Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton. It is indeed an honour to speak to this motion brought forward by my friend from Calgary Nose Hill and amended by my colleague from Calgary Shepard.
It is unfortunate that we have to have this debate today, knowing that so many Canadians understand the atrocities that have been committed against the Yazidi people. When we look at what happened two years ago in Sinjar and Iraq, ISIS targeted the Yazidi community, and carried out one of the most brutal genocides that have been witnessed in the world's recent history.
We saw men executed at gunpoint. We saw children crucified by ISIS. We saw Yazidi people being trapped on Mount Sinjar. Many perished from dehydration. The elderly collapsed and died, and ultimately, after the execution of men over the age of 10, the younger boys were moved into terrorist training and were reprogrammed. They were brainwashed and turned into suicide bombers and terrorists. The women and girls were sold into sexual slavery. Those who refused to convert, those girls and women who refused to be sexual slaves were burnt alive. These atrocities were so despicable that the world pronounced them as genocide.
I would like to remind the House that it was only in June that we had before the chamber a debate on a motion that the official opposition brought forward to recognize the atrocities being committed by ISIS against the Yazidis as genocide. The government, the Liberal Party, voted against it. Only a couple of days later, the UN declared it a genocide. Only then, rather than leading, the Liberals decided to follow the United Nations, when the rest of the world, the British House of Commons, Secretary of State John Kerry in the United States, had already boldly proclaimed it as genocide, as did our former Conservative government.
The sad part in all of this is that we are debating a motion today to look at bringing more Yazidi refugees into Canada. We have a government that is very proud of its record of bringing in, or will bring in, 25,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq. The sad part of this is that out of the thousands of refugees that have come to Canada for asylum, only nine of them are Yazidi.
That, in my opinion, is despicable, and I am certain it has to be an embarrassment for the government. I really do have to raise this question, why has the government not brought in more of these poor women and girls who are in refugee camps already in the region, who have been identified by the United Nations refugee organization? Is the government discriminating against the Yazidi people? That has to be asked.
We have people who have been subjected to treatment worse than livestock by ISIS, and largely abandoned by some of the people in the region of northern Iraq.
They deserve asylum. They deserve a place to call home. I know for a fact that organizations across Canada are prepared to privately sponsor them. I know that the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba wants to sponsor these poor Yazidi girls and women, and get them to a safe and secure environment that we offer here in Canada.
We are giving, through the amendment, the government 120 days to act upon the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria report entitled “They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis”, and implementing articles in sections 210, 212, and 213 of the report.
As my colleague from Calgary Nose Hill, the immigration critic for the official opposition, has already said in a written letter to the Minister of Immigration that he could use section 25 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to expedite the asylum seekers in the Yazidi community who are currently in the queue to come here.
As has already been pointed out, Britain, Germany, Australia, and other countries have been able to bring in hundreds of these girls and women, who have been able to escape the sexual slavery, who have been able to get away from ISIS, as often Jihadists and militants hang on to them as comfort wives. This is something we have not seen since World War II when it was practised by the Japanese.
I am glad we have had the opportunity to at least address this issue in the House today. I do not think most Canadians realize that the government, in its efforts to bring in all of the refugees who have been displaced and targeted by ISIS, had not included the Yazidis in its efforts. I know that when we were in government, it was our intention to go after the ethnic and religious minorities who were the primary targets of the atrocities being committed by ISIS itself.
If we are going to ultimately protect people, if the government believes in its responsibility to protect, then, one, we have to have that military force there; two, we have to provide the humanitarian aid and assistance, which we are going to need right now as the battle for Mosul evolves and 1.5 million civilians are at risk inside the city, as 30,000 coalition troops charge the city to root out and destroy ISIS and its roughly 5,000 fighters in the city.
We have to support the surrounding nations that have those refugee camps, and are providing humanitarian assistance, schools, water, hospital services, medicine, but what about the responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves? What about the responsibility to bring in those who have been subjected to a genocide?
I have talked many times in this House about genocide, and Raphael Lemkin, the wordsmith and author of the UN Genocide Convention back in 1948. He developed it. He spoke of how different state players and different organizations and groups would target minorities to eliminate them. The UN, just this June, agreed again that what has happened to the Yazidi people, specifically, was a genocide.
If there was ever a time for the government to show compassion, if there was ever a time for the government to use its powers under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to expedite the movement of these poor girls and women away from danger and into the peace and security that we offer here in Canada, this is the time.
We are asking the government to do it within the next 120 days, to follow-through on the UN report and recommendations, and to support this motion as it stands before the House.