perhaps for others, the Canadian Forces are always under the national command of the Chief of the Defence Staff, wherever they are.

When they are operating in a theatre, they are under the operational command of whoever is commanding that theatre, just as Americans were under a Canadian command in Afghanistan, so it is not misleading the House at all.

We left Afghanistan much better off than how we found it. Will it last? That will ultimately be up to them, but it was a combination of combat, surely, and a lot of rebuilding, much of which was in fact carried out by men and women in uniform.

I do not disagree with the Leader of the Opposition when he says that a long-term solution requires sorting out the Sunni and Shia situation. That is true. However, I would like to ask him more about the short term.

Can we stop the short-term violence by ISIL without force? Can we negotiate the cessation of ISIL's short-term and obviously violent activity without force and simply by negotiation? What is his solution to stop ISIL from beheading people tomorrow?

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have been down this road before. These are the exact same arguments that were used about the Taliban in Afghanistan to begin with. For 10 years Canada was there. We sent 40,000 troops and $30 billion, and the result is less than certain, to be charitable.

Today we are hearing a report from the United States that air strikes have not stopped ISIS from moving on to the key Syrian city of Kobani. They have just changed their tactics.

The real question is, why would we be involved in that violence? Why would we give credibility? The member has already served proudly in the Canadian Armed Forces. Why would we give credibility to a character like Bashar al-Assad by showing that if he makes a request, we will answer that request? That gives him a credibility he does not deserve. He is a genocidal maniac, and we should not be giving him any credibility at all.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.

The question we are debating today is the following: should we send our troops to Iraq on a combat mission?

As members of Parliament, we must all carefully consider the issues before us before making an informed and extremely serious decision.

Our decision will have heavy and lasting consequences. We are talking about going to war. Needless to say, the 308 members of the House will have to live with the consequences of this decision, which will be voted on shortly.

There are many points in the government's motion with which the Liberal Party agrees: the evil that is ISIL, the need for a broad coalition to take on ISIL, the need to provide far greater humanitarian assistance to the million-plus victims displaced by the advance of ISIL, and the need for Canada to contribute to the coalition. No party can claim the high ground in condemning ISIL. We all forcefully condemn this abhorrent, barbaric group of terrorists. None of that is open to question.

The question is, what should Canada do in order to contribute in the best possible manner to the collective effort to defeat ISIL?

When that question is posed, there is a fundamental and consequential second question that follows: should we contribute to a combat or a non-combat mission? That is what we are debating today.

Let me say from the outset that the Prime Minister has failed to make a clear case for a Canadian combat role in Iraq at this time. The Prime Minister is taking us across the Rubicon by deciding on a combat mission. Once a country makes that decision, there is no turning back the clock.

When the government announced the first mission to Iraq, namely sending special forces to advise and train Kurdish forces, my party gave its support. We clearly recognize the need to do something to help Iraq. We believe that beyond a combat mission, there are a number of ways a country can contribute to protecting the citizens of another country.

In early September, I visited the Kurdish region of Iraq, so I have an idea of the complexity of the military challenge, as well as the extent of the humanitarian catastrophe. Canada cannot stand idly by. We must not only contribute much more than the $29 million already sent in humanitarian aid, but also help in other ways. I am very pleased to know that the government just added a new contribution of $10 million. That brings us to the contribution that the Prime Minister announced on Friday.

The Prime Minister has proposed six CF-18 strike aircraft as the centrepiece of our contribution, thereby opting for a Canadian combat role. This leads to the obvious question: has the Canadian mission been clearly and fully defined? The answer is no.

Defining a mission is much more than stating what assets we will contribute and then establishing a deadline. Going to war is an extraordinarily complex undertaking, and it has to be thought through.

Let me give the House an example. When George W. Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, he only thought out step one, which was to capture Baghdad. After that, what? We saw what happened because of the failure to understand the overall challenge.

At this moment, the United States will lead in this coalition effort, and it is still working out an overall coalition strategy to defeat ISIL. This is the job given to General Allen. It is an extremely complex undertaking that rests on the assumption that Iraqi forces must eventually dislodge and defeat ISIL in a ground campaign. Should Canada be rushing in with an air combat mission? The answer is no.

In the end, when we are talking about a combat role, getting in seems very straightforward, but getting out is much less so. The right approach is certainly not to say that Canada will go into Iraq with strike aircraft but may pull out in six months. The right approach is to give the most careful consideration to our objectives before we send our men and women into harm's way. That has not been done by the government.

