House of Commons Hansard #20 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was libya.

Topics

Libya
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

moved:

That, standing in solidarity with those seeking freedom in Libya, the House adopted Government motions on March 21 and June 14, 2011, authorizing all necessary measures, including the use of the Canadian Armed Forces and military assets in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973; that given the current military situation and the success of National Transitional Council (NTC) and anti-Gaddafi forces to date, the House supports an extension of up to three months of the involvement of the Canadian Armed Forces operating with NATO in accordance with the legal mandate from the UNSC Resolution 1973; that the House continues to support Canada's engagement in all spheres in the rebuilding of a new Libya, including human rights, democratic development and the rule of law; that the House deplores the violence committed by the previous regime against the Libyan people, including the alleged use of rape as a weapon of war; that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Standing Committee on National Defence shall remain seized of Canada's activities under UNSC Resolution 1973 and in the rebuilding of the new Libya; and that the House continues to offer its wholehearted and unconditional support to the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, who stand on guard for all of us, and continue to protect Libyan civilians from the risks still posed by the Gaddafi regime.

Mr. Speaker, I begin by saying how proud I am to rise in support of this comprehensive motion laid out before the House.

I am especially proud of the tremendous role that our men and women in uniform have played over the past six months in protecting the Libyan people from the brutal dictatorship of Gadhafi and his henchmen.

I am truly pleased and honoured to speak to the proud contribution that Canada has made writ large in creating a new Libya, one free of tyranny and dictatorship, which after four decades will finally reflect the needs and aspirations of the Libyan people.

When the House first debated Canada's military mission in March, hon. members know I argued very clearly that we needed to act. At that time, Libyans were under attack by their government. They had joined a popular wave of uprisings across the Arab world to demand an end to dictatorship. Moammar Gadhafi's regime met these peaceful protests with violent brutality.

The situation was dire and urgent. Misrata was besieged while Gaza was under threat of attack. Libyan civilians were touched by the violence of Gadhafi forces dropping bombs and shells everywhere indiscriminately.

Through the bloodshed and violence it was clear that Gadhafi had lost all legitimacy. As Canadians, we worked with our allies in the international community to bring forward a peaceful solution.

However, after all exhaustive diplomatic efforts had been made it was evident that action had to be taken to stop these massacres. The United Nations Security Council understood this reality and passed resolution 1973 on March 17. This resolution authorized all necessary action to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas in Libya.

I am proud that Canada took a leading role in enforcing the UN mandate. I wish to commend all hon. members for their role in supporting the Libyan people. In supporting Canada's participation in NATO's Operation Unified Protector, we sent a clear sign of Canada's determination to support the Libyan people.

Our international partners understand that Canada is a country that not only carries its weight but punches above it. Today is a new round.

Support for the motion before us today will enable us to extend the leadership that Canada has shown since the start of the conflict in Libya earlier this year.

Canada has made an important contribution to the major changes in Libya. We have shown our allies that we are a reliable partner. We have shown the people of Libya that they can always count on Canada to do the right thing.

Our work in Libya is not over. NATO has established three conditions for putting an end to its military operations in Libya: all attacks against civilians must have ended; there must be a verifiable withdrawal of the regime's military and paramilitary forces; and there must be full, safe access to humanitarian assistance for all the people of Libya who need it.

Although most Libyans have a kind of freedom they have not experienced in four decades, parts of Libya still remain in Gadhafi's iron grip. Gadhafi's ability to attack civilians has been reduced, but it has not been eliminated. The regime's remaining forces are fighting without much regard for the well-being of the people of Libya. There is better access to basic services, but some areas still have very acute needs.

In support of the UN Security Council resolution 2009 taken September 16, NATO on September 21 acknowledged that its mandate to protect civilians remains in force and extended its mission by up to three months .

As we know, Canada was in it from the very beginning and should remain there until the job is done. It has never shirked a responsibility and certainly cannot do so now. Through Canadian leadership and the military mission of the Canadian Forces, we have been at the leading edge of the Canadian effort in Libya. Working with our allies, we have been instrumental in preventing attacks against civilians. We have persevered. We have helped save lives of those who were at imminent risk while Gadhafi was at the helm. I am proud to say that the men and women of the Canadian Forces have been instrumental in the mission's success thus far.

Our air force has conducted approximately 9% of all NATO strike missions, provided vital aerial surveillance and carried out crucial refuelling missions. At sea, the HMCS Charlottetown and the HMCS Vancouver have enforced the UN mandate by carrying out important maritime patrols and enabling the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

I also salute the leadership of Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard as commander of NATO's Operation Unified Protector. I call on all hon. members to join me in applauding his efforts for the achievements he has overseen not only on behalf of our country but on behalf of all NATO participants in this mission.

On June 14, the Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke here and promised that Canada would implement an enhanced diplomatic engagement strategy for success in Libya.

I am pleased to announce that our government has kept its promise. On that day, Canada recognized the National Transitional Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. Less than two weeks later, the Minister of Foreign Affairs went to Benghazi and met the rebel leaders. He also delivered 355 trauma kits to help with pressing medical needs. He discussed Canada's deep concern about the use of rape as a weapon of war with the National Transitional Council and with civil society representatives.

The Libyans he met in Benghazi shared their horror at these heinous crimes and said that, because of cultural sensitivities, the full extent of the crimes is not really known. Victims are hesitant to receive treatment or support. Canada's determination to help them is clear.

It has become clear that the council is legitimate. It represents the Libyan people until there is a full democratic process in place. It has a genuine commitment to rebuilding Libya by establishing for its people a government that is based on the rule of law. That is expressed in its vision of a democratic Libya, its road map and the more recent announcement of a constitutional declaration.

These principles must now be put into action. The international community has a mandate to protect civilians in Libya and to support reforms. However, it is the responsibility of the Libyan people to take the reins and guide their country into the future.

That means rebuilding. Of course that means leveraging Libya's immense natural wealth. It means establishing a civil society and democratic institutions. The road ahead will not be easy. However, as with previous conflicts and its previous efforts and missions around the world, Canada will be there to assist.

During our debate here in June, members will recall it was unclear how events would unfold in Libya. The one-man rule had been the reality in that country for four decades. In fact, that was all that two generations of Libyans had ever known. How quickly that has changed.

On August 21 Tripoli fell, as some members of the opposition were referring to stalemates and musing about Canada pulling out. Gadhafi and those closest to him fled, while those who remained are still on the run.

Four days later on August 25, Canada accredited the new Libyan chargé d'affaires who was appointed by the NTC and is committed to addressing the NTC as Libya's legitimate government until elected representatives are in place.

On September 1, the Prime Minister and the foreign affairs minister attended the Paris conference on Libya. They announced the lifting of sanctions imposed by Canada since the UN Security Council has released more of the frozen Canadian-held funds.

Conditions in Tripoli are improving. Traffic jams are back, a sign that basic commodities like fuel are now available, and the people have the confidence to leave their homes. The flags of the new Libyan country are prominently displayed throughout the city. Children and adults alike are dressed in T-shirts and ball caps of red, black and green stripes. We now see a degree of civility returning, such as street cleaning and the neighbourhood distribution of water and food, when both were scarce. This obviously did not exist in the days running up to the fall of Gadhafi.

The infrastructure is still largely intact outside of specific areas of fierce fighting such as Misrata. In Tripoli, the precision of NATO's strikes over the past month is evident. Some government buildings were damaged but little else.

As well, Libya enjoys oil wealth which of course will be of great assistance in its rebuilding. While there has been some damage to oil facilities, repairs are already under way.

Despite these positive signs, there are still very real challenges on the horizon for Libya. Many of the demands for a better quality of life that preceded the conflict still remain. People want better schools, hospitals and job opportunities.

After four decades of stagnation, the Libyan people are hungry for change. The challenge for Libya's new rulers will be to deliver while also maintaining cohesion among its desperate elements that shared in ridding the country of the Gadhafi regime.

Security and stability require the control of many thousands of weapons now circulating in that country as well as the young men who carry them. It was Gadhafi's son Saif who promised to fight to the last man, woman and bullet.

Today we see that is indeed what Gadhafi loyalists intend to do. Together we have watched the brutal tenacity of Gadhafi and his followers in their attempts to remain in power, first in Tripoli and now from strongholds in Bani Walid and Sirte, leading to the further senseless loss of lives.

There are significant hurdles to overcome. Success is not an option. It is an imperative. Again, that is why Canada will be there.

Libyans are asking for our support to continue to protect civilians as well as to provide technical assistance to help them build a country that for the first time represents freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Our role is no less important now than it was in March, two months ago or two weeks ago. To end our multi-pronged mission now would jeopardize everything we have accomplished in Libya this year as well as abandon our allies in their continuing efforts.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs are at the United Nations together this week. They and other leaders from more than 80 countries met to address how to best assist Libya in implementing its plans for stabilizing and rebuilding the country. These include the work of a special support mission that will coordinate support among donors, restore public security and promote rule of law, undertake political dialogue leading to national reconciliation, extending the authority of state institutions, protecting human rights and support for transitional justice and, of course, aid in the economic recovery, among other efforts.

I am pleased to report that our government is leading a whole of government effort that will respond to a post-Gadhafi era with targeted assistance where Canada will add value. This will come in conjunction with other support, both domestic and international, and that is what is at stake here today. Canada stands ready to promote effective governance in institutions and expertise, a secure environment founded on the rule of law, economic development, prosperity and respect for human rights, including women's rights and religious freedoms. In addition to support for Libya, Canada is also focusing on returning full services to Canadians in Libya, including support for Canadian companies.

Following an assessment mission done by the Departments of National Defence and Foreign Affairs, Canada has re-established its diplomatic presence in Libya. The embassy is currently operating out of a temporary location while repairs at the chancery are being completed. It will re-open at full operations as soon as the appropriate level of security is deemed to be in place.

It is important in our discussion today to remember that Libya is not a poor country. It has immense petroleum wealth but it has simply been squandered or seconded by a dictator for several generations. The scourge of war has, of course, taken its toll on the country as well. Libya will need to refurbish its oil infrastructure and its export capacity. It will need to make basic repairs to roads, dams, water wells, electrical and power generation, and a host of other areas of critical infrastructure. These things will happen not only with international support but they will happen at the initiative of the Libyan people.

When the Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke here in June about the mission in Libya, he said, “Our strategy is clear.”

And it has never been clearer. By applying steady and unrelenting military and diplomatic pressure on the Gadhafi regime, while also delivering humanitarian assistance, Canada, its NATO allies and other international partners have protected Libya's civilian population and created the conditions for a genuine political opening. Canadians know this. Canadians understand what needs to be done. Canadians know that our work is not finished.

As Minister of National Defence, I again reiterate how proud I am and how proud I believe Canadians are for our country's military contribution to this mission in Libya. We are fortunate to have such committed soldiers, sailors and air personnel who, three weeks ago, I had the privilege to meet with some of them when they returned to Halifax. I would describe this quite simply as a heroes' welcome on the wharf in Halifax. It was a moment that could be described as timeless as the men and women aboard the HMCS Charlottetown returned to the Port of Halifax and they were met by their families. They were met by other personnel, their colleagues, but they were met, interestingly, by a number of Libyan Canadians who were there to show their affection, support and appreciation for what those men and women aboard the Charlottetown had done for them. They were unreserved in their thanks to those men and women as they debarked from the ship and told them how proud they were as Canadians, but as Canadians of Libyan descent. They had been talking to their families who were able to assure them that Canada was behind the people of Libya in this mission.

I will share very briefly something else that happened, which is quite common when ships return to port. A young mother was there with her child who was born while the father was at sea. This is a timeless scene when ships return to port and a sign of what sacrifice men and women in uniform make when they are away on deployed operations, not only the risk they undertake, but the personal sacrifice of time away from home and those important moments that they give up in order to protect our country.

The sense of duty not only to Canada but to the Libyan people is evident throughout the rank and file of the Canadian Forces. We should be immensely proud of them and immensely proud of the contributions they make on our behalf. Our men and women in uniform are playing a key leadership role in the enforcement of the international community's will through their significant contribution to the NATO mission. They are positioning Canada as an effective, dependable ally and partner, a reputation that we have enjoyed since our inception. However, most important, they are standing up for the people of Libya who are demanding change and getting support in that change and, In so doing, they are setting the stage for a peaceful future for Libyans and a transition that will occur under their watch.

Just as it was right to do so in June, I believe it is right now that we extend the Canadian Forces' mission for up to three months. It is the right thing to do now as well. I urge all hon. members to support this motion before the House. I look forward to the debate that will take place here today. I look forward to the information, the questions and the facts that we will put before the House and the country by virtue of this debate. Again, I thank all members present for participating in this important discussion.

Libya
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I will have an opportunity to make a speech shortly but I want to ask the minister whether he agrees that the situation today is far different from what was facing the United Nations on March 17 in the House? It passed the first resolution when Colonel Gadhafi was the regime in power in Libya and was actively threatening to effectively massacre civilians. We now have the opposition, the National Transitional Council, having taken Libya's seat at the United Nations. The regime no longer exists. Therefore, Canada's role can be entirely different from what it was in March of this year.

Libya
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my hon. colleague that the conditions have improved. However, the work that is yet to be done remains. We need to be clear. Civilians are still being attacked by the Libyan regime as recently as this weekend. There is still capacity in place that permits Gadhafi to control a certain element. There is a certain following in the country who have access to weapons that can be used against civilians.

It is for that reason that the new UN Security Council resolution is in place. It is consistent with the original goals of the UN Security Council, which is to protect civilians, to enable humanitarian aid and for all actions against civilians to cease and desist.

Libya
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his speech and I thank him and his staff publicly for the extensive and candid briefings within the limitations of open source material. Both Ambassador McCardell and General Vance have been very fulsome in their briefings to us, both privately and publicly. I thank the minister for his contribution in arranging those briefings and keeping us all in the loop, so to speak.

We want to not only thank the brave men and women of the armed forces, but also the brave men and women who are serving us in the diplomatic corps led, in this case, by Sandra McCardell, and those who are serving with the humanitarian relief as it gets into the country.

I have a question for the minister with respect to the larger issue, which is going forward. This is a critical time for Libya. It is a rough neighbourhood, shall we say. There are countries there that have no democratic traditions whatsoever. We have put a lot of effort into ensuring that the National Transition Council has an opportunity to set up a stable formal government, possibly even a democratic form of government. There are cultural sensitivities there.

I had the occasion to be in South Africa a couple of weeks ago. We certainly got an earful about neo-colonialism and triumphalism and, unfortunately, Prime Minister Cameron and President Sarkozy were on the front page of South African newspapers.

I want to put to the hon. minister the core question of going forward. How do we ensure that the gains that have been secured by our people in the military, in the diplomatic corps and with the humanitarian relief are not squandered by inadvertent triumphalism, neo-colonialism and those sorts of things that can actually be counterproductive to what has, to date, been an absolutely first rate effort?

Libya
Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood. I would very much, first, associate myself with the comments that he made about the officials, not only in their efforts to keep all members and Canadians informed about Canada's role in Libya, but the role of the diplomatic corps, the ongoing efforts of people on the ground in re-establishing our mission there are absolutely a key piece to the whole of government effort.

His question is a quintessential one as to how we continue to enable the Libyan people and ensure that these fragile gains, I would describe them, that have been made already are not lost, and that we continue to support what has always been the Canadian way, which is not to delve, in any way, into colonialism or triumphalism but to empower the people of Libya in ways that he alluded to, such as supporting the organic growth of democratic institutions, which I think are driven very much by the will and desire of people in Libya to achieve that decision-making power for themselves; to help them develop institutions, which are very much lacking at this point; to allow an economy to re-emerge from that country, because we know they have people, they have bureaucracy and they have government elements that they need to support. Therefore, working in concert, being a rational and reasonable voice at the table, for which we are very much admired, both at the United Nations, through NATO and through other institutions, and NGOs, I suspect as well, will play an important role in what we want to see and what we desire for change and for solid, unslippable institutions and a democratic process inside Libya.

Libya
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for the incredible leadership that he shows to our Canadian Forces and, more than that, the compassion that he continually shows for the people who serve this great country of Canada.

In terms of the minister's presentation with regard to what would happen if we were to prematurely to pull back at this time and not take on the extension, he talked a fair bit about some of the outcomes. I wonder what the message might be, not only to the Libyan people, who we have been able to help rebuild and protect, but also to our NATO partners.

Libya
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I think the member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex knows through his active participation in both the military committees and on behalf of his constituents that Canada is a very respected and founding member at NATO. More than that, we have been a reliable partner throughout Canada's history. That has been the case in this instance. Canada was a go-to nation. We stepped into the breach. We provided both the military and the diplomatic leadership on all fronts. We were among the first countries to indicate that level of support for the Libyan people on this mission.

He is also right, as other members have alluded to, that there is much more work to do. Canada still has more of the load to shoulder, which we do so willingly with enthusiasm, with no expectation of anything in return except the success of the Libyan people and the peaceful, democratic emergence of a nation that has been held back for decades. That has always been the inspiration for our country. The desire of our people has been to share many of the things that we too often take for granted in Canada. We are a country that looks outward, that projects outward, that looks for areas in which we can provide assistance and improvement. That is what we are doing. That has always been our country's history. That is something of which Canadians can forever be proud.

Libya
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. Minister of National Defence if he is at all troubled by the fact that the Libyan rebel commander has admitted previous ties to al-Qaeda. He has actually spoken favourably of al-Qaeda members as being “good Muslims fighting against invaders”. Is the minister concerned about what looms as a genocide of black immigrant workers within Libya?

Libya
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, of course I am concerned about any and all of those indications of linkages outside the country to extremism and to continued stubborn efforts that are being made by those loyal to Gadhafi to continue the violence. In fact, just this weekend inside Libya, Gadhafi's daughter was broadcasting the following message, “Remain reassured, your great leader is doing well. He carries weapons and is fighting on the fronts”. This is a clear indication there is still the capacity to do harm, the capacity to bring violence to the people of Libya in many parts of the country.

It reinforces and underscores the need for Canada to continue to play a leadership role, both on the military and diplomatic fronts, and to continue to try to root out all forms of violence, of intolerance, of assaults against human rights. This is why Canada is such an admired country in the world today.

Libya
Government Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, this is an important debate for many reasons. It is the third debate on Canada's mission in Libya. We passed a resolution in this House on March 17, and a further one on June 14 extending that mission for three months. We now are faced with the government seeking to continue the military mission for a further three months.

The reason this debate is so important is that it is really about the future of Canada's role internationally, to what extent it will see itself as a military power primarily, or whether it will continue the well-respected role it was known for in providing a very different type of image and action on the world stage.

This is a brand-new approach to international action. The military intervention in Libya through resolution 1973 is in response to a very new doctrine, and some call it an emerging doctrine, of the responsibility to protect. It is a situation in which the normal rules of state sovereignty, alive since the 18th century, have been overridden by humanitarian goals, the obligation of other states to ensure that civilians are protected where a state is incapable, unwilling, or in this case, is a perpetrator of actions against its own civilians.

In doing so, it is extremely important that the international community get this right. As a party, we approached this very gingerly from the beginning. We supported resolution 1973, and still have no regrets about our support for Canada's involvement as of March 17 in engaging in support of resolution 1973.

It has not been without controversy. There have been criticisms along the way about the actions of NATO from time to time, but more so about the comments that have been made also from time to time by world leaders and by members of this House, including the Minister of National Defence and the Prime Minister, about what can only be called regime change as a goal of Canada's involvement in Libya.

There may be nuances in explanation of that and I am sure the Minister of National Defence will have a chance to do that, but it has never been our intention or desire to support an intervention based on the notion of regime change, for a very simple reason. It has nothing to do with our shared abhorrence of Colonel Gadhafi and his methods and willingness to do terrible things to his own citizens, including murder and mayhem. What it has to do with is the question of the possibility and precedent for Canada or other nations being engaged in other people's civil wars.

We supported the resolution. It was extremely important that we did so. We supported the extension in June. At that time the regime of Colonel Gadhafi was still in power. The regime was continuing to carry out the activities that resolution 1973 was designed to counter.

Canada has played a significant role, as the minister pointed out. We too share in thanking the men and women of our military and our diplomatic corps for their contribution to the protection of Libyan civilians from the risks posed by the Gadhafi regime. They have done what we have asked them to do. They have done it with honour and they have done it well.

The question now is as to what the situation is we are dealing with today as compared to March 17 or June 14.

We had a briefing last Monday from an official from the Department of National Defence, Major-General Jonathan Vance. We had a briefing from our Canadian Ambassador to Libya, Her Excellency Sandra McCardell.

We very much appreciated the follow-through by the government on the resolution passed in the House, which was reiterated on June 14, 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, and appreciates the government's full and continued co-operation on committee meetings and the sharing of information.

That was an amendment inserted into the resolution that was adopted by the House as requested by the New Democratic Party. It was done to ensure that the House play a role as a civilian parliamentary oversight of the actions of the Canadian military abroad. That is a trend that ought to be continued and encouraged at all times when Canada is engaged in military action abroad.

As others have noted, we did get full, frank, open briefings from our very professional diplomatic and military sources to keep us abreast of the state of play and the activities in Libya that required our knowledge and understanding in order for us to form our opinions.

We have obviously been following the news all along, but as a result of the briefing last week it is pretty clear that we are in an entirely different set of circumstances now than we were in March or even in June.

Ten days ago the National Transitional Council took Libya's seat in the United Nations. It was recognized as the official representative of the people of Libya in the United Nations, representing the state.

The former Gadhafi regime is in what Major-General Vance has called an eroding defensive position. It is eroding daily. It is not done. There are still two cities, Sirte and Bani Walid, where the forces of Colonel Gadhafi are holding out. They seem to have the ability to prevent incursions very easily by the National Transitional Council forces, mostly through the use of snipers.

As I said, and as Major-General Vance said, it is an eroding defensive position. The former Gadhafi regime is not in any state to carry out the kind of activities that caused resolution 1973 to be adopted by the United Nations back in March and our resolution here in the House following on with Canada's support.

Back in February, Colonel Gadhafi and his son, Saif, were talking about their views and promised that they would fight to the last man, woman and bullet, that they would not lose Libya.

Her Excellency Sandra McCardell, in a briefing to the foreign affairs committee in July, referred to the initial promise in mid-March by Gadhafi when they were on the outskirts of Benghazi promising to purify Libya inch by inch, house by house, person by person, until the country was clean of the dirt and impurities, and this from a man who had already described his people as rats and dogs. That was what we were dealing with back in March and it is what we have been dealing with for the past six months.

Canada has played a very significant role in this. In fact, among the nations we have been the largest contributor after the United States, Great Britain and France. In our view, we have done more than our share on the military side. The question now is what role Canada should play in the future of Libya.

We are in what is the end game of a civil war, but it is a civil war within Libya. The forces of the National Transitional Council are, as described by General Vance, weeks, not months or years, and it may only be days away, from an end to the civil war. Although it may be questioned as to what role NATO can play now in terms of the end game when we look at an eroding defensive position by the Gadhafi forces, it is clear that its role is much less and, in fact, lessening by the day, when it is understood that we are dealing with the end game of a civil war.

We are not there to take sides in a civil war. We have grave concerns that this be done right and that in the future the responsibility to protect ought not to be used as a cover for regime change or other interventions. This is a very careful issue that I am sure will be debated by international legal experts for some time to come. However, I do not want to get into that too much as a justification for our position.

Our position is that Canada has done more than its share militarily and should now refocus its efforts on the other aspects of rebuilding of Libya. We were very interested and concerned that, along with the United Nations resolution 1973, there be a Libyan-led solution to the political crisis as well to form a new government. Some doubts have been expressed, as we have heard here today, about what the National Transitional Council is, who is engaged and how well it will be able to form good governance in Libya.

A new resolution, resolution 2009, of the United Nations was passed only on September 16. It recognizes that it is taking note of the developments in Libya, welcoming the improved situation and looking forward to stability in Libya. It talks about the establishment of an inclusive representative transitional government and emphasizes the need for a transitional period to be underpinned by a commitment to democracy, good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights.

It goes on and on to talk about the necessity for change in Libya that supports a call for Libyans of all beliefs and background to refrain from reprisals, which is extremely important. It also notes that the Libyan Transitional National Council is concerned about this and that it calls for an avoidance of acts of reprisals, including against migrant workers. Apparently, some migrant workers are being targeted because they appear to be from southern Africa and are being attacked because they are suspected mercenaries.

The United Nations Security Council has taken strong measures to set up the new mission in Libya, under the leadership of a special representative, for a three-month period to assist in restoring public security, order, promoting the rule of law and a whole series of issues under the UN mandate, as spelled out in article 12 of resolution 2009.

We think this is where Canada ought to focus its efforts. As I said earlier, Canada has made a significant contribution to the mission in Libya, a contribution which far exceeds our place in the world in terms of our size, our military, our population and our financial wherewithal, frankly. We have made more than a significant contribution.

As other nations have done, such as Norway, we are in a position to change our focus and our role. We, as New Democrats, do not support a continued military role in Libya. Rather we believe we should refocus our efforts to that of assisting in the efforts to rebuild Libya and support the use of all the Canadian efforts that will help us do that.

I have a motion, which I will move shortly, incorporating that, but the thrust of the motion is to refocus our efforts in the areas of assisting in the development of governance, in the development and the rule of law and in humanitarian aid and spending some of resources on that rather than on continuing in the military role.

We appreciate and thank our soldiers and our diplomats for their efforts to date. We think the Government of Canada should be using its good offices, its talented people, our NGOs and others who have a great interest in supporting this effort and in participating in the assistance in rebuilding Libya and in a larger civilian commitment to the post-conflict transition that is to take place in Libya, hopefully with greater assistance from our country than we have been able to provide to date. With the new government in Libya and improved access to Libya, we now think it is time for us to engage in the post-conflict phase.

Therefore, I wish to move the following:

That the motion be amended by:

(a) substituting the words “an extension of up to three months of the involvement of the Canadian Armed Forces operating with NATO in accordance with the legal mandate from the UNSC Resolution 1973; that the House continues to support” with the words “focusing our efforts on”;

(b) substituting the words “continue to protect Libyan civilians from the risks still posed by the Gaddafi regime” with the words “thank them for their contribution to the protection of Libyan civilians from the risks posed by the Gaddafi regime”.

The motion would now read:

That, in standing in solidarity with those seeking freedom in Libya, the House adopted government motions on March 21 and June 14, 2011 authorizing all necessary measures, including the use of Canadian Armed Forces and military assets in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973; that given the current military situation and the success of National Transitional Council (NTC) and anti-Gaddafi forces to date, the House supports focusing our efforts on Canada's engagement in all spheres in the rebuilding of a new Libya, including human rights, democratic development and the rule of law; that the House deplores the violence committed by the previous regime against the Libyan people, including the alleged use of rape as a weapon of war; that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Standing Committee on National Defence shall remain seized of Canada's activities under UNSC Resolution 1973 and in the rebuilding of the new Libya; and that the House continues to offer its wholehearted and unconditional support to the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, who stand on guard for all of us, and thank them for their contribution to the protection of Libyan civilians from the risks posed by the Gaddafi regime.

Libya
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

I have been advised that the amendment is in order.

Questions and comments, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.

Libya
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

Ajax—Pickering
Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the member for St. John's East, in calling for an end to the mission of Canada's armed forces, has referred a post-conflict phase, a phase during which the conflict would be over. At the same time, he has referred to the very serious fighting still under way in Bani Walid and in Sirte and the serious dangers posed to the civilian population there, where Gadhafi and his forces continue to enunciate the most violent objectives against their own population. We have been told by Ambassador McCardell that up to 15% of the population of Libya may reside in that area.

Could the hon. member inform the House what the consequences would be if Canada, our NATO allies and our non-NATO allies followed his advice at this point? What would the consequences be for the civilians of Bani Walid, Sirte and the area in south central Libya that are still under imminent threat?

Libya
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, events are moving very fast in Libya. As the parliamentary secretary knows, the most recent reports refer to 400 or 500 cars per day of civilians fleeing that area. I have seen pictures on BBC News of shelling of Sirte by the forces of the NTC. I am not sure how accurate those are. No doubt civilians are going to flee the areas. There is no question that civilians are in danger as long as the civil war continues. The danger, however, is rather limited to the activity that can be perpetrated if the Gadhafi forces are not in a position to attack anyone. We are not playing a role in the civil war.

I am not talking so much about the fact that that resolution 1973 continues. I am talking about Canada's involvement and what Canada should be doing, whether we should be continuing our efforts or refocusing them on what we think Canada is good at doing.

I am not saying we are not good at doing military work. We have done more than our share, more than every country in the world with the exception of the once superpowers of France, United States and Great Britain. The question is what is Canada's role? Canada has a lot more to offer than what it has done so far and we think the focus should change to that.

Libya
Government Orders

Noon

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thought the hon. member's speech was correct in that he attempted to frame the debate in terms of the overall concept of the responsibility to protect. I think he was absolutely accurate about that and correct to warn us about the mission creep into regime change and various other things.

However, I think the hon. member is not correct when he does not take the advice of what I thought were fairly candid and open conversations with our officials, particularly General Vance and Ambassador McCardell.

I wonder whether the hon. member is concerned that if force is prematurely withdrawn, it will be what he fears the most, which is a supervision of a low- or possibly higher-grade civil war among the various factions, and that if we do support this motion and there is force still to be played out that, there may actually be a reduction in the violence and a real possibility that institutional and governmental structures might be instituted.

Libya
Government Orders

Noon

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, what we heard from our officials and the general was that what was left of Gadhafi's forces was an eroding defensive position and that there was still some potential.

I think the question is really whether it is the role of Canada to participate in the civil war to the extent of ensuring that one side wins. That is really the danger that we are saying exists.

If Colonel Gadhafi's forces are no longer in a position to act in an aggressive manner and to carry out whatever threats they may have made in the past, the military threats, as General Vance said, are small. There are some, but they are small. As to the fact that there is a potential, anyone with a gun has the potential to do harm, but that is not what we are dealing with here. We are dealing with the question of what Canada should do now, over the next three months. Should it carry on this mission as a military one or should it focus its attention on what we have suggested here?

Libya
Government Orders

Noon

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question for my hon. colleague is that the Standing Committee on National Defence and the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs have been seized with the situation on Libya as per the motion that was passed in this House on June 14.

As a member of the defence committee, I ask my colleague this question: at the briefings he has had, what has he learned or heard from military and diplomatic officials about the change in the capacity of Gadhafi's forces since June?

Libya
Government Orders

Noon

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate the praise that I extended to the officials for their full briefings. We have had frank discussions about what exactly their role is.

Were we engaged, for example, in providing close air cover to the anti-Gadhafi forces in Libya? That was an important question because of the accusation being made that NATO was simply air power for the Gadhafi forces. It was very important for General Vance to make it clear that what Canada and the other nations in NATO were doing was not that, but that our actions were in response to perceived and seen attacks against civilians, such as the use of ammunition dumps, for example, which have been used for attacks against civilians, and in response to the attacks on control and command centres. We were assured continually that the job was based on a legal analysis of what was appropriate and proper based on legitimate targets.

