Hyer Votes for Motion on Canadian Military Action

Thunder Bay Superior North MP Deputy Leader of the Green Party Bruce Hyer
Deputy Leader of the Green Party Bruce Hyer

Thunder Bay Superior North MP Deputy Leader of the Green Party Bruce Hyer
Thunder Bay Superior North MP Deputy Leader of the Green Party Bruce Hyer

OTTAWA — Bruce Hyer, MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North and Deputy Leader of the Green Party, will vote in support of a motion that will support Canada’s military contribution to the fight against the terrorist group Islamic State (ISIL).

“This was by no means an easy decision for me to make. I received many messages from my constituents on both sides. After careful consideration, I’ll be supporting the motion to conduct Canadian airstrikes against ISIL,” Hyer said.

“All of us on both sides of the issue share our disgust for the indiscriminate violence committed by ISIL. They have persecuted religious minorities, committed horrendous acts of sexual violence, murdered innocent women and children, and beheaded journalists and humanitarian workers,” Hyer said.

“While I rarely agree with the Conservative government, I think a Canadian commitment to support our allies in air strikes for six months is reasonable. While I do not support putting Canadians soldiers on the ground there, this engagement is limited, in concert with humanitarian, economic, and indirect military action,” Hyer added.

“I understand the concerns of those opposing Canadian involvement. Mission creep is a real concern, as is increased radicalization. None of us want to be working, even distantly, alongside a cruel leader like Bashar Al-Assad. But it is our job as MPs to make these difficult choices, if they might save lives,” Hyer said.

“Now, the government must clearly define the political and military objectives of this mission, and must have a real exit strategy. Canada cannot be dragged into a quagmire here. We should not stand on the sidelines in this, but we must have a plan,” Hyer said.

“We all agree ISIL must be stopped. This may or may not be the best way. Elizabeth May and others fear it may make matters worse. As the only option on the table, on balance I support it,” Hyer said.

Hyer Speaking in House of Commons

There are few matters more serious, or more challenging, than a debate on military action.

I am pleased that the Green Party has the opportunity to speak to this motion. I represent over 80,000 constituents in my riding of Thunder Bay-Superior North. My friend from Saanich-Gulf Islands represents over 100,000 people.

This is an difficult issue. It is vital that every MP have the chance to speak on behalf of their constituents. But it is rare for independents and members of small parties to have a chance to speak in this place. In a democracy, this is an unfair and unacceptable limit on freedom of speech. I’m glad that’s not the case here tonight.

I’d also like to take a moment to commend my friend and colleague, the Member for Saanich-Gulf Islands, for her intelligent and principled stand. I respect her greatly for the honest and thoughtful position she has taken on this issue, in her speech on Friday and in the days since.

This decision has not been an easy one for me. There are compelling arguments on all sides. I have received many, many messages from my constituents on both sides.

I’ve listened carefully to the debates. I will be supporting the motion this evening. To be frank, I usually agree with the Prime Minister on very little. But I agree that we do need to get off the sidelines on this issue.

Generally, I am against foreign military intervention, unless the atrocities are so terrible as to merit it. The people on the ground – the government of Iraq, the Kurds, religious and ethnic minorities there – are calling for our help. So are our friends in the international community. Canada must not refuse that call. We must do everything in our power to stop the violence.

I know that every member of this House is outraged and appalled by the indiscriminate violence perpetrated by the terrorist group ISIL. We’ve watched in horror as this group has slaughtered anyone that stands in their way, including innocent women and children, has beheaded journalists and humanitarian workers, has committed horrendous acts of sexual violence, and has persecuted religious minorities.

ISIL will not respond to anything but force.

A Canadian commitment to support our allies in air strikes for six months is reasonable. I must stress that I do not support putting Canadian soldiers on the ground there.

This is a limited engagement on Canada’s part, in concert with other humanitarian, economic, and indirect military initiatives. There should hopefully be limited danger to our men and women in uniform.

While this is by no means a simple issue, I do think that it comes down in large part to the number of lives that stand to be lost at the hands of ISIL. It’s my belief that in providing air support, we will stem the expansion of ISIL and save more lives in the region.

Already, over 8,000 Iraqis and Syrians have been murdered at the hands of ISIL, by crucifixion, beheading, torture and other unspeakable acts. A genocide is looming. If ISIL were permitted to expand and take over Iraq or Syria, I fear that the death toll would climb higher still and then be exported further.

As I said before, this is not an easy decision, and there are risks. Mission creep is a real concern, as is increased radicalization. None of us want to be working, even distantly, alongside a cruel leader like Bashar Al-Assad. But it is our job as MPs to make these difficult choices, if they might save lives.

It was the right decision to stay out of Iraq in 2003. But this is not the Iraq of ten years ago. We have a broad international coalition taking action in the region. We have the support of the government there. And, most importantly, we are witnessing terrible atrocities.

We must stand with our allies and take action to reduce the power of ISIL. But no one is giving our government carte blanche. We need a real, concrete exit strategy. We need clear political and military objectives for this mission. We need real criteria to evaluate the success of our involvement, and to decide what happens in six months’ time. We need an unequivocal commitment that we will not put troops on the ground in this conflict. We need further explanation on those points from the Prime Minister.

Canada should not stand on the sidelines in this, and has a moral duty to save lives when it can. I think the plusses of this mission outweigh the risks. ISIL must be stopped.