House of Commons Hansard #79 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was united.

Topics

Attack on the United States
Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Jordan Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I just want to begin my intervention by saying on behalf of the constituents of Leeds--Grenville that we certainly have our American friends in our hearts, in our thoughts and in our prayers. Much like your own riding, Mr. Speaker, mine is one where the vast majority of my constituents can walk out the front door and see New York State across the St. Lawrence River.

I listened intently to the debate today and I am heartened by a number of the themes that are coming through. One of the first themes that seems to be woven through just about every member's comments is the notion that we will not have vigilante justice on our streets. We will be patient, we will get the facts and we will not identify any one ethnic group or religious group for retribution, because clearly these terrorists do not speak for any one ethnic group. There is a disconnect between them and the issues and problems that are facing people from the regions where they train and practise their craft.

That leads to my question. It goes back to something that the hon. member's colleague from Fraser Valley touched on. I think it was a very important distinction to make. I too was troubled because the debate for a while seemed to be taking on the steam that there was some sort of moral equivalency between what the terrorists did and what the foreign policies of the Americans have done to areas of that region. I categorically reject that notion. I find it repugnant.

I would like to ask the member if he would care to comment, because I think it is important that we make the distinction between having not revenge but justice. Whenever we get the chance I think it is important that those of us who feel this way clearly state that this act cannot be justified. It cannot be justified through any argument that somehow the actions of the United States brought this on. I would just like to give the member the floor again so he could comment on that.

Attack on the United States
Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question. I agree entirely that in some ways people try to justify these things by saying that the United States and western countries have tried to impose their culture and their standards on the rest of the world. I totally disagree with that. I do not believe that is the case.

However, I believe that some of these countries are victims of technology. Many of these countries have had a closed society for years. They have not had to answer questions from their citizens about other cultures, other standards of living and other ways. However, suddenly every person in the world can visit other cultures, other ethnic backgrounds and other countries through the Internet, through television or through satellites, and that opens up all kinds of questions in the human mind in every country. It opens up questions here about cultures in other countries and the opposite is true. People in some of the other countries that traditionally have been closed societies are now seeing other options. I am sure it raises questions. Maybe people feel this is a threat.

I do not believe it is an imperialistic effort by the United States or other western countries to impose their cultures, but by virtue of technology and communications those cultures have become available for people to examine and consider for the first time ever. I believe that is very much part of the problem.

Attack on the United States
Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Augustine Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to commend my colleague for describing the responses that were made by his constituents. We have also had such responses in my riding of Etobicoke--Lakeshore. Those responses have been well received by our friends in the U.S. I will read a letter from Karen Weltzel of Lompoc, California, who wrote:

We Americans are overwhelmed by the worldwide displays of grieving, prayer, and support. I've seen some news coverage of the services held on Parliament Hill and in other countries yesterday. As an everyday citizen ambassador of the United States, I thank you, your government and your fellow countrymen, for joining us in mourning and remembrance of those who have so tragically lost their lives. I also thank you for the support you have offered in the global effort to seek justice and end terrorism. I pray that God grants to our nation's leaders, and you and your colleagues in governments throughout the world, the wisdom, courage, strength and will, to win the war against terrorism, hatred, bigotry, racism, ignorance and violence. The rest of us have, and continue, to pledge to support you in those efforts.

She concludes by saying that she looks forward to following the progress of the discussion in Canada.

I just wanted to make this comment to let my colleague know that our responses and those of his constituents and mine have been well received by our American friends.

Attack on the United States
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, this awful event has shown the world the quality of Canadians, our compassion and how much we care. It has been a lesson for all of us. We have all gone through an emotional time. I have gone through several different emotions and continue to do so.

I appreciate the member commenting on my constituents who have gone to serve in New York. They are volunteer firefighters from little communities and I want to say their names for the record: Paul Seguin, Glenn Levy, Scott McLellan from Southampton fire department; Jeremy Dunphy the chief of the Parrsboro fire department; Laurie Melanson and Maurice McKinnon of the Joggins fire department; and Danny Brooks, a paramedic based in Amherst.

These are just regular people, regular Canadians who saw a need, jumped in their cars and drove to New York where they went to work in the rubble and the dust to help find whatever in the way of remains and trying to help in any way they could. Again, it is why members of parliament can be so proud of our constituents and the people of Canada.

Attack on the United States
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Yvon Charbonneau Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will share the time allotted me with one of my colleagues.