However, we also did learn that there had been significant changes. I have heard the figure that as of last Monday Gadhafi was left with a couple of hundred thousand people in the areas that are potentially under control and that he is in an eroding defensive position that is likely to be a tactical loss within a couple of weeks.

Libya
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Mississauga—Erindale
Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my hon. colleague's speech.

I recall that the NDP made similar comments in early August when the foreign affairs committee and the defence committee met to examine these issues. At that time the NDP was pretty clear that in their opinion there was a military stalemate in Libya, that there was going to be no military solution in Libya, and that it was pretty much time for NATO troops, including the Canadian Forces, to withdraw from that conflict and to withdraw from protecting civilians.

I am confused, given that two weeks after those briefings, in fact Tripoli did fall. I am confused that since the NDP members had come to the conclusion at that time that there was going to be no military solution, how can they now be clear now, as the hon. member says, that Libya is in the end game and that the Gadhafi forces do not have the wherewithal to continue their violent actions against the civilian people in Libya?

Libya
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, we certainly did not say that there was no military solution in Libya. It is a civil war, and obviously that is a military engagement. What we said was that the NDP believed that the mission could probably end at the end of September unless there was some significant change. The change we have seen, in fact within 10 days of that committee meeting on August 12, is that Tripoli fell, and we now no longer have a Gadhafi regime at all.

Major-General Vance said at that time that the situation was dynamic. He has since said that there is no strategic advantage to Colonel Gadhafi, that this is a tactical effort and that it is a matter of weeks, not months, before the Gadhafi forces are overrun, so we are in a situation very different from what it was earlier. It would take something really dramatic to have us continue to support another three-month extension at this time, based on our understanding that the crisis that brought us to this, starting in March, was that we were dealing with an emergency situation for a period of up to six months and that after that it would be something entirely different.

The something entirely different right now is the post-conflict activity that we think Canada should be focused on and engaged in.

Libya
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to speak to all of the resolutions in the House on Libya and I am glad to be able to participate in the debate today.

I will be indicating to the House our support for Canada's staying the course with the United Nations, to our staying the course with our NATO allies, and to our staying the course with our friends in the Libya community both in Canada and in Libya. I will be asserting very strongly the need for Canada to in fact expand its engagement with civil society in Libya and with the broader issues of governance and reform, not only in Libya but in North Africa.

We do not agree with our NDP colleagues' position that it is time to withdraw our support for the UN- and NATO-led efforts and stop protecting civilians in Libya through international action.

I find the NDP position described by the hon. member for St. John's East completely inconsistent. First of all, one cannot agree with the NATO and United Nations position but also say that once the Gadhafi regime is defeated and the people are no longer being oppressed, that is when Canada should withdraw. It makes no sense.

I understand where my NDP colleagues' reasoning comes from, but their position is completely inconsistent. It is as though we had to choose between two UN resolutions—resolution 1973 and resolution 2009—and the NDP has chosen the one that deals with the civilian situation in Libya and is ignoring the resolution that deals with the military situation. It makes no sense.

We have to be consistent. I must say I am very disappointed in the comments from my colleague from Newfoundland. He says we do not want to take sides in a civil war. The implication is that he is indifferent as to whether the regime of Colonel Gadhafi stays or not. I cannot believe that is the position of the official opposition of Canada.

We on this side are not indifferent with respect to what happens in Libya. We want there to be the emergence of a civil society and of a civil government that represents the broad interests of the people of Libya. That is the position of the Liberal Party of Canada, and that should be the position of the House of Commons as well.

There is the notion that somehow it is too delicate to say, and I heard the member from Newfoundland say it, “We don't want to take sides”. Why did the United Nations pass resolution 1973? It passed resolution 1973 because there was a government in Libya that was about to attack its own citizens and its own people. That is why it went in.

Now the question becomes, what has changed? Well, things have moved beyond where they were. It is true that the regime is apparently on its last legs. We know that its members are hiding in two cities.

However, I have to say I am not going to substitute my judgment for that of the United Nations or that of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who has asked Canada to continue in this role. I am not going to substitute my judgment for those or for those our allies our in NATO, who say it is important for us to continue with this mission under the umbrella of the United Nations. I am not about to substitute my mission and say that I have been reading the newspapers over the last couple of days and that I know better what is going on in Libya and that I know the right moment for Canada to withdraw. It is a fundamentally absurd proposition.

Because of the internal workings of the New Democratic Party, its members say that it has to be the party of peace. We are all the party of peace, but being a party of peace does not mean that we have to be a party of appeasement or a party of indifference. We in the Liberal Party are not a party of indifference and we are certainly not a party of appeasement.

The lesson of collective security, which we learned as a planet throughout the middle of the 20th century, has now been furthered by our obligation to be concerned about what happens inside a state.

The great revolution in international law that my colleague, the member for Mount Royal, has had so much to do with and has had so much to say about is the revolution that says what happens inside states is every bit as important to us and our obligation as citizens as what happens between states. That is the simple message of the responsibility to protect.

I know that the government opposite is reluctant to talk about the responsibility to protect and that we want to put this language into the resolution, but it is very important for the House to understand that the reason the United Nations took the unusual step of asking for a military intervention in Libya was precisely to protect the civilian population and that there was no other way in which that could be done.

Gadhafi had threatened very clearly that he was going to go house by house to cleanse his country of dirt, which is language reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Rreducing people to microbes very quickly establishes what the real objective is, and they are now discovering mass graves in which hundreds and hundreds of people are buried.

I cannot believe my ears when I hear the New Democratic Party spokesman say we cannot take sides in this dispute in Libya. It is a truly preposterous statement. Those NDP members do not have the courage of their humanitarianism to understand what it takes to ensure that the humanitarian goals are accomplished.

The New Democratic Party says we have to change course.

No, we do not have to change course. We have to add to the course. We have to continue to do what we are doing with respect to our obligations under our treaty obligations with NATO and with respect to the work we have undertaken with the United Nations.

At the same time, it is important for us to ask whether the civilian work has to be added to. Of course, it does. Does the work that we are doing on the humanitarian side have to be added to? Of course it does. Does there need to be a more robust strategy with respect to civil governance in Libya? Of course there does. Does there need to be a democratic strategy with respect to what is taking place in North Africa? Of course there does.

Do we think, inside the Liberal Party, that the Conservatives have done enough in that area? Not at all.

Lastly, there is the risk that all the non-governmental organizations that have been doing crucial work in this area for decades will collapse because of a lack of funding from the Conservative government.

There is no consistent program, either within CIDA or at the heart of government, to help ensure good governance when it comes to foreign affairs. That is a real problem. We recognize that and want to point it out. There are all kinds of organizations across the country that have worked hard to support good governance in this transition to democracy, which we want to see around the globe. However, while the Conservative government likes to talk about human rights, it does not seem to want to move things forward.

As Liberals, we find ourselves in the situation where we do not see a government which is willing to live up to its words about good governance and its words about human rights, and it is not following that strategy effectively in terms of giving the assistance to the non-governmental organizations which have been the lifeblood of this movement in Canada over the last 30 years.

I can give any minister first-hand knowledge to say that they are not living up here and not living up there. The Europeans have now developed a robust program with respect to assisting democracies. The Americans have a robust program with respect to supporting democracy, good governance and a new way of life.

However, the government of Canada is retreating from those policies. It is moving away from those policies and not sustaining those organizations and institutions. It is talking the game, but it is not playing the game. It seems to me that it is time as Canadians we learn to do something very simple: walk and chew gum at the same time.

We believe very strongly that it is important for Canada to have a coherent and credible policy. What is being proposed by the official opposition has no particular credibility. To suggest that we were there at the beginning but we are going to leave before it is over is just ridiculous. We did not pull back from other situations until the victory was assured. That, it seems to me, is critical. We go in with the United Nations and NATO, and that is when we come out. That is how we do things. That is what builds the credibility of this country.

On the other side, what builds the credibility of this country is for our foreign policy to reflect more than just a military policy. Our foreign policy cannot just be a question of which military interventions we want to support and that be the end of the subject. It has to be engaged much more profoundly on a whole set of levels with Libyan society, with the changes that are underway in north Africa, with the changes that are underway around the world.

We are not going to be able to sustain that credibility unless we are in a very clear position to do both things. We do not have to choose between resolution 1973 and resolution 2009 of the General Assembly of the United Nations. We can actually do both. We can say that we are there to see this conflict through and the emergence of a government that speaks for the people of Libya. We are also there to assist in the achievement of better governance in the country itself.

There are serious issues. My colleagues have mentioned that there are serious issues: what kind of a transition it would be; what assurances we would have that there would be no reprisals; the situation affecting migrant workers; as well as the situation of human rights, the promotion of human rights and the equality between women and men, which is such a critical feature of our own lives here in Canada.

We cannot walk away from these issues. We cannot say that we are interested in doing business in Libya, but we are not interested in the human rights situation or democracy in Libya. We have to develop a foreign policy that is robust enough and intelligent enough to do both things in harmony. My colleague, the parliamentary secretary, says that we do.

I can tell my good friend that it just is not the case that Canada has maintained its credibility with respect to all the other things that go into making good governance. CIDA has downgraded it and is not doing it the way it used to do it before. CIDA is not involved in the governance field the way it used to be before and it is not supporting these changes. The Department of Justice is not supporting these changes. The budget for it in the Department of Foreign Affairs is under constant threat and the member should know that. He should understand the budgets for which he holds some responsibility. That is something that has to continue to be emphasized. We say very clearly that the government is not broadening the base of the mission sufficiently in Libya.

We want that mission to be broadened in its civilian, humanitarian, legal, and human rights orientation. We know that needs to happen and we want it to happen. We would not use the excuse of having a different perspective with respect to how it needs to be broadened, or invent some reason now as to why, a few weeks away from the culmination, we hope, that Canada would say it is sorry but it does not really want to be engaged, or in the words of the member from Newfoundland, “We've done more than our share”.

Is this really the vision of Canada the government is proposing? This is not a little matter of accounting: we put in a few more bucks than somebody else. It is this small mindedness, frankly, of what we are seeing here that takes away from what needs to be a big, generous and, may I say it, Liberal vision of a foreign policy for this country.

Yes, it needs to be robust enough that we can deal with crises and have the courage of our humanitarian principles to say we will intervene, even militarily, if that is what it takes to stop tyranny from having its impact on its own citizens. We are not afraid to say that.

We also know that military solutions alone are not enough, that what comes after the change of government is every bit as important, and that requires an equally robust commitment to aid, assistance, advice, and presence. But I can tell members opposite, the Europeans are doing it, the Americans are doing it, and Canada used to do it under a Liberal government. It is time that it did it for the future of Canada and indeed, for the future of the region.

Libya
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, normally I would not have intervened because I was really enjoying the speech by the leader of the Liberal Party when he rightly pointed out the fallacy of the NDP position on this motion, which I think he very rightly put forward, and I probably agree with that.

However, I challenge him when he says that there is no robust foreign policy from the government. That is not true. The government has been engaged very strongly on the foreign affairs issue.

It was this government that went to Libya and look at the result today. We are almost at the stage of victory.

This government was in Haiti. This government was where it was needed to be and it has a very strong foreign policy on the international stage.

This week the Minister of Foreign Affairs will be at the United Nations, and so will I, but let me remind the leader of the Liberal Party about the four fundamental principles of this government's foreign policy and he can tell me what is wrong with them: freedom, promotion of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. That is what this government's foreign policy is about.

Libya
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, those are good words, but the problem is that the Conservatives have starved every other institution in the country that is interested in sustaining those very objectives. It has cut them off.

I can see the member for Ajax—Pickering shaking his head all the way over here. He shakes his head, but that is the reality. The underlying reality is that the organizations that are sustaining that and doing it are being underfunded. The fact is that CIDA, which used to have a mandate to do those things, no longer has a mandate to do those things.

The fact of the matter is that budgets in Foreign Affairs to do those things simply are not there or are being taken away.

If the member opposite is really interested in these objectives, he has to understand that we do not have the robust institutions that are required to carry out the policies which are not just the policies of the Conservative government but the policies of the people of Canada.

It is the people of Canada who support human rights. It is the people of Canada who support good governance. What we do not have is a government that is committed to actually doing it on the ground.

Libya
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I do want to respond to the speech by the member from Ontario.

The member from Ontario made a big speech attacking the New Democratic Party. The member claims a reputation for understanding international affairs and the nuances of such, and he knows the difference between intervening in a civil war and acting in response to the responsibility to protect. So, to be petty and political in a situation like this and attack another party, not for the agenda but for the sake of partisan politics is unworthy of him as a member from Ontario.

He was the one who, by the way, wanted to intervene in Libya before the United Nations was even involved. Is he signing on to the militarist agenda of the Prime Minister? Is that what we can continue to expect from him as leader of the Liberal Party?

Libya
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I hear what the member for St. John's East is saying. What I am saying is that the member should go back and look at the text of what he said. He said that Canada cannot take sides in a civil war. I said that the implication of that is that he is indifferent as to whether Gadhafi wins or somebody else wins.

I said very clearly that I am not prepared to say that we are indifferent to that result. Was I in favour of a UN intervention prior to what the government was prepared to do? Yes, I was and so was the Liberal Party. It is all about whether we have the courage of our humanitarian principles.

Should we have intervened in Sri Lanka? I know the member for Scarborough—Rouge River was sitting next to the member for St. John's East. Should Canada and the world have intervened in Sri Lanka? I was in the House at the time saying yes, that the world should have intervened in Sri Lanka. How else were we going to stop tens of thousands of civilians from being killed by their own government? How else could we have stopped that if we were not prepared to intervene?

A party needs to have the courage of its humanitarianism. I do not see that present in the position enunciated by the member for St. John's East.

Libya
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, we call that a lesson in politics. I congratulate my leader. I would like to ask him the following question.

Yes, we must be in Libya, we must intervene, but the member said something very important at the beginning: Canada must be more engaged in North Africa. The political reality of the Arab spring is that Canada will be asked to play a leading role.

Can the member explain his vision of Canada's involvement? We cannot just pick and choose; this is not just about Libya. The entire Arab world is in flux. What should our responsibility be in this situation?

Libya
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the question from my colleague from Bourassa. He is quite right.

It is not enough to have policies for specific countries. We must have a position that is coherent and consistent with our interests as Canadians. For example, when we look at the situation in North Africa, Canada is not involved in all the debates taking place, whether in Tunisia, Egypt or all of these countries, with respect to questions about democracy and what will be done to ensure that after the spring, we see a summer and not a winter. Canada can play a role. I can assure members that Europe, France and other countries are playing a role. Canada, which is not an imperialist country, has a certain degree of credibility. We have a large diaspora from the Maghreb. This is the right time for Canada to play a much more positive role than we have played to date. It is very important to address this matter in this way.

Libya
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I observed that my colleague had great difficulty understanding where the NDP stood from the beginning. I want to ask the member a question, as my colleague for St. John's East did.

When we came out in support of the Libyan people, before other parties, including the government, it was for a no-fly provision through the UN. A couple of days after, the member, as the foreign affairs critic, and his party said that we needed to have NATO intervene.

I want to ask a very straightforward question. Was it and is it the position of the Liberal Party that, in these affairs, it is better to go through NATO first or should we have, as this party believes, the approval of the United Nations Security Council first?

Libya
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in many circumstances in the world today, it is a false choice. The fact is that the intervention in Libya is one that has been carried out under the jurisdiction of the United Nations. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has urged NATO to continue with its work with respect to the implementation of the no-fly zone, the implementation of Resolution 1973. The Secretary-General of the United Nations is not telling Canada that it is time to back off, go away, disappear, that it is time to say goodbye, that we should do our humanitarian work but choose to do the humanitarian work and have nothing to say on the defence side.

What we are saying is quite consistent. There needs to be a willingness on the part of the world today, not just Canada but of the world institutions, to put some teeth into its commitment to humanitarianism. If the responsibility to protect is going to mean something, the world will need to respond.

We were all surprised, frankly. I certainly was surprised. I do not know about the hon. member but I will confess to my surprise at the fact that the Security Council was able to find the courage to follow through and intervene in the way that it did. If that had not happened, what should Canada have done? That is an open question. If every intervention must depend on the entire United Nations apparatus and on Security Council agreeing, we hope that will always happen. Whatever we do needs to be done according to the principles of international law. Whatever we do needs to be justifiable.

This caucus, this party, this previous Liberal government was opposed to the intervention in Iraq because it did not have the support of the United Nations and it did not have the support of coherent principles of international law.

Our principles and our views are very clear. However, we need to understand that to intervene requires justification in international law. It also requires a willingness to see things through and not to simply walk away when it becomes politically convenient to do so. That is a very important principle for us as well.

Libya
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the motion, which, I will like to tell my friend from the NDP, is in two portions. One is the extension of the NATO operation and the other is to go ahead in a robust, democratic way to rebuild the institutions of that country, which has been agreed to by all parties. However, there is no need for me to talk about the NDP position because the Liberal leader did an excellent job of indicating why the NDP's position is totally out of line with the events going on.

The leader of the Liberal Party talked about our foreign policy. As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I can say, in no uncertain terms, that this government plays a very active role on foreign affairs issues around the world. We have four basic pillars of foreign affairs: freedom, human rights, rule of law and promotion of democracy, which is why Canada is fighting and is leading the revolution in condemning Iran on its human rights record. Once again, Canada's government has shown it stands up for the promotion of human rights.

I will now address the extension of the Libyan mission and why it is necessary for us to support it. Very few people in this chamber have visited Libya. I have had the opportunity to visit Libya where I had the opportunity to go to Sirte as well, as part of the African Union summit held there. When I landed in Libya, my impression was a totally different experience. I could see the lack of democracy and the lack of engagement of civil society. I could see that people were subdued, something similar to a police state. The arrangements that were made by the Libyan authorities, by someone completely in total control and the people not having the ability to talk. Henceforth, it should not come as a surprise at all that the people of Libya came together in the Arab revolution in the spring. It was necessary and it happened. Those of us who visited Libya could see that and we easily knew that this was coming.

What stunned the whole world were the actions of Colonel Gadhafi to democratic reforms. It is quite interesting that when he was at the African Union summit he called himself the “king of the kings” and he wanted to promote himself at the leader of the united states of Africa. I am really glad that the other African nations saw that and put a stop to his nonsense. If he could not do anything with his own country, which is rich in oil resources, then one could say that it was time for him to go. It was great that the people of Libya stood up for change.

I am also very pleased that Canada stood behind them as part of its human rights act and part of its promotion of democracy as we supported the Arab spring that was talking place both in Tunisia and Egypt. Canada took decisive steps when the dictators tried to stop expressions of freedom in those countries. Canada and this Prime Minister took very strong steps imposing sanctions and freezing assets of dictators' families. As a matter of fact, there was a debate in the House to change that law because there was no UN sanction. This government introduced a law in Canada where we can actually freeze assets when the assets are stolen from the people of the country. That was very strong action taken by this government.

To go back to the issue, this government has said that we will work under the multilateral organization. Henceforth, when the UN Security Council heard in horror what Colonel Gadhafi was going to do, it agreed that there was a need to protect the civilians, People need to know that the security council is a very strong member of the African Union. The task was given to NATO. There is an obligation for Canada, as a NATO member, that when NATO is involved, we become involved. We cannot sit on the side and put forward caveats and say that we are a member of NATO, but we will not do this or that. That has been very evident in Afghanistan.

The parliamentary secretary, with our ambassador in Afghanistan, was a witness to the caveats that were there by other NATO members. At the same time, Canada stood immediately when NATO called for action over there, of the no-fly zone. It just confuses me that the NDP members said that there should be a no-fly zone. How should there be a no-fly zone? By whom? By just imposing that? Let us not talk about the NDP position. It confuses everyone.

We rose to the occasion. Our soldiers and our airmen went to fight for democracy, for our core Canadian values, to protect the civilians. They have done a marvellous job and NATO forces are led by a Canadian, as was said by the prime minister of Britain when he addressed the House.

After having all of those actions, and as has been rightly pointed out, we have gone all the way and the NTC has now taken quite a deep root there. The foreign affairs minister went to Libya and met with the NTC to see what its plan was. The Prime Minister has just returned back from a high-level meeting in New York with other leaders, chaired by the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The reconstruction will be done under the UN mandate. The whole development process will be all done through reconstruction building of the democratic institutions. It will all be done under the UN mandate and Canada will play a very strong role.

This weekend I was at the UN General Assembly at a meeting with my counterparts, this time from the African nations. It was very interesting that there was a change in the attitude of all the African leaders. They all now agree that it is time to move on. The NTC is in power. They have all recognized the NTC as a legitimate organizer and government of Libya. The NTC has now taken its seat at the United Nations. It is very important to see the whole world recognizing the NTC. This indicates a success of this mission.

However, we keep hearing reports that Gadhafi's forces are still fighting and still threatening. Therefore, it would be absolutely foolish to walk away and say that we went there to protect them but, as the NDP wants, we will leave them half way through, without giving them protection, so they are on their own. Even the defence critic of the NDP stated he saw on the BBC that the fighting was still going on, Gadhafi is not captured and his children are still calling for the fighting to continue. In recognition of this factor, NATO came out last week and said that the Libya mission would be extended for three months. Henceforth, we are back in Parliament telling that part of it. The world community is now saying that it is time to finish this job.

Colonel Gadhafi, or let us say bluntly, dictator Gadhafi, used to buy all his votes with his own money. He was not a democrat. We saw it in countries next door to Libya, whatever he was promoting, there was bribery. He was giving money to other countries and bought a membership to the African Union. That is fine. That is how he got his support. However, today, having come back from the UN, all of those countries have recognized the fact that the NTC is now in charge. The people of Libya have spoken and they have spoken very strongly.

It was a job for Canada and Canadians to go there and do it, and Canada did it remarkably well. Our soldiers stand out there.

I call upon the NDP to revisit its position and ask for an extension of three months. Hopefully, within a very short period of time, Colonel Gadhafi will be found, will be charged by NTC, brought to justice and he and his children will have to pay for their crimes. As soon as Colonel Gadhafi is found and he cannot tell his soldiers to fight, they will all disappear and peace will return to those cities he is still controlling. Then NATO's mission is done. Then the other mission comes in, which we talk about in the motion, of building the democratic institutions for that country.

When I was in Libya, nothing existed there. It is like starting from scratch. I also visited South Sudan. At the general assembly there were two new members. One was the new nation of South Sudan, which proudly took its seat at the UN general assembly. The other was the NTC, which took over Libya's seat as the legitimate government of the people of Libya. These were two monumental effects.

The world is now on the brink of sending a strong message. We see the Arab revolution and what is going on in Yemen. It is a cause of serious concern. We see what is happening in Tunisia, another cause of serious concern. We are not saying that there should be military intervention, or whatever. We have put very strong sanctions against Syria. However, when the dictators of these regimes see that the world is willing to act if they threaten their people, as we have done in Libya, then a very strong message goes out to them. The right of the people to speak is paramount, the promotion of democracy is paramount.

That is the issue that has come out from Libya. That is what the NDP should understand. The point still remains that the military mission is not complete.

When the defence critic said that attitude of the Prime Minister was militaristic, that is utter nonsense. We went there under the NATO call. We do not have any desire for military advances anywhere else, neither will we go anywhere else. That is an absolutely misleading statement made by the NDP. It cannot defend its position when it finds it is totally out of step with the values of the world.

I want to say in strong terms that around the international stage Libya is seen now as one of the key examples where the world spoke when a dictator was willing to slaughter his own people. We are getting, unfortunately, reports that thus is still happening.

The NDP keeps talking about regime change. What does it want to do, leave that dictator there to throttle his people? What about the humanitarian factor? Who would we talk to, that dictator who is not willing to listen? It is only in the minds of NDP members to think that they do not need this thing and they can talk to a dictator who does not want to talk to them.

Anyway, it is good news that the government has taken a very strong stand with these four pillars. We have stood up on the international stage. Even the NDP has to admit that it was a great thing we did, that the military acted very responsibly.

It is very important. Our military stands for Canadian values. We promote our Canadian values. In the case of Libya, it was a very clear fact that not only were we protecting the civilians under the UN charter, but we were upholding our Canadian values with our military support.

Libya
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to refute a number of attacks that the hon. parliamentary secretary has made on our party and me, but we did not go to Libya at the request of NATO or as part of NATO. We went there on our own in response to resolution 1973. NATO came afterwards to coordinate the command because it was the one capable of doing it. The Americans were coordinating it first, but they did not want to do that.

The government gave lip service to the Arab Spring, for example, failing to really support the efforts in Egypt or Tunisia. It then failed to provide any financial support to the new regimes, saying that we were already giving to some international fund.

One of our worries is that the same thing is happening in Libya and that the government is prepared to spend money on the military mission and will continue to do so into the future, instead of taking the position now that the job is mostly done, or almost done, as far as any military involvement and that Canada does not need to be there.

However, Canada could be putting more resources and money into the post-conflict issues, which we talked about and which our amendment seeks to have Canada do.

Why will the government not do that? It did not do it in Egypt. It did not do it in Tunisia. It seems to me that the government is not going to do in Libya, as it is only interested in continuing the military aspect.

Libya
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is not correct. As soon as the Arab Spring started in Tunisia, the government acted very strongly, freezing assets and with sanctions and in supporting the democracy movement over there. When it happened in Egypt, we were there.

However, Canada does not act unilaterally. Canada acts with its allies and partners to ensure there is an effective use of taxpayer money.

Henceforth, in all the areas that the member has talked about, where he just wants Canada to take a unilateral action, the answer is no. We work with our partners, our NATO partners and our like-minded country partners, the Arab League, the African Union, collectively, to ensure we support the principles I have outlined.

We will continue to do that and we will continue to do that in Libya as well. First, we need to have the security, as we are doing in Afghanistan.

Libya
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo
B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk a little more about the irresponsible position of the NDP. I find it absolutely stunning.

In March 2011 Gadhafi was saying that he would fight for every square inch in his land and that he would die as a martyr. Even as early as August, the NDP was talking about abandoning the people of Libya.

I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary this. If we actually were to follow the irresponsible position of the NDP back in August, or now, what would the dangers be in terms of that stance?

Libya
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, our country has been at the forefront in promoting democracy and the rule of law. We have been giving support to establishments and institutions that do that.

The NDP seems to think that we can go halfway and then turn our backs and disappear. As I have said, what the NDP is saying is very confusing and difficult to understand.

For my good friends on the NDP side, security remains a key point if we want to bring development to that country. Let us look at Afghanistan. With the security situation in Afghanistan, we were able to build schools, send girls to school, do immunizations and promote human rights and women's rights.

If the NDP wants to support Canadian values, it must recognize that comes with the price of supporting and engaging in missions with our partners, in this case NATO.

Libya
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, we certainly agree, as the Green Party, that the responsibility to protect civilians is the reason we became engaged in Libya and is our primary responsibility. There are troubling indications that the new rebel government is not acting to protect civilians if they are assumed to have ever been supporters of Mr. Gadhafi, including an entire family, women and children who have been shot upon because they have been mistaken for family members of Gadhafi. There is also the looming crisis for sub-Saharan migrant workers within Libya who lack human rights protection.

In this ongoing mission, I doubt that the Canadian Forces will be invited to protect those groups because the Libyan rebel government has said no foreign troops, whether United Nations or others, will come into Libya to help secure civilian safety.

How does the hon. parliamentary secretary see Canada's role in protecting civilians now?

Libya
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question with regard to holding the NTC accountable. It is understandable there are concerns regarding that.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs visited with the NTC. He sat with its members and asked them to clearly show what plan they had to run the country on the basis of the principles of the rule of law, human rights and so forth.

As well, as I just said, the Prime Minister has gone to the United Nations to attend high-level meetings concerning how the NTC will be held accountable for its actions and what it has to do. If disturbing reports should come out, I can assure members that Canada will make its views known to the new government in Libya.

Libya
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to clarify a couple of things because the parliamentary secretary took maybe a bit of licence with the past. He does that every once in a while and my job is to bring him back to what I think is reality.

The fact of the matter is that we supported the no-fly provision from the beginning. He knows that. In fact, as my colleague said, it was not under NATO command and control when the no-fly provision was first brought in. I want to know whether he knows that. Can he tell us who was actually providing the oversight for the no-fly provision before NATO came into play?

Libya
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely confused. With whom would he expect to have a no-fly provision? With the Libyan air force? It had to be NATO. Who gave NATO the mandate? The UN gave NATO the mandate. The UN has no forces there.

Let me get this straight again.

Libya
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

The U.S.

Libya
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, with whom does he expect to have a no-fly zone? The task was given to NATO by the United Nations.

Libya
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, just to help my friend the parliamentary secretary, the answer to the question I posed is the United States was the country that was actually engaged with the no-fly provision. It is important to have the facts. It disturbs me when I hear the parliamentary secretary say that NATO was in charge of the no-fly provision when it was not. We saw this before. I remember well in 2006 during the debate on Afghanistan when it was pointed out to the government that we were not under the command and control of NATO at the beginning. We were actually under American command and control. That is without prejudice. It was the fact, and we have to have the facts on the table.

I want to start off with some facts as we address the motion and the amendment that we have put forward.

The New Democratic Party was the first party to put forward the idea of civilian protection through the United Nations, through the no-fly provision. We took that position seriously because of the threat of Gadhafi on the Libyan people.

It has not been mentioned enough here today, but we took that position because Canada was responsible for Gadhafi being able to buy the munition that he was using against his own people. Canada was doing truck and trade with him, but that has not been brought up much by members on the other side. We were happy to have oil and gas contracts with Gadhafi. One Canadian firm was building a prison. No one talked about that, but the Libyan people knew that. They knew that the Canadian government was blessing Canadian corporations to trade with Gadhafi.

Let us be honest in this debate about what was happening. Make no mistake that we aided Gadhafi in what he was doing. NDP members were very clear in their position. We stood with the Libyan people and we said they needed to be protected.

We are going to hear a lot of other points from the government but let us have some facts here. I am not associating with any individual member of Parliament here, but let us acknowledge that Canada was collectively responsible for aiding and abetting Mr. Gadhafi because we were doing truck and trade with him. That is a fact, and I think everyone on the other side would agree with that. One corporation was building a prison. We know what was going on in the prisons. We only had to read the reports from Amnesty International and others. Let us not pretend that we did not know. Let us be factual.

What else did the NDP do? We said that we should protect the Libyan people. We said there should be a no-fly provision. Unlike my friends in the Liberal Party, we said it should be through the United Nations. A couple of days after we brought forward our position, the Liberal Party brought forward its position. To be fair to those members, they thought it could not happen through the UN. They thought the only way to go was through NATO.

