House of Commons Hansard #8 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mission.

Topics

Libya
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor for his comments. I had the good opportunity to be in his riding last summer. If anyone ever gets a chance to be there, they should definitely take it.

As I think about that, I am reminded of the freedoms we have in Canada and what the people in Libya are trying to achieve with a regime change and the atrocities they are facing.

My colleague always has good thoughts and opinions. I would appreciate his thoughts on how Canada might assist not only in humanitarian but democratic reform, particularly around human rights.

Libya
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his kind remarks.

I remember when we travelled together to the Council of Europe and saw debates engaged by democracies that were not at the level that we are. They lacked a majority. I am sure he also recalls some of the debates between nations such as Georgia and Russia, and just how tumultuous they were. No comparison to the good democracy that we have here.

The human rights aspect is key because, as I can only hope that this mission will see the end of the Gadhafi regime, then we will see the capacity-building that he speaks of to bring those human rights to the most vulnerable of that particular society.

Libya
Government Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am going to continue in the same vein as the hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, who wondered how we will continue to help the people of Libya after the conflict. I would also like to know how we can continue to develop and encourage good governance, diplomacy and democracy in certain countries that may have been forgotten but are going through very difficult times, even though they have fallen off the radar screen.

Libya
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague and welcome her to the House of Commons. I thank her because I want to bring up a situation that I had the experience of seeing first-hand when I visited Israel and took a trip to the West Bank and went to Ramallah. At the time, one of the programs being talked about in the West Bank was one that was reliant on two nations in particular, the United States as well as Canada, to help strengthen its system to provide powers for its judicial branch of governance as well as other matters involving police security. What that illustrated was that there is one piece of governance that we do extremely well in and that we have the opportunity to bring that to other countries by telling them about our experiences. It is a piecemeal way of building capacity within nations.

Other nations have their strengths. France and even the U.K. could also help out with the local security issues that they deal with very well. As nations talking amongst each other at the United Nations we were able to find out that this nation can provide this, that nation can provide that. Therefore, we should get together to provide what we see as a far better Libya after this debate as opposed to before this debate.

Libya
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-François Fortin Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say first that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Since this is my first speech in the House, I would like to thank, as members usually do, the people in my riding for choosing me as their member. I would also, of course, like to thank my friends, my family, my mother and father, my wife, Chloé, and my whole campaign team.

As the Bloc critic for foreign affairs and defence, I am pleased to express my views to the House in a debate as important as this.

Last March 21, our party approved this mission for some very specific reasons.

I should say at the outset that the Bloc Québécois will once again support the mission. We think, though, that Canada should be very careful with its actual implementation in the field.

The Bloc Québécois bases its support for this military mission in Libya on certain principles. The mission is being carried out, it must be said, at the peril of the men and women who chose to join the armed forces in order to serve the values and interests of their country, and who do so very responsibly and with great courage.

The principles to which we subscribe and which should continue to guide Canada and the other UN members involved in this action to provide military support to the persecuted civilian population are as follows: first, the multilateral nature of the military intervention, organized and directed by the Security Council and the United Nations; second, the specific strategic means laid out in resolutions 1970 and 1973 and legitimately approved in a vote of the House of Commons; and finally the ultimate purpose of the military intervention, which is to protect the lives of Libyan civilians.

It is important to say that, in our view, the international community’s involvement in Libya stems from the doctrine of the responsibility to protect.

The doctrine of the responsibility to protect is based on three pillars: the primary responsibility of states to protect their own people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity; the responsibility of the international community to help a state discharge its duty to protect; and finally, in the case of particular concern here, the responsibility of the international community to take prompt, decisive action in accordance with the UN charter when a state manifestly fails in its duty to protect its people from one or more of these four major crimes.

In this spirit of democracy, our party would remind the House and the government that renewal of the Canadian mission in Libya, in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973, calls for the greatest political and military prudence.

We believe that at the end of this three-and-a-half-month extension, this mission and the operational framework for it will have to be debated much more fully. Among other things, the debate will have to allow for an assessment of actions on the ground, the financial costs of the mission and the results as they relate to the intended objectives.

