Madam Speaker, I am privileged to follow my friend from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, who raised a number of issues related to the Canadian Armed Forces. I want to also thank our colleague from Calgary Nose Hill for her long and consistent efforts in working with people like Nadia Murad, who is quoted in this opposition motion, because Canadians are concerned about a government that has no ability to act.
It is sad when I hear the rhetoric from the deputy House leader, but it is also sad to hear a distinguished veteran like the member for Kanata—Carleton suggest that the government is somehow powerless and that we are politicizing this. Protecting Canadians is probably the most fundamental aspect of what a federal government should do.
What is troubling about the Liberals is that they act as if they have no ability to act on all issues. Whether it is criminal justice and a killer going to a healing lodge, funding the PTSD treatments of a murderer or recruiting ISIS foreign fighters to come back to Canada, the Liberals make it seem like they are powerless to act. It is actually an abdication of leadership. When their departments make a mistake, leaders rectify it. If there is a risk facing Canadians, they prevent it. I see nothing of the kind from the Liberals, and that should concern Canadians less than one year away from an election, when they can get a government that is serious again.
I am going to start with a quote about ISIS, ISIL, and how dangerous it is, as an organization, and as the people who belong to it are:
ISIL threatens peace and democracy with terror and barbarism. The images are horrific, the stories are appalling, the victims are many.
The person who said that was the Prime Minister of Canada, the member for Papineau, in this House, three or four months into his government. He recognized the profound barbarism and threat of this terror force, but what did he do? Why did he say those words in this chamber? He was withdrawing Canadian participation in air strikes meant to hinder the advance of ISIS. He was stepping back at a time when France and a lot of our allies were asking Canada to step up, because our pilots are the best at targeting in those circumstances. He was pulling back at the same time he recognized that ISIS was a grave threat to Canada and our allies. That just shows how out of touch the Prime Minister of Canada is when it comes to terrorism and national security.
What is worse is that the defence minister at the time made it seem that our allies were fine with that decision, that there was no concern that we withdrew our CF-18 fighter jets from degrading and destroying ISIS and put in more training and ground troops, supplementing the ground troops, the CSOR and JTF2 people the previous Conservative government had put in with the fighter jets. The defence minister made it seem that our allies were fine with that. The trouble is that documents came out later showing that the Iraqi minister, where our troops were operating, pleaded with him not to withdraw. I still do not think the minister has addressed how he misled the House with respect to that. Documents revealed, on December 20, 2015, after he inspected a parade, that the defence minister of that country pleaded with him consistently not to withdraw our fighter jets.
That is how the Liberals started with ISIS, and now we see it continue to the point where they are almost proactively recruiting foreign fighters back to Canada, even those with tenuous links.
There are two areas where this is wrong in law. We should not be repatriating people who have gone and, to use the term of the Prime Minister, committed barbarous acts overseas. We should not be bringing them home, and historically Canadians have not. What previous governments have done is something called constructive repudiation of dual citizenship or of consular rights, meaning that we do not act on consular affairs. The Prime Minister sending people to see “Jihadi Jack”, a British national involved in terrible crimes, it is reported, and even in his own words he acknowledges that, and Canada proactively offering him consular affairs is something the government does not have to do.
In fact, our foreign affairs committee right now is confirming, witness after witness, that consular affairs are a Crown prerogative. It is the ability of the government to decide who they provide consular support to. If my Liberal friends, who I am glad to see are listening, do not take my word for it, let them take the Supreme Court of Canada's words for it.
In the Khadr decision, what is interesting about Omar Khadr is that it was that government, in previous iterations under Martin and Chrétien, that actually violated his rights by participating in investigations. The Supreme Court of Canada said that the Harper government was within its rights not to repatriate Mr. Khadr.
Here is the irony of it. Paragraph 35 of that judgment states that “The prerogative power over foreign affairs has not been displaced by s. 10 of the...Act...and continues to be exercised by the federal government.” It goes on to say, “It is for the executive and not the courts to decide whether and how to exercise its powers....”
It is for the government to decide. There is no right of consular access for terrorists, and certainly for nationals from other countries.
What has the government decided? What discretion is it exercising? It is recruiting Jihadi Jack and a number of these terrible individuals back to Canada. It does not have to do that in law. That is important to note.
What did the previous government do? We mentioned Bill S-7, which actually criminalized the activity of travelling to a foreign country for training or work with terrorists. It could have charged every single one of these people, because they were detained by the peshmerga. The peshmerga has said that those Canadians were found with ISIS fighters. The Conservative government provided a charge for that, which made it easier to seek peace bonds. Our law enforcement has degraded with Bill C-59 under this bill.
The former Conservative government also brought in the ability of victims of terrorism, like our friend Maureen Basnicki, to sue foreign terror agencies. That is what that government did. In fact, at the time, Professor Christian Leuprecht, at Queen's University, said that the Conservative Bill S-7 “prevents the foreign fighter problem”.
We actually tried to deal with the difficult decisions of governing. We did not pass them off and act like these issues were floating down the river and taken down the stream. Whether it is funding PTSD treatments for criminals or transferring child killers to a healing lodge, the Liberals act like they are powerless. They should check an org chart and realize that they are in charge.
I will also bring up how the Liberal government's current conduct is actually in violation of a United Nations Security Council resolution. What is interesting is that there is a half-baked campaign under way by the government to obtain a temporary seat on the Security Council. Perhaps it should read the resolutions of the Security Council it intends to join. Resolution 2178 deals with foreign terrorist fighters and defines it.
There are two key findings I would note from this Security Council resolution. First, it states:
The massive flow of refugees and asylum seekers from conflict zones also raises the risk that FTFs will attempt to use the refugee system to escape prosecution.
It said that vigilant vetting must be a requirement for specific countries. That was the United Nations. The resolution goes on to say something that shows how disconnected the Liberal government is. It states:
Because the related challenges are by their nature international, the Council has called on Member States to enhance their international cooperation in preventing their travel.
The Security Council of the United Nations is asking Canada to prevent the travel of foreign fighters, and we have a government facilitating it.
I am wondering if the members of the Security Council, when they vote to see who they should add, will wonder if they should invite the one country swimming in the opposite direction, the one country pulling out against the fight against ISIS, the one country recruiting them back rather than preventing their travel.
Governing is about making tough decisions. There is more to being the government than just photographs and hashtags.