June 9, 2016

LIB

Ahmed Hussen

Liberal

Mr. Ahmed Hussen (York South—Weston, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard.

This government shares the opposition's outrage at the atrocities committed by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL.

ISIL continues to commit widespread abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in Iraq and Syria, including indiscriminate killing; deliberate targeting of civilians; persecution on the basis of ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or gender identity; destruction of cultural and religious sites; kidnapping; forced displacement of communities; and rapes and other forms of sexual violence. These appalling acts often target the most vulnerable of victims.

The motion introduced today by the opposition lists some of the deplorable acts committed by ISIL. It is this government's position that these atrocities, some of which may comprise war crimes, and crimes against humanity or genocide, must be independently investigated and the perpetrators must be held to account. The victims deserve no less.

The sentiment of the opposition's motion is commendable, but sentiment is not enough. Political declarations do not result in justice for victims of atrocities. What is needed is an impartial, independent determination by a competent court. This is why Canada has supported efforts to document and investigate ISIL's crimes.

Canada has called for the UN Security Council to establish an investigative mechanism with a mandate to investigate allegations of violations of international law by ISIL in Syria and Iraq to determine whether these violations constitute acts of genocide or other serious international crimes, to identify the perpetrators of such violations, and to identify measures to ensure accountability.

Canada has provided support to UN partners and domestic authorities to document and investigate atrocities committed in ISIL-affected areas, and to end the impunity by ensuring that individuals are held to account for committing these heinous crimes. Canada has also provided funding to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to document violations and abuses of human rights, and is also supporting local efforts to collect evidence and investigate serious international crimes.

The approach taken by the government demonstrates our leadership, and is consistent with the body of international treaties that define these serious international crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Canadian investigators, prosecutors, and judges have worked and continue to work tirelessly in international criminal courts and tribunals across the world, from Cambodia to Sierra Leone, investigating and prosecuting atrocity crimes, all in effort to see justice done for victims. Canada has a long and proud history of contributing to international criminal justice.

The crime of genocide is one of the most serious international crimes, and the legal test to be met is set out in the genocide convention. This government shares the views of the United Nations, the United States, and others, that an independent investigation into ISIL's crimes is required. However, we do not serve justice when we presume to prejudge the outcome of eventual investigative and judicial processes.

This government is outraged by acts of violence committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The government is also firmly committed to do more for the promotion and protection of human rights globally.

As part of this commitment, on May 17, the government announced the creation of the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion. The new office expands on the work undertaken by the former office of religious freedom, and will bring our efforts together and our comprehensive vision that includes all human rights, not just some. We are enhancing our work to promote freedom of religion or belief in Iraq and Syria, and indeed around the world, and we are committed to strengthening the global human rights architecture.

ISIL poses a threat, not only to the stability of Iraq, Syria, and the entire Middle East but also to global international peace and security. ISIL has recruited thousands of foreign terrorist fighters from across the world to travel to Iraq and Syria to participate in its campaign of violence and terror. Combatting the horrible acts of violence and oppression that ISIL perpetrates requires a strong contribution to security through military and civilian means.

The UN Security Council recognized that a sustained and comprehensive approach is required to defeat ISIL and noted, in UN Security Council resolution 2170, that the participation and collaboration of all states is required to defeat the terrorist threat posed by ISIL.

Canada is answering this call. Sixty-six countries and organizations have joined forces in the global coalition against ISIL and have committed themselves to a broad international coalition to eliminate the threat posed by ISIL. Canada is committed to working with other members of the coalition and with the Government of Iraq to ensure that ISIL is degraded and, ultimately, defeated.

As the UN Security Council rightly identified, a comprehensive approach to countering ISIL is required. Canada's new strategy includes comprehensive contributions along all lines of coalition effort.

We are significantly increasing our military train, advise, and assist mission for the Iraqi forces who are on the front lines in the fight against ISIL.

We are tripling the number of Canadian Armed Forces officers assisting the Iraqi forces.

We are contributing to improving the fighting skills of these forces to ensure that they are capable of holding areas liberated from ISIL control.

The Canadian Armed Forces are also contributing aerial surveillance and refuelling assets to the coalition fight against ISIL.

