House of Commons Hansard #76 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was war.

Topics

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Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has underscored the point I was making earlier, that if ever there were a euphemism that did not stand up to scrutiny, it is the notion of the coalition of the willing. We know that many of those countries either have not signed on for fear of retaliation, or have been coerced into signing on because they knew perfectly well that they were highly vulnerable to the backlash of the Bush administration.

I want to take the opportunity to say very briefly that I am extremely adamant that we take the opportunity to say at every turn in the House that this is not about anti-Americanism in any sense of the word. There are a massive number of Americans who stand with us for peace. Let me say briefly that in my riding last weekend we--

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1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order. Resuming debate, the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle.

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1:45 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by saying that the thought about anti-Americanism is taking a strong stand against George Bush and his illegal war, as a matter of fact, just before the war broke out, there was Gallup poll done in the United States. The Gallup poll done in the United States on March 17, said that if the United States went forward with military action without United Nations approval, half the Americans would be opposed to the invasion of Iraq and 47% would be in favour of it. Even in the United States of America a lot of people are opposed to what is going on in Iraq today.

I want to say very clearly that I am shocked at the Alliance Party. It wants to send the young men and women of Canada into a theatre of war, an illegal war that has been inducted by George Bush that violates the international law. That is absolutely disgusting and shameful. It is an illegal war that has a small minority of Canadian people supporting it. The Alliance Party is supposed to be a grassroots party reflecting public opinion in this country. I say shame on the Canadian Alliance. The more Canadian people know about the Alliance, it is no wonder it is now in fifth place in the polls.

The war is illegal. The war is immoral. George Bush is dead wrong in what he is doing. I also say that Tony Blair is wrong. If it was not for Tony Blair lending the support of Great Britain, George Bush would not have the support at home to conduct a war. That is the cover that George Bush needs, the credibility of Great Britain, in terms of conducting the war that is wrong, illegal and immoral, that will kill tens thousands of innocent people in Iraq.

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1:45 p.m.

An hon. member

Nonsense.

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1:45 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Nonsense? There are 15 million people in Iraq who are surviving because of food from the United Nations. There are people now in Basra who are suffering because of the lack of food and the lack of water.

There are these moralizers on the other side who are taking a stand against the Pope and against the churches, against all the Christian values in the world. These moralizers on the other side are taking a stand against all kinds of reasonable people. In fact even Henry Kissinger, that famous Republican, has said that this war is illegal, that this war is a violation of international law. He was the chief Republican adviser to the president of the United States for a long time. Yet these Neanderthals get up in the House and say to commit young Canadian men and women into the theatre of war. I find that absolutely disgusting.

Then they try to distort the position of certain political parties. I had it reported to me that the foreign affairs critic for the Alliance made a comment that the CCF was against World War II just because one person, the leader of the party, J.S. Woodsworth, who was a pacifist like Gandhi, was the only member of the House of Commons who got up and voted against the war. I remember Tommy Douglas saying to me that Woodsworth had difficulty reading notes and he would pass him his notes to make his speech at that time as he stated his position. The CCF caucus and council took a strong stand in terms of committing our country to war. I had an uncle who was killed in Normandy in that war.

There is a kind of distortion and misinformation that goes on by the Alliance. I find that to be absolutely offensive from the party across the way.

The global public opinion is overwhelmingly against what George Bush and Tony Blair are doing in Iraq. People in our country are opposed to what they are doing in Iraq. There have been large demonstrations weekend after weekend. They are growing in number right around the world. I am very proud to be part of that movement. We will do whatever we can to make sure that does not happen.

We could go to any riding in this country and we would find that people are increasingly opposed to this illegal war by George Bush, this illegal action, a violation of the United Nations.

I wish the people in the Alliance Party would take this seriously. Here they are condoning something that violates international law. The so-called party of law and order. The so-called party of grassroots Canadians. The so-called party of Christian values in the House of Commons. This is what the Alliance is doing. People should be aware exactly where that party stands, in opposition to what it said historically. I say that already there are innocent civilians who are dying.

I am probably one of the few members in the House of Commons who has been in a war zone and has seen people die. When I was 22 years old, in 1960, I volunteered to go into the Biafran civil war. I spent a week inside the war zone. I saw people dying of starvation. I saw little kids who were dying of starvation. I saw people who were shot, who were wounded and whose limbs were blown off because of bombs.