I would like to add my voice to those of the Prime Minister and my colleagues in expressing my condolences to the American people, the family and friends of the victims of the horrible terrorist attack that took the lives of an overwhelming number of innocent Americans, as well as Canadians and persons from other countries.

Let us make no mistake. Whether it involves a handful of people swept away by some ideology or other, a group of unbalanced individuals or a large or small country, all acts of terrorism are to be condemned. The acts perpetrated in the United States on September 11 rightly elicited universal reprobation. Terrorism is a violent rending of the fabric of humanity and a direct affront to all attempts, to dialogue and to the construction of harmonious and strong international relations.

Canada's position has been clear in this regard, as was the speed with which we offered our friends and neighbours all the help they might need at this difficult time. Our solidarity found particular expression on the day of national mourning, last Friday, an initiative that expressed the depth of feeling of the government and the people of Canada for the victims of the attacks and their families.

On the other hand, voices are being raised just about everywhere calling for revenge for this attack, far worse than the attack on Pearl Harbor, for those responsible for it, and their accomplices, to be punished without mercy, taken back into the stone age in fact.

We know that the U.S. government wants to use NATO to mobilize the international community against what it terms an act of war against the United States but also against democracy and the rights and freedoms of all civilized countries.

There is one major question remaining, however: identification and location of the guilty parties. Was a network of individuals involved? Did these individuals receive the support of a state or states, or did they not?

Much reference is, of course, made to the billionaire bin Laden and his network, or to the Taliban of Afghanistan. In both cases, these are people well known to the U.S. and to the CIA because they have supported them, armed them in fact, to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. According to specialists in the Arab and Muslim world, these are monsters of the Americans' own making.

I am certainly in favour of the U.S. finding a way to break with their former allies, if they are found responsible for the events of September 11. However how can this be done without the murder of other innocents, this time far away from U.S. cameras, but people who are just as real and just as important as those whose met their deaths on September 11.

I personally am far more in favour of the motion before this House, which states that the House:

--reaffirm its commitment to the humane values of free and democratic society and its determination to bring to justice the perpetrators of this attack on these values--

I believe that the true solutions to these problems of terrorism and international security must be sought through the building of peace rather than the constantly increasing, and often blind, use of brute force.

These solutions lie in the strengthening of international and multilateral institutions that can promote health, education, human rights, democracy, the environment and international co-operation.

They also lie in the respect of international law and the search for sustainable political solutions, which will stabilize the international context. Specifically, in the event of regional conditions that have become intolerable, I believe the international community would be more secure and more stable if it were to force a sustainable and equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ensuring the Palestinians of their full political rights over their own territory including a fair settlement of Jerusalem and refugees' right of return, and thus of the security of Israel.

We, the international community, would do well to ensure that Iraq be reintegrated into the normal circuit of international relations and institutions, rather than continuing to pursue a policy of exclusion and aggression towards this county, a policy that has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent and young people without weakening the regime that is being targeted.

Everyone in the House and in all democratic parliaments, I expect, agrees that we need to work together to eradicate terrorism and stop those who would perpetrate acts of terrorism, but I would add that it is even more important to address the causes and circumstances that often trigger such acts.

With regards to this, I think that we must approach the problem in a rational manner even though emotions run high, to try to find long-term sustainable political solutions despite the fact that using force may prove tempting.

What we need to do is organize a response that is vigorous yet democratic, based not on a simple polarization between good and bad, based not on so-called wars between civilizations, but instead on solutions that would affect the economy, safety, international relations and institutions, based on measures that are more inclusive of populations, zones and states that are currently marginalized in this era of frenzied globalization.

In conclusion, I would like to express two wishes. First, that our government, as an ally of the United States, uses all its influence in order to persuade our giant neighbour to join forces with the international community in order to do something about the situations at the root of terrorism, rather than limit its action to reprisals which will result in other innocent victims and do nothing to improve security. Canadian support must not be a carte blanche for military adventurism without a lasting positive outcome. Instead, it should encourage action characterized by wisdom and patience, as the Prime Minister suggested today.

My second wish is that we fight against and prevent any intolerance and aggressive behaviour directed at any cultural or religious community living in Canada, especially the Arab Muslim community. Pointing a finger of blame at any component of Canadian society for the acts of terrorism committed in New York on September 11 would be tantamount to engaging in our own form of terrorism within Canada. Any such action must be denounced and repressed in the name of those same values which we are defending internationally as well as at home.

