The Iraq mission: Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on why his party opposes the motion

On Tuesday morning, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau stood in the House of Commons to deliver his reasons for why Canada’s military mission in Iraq should not be extended by a year and expand into Syria. The mission is meant to fight the Islamic State, which Mr. Trudeau refers to in his speech by the acronym ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

The following is a transcript of his speech (in both English and French) provided by Parliament.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks in the House of Commons on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.  (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks in the House of Commons on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Monsieur le Président, je suis heureux d’avoir l’occasion de répondre à la déclaration du premier ministre. Nous avons beaucoup appris au cours des derniers six mois qui se sont écoulés depuis que le gouvernement a décidé de participer à la guerre en Irak.

Last fall, the Prime Minister stood in this House and told Parliament that Canadian troops were not accompanying the Iraqi forces into combat. In the weeks and months that followed, a very different story emerged. We now know that our 30-day non-combat advise and assist effort became a six-month-long engagement, and then evolved into one where Canadian troops were active on the front lines, regularly engaging in direct combat.

Et, nous avons appris la mort tragique du sergent Andrew Joseph Doiron, qui a perdu la vie en service, le premier décès d’un membre des forces canadiennes durant cette guerre.

Je sais que je parle au nom de tous les députés à la Chambre en disant que nous continuons à rendre hommage au sergent Doiron, ainsi qu’à son courage. Ses proches demeurent toujours dans nos pensées.

That tragic loss of life should also serve as an important reminder. At the end of every decision to enter combat stands a brave Canadian in harm’s way, because they have the courage to serve and because we made the decision to send them to war.

The men and women who serve in our military are well-trained professionals, deeply committed to their country and very good at what they do. We, in the Liberal Party, have never been opposed to employing the lethal force of which they are capable when it clearly serves Canada’s national interest to do so. We will never be. However, in every case, that national interest must be clearly and rationally articulated. The mission designed to uphold that interest must have transparent objectives and a responsible plan to achieve them.

The government has been steadily drawing Canada deeper into a combat role in Iraq. It now wants to expand that war into Syria. Further, it has done all this without clearly articulating the mission’s objectives. As a result, neither members of this House nor Canadians have any way to know when or whether we have achieved those objectives.

The Conservatives have no exit strategy beyond an illusory end date set for next March. Involvement in direct combat in this war does not serve Canada’s interests, nor will it provide a constructive solution to the catastrophic humanitarian crisis in this region. Now the Prime Minister seeks to deepen our involvement, to expand it into the Syrian civil war.

Last fall, we said that because the Prime Minister failed to offer a clear and responsible plan, one that limited our participation to a true non-combat role and better reflected the broad scope of Canada’s capabilities, that we would not support his motion to go to war in Iraq.

The four core principles we articulated in October still stand today: 1) Canada has a role to play in confronting humanitarian crises in the world; 2) when a government considers deploying our men and women in uniform, there must be a clear mission and a clear role for Canada; 3) that the case for deploying our forces must be made openly and transparently, based on clear and reliable, dispassionately presented facts; 4) Canada’s role must reflect the broad scope of Canadian capabilities and how best we can help.

In the fall, we expressed grave concern that the Prime Minister intended to involve Canada in a longer, deeper combat engagement than he was leading the House to believe at the time. Today, with their motion, we know those concerns were well founded.

We will not support the government’s decision to deepen this combat mission and expand it into Syria.

Nous n’appuyons pas la décision d’étendre cette mission de combat et d’y inclure la Syrie.

Les Canadiens ont besoin de savoir dans quoi les entraîne le premier ministre. Les Nations Unies nous disent qu’après quatre ans de guerre sans merci, plus de 11 millions de Syriens, soit plus de la moitié de la population, ont été chassés de leurs demeures. Les Syriens fuient leur pays par millions et ce flot de réfugiés provoque une crise absolument effroyable. En cinq années de combat, plus de 210 000 Syriens ont été tués, dont plus de 10 000 enfants.

