House of Commons Hansard #145 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was project.

Topics

United Nations Security Council Resolution Concerning Libya
Government Orders

7:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Chair, I want to thank the member for Ottawa Centre and the member for St. John's East for their involvement on this issue. I think they have improved the resolution a lot. The fact of the matter is that UN resolution 1973 is actually precisely what we needed in this situation, and I do, by the way, like the parliamentary oversight and the parliamentary approval aspects of our particular resolution here in the House.

However, I am concerned about how long our commitment is for the fighters that we have sent over right now. Do we have an option in our resolution that is before the House right now of getting ourselves out of it in a specified period of time, be it weeks or months?

How long of a notice period would we have to give our coalition partners to withdraw from the agreement?

I have asked the government member that particular question but did not really get a specific answer, and perhaps there is no a specific answer. I just thought I would ask the member if he knows that, and if he does not, whether he could pursue that question to see whether we could get some sort of a review period put into the agreement.

United Nations Security Council Resolution Concerning Libya
Government Orders

7:10 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Chair, many Canadians worry about that sort of thing when we get involved in a military mission abroad. We saw what happened in Afghanistan. There is a slippery slope aspect to many of these engagements. However, there is a provision that if the involvement of the Canadian Forces is anticipated to go beyond three months, we will return to the House at the earliest opportunity to debate and to seek the consent of the House for such an extension. That is implicit in the resolution that we are dealing with later on this evening, and I think we will certainly get some comfort from that.

I believe in terms of the success of the operation of the no-fly zone, there has been success to date, and that has changed the situation on the ground. I do not know how long this is going to take, but I think we are all worried about mission creep. However, the resolution is very specific and if there is anything beyond three months, it will be back to Parliament, as I understand it.

United Nations Security Council Resolution Concerning Libya
Government Orders

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Chair, I rise to speak both as the member for Mount Royal and as the opposition critic for human rights. My constituents in my constituency of Mount Royal have watched with great hope and anticipation the march for freedom in Egypt and Tunisia. At the same time they have been watching with increased apprehension and concern that which has been unfolding in Libya.

One month ago I wrote an op-ed in the National Post on the urgent need for the responsibility to protect or the responsibility to protect as it was unfolding with regard to the developing carnage in Libya at the time. At the time I wrote: “The threats and assaults on civilians in Libya continue to escalate. Moammar Gadhafi vows to exterminate the 'greasy rats' of civilians, who 'deserve to die'”.

The news media reported at the time, and I wrote in the article: “--clusters of heavily armed men in Tripoli carrying out orders to kill Libyans that other police and military units, and jet fighter pilots, have refused”.

I said, in particular: “Opposition parties in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco speak of the 'genuine industry of extermination that has been unleashed. We must stand up to it…and do everything to stop this massacre'...reflecting the horror that resulted in Gadhafi’s own Ministers of Justice and of the Interior resigning, and diplomats vacating their posts”. These individuals included the deputy ambassador to the United Nations at the time.

I went on to say in the article: “U.S. President Obama — breaking a 10-day silence on the Libyan crisis — characterized the Libyan government’s assaults on its own people as 'outrageous… and unacceptable,' echoing similar language by Prime Minister Stephen Harper [and Leader of the Opposition Michael Ignatieff]. The European Union, the governments of the United Kingdom, France and Italy, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon had also condemned these attacks”.

United Nations Security Council Resolution Concerning Libya
Government Orders

7:10 p.m.

The Assistant Deputy Chair

No names.

United Nations Security Council Resolution Concerning Libya
Government Orders

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Sorry, Mr. Chair.

Yet, interestingly enough, not one of the governmental leaders invoked the responsibility to protect doctrine at the time, where in a landmark declaration five years ago, the UN Security Council authorized international collective action “to protect [a state's] population from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity” if that state is unable or unwilling to protect its own citizens, or worse, as in the case of Libya, if that state is the author of such criminality.

As I wrote on February 26 in the National Post:

Accordingly, Canada as an original architect of the R2P Doctrine, should join the international community in undertaking the following action:

I set forth then a 10-point action plan which would include the following:

--UN condemnation of Libya’s widespread and systematic human rights violations...constitutive of crimes against humanity and warranting international intervention under the R2P Doctrine.

Putting Libyan authorities on notice that they will be held accountable for these criminal violations of human rights — including criminal prosecution--

Calling on the Libyan authorities to cease and desist from the blocking of access to the internet and all telecommunications networks--

Calling on NATO to establish a no-fly zone to put an end to the bombing of civilians.

Supporting selective sanctions targeting Libya’s petroleum sector, while implementing travel bans, asset freezes, and visa denials, of Libyan leaders.

Putting a complete arms embargo in place.

Suspending Libya from the UN Human Rights Council, a move I have been advocating for some time.

The article concluded as follows:

Strong condemnation — without effective action by the international community — would be a betrayal of the Libyan people and a repudiation of the R2P Doctrine. It is our responsibility to ensure this Doctrine is not yet another exercise in empty rhetoric, but an effective resolve to protect people and human rights.

