Address in reply to Speech from the Throne
Mr. Speaker, as this is my first speech in the House, I would like to express my gratitude to the people of Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan for the trust they have placed in me.
I want to give particular thanks to my parents. Today, my father is celebrating his 60th birthday. Happy Birthday Pop.
Also, I especially thank my wife, Rebecca, and our children, Gianna and Judah, for their love and support. I think that practising speeches with my two year old heckling me about her desire for a snack is pretty good practice for speaking in the House.
Judah was born less than two weeks before the campaign started and so it has been a busy time for our family. My wife, Rebecca, has already sacrificed far more than I have to make this possible.
I am very conscience as I stand here today of the sacrifices that were made by my parents and grandparents to give us the best they could in life. In that vein, I will start my speech by talking about the experience of my maternal grandmother, the greatest influence on my life outside of my parents, and someone whose experience is particularly relevant to one of the debates we are having.
My grandmother was a refugee. She was born in Germany in 1930, the daughter of a Jewish father and a Gentile mother. Hitler came to power in 1933 when she was three years old. She and her mother left Germany for South America in 1948 when she was 18, after a childhood that, frankly, was not a childhood at all. She met my grandfather in Ecuador, a Canadian engineer who was working for Syncrude, which explains how they ended up in Alberta.
All members in the House from all parties are deeply moved by the plight of refugees, myself in particular because of my family's experience. Therefore, out of genuine concern for those affected by the unfolding tragedy in Syria and Iraq, and also out of concern for our own national well-being, we must ask the current government hard questions about its refugee policy.
How will the Liberals ensure that the most vulnerable refugees, members of religious and ethnic minority communities who often cannot get access to refugee camps, are actually included?
How is the government going to ensure that it is only victims of violence and not perpetrators of violence who are coming to Canada? Profiling on the basis of gender and sexual orientation is not a reliable way to screen out extremists.
Most essentially, given the proportions of the current unfolding crisis, how is the government proposing to deal with the root cause, the ongoing civil war, and the emergence and growth of Daesh? People on the ground, members of diaspora communities, and all Canadians want to understand what the government is actually thinking here and why.
The Liberals say that sending fighter jets is not the best thing and that Canada can instead contribute in other ways. Really? Of course, Canada can contribute in other ways, but our bombing mission against Daesh has been extremely effective at reducing the amount of territory it controls. This sort of mission is, after all, the reason why we have an air force, to protect ourselves and to protect our values, and to use military force to protect innocent women, children and men.
Now is a good time to re-ask a question that was asked and not answered in the lead up to the election. If not now against Daesh, then what possible case is there in which the current government would ever authorize military action?
The Liberals say that they are withdrawing from the bombing mission because it was an election promise, but they have not been shy about breaking other election promises. They promised that 25,000 government-sponsored refugees would arrive before the end of the year. However, now, they will only be admitting 10,000, and most them will be privately sponsored. Their justification for breaking this promise was that they wanted to get it right. It is no small irony, in light of many of the comments made during the campaign, that getting it right meant abandoning their refugee targets and coming close to adopting ours.
However, if getting it right was the justification for shelving the government's refugee promise, we would humbly suggest that the Liberals also get it right in the fight against Daesh and stand behind an effective military mission that actually defends the defenceless.