I am fortunate to have a chance to speak on today’s motion given that a number of my constituents in Souris – Moose Mountain have expressed serious concerns about the return of ISIS terrorists to Canada. Many of them who have reached out to me on this issue are shocked and appalled at the Liberals willingness to bring these people back to Canada with the hope of reintegrating them into our society. There are many problems associated with this plan, and I would like to touch on some of those in my remarks today.
As everyone in this House knows, Canada has and upholds the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This document dictates how we should and shouldn’t conduct ourselves and serves to outline what is expected of each and every Canadian citizen. The expectation that Canadians will abide by the rule of law as outlined in the Charter does not just go out the window when a Canadian leaves the country. We are expected to adhere to these rules, no matter where we are, especially if we are expecting Canada to defend us, help us, and assist us when we leave this country. The ability of Canadian citizens to claim this assistance comes with responsibilities. This is in part what gives Canada its excellent reputation around the world. We preach to other nations that they should follow our example and to set their standards high as well.
Mr. Speaker, section 46 of the Criminal Code talks about offenses against public order. In fact, it talks about treason in particular. Section 46 states: “Everyone commits high treason who in Canada assists an enemy at war with Canada or any armed forces against whom Canadian Forces are engaged in hostilities, whether or not a state of war exists between Canada and the country whose forces they are…”
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, I would like to quote from section 83.2 of the Criminal Code which states: “Everyone who commits an indictable offence under this or any other Act of Parliament for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a terrorist group is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life.”
Mr. Speaker, this becomes an issue when we talk about bringing ISIS affiliates back to Canada. These people left the country of their own accord to willingly join a terrorist organization, regardless of the capacity to which they participated in said organization. Every fighting force has its soldiers but it also has its supply lines, support staff, etc. These individuals breached the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and yet, the Liberals want to bring them back to Canada with the hope of reintegrating them into our society. It is hypocritical for the government to preach to other countries that they should follow Canada’s example on human rights while they simultaneously support those who have been a part of some of the most brutal terrorist atrocities committed against humans in recent history.
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to point out that the UN Security Council passed resolution number 2379 in the fall of 2017 to investigate war crimes committed by ISIS. Given this government’s love for the UN, I am shocked that they are not championing this initiative. Canadians expect that their government will detain and prosecute war criminals, and yet for some reason, the Liberals want to welcome them back to Canada for so-called rehabilitation. This is putting Canadians at an unnecessary risk.
Speaking of that plan for rehabilitation, I would like to quote the Minister of Public Safety. He recently stated to the media, “Once a person has been in a war zone, once they’ve been actively engaged in terrorist-related activities, the capacity to turn them around is pretty remote.”
Mr. Speaker, when the government’s own Minister who is in charge of the national security of this country says that he doesn’t think rehabilitation is likely, “Canadians worry.” It is a reasonable expectation that the government will put the safety of law-abiding Canadians above almost all else. When we look at some of the crimes committed by those who joined ISIS, such as beheadings, the rape and enslavement of girls and women, human trafficking, sexual slavery, recruitment of child soldiers, burning people alive, drowning people in cages, the blatant destruction of historic sites, artifacts, treasures, and more, I think it is only logical that Canadians would have an issue with these people being brought back to our country.
Furthermore, the Minister has admitted that the data he is using regarding the number of terrorists who are back in Canada is two years old. This information is outdated, and if anyone should have access to this information, you would think that it would be the Minister for Public Safety. This does not help to allay the concerns of Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals constantly accuse this party of fearmongering, but when they can’t or won’t disclose such important information, especially given their apparent commitment to transparency, it absolutely gives people a right to be upset. Putting the treatment of terrorists above the safety of our citizens is not ok, and becomes even more worrying when the Minister of Public Safety himself states that rehabilitation is unlikely.
I would like to quote the 2016 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada which outlined the following serious concerns about returning ISIS fighters and affiliates:
“They may have skills, experience and relationships developed abroad that could be used to recruit or inspire individuals in Canada. They may also engage in terrorist financing, helping others to travel, or even planning attacks in Canada. The attacks directed by Daesh in Paris and Brussels provide examples. Most of the attackers were returnees with links to Daesh.” This was put out by a body of the government, not the Conservative Party. Is the government then fearmongering? Hold that thought.
Mr. Speaker, we know that this government will not take a hard line when it comes to terrorists. We know this because beginning in 2015, the Liberals have taken every step possible to appease or accommodate ISIS, other terrorists groups, and their affiliates. How, you might ask?
Well, shortly after the election in 2015, the government withdrew our F-18 fighter jets from the battlefield against ISIS, much to the dismay of our allies who continued to fight. Later, the Liberals handed out $10 million dollars to a convicted terrorist and war criminal, who is now allowed to live freely in this country. Now the government is trying to claim that it can rehabilitate returning ISIS terrorists through poems and poetry, and will welcome them back to Canada with open arms. It is irresponsible and unsafe, and it does a disservice to all Canadians who expect to be able to live in a country that is free from terrorist individuals who hold terrorist ideals.
Mr. Speaker, a major issue that I take with this government’s willingness to help those returning from fighting with ISIS has to do with our Canadian veterans. During my time with the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, I heard testimony from a number of veterans who struggle with physical and mental health issues as a result of their service to Canada. When they return from deployment and then transition from being an active soldier to a veteran, there is often a struggle with respect to getting the services and benefits that they are entitled to, all of which would make it easier for them to integrate into civilian society. The fact that this government wants to help terrorists receive services while our veterans struggle to access benefits and programs that would assist them, particularly with respect to mental health, is unthinkable.
Welcoming ISIS terrorists back into Canada with open arms is a slap in the face to our veterans. The brave men and women who have fought for Canada and have seen some of the worst atrocities imaginable should not have to deal with the knowledge that the very terrorists that they were fighting against, the same terrorists who tried to kill them and our allies, are now back in Canada and allowed to enjoy the freedoms that our soldiers fought so hard to protect. It is not just insulting to current veterans, but also to every single Canadian who has ever fought against terrorism in any capacity.
Why do the Liberals think that it is appropriate to disregard the sacrifice of the members of our Armed Forces by bringing in the very people who hold extremist ideals that forced our soldiers into combat in the first place? I can’t understand it, and I know that most Canadians don’t either.
Mr. Speaker, some of my colleagues may be aware that I lived all over the world during my childhood, including in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. I was privileged to witness and be a part of these cultures as a young man, and my experiences instilled in me an openness and acceptance of the beliefs of people who come from all backgrounds and all cultures.
I recall with great fondness my time in Bamyan, Afghanistan. I tell you this because at that time, the famous fourth and fifth century monuments, the standing “Buddha’s of Bamyan” which were carved out of a cliff face were still intact. Sadly these historic and religious monuments have now been destroyed at the hands of another terrorist group, the Al-Queda Taliban.
The Liberals like to paint this party as intolerant, but that is simply untrue. The only thing that we will not tolerate is the treatment of terrorists as law-abiding, run of the mill Canadian citizens.
We know that this government likes to do everything it can to cater to the demographic that is most likely to vote for them. Recently they took out the condemnation of female genital mutilation from the newcomers guide to Canada, a document that every recently immigrated individual receives. One can only infer that the reasoning behind this was so that they did not offend people who may vote for them in the next election. There is no other reason why they would remove that condemnation, and there is no other reason why they would take a soft stance on terrorists in Canada if not to cater to future voters.
The Liberals need to wake up and realize that the national safety of our country is much more important than getting votes. Terrorists don’t subscribe to “sunny ways”, nor do they believe that “sunshine is the best disinfectant,” and Canadians expect their government to not play politics when it comes to the security of our country.