Mr. Speaker, like many of my colleagues, I want to speak in this honourable House today to talk about ISIS. To do so, I must first address some of the consequences of the very existence of this terrorist group, specifically for free societies around the globe. Second, it is important to discuss the need for us, Canadians, to respond decisively to the international challenges that can arise at any time, especially those that can have dangerous consequences for this country and for our allies.
As I have previously indicated, my family has served in the Canadian Armed Forces since the 1890s. It should therefore come as no surprise that many of the decisions recently made by this government regarding our armed forces and their overseas engagement are particularly important to me.
I am referring of course to the hasty decision made by this government to withdraw Canadian CF-18s from the combat mission currently under way in Iraq as part of a coalition led by the President of the United States.
Colleagues, for both historic and contemporary reasons, this decision strikes me as misguided and ill-considered. Need I remind the House that our country has never shirked its duty to the international community? Need I further remind the House of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere around the world?
Colleagues, ISIS controls several cities in Iraq, many of which are home to dozens or hundreds of thousands of people. In those cities, the so-called Islamic State has set up tax collection systems, a major economic activity within the area it controls. It has a stranglehold on the region's economy and even hands out parking tickets.
The self-styled Islamic State is pillaging many regions of Iraq and Syria, appropriating the resources and destroying cultural and historic property. Let us not forget one more important fact: this terrorist group collects billions of dollars a year, enabling it to recruit thousands of people to its cause around the world every year. Because of that, this group is a major threat to our country, Canada.
The election is over. As the President of France said, we are at war against terrorism. Canadians understand that. Does the Prime Minister understand that? Does the Prime Minister and this government realize that following the recent terrorist attacks on its soil, in the city of light no less, France effectively asked for help and expects us to stand by its side?
We on this side of the House want to know: when is Canada going to offer its unwavering support to a country that has been an ally at every moment of Canada's history?
Hon. members of this House need to understand that terrorist attacks are looming. The threat is not limited to some faraway place on another continent. On the contrary, terrorism can strike anywhere here in Canada, even at the heart of our democratic institutions. Need I remind hon. members that terrorism has already targeted us more than once and spit its venom right here in the Parliamentary precinct?
What the official opposition wants is simple. We are calling on this government to get serious on both domestic issues and international issues. We are calling on this government to take the right approach to terrorism, and to acknowledge that it is a serious problem and that ISIS is the brains behind these low-lifes.
We must remain strong in our belief that we are right. We must remain determined to make no concessions to those who want to destroy us. We must remain united in the face of this threat. That is why we must hit the terrorists precisely where they are plotting against us, before it is too late.
My colleagues opposite are saying that we need to combat ISIS more effectively. We agree. Indeed, we should help train local anti-terrorism forces. We should increase aid to the hundreds of thousands of poor people driven from their homes by terrorism. That is all good. We must increase our efforts, not reduce them. Everyone agrees on that, of course. However, that would also mean that we need to keep our fighter jets where they are. Our colleagues opposite keep repeating over and over that the Royal Canadian Air Force's participation is basically not very significant and that they simply do a few strikes here and there. I want to ask these members what they are waiting for to take action, to do something and to reverse their decision to recall the Canadian CF-18s currently participating in the mission. As a G8 country, should we not contribute to this international mission in every way we can?