Madam Speaker, I will continue acknowledging that this is an important issue for all citizens, for all people of the world. If we do not stand clearly for people in other nations who are suffering, then people in our own nation could suffer. We must stand together and clearly indicate the things that must be done to protect people everywhere and to grant safety and security.
We cannot assume in a post-cold war world that we are beyond security threats. We cannot assume that just because we are thousands of miles away from the smouldering religious and ethnic conflicts of the Middle East and Central Asia that these conflicts will not affect us. Some 40 to 60 Canadians have already been killed by a brutal act of mass murder that may well have been planned in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban regime.
Parliament must address, and address it now, the security challenges which we face at home and abroad and the measures which we must take both to punish the terrorists who launched the brutal attacks in New York and Washington and to protect Canadians against the threat of future terrorist attacks. We can no longer delay putting the safety and security of Canadians at the forefront of the political agenda.
In 1938 Winston Churchill published his foreign policy speeches. He was lamenting British indifference to Hitler's repression and military buildup. He entitled those speeches “While England Slept”. This is how Churchill described the policies of Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin at the time for his failure to act firmly in the face of Hitler's totalitarianism: “decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent”.
We cannot let this description stand as an epitaph for Canada which has proven itself unready to confront the challenge of terrorism. We have a history in the last century of being ready and willing and having the will to do so and that must continue in this century.
Unfortunately, in the two weeks since the horrific events in New York and Washington, the government has not been clear in terms of specific action to give us confidence that Canada is taking the war against terrorism seriously. The official opposition, our members of parliament, want to work with our Prime Minister and the government in the war against terrorism but we need something to work with. We need the specifics.
We have to consider what the government has done and what it has failed to do since the events of September 11. We need to consider its inaction in bringing in comprehensive anti-terrorism legislation. Other countries have it.
We need to consider the government's inaction in bringing forward safety and security measures to protect Canadians at the borders, at our airports and on airplanes. We heard again today the government absolutely ruling out air marshals on airplanes. It is time to restore consumer confidence in our airlines, yet almost without debate, something that could be positive was ruled out without discussion.
Let us consider the government's inaction in failing to commit more resources to the armed forces, to the RCMP, to CSIS and giving them a clear and broad mandate to act against terrorism, both at home and abroad.
Last Tuesday, one week after the terrorist attacks in the United States, the official opposition brought forward a motion which called upon the government to draft comprehensive anti-terrorism legislation, similar to what is found in other freedom-loving nations. In that resolution we called for the government to table anti-terrorism legislation forthwith similar in principle to the United Kingdom's terrorism act, 2000. We called for specific provisions to be included in such legislation, specific things, not just words, but action.
We called for the naming of all known international terrorist organizations operating in Canada. We called for a complete ban on fundraising activities in support of terrorism. We called for a provision for the seizure of assets belonging to terrorists or terrorist organizations.
Yesterday we had confirmation in the House of Commons by the Minister of Finance that some 27 organizations had their assets frozen, that action had been taken immediately. When we could not find evidence of that having taken place, we posed the question again today. Now we hear that possibly that was not done but the government will not tell us whether or not it was done.
As a matter of fact, two ministers are at odds with each other. The Minister of Finance is saying those assets were frozen immediately and the Minister of Justice does not know if they were and is not able to confirm that. We need immediate ratification of the international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism.
We called for the creation of specific crimes for engaging in terrorist training activities in Canada or inciting terrorist acts abroad from Canada.
We called for prompt extradition of foreign nationals charged with acts of terrorism, even if the charges are capital offences. We have also called for detention and deportation to their country of origin of any people illegally in Canada or failed refugee claimants who have been linked to terrorist organizations.
Those are pretty basic requests. The vast majority of Canadians stand shoulder to shoulder with us in making those requests. We were not requesting these things for political opportunism or advantage. We wanted to be flexible. We wanted to allow the government, and as many parties as possible, to embrace these proposals.
