Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to be able to stand here today and support this motion. I will be sharing my time today with the member for Beauport—Limoilou.
I believe that my job as a member of Parliament is to do three things. First, it is to represent my constituents, their values, and their beliefs. Second, I need to stay true to what I believe as an individual. Third, I have to do what I believe is in the best interests of Canadians as a whole. That is why I am so proud that I can support this motion and speak in favour of this motion and, indeed, encourage all members to support this motion, because their constituents would be happy, and the members themselves would be able to have satisfaction that they have done the right thing, and Canadians overall would be served to the best of our abilities.
The motion, among other things, would reaffirm our commitment as Canadians to remain true to our allies and stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the fight against ISIS. It would also reaffirm that a government's top priority should always be to protect the freedoms, democracy, safety, and security of its own citizens. In this case, the Canadian government's top priority should be the safety and security of Canadians.
Supporting this motion is indeed in the best interests of Canadians and, again, it is something I believe my constituents would want me to do. The riding of Portage—Lisgar, which I am very proud of, has a proud and solid history of military service. Men and women from right across the riding have volunteered throughout history to fight for the freedoms we enjoy here in Canada. My riding is just under 13,000 square kilometres. It used to be 14,000 square kilometres, but it has gotten a little smaller. Even within that 12,600 square kilometres, it includes the communities of Portage la Prairie, Oakville, Roseisle, Darlingford, Morden, Winkler, Altona, Carman, Treherne, La Salle, and Morris. That is just to name a few. November 11 is very busy in my riding because all of these communities are honouring not only veterans who have served and those currently serving, but veterans who come from those very towns, cities, villages, and communities.
I am very proud of that, and the people in Portage—Lisgar are very proud because they have never shirked away from their responsibility, whether it is to serve as volunteers, to give, to work and contribute, or in this case, to fight and to sacrifice for military service. For them to now see Canada step back from the fight against ISIS, under the new Liberal government, goes against the very values and history of the people whom I represent in Portage—Lisgar. In fact, many of our pilots who are bravely and skilfully bombing and degrading ISIS right now were trained in Southport. Southport is also located in my riding of Portage—Lisgar. It is just south of Portage la Prairie.
Southport is a former Canadian Forces base, and is now a primary pilot-training centre for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Canadian fighter pilots are some of the very best in the world, and most of them have come through Southport or been in Southport at some point in their career. Today in Iraq, they are doing exactly what they were trained to do and given a mandate to do. That is to bomb, kill, degrade, and destroy barbaric, cruel, immoral, cowardly jihadist terrorists who call themselves ISIS.
Sadly and wrongly, the Liberals have reversed that mandate, based on what, we are actually not quite sure: a campaign pledge; not enough money, they are now saying. We are actually not sure. They have not explained the logic as to why they are withdrawing our military action of our air force against ISIS. Whatever their reason—and again, it has not been clear—it is not based on what is in the best interests of Canadians. It is also not in keeping with Canada's ability to stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies.
A couple of days ago, the Prime Minister was asked about this. It was actually the first day of question period. He was asked about what our allies' position was. We asked why we were not standing with our allies and why we were shirking away. The Prime Minister said, “I have engaged with our allies on these issues and they have reassured me that we are continuing to be helpful”.
The fact that the Prime Minister has to go cap in hand and look for validation and reassurance from our allies for his plan to pull away and back out of being an equal partner just shows that even he is not confident that we are doing enough; nor should he be, because reluctant validation from our allies that we are simply being “helpful” just is not enough. Canada should stand side by side with the international coalition—the Kurds, the people of Iraq and Syria—in their attempt to physically degrade and defeat Daesh.
While Canada should promote the additional humanitarian assistance and step up in the training of local forces, this should not stop us from continuing the bombing campaign alongside these initiatives. As we have reiterated on this side, we support both initiatives. We are not advocating for the status quo; we look forward to a plan from the Liberals, but we should not be backing away.
This morning, in fact, the Minister of National Defence acknowledged that Canada's CF-18s played a phenomenal role in this mission and around the world. He is right. If they are doing a phenomenal job degrading Daesh, and we agree with him, why should they not continue to contribute in such a meaningful way, alongside the additional proposed trainers and humanitarian aid workers, either civilian or military?
There have also been some questions about our legal obligation under the UN to participate. Some would argue that we do not have a legal obligation. I believe we have a moral obligation to fight this death cult. In fact, in 2014 Ban Ki-moon looked back and said that the UN was ashamed of its failure to prevent the genocide in Rwanda.
Do Liberals want us to look back 20 years from now and be ashamed? As one of my colleagues mentioned on this side, this is not a short-term battle; this is long term. I do not believe any of us on this side of the House or on the other side want us to look back 20 years from now in shame. Rather, we want to be able to stand proudly together and know that we did everything we could to fight this death cult.
This is a cult that kills thousands of non-Arab, non-Sunni Muslims, as well as homosexuals, Christians, and other minorities, with summary executions, crucifixions, beheadings, burning people alive, drowning, using rape as a weapon of war, forced marriages to ISIS fighters, and trading women and girls as sex slaves.
Today is the international day of human rights. What a perfect day for us to stand together, to be able to say, 20 years from now, that both Conservative governments and Liberal governments fought the fight against ISIS, and we did not shirk. Liberals traditionally would stand in this fight.
I hope we can look back on this day and be proud that, together as Conservatives and Liberals, we took the fight to ISIS, we did not step back, we stood up, and we were proud Canadians as we did it.