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House of Commons Hansard #94 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was war.

Topics

Business of the House

11 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there has been consultation among House leaders this morning. I want to thank the House leaders for their excellent co-operation for the following motion which I am now prepared to move to be adopted without debate. I move:

That Bill C-16 be withdrawn;

That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice, immediately upon the adoption of this order, a minister of the crown shall table a Notice of Ways and Means motion, which shall immediately be deemed to have been concurred in, whereupon the House shall proceed immediately to the ordinary daily routine of business, except for introduction of private members' bills, presenting petitions and questions on the order paper, which shall be taken up at 3 p.m. this day;

That private members' business shall not be taken up this day, but the House shall proceed directly to government orders; and

That, at the ordinary time of daily adjournment this day, the House shall continue to sit and shall resolve itself into a committee of the whole to consider a motion “That the committee take note of the international actions against terrorism”, provided that, during consideration thereof, (a) the Speaker may from time to time act as Chair of the committee, (b) the Chair of the committee shall not receive any quorum call or any motion except a motion “That the committee do now rise”, (c) after the first spokesperson for each party, no member may speak more than once or for more than ten minutes, (d) when no member rises to speak, the committee shall rise and (e) when the committee rises the House shall immediately adjourn to the next sitting day.

Business of the House

11 a.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons have the unanimous consent of the House to present this motion?

Business of the House

11 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House

11 a.m.

The Speaker

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

Business of the House

11 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Business of the House

11 a.m.

The Speaker

Accordingly, private members' business is dispensed with this day and the item to be debated today is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence. Is it agreed?

Business of the House

11 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Ways and Means

11:05 a.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to a special order of this House, I wish to table a notice of ways and means motion relating to the Registration of Charities Act under the Income Tax Act.

Ways and Means

11:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Pursuant to order adopted earlier this day this motion is deemed adopted.

(Motion agreed to)

Anti-terrorism ActRoutine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-36, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Official Secrets Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and other acts, and to enact measures respecting the registration of charities, in order to combat terrorism.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Fight Against TerrorismRoutine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Government of Canada, I have presented to the House today, legislative measures that seek to strengthen our national security. This legislation is part of the government's anti-terrorism plan.

We have carried out our work in recognition of the following considerations. We believe that people everywhere are entitled to live their lives in peace and security. We believe it is the responsibility of government to ensure that peaceful existence.

Terrorist acts like those that occurred on September 11 constitute a substantial threat to domestic and international stability. The challenge of eradicating terrorism requires co-operation among the community of nations and a strengthening of our capacity to suppress, investigate and incapacitate terrorist activities. To achieve this we know that Canada must work with other nations to combat terrorism.

Furthermore, we believe that parliament must act to combat terrorism while continuing to respect and promote the values reflected in and the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Finally, we believe that legislation is one part of a comprehensive government response against terrorism.

These are the considerations that motivate our legislation and they are reflected in its preamble and in its contents.

The legislative package we are introducing seeks to amend not only various portions of the criminal code but also a number of other federal statutes, including the Proceeds of Crime Act, the Official Secrets Act and the Charities Act, just to name a few.

The three main objectives of the new measures are: to suppress the very existence of terrorist groups; to provide new investigative tools; and to provide a tougher sentencing regime to incapacitate terrorists and terrorist groups.

There are also measures that make general improvements to our ability to respond to terrorism and threats to national security. Other measures would enhance the Canadian values of respect for diversity and of preventing hatred and discriminatory actions fostered on the basis of race, religion and other unacceptable grounds.

I would like to say a few more words about Canadian values. These values receive an important part of their legal expression in the charter of rights and freedoms. Charter rights have been considered and preserved against the objectives of fighting terrorism and protecting national security. I assure everyone in the House and all Canadians that we have kept the individual rights and freedoms of Canadians directly in mind in developing these proposals.

The government is steadfast in its resolve to combat terrorism and its commitment to democracy is stronger than ever. As the Prime Minister stated last Sunday “I cannot promise that the campaign against terrorism will be painless but I can promise that it will be won”.

