Member Of Parliament for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan
February 23, 2016

Government Business No. 2 - Canada`s contribution to the effort to combat ISIL

   Mr. Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of sharing my time with the member for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, and I am very much looking forward to the good comment he will make.

I have been listening to this very important debate over the last couple days it has been debated, and I think I can offer maybe three distinct points about the debate and about what it says about the mission in general.

   First, I want to talk about how we are being offered false choices by the other parties. Then I want to talk about the lack of definition around what is actually going on in the mission and some of the terms that have been used to describe it, and around the situation in general. Then finally I want to talk more generally about the question of intervention, when we intervene, how we intervene, etc.

   In terms of this first point about false choices, we have heard members of the government, members of the NDP as well talk about different things we should be doing in the region and talking about their importance, and for the most part on those points I would agree with them. We have heard some good comments from our colleagues in the NDP about the importance of anti-radicalization as well as the importance of addressing terrorist financing. These things no doubt should be part of a comprehensive approach.

   The government has talked about humanitarian assistance, about helping refugees and training. These are all very good things as well, and on this side of the House in particular, we have emphasized the importance of the bombing mission, but broader than that, the importance of being involved in fighting Daesh, not just supporting those who are doing the fighting, but actually doing some of the fighting ourselves.

   More than that, I think what we have said over here is that there needs to be a multi-pronged approach that includes all of the things that the other parties have been talking about. We believe in humanitarian assistance--the Liberals did not come up with this just now--helping refugees, training, anti-radicalization, addressing terrorist financing. These are things that we have all been involved in for a very long time as a country. However, it is also part of our historic tradition to be involved in fighting evil, in trying to protect the innocent and being willing to actually to be there on the front line. This is the right thing to do and we have long tradition of doing it.

   There has been discussion in this House of a multi-pronged approach. Our approach very clearly has the largest number of prongs. We all agree that there needs to be multiple prongs in the response to Daesh. What we are arguing against is what we see is a government trying to break off one of those important parts of the mission. It is a false choice. We are told we have to decide between training and humanitarian assistance or being involved in the fight. We do not have to decide between those things. We can and we should be doing all of them. That is our position on this side of the House.

   Another false choice we are hearing: Some members talk about how Daesh will ultimately have to be defeated on the ground, as if somehow we have to choose between a response on the ground and a response in the air. Of course Daesh has to be fought on the ground and of course it is important that we partner with local troops in the area that are fighting Daesh, but surely no effective ground combat mission can happen without some kind of support from the air. That much should I think be obvious, that any cohesive military response involves activity on the ground and activity in the air. Again, this is a false choice that we get from the government. We can be involved in the military component from the air as well as assisting with training local forces on the ground.

   We should not buy into these false choices as if we cannot be doing more than one thing at the same time. In fact, generally speaking, since these different parts of the mission are done by different parts of the government, it is not at all problematic to have different areas involved. Anti-radicalization, terrorist financing, these are things that are addressed either through law enforcement at the community level. Humanitarian assistance, helping refugees, training, these are done by different parts of the government than those that would be involved in front-line fighting. We can actually be doing all of these things at once quite effectively. We have the capacity to do it.

   The second point I want to make is that there is a real lack of definition around certain aspects of this mission. The member for Surrey—Newton who just spoke, I recall a comment he made the other day in questions and comments where he alluded to this as if it were some kind of peacekeeping mission. A number of other members have referenced the legacy of Lester Pearson in the context of peacekeeping, as if they are under the impression that these are people going into this region in blue helmets, which clearly is not the government's approach and which clearly is not happening.

   We have heard terminology around a humanitarian mission, around a training mission. There has been such a lack of clarity from the Liberal side in terms of whether or not this is a combat mission and whether or not we call this a combat mission has significant implication for the people involved, in terms of the troops, because the kind of support they receive while they are there, the kind of support they will receive when they get back home is informed by how we describe this mission.


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