House of Commons Hansard #190 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was isil.


Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members


Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

March 26th, 2015 / 10:15 a.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario


Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs


That, whereas:

(i) the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has repeatedly called on its members to target Canada and Canadians at home and abroad;

(ii) ISIL poses a clear and active threat to the people of the Middle East, including members of vulnerable religious and ethnic minority groups who have been subjected to a brutal and barbaric campaign of sexual violence, murder, and intimidation by ISIL;

(iii) unless confronted with strong and direct force, the threat that ISIL poses to Canada and to international peace and security, will grow;

(iv) Canada desires, consistent with Canadian values and interests, to protect the vulnerable and innocent civilians of the region, including through urgent humanitarian assistance;

(v) the Government of Iraq has requested military support against ISIL from members of the international community, including from the Government of Canada;

(vi) Canada is part of a broad international coalition of allies and partners, including numerous countries of the Middle East, committed to the fight against ISIL;

(vii) the United Nations Security Council remains seized of the threat posed by international terrorism with the unanimous passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178;

(viii) the deployment of Royal Canadian Air Force assets has played an important role in degrading, destabilising, and weakening ISIL's position and operations in the region;

(ix) the advise and assist mission of the Canadian Special Operations Forces in Northern Iraq has increased the capabilities of Kurdish-Iraqi Security Forces to combat ISIL; and

(x) continuing to degrade ISIL will require striking its operations and infrastructure where they are located, including in Syria;

Accordingly, this House:

(a) continues to support the Government's decision to contribute Canadian military assets to the fight against ISIL, and terrorists aligned with ISIL, including air strike capability with authorisation to conduct airstrikes in Iraq and Syria;

(b) supports the Government's decision to extend the mission to a date not beyond March 30, 2016;

(c) notes that the Government continues not to deploy troops in a ground combat role; and

(d) offers its resolute and wholehearted support to the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces who stand on guard for all of us.

Mr. Speaker, over the last year we have witnessed the growth of global extremism and brutality. It has shocked Canadians, and it has compelled their government to act.

Instability plaguing Syria continues to spill across the borders with refugee camps the size of cities emerging throughout the region. I visited one of those camps just a couple of weeks ago in northern Iraq and spoke to the Yazidis, Syrian Christians and others. They recounted their tales of horror.

I rise before this House to report that of all those I have met, those who were persecuted, people are on the run because the tyranny that was about to be levied on them was too great to bear. Indeed, the campaign that the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has launched is also being felt around the world, from North Africa to South Asia, from social media to the streets in front of our own Parliament.

ISlL's campaign threatens Canadian citizens. It threatens the very foundation upon which our society is based. It does so through fear, oppression and tyranny. It does so through a culture of violence, ruling by brutal and barbaric intimidation.

Although the threat of terrorism continues to evolve, our reaction to this threat persists as the greatest test for this generation. This is fundamentally a test of our values, of our national character and a test of our will as a country and as a nation. The resolve of Canadians has carried us through wars and depressions, through hard times and through great uncertainty.

Like every other test of tyranny, Canadians will rise to the moment. My faith in our country to meet this moment with moral clarity, as we have in every other moment that has defined our nation, will never be diminished.

The scale of ISIL's ambition cannot be overstated. From between the ancient Euphrates and Tigris rivers, these brutal terrorists seek to establish a caliphate from which it promises territorial expansion and religious persecution.

We know that ISIL has set upon the task of organizing their campaign of atrocities. In areas where they operate from inside Syria, they enslave countless people, many Muslims, under the so-called Sharia-based courts. They fashioned a so-called capital for themselves inside Syria in the ancient city of Raqqa, once the capital of the Abbasid caliphate. Their leadership al-Baghdadi has crowned himself a so-called caliph while preaching his perversion of Islam from a Mosul mosque.

What has come of this? In their wake, they have a left an unprecedented humanitarian crisis drenched in the blood of the persecuted: millions of refugees, including religious minorities, fleeing for their lives across the region; brutal mass executions, surmountable to war crimes; the widespread use of rape and sexual violence against women and children; the emergence of slave markets where minority women are bought and sold as sex slaves by violent terrorists; the destruction of ancient relics and treasured religious heritage.

Just over six months ago, the world witnessed the Yazidis, who braved the heat with nothing but the clothes on their backs, as they made their way up Mount Sinjar surrounded by ISIL. We witnessed the Syrians being forced from the Nineveh Plains, their ancestral homeland, and early churches desecrated as they sought shelter in schools and churches in northern Iraq.

We pray for those who were unable to escape, those who have fallen into ISIL's tyranny, and those who have been murdered by ISIL's gangsters or enslaved by ISIL's thugs. We pray that their families know justice, that our efforts from our afar offer some comfort.

Needless to say, this is one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes of our century thus far. Let me be clear, this catastrophe was not caused by an act of nature. It was created by acts of unambiguous evil inspired by a fanatical ideology. ISIL is based on an ideology of hatred and brutal persecution, one that seeks to erase a history of cultural diversity and pluralism, and rewrite it based on a depraved narrative that utterly rejects the inherent dignity of every human being.

However, ISIL's ideology is not limited to Iraq and Syria alone. Beyond the region, it has inspired a cult of violence with a global reach. Left unchecked, this terrorist threat is sure to grow and continue to grow quickly. Indeed as recent events have shown, Canada is not immune to ISIL's ideology. While the loudest threats emanate from abroad, they exist here at our home and have been felt in these very halls.

As our Prime Minister has noted, ISIL seeks to destroy the kind of open, free, diverse society that Canadians have chosen and have defended throughout our history. As this menace grows, so too does our responsibility to act to do our part in defence of human dignity and values.

In his response to the statement of the Prime Minister in the House on Tuesday, the leader of the Liberal Party stated that our government's case must be, “based on clear and reliable, dispassionately presented facts”. The facts are clear. ISIL has declared war on Canada by name and seeks to wage its jihad against our people. No matter how these facts are communicated, Canadians know that the leaders of the opposition parties will dismiss them and with that are dismissing Canadian values.