Our position and our principle on this are very clear. I heard the leader of the Liberal Party suggest that he did not think it would happen through the UN. My goodness, we have to try. When it comes to multilateral action, the UN is the place we should approach to try to get acceptance for multilateral action. That is exactly what our position was and still is.

What happened is the motion was brought forward and we amended that motion. We worked with the government to amend the motion in the House. Everyone accepted the amendments we put forward. The amendments were to ensure there was a timeline of three months. That was the responsible thing to do.

We said there should be no boots on the ground, and the government and the other parties agreed with that.

We said that the motion should adhere to United Nations Resolution 1973. That had to be in the motion. It was not just about supporting the military component, which we agreed should be a part of it. We understood that. Let us be factual about that as well. We had to protect civilians and the way to do that was through the no-fly provision. We get that, but we had to have a timeline. We had to make sure this would not turn into a conflict with boots on the ground as they say.

The second motion came before the House. Again, we thought it was important to put forward an amendment. We asked that reference to the disturbing phenomenon we have seen in the Congo and other places where rape is being used as a weapon of war be put in the motion. We asked that there be resources to ensure there is support for victims and an investigation of rape as a weapon of war. That amendment was from the NDP. It was absolutely critical for us to have that in there, because it is one thing to acknowledge something, but there also needs to be support. We worked to change the motion to include that.

There is something else that is absolutely vital when we talk about the situation on the ground in Libya. We added that this would be a Libyan-led reconciliation and reconstruction, that it was not the place for Canada or anyone else to dictate terms from outside. That is exactly what has happened in the past and we should not see it again, that somehow, because we supported intervention to protect civilians we would dictate the terms. That is the old politics in global affairs. I think the government agrees it should be a Libyan-led initiative. We added that amendment to the motion.

We also said that after three months we should end our support for the military part of the equation and bring the matter back to the House for review, and here we are.

That is the trajectory of our participation in this debate and the motions that were passed by the House. Today the situation on the ground requires a lot of heavy lifting in terms of reconstruction and civilian support. There are a couple of things which I think Canada could do.

First we need to have a comprehensive approach, including multidisciplinary support for humanitarian law, human rights, law enforcement, economic development, constitutional processes, election monitoring and other essential elements for state building.

Then we need civilian political leadership. Usually the Special Representative of the Secretary General is responsible for the arduous task of coordinating the efforts of the United Nations agencies, regional agencies and other governments.

Finally, the Libyan people have to take ownership of the peace building process and of establishing accountability of Libya's national institutions and political players.

On these three things and the idea that we can help with an overall approach, a multi-disciplinary and multilateral approach to help the Libyan people rebuild their country, is where we would like to see our focus.

That is why we amended the motion. We amended the motion to have that comprehensive approach and to make sure that we are not putting all our eggs in one basket. Frankly, that was our concern with the extension of the mission in Afghanistan.

As an aside, I am glad we are having this debate in the House because, unlike the case of the extension of the mission in Afghanistan, we are able to actually debate it. Members will recall that when the government decided to extend the mission in Afghanistan, even though there was a military facet to it, we did not get to debate or vote on it in the House. I welcome the fact that the government is doing it this time. Frankly, it was one of the amendments we got into the Libyan mission resolution before.

The civilian political leadership that I referenced is usually something we let others do, but I think Canada has to do more here. There is a very large challenge in front of the Libyan people, and that is also the case in Egypt and Tunisia. There is a challenge of coordinating the actions of the UN agencies. People in the House who have worked on the ground for the UN know that coordinating the UN agencies is a really critical role and will dictate whether or not there will be success on the ground. I know that Canada has a lot to offer in this area. We should be putting our focus there.

Finally, there has to be an ownership of this by the Libyan people for peace-building. We know that the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission is one that has had a lot of support from actors like Canada in the past. In fact, it was a Canadian who helped get it going. We have the capability to help with peace building, but we need to make sure it is focused on Libyans doing the development and the work in concert with other actors. I think that is where Canada could play a role.

It was said in the House by others that somehow the NDP is abandoning the Libyan people. I just gave an overview of how we were involved from the beginning. I ask other members of the House to at least acknowledge that we might disagree on how to get there, but let us be honest in that I think we all want to help the Libyan people. We want to help Libya rebuild. We want to make sure that they do not go back to the terms that they were living under before. Let us change the tone of accusation and talk about what propositions we have.

When we are talking about Canada's role in the world, I do not think it does us good service to attack the motives of each other. I think it would helpful for Canadians to see that there are choices in front of us, although perhaps we disagree on those choices.

Hopefully members will have read our amendment. We believe that right now, since we have fulfilled our commitment of the motions that were passed in the House on the military side, we could put our focus on supporting the civilian and governance mission and put our resources there.

No one is abandoning Libya. No one is going to stand by and watch the return of Gadhafi. However, we can play a role by doing the heavy lifting in supporting development and governance. This is an area in which Canada has a lot to offer. We are putting this idea forward because we believe it is how we can support the Libyan people.

I have observed over time, particularly with the Arab Spring, that it is very difficult for nation states and countries to stay in for the long haul. It is easy sometimes to be there just for a short period of time. We think it is our obligation and our collective responsibility, for the aforementioned reasons of having truck and trade with the Gadhafi regime, not just to leave after he departs. We need to be there for the long haul to help with institution building and constitution making.

With regard to constitution making, think of what we have to offer.

In 2007 I was in Iraq. I was there because were invited as Canadians to talk about constitution building, to talk about our example of a very diverse population that has different economic interests throughout and how we keep all that together.

The failure of the Bush administration to bring Iraqis in to look at how they would organize their country is a lesson for all of us. The Iraqis were asking me and other Canadians to join them in looking at how they could perhaps do things differently.

I think that is where Canada can play a role. The federal system we have here deals with a diversity of regional differences and linguistic differences. We have had lots of acrimonious debates over the years, and sometimes it is tough. However, we do it in a way that respects the diversity of our country. That is what people are looking for, and they trust us. That is what we should be offering right now as Libya looks to start anew.

The other thing we can help with is rebuilding their health system. I know of many Libyan Canadians who have already gone to Libya to help rebuild the system. Many Libyan Canadian doctors, on their own dime, have already gone and helped. We could be helping rebuild their health system.

When we look the opportunities for Canada to help, there are many. All we are saying here on this side of the House is that we believe we have done our share in terms of the no-fly zone. It is something we had advocated from the beginning. It worked. We actually kept it in our motion, making sure that there is an opportunity for us to help even more.

As we go through this debate, let us look at what each of us has to offer. What the NDP is saying very clearly is that we can offer continuing support to the Libyan people by making sure that we can provide Canada's excellence and professionalism in areas like institution building and making sure that there are services for all Libyans in their health system and in other areas.

That is what we can do. We believe that is the right thing to do right now. At the end of the day, I think that is what Canadians want. We are proud of our ability to lead internationally. We are proud of our capability to ensure that what we have here we can share with others, not in an arrogant way or a way that undermines the sovereignty of a country, but in a way that actually strengthens it.

I will finish by saying what I said at the beginning: we had a collective responsibility to act in Libya. Whether or not we should have acted is not the question; the question is how we should act now. That is what our amendment is about. That is what I think Canadians want to see. That is why I hope there will be some support from other members for our amendments.

Libya
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to my colleague's speech, as I did to the earlier speech by the defence critic for the New Democratic Party.

In both of the speeches there was an implication or innuendo that somehow the original motion had neglected the rebuilding part of what is so necessary in Libya. I think it is important for all members of the House, and indeed Canadians who may be watching this debate, to be reminded that the original motion clearly included the rebuilding phase.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, with your permission I would like to read a small portion of the original motion.

...that the House continues to support Canada's engagement in all spheres in the rebuilding of a new Libya, including human rights, democratic development and the rule of law

Later the motion goes on to refer to UNSC resolution 1973 and the “rebuilding of the new Libya”, and to note that the House continues to offer its wholehearted and unconditional support to the brave men and women of the Canadian armed forces, who stand on guard for all of us and continue to protect Libyan civilians from the risk still posed by the Gadhafi regime.

In his remarks earlier today, the minister commented on our commitment to improving the access to humanitarian aid, improving women's rights, and improving religious freedom. The reality is that there needs to be security to have those issues advanced. How would the member envision these improvements continuing to be worked on without the continuing presence of our military personnel to provide that security?

Libya
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am trying to untangle the member's point, but he seems to be saying that our participation through UN resolution 1973 was about security on the ground. I believe that if he reads the text, he will see that it was to provide protection to civilians through a no-fly provision, but perhaps we can talk further about that later.

The point is about what is required right now. We amended the motion of the House earlier to ensure there was support for those who were victims of rape and for those who had to flee. Now it is a matter of what we need to emphasize right now.

We think we should be putting our focus on rebuilding, reconstruction and constitution making, if asked. Certainly we should offer. Again, this is about choices that we have in front of us. We believe the choices for Canada are very clear. We should go directly to help rebuild Libya and help it with its nascent democracy.

If we are not able to do that, I think we have failed. It is one thing to provide support to protect civilians, but we have to be there for the long haul and for the hard work ahead. That is what our emphasis is on this side of the House.

Libya
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will try to summarize the positions of the various parties. It appears that the government's position is largely one of extending military involvement, notwithstanding some wording in the resolution. The NDP's position is that it is time to withdraw the military and go with development and diplomacy. Our party's position is that we really need all three in order to achieve that. This is why we will be supporting the motion as amended.

I am somewhat disappointed in the position of the hon. member's party with respect to the phrasing “we have done our share”, and my question in some respects follows the previous hon. member's.

Does the member not see that if we are withdrawing militarily, we will possibly create circumstances through which a conflict will continue, and that the very goals the member wishes to achieve basically through development and diplomacy will be put in jeopardy? In fact, if NATO withdraws and if Canada in particular withdraws, Gadhafi's loyalists will be emboldened, and there would be greater likelihood that this conflict would go on for a longer time rather than a shorter one.

Libya
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague was wrong in saying that they were going to support the motion as amended. I am not sure if the position of the Liberal Party is in support of our amendment. We may need some clarification on that.

The member is getting a little ahead of himself, because he is saying that if we follow the NDP, the whole thing will be done and no one will be left to support the mission on the military side. We are following along the lines of what the House passed in terms of the two resolutions. I remember that the second resolution basically said that three months should be sufficient and that if we could not end things by September, then there would be questions about the whole thing.

We are not talking about withdrawal. We are talking about Canada's support for this part of the mission being done. That is what the House debated, and that is why we are here today discussing it.

If the member supports our amendment, which would change our contribution on the military side, I do not think he really believes that the whole thing would collapse.

We are talking about what is a priority for Canada right now. Norway and other countries supported the no-fly provision, then said they had done their share on the military side, and then focused on other aspects of the mission. That is what we are talking about: the rebuilding side. Those are the facts.

I would like some clarification from the Liberal Party members as to whether they are supporting our amendment or not. As I said, I would love the support and I look forward to clarification on that matter.

Libya
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will start off by thanking the member for Ottawa Centre for so clearly articulating the position of the NDP when it comes to the mission in Libya. As was stated, it is very committed to supporting the Libyan people.

However, we are hearing a lot of talk about the regime change in Libya. Could the member speak more to the distinction between this rhetoric and the actual purpose of UN resolution 1973?

Libya
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is important to get back to what this is about. Although it has to do with the UN, it is not about NATO. It is about the Libyan people.

If we look at how we can best support them, it is by returning to the motion we helped to amend the last time there was an extension. It explicitly states that we will support a Libyan-led reconciliation and development. We believe that should be our focus.

Although I have not heard much about it today, some members on the other side had strayed toward the notion that it was actually about changing government. We can stay away from that language and still deal with Gadhafi. I said that at the beginning of my speech.

We supported Gadhafi by doing trade with him. Entering into contracts with him for oil or to build prisons made us collectively responsible.That is why we believed we had to act.

It has been implied by some that because we do not believe in taking sides in a conflict we have suddenly become Gadhafi's best friend. Of course that is ridiculous. That is why I say the tone of the debate is important. It is fine to disagree on how to help the Libyan people. That is what this place is about. There are choices in front of us. Our choice is to start helping the Libyan people by focusing on institution building.

I do not believe there is an air force under Gadhafi's control any longer. Certainly there are things that need to be dealt with. However, we believe that right now Canada's role should be one of helping Libyan civilians build institutions and rebuild Libya. That is what people want to see.

Libya
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora
Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Ajax—Pickering.

I am very pleased to rise and talk to some of the things Canada has been doing to help the Libyan people and how we are involved with our international partners.

We are all familiar with the events that led to the crisis in Libya. On February 16, the Libyan people began rising up against the tyranny of Moammar Gadhafi. After four decades of oppressive rule, the people of Libya expressed their desire for change.

Gadhafi's response defies any comprehension. He attempted a brutal and bloody repression of the dissent. Gadhafi used the Libyan military to conduct operations against his own people. He pitted Libyan soldiers against Libyan civilians. The resulting conflict plunged the country into chaos. Countless refugees and over 685,000 migrant workers fled the country. Helping them return to their homes and countries of origin is a priority for the international community.

These events set the stage for today. Canada responded to the crisis with a whole-of-government response. While the Canadian International Development Agency never had a bilateral aid program in Libya, Canada responded to the humanitarian needs of the civilian population. Although the humanitarian situation is now rapidly stabilizing, some needs persist in specific locations: the need for water, fuel, medical supplies and humanitarian workers.

The reports of sexual violence against women deeply troubled our government. Accordingly, we helped protect women and girls from gender-based violence including sexual assaults. The Minister of International Cooperation announced additional funding in June of this year to address this issue. As a trusted partner, the International Committee of the Red Cross provides protection and medical services to women who have suffered sexual violence. In total, Canada has committed $10.6 million, of which CIDA provided $10 million, to our humanitarian partners. Those partners include the UN World Food Programme, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Red Cross, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Population Fund.

Allow me to give the House a more detailed breakdown of how Canada disbursed its humanitarian assistance. The International Organization for Migration receives support for repatriating those migrants who had been displaced by the fighting in Libya. To date, the IOM has repatriated 208,000 third-country nationals to their countries of origin.

Canada gave support to the International Committee of the Red Cross to meet food, non-food, water, sanitation and emergency medical needs inside Libya and to support the relief efforts in Tunisia and Egypt. To date, the Red Cross has reached 780,000 people.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies received Canadian support for humanitarian relief, including food, non-food items and medical support to displaced migrants in Egypt and Tunisia. This support helped its members reach 200,000 people.

The United Nations World Food Programme provided emergency food assistance to displaced and conflict-affected populations in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.

Our support to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees provided shelter, non-food items, water and sanitation for refugees and migrants who had been displaced to neighbouring countries.

The Canadian Red Cross Society received support from our government to transport humanitarian relief supplies from its stockpiles in Dubai to Tunisia.

As well, we worked with the United Nations Population Fund to help protect women and girls from gender-based violence, including sexual assaults, and to provide critical care to victims of gender-based violence in Libya.

In addition, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade contributed financial support to help protect UN humanitarian workers.

Let me bring fellow members up to date on the current situation.

Most of Libya, including Tripoli, is now firmly under the control of the interim National Transitional Council. Many nations around the world recognize the legitimacy of the NTC. Outside the UN last week the new flag of Libya flew as the international community met for a general assembly. Now that the NTC has been established, Canada hopes that a democracy will emerge over the next two years.

In light of the urgent requirement to ensure stabilization, the NTC must focus on the essential tasks of establishing security throughout the country as well as delivering food, medical services and emergency assistance to people in need.

Libya is a relatively resource rich country with a per capita income of $14,000 to $15,000. That is why CIDA did not operate there in the past in an official bilateral capacity. As Libya's assets are no longer frozen, Canada expects it to lead the way and provide most of the funding for its reconstruction efforts.

On September 1, our Prime Minister attended the Friends of Libya meeting in Paris chaired by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The meeting explored opportunities for international partners to support the NTC in its efforts to establish a democratic state.

Following the meeting, the Prime Minister announced that Canada would lift the economic sanctions since the brutal Gadhafi regime no longer held power over the Libyan people. Canada has re-established its diplomatic presence in Tripoli. As well, it has secured an exemption from the United Nations Security Council's sanctions committee to unfreeze Libyan assets so that the Libyans can meet their humanitarian and reconstruction needs.

The government will continue to monitor and assess the situation on the ground taking into account the needs identified by the NTC, the United Nations and other partners, including Canadian non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

We remain committed to the Libyan people as they try to put the brutality of the Gadhafi regime behind them. The job is not yet done. Canada remains committed to our Libyan friends in their quest for freedom and security. We cannot abandon them in this time of need.

Our Prime Minister gave a remarkable speech to the Canadian armed forces personnel involved in this crisis. I would like to read a section of it into the record.

He said:

...thanks to [our men and women in uniform], there is new hope [for Libya], which gives some proof to the old saying: 'a handful of soldiers is better than a mouthful of arguments.' For the Gaddafis of this world pay no attention to the force of argument, the only thing they [understand] is the argument of force. And that you have delivered in a cause that is good and right, and all Canadians thank you for the great job you have been doing.

Ladies and gentlemen, Gaddafi is now out of power--not yet finished--but his remaining control is inexorably ebbing away. And history will record this: that it was the good work of Canada's Armed Services --your work--working with our allies, that enabled the Libyan people to remove Gaddafi from power.

They used to claim that in international affairs, and you’ve heard the quote many times: ‘Canada punched above its weight.’ Well, to punch above your weight, you first have to be able to punch, and that is what you have done here. Numbers don't tell the whole story, but it bears repeating that the RCAF has flown--without caveats--more than 750 strike sorties against Gaddafi’s forces--a good 10 per cent of the total strikes.

Thanks to our men and women in uniform and thanks to our humanitarian efforts Canada punched above its weight again. We punched above our weight and helped free the Libyan people from the brutal oppression of Moammar Gadhafi. We must finish the job.

Libya
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, today the defence minister talked about the overall costs for the Libya mission.

I listened to the member's speech with interest. I am wondering if she could confirm the price tag of $100 million.

Libya
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will let the Minister of National Defence confirm those numbers.

I can confirm for the House that the international development money that has gone into Libya for assistance with humanitarian aid is $10.6 million. We have assisted people who have been displaced by the conflict. We are working with our international partners like the International Red Cross to see that people have assistance with food, water and medical services.

Libya
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is regarding the health and welfare of the population.

I would like to know if the main health priority continues to be injuries or if it is now secondary interventions? Are there shortages of life-saving products, including antiretroviral drugs, chemotherapy regimes, immunosuppressive drugs, insulin, psychiatric drugs, as well as blood products, dialysis supplies, laboratory reagents and vaccines? Can the hon. member comment on medical stock supplies now?

Libya
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I had the delightful opportunity to spend some time on Friday evening in Quebec City with the members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies who were there for their annual meeting prior to their meetings in Geneva in November.

I am very pleased to say that the International Red Cross is very pleased with the assistance that has been given, particularly by Canada. The medical situation is under control right now. It feels that it is moving on to other humanitarian needs as they present themselves.

Libya
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the things the hon. parliamentary secretary talked about in her comments was that there is a hope that in about two years there would be a democracy that would start to take hold in a bigger way than it has. Part of what we are doing is actually backfilling, along with the security that we provide, which is part of the solution. We cannot just walk away now when we are so close, as we are providing food, medical and infrastructure support to the people in Libya.

Since we have unfrozen a lot of the Libyan assets, that would now give the country and its people the financial ability to help rebuild. I wonder if that is an important part of what we will be able to help them with in terms of rebuilding needed things such as food, medicine and infrastructure.

Libya
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, indeed, it is the hope of Canada that we see Libya move to a full democracy with fair and transparent elections. I am sure Canada would have a part in that.

Unfreezing Libyan assets has been very important to allow the Libyan people to start making their own plans for the future. Canada will continue to work with our international partners on all fronts.

As I said earlier, the International Red Cross is there on the ground. We have many partners there who are working with the Libyan people and Canada will be a tremendous asset for them in providing guidance.

Libya
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering
Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak in this House again in support of our continuing engagement in Libya. I also have enormous pleasure in rising in this House to add my voice to those paying tribute to our fighting Canadian Forces, to the men and women in uniform of our Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy who remain in action off the coast of Libya and in the skies above Libya.

This operation was already well underway when I joined the defence team in May. Even as our last general election was taking place, Canada had stepped up in response to the cries of the Libyan people under attack by their own government and under a mandate from the United Nations Security Council.

We quickly coordinated our military effort with the international community and thanks to the Canadian Forces' ability to deploy quickly, Canada was well placed to actively participate in protecting Libyan civilians.

When NATO took command of the international mission on March 31, the Canadian Forces were already well engaged. We heard some of that history reprised in the debate already today. We were active in the evacuation of Canadian nationals in February. HMCS Charlottetown had left port for theatre as early as March 2. Canada has been and continues to be at the forefront of the international effort to bring a peaceful and more stable Libya into being.

Thanks to the brave contribution of Canadian sailors and air personnel, Canada has played and continues to play a significant role in the NATO mission. We have contributed significantly with 6% of all sorties flown, 9% of strike sorties, and 7% of the air-to-air refueling sorties. A story that remains under-acknowledged in our media and in our debates is the story of maritime surveillance where two Canadian aircraft have played a role out of all proportion with our size delivering absolutely essential information intelligence about the deployment of Gadhafi forces on the ground to all of our allies and contributing mightily to the success of this mission.

HMCS Charlottetown contributed to ensuring the navigability of the waters to make sure that humanitarian aid could reach the people in need. It participated in the imposition of a weapons embargo and a no-fly zone. In this way, it helped in protecting the Libyan people, especially in the Misrata port region, and weakening an oppressive regime that was attacking its own people.

While performing its duties, as many members of the House will already know, the frigate was fired upon on two occasions by forces loyal to Colonel Gadhafi. This was the first time a Canadian vessel has been fired upon since the Korean war. In spite of this level of threat, our men and women in uniform successfully accomplished their important mission. They have paved the way for a democratic transition that we are now witnessing in Libya.

We have achieved much with our allies and partners in only six months. Today, the will of the Libyan people is being fulfilled. Colonel Gadhafi has been ousted from power and has gone into hiding. His ability to wage war has been reduced. The Libyan people are beginning to build a future under the guidance of their new government, the national transitional council.

Through the effective enforcement of the UN mandate we have save countless lives. We are helping Libyans rebuild normal lives and take the future into their own hands. For the first time in 42 years the Libyan people are out from under the yoke of a tyrannical despot. This is the dawn of a new day for Libya.

The decision of the House to support the Canadian armed forces military mission in March and June was the right thing to do, and I am pleased to hear many members of the House acknowledging the depth, the richness of briefings we have all received or had access to over those six months. There were briefings in the committee on national defence, the committee on foreign affairs, as well as informal briefings of opposition leaders and members.

Even since our last briefing at the national defence committee last week, we have seen progress on the ground. The region of Sabha, which had been still under the control of pro-Gadhafi forces, came under the control of the new government, releasing a population from those bonds in which they had been held, opening them to the humanitarian assistance that is now flowing into Libya and making it possible for the new government to start delivering services.

We should be justifiably proud of these very concrete results that our men and women in uniform, and our civilian officials, operating with United Nations agencies, operating in NATO, operating with NGOs, have managed to accomplish.

While there is cause to be cautiously optimistic, we must temper our enthusiasm and resist the urge to hastily declare victory and go home. Yes, Gadhafi and his forces are wounded and on the run, but as evidence found, there is ongoing fighting in around the towns of Bani Walid and Sirte. He and his loyalists still pose a grave threat to the population of Libya. A share of the population in those central areas and the areas south of them may amount to 15% of Libya, but we cannot abandon those still in danger. That is why we must extend our military contribution and continue to work with our allies to ensure civilians in Libya are protected.

Simply put, there is still work to do. Even as the threat of Gadhafi passes, we must be mindful of the challenges ahead. It is up to the people of Libya to decide their future. We should be encouraged by the national transitional council's road map for transition, that it has begun to create a new Libya based on democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and reconciliation, values that we took with us in joining this mission and in agreeing to do so much under United Nations authorization.

Nevertheless, during these critical first days, we must remain engaged and offer our help to Libya, which is rebuilding and entering a new phase. Just as it was our moral duty to intervene in Libya when its people were being killed by an autocratic tyrant, it is essential that we continue to offer our support and participate in building the foundations of a new Libya and that we reinforce the significant freedoms that were gained as a result of Canada's efforts.

The challenges will remain numerous. The new government has to undertake immense tasks, restoring public security, establishing the rule of law, co-ordinating humanitarian assistance. It has to begin national reconciliation.

For all of these reasons, we cannot abandon Libya now. We must remain engaged. We must remain engaged until Libyans have a civilian government that is able to protect them itself.

Our military and diplomatic efforts, as the minister said during his speech, remain essential to achieving this goal.

There are still several campaigns under way, not only on a military one, a humanitarian one, a diplomatic one, and they are linked, as we have seen in places like Zabul. Without military progress, there will not be humanitarian relief. Basic needs of a vulnerable population will not be met.

In closing, let me simply remind the House that the reasons to stand against the Gadhafi regime, which brought us all together in two previous votes behind resolutions of this House, have not changed. It is simply not acceptable to assume that eroding defensive positions around Sirte and Bani Walid will just melt away, without a continuing effort on the part of NATO allies, non-NATO allies, and Canadian Forces. That is simply not true.

Nor is it possible to claim that Canada's civilian effort has lagged behind its military effort. It is simply not true. When the member for Toronto Centre tells us that $10.6 million in humanitarian and other forms of relief is not enough, that releasing over $2 billion, far more than any other country, to the Libyan government to help it deliver basic services is not enough, that the instrumental role of Canada within the friends of Libya group has not been enough, that re-opening our embassy among the first countries to do so is not enough, we part company with him on those points, even while appreciating the support of some members of the opposition for this resolution.

I want to thank the House for its support, for the brave men and women of the Canadian Forces. As the Minister of National Defence said, we cannot afford to leave Libya now. The gains, while substantial, are still fragile. The stakes are simply too high.

I encourage all members to support the extension of our mission in Libya.

Libya
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to personally thank the military personnel and diplomats for their hard work in accomplishing the job that they have done so far.

New Democrats supported the Canadian military mission and its extension in June in order to ensure that civilians were protected from the Gadhafi regime. The member just very well acknowledged that Gadhafi has been ousted from power and that regime is no longer there. He also indicated that people from Libya need to decide their own future. We know that the conflict is coming to an end and, as one of my colleagues mentioned a while ago, it could be just a matter of days, if not weeks.

Since the conflict is coming to an end, does he not think, based on his comments, that we should not be there on a military mission, that we should actually be there providing civilian expertise and resources for humanitarian assistance and helping with institution-building and democratic development? Should that not be our role? If we get into all of these other roles and we continue going down this road, will we not be setting a precedent for every other civil war that is out there?

Libya
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the reasons that led Canada to be involved in a military mission to protect civilians in March, renewed in June, are still there. There is absolutely no reason that any of us on this side of the House see to consider the well-being of civilians in Tripoli, Benghazi, now liberated, and Misrata as somehow more important than the well-being of civilians in Bani Walid and Sirte. This is one country. Libyans have the right to be treated equally.

The Gadhafi regime is out of power in the capital, out of power in most of the country. However, Gadhafi is still at large. He is still paying mercenaries. Members of his family are making inflammatory statements, threatening the life and limb of the most vulnerable parts of the population, including women and children, hiding themselves in schools and hospitals. And the member opposite wants us to drop the military mission, to give them, these tyrants, some breathing space.

This side of the House, this government, will never accept such hypocrisy.

Libya
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently, Ambassador Sandra McCardell returned to Libya. She made a clandestine visit and now she is moving back. Newspaper comments attributed to her having some business interests, promoting Canadian business interests, which I think are useful but possibly may be interpreted in a negative light by those who wish to see Libya transition to a fuller and more democratic state. It may particularly be seen in a negative light by those who think it is “all about oil”.

I would be interested in the hon. member's comments with respect to the issue of how we, as a nation and as part of a larger allied effort, engage in North Africa so that the fears of those who reside in that part of the world will be assuaged?

Libya
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member opposite knows just as well as we do on this side of the House that the main voices calling for the involvement of Canadian companies, of Canada's private sector, in the reconstruction of Libya and in the rehabilitation of the petroleum sector, which is the lifeblood of its economy, have been Libyan voices.

The new Libyan representatives to Canada have spoken in this regard. We have heard it from Libyan representatives at the many international conferences that have taken place. By encouraging our companies to be involved, as they were to some extent involved even before the conflict, we are simply responding to the deep-seated aspirations of the Libyan people to have an economy, to be able to pay their bills and to raise their standard of living after a year of hardship.

Libya
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP supported Canada's military involvement and also supported extending the mission, in June, in order to protect the people of Libya from the violence of the Gadhafi regime. The NDP's support for the two motions was in large part motivated by and based on the doctrine known as R2P, responsibility to protect. Canada was particularly proactive in developing this doctrine at a time when it truly believed in the prevention of political crises and genocides at the international level.

There are a number of pillars, a number of important elements, in the responsibility to protect. The first pillar is that the state carries the primary responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. However, what this doctrine says is that when a government is incapable of protecting its population from such crimes or dangers, or when it is the perpetrator of possible genocides, war crimes or crimes against humanity, the international community has a responsibility—an obligation—to intervene to protect the population, provided that it has the agreement of the Security Council.

We supported the first two motions regarding the mission in Libya because of this principle, this doctrine. We can say that it was a great success. The intervention went well and the situation on the ground has drastically changed.

I heard my colleague opposite say that Gadhafi has been ousted.

Recently, we have also heard Libyan leaders saying that the horror is over. The situation on the ground is therefore extremely different from the one that existed six months ago.

In light of what I believe we can refer to as this success, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our soldiers and diplomats, who worked very hard to achieve this goal.

Now that the situation on the ground has changed so much, we must focus on other things. Our job is not to extend the military intervention but, rather, to provide the expertise and civilian resources needed to give humanitarian assistance to the people and promote the building of state institutions and the development of democracy.

Just two days ago, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, said that, a few months ago, the Security Council and a number of regional agencies and arrangements took on the challenge of taking accelerated and decisive action to protect the people of Libya from violence. He added that, today, we once again have to take accelerated and decisive action, this time to strengthen peace and democracy.

Canada can play an essential role in helping Libya to rebuild peace. It will not be easy. I would like to quote from a very interesting document that was published by the World Federalist Movement-Canada, which aptly states:

...post-conflict peacebuilding is extraordinarily complicated. Many states relapse into armed conflict, due to a variety of factors including persisting ethnic rivalries, lack of economic opportunities and social cohesion, and the inability of international actors to adapt their assistance to the political dynamics of the societies they seek to support. A transition to a democratic Libya, in an ethnically diverse country that has experienced over four decades of authoritarian rule, will not be easy.