I moved an amendment to the resolution that would have allowed the government to table such legislation in draft form before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for its consideration. We were happy to have the government do that. We asked that it do that but even this was too much for the government. Instead it tried to propose that the committee simply discuss the concept of anti-terrorism legislation but was unable or unwilling to produce legislation itself even in draft form.
As I have said, we are trying to support the government and the Prime Minister but we need something specific to support. I find it hard to understand a week later what elements of our resolution the government found objectionable. It will not tell us; it will not tell anyone. Maybe it is reticent to name and ban specific terrorist groups that are known to operate in Canada.
In reply to questions from the official opposition on fundraising activities by a known front group for the Tamil Tigers, the solicitor general said in the House on June 2 last year under questioning by the member for Lakeland:
--it is important to note that CSIS does not provide a list of terrorist organizations and it does not provide a list of people or organizations that it is targeting.
The hon. solicitor general seemed to imply that the fact Canada does not name known terrorist organizations publicly was somehow a strength of Canadian law. That is not a strength. It is a weakness that needs to be strengthened.
Our friends and allies in the United States and the United Kingdom are ready and willing to name banned organizations. Many of these organizations are present in Canada as well.
We have named and gone through a list of these groups that have been named. We know them. There are also 27 organizations and individuals named on President Bush's list whose assets the United States have seized and frozen. Some of these groups are also operating in Canada, including al-Qaeda and other similar groups.
Why is the government so resistant to publishing an official list of proscribed organizations so that these kinds of terrorist groups can be publicly known? What is the problem with doing that?
We cannot get the answer from the government. Up until yesterday the Minister of Justice implied that she simply intended to follow the precedent of anti-gang legislation that would define criminal gangs. It is not simply defining them. It is naming them so that the public knows who they are. We have to name them. We have to prohibit membership in the organizations, named and known violent terrorist groups committed to the destruction of freedom and democracy.
In the view of the official opposition this would be a wholly inadequate response to the threat of international terrorism. Merely being a member of a group like al-Qaeda should be enough for police to take somebody into custody whether or not that person can be linked to specific crimes. The very purpose of al-Qaeda is murder and destruction. That is its stated purpose. If it is a restriction of freedom of association to ban such a group, it is most certainly a limitation which is demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society. It is a group that is committed to murder and destruction.
We are sensitive to and well concerned about freedom, freedom of association, freedom of speech. We still can hear ringing in our ears the warning of another century where it was made clear that any time people were willing to give up a freedom for security, there was a risk of losing both. But the extreme element of this, to not address the most extreme attacks on our freedoms, also puts us at the risk of losing both freedom and security.
Freedom of speech is something we fiercely defend, but a person cannot walk into a theatre and shout fire. It would be harmful to the innocent people there. There are limits and we are drawing those lines.
Yesterday in the House the Minister of Justice indicated that she was considering a system which would include a list of proscribed groups. We in the official opposition certainly hope that she does listen to our appeals in that regard, but again we ask the question, what is she waiting for?
Along with our call for naming terrorist groups, which seems to give the government pause, we are calling for a complete ban on fundraising activities in support of terrorism and provision for the seizure of assets belonging to terrorists or terrorist organizations. The vast majority of Canadians are behind us on this issue.
Over the past few days the government has been extremely confusing on these points, as we have already indicated. On Monday the Prime Minister said in Washington that the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions had already ordered the assets of bin Laden associates to be frozen in Canada the previous Friday. That is what the Prime Minister said. In fact all that had happened was that OSFI had sent a letter to financial institutions with the names of some of the dead hijackers and asked the banks to check to see if they had any bank accounts to assist the FBI with its investigation.
Yesterday the Minister of Finance indicated in the clearest of terms that if not on Friday, then at least yesterday they had in fact frozen the assets of bin Laden, al-Qaeda and all of the other terrorist groups, individuals and front organizations on President Bush's 27 name financial most wanted list. It is recorded clearly in Hansard . The finance minister said that those assets had been frozen. Today we find out that possibly that is not the situation, but we cannot get a clear answer.
