For the record: Justin Trudeau on the fight against ISIS -

For the record: Justin Trudeau on the fight against ISIS

Justin Trudeau takes a second opportunity to explain his party’s position


Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks at the Royal York Hotel about "Liberty in a culturally diverse society." while addressing the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

When Liberal leader Justin Trudeau joined Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair in addressing the House last week on the government’s latest proposal to fight ISIS, he said his side would have more to say in the days and months ahead. Tonight, a few hours ahead of a vote on extending and expanding the mission, Trudeau rose in the House to deliver his second speech on the issue.

The following is the prepared text of his remarks.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Let me begin by saying that even in a debate as divisive as this one, there is one thing that all parties and all Members have in common.

We are all committed to keeping Canadians safe.

So it’s disappointing – even if predictable – to hear the government suggest that Members who disagree with them are failing to uphold Canadian values.

Comme je l’ai mentionné il y a quelques semaines à Calgary, nous pouvons être très critiques envers les politiques des uns des autres sans remettre en question leur patriotisme.

C’est certainement vrai quand il s’agit de débattre de la motion devant nous aujourd’hui.

L’État islamique doit être confronté. Là-dessus, nous sommes tous d’accord. Là où nos opinions divergent, c’est sur la manière dont le Canada peut intervenir afin d’être le plus efficace possible.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party will not support the government’s motion to extend Canada’s combat role in Iraq, and expand it into Syria.

I want to use my time today to put our opposition into a broader context, and describe what Liberals believe would be a more effective course of action in the region, and here at home.

Our approach to this mission – indeed, to any military engagement – centres around four core principles.

First, that Canada does have a role to play in responding to humanitarian crises and security threats in the world. As I’ve already stated, there is consensus on this point.

Second, that when we deploy the Canadian Forces – especially into combat operations – there must be a clear mission and a clear role for Canada. Here’s where our disagreement begins.

Mr. Speaker, a full week has passed since the Prime Minister first rose on this issue, and the government still hasn’t clearly articulated the mission’s objectives. Indeed, as we saw last week, there isn’t even consensus as to what the ultimate goal is.

Are we seeking only to “degrade” ISIL’s capabilities, as the Prime Minister stated? Or are we attempting “defeat” them outright, as the Minister of Defense suggested? And if it is to defeat them, are we willing to admit that it will take more than airstrikes? Are we willing to admit that it may well mean bombing in Yemen and other countries?

Will our involvement in this mission end next March? Or was the Foreign Affairs Minister being more truthful when he explicitly compared this war to Afghanistan, saying that “(we are) in this for the longer term.”

Remember, Mr. Speaker: in Afghanistan, the longer term meant 10 years, not 12 months.

We cannot allow rhetorical appeals to “moral clarity” to disguise the absence of a plan.

Troisièmement, le Parti libéral ne peut pas appuyer une mission de déploiement dont l’argumentaire n’a pas été présenté ouvertement et avec transparence.

Lorsque nous avons appuyé la toute première phase de cette mission, c’était avec l’entente que cette phase serait d’une durée et d’une portée limitées, c’est-à-dire qu’elle aurait une échéance précise de 30 jours et que ses activités seraient limitées à un soutien de non-combat.

You may recall, Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister told Canadians the purpose of the mission would be “to advise and to assist” and that Canadian troops were “not accompanying the Iraqi forces into combat.”

We now know that Canadian troops have been at the front lines, calling in airstrikes and engaging in several direct firefights.

In a matter of months, despite assurances to the contrary, the government steadily – and stealthily – drew Canada into a deeper ground combat role in Iraq.

And with this motion, they seek to deepen our involvement even further.

Monsieur le Président, comment pouvons-nous avoir confiance en un gouvernement qui trompe si délibérément la population canadienne? D’abord sur la nature de notre rôle, et maintenant, sur la durée de notre engagement?

Le gouvernement veut intensifier la participation du Canada dans une mission de combat vague et potentiellement infinie. Nous ne pouvons pas appuyer cette proposition.

Finally, we believe that any time Canada engages in a military mission, our role must reflect the broad scope of Canadian capabilities and how best we can help. Something this motion, with its singular focus on a military solution, fails to do.

Mr. Speaker, we know that the men and women who serve in our military are well-trained professionals, deeply committed to this country and very good at what they do.

