Madam Speaker, Canada is complicit in torture. As the strong, proud and ready member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke representing Garrison Petawawa, I refuse to be complicit, as do the soldiers who recorded it. I rise to defend the honour and reputations of the women and the men who serve as members of the Canadian Armed Forces, particularly when the Prime Minister and his party refuse to support soldiers in uniform. The reputation of Canada has been maligned by the government.
On June 4, I once again asked the Prime Minister why his party has taken the position to condone torture. I specifically asked why soldiers were instructed to ignore evidence of war crimes other than to protect the Prime Minister's decision to ignore the evidence. By ignoring very disturbing evidence of war crimes, then responding with a cover-up, the Prime Minister and the Liberals become a party to the crime. Responding on behalf of the Prime Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence does a disservice to all women and men in uniform and all Canadians with her cover-up comments.
This is about rape, torture and execution. Let us recap the story for Canadians so far. According to a Canadian Armed Forces briefing note, Canadian soldiers reported the presence of videos being circulated among troops they were tasked to provide training to showing evidence of war crimes being committed by the trainees. The graphic images included raping a girl to death, torturing and executing a line of bound prisoners by beating them to death with what appeared to be iron rods or rebar, executing prisoners lined up by shooting, and executing a man by hanging him from the barrel of a battle tank. At least seven Canadian, non-commissioned soldiers saw the footage. To their credit, they immediately reported the situation to their superiors.
The government claimed ignorance. The fact that the Prime Minister expects Canadians to believe he or the Minister of National Defence were not informed about the torture videos is a slap and a grope to Canadian democracy. That claim has about as much truth to it as the Prime Minister not knowing the Kielburgers from the WE Charity corruption scandal were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Prime Minister's family members.
Canadians subsequently learned the commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command responsible for overseeing all military missions briefed the chief of the defence staff over two years ago. The tone for accountability is set at the top. There is zero leadership from the Prime Minister and less from the Minister of National Defence.
It would now appear that the commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command responsible for overseeing all military missions briefed the former chief of the defence staff as recently as June 2 at the Hylands Golf and Country Club in Ottawa, an exclusive golf venue for the Canadian military. The same leadership vacuum that allows for the toxic masculinity of a broken Prime Minister gives the signal that sexual harassment, torture, rape and execution will be ignored or, worse, tolerated.
Canada has become, under the government's watch, an international laggard when it comes to denouncing torture and cruel treatment.