Canada's strategy for engagement in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon includes the provision of $1.9 billion, over three years starting in 2016, in humanitarian and development assistance as part of an integrated approach and response for the Middle East. On April 13, the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie took the first step in delivering on this commitment by announcing $100 million in humanitarian assistance funding to support the response to the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

Canada's bilateral development assistance is programmed using a gender-sensitive approach, recognizing that women and girls affected by conflict face a unique set of challenges. Canada remains committed to gender equality and the promotion of women and girls' human rights in situations of armed conflict.

The horrific abuse perpetrated by ISIL against women and girls is well known. We condemn ISIL for all these crimes, in the strongest terms, and are working with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and others, to address sexual violence in the region.

We must not lose sight of what matters most. What matters most are the families whose loved ones' lives have been taken, the communities forced from their homes, and the people who continue to suffer atrocities and oppression at the hands of ISIL.

It is for these people that Canada is working together with its coalition allies and partners, including the Government of Iraq, to put an end to this senseless violence.

In conclusion, while we fully respect the motion of the opposition, it gets ahead of the process and does not address punishing the perpetrators.

Whether genocide has been committed or not is not for members of the House of Commons to determine. It should be decided by a legal and competent court, not a political one.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
CPC

Jason Kenney

Conservative

Hon. Jason Kenney (Calgary Midnapore, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, first I congratulate the member, whom I have known for many years, on his election to this place. This is the first chance I have had to hear him speak in the House.

While I have no doubt that the member is sincere in his words, I strongly disagree with the sentiments he just expressed. He concluded by saying that we must not get ahead of the process and that this House has no business in defining when a genocide has occurred. That is entirely contrary to the practice of this place, which recognized the Armenian genocide as such in a motion that I co-sponsored, not as a result of some international tribunal but as a result of the broadly accepted historical facts. This place recognized the genocidal nature of the Holocaust in the creation of a Holocaust commemoration day. It recognized the Rwandan genocide, prior to any determination by a multilateral tribunal, and it recognized the Holodomor as a genocide, even though that continues to be contested by Vladimir Putin and his propagandists. This place has consistently read history for what it is and has not waited for putative groups of lawyers to tell us what history means, what genocide is.

I find the prevarication of this government on this point not just regrettable but shameful, and it is for a reason. The Liberal Party, which took great pride in advancing the notion of the responsibility to protect at the UN, is opposing the recognition of ISIL's genocide for one reason: its recognition would lead to the inevitable conclusion that we must combat it.

The member said we are contributing to the fight against ISIL in all dimensions of the plan. I regret that is untrue. We are not participating in the single most powerful dimension of the plan against ISIL, and that is combat, because we ended the combat dimension of our air strike campaign against ISIL. How can the member justify ending combat against terrorists engaged in genocide?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
LIB

Ahmed Hussen

Liberal

Mr. Ahmed Hussen

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for giving me best wishes on my speech.

I want to respond to him by saying that our response has been comprehensive. We have not only tripled the amount of training we are doing on the ground, but we are also embedding more officers into the Iraqi forces so that they can better hold territory that they liberate from ISIL.

However, we also understand that the problem is not just contained within Iraq and Syria. We have to do a better job at helping nations in the Middle East have better resilience to this problem so that they have more stability. That is why we have been proactive as a government to reach out to Jordan and Lebanon, giving them more assistance so that they can improve their resilience. Therefore, we are not backing off from this fight. In fact, we are helping those who are on the front lines.

Our response will continue to be strong and comprehensive and will strengthen the players in the neighbourhood as well.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
CPC

Dianne Lynn Watts

Conservative

Ms. Dianne L. Watts (South Surrey—White Rock, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, Ján Kubiš, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq, told the UN Security Council that more than 50 mass graves have been discovered so far in several areas of Iraq, and that ISIS is continuing its atrocities against women and children. I am glad to hear that Canada has called for an investigation. The other member said that Canada had written a letter and called for this investigation. I would suggest that the investigation is under way.

I would also suggest that ISIS has met, on every account, the definition of genocide under article II of the genocide convention to which Canada is a signatory. My question for the member is this. Is he aware of that?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
LIB

Ahmed Hussen

Liberal

Mr. Ahmed Hussen

Mr. Speaker, the genocide convention clearly sets out the terms that need to be met for the determination that a genocide has indeed taken place. We in this government believe that the crime of genocide is one of the most serious of international crimes and that the legal test must be met. That is why we as a government believe that test should be determined, set out, and analyzed by a competent authority in a legal court and not by the House of Commons.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
LIB

Frank Baylis

Liberal

Mr. Frank Baylis (Pierrefonds—Dollard, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the motion introduced today by the Leader of the Opposition describes crimes and atrocities committed by ISIL. It asks for formal recognition of these acts as genocide.