Canadians want their government to take action, and that is exactly what we are doing.

Over the last six months, in concert with our western and regional allies, like the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Jordan, we have been standing in support of the Iraqi state to maintain stability in the region and to halt ISIL's campaign of terror in Iraq.

As my colleague, the Minister of National Defence, will more fully describe, we have provided valuable military resources to the coalition. Through our combat mission, Canada is degrading ISIL's operations and is advising and assisting those who aim to reclaim ISIL-held territory. However, as our government has consistently said, a military contribution is only part of Canada's response. In fact, our government is pursuing a multi-faceted approach in the face of this crisis. We are acting with both compassion and strength. That is what standing up for Canada means.

Through our humanitarian support, Canada has provided food to 1.7 million people, shelter and relief supplies to another 1.2 million in need, and has improved access to education for up to 500,000 children. Our assistance has helped to provide four million litres of kerosene to 23,000 families across Iraq.

Our assistance has also helped to provide safe drinking water for 760,000 people, half of them children.

We have provided hygiene kits for 466,000 people. We have provided rapid life-saving assistance to over 240,000 highly vulnerable people through UNICEF's rapid response mechanism. With the onset of winter, we have reached almost 60,000 children with warm clothing and materials. Almost 1.5 million people received food assistance through our support through the World Food Programme. We have also helped support Syrian refugees in Iraq with food, water, shelter and protection.

While in Erbil this month, I visited one of the refugee camps and saw first-hand the devastation caused by this crisis. However, I also saw Canadians providing medical aid at a clinic funded by the Canadian government. Seeing the tangible difference we are making to the victims of ISIL is a reminder to everyone of the important humanitarian assistance Canada is rightfully providing.

Indeed, Canada is ranked sixth among the major donors of humanitarian aid to Syria, and fifth in aid to Iraq. This makes Canada one of the largest per capita donors in the world.

We are also providing support and protection for survivors of sexual violence and assisting those targeted on the basis of their faith.

Canada must continue to address the growing abuse of women and girls, bringing justice and relief to survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are ultimately held to account. These actions are abhorrent violations of the most basic principles of civilization and of human decency.

Together, we are proud of the efforts that Canada and our coalition partners are doing to help millions of innocent civilians recover from ISIL's terror. In addition, and in concert with our coalition partners, we are working to disrupt ISIL's illicit financing, counter extremist narratives, and stem the flow of foreign fighters to and from the front lines.

Through our diplomatic efforts, Canada has also heightened its engagement with regional leaders. In the last weeks, I have met with our allies in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Iraq, including the Kurdistan region, and we will continue to work closely with them.

In the face of this ongoing humanitarian catastrophe, more will need to be done. Our government will ensure that more will continue to be done.

I can assure Canadians that our government intends to provide large-scale humanitarian and stabilization assistance to help alleviate the suffering this terror group is inflicting. However, in order for this assistance to be effective, we must degrade ISIL. This is why we seek the support of this House for our decision to extend and expand Canada's military mission for up to one year so that, with our allies, we can continue to fight Islamic jihadism, which threatens both national and global security.

Although we have seen ISIL's capacities degraded, we continue to see it move its fighters and material across the border into Syria. We cannot permit violent ideologies to fester in ungoverned spaces. ISIL cannot have a safe haven.

This is why seek support to join our allies, who have been attacking ISIL in Syria. We ask that the Canadian Armed Forces conduct air strikes against ISIL targets in Syria on the same basis as our coalition allies: the threat that ISIL poses to Iraq.

Our air strikes in Syria have one goal and one goal only, and that is to degrade ISIL. These threats cannot be wished away by pious rhetoric. Canada will not choose to stand on the sidelines during a crisis that demands both strength and compassion.

The road ahead will not be without obstacles.

The region's deep-seated ethnic and sectarian divisions will not be resolved overnight. The volatile security environments of Iraq and Syria will not be easily stabilized, and the humanitarian crisis that afflicts these nations, sadly, cannot be reversed at once. While we are working with our closest friends and trusted partners, there are others who are pursuing their own agendas at the expense of our shared goals of lasting stability and unity.

We harbour no delusions about these obstacles, but the fact remains, in responding to this threat, Canada stands at a crossroad in history. We may either stand on the sidelines or take real and measured actions.

ISIL's barbarity is an affront to human dignity and to the civilized world. It threatens the very principles that shape Canada's national identity and guide our engagement on the global stage. Its violent ideology and expansionist agenda jeopardize Canadian interests and threaten Canadian citizens.

When Canadian values and Canadian citizens are under siege, we cannot afford to stand on the sidelines and preach moral virtue. We cannot speak of supporting the mission and our soldiers in one breath while voting against them in the next. These serious and consequential times call for serious and consequential leadership.

We must act with compassion, with strength and with moral clarity. We must defend what is right.

In partnership with our coalition allies, Canada is working across multiple lines of effort to halt ISIL's campaign of terror and restore the stability that those in the region so greatly deserve.

Our resolve in this operation remains strong. Let me be clear, our commitment is ultimately to the people of Syria and Iraq for whom terror and tyranny have been inflicted, and for whom must remain the promise of a future in peace and freedom.

With that, I urge all members of the House to support this motion.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the government had taken the position, first of all, that we were going to go to Iraq for 30 days to advise and assist, but then we went into a six-month mission, which was to engage in combat, but not to accompany any Iraqi forces to the front lines, to engage in combat or to do anything of that nature on the ground. Yet, that is what happened.

Now we are there for another year, but that is not the end. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of National Defence and the Prime Minister have said that we will be there for the long haul.

This mission has no end. In fact, today we are hearing different objectives from the Minister of Foreign Affairs than we have heard from the Minister of National Defence, who is talking about not degrading ISIL but defeating ISIL.

What is the objective of the Conservative government? Do the Conservatives plan to keep shifting the sand when it suits them, or are they going to have a defined objective so that the people of Canada would then know how long we might be in this war?

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly one of the things this government has done. We have been open and transparent. We have given continual upgrades to the public and to the members of the opposition and we have brought this matter before Parliament.