However, there is something that we can do at this time. There are significant, substantial non-combat roles that Canada can play, and to suggest that our contribution has no value unless we are contributing to a combat role is offensive to me.

There are as many as 60 partners in the coalition, and each has chosen to contribute in their own way to the defeat of ISIL, whether by providing weapons, base facilities, strategic airlift, humanitarian aid, surveillance and other intelligence, or advice in training. All this is to say there are many different ways to contribute, and they are all important.

It has been said that when it comes to sharing the burden of military intervention, the sacrifice that counts lies in the willingness to take casualties, and last Friday the Prime Minister said that “...being a free rider means not being taken seriously.”

I really object to that comment. It implies that we are taking the easy way out if we choose to contribute to the war effort in other ways.

Did the Prime Minister really say, last Friday, that Canada would not be taken seriously if it contributed to the coalition by any means other than a combat mission with air strikes?

Are the majority of partners of this coalition less engaged or, in the words of the Prime Minister, less noble, because they choose to contribute to defeating ISIL by other means?

Let me say that I also dispute the Prime Minister's assertion that air strikes are the hard thing to do, and his implication, by extension, that other roles are easy or require less courage.

It is hard work on the ground to train and advise forces, help refugees, provide medical aid, undertake air surveillance, provide strategic airlift, and provide humanitarian aid. While these tasks are not combat roles, they are still important tasks, many needing to be performed by our military.

I would also challenge his assertion that we are somehow abandoning our allies if we opt out of air strikes. Nobody has accused Canada of not pulling its weight in the past 20 years, or indeed, during the entire period that we have been a country.

Ultimately, defeating ISIL will only happen on the ground. There are important non-combat contributions Canada can make in this effort.

Let me conclude. There is a clear line between non-combat and combat. If the Prime Minister wants to take us, in Canada, across that line, he must make the case to Canadians as to why.

The Prime Minister has not given us reason to believe that once in combat the government will be able to limit our role. Once the line is crossed into combat, as the government is doing, it is no simple matter to cross back over. We all know that this conflict is likely to last a long time.

Deciding in six months to pull out of combat could be very problematic for Canada, depending on the situation, and the pressure will be on us to remain. That is why the Liberal Party of Canada will not support the Prime Minister's motion to take on a combat role in Iraq. Saying we will review it in six months is not an exit strategy.

We have the capabilities to meaningfully assist, in a non-combat role, in a well-defined international mission in Iraq.

There are more than just the two extreme options of, on the one hand, refusing any military role and, on the other, having Canada rush into combat without understanding all the consequences.

It is incumbent upon us to make the right decision when we vote on this mission.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.


Mark Strahl ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the member for his speech and for his previous service in the armed forces.

The member mentioned that when we go to war, we need to think it through. Perhaps that lesson was lost on the Liberal Party when it sent troops to Afghanistan in forest green fatigues, black boots, and unarmoured Iltis jeeps. The Liberals obviously did not think that through very far.

I have another question. In the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition, it says that they do not wish to deploy the Canadian Forces in combat operations. We know the position of the NDP is to never deploy the Canadian Armed Forces in combat operations.

What would it take to get the Liberal Party of Canada on board for a combat mission, if not to fight ISIS in this situation, with the egregious acts it is committing in that part of the world?

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1:30 p.m.


Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the member had listened to my speech, he would recognize very clearly that we are prepared to play a role here.

We are not looking back on Afghanistan and other places, where all governments may have made some mistakes. What we are talking about is the current situation that is in front of us at this particular point in time.

We have made it very clear that we are not prepared, because the government has not made the case, to vote in favour of a combat mission. However, we are prepared to play a military role of a non-combat nature. On that subject, we know that the NDP is very much in favour of an increased humanitarian role, and we agree with that. We know that the NDP does not want to do a combat role, and we agree with that. I have been trying to find out whether the NDP would be prepared to consider a military role of a non-combat nature.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my friend from Westmount—Ville-Marie for his intervention in this debate and for his remarks in the last number of weeks at both the foreign affairs committee and on numerous television programs. I just want to ask him this, because I was confused along the way. There was wholehearted support and unquestioning support for the initial mission, despite the lack of answers from the government. There were times when he was supporting a combat mission and air strikes, and other days when he was not. Some days he was supporting both positions. I think it was as late as last Sunday. Therefore, I am wondering what it is about this particular government proposal that led him and his party to all of a sudden say that they would not support a combat mission for the Canadian Forces in Iraq?