This transition will indeed be extremely difficult, but it is essential. It is of the utmost importance. We must start now if we do not want to face other problems 5, 10 or 20 years down the road that might force us to once again resort to the use of bombers or other such action. We must seize this opportunity now. The Arab spring must be able to fulfill all its promises.

Libya
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member. He will have 13 minutes to finish his remarks after question period.

We will move on to statements by members. The hon. member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission.

Jacynthe Geschke
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to recognize the achievements of one of my constituents, Jacynthe Geschke.

Jacynthe was recognized last night for her volunteer efforts with a community achievement award at the Naturally Autistic People Awards and Convention. This was one of only 11 awards given out worldwide this year.

What makes Jacynthe's achievement special is that she, herself, is a young adult with autism. Jacynthe participates in Naturally Autistic training workshops and provides insight as a speaker and role model. She enjoys gymnastics and working with horses and she shares this love by working with young autistic children in various programs.

By giving of her time, she is showing how those with disabilities can use their talents to help build our society.

October is Autism Awareness Month in Canada. I ask all members to please join me in congratulating Jacynthe who, in spite of her challenges with autism, is contributing to the lives of others. She is setting a good example for us all to follow.

Aboriginal Affairs
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the recent coroner's report on the suicides in Pikanjikum shows the systemic negligence being faced by first nation children on reserves across Canada.

Children are losing hope and killing themselves because they do not even have access to a proper school. However, first nation children are not giving up.

In her short life, Shannen Koostachin became the voice of a forgotten generation of first nations children. Shannen had never seen a real school, but her fight for equal rights for children in Attawapiskat First Nation launched the largest youth-driven child rights movement in Canadian history, and that fight has gone all the way to the United Nations.

Shannen did not live long enough to see her dream of a proper school realized because she died in a tragic car accident, but her dream lives on.

Today, I will reintroduce Motion No. 201, Shannen's Dream, which lays out the steps needed to close the funding gap and give first nations children the opportunity for equal education.

This is what Shannen wrote before she died:

But I want to also tell you about the determination in our community to build a better world. School should be a time for hopes and dreams of the future. Every kid deserves this.

I thank Shannen.

Mississauga Chinese Business Association
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, last Friday, I had the honour of attending the 20th anniversary celebration of the Mississauga Chinese Business Association.

Over the last 20 years, the MCBA has made significant contributions to our local economy and cultural diversity by increasing engagement and communication between members of the Chinese community, local organizations and all levels of government. The MCBA's activities aid in community integration and touch all aspects of community life in Mississauga.

During the anniversary celebration, the MCBA paid tribute to the Chief of Police, Mike Metcalfe, for his 40 years of service to the Peel Regional Police Force.

The dedication and selflessness of police officers are integral to our government's mandate to make Canadian streets safer.

I would like to take this opportunity to speak on behalf of residents of Mississauga and thank Chief Metcalfe for his 40 yeas of dedicated service to protecting our community and for making Mississauga the safe and prospering city it is known to be.

Seniors
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in recognition of a group of seniors in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's who are proof learning is indeed a lifelong process.

The Random Age-Friendly Communities Office in Clarenville has been offering a program for the past three years, computers for seniors. The program has become so popular that currently there is a waiting list of over 40 seniors who are anxious to learn how to be computer savvy: how to use email, online banking, download government forms and a host of other tasks previously unavailable to them.

The volunteers who run the program are to be commended for their commitment, as are the seniors who, instead of refusing this modern technology, are now using it to make their lives richer.

I ask all members of the House to join me in congratulating this fine group of seniors who are confirming it is never too late to embrace new ideas.

Police and Peace Officers' National Memorial Day
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, yesterday thousands gathered for the 34th National Police and Peace Officer Memorial on Parliament Hill to honour the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep Canadians safe.

Peace officers from hundreds of agencies across Canada and the United States attended to witness and pay tribute to officers who had fallen in the line of duty this past year.

One of those officers, Constable Michael Potvin, served as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the small community of Mayo in the Yukon Territory.

For Michael's wife Allison, brother Sean, mother Patricia, father Mark and, most of all, his little boy Jack who, sadly, he will never know, Mayo, the Yukon and indeed the country mourn with them.

For the family, friends and colleagues of Constable Garrett Styles, Sergeant Ryan J. Russell, Constable Sébastien Coghlan-Goyette and Constable Michael Potvin, the four officers who died in the line of duty this past year, we are so very sorry.

We thank those fine young officers on behalf of Canadians for their service. Rest in peace. We salute them.

Food Banks
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, on October 1, Moose FM in Elliot Lake will be holding its radiothon to drum up donations for the Elliot Lake emergency food bank. This annual event highlights the spirit of volunteerism and showcases the generosity of the people of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing.

It is a sad fact that too many Canadians are turning to food banks as belts get tighter and budgets get squeezed. Many Canadians might think of hunger as an urban problem, but Food Banks Canada tells us that about half of Canada's food banks are located in rural communities.

While the government dishes out $90,000 a day to high-priced consultants, volunteers and organizations are soliciting donations to fight hunger in their communities.

Whether it is organizations such as Moose FM in Elliot Lake and Kapuskasing, Jane's Pantry in Iron Bridge, Iris House in Wawa, Le Samaritain du Nord in Hearst, Manitoulin Help Centre, or all those who donate, these people deserve recognition for their dedication to fighting hunger.

I ask the House to join me in thanking them for their advocacy.

Natural Disaster
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, on August 21, an F3 tornado with winds estimated to have reached 280 kilometres per hour tore through the town of Goderich, Benmiller and surrounding areas, causing severe damage. The downtown business community was devastated and residential homes were torn to shreds.

Over the last month citizens of Goderich, businesses, municipalities and NGOs have worked selflessly to cut down trees, remove rubble and help neighbours in need.

I would like to commend all of the police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel from Huron County and across the province who responded quickly and worked around the clock to clean up the destruction left by the tornado.

I would also like to recognize the leadership of the mayor, Deb Shewfelt, council and staff for their hard work and perseverance in uniting this community and rebuilding the town of Goderich after its worst natural disaster.

Together we will rebuild the “Prettiest Town in Canada”.

The Economy
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, our government's top priority remains completing the economy recovery. Canadians and the voters of North Vancouver gave our Conservative government a strong mandate to stay focused on what matters: creating jobs and economic growth.

Canada has now created nearly 600,000 net new jobs since July 2009. That is why our Conservative government is staying the course with our low tax plan to create jobs and growth. The last thing the Canadian economy needs is a massive NDP tax hike that would kill jobs, stall our recovery and set Canadian families back.

Our fragile recovery must not be put at risk by opposition politicians who want higher deficits, more debt and an end to Canada's historic status as a trading nation.

Instead, we must implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a program that calls for low taxes, enhanced training opportunities and expanded trade, which will preserve this country's advantage in the global economy.

Ian MacDonald and Maurice Snook
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, this August, shortly after the 69th anniversary of the raid on Dieppe, our community lost two veterans of that raid, Sergeant Major Maurice Snook and Lieutenant-Colonel Ian MacDonald, who died within days of one another.

Veterans Snook and MacDonald were two of the 553 soldiers of the Essex Scottish Regiment who fought at Dieppe. With their deaths, only five regimental veterans of the raid remain. While the raid proved to be a military disaster, with the death of 970 Canadians and 1,946 prisoners, it provided valuable lessons that were used for D-Day. The Essex Scottish Regiment alone lost 121 men with only 52 managing to escape. The remaining, including MacDonald and Snook, were taken prisoner.

Despite the hardships they endured in German prison camps, both men survived. They returned home, had families and built our community. They continued to be engaged with the militia, with Ian becoming the commanding officer, and both visiting Dieppe on the 60th anniversary of the Dieppe raid.

Lieutenant-Colonel Ian MacDonald and Sergeant Major Maurice Snook, as well as being active within the community, were living links to an important part of our history. They will be missed. I hope that while they have passed away we will never forget their sacrifices and contributions.

Our condolences go out to their family, friends and the regiment.

Poland
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was troubled to see that in last Friday's print edition of The Globe and Mail an article on the new war museum in Dresden used the erroneous phrase “Polish concentration camps” in reference to the Nazi German concentration and extermination camps in occupied Poland.

Polish citizens were victims of the brutal Nazi occupiers during the Second World War. This phrase is offensive to the Polish people, who formed the largest home army resisting Nazi tyranny and fought shoulder to shoulder with Canadians on the western front. It insults the thousands of Polish righteous among the nations, who risked their lives to save Jewish neighbours from certain death in Hitler's death camps.

This is not the first time this erroneous phrase has been used. Canada has been clear in our support for the UNESCO designation of Auschwitz as Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp.

It is important for Canadians to be aware of this distinction, and I hope journalists will take this matter seriously and never again refer falsely to Polish concentration camps.

Burnaby—Douglas
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, on May 2 the voters of Burnaby—Douglas elected me to represent them in the House. I am honoured to serve as their MP and to have been appointed by the late Jack Layton as critic for western economic diversification.

My main goal as MP is to make Burnaby an even better place to live within a more prosperous Canada.

To begin this work, I am meeting with local residents, elected representatives, businesses, unions and NGOs. I am also consulting the public to help set policy directions on two critical local issues.

The first consultation concerns TransLink's proposal to add a gondola to our local public transit network and includes phoning and surveying every affected household.

The second concerns Kinder Morgan's proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline and includes surveying local residents and voters across the province.

I am pleased to announce that the results will be reported to residents as well as the House.

International Trade
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians know our government's top priority remains completing the economic recovery. That is why Canadians gave our Conservative government a strong mandate to stay focused on what matters, creating jobs and economic growth.

We know that one in five Canadian jobs is dependent on trade. As the Minister of International Trade has repeatedly said, Canadians understand that free trade is a jobs issue, because trade is good for the Canadian economy, trade is good for Canadian workers and trade is good for Canadian families.

Today, the Prime Minister and the prime minister of the state of Kuwait witnessed the signing of the Canada-Kuwait foreign investment promotion and protection agreement. This agreement will help increase two-way investment, open new markets and support Canadian efforts to explore the growing investment opportunities in Kuwait.

This is a strong demonstration of our Conservative government's commitment to create the right conditions for Canadian businesses to compete internationally.

We know when Canadian companies succeed abroad, workers and their families benefit in my city of London and throughout Canada.

International Day for Democracy
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the International Day for Democracy, I participated in the official founding of the Parliamentary Forum of the Community of Democracies, a diverse coalition of parliamentarians who have come together to promote and protect democratic principles, and in particular: to stand in solidarity with people struggling for freedom and democracy around the world, as in Syria and Libya; to strengthen democratic parliaments, particularly in new and emerging democracies; to advocate for greater and more effective democracy and governance assistance; to promote international norms that protect the rights of people to advance the cause of freedom and democracy.

I am pleased that the first decision made by this forum was to establish a task force to promote and protect democracy during the Arab spring and to stand in solidarity with the courageous people of Syria who are fighting for freedom and dignity.

Libya
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, today our government is asking Parliament for authorization to extend Canada's mission in Libya by three and a half months in order to continue protecting innocent Libyan civilians.

The mission was launched in the wake of a UN resolution in March. Our government is proud of the contribution that the Canadian Armed Forces have made to the mission, which aims to protect the Libyan people from their leaders. Canada and its international partners must continue to show their willingness to see this through and help Libyans secure their future.

There is still plenty of work to be done, but each effort made by Libyans to help their country reach its full potential and continue its progress is important. Thus, Canada will stay in Libya as long as it takes.

Our government remains firmly committed to supporting the Libyan people in their next steps, so as to help them in their determined effort to rebuild their country and make the transition to a peaceful, prosperous and democratic society.

Keystone Pipeline
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, last year the Transportation Safety Board recorded over 100 leaks in Canadian pipelines, including 23 leaks in the first section of the Keystone project, which is supposed to link Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. The Keystone pipeline will prove detrimental to ecosystems, the rights of aboriginal peoples and the interests of workers.

By promoting the Keystone project, the government is placing the interests of big oil companies before the interests of Quebeckers and Canadians who are calling for more balanced economic development and better environmental protection for future generations. The government should put an end to this project, which is what the people want.

The Economy
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, with the global economy still fragile and too many Canadians still out of work, our government's top priority remains completing the economic recovery.

Our low tax plan to create jobs and economic growth is working, yet the NDP continues to promote its job-killing policies. The NDP wants to shut down Canadian industries and put people out of work.

Canada's oil sands are a proven strategic resource that creates jobs and economic opportunity in all provinces and regions in the country. The Keystone pipeline project will contribute to job creation and energy security in both Canada and the United States.

Our government will continue to promote Canada and the oil sands as a stable, secure and ethical source of energy for the world. The NDP is all too willing to abandon Canada's interests and sacrifice Canadian jobs. These job-killing policies are yet another worrying example that the NDP is not—

The Economy
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. Oral questions, the hon. member for Outremont.

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, earlier this year the Prime Minister released an important document entitled “Accountable Government: A Guide for Ministers and Ministers of State”. Could the Prime Minister tell us if it is within the guidelines for a minister to run government funding out of his constituency office? Is it within the guidelines to have inaccurate and incomplete information provided to the Auditor General? Also, is it within the guidelines to have ministers interfere in spending reviews?

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, our government is focused on what matters to Canadians, and that would be jobs and the economy, not the mud-slinging by the opposition.

Let me say again that the facts have not changed. This issue has been thoroughly aired. The Auditor General had all the government information. There is nothing more to add.

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the refusal to respond to the facts is telling. It is even more telling than the President of the Treasury Board's silence. Information continues to trickle out about the misappropriation of G8 funds. Access to information requests, searches and thorough research on our part were needed to begin to see the full extent of the minister's misbehaviour more clearly. We know that the Auditor General never received all of the necessary information.

The Conservatives are saying that they have nothing to hide. If such is the case, I would imagine that the Prime Minister would agree that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics should shed some light on the whole issue.

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, again let me say that the government has nothing to add because the facts have not changed. This matter has been thoroughly aired. The Auditor General had all the information that was required.

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the minutes from meetings on the G8 legacy fund, the President of the Treasury Board told local mayors “...budgets in addition to the basic G8 Summit Management Office Budget must first be determined by the Prime Minister's Office”.

Can the Prime MInister tell us how his office was the one determining budgets for a local slush fund? How was his office involved in diverting money from the border fund to help the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka get re-elected?

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, let me repeat what I said. Our government is focused on what matters to Canadians. That is jobs and the economy, not the mud-slinging by the opposition. Again, the facts have not changed. There is nothing more to add to that.

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Muskoka minister had many schemes for funnelling money into his riding under the pretext of the G8.

One scheme involved building a massive hockey arena and then telling everybody it would be used as a media centre. When the OPP raised questions about this pet project on security grounds, what was his reaction? The minister told local mayors that it was good news that the Prime Minister was filled with fury at police for daring to raise questions about security at an international summit.

Will the member explain why the Prime Minister was so furious at officials who were not willing to rubber-stamp his every whim?

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of good news from the infrastructure funding in that area. Again, let me say quite clearly that our government is focused on what matters to Canadians, and that would be jobs and the economy. The facts have not changed. There is nothing to say. This issue has been thoroughly aired.

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives have to bring in foreign affairs to cover up for the President of the Treasury Board, the fact is very clear that they have some serious explaining to do.

For example, they spent $21 million on an Olympic-size hockey arena complete with a swimming pool that they tried to pass off as an international media centre which was never used. Also, the minister told local mayors that he would intervene with bureaucrats if they tried to check on the funding.

We know what the minister was trying to hide, but what is not so clear is why the Prime Minister was so personally furious when officials stepped in. What is it that the Prime Minister was trying to hide? When is the government going to come clean for the member's refusal to--

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. parliamentary secretary.

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, this government has nothing to hide. The facts have not changed. This matter has been thoroughly aired. The Auditor General had all the information that was needed. Let me tell the member again that that this government is focused on jobs and the economy.

The Economy
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Finance a question.

I know he has returned from Washington and from other discussions about the international situation. It seems pretty clear in listening to the debate and discussion that many, including the president of the IMF herself and others, have talked about the risk of too much austerity at a time when there is a genuine and real risk of a deep recession taking hold not only in Europe but across the developed world.

Does the minister not realize there is an equal risk to the dangers that cuts and austerity can pose to the chances of recovery?

The Economy
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, our government continues to be focused on jobs and the economy. The world economic situation is fragile. We are seeing some weakening of global economic growth. Canada, of course, is relatively well positioned. Our economic fundamentals are strong. Our fiscal fundamentals are strong. In fact, we are the envy of most of the other countries in the G7 and for that matter in the G20.

Having said that, at the G20 summit in Toronto, the leaders agreed that we would carefully calibrate what needs to be done by individual countries.

The Economy
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am trying to understand exactly what the Minister of Finance is trying to say.

Clearly, Canada, like the United States and Europe, is not immune to these problems. The president of the International Monetary Fund spoke clearly about the danger of excessive restraint. The Bank of Montreal economist said the same thing: we must not smother economic growth.

Can the Minister of Finance explain why there is no economic program or why there has been no discussion here in the House of Commons in this regard?

The Economy
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is just the opposite, of course. There are a number of initiatives that our government is involved in with the public sector and private sector in Canada now. We continue work sharing. We have a new hiring credit for small business. I hope that the opposition parties, including the third party, would support these initiatives in the second budget implementation bill. We are continuing with our tax reductions which stimulate the creation of jobs in Canada.

Having said all of that, different countries will respond in their unique circumstances. We will be flexible and pragmatic in Canada.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it would certainly be a refreshing change.

I would like to ask a question of the Minister of the Environment. It is very clear the government has a policy that promotes the development of the oil sands and promotes the export of the oil from the oil sands. What is not clear--

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Wait for it; don't applaud too soon.

Mr. Speaker, what is not clear is that we have a policy with respect to sustainability. Could the minister tell us, why is it that the government has failed to develop a coherent approach on climate change, on the reduction of greenhouse gases and on producing a truly sustainable policy?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I assure my hon. colleague that cleaner air, cleaner water and active stewardship of our great natural spaces remain key priorities of this government, even in times of fiscal restraint.

I would inform my colleague that according to the World Health Organization, Canada ranks third in the world in terms of air quality. This is something all Canadians can take pride in. We take pride in our regulatory approach to greenhouse gases. We are moving forward sector by sector.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister claims that approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project is a complete no-brainer. The problem is that, too often, the Conservatives act without their brains. The government did not use its brain before deciding to support a project that will harm our environment, our economy and our energy security.

Will the government listen to Canadians and think before saying yes to Keystone?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, we know that the oil sands are a proven strategic resource for Canada and that they provide jobs right across the country. The Keystone XL pipeline is going to contribute to job creation and energy security both here and in the United States.

Our government is going to continue to promote the oil sands as a stable, secure and ethical source of energy for the world.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is really disappointing to hear that the government has one set of rules for its oil industry friends and another set of rules for the rest of us. How else can the minister justify a project that adds more greenhouse gas emissions to the oil sands, which are already growing so fast they are overwhelming any emission savings coming from other sectors? Why the double standard?

When will the minister finally stand up for Canadians and say no to this misguided project?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the NDP members should stop taking the side of the extremists who want to kill Canadian jobs. They have made it clear they want to shutter new development of the oil sands. They are willing to destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country.

They can go outside and join with those dozens of protestors, but we are going to stand with the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who depend on the oil sands.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians want sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their children, not a mass export pipeline that will pour away the benefits of our natural resources while leaving us with the environmental tab. The government is out of touch with the realities facing Canadian workers. Why is the minister selling out Canadians' jobs at the expense of our environment?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, let me talk a little about jobs. The oil sands development supports right now 130,000 direct jobs. It supports 390,000 jobs across Canada today. By 2020 that number will rise to 480,000, and if the Keystone XL pipeline is approved, with the extra product that will be shipped through there, the number will rise to 620,000 jobs.

Why is the NDP opposed to that kind of job development?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, under this government, the National Energy Board has never worried about creating jobs in our country before approving the pipeline project. It is as though it does not think jobs in Canada are in the public interest.

Will the minister protect Canadian jobs by ordering the National Energy Board to assess the impact of the Keystone XL pipeline on Canadian workers?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the member heard the last answer. Let me repeat that right now there are 130,000 direct jobs that are tied to oil sands development. There are 390,000 people across the country who rely on the oil sands and the development of them for their jobs. The number will rise to 620,000 jobs if the Keystone XL pipeline is approved.

Why does the NDP oppose that? It should get on board and support us as we move ahead, promote the economy and support economic recovery in this country.

The Economy
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, instead of just exporting raw, unprocessed resources, when it comes to the economy, the Prime Minister has one message for Canadians and another for people abroad. In an interview in New York he pointed to his own corporate tax giveaways that are not working and he said that trillions of dollars are sitting on the sidelines and that we have to get that money back into the economy. We agree.

When will the government practise what it preaches and take real action to create Canadian jobs? Where is the jobs plan?

The Economy
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am afraid the member opposite was not listening last week. I think more than once last week we reminded the opposition that more than 600,000 net new jobs have been created in Canada since the recession ended. This is the best job creation record in the G7.

We need to continue to work on the unemployment problem in Canada, of course. We want to make sure as many people as possible are employed in Canada. I welcome any suggestions the member opposite has.

The Economy
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives do not understand the real need to take action on the economy to help people. Even the Governor of the Bank of Canada recently declared that the government could improve the situation with strategic investments.

When will the Prime Minister listen to his own advisers? When will he support real job creators, such as businesses that invest, and not companies that keep their idle capital in their own coffers?

The Economy
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the economic action plan has been very successful so far. We are into its second phase in job creation in Canada.

It is important to maintain strong fiscal fundamentals in our country. We see, from other countries in Europe now, the danger of accumulating deficits and large public debt.

One of the members of this House was in agreement on that point. She said that we know the situation in Canada is very different from that in the United States, that out debt to GDP ratio is the best in the G7 and that we do not have a debt crisis in Canada. Who said that? It was the member for Parkdale—High Park in August 2011.

Pensions
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week, Canada's stock index plummeted 7.5%. That number represents billions of dollars in lost retirement savings for millions of everyday Canadians and yet there has been no action from the government to help ensure Canadians can plan for their retirement.

In a time of declining markets, will this out-of-touch government keep insisting that we roll the dice on more private pension plans or will it finally take real action to strengthen Canada's secure public pensions?

Pensions
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Minister of State (Finance)

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to actually tell the hon. member what we have done for retirement income for seniors. We have actually cut their taxes by $2 billion, that is one benefit, through pension income splitting. I believe the NDP voted against that.

We have been consulting with Canadians. We have been consulting with our partners, the provinces. We have come up with a pooled registered pension plan that will actually provide a pension for millions of Canadians who now do not have one.

Pensions
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government's half-baked pooled registered pension scheme is not good enough.

The government is simply insisting that hard-hit Canadians double down on the same private plans that have failed so many. What Canadians and provincial leaders are asking for is some basic retirement security.

When will the out-of-touch government stop gambling with Canadians' retirement? When will it increase the stable guaranteed CPP, QPP benefits that people can actually rely on?

Pensions
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Minister of State (Finance)

Mr. Speaker, I would remind that hon. member that we have partners in this and those partners are the provinces and territories.

I spent this summer consulting with them. In fact, they do agree with us about a pooled registered pension plan to provide pensions to the 60% of Canadians who do not have a workplace pension plan at all. We think that is an incredible amount of people we can help. The pooled registered pension plan is a plan that will actually provide a pension for those folks to help them in their retirement. The provinces are onside.

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Champlain Bridge, the busiest bridge in Canada, has reached the end of its life. If it were to close, Montreal's economy would lose some $740 million a year. That would mean $740 million less for the Quebec and Canadian economies. That figure is from a Federal Bridge Corporation report dated January 2011.

Why did the Conservatives hide that report for nine months? Why are the Conservatives jeopardizing the Canadian economy and especially Montreal's economy?

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the hon. member for his question and his interest in the Champlain Bridge.

First of all, our government has invested resources in order to ensure that the Champlain Bridge stays open and is safe. We will continue working hard to improve infrastructure in Montreal and across the country. However, I would like to know why the hon. member voted against the investments that are keeping that bridge open.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, climate change is not going away just because the government is cutting science.

Canada is currently projected to reduce emissions by one-quarter of what is needed to meet its 2020 target. A government that leads instead of follows would have a plan in place for the remaining 75%.

Why is the government failing to take any moral responsibility for our children's future?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I would remind my colleague that we do have a comprehensive plan to meet our 2020 targets of reducing Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by 17% from 2005 base levels. We started with the two largest emitting sectors, transportation and now coal-fired electricity, and we will, with the assistance of the provinces and territories, continue to regulate other heavy emitters.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, sustainable development of Canada's energy sector is key to our future but the government has failed to show any leadership. What the Conservatives do not understand is that it is impossible to have a strong economy without a strong environment.

With today's protest in Ottawa on the government's lack of leadership, when will the Prime Minister get his head out of the sands and produce a sustainable energy strategy for Canada's future?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, our government is concentrating on what is important to Canadians and that is jobs and economic growth. He made reference to the oil sands. As I mentioned, the oil sands are responsible for jobs right across this country. As we are working with industry and Canadians to build our economy, we are also ensuring we are taking care of the environment at the same time.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, we just do not see that. Canada needs an energy strategy that recognizes that the economy, energy and the environment are all important. The government does not seem to understand that a strong economy depends on a healthy environment.

In light of the demonstrations taking place on the Hill today, when will the government come up with a sustainable energy strategy for Canada's future?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, our government's focus is on jobs and the economy, and the energy sector, of course, is key to Canada's economic future. It employs hundreds of thousands of Canadians across the country.

The collaborative approach we have taken with the provincial governments is working. It is helping to ensure that our resources are developed in a responsible manner. We are going to work with the provinces to improve regulations and diversify the marketplace. We look forward to a good relationship with them in the future as we have had in the past.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, first we have the misuse of DND resources for fishing trips and lobsterfests and now we see the Minister of National Defence launch into a no-holds barred attack on the senior leadership of the Canadian Forces.

This past weekend, the Minister of National Defence told the Halifax Herald that “military accounting is like military intelligence, it is oxymoronic”.

Why is the Minister of National Defence insulting military professionals and their work? When did the minister lose confidence in the Canadian Forces?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the member is wrong. I have nothing but the highest confidence in the military leadership on down through the ranks. They are doing outstanding work for us internationally with 16 different missions around the world, here at home and abroad. I continue to have the utmost confidence in all the men and women who wear the uniform of the Canadian Forces.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, it has also been reported that the Department of National Defence is losing public affairs officers because Conservative political staff are berating those in uniform and pushing them to keep a lid on bad news stories.

Why is the minister and the Prime Minister's Office trying to make these officials tools of the Conservatives? What are they trying to hide?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Again, Mr. Speaker, the member is wrong. He is using hyperbole. What we have are public affairs practitioners in the Canadian Forces who are in high demand. Clearly, leaving the military at a 20-year mark, especially after they have clearly established marketable and transferrable skills, is common. It is common in all departments. It is common in demographics throughout the Government of Canada. These are people who we value. Members of the public service in Canada are working very hard in every department.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the revelations about staff cuts in the office of the Minister of Defence by the Prime Minister's Office indicate that the Minister of National Defence has lost the confidence of the most senior officials of this government.

Is this due to the use of military resources for a fishing trip, or to attend a lobster festival?

Can the Prime Minister tell us his position on the personal use of DND resources?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I said last week, I spent some time in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2010. At that time, I cut my vacation short to take part in government business. As a result of that trip, we have now confirmed that the military has said publicly that I took part in a previously planned search and rescue demonstration. Government assets are used for government business and that is what happened in this instance.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, a number of leaks to the media indicate that there are major problems at the Department of National Defence.

The departure of a large number of public affairs officers over the past two years due to political interference and micromanagement by the Prime Minister's Office indicates that there is a deep malaise.

Is the mass exodus from DND related to this interference? Does the Minister of National Defence still control his department?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we have had an extremely high tempo of operations in the Canadian Forces over the past number of years, which also applies to the public servants, which is the civilian side of the department. As a result, many of the public affairs practitioners are in very high demand in the private sector and some have chosen to take positions in the private sector. We are grateful for their service.

As to leaks, leaks are usually as reliable as the courage of the individuals who come forward behind them.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week The Globe and Mail used the phrase, “Polish concentration camps” in reference to the Nazi German concentration and extermination camps in occupied Poland.

Brave Polish citizens were the victims of Nazi occupiers and not the perpetrators of their evil crimes.

The reference in the The Globe and Mail article was an insult to thousands of Polish Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives to save Jewish neighbours.

Could the minister update the House on what our government has done to correct the offensive misconception about the existence of Polish concentration camps?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for raising this important and sensitive matter.

He is absolutely right that it is offensive to the memory of so many Poles who fought the Nazi occupation and invasion and who have been declared Righteous Among the Gentiles to refer to Nazi concentration camps as being Polish ones.

That is why the Government of Canada has supported at UNESCO the official designation of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camps in occupied Poland.

Let there be no mistake about this point in history. The Government of Canada certainly asks that all people be sensitive to the legitimate historic concerns of the Polish community in this regard.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada's national public broadcaster has been increasingly underfunded under the government's watch. Since 2006, funding for the CBC has dropped to an all-time low.

The government is responsible for the slow silencing of Canada's only national voice. From deceptive propaganda campaigns to petitions circulated by Conservative members for its complete defunding, the government's plans for our public broadcaster are clear.

Will the Conservative government end its anti-Canadian venture and come out in clear support of the CBC and provide true and stable funding for this Canadian institution?

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

James Moore Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, if that question does not point out how out of touch the NDP members are with taxes and spending, I do not know what does.

The NDP members say that CBC is grossly underfunded, but $1 billion is a lot of money. The CBC is receiving a lot of money from taxpayers. We have ensured that the CBC is accountable to taxpayers by ensuring that access to information applies to the CBC.

However, we also made a commitment to Canadians that we will balance the budget by 2015, and CBC will do its part.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, the important achievements of the CBC in its 75-year history have proven its worth. The CBC contributes to Canadians' feeling of belonging. It is an important institution to Canadians from coast to coast.

Will the Conservatives stop attacking the CBC and finally support the only truly national broadcaster?

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

James Moore Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. We will keep the promise we made to taxpayers to have a balanced budget by 2015. Therefore, we will ask everyone—all departments and all crown corporations—to come up with ways of finding the amounts needed to balance the budget by 2015. The CBC will do its share; that is certain. We are working with the corporation to find these amounts, and it will do its share to achieve a balanced budget by 2015.

Public Safety
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has its priorities backward. It claims to be worried about crime, but it is cutting back the Canada Border Service Agency in Windsor itself, one of the busiest border crossings and a favourite route for gun and drug smugglers to go through.

How can this be about saving money when the government diverts millions of dollars of border money and infrastructure money into a G8 slush fund?

When will the Conservatives see reason, put public safety first, rescind these cuts and put Canadians' interests instead of their own interests forward?