Shortly thereafter, in response to Moammar Gadhafi's continued assault on civilians in Libya, the United Nations Security Council adopted its unanimous and historic resolution 1973 in an unusual Saturday night session on February 26. It imposed an arms embargo on Libya, targeted financial sanctions, and travel bans against Gadhafi, his family members and senior regime officials, and referred the situation to the International Criminal Court for investigation and potential prosecution.

Canada then followed with its own sanctions regime pursuant to the Special Economic Measures Act, which was supported, as well, by all parties. In particular, in its statement condemning the violence, the UN Security Council, in its resolution 1970, at the time, included express reference to Libya's responsibility to protect its own citizens from mass atrocities, marking the first time it had been explicitly invoked by the UN Security Council regarding the situation of mass atrocities in a specific country.

Several days later, on February 28, I co-authored a piece, Libya and the responsibility to protect, with Jared Genser, a brilliant lawyer in the United States, with whom I am now co-editing a book on mass atrocity and the responsibility to protect to the effect that while UN Security Council resolution 1970 was indeed a major step forward, much more needed to be done.

In particular, we advocated that, given the continuing carnage at the time, and this is at the end of February, the Security Council should adopt a new resolution extending recognition to the nation's provisional government of a country authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya to preclude the bombing of civilians and permitting UN members to provide direct support to the provisional government.

We concluded that as UN Security Council Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon put it, “loss of time means more loss of lives”, that the Security Council must do more, that it was our collective responsibility to ensure that R to P was an effective approach to protect people and human rights.

Following the publication of that article on February 28, the situation continued to deteriorate. Gadhafi escalated his attacks on civilians, both in the air and through mobile columns equipped with heavy weapons on the ground. His forces captured key cities, such as Ras Lanuf and Zawiya and were marching toward Benghazi, all the while killing civilians in their wake and threatening to show no mercy, destroying all who would oppose him.

Accordingly, in interviews and talks last week, I reiterated once again the urgency of establishing a no-fly zone, now supported, importantly and symbolically, by the Arab League, by the league of Islamic states and others. I called for a no-drive zone, as recommended by Professor Zelikow and others to interdict Gadhafi's mobile columns on the ground. I called again for meetings with, if not in recognition of, the provisional Libyan national council, and in particular support for the training and provision of arms support for the rebels so as to level the military encounters. I reiterated the need for enhanced humanitarian and medical assistance to Libyan civilians, as well as once again warning Libyan leaders that they would be tried for their war crimes and crimes against humanity, while encouraging further defections and desertions from Libyan military and political leadership.

Finally and belatedly, amidst the anguished appeals, as we recall them, late last week from Benghazi and elsewhere by Libyan rebels and civilians for urgent action and assistance, the UN Security Council adopted its resolution 1973 on March 17, authorizing international military action against the Libyan government, including a no-fly zone to protect the Libyan people, while tightening economic and financial sanctions along with calls for a cease fire, diplomatic initiatives and movements toward self-determination for the Libyan people.

At this point, the international action authorized by the UN Security Council appears to be working. The no-fly zone has not only been established but enforced. A no-drive zone has effectively been implemented. Rebel forces on the cusp of desperation days ago now appear exhilarated and emboldened by the United Nations response. The international action is not a unilateral one by the United States or one in the absence of UN Security Council resolution, but has been undertaken pursuant to two UN Security Council resolutions, the first invoking, importantly, the R to P doctrine, together with targeted sanctions, and the second a no-fly zone and accompanying initiatives.

United Nations Security Council Resolution Concerning Libya
Government Orders

7:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Chair, I have a comment. I want to commend the member on an excellent speech.

United Nations Security Council Resolution Concerning Libya
Government Orders

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Chair, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his remarks and for allowing me to conclude those remarks that time did not permit. I hope he still feels the same way after I make these concluding remarks.

The situation in Libya is a test case of our commitment to the R to P doctrine and of our responsibility to protect the Libyan people. I am pleased to join colleagues from all parties here this evening in support of both UN Security Council resolutions, in support of the multilateral character of that support that has been engendered, be it from the Arab League, or the European Union, or the African Union in supporting our Canadian troops that are now being engaged abroad and, in particular, in supporting the Libyan people and their right and ability to choose their course and future freely.

United Nations Security Council Resolution Concerning Libya
Government Orders

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Chair, I the intervention of the hon. member was excellent. He had one line regarding the more time that went by, the more lives that would be lost. This is an inevitable result in Libya, particularly considering the character of Mr. Gadhafi.

Could the member indicate whether the United Nations first move is a full chess game, in its actions so far under resolution 1973. That is because we have seen this before. I think there are some parallels with the Iraq situation and Saddam Hussein. In fact, the only way to have dealt with that situation was to get the head of the snake. Could the member indicate whether this has the elements that may very well indicate that this is the first step of a much bigger forum?

