Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak once again in this House on our current combat mission in Iraq. This is one of the most important issues of our times, so it is crucial that we debate it here. I thank the government for moving this motion so that we can talk about extending this mission. At least it had the decency to allow us this debate.
Unfortunately, many problems with this mission have not been rectified over time. We still have no plan and no clear objectives to define the mission. The member for Outremont asked the previous prime minister many questions, but he was unable to provide basic answers, for instance, on the cost and the length of the mission. Many basic questions remain unanswered.
We still have no idea what it is going to cost to transform the mission, and we still do not know how long the mission is going to last. We are told that we will debate the extension again in two years' time. There are too many unknowns, which is extremely unfortunate.
Without clear objectives, we risk once again getting mired down in a mission with no real direction. Perhaps a specific plan is hard to define because the mission is not under the auspices of the UN or NATO and no one is responsible for measuring the success of the mission. There is also no exit plan. The government says we will talk about that in two years, which shows it is not taking this type of military mission seriously.
Our resources will be used for training and arming Kurdish militias. We might be arming people who, years from now, could potentially turn around and become new enemies. Who knows? There is no plan to address that. Unfortunately, that is what tends to happen in the Middle East. There is a focus on one terrorist group while the rest fall off the radar, which creates a sort of rotation of terrorist groups.
For example, during our intervention in Libya, we armed rebels, some of whom later turned to ISIL. No comprehensive plan is in place for the Middle East to prevent a rotation of terrorist groups from taking control of the region and to achieve true stability in the Middle East.
In Iraq, we are seeing some of the same ineffective methods that were used in Afghanistan. At first, the mission in Afghanistan was supposed to be a short mission with a small contingent of soldiers, but it wound up being the longest mission with the most soldiers deployed. The mission produced over 40,000 veterans, 160 fatalities, thousands of injured, and thousands more with post-traumatic stress disorder. That is a major impact.
We also note in this case that no adjustment has been made to the Canadian Armed Forces medical personnel to treat physical or psychological injuries. It seems clear to me that the government is making decisions on the direction and impact of the mission as it goes along. It has no plan and no clear objectives.
During the election campaign, the Liberals promised that they would put an end to the combat mission in Iraq. Unfortunately, our forces are training people who are truly on the front lines. Therefore, we cannot say that it is simply a training mission. We are not talking about Iraqi soldiers being taught theory by Canadian soldiers in a classroom. Canadian soldiers accompany Iraqi soldiers directly to the front lines, where they are in danger and under enemy fire.
Moreover, unfortunately, we mourn the death of Sergeant Doiron. I would like to extend my sincere condolences to his family once again. This is a specific example that shows that the training we provide is not without risks. Our soldiers are in a combat situation and are risking their lives. We must call a spade a spade. When you are on the front lines, you are in a combat mission.
Had I participated in this type of mission when I was in the armed forces and had the government opposite told me that it was not a combat mission, I would probably have been insulted. I would have been fired on, people would have fired shots around me, and the government would have told me that it was not a combat mission. I probably would have been extremely offended because I would have risked my life and then I would have been told that it was not a combat mission.
Let us call a spade a spade. This is a combat mission, and it is not true that there is any classroom training being provided. The fact is that soldiers are accompanying people to the front lines. There are real risks. I would like to thank all the soldiers who are prepared to do this work. However, we are duty bound to be honest with Canadians and tell them exactly what our mission entails.
There are a number of important measures that should be included in this mission, for example, deradicalization efforts. It is extremely important to ensure that our soldiers are not fighting forever. There was a great deal of confusion at the beginning of the mission. When the Conservatives first undertook the mission, they were talking about eradicating ISIL. Then, they talked about slowing it down and then about undermining it. There is confusion in that respect as well.
The best way to put an end to this situation, so to speak, is to prevent the radicalization of people throughout the world, but particularly in Canada. We need to stem the flow of fighters and have serious discussions with certain countries that tend to propagate extremist ideologies that are seriously undermining the stability in this area.
We need to do better, particularly when it comes to deradicalization. We need to make sure that we can have intelligent discussions about this situation and that no more fighters join ISIL. There is a lot we can do using information technology to find these people in time to prevent them from joining ISIL and terminate the radicalization process.
When it comes to weapons, we need a tracking system so that we can ensure that weapons sold by Canada do not end up, through devious means, in the hands of the terrorists we are fighting. That is another extremely important measure. We need create stability in the Middle East in general, and to do that, we need to look at the bigger picture. Canada and its allies need to look at the overall situation. We must not fight only in the short term. We need to have more than just a short-term vision.
There is a lot of work to be done, and I believe that right now, the mission does not address the issue intelligently. The direction the government is planning to take will not help to resolve the conflict.