Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the motion the government moved to ask the House of Commons to recognize that the terrorist group called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or the Islamic State, has called upon its members numerous times to attack Canada and Canadians. I would also like to express my support for our government's decision to extend Canada's military mission in Iraq.
The Islamic State is a serious threat not only to the security of the Middle East, but also to international peace and security. The group has caused a serious humanitarian and security crisis in Iraq and neighbouring countries. It has displaced over 2 million people. It persecutes religious and ethnic minorities and has killed thousands of innocent men, women and children. It has committed acts of incredible barbarity by beheading journalists and humanitarian workers on camera and burning a Jordanian pilot to death.
The Islamic State's behaviour is sending us a clear message. By destroying the remnants of ancient civilizations, it is showing its contempt for culture and history. Every time it enslaves a woman, it shows its contempt for human equality. Every time it kills an innocent person, it shows its contempt for the sanctity of life.
ISIl claims to have established a caliphate in the territory it controls. It sees this as a means to legitimize its rule, enact sharia law and provide a rallying pride to foreign fighters who believe it is their duty to live under the aegis of the Caliph. They are extremists who believe that anyone who follows a different interpretation of Islam, including moderate Muslims, are all apostates. ISIL seeks to eradicate all people thus identified in the Middle East. We have seen extremely disturbing examples of the atrocities it has committed in the territory it controls, including the death of more than 10,000 civilians.
This terrorist group has called for direct attacks against Canada and Canadians. It inspired and applauded the terrible tragedies in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa and was delighted by the attacks against innocent people in Sydney, Paris, Copenhagen and, just recently, Tunis. Its propaganda incites terrorists to attack civilians and encourages potential fighters to join its fighters on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria.
It is clear that the Islamic State poses a real threat to Canada and Canadians. Our government, together with our allies, has resolved to address this threat directly. We want to respond with force and show that, individually and collectively, we have the necessary determination to significantly degrade their operations.
Last August, the Royal Canadian Air Force began transporting essential military equipment provided by our allies to the Iraqi forces. In total, 25 Hercules transport flights and one Globemaster strategic airlifter delivered more than 700 tonnes of equipment, which was desperately needed.
In September, at the NATO summit held in Wales, the Prime Minister announced that Canada's special operations forces would be deployed as part of an advise and assist mission and would provide tactical and operational advice to improve the effectiveness of the Iraqi forces and the Kurdish peshmerga on the ground.
Then in early October, the government moved a motion asking Parliament to support the extension and expansion of Canada's military contribution to the Government of Iraq.
Canada's current military efforts are part of Operation Impact. This mission is composed of approximately 600 Canadian Armed Forces personnel and it includes a strike force of six CF-18 Hornet fighters, with associated aircrew and logistical support elements, which conducts air strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq in co-operation with coalition partners. An aerial enabling force, comprised of a CC-150 Polaris aerial refueller, up to two CP-140 Aurora aerial surveillance aircraft, and an associated support crew, as part of a key coalition reconnaissance and support capability, contributes to situational awareness, command and control, and logistical support as well as assist with coalition air strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq. The contributions of the Canadian Armed Forces have not only been highly effective but are also highly valued by the coalition.
Over the past six months, the coalition has seen real signs of progress. Through the aerial campaign, the coalition has destroyed ISIL targets in central Iraq and north and northwest of Baghdad in areas that are both controlled and contested by ISIL. These efforts have reduced ISIL's freedom of movement and territorial gain. Thanks in part to Canada's military efforts, ISIL's ability to raise funds for its reign of terror has taken a major hit. Iraqi forces have wrestled the city of al-Baghdadi back from ISIL control and are working to regain Fallujah. In northern Iraq, Iraqi forces are gradually taking back ground east of Mosul, where ISIL is now in a defensive posture.
This progress proves that the situation is improving, but there is still work to be done. More than ever, we must remain steadfast. More than ever, we must demonstrate our commitment, and more than ever we must recognize the importance of continuing this fight that will define a generation. We are combatting a radical interpretation of Islam, an interpretation that results in innocent people being subjected to unbelievable violence and that inspires terrorist threats against Canada and our citizens.
That is why our government is asking Parliament to approve an extension of the Canadian Armed Forces mission in Iraq for a maximum of 12 months, until March 30, 2016. We are also asking Parliament to approve the expansion of the scope of the mission.
As we all know, the Islamic State poses a serious threat to regional security and peace. Although the coalition has managed to stop the advance of the Islamic State, it continues to control a vast territory that covers part of Syria and Iraq. It draws its strength from its presence in these two countries. Since the coalition's air strikes have depleted its reserves and weakened its strongholds in Iraq, it has no choice but to rebuild its forces, take refuge and resupply in Syria.
If we stop the fight at the Iraq border, we will never be able to eliminate these support bases and we will never be able to eliminate this threat. That is why our government is calling on Parliament to support an extension of the air mission so that we can hit targets in Syria. We will not be alone in this mission. The United States is already carrying out air strikes in Syria, with the co-operation of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. We will certainly make a considerable contribution, especially if we consider our targeting capabilities with precision munitions.
There are those within the opposition parties who would reject such action in Syria for fear of even indirectly helping the barbaric regime of Bashar al-Assad. What the opposition MPs refuse to admit is that ISIL is a threat to Canada and Canadians and that we must therefore engage ISIL not only in Iraq, but also in Syria. We continue to hope the Assad regime will be replaced by one that respects human rights and democracy, but in the meantime, we will not allow ISIL to take advantage of the situation in Syria to further victimize people in the region and we will not allow it to continue its threats against Canada.
The terrorist group that we call the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has asked its members to attack Canada. The Islamic State targets ethnic and religious minorities, commits crimes of sexual violence and massacres civilians. That is why we, together with our coalition partners, must deny them freedom of movement in Iraq. We must eliminate its hiding places in Syria and we must do everything in our power to put an end to the horrific violence that it is inflicting on innocent civilians.
We cannot let the hate and fanaticism of the Islamic State spread, take root in the weak and the easily influenced, and create terrorists ready to attack those who do not share their beliefs. That is why we are asking Parliament to support our government's decision, a decision that will continue to help the people of Iraq, a decision that will weaken the Islamic State's threat that looms over Iraq and Syria as well as the threat it poses to Canada, and, lastly, a decision leading to action to combat the atrocities that the Islamic State is committing in the name of a jihad that seeks to spread nothing but death.