For The Record

What the party leaders said about expanding the war against ISIS

The transcript of what Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons on Tuesday

Harper, Mulcair, Trudeau.  For Geddes' piece.

On Tuesday, March 24, Prime Minister Stephen Harper laid out his argument in favour of expanding the mission against the Islamic State. Opposition leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau followed with responses of their own; Elizabeth May’s efforts to speak were shot down by the House. For the record, here is the text of all four party leaders’ speeches. Portions in French are in italics.


M. le Président.

Ici même, il y a un peu moins de six mois, j’ai parlé de la montée du soi-disant État islamique de l’Irak et du Levant, et de la menace qu’il pose non seulement pour cette région, mais pour la grande communauté mondiale, et, en particulier, pour le Canada et la population canadienne.

Back in October, I also spoke of the need to work with the international community in pursuing an aggressive course of action against ISIL – something which this House endorsed.

Today I am here to report on the evolution of the situation, to note that the direction and resolve of our allies and partners in dealing with this threat has not changed, and to propose that Canada renew its commitment to the international coalition and its mission.

Le soi-disant État islamique a établi un califat autoproclamé qui s’étend sur un vaste territoire des environs d’Alep, en Syrie, jusqu’à proximité de Bagdad, en Irak.

À partir de ce territoire, il lance un djihad terroriste, non seulement contre la région, mais à l’échelle mondiale.

The good news is this: the territorial spread of ISIL, something occurring at a truly terrifying pace in the spring and summer of last year, has been more or less halted.

Indeed, ISIL has been pushed back somewhat at the margins.

In significant part, this is because of the breadth and intensity of the international opposition that it has provoked, not just in the West, but in the majority of the Muslim world, both Shia and Sunni, and specifically in Arab nations.

Nevertheless, ISIL’s territorial hold remains substantial, and its leadership and networking of wider jihadist forces has continued.

Comme le soi-disant État islamique l’a menacé, les attaques auxquelles il a participé ou qu’il a inspirées dans son réseau se perpétuent dans le monde entier notamment, comme nous nous en souvenons bien, ici même au Canada et, dans un cas, non loin de cette Chambre.

L’État islamique a clairement indiqué qu’il ciblait nommément le Canada et les Canadiens.

ISIL has made it clear that it targets, by name, Canada and Canadians.


For the same reason it targets so many groups, in fact, for the same reason it targets most of humanity: in ISIL’s view, anyone who does not accept its perverted version of religion should be killed.

It is as self-evident to them as it seems insane to us.

But it is far from an idle threat.

Le soi-disant État islamique ne tue pas seulement des combattants ennemis.

Il tue aussi des journalistes qui couvrent le conflit, des travailleurs humanitaires qui aident des civils innocents et, bien entendu, des civils innocents eux-mêmes.

In fact, in its crimes, ISIL targets innocent men, women and children, particularly the most vulnerable and peaceful ethnic and religious minorities.

Why do we know these things, Mr. Speaker?

Not because, as is so often the case, the behaviour of brutal regimes inevitably becomes public knowledge.

No, Mr. Speaker, we know these things because ISIL brags about them.

Le soi-disant État islamique, il fait plus que s’en vanter : il diffuse ses assassinats, commis avec les moyens les plus barbares qui soient, dans des productions vidéo de grande qualité.

Et cela, Monsieur le Président, est une façon de faire presque sans précédent dans l’histoire troublante des atrocités humaines.

And so Canada, along with roughly 60 other members of the United Nations, has taken action.

We have provided staff officers to the Coalition’s military command.

We have transported arms from donor countries to Iraqi forces directly engaged with advancing ISIL terrorists.

In fact, early on in this mission, we provided the largest such airlift support.

We have committed Canadian soldiers to advise and assist Iraqi Kurdish forces defending their homes in northern Iraq.

Nous avons pris part à des combats aériens nous permettant d’atteindre directement le soi-disant état islamique en Irak.

Our Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18s have made strategic air strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq, in the Coalition’s air campaign.

Canada’s highly capable CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft have made possible the Coalition’s effective precision bombing.

L’aide à la reconnaissance, le soutien logistique et l’expertise fournis par les Forces armées canadiennes ont fait partie intégrante de la mission internationale.

