Speech by NDP Leader Tom Mulcair in response to Prime Minister Harper’s Statement on Iraq

Speech by NDP Leader Tom Mulcair in response to Prime Minister Harper’s Statement on Iraq / Discours du chef du NPD Thomas Mulcair en réponse à la déclaration du Premier Ministre Harper sur l’Irak

Premièrement, je voudrais remercier le Premier Ministre d’être venu ici,
à la Chambre des Communes, afin de faire cette annonce importante.

Dans une démocratie comme la nôtre, cela devrait aller de soi.

Parce que le Premier Ministre vient de décider du sort de plusieurs jeunes femmes et hommes courageux qui iront servir leur pays, et qui risqueront leur vie.

There is no more important decision that we make in this House—no more

 sacred trust for a Prime Minister than sending young Canadian women and men to fight and risk making the ultimate sacrifice in a foreign war.

The Prime Minister is asking for the support of this Parliament.

He’s asking for Canadians’ support, but the Prime Minister has refused to answer their questions.

Let me quote the Prime Minister: “Mr. Speaker, you can understand, I neither have the will nor the desire to get into detailed discussion of military operations here.”

Neither the will, nor the desire. “Here” was this Parliament. And it’s not just the “details”.

The Prime Minister hasn’t outlined a broad strategic blueprint for the mission.

He can’t even answer basic questions about the length or breadth or cost
of Canada’s military deployment.

When did Canadian forces arrive in Iraq and how many? No answer.

What contribution have our American allies requested? No answer.

How much will this mission cost? What are the rules of engagement? What is our exit strategy? No answer; no answer; no answer.

These are not hypothetical questions.

Le Canada vient tout juste de compléter son engagement en Afghanistan. 

Ce qui, au début, devait aussi être une mission restreinte et de courte durée a été le théâtre d’opération où nos militaires ont été déployés le plus longtemps de notre histoire.

    • 12 ans
    • Plus de 40,000 vétérans de cette guerre.
    • 160 morts.
    • Des milliers de blessés.
    • Des milliers d’autres qui souffrent du syndrome post-traumatique.

Mission accomplie, ça?

Comme dans le cas qui nous occupe, au départ, la mission afghane ne comportait
que quelques douzaines de soldats.

Et il y a 29 jours, les Conservateurs insistaient pour dire que le Canada s’impliquait pour une mission de non-combat de seulement un mois.

Avec seulement quelques douzaines de soldats.

Le NPD avait des doutes. Les Canadiens avaient des doutes.

Le seul allié du Premier Ministre était le Parti Libéral, qui appuyait sans réserve une mission qui allait pourtant, sans l’ombre d’un doute, nous mener où nous sommes aujourd’hui.

The only ally of the Prime Minister’s plan to begin a 30-day mission in Iraq, was the Liberal party, even though there wasn’t a shadow of doubt that that would lead us to where we are today.

But now that Canadian troops are committed, Conservatives are telling us the mission will be expanded:

    • airstrikes
    • refueling capabilities
    • aerial surveillance

Is that it? Is there more? Could there be more?

From mission creep to mission leap.

The United States has been in this conflict for over ten years. They have been fighting ISIS, under one name or another, for over ten years.

While ISIS has renamed itself several times since 2004….

    • “Al-Qaida in Iraq”
    • “Mujahideen Shura Council”
    • “the Islamic State”
    •  “the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (Syria).”

This is literally the same insurgent group that U.S. forces have been battling for over a decade.

Even the Foreign Affairs minister, in a moment of rare candour for this government, admitted that there are “no quick fixes” in Iraq.

He called the fight against ISIS, and groups like it, the struggle of a “generation.”

That may well prove to be an understatement.

In one of the Prime Minister’s few real answers about this mission, he said Canada would be in Iraq until ISIS no longer has the capability to launch attacks in Iraq, Syria or anywhere else.

Now he claims it will be. It can’t be both.

The defeat of the insurgency in Iraq is a goal that the United States has been trying— without success—to achieve since the wrong-headed invasion of 2003.

All of the other horrors unfolding before our eyes are the result of that failed invasion.

Remember, back in 2003, it was this Prime Minister, at the time leader of the opposition, who went to the Americans to berate the Canadian government for not getting involved in what he considered a just and noble cause.

Their nostalgia is such that his Immigration Minister, during the emergency debate in this House, just a few days ago, actually dusted off the canard of Weapons of Mass Destruction to justify this war.

The Prime Minister insists that this mission in Iraq will not be allowed to become a “quagmire.”

But isn’t that precisely what our American allies have been facing in Iraq for the last ten years?

Will Canada be stuck a decade from now, mired in a war we wisely avoided entering a decade ago?

Do we have a plan for the war?

Do we have a plan for the thousands or tens of thousands of veterans that we have the sacred responsibility to fully support in years after?

Nous allons espérer que le débat qui aura lieu lundi amènera des réponses.

Que contrairement au débat d’urgence, les ministres responsables y seront,
et qu’ils pourront informer les Canadiens.

It is not only New Democrats who feel these questions haven’t been answered.

L’intervention militaire n’est pas le seul outil à la disposition du Canada.

Et l’Irak n’est pas le seul endroit où des violences sans nom sont commises.

Au Congo: 15 années de boucherie, 5 millions de morts.

Mais le Premier Ministre n’a jamais considéré d’intervention militaire au Congo.

Au Darfour: des centaines de milliers de tués, des millions en fuite.

Mais le Premier Ministre n’a jamais considéré d’intervention militaire au Darfour.

Pourquoi?

Why is military action supposedly our only choice in Iraq, and not even considered elsewhere?

Pourquoi le Premier Ministre pense qu’il peut accomplir militairement ce qui n’a pas pu être accompli depuis 2003?

ISIS has thrived in Iraq and Syria precisely because those countries lack stable, well-functioning governments capable of maintaining peace and security within their own borders.

Canada’s first contribution should be to use every diplomatic, humanitarian and financial resource at our disposal to respond to the overwhelming human tragedy unfolding on the ground and strengthen political institutions in both those countries.

With the well-deserved credibility Canada earned by rejecting the initial ill-advised invasion of Iraq, we are in a position to take on that task.

The tragedy in Iraq and Syria will not end with another Western-led war in that region.

It will end by helping the people of Iraq and Syria to build the political, institutional and security capabilities they need to oppose these threats themselves.

Canada, for our part, should not rush into this war.

Le Canada, pour notre part, ne devrait pas se précipiter vers la guerre.