Debates of April 3rd, 2003
House of Commons Hansard #84 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was united.
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April 3rd, 2003 / 10:50 a.m.
Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition
That the House of Commons express its regret and apologize for offensive and inappropriate statements made against the United States of America by certain Members of this House; that it reaffirm the United States to be Canada’s closest friend and ally and hope that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein’s regime from power; and that the House urge the Government of Canada to assist the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq.
Mr. Speaker, I will advise you that I will be splitting my time.
This is an important motion as our allies and our friends head to victory in the war against Saddam, a war that we believe will change the world and its alliances and relationships fundamentally. The motion will assist Canada in preserving its place in the world, its relationships and its values. I believe there is no reason why any hon. member of the House should find objection to the motion.
The motion is divided into two parts. The second part calls upon the House to support a successful military conclusion of the allied effort. It says that we “hope that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power”, and it urges “the Government of Canada to assist the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq”.
I would like to give a little bit of a personal backdrop to this. Last night at Stornoway I hosted a reception for ambassadors and representatives of nearly 50 countries that have now joined the coalition. I did that on behalf of our caucus and, I believe, on behalf of the silent majority of Canadians, to tell them, to tell these countries and to tell their people that in this fight we Canadians are not and cannot be neutral any more than we can be for Saddam; that we are with our friends, our allies and our own troops; and that we support them for freedom, for democracy, for the reconstruction of Iraq, and for the liberation of its people.
This is not a question on how this war happened or whether it should have occurred in the first place. It is something very different. It is now how this will play out and how we will stand in it.
We are always surprised by the wisdom of children. I was surprised a few days ago when my six year old son Benjamin asked me in the car, as we were listening to a radio broadcast on the war, “What happens, Dad, if Saddam wins?” He said that very fearfully, because to a six year old the outcome of a war is not obvious as it may be to some of us here.
We do have to cast our thoughts on what would be the consequences if Saddam were to be victorious, and all that he is and all that he aspires to be if that were to be fulfilled. We think we have the luxury of guessing and second-guessing our friends and allies, but if we have guessed wrong it could, as a conclusion of this war, devastate every aspect of our economy, our country and our future. That is why unconditionally supporting an allied victory is unequivocally in the national interest of this country.
The first part of the motion is perhaps the one that will give some people more difficulty. It reads:
That the House of Commons express its regret and apologize for offensive and inappropriate statements made against the United States of America by certain Members of the House; that it reaffirm the United States to be Canada's closest friend and ally....
When we cut beneath the surface, in all but a few cases, anti-Americanism probably has clouded this debate and become, at this point, the only real motive that some have for hesitating to support our allies.
Anti-Americanism has a couple of roots in this country. One of those is history. The revolutionary war with the United States laid the groundwork for this country and the war of 1812 preserved the separation between the British Crown and the American republic.
However that division ended 100 years ago. In the last century, when the great nations of the world fought these tremendous battles, the Americans and the British were united against the evils that threatened our civilization. On this continent, Canada led those fights. We were there first.
I remember even Hollywood, which is sometimes awfully parochial, recognized this a few years ago. I think it was back in the 1980s when I saw a Sylvester Stallone movie where he played an American POW who was involved in liberating various allied POWs in France. This was in the early part of the war, so how was an American POW there? He was there because he had enlisted in the Canadian army when the Americans were still involved in a debate about whether they should or should not participate.
The Americans learned, I think partly from us as well as from other events, the error of isolationism. They learned that they could not sit smugly on the sidelines avoiding difficult moral choices that their friends had to make in a troubled world.
Let us pledge today that when America and Britain in the future make these choices we will never again allow ourselves to be isolated from them.
The other source of anti-Americanism, I believe, is more psychological. The fact is that we are different and our differences sometimes have irritated and, yes, sometimes even frightened others. When we go to the United States, even as English speaking Canadians, as much as many of us love the United States, have friends, acquaintances and even close relations there, we know Americans are different. We know Americans can sometimes be, if I can be honest, loud, boastful, aggressive, maybe overbearing and certainly overwhelming, but we also know they have hearts as big as this planet.
What other great power has ever rebuilt the enemies it has defeated? Even with the trade difficulties we have, what other great and huge country throws open its market in a way similar to what the United States does? What other dominant force has ever so clearly stood for the hopes, the dreams and the common good of ordinary people everywhere?