I was driving a small convoy of cars late one night near a little airstrip when we were caught in a bombing raid. I saw the terror and the fear and I know the terror and the fear when bombs are dropping beside us. When the bombs started to drop we jumped out of the cars and dived into the jungle brush. People all around were crying. Some people were saying the rosary. People were praying. People were terrified. That is what is happening in Iraq today.

I saw kids in big feeding centres at sunrise in the Biafran jungle who were dying of kwashiorkor, the protein deficiency disease. I saw kids who died because of a lack of food. Food supplies were cut off because of a war that was being carried on. This is what is happening in Iraq today. To have a political party in our country advocate being part of that theatre of war, being part of that suffering that is going on, I find absolutely disgusting.

I do not think many people realize the suffering that goes on. I remember being there, hearing little kids cry, seeing people terrified and seeing people who were walking skeletons. I remember someone coming out of the bush in Biafra carrying a little child who was barely alive and who was basically a skeleton because of a lack of food and water.

I remember going up to the front after dark one night in that war to see what happened. I saw the terror on the Biafran side when they fired into the jungle because they heard the noise of machine gun fire on the other side. We took back with us in a jeep that night a wounded soldier who had bullets in his hands and arms that had come from the other side.

This is what happens in a war. People do not seem to realize that. It is not like sitting at home and watching some kind of video game on CNN. These things are bloody awful. We saw yesterday the American prisoners of war who were taken by the Iraqis. We saw how awful that was. We saw how awful it was to see the Americans, with Iraqi prisoners of war behind barbed wire, kneeling down with machine guns pointed at them. This is the reality of war.

Here we have the Alliance across the way once again ignoring their constituents, ignoring the Canadian people, ignoring public opinion, ignoring what the churches are saying, ignoring what international law experts are saying and ignoring what the United Nations are saying. I say thank God for Jacques Chirac. Thank God for France, Germany, Scandinavia and for the majority of people in this country, the majority of people in this world, who have taken a very strong stand against an immoral war. Yet we have the Alliance taking the exact opposite position.

Jacques Chirac and France represent global public opinion. Chancellor Schroeder in Germany represents public opinion. The Scandinavian countries represent public opinion. The Dutch and the Belgians represent public opinion in the world and also in their countries. This is what this war is really all about.

I wanted to say to the House today that I am pleased that our country is not involved but I am concerned that we do have some people on an exchange program who are now in the theatre of war. I believe those people should be pulled out of that exchange at this time. I am also concerned that we have Canadian ships escorting ships of war. I believe they should be pulled out of the region as well.

A time comes when we have to stand up for what is right, for being on the side of international law, not on the side of someone who is violating international law. We have to stand up for people in our constituencies, stand up for the people in this country and stand up for global public opinion. Being on the same side as Norman Schwarzkopf, Henry Kissinger, the Pope, the World Council of Churches and public opinion is not a bad thing. I am proud that I stand with all those folks.

Peacekeeping Service Medal
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Tirabassi Niagara Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to my constituent, Harvey Beauvais, who has been awarded the Canadian peacekeeping service medal.

Harvey began his career with the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency in 1982 after a 23 year career in the Canadian military, where he served in Europe working in intelligence.

During his career with customs, Harvey held positions that included customs inspector, acting customs superintendent and intelligence officer. Harvey is now retired and lives with his wife in Thorold, Ontario.

I congratulate Harvey for having done Canada proud.

Iraq
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with a heavy heart. I have always supported diplomacy as the first answer in ending the Iraqi crisis. However, in the last few days before the war began, it was apparent to me that diplomatic efforts had been exhausted. The Iraqi regime wilfully subverted every single UN resolution, despite numerous opportunities to comply. Saddam Hussein caused this war.

One hundred years ago, John Stuart Mills stated:

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest thing. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.

Closer to home, an Iraqi Canadian named Abdul stated the following in my local paper over the weekend:

If you have to choose between Saddam Hussein and anything else, you would choose anything else.

People like Abdul desperately want an end to the evil of Hussein's regime. It is time the government stopped sulking--

Iraq
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Halifax West.

George Christie
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, on February 16 of this year the community of Bedford lost one of its shining lights. George Christie was a community pillar for almost 70 years.

Although Mr. Christie's list of accomplishments and contributions is far too long to enumerate here, a few items demand recognition.

A first lieutenant with the Halifax Rifles during World War I, George Christie returned to Bedford and took very active roles in his church and community. He was an honourary life elder at the Bedford United Church and helped countless young people become good citizens and community leaders through both the Air Cadets and Scouts Canada.

I want to express my appreciation for the life of George Christie and my sincere condolences to his family and friends. He will be surely missed.

