Mr. Speaker, I want to indicate at the outset that I will be splitting my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, the member for Selkirk—Interlake.
I rise with others to take part in what is obviously a very sombre and serious debate. Most would agree that there is never a good time to go to war, but there comes a time in every country's history when the necessity outweighs the risk, and the urgency to defend our way of life, threatened as it is, must be defended. ISIL constitutes a clear and present danger to Canada and our allies. Before us is a debate that has been put before this House with clarity and with intent, which is proposing meaningful and measured responses to a very serious situation.
ISIL is pure evil. There is insufficient hyperbole to do justice to the depth of its depravity, no rhyme or reason to the inhumanity that it brings to this world. Some seem willing to accept this new reality. We live in a global society where terrorism does certainly not respect borders, and to offer platitudes or to attempt to placate fear with the promise of acceptance or tolerance toward this type of action reflects a fundamental disconnect.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately as the case may be, we as a government do not have the luxury of indecision or inaction or denial. Beyond the rhetoric and the partisan lines, when it comes to terrorism we have a responsibility to take up arms against the sea of tyranny and to proactively help to end it. Canadians otherwise predominantly enjoy a life free from fear and far from terror because we have men and women in uniform who are prepared to stand at the ready to defend our way of life at home and abroad. We cannot and we should not stand idly by, hoping that other nations will rise to the challenge on our behalf. What we are doing, we are doing because we have always risen to the occasion, when threatened, and addressed the threat head on.
Also in the news is the scourge of Ebola. Make no mistake about it: ISIL is a human plague; an agent of indiscriminate death and clear threats to humanity.
This way of life is not be taken for granted in Canada. Where we find ourselves today as a nation has come at great cost. It has been defended on the field of battle with the blood of our illustrious ancestors. Our country was literally born on a battlefield, Vimy, according to many historians. Our greatest citizens then, as now, passed through a crucible defending our way of life. All that we hold dear rests on those sacrifices.
We need to recognize that there is a danger in complacency, and explicit in that is the notion that, when called upon, we answer, we do our part. From the privileged platform of minister of defence, I saw first hand the sacrifices made in Canada's name. There is no argument against war as compelling as witnessing first hand a ramp ceremony or a repatriation service, seeing the suffering of loved ones when their loved ones return home. That epitomizes “true patriot love”, as do the sacrifices of those who suffered bodily harm in Canada's name.
Much is at stake. Every breath we take is precious, and the bonds formed in the relationships overseas in conflict have withstood the test of time. We have all heard those stories. We have heard those who have served recount the incredible sacrifices made. However, we do not enjoy the luxury of this bond because they have sacrificed. If there is any comfort that can be passed on to families of the fallen, it lies in the true belief that their loved ones did not die in vain.
What more worthy cause? We saw in Afghanistan, as a result of efforts, little girls now able to go to school, women able to participate in the democratic process and the economy; and our efforts as a free and democratic nation have contributed to an unprecedented change of culture, albeit still fragile. It is the result of much effort on the part of many. Those are the goals to achieve for a new place in the Middle East.
Some members have invoked other images from places like Darfur, places where there have been catalogued the numbers of the dead, and yet it is these factions, those who are at the cause of this destruction and the very threat to humanity, who have come out in the past and in present to pose a direct or indirect threat to Canada, which we cannot leave unchecked.
Some have called for further debate or examination, while our traditional allies are already in the fray.
As tragic as all conflicts are, the faction involved here as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, has called for the very destruction of our way of life in the western world.
Make no mistake. These are current threats. These are real threats. This is not a war against Muslims. This is not a fight between Christianity and Islam. This is an intervention to aid in the restoration of some semblance of security against a perversion of a twisted version of a faith distorted and violence perpetrated against true innocents in that region. Yet it is perpetrated outward. It has been carried via the Internet into the homes of Canadians. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has proven its distortion of faith through extreme acts of terror so callous in nature that even al Qaeda has worked to distance itself from them.
Let us be crystal clear. The evidence to act in defence of Canada is there. ISIL has targeted humanitarian workers, journalists, and citizens. Millions are displaced, and the suffering is enormous. Acts of genocide, rape as a weapon of war, kidnapping, and slavery as a stated intent are threats against our country and theirs.
We have been asked by a democratic state to assist. This brings further justification to our actions.
ISIL, on the other hand, has shown no tolerance and no conscience and has no regard for beliefs or democratic principles other than its own twisted and distorted view of the world. Now it has descended in that region into a type of maniacal barbarism and brutality rarely seen in human history. Comparisons to other conflicts are limited to the worst in world history.
ISIL has waged a brutal, inhumane war, showing equal disregard for women and children, Muslims and Christians alike. Its claim to religious authority over all Muslims worldwide and its goal to bring Muslim-inhabited regions under its own diabolic control and to spread throughout the civilized world cannot go unchecked.
Religious freedom is a fundamental Canadian value that we protect and promote throughout the world.
In addition to military collaboration, we have also sent humanitarian aid in the tens of millions to those affected. It has not been one or the other, but both. We are one of the top donors, in fact, as a country, which again is a source of pride.
We have also helped through immigration. Thousands have been liberated, because they were displaced and left vulnerable as a result of this conflict.
If we must once again put our faith in those who wear the Canadian Forces uniform, we want Canadians to know that it was a decision not taken lightly but is one we have confidence in. We cannot thank those brave men and women in uniform enough. Putting soldiers in harm's way is, as others have said, an undertaking that we must do with extreme caution and deliberation. Asking these brave souls of the Canadian Forces to defend our nation, our way of life, our beliefs, and the rights and freedoms of Canadians at home and abroad weighs heavily on all minds.
However, as a government, we take this responsibility seriously. We believe that parliamentarians should and do have an opportunity in this debate to help to carefully calibrate force and action, which is why we have added another day to this debate and why we have made this a confidence motion.
For a period of up to six months, our forces will launch air strikes against ISIL, along with our allies and partners, including Arab states, utilizing up to nine aircraft and support elements. Humanitarian relief will continue. This is a meaningful, impactful contribution. As always, we will do our part with pride and purpose.
Incremental costs will of course be reported to the Parliament of Canada, as they always are.
The current deployment of 69 members who will be participating in a non-combat advisory role will continue. As the Prime Minister has said, we are not participating in any ground combat mission. We do so in coordination with our closest allies and with the greatest intent in mind to bring about a sense of security in the region.
The dedication and determination of the men and women in uniform that we have witnessed first-hand thus far is inspirational as always. We have a long and storied history when it comes to protecting our system of beliefs and those we count among our closest friends and allies.
There are easier paths we could go down, but we will not shy away from our duty. We will do what is right, honouring our glorious history and preserving our precious future.