It could be argued that this is within the crown's prerogative, and it certainly is within the crown's prerogative. However, the government has placed these matters before the House of Commons for its support, and I think appropriately so, so that Canadians can be aware of exactly what we are doing.

As you read out the motion before this House, Mr. Speaker, it is very clear. We are extending this mission up to a year. We will continue with our special forces and their advise and assist role with the Kurdish peshmerga, and we will extend the air strikes of the Royal Canadian Air Force in concert with our allies from Iraq into Syria as well.

We have made progress and we have been very upfront with that. ISIL is in the process of being degraded. They have withdrawn from certain areas and have been confined to certain areas. They have had equipment and individuals destroyed.

That said, we cannot let them have free rein in Syria. We cannot have a situation that allows them to cross the border, and that is exactly what we are aiming at with this motion.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party has been clear that it is not in the Canadian national interest to enter into a combat mission in Syria when the combat mission that has been proposed there is unfocused and potentially unending.

I did not hear anything in the minister's comments that would clarify what the on-the-ground objectives are—“degrading ISIL” is pretty broad—or what an exit strategy for Canada might be in this conflict. In fact, when Evan Solomon, on Power and Politics, asked the Minister of National Defence who would take over should ISIL be cleared from Syria, he answered, “I don't know how this is going to end.” This is not a signal that there is a clear objective and an exit strategy.

Our concern is that this would enable the Syrian president to consolidate power as someone who has murdered 133,000 of his own citizens. Could the minister explain just what might happen should the coalition be successful in removing ISIL from the Syrian area? Who would be in power?

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to have a debate sometime and have the Liberals explain exactly where they are on this thing, but I appreciate that is for another time and another day.

The idea that just because we do not support the Assad regime—and we do not—ISIL should therefore have free rein or a free ride to move into Syria is completely unacceptable. We have seen, as ISIL has been degraded within Iraq, that they have been moving heavy equipment and personnel into Syria, and they cannot or should not be given a free ride just because we disagree with the government in Syria. We are not prepared to do that. That is exactly why we are doing this. It is so there is no safe haven for ISIL.

We know of the terrible consequences that ISIL has inflicted upon people in the region. It is completely unacceptable, and unlike the Liberal Party, our efforts have been completely consistent in that regard. The idea that we should sit on the sidelines and babble about this and be completely incomprehensible is unacceptable to this government and, I think, to the people of Canada.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick


Robert Goguen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, it was pretty apparent from the hon. member's speech that the basis of our actions is a war that has been declared against Canada and its values, and of course ISIL is the ominous enemy.

It is pretty apparent that the objective of this mission is to protect Canadian citizens. While the war may seem very far away, is it not true that, in essence, the whole issue of this war is to protect Canada's soil, Canada's citizens, and ultimately the public safety of law-abiding Canadian citizens?

I wonder if the minister could comment on that objective.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to. I want to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice for all of his help, support, and interest in this important mission.

We have been very clear that there is a direct threat to Canada. I have to say it. Maybe we will hear this in the speeches today. When I heard the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the Liberal Party talk, I did not hear anything about the direct threat to Canada. ISIL has declared war on Canada. We have seen that. We have seen its rhetoric. We have seen its actions.

We have made it very clear that, yes, we are there to support Iraq. We are there to support Syria. We are supporting our coalition partners in that area, but in helping to degrade ISIL there, we are helping to protect ourselves against this menace.

ISIL has made it very clear that we are targets as well. That is another reason that we have always been so consistent that it is impossible for this country to stand on the sidelines against this threat.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Minister of Foreign Affairs just misspoke, and I will give him a chance to correct what he said. I just heard him say “We are there to support Syria.”

This is a deeply complex and mutually contradictory position that the administration and the Prime Minister are attempting to put forward. It is the idea that we can violate the sovereign integrity of another nation state, Syria, by conducting bombing missions in that state. We seem to think that international law only applies when we want to criticize Mr. Putin for violating the sovereign integrity of Ukraine. When we play games with international law, we are looking at finding ourselves with nowhere safe to stand.

As this mission is being proposed, we will put Canadian pilots into harm's way and violate the sovereign integrity of a country run by a brutal dictator, Bashar al-Assad, in the hope that he will not retaliate against that violation of his sovereignty because we will be taking aim at his enemies, ISIL. In the west, we used to think that ISIL members were rebels against Bashar al-Assad, so certainly they were better than Bashar al-Assad. We now seem to think that they might not be better than Bashar al-Assad.

Whose side are we on? Do we have any idea how this will play out in international law?

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, again, we have been very clear that we do not support the Assad regime. We have been very clear and consistent on that. However, the innocent people within Syria and our allies within Syria do need the support of the coalition, and that is exactly what we are providing.

The hon. member is worried about the legal risk. I believe that the legal risks are low, but the risk to security if we do nothing is very high. That is something that the hon. member does not seem to get. The idea that ISIL could have free rein within Syria because we do not like the government of Assad or do not support the Syrian regime is no excuse.

Consistent with international law and consistent with what our allies have had to say, we will join the coalition, and we are asking for the support of Parliament.

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt or question from the opposition side that the crimes perpetrated by ISIS are appalling and abhorrent. There have been mass killings, sexual violence, slavery, forced displacement, and the destruction of holy and historic sites. In Iraq alone, the violence has led to the displacement of 2.5 million civilians and left 5.2 million in need of humanitarian assistance.

ISIL has committed heinous crimes, including mass killings, sexual violence, forced displacement and the destruction of holy sites. The violence ISIL perpetrates is entirely unjustifiable and entirely contrary to Islam. The crisis in Iraq and Syria is undermining peace and stability in the region.

The situation in Iraq and Syria demands an international response. The NDP has called for Canada to contribute to that international response since last June.

When I first asked the government to help Iraqis displaced by the ISIS invasion of Mosul, it was last June, and at the time the issue was obscure to the government. In fact, I raised the threat with the minister directly. His response was blunt. He pointed to previous U.S. failures in Iraq and said, “They broke it; they fix it.”