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his question. He and I have spent quite a bit of time on panels in the last week or so on this particular issue. That is why I am little surprised that he has some confusion in his mind about the position we are taking. In fact, it is something New Democrats have brought up on more than one occasion. They do not seem to realize that when we agreed initially to what the government proposed, which was a 30-day behind-the-wire advisory role for up to 60 special forces, we gave our support to that. The key word there is “non-combat”, but somehow that has been morphed by the NDP into “combat”. We have been in favour of doing this since the beginning.

I would urge my colleagues from the NDP to understand that this is a very complex matter. It is extremely important to fully understand the difference between combat and non-combat, military and non-military. We are talking about something very important. I think it is disingenuous of the NDP to try to throw a fog over all of this, because I think we have been extremely clear.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to join the debate on the government's decision to take Canada into war in Iraq and possibly Syria. I am proud to note that the Liberal Party leader spoke extensively on the party's position just this past Friday. Regrettably, a combat decision has already been taken and first troops have already deployed.

The Liberal leader and members hold the principle that the case for entering this or any war must be made openly and transparently and must be based on clear and reliable facts. Our men and women in uniform, and all Canadians, deserve no less. If the government's motivations and its actions are to be trusted, that means telling the full truth to Canadians and parliamentarians, but that has simply not happened, and the combat case has simply not been made.

One month ago, the Liberals supported the government's 30-day non-combat advisory mission to help in the fight against the murderous radical group ISIL, because Canada has a role to play in confronting humanitarian crises and security threats in the world. That too is a Liberal principle. ISIL's brutal advance across Iraq into Kurdish territory, murdering opposition and innocent civilians and flaunting the beheadings of western journalists and aid workers, could not be ignored.

Canada's reputation confronting security and humanitarian threats on the world stage has a long history.

Our reputation on the battlefields of the world wars and the Korean war, and as courageous peacekeepers, was hard won. After the Second World War, Canada led the way in building international organizations to reduce violence, promote peace, protect victims of genocide and hold international war criminals to account.

These strong international relations were forged by Nobel Peace Prize winner Lester Pearson, advanced by Pierre Trudeau and Progressive Conservatives Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney, and solidified by Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin. The sacrifices of our Armed Forces members and trainers in Afghanistan helped achieve a historic first in that country: the recent peaceful and democratic transition of its government.

Yes, Canada does have a role to play to confront humanitarian crises and security threats and to help build a better world.

The question on Liberals' minds this last month was this: After the 30-day mission, what will come next? Western interventions in the Iraq war of 2003 and the 2011 bombing of Libya and elsewhere failed. These western interventions created instability that led to the rise of dozens of radical jihadist groups taking over vast swaths of the region today. How will this time be different? How can Canada and the coalition against ISIL contribute without sliding into a long, deadly war and perhaps making things worse? We must ensure that Canadians will not look back on this moment and ask, “How could the government have been so wrong?”

The Conservative government did not even try to make a clear and thoughtful case for going to war in Iraq or to bring all parties on board. Sending women and men into harm's way is something that must never be done lightly, and expressions of outrage are no substitute for considering history's lessons.

Consulting with military and diplomatic experts, examining options, and full and frank caucus discussions resulted in the Liberals recommending non-combat contributions.

Western combat operations in the region will layer onto deep religious rivalries that date back centuries and ethno-sectarian conflict dating back 98 years to the creation of these countries after World War I.

While Canadians are rightly appalled by the brutal acts of murder by the extremely radical Islamists, rhetoric by Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs that this is simply about “bad people up to bad things” obscures the many geopolitical complexities at play.

The post-Iraq-war Maliki government governed for one religious sect at the expense of the Sunni and Kurds, using basic services, state institutions, distribution of revenues, and even the justice system to repress and disadvantage Sunni Iraqis, among others. This disastrous governance and polarization enabled Sunni ISIL to quickly capture vast terrain and assets. Western combat deployment and civilian deaths could further bind moderate Sunni peoples to their radical brethren and power the jihadi surge.

The International Crisis Group, until last month led by former Canadian Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour, considers the vital contribution to be addressing the underlying political issues that enabled the insurgents' push.