Canada is also helping those combating regional terrorist financing networks and we are working in concert with others to stem the flow of foreign fighters to the region.

Et, bien entendu, Monsieur le Président, nous avons offert de l’aide aux civils déplacés dans la région.

In fact, among the nations of the world, we have been one of the biggest providers of humanitarian assistance.

I am glad to tell you that in the last six months, we have helped feed 1.7 million people in Iraq, provide shelter and relief supplies to one and a quarter million people and give some education to at least half a million children.

Beyond that, we have also been helping to support more than 200,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, with food, water, shelter and protection.

There is no either/or here between military action and humanitarian aid.

The situation desperately needs both and Canada has been vigorously providing both.

And so have a wide range of international partners.

And, Mr. Speaker, the upshot is this: there has been no lessening of the global consensus that ISIL must be resisted, and resisted by force.

C’est pourquoi, aujourd’hui, nous déposons une motion pour demander l’appui de la Chambre à la décision du gouvernement de renouveler notre mission militaire contre le soi-disant État islamique pour douze mois.

Nos objectifs demeurent les mêmes : nous voulons continuer à affaiblir les capacités du soi-disant État islamique, c’est-à-dire affaiblir sa capacité à prendre part à des déplacements militaires à grande échelle, à utiliser ses bases librement à étendre sa présence dans la région et à multiplier les attaques à l’extérieur de la région.

Again, Mr. Speaker, today, we are tabling a motion seeking the support of the House for the Government’s decision to renew our military mission against ISIL for up to an additional 12 months.

Our objectives remain the same: we intend to continue to degrade the capabilities of ISIL, that is, to degrade its ability to engage in military movements of scale, to operate bases in the open, to expand its presence in the region, and to propagate attacks outside the region.

Specifically, we will extend our air combat mission, that is, our air strike capability, our air-to-air refuelling capability, our Aurora surveillance mission, and the deployment of aircrew and support personnel.

Monsieur le Président, le gouvernement demande aussi le soutien de cette Chambre envers sa décision d’élargir explicitement la mission de combat aérien pour qu’elle englobe la Syrie.

Le gouvernement sait que le pouvoir même de l’État islamique, c’est-à-dire la capitale du soi-disant califat, se trouve en Syrie.

Les combattants de l’État islamique et une grande partie de son équipement lourd passent librement la frontière irakienne jusqu’en Syrie en partie pour s’assurer une meilleure protection contre nos frappes aériennes.

Nous croyons que le soi-disant État islamique ne devrait plus pouvoir trouver refuge en Syrie.

Again, Mr. Speaker, the Government is also seeking the support of this House for its decision to explicitly expand that air combat mission to include Syria.

The Government recognizes that ISIL’s power base, indeed the so-called Caliphate’s capital, is in Syria.

ISIL’s fighters and much of its heavier equipment are moving freely across the Iraqi border into Syria, in part for better protection against our air strikes.

In our view, ISIL must cease to have any safe haven in Syria.

Let me also be clear that, in expanding our air strikes into Syria, the Government has now decided that we will not seek the express consent of the Syrian government.

Instead, we will work closely with our American and other allies, who have already been carrying out such operations against ISIL over Syria in recent months.

En demandant à la Chambre de renouveler la mission pour une durée de douze mois, le gouvernement a l’intention, pendant cette même période, de faire en sorte que les membres des Forces spéciales du Canada poursuivent leur mission, à conseiller et à assister les forces irakiennes et à accroître leurs capacités de lutte contre le soi-disant État islamique.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I also note that, in asking the House for the renewal of this mission over the next 12 months, it is the Government’s intention for the same period, that members of Canada’s Special Forces will continue their non-combat mission to advise, assist and increase the capabilities of Iraqi forces combating ISIL.

We share the view of President Obama and others that we must avoid if we can taking on ground combat responsibilities in this region.

We seek to have the Iraqis do this themselves, and our role there is to help them to do that.

And, of course, Mr. Speaker, Canada’s humanitarian work will go on.

Nous n’avons pas à choisir entre lutter contre le soi-disant État islamique et aider ses victimes.