One month later, we called on the government to support Iraqi governance and security in response to the ISIS threat. We recognized then, as we do now, that only responsible, inclusive governance in Iraq will allow Iraqis to take control of their own country and their own destiny and build their own peace.

Canada must act. We must do so in a way that we can best add value to the international coalition and in a way that respects international law and our values as a country.

We believe that Canada must act immediately to save lives. We remain as clearly and resolutely opposed as ever to the Conservatives' ill-defined combat mission.

Unfortunately, the concerns I raised when I spoke on the original motion six months ago are still very valid. In fact, I want to read out now what I said then, six months ago. This is what I said:

The motion we are debating today is ill-defined and ill-conceived. It offers no plan and no exit strategy. Shockingly, there are no new humanitarian commitments....

Just as shockingly, there are no territorial limits on operations. Nearly every other member of the coalition has explicitly ruled out air strikes in Syria; the Prime Minister explicitly ruled them in.

...the motion we are debating today would open that door to air strikes there—or anywhere, for that matter.

There are also no restrictions on who could be included in the category of “terrorists allied with ISIL”. ...

There are very few details in the motion on our deployment of “military assets”. Could these go beyond the nine planes and 600 troops currently committed? We just do not know.

Also, there is no requirement for Parliament to be consulted...if the mission is expanded or extended.

That was all true then. Unfortunately, it is also true now, except now it is worse. The new motion does not rule out the possibility of deploying ground combat troops in the future. In his speech earlier this week, the Prime Minister opened the door to a further expansion, saying: “...we must avoid if we can taking on ground combat responsibilities in this region. We seek to have the Iraqis do this themselves....”

In other words, the government will do its best, but there are no promises. With the government's record, that is far from reassuring.

There are other disturbing features of this new mission as well. Whereas the previous objective was to “degrade” ISIS, now the Minister of Defence apparently wants to “defeat” ISIS. This implies a much longer commitment. It also highlights the need for an exit strategy that the government does not seem to have.

Of course, the new motion extends Canadian air strikes into Syria without a UN or NATO mandate and without the permission of the Syrian government. This is dangerous in three ways. First, the action may well be illegal. Second, the government has done nothing to show otherwise or to show that it takes international law seriously at all.

After the Prime Minister belittled and joked about international law yesterday afternoon, the government was forced to move quickly to cover up the fact that it had not sent notice of its intention to the UN Security Council, as is required in cases of self-defence. The legal case that bombing in Syria constitutes any form of self-defence has not been made.

The legal case for this war is made even weaker by a change in the text of this motion compared with the one from October. The previous motion targeted ISIS and its allies. The motion in front of us targets ISIS and “aligned groups”, opening the door to a much larger role for Canada in the so-called war on terrorism.

Second, since Canadian pilots will be flying in Syria without ground support, the likelihood of mistakes that kill innocent people is far greater. In fact, the U.S. has excluded Syria from its own standards to prevent civilian casualties and has admitted that it does not have a clear idea of the results of its bombing in Syria. The government is apparently preparing a messaging campaign for if and when civilians are killed, but it has not said how it will prevent civilian deaths in the first place.

Even if pilots are able to identify targets, they will sometimes, inevitably, identify the wrong targets. As Lieutenant General James Terry, the top U.S. commander overseeing the anti-ISIS operation, said last year:

We have some great capability in terms of precision. What's in the balance here if you're not careful is you can be precisely wrong.... And you could create a very bad situation.

Of course, civilian deaths increase the ability of ISIS to use air strikes as a recruitment tool.

Third, bombing ISIS in Syria supports the brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad. The Assad regime has used barrel bombs and chemical weapons against children, women, and men in Syria. Assad is directly responsible for a civil war that has cost some 220,000 lives, over 100 times more than ISIS.

We have heard disturbing reports that the Assad regime is collaborating with ISIS, and Syrian opposition groups report that Assad's forces are exploiting the gaps created by bombing to take over more territory. By bombing in Syria, we reduce the prospects for a lasting political solution without Assad, which is needed to resolve the broader conflict.

It goes without saying that Canada must do something about ISIL. Our response must be serious and significant. The question is, what should Canada do? How can we be most helpful, not just in the short run but in defeating ISIL over the long term?

I want to make one thing very clear: we do not need to shoot missiles or drop bombs in order to prove that we take this threat seriously. Over 60 countries are helping to defeat ISIL, and the vast majority are not taking part in air strikes.

From the beginning, the NDP has been proactive and consistent not just in opposing the military mission but in proposing a practical and principled alternative. In the fall, New Democrats called on the government to do four concrete things: support the construction of refugee camps, help victims of sexual violence, assist in protecting ethnic and religious minorities, and encourage the international prosecution of war crimes. To the former minister's credit, he agreed to all of these. He even acted on some of them, but there is so much more that remains to be done.

I have been disappointed to hear the new minister repeat time and time again that Canada is doing its share. There are children freezing in Dohuk refugee camps in Kurdistan. A quarter of Lebanon's population is, in fact, Syrian refugees, pushing that already fragile country to the brink.

A majority of the UN humanitarian appeals for Iraq and Syria remain unfunded. When the need is so great, so obvious, so tragic, and so compelling, I do not find it acceptable for the minister to shrug and say that Canada has done its share. The truth is that most of those in need in Iraq are not in ISIS-controlled territory. They are refugees, internally displaced persons, and people whose livelihoods have been stolen from them by chaos and carnage. They are victims of ISIS, and Canada can help them now.

During last year's debate, I told the story of an encounter I had with a group of young Iraqi children in a refugee camp. I hope those children survived the winter. If they did, they almost certainly still need our help. Now as then, we need to be smart about how we deliver.

At the foreign affairs committee, we have just concluded a study that the NDP requested on Canada's response to ISIS. The committee has heard from a diverse group of witnesses, including academics, civil society representatives, and community organizations. The message from witnesses has been clear: Canada must respond to ISIS; a response must be smart, responsible and comprehensive; and we need a strategy based on international co-operation to both respond to ISIS on the ground and to prevent radicalization and extremism abroad.

