Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for London North Centre.
I appreciate the opportunity to add my voice to the debate on the motion before us.
I want to start by recognizing that we are having this debate four years to the day since the attack took the life of Corporal Nathan Cirillo just a few blocks from here. That attack was preceded two days earlier by the killing of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. I wish to attribute myself to the comments made during the debate on this motion honouring their sacrifice, as well as support for those hon. colleagues, first responders and public servants, both past and present, who served in Parliament on that horrific day.
Four years later, we stand here now to debate a motion brought forward by the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles. It is an important motion. It is one that calls for the House to support the sentiments expressed by Nadia Murad, a Yazidi survivor who, along with her family, suffered at the hands of ISIS-Daesh, and later wrote about it. For her activism, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Nadia Murad's story has inspired many to support the work of this government in providing refugees, and in particular Yazidi refugees, safe harbour. Among those who took up the cause for expanding our refugee humanitarian efforts is former leader of the opposition Rona Ambrose. She should be commended. We have provided a new home to more than 1,400 women and their families, who endured the brutality of Daesh, some 85% of whom are Yazidi.
This is good. It is moments like this, especially today, when we should put aside partisanship to stand together in the fight against terrorism. Millions of Syrians and Iraqis have been displaced, and thousands more killed or tortured at the hands of Daesh henchmen in the most gruesome and barbaric ways imaginable. Others were forced to endure unspeakable cruelty and violence on an almost daily basis. Perhaps no group has suffered more under its depraved rule than Yazidis and Yazidi women in particular.
This motion quotes the brave words of Ms. Murad, and we owe it to her and to ourselves to take them to heart, and to see to it that we defeat ISIS-Daesh and eradicate all forms of terrorism.
As a nation founded on democratic values, the rule of law and the institutions which safeguard the fundamental rights to which every individual is guaranteed, including freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of association and the right to due process, Canada has a vital role to play. We are fulfilling this role in a number of ways.
First, from a military perspective, Canada continues to participate in Operation Impact. We are a major partner in the fight against ISIS-Daesh. Operation Impact is a U.S.-led coalition, including 70 partners. Our objective is to contribute to the goal of ensuring a strong, stabilized region through support that is backed by $1.6 billion over three years to provide humanitarian, development and security support in the region. This includes providing local training and support to individuals who live in the region. Last year alone, we saw to it that ISIS-Daesh lost more than 60% of controlled territory in Iraq and 30% in Syria.
Canada's security, intelligence and police agencies have identified approximately 190 people with a connection to Canada who joined up with terrorist groups in various locations around the world, and remain abroad. That includes people who joined Daesh.
About 60 more have returned to Canada, a number relatively unchanged since 2015. Again, some of these people were in Daesh-controlled territory, but many were identified elsewhere. These individuals pose a potential threat, and we take that threat extremely seriously.
If at all possible, we want them to be arrested, charged, prosecuted and convicted for their crimes. Police and prosecutors do the difficult work of meeting Canadian evidentiary standards regarding activities committed in a distant war zone.
I can speak with some personal experience in this regard, having worked on a case involving domestic terrorism and national security. Certainly, the evidentiary standards, the rule law, the independence of the judiciary and the role that the prosecutor plays are absolutely essential in bringing terrorists to justice.
It is a testament to my former colleagues, as well as our partners in the national security and public safety spheres and all of their work that we have seen four of these travellers or returnees charged in the last couple years. Two have been convicted and two are still facing those charges in court. There are undoubtedly more criminal investigations under way. I would point out that no returnees were charged under the previous Conservative government.
At the same time as Canadian law enforcement goes about collecting the evidence required for prosecution, returnees can expect to be closely monitored by our intelligence and law enforcement agencies. These agencies work each and every day with international partners, including the Five Eyes, the G7, the EU, Interpol and many others. They have been doing so for years, and their expertise and capabilities are second to none. They expertly assess and reassess all data available to them to ensure Canada's responses can be effective and appropriate.
Our security agencies have a wide array of tools and powers at their disposal to keep Canadians safe. That includes surveillance and monitoring; revocation, cancellation or refusal of passports; the use of the no-fly list; peace bonds under the Criminal Code; and legally authorized threat reduction measures. Another tool is the RCMP-led National Security Joint Operations Centre.
The goal of the centre is to identify high-risk travellers and assess the threat that they may pose to our collective security. It is responsible for compiling and analyzing available information from Canada's security and intelligence community and uses this information to prioritize risk and to assist in coordinating an appropriate operational response. Canadians can be assured that our world-class security agencies actively track and assess any threat they may pose. Our government recognizes that the return of even one individual may have serious national security implications, and we continue to take those threats seriously.
The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness discussed the issue of extremist travellers with his G7 counterparts in Toronto earlier this year. In fact, most of the allies at that table have far more of their citizens involved with international terrorist groups than we do.
Our government has also introduced legislation to modernize Canada's national security framework, which was passed by the House last spring and is currently before the other place. This legislation is designed to ensure that our agencies continue to be effective at keeping Canadians safe from threats precisely like these. Along with the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians we established under Bill C-22, it enhances the accountability of our security agencies. Accountability is not just about ensuring that our rights and freedoms are protected, although that is obviously very important, but accountability and oversight are also about ensuring that our agencies are operating as effectively as possible to keep all of us safe.
There are parts of today's opposition motion that are clearly designed to use the serious issue of returning terrorists to score political points and we should discourage that. However, on the anniversary of the attack on the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill, I prefer to join in solidarity with our opposition colleagues, because I know we all stand firmly against terrorism, as we should. We all stand firmly in solidarity with Nadia Murad, the Yazidi Nobel laureate, in her call for the perpetrators of Daesh brutality to be brought to justice. We do that by adhering to the rule of law. We do that by adhering to the norms in our charter. We do that by extending respect for the judiciary, the representatives and officials who work in our public safety apparatus and who do an exceptional job every day.
The Prime Minister said earlier today:
As Canadians, we will not surrender to hatred, and let attacks like these divide us. In the face of cowardly violence and fearmongering, we will not compromise our most cherished values—freedom, democracy, diversity, and inclusion.
I hope that all members will endorse those words. For those reasons and for all the others I have stated in my remarks, I encourage all members to support this opposition motion.