We do not need to choose between fighting ISIL and helping its victims.

We will continue to do both.

Monsieur le Président, j’aimerais simplement conclure en disant ceci.

Les Canadiens savent que nous ne pouvons pas faire disparaître les dangers dans le monde simplement en niant leur existence.

Canadians did not invent the threat of jihadi terrorism, and we certainly did not invite it.

Nor, as this global threat becomes ever more serious, can we protect our country or our communities by choosing to ignore it.

That is why a strong majority of Canadians have supported our Government’s mission against ISIL.

Canadians understand that it is not merely in the wider interests of the international community, but specifically in Canada’s national interest.

Monsieur le Président, il n’est jamais facile de prendre une décision qui exige que nos hommes et femmes en uniforme acceptent les risques qui accompagnent de telles missions.

Récemment, la mort du Sergent Andrew Doiron nous a rappelé bien tristement que ces risques existent bel et bien.

Yet the Canadian Armed Forces never waver in defending our country, our families and our values.

We are humbled, and eternally grateful for their service and sacrifice.

Mr. Speaker, on Thursday, this House will debate the motion put forward for a renewed mission against ISIL.

Je demande à tous les députés d’appuyer cette motion.


Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP): Mr. Speaker, asking our brave Canadian women and men in uniform to risk their lives overseas is the most sacred duty that a Prime Minister has. Seeking approval from this House makes us all responsible for their lives. Seeking a mandate like this must be undertaken, therefore, with the utmost responsibility.

I listened very carefully as the Prime Minister spoke just now, and nothing I heard today has convinced me that the Conservatives are taking this duty with the seriousness that it deserves.

You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that we have had this debate before. On September 30, just six months ago, I stood in this House and asked the Prime Minister specifically whether Canadian troops would be involved in directing air strikes in Iraq and painting targets. I asked him twice, as a matter of fact, and twice the Prime Minister specifically denied it. We now know that simply was not true. I also asked the Prime Minister if Canadian troops would be accompanying Iraqi forces to the front line. Again, the Prime Minister categorically denied that, and again we now know that simply was not true. They say that truth is the first casualty of war. It has become clear that the current government has taken that saying to heart.

Petit à petit, sans faire preuve de transparence et à coups de déclarations contradictoires de la part du premier ministre, du ministre de la Défense nationale et du ministre des Affaires étrangères, les conservateurs ont enfoncé le Canada dans une guerre en Irak; une guerre qui n’est pas la nôtre. C’est un bourbier qui dure depuis plus d’une décennie, un conflit qui a déjà coûté la vie, comme le premier ministre vient de le dire, au sergent Andrew Joseph Doiron.

Toutefois, nous voici six mois plus tard: ce premier ministre et ce gouvernement demandent maintenant la permission de prolonger le déploiement en Irak et d’ajouter, le premier ministre vient de le dire, la Syrie comme nouveau théâtre d’opérations.

Le premier ministre nous demande de lui faire confiance pour pouvoir mettre nos troupes en danger. Pour le dire tout simplement, il n’a pas mérité cette confiance.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP): The Prime Minister has not earned that trust because he misled Canadians from the start. It is simply unconscionable that the current Conservative government would ask for the authority to extend the mission in Iraq when so many things it has told Canadians about the mission up until now have been false.

It begs the question: Do they not know the answers; or do they not want Canadians to know the answers? The women and men who put their lives on the line deserve better, Canadians deserve better.

If we all agree that it is the Prime Minister’s sacred duty to send our troops into war, then it is the official opposition’s sacred duty to scrutinize that decision to ensure that it is the right one.

Military planners will tell us that for a mission to succeed it must have two things. It must have a well-defined objective and a well-defined exit strategy. This mission has neither. The Conservatives simply have no plan. They have no strategy, other than the obvious political one, and that is putting our troops in danger.

Our brave men and women are involved in fire fights with ISIS on the ground, contrary to their clear undertaking. For the Prime Minister to still deny that Canadian troops are involved in combat is simply ludicrous. The death of Sergeant Doiron reminded us all that the risk of deployment on the front line is real. This House cannot turn a blind eye to this fact, despite the Prime Minister’s assertions.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP): The Prime Minister has not earned that trust because he misled Canadians from the start. It is simply unconscionable that the current Conservative government would ask for the authority to extend the mission in Iraq when so many things it has told Canadians about the mission up until now have been false.