Again, all that OSFI had done was send out an information circular containing the president's order and asked Canadian banks and financial institutions to co-operate in investigations. The only concrete measure that the government seems to have taken to seize and freeze assets is an order in council that was put in place back in February which implemented security council resolution 1333 and called for the Canadian assets of bin Laden himself, al-Qaeda and the Taliban to be frozen. That is the only action and that was back in February.
We certainly support that measure, but apparently not a single bin Laden or al-Qaeda dollar has been frozen in Canada since this measure was put in place in February. President Bush's list goes beyond just bin Laden and the Taliban. He targets 27 different groups and individuals, including the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines, the Groupe islamique armé of Algeria, and a number of other groups.
The United States wants to crack down on the financial sources of terrorism around the globe. Despite protestations from the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions, the government has not brought forward a single regulatory or legislative change since September 11 that will help fight the financial war against terrorism. That is unacceptable.
Perhaps the government does not want to ratify the international convention for the suppression of terrorist financing. It had two years to do so. We have been calling on the government to ratify that convention, but it is still in limbo.
We were beginning to assume the worst. The Prime Minister was asked in Washington whether Canada would ratify the convention. He replied that legislation was before the House and that the opposition was blocking it. That is not acceptable behaviour for a Prime Minister who is asking for co-operation. We in the official opposition are offering that co-operation. We are offering to the government to bring in legislation under its name and to take all the credit for it. Yet the Prime Minister says that we are opposing it, which is simply not the case.
There is no legislation currently before the House that gives effect to the international convention. The government admits that Bill C-16 is only a partial step and does not meet the standards of the convention itself. Bill C-16 takes away the tax breaks from terrorist groups but it does not ban fundraising.
When it is explained to Canadians what steps the government has taken to fight the war against terrorism, they are told the government is suggesting that if someone gives to a terrorist group that person would no longer get a tax break. That is unacceptable.
Two weeks after the tragedy in New York the government has not implemented the international convention for the suppression of terrorist financing despite the fact it has been in the government's in box for two years. Perhaps the government is unwilling to create specific crimes for engaging in terrorist training activities in Canada or inciting terrorist acts abroad from Canada.
Our own Senate committee chaired by William Kelly stated in 1999 that Canada was a primary venue of opportunity to support, plan or mount terrorist attacks. There is a danger of terrorist attacks in Canada, but there is a greater danger of terrorist groups trying to conduct support activities or plan their attacks elsewhere, especially in the United States, from Canadian bases. That is a grave danger.
Anti-terrorism legislation should not simply ban terrorist fundraising but all kinds of terrorist support activities that may be undertaken in Canada. That would include training activities, recruiting and communications. Terrorist groups should not be permitted to use Canadian Internet web servers to promote their cause of destruction and murder. All of these kinds of support activities should be addressed by a new anti-terrorism bill.
The British legislation requires and creates new crimes for members of terrorist groups undertaking these kinds of support activities on British soil. Canada should do no less.
Perhaps the government objects to the prompt extradition of foreign nationals charged with acts of terrorism even if the charges are capital offences in the country where they were committed. Anti-terrorism legislation must change our laws regarding the extradition of suspected terrorists.
Terrorism knows no borders, so we cannot let Canada become a safe haven for those who would rely on the humanitarian compassion of Canadian laws to avoid justice in their own countries or the countries where they have committed their murderous crimes.
If a government like the United States seeks people accused of terrorism in Canada and we are convinced that there is reasonable evidence, we should turn them over regardless of the fact that they may face a penalty there that would not apply here. This would require a change in Canadian law to send a signal to terrorists that they cannot take advantage of Canada to avoid facing justice for their crimes in other countries.
One can imagine the outrage if one of the perpetrators of those awful acts in New York City or Washington, maybe even the criminal mastermind who so carefully co-ordinated the flight schedules of the terrorists, found his way to Canada and we found ourselves, as we would today, unable to extradite such a person to the United States to face justice.
Canadian law must address this possibility now. It is a very real possibility that those suspected of these horrendous crimes could be headed for, if not already having crossed, the Canadian border.