Over the past 50 years, Canada has won international respect for its participation in dozens of peacekeeping missions. If we have a few hundreds of millions of dollars to devote to an international effort following the events of September 11, I would like to see us continue to invest in peacebuilding.

The UN has declared 2001 the Year of Dialogue among Civilizations. What has just happened in New York City and what might happen any time from now shows the extent to which our greatest problems may well arise not from too much such dialogue internationally but from profound shortcomings within our international, political and financial institutions, which are now preventing the establishment of a new international order based on transparency and equity.

Eradicating terrorism is about more than wiping out a network of terrorists. It is about creating new conditions so that wealth is no longer concentrated in the hands of a few and so that the living conditions of the majority improve over the next few decades. It is our duty as Canadians to base our solidarity with the Americans on such a vision, which I believe corresponds to the deepest Canadian values vis-à-vis fairness and international co-operation.

It is our duty as Canadians to demonstrate our solidarity internationally according to our Canadian values.

Attack on the United States
Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have listened to the speech by the hon. member for Anjou--Rivière-des-Prairies with great interest.

In fact, I share most of the ideas he has expressed on the reality of the situation. I find particularly important the emphasis placed on the matter of eradicating terrorism at its source, not just putting in place measures using unacceptable means to protect the richer and more developed societies from the situations now being deplored.

I believe that the hon. member for Anjou--Rivière-des-Prairies did not, of course, say that the terrorists' means were acceptable ones. No one says that. However, having realized just how horrific the situation is, when an indepth analysis is made, I believe that a certain number of elements can be used. I agree with the hon. member on this.

I would like to see him go a little further by responding to the following question.

Ought there not to be another component to the federal government's strategy, one to ensure that Canada takes the huge diplomatic initiative that would enable it to inform the UN and other bodies that the major contribution by Canada in this connection is not necessarily a military one, an area in which our means are very limited, but rather perhaps some other area such as a contribution toward a long term solution to the problems, so that there will be no breeding grounds for terrorism left in the world?

Does the hon. member for Anjou--Rivière-des-Prairies share this point of view?

Attack on the United States
Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Yvon Charbonneau Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is in fact an action our government has taken that is already underway and that, I hope, will continue to expand.

Our government, our Prime Minister and a number of ministers are involved in ongoing discussions with their counterparts in international organizations they belong to. We realized, from hearing the viewpoint of a number of heads of European countries, that there is a general feeling totally along the lines of what the Canadian Prime Minister said today, namely that we must act wisely and patiently, that it will take time and that a variety of complementary components will be involved.

Military action is not excluded a priori, but what is the real solution to this type of situation where we do not really know where the enemy is? Who is the enemy, where is it hiding out, how is it organized? We have no idea, unlike in the case of Pearl Harbor, which has often been cited and in which we knew very well who was the cause. Today, we have no idea.

So, the international action currently in progress to which the government is contributing could result in a review of all international relations and institutions in which we all participate, in an effort to come up with a set of measures, which affect not only security and information but also certain economic provisions and certain programs for co-operation in such a way that they provide the solution to conflicts that are currently smouldering away internationally and that therefore are a breeding ground for acts of terrorism.

I think this action sought by my colleague in opposition will take on even greater proportions now.

Attack on the United States
Government Orders

7 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am befuddled and shocked to hear this kind of speech today in the present context. The member said this moment does not represent a polarization between good and evil. If deliberately killing what was an intended target of tens of thousands of people is not evil, if we cannot call evil by its name, then what is evil? If this is not a moment of moral clarity that should guide our actions then what would be?

The member and many of his colleagues talk about international institutions, diplomacy and equity as though the terrorists are the voice of economic deprivation in the third world. Many of these terrorists are well educated professionals from western universities. Some of them are very wealthy. They are financed by a billionaire. This is not about economic equity.

The member says we do not know what our enemy is. Let us call it by its name. The enemy is radical, extreme Islamism. It is not Islam or Muslims, but a radical political movement among a small minority of Muslims in some parts of the world. Let us call it by its name. We know what it is. Let us not be coy about it.

The member talks about bringing Iraq into the international community. There is a reason why Iraq is under embargo. It could release itself from the embargoes if it were to give credible commitments to the international community that it does not have a program to produce weapons of mass destruction.