Accordingly, the Bloc Québécois reminds the House that the sovereignty of Parliament is the guarantee of the sovereignty of all Canadians, through the representatives they have chosen. That is why the National Defence Act provides that Parliament must be convened to debate any military deployment abroad, and that is what we will have to do beyond that three and a half months, should that be the case.

The success of an effective intervention strategy in this case will depend on a combination of limited military interventions, that is, interventions that should be essential to protect civilians, in accordance with the United Nations resolution, and promotion of de-escalation of the conflict leading to a ceasefire and genuine political dialogue.

We contend that Canada must continue to absolutely condemn the immoral use of force and abuses of power against Libyan citizens attributed to the Gadhafi regime, and in particular, as highlighted by the motion we are currently debating, the intolerable and inhumane practice of rape as a weapon of war, which transforms human bodies into machines of war and takes away the most fundamental security of the person.

Canada must also continue to promote recognition of the sovereignty of the Libyan people in determining their political destiny. On that point, the recent developments in the news attest to the desire expressed by the International Criminal Court prosecutor for Colonel Gadhafi to be arrested by his fellow Libyans.

Canada and NATO should demonstrate support more openly for diplomatic initiatives intended to achieve a ceasefire as soon as possible and to initiate a genuine dialogue in support of the efforts of the United Nations special envoy, Abdul Ilah Mohamed Al-Khatib.

We also welcome the decision by the International Criminal Court prosecutor to investigate what appear to be crimes against humanity in Libya. The Bloc Québécois would also like to say that it stands with and express its concern for Quebeckers and Canadians of Libyan origin, who have been worried for some weeks now and must be even more worried today.

The Bloc Québécois therefore supports the government in extending Canada’s military mission in the Libyan conflict based on the principles of respect for human life, respect for human rights and freedoms, and the political sovereignty of the Libyan people in their struggle for civil liberties and a better life, which is not without suffering for them.

Obviously this is not a case of military intervention with the aim of taking away the right of the Libyan people to sovereign self-determination, by invading or partitioning the country. On the contrary, the aim of the mission is to protect the lives of people who are determined to change their political situation at all costs.

The sequence of violent events in Libya shows that the adoption of resolutions 1970 and 1973 by the United Nations Security Council was necessary. As a result, our party supports the measures taken by Canada to implement resolution 1970, which in essence authorizes member states to seize and dispose of Libyan military equipment, impose an embargo on the sale of arms in Libya, impose sanctions against individuals and freeze their assets, facilitate and support the return of NGOs and humanitarian agencies to Libya, create a committee to monitor the situation in Libya, and co-operate with the International Criminal Court in its desire to bring the members of the Gadhafi regime who are accused of crimes against humanity to justice.

The Bloc Québécois also supports the government in the measures put in place to enforce resolution 1973, and in particular those measures relating to strengthening the freeze on assets provided for in resolution 1970.

Our party offers its support to the Government of Canada on a number of fundamental aspects of this humanitarian military mission. However, we must state our reservations concerning the management of this operation and the financial costs incurred to date, as well as the costs that will be incurred over the coming months.

We call on the government to be more rigorous in its calculations so it is able to present Parliament with detailed cost estimates for carrying out this military campaign. The estimates done by defence experts who have spoken on this in the national media in recent days are completely contrary to the forecasts made by the Department of National Defence. Those experts say that the government is much too lax in calculating the costs of this military operation. How high might these costs go in reality? Right now, we do not know.

I would like to thank the members of the House for their attention. Rest assured that the Bloc Québécois is still here, although our numbers are fewer, and that we bring determination and rigour to our analyses, in order to defend democracy and human rights.

Libya
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on his election to the House.

As members are aware, our government is embarking on a three-pronged approach: the military involvement to stop the regime and to hold it accountable, the diplomatic efforts working with the National Transition Council to find a way forward for the Libyan people, and the humanitarian aid piece of the project.

Could the member comment on the announcement made earlier today by the Minister of International Cooperation regarding the assistance to the Red Cross and, in particular, the program to deal with gender-based violence?

Libya
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-François Fortin Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.