Some may say that is a hypothetical possibility. A Yemeni national whose flight to the U.S. was diverted to Toronto is currently being held for possessing false passports. He had Lufthansa uniforms in his possession even though he was not an airline employee. This person may have been involved in the planning of the atrocities that took place in the United States and may be charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism.
Thanks to the U.S. supreme court decision concerning Burns and Rafay it is doubtful whether the government could extradite that person to face the consequences of the murderous actions in the United States. Most Canadians will not stand for that.
The government may have objected to our call for the detention and deportation to their country of origin of failed refugee claimants or others illegally in Canada who have been linked to terrorist organizations. Canada has a wonderful reputation for having open arms and an open heart to those people truly seeking safety and wanting to pursue their hopes and dreams in a nation that promotes freedom and democracy.
That is a reputation we richly have and deserve. We also have a reputation for being a haven to people of evil intent who are opposed to freedom and democracy, who do not mind the thoughts of planning mass destruction and murder. That is a reputation we need to shed and we can only do it with clear options.
Ahmed Ressam failed his refugee claim. He was under investigation by CSIS and he was arrested for theft in Montreal. Yet he could not be deported. Why? It is because Canada does not deport people to Algeria. This ridiculous policy means that Canada could become a haven for terrorists from any country whose legal systems are not perfect reflections of the Marquis of Queensbury rules.
This has to change because it is absurd. Somebody illegally in Canada from a country like Egypt, Turkey or Saudi Arabia, who has broken our laws, who has been linked to terrorism, who has possibly murdered our citizens, may be able to stay in this country with impunity and only asked to check in at an Immigration Canada office once or twice a month.
Nabil Al-Marabh, a failed refugee claimant, arrested for trying to enter the United States on a false passport was released by the Immigration and Refugee Board on July 11. He has since been arrested in Chicago as a possible suspect in the World Trade Center attacks. He should have been detained or deported to his country of origin and not allowed to roam free on the streets of Toronto and perhaps free to plan the horror that took place on the streets of New York City.
These were the common sense anti-terrorist policies rejected by the government when it rejected the Canadian Alliance motion on anti-terrorism legislation. Now the government, belatedly, is talking about bringing forward legislation of its own.
We are telling the government today that our motion is the standard to which we will hold it accountable. We hope that the government has the courage to swallow its pride and bring forward legislation that will satisfy all six of our provisions and satisfy what the majority of Canadians want to see. We want to give whole support to the government at this time in the war against terrorism, but the government needs to give us something to support.
Anti-terrorism legislation is just one part of an effective war on terrorism. We also need measures to increase the security of our borders, to improve safety in our airports and on our airplanes, and to ensure that our cities have effective emergency preparedness plans and that vital facilities like nuclear plants are safe.
We have seen little action on safety and security in the last two weeks from the government. We have seen the Minister of Transport move to order cockpit doors locked on airplanes and apparently airlines are replacing metal with plastic cutlery although we have not seen that happen yet.
However we have not seen the kinds of safety and security measures that Canadians are looking for. There is no government money for improved baggage screening. There is no provision for increased RCMP, customs and immigration enforcement presence at our airports.
Many Canadians are reeling over the layoffs at Air Canada. However, before the government rushes in with financial aid we should first look at where it has clear responsibility to act quickly to protect the safety and security of our airports and airlines. Let us restore consumer confidence in the airlines so that once again Canadians will fly with a sense of security in our skies. If we are to put taxpayer dollars to work, let us put them to work in security first.
Instead we have seen a complete rejection of the idea of air marshals despite the fact that El Al, the safest airline in the world, has had them for 30 years and despite the fact that the United States is now implementing them. What is the problem with air marshals on airplanes? It is one of the things that Canadians would like to see. If the government wants to increase the confidence of the flying public, providing air marshals would be one of the strongest confidence building measures it could take.
We need to protect the integrity of our border with the United States. Despite the Prime Minister's assurance that Americans had no concerns about the Canadian border, United States Attorney General John Ashcroft stated yesterday that the Canada-U.S. border “has become a transit point for several individuals involved in terrorism”.
