2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 156

Friday, June 19, 2015
The Honourable Leo Housakos, Speaker

Syrian Conflict

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak about the Syrian conflict, a conflict that has proven to be one of the worst humanitarian crises since the end of the Second World War. What began as a call for democracy and a push by Syrians for change has tangled itself into a complex regional problem that requires the immediate attention of Canada and the international community.

What you see today is more than a clash between Syrian government forces and an opposition group. Rather, what we see is the development of a regional crisis as the rise of ISIS has threatened not only the region’s security, but our security as well. This begs the question: What is the solution to this problem? We all know that even if we wanted to negotiate with ISIS, they would never sit to negotiate with us under the circumstances. They have a stringent ideology which impedes on our ability to find a solution to this problem.

Where does this leave Syrians? The crisis has entered its fifth year, only for the conflict to be getting worse and for human rights abuses to be committed by more actors. In such a complex situation where the rights of Syrians are being infringed upon, we as Canadians should do our best to alleviate their suffering. Canada’s history in peacekeeping has encouraged me to come before you and urge that we support all peacebuilding efforts for Syria, if we are truly serious about helping Syrians.

Honourable senators, peacebuilding efforts can begin even while a conflict is ongoing. Peacebuilding can come in the form of diplomatically pushing for democracy, helping to re-establish educational and health institutions, rebuilding infrastructure, offering trauma counselling and supporting gender empowerment initiatives. These are all efforts that Canada should strive to be at the forefront of.

As for the threat of ISIS, while I may not have a solution for you at this time regarding how we should deal with them, I do know that we should not let ISIS’s presence deter us from embarking on a peacebuilding journey. Let us help Syrians reintegrate peace into their lives. Let us support Syrian civil society organizations because indeed it is civil society that does the vast majority of peace work, but oftentimes lacks the resources and finances to aid its efforts.

Honourable senators, let us not go away for the summer and brush off the conflict in Syria until we sit again. The conflict in Syria will only protract if we do not act now and push for justice and peace in the country and surrounding region.