Parental Leave
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, QC

Mr. Speaker, mothers in Canada and Quebec are very pleased with the parental leave program introduced by the Government of Canada. They are now staying at home twice as long as they did two years ago after giving birth. Fathers are also doing their share, with 10% of them temporarily trading their jobs for the pleasures of caring for the baby.

The Minister of Human Resources Development, who was behind these reforms, said that having a good start in life is wonderful for children. The federal Liberal minister and member for Brant said she was very touched to receive letters and pictures from new parents thanking her for this extra time they can spend with their children.

Settlement and Integration Services Organization
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Beth Phinney Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, March 21, leaders from the corporate sector, service organizations and all levels of government in Hamilton joined together at Liuna Station to mark the 10th anniversary of the Settlement and Integration Service Organization known as SISO.

SISO is the leading provider of settlement and integration services in Hamilton. It is a community based, client centred organization that provides language appropriate programs and services. It advocates for equity and change, and facilitates empowerment through improving access to knowledge and information.

SISO breaks down the barriers that often prevent immigrants from reaching their full potential as participants and contributors to Canada's prosperity and growth.

I commend SISO for the excellent service it has provided Hamiltonians over the last 10 years and wish it continued success in the years to come.

Rob Sivell
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, Rob Sivell, only 44, was a constituent of mine. Last week his life ended prematurely when a co-worker went on a shooting rampage in Yemen. The lives of an American and a Yemeni were also taken.

We send our prayers and condolences to his wife Lisa, his one year old twin daughters and his teenage son. Our nation grieves with this special family in their time of great loss.

His young daughters will forever miss the love and admiration of their father so important to the development of young and tender lives. His teenaged son will miss his guidance and support in his own struggle for manhood. His wife will miss his care, provision and support. His friends will miss his smile, his laugh and his easygoing manner.

The world struggles with the tragedy of war raging in Iraq. The death of Rob Sevill is a tragedy too. To his family, to his friends and to his neighbours in Buena Vista, Saskatchewan, it is a tragedy of enormous proportions when, not from war, but from simply providing for his family, Rob's life was lost.

Ben Franklin
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in sadness to mark the passing this weekend of former Nepean mayor, Ben Franklin, who was a colleague and friend.

Ben Franklin was dedicated to building a great community. First elected to Nepean council in 1973, he served as mayor from 1978 until his retirement for health reasons in 1997.

Ben Franklin left an enormous legacy of achievement. He took a highly indebted and highly taxed bedroom community and transformed it into one of the most dynamic and best managed municipalities in Ontario, if not all of Canada.

However, Ben Franklin's accomplishments were so much more than simply the bottom line. He touched many lives because of his friendly manner and his desire to help people. As someone who served on his council for six years, I experienced firsthand how much Ben Franklin loved Nepean and how much Nepean loved Ben Franklin.

On behalf of all my constituents I would like to extend my deepest condolences and support to Ben's wife, Sherry, his daughter, Suzanne, and son, Brent.

Geneva Convention
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, over the weekend, strikingly horrific pictures were broadcast by most major television networks. We saw footage of American prisoners of war being interviewed and pictures of bodies of dead soldiers. The night before, it was footage of Iraqi prisoners that was broadcast. Such are the horrors of war, and none of us wants to witness anything like that again.

I trust, therefore, that all the players in this conflict will abide by the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, of which the two warring nations are signatories; it provides that prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.

Yesterday, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the depositary of the Geneva conventions, denounced the broadcast of pictures of American and Iraqi prisoners, pictures which are in violation of the convention.

We therefore urge the government to do everything in its power to ensure that both parties to the conflict apply and abide by the convention.

The Environment
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gérard Binet Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, the environment is an integral part of our life and affects many aspects of our health, work and leisure. To ensure a healthy environment for our children, it is imperative that we preserve our forests.

The Agence régionale de mise en valeur des forêts privées de la Chaudière fully understands this and has developed a project to identify exceptional forest ecosystems on the territory of the Agence Chaudière and to put in place a program of voluntary conservation agreements with the owners in question.

Through the Ecoaction financial assistance program, this project received $18,000 from the federal government and also received support from the Amiante RCM, the Government of Quebec, the Agence régionale de mise en valeur des forêts privées de la Chaudière and its accredited forestry advisers, including the Groupement forestier Beauce-Sud and the Groupe AgroForestier Lotbinière-Mégantic.

Cooperation between the three levels of government—federal, provincial and municipal—and of course the forest owners, is the key to success for any such project.