We have clear guidance in these areas from existing UN Security Council resolutions on ISIS: 2170, 2178, and 2199. None of these authorizes a military mission. However, the Security Council is requiring action to prevent the flow of foreign fighters, financing, and resources to ISIS and other terrorist organizations. While air strikes are being used as a recruitment tool for ISIS, these UN measures tackle the networks and structures that ISIS and other extremist organizations use to recruit and spread their ideology and their influence.

The Government of Canada should take immediate and specific steps to meet its international obligations in these areas. As part of that effort, the government should immediately sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty, which it refuses to sign, to demonstrate commitment to ending the flow of weapons to illegal armed groups and human-rights abusers.

The government should also partner with domestic communities to develop a strategy to counter radicalization here in Canada. In fact, the one program that had existed the Conservatives cut. Canada can lead the way as the international coalition develops a strong campaign of counter-extremist messaging, exposing the brutality of ISIS and the lack of a religious basis for its atrocities.

Finally, Canada can do a great deal more to help build the inclusive, responsible governance in Iraq that all the experts agree is needed for a lasting solution after ISIS.

As one of the witnesses at committee, University of Waterloo professor Bessma Momani, stated, “If you don't provide sustainable institutions that can fill that vacuum, it will just be another acronym that will fill that space”. I could not agree with her more.

That is where Canada's expertise and Canada's potential lie. We can save lives. We can build peace to help the people in Iraq.

We in the NDP strongly believe that Canada has unparalleled expertise to respond to this crisis, and we must put that expertise to good use.

This country is better than the legally dubious and strategically ignorant motion of the government. That is why I am very proud to present the following amendment on behalf of the official opposition.

I move that Government Business No. 17 be amended by the following:

(a) replacing the words “the threat that ISIL poses to Canada and to international peace and security, will grow” with the words “from capable and enabled local forces, the threat ISIL poses to international peace and security, including to Canadian communities, will continue to grow”;

(b) replacing the word “2178” with the words “2170, 2178, and 2199”;

(c) deleting sections (viii), (ix) and (x); and

(d) deleting all the words after the word “Accordingly,” and substituting the following: “this House calls on the Government to:

a. end the participation of Canadian Forces troops in combat, air strikes and advise-and-assist training in Iraq and Syria as soon as possible;

b. boost humanitarian aid in areas where there would be immediate, life-saving impact, including assisting refugees with basic shelter and food needs; and investing in water, sanitation and hygiene, health and education for people displaced by the fighting;

c. work with our allies in the region to stabilize neighbouring countries, strengthen political institutions and assist these countries in coping with an influx of refugees;

d. contribute to the fight against ISIL, including military support for the transportation of weapons;

e. provide assistance to investigation and prosecution of war crimes;

f. increase assistance for the care and resettlement of refugees impacted by this conflict;

g. work to prevent the flow of foreign fighters, finances, and resources to ISIL, in accordance with our international obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2170, 2178, and 2199;

h. put forward a robust plan of support for communities and institutions working on de-radicalization and counter-radicalization;

i. report back on the costs of the mission and humanitarian assistance provided to date on a monthly basis to the Standing Committee on Foreign affairs and International Development, until Canadian involvement is concluded; and

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

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta


Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister for Multiculturalism

Mr. Speaker, I find the NDP's position as expressed in that amendment to the motion completely incoherent. The amendment calls for war crimes investigations, but opposes military action to prevent the commission of the very said war crimes.

In the last two days we have been visited in Ottawa by leaders of the Canadian, Iraqi, Syrian, Chaldean, Yazidi, Kurdish, Shia, secular Sunni, Arab communities, all of whom have enthusiastically endorsed the motion before the House on the extension and expansion of the Canadian military operation against this genocidal terrorist organization. I emphasize the word genocidal.

There used to be a time when the NDP, representing the Canadian left, supported efforts to combat genocide. Whatever happened to that NDP? Whatever happened to the NDP's commitment to the international convention on the prevention of genocide? Whatever happened to its support for the concept of the responsibility to protect?

If the responsibility to protect means anything, and I do not mean the kind that is encumbered by the vetoes of Russia and China at the United Nations Security Council, but the principle of it, does it not mean that in instances such as this, preventing genocide, preventing ethnic cleansing, preventing sexual slavery of women and preventing the execution of gay men by throwing them off towers?

The member talks about humanitarian relief. The point of our military operation is to prevent more IDPs, more refugees, more victims and more genocide. Does the member not understand that had we not begun this military operation several months ago, there would have been thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of additional victims of ISIL's genocide? Does he not think we therefore have a moral responsibility to actually act and prevent the creation of yet more victims?

Military Contribution Against ISILGovernment Orders

11 a.m.


Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is sad when we hear the minister and his conflated rhetoric. Here he goes again. He cannot get his head around the fact that out of the 60 countries in this coalition, we are all seized with dealing with this crisis.

With the Conservative government, it is all about its domestic politics. What have the Conservatives done? They have conflated the situation to the point where they are actually being reckless in their actions. Let me give a couple of examples of how reckless they are.

Just yesterday, the Prime Minister ridiculed the whole notion of Canada being a responsible actor vis-à-vis international law. Either the Conservatives had no idea of what our responsibility was with regard to section 51, or they decided they would just make it a joke. Either way, it is irresponsible and entirely reckless.

It was really interesting, because just after our leader asked the Prime Minister, in a very sanguine way, if we were going to abide by international law, if we were going to fulfill it at least the bare minimum, because it is still controversial in the way that section 51 could be used, the Prime Minister made fun of him as being somehow in line with the lawyers from ISIL.

Just an hour after that, the government flip-flopped and had to admit that it was going to be informing the UN. That shows the credibility of the government, the credibility of the minister and the credibility of this action being taken in the motion.

It is reckless, it is ill-informed and it shows the kind the rhetoric the Conservatives use, unfortunately, on a very serious issue.

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11:05 a.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the proposed amendment by the member with a great deal of interest. There are certainly some amendments with which the Liberal Party would agree.