However if the Americans can occasionally be overbearing and overwhelming, we in this country, if we want to be frank, can sometimes be a little underwhelming.
Let me frank about this, in reference to something my office has prepared. This multiple page document is a litany of anti-American comments emanating from government benches in only the past few weeks and only over this particular conflict. I could add much more outside of that context. This litany of insults and outrageous abuse of our American friends contains quotes that range from the incredibly stupid to the truly vile. That is the only way I can put it. This is not a testament to our independence. It is a testament to a streak of immaturity and irresponsibility that this party does not share and will never embrace.
Let me be clear and let us all be clear on all sides of the House, because I know there are Liberals of goodwill in this, these kinds of quotes do not in any way diminish the United States of America. They diminish only us.
We are lucky to have the Americans as our neighbour, our ally and friend. To have had this relationship for so long makes us greater in the world, not weaker and lesser in the world. I suspect that there was not one nation represented at Stornoway last night, and, frankly, very few nations in the world, that do not envy our proximity to the United States in so many ways. It is not something fundamental for us to guard against. It is our biggest asset in this very dangerous world.
I urge the House to get behind this motion, to get behind our relationships, to get behind our friends, to get behind our allies and, needless to say, to get behind our own troops in this conflict and in the rebuilding that will occur.
God bless America. God save the Queen. The maple leaf forever.
Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC
Mr. Speaker, it is both a privilege and a pleasure for me to join in the debate today. As always, I am grateful for the opportunity.
At the outset of my remarks I will repeat the motion so it will be clear to everyone who is watching this debate unfold today in the House of Commons. The Leader of the Opposition brought the motion forward today which states:
That the House of Commons express its regret and apologize for offensive and inappropriate statements made against the United States of America by certain Members of this House; that it reaffirm the United States to be Canada's closest friend and ally and; hope that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power; and that the House urge the Government of Canada to assist the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq.
This is the second opportunity I have had to address this very important global issue.
Ever since the commencement of military action of coalition forces in Iraq, Canadians have become increasingly emotional and entrenched in their respective positions in either support or opposition to the war. Around the globe and even right here on Parliament Hill, people have gathered to express their views on this matter. Last Saturday marked the most recent of any such gathering with about 5,000 people showing up on Parliament Hill, not to express their opposition to the war but their support for the coalition effort of Australia, Great Britain and the United States of America. Many of these people expressed their profound disappointment in their government for, first, its wavering position on Iraq and, second, its opposition to removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power.
From the very beginning, the Canadian Alliance has been very clear in enunciating our support for the coalition effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power, something we have not seen from the government. We have taken this position for mainly two reasons: first, it is simply the right thing to do; and second, because we believe in supporting our traditional allies in global conflicts.
There are those who say that the choice we have as a nation is between war and peace. They say that the choice is to stand with those nations that wage war or with those that believe peace can be achieved by endless dialogue with Saddam Hussein, in other words, extending the existing dialogue we have had beyond the 12 years. I say the choice is between right and wrong.
There is only one way to end the rape, torture and rampant executions of the Iraqi people. There is only one way to free the Iraqi people. There is only one way to ensure lasting peace and make basic human rights a part of everyday life in Iraq. The only way is to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein permanently.
The Kurds, Shiites and Iraqis who have been longing for freedom found out in 1991 what happens to those who dare oppose Saddam. Thousands were tortured and murdered. Saddam is responsible for an estimated one million brutal deaths during his 25 year reign of terror. Let us not forget the 5,000 Kurdish men, women and children who were gassed because they dared to stand up against Saddam. He uses food as a weapon against his own people to punish those who oppose him. Just this week Saddam commanded his army to open fire on their own citizens who were trying to flee the city of Basra.
While the coalition is doing everything possible to prevent deaths of innocent civilians, Saddam Hussein's regime uses women and children as human shields. This is the reality the Iraqi people live through every day.
The world cannot allow another massacre. We should not and cannot remain neutral while thousands more perish at the hands of this tyrant and his brutal regime. We know that in the past he has used chemical weapons and he still threatens to use them at the same time as he denies owning them.
There is a price for peace and Canadians know this. There is a cost for freedom. We need only look back to our efforts at Vimy Ridge in World War I and Dieppe and Ortona in World War II as examples. Our brave Canadian soldiers fought hard during those battles, proudly earning Canada a rightful place in history defending peace and freedom.
