Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of this important motion concerning Canada's continuing response to the situation in Iraq.
As we have heard, the terrorist organization, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, has killed thousands of innocent people, seized significant portions of Iraqi territory over the last year, and threatens to further destabilize the region. In fact, were it not for the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces and our coalition allies, it would continue to spread.
In early March I visited the Kurdistan region of Iraq as part of a delegation of One Free World International. This was my second visit to the region and it gave me a first-hand view of the ISIL attacks. I met with government officials, peshmerga troops, victims, and refugees. I personally heard their stories. Young women who had been captured and brutalized by ISIL shared their horrific experiences with us and reinforced why this barbaric group must be stopped.
Amid the unfolding crisis, Canada is committed to helping the Iraqi people and assisting Iraq's security forces. As the direct result of military action by Canada and our coalition allies, ISIL's alarming spread and expansion has stopped and it is currently, thankfully, on the defensive. However, we cannot back down. We need to continue degrading ISIL until it is no longer a threat not only to the region but to Canada. Doing so is not only a moral imperative, but it is also a continuation of the strong leadership role Canada has taken in many international operations. From responding to natural disasters to defending unarmed populations, our nation's interventions are guided, in part, by our moral compass and our determination to assist those in need.
The moral imperative we face in this mission is clear. The death cult, ISIL, has declared war on Canada. It has called explicitly for attacks against Canadians. The savage brutality of ISIL is one that requires us to act. It is military and expansionist in its scope. It is genocidal and merciless. It disproportionately targets—and this is one of the most disgraceful parts of it—religious minorities, women, and anyone who disagrees with its savagery. This is not a distant fight that we can debate in the abstract. This is not an enlightening philosophical examination of our role in the world. This is a fight that is very real and it is right here at home. These terrorists hate our society and the Canadian traditions of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.
ISIL has called for attacks against Canadians. It has called for attacks in our streets against innocent bystanders with the deliberate intent of making us all feel unsafe. It is doing this by preying on those who are vulnerable, on our most impressionable, on the isolated and the young, through its network of disgusting propaganda, and turning them against us.
This is the nature of the evil we face. There is no reasoning with an evil like ISIL. We are not sitting down to have tea with its members. There is no reasoning with a death cult that wants to massacre, rape, and pillage the developed world. We cannot condescendingly dismiss this as not our fight. ISIL has declared war on us. It has called for attacks on us. It has inspired attacks on us.
There has already been blood spilled in Canadian streets because of ISIL. We cannot say that is not our fight. We owe that to all of those who have been affected by this death cult. We owe that to all of those who fear for their sons and daughters being brainwashed by ISIL propaganda. We owe that to those who live under the tyranny of ISIL right now.
I can assure the members of the opposition who have suggested that we refocus our efforts on humanitarian aid that there is, indeed, a strong role for Canada in providing humanitarian aid in response to this very troubling situation. When I visited the Kurdistan region, I was told by several officials that Canada was an absolute leader in providing humanitarian aid, and they were very thankful. In particular, they paid tribute to our ambassador to Iraq, His Excellency Bruno Saccomani, for the leadership role he has played in working with them. We should be very proud of that.
Our ability to provide food, education, and shelter to those in need can only be done effectively if ISIL is pushed back. I heard that again from the government officials. Yes, there is an Iraqi security force, but we cannot give this fight to it alone.
Canada has the capacity to make a difference in this fight, and the first six months of this mission have demonstrated that. ISIL continues to be on the defensive, which is a welcome new trend. ISIL's recent attempts to regain territory in northern and central Iraq both failed as its onslaughts were successfully fended off by our coalition. By keeping ISIL out of these areas, we are saving lives. We know the difference it makes, because we know so well what ISIL is doing.
We have all heard about mass executions, and I heard that first-hand on my recent visit. We have all heard about the rape and sexual violence. I heard that from brave young women who told me their stories. We have all heard about the horrors that ISIL wages. We have discussed these already in this very place. This is why we cannot let ISIL have a base of operation from which it is unchallenged. ISIL cannot have a safe haven.
The last six months in Iraq have shown that our coalition has the capability to counter this evil head-on. We have decided to join our allies, who have been attacking ISIL in Syria without resistance from the Syrian government. The United States and other coalition partners have had six months of experience attacking ISIL targets in Syria. We will conduct air strikes against ISIL in Syria on the same legal and operational basis as our allies have been doing.
ISIL fighters and equipment have been moving freely across the Iraq-Syria border. ISIL has been consolidating and moving some of its heavier equipment into Syria because of the significant impact that the coalition air strikes have had on ISIL operations in Iraq. We have had success attacking ISIL targets in Iraq, and we will now expand to where ISIL is consolidating.
The Canadian Armed Forces record on the world stage is truly impressive. The men and women who serve our military continue to demonstrate their skill and dedication. Thanks to the readiness and agility of the Canadian Armed Forces, Canada is able to provide strong leadership and support to the international community.
It is because of our commitment to promoting international peace and security that we are assisting the people of Iraq. That is why I am proud to stand in the House tonight to support the government's motion for our continued role in helping people around the world who need our help and support. Canada is a world leader. We have so much to be proud of, and there is much more that we need to do.
God bless the people of Iraq and Syria as they go through the terrible situation that they are dealing with. Canada will always stand with them.