House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was international.

Topics

Business of the House
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

Supply
Government Orders

March 20th, 2003 / 5 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Madam Speaker, now that the bombs are falling I have struggled as much as I can with trying to find some good or benefit out of what is occurring by the attack on Iraq. I share the misgivings that have been expressed in the House about the attack and how it threatens institutions like the United Nations. It raises the spectre of retaliatory aggression by terrorists. There are many, many negatives, many of them negatives in the interests of the United States itself, and I have commented upon those.

So it is with a struggle that one searches to find a good, a real good, out of what is occurring today and I think I have found one. I would say it is a beautiful good and it is also something that is very sad. That good focuses on what happened with Turkey leading up to the decision to attack Iraq.

Turkey, you will remember, Madam Speaker, is a Muslim nation that for a very, very long time has struggled to balance religion with advancement of western economic and political values. It has been a long struggle that has extended over a century and a half, and only now does it have a parliament that has been re-elected with great hopes of joining the European Union, of being accepted as one of the western nations, not just in terms of economics but also in terms of the freedoms and liberties that have been developed by the western nations.

I would like to quote from the Honourable Abdullah Gul, who spoke to his parliament. He was speaking to the proposed program of the new government. In his remarks, which dealt with many things economic, with trying to rescue Turkey from severe economic problems and political problems, he said:

The objective of our democratic government approach is to secure all civil and political freedoms, primarily that of thought, belief, education, association and entrepreneurship and to make available an environment where people can continue with their individual development free from any fear or worry.

In this framework, the international democratic standards in basic human rights and freedoms, that we regard as the accumulation of humankind, will be taken as the basis of all our policies.

Let us think of what was just said there: basic rights and freedoms, democratic standards that are the accumulation of humankind.

I would submit to you, Madam Speaker, that this is one of the great gifts that the western democracies, the western countries, have given to the world, and indeed it is one of the great gifts of the United States and Britain. We have to acknowledge that the United States, with its Declaration of Independence--life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all--and the model of the British parliament, has led the world into an appreciation that democracy is the hope of the world. It has taken many years to spread that idea across Europe and it has been very difficult to spread it in the third world, in the Far East, and most especially, some might say, in the Muslim world.

Here we have Turkey that is undertaking this grand experiment and is really on the threshold, I think, with language like that, of certainly joining any country like Canada or the United States in terms of our commitment to basic human rights and democratic freedoms. But Turkey is in trouble. It is in terrible trouble economically, and I think what is so significant in what has happened with Iraq is the fact that, despite its difficulties, the Turkish parliament refused to allow the Americans to use Turkish soil for an attack on Iraq and refused to allow the American army and air force to occupy Turkish bases for an attack on Iraq. I point out that this was not a decision of the leadership of Turkey. This was a decision of the parliament of Turkey. It was a democratic decision.

I suggest that this is a singular event, a brilliant event, that is coming out of this terrible thing that has happened with the war in Iraq. I say that because what we are seeing here is a nation leading other nations into saying that it is not enough to have economic wealth, that it is not enough to benefit from the largesse of the Americans or the British in order to make a decision that is morally right, at least in the eyes of that people.

We must remember that the Turkish people were offered the carrot, shall we say, of $25 billion, and the Turkish people turned it down on the basis of sticking to a moral principle. That moral principle was that the attack on Iraq without the support of the UN Security Council was not morally justified. That is the Turkish position.

We see around the world that a similar thing happened with this debate in the United Nations. It is true that the United Nations has probably been fatally wounded, but one of the very good things is that we see individual countries, some of them very small, standing up to the United States and saying, “Even though you are a superpower, even though you have tremendous economic power, we will try to do what is right”. It was because of that resolve, not because of the leadership of France or the leadership of China or the leadership of Russia, it was because the people of the world did not accept that this was a just war that the Americans and the British were embarking on.

That, Mr. Speaker, is a tremendous hope for the world. It means that countries around the world have adopted the democratic values, the respect for human rights that originally sprang from the declaration of independence and then was followed by the British parliament and spread around western Europe.

And now, Mr. Speaker, here is the sad part. The sad part is that what this implies is that the United States has probably lost its leadership as a model of democracy and liberty in the world. Indeed, we know this is so, because we know that American politics is probably no longer the model of democratic politics that the rest of the world would want to follow. What the White House has done by this attack on Iraq is it has driven the world into deciding what kind of democracy the world wants. It would appear that the leadership of the United States and of Britain is no longer there. Countries like Turkey will follow their own hearts in discovering their own democratic institutions and making sure that their members of parliament are free to speak and are elected in ways that are not dependent upon how much money one has or dependent upon special interests.

That is the evolution of democracy and I think one of the things the war in Iraq is showing us is that the countries of the world are discovering this, not just democracy,discovering a strong desire to see justice done in the world and that aggression, no matter how justified, is not acceptable, and that countries are prepared to make decisions even though those decisions are not in their own interests if it is a decision that is morally correct in their eyes.

The irony is, of course, that for the White House, the President of the United States, I really do believe the intention in his attack on Iraq is regime change in order to bring democracy to the region. And maybe it will work. There was the model of Japan and Germany in the post-war period, but I suggest that it is a very dangerous and doubtful process to expect that one can bring democracy to other countries by the sword. I am not so sure it is going to work and we will see in due course.

Finally, I would like to speak a little about how this affects Canada because it does affect Canada. It affects Canada deeply, in somewhat the same way as with Turkey. All my life growing up, I was taught to believe that Canada is very much a country of the British democratic traditions and a country very much of American cultural traditions. It is true that the British and the Americans are our closest cousins, but one of the things this has shown is that at last Canada has embarked upon a decision that actually takes it away from the leadership of Britain.

Consider the significance: this is the first war in a century that Canada has refused to follow Britain's lead in even though we have the same Queen, the same Crown.

Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

An hon. member

Are you proud of that?

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Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Someone on the opposite side asks if I am proud of that. Yes, I am proud of it. It is so important for Canada to stand up for its own principles. The one thing that we will take from this is that Canada is its own country with its own values, its own democratic values. At last we perhaps have broken the chain of Britain and we have become Canada for the Canadians who live in this country and not the monarchy or anyone else in a different land.

Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 5:15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question in on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

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5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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5:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

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5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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5:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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5:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)