Canadians need to know that this is happening in Syria, but they also need to know who is largely responsible. The Syrian people have, for years, been oppressed and terrorized by their own government under the rule of Bashar al-Assad. This is a man who has used chemical weapons on his own citizens and whose regime is responsible for torturing and killing many more innocent people than even ISIL. We cannot support a mission that could very well result in Assad consolidating his grip on power in Syria.

Nous ne pouvons pas apporter notre soutien à une mission qui pourrait très bien consolider le pouvoir d’Assad en Syrie.

Beyond our concerns about dubious alliances, the government’s desire to expand Canada’s presence into Syria represents a worrying trend. We can call it evolution or escalation or mission creep. Whatever term is preferred, the pattern is the same.

First, we discovered that our role included ground combat operations despite the Prime Minister’s assurances to the contrary. Now, we are being asked to expand our involvement into Syria. It is hard to believe the proposed timeline given the public musings of the ministers of defence and foreign affairs. Indeed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs explicitly compared this war to Afghanistan, stating that we are in this for the longer term. In Afghanistan, the longer term meant a decade.

Je dis cela avec plus de regret que de colère: comment pouvons-nous faire confiance à un gouvernement qui a su si ouvertement induire la population canadienne en erreur? Ce gouvernement propose aux Forces canadiennes de s’engager dans une mission de combat vague et sans fin que nous ne pouvons pas appuyer.

The Conservatives are proposing an unfocused, unending mission for the Canadian Forces that we cannot support.

One thing is clear. Canada has a role to play in the campaign against ISIL. That role must serve our national interests. The one being proposed today by the Prime Minister does not meet that test.

Le Parti libéral que je représente sait que les Canadiens veulent répondre aux horreurs que l’État islamique fait subir aux gens dans la région. La population canadienne est, avec raison, consternée par le caractère impitoyable et la terreur que sème l’État islamique. Nous comprenons ce sentiment et nous le partageons. Toutefois, nous savons aussi que dans une situation aussi complexe et changeante que celle à laquelle est confrontée la communauté internationale en Syrie et en Irak, nous ne pouvons pas laisser notre indignation nuire à notre jugement.

Le Canada a un intérêt évident à former les forces irakiennes dans le but de combattre et d’anéantir le groupe État islamique, mais il n’est pas dans notre intérêt de nous enliser sans cesse davantage dans une telle mission de combat. Nous pouvons et nous devrions dispenser cette formation loin des lignes de front.

Along with our allies and through the auspices of the United Nations, Canada should provide more help through a well funded and well planned humanitarian aid effort. The refugee crisis alone threatens the region’s security, overwhelming countries from Lebanon to Turkey, from Syria itself to Jordan. Here at home, we should significantly expand our refugee targets and give more victims of war the opportunity to start a new life in Canada.

These calamities are in urgent need of a constructed, coordinated international effort, both through the United Nations and beyond it. It is the kind of effort that ought to be Canada’s calling card in the global community. We will have much more to say about this in the days and months ahead.

While all three parties have different views on what our role should be, let there be no doubt that we all offer our resolute and wholehearted support to the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces. Today, the government is asking for the House to support deepening Canada’s involvement in the war in Iraq and to expand that involvement into a combat mission in Syria. The Liberal Party will not support the government’s motion.

Ask The Globe: Is Harper correct in his assessment that “most” cases of murdered indigenous women are “solved”?

For the duration of the election, The Globe is answering your questions – from fact-checking leaders’ statements to digging deep into policies and promises. Have a question? Tweet it with #AskTheGlobe

JJ June poised this question: Fact Check “Harper says ‘most’ cases of murdered aboriginal women are solved.” CP Oct. 6/15

Kathryn Blaze Baum, a national reporter who covers the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women for The Globe gave this response:

First, it is important to note that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s comment was made in the context of an inquiry into both missing and murdered indigenous women. Indigenous leaders and Canada’s premiers have been calling for a federal probe to better understand why aboriginal women are disproportionately more likely to disappear or be killed and also to determine how to tackle the violence.

In 2014, the RCMP released an unprecedented report looking at police-recorded incidents of missing and murdered indigenous women across the country. It found that between 1980 and 2012, there were 1,017 homicides and 164 outstanding missing-person cases. Within that time period, there are 225 unsolved cases: 105 women have been missing for more than 30 days and their disappearances are categorized as either “foul play suspected” or “unknown,” and 120 homicide cases have not been solved.