He mentioned that the NDP would oppose the military training mission in Iraq. Is the NDP opposed to all aspects of a military mission, even if it were well behind the front lines, which is where the advise and assist mission was intended to be and was promised to be by the Prime Minister in the first place? We know it then morphed into something more of a combat role, but it was originally planned for training and assisting Iraqi troops so they could protect their peoples and their communities. Is that something the NDP does not support?

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11:05 a.m.


Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know it is difficult for the Liberal Party on this one. We have been very clear. We would take our soldiers out of theatre. The reason is by example of the government. It was never defined what they should do.

When the government first came forward and said that we would send forces on the ground, we said that we should have a debate and a vote as per the Prime Minister's promise, which he broke. The Liberal Party said that was not a problem, that it would keep an eye on it, but that the government had better not cross the line. The Conservatives crossed a couple of lines, including the front lines. Therefore, unlike the Liberal Party, we believe we should have a clear strategy with clear oversight. We did not have that.

The former minister of foreign affairs and I were asked to provide humanitarian support, all the things I enumerated, of which apparently the Minister of National Defence was not aware. I do not know if the two talked about this before. However, these were the things we were asked to do, including by the religious minority groups. That is why it is in our motion. All of this to say that what members see in the amendment in front of them could not be clearer.

The problem for the Liberal Party is that it does not know where it stands. It is important in this debate that it be absolutely clear. What would it do if it were to become government? Would it withdraw or not? We have said we would because we believe the smart and responsible thing to do is to do what we have been asked to do by the Iraqis, by the people on the ground.

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11:05 a.m.


Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I remember debating the government's position on the war in Syria a few years ago in the House. The government refused to pressure Russia and China into helping Syria, where civil war had just broken out. It even refused to help the neighbouring countries, such as Turkey and Lebanon, which are currently taking in millions and millions of Syrian refugees.

The government was unable to be proactive about that conflict and now it is telling us this is the only solution there is. It refused to act in the early days of the Syrian conflict and, four years later, it is telling us there is no other choice. It refused to be proactive about the conflict, refused to help the countries that were helping Syria, and refused to pressure its own allies into passing a UN Security Council resolution on Syria.

Now, here are the Conservatives, trying to teach us a lesson, but we have no lessons to learn from them. I would like my colleague to say a few words about about.

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11:05 a.m.


Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is indicative of the government to come to the game late and then react instead of act. What I mean by that is when I went to the government back in June and said that we needed to be seized with this and I offered some contacts of people to get in touch with, it was not interested. It was not interested in reaching across the aisle.

I will give the former minister of foreign affairs credit because he did ask me and my colleague from the Liberal Party to go and do an assessment on the ground. The problem was our assessment and what we heard and what the government did were two different things. No one asked us to send in air strikes. The government could not even tell the truth about how we ended up in the air strikes. It made it sound as if it was asked to do it. We offered it, and of course the Americans said sure. Why would they not? This is how misdirected and reckless the policy of the government is.

I will finish with this. If we oppose the government in its direction, it is viewed as if we do not care. I would have thought we were passed that point. We saw that when we debated Afghanistan. Clearly, that is in the DNA of the government. It cannot reach across the aisle. It cannot have a debate without going for the jugular. It undermines this debate and also undermines the institution of Parliament. We should be able to bring our ideas forward and say what we think about it. It is insulting and demeaning for the government to then say that because our ideas differ from its that we somehow do not care. Canadians deserve a lot better.

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11:10 a.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the government's motion to extend and expand Canada's mission in Iraq. Liberal Party members do not support this motion to seek Parliament's consent for an unfocused and potentially unending mission because it is not in the Canadian interest.

ISIL poses a real and serious threat to security around the world and in Canada. We recognize that. Liberals believe that Canada must be part of the international effort against ISIL. As one of 60 nations participating in the coalition against this ideological extremist and terrorist scourge, Canada must play a constructive role. We must make the best contribution we can, one that serves our national interest.

The mission proposed by the Prime Minister does not measure up. It has an unclear legal basis, unclear mission objectives and an open-ended scope. Overwhelmingly, it fails the national interest test.

Why else do Liberals oppose the Prime Minister's present motion? Let us discuss this.

Last fall, Liberals did support the government's plan to send special forces into Iraq to help behind the lines, training, advising and assisting Iraqi forces. We believe that ISIL will be stopped when local Iraqi forces can fight successfully against the ISIL rampage, can protect local people and their villages, can succeed in capturing and holding lost territory, and can commit to respecting minority rights. We want to help them to do those things.

However, the Liberals did not support the Prime Minister's October motion to go to war in Iraq, because he failed to offer a clear objective for his combat plan. He failed to outline a responsible plan to achieve it. He failed to make the case that a bombing role was the best contribution Canadians could make. Regrettably, the motion before us has similar deficits.

Earlier this week, the Liberal Party leader's speech in the House reminded Parliament of four core principles Liberals set out for the October combat mission in Iraq, and they still stand today. The first principle is that Canada has a role to play in confronting humanitarian crises in the world. That is an important Canadian value. Over many decades, Canadian governments have generously contributed help, military and non-military alike, in human emergencies abroad.

We opened our country's doors to the oppressed. We welcomed refugees to come, to rebuild their lives here, and those refugees have helped build Canada. Refugees from Vietnam, Uganda, Cambodia, Somalia, Nicaragua, from every corner of the world, have come to Canada and made our country better. This current motion contains no new ideas, no new funds, no new proposals to help alleviate the catastrophic humanitarian crisis in the region.

Under the second principle, when our government considers deploying our men and women in uniform, there must be a clear mission and a clear role for Canada. The October motion did not respect that principle and the motion that was moved today is just as vague about Canada's mission and role. In October, the Liberals expressed grave concern that lack of clear objectives masked the Prime Minister's real intentions, namely involving Canada in a longer, deeper combat engagement.

The motion moved today validates that concern. The Prime Minster is saying that the objective is to weaken the Islamic State, whereas the Minister of National Defence is saying that it is to defeat and completely eliminate the group. Those are two very different mandates.

