Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time this afternoon with the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London.
Women and girls held captive, used, and sold as sex slaves; gay men pelted with stones, thrown from the rooftop because they are homosexual; children taken from their families and turned into suicide bombers; tens of thousands of innocent humans placed in mass graves: these are just a sample of the awful, horrible, and repugnant stories we have heard time and time again from territory controlled by ISIS and its fighters.
However, these awful tragic events are happening literally on the other side of the world, so we actually have nothing to worry about, right? I guess that is what some would think. We, on this side of the House, are being called fearmongers, because we are actually suggesting that what is happening in ISIS-controlled territories on the other side of the world actually does affect Canada and could have an even more lasting effect on Canada. We are being told we are wrong and that we are fearmongers.
In our present day, with our modern technology, terrorism and terrorist groups are not geographically limited. They recruit, they inspire, and they fundraise right around the globe, including here in Canada. Do not take my word for it. Let us look at what the experts say.
In its most recent annual report to Parliament, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said:
The principal terrorist threat to Canada remains that posed by violent extremists who could be inspired to carry out an attack in Canada. Violent extremist ideologies espoused by terrorist groups like Daesh...continue to appeal to certain individuals in Canada.
This is a concern to us. Let us talk not just about those individuals here in Canada who may espouse these values but about those who have taken that additional step to go to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS and fight with them and have then returned to Canada. With that in mind, let us think about potential dangers these ISIS fighters pose to Canada.
Sadly, shockingly even, this does not seem to trouble our Prime Minister. In fact, when our Conservative leader pressed the Prime Minister last week, right here in the House of Commons, on the troubling pattern of Canadians fighting for ISIS and then returning to Canada, we did not get an answer. What did we get? We got an angry, attacking Prime Minister who tried his very best to slap a racist label on those important questions.
Islamophobia is what the Prime Minister called our concerns and the concerns of Canadians. Invoking that label is wrong, and it is cheap politics. It ought to be beneath the Prime Minister. These are concerns Canadians have. These are letters, emails, and social media that are full of the concerns Canadians have. These are legitimate questions that should not be dismissed with name calling, including fearmongering or Islamophobia. That is wrong.
ISIS does not represent Islam, nor does it represent the overwhelming majority of the almost two billion peaceful and peace-loving Muslims on this earth. What ISIS does do is represent a narrow-minded, extremist, and radical ideology, rooted in violence, seeking a religious cloak.
Sadly, we know that some Canadians have fallen prey to these extreme ideologies and recruitment approaches. Some have even travelled to the Middle East in aid of ISIS. Some of these fighters have come back to Canada, and that is what we are talking about today.
Although it does not seem to be a major concern for the Prime Minister, it is a concern for our professionals in the security and intelligence field.
Retired CSIS director Michel Coulombe, said:
Daesh, in particular, has developed a robust social media presence, allowing it to successfully recruit thousands of individuals, including Canadians, to travel to Syria and Iraq.
These extremists also pose a potential threat if they return to Canada.
Those are not our words. Those are the words of CSIS director Michel Coulombe. Let me continue his words:
For instance, they may radicalize others, help with logistics and financing for those who may want to travel abroad, or engage in attack planning here in Canada.
Terrorism is a global threat and we are not immune from its reach.
It is a global threat from which Canada is not immune. That principle has been recognized by successive governments in their approach to fighting terrorism.
Jean Chrétien's Liberal government, following the 9/11 terrorist attack, brought in the Anti-terrorism Act and the Public Safety Act, 2002, to establish a legislative framework to address terrorist crimes. Paul Martin's Liberal government authorized the deployment of Canada's troops to Kandahar to support our allies in Afghanistan.
Stephen Harper's Conservative government, in which I had the honour to serve, had a very long track record of fighting terrorism. We extended the mission in Afghanistan, brought in stronger anti-terrorism laws, and made it an offence to travel abroad to engage in or facilitate terrorist activities. It is against the law. When they come back to Canada, they could be prosecuted for that. That is the law we brought in, but this government refuses to actually enforce it. Conservatives also created a process for removing Canadian citizenship from convicted terrorists who were dual citizens. Under Stephen Harper, Canada joined a global coalition to fight ISIS.
Then these Liberals took office, and everything changed. The Liberals withdrew Canada from the global anti-ISIS coalition. These Liberals passed legislation allowing convicted terrorists to retain Canadian citizenship and enjoy their Canadian passports. These Liberals introduced Bill C-59 to unwind and roll back the tools our police and intelligence agencies have to fight terrorism. These Liberals are welcoming ISIS fighters back to Canada with a reintegration program, thinking they can de-emphasize violent terrorist instincts. These Liberals cut a $10.5 million cheque to a convicted terrorist, Omar Khadr. That is the shameful record of these Liberals.
Canadians expect their government to protect them and to keep them safe. Knowing that terrorist fighters are in Canada is worrying enough. Our government welcomes these fighters, arranging group meetings and supportive meetings and asking them to please stop being involved with those bad people and running around with bad gangs. The Liberals think that will be sufficient.
No wonder Canadians are upset. No wonder we are hearing from our constituents. Right across the country, people are concerned. When we label those concerns and call them names, it does not stop the concerns. It actually makes them even worse.
What the federal government, and the Prime Minister, really ought to be doing is making sure that we can, and do, bring these fighters to justice. ISIS fighters and other terrorists should be made to face the full legal consequences for their actions. They should be charged, they should be prosecuted, and they should be in jail. The federal government ought to make sure that the RCMP and its provincial and municipal partners have the tools, the legal authority, and the resources needed to bring charges and secure convictions against these returning terrorists.
We need to keep strong relations with our allies in fighting terrorism to ensure that we have the information, the intelligence, and the evidence necessary to prosecute terrorists and to protect our citizens. However, that is not what we have been seeing from the other side of the House. Instead of focusing on what can be done to keep Canadians safe, we see a government obsessed, for reasons we just do not understand, with avoiding any appearance of being tough on terrorists here in Canada. As Professor Randall Hansen, the interim director of the Monk Centre, said last year, “there's nothing admirable in letting other countries do the fighting while you hide behind liberal pieties”.
Canada's contribution of fighter jets to the anti-ISIS coalition was pulled, abandoning our allies. We have deprogramming coffee circles set up for ISIS fighters who come back to Canada.
When Omar Khadr, a convicted terrorist, sued the federal government, what did the Liberals do? They gave in. Let us not be fooled that this was somehow a charter issue. No court ruled that Omar Khadr should receive $10.5 million. The Liberals hiding behind that is a fraud. Repatriation was the settlement. Repatriation is what happened. The Liberals could have fought the lawsuit. They could have said that the Supreme Court's ruling was enough, but they decided to make this terrorist, a videotaped bomb-maker and convicted killer, into a multi-millionaire.
Let me just finish with this. Canadians are concerned, but in less than two years, these Liberals are going to have to take their record to the country, and they will answer. The year 2019 cannot come soon enough.