Yet today we find ourselves in a situation where millions of Iraqis are in need of help and all diplomatic avenues are exhausted. Our traditional allies, Australia, Great Britain and the United States, have taken the next step by forming a coalition to remove the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein by force. Where is Canada during all of this? Nowhere. Not only is Canada not participating in the coalition effort, we are not even on the sidelines standing with our traditional allies encouraging them with our support for their cause.
Last Friday the United States Ambassador to Canada, Mr. Paul Cellucci, was in my riding of Prince George—Peace River to deliver a speech in my hometown of Fort St. John. After his remarks, he reiterated sentiments on Canada's position on the war that he had raised earlier in the week in Toronto. He said, “Canada is family and nothing is ever going to change that; people do pay attention to what leaders here in Canada say. We thought Canada would be there for its neighbour, particularly when we see this as a direct threat. On almost all of it, Canada is at our side, so it is a little disappointing on the war on Iraq that they are not”.
This quote followed an even clearer statement from the ambassador when he was in Toronto, “There is no threat to Canada that the United States would not be ready, willing and able to help with. There is no debate. There would be no hesitation. We would be there for Canada, part of our family”.
Never before have we let down one of our best friends in such a devastating manner. Not only are we not helping our friends, but we are not even giving them the support they need during a difficult time when they need us the most. It boggles the mind. I am sure almost every member of the House and many viewers who are watching at home today can relate to the hurt and betrayal they must be feeling, knowing that their friends were not there to support them when they needed them the most.
In addition to abandoning our friends and neighbours, the Liberal government across the way is adding insult to injury with uncalled for insults and derogatory remarks directed toward the United States and its president. Sadly these are not isolated incidents. They are symptoms of the out of control anti-American sentiment of the Liberal government. The disdain the government has for our American neighbours is thoroughly ingrained in its mentality. On a regular basis we see shocking examples of insults which can only hurt our important international relationship.
The Prime Minister's own press secretary had to submit her resignation after she called the President of the United States of America a moron. We can only hope she was not representing the views of her boss.
Within the Liberal backbenches the member for Mississauga Centre told reporters just outside the chamber, “Damn Americans, I hate those bastards”. Thankfully she retracted her statement, stating she did not mean to direct her comments to all Americans, perhaps just a couple of Americans she knows.
Last but not least, a member of cabinet was attacking the president for not being a statesman. The disdain the Liberal government holds for our neighbours to the south is, quite frankly, appalling.
Regardless of these hurtful sentiments, Canadians expect better from a federal government. They expect their government to represent the views of all Canadians, not just their own. If Liberal members truly hate Americans, I ask on behalf of Canadians that they keep those comments to themselves because they are hurting us as a nation.
As I begin to conclude my remarks I ask all members to support the motion before us today. The motion asks the House to do four simple things: one, express and apologize for the offensive remarks made toward our American friends; two, reaffirm our close friendship with the United States; three, wish a successful conclusion to the removal of Saddam Hussein from power; and four, urge the Government of Canada to assist with the reconstruction of Iraq.
I would think that even Liberals should be able to support those goals and this motion today.
Ken Epp Elk Island, AB
Mr. Speaker, I appreciated very much the speeches that were given by my colleague and by my leader earlier.
Mr. Speaker, you may have noticed that I hesitated a bit before I stood up. I wanted to give an opportunity to the Liberals opposite to stand and ask some questions and to express their views. It would be good if they were to engage in the debate instead of just sitting back. One of the most serious indictments in this whole situation is that the Prime Minister has not yet given a major speech on this issue. He is standing on the sidelines and we need leadership in this country.
I remember, and this is one of the disadvantages of being this old, when I was a youngster watching a movie, which was in black and white of course. The name of the movie is The Mouse That Roared . It is a classic. I recommend that everyone watch it.
The movie is about a little country that got into a lot of trouble so the people devised a strategy to solve their economic problems. They decided that they would attack the United States because it was known that after the little country lost, and it surely would, the United States would pour millions of dollars into the little country to rebuild and would restore it. That was their strategy.
Unfortunately, and this is what made the movie so funny, at every stage the little country was successful and it brought the Americans to their knees. It was really very funny. It was a comedy, so this is how it worked out. But the premise was that the Americans would help and this is their history.
I would like my colleague to comment on the fact that those who harbour ill feelings against our friends the Americans are totally wrong. Their whole history has been one of stepping into the breach, standing between tyrants and their victims, helping those who are in need.
Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC
Mr. Speaker, I certainly would agree with my hon. colleague from Elk Island. I would suggest that anyone who would do even a cursory examination of the history of the United States of America would have to agree with that.
One of the saddest things of the whole debate that is taking place not only in Canada but around the world right now is the incredible increase in anti-American feeling and comment. Regardless of what reason people attribute to the fact that the Americans are in Iraq right now, the world owes them a huge debt of gratitude. They have young men and women in their armed forces along with British and Australians who are there risking their lives. Sadly, there already has been quite a number and I do not know what the latest count is but I think it is rapidly approaching 100 young men and women who have perished on the coalition side in this conflict.
I cannot imagine being a family member of one of those young soldiers and hearing some of the horrible anti-American comments being made. Those that are coming from Canada, it shames me as a Canadian to have those attributed to our nation, to individuals. Certainly they do not represent the vast majority of Canadians. I would not believe that for a minute.
I did not have time during my remarks to say that I and the members of the Canadian Alliance hold those who harbour the opposite point of view from our own with a great deal of respect. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right of a democracy. The fact that our country is so divided on this issue speaks volumes for the fact that we are a democratic nation.
Personally, I respect and I would defend the rights of Canadians to feel that it is wrong for the coalition to be involved in the war on Iraq. That does not change my personal views or the views of my party. I would hope that every person who marches for peace, who believes very strongly that the coalition should not be there, would hold similar views; that we also have a right to be heard, that we have the same rights to freedom of speech, that we have the same rights to vigorously express our opinion that we should be standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies, with our friends. I hope that the debate is in that manner, not only today but for however long this war lasts and we all hope and pray it will be short.
John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
Mr. Speaker, may I begin by saying that I believe it is appropriate for parliamentarians once again to have the opportunity to express themselves on the events that we see unfolding daily in Iraq.
These are matters of profound importance that are of great concern to our fellow citizens. The conflict is painful to watch from afar for all of us, but it must be especially so for those who have family members in the region, either as ordinary inhabitants of Iraq or as members of the armed forces involved in conflict.
To those who are thus affected may I say on behalf of the government that our thoughts and our prayers are with you. We all hope for an early end to this conflict with as few casualties as possible.
It is extremely difficult for us to witness this conflict from afar. Imagine what those who have close relatives or members of their family in the region are going through, whether they are Iraqi citizens or members of the armed forces on the battleground.
To each and every one of those who are affected directly or indirectly, on behalf of the Government of Canada, let me reiterate that our thoughts and prayers are with you. We all hope for an early end to this conflict with as few casualties as possible.
Canada is not directly engaged in this conflict. We stood apart because we believe that it is the Security Council of the United Nations that ought to take the responsibility for authorizing the use of force in international conflict. This is consistent with decades of Canadian foreign policy and it is consistent with the charter of the United Nations. It is consistent with past practice, as long ago as the Korean war and as recently as the first gulf war.
It is for that reason that our diplomats worked in support of UN Security Council resolution 1441 authorizing an intrusive program of weapons inspections with a view to achieving the disarmament of Saddam Hussein's regime to the end of promoting peace in the region.
We share the frustration of the United States, the United Kingdom and others at the inadequate compliance by Iraq with resolution 1441 as evidenced by the testimony of Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector. It was our hope that by authorizing greater time for inspection, a broader consensus could emerge in the international community that the use of force was necessary.
Our principles have not changed. They are as strong today as they were when our diplomats were working tirelessly toward bringing a new resolution before the United Nations Security Council.
But events have unfolded very rapidly. There is a war going on as we speak.This is not the first time that, when either Canada or the U.S. is at war, we do not go to war at the same time. It happened between 1914 and 1917, and again between 1939 and 1941. The Vietnam war was another instance.
We have remained steadfast allies, partners in NATO and in Norad, sharing intelligence and co-operating in continental defence.
Let there be no mistake, however, as to the sympathies of Canadians and their government at this time. Our friends are at war. Our friends are putting their lives on the line for their beliefs. We watch the nightly news and we share every moment of grief felt by the families of both civilians and soldiers lost to this conflict. We are also outraged by the images of torture and exploitation of captured coalition soldiers, a direct violation by Iraq of the Geneva conventions.
