Welcome, everyone! We are minutes away from the debate in the House of Commons over Canada's military mission against ISIS. Moments ago, CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported that Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will announce new measures today to help victims of ISIS, including victims of sexual abuse.
Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin begins by reading out the text of the motion that MPs will debate.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is up first to open the debate in the House.
Baird says other ministers will speak to key issues. However, he gives key details: The mission will last six months. Six CF-18s will be deployed. Three other planes will join them. Air crew personnel will total 600.
"I want Canada to show a strong and united front in the fight against ISIL," Baird says.
Baird quotes former Liberal MP Bob Rae: "This is not about peace versus war. This is about the collective capacity of governments and international institutions to deal effectively with the perpetrators of violence."
ISIS militants are carving out territory from which to train for attacks against Canada and its allies, Baird says.
"We cannot predict the future, but we can be conscious of the current situation," Baird says in French.
The government recognizes the "multi-pronged nature of this crisis," Baird says. The human cost of ISIS's "merciless march" cannot be forgotten, he says.
The humanitarian crisis in the region is akin to the entire population of Montreal being forced to flee their homes, Baird says.
Baird announces that Canada will contribute up to $5 million to help women and girls who suffer sexual violence at the hands of ISIS militants.
Sending someone a doctor, lawyer or aid worker is great, Baird says. "But it’s not going to stop people they are trying to help from being slaughtered in the first place.”
The world cannot confront ISIS "solely armed with bandages, platitudes and investigation," Baird says.
The struggle against terror will define this generation, Baird says. "We will be judged in the future by whether we took on this fight, or ducked it."
“It’s easier to criticize the risks of action if you are not held accountable for the risks of inaction," Baird says. "Any government or aspiring government should be held to a higher standard than that. I believe Canada should be held to a higher standard than that.”
Baird is taking direct aim at the opposition with his comments right now. Both the NDP and the Liberals have said they do not support the mission. "My Canada heeds the call, my Canada protects the vulnerable and challenges the aggressor," Baird says. "My Canada does not leave the heavy lifting to others."
"Let's debate what needs to be done," Baird concludes. "But let's be Parliament at its best. Let's be Canada at its best."
Up now, NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar. He starts by thanking Baird for the pledge to help victims of sexual violence. "We appreciate that."
Dewar notes that he is "concerned" about the text of the motion that opens the door to bombing in Syria. As well, why is there no definition to the territory that airstrikes will take place in?
Baird rises to address Dewar's points. The government "is no friend" of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Baird says.
Canada doesn't support Assad, we don't support (Syria's) opposition, either, Baird says. Canada will not intervene in Syria unless invited to do so by the Syrian government, he says.
Up now, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. Starts by thanking Baird for quoting him correctly "and in context" in his opening remarks.
Trudeau notes that one of the commitments by the government around the initial 30-day advisory mission was that it would measure its success after the fact. Can the government share its assessment?
Baird replies that Defence Minister Rob Nicholson will speak to the specifics later.
Baird now being asked to speak to legality of Canada engaging in mission in Iraq.
Baird says the "democratically elected government of Iraq" has asked the international community to help. However, no such authorization from Syrian government.
Up now, NDP defence critic Jack Harris.
Harris asks about UN Security Council resolution 2178, which he says asks countries to deal with their own nationals taking part in international terrorism. Harris suggests the government is using that resolution to say that the UN has authorized the international mission in Iraq.
Baird responds by saying that it's the Iraqi government that has authorized the mission within its own borders.
Up now, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.
Mulcair says Baird's answer to Harris is "inaccurate." Says Baird said on the radio this weekend that there was a UN resolution authorizing the mission.
Mulcair also disputes Baird's statement that the government has clearly articulated the nature of the mission.
"No one is underestimating the horrors that we've seen" from ISIS, Mulcair says.
Mulcair is now accusing the government of giving Assad regime in Syria "credibility" by saying Canada will bomb in Syria at Assad's request.
It shows a lack of "rigorous thought" and "ethics on the international stage," Mulcair says of the government's stance on potential mission creep in Syria.
Mulcair is now quoting op-eds, written in French, against a bombing mission.
Mulcair now quotes Peggy Mason, a former ambassador to the United Nations, from a weekend editorial. "Stephen Harper and his allies are underestimating their opponents as a bunch of religious extremists bent on spreading wanton mayhem and terror," Mason wrote. "Islamic State may be brutally ruthless, but they know exactly what they are doing."
Mulcair is reading Mason's full editorial.
Mason's conclusion calls for a UN-supported approach to fighting the war on terror.
Mulcair cites late NDP Leader Jack Layton's questions about Afghanistan mission, saying they are the same questions being asked today. What are the mission's objectives, measures of success?
Mulcair says he was briefed on Canada's mission to Mali, but not so this latest mission to Iraq.
Mulcair notes that the late arrival of troops for Canada's 30-day advisory mission to Iraq means a proper evaluation of its success can't be completed. "How can you evaluate a mission when troops have been on the ground for only a week?" he asks.