That is why it is critically important to support an inclusive and even-handed approach by the new government in Baghdad. That means strengthening the new Iraqi government and its armed forces. Let us build humanitarian capacity to protect brutalized populations. Let us strengthen the peshmerga in defending Kurdish peoples in their homes and homelands. Let us train Iraqi security forces so they can defend their state on the ground. Let us engage moderate Sunni tribes so they reject rather than join the terrorists. Let us block ISIL's access to strategic communications and financial assets.

The Liberals believe that when the government deploys our men and women in uniform into combat, there must be a clear mission overall and a clear role for Canada. Until the coalition of 60 diverse nations fighting ISIL has a clear combat role for stopping ISIL, there is no clear combat role for Canada at this time.

Yesterday, General John Allen, head of the global coalition to counter ISIL, said that he would start travelling in the region over the next month for the work of bringing the coalition together, sorting out the kind of effort needed, and start to place each member's unique capabilities within those lines.

No, Canada's combat role and goals are not yet clear, so what should Canada's contribution be?

Secretary of State John Kerry said at the UN,“There's an important role for every country to play in the fight against ISIL”. That means each according to their unique capabilities. That is a statesman.

Contrast that with the foreign affairs minister's claim that either Canada takes a combat role or "sits back and lets someone else do the heavy lifting”. Go to war or be a free rider, that is small thinking, facile, divisive and unworthy.

A key Liberal principle is that Canada's role reflects the broad scope and uniqueness of Canadian capabilities, financial, humanitarian, diplomatic, democratic, military, so let us not rush into combat without thinking carefully about our best contributions.

What are the significant, non-combat roles Canada can play, military and non-military alike? What is the range of humanitarian aid so desperately needed? Let us consider the signals intelligence, military airlift capability, surveillance, medical support, protection of civilians and aid workers, and forces training that Canada might offer.

Our dedicated men and women who serve in Canada's armed forces are second to none in the world, and there are many ways they can contribute.

Yesterday, General Allen spoke of his intent to use “coalition forces in a very important way to train the existing Iraqi Security Forces”. Canada would be uniquely positioned to do just that.

In 2009, crack Canadian troops began an intensive four-year training mission in Afghanistan. Almost 1,000 troops on the ground, with rotations coming in and going out, trained the Afghan National Army, the air force and the national police. This past spring the last of them came home. These military men and women made a tremendous contribution to Afghanistan's stability. They could also so contribute in Iraq.

Canadians are concerned Canada's combat role will escalate. Canada's Chief of the Defence Staff, General Tom Lawson, told the government in November last year:

Without at least maintaining current funding level, we will directly affect the readiness of key fleets of aircraft, ships and army vehicles. This in turn has an overall impact upon training and readiness.

However, the budget cuts and clawbacks have continued. Therefore, how will this new mission be funded?

Finally, to respect the Canadian people's stake in this war and in the interest of trust and accountability, I call on the government to: one, adopt the Manley panel recommendation on Afghanistan requiring the government to provide quarterly mission updates to Parliament; two, adopt the U.S. practice of regular, public military briefings by senior military officials; three, make clear its air strike rules of engagement and whether the U.S. will be in command of targets; four, agree to a parliamentary committee study of the strategic aims of the anti-ISIL campaign; and, five, require the national security advisor to brief the defence committee on the overall use of Canadian intelligence capabilities in the campaign against ISIL.

Transparency and honesty have been lacking. I ask the government to provide it over the critical weeks and months ahead as our brave men and women go forth on this difficult mission.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering Ontario


Chris Alexander ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, there were more than a few disappointing passages in that speech.

First, there was the implication that humanitarian and refugee work could not proceed alongside a combat contribution.

Second, there was the declaration of the Libyan mission as a failure, a mission that the hon. member's party, albeit under a different leader, had been prepared to support at several points.

There is a mark in that speech of just how far the Liberal Party has fallen away from its own traditions of supporting combat when necessary.

My question for the hon. member is about the rationale for combat. There is an obvious rationale in the fact that ISIL has declared its intention to attack Canada. It has declared its intention to train people to bring terrorism within our borders. It has declared its intention to establish training camps should it consolidate support over parts of Iraq and ultimately Syria well beyond the Middle East, in Europe and North America. ISIL has taken pride in the fact that its agenda, in pursuing it, is more radical than that of al Qaeda, the group that brought 9/11 the most dramatic and devastating terrorist attack in history.