Public Safety
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Portage—Lisgar
Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian people have given this government a strong mandate to keep our streets safe, and that includes our borders. We are doing that by investing, we are doing that by ensuring that criminals receive minimum times for the crimes they commit.

We ask the NDP to get on board and support our crime measures, which include protecting our borders.

Service Canada
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian voters did not give the Conservatives a mandate to cut off the front-line services that protect our streets every single day.

They are also slashing 73 Service Canada jobs in Windsor alone. These folks process employment insurance requests from across the country and just won a national service award.

How does the Conservative member reward them? He actually gave them a pink slip and showed them the door. It is unacceptable.

What we have right now is money in the millions for consultants, pet projects and joyrides in jets, but cutbacks for those who help the unemployed. It is unacceptable and it has to be reversed.

Service Canada
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, Canadians gave our government a strong mandate to complete Canada's economic recovery and return to balanced budgets. Improving the way we deliver EI services to Canadians by modernizing is one way in which we will accomplish that goal. There are no Service Canada offices closing and no impact on in-person services offered. At this time it is premature to speculate on any specific impacts to any employees.

Our government is committed to effective and efficient use of taxpayers' hard-earned dollars.

Health
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, the last first ministers' meeting on health care was in 2005, a year after the signing of the 2004 health accord. Since then, every report tracking the accord's progress cites lack of federal leadership for failure to achieve important goals.

The provinces, the Canadian Medical Association, the Wait Time Alliance and the Canadian Public Health Association all urge the Prime Minister to convene a first ministers' meeting as soon as possible.

Will the Prime Minister commit here and now to meet with the premiers? What is he waiting for?

Health
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, since forming government, we have been supporting the provinces and the territories with the rollout of the present accord, which expires in 2014. We are committed to extending the 6% annual increase in transfer payments to the provinces and the territories while we negotiate the accord, but it is also important that the federal moneys sent to them are also improving the health outcomes of Canadians.

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, members on this side of the House have been asking questions of the President of the Treasury Board about the G8 legacy fund for over a year. He has yet to answer one such question.

Will the minister, as part of the government that rode into power on the white horse of accountability and also as a former member of a provincial government that wreaked havoc on Ontario's books, finally stand in his place and explain his actions to Canadians?

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I think Canadians would like to concentrate on some good news.

Let us listen to what the best finance minister in the world said: over 600,000 jobs.

Let us see what the best justice minister in the world said. He said we focus on the victims, not on the criminals.

Let us see what the best defence minister said. He said we will invest in the armed forces, which have done an excellent job in Libya, and the best Treasury Board president will bring a balanced budget to this government.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, while the suicide rate in Canada has declined in recent years, in the aboriginal communities it remains tragically high. The most alarming statistic is the rate of suicide among young aboriginals, which is five to six times higher than for other Canadians. They have no recreational activities, no youth centres, no extracurricular programs and no hope.

When will this government finally take action to support young aboriginals and young Canadians?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, too many Canadians have to deal with the anguish of losing a loved one. That is why our government is funding programs that build on the strength of protective factors, such as ensuring family and community support systems are in place.

In budget 2010 our government invested $65 million to implement the national aboriginal youth suicide prevention strategy to assist over 150 community-based projects across Canada.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, sadly, over the weekend a young person living in Cross Lake, Manitoba, took his own life, the second in as many weeks. His community has been asking for federal support for youth programming for a long time. Young people are still waiting.

Instead of talking about out-of-control youth, when will the government stand up and support young people in aboriginal communities so that they can gain control over their lives? When will the government act to put an end to the high suicide rates among Canada's aboriginal people and stand up for Canada's young people?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Vancouver Island North
B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, we have recognized that there are issues with our first nations communities. That is why we entered into a joint action plan with the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. We are working on four major pillars, including education and economic development.

These are ways that we can work with willing partners to boost the health and prosperity of our first nations communities. We are investing in the right areas and we will plan to continue to do so.

International Trade
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, today the Minister of International Trade signed a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement with Kuwait.

Our government's top priority remains completing the economic recovery. That is why Canadians gave our Conservative government a strong mandate to stay focused on what matters: creating jobs and economic growth.

Could the dynamic and hard-working Minister of International Trade explain to the House how Canadian workers and their families will benefit from the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement?

International Trade
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Abbotsford
B.C.

Conservative

Ed Fast Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Calgary Northeast for the excellent question and for his hard work to advance our job-creating pro-trade plan.

The agreement he refers to will encourage two-way trade and investment by providing certainty and predictability for investors. This will in turn create jobs and economic growth for Canadian workers and their families. Canadians intuitively understand that expanded trade is key to their long-term prosperity.

We will continue to take measures that broaden and deepen our trading relationships. It is too bad the opposition parties do not agree.

Search and Rescue
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence continues to insist that his commandeering of a search and rescue helicopter for his personal fishing camp taxi was a logical opportunity for a training mission.

Out of the 30-minute ride that was taken, what new information did the minister receive? Specifically, what was the objective of the mission? What equipment was used? Was there an actual practical demonstration of the technician/victim hoist within the 30-minute ride, which is a principal use of that platform?

Could the minister confirm or deny that his use of this asset was originally turned down by--

Search and Rescue
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. Minister of National Defence.

Search and Rescue
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Yes, Mr. Speaker, the demonstration did occur.

Using the same calculations as the media and the member's party have been using, I now know that the member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor took a five-hour demonstration in a Cormorant. Using that calculation, that would be $160,000 of taxpayers' money.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has broken a promise it made to the Afghans who risked their lives alongside the Canadian Forces. The special immigration program ended this month. It was a program that was supposed to allow Afghan interpreters to live in safety in Canada. Two out of every three applications were denied.

Can the minister responsible explain why this program was not changed in order to achieve its objective?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is mistaken.

Indeed, no commitment was made to the interpreters who worked with the Canadian Forces or with our international development agency in Kandahar. Three years ago we introduced a discretionary program, which included certain parameters to ensure that the applicants were qualified to come to Canada as permanent residents. The initial estimate was roughly 400 to 500 people and we will exceed that objective by welcoming more than 500 former Afghan interpreters to Canada.

Libya
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada has played an active role in the UN-mandated, NATO-led mission in Libya. In light of recent events showing the anti-Gadhafi forces gaining strength across the country, could the Minister of Defence tell us why the continued mission in Libya is necessary?

Libya
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke said, the Canadian Forces are playing a key role in the enforcement of the international community's mission to support the people of Libya and protect them from the brutal Gadhafi forces. In fact, today parts of Libya still remain under the iron fist of Gadhafi. On the weekend, his daughter gave a broadcast that indicated such.

Our government is very proud of the brave men and women in uniform, and their families, whose leadership and efforts have been instrumental in this mission's success to date.

We will continue to work with our NATO allies and partners who enforce the terms of UN Security Council resolutions, and I urge all parliamentarians taking part in today's debate to support Canada's continuation with this important work in helping the--

Libya
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please.

The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

Tunisia
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada is now refusing to be considered part of an electoral riding in a foreign assembly, even though the government agreed to such requests in the past.

This change will mean that over 15,000 Tunisians living in Canada will not be able to vote in the upcoming Tunisian election.

How can the government brag about supporting democracy in Tunisia when it is denying Tunisians living here the right to vote, even though other countries have no objection?

Tunisia
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering
Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we had this question last week and we were quite clear. This government understands how important it is to Canadians to exercise their democratic rights, but new Canadians are particularly insistent on participating in our democracy. We will not agree to making Canada a riding in another system, in a foreign system. That is why we will continue to support the democratic transition in Tunisia without agreeing to—

Tunisia
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member for Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.

Natural Resources
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to natural resources, the government only cares about short-term profit.

By way of evidence, the Prime Minister said that the economic case for the Keystone mega-pipeline is overwhelming, despite disastrous consequences for both workers and the environment.

Why is the Minister of Natural Resources trying to do everything he can to please big oil instead of listening to the hundreds of people here on Parliament Hill today who are opposed to the increasingly uncontrolled development of the oil sands?

Natural Resources
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, our government is concentrating on what is important to Canadians, and that is jobs and economic growth. As I mentioned before, the oil sands and their development are responsible right now for almost 400,000 jobs across this country. That is in every area and region of this country, and that number is expected to grow. That is how many jobs the opposition says “no” to when it bashes the oil sands.

We know the importance of getting the environmental challenges right. That is why we are investing in new technology. We are working with industry and the provinces to ensure the environment is protected as the economy grows.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, arising out of question period, the hon. member for St. John's East seemed to be attributing a quote to me that would drive a wedge between the Canadian Forces and myself as minister.

I do not want to attribute motives, but it would appear that what the member for St. John's East was referring to was an article in a Nova Scotia paper that references a quote from the member for Scarborough—Guildwood.

Now it seems to be a case of mixed members or perhaps mistaken identity. I would like to give the member for St. John's East the opportunity to stand up and retract that attribution of a quote that I would describe as quite defamatory and insulting to members of the military in terms of military intelligence being oxymoronic.

I know the member would not want to leave any other impression, other than the correct one, before the House.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, if the member was misquoted by me, I certainly apologize and take it back.

Bill C-10--Notice of time allocation motion
Safe Streets and Communities Act
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order relating to Bill C-10.

Bill C-10, Safe Streets and Communities Act contains nine bills that have been before the House for much of the last five years. In fact, it has been 7,242 days since those bills were first introduced, if we combine them all. That is almost 20 years. There have been 187 speeches in this place and debate on 31 different sitting days.

I would have hoped that by now the opposition would allow members of the House to actually vote on that. It appears the opposition is looking to further delay and obstruct this bill.

Our government did get a strong mandate from Canadians to implement these policies from the last election. We committed to passing that bill within 100 sitting days. It is with this in mind.

Therefore, I would like to advise that an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Order 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the second reading stage of Bill C-10, An Act to enact the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act and to amend the State Immunity Act, the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and other Acts.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stage.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, arising from question period, my point of order is about a mission that I went on where I joined the armed forces on a pre-planned search and rescue mission. I know exactly what happened there. It was an exercise off the coast of Fogo Island, as well as inland.

The minister did say, though, in his answer that it cost $160,000 for five hours, which basically comes down to $32,000 per hour. When we said to the former parliamentary secretary that it was $32,000, he said that number was nonsense.

I would like for the minister and the former parliamentary secretary to get together and provide information to the House about what exactly the number is.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

That seems to be a continuation of debate. If the member wishes, he can take it up at the next question period.

Asbestos
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting one of many petitions from my riding of Hamilton Mountain today that calls on the House of Commons to ban asbestos in all its forms and issue a just transition program for asbestos workers and the communities in which they work.

This petition is particularly apropos today when the leading asbestos exporter is in town asking for $58 million from the Quebec and Canadian governments to develop a new asbestos mine. This is despite the fact that we know that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer that the world has ever known. It is banned for use in our country, yet Canada remains one of the largest producers and exporters of asbestos. It is more than ironic that we are taking asbestos out of Parliament buildings because of its deadly nature, yet we continue to export asbestos to other countries in the world.

To boot, as the petitioners rightly point out, Canada spends millions of dollars subsidizing the asbestos industry, which the signators refer to as “corporate welfare for corporate serial killers”.

It is time Canada started acting with integrity on this issue. The petitioners call upon the government to stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam convention.

I know that the rules of the House do not allow me to endorse this petition, but let me conclude by saying that for the first time I find myself agreeing with former Conservative cabinet minister, Chuck Strahl, who is now joining the chorus of Canadians urging the Prime Minister to move on chrysotile asbestos.

Tanning Beds
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present today hundreds of names in support of my private member's bill in the last session of Parliament, Bill C-497. My private member's bill, which I plan on re-tabling in this session of Parliament, called upon the government to establish better labelling requirements for tanning beds to ensure that people understand that tanning beds are carcinogenic, that the World Health Organization has rated them as the highest cancer risk category, and that they do create melanoma skin cancer and other types of skin cancer.

We have seen hundreds of deaths per year from melanoma and other cancers caused because of exposure to sun and UV radiation. We need to ensure there is a positive public awareness campaign and the proper labelling of tanning beds, so that people are aware of the dangers they undertake.

Canadian Wheat Board
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, Canadian wheat farmers in the Prairies want to retain the Canadian Wheat Board. A vast majority have clearly indicated that in a plebiscite.

This petition is calling for the government to be respectful of what the Canadian prairie farmers really want. We appeal to the minister reponsible for the wheat board to do the honourable thing and listen to what those prairie farmers are saying and allow the Canadian Wheat Board to continue on.

It is with pleasure that I table this petition here today.

Shark Finning
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my great honour to present today to the House of Commons a petition started by constituents in Saanich--Gulf Islands, particularly Alisa Preston and the group of divers to which she belongs. They enjoy scuba diving. They love our marine environment and strangely enough one might think, they want to protect sharks. They have the fear that many of us have, having read the science, that the shark populations of the world are plummeting. They are primarily plummeting for one exotic dish, that of shark fin soup.

These petitioners, 400 in number and more flooding into my office every day from right across Canada, urge that the government take action to ban the possession of shark fins, so that we can bring this trade to an end.

With great respect toward those people for whom this is a traditional and cultural activity, it is time to put an end to shark fin capture and possession, and shark fin soup.

The Environment
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from a number of people all over Ontario opposing a mega quarry in the Melancthon Township in Dufferin County, which will be about 2,300 acres. The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to conduct an environmental assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Fisheries
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition regarding the state of the fisheries.

For the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, in many cases examples of mismanagement were in play, perhaps due to the lack of resources in the department itself, among other reasons. This petition specifically calls upon the government to initiate a public inquiry into all aspects of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, with an emphasis on fisheries management and to dismantle the current structure of DFO and put in place a model that takes into account fisheries science, with an emphasis on serving the fishermen who make a living from the industry.

I would like to point out that the vast majority of signatures on this particular petition are from Ontario.

Iran
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table two petitions today, each of which speaks to and condemns Iran's fourfold violations of international law, namely, peace, security and human rights including: first, its standing violation of international prohibitions against the development and production of nuclear weapons; second, Iran's standing violation of the prohibition against incitement to genocide; third, Iran's leading state sponsorship of international terrorism; and fourth, Iran's massive violations of the domestic rights of its own citizens.

Accordingly, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to: first, adopt and enact the Iran accountability act now before the House; second, to adopt and implement the unanimous recommendations of the foreign affairs committee report on Ahmadinejad's Iran threat to international peace, international law and human rights; third, to sanction these human rights violations; and fourth, to hold the Iranian leaders to account before the International Criminal Court for their crimes against humanity.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Notice of Proposed Procurement Concerning Canadian Wheat Board
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I was very reluctant to add to my original question of privilege but felt I must because of the government's late input on this matter last Friday in an attempt to misrepresent the question I presented to the House on September 19.

It continues to put forward a position that only the House can take. That is the substance of my argument. It is presumptuous on the part of the government to think otherwise. It has put forward the position that the notice for procurement of auditors, and its wording, was merely part of the government's “planning efforts”.

I submit that the wording in the notice that categorically states an end date of July 31, 2012 upon which the work of the audit is to be based has only been put forward due to the fact that the government has a majority.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons have both confirmed that the elimination of the Canadian Wheat Board has been “a staple of Conservative election platforms.”

That being the case, one must ask oneself why the government had not placed such a notice at any time since taking office in January 2006. The reason is obvious. It knew that any legislation brought forth to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board would not receive majority support in the House and would in fact be defeated.

As I indicated on September 19, the presumption on the part of the government contained in my original submission was that the House and Parliament itself can be taken for granted. The government cannot let contracts to auditors as if the House and Parliament has spoken. That just affirms the government's fevered drive to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board.

In short, the fact of the notice appearing in the wake of the May 2 election and at no prior time speaks to the point that I have raised with respect to contempt.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, at pages 1398 and 1399, claimed that on two occasions the decision of Speaker Fraser did not apply to the matter I presented to the House.

I would remind you, Mr. Speaker, that in my citations of Speaker Fraser's ruling I acknowledged that there most certainly was a difference, one I would submit that prevented him from rendering a decision of a finding of contempt in 1989. The difference is that he acknowledged the fact that a technical paper on the goods and services tax was before the House by way of committee. In his opinion, that did constitute a public declaration of intent which prevented him from finding against the government.

The parliamentary secretary to the government House leader stated at page 1400 of Debates that I had implied that the “message on the MERX website was similar to the public advertisements placed by the former Liberal government in 1989”.

My first point is that the parliamentary secretary has failed to even get his facts correct. He would be well-advised to have someone do it for him. The government of the day was in fact the Conservative government. The GST is a Conservative policy.

My second point is had the parliamentary secretary taken the time to either listen to or read what I had presented to the House on September 19, he would know that I raised the point that these situations are different. What makes them different is the fact that Speaker Fraser acknowledged that a technical paper was before a committee of the House that provided a fig leaf of legitimacy and prevented a ruling of contempt at that time.

I had previously quoted comments from Speaker Fraser's contempt ruling. However, I would rather re-emphasize this point than quote them again. Speaker Fraser's dissatisfaction with the course of action taken by the Conservative government of the day should serve as a guide in terms of what I am claiming is a more egregious contempt by this Conservative government.

Mr. Speaker, I would add one last ruling for you to consider. Due to timing, I will not get into the length of it.

On page 1399 of Debates the parliamentary secretary references a decision of Speaker Milliken of November 25, 2002, which I believe once again reinforces my argument.

I would again submit that the fact that the notice of procurement and the task force terms of reference clearly states that the operating premise of both is not that the government is seeking input related to a possible policy initiative but that it is the outcome of the policy, namely the definitive termination of the Canadian Wheat Board within less than a year. That is the premise upon which both must conduct themselves in terms of the MERX proposal and the task force put forward by the government.

That presumes that Parliament has somehow indicated that this is to be the outcome of government policy. Neither the House nor any committee of the House has at any time even implied such an outcome as acceptable in any respect. In fact, over the last several parliaments we will find cases that the very opposite is true.

I conclude by stating that the interpretations of the citations of previous Speakers by both parliamentary secretaries have ignored one salient fact. The situation relating to the matters I presented on September 19 related to the notice for procurement on the government's MERX website and the terms of reference of the ministerial task force are different in that no specific proposal has been presented by the government in terms of its budget. Nothing has been presented let alone tabled by way of a technical paper. No legislation in draft form or otherwise has been provided to the House or any committee.

While expressing concern about the propriety of government advertising, previous Speakers have acknowledged that prior references in terms of documentation by the government prevented them from finding the government of the day in contempt of the House. The most important point being the lack of such documentation, I would respectfully submit, justifies a finding of contempt in this matter.

Notice of Proposed Procurement Concerning Canadian Wheat Board
Privilege
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I thank the hon. member for his further submission and assure him that I will take it into consideration.

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

Libya
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie has 13 minutes to finish her speech.

Libya
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, we now need to concentrate on rebuilding Libya. That is what the Secretary General is saying. It is urgent. It needs to happen now.

It will not be easy. In fact, it will be very difficult. The country is very ethnically diverse and has been ruled by an authoritarian government for more than 40 years. Consequently, when we talk about reconstruction in Libya, perhaps we really should be talking about the construction of that country because there is so much to do. However, just because there is a lot to do and it will be difficult does not mean that we should not roll up our sleeves and take action right now. Too often, and we have seen this in many other countries, the international community intervenes to fix the main problem or the most obvious one, and does not provide a long-term solution for the fundamental issues and challenges.

And in such cases, the problems never stop and the international community, after 5, 10 or 15 years, needs to return to that country. We have seen this in Haiti, where the international community has intervened a number of times but never stayed long enough to ensure that the Haitians were on the right track in terms of leading their own development.

There are many challenges and there is a lot of work to do. So it is important that Canada begin that work immediately. Canada has specific expertise to offer here, particularly in terms of peacebuilding. Canada can contribute its expertise on human rights, can ensure that human rights are being respected on the ground during the next phases of development, and can ensure that Libya is able to develop institutions that will allow it to promote and monitor human rights issues.

Libya has practically no constitution or institutions. At the very least we can say that Canadians are experts in constitutional issues. We can provide some expertise.

There is also the issue of building democratic institutions. Again, I am talking about basic institutions, even just voting systems, electoral systems and slightly more sophisticated democratic institutions. In that I include engaging and energizing civil society and finding ways to bring together all parties in the conflict, and all the ethnic groups that Gadhafi made sure to keep apart.

There is also the issue of security. I am not talking about security ensured by guns and weapons, but security in the sense of creating a healthy society that by definition would be safer. That is the message we would like our Conservative colleagues to understand a bit better, even in Canada, because security is not achieved by building prisons. It is achieved above all by creating healthy, egalitarian societies.

In light of the more pressing humanitarian situation, we have to help. There is a tremendous need for medications and there are still problems with water supplies and other supplies. These are not things that can wait six months. These are things that have to be done immediately and for which Canada can offer its resources and expertise.

We must not forget the issue of the International Criminal Court because justice is another essential element of reconciliation. Again, Canada has traditionally played a key role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

One of the International Criminal Court judges is a Canadian. We should therefore work with this court to ensure that anyone who commits crimes against humanity is brought before this court.

With regard to crimes against humanity, reported cases of the use of rape as a weapon of war must continue to be investigated. Canada could play a leadership role on this issue and prevent such situations from occurring again. In all this, there is much to do and significant challenges to overcome. That is why we must begin work immediately.

We should also not work alone. We must work with other concerned nations and multilateral bodies such as the United Nations agencies involved. We must also work with NGOs. I was talking about helping Libyans to create a thriving civil society in their country. Many Canadian NGOs work throughout the world to support such movements. This is another important way that we could help.

We must work with others and with the Libyans themselves. We must not forget that Libyans must come first in this process, which I prefer to call a building process rather than a rebuilding process. Canada must be there to support Libyans, to help them and to offer them our resources—our expertise, which is incalculable, and financial resources as well. In this regard, we are wondering if the millions of dollars that will be spent on the ongoing military effort could be better spent on providing humanitarian aid and support of all kinds to Libyan authorities and the National Transitional Council to help them to rebuild their country.

In short, Canada must stay. As the saying goes, Canada must stay the course. Canada must stay in Libya for the long term, not just the short term. We are convinced that Canada could forego the military effort at this time and focus all its resources on providing humanitarian aid and support for the building of Libya.

I would like to reiterate that the NDP concurs with the statement that Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon made to the effect that, today, we must take accelerated and decisive action once again, this time to strengthen peace and democracy.

Libya
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is with regard to the health and welfare of the people. We know that departure of medical workers, due to violence, added strain on the health sector. We also know that laboratory supplies are crucial to maintaining the already weakened disease surveillance and outbreak response systems. There is a shortage of essential supplies, especially vaccines, which may result in increases in morbidity and mortality of communicable diseases.

Could the hon. member comment on the rising reports of psychosocial trauma, especially among women and children, and what additional support is required to strengthen their response?

Libya
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for this very pertinent question. I talked about humanitarian aid and touched briefly on the issue of rape as a weapon of war. In a society such as Libya's, it leaves marks, both psychological and social, because ostracism goes hand in hand with rape. It can destroy entire families. Not only does it harm the victims, but it has a dramatic effect on their entire social circle.

How can children who have seen bombardments and people who have lived in terror for years not be affected psychologically after that? From a more medical or physical point of view, there are fairly disturbing connections. Almost everything is in short supply and some infrastructures have been destroyed. That is why it is vital to resolve these conflicts. Otherwise in six months, in one or two years, there will be even greater problems. We must take action now.

Libya
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, anyone who has followed events in Libya cannot help but be aware that humanitarian assistance is desperately needed.

I want to tell members about one of my constituents, Dr. Omar Bengezi. He is a Libyan-born plastic surgeon who has twice now led medical teams to the front lines of Benghazi. He is local hero in Hamilton. His team performed life-saving surgeries daily with virtually no equipment.

Dr. Bengezi recently described how his team had to take instruments with it because there was nothing to work with there. He had to improvise to keep the casualties alive, almost all of whom had multiple injuries. Here is a quote from him:

They had massive open wounds, and we didn’t have drains...We used hospital gloves as drains inside the wounds. For some, I couldn’t even do nerve repairs, there was no way to do nerve grafts.

Clearly, the injuries sustained by the people of Libya are horrific, and thousands of people are affected.

I have not spoken to Dr. Bengezi about the motion that is before the House today and I would not presume to speak for him about the extension of the military mission. However, but his first-hand experience highlights for me the essential need for resources for humanitarian assistance. Unfortunately, the motion before us today does nothing to address that urgent need.

I am sure all members of the House deplore the violence committed by the previous regime against the Libyan people, and that suggests that we have an obligation to provide assistance.

Could my colleague tell us what Canada can do to provide this much needed assistance, and do we not have a moral obligation to act?

Libya
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the short answer to that question is yes, we do have a moral responsibility to act.

Indeed, people like Dr. Bengezi are heroes who are helping on the ground, and Canada has to be there to help them.

The military intervention costs about $10 million a month. That is what we think because we never really got detailed numbers.

Now that the situation is that there are still pockets of insecurities, but the terror has ended and the situation is relatively calm in most of the country, why do we not use that money instead to help people like Dr. Bengezi, to help the people on the ground, the women, the children, the nurses, the doctors and everybody who is putting forth all their efforts to try to put an end to the tragic humanitarian situation and then rebuild that country?

Libya
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague across the way and I am a little confused. Those members are always talking about humanitarian assistance and the need to provide health care.

Has she read our resolution? It talks about the National Transition Council, the anti-Gadhafi forces to date and the fact that we are operating there with NATO in accordance with a legal mandate. However, Canada's engagement is in all spheres of rebuilding a new Libya, including human rights, democratic development and the rule of law, while the people of the Gadhafi regime had not only murdered but used rape as a weapon.

In terms of getting to the end of this so the Libyan people can have a full democracy, we hope within a couple of years, that cannot happen if we pull back. We have NATO representatives.

I wonder how the hon. member deals with that when our motion actually deals with those things about which she has talked.

Libya
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are convinced that we must change the focus of the Canadian intervention and put all our energy—and that is where we disagree—on reconstruction, democracy-building, humanitarian aid, intervention and overall support for Libyans in their current efforts.

Libya
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member very clearly articulated the need for us to transition in a major way from military intervention into providing humanitarian aid to rebuild Libya.

Canada has a very proud history as a peacekeeper and this would be a wonderful opportunity for us to once again send a strong international message that Canada is ready to build and support the infrastructure, facilities and health care for Libyans and to move away from a military commitment. This is not to say that we are going to leave Libya.

How does the member see this proceeding from here?

Libya
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for the question. It is certainly not simple. As I was saying, the situation on the ground needs to be addressed immediately and we need to start building that country's institutions as soon as possible, because it will be a rather complicated task.

As for the most immediate needs for things like hospitals, food and water supplies, and so on, Canada, as always, must work with its partner countries and, more importantly, with the United Nations agencies that can coordinate the effort on the ground. Canada must support those efforts as much as possible.

As for a longer-term vision, there is the possibility of a first phase for the creation of institutions and for national reconciliation. A situation like the one Libya has endured for the past 40 years will, of course, leave its marks and leave some scars. We need to ensure that those marks and scars heal properly so that the country can rebuild itself. In that respect, what is most important is that we listen to the people of Libya so they can see the help and expertise we can offer them.

Libya
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Mississauga—Erindale
Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for Chatham-Kent—Essex.

I am pleased to participate today in the debate on the motion before the House to extend Canada's continued engagement in Libya.

From the outset, Canada has shown international leadership and has been at the forefront of efforts to secure freedom for the Libyan people. We have come together as Canadians, both in the House and across the country, to support the protection of civilians in Libya, protection that we as Canadians often take for granted, protection that the Libyan people have been without for so very long.

The level of support from the international community has been overwhelming, beginning with the endorsement of the UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973. There have been regular meetings of the contact group on Libya and, just last week, the Secretary-General of the United Nations hosted a meeting of several heads of state, attended by Canada's Prime Minister, to discuss the situation in Libya.

We have led the way in humanitarian, diplomatic and military support to the Libyan people and their cause. Our men and women in uniform have gone above and beyond the call of duty in this mission.

Libya today is very different from the one that existed when I last spoke to the motion that was before the House in June. Most of the Libyan people, including those in Tripoli, have been freed from the control of the Gadhafi regime. Much progress has been accomplished but Libya is not out of the woods yet. The new Libya is vulnerable. Its needs are urgent.

While the humanitarian situation in much of the country has stabilized, civilians still continue to suffer in the remaining pro-Gadhafi strongholds, including Bani Walid and Sirte. Heavy fighting has exacted a serious toll on Libyan families. In some cases, Gadhafi forces are forcefully preventing people from seeking refuge elsewhere. In several towns around the country, Libyans are without water, electricity, phone coverage or medical assistance. Medical supplies are in short supply and there are severe shortages of antibiotics and anesthetics. We remain deeply concerned by reports of the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and restrictions to humanitarian access. Efforts are ongoing to secure full, safe and unhindered access to the conflict affected areas so that these crucial needs can be met.

The crisis has not only affected those in Libya. The actions of Gadhafi forces have led to the displacement of thousands of Libyans and migrant workers into neighbouring countries, including Tunisia, Niger and Egypt. The welfare of these refugees and migrants is a serious concern, with migrant transit centres also running out of food and having to manage without water or electricity. Many migrant workers want to leave Libya but do not have the means, or simply, they have nowhere to go.

As Libya moves toward a period of recovery and rebuilding, Canada will continue to monitor the humanitarian situation and respond to the needs as they arise in Libya or on its borders.

Canada will continue to be an active and willing participant in the transition to a new Libya. This is a message that was delivered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs when he visited Benghazi in June.

At the beginning of this month, we secured the unfreezing of roughly $2.2 billion of Libyan assets held in Canada and in Canadian institutions. After having fully assessed the situation on the ground in Tripoli, we have re-established our diplomatic presence in Libya, reopening our embassy in a temporary location.

For Canada, the challenge is clear: to help Libya stabilize so that it can build a solid political foundation for democracy and a strong platform for economic growth.

As we look ahead, it is not our place to tell Libyans how to reconstruct and build their country. On a structural level, the economy must begin to generate jobs, commerce and revenue. Politically, Libyans will move toward elections, a new constitution, justice and security systems. The National Transitional Council is mapping out plans to achieve this and we will support it.

In the immediate future, it will be important for the NTC to send early signals to the Libyan people that change is underway by providing citizens with basic services and security.

Timing is critical but so is effective assistance. Through experience, we have learned that successful stabilization requires a coordinated and coherent approach. Canada has led the call for international coherence to ensure that our aid money is effectively spent and supportive of local efforts on the ground.

We will continue to work with out international partners to help support a made in Libya approach to stabilization. Our immediate objective is short-term and focused: to help Libya stabilize and to help the NTC get on with the job of building a new and free Libya. The capacity is there.

The NTC has identified a road map to begin the work of building a democracy and a strong economy. On August 10, it issued a constitutional declaration which paves the way for elections and democratic governance.