It begs the question: Do they not know the answers; or do they not want Canadians to know the answers? The women and men who put their lives on the line deserve better, Canadians deserve better.

If we all agree that it is the Prime Minister’s sacred duty to send our troops into war, then it is the official opposition’s sacred duty to scrutinize that decision to ensure that it is the right one.

Military planners will tell us that for a mission to succeed it must have two things. It must have a well-defined objective and a well-defined exit strategy. This mission has neither. The Conservatives simply have no plan. They have no strategy, other than the obvious political one, and that is putting our troops in danger.

Our brave men and women are involved in fire fights with ISIS on the ground, contrary to their clear undertaking. For the Prime Minister to still deny that Canadian troops are involved in combat is simply ludicrous. The death of Sergeant Doiron reminded us all that the risk of deployment on the front line is real. This House cannot turn a blind eye to this fact, despite the Prime Minister’s assertions.

…    The truth is our allies, the Americans for instance, do not even get close to the front line. In their role of targeting air strikes, the Canadian soldiers are performing a task that so far even the U.S. military has been unwilling to perform.

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has repeatedly said the U.S. would consider directing attacks from the ground but that it has not done so yet. Why not and why are Canadian troops doing it?

Évidemment, le manque d’objectifs clairs n’a pas empêché ce premier ministre d’appuyer la guerre de George W. Bush, en 2003. Pourtant, l’histoire nous démontre que le Canada avait raison de ne pas y participer, à l’époque.

Or aujourd’hui, de toute évidence, le manque d’objectifs clairs ne trouble aucunement notre premier ministre. Il semble vouloir sa guerre en Irak, comme il l’a voulue en 2003, peu importe les conséquences. Ainsi le Canada est d’abord entré en guerre en Irak pour une mission de 30 jours. Trente jours se sont transformés en six mois. Et voilà que six mois plus tard s’ajouterait une année supplémentaire. Que se passera-t-il après? C’est cela la question. Les Canadiens ne le savent pas. Les conservateurs ne le savent pas et pire, ils refusent de le dire.

Souvenons-nous de l’engagement du Canada dans la guerre en Afghanistan, une guerre qui, pour le Canada, a également débuté avec quelques opérations de forces spéciales très limitées. À l’époque, malgré les insultes et les quolibets, Alexa McDonough et le caucus du NPD ont posé les questions qui s’imposaient au gouvernement, des questions difficiles. À l’époque, comme aujourd’hui, la mission initiale s’est transformée au fil du temps, enfonçant le Canada dans un bourbier, comme nous l’avions prédit.

Le déploiement en Afghanistan est devenu la plus longue mission militaire de l’histoire du Canada: 160 soldats tués, plus de 1 000 blessés et des milliers d’autres qui ont souffert et qui souffrent encore aujourd’hui du syndrome post-traumatique.

It is the height of irresponsibility for a government to decide to enter a war without a clear plan, without a clear beginning and a well-defined end. That is exactly what the Conservatives are doing in Iraq. The government is taking Canada from mission creep to mission leap.

New Democrats are proud to have stood up to the Prime Minister’s misguided war from the very beginning. The fact is Canada has no place in this war. This is not—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP):  This is not a UN mission. It is not even a NATO mission. Despite attempts to give appearances to the contrary, it is not a NATO mission. UN missions and NATO missions are the kinds of internationally sanctioned campaigns that New Democrats can and have been able to get behind.

In 2011—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

The Speaker: Order. I did not hear any noise when the Right Hon. Prime Minister was speaking. I will ask members to extend the same courtesy to the hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP): In 2011, when Moammar Gadhafi started dropping bombs on his own civilian population, New Democrats supported the international efforts to protect Libyans. That effort was sanctioned by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. Of course, when the mission of protection of the civilian population became one of a so-called regime change, it was New Democrats who asked the right question—to replace it with what? Ask the Americans how that worked out in Benghazi?