I want it understood with absolute clarity that Canada stands with its friends, even if we cannot engage with them in this conflict. We mourn the losses of their sons and daughters in war. We pray with them for a swift end to the conflict and, yes, for a swift victory.
Our overarching goal to end terror and injustice so that a freer, more prosperous and more secure world can arise remains. We back that conviction with our soldiers in Afghanistan where hundreds of Canadians have fought with Americans and others to put an end to the Taliban and al-Qaeda since late 2001, where some of our young men have died and where Canada will return with a major troop deployment to play a key role in the international security assistance force this summer.
I also want to recognize with pride the 30 plus Canadian soldiers currently on exchange with the U.K. and U.S. armies, some of whom are known to be deployed in the Iraq theatre right now. We back our conviction with the Canadian ships that continue their mission in creating passages of safety in the Arabian Gulf for all who legitimately pass through there, including U.S. ships. The Canadian navy continues to provide the command and control for the anti-terrorism coalition vessels in that area, as well as undertaking a vital interdiction role, stopping traffickers and smugglers from moving their illicit drugs and other goods out of the region.
We back our conviction with our commitment to humanitarian assistance for the Iraqi people and our intention to play a role together with the United States and others in Iraq's reconstruction when the war is over and Saddam is gone.
We back our conviction by maintaining a global commitment to development and to human rights, the most important tools of freedom that exist. However we also have to back that conviction by staying united. I can think of nothing to give our enemies greater comfort than watching friends tearing at each other.
I do not want to hear another story about people booing each other's national anthems at sporting events. I do not want to hear about Canadians and Americans cancelling business transactions. I do not want to hear voices of disrespect at any level, and I have said so in Canada many times.
I want us to get serious, Canadians and Americans alike, and remember what we are about, about all that we have achieved in partnership and all that we still need to do together. We have a large global agenda to get on with. We have work to do in so many areas through whatever means our respective countries are best equipped to offer. There are peace and security issues, reconstruction, humanitarian crises, global development, anti-poverty, health agendas.
The Alliance resolution today makes reference to certain statements made outside this chamber by some of its members. May I say that it is regrettable that at a time of conflict disrespect may have been shown for the people, the President or the government of the United States.
Let us remember, however, that members of the House have every right to express their views in a responsible fashion on the policies and actions of this government or of any other government in the world, whether that be Iraq, the United States or another. We live in a democracy in which freedom of speech is one of its most fundamental characteristics. This is surely one of the objectives that coalition forces are fighting to bring about in Iraq.
However it has always been my belief that it was possible to be critical of the policies of another government on the basis of principle without personalizing that criticism while demonstrating respect.
While the war is underway and while young men and women are offering themselves in service of their countries for a cause that they believe in, it is not the time for us to revisit the reasons for the conflict or to offer critical commentary.
There should be no mistaking the sympathy that we have for the ultimate success of the coalition forces. Saddam Hussein should take no comfort for his own brutal regime in the principles that we have espoused at the United Nations. It is time now for Canada and for Canadians to face the future squarely and to begin assuming the responsibility that we have for constructing a better and safer world.
Of course the security of North America must be of primary concern and we must strive to reassure our neighbours on this continent of our full commitment to North American security. I will reiterate this commitment in my meetings in Washington this coming Monday with Secretary Ridge.
We reaffirm our support and commitment to international institutions upon which world peace and security depend.
Canada firmly believes in the essential role the United Nations must play in the aftermath of this conflict as well as in the resolution of any other conflict.
Canada remains steadfastly committed to providing humanitarian assistance now and in the future, and to supporting the reconstruction process in Iraq once the conflict is over.
We reaffirm equally our commitment to our NATO allies and to the community of nations who have joined with us, the United States and others, in the global war on terrorism. Canadian foreign policy has a proud history of engagements in and support for multilateral institutions. These were in many case developed in the period following World War II and proved invaluable in maintaining peace and stability, at least among major powers, during the decades of the cold war.
In this post-cold war era our government believes that international consensus and the resulting legitimacy that flows therefrom is perhaps even more important. Why? We were shocked and profoundly affected by the events of September 11, 2001. Canadians were and are wholeheartedly supportive of the war against terrorism.
In a world in which the United States has emerged as the sole superpower, it is inevitable that it must bear a disproportionate burden in world affairs. It is thus in the interests, not only of the global community but of the United States itself, if the U.S. is not to be increasingly the target of the militant and disaffected everywhere, that multilateral institutions remain strong and proactive and that international consensus be the foundation of legitimacy when decisive action must be taken.