The declaration sets out a plan that envisages a transition period comprising eight months under NTC direction, followed by 12 months under a new general national assembly, with general elections expected roughly 18 months after liberation.

The NTC has asked the international community for support but it is determined, as are we, that the process should be Libyan-led.

Our government stands ready to respond. Our support will be focused, targeted and disciplined. Our support will adhere to the findings of the UN-led needs assessment process. Our support will be coherent within the framework established by the NTC and the United Nations, and with other key donors. Our support will help enable Libyans to take back control of their country.

Libya
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his speech, my hon. colleague mentioned the reopening of the Canadian embassy in Libya. Did the Canadian government think it was opportune to reopen its embassy in Libya because it felt the security situation was stable enough in that country to allow it to reopen? Does the member believe that the improvement in civilian safety is connected to the decision to reopen Canada's embassy in Libya?

Libya
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, yes, some stability has returned to Tripoli but that is not, by any means, all of Libya. There still remains very serious ongoing violence, even today, in Bani Walid, in Sirte, and in other places in Libya. In fact, we do not know what will happen in the future in Tripoli. We sent a team to Tripoli. It assessed that the current status is safe enough for Canada to re-establish diplomatic resources there. However, we are taking this on a case-by-case basis. It is very fluid.

I will read for the hon. member a couple of quotes that Colonel Gadhafi put out just a couple of weeks ago. He said:

Street by street, alleyway by alleyway, house by house. The tribes that are outside of Tripoli must march on Tripoli. Each tribe must control its area and stop the enemy setting its foot on this pure land.

Do not leave Tripoli to those rats, kill them, defeat them quickly. You are the crushing majority.... There will be no safe place for the enemies....

He went on to say:

The enemy is delusional, NATO is retreating. It cannot go on forever in the air. NATO be damned.

That is why we believe that NATO has to continue its mission until the Gadhafi regime has actually surrendered and the people of Libya are safe.

Libya
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this particular debate, we in the Liberal Party have supported the initial presence and the extension and we will be supporting this extension. The job is almost finished and we want to finish it.

However, part of the motion discusses the fact that it will be up to three months. In other words, as soon as a decision is made that the job is done, our military forces will be returning.

I wonder if the hon. member could explain to us, because I am sure he knows this, what exactly will constitute the job is done. What are the criteria that will be used by Canada to decide that, yes, at this point, we may withdraw and we will withdraw? Because I know that we do not want to extend this any longer than is absolutely necessary.

Libya
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada is pursuing the NATO mission. The NATO objectives have been clearly stated. They are to continue until there is an end to all attacks against civilians, until such time as there is a verifiable withdrawal of the regime's military and paramilitary forces to its bases, and until such time as there is full and unhindered access to humanitarian aid to all those across Libya who need it.

Those are the parameters that would constitute the end of the mission.

Libya
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Mr. Speaker, what are our expectations of the new Libyan government to fulfill its commitments to freedom, democracy, rule of law and human rights?

Libya
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, when the Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Benghazi in June, he was shown a white paper prepared by the NTC, which is a route to democracy. It includes a transition period comprising 8 months under the NTC direction, followed by 12 months under a new general national assembly with elections expected in roughly 18 months after liberation. A draft constitution has been prepared and we would expect these provisions to be followed as soon as possible.

Libya
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to participate in this debate.

First, let me state that since the outset of the Libyan crisis, the humanitarian implications concerned Canada, specifically the plight of hundreds of thousands of people trapped in conflict areas or fleeing for safety to Egypt, Tunisia and other surrounding countries.

Canada's $10.6 million contribution to humanitarian relief since the conflict began is going a long way to respond to the needs of conflict affected populations. Our humanitarian funding helps humanitarian organizations to respond to specific aspects of the crisis. The funding provided by Canada amounts to $10 million from CIDA and $600,000 from DFAIT.

We allocated funds to the following organizations: the World Food Programme to provide emergency food assistance to displaced and conflict-affected populations in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt; the International Committee of the Red Cross to meet food, non-food, water, sanitation and emergency medical needs with Libya, and to support Red Cross and Red Crescent relief efforts in Tunisia and Egypt; the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to provide humanitarian support in the form of shelter, non-food items, water and sanitation to people displaced to neighbouring countries; the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies to provide migrants displaced into Tunisia and Egypt with humanitarian relief, such as food, non-food items and medical support; the Canadian Red Cross Society to transport humanitarian relief supplies from stockpiles in Dubai and Tunisia; the International Organization for Migration to support repatriation efforts for migrants displaced into neighbouring countries by the fighting in Libya to return to their countries of origin; the United Nations Population Fund to help protect and assist women and girls from gender-based violence, including sexual assaults, and to provide critical care to victims of gender-based violence in Libya; and the United Nations Department of Safety and Security for the purchase of essential security equipment to enhance the safety or UN humanitarian personnel.

Those contributions made a vital difference in the lives of the Libyan people.

To deliver assistance effectively, humanitarian personnel require access to all of those affected by the crisis. That is why Canada called on all parties involved in the Libyan conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.

The last few weeks saw very positive developments. On September 1, the Prime Minister attended the Friends of Libya meeting in Paris where he joined other world leaders to discuss how international partners could best support the National Transitional Council in its efforts to establish a democratic state. Canada re-established our diplomatic presence in Tripoli. Our embassy has re-opened. Perhaps most important, we secured an exemption from the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee to unfreeze $2.2 billion worth of Libyan assets. This is a critical development.

As a relatively resource-rich country, the Libyan people must lead much of the reconstruction effort. In light of the urgent need to stabilize the country, the NTC must begin the essential tasks of establishing security throughout the country and providing social services for the Libyan population. The $2.2 billion of unfrozen Libyan assets will help in this regard.

In addition, the international community's ongoing assistance provided to meet the significant needs that still require attention, in particular as they relate to water, fuel, medical supplies and personnel, as well as the protection of migrant workers, is vital.

We continue to work closely with our international partners, including the United Nations, to monitor the evolving humanitarian situation and to provide our expertise and assistance in an effort to alleviate the suffering of the unwitting and unwilling population affected by this crisis.

Our work is not done in Libya. We provided an opportunity for the Libyan people themselves to remove the tyranny of Gadhafi. We must not walk away at this time of need. Our Libyan friends need our help.

Libya
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are hearing that migrants are seeking refuge in the capital and that most of their medical complaints are linked to terrible living conditions in the camps. The majority of people are staying in makeshift shelters without water, food, electricity or access to proper health care. We hear that they live in constant fear and are being intimidated and harassed. We also hear that many patients suffer from psychosomatic complaints and show signs of stress due to extreme anxiety.

Could the hon. member comment on the rising reports of psychosocial trauma, especially among women and children? I am wondering what additional support the hon. member would recommend to strengthen the response.

Libya
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is true we are hearing increasingly alarming and awful reports about some of the atrocities that are being committed. That is why it is so important, as was stated by the last speaker, to maintain our military presence.

The conflict will not be resolved until Gadhafi forces are put to rout. As was previously stated, there still is a strong presence of Gadhafi forces and strong resistance. Although we have made an effort with the United Nations Population Fund to help protect women and girls from gender-based violence, we cannot implement those things unless we have the means to stop Gadhafi and his group.

That is why the debate we are having is so important. That is why we need to make sure that collectively we do what is necessary, which is to continue with what is necessary from the military standpoint to stop Gadhafi and his forces.

Libya
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for outlining the myriad initiatives our government has taken to address specifically the humanitarian needs. Earlier today the defence critic from the official opposition implied that we are not doing enough in terms of the rebuilding of Libya. The speech we have just heard certainly indicates otherwise.

Earlier today the Minister of National Defence commented on our commitment to increase access to humanitarian aid and for the rights of women and religious freedom.

I would like my colleague to underscore what he began to answer in response to the previous question where the need for security is urgent if we are going to continue these important humanitarian efforts.

Libya
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Kitchener—Conestoga has risen a number of times in the House today and I want to thank him for his interest in this important debate.

He is absolutely right. We do need to rebuild and to help in the reconstruction. We do need to assist in the lives of those who have been adversely affected by the horrors of war and the atrocities committed by the Gadhafi forces. However, these cannot be possible unless we have the presence and unless the Gadhafi regime which is currently committing these atrocities is removed. We cannot do one without the other.

I cannot stress enough the importance of adopting this motion and for the House to agree that this mission must be completed. In order to do that we need to extend it.

Libya
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in this House to speak to the situation in Libya, a topic that we have been watching for several months and that requires constant vigilance.

As we know, the evolution of the situation over there, NATO's involvement and the future of the country are at the heart of discussions in Canadian and international politics. Here at home, parliamentarians have shown a great interest in this issue, both in the House and in committees. We have followed the various political, social and military events. We have kept a close eye on what was going on in Libya and we want to support the people of Libya in the stages that will follow.

My speech today will focus on NATO's involvement in Libya, the current situation, my opposition to the motion moved by the Conservative government and the importance of the amendments proposed by the NDP.

First, I would like to give a little bit of background on NATO's involvement in Libya.

As part of the so-called Arab spring movement, rebellions in Libya started on February 15, 2011. Five days after the conflict started in Benghazi, it had spread across the country. Then, two days later, Moammar Gadhafi's regime lost control of certain regions.

The people took to the streets to denounce the injustice, oppression, lack of fairness and obscurantism of the existing government. The courage and determination of these protesters impressed us all. Risking one's life to go up against an authoritarian regime that has been in place for over 40 years is deserving of respect and honour. These people had the courage to question the established order and to bring down a corrupt and threatening government.

However, from the beginning of these protests, Moammar Gadhafi's scandalous and widespread repression has outraged and shocked us all: indiscriminate attacks against civilians, massacres in a number of Libya's cities, massive offensive attacks against unarmed protestors, rape as a weapon of war and extrajudicial killings. In short, oppression under this dictatorship reached its highest level in four decades. This oppression threatened the physical integrity of the people and the stability of the region.

Resolutions 1970 and 1973 of the UN Security Council sent a clear message: the international community will not let the regime get away with massacring a population, and it was prepared to intervene to stop the massacres. Under the responsibility to protect doctrine, the New Democratic Party supported the initial military involvement launched by NATO, as well as the renewal in 2011.

My colleagues and I hope that civilians will be protected, that Gadhafi and his troops will no longer be in a position to cause any harm and that the rule of law will return to Libya. That is why we deployed Canadian CF-18s in support of NATO's commendable, legitimate operations.

Canada conducted 820 air strikes, some 9% of all NATO strikes. Canada conducted 352 aerial refuelling sorties, some 7% of all NATO refuelling sorties. We conducted 85% of all aerial maritime patrol sorties, some 151 sorties. We dropped 600 laser-guided bombs.

We did our part. We did important work. We are proud of the work done by our soldiers. We are proud of their actions. I would like to personally thank them for their excellent work and I know that all of my colleagues, of all political stripes, join me in thanking them.

However, we are now in a different place. The reality is not the same as a few months ago and the needs have changed. The support Canada can provide has also changed and must adapt to the new reality. Tripoli has been liberated, the dictatorial regime has fallen, and fighting between forces loyal to the old regime and the rebels is limited to three cities. Life is beginning to get back to normal, particularly in the capital.

The balance that existed has been reversed. On the one hand, the Gadhafi regime has been limited and is no longer in a position to ensure the country's sovereignty or to make mass attacks on civilians. It has lost. The regime has been defeated.

The National Transitional Council, on the other hand, is recognized and supported by the international community. It has established and stabilized its positions in nearly the entire country and has achieved its first objective, which was to crush Moammar Gadhafi's regime. It has won. The people have triumphed over fear.

If we compare the situation from six months ago, or even three months ago, to today's, no one can deny that the country is doing better. No one can deny that the collapse of the regime is good news for the people of Libya in general. No one can deny that Libya is headed in the right direction.

The former government's frozen funds have been, for the most part, unlocked by the international community. These billions of dollars are now available to the NTC to begin the reconstruction of the new Libya.

Unfortunately, today's Libya lacks solid institutions, the rule of law, and national structures capable of meeting the people's needs. Libya is currently a country in need of humanitarian, logistical and technical support. The most worrisome threats today are the absence of the rule of law, corruption, a broken justice system and unmet basic needs. First of all, this country needs our expertise in order to build the future.

I will now get to the crux of the matter, the motion introduced by the government. A number of elements in this motion and the government's approach to this matter are of interest to me. I find some aspects disconcerting. The four main points in my speech are the military component of the mission, putting the rule of law at the forefront, protecting civilians, and Canada's role on the international scene. I believe that this motion does not take either the reality or the high-priority needs into account. It is not in keeping with the principles the government preaches.

First, on this side of the House, we deplore that the government's approach is essentially focused on military support, a role of the Canadian armed forces. We are proud of what our soldiers have accomplished. We are proud of their contribution to date. However, we believe that it is now time for Canada to shift its focus to humanitarian efforts.

Historically, Canada's strength has been its expertise in democracy, human rights, justice, and social and economic development. We must take advantage of our strength and focus our efforts in those areas. We do not wish to support continued military action in Libya and we do not believe that it is the priority. The military mission that began in March and was extended in June was to protect the Libyan people from the violence of the Gadhafi regime. We thank our military and our diplomats who worked hard to achieve that goal.

Today, the situation has changed and our action must change accordingly. The humanitarian corridors are open and safe. The basic needs on the ground are no longer the same. We must now build the foundations of Libya's future. We all know that the government will not provide the same resources to the humanitarian component as it does to the military component.

The $10 million being spent on military operations each month is $10 million that is not going to the Libyan people. The $330,000 being spent each day is $330,000 that is not being spent on rebuilding the country. From this point on, Canada's actions should not be based on the past or present, but on the future. We need to be fully dedicated to preparing Libya for the challenges ahead: creating a justice system, training police officers and developing democratic institutions. We must also support a new state structure that will meet the primary needs of the people both today and tomorrow.

There is a lot of work ahead of us and it is essential that we establish our priorities. From this point on, we must focus on civil resources. From this point on, Canada's humanitarian and technical resources must take over from our military support. From this point on, we must prepare for Libya's future.

Second, the motion states the desire that the House continue to support Canada's engagement in all spheres in the rebuilding of the new Libya, including human rights, democratic development and the rule of law, and that the House deplores the violence committed by the previous regime against the Libyan people, including the alleged use of rape as a weapon of war.

Clearly, we cannot oppose those sentiments. What perplexes me is the restrictive aspect of this statement. Like all parliamentarians, we are in favour of the rule of law in Libya. Like all parliamentarians, we want to see the crimes of the previous regime punished. However, the rule of law cannot come before a representative political system is developed. It will necessitate the development of a fair and equitable justice system.

In addition, the National Transitional Council does not have a monopoly on virtue. In a recent report, Amnesty International reviewed the war crimes committed both by the Gadhafi clan and by the National Transitional Council: settling of scores, extrajudicial killings, public hangings, prisoners tortured or killed and arbitrary mass arrests of nationals.

So far, none of the people involved in these war crimes, on either side, has been arrested or tried.

If the government wants its position to be consistent, it must denounce the crimes committed by both sides. It must ensure that these actions do not go unpunished. It must ensure that Libya has the tools it needs to implement the rule of law in the country. We cannot allow those who have committed war crimes to build Libyan democracy.

All this brings me back to my first point. We must base our priorities on our values and on our hopes for the Libyans. If the government's priority is to drop bombs, so be it. Our priority is to establish a strong, fair and equitable Libyan society. For us, establishing a rights-based society involves prosecuting crimes on both sides, mainly through diplomatic and humanitarian efforts.

Third, the conclusion of the motion focuses on the protection of civilians. Of course, we want to do the right thing. Who in the House could oppose this? However, upon careful examination of the situation, we see that it is much more complicated than the government would have us believe. The structures of the former regime are not as easily identifiable as they were when the intervention began.

The operations of the Gadhafi clan are more subtle. They are not using the same level of deployment that they were three or six months ago. Forces loyal to the former regime are now more likely to be hidden here and there.

As a result, rather than massive bombings, upcoming battles will be ground battles, which will pose a real threat to the safety of civilians and will affect the local people's perception of the international community's operation.

In any bombing operation, no matter how surgical, civilians are often an unintended target that we wish to avoid. Perhaps the government sees them as collateral damage but, for us, the loss of even one civilian is a tragedy that must be avoided at all costs.

It is also important to remember that NATO is not planning to bring in any ground forces and the NTC will inevitably have to continue this military work. The NTC currently has the tools to do so. It has the weapons. It has the logistical and strategic support, and it has the tactical advantage. As representatives from the Canadian army informed us in committee, pro-Gadhafi forces will soon be short on firearms and troops.

The Conservatives' approach once again shows the deep divide between this government and Canadian tradition in terms of international outreach.

Historically, our country played a peacekeeping role, a positive role, a proactive role. This government is only considering a military approach. This government chooses the easy route instead of deploying its resources where it counts. This government refuses to focus on the future of a country in need of solid structures.

Why does this government not come back to our country's strengths? Why does this government not come back to what has made us as a country appreciated around the world in the past? Why does this government insist on favouring weapons over humanitarian efforts?

In closing, the NDP opposes this motion because it is out of touch with reality. It does not take the future into account. It does not take into account the real support Canada can offer to Libya.

Accordingly, we are saying no to the motion as presented. We are saying no to the militaristic approach of the Conservative government and conversely, we are saying yes to humanitarian support from Canada and yes to the future of Libya.

That is why we have proposed two amendments to shift the focus of the motion from military efforts to humanitarian efforts. These two amendments put the emphasis on the real needs of the people. They direct Canada back to its historic mission. The Conservative government has to understand that Libya is more than an exchange of gunfire; it is more than bombings and it is more than a civil war.

Libya is a country of 6 million people who wanted to free themselves from oppression. These 6 million people turned their backs on dictatorship and chose freedom. These 6 million people now want to take charge of their fate, look ahead and build a better future.

Today, Canada's duty is to help Libyans build a modern society that reflects the aspirations of a people. A military mission is no way to achieve that end.

Libya
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for St. John's East, Afghanistan; the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, The Environment.

Libya
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the speech by the member opposite and I appreciate her position, but what she needs to appreciate is that in order to deliver humanitarian aid to the people who need it in Libya, they must first have security, and that is one of the things we are putting forward here. We need to ensure there is security so that people on the ground can deliver the humanitarian aid that is sent from other countries. That is one of the important reasons we are extending this mission in Libya. If we do not first have security, we cannot have the humanitarian aid getting to the places where it is needed.

For example, in many of the remote parts of Libya, pro-Gadhafi forces are interfering with humanitarian aid getting to the people who need it. If the member wants to have humanitarian aid reaching out to people who need it across the country of Libya, she must first acknowledge that security is a necessary factor for that to take place.

Libya
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell my colleague that I am very aware of the importance of security in delivering humanitarian supplies, for example. When we talk about security to deliver supplies, we are talking about security on the ground. Right now, the NTC provides security on the ground to assist with the delivery of these supplies. Canadian troops are not the ones providing actual security on the ground, since we have insisted all along that Canada's military mission would not involve troops on the ground.

Libya
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue for her speech.

It is certain that once our military leaves, we will have a huge task ahead of us to help Libya, a country that has known only dictatorship and repression for over four decades. The Liberal Party, along with our leader, has taken time to consult Canadians of Libyan origin to find out what they think would be important to do when we help Libya. A number of members of this community work in the health care and medical fields. They suggested that an important role for Canada would be to help put in place health infrastructure, which, frankly, does not currently exist in Libya.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks about this suggestion as a way to provide assistance to Libya.

Libya
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my speech, if we pro-rate the funds currently being put into the military mission, it comes out to $330,000 a day. If we were to allocate that money to health care instead, we could make some serious progress, I would like to point out. As a nurse, I had the opportunity to do some humanitarian work in West Africa. I know that all of Africa is in desperate need right now, so I imagine that Libya is too.

Yes, in my opinion, the priority should be the health care system and all other humanitarian needs in Libya.

Libya
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from the Standing Committee on National Defence was at the briefings we had last week from Major-General Vance and Her Excellency the Ambassador of Canada to Libya, Sandra McCardell. They clearly outlined that there is still a large area of Libya under the control of the pro-Gadhafi forces. They clearly stated that there are large caches of weapons and ammunition available to the pro-Gadhafi forces and that they have an ability to strike back and fight a hard fight.

We are witnessing that now. Members of the Gadhafi family are making all sorts of public statements about being prepared to be martyrs and about being prepared to fight to the last man or woman. We have to ensure that we get this oppressor and his forces under control so that we will have the ability for diplomacy and aid to be delivered.

I ask my hon. colleague if she would comment on the need to bring stability throughout the entire country of Libya and not just to the areas that are held now, and on the role that NATO still has to play in providing security for all Libyans.

Libya
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, what I also took away from that meeting is that the Gadhafi forces have been reduced considerably and that they are limited to three main cities. So they are concentrated in one area. The NTC continues working hard on the ground to take control of those areas and to ensure the safety of civilians. The Gadhafi forces have been reduced considerably. The NTC is making good progress and we must continue to support it. I think it will be able to accomplish what it set out to do.

Libya
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague did serve in uniform herself and understands the importance of our armed forces and our military, and to follow up for my hon. colleague over there who asked the question about costs, I will say that we know military intervention is very expensive.

My question to my hon. colleague for Abitibi—Témiscamingue is this: does she think the money would be better spent on helping to actually rebuild Libya rather than on military intervention?

Libya
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that the money that was invested in the military mission, before the events of the past few weeks, was necessary. We had to invest on a military level in order to help the NTC bring down Moammar Gadhafi. Now that the regime has fallen, now that Tripoli has been taken and the situation in that country is on the right track, it is time to redirect that money towards humanitarian needs.

Libya
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue--

First I want to congratulate the hon. member on her speech. It was very strong, and I agree with the points she raised. Like her, I am very worried about the other crimes, not just those committed by the forces who support Mr. Gadhafi, but also those of the transitional government, which is committing other crimes against young people in the civilian population. They may be especially misinterpreted as being committed by pro-Gadhafi forces, when that is not the case. It may be a case of confusion.

What does the hon. member think of the threats that are weighing on the civilian population of Libya?

Libya
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to meet the ambassador when she came to a meeting of the Standing Committee on National Defence. I had the opportunity to ask her some questions about that. The thing that came out of the conversation was the importance of diplomatic aid. Establishing Canadian diplomatic aid will help the Libyan people set up a justice system very quickly. Then the criminals from Gadhafi's camp and also the people in the NTC who have overstepped the bounds can be prosecuted quickly. This will prevent those people from being involved in building the new Libya. For that we need major diplomatic efforts, not military efforts.

Libya
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to be here today speaking on the subject of Libya. I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.

It is a pleasure to contribute to this important debate. Today comes at a crucial moment in Libya's history and obviously in the history of Canada's relations with Libya.

As the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs have repeatedly made clear, Canada stands ready to assist Libyans and their new leadership during this historic period of transition and change.

We were ready the moment the Libyan people needed our help, and from the onset we have pushed for swift and decisive action. We have shown international leadership with our humanitarian, diplomatic and military efforts. In the last month we have responded quickly with a number of steps to support the new Libya. While progress has been made, we are staying until the job is done.

I do not need to remind members in the House what happened back in the nineties in Iraq with Saddam Hussein, a dictator there. When he thought he had the support of the outside world, a number of people rose up, but when he did not get that support from the outside world, massacres and challenges occurred.

I do not pretend to make those two things the same, but we have started a job in Libya and it is important that we continue the job until the job gets done. That is what we are really trying to demonstrate here today.

Inspired by the actions in Tunisia and Egypt, Libyans took to the streets in January 2011 to protest their living conditions. The protests quickly spread and began to focus instead on the removal of Moammar Gadhafi and his regime. Within months, the civilian death toll had reached the thousands. It became clear to the world that outside intervention was necessary to protect innocent Libyans.

To demonstrate our commitment to the UN, NATO and our allies, Canada took up its duty and prepared for the mission that lay ahead. The mission continues to be that of protecting civilians but also includes the central factor of making sure that democracy, the rule of law and human rights continue to be upheld. My colleague from Calgary said earlier that when Canada looks at getting involved, we want to ensure that we have the opportunity to promote democracy, the rule of law and to deal with human rights, and in this case, protecting Libyans.

Libya's interim rulers showed the world a mass grave they had found, believed to hold the remains of over 1,270 inmates killed by Gadhafi security forces in the notorious 1996 massacre.

Gadhafi is still at large and to withdraw our troops from a country where this man still roams is really not an option at this point in time.

Canada has been at the forefront of NATO's mission in Libya to protect civilians since March 1, 2011. Canada's own Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard has been commanding NATO's military campaign in Libya since March 31, 2011. Six hundred and fifty Canadian Forces personnel, 15 Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft and three Royal Canadian Navy vessels have been working tirelessly to both achieve its mission in support of the Libyan people and to show Canada's commitment to its allies. They have successfully targeted military sites around the country, enforced a no-fly zone, and maintained a naval blockade without a single Canadian casualty to report.

We must continue to show our support and commitment to NATO and to the UN, as well as those countries with whom we fight against tyranny and oppression. To back out now, with Gadhafi still at large, would be an act of submission and surrender, and that is not the image that Canada can or is willing to portray to the world.

Libya is not Afghanistan. We are there to help the national transitional council rid its people of an oppressor and we will stick by our allies until this mission is accomplished.

Canada has been a member of the UN since the body was created out of the rubble of World War II. Canada's history at the UN is deeply entrenched. Mr. Humphrey, a Canadian, drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Canada has since been a part of every UN mission since 1957 and Libya is no different.

We must show the world that Canada continues to play a major role on the global stage, and we will take necessary actions whenever and wherever innocent civilians are being oppressed.

The national transitional council, or NTC, formed on February 27, acts as the political face of the revolution. It has been recognized by Canada, along with the UN General Assembly, as the legitimate representative of Libyan citizens.

Canada has therefore positioned itself well as an ally to the NTC, and in doing so, could help ensure that it stays the course with its stated goals of creating a tolerant, stable, pluralistic democracy. Certainly, the foreign affairs minister has met with the NTC and we have every reason to be optimistic about Libya's future under its leadership.

Gadhafi's days are numbered, and when that number runs out, so will Canada's military mission in Libya. Until then, Canada must continue to show a commitment to our allies, to the spread of peace and democracy, and to the people of Libya.

Canada has made many recent moves to assist Libya's transition to democracy. On September 1, the Prime Minister announced the lifting of unilateral sanctions imposed by Canada in order to assist the Libyan people transition justly, safely and securely toward a democracy.

On September 13, Canada secured from the United Nations Security Council sanctions committing an exemption to unfreeze the $2.2 billion worth of Libyan assets to be used for humanitarian needs.

We re-opened our embassy in Tripoli in a temporary location, and as soon as necessary repairs are made to our existing embassy building and appropriate security measures are in place, we could again start to provide the high level of service Canadians have come to expect from our embassies worldwide.

We are moving quickly and decisively to establish all necessary links with the new Libyan government and to resume all services for Canadians within Libyan borders. However, that is not all our government is doing. In addition to assistance in Libya, Canada will also work to support Canadian businesses in Libya, many of which are ready and anxious to resume their activities there.

Prior to the unrest, approximately 12 Canadian companies were active in the country and many more were exploring opportunities. Trade and investment form a critical dimension of Canada's relationship with Libya, and last year, Canadian merchandise exports to Libya amounted to $246 million, nearly doubling since 2008.

Over time, Canadian companies have built a significant presence in that market. Some, like SNC Lavalin, Petro-Techna and Canadian Petroleum Processing Equipment, have been active in the Libyan market for over 20 years. They know Libya. They understand the challenges of doing business there, especially now, as many companies have had their operations and payments interrupted by civil war. However, our businesses also understand the opportunities that are now opening up in Libya.

We have much to offer Libya as it rebuilds its economy and infrastructure in the years ahead. Canadian companies are well positioned to participate in this effort.

Getting Libyans back to work and Libyan businesses back to business is critical to the stabilization and normalization of Libya.

The government has been working closely with Canadian businesses to seek their views. Officials on the ground in Libya and in Canada are providing information and support on a daily basis.

Together, we are exploring ways that Canadian firms can participate in restoring Libya's historically active commercial life. The need is great. Restarting and rebuilding Libya's economy is both a huge task and a significant commercial opportunity. It certainly will not be done overnight.

War, brutal dictatorship and historic underfunding have all taken their toll on Libya's infrastructure. Think of all the schools, hospitals and buildings that need to be repaired or actually built for the first time. Think of the telecommunications systems, pipelines and electrical infrastructure that requires servicing or upgrading. Canadians and Canadian businesses can help. They want to help.

I hope we can count on the support of all parliamentarians as we find new ways to support our businesses to help Libya overcome this difficult period and rebuild for the future. Canada has always been a positive force in the world, and we can be just that for the Libyan people.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs said recently that all Canadians can be proud that our country has “punched above its weight” by leading the way in providing humanitarian, diplomatic and military support to the Libyan people.

As the new leadership of Libya focuses on the future, Canada's role will continue to be vital. Our commitment to peacekeeping, democracy, freedom and the rule of law takes precedence in every action undertaken by our great nation. This conflict is no different.

The threat posed on the Libyan people's fundamental human rights by Gadhafi's regime laid the ground for Canada's intervention. We will not leave until these rights are once again restored.

Libya
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, considering the insistence on keeping Canadian military forces there, do our colleagues in the government have information on the real capacity of Mr. Gadhafi's organization to respond?

Libya
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not have that information at this point in time.

Libya
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Mississauga—Erindale
Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his very interesting and informative speech.

I wonder if the member could give us some sense of what he feels the remnants of the Gadhafi regime, which are still fighting today in Bani Walid, Sirte and other places in Libya, are likely to do if they were to hear that some members of NATO, such as Canada, were about to pull out of the mission, discontinuing their participation?

What does the member think might happen? Would they continue to wreak violence on the Libyan people?

Libya
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that history has shown is these oppressive and violent dictators, if they think there is no support from the outside world, if they believe that people are not paying attention, would go back to their old ways.

Quite frankly, we have seen statements from some of the families saying that it is just a matter of time before they can get back in and continue to run the country.

This is why I believe it is so important, more important than ever, that we stay the course, that we continue to work with the Libyan people, that we continue to work with the NTC as it sets up and moves forward toward democracy and the rule of law, and that we continue until the job is done.

Libya
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned health and medical care.

We know that in many cities municipal services have collapsed or are extremely weak because of unpaid salaries, fuel shortages and departure of foreign workers. Garbage is piling up in some streets, increasing the risk of communicable disease outbreaks at a time when the country's disease surveillance and response system is weak.

I am wondering what further action the hon. member would propose to improve and help monitor health and nutritional needs, health care delivery, ensuring life-saving treatment for trauma and injury patients, and access to essential health care, including for chronic disease, restoring the medical supply chain for essential medicines, vaccines and other medical equipment, and strengthening the health system to deliver essential health services.