It is true, then, that most homicides involving indigenous women have been solved. As stated in the RCMP report: “The majority of all female homicides are solved (close to 90%) and there is little difference in solve rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal victims.”

But this is not the whole picture.

It is important to understand what the RCMP means when it says “solved.” The report indicates that, for the purposes of the study, the term is used synonymously with “clearance rate.” Here is how clearance rate is defined, in one of the footnotes:

“Clearance refers to whether or not a homicide incident was cleared:  (1) either by the laying, or recommending of a charge to the Crown; or (2) where at least one suspect has been identified and against whom there is sufficient evidence to lay a charge, but where the incident is cleared otherwise (e.g. the suicide or death of the chargeable suspect … ).”

This means that if police recommend charges but the Crown decides not to proceed, or if an accused is charged but later acquitted, the case is still considered solved. A killing, then, could be deemed solved without a conviction.

Put simply, the police might consider a case cleared, but the victim’s family may still be waiting for justice.

Furthermore, it is possible that some of the 105 unresolved cases involving missing indigenous women, whose disappearances are categorized as “foul play suspected” or “unknown,” are actually unsolved homicide cases.

Finally, a couple of questions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.

First Cdn Politico asks: Yes. Wasn’t Tom Mulcair in favour of TPP as recently as 2 months ago?

One of our Ottawa corespondents, John Ibbitson, answers this question.

The NDP has traditionally opposed free trade agreements, saying that they lead to lower labour and environmental standards, job losses and foreign interference/loss of sovereignty.

Under Thomas Mulcair the party has modified its stance, supporting the free trade agreement with South Korea and supporting in principle the free trade agreement with Europe, although it is withholding full approval until it sees the final, legally-vetted document. The party had no stated position on the Trans Pacific Partnership other than it supports free and fair trade.

However, Mr. Mulcair has decided that this agreement would lead to lost jobs — especially in the auto sector — more costly prescription drugs, and the erosion of the supply management system that protects the dairy and poultry industry. The NDP opposes the TPP.

Finally joey wonders: if  The NDP have said they won’t necessarily uphold an agreement PCs may reach in TPP. Have the liberals commented their stance?

The Liberal Party fought the free trade agreement between Canada and the United States, and only reluctantly endorsed the North American Free Trade Agreement the included Mexico, negotiated by the Mulroney government. However, the Chretien government did conclude a couple of small free-trade agreements, and Justin Trudeau has been supportive of the Harper government’s trade agenda, endorsing the agreement with the European Union. The Liberal Party, however, declines to take a position on the TPP until the full text of the agreement is revealed.

(Want to know more about the TPP? Our explainer can be found here.)

Ask The Globe: Answers to your questions on marijuana, the census and Liberal sponsorship scandal

For the duration of the election, The Globe is answering your questions – from fact-checking leaders’ statements to digging deep into policies and promises. Have a question? Tweet it with #AskTheGlobe

Spencer Smit asks: @globeandmail Harper saying cannabis is worse than tobacco, citing “evidence” please advise #AskTheGlobe

Mike Hager, a Globe reporter in Vancouver, recently looked into this:

The Canadian Cancer Society says smoking tobacco continues to be the leading preventable cause of premature deaths in the country, claiming about 37,000 lives each year. The non-profit organization says tobacco is the main risk factor for cancer, heart disease, stroke and lung disease in Canada.

In contrast, no deaths have been directly attributed to cannabis use or overdose, says Dr. Tim Stockwell, director of the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research. But it is likely a factor in “a few” fatal crashes and “a few” lung-cancer deaths each year, he said.

Elizabeth Jane Banks asks: #AskTheGlobe Please fact check Elizabeth May’s claim that almost no one completes the voluntary census. #cdnpoli #elxn42

“Almost no one” may be a bit strong, but experts have warned about the quality of the National Household Survey data after it was made voluntary in 2011. Previously the longform census, which asks for more detailed information and is sent to a fraction of households, was mandatory. The response rates for the voluntary form were about 70 per cent in 2011, whereas the response rate for the mandatory form in 2006 was 93.5 per cent.