When a group has declared its intention to enter into combat with us to bring terrorism to our shores to compromise our security, why should our response not include a willingness to engage in combat?

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to hear the member using the same tactic of rhetoric over reasoning in this very important situation. I point out that it is important to learn from past lessons, and apparently the government wants to ignore lessons learned.

In terms of the kind of undermining of the opposition parties for choosing to support a non-combat role, I would like to point out that the member's colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, slammed the opposition parties for a non-combat role stand, saying that the socialist democratic government in Italy was supportive and the socialist democratic coalition in Germany was supportive.

In fact, yes they are supportive of making a contribution, as are the Liberals. However, the minister neglected to mention that neither Germany nor Italy is sending strike fighter planes or taking on a combat role. This is further example of the kinds of dishonesty that undermine the trust of Canadians in this very mission.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is a critical question that needs to be answered. It goes back to September when we laid out what we wanted to see, and that was to have a debate and a vote at the time. We quoted the Prime Minister when he was opposition leader as to why we should have a debate and vote. He wanted to change the Standing Orders, along with Jack Layton at the time.

I was not clear, and I want clarity from my Liberal friend. Is it the position of the Liberal Party that when we deploy troops, we should not only have a debate, but a vote as well? It is extraordinarily important that we know we have the full confidence of the House when we are deploying troops abroad. I would like to nail down the position of the Liberal Party on that question.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have been pretty clear about our positions, and that is that there needs to be openness and transparency in considering these issues, which there has not been. It is that Canada does respond and take a role in humanitarian crises and security threats. It is that we must find the best and highest contribution for Canadians to make. Those are our positions. Those are the ones that we have been advancing, including advancing through calling for an emergency debate in Parliament on this issue several weeks ago.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario


Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the Minister of Employment and Social Development.

I am pleased to speak in the House on the evolving situation in Iraq and the role that the Canadian Armed Forces will be playing.

It should be clear to everyone that the continued existence of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is a threat to local, regional and international peace and stability.

ISIL has created a grave security and humanitarian crisis in Iraq and neighbouring countries. It has seized territory and displaced more than one million Iraqis. It has persecuted ethnic and religious minorities and murdered thousands of innocent men, women and children. It has also conducted the horrific murders of journalists and aid workers.

We believe that if left unchecked, the threat posed by ISIL will only continue to grow, contributing to the further destabilization of the Middle East and encouraging greater hatred and violence between religions. Moreover, it is clear that these radical militants are also a direct threat to Canada and our allies. Indeed, last week, its leadership specifically called for Canadians to be targeted. Australia has already thwarted a plan by sympathizers to bring terror to the streets of Sydney.

It is clear that we must address this threat at its source. That is why Canada has already taken action.

Since August 28, the Canadian Armed Forces has airlifted critical military supplies to the Iraqi forces, including ammunition donated by Albania and the Czech Republic. There have been 25 flights by Hercules transport aircraft and a Globemaster strategic airlift has delivered more than 1.5 million pounds of military supplies.

At the NATO summit in Wales, the Prime Minister announced the deployment of several dozen special operations forces to advise and assist the Iraqi forces. These members are providing strategic and tactical advice. Their goal is to increase the effectiveness of Iraqi and Kurdish troops in operations against ISIL. Their initial 30-day deployment is being extended. Today, the government comes to the House to explain how Canada will continue to do its part.

Over the last month, a broad international coalition of more than 40 countries, led by the United States, has coalesced to confront ISIL. The U.S. recently expanded its air campaign. Australia has committed direct military support, including 600 personnel and 8 F-18 Super Hornet fighters. The United Kingdom has also conducted air strikes, as has France. In addition, 10 Arab countries have pledged their support, with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Bahrain already participating in air strikes.

ISIL's long reach spreads from northern Syria through Kurdistan to Northern Iraq, and it is gaining ground. Now is the time to act. We must help to repel this threat before it unleashes a tidal wave of fundamentalist rule across the entire region.

It is important to understand that our decision is not reflexive or ill considered. We have seen the danger of inaction when governments retreat to an isolationist stance, allowing hatred to fester, terrorists to organize and attacks to be planned. We must prevent further destabilization of the Middle East, a volatile region already marked by chaos, violence and religious strife. We cannot allow it to reach new depths of repression, hatred and bloodshed, not when Canadians are directly threatened, not when our allies are targeted and not when taking action is clearly in our national interest.