Libya
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I stated in my speech, and I think everyone knows, one of the things that we moved very quickly to do, and it happened back on September 1 was to deal with the sanctions committee of the United Nations to unfreeze the $2.2 billion worth of Libyan assets that is really required for its humanitarian aid.

I think we realize that Libya is a rich country. I do not believe that the assets and the money have necessarily been used for good or for all it could have been in the past. One of the things we recognized as a government was that as long as those assets were frozen, that would hamper the reconstruction, that would hamper the ability to deal with workers who need to be paid, and that would hamper the ability to get aid and medical supplies there.

That is why we acted on September 1 and we will continue to do so until things are restored.

Libya
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am just wondering if the member across would be able to elaborate on the government's plan for aiding in the democratic development of Libya as referenced in its motion before us today.

Libya
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are moving forward to untie and unfreeze some of the assets for humanitarian aid. As we look at dealing with the NTC and at building ties with it, we want to work alongside the NTC so that it can do the things that it stated it is going to do in order to make Libya a democratic country again.

Libya
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, as the Bloc Québécois foreign affairs and defence critic, I am pleased to be speaking before the House during this important debate.

Last June, our party reiterated its support for this mission for very specific reasons. And these reasons still hold true for us today, even more so because the results of the operation on the ground show that many civilians were saved and others were protected by the summer-long intervention.

To begin, I would again like to say that, for the same reasons, the Bloc Québécois will be supporting a limited extension of the mission. And that is particularly because of the results of the mission. Since June, we have seen significant progress. We are particularly proud that the armed forces, through targeted interventions, were able to protect civilians. The Bloc Québécois bases its renewed support for this mission on certain principles, and I feel compelled to review them. These are the principles to which we subscribe and which should continue to guide Canada and the other UN members involved in this action in support of a civilian population that is struggling.

First, the multilateral nature of the intervention is very important to us. It is organized and directed by the UN Security Council. Second, specific means were laid out in UN resolutions 1970 and 1973. And, finally, the ultimate purpose of the military intervention is to protect the lives of Libyan civilians, who were, I should say, fiercely threatened.

Today, particularly in this case, we can see that the results on the ground have been successful. However, there are still some areas that are under the control of forces loyal to Gadhafi. They are small areas, but there is still a threat. After the briefing that was held, the Bloc Québécois examined the situation, and we believe that it is still logical and relevant to engage in targeted interventions for a limited period.

It is important to mention that the international community's commitment in Libya is still an example of the application of the responsibility to protect doctrine. Members have spoken about it, and there are different interpretations of this doctrine, but we believe that the doctrine of the responsibility to share and protect is based on three pillars. One of them concerns the current situation more specifically. It has to do with the responsibility of the international community to take action in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations if a state manifestly fails in its responsibility to protect its population from one of the four major crimes.

Right now, everything indicates that the National Transitional Council does not yet have the ability to protect the safety of the civilians living in Libyan territory, and under the circumstances, the interventions targeting the pockets of resistance must be as delicate and appropriate as possible.

The doctrine of the responsibility to protect is important. In this spirit of democracy, our party would remind the House and the government that the renewal of the Canadian mission in Libya, in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973, is one of the principles that gave rise to this intervention. The success of an effective intervention strategy in this case will of necessity depend on limited military interventions—especially at this time because the pockets of resistance are no longer found across the entire country—which should basically focus on the protection of civilians, in accordance with the UN resolutions.

The Bloc Québécois would also like to express its concern for and solidarity with Quebeckers and Canadians of Libyan origin, who have been going through difficult times. However, a quick resolution is on the horizon and holds the promise of better days for Libya.

The Bloc Québécois's support for the government's extension of this military mission in Libya is based on the principles of respect for human life, respect for rights and freedoms, and especially respect for the political sovereignty of the Libyan people, who are fighting for civil liberties and a better life without suffering.

In our opinion, respect for Libyan sovereignty is essential. When the last bastions loyal to Colonel Gadhafi fall, Canada must withdraw quickly in order for a democratic transition to take place, allowing the Libyan people to govern themselves without any interference from outside forces.

It goes without saying that this is not a military intervention with the goal, as I just said, of taking away the Libyan people's right to sovereignty by invading or breaking up the country. On the contrary, this mission seeks to protect the lives of people intent on changing their political situation, which, at present, violates the freedom of Libyan civilians.

Libya
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member said that he did not believe that the NTC was capable of protecting the safety of civilians on the ground. If the NTC is not able to protect the safety of civilians during ground operations, why did it not ask NATO or the UN to provide military assistance by deploying ground troops?

Libya
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue asked a very good question.

The intervention by ground troops goes completely against our current vision of the action that should be taken. As I said earlier, to be completely honest with the hon. member, I would say that the reports prove that the National Transitional Council is having difficulty providing security on the ground. In particular, it is having difficulty getting rid of the last remaining bastions that are still loyal to Gadhafi.

When it comes to a decision like this, it seems logical to us to stay on site for a few extra months to allow the NTC, which I would like to remind the House is recognized by international organizations, to take on the responsibility in an acceptable manner that will protect the safety of civilians.

Libya
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear the comments from the Bloc representative in regard to its position on the whole Libya issue. There is no doubt that the Liberal Party and others inside this chamber have seen the value in terms of providing freedom for the people of Libya.

One of the questions that needs to be answered, and I look to the government or the Bloc representative, is this. Under what kind of circumstances would the member envision this engagement in terms of the role that the UN or NATO would play in regard to taking a position of when Canada should withdraw from Libya? To what degree does the Bloc see NATO and the UN providing guidance on that issue?

Libya
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his excellent question.

In our opinion, it is also the responsibility of the government to plan and to determine the context in which it will decide to withdraw the troops. We hope the decision will be made before the end of the proposed extension of the mission. According to the model established by the organizations on the ground, as soon as the liberation of Libya has been declared, an eight-month preparation process would allow for a free election to be held in Libya. Canada has to be able to determine both the context in which it will withdraw its military troops and the way in which it will provide support for reconstruction and help for victims of damaging crimes. The government has a responsibility to answer the many questions that have been raised as to where we wish to go from here.

Libya
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, may I begin by expressing the appreciation of the member for Scarborough—Guildwood for the Minister of National Defence and his staff.

Throughout the summer, as the member for Scarborough—Guildwood has expressed, he and other members of our caucus received briefings from the Minister of National Defence and his staff. They gave us updates on the unfolding situation in Libya which were thorough, frequent, extensive and candid. We appreciated the openness the minister demonstrated throughout this mission.

I would add that I had discussions with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and I appreciated as well the diplomatic initiatives he took with the contact group and otherwise the sanctions that were levied against the Libyan leadership and the movement to bring Libyan officials, beginning with Colonel Gadhafi, before the International Criminal Court for accountability.

I would also like to recognize the exemplary contribution of our armed forces. It really is due to the professionalism and dedication of our Canadian Forces and that of NATO that we can discuss what is happening in Libya today in a manner that speaks to the rebuilding of a free Libya, a Libya free from the tyrannical regime of Colonel Gadhafi and his cohorts.

I would like to highlight the work of our diplomatic representatives, particularly that of Sandra McCardell, the Canadian ambassador to Libya. We know that conflicts in this day and age are not simply addressed and won on the battlefield, but they also take place in the trenches of diplomacy. She has been a significant asset to Canada throughout the mission and will continue to play a very prominent role in the rebuilding process. As she and her family head off to Libya, my colleagues in the Liberal Party and I wish her safety and godspeed in her mission.

On this point of expressing appreciation, I want to express our thanks as well to the Libyan diaspora here in Canada and those outside Canada with whom our caucus has met singly and in groups. They identified for us the challenges that are confronting Libya today, as well as the opportunities. Some of those challenges which they outlined to us I am going to be abbreviating for reasons of time. They would be far more elaborate and clear were I able to convey them as they were initially conveyed in their deliberations with us.

First, they spoke of leadership issues. Gadhafi had effectively eliminated most of the political elite, including opposition figures in exile. As a result of that, political parties and opposition groups were almost non-existent. Gadhafi therefore remained the only dominant personality in the political realm which now has to be reconfigured, rebuilt and redeemed.

The second was the issue of the remnants of a divided society. Divisions between eastern, western, coastal and inland regions would still be a factor, as would tribal divisions, though this to a lesser extent. In particular, reference was made to the division between Benghazi and Tripoli. Residents of both cities have a certain apprehension of the other gaining dominance, while Tripoli itself remains a certain complex mix between old residents who, although anti-Gadhafi, are nonetheless concerned about the control to be exercised from Benghazi, and Gadhafi loyalists who came to that city in later years. I do not want to over-exaggerate this point. It has been made by others, including in briefings by the National Endowment for Democracy, but it at least deserves mention in this catalogue of some of the challenges.

The third one is that of a weak security sector. Unlike Egypt, for example, Libya lacks a sophisticated security sector in particular. Under the Gadhafi regime, security was heavily privatized and contracted to foreign mercenaries. Therefore, no effective, sophisticated and viable security sector was developed.

The fourth one was a lack of economic infrastructure. Here, too, there was a bifurcated economic system where the oil resources were largely separated from the rest of the economy, which remain for the most part underdeveloped. The allocation of oil revenues, therefore, in a democratically developing Libya raises the issue of a resource-based conflict that could develop between competing regions. This is something we will have to monitor as well, led of course by the Libyan Transitional Council and government.

Finally, reference has to be made to the character of the violent conflict and the transitional justice that will evolve. Such a conflict as we have been witnessing raises issues of accountability and demands for retribution.

In particular, given our experience with respect to transitional justice in terms of developing international justice frameworks and reforms, we can assist the Libyan Transitional Council in this regard.

May I just close in terms of that which was conveyed to us about some of the opportunities.

The opportunities exist because of, in effect, the disenchantment with the Gadhafist ideology. That ideology never did take hold. Libyans at this point are seeking, and indeed welcoming, the notion of having free elections, mechanisms for accountability, and putting to bed any reference to that remnant of an ideology that was never embraced by the Libyan people themselves.

There is also a commitment to democratic legitimacy. The NTC itself has recognized the need for free and fair multi-party elections and the establishment of a provisional government. It has expressed commitment to bring together intellectuals, human rights leaders, trade unions and citizens in any transition process so that it goes forward in an inclusive manner.

In the matter of local government, an important point is that local councils largely superseded tribal ties to provide for more independent, transparent and accountable government. There is a developing healthy interaction. I am speaking here about the potential opportunities between the National Transitional Council and local councils. This will help to develop a governance that promotes both a democratic voice and accountability.

Finally, in terms of civil society, the emerging civil society organizations offer opportunities for civic participation and possibilities to build trust outside the lesser institutions that have been allowed to develop in terms of family and tribe on any national scale. Labour unions can play an important role here. Although they were heavily controlled by Gadhafi, they are one of the few groupings in the civil society sector that were allowed to exist under the Gadhafi regime, although the influence there of course remained.

I participated, as many members did, in the debate on Libya that we had in the House last March. At the time, I mentioned in the House and wrote at the end of February in a series of op-eds:

[T]he threats and assaults on civilians in Libya continue to escalate. ...Muammar Gaddafi vows to exterminate the “greasy rats” of civilians, who “deserve to die”.

The continuing pronouncements by Gadhafi at the time led to ongoing condemnation and calls for action. Even opposition parties at the time in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco spoke of Gadhafi's genuine industry of extermination and the need to act, as did western political leaders, the European Union, the UN Secretary-General and the like. Interestingly enough, none of the political leaders who spoke about the compellability to act referred to the need to invoke the responsibility to protect doctrine. I was delighted that in its midnight session on February 26, the UN Security Council in its resolution then and later in March invoked the responsibility to protect doctrine.

As I wrote at the time:

Strong condemnation--without effective action by the international community--would be a betrayal of the Libyan people and a repudiation of the [responsibility to protect] 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.

The two resolutions that were passed, in particular, resolution 1973 of March 17, authorized international military action against the Libyan government including a no-fly zone to protect the Libyan people, tightening the economic and financial sanctions along with calls for a ceasefire, diplomatic initiatives and movements toward self-determination for the Libyan people. This created a situation where not long thereafter, we were able to say that the international action authorized by the UN Security Council appeared to be working.

By the end of March the no-fly zone had not only been established, but enforced. A no-drive zone had effectively been implemented. Rebel forces that were on the cusp of desperation weeks before appeared emboldened by the United Nations' response. The international action was not a unilateral move by the United States or one in the absence of a UN Security Council resolution, but had been undertaken pursuant to two UN Security Council resolutions, the first invoking importantly the responsibility to protect doctrine together with targeted sanctions, and the second invoking the important no-fly zone and the accompanying initiatives to which I refer.

We had a situation that moved forward. This brings us to the present day where in discussions in the UN Security Council, Under-Secretary-General Lynn Pascoe spoke of the challenges that still await us and the role we can play in that regard. He mentioned the security concerns that still obtain in that regard and which still need to be addressed and that the formation of a new inclusive interim government would be a crucial step toward national reconciliation and unity and to ensuring that all military groups were brought under a unified command.

Also, and this is something that bears mention and action, regarding the issue of arms proliferation, he echoed the concerns of others that it is imperative the National Transitional Council and the international community establish control over the large stockpiles of sophisticated weapons amassed by the Gadhafi government, including ground-to-air missiles, warning against the spread as he did of those armaments and the threat that they could fall into terrorists' hands.

Re-establishing control over chemical weapons and prospective weapons of mass destruction is of paramount importance. Indeed there has been the discovery of chemical weapons stockpiles, some of which have been discovered as recently as September 22.

Mr. Pascoe spoke of the uncovering of mass graves which indicated the enormity of the human rights crimes that were perpetrated by the Gadhafi regime. Evidence has to be gathered reliably for future accountability. All countries must co-operate--and Canada can play a leading role--with the International Criminal Court in apprehending the indictees and bringing them to justice.

We will also have to make every effort to prevent revenge attacks as he mentioned in expressing concern over the forced displacement of groups of civilians among the Tewerga and Gwaliosh peoples, who were perceived as Gadhafi loyalists.

Another issue expressed today in the Security Council debate was the continuing concern about African migrants and other third party nationals, over 200,000 of whom the United Nations had helped evacuate since the beginning of the crisis. He noted that many more remained in transit camps inside the country. We will have to move to the early processing of those in detention and greater attention to the security of those who continue to work in Libya.

Finally, reference was made by Mr. Jibril today in his address about the need to continue the unfreezing of funds. These funds are needed now in the rebuilding of Libya. The needs of Libya at this point, whether they be housing and electricity, rebuilding infrastructure which was decimated by the conflict, even the security matters relating to weapons retention and the like, will need the kind of funds that the assets can provide.

I will close by making reference to the fact that the NDP amendment that we have been debating effectively calls for the end of our military participation in Libya. It is not a position expressed by the leader of our party, nor one that our party shares.

House of Commons rules are such that this amendment cannot be further amended to ensure that support for this mission continues. Had we been able to amend the government's motion, then the text of our amended motion would have read as follows, and with this I move to a close. I will speak to the substance of what would have been our proposed motion. It is as follows: That, in standing in solidarity with those seeking freedom and better governance in Libya, and in order to protect the civilian population of the country from violent attacks from their own government, the House adopted government motions on March 21 and June 14, 2011 authorizing all necessary measures, including the use of the Canadian armed forces and military assets in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolution 1973; that given the current military situation and the success of the National Transitional Council (NTC) and anti-Gaddafi forces to date, the House supports an extension of up to three months of the involvement of the Canadian armed forces operating with NATO in accordance with a legal mandate from UNSC resolution 1973; that the House continues to support Canada's engagement in all spheres in the rebuilding of a new Libya, including human rights, democratic development and the rule of law, as well as humanitarian and medical assistance in co-operation with the Libyan Canadian community; that the Government of Canada implement a broader engagement strategy with North Africa to promote democracy and stability in the region; that the House deplores the violence committed by the previous regime against the Libyan people, including violence against women, including sexual assault and torture as weapons of war, and including human rights abuses against migrant workers; that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Standing Committee on National Defence shall remain seized of Canada's activities under UNSC resolution 1973 and in the rebuilding of the new Libya.

This would continue to give us an active role with respect to the responsibility to protect doctrine and its implementation.

It further states: that the House extends thanks to Canada's Ambassador to Libya, Sandra McCardell, and her diplomatic colleagues, as well as those working at the Canadian International Development Agency for the good work that they have done; and that the House continues to offer its wholehearted and unconditional support to the brave men and women of the Canadian armed forces who stand on guard for all of us, and continue to protect Libyan civilians from the risks still posed by the Gaddhafi regime, and give effective implementation to the responsibility to protect doctrine.

However, since we are unable to move this specific motion and since we cannot support the NDP's amended motion, we will be supporting the main motion.

Libya
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Mississauga—Erindale
Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Mount Royal is well known as an international legal scholar and I always appreciate his comments and speeches in the House of Commons.

I do not know if he had an opportunity earlier today to listen to the speech given by the opposition, the foreign affairs critic for the NDP, but I was confused and thought that perhaps the hon. member for Mount Royal could help me out with my confusion.

The NDP foreign affairs critic said that the NDP had decided to support the Canadian mission in Libya because of resolution 1973 in March and then they found that this resolution was still in place and a reason for supporting the mission in June. The hon. member will know that resolution 1973 called on all members of the United Nations to take all necessary actions to protect civilians, to enforce an arms embargo and to enforce a ban on military flights over Libyan air space. Then the member will also know that just 10 days ago the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 2009, which maintained provisions to enforce the no-fly zone, protect civilians and enforce the arms embargo in light of continued fighting in some parts of Libya.

Could the member comment on that inconsistency between those two resolutions on behalf of the NDP?

Libya
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think the inconsistency may lie in the fact that as a matter of principle the NDP has been a strong supporter, not only with regard to the Libyan situation, but with regard to the responsibility to protect doctrine, as incorporated in UN Security Council resolution 1973. That accounts for what we might say the generic commitment is with the responsibility to protect.

However, as the member for Toronto Centre noted earlier in his comments before the House, there were at the same time elements of the speech which were at variance with its own, not necessarily commitment for the responsibility to protect doctrine, but with respect to the application of that doctrine as it applied now to the Libyan situation. At one and the same time in the same breath one heard both a support for and opposition to the motion as proposed by the government. Therefore, in my view, that accounted for the inconsistencies.

Libya
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague a question that is both connected to this debate and on a point I raised earlier regarding the work we need to be doing in our own country in terms of building communities, investment and development in our own communities. I specifically look to the challenges we face in northern Canada and aboriginal communities. Would he agree that ultimately nations become stronger when that is the focus, rather than the military end of things, and looking ahead to the next chapter of focusing on developing, capacity building and the need to look at that both at home and abroad?

Libya
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would agree with the member, but I do not find a contradiction between working with respect to capacity building in the north with respect to working for aboriginal justice. Indeed, as I indicated, during the period that I was minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, aboriginal justice was a priority both on our domestic and international justice agenda. Certainly a commitment with respect to the north capacity building and the like have to remain a priority for us. The stronger we are as a nation, the better we will be able to make a contribution internationally.

However, this does not preclude our parallel obligation, particularly under the responsibility to protect. One might say we have a responsibility to protect domestically, but there is an international doctrine with regard to a responsibility to protect. It says that where we have a situation of war crimes, crimes against humanity and, God forbid, genocide, where the country in which that is taking place is unwilling or unable to do anything about it, or even worse, as in the case of Libya, is the author of that criminality, then under the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine the international community, and that includes Canada, has a responsibility to intervene and protect the civilians.

I might add that we are now in the 10th anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine. Canadians played an important role in the development of that doctrine. We look upon it as something which gives us a kind of international badge of pride, globally speaking, and that we can speak with a certain authenticity with respect to the implementation of such a doctrine, whether it be in Libya or elsewhere.

I do not want to use the same notion of that document domestically because they are different things, but in terms of having responsibility domestically, yes, absolutely we do, and that has to be an ongoing commitment.

With regard to responsibility to protect internationally, that is a distinguishable obligation under international law, which we helped develop, contribute to and we are now implementing. I am delighted that Canada can lead the way in that regard.

Libya
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my hon. colleague again for his wonderful speeches and tremendous commitment to world peace and advancing the peace in many areas of the country.

I particularly want him to elaborate on the proposed amendment that we would have introduced had procedures allowed. It very much encapsulated a lot of what I think all of us as Canadians and parliamentarians feel when it comes to the issue of peace in Libya and our hopes for the people and the region for a peaceful future. Would the hon. member comment further on that?

Libya
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, the whole thrust of what we proposed, that would have been the substance of an amendment, was to give expression as to how the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine could actually be implemented on the ground in all its aspects.

The Responsibility to Protect Doctrine not only authorizes the use of military force, it authorizes the use of military force to put an end to the killing field. It authorizes the use, in this instance, of a no-fly zone to stop the rampant and indiscriminate killing and murder that was going on by the Gadhafi regime.

We believe the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine, and indeed the ongoing involvement it will have in the next three months of this mission, speaks to the importance of our involvement in all spheres of the building of a new Libya, including human rights, democratic development, the rule of law, humanitarian and medical assistance in co-operation with the Libyan government itself. In other words, we take the notion of our responsibility to protect as involving an ongoing engagement and involvement in the building of a democratic Libya anchored in the promotion and protection of human rights, the rule of law and democratic development and humanitarian assistance processes.

Libya
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will attempt to make this question brief.

There are increasing reports that our responsibility to protect must extend beyond those people threatened by Colonel Gadhafi and must extend to those people who are now understood to have once favoured Colonel Gadhafi. How do we protect those people when we are not allowed by the transitional government to be in Libya to protect civilian populations through a UN peacekeeping force?

Libya
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, as part of our engagement we will have to work closely with the National Transitional Council to ensure that the appropriate protection is extended to all groups, including protection against vengeful attacks, and that we move forward in such a way that we build a democratic and inclusive provisional government and a democratically plural society in Libya. I believe we can play in role in that objective.

Libya
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Selkirk—Interlake.

I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood--Port Kells to speak to the motion before the House, which seeks an extension of Canada's military engagement in Libya.

Canada has been at the forefront of international efforts in Libya, and from the outset has pushed for swift and decisive action. We are proud of the role Canada has played to support the Libyan people in their struggle to realize a new Libya. After 42 years of brutal dictatorship and one-man rule, the Libyan people have taken important steps to secure for themselves a brighter future.

The unanimous passing of United Nations Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 sent a very clear message: the murder of its own citizens by the Libyan regime and the gross violation of the population's human rights would not be tolerated by the international community and would carry serious consequences.

Canada's armed forces have played a leading role in preventing attacks and the threat of attacks against civilians. We have played a vital role in ensuring a positive outcome, but members opposite have lacked the will to see the mission to a successful conclusion.

In August the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, of which I am a member, met to discuss the ongoing situation in Libya. We heard from officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Canadian International Development Agency and the Department of National Defence.

At that time members discussed and debated the progress of the Canadian mission and ways in which Canada and the international community could improve the protection of civilians in the near and long terms. At that time the NDP walked out of the meeting and declared the mission to be at a standstill.

Just over a week after that meeting, most of the Libyan people, including those in Tripoli, were freed from the control of the Gadhafi regime. The NDP could not have been more wrong.

Despite the progress that has been made, Libya and its people still need our help. The job is not yet done. The reasons Parliament voted to endorse military action still exist, and so it is our position that Canada's role in Libya must continue.

We must remain committed to protecting civlians under threat of attack in Libya and continue to work with NATO allies and partners until the goal of the mission has been met. We must continue protecting civilians and civilian-populated areas. We must maintain the no-fly zone and we must enforce the arms embargo.

As it did in many countries swept up in the Arab awakening, change in Libya came suddenly. Mild, peaceful protests were met with overwhelming force and violence by an autocracy that had long maintained its control through fear and its monopoly of power through the use of violence.

The Gadhafis, first the father and then the son, promised “rivers of blood”. They promised to make the people of Libya pay in blood. They called anti-Gadhafi protestors “rats” and mercenaries who deserved the death penalty. They called upon forces to cleanse Libya house by house.

The Gadhafi regime chose to wage war on its own people and included acts of sexual violence to further the regime's military goals. Canada has been at the forefront of those demanding that the regime halt attacks against its own people and ensure that perpetrators of crimes are brought to justice.

Canada was among the first to call for the UN Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court and strongly supported the creation by the human rights council of an international commission of inquiry into violations of human rights.

When used as a weapon of war, rape is a war crime. When used to systematically attack, suppress and terrorize, rape can be a crime against humanity. We condemn these attacks without reservation. These despicable acts underscore why Canada is, and should continue to be, part of the NATO mission.

Libya is a country in the grip of fundamental change. International consensus for action has come in the form of clear and very effective UN Security Council resolutions.

The Canadian and international response that followed the passage of resolutions 1970 and 1973 is one of which we can all be justly proud, and we must stay the course, not only in finishing our military mission but also in helping to assure the final outcome.

Libya's success will establish examples for the entire Arab world about how the traditions and values of the Arab world, an ancient and honoured culture, can make the transition to freedom, democracy, genuine rule of law and human security. These are the foundation stones of economic and social development.

As the Prime Minister has stated, “We presume no right to tell the Libyans how they should govern themselves, nor do we have unrealistic expectations”. It is not our place to tell the Libyans how to rebuild their country. We now expect the new government of Libya to fulfill its commitments to freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

We remain committed to supporting these next steps to assist the Libyan people in their determination to rebuild a peaceful and prosperous society.

In Libya today, as the old regime is justly swept into the dustbin of history, the people are coming face to face with these very challenges. The role of Canada and the international community is to help Libyans meet them and find Libyan solutions for a Libyan future.

Members across the way have been saying that Canada's military role in Libya is finished. They say that we have done our part.

As I said previously, the reasons for which Parliament overwhelmingly supported our mission still exist, and so do the conditions that prompted the UN and NATO to act. Civilians in some parts of Libya still face the threat of Colonel Gadhafi and his regime. They still need our protection. Our part is not done yet. For this reason, I urge all members to support the motion.

Libya
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question regarding enforcing the no-fly zone.

I was wondering if the hon. member could elaborate on what air force she is wishing to protect the civilians against. From all evidence, it seems that the Gadhafi resistance does not have an air force to speak of. What use does she see for the Canadian military's air force in protecting the civilians against whatever air force it is she is trying to defend those civilians from?

Libya
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to let the hon. member know why we are in Libya. The reason for being in Libya is to protect the human rights of the Libyan people, and our job is not finished yet.

It is all about helping the Libyan people and the wonderful society there, the women out there, the children out there. Besides doing our part to ensure a new government, we have also acted swiftly to support those affected by the violence in Libya.

I would like to let the hon. member know what Canada has done there to date. Canada's total humanitarian response to the crisis in Libya is over $10 million. Canada is helping to address urgent medical requirements, basic humanitarian needs and the repatriation of those people who are displaced into neighbouring countries and who need our help urgently.

We are working toward that, and I would--

Libya
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order, please. Questions and comments, the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Libya
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, as must be clear by now to all members, the Green Party will be voting against this motion again today. As we stood alone to do so in June, I am pleased to know I will no longer be standing alone and that members of the official opposition will joining me.

My concern, to the member for Fleetwood—Port Kells, is that yes, we are protecting women, but on the other hand, how do we stand as a country when we know that a Libyan woman whose surname was Gadhafi was shot by the Libyan rebels while she tried to get her family out of the country? Babies were killed. The only mistake they acknowledged was that they thought she was a Gadhafi family member.

Is it now acceptable for our allies to kill small children if they think they are related to Colonel Gadhafi?

Libya
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is the very same reason we are in Libya: security. That is what is needed there.

If this mission is not extended, how are we going to help? For various reasons, we need to extend the mission so that we can help the Libyan people in Libya.

Libya
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Mr. Speaker, I was wondering if the member would like to expand on how the people of Libya are advancing themselves and helping with their own security.

Libya
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to let the hon. member know that I am very proud of the work our government is doing.

Our government is proud of the role Canada has played in supporting the Libyan people in their struggle to realize a new Libya. After 42 years of brutal dictatorship and one-man rule in that country, the Libyan people have taken important steps to secure for themselves a brighter future. While the job is not done yet, the Libyan-led efforts to realize their country's potential still continue to advance.

We now expect the new government of Libya to fulfill its commitment to freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. That is what I would like to let the hon. member know.

Libya
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of Canada's continued military contribution to the mission in Libya.

I want to add my voice to all the thanks that have gone out in recognition of the great work that has been done by members of the Canadian armed forces regarding the Libya mission. Also, I must give kudos to our diplomats, especially Ambassador Sandra McCardell. She has done a fantastic job in re-establishing our embassy there, getting the mission working on a temporary basis while repairs are being done to the embassy building, and really leading the Canadian charge on the diplomatic end.

As well, I must thank all the humanitarian relief agencies that are at work in Libya providing the resources and services so desperately needed by the people after their civil war, which is still under way as we speak.

Of course I also thank all of the personnel at the Department of National Defence, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and the Canadian International Development Agency who provided briefings to us as members of Parliament and specifically to those of us who are members of the national defence committee. They kept us abreast of everything that was happening throughout the summer and into this fall, on how the Canadian military mission was played out and how things were happening from the standpoint of relief. They also ensured there were diplomatic briefings so we would know how the relationship was progressing with the National Transitional Council. I do want to extend my thanks and appreciation on behalf of my constituents and on behalf of my committee for those briefings.

This mission began last March in response to events in Libya that caught most observers by surprise. At the beginning of this year, few people could have accurately predicted that the Libyan people would rise up in protest against decades of oppression under the Gadhafi regime, and equally as few could have foreseen similar uprisings against entrenched dictators that occurred earlier in Tunisia and Egypt.

The Libyan situation illustrates just how unpredictable the global security environment has become. It also illustrates that responsible governments must be ready to respond to events as they unfold. At home and abroad, this government must remain ready to protect its citizens against all threats while also assuming leadership positions by promoting security and justice around the world.

Libya is but the most recent example, demonstrating why maintaining military capabilities and a high level of readiness makes sense. As the minister said earlier, the Libyan population would not have the opportunity it has now without the Canadian armed forces' contribution to ongoing international efforts in Libya. Both the scale of our contribution and the speed at which it was deployed took a tremendous amount of effort and expertise.

The government acted decisively in support of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1973. We deployed CF-18 fighter aircraft to Sicily one day after resolution 1973 passed to join our allies and partners in enforcing the arms embargo and no-fly zone over Libya. Almost three weeks earlier, HMCS Charlottetown set sail for the Mediterranean in early March to join allied ships in view of Libya's deteriorating security situation.

In both cases, the men and women of the Canadian armed forces deployed quickly and professionally with very little notice. They began contributing immediately to what would soon become the NATO-led mission Operation Unified Protector led by Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, a Canadian general no less. He is someone I am familiar with as he was stationed at 17 Wing and 1 Air Command headquarters in Winnipeg.

