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.
Subtopic: Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic: Opposition Motion—ISIS