Alex Dempster asks: @globeandmail Harper said of the Liberal sponsorship scandal that $40 million of Canadians taxpayers’ money lost. Accurate? #AskTheGlobe

Maybe? This one’s a bit tricky, and may be a case of fuzzy math in campaign slogans. But it may originate in the $40-million of government funds for contracts to a firm where there was no evidence of work done, etc.

(The Globe and Mail, incidentally, won the prestigious Michener Award for public service in journalism for its uncovering of the scandal.)

Ask The Globe: Your questions on citizenship, C-51 and refugees

For the duration of the election, The Globe is answering your questions – from fact-checking leaders’ statements to digging deep into policies and promises. Have a question? Tweet it with #AskTheGlobe

Ben asks: #AskTheGlobe Can the government legally revoke someones Canadian citizenship? #MunkDebate

and Sarah asks: What conditions can a Canadian loose their citizenship, residency, or voting rights? Do refugees hafta pay interest? #AskTheGlobe

Let’s deal with these two together.

First, yes, the government can legally revoke citizenship if it was obtained fraudulently. The Conservatives also added another policy, which is that dual nationals can potentially lose their citizenship if convicted of terrorism or treason crimes. Depending on the circumstances, someone whose citizenship was revoked may be removed from the country.

On voting, the Conservatives did change the eligibility to vote for Canadian expats living abroad. Generally they lose their right to vote after five years, which Donald Sutherland was not very happy about.

Chris asks: Did Tom Mulcair really say different things about repealing C51? #AskTheGlobe

The NDP has never supported Bill C-51, the Anti-Terror Act. The New Democrats voted against the bill, which was supported by the Conservatives and Liberals. However, in interviews earlier in the year, leader Thomas Mulcair did change his tone. In February, Mr. Mulcair said he wouldn’t commit to repealing the bill if elected, though his party would definitely change it. Weeks later, in March, Mr. Mulcair committed to repealing the entire law.

Myles asks: Harper says ours response has been generous- is that true compared to past refugee crises? #MunkDebate #asktheglobe #futurevoter

It depends on what past refugee crises we’re comparing it to. In terms of numbers and speed of access for refugees, it’s much lower than Vietnam (when Joe Clark raised the target to 60,000 refugees). Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau at the Munk Debate brought up comparisons with Vietnam to accuse Harper of being stingy. What sets Syria apart from Vietnam is the rules Stephen Harper introduced about refugees needing their status approved by UNHCR or a third country, a rule that didn’t exist for the Vietnamese (and which the Kurdi family blames for the events leading to Alan’s death off the Turkish coast). If we’re comparing Syria with the Second World War, though – when we famously turned away a boatload of Jewish refugees in 1939, and were pretty hostile to Jewish refugees even during the war – our current response looks more generous. (Doug Saunders and Sean Fine have done really good historical analyses of Vietnam, the Second World War and our response to the Hungarian refugee crisis in the 1950s).

Ask The Globe: What happens if two parties tie for the most seats?

For the duration of the election, The Globe is answering your questions – from fact-checking leaders’ statements to digging deep into policies and promises. Have a question? Tweet it with #AskTheGlobe

Christopher Stasiuk asks: If two parties tie for first with the most seats in the federal election, who governs? Who is the PM? #asktheglobe

According to Wednesday’s Nanos numbers the Liberals and Conservatives are locked in a dead heat atop the polls. Which makes Christopher’s question a timely one.

Digital politics editor Chris Hannay explains the process.

The incumbent always gets first crack at forming government. (Usually, if the incumbent has not won the most seats after an election, they decline.) If the incumbent is one of the tied parties and they have a Speech from the Throne, and it gets defeated by the other parties, they have to go to Governor-General David Johnston and declare that they don’t have the confidence of the House.

The Governor-General can then decide whether to call an election or let another party have a chance at governing.

If an election has just happened, typically the Governor-General is expected to let another party have a chance to form the government so as not to waste voters’ times. (This happened in 1926)

If the second-place party, or the other party that was tied, can survive a confidence vote with other parties’ support, then they’re in government now.

This is essentially what happened in Ontario in 1985.