This rapid effective response is a testament to the high level of our Canadian armed forces' training, readiness and equipment.

Today, Canada maintains one of the international community's more robust military contributions to the mission. This includes the Royal Canadian Navy's HMCS Vancouver together with its embarked Sea King helicopters. Just as HMCS Charlottetown did before it was relieved last month, the Vancouver is escorting mine-countering and measuring vessels and replenishment ships to ensure that the Libyan waters remain navigable and that humanitarian supplies make it to shore. HMCS Vancouver is also patrolling Libyan waters to ensure that illicit persons and material do not enter or leave Libya.

In the skies, the Royal Canadian Air Force is demonstrating leadership through Task Force Libeccio.

Our two CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft are contributing to surveillance and intelligence efforts. To date, our seven CF-18 Hornet jet fighters that have conducted over 800 sorties along with the United Kingdom and France are the most active fighters of any allied or partner air force. Our two C-130 Hercules and one CC-150 Polaris aerial refuelling aircraft are taking part in what one NATO spokesperson has called the greatest air-to-air refuelling effort in the history of modern aerial warfare.

Each of these Canadian armed forces operations is critical. It is clear that along with the contributions of our allies and partners, they have achieved significant progress in wearing down what are now the remnants of the Gadhafi regime's ability to attack civilian Libyans.

These efforts have allowed the National Transitional Council the time and space to establish greater control, which will all but eliminate further attacks by what remains of Gadhafi's forces.

Earlier this fall, the Prime Minister addressed our members of the Canadian armed forces in Trapani, Italy. He said:

... because you held the ring while Libyans fought their own fight with their oppressor, the Libyan people are now free to choose. This is the best of Canada’s military tradition. For we are not a country that makes war for gain or for territory. We do not fight for glory, and if we covet honour, it is only a reputation for doing the right thing in a good cause. That is all. And that is enough.

I believe that Canadians can be proud of our country's leadership role from day one in responding to the Libyan crisis . What truly is impressive is that while all of this was going on the Canadian armed forces was carrying out other international operations as well as operations here at home in North America.

In Canada, the Canadian armed forces continued to provide critical search and rescue capabilities, providing life-saving assistance to those in distress anywhere in Canada and at any time. This was demonstrated rather vividly just last month when our military personnel responded quickly and professionally when a civilian airliner tragically crashed near Resolute Bay, Nunavut.

Just over the past few months, our men and women in uniform have assisted our provincial authorities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, and my home province of Manitoba and indeed in my very own riding, in dealing with and preparing for floods and forest fires.

In North America, the Canadian armed forces continues to work with its American counterparts, mainly through NORAD, to defend the skies above the continent.

However, while the Canadian armed forces has been busy at home over the past several months, it was also engaged in a truly massive undertaking in Afghanistan. In July, the Canadian armed forces wound down five years of combat operations in Afghanistan and shifted its focus to the training of Afghan security forces.

The Canadian armed forces is involved in 15 other missions around the world fulfilling a variety of roles in addition to its operations in Afghanistan and Libya.

All of these missions are essential.

We simply cannot afford to interrupt them.

We simply cannot afford to not do them, just as we cannot afford to leave Libya now, as the minister has stated.

I support Canada's continued military commitment to this NATO mission and to the people of Libya. I call on all members of the House for their continued support in strengthening and sustaining the Canadian armed forces' impressive readiness and capabilities well into the future.

Libya
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, does the Conservative member believe that, by focusing on the humanitarian and diplomatic aspects of the situation as we are proposing, it would give the NTC more time, energy and strength to successfully carry out the few remaining battles in towns that are still occupied by pro-Gadhafi forces on the ground and to conduct military operations to quickly free the few remaining towns that are still under the control of pro-Gadhafi forces.

Libya
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her service to this country as a member of the Canadian Forces and for her experience in the past. I know that she brings a great deal of knowledge to the Standing Committee on National Defence which I get to chair with her. Therefore, I do appreciate the member's input.

As the member knows from the briefings we have received just this past week a large part of the country is still under the control of the pro-Gadhafi forces. That represents about 15% of the population. I believe that she as well as all members of the House want to see humanitarian aid and the rights of those individuals protected and delivered so that they have the same opportunity the rest of the people of Libya are now enjoying because of the activities taken on by the NATO mission.

By putting in place the no-fly zone, by making sure that the navy is out there protecting the shoreline and ensuring there is no increase in arms availability to the pro-Gadhafi forces, we can bring about peace hopefully in the short term and deliver the aid that is so desperately needed in the entire country.

Libya
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a shame that the Liberal Party was not able to move the subamendment because I have often heard members on the government side talk about the compassionate side and the importance of humanitarian support. The amendment that was talked about by the member for Mount Royal highlighted the aspect that Canada does have a stronger role in that area to play.

Because of the amendment and the position the NDP took on it, we were not allowed to bring forward the subamendment.

At this time, I will take the opportunity to acknowledge the wonderful efforts of the Canadian Forces and the work that it has done.

Does the member or the government envision any circumstances wherein the UN or NATO might become disengaged? What role does he see NATO and the UN having in terms of a disengagement with Libya?

Libya
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, we know that we have to improve the security situation. As the member for Mount Royal stated clearly and eloquently in his speech earlier, the security situation is still very unstable in Libya and there is no ground force in place other than the NTC to defend and bring about law and order on the streets and in homes and communities across Libya.

When it comes to humanitarian aid, Libya has a great deal of wealth. It has a lot of natural resources at its disposal. Canada has already unfrozen $2.2 billion of assets Libya had in Canada through the Gadhafi regime and has made them available for humanitarian aid efforts.

Ambassador Sandra McCardell is leading the Canadian diplomatic mission and is making sure things do advance so that we do see things like human rights and the rule of law addressed, as well as ensuring that individual freedoms are protected.

We do have a role to play. The motion that is before us today does address--

Libya
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order. There is time for a very short question and response.

The hon. member for Kitchener--Conestoga.

Libya
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad my colleague pointed out the services of our men and women in uniform and the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Navy. This summer I had the privilege of attending the parliamentarians' program in Trenton at the RCAF base along with some colleagues from the New Democratic Party and my own party.

Could my colleague comment on the importance of the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force in providing security in the area so that the humanitarian aid we have spoken about all day can actually be delivered? I agree with my colleague that this is an important part.

Libya
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, there is no question when we look at the roles the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Navy have played that we would not be in the situation that we are today. We would be in a situation wherein Gadhafi forces would still be oppressing people and humanitarian aid would never be delivered. This discussion today would not have been possible without our clearing away all of the mines and making sure there were no obstacles stopping the humanitarian relief agencies from getting into Libya.

Libya
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Timmins—James Bay.

The New Democrats supported the Canadian military mission and its extension in June in order to ensure that civilians were protected from the Gadhafi regime.

Members have heard a bit of my story before. I fled a war-torn country myself. I wanted to see international support go into my homeland but we did not see any of that. When we in the House were able to provide Canadian support with other international forces, I was happy to know that the Libyan people would get some support.

I and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party sincerely thank our military personnel and diplomats for their hard work in accomplishing the job that they did so well in Libya.

The Gadhafi regime was committing many humanitarian violations, including the threat of going door to door and killing people. The regime was using rape as a weapon of war. Through our support for the extension of the mission in June this year, the New Democrats were successful in adding a number of amendments to address the atrocities that were being committed, including rape.

The acknowledgment that rape was being used as a weapon of war in that amended motion was quite groundbreaking. I really commend every member in the House for acknowledging that and for finally recognizing that rape was being used as a weapon of war.

For many years, hundreds of thousands of women have been in this situation in many countries around the globe. They have been suffering in silence. Once again the women are suffering in so many ways. Not only did they witness their towns and villages being torn apart, but their families were torn being apart. Women experienced many violations of their bodies as well. It is important for me to recognize and acknowledge once again members of the House for recognizing that.

It is significant for the House to acknowledge that, but in order to continue to help these women we need to focus our efforts on a civilian mission, one focused on rebuilding, on education and on providing the help that families need.

The conflict is coming to an end. Even the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence mentioned this earlier. Reports that came in today from the Libyan National Transitional Council indicate that its forces have advanced into Sirte, which is one of the regions that the parliamentary secretary was concerned about earlier today. National Transitional Council forces have made significant advances in this region and the Gadhafi regime is being ousted further, as was mentioned earlier.

The trauma that is endured by women, children and all people in a conflict zone outlasts the conflict. Our men and women in uniform suffer post-traumatic stress disorder when they come back home but children especially suffer when they are forced to be in a conflict zone.

I know from personal experience the psychological and physiological effects that war can have on a child. As a young child I was forced to be in a war zone. I was shot at. A child never forgets the sound of guns blazing.

It has been over 25 years since I experienced war but I remember it as vividly as if it were yesterday. I know that the children who are experiencing it today in Libya are experiencing the same or worse than what I experienced. Being shot at and hiding in my mother's little store with my grandfather and my sisters, I know how much it affected me and affected my development.

What we need to be focusing on right now is the development of these children. How we can provide that type of humanitarian relief to the people in Libya? It should be about providing our expertise. We have so much civilian expertise and resources for providing that type of assistance toward the rehabilitation of the people of Libya and, of course, creating that democratic institution and allowing for the country to have its own set of governance.

Experiences like mine illustrate why we need a robust civilian mission in Libya right now. We need to help these families and to help people deal with the psychological and physiological effects of war.

Our position reflects the reality on the ground in Libya today, just as our support for military intervention in February and June reflected the needs at the time. At the time, we needed to extend the military mission, but right now we need to focus on the humanitarian aspects of rebuilding.

Now that the Gadhafi regime has been toppled, the focus for most people in Libya is post-conflict transition. This means things like rebuilding infrastructure, rebuilding and developing the democratic institutions, rebuilding and developing for the people and the health of the communities.

We need to ensure once again that it is Libyan-led reconciliation and reconstruction that happens in that country. It is not for Canada or anybody else anywhere in the world to tell the Libyans how to govern themselves. They need to figure out a self-governance model. It is not for us to dictate to them.

That, unfortunately, was what happened in the past when international forces went into a country to support it and then, somehow, stayed beyond the military intervention to protect the civilians and ended up dictating terms to the local people.

I am pretty sure that many of our colleagues in this House on both sides will agree that is the old kind of politics for global affairs. The new kind of politics is really about creating that Libyan-led initiative, that local-led initiative so that the people of Libya can actually own that government and ensure they are a part of it.

New Democrats really do not support yet another extension of the military mission in Libya. We do believe that it is time for Canada to focus on the humanitarian aspect: to provide our civilian expertise in the country and resources for, once again, humanitarian assistance; help with institution building; the democratic development; and, as I said before, the softer, less tangible aspects of war. We have so much expertise and so many people who have the expertise to provide the assistance in helping the people rebuild the country. Canada's focus today should be on helping the people who are now effectively in a post-conflict zone, rather than furthering the military mission.

Libya
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Scarborough—Rouge River for her intervention and I appreciate her own personal experience in coming from a war-torn country and finding refuge here in Canada.

I am somewhat surprised that she is advocating that we forget about the people in central Libya where they are still under the oppression of pro-Gadhafi forces and not wanting to help those women, children and others who are experiencing all the horrific actions of this regime, including using rape as a weapon.

I wonder why the NDP wants to cut and run, rather than ensuring that we provide the opportunity for all people of Libya to have the same opportunity in receiving relief and assistance and having their freedoms and rights respected.

Libya
Government Orders

6 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, my understanding from the news that is coming in from the Libyan National Transitional Council is that the transitional government forces have already taken over the remnants of the Gadhafi forces in Sirte. The expectation that I heard from our foreign affairs critic and defence critic was that it would be days, not months, before they are fully rid of all of the Gadhafi forces.

Libya
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to do a bit of a follow-up on that question.

I think countries around the world and Canadians themselves recognize that Canada has played a critical role in the freedom that many Libyans have today as a result of our direct involvement. Ultimately, we want to do more than just offer our Canadian Forces. We also want to be able to provide humanitarian support and so forth.

I have a concern and I am a bit surprised in terms of the NDP positioning on it. Does she not believe that there is some danger of pulling out our forces when there could be further human tragedies as a direct result? Our forces have put a phenomenal effort into doing such a wonderful job on behalf of our country. Does she not see that there is an element of danger that we would be putting people into if, in fact, we were to follow the amendment that is being suggested by the NDP?

Libya
Government Orders

6 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, my understanding about going into a country to assist it militarily with the hope that the country will establish itself is the reason that we are in that country right now, which is to assist it during the military phase. I may be a little off but my understanding is that we want to help the Libyan forces develop and they would be the ones providing the real services to the Libyans. Our forces and our experts, I am sure, would be there to provide the support and the resources for the Libyan forces. However, our role should be to help them help themselves rather than dictate in their own country.

Libya
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, the members opposite seem intent on playing with their guns. Once we get past this playing with guns, we need to start talking about what is really on the ground that we can do in terms of facilitating humanitarian aid in Libya.

Through my colleague's own experience in Sri Lanka, what needs to be done to help people transition into a full-fledged democracy with a working economy? What would my colleague say are the specific measures that would help with humanitarian aid?

Libya
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Burnaby—Douglas for his question that goes to my heart because of my own personal stories.

Unfortunately, in my home country, the war had been going on for more than 30 years. Now, the country has been in a post-conflict zone for over two years. However, because there has not been that international support, the people are still suffering and there are still humanitarian violations going on in that country. We could use support from the international community on such things as building homes again, helping people rebuild their livelihoods and providing that psychological and physiological support for people, those are some of the things. However, establishing a democratic system that would allow for self-governance is the best and most important method.

Libya
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Before I call on the member for Timmins—James Bay I will point out, pursuant to an order made earlier, that we have until 15 minutes after the hour. I will have to interrupt him toward the end of that time.

The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

Libya
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, you can interrupt me any time because I have immense respect for your judgment. Therefore, I will respect your judgment in terms of the clock.

This past June, the Canadian Parliament agreed on something very important which was UN resolution 1973. It talked about the need to bring, with our allies, an international human rights response to the murderous Gadhafi regime that was attacking its people and the threat of rape being used as a weapon of war. That was raised in the House by the New Democratic Party and we put it into our motion of support. It is the first time that rape, as a weapon of war, has been recognized in a parliamentary debate. So we did something very profound.

However, at the time, there were a number of people in Canada, certainly within our party, who were very concerned that this would be misinterpreted as a mandate for regime change. There is a fundamental difference between that and the international community coming together to protect civilians and the civilian enclaves. To see this as a mandate to begin regime change, certainly we would see the necessity then for a regime change in many countries. Regarding the murderous regime in Syria, there is not a comment from the government.

Now that the regime has fallen, there is a need for the international community to begin the important work of rebuilding, but we hear from the government continual talk of punching above our weight and militaristic talk. I heard my colleague for Selkirk—Interlake use the old tired Conservative slogan: “We don't cut and run”. Now my colleague is from farm country and probably does not know what “cut and run” means.

Cut and run is a nautical term. It means if one's ship is going to the hit rocks, one has to cut the anchor and run with the wind, otherwise the ship goes straight into the rocks. We do not hear that kind of nuance from the Conservatives because their plan is always to go straight into the rocks.

I speak on this because I was raised by my grandmother who has never gotten over the horror of the Battle of the Somme and the fact that every boy on her street died fighting for the British army in Somme. She said to me again and again as a little boy, “Charlie, always watch the politicians who get young boys killed”.

There is a sort of puffery in the way we talk about our allies. I think of the great Prime Minister Cameron who came here and spoke of the international community standing up against the murderous regime in Libya. Yet, just last year it was the British regime that was courting Gadhafi and signing deals. In fact, I was just reading an article in The Telegraph about how Britain courted, armed and trained a Libyan monster. As recently as June 16, 2010, it was providing Gadhafi's notorious son Khamis with special invitations to celebrate the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. While the British were engaging Gadhafi and treating him royally, they were also signing arms deals so that he could oppress and kill his own people.

That is the reality of international affairs. We must start being more honest in the House of Commons when we talk about our role in the international community with our allies in terms of dealing with murderous regimes like Gadhafi. Now that Gadhafi has been beaten and the people have risen up, we see the governments of the United States, England and the Conservative Government of Canada saying that it is an example of how we always stand with our allies. In fact, year after year they promoted Gadhafi and gave him the arms to oppress his people.

Now I do not have anything against Mr. Cameron coming into this House and pretending that he has always been against murderous regimes like Gadhafi when that was not the case. However, I have a problem with the House seemingly obsessed, and the Liberal Party's interventionist approach along with the Conservatives, by us in raising the issue of the need to move away from a military mission at this point and use Canada's extraordinary expertise to rebuild, bring in international development and international justice. We have been leaders on this. This is where we need to move now.

Somehow for the member for Toronto Centre, who has taken on the mantle formerly held by Mr. Ignatieff, and the Conservatives, this is a sign that we are cutting and running. It is somehow a slight to our brave men and women in uniform. I must say that I always find it deeply odious that the Conservatives always have to say that they are the only ones who care for our men and women in uniform. Our men and women in uniform go to do a specific job.

The regime has fallen. We were not signed on in UN resolution 1973 for a regime change. Anywhere does it say that our job was there for a regime change. This was a fight between the Libyan people, and our job as the international community was to go in and ensure that Gadhafi's thugs, who at that time of course were well armed by the British military, were not killing innocent civilians.

That phase has ended. That obligation to that mission has ended. The question is, where do we go as a Parliament?

It is incumbent for Canada to stand up and show that it stands for something more than just this sort of attempt to recreate the old cold war militarism, that Canada has been an international peacemaker, that Canada had an international reputation before this government came along, and in Libya today, we have the opportunity to be the good community, to be the good international citizen.

I call on this Parliament to take that step, to say that this fight in Libya has now moved to a new place, and we need a country that is willing to step up. We will not be seeing that. That is why we are hearing the heckling from the Conservative backbenches. These are the same guys who called Jack Layton Taliban Jack when Jack spoke six, seven years ago about the fundamental failure of the Conservative policy in Afghanistan. Now we see that with its failed policy, the United States is now trying to deal with the negotiations.

War is not a simple thing. People are hurt. People are killed. We are at the point now in this conflict where we need the international community to change gears, because if we try to misrepresent UN resolution 1973 and say that this was all a covert plan for regime change, then it sets a very dangerous international precedent. It sets the precedent that the United States set for Iraq and we saw the disastrous consequences there.

Our country's foreign policy is not about taking out any dictator any time we want. That does not meet the test of the rule of law. What we agreed to in the House was to protect the civilian population that was under the threat of the Gadhafi regime. That threat is now ended. This is the final mop-up. We have to move on as a Parliament. This is why the New Democrats are moving forward our amendment to move us toward the humanitarian phase and the rebuilding phase of this situation.

Libya
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

It being 6:15 p.m., pursuant to an order made on Friday, September 23, 2011, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question to dispose of motion No. 5 under Government Business.

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

Libya
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Libya
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

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

Libya
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Libya
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Libya
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Libya
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

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

Vote #30

Libya
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the amendment lost.

The next question is on the main motion.

The hon. Minister of State and Chief Government Whip on a point of order.

Libya
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it I believe you will find agreement to apply the vote from the previous motion to this motion, with the Conservatives voting yes.

Libya
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Libya
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Libya
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, NDP members will be voting no.

Libya
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, Liberal members will be voting in favour of this motion.

Libya
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, we support the motion.

Libya
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Green Party votes no.

Libya
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Maxime Bernier Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, did the other members of the Bloc Québécois vote for or against this motion? We heard only one member vote.

Libya
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I believe he has indicated that all members of the Bloc voted that way.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #31

Libya
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on the adjournment proceedings to follow up on a question that I asked in the House on June 6 of this year, submitted in the usual way.

The notice stated that I was not satisfied with the answer received, in this case, by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of National Defence, concerning my question about the government being forthcoming, first, on its plans to continue the mission in Afghanistan and the fact that throughout 2009 and most of 2010 up until November, the Prime Minister had repeatedly told Canadians that our forces would leave Afghanistan at the end of July 2011 in accordance with the motion of the House.

This was repeated again and again over the course of time. In fact, I remember one time the Prime Minister saying that maybe there would be a couple of soldiers guarding the embassy in Kabul, the embassy where the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence once resided.

This was the notion and the comfort Canadians had from the Prime Minister that this would happen.

We know what happened in the fall of 2010. Without even a vote in the House, there was a unilateral decision by the government to continue the mission in Afghanistan. It was stated that it was a non-combat mission that would all happen behind the wire. In fact, on November 16, the Prime Minister said in the House, in answer to questions, that the answer was yes to all those questions, as the Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and others had said, that the government was looking at a non-combat mission. It would be a training mission that will occur in classrooms behind the wire on bases.

By suggesting this was a non-combat mission, the Prime Minister said that there did not have to be a vote in Parliament.

We had a vote just now about the continuation of a mission, and that was part of the promises that the government gave to Canadians when they ran for election and part of the commitments that were made that whenever a Canadian Forces mission was in operation there would be a vote in Parliament. For the most part, the government has respected that.

However, it is about whether Canadians are being given the whole truth. We have another example of it now. After hearing about this behind-the-wire story, which was told to the Canadian public by the Minister of National Defence and by the Prime Minister, we learned the other day in the defence committee that we had a dozen places in Kabul where training was going on, involving transportation all over the place. We are not behind the wire. In fact, Canadian Forces were engaged in combat when the attack took place on the U.S. embassy.

There are Canadian forces there. They are exposed to significant risks. We were told this was supposed to be behind the wire in classrooms. In fact, Canadian forces, up to a maximum of 950, for three years are going to be engaged in this combat training mission in Afghanistan, exposed to risks.

Canadians are not being told the whole truth. That is the point of my question. I was not satisfied with the answer I received because we were not given the full facts.

6:55 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering
Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as my hon. friend the member for St. John's East knows, because we have been briefed on this subject as recently as last week, there is a training mission under way in Afghanistan. Our government has been clear about its intentions in this regard from the beginning. The combat mission is over.

I am very grateful to have this opportunity to set the record straight regarding the government's intentions for what remains an evolving mission in Afghanistan.

Let me begin by reiterating that the core of the question put by the member opposite is based on leaked information, and it is not government policy to comment on such speculative matters.

However, I can say this. In accordance with the parliamentary motion passed in 2008, the Canadian Forces' combat mission in Kandahar ended in July 2011. The government was very clear and consistent about this. The Canadian Forces carried out their last major combat operation in a rural area of Kandahar in June.

In July there was a handover to a mission transition task force, whose mandate is to ensure that our withdrawal from Kandahar province by the year's end is conducted effectively, while maintaining accountability for our equipment, materiel and personnel. This will allow the Canadian Forces to meet the government's commitment to redeploy fully from Kandahar by December 31, 2011.

Furthermore, a contingent of Canadian Forces members will remain in Kandahar until November 2011 to fulfill their commitment regarding NATO support positions and staff positions. This situation and this Canadian presence in Kandahar were explained clearly during the last committee meeting.

The Canadian Forces completed a smooth transfer of their area of responsibility to other coalition forces in the Kandahar area, and our partners will continue to build on our successes in order to help the Afghan government ensure that country's safety and stability.

This has been a collaborative and integrated approach every step of the way. It is only because of the seamlessness that we have been complimented by allies, including the United States, for ensuring a smooth transition under difficult and challenging circumstances.

Although the Canadian Forces' combat mission in Afghanistan has drawn to a close, our commitment to Afghanistan remains long term. We will maintain a whole-of- government presence in the country, through our governance, development and military training work, until March 2014.

We are there at the request of the Government of Afghanistan, working alongside many NATO international partners. We are also committed to supporting Afghanistan, above all, building up security and governance institutions required to bring peace and prosperity to its people. Training the Afghan National Security Forces has been an integral component of our mission to date, and Canada's military trainers are recognized as among the best in the world. That is why, in November 2010, the government announced that forces would continue to support Afghan National Security Forces training through a contribution of up to 950 personnel in both training and support positions within the NATO training mission in Afghanistan.

This mission, centred on Kabul, is at several locations in Kabul, as the member opposite noted correctly, because the Afghan national army and police are being trained at several locations. We will also include smaller training locations in Mazar-e-Sharif in the north and Herat in the west. It will focus on training and mentoring the members of these institutions in an institutional setting. Well-led, well-trained, well-equipped Afghan National Security Forces will enable the Government of Afghanistan to assume increasing responsibility for Afghan security.

I must reiterate for the benefit of this House that the attack reported to have involved Canadian Forces last week was a serious attack for Kabul, but if and when Canadian Forces respond to an attack, they will be acting in self-defence. That is an entirely different context to the combat mission that we had under way earlier this year and in previous years.

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, of course it is no secret. The Minister of National Defence acknowledged that combat in this House on Friday.

The idea that the government has been clear, which is what the member said just now, is exactly what the Prime Minister said in 2010. In January and June, he said that the government could not have been more clear that the military mission would end and all of our soldiers would be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2011.

That is the kind of language that the Conservatives use when they try to assure Canadians that they are being perfectly clear. Every time the Prime Minister or the government says that they are being clear, we need to watch out, because sometime down the road we will find out that the exact opposite might happen.

That is the point of this question. We were given assurances as far back as 2003 that the primary objective of our mission in Afghanistan was to provide training and that it was expected that the Afghan national army would take over all operations in 2005. Here we are in 2011, and the government wants us there until 2014.

7 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has been clear and consistent. The combat mission is over and a training mission is under way.

It is no surprise that a training mission continues. It has been in existence for several years under NATO auspices. Canada has joined, on a large scale, a mission that we are scaling up at the time we re-committed to Afghanistan with a focus on training. It has never been anything but a widely recognized reality that Afghan National Security Forces, to meet the scale of the challenge they continue to face, need equality on a level that the Canadian Forces, with its experience in Afghanistan, are ideally suited to provide.

We are proud of this mission. We have never hidden any of its aspects. We will continue to inform this House and our committee of its progress.

The only issue that is not clear to this House is whether Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, in the face of the NDP, has any commitment left to Afghanistan whatsoever, because whatever we commit to do seems to come under question and seems to be called into doubt by the member opposite at every opportunity.

7 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise at this point in our adjournment procedures to pursue a question that I initially asked the hon. Minister of the Environment on Wednesday of last week, September 21.

The issue of ozone monitoring and threatened cuts to key scientists who perform these functions was also raised by the Liberal environment critic and by the environment critic of the official opposition. I am pleased to see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment here this evening for pursuing this matter.

It is complicated. What we have been able to determine relates to a number of very key senior scientists for whom it would not be possible to imagine an easy replacement, scientists who have decades of expertise in working at monitoring ozone, which at the stratospheric level protects all life on earth from ultraviolet radiation. Without the ozone layer, there would be no life on earth, and we are very fortunate that Canadian government leadership led to the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer back in 1987.

Since that time, Canada has always been respected globally as a country that has really taken the lead, done the good science and been prepared, as with all countries. It was a great success story that the Montreal Protocol has resulted in countries around the world reducing and phasing out their reliance on chlorofluorocarbons and other chemicals that destroy the ozone layer.

It was a great shock to discover through the media and elsewhere that a number of key scientists had received a letter to suggest that their positions with Environment Canada were in doubt. They received a letter saying that they could be affected by changes in work assignments, and that this was, as the Minister of the Environment explained to me privately, pursuant to directives that are required by Treasury Board in the workforce adjustment directive.

I will just explain the position of these key scientists. One is the manager for the World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre. It is absolutely essential, and there is only one manager. That person has received a letter and may be laid off.

There is also a person who is responsible for the ozonesonde program, which allows weather balloons to be let go once a week in 17 locations across Canada, maintaining a very good record of ozone level measurements, which, by the way, tell us about tropospheric ozone as well. Ironically, while stratospheric ozone protects all life on earth, ground level ozone is a pollutant, and in fact measuring ground level ozone is a good way of maintaining monitoring of oil sands operations in the region. I will get back to that point as well.

The other person who has been threatened is the person who does the scientific assessments.

My question is for the parliamentary secretary.

As I look at what we have heard so far, the Minister of the Environment said in the House, “We are not cutting any ozone monitoring services”. In contradistinction to that, the Environment Canada assistant deputy minister, Madam Dodds, has said to the media, “We don't really need the same level of ozone monitoring”.

I would like some guidance from the parliamentary secretary. It seems that certainly within the scientific community there are deep concerns that we will lose key capacity to protect the ozone layer and monitor what is happening with its protection, and at the same time lose the ability to monitor pollutants at ground level.

Who was correct? Was it the Minister of the Environment in the House, or was it the assistant deputy minister when she suggested that these key services could be lost?

7:05 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, it is nice to have the opportunity to address my colleague for the first time in the House on this lovely fall evening. Let me reiterate what the Minister of the Environment has repeatedly told the House.

Environment Canada will continue to measure ozone. Our plan is to ensure Canada's strong track record of atmospheric ozone measurement continues to deliver sound science within budget. We acknowledge that Canada is a world leader in atmospheric ozone science and has been for 50 years. Many of the measurement methods used globally were pioneered by Canadians. In fact, Canada also holds the longest record of ozone observations in the Arctic in the world at Resolute Bay where regular ozone measurements have been carried out since 1966.

At present, Environment Canada uses two different methods to measure ozone, the Brewer network, and as the member opposite has mentioned, the ozonesonde network. However, as the member opposite is well aware, technologies and methods of measurement change and improve over time. Our plan, rather than what the member opposite has suggested, is to optimize and integrate these two networks. This will include a review of existing network sites in terms of their scientific validity in order for Canada to fully meet its requirements for surveillance of ozone holes and the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

Canada shares its ozone network data internationally via the World Meteorological Organization, the WMO, and for many years has maintained the World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre. The WMO supplies the data to other weather centres and agencies in Europe and in the U.S.

Environment Canada is not closing the World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre, which we have successfully hosted for many years. Environment Canada will have staff dedicated to both of these activities and will continue to achieve quality results.

I repeat, Environment Canada will continue to measure ozone in the upper atmosphere. We will not close the World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre.

7:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, like my friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, I also enjoy being able to engage in an exchange with her in the House this evening, but I am afraid her answer does not quite deal with the key issue.

We now know that the ADM for Environment Canada has said that we will reduce ozone monitoring. The Brewer network system and the ozonesonde system measure different things. We categorically need both. The Brewer system measures only in daylight, so it is useless in the Arctic during the winter when it is dark. The ozonesonde network measures ozone at all levels of the atmosphere in both daylight and darkness. We cannot afford to lose either. There is no way to streamline or optimize or pretend there is new technology. Both systems must be maintained, and that is still in doubt because the manager for the ozonesonde system has received this notice.

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, to be perfectly clear, Canada's environment remains a strong priority for our government, even in times of fiscal restraint. Environment Canada will continue to measure ozone and maintain its strong track record in this area.

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The motion that the House do now adjourn is deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:10 p.m.)