Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand in the House to speak on an issue that is of grave importance to Canadians and to free and democratic societies.
Today's debate on Canada's role in the international effort to combat ISIL is, indeed, an important one. As we all know, ISIL is, simply put, a group of inhuman barbarians. It exists to create havoc and to infringe on global security from the Middle East to right here at home. It is a threat to basic humanity and is a murderous threat to even innocent children.
The opposition does not want to stand up to this barbaric organization motivated by a culture of brutality and murder. Listen to the words of the NDP leader only last week on this very issue. He stated:
[T]here's no reason for us to be involved....
Although no one’s trying to understate the horrors of what’s occurring there, the question is, “Is that Canada’s fight?”
I take exception to these comments from the opposition that pay more lip service than actual contribution to dealing with the horrors ISIL has wrought, especially on the most innocent of them all, that being children.
Canada cannot simply stand by as ISIL barbarians slaughter innocent men, women, and children. As it collects women and children as sex slaves and breeds terrorism globally, as we have seen right here on Canadian soil, the leader of the NDP loudly proclaims that this is not Canada's fight. However, throughout our history, Canada has stood up when peace, safety, and security were threatened. As a nation, we have always been deeply committed to defending freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
I know it will be uncomfortable for some to hear, but I want the House to fully understand the evil we are actually dealing with. It is all too easy in this debate to consider a mission against ISIL in the abstract, to forget the unspeakable crimes against humanity committed by this radicalized group. That is why I am going to speak of the unspeakable. For that, I will refer to the February 2015 report of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child entitled, “Concluding observations on the combined second to fourth periodic reports of Iraq”. I will quote from that report, which states:
The Committee abhors and condemns the targeted and brutal killings of children by the so-called ISIL and in particular: (a) The systematic killing of children belonging to religious and ethnic minorities by the so-called ISIL, including several cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings and crucifixions of children and the burying of children alive....
The report further goes further to state that there are a high number of children who have been abducted by the so-called ISIL:
...many of whom are severely traumatized from witnessing the murder of their parents and are subjected to physical and sexual assault.
Let those words sink in: beheadings, crucifixions, and burying children alive. Again, I ask the opposition, should Canada simply stand by on preventing these horrendous acts committed against children and not consider it Canada's fight?
I ask the opposition to read this United Nations report. I ask it to fully grasp the inhumane and deplorable acts ISIL has committed, acts such as, quoting again directly from the report:
...the continuing sexual enslavement of children since the emergence of the so-called ISIL, in particular of children belonging to minority groups who are held by the so-called ISIL. It notes with the utmost concern the “markets” set up by ISIL, in which they sell abducted children and women attaching price tags to them; and the sexual enslavement of children detained in makeshift prisons of ISIL....
Renate Winter, the well-respected international judicial expert who founded the International Institute for the Rights of the Child, is an expert who helped draft the United Nations report. I ask the opposition to hear her words. She stated:
We are really deeply concerned at torture and murder of those children, especially those belonging to minorities, but not only from minorities. The scope of the problem is huge.
Ms. Winter went on to say:
We have had reports of children, especially children who are mentally challenged, who have been used as suicide bombers, most probably without them even understanding.
Mentally challenged children have been used as suicide bombers and other children have been tortured mercilessly. I know that many members of this House have been blessed to have children of their own, and some, like me, have grandchildren. We must think of our own children and our own grandchildren being tortured, sold as slaves, forced to be suicide bombers, raped, and murdered. That is the stark reality of what ISIL is doing as we speak.
We can look at what ISIL did in places like Ar-Raqqah last May. We can look at the photos of people being crucified or decapitated. We can think about the Yezidis, a peaceful religious minority group in a mountain town that was targeted and surrounded by ISIL until its members faced starvation, dehydration, and eventually death. Some escaped, but many did not.
We can look at the many videos of the beheadings ISIL has produced and posted widely for all to see, such as of James Foley, a freelance journalist, who had his head sawed off as the ISIL barbarians cheered. We can watch the more recent videos of ISIL beheading 21 Coptic Christians on the shores of Tripoli. This is the reality of the ISIL terror we all face.
Does the NDP not think this is Canada's fight? I suggest that it is. Everyone is disgusted and repulsed by these acts performed by a death cult of barbaric thugs with no moral compass. Why would the NDP have Canada stand by and do nothing?
Even though I have spent over 40 years in law enforcement combatting the worst criminals and witnessing horrific crimes, I can only begin to grasp the destruction and havoc created by ISIL. Families have been murdered and destroyed. Mothers' hearts have been broken. Children have been buried alive.
Canada has a duty, and indeed a responsibility, to confront this evil alongside our growing list of allies from all regions of the globe, a coalition, of which Canada has been very much a part, that to date has halted the advance of ISIL, regained strategic territory, and significantly degraded ISIL's capabilities.
The opposition would take an isolationist stand. The opposition has claimed that this is a distant threat, not Canada's concern or problem. However, that is not the case here. From the great wars to the Canadian peacekeeping missions in places like Rwanda, the Congo, and elsewhere, Canada has stood up to terror.
I would also remind Canadians of the attacks and threats made by ISIL against Canada right here at home. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed by a violent jihadist in Quebec, and Corporal Nathan Cirillo was murdered point blank here in Ottawa.
Make no mistake: the international jihadi movement, ISIL, has declared war on Canada. As a government, it is our moral duty to protect Canadians from those who would do us harm. To sit on the sidelines is to let evil thrive.
I hope the opposition will join our government in support of this mission. However, with or without the support of the Liberals and the NDP, we will confront this evil and protect the safety and security of Canadians. Our government is proud of the work done by our brave men and women in uniform. We will continue to support them as we continue to fight this evil.