Motion No. 2
That the House support the government’s decision to broaden, improve, and redefine our contribution to the effort to combat ISIL by better leveraging Canadian expertise while complementing the work of our coalition partners to ensure maximum effect, including:
(a) refocusing our military contribution by expanding the advise and assist mission of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in Iraq, significantly increasing intelligence capabilities in Iraq and theatre-wide, deploying CAF medical personnel, offering to provide the Government of Iraq ministerial liaison personnel to the Ministries of Defence and the Interior, enhancing capacity-building efforts with our defence partners in Jordan and Lebanon to advance regional stability, and withdrawing our CF-18s while maintaining air force surveillance and refuelling capability;
(b) improving the living conditions of conflict-affected populations and helping to build the foundations for long-term regional stability of host communities, including Lebanon and Jordan;
(c) investing significantly in humanitarian assistance while working with experienced humanitarian partners to support the basic needs of conflict-affected populations, including children and victims of sexual and gender-based violence;
(d) engaging more effectively with political leaders throughout the region, increasing Canada’s contribution to international efforts aimed at finding political solutions to the crises affecting the region and reinforcing our diplomatic presence to facilitate the delivery of enhanced programming, supporting increased CAF deployments, strengthening dialogue with local and international partners on the ground and generally giving Canada a stronger voice in the region;
(e) welcoming tens of thousands of Syrian refugees to Canada;
that the House express its appreciation and pride to the members of the CAF, diplomatic and intelligence personnel for their participation in the fight against terrorism, to Canadian humanitarian workers for their efforts to provide critical support to conflict-affected populations, and reconfirm our commitment to our allies in the coalition against ISIL; and
that the House note the government’s resolve to return to the House within two years with a new motion on Canada’s contribution to the region.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin this debate with a statement of gratitude to the brave women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces and the many public servants who have offered, and will continue to offer, their service and dedication in the Middle East on behalf of all of us. I know I speak for every member in this House, and indeed for all Canadians, when I offer our deepest thanks for their valour, their courage, and their commitment both to their country and to the values that it stands for.
We also reiterate our sincere gratitude and sympathy to the family of Sergeant Andrew Doiron, who was killed in Iraq during a friendly fire incident last March. His service and his sacrifice remain in our minds as we reflect upon our continued engagement.
This government was elected with a commitment to refocus Canada's military contribution in Iraq and Syria on training local forces, providing more humanitarian support, and immediately welcoming 25,000 refugees from Syria to Canada.
This policy differed from that of the previous government, which advocated air strikes. It also differed from that of the previous official opposition, which advocated a complete lack of military involvement. This topic was the subject of debates across Canada during the campaign, especially among party leaders.
With this motion, I am reopening the debate in the House, which was elected by Canadians, and in moving this motion, the government is upholding its promise to Canadians.
When the last Parliament debated Canada's involvement in the Middle East, we put forward four clear principles to guide our decisions.
One, Canada has a role to play in confronting humanitarian crises in the world.
Two, when a government considers deploying our men and women in uniform, there must be a clear mission and a clear role for Canada.
Three, the case for deploying our forces must be made openly and transparently, based on clear and reliable, dispassionately presented facts.
Four, Canada’s role must reflect the broad scope of Canadian capabilities and how best we can help.
We believe there is an important role for Canada to play in the fight against ISIL, a role that we can play, a role that we must play.
ISIL threatens peace and democracy with terror and barbarism. The images are horrific, the stories are appalling, the victims are many. ISIL fights against open and diverse societies where women and men of all faiths, all ethnicities, and all backgrounds are free to make of their lives what their capabilities, work ethic, and their dreams will allow. ISIL stands against everything that we value as Canadians, and poses a direct threat to our people and to our friends.
Our government understands the need for a sustained effort, working with our international partners, to enable local forces to defeat those terrorists.
Last week this government unveiled a clear, transparent and robust strategy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the broader region. Ours is a comprehensive whole-of-government approach that has been informed by extensive consultation with our allies and civil society stakeholders.
Our approach covers several key areas: security, humanitarian assistance, development, and diplomacy.
On security, we will allocate more resources to train Iraqi security forces. Our goal is to allow local forces to take the fight directly to ISIL to reclaim their homes, land, and future.
In addition, we will continue supporting aerial surveillance and refueling activities within the coalition. We will withdraw our six CF-18s and we will be more significantly involved in counterterrorism measures and improving chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear security in the region.
When it comes to humanitarian assistance, we will continue to help the refugees most affected by the conflicts. We will deliver $840 million in humanitarian assistance over the next three years to support basic needs in the hardest hit regions, including drinking water, food, health care, and shelter.
When it comes to development, we will also provide $270 million over the same time frame to build local capacity in communities and countries hosting large numbers of refugees. We will help our partners address basic needs in education, health care, and sanitation services, in repairing infrastructure, and in promoting economic growth.
Finally, Canada will enhance its diplomatic presence on the ground in Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon by increasing its engagement with local and international partners to restore stability in the region. In addition to all these measures, the Government of Canada has adopted a new policy to welcome Syrian refugees, quickly but safely, as new Canadians.
Since we took office, communities across Canada have welcomed more than 20,000 Syrian refugees who fled unimaginable chaos. Others arrive daily. The extent to which Canadians have shown solidarity and offered their support to these newcomers is truly inspiring. This welcome is an absolutely essential aspect of the fight against the so-called Islamic State: bringing in men, women, and children who were driven from their homes and opening the doors to our communities in a caring and compassionate way. This approach truly represents the best of Canadians.
Canadians have been rightly outraged by the atrocities committed at the hands of ISIL. We must take action in a way that will deliver durable results on the ground to help restore peace and stability to this war-torn region.
Our renewed strategy for Canada's engagement in Iraq and Syria is robust, comprehensive and effective. By working closely with local communities and with our coalition partners, we will confront ISIL head-on, offer refuge to those fleeing chaos, and work with host nations to build real solutions for the longer term.
I look forward to an engaged, informed debate on this important issue.