What is genocide? The UN definition of genocide is set out in the 1948 international Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, specifically in article II, which describes the acts that constitute genocide.

There is no question that the acts committed by these terrorist groups are heinous and have caused a menace to the region and to the world. However, there is a process to determine if genocide has been committed. The motion gets ahead of the process.

There are two courts that determine genocide, the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The court can consider two types of cases: one, contentious cases between two states; and two, requests for advisory opinions submitted by the United Nations and its specialized agencies.

The International Criminal Court, on the other hand, is an independent permanent court with jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute individuals for serious crimes of international concern; namely, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

Whether or not the acts committed by this group can be described as genocide is not for members of the House of Commons to determine. This determination should be a legal one submitted to a competent court in the international community. It should not be a political determination.

It is undeniable that the actions and crimes committed by this group stir up emotions among all of us. They are heinous, despicable, and inhumane. However, as lawmakers we should ensure that our actions are informed by legal framework. In this light, on May 30, the Minister of Foreign Affairs formally requested that the United Nations Security Council establish a mechanism to investigate violations of international law by ISIL in Iraq and Syria. He requested a thorough, in-depth investigation of whether these violations constitute acts of genocide.

We condemn the atrocities and the widespread abuses perpetrated by this terrorist group. These do show the hallmarks of genocide, but we should not rush to judgment, as the motion asks us to do. We must follow a rigorous legal process, and that is exactly what we are doing under the leadership of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

I would also like to point out that today's motion fails to propose any concrete solutions. On the other hand, our government is an active member in the coalition against ISIL. Canada's new role in the global coalition has provided an important contribution to shifting the momentum against it. Canada is in Iraq at the request of the Government of Iraq, and we are proud to be providing this assistance when asked by a partner in need.

When our government took over responsibility for the fight against ISIL last November, the terrorist organization controlled a large part of Iraq and Syria. It was able to project an image of strength, attract fighters from all over the world, and generate significant revenues from illegal oil sales and other criminal activities.

Six months later, ISIL is not the same organization. Coalition efforts have successfully halted its expansion and reduced its presence primarily to a handful of areas.

Canada's new, comprehensive, integrated, and sustained strategy has been part of that shift—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
CPC

Jamie Schmale

Conservative

Mr. Jamie Schmale

Wow. Seriously?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
CPC

Jason Kenney

Conservative

Hon. Jason Kenney

Comprehensive, non-combat strategy.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
LIB

Frank Baylis

Liberal

Mr. Frank Baylis

Today, Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to speak to Canada's new contribution to the coalition—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
CPC

Jason Kenney

Conservative

Hon. Jason Kenney

Did you read this before they gave it to you?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
LIB

Frank Baylis

Liberal

Mr. Frank Baylis

—noting that Canada is proud to have degraded ISIS—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
LIB

Anthony Rota

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota)

I just want to remind hon. members that there is a process here, and screaming across the floor is not one of them. I will not say who, but there is an hon. member who decided that he would take the rules into his own hands, so I just want to remind members. I know it gets emotional and we sometimes forget and we lose control. I just want to remind everyone what the rules are. Thank you.

The hon. member for Pierrefonds—Dollard.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
LIB

Frank Baylis

Liberal

Mr. Frank Baylis

Mr. Speaker, today it is my privilege to speak to Canada's new contribution to the coalition, noting that Canada is proud to have degraded ISIS's ability to manoeuvre its financing and to attract foreign fighters, which had dropped from 2,000 a month to 200. Most importantly, we have allowed Iraqis to begin to return to their communities and to rebuild their lives.

From a security perspective, defeating ISIL is the top coalition priority. Once ISIL is driven out of Iraq, a key part of that stability will be to ensure that Iraqis can provide their own security. That is why Canada's new strategy focuses on building the capacity of the Iraqi forces to enhance their own effectiveness against ISIL.