United Nations Security Council Resolution Concerning Libya
Government Orders

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Chair, this has been an historic moment because we have had two UN Security Council resolutions. I might add that the first, UN Security Council resolution 1970 at the end of February, was adopted more quickly with more specificity than any other UN Security Council resolution to date, with its express invocation of the responsibility to protect doctrine at the time and its imposition of a sanctions regime and calling on Gadhafi and those with him to cease and desist from their atrocities. Also, what was of particular of importance was the express invocation of the R to P doctrine. We had not had that before. We have it now in UN Security Council resolution 1970. There was some implication of this in Kenya, but never in the manner in which it was done now.

Specifically, UN Security Council resolution 1973 has now authorized all necessary measures with respect to the protection of the Libyan people with specific reference to the implementation of a no-fly zone. As events unfold, I believe we may see the need for another UN Security Council resolution, as events become clearer on the ground, one that would be in support of the political development in Libya in terms of our debate here in Parliament and the manner in which we can come together again.

I would hope, in particular, that the multilateral character of this intervention continues, as one that has been authorized by the UN Security Council, one that has been supported from the European Union to the Arab League and the African Union, one that has Canada joining together with the international community in that regard and one that is moving towards two things: the invocation of the responsibility to protect doctrine to protect civilians; and our protection, in particular, of the civilians on the ground.

United Nations Security Council Resolution Concerning Libya
Government Orders

7:25 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora
Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Chair, I am pleased to participate in this debate. I do not think any Canadian in the country or any of us in the chamber can look at what is going on in North Africa, particularly in Libya, and not be moved with great compassion for the people who we know are in very desperate straits and suffering so much from what the regime has been doing.

I am very pleased to say that Canada has taken its responsibility, along with the United Nations, and decided that it is going to participate and provide protection for the citizens of Libya and ensure that they have the opportunity to seek freedom. If there is one thing that Canadian citizens have and share, it is our great respect for freedom, democracy and rule of law. Given what has happened in North Africa over the last number of months, every one of us has been moved by the situation.

I was interested to hear the earlier discussion about the right to protect. I know that the right to protect is a norm, a set of principles based on the idea that sovereignty is not a privilege but a responsibility. There was some discussion about whether Canada was going to use that term, but I want to read into the record what the responsibility to protect is all about. It can be thought of as having three parts.

First, a state has a responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

Second, if the state is unable to protect its population on its own, the international community has a responsibility to assist the state by building its capacity. This can mean building early-warning capabilities, mediating conflicts between political parties, strengthening the security sector, mobilizing standby forces, and many other actions.

Third, if a state is manifestly failing to protect its citizens from mass atrocities and peaceful measures are not working, the international community has the responsibility to intervene at first diplomatically, then more coercively, and as a last resort, with military force.

Canada has decided to participate in the no-fly zone over Libya and we are working with our allied forces there. Currently we have airplanes in Italy that are going to participate in the no-fly zone. We want to see protection given to the citizens of Libya.

What we have done, most importantly, is that we have assumed our great responsibility as Canadians to provide humanitarian assistance. We have made sure that food is going to Libya to help the Libyan people who are so in need of these resources they need. There are also resources going there to ensure that the people and the places they live are secure.

As we move forward on this and work with our allies, we are very proud that our forces are there. Our young men and women have decided they are going to undertake this mission on behalf of the Canadian people and provide Libyans the security they need, to see that democracy is established, which is our long-term hope for that country, and that the people there are able to have the same kinds of benefits that we have in Canada.

United Nations Security Council Resolution Concerning Libya
Government Orders

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Assistant Deputy Chair Barry Devolin

It being 7:32 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 53.1, the committee will rise and I will leave the chair.

(Government Business No. 12 reported)

Libya
Points of Order
Government Orders

March 21st, 2011 / 7:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

I first want to thank all members of the House for that thoughtful debate.

I appreciate all the interventions that were made about this very important matter.

Pursuant to the motion adopted earlier today after question period, there have been discussions among the parties and I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, in standing in solidarity with those seeking freedom in Libya, the House welcomes United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973; that the House deplores the ongoing use of violence by the Libyan regime against the Libyan people; acknowledges the demonstrable need, regional support and clear legal basis for urgent action to protect the people of Libya; consequently, the government shall work with our allies, partners and the United Nations to promote and support all aspects of UNSC Resolution 1973, which includes the taking of all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya and to enforce the no-fly zone, including the use of the Canadian Forces and military assets in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1973; that the House requests that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Standing Committee on National Defence remain seized of Canada's activities under UNSC Resolution 1973; that should the government require an extension to the involvement of the Canadian Forces for more than three months from the passage of this motion, the government shall return to the House at its earliest opportunity to debate and seek the consent of the House for such an extension; and that the House offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of the Canadian Forces.

Libya
Points of Order
Government Orders

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Does the hon. minister have unanimous consent to move the motion?

Libya
Points of Order
Government Orders

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Libya
Points of Order
Government Orders

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?