Mr. Speaker, asking our brave Canadian women and men in uniform to risk their lives overseas is the most sacred duty that a prime minister has. Seeking approval from this House makes us all responsible for their lives. Seeking a mandate like this must be undertaken, therefore, with the utmost responsibility.
I listened very carefully as the Prime Minister spoke just now, and nothing I heard today has convinced me that the Conservatives are taking this duty with the seriousness it deserves.
You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that we have had this debate before. On September 30, just six months ago, I stood in this House and asked the Prime Minister specifically whether Canadian troops would be involved in directing air strikes in Iraq, in painting targets. I asked him twice, as a matter of fact, and twice the Prime Minister specifically denied it. We now know that simply was not true. I also asked the Prime Minister if Canadian troops would be accompanying Iraqi forces to the front line. Again, the Prime Minister categorically denied that, and again we now know that simply was not true. They say that truth is the first casualty of war. It has become clear that the current government has taken that saying to heart.
Little by little, without any transparency and with one contradictory statement after another by the Prime Minister, the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Conservatives have pushed Canada into a war in Iraq—a war that is not ours to fight. It is a quagmire that has gone on for over a decade, a conflict that has already cost the life of Sergeant Andrew Joseph Doiron, as the Prime Minister just said.
Here we are six months later. This Prime Minister and this government are now asking for permission to extend the deployment in Iraq and to specifically add—the Prime Minister just said so—Syria as a new theatre of operations.
The Prime Minister is asking for our trust so that he can put our troops in danger. Frankly, he has not earned that trust.
The Prime Minister has not earned that trust because he misled Canadians from the start. It is simply unconscionable that the current Conservative government would ask for the authority to extend the mission in Iraq when so many things it has told Canadians about the mission up until now have been false.
It begs the question: Do they not know the answers or do they not want Canadians to know the answers? The women and men who put their lives on the line deserve better; Canadians deserve better.
If we all agree that it is the Prime Minister's sacred duty to send our troops into war, then it is the official opposition's sacred duty to scrutinize that decision to make sure it is the right one.
Military planners will tell us that, for a mission to succeed, it must have two things. It must have a well-defined objective and a well-defined exit strategy. This mission has neither. The Conservatives simply have no plan. They have no strategy, other than the obvious political one, and that is putting our troops in danger.
Our brave men and women are involved in fire fights with ISIS on the ground, contrary to their clear undertaking. For the Prime Minister to still deny that Canadian troops are involved in combat is simply ludicrous. The death of Sergeant Doiron reminded us all that the risk of deployment on the front line is real. This House cannot turn a blind eye to this fact, despite the Prime Minister's assertions.
The truth is that our allies, the Americans for instance, do not even get close to the front line. In their role of targeting air strikes, the Canadian soldiers are performing a task that so far even the U.S. military has been unwilling to perform.
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has repeatedly said that the U.S. would consider directing attacks from the ground but that it has not done so yet. Why not, and why are Canadian troops doing it?
Clearly, the lack of clear objectives did not stop this Prime Minister from supporting George W. Bush's war in 2003. However, history shows that Canada was right in choosing not to participate at the time.
However, it is clear today that our Prime Minister is not at all concerned about the lack of clear objectives. He seems to want his war in Iraq, just as he wanted it in 2003, regardless of the consequences. Canada initially joined the war in Iraq for a 30-day mission. Thirty days became six months. Now, six months later, the government wants to add another year. What will happen then? That is the question. The Conservatives do not know. Canadians do not know. What is worse, the Conservatives refuse to say.
We need to remember Canada's involvement in the war in Afghanistan, a war that, for Canada, also started with our special forces participating in some very limited operations. At the time, facing insults and jeers, Alexa McDonough and the NDP caucus asked the government the necessary questions, tough questions. Then, as now, the initial mission transformed over time, which led us into a quagmire, as we predicted.
The deployment in Afghanistan became the longest military mission in Canada's history: 160 soldiers were killed, more than 1,000 were wounded and thousands of others suffered and still suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
It is the height of irresponsibility for a government to decide to enter a war without a clear plan, without a clear beginning and a well-defined end. However, that is exactly what the Conservatives are doing in Iraq. The government is taking Canada from mission creep to mission leap.
New Democrats are proud to have stood up to the Prime Minister's misguided war from the very beginning. The fact is that Canada has no place in this war. This is not—