Does the member not understand that the next major attack will not be a suicide plane? It could very well be a nuclear or biological weapon produced in Iraq or countries like it. Does he not understand the moral and strategic gravity of the situation? Rather than talking about vague concepts of international equity, will he not join the rest--

Attack on the United States
Government Orders

7 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. We want to give the hon. member for Anjou--Rivière-des-Prairies a few moments to respond.

Attack on the United States
Government Orders

7 p.m.

Liberal

Yvon Charbonneau Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, the condemnation of terrorism was on a par with that expressed today by our Prime Minister; I need not come back to that. It was very clear. Condemnation has been universal. I share in it, as does our government.

As concerns the rest of the question, the opposition member should understand that terrorists may organize in certain parts of the world with the support of people who have no idea they are living in a breeding ground for terrorists. The member opposite should understand a simple concept: there is a lot of suffering in areas in the world, which are familiar with terrorism from having endured it at the hands of their neighbours or major powers. The member opposite may not know what terrorism is, but they do.

Terrorist organizations take root in these areas and from there strike the United States. If it were possible to resolve some of the international situations that continue to kill thousands of innocents, we would snuff out a number of terrorist organizations. This is what the member opposite should understand.

Attack on the United States
Government Orders

7:05 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, there has been no motion this year, nor will there be, of such importance as the one we are debating today. I am pleased to stand to speak to it.

In my short time in parliament I have never been so proud to be a member of the House of Commons, to observe the debate and the unanimity that have been expressed regarding the horror of the immense evil that has been perpetrated on the United States and, through that horror, on the people of the world.

I know that the citizens of Vancouver Quadra whom I have the honour to represent will join me in expressing absolute sorrow for the people of the United States and the families of the victims of this horrible evil.

The Prime Minister and many members in the House today have stated that we as Canadians will stand by the Americans and with our allies around the world for peace and to fight terrorism every way we can. However I would caution that we take great care in addressing this immense evil. It is extremely complicated and we should take care not to act indiscriminately.

I will mention three aspects of terrorism that have been mentioned in one way or another today, though perhaps not all at once.

First and most important, terrorism has become a global issue. It is no longer a matter of isolated acts however immense. These are connected acts. They are connected not only to other acts of terrorism but have, in their great magnitude, become a threat to the sovereignty and security of states. That makes them acts of war. The extreme act we saw on September 11 brings to our attention much more vividly what we are confronted with behind the scenes and around the world.

Second, global issues are by definition linked to other global issues. They are not only borderless; they are linked. To suggest, as has the member opposite, that there are no links between terrorism, poverty, environmental degradation, sickness or human rights abuses is not to be paying attention to what is going on in the world.

These are global issues. This is globalization writ large. Globalization is not simply about spreading our goods from the western countries around the world. Globalization has a reverse thrust, and terrorism is the thrust we are feeling. Terrorism is with us. It is linked to poverty, sickness, human rights abuses and autocratic governments that abuse their citizens.

We must not close our eyes to that. We must deal with those as a unit or we will never deal with terrorism. To suggest, as some have, that the root causes of evil need not be attended to is to miss the point.

Third is the concept of human security. Perhaps no contribution to the world that Canada has made in the last 10 years is greater than our expression and definition of the concept of human security.

I will speak about human security in the sense of terrorism and democracy. Terrorism is, by definition, indiscriminate violence. That is what spreads terror. It is carried out indiscriminately in populations with no particular target where no one can feel safe.

In our response to terrorism we must be immensely cautious not to respond indiscriminately. We in a democracy pride ourselves in and benefit daily from the rule of law. It is the essence and fundamental notion of democracy. In responding to acts of violence inside our society we are bound by our criminal law to stringent rules of investigation, charge, criminal procedure and sentencing.

This attack has been described as war. It is war when it is of this magnitude and this widespread around the world, as terrorism is. It is war against the security and sovereignty of nations.

There are rules of law for war as well. We must be extremely cautious to stay within them when we plan and execute our cautious response.

One of the greatest injustices and horrors of the 20th century was the fact that at the beginning of the century 80% to 90% of the victims of war were actually members of armed forces and 20% were civilians. By the end of the century that had been reversed and nearly 90% of casualties in civil strife and military action were civilians. We must be immensely careful that in our response we do not act indiscriminately and unnecessarily harm civilians and take civilian lives.

The people who perpetrate the evil of terrorism draw some of their recruits from the privileged. Some are unstable but many are drawn through the roots of despair. If anyone suggests otherwise they have not observed what happens in impoverished communities of despair and stinking refugee camps that have intergenerational hopelessness.