In terms of military capacity, ISIL is much less the traditional military force it was when this campaign began against it. What is truly needed at this phase of the campaign is the ability to confront ISIL on the ground, and this can only be done successfully through an Iraq-led campaign. Our government is committed to training local forces. This is the way to success.

With this in mind, Canada is tripling the number of Canadian Armed Forces advising and assisting Iraqi forces that are leading in the crucial battles against ISIL. Canada has also developed a good rapport with Iraqi Kurdish forces in northern Iraq, and thanks to coalition efforts, these forces have improved their combat skills and cohesion.

Beyond its military contributions, Canada is also playing a crucial role in ensuring the stability of liberated areas. We will help displaced populations return to their homes by assisting with efforts to clear areas of unexploded ordnance, by assisting to restore security, and by bringing about basic services, such as water, electricity, and schools. The coalition has truly shown that the international community can come together and work in a constructive manner on a very complex, dangerous, and long-term crisis. This is why, when Canada refocused its strategy, it was important that it be comprehensive, integrated, and sustained.

As I already mentioned, Canada's contribution is very important. However, it would not be complete if we did not commit to helping in the long term. This complex crisis requires more than military efforts to weaken and conquer Daesh. It requires efforts to prevent other similar crises.

Therefore, we must sustain our support if we are to succeed, and the people of Iraq must know that Canada will be there with them for the long term.

The chances of Daesh creating a caliphate are lower today than they were six months ago. However, it is important to continue to exert the same pressure on Daesh. The coalition still has many challenges to overcome.

We must continue to support the Iraqi government to ensure that financial assistance is available to help the most vulnerable and to ensure Iraq's long-term development. There is no simple solution to this crisis.

The motion before us proposes no concrete action. On the other hand, we have referred this important matter to the proper bodies, and this is the proper process to follow. In the meantime, we are actively engaged as part of the coalition to fight ISIL, and together we are impacting where it truly matters.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
CPC

Sylvie Boucher

Conservative

Mrs. Sylvie Boucher (Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, how many more people have to die? How many more women have to be raped or burned? How many more atrocities will it take for the government to recognize the genocide being committed by Daesh? How many more people have to suffer? The government's lack of humanity is incredible. I cannot believe that the Liberals are being partisan in the face of such violent acts being committed against a people. It is astounding.

We are asking that the House recognize, once and for all, that terrible things are happening in those countries. We all need to stand up to the atrocities and the rapes, and stand up on behalf of the women and children who are bring abused each and every day.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
LIB

Frank Baylis

Liberal

Mr. Frank Baylis

Mr. Speaker, the member raised an excellent issue in talking about the unfathomable atrocities that we are witnessing.

That is why over half of my speech was dedicated to real solutions and the work we are doing, as well as encouraging the opposition members to come up with other possible solutions.

In terms of legislation, there is no point in spending the entire day debating the nature of the question. We should be debating more pressing things, such as meaningful measures. That is where the government has a real influence.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
LIB

Celina Caesar-Chavannes

Liberal

Mrs. Celina Caesar-Chavannes (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the member spoke about how many atrocities it would take for us to recognize this as a genocide. Let me be clear that this government believes that one rape, one act of criminal activity against a child, is one too many.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has started the process of recognizing that the acts of ISIL-Daesh have all the hallmarks of a genocide and has started the process of writing to the international bodies. I ask my hon. colleague what he feels is the detriment in not following this process, this established international process. We all recognize that these are horrible acts ISIS is taking part in, but what is the detriment in not following the process?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
LIB

Frank Baylis

Liberal

Mr. Frank Baylis

I would say, Mr. Speaker, I am very bothered by the attempt to trivialize such an important issue--

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
?

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
LIB

Anthony Rota

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota)

I just want to remind hon. members that there is a process, and screaming across the floor is not it.

The hon. member for Pierrefonds—Dollard.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink
LIB

Frank Baylis

Liberal

Mr. Frank Baylis

I am glad you brought that up, Mr. Speaker, because it speaks to exactly what we have been talking about here. Every time a process is being followed that members on the opposite side do not seem to agree with, they choose not to follow the process. We just had fine examples of that many times during my speech.

I would say that it should not be trivialized. If people truly cared about this matter, they would be proposing concrete steps with immediate actions that could be taken today that would have an impact on the ground.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—ISIS
Permalink

June 9, 2016