MP REPORT: intense debate in Ottawa

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and writes this weekly report for his constituents.

This week in the House of Commons, a majority of Members of Parliament including Government, Independents and one Green MPs voted in support of a Government motion to engage in a six month aerial combat mission against the terrorist group ISIL. As I believe in the significant importance of this motion I have included the full text for your review:

That this House (i) recognise that the leadership of the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has called on its members to target Canada and Canadians at home and abroad, (ii) further recognise the clear and direct threat that ISIL poses to the people of the region, including members of vulnerable religious and ethnic minority groups who have been subjected to a sustained campaign of brutal sexual violence, murder, and barbaric intimidation by ISIL, (iii) accept that, unless confronted with strong and direct force, the threat ISIL poses to international peace and security, including to Canadian communities, will continue to grow, (iv) affirm Canada’s desire, consistent with Canadian values and interests, to protect the vulnerable and innocent civilians of the region, including through urgent humanitarian assistance, (v) acknowledge the request from the Government of Iraq for military support against ISIL from members of the international community, including from the Government of Canada, (vi) further acknowledge the participation of Canada’s friends and allies, including numerous countries of the Middle East, in the broad international coalition committed to the fight against ISIL, (vii) note that the United Nations Security Council has become seized of the threat posed by international terrorism with the unanimous passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178, and, accordingly: (a) support the Government’s decision to contribute Canadian military assets to the fight against ISIL, and terrorists allied with ISIL, including air strike capability for a period of up to six months; (b) note that the Government of Canada will not deploy troops in ground combat operations; and (c) continue to offer its resolute and wholehearted support to the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces who stand on guard for all of us.

For the purposes of accountability, I would like to share the reasons why I voted in support of this motion. In early October the United Nations issued a disturbing report that documented some very serious atrocities committed by the group ISIL. More specifically, and I quote from the UN report directly:  “gross abuses of human rights perpetrated by ISIL and associated armed groups, including “attacks directly targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, executions and other targeted killings of civilians, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual and physical violence perpetrated against women and children, forced recruitment of children.

This unprecedented level of savage brutality against innocent victims is disturbing but it is also a reality for innocent men, women and children in the region. It should not be overlooked that there have been individuals who have left Canada to join with ISIL in these savage killings– as I mentioned in a former MP report this is why our Government is revoking the passports of these individuals; an act opposed by the leader of the Liberal Party. The question on how best to respond to ISIL is one that has been the subject of much debate this week in Ottawa. The opposition has made it clear they oppose military action against ISIL terrorism and in many cases support increased humanitarian aid or the supply of weapons to local fighting against ISL. Our Government also supports increased humanitarian aid and will increase funding for victims of sexual violence in this region combined with other aid related measures.  However we must also recognize that ISIL has demonstrated they will abduct and publicly behead international aid workers demonstrating the serious challenges in administering aid against a terror organization without military support.

As a result the Government of Canada will be joining our allies, including countries such as United States, France, United Kingdom, Denmark and others in doing our part to provide military support against ISIL. The stated goal of our Canadian support is not to defeat ISIL per se but to diminish their capacity while national and regional Iraqi ground forces in the region become better prepared to deal with this serious threat.  We do this not just to alleviate the suffering of others and to restore order; ISIL has made direct threats against Canada and we must negate their ability to train, fund and carry out missions against our country. Of our fleet of 79 CF-18 aircraft, 6 will be deployed including 1 Polaris air-to-air refuelling aircraft and 2 Aurora surveillance aircraft including required pilots and ground personnel to support these aircraft.  As mentioned in the motion, this will not be a ground combat mission involving Canada and is subject to review in six months.

The decision to support this mission in my view is supporting long established Canadian values to stand up and protect those who are innocent and most vulnerable from oppression and terror. Canada as a country has always answered the call to stand with our allies in the fight for democracy and for freedom. Turning our back and expecting others to answer the call to serve has never been attributes that define Canada. I appreciate that my views on this subject may not sit well with some citizens and I welcome all views on this matter if you support or oppose our mission against the terror group ISIL. My email is or you can reach my office at 1(800) 665-8711. Let us never forget the sacrifices we have made to live in a free and democratic society where we can debate and discuss how we build a better Canada and best help those in need in other countries.

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and writes this weekly report for his constituents.