If Canada is to be the true friend and ally of the United States that we surely are then we must remain true to these principles. It is not by blindly following but by constructively supporting that we can be of the greatest assistance to the United States.
We can be reminded of the words of one of Canada's greatest diplomats, Nobel Peace Prize winner and prime minister, Lester B. Pearson who said:
One principle of our relationship with the United States is that we should exhibit a sympathetic understanding of the heavy burden of international responsibility borne by the United States--not of our own imperial choosing but caused in part by the unavoidable withdrawal of other states from certain of these responsibilities.
Above all, as American difficulties increase, we should resist the temptation to become smug and superior: “You are bigger but we are better”. Our own experience, as we wrestle with our own problems, gives us no grounds for any such convictions.
It is to be reminded that Mr. Pearson was the Prime Minister of Canada during the beginning of the Vietnam war.
My colleague, the leader of the government, will soon table a motion in the House that clearly defines the government's position. That motion will read as follows:
That this House reaffirms:
The substantial sense of the House, voted on March 20, 2003, in support of the government's decision not to participate in the military intervention in Iraq;
The unbreakable bonds of values, family, friendship and mutual respect that will always characterize Canada's relationship with the United States and the United Kingdom;
Our pride in the work of the members of the Canadian Forces who are deployed in the Persian Gulf region;
Our hope that the U.S.-led coalition accomplishes its mission as quickly as possible, with the fewest casualties; and
The commitment of Canada to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq.
Rob Anders Calgary West, AB
Mr. Speaker, I heard the member's speech, and I guess I am looking for an explanation.
The abuse of our friends in the United States by many of his colleagues over the last while has, and I think many Canadians would agree, been highly irresponsible.
If the Americans were to implement the visa system they have with many of the other countries in the world, which we do not have with regard to crossing its border, it would literally shut down probably a third or half of the Canadian economy. Therefore to tempt those types of things is highly irresponsible.
I also think back to the member's comments that he made with regard to the hypocrisy of going to the bathroom when somebody received the cheque. I think of Canada not standing by our allies and instead going to the bathroom when the cheque comes in this circumstance. What does the member think about Canada's situation now?
I also cannot help but think of the flip-flop when the government and this member said that our troops would stay out, but actually they are in. Even in his speech today he talked about the United Nations and wanting to ensure that we got UN approval. Yet that was not the case in Kosovo or Afghanistan. How can I trust that is actually what he seeks when in the two other situations he did not? There seems to be a contradiction.
I also cannot help but feel there is a sense of denial on behalf of the government when it has troops deployed in Iraq and has in a sense tried to hopefully hide that situation. I cannot help feeling let down over that.
Canada has sat on the sidelines in this whole thing while 50 countries are involved. If memory serves me correctly, I think there were just over 30 countries went in to liberate Kuwait. There is a larger coalition now than there was then but Canada this time is trying to keep itself outside.
There is a profound let down when the government claims that it stands for human rights, yet we have seen it let down the Kurdish population, the Shiites, women in Iraq and so on. Always keep in mind the problems that were in Kuwait with regard to organized rapes and systemic rapes. Will the government apologize for the insults against our allies and our neighbours, the United States?
John Manley Ottawa South, ON
Mr. Speaker, there is a jumble of various things mentioned. As far as I can tell, the one thing that really is of substance and which perhaps bears some response is the question of allied forces, particularly under the authority of NATO, having intervened in Kosovo admittedly without the strength of a UN Security Council Resolution.
If the hon. member takes the time to review my remarks, he will see is that we have viewed the UN Security Council as a very effective vehicle for delivering evidence of an international consensus. It is the broader international consensus that is needed to increase legitimacy of the use of force.
The action in Kosovo was based finally on a NATO decision not to change a regime in that case or even in fact to disarm a regime, but on the burden of the duty to protect Kosovars who were victims, as the world community saw it at that time, of genocide on the part of the Serbian leadership. It did not result in a change of regime. That in fact happened under democratic processes subsequent to the intervention.
Therefore the point I would leave with the hon. member is that the use of force and military action should always be seen as something that is very unusual. It is not to be condoned without broad international consensus. Ideally that should be consistent with the charter of the United Nations expressed by the UN Security Council.