Of course, the government's support for increased humanitarian aid is important. Any additional humanitarian aid measures that can be put forward by this government will serve to improve conditions on the ground. Given the large number of refugees within the country's borders and the difficulty in providing supplies, the humanitarian aid that Canada can provide through organizations such as CIDA, the Canadian International Development Agency, will allow local organizations to provide care, food and everyday essentials.

Libya
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. member for Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia on his speech, which I paid close attention to. I should point out that I felt it was somewhat contradictory, in that the hon. member put a lot of emphasis on humanitarian aid and diplomacy, yet he is fully supporting the Conservative motion.

Does he not feel that this motion is like handing the government a blank cheque? Would it not be more prudent and more in keeping with the will of Quebeckers to go with the NDP's amendment?

Libya
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-François Fortin Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the clarification. First of all, the Bloc Québécois will support both the NDP motion and the Liberal amendment to the amendment, which will complete the government motion. To clarify, it is important to us—and my colleagues may have determined this from the approach presented—to set parameters for Canada's decision to continue its intervention in Libya.

Libya
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, we are here today for this review primarily because the government has made a decision to have the House involved in trying to gain unanimous support for going forward with what is taking place in Libya.

I would be interested to hear the Bloc's perspective on whether it feels this is a good way to continue to proceed and whether we should come back to this in September or October in an attempt to continue to have this type of unanimous support from the House of Commons in going forward for what is happening in Libya?

Libya
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-François Fortin Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is important for us to understand and to inform the House that when Parliament resumes in the fall, at the end of the three-and-a-half-month extension, the House will have to reflect on any further extension. We will have to have a much more complete analysis of this mission, in terms of the action taken, the costs and the results. We will require a complete analysis. I must point out that it is the House that must make any decision regarding the deployment of troops abroad. This fall, more information will have to be provided by the government so that we have a better analysis of the situation.

Libya
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise in this House today to discuss Canada's role in the responsibility to protect civilian life in Libya. The United Nations Security Council resolution 1973 gave us that mandate.

Here, I want to be clear that had I been present in this House when this place first voted to support the mission, I would have voted with all the members present and said, “Yes, Canada has that role”.

There is no greater obligation or moral responsibility falling to elected representatives in the course of any train of human events than the decision to send its fellow citizens into harm's way in a war zone and to risk their lives and the lives of others in pursuit of a cause in which it has been determined that only military action will suffice. In that sense, the Green Party acknowledges that there is such a thing as a just war, although the party, not just in Canada but also globally, subscribes as a fundamental principle to the pursuit of non-violence and peace.

In this context, the accepted international human rights norm of the responsibility to protect, which has been acknowledged since 2005, represents a new level of moral responsibility. Just as we might have said ages ago, “If someone beats their children, it's not our business” or “If a man beats his wife it's not our business, and we don't go into their house”, now we have an exception to those notions of national sovereignty and can say that we can intercede. Now can go into their house because we recognize that there is a wrong being conducted, that innocent lives are at risk and that we have a right to intervene under the responsibility to protect.

Why then do I fear that I must vote against this motion? We have seen what is now referred to as mission creep, an extension of the responsibility to protect within Libya to a goal of regime change.

In order to meet the goals of UN resolution 1973, our primary goal should be a ceasefire, negotiated solutions and diplomacy. However, when the African Union came forward with a proposal through South African President Zuma, its peace proposal was rejected. Now there may have been other flaws, and I accept that. However, the only peace proposal on the table that was accepted by the government of Gadhafi was rejected by key NATO partners, because we suddenly said that a precondition to any ceasefire must be the removal of Colonel Gadhafi.

I must be very clear here as well. I deeply desire the removal of Colonel Gadhafi, but not by military means in what appears to be a civil war in which Canada has taken sides. An immediate ceasefire is needed, yes. Protection of human life is required.

However, many of the things I have heard hon. members say in this House over the course of today could apply to other governments in whose countries we have not intervened. It is not enough to say, “We have not engaged in Syria, so we should not continue in Libya”. It is not enough to say, “We have rejected the calls of the United Nations for peacekeepers to help end the systematic rape of women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, so we mustn't continue in Libya”. I'm not saying that.