Le Canada ce droit d’agir, dans le monde et chez nous.

Nous pouvons fournir à nos services de police et de renseignements les ressources dont ils ont besoin pour faire leur travail, tout en veillant à ce que les mécanismes de surveillance appropriés soient en place.

Car nous sommes tous d’accord pour dire que quiconque commet un acte de terrorisme au Canada, ou complote pour commettre un tel acte, devrait être jugé sévèrement par nos tribunaux.

We can stop short changing our Armed Forces. The government’s pattern of demanding more while offering less, of cutting defense spending and allowing billions already budgeted for defense to go unspent, must stop.

We can work closely with our international partners to starve ISIL of its resources, including by preventing it from using the international financial system.

We can urge the Iraqi government to continue its political reforms and its outreach to the country’s Sunni community.

We can work with communities here in Canada to reduce the risk of radicalization among young people. And we can do that without singling out or stigmatizing any group of Canadians.

Monsieur le Président, les atrocités commises par les militants de l’État islamique sont bien connues. Ils assassinent des civils innocents. Ils assassinent des minorités ethniques et religieuses, des travailleurs humanitaires et des journalistes.

De tels actes horribles ont été commis par le régime Assad en Syrie. L’ONU a confirmé de nombreux incidents pendant lesquels des armes chimiques ont été employées contre les civils.

Les actes commis par l’État islamique et par Assad sont épouvantables et nous avons raison d’être scandalisés.

But in a situation as complex and volatile as the one the world faces in Syria and Iraq, we must not allow our outrage to cloud our judgment.

Canada and its allies have learned some important lessons in recent years, at great cost.

We’ve learned about the dangers of drifting into expanded combat roles without a clear idea of how the fighting will eventually end.

We’ve learned that deploying Western combat forces in this region can lead to what President Obama called “unintended consequences.”

And we’ve learned that unless we approach a mission like this with a clear understanding of its political and military environment, and unless we match our goals to that reality, we risk making the situation worse, not better.

Responsibility to Protect, a doctrine to which the Minister of National Defence has seemingly become a recent convert, spells this out clearly. Intervention must not make matters worse.

En Syrie, après quatre ans d’une guerre sans merci, plus de 11 millions de personnes ont été chassées de leurs demeures, soit plus de la moitié de la population.

Des millions d’entre eux ont fui le pays, créant une crise des réfugiés partout dans la région.

En cinq années de combat, plus de 210 000 Syriens ont été tués, dont plus de 10 000 enfants.

Et ça, Monsieur le Président, c’est le résultat de la guerre civile. Une guerre pendant laquelle le peuple syrien a été terrorisé et assassiné par son propre gouvernement.

Nous ne pouvons pas apporter notre soutien à une mission qui pourrait très bien aboutir à une plus grande consolidation du pouvoir d’Assad en Syrie.

Rather than continuing to deepen our combat mission in Iraq and Syria, Canada’s interests are better served by an approach that combines military training for Iraqi forces fighting ISIL with humanitarian aid and expanded resettlement efforts here in Canada.

Our military training should take place away from the front lines as our allies have been doing. We did this in Afghanistan, and we can do it in Iraq.

We should also be realistic about the timelines involved. Training local forces to fight ISIL will take time, not just six months, as we’ve seen, or even one year.

La population canadienne mérite que le gouvernement soit plus honnête envers elle en ce qui concerne la durée réelle de cette guerre et de cette mission.

En plus de renforcer notre formation des forces irakiennes, le Canada devrait intensifier son soutien sous la forme d’une aide humanitaire financée adéquatement et bien planifiée, de concert avec nos alliés et sous l’égide des Nations Unies.

Renforcer notre effort d’aide humanitaire ne fera pas que fournir de l’aide et raviver l’espoir de ceux qui en ont désespérément besoin; l’intensification de notre effort appuiera également la sécurité politique et économique dans les pays environnants comme la Jordanie et le Liban, et notre allié de l’OTAN, la Turquie. Des pays dont la capacité de s’occuper de millions de réfugiés syriens est déjà mise à rude épreuve.

Here at home, we also have an opportunity to significantly expand our refugee targets and give more victims of war the opportunity to start a new life in Canada.

The government’s plan – to sponsor 4,000 Syrian refugees over three years – was a good start, but it follows on a poor track record, and doesn’t go nearly far enough.