However if there needs to be force used, the broadest possible basis of international consensus is what should be sought. That is in the interest not only of what we might call the victims of the action but also of those who are taking the action, so they can stand on the basis of precedent and international support in taking the action that they choose to take.
Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB
Mr. Speaker, it is great to be able to put a question to the Deputy Prime Minister on this topic. In all fairness, we would have to say that some of the rhetoric and condescending language that came from not only cabinet ministers but backbench members of the Liberal Party and staff members of the Prime Minister have taken a toll.
My question to the Deputy Prime Minister is simply this: Can we move beyond that and how do we do it? Does he see some possibilities, in this difficult period for the United States and the world, to repair some of that damage which we feel has been done?
John Manley Ottawa South, ON
Mr. Speaker, I do not think I have been ambiguous about the fact that I share the regret and the distaste for some of the remarks that have been made. At this point, given that most if not all of the people who have made those remarks have sought to apologize, the best thing we can do is stop repeating them. That would be a good start.
Moving on, it is important that we reaffirm the continuing and ongoing agenda, as I mentioned in my speech, that we have with the United States. In my most recent conversations with Secretary Ridge, we have been quite capable to reaffirm the work that we want to continue to do and to build on the cooperation that we have.
As I also said in my speech, we can be of greatest assistance to the Americans by constructively supporting them, not simply blindly following them. The opportunity to offer that constructive support in the aftermath of this conflict will be evident and it will be a burden that we must bear.
Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON
Mr. Speaker, I was interested to hear the Deputy Prime Minister speak with words of non-participation in the war in Iraq, and then also listen to him quote former Prime Minister Pearson.
The reality is that we are participating. We are participating because the government is allowing our troops, sailors and airmen to be involved. Doing it in a fashion that is unsafe for our troops is simply not fair to them and not fair to the Canadian people either. If we have taken a position based upon our principles of multilateralism and support for the UN that we are not going to be involved, then we must pursue that.
When former Prime Minister Pearson had the opportunity to be involved in a similar situation regarding the Vietnam war, he did not allow any of our troops to participate. I want to ask the Deputy Prime Minister, is that not a precedent that the government should be following?
John Manley Ottawa South, ON
Mr. Speaker, this is a serious question and not an easy one to answer.
Let me say there are principles that can coexist but are not mutually exclusive. One of the principles that is involved here is that we share a close degree of cooperation between Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and some other countries in terms of military cooperation. We are allies in NATO. The practice of having exchanges among officers is one that is well established. In this circumstance, while our troops are not there under the Canadian flag, clearly for certain principles which I have explained, some are there in fulfillment of exchange obligations.
They are involved in a conflict which we felt could have been resolved differently in the sense that a greater level of international consensus could have been achieved if more time had been allowed. We worked very hard at that. However, we share the ultimate objective of disarming the Saddam Hussein regime.
Therefore, the principle that they should fulfill their duties in accordance with their obligations to allied forces is a principle that can be respected at the same time. They do not necessarily become mutually exclusive principles.
Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC
Mr. Speaker, I have a brief question for the Deputy Prime Minister. I appreciated and agreed with many of his comments.
I would like to know whether he will support the motion or not? He has mentioned the idea of tabling another motion today. He knows that will be out of order. We will be voting on the motion that is before the House as a business of supply. It is important for Canadians to know and they will eventually see in the vote whether the government will support these four simple but profound principles that are in the motion. I would like him to address that and that alone will set the debate for the day.
John Manley Ottawa South, ON
Mr. Speaker, I outlined the foundation for a resolution which I would hope that both sides of the House could support. The hon. member will know that if his party refuses to adopt a motion that we can all support, it is still open to the government to table a motion at any time, which is what we would do.
It is my hope that at this time we could put aside the partisanship at least for a day and agree on a common motion that we would all be able to support.
Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like the Speaker to pay particular attention to Standing Order 81(2) which states:
On any day or days appointed for the consideration of any business under the provisions of this Standing Order [which is the business of supply], that order of business shall have precedence over all other government business in such sitting or sittings.
Any effort to supplant today's supply day motion with another motion would be out of order throughout the day. I encourage the government House leader and the Deputy Prime Minister to keep that in mind as we debate this important issue.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
In his speech, the Deputy Prime Minister indicated, in so many words, that there would be the possibility of tabling another motion at some other point in time. He was not precise in saying that it would be today. Therefore, I am inviting the hon. member or his House leader to check with the government House leader as to what the intentions would be.