I am saying that other governments have their turned guns on their own peoples, whether in Myanmar or, as I prefer to call it, Burma, or in Syria or other places around the world, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where we are not engaged.

So when we do choose to engage, we must keep our eye on the mission. The mission is the protection of civilians.

My own experience of this is only generational. I can only speak of how I was raised by my father. My father grew up in London during the blitz and he shared with us something that I think we should all bear in mind when we decide to go to war. In his view, as he used to tell us when we watched bombs falling on North Vietnam, there is no greater way to strengthen the resolve of a civilian population than aerial bombardment. There is no greater way to solidify their resolve to detest those who drop the bombs than aerial bombardment.

We need to recognize that collateral damage is not just the lives of innocents that we inevitably lose in aerial bombardment. Collateral damage is damage to our very souls. Collateral damage damages our legitimacy. Collateral damage is something that, while inevitable in war, should be deeply avoided when our mission is to protect innocent lives and we are not a nation at war.

For these and many reasons, I depart from the very good and noble objectives that I recognize on all sides of this House. I recognize that the opposition parties have put forward amendments which essentially say “yes” to the government motion, but they say “yes, but”.

In my case, on behalf of the Green Party and my constituents of Saanich—Gulf Islands, I must say “no, but”. I see we have a role as peacekeepers. I believe passionately that we must return to our role as peacekeepers as a nation that is so well known around the world for peacekeeping. We have a role within NATO to be the nation that stands and says, enough of the aerial bombardment, now is the time to send in the diplomats. Let us work with colleagues who have some chance of reaching the illegitimate government of Mr. Gadhafi. Let us work with colleagues in the African Union, the Arab League and the United Nations, and be the country that says that we do not continue to give a blank cheque to a mission that has no exit strategy.

With that and with deepest respect to all members on this side of the House, the other side of this place, I thank them all for what I know are deeply felt and high motives in going forward in the mission of Libya, but they will go forward without my vote.

Libya
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering
Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as a former professional diplomat, I can assure the hon. member that now is not the time to send in the diplomats in the absence of military support and in the absence of military operations that are continuing.

However, in an effort to help the hon. member not become the outlier in this House on the vote later today, could I ask where she sees in the government motion, in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, in the objectives that are being pursued by NATO allies to protect civilians, to establish a no-fly zone, to enforce an arms embargo, where she sees in any of the positions taken by the government, or indeed the official opposition and the Liberal Party today, any intention to pursue regime change?

Libya
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I recognize that the parliamentary secretary has significant and quite impressive credentials in this area personally and I salute him for that.

However, there are numerous indications in statements made today before this House. Various members of the government party have said there can be no peace while Mr. Gadhafi is present, we cannot negotiate unless Mr. Gadhafi is removed.

This is a report from the BBC in which the former head of the British army, Lord Dannatt said:

The mission under UNHCR 1973 is quite clear, it's to protect people but of course the implied task, and let's be absolutely open and honest about it, is the removal of Colonel Gadhafi

We have heard similar things from other representatives from within the NATO mission, particularly the chief, the chair of the group within the contact group on Libya. In the Doha meeting U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague stated:

Participants remain united and firm in their resolve. Gadhafi and his regime have lost all legitimacy and he must leave power, allowing Libyan people to determine their own future.

There is ample evidence that the mission has shifted. In fact I mention to my hon. friend that if not for mission creep on the Libyan mission to protect civilians, we might not have lost the support of China and Russia in the United Nations to make a similar effort in Syria to protect lives there.

Libya
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Mississauga—Erindale
Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her comments. I am a little puzzled, though. In her remarks she mentioned that she was aware of some of the atrocities that have allegedly been going on in Libya, including the allegations of mass rapes which have been ordered, apparently, by the Gadhafi forces. These are the subject of a prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

I wonder if she could explain to this House how we can sit back and not protect the women of Libya by using our military under the UN resolution to protect the civilian population of Libya if we do not pass this resolution today and continue our mission until these terrible atrocities are stopped?