In our society we know that suicide rates among youth are very high in impoverished communities. If they are facing intergenerational despair, looking into the future with no hope and are about to commit suicide, that is the ultimate act of despair as a youth. If someone comes to them with a gun and a martyr ethic or a warrior ethic and says, “Do not waste your life; be a martyr”, that is a breeding ground for violence. We cannot ignore that, even as we recognize that there are other sources of this evil.

Finally I would like to speak briefly about the nature of terrorism. It is extremely complex. As we plan what will be an immensely complicated and expensive response, we must clearly understand the nature and how unconventional this enemy is. It is diverse yet it is networked and universal. It conducts its vicious acts in cells that then pull apart and are not traced back to obvious sources.

We have to increase our investigative capacity, our intelligence gathering capacity, our willingness and our ability to co-ordinate activities and share information across borders with our allies, and we have to be in this for the long haul.

Let us remember this is a global issue and it must be approached as such. It must be approached with reference to other global issues with which it is linked. Let us remember as well that what is at risk is our democracy. We must not risk the fundamental nature of our democracy which is the rule of law in our response.

Finally, we must appreciate the complexity of what we are faced with and be willing, together with our allies and perhaps with the expenditure of resources we have not yet dreamed of, to increase our capacity to secure our way of life and to assist our allies to secure theirs.

We must ensure that we share the fruits of our democracy with people around the world because, as we have noted throughout our democratic history, our democracy and justice are indivisible. As we look at a global world and the global issues that surround us, that indivisibility is becoming clearer to maintain universally and not simply within our privileged borders.

Attack on the United States
Government Orders

7:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the government member for his comments. I would like to take this opportunity to express on behalf of the residents of Fundy--Royal our deepest and most sincere condolences to those individuals who lost families, friends and co-workers in the regions of Washington and New York. I would also like to share in the outrage of the situation that has taken place.

The hon. member stated that terrorism did not discriminate in terms of its victims. We know that over the coming days and weeks we will be trying to ferret out those individuals who were responsible for this heinous event.

One group of individuals, firefighters, played a role in a positive and heroic way by going into a very precarious situation in a very difficult environment. Many of those individuals who put their lives on the line were lost.

My question for the hon. member reflects on his comments regarding intelligence gathering. There are a lot of industrialized western nations that do not do this as well as they could or should. Does the hon. member feel that the RCMP, CSIS and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration need to have a more integrated system?

Attack on the United States
Government Orders

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his observations and his question. In the face of this horror and this potential danger in the future Canada needs to expend greater resources on intelligence and even within the police community itself to become much more effective at sharing information.

The nature of terrorism is linked to and is very similar to the nature of organized crime in its universal reach, in its neglect of borders and its absolute viciousness, and in its network structure, its operation through cells and its sharing of information.

Enforcement agencies and intelligence gathering agencies in the western world have not kept up in terms of the willingness of terrorist groups and organized crime to share information with each other on a need to know basis through cells and individual operations. They are way ahead of us in the use of technology and in the sophistication of their structures. We will have to mimic some of those dynamics if we are to effectively combat them.

Already in this country law enforcement agencies are starting to adapt that great integrated approach to sharing information, to pooling resources together on operations and to co-ordinating their efforts. That is an immensely important advance. It maintains for combating terrorism just as it does to organized crime.

Attack on the United States
Government Orders

7:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member has echoed in a different way what many of his colleagues have said, which is essentially that this is a complex issue where good and evil do not apply. We have to focus on root causes like economics and exercise restraint in any response. I do not hear anything about a serious appreciation of the common enemy that we are facing.

Does the member not understand that the people who launched this attack are motivated by two things: a ferocious anti-Semitism and a malevolent hatred for all things western because of the perceived spiritual decadence of our civilization? This is not an economic or political project in the way that we would normally conceive one.

Does he not understand that these so-called international solutions of which he is speaking are no solution when one is staring down the muzzle of a barrel of a gun which is going to kill people?

Attack on the United States
Government Orders

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his observation. However accurate the hon. member might be in certain situations, he is far too narrowly focused.

Of course there are groups exactly as he described that are bent only on evil for matters unrelated to poverty, human rights abuses or whatever. However we must all be extremely careful to realize that this is a much broader problem than this particular act of evil.

If we do not appreciate the breadth of the problem then we will not deal with the force and scope of it.