Now, years later, with everything we have seen unfold in Lybia, it is clear that the NDP was right to ask those questions then. Unlike that original mission in Lybia, the war in Iraq does not have the support of the United Nations. Let us be clear about that.

Here it is important to note that the Security Council has indeed passed three resolutions dealing with Iraq, none authorizing a military mission. However, the Security Council is requiring action on preventing the flow of foreign fighters and financing of terrorist organizations, including ISIS and ISIL. Pressuring regional governments to prevent financial transfers to them is a real diplomatic effort that Canada can and should prioritize. That would be effective. The truth is that air strikes are being used as an effective recruitment tool for ISIS.

…    Ça fait plus d’une décennie que les États-Unis sont embourbés en Irak et les Américains ne voient absolument pas la lumière au bout du tunnel. Est-ce que le premier ministre essaie de nous croire qu’il va réussir et utiliser la force militaire pour imposer une solution en Irak, alors que tous ont échoué depuis les 10 dernières années? Ça ne tient pas la route.

Voilà que le premier ministre veut maintenant faire ça en aidant le régime syrien de Bashar al-Assad, un dictateur de la pire espèce, un criminel de guerre qui cible sa propre population avec des armes chimiques et qui bombarde impunément écoles et hôpitaux sans aucune arrière pensée.

It is especially disturbing to see the Prime Minister now openly considering an alliance of sorts with the brutal dictator and war criminal, Bashar al-Assad. The Prime Minister has already said that any Canadian military involvement in Syria, something the government is now proposing as members just heard, would require the permission of the Assad regime.

This is a regime that continues to commit the most atrocious war crimes. It is a regime that not only uses chemical weapons on civilians, it uses snipers against women and children. It is a regime that actually collaborated with ISIS.

It is hard to believe the Prime Minister when he says that the mission is about preventing atrocities when he is willing to work with one of the worst perpetrators of atrocities in the world today.

Paul Heinbecker, Canada’s last ambassador to the UN Security Council, said it best. He said:

If out of fear of ISIS and of desire to stop the islamist extremist group the coalition were to ally itself de facto or de jure with Assad for fleeting tactical advantage, it would be the ultimate betrayal of the Syrian innocents and of our own values. Simply put, our women and men in uniform have no place being in Iraq and they certainly have no place being in Syria.

Mark my words, when New Democrats form government on October 19, we are going to pull our troops out. We are going to bring them home.

Monsieur le Président, je suis convaincu que tous et chacun en cette Chambre ne souhaitent que du bien au peuple irakien, mais ce n’est pas avec une escalade militaire que l’on aidera le peuple d’Irak. Les insurgés, les factions, les clans se nourrissent de ces interventions pour radicaliser la population, pour recruter des militants, pour miner les gouvernements locaux. Ces groupes, comme le groupe État islamique, bénéficient justement de la faiblesse de l’État irakien et du faible appui de sa propre population. L’Irak n’est pas en mesure de maintenir la paix et la sécurité à l’intérieur de ses propres frontières. Cela ne changera pas avec plus de bombes, plus de destructions et plus de morts.

Canada can play a more positive role in resolving this crisis. We can do that by helping our NATO ally. Turkey coped with 1.5 million refugees who have poured over its border. We can do that by using every diplomatic, humanitarian and financial resource at our disposal to strengthen the political institutions in Iraq, and yes, in Syria.

It is simply not enough to say that we have to do something. We need to ask ourselves what the right thing to do is. The question should not be a combat role or nothing. It is a false choice offered by the Prime Minister. The question should be: What is the most effective thing Canada can do?

There is a desperate need for humanitarian support. There were reports from the parliamentary commission of this Parliament this week of children freezing to death in refugee camps. Canada could have helped with winterizing those camps.

There is also a desperate need for greater diplomacy. Local frustrations and ineffective outreach brought about the rise of ISIS. Only effective, inclusive and representative governance can end the threat from extremism in the region.

There is a need for a strong campaign to counter extremist messaging, exposing the brutality of ISIS and the lack of religious basis for its atrocities. It starts right here at home with proactive engagement with the communities to prevent radicalization. However, that is something that cannot be achieved when the Prime Minister singles out Canada’s Muslim population instead of reaching out to them.