This is a reasoned response, carefully considered and commensurate with Canada's intent to provide meaningful contributions to international peace and security. Moreover, our closest ally, the United States, has asked Canada directly to do more to halt the spread of ISIL. We must shoulder our share of the burden.

That is why the Government of Canada will take the following steps.

A strike force of up to six CF-18 hornet fighter aircraft, with associated air crew and logistical support elements, will deploy to conduct air strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq in co-operation with our coalition partners. In addition, a CC-150 Polaris aerial refueller and up to two CP-140 Aurora aerial surveillance aircraft will deploy as part of a key reconnaissance and support capability.

This enabling force will also include airlift capability and several hundred support personnel who will contribute to situation awareness, command and control, and logistical support, as well as assist with the coalition's air combat operations. Furthermore, the current special operations advisory and assistance mission will be extended.

As the Prime Minister stated in the House of Commons on Friday, the Government of Canada will be deploying the assets I have described for a period of up to six months. We will work closely with our allies to evaluate the success of our expanded mission.

As members can see, Canada is taking significant and concrete actions to address the threat of ISIL in Iraq, and to Canada directly, actions that are in line with those of the international coalition, actions that will occur with the consent of the Government of Iraq, and actions that are emblematic of the deep concern expressed by the international community at the murderous rampage of ISIL.

Again, this terrorist group threatens the security and stability of us all. Its leadership has issued a call for attacks to begin in the west. Its leadership has issued a call for attacks on Canada, directly.

Let us not mince words. These are very real threats to Canadians, both at home and abroad. That is why Canada will participate in the coalition against ISIL.

As a natural consequence of involvement, it is possible that there may be risk to our deployed members. However, let me assure members that the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces are ready for any challenge. They are trained and equipped to the highest standards, and they will remain under the command of the Chief of the Defence Staff.

We are urging Parliament to support the government's decision. We will work closely with our allies and partner countries to ensure that Iraq has the support it needs.

Canadians expect their Parliament to take action in the face of an international crisis. In this case, it is an international crisis that directly threatens Canada. We want the support of everyone in the House, and we should get it.

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2 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The hon. minister will have three minutes if he wishes to continue his speech after oral questions.

Special Olympics World Golf CupStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a remarkable young man from my constituency of Brandon—Souris.

Danny Peaslee, who lives in Souris, Manitoba, and is of the young age of 18 years old, became the first-ever Canadian to compete in the Special Olympics World Golf Cup this summer in Denmark.

Danny is no stranger to competing in international golf tournaments. Time and time again he has made all of southwestern Manitoba proud. It was just in 2011 when he won the intercontinental golf tournament, and he has competed in the Special Olympics Canada national tournament.

Through grit and determination, and with the support of his family, coaches and community, Danny has broken down barriers and proven there is no glass ceiling that those with difficulties cannot shatter.

I wish Danny the best of luck in his future endeavours and thank him for being such a tremendous role model for those who struggle day in and day out with disabilities.

World Habitat DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, the first Monday of October, is World Habitat Day. The purpose of this day is to reflect on the state of our cities and the fundamental right of every person to adequate housing. This year's theme is “Voices from Slums”.

I want to take this opportunity to give a voice to members of our first nations whose living conditions, even here in Canada, on or off reserve, are comparable to those of slums in developing countries.

I also want to take this opportunity to remind members that from 2006 to 2013, nearly 45,000 low-income Canadian households were affected by a draconian increase to their rent as a result of the end of long-term social housing agreements. The Conservatives have not taken action, and this situation has not improved.

This is Canada. We have obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which both state that having a “roof over one's head” is a right.

UkraineStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, Ukrainians settled in Canada and helped make this country great. Ukrainians settled in Oshawa and helped make our community great. Canada owes so much to Ukraine.

When I travelled to Ukraine this past spring with the Prime Minister, I had the opportunity to listen to Ukrainians. I was amazed at their courage and optimism during this difficult time.

Now Ukraine is in need of our help. Ukraine not only needs our funds but also Canadian expertise to rebuild their nation.

I am proud that this past Friday at the Lviv Hall, the Oshawa United for Ukraine fundraiser was held, and our community is doing its part to help our close friend and ally during this difficult time. Ukraine can be assured that Oshawa and Canada will vocally and unapologetically stand with them.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Oshawa-Durham region Ukrainian Canadian Congress, volunteers and all our special guests for making this event so successful.