Attorney General Ashcroft announced that enforcement on the Canadian border would be beefed up, a sentiment that may send chills up the spines of Canadians in places like Windsor and from coast to coast where a total of some $2 billion in trade flows each and every day.
If we want to avoid a crackdown in Canada on the U.S.-Canada border that would hurt Canada, we must do our best to show that we take the security of Canada and the United States seriously.
This is an issue of personal safety and security and of economic safety and security. In a time of uncertainty in the markets we need to send certain signals of security so that the markets will respond accordingly.
We have to consider creating a more effective border control and taking such measures as arming Canada customs guards with sidearms for the performance of their duties. Part of this is ensuring that we have identification systems that are not open to abuse.
We have seen how easy it was for Ahmed Ressam to obtain a Canadian passport with only a forged baptismal certificate. We know from Immigration Canada's own documents that the IMM 1000 permanent residence document is easily forged and frequently sold on the black market, but the government does not plan to bring in new security ID cards until 2003. We cannot wait; terrorists will not be waiting.
In the United States, next to the efforts to create an international coalition to fight terrorism, the most dramatic response has been to create a new office of homeland security under former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. He will be responsible to integrate the different domestic security and safety agencies that are operative in the United States.
We need to talk about this. We need a discussion to see if efficiency and reaction times to protect our citizens can be improved. We need to discuss how that might happen.
We are not saying this is the answer. We are not saying it is an answer. However we need to have at least a discussion to consider the possibilities. What is prominent in our minds is the safety and security of all Canadians. That issue should be foremost. It should get full consideration.
Finally I will return to where I began: Canada's international role in fighting the war against terrorism. There is much Canada could do at the international level, both diplomatically and as a provider of humanitarian aid, to improve the human condition and alleviate the excruciating pain of refugees and people in wartorn countries.
We must see that we do all we can. This should be a key focus, but it should be done without taking our eyes off the goal of doing all we can to fight terrorism.
Unlike the United Kingdom, Canada cannot be relied on to make a significant military contribution to a potential campaign against the Taliban or other possible state sponsors of terrorism. I want to say clearly that this is no fault of the brave, committed, courageous and dedicated people of our armed forces. They are committed to freedom and safety and to protecting it at any cost. We appreciate and respect that. We want them to be supported and given the resources to be able to do the job.
As we lose our ability to fulfill our international military commitments to our allies because of a lack of resources, our international diplomatic clout with our allies and others will decline accordingly. It has been doing that.
Britain has already provided troops to the U.S. led coalition. British SAS forces may already be engaged in action against the Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan. As a consequence the United Kingdom is taking the war on terrorism seriously. The British foreign secretary is visiting the Middle East and taking the initiative in firming up the coalition. Prime Minister Blair was invited to take a position of honour at President Bush's speech during which Blair accepted the president's compliment that the United States had no truer friend than Great Britain.
Britain's role on the world stage in this crisis is significant and secure because Britain is ready and willing to commit the resources necessary to make an important contribution to the war against terrorism.
Canada's ability to make a contribution is seriously in question. Under the terms of the 1994 defence white paper Canada is pledged to make certain military commitments to its allies.
In a crisis we are in a serious position. The 1994 document commits the Canadian forces to deploying overseas one brigade, which is approximately 5,000 troops; one battalion group, which is approximately 1,000 troops; and to do so within 90 days. The vanguard elements of the force must deploy within 21 days.
The white paper also says that Canada must be able to deploy one CF-18 fighter wing with at least two squadrons of 12 to 24 aircraft each; a naval task force consisting of four to six destroyers and frigates, one to two submarines and one support ship; an Aurora land based maritime patrol aircraft; and a supporting transport squadron with C-130 transport aircraft.
Almost every external expert on Canadian defence policy is highly doubtful about whether we can deliver on any of these commitments. It is not due to lack of desire. It is due to a lack of resources from the government to equip our troops to be there when needed.
I want Canada to make an effective contribution to fight this war. However there is an obligation to point out some of the serious shortcomings facing the men and women who serve in our armed forces. I will address some of the concerns about Canadian commitments.
As I have said, we are pledged to provide one fighter wing of between 24 and 48 aircraft to our allies. During the war in Kosovo, Canada deployed one reinforced CF-18 fighter squadron of 18 aircraft. This constituted a maximum commitment involving nearly all our combat ready CF-18 pilots. Unfortunately many of these pilots have since left the air force. We ran out of precision guided munitions or smart bombs and had to secure emergency supplies from our allies. We did not have a strategic refuelling tanker aircraft to support fighter deployments.
Much of the army's major equipment, such as Leopard C1 tanks and M113 armoured personnel carriers, is antiquated. The government will claim some of the equipment has been modernized. However the so-called modernization was criticized as inadequate by the auditor general's April 1998 report.
In other areas the army has no capability at all. It has no attack or heavy lift helicopters. For an army that stresses mobility this is surprising and saddening. Our inability to deploy ground troops overseas is poor. During Kosovo it took two months to deploy 800 ground troops to the region.
In an article in the Canadian Military Journal in the spring of 2000 the commander of task force Kosovo, Colonel Michael Ward, described the airlift for that deployment as a near catastrophe. That description came from one of our committed and dedicated colonels involved in the task force.
Our claim to be able to deploy ground units within the timeframe suggested by the white paper is dubious and for several reasons.
First, the army has not exercised at the brigade level for nine years. DND admits that if it deployed a brigade it could not sustain it for longer than six months. DND says deployment timeframes of 21 or 90 days are needed to assemble a formation and make it ready to move to the point of embarkation. Actual deployment and training in theatre would take additional time.
Second, our air and sea transport is in bad shape. Our air force has no heavy lift aircraft. It must rely on our allies, or incredibly it must rent aircraft. Nineteen of our thirty-two C-130 transports are about 35 years old and badly in need of replacement. The navy has only two support ships which must be used either to transport troops or to refuel and rearm ships at sea. Using the ships for one task means they would be unavailable for the other.
Third, the United States has quietly informed Canada that it will not accept a commitment of less than a brigade within its operational space for ground combat operations. A brigade sized unit is seen as the minimum because smaller units are not self-sufficient fighting formations.
Fourth, while our navy is probably in the best shape of all our forces even it has problems. The navy could probably assemble the task group it is committed to provide. However at present one of its four destroyers and seven of its twelve frigates are at reduced readiness. That means it would take some time to ready them for deployment.
The navy is short about 400 highly skilled technical personnel. This will make activating ships very difficult. In addition, not all our new submarines ordered from Britain have yet been delivered. The 35 year old Sea King helicopters are in terrible shape, as I mentioned earlier. They are often unable to get airborne due to breakdowns.
Why are our armed forces in such desperate shape? It is because between 1993 and 1999 the Liberals cut the defence budget by 30% in real terms. We are tired of hearing about a little bump upward here and a little bump upward there. It does not compensate for a 30% reduction in real terms since 1993.
Over the past 10 years the total number of military personnel numbers has fallen from about 90,000 to less than 58,000. That is a 35% drop. While the government claims the forces are more combat capable than they were 10 years ago, the facts tell another story. Some new equipment is beginning to arrive but it is not sufficient in and of itself to restore capability.
A parade of former officers, the Conference of Defence Associations, the Royal Canadian Military Institute and the auditor general have raised similar concerns about the combat capabilities of the Canadian forces.
The government put new money into defence in the year 2000, a move it constantly trumpets as a great success. However it has been assessed by many independent experts as insufficient to address the broader crisis, and it is a crisis, in the Canadian forces. Very little of the increase will go to equipment. Most of it will make up for shortfalls in the operational budget.
The auditor general has identified a potential funding shortfall in the equipment budget of $30 billion up to and including the year 2012. If Canada is to be taken seriously in the international war against terrorism we must act at once to rebuild our military. We must be capable of meeting our commitments in the white paper of 1994. We must take this matter seriously because we are no longer at peace. We are at war with terrorism.
As I said to the House last week, the war on terrorism is not what William James called “The Moral Equivalent of War”, the periodic moral and social campaigns against collective problems like the so-called war on drugs or the war on poverty. This is a real war and it will be fought, at least in part, with ships, artillery and airplanes.
The Minister of National Defence has emphasized that this will not be a conventional war, or perhaps not in whole. As we have said, the war against terrorism will be waged on a lot of fronts. It will involve intelligence work, law enforcement, domestic safety, security, diplomatic initiatives and humanitarian aid. However conventional warfare will undoubtedly be involved.
For 50 years NATO has existed as a purely defensive military alliance, possibly the most successful military alliance in modern history. NATO has never needed to intervene to protect one of its members from external attack because it seemed unthinkable that any aggressor would attack a country protected by the umbrella of the alliance.
All that changed on Tuesday, September 11, when an enemy attacked the largest city of the most powerful member of the NATO alliance. All that changed on September 11, when 6,000 innocent civilians were brutally murdered by fire from the sky.
On Wednesday, September 12, for the first time in its history NATO invoked its fundamental principle, article 5 of the NATO charter, which states that an attack on one is an attack on all.
This is the time to stand by our friends, our allies and especially our neighbour to the south. We must leave no doubt whatsoever as to our commitment to them and to NATO. We have neither seen or heard from the Liberal government the same clear level of support offered by the government of the United Kingdom or even the government of Australia.
As I have said before, there are no rear guard positions in the war on terrorism. There are only frontlines. That is exactly where Canada should be. We should be standing shoulder to shoulder with other democratic nations that believe in, support and cherish freedom and democracy as much as we do.
I will reiterate our obligation under article 5 of the Washington Treaty. Article 5 in part states:
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them...shall be considered an attack against them all and...if such an armed attack occurs, each of them...will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith...such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force--
We are morally obliged to offer all assistance possible within our capabilities, up to and including military assistance, to the United States and our NATO allies if requested.
We must all stand together in a great coalition against this darkness and this evil of terrorism. But, if we are to do our share, as we hope the Prime Minister will commit to doing, we must rapidly rebuild our forces and make sure that procurement is improved.
We want peace, make no mistake about that, but we must remember that the best way of ensuring peace is to have a strong and committed Canadian forces.
In all the areas I have outlined, comprehensive anti-terrorism legislation, measures to increase the safety and security of Canadians, a clear commitment to strengthen national defence and to a Canadian military war against terrorism, and humanitarian aid, the government has fallen down.
As we face future threats of terrorism, whether they originate from Osama bin Laden and his allies and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, we will need to move swiftly and resolutely on all these fronts.
What we have seen over the last two weeks in terms of specific action, not glowing words or rambling rhetoric, has not been encouraging. We have seen a government that is relying too much on rhetoric and tiny baby steps, never doing by halves what it can do by quarters.
We want to support the government and the Prime Minister but we need something specific to support.
I have taken the time this afternoon to lay out our concerns in detail and to convey the seriousness with which the official opposition is taking in this war on terrorism. We also believe absolutely that we are reflecting the concerns of a majority of our citizens. We know that in a time of war the opposition has a special duty to support the Prime Minister and the government as far as conscience allows.
I have to say that immediately upon seeing, watching and hearing about these evil attacks on New York City, I was immediately in communication with our Prime Minister, immediately saying that we would be there to support, to stand side by side and to be with the government.
I have indicated a number of times in the last several days that we want to support. A number of times I have stood in the House and outside the House and, even for the small things the government has done, I have expressed appreciation to the Prime Minister. I have thanked the Prime Minister. I have said that we will support the Prime Minister. I have said those things many times.
All of us have watched with some dismay at the difference in response from the leader of the government as we watched where time and again in the United States the president of the United States takes the initiative, reaches out to members of the opposition, members of the senate majority and minority parties, and includes them in discussion on legislation, in discussion on what needs to be done. He even includes them in the memorial services.
We have seen nothing, not one of those things, from the Prime Minister or the government, and yet we continue to stand here and say that we want to support the Prime Minister and the government. We must give Canadians something specific to support in the war against terrorism.