Once again, the new motion on the combat mission does not set out any clear objectives or any plan as to when or how Canada will extricate itself from the multi-party conflict affecting this complex region, which is mired in deep-rooted divisions, tension and hate.

On the contrary, section (a) of the motion gives the government exceedingly vague and broad latitude to conduct this war. It reads that this House:

(a) continues to support the Government's decision to contribute Canadian military assets to the fight against ISIL, and terrorists aligned with ISIL, including air strike capability with authorisation to conduct air strikes in Iraq and Syria;

That is a pretty open-ended permission slip, and both the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs appear eager to use to it. They explicitly compared this new mission to Afghanistan, stating that “we're in this for the longer term”. In Afghanistan, the longer term meant a decade; the longest war in Canadian history.

When asked who takes over should ISIL be cleared from Syria, the Minister of National Defence told Evan Solomon on Power & Politics that he does not know how this is going to end.

No clear objective is not good enough. Without objectives, clarity, or boundaries in the motion, Canada's war on ISIL in Syria could well result in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad consolidating his grip on power. This president oppressed and terrorized his own people. In just four years, he bombed, gassed, and killed more than 130,000 of his own citizens, the vast majority of them civilians, and almost a quarter of the victims were women and children. Enabling Mr. al-Assad is not in Canadians' interest.

The third Liberal principle is that the case for deploying our forces must be made openly and transparently, based on clear, reliable, and dispassionately presented facts.

The current Conservative government has not been transparent and open on this mission, not with parliamentarians nor with the Canadian people. The Conservatives refused to provide cost estimates to Canadians until shamed into it by the Parliamentary Budget Officer. They refused to provide critics with briefings until yesterday, while troops were first deployed last September.

It is facts not fantasy that underpin the moral value of honesty. Honesty in turn earns trust. We cannot trust the current government, which has been dishonest to Canadians. At every opportunity, ministers promote the myth of stable increasing funding for defence, the myth of investment in state-of-the-art equipment. The fact is that the Conservatives have been cutting the budget for the last four years, they reduced the defence share of funding to 1% of GDP, the lowest in 70 years, and they failed to replace our rusting military planes, ships, trucks, tanks, and rifles.

The Minister of National Defence himself was caught in a string of falsehoods, misrepresenting a photo of a religious ceremony to promote his war rhetoric, making false claims about the NDP's past record on combat mission votes, and concocting false statistics on former Liberal government defence spending—statistics that are on public record.

Much more serious is the fact that our military was sent into ground combat operations in Iraq despite the Prime Minister's repeated, explicit assurances that this would not happen. Canadians were assured by government and by the generals that the special forces would not accompany troops to the front lines, they would not do what is called “close combat advising”, and they would not engage in combat. However, in fact, they did and they are.

In January we learned that, since last November, the mission had “evolved”. Canadian troops are active on the front lines. They regularly engage in direct combat activities. Unlike our closest allies whose advisors stay behind the wire, we are needlessly risking our soldiers' lives. Tragically, Sargent Andrew Joseph Doiron lost his life in this combat zone.

Now the government gives false reasons for participating in the Syria bombing mission. The Conservatives claim Canada has been asked because only Canada has precision-guided smart bombs to assist the United States. That is false. Even Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have these munitions and use them very effectively in the region, according to the chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dempsey.

Voting yes now to a longer, deeper war for Canada, led by a dishonest government we cannot trust, is simply not in Canadians' interest.

Our final principle is that Canada's role must reflect the broad scope of Canadian capabilities, so we help how best we can.

Given the Conservatives' massive defence cuts, the Liberals are concerned about asking our Canadian Armed Forces to do more. The Conference of Defence Associations Institute reported that the forces' current international deployments “mask a considerable decline in their capabilities and readiness”. Today's soldiers injured in the Afghanistan war are still waiting to receive timely professional mental health care. How unacceptable.

What are Canada's capabilities? How can Canada play a constructive role in this very challenged region? What roles reflect Canadian values and our national interest? What do Liberals support?

Canada can do better. Canada can act on the values it was known for throughout the world. These are values like working constructively with others, helping the less fortunate, doing more than our fair share, and being honest.

I will talk about three areas that the Liberals support. First, Canada can work constructively with coalition allies to accelerate the training and capabilities of more Iraqi soldiers. According to Major-General Michael Hood, 69 special forces members currently work with Americans to provide strategic and tactical advice to security forces in the Iraqi army. To date, they have conducted 42 training courses with 650 peshmerga soldiers.

Canada has a clear expertise in helping to train Iraqi forces to fight and stop ISIL. Surely there is a need for more trainers. Canada supplied more than 1,000 fine trainers in its final years in Afghanistan. Surely Canada can do more now in Iraq. We can, and must, do it away from the front lines.

This is an area in which we differ from our NDP colleagues, who have been all over the map about military missions, sometimes talking about potentially being supportive of strategic airlifts or military use to bring supplies. Today, we heard that the NDP is not interested in any military involvement at all, while we, the Liberals, have respect for our Canadian Armed Forces members. We know that they can play an essential role here.

Second, Canada could lead a well-funded and well-planned international humanitarian aid intervention to help people in need in the Levant region. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, has said that there are now 3.8 million Syrian refugees registered and 12 million displaced persons who need help within Syria itself. That is not including the millions of other displaced persons and refugees from Iraq.

Last month, the High Commissioner launched an appeal to gather $3.7 billion in humanitarian aid for 2015 alone. He said that the need for humanitarian aid in Syria is growing much more rapidly than the contributions from the international community. He encouraged donor countries to give a lot more aid to support refugees and host communities. This refugee crisis is threatening the stability and security of the region. Neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon and Jordan, have been destabilized. Turkey is feeding and housing millions of refugees.

What is in Canada's best interest? We must do more to help vulnerable refugee families, because it is a Canadian value and so that these families' soldiers can confidently fight ISIL.

Third, Canada should expand our country's target for Syrian refugee settlement. Let us give more victims of war an opportunity to start a new life in Canada. The Conservative government's promises have been weak, and its delivery has been even weaker.