To quote Britain’s former foreign secretary, “Resettlement will not end the war, but it can rescue some of the most vulnerable victims of the fighting – the raped and tortured, at-risk women and children, those with acute medical needs.”

Canada has an opportunity to help these victims of war, and a moral obligation to offer more than token assistance.

To that end, we believe that the federal government should immediately expand to 25,000 the number of refugees that it commits to accept, and that it directly sponsor all of those refugees. That target, and the cost associated with it, should be in addition to our existing global refugee intake targets and the resources dedicated to meeting them.
To put that number in context, under the leadership of Prime Minister Joe Clark, Canada resettled 60,000 Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian refugees. The target I am suggesting today also reflects the scale of effort Canada should undertake in a world with the largest number of refugees since the end of the Second World War.
Of course the Canadian refugee system must continue to be secure, and we must take all steps required to verify refugee claims.

But let us always remember: when we open our doors to those who seek refuge, it’s not a one-sided deal.

Our own Canadian experience is made better by everything they bring with them: their intelligence, their hard work, their resilience, their language, culture and religion.

Because we know that when we welcome those who have turned to Canada for help in times of desperation, we are strengthened. Not in spite of our differences, but because of them.

Training, humanitarian aid, resettlement help for refugees. Mr. Speaker, these are the elements of a serious, smart, sustained approach to the crisis in Iraq and Syria.

We would also encourage the government to take a broader, less reactive, approach to security challenges. We need to work on preventing threats before they materialize, rather than just reacting to them after the fact.

Je ne dis pas ça seulement parce que les crises humanitaires ont souvent lieu dans des pays fragiles, mais également parce que leur manque chronique de sécurité politique et économique les rend plus susceptibles aux militants transnationaux, qui peuvent les utiliser comme bases à partir desquelles ils peuvent s’organiser, prendre de l’ampleur et faire du recrutement.

L’État islamique profite de cela aujourd’hui.

Lorsqu’il est judicieux de le faire, nous devrions aider à renforcer les forces de sécurité dans ces régions pour qu’elles soient en mesure de contrer ces menaces. Mais l’histoire nous a montré que le fait de privilégier uniquement une action militaire ne permet pas de rétablir une stabilité durable, car cela ne règle que les symptômes de l’instabilité et non pas sur sa cause.

We will make little headway in ending conflict and radicalization if we don’t address the underlying causes of both – yes the root causes – including poor governance and lack of economic opportunity.

That isn’t just my opinion. NATO’s supreme commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove put the same concerns solidly on record last December.

Mr. Speaker, I’d like to end on something that the Minister of Foreign Affairs said in this House last week.

When he stood to introduce this motion, he said something that I don’t think we can let stand unchallenged. He said that those who oppose this mission are “dismissing Canadian values.”

I suspect that the government has – and not for the first time – mistaken the values of the Conservative Party of Canada for the values of the people of Canada.

Parce que les Canadiens ont à cœur des valeurs comme l’ouverture et l’honnêteté – des valeurs qui font défaut au gouvernement depuis que cette mission a commencé en octobre dernier.

Les Canadiens aiment tirer des leçons de leurs expériences passées, ce que le gouvernement a choisi de ne pas faire.

Les Canadiens ont à cœur la longue tradition de notre pays qui est de prêter assistance à ceux qui en ont besoin et de faire preuve de leadership dans les efforts diplomatiques et humanitaires. Ce gouvernement fait passer l’action militaire avant tout et offre beaucoup moins que ce qui est nécessaire pour aider les personnes dans le besoin.

It’s not surprising that the government is attempting to shift this to a debate on “Canadian values” or “moral clarity.” That’s what this government always does when it knows that its policy can’t bear scrutiny.

Mr. Speaker, Canada has an interest in training and helping Iraqi forces to fight and defeat ISIL. But we should not fight this war for them. We should not drift deeper and deeper into a civil war that may go on for a very long time.

Our position is clear: Expanding this mission into Syria, committing our Armed Forces to the dangers of an ill-defined combat mission, does not serve our national interest.

We believe this, come what may.

Canadians did not send us to this House to read polls and guess at what they want.

They did not put us here to stick a finger in the wind and follow whichever way it seems to be blowing.

They put us here to stand on principle and lead. That’s what we intend to do.

Thank you.

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