La motion que propose le gouvernement ne fait rien de tout cela. Voilà pourquoi l’opposition officielle formée par le Nouveau parti démocratique du Canada n’appuiera pas cette motion, n’appuiera la prolongation de la guerre en Irak et n’appuiera pas l’expansion de cette guerre vers la Syrie. Il est clair que ce n’est pas la voie à suivre.


Merci, Monsieur le Président.

Je suis heureux d’avoir l’occasion de répondre à la déclaration du premier ministre.

Nous avons beaucoup appris au cours des six mois qui se sont écoulés depuis que le gouvernement a décidé de participer à la guerre en Irak.

Last fall, the Prime Minister stood in this House and told Par-liament that Canadian troops were “not accompanying the Iraqi forces into combat.”

In the weeks and months that followed, a very different story emerged.

We now know that our 30-day non-combat “advise and assist” effort became a six-month long engagement, and then evolved into one where Canadian troops were active on the front lines, regularly engaging in direct combat.

Et nous avons appris la mort tragique du sergent Andrew Joseph Doiron, qui a perdu la vie en service, le premier décès d’un membre des Forces canadiennes durant cette guerre.

Monsieur le Président, je sais que je parle au nom de tous les députés à la Chambre en disant que nous continuons à rendre hommage au sergent Doiron ainsi qu’à son courage. Ses proches demeurent toujours dans nos pensées.

That tragic loss of life should also serve as an important re-minder. At the end of every decision to enter combat stands a brave Canadian in harm’s way, because they have the courage to serve. And because we made the decision to send them to war.

The men and women who serve in our military are well-trained professionals, deeply committed to their country, and very good at what they do. We in the Liberal Party have never been opposed to employing the lethal force of which they are capable when it clearly serves Canada’s national interest to do so. We never will be.

But in every case that national interest must be clearly and rationally articulated. The mission designed to uphold that interest must have transparent objectives and a responsible plan to achieve them.

Mr Speaker, this government has been steadily drawing Canada deeper into a combat role in Iraq. It now wants to expand that war into Syria.

Further they have done all this without clearly articulating the mission’s objectives. As a result, neither Members of this House nor Canadians have any way to know when or whether we’ve achieved those objectives.

They have no exit strategy, beyond an illusory end date set for next March.

Involvement in direct combat in this war does not serve Cana-da’s interests. Nor will it provide a constructive solution to the catastrophic humanitarian crisis in the region.

Now the Prime Minister seeks to deepen our involvement. To expand it into the Syrian Civil War.

Mr Speaker, last fall we said that because the Prime Minister failed to offer a clear and responsible plan, one that limited our participation to a true non-combat role and better reflected the broad scope of Canada’s capabilities, that we would not sup-port his motion to go to war in Iraq.

The four core principles we articulated in October still stand to-day.

One, Canada has a role to play in confronting humanitarian cri-ses in the world.

Two, when a government considers deploying our men and women in uniform, there must be a clear mission and a clear role for Canada.

Three, that the case for deploying our forces must be made openly and transparently, based on clear and reliable, dispas-sionately presented facts.
Four, Canada’s role must reflect the broad scope of Canadian capabilities and how best we can help.

In the fall, we expressed grave concern that the Prime Minister intended to involve Canada in a longer, deeper combat en-gagement than he was leading this House to believe at that time.

Today, with their motion, we know those concerns were well-founded.

We will not support the government’s decision to deepen this combat mission and expand it into Syria.

Nous n’appuierons pas la decision d’etendre cette mission de combat et d’y inclure la Syrie.

Monsieur le Président, les Canadiens ont besoin de savoir dans quoi les entraîne le premier ministre.

Les Nations Unies nous disent qu’après quatre ans d’une guerre sans merci, plus de 11 millions de Syriens – soit plus de la moitié de la population – ont été chassés de leur demeure.

Les Syriens fuient leur pays par millions, et ce flot de réfugiés provoque une crise absolument effroyable.

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

Canadians need to know that this is happening in Syria. And they also need to know who is largely responsible.