Here is an example of past Canadian governments' generosity. In just 1979 and 1980, 50,000 Vietnamese refugees settled in Canada.

These immigrants, known as boat people, were both urban and rural dwellers. They did not speak English or French, by and large, they had no Canadian relatives, and they arrived during an economic downturn in Canada. This made integrating into Canada and achieving economic independence a difficult struggle. Today, these Vietnamese Canadians are recognized for their successes, their strong communities, and their tremendous contributions to Canada. We should keep the figure of 50,000 over two years in mind.

In contrast, the Conservative government has been miserly in its treatment of Syrian refugees. Originally targeting only 1,300 refugees over 18 months, the government resettled less than half by its target date of last December. At opposition members' urging, the government recently increased its pledge to 10,000 refugees in three years, but refugee aid groups are skeptical of this pledge because much of the funding must be raised by sponsoring families and private organizations, not provided by government. It is not a Canadian value to do less than our fair share. Canadians believe in helping more, and that is in the Canadian interest.

Finally, of the four commitments in the government motion, Liberals enthusiastically endorse only the last, which I will quote:

Accordingly, this House:...

(d) offers its resolute and wholehearted support to the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces who stand on guard for all of us.

The Liberal Party respects and recognizes the professionalism, courage and dedication of all those who serve our country. We have never hesitated to deploy our extremely competent Canadian Armed Forces to combat zones when doing so was very clearly in the best interest of Canada and Canadians. In each of those cases, the best interest of the nation was very clear.

A mission designed to uphold Canada's interest must have transparent objectives, a responsible plan to achieve them, and a plan to exit the theatre of war. That is missing from this motion and from this proposed combat mission.

Liberals encourage the government, as quickly and as responsibly as possible, to shift Canada's role in Iraq, shift it not into a bombing role in Syria but back to a non-combat mission, focused on expanded Iraqi troop training, humanitarian aid leadership, and a far more generous and warm-hearted welcome to this war's refugees. That is the Canadian way.

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11:25 a.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta


Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister for Multiculturalism

Mr. Speaker, that speech perfectly summarized the risible and illiberal position of today's Liberal Party under the leadership of the member for Papineau, departing from the long tradition of the Liberal Party of responsible internationalism and action in the face of genocide and of ethnic cleansing.

I was disappointed, but not surprised, that the member did not even mention the largest refugee resettlement program that Canada has had since 1980, which has been the resettlement of more than 20,000 Iraqi refugees. I launched that program in 2009, and not a single Liberal MP ever asked the government to, and they have never even commented on it.

Yesterday, I met with several of those who came here as Iraqi refugees—Assyrians, Chaldeans, Yazidis, Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and Shia Iraqi Canadian refugees, among the more than 20,000 that this government has welcomed in the past five years—and every single one of them enthusiastically endorsed the expanded Canadian military mission proposed in this motion and every single one of them expressed profound disappointment with the Liberal Party for abandoning its pretension to support the responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide.

I have a very simple question for the member. Why does she ignore the more than 20,000 Iraqi refugees we have already brought to Canada, more than any other country in the world, by the way, and why does she want us to allow more refugees to be created by inaction? Does she not understand that genocide does not stop through good wishes, it does not stop through diplomatic resolutions, and it can only be stopped in this instance through kinetic action? Why is the Liberal Party abandoning its own tradition in that respect?

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11:30 a.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to hear the minister sliding down the slippery slope of exaggeration and rhetoric and going right into the zone of myth and falsehood. In fact, the responsibility to protective doctrine is very clear. It requires the UN Security Council's approval and it requires the invitation of the state that the country wishes to enter.

The minister would do well to look at his own record of saying things that are simply not true, and look at his own government's record of rhetoric, whether it is on a bill where the minister said, “You’re with us or you’re with the child pornographers”, and now we hear that we are either bombing people in Iraq or we are sitting on the sidelines.

This kind of simplistic, untrue rhetoric is undermining the discourse about how we can actually help with this important coalition in Iraq to address the threat by ISIL. If the Conservatives actually wanted to have a collaborative approach across the House, they would not be using this kind of rhetoric, which tells us this whole thing is a purely political initiative on the part of the government and it is unworthy of the Government of Canada.

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11:30 a.m.


Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I was absolutely flabbergasted to hear out of the mouth of the Liberal defence critic a description of the NDP position as being all over the map.

The Liberal leader, a month ago, initially spoke for intervention but then ultimately voted against the mission in Iraq. On Bill C-51, he is against the bill but he is going to be voting for it. Last week, he publicly spoke in favour of an extension of the mission in Iraq; now the Liberals are voting against it. Yesterday, when asked, if they formed government, would the Liberals who are against the mission bring the troops home, the Liberals said no. The only party in this House that is all over the map, not only on this issue of ISIS and Iraq but on pretty much every issue in this House, is the Liberal Party of Canada.

I would like my hon. colleague to set the record straight and tell us this. Are the Liberals in favour of intervention in Iraq or not? Are they in favour of Bill C-51 or not? If so, why are their actions not consistent with their words?

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11:30 a.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, in fact the Liberal Party has been consistent from day one that we support the trainers; we support the Special Forces behind the wire, assisting the Iraqi troops to defend their peoples and their territory. We maintain that position. We said at the time we are not for a combat role, and we remain against a combat role.

What I am concerned about is that the New Democrats have been talking about military versus non-military as opposed to the real crux of the issue being combat versus non-combat. They are not supporting a military mission, which means they do not believe that the men and women in uniform have any role to play that could be constructive in addressing this threat in Iraq and in Syria. The New Democrats do not believe in the professionalism of our men and women in uniform; they do not see their going there to be constructive to supply goods and to train. I think it is shameful that they have such little faith in the men and women in uniform.

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11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

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11:35 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Order please. Can I draw to the House's attention to the fact that this is questions and comments and debate, not question period, and that the conduct from both sides of the House needs to have a greater degree of decorum than we have seen in the last little while.

The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis.