Madam Speaker, this is the last day of the 1900s and to end it in Private Members' Business with a discussion on roads is one of the most significant moments in this parliament, because this parliament has demonstrated throughout this century that it is one of the finest political institutions in the world and one of the most democratic.
With the permission of the member for Cumberland—Colchester, I would like to make a few remarks that pertain more to the end of the millennium than they do to roads. Some years ago I found myself alone travelling in Tunisia and I came across a ruined Roman city in the mountains, right on the edge of the mountains in Tunisia, next to the desert. This city probably had a population of about 20,000 or 30,000 and it was far more dramatic than Pompeii.
For those Canadians who may have travelled in north Africa, they will know that the Roman ruins and Roman cities are very well preserved in north Africa. One can actually walk down the streets of these cities and feel as though one is back 2,000 years, because the streets are there, the shops are there and the aqueducts are there. The only thing that is missing is the people.
I point out that 2,000 years ago the world was not that much different than it is today. In fact, there are eerie coincidences between the state of the world 2,000 years ago and the state we find the world in today. I point out that at that time, the time of the city that I walked through, Rome ruled the world. Rome was the superpower and from Rome it ruled all the civilized world. Roman culture was everywhere.
I point out that we have the same type of situation now, 2,000 years later, when we have another superpower, the United States, that not only is its political influence felt everywhere but so too is its cultural influence. That was precisely the situation that existed 2,000 years ago.
Indeed Rome was known for its military might. Not only was it tremendously far advanced in the military technology of the day, in the type of weapons the Roman soldiers used and the catapults and the other kinds of siege weapons that the Romans had developed, but it had a tremendous martial spirit so the quality of its soldiers was what basically kept the peace in the world of 2,000 years ago.
We cannot help but be struck by the parallel that the United States again has a similar military power, an all pervasive military power. Yet we have to remember that pervasive military power has been tested, as it was later in Rome, in places like Yugoslavia and Somalia.
What has been found, as was the case 2,000 years ago, is that all the military technology in the world does not save a nation when it has problems with its soldiers losing the esprit de corps, shall we say, and that happened in Rome. We see that again happening in the former Yugoslavia and Somalia where despite all the technology the Americans and the United Nations, if you will, were not able to control the type of independence movement that occurred in these countries. Indeed, that is precisely what happened in the Roman world.
Then we had a kind of global free trade 2,000 years ago.