The Syrian people have for years been oppressed and terror-ized by their own government, under the rule of Bashar al-Assad. This is a man who has used chemical weapons on his own citizens, and whose regime is responsible for torturing and killing many more innocent people than even ISIL.

We cannot support a mission that could very well result in Assad consolidating his grip on power in Syria.

Nous ne pouvons pas apporter notre soutien à une mission qui pourrait très bien consolider le pouvoir d’Assad en Syrie.

Beyond our concerns about dubious alliances, the govern-ment’s desire to expand Canada’s presence into Syria repre-sents a worrying trend.

We can call it “evolution” or “escalation” or “mission creep.” Whatever term you prefer, the pattern is the same.

First, we discovered that our role included ground combat op-erations, despite the Prime Minister’s assurances to the contra-ry.

Now we’re being asked to expand our involvement into Syria.

It is hard to believe the proposed timeline, given the public musings of the Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs. In-deed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs explicitly compared this war to Afghanistan, stating that “[we are] in this for the longer term.”

In Afghanistan, the “longer term” meant a decade.

Monsieur le Président, je dis cela avec plus de regret que de colère, mais comment pouvons-nous faire confiance à un gouvernement qui a su si ouvertement induire la population Canadienne en erreur?

Ce gouvernement propose aux Forces canadiennes de s’engager dans une mission de combat vague et sans fin, que nous ne pouvons pas appuyer.

They are proposing an unfocused, unending mission for the Canadian Forces that we cannot support.

Mr Speaker, one thing is clear: Canada has a role to play in the campaign against ISIL. That role must serve our national interests, and the one being proposed today by the Prime Minister does not meet that test.

Le Parti libéral que je représente sait que les Canadiens veulent répondre aux horreurs que l’État islamique fait subir dans la région. La population canadienne est, avec raison, consternée par le caractère impitoyable et la terreur que sème l’État islamique. Nous comprenons ce sentiment et nous le partageons.

Mais nous savons aussi que dans une situation aussi complexe et changeante que celle à laquelle est confrontée la communauté internationale en Syrie et en Irak, nous ne pouvons pas laisser notre indignation nuire à notre jugement.

Le Canada a un intérêt évident à former les forces irakiennes dans le but de combattre et d’anéantir l’État islamique, mais il n’est pas dans notre intérêt de nous enliser sans cesse davantage dans une telle mission de combat.

Nous pouvons et nous devrions dispenser cette formation loin des lignes de front.

Along with our allies, and through the auspices of the United Nations, Canada should provide more help through a well-funded and well-planned humanitarian aid effort. The refugee crisis alone threatens the region’s security, overwhelming coun-tries from Lebanon to Turkey, from Syria itself to Jordan.

And here at home, we should significantly expand our refugee targets and give more victims of war the opportunity to start a new life in Canada.

These calamities are in urgent need of a constructive, coordi-nated international effort, both through the United Nations, and beyond it. The kind of effort that ought to be Canada’s call-ing card in the global community.

We will have more to say about that in the days and months ahead.

While all three parties have different views on what our role should be, let there be no doubt that we all offer our resolute and wholehearted support to the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Today, Mr. Speaker, the government is asking for this House to support deepening Canada’s involvement in the war in Iraq, and to expand that involvement into a combat mission in Syria. The Liberal Party will not support this government’s motion.

Thank you.


These remarks were sent in an email to the press gallery.

We’ve learned the dangers of shortsighted thinking from the ill-conceived military action in Libya, which made the terrorist threat across North Africa even worse. Once again, the Harper Conservatives have no clear direction, end-goal or exit strategy for the Iraq mission, which grew from a non-combat role to a combat mission on the ground, and now would include airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria.

The Green Party has been clear from the beginning: We must not engage in military operations of uncertain scope and purpose that are not in Canada’s national interest and do so little to strengthen global peace and security.

Instead, we must immediately sign the UN Arms Trade Treaty to reduce the flow of conventional arms that fuel these senseless tragic conflicts, crack down on the money flowing to ISIS and other terrorist groups, and collaborate with our allies to relieve the immense humanitarian suffering.

Ultimately, as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has said, ‘Over the longer-term, the biggest threat to terrorists is not power of missiles, it is the politics of inclusion.’