Fight Against TerrorismRoutine Proceedings

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add a few comments on the record at this time. I certainly echo the remarks of my leader earlier in stating that our party and members stand with the Prime Minister in fighting terrorism and ensuring that Canadians are secure. I also echo many of the statements that the minister made with respect to the fact that people everywhere were entitled to live their lives in peace and security and that it was the responsibility of government to ensure that peaceful existence.

The bill that has been tabled today is an important step forward and reflects many of the issues that the Canadian Alliance Party has been raising in the House, unfortunately to little avail until the very tragic events of September 11. We even moved a motion in the House that asked the government very recently to take steps to name all known international terrorist organizations operating in Canada and to not only take away the charitable status of these terrorist organizations but also to have a complete ban on fundraising for activities in support of terrorism and provisions for the seizure of assets.

We wanted immediate ratification of the suppression of financing of terrorism. We asked for the suppression of terrorist bombing, two very important conventions that the government neglected to put into place to the detriment of the security of the people of Canada.

We raised concerns about the abuse of our immigration and refugee systems. We are all very mindful of the important role that immigrants and refugees play in Canada, yet we are also very mindful of the concerns that criminals abuse those systems.

Every time we raised these issues we were called racist and worse. That was very disturbing, especially when it came from ministers of the crown. We were concerned about the very issues that the minister has now raised, but the government voted against the motion we brought to the House. Now, having woken up, it realizes the very grave situation. Hopefully the government has got past name calling.

It was very difficult to stand and express concerns about issues and then be called racists for our efforts. The intentions of members on this side certainly were honourable, yet that was the standard defence of government. It was unfortunate that we could not have moved much quicker in dealing with these issues.

We let down our American allies who suffered a terrible tragedy in New York City. It is one thing to say now that we stand shoulder to shoulder with the Americans, which we do, but it is quite another thing to not have come to that realization that it was our obligation to do that prior to the horrific events of September 11.

The bill is a complicated one. The National Post tells us it is approximately 150 pages long. We look forward to reviewing that in the House and in committee. I would urge all members to ensure that we move quickly and work overtime in the House to get this matter to committee, hopefully by Thursday.

Fight Against TerrorismRoutine Proceedings

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, as my colleagues who spoke before me mentioned, it is clear that such a bill deserves our undivided attention, and we must seriously consider whether or not we need this type of legislative tool.

When it comes to the safety of Canadians and Quebecers, we require legislation that is functional and effective. Democracy and the future of nations are at stake. This is critically important. Terrorism will not be tolerated on our respective territories and we must fight against it with all of our might.

What concerns me this morning and concerned me last week, however, is that terrorism existed prior to September 11. In Canada, information has been collected by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, by the RCMP, by Canada Customs, and in airports. We knew that there were things happening on Canadian and Quebec territory. This information was funnelled, I hope, to Canada's solicitor general, and to the justice minister. They waited until September 11 to act.

Obviously, it is never too late to do the right thing. However, it would have been nice if Canada had set an example to other countries by introducing a bill on terrorism, given the information that the government has had for a long time now, by reacting in time with the required legislation.

This is a very lengthy bill, and one that I am sure is also very complex. Nothing is simple when it comes to terrorism, criminal gangs and the like.

I would like to tell the minister at the outset that the Bloc Quebecois will act responsibly and support the government, as we have always done on this issue.

As far as provincial consultation is concerned, I would hope that the government did consult them, since a bill as complex as this will have to be put into effect by the provinces. I would also hope that the government has an estimate of the costs involved in implementing the bill. They tend, on the other side of the House, to introduce bills and then look at the cost of them afterwards, knowing full well that the administration of justice is a provincial matter. The Quebec nation will support it for Quebec's part, and Quebec and the provinces will foot the bill in the end. I would hope that the government has given thought to the implementation of the bill and to consulting the provinces in this regard.

Canada has signed international treaties. We have heard this said in recent weeks. Canada has signed at least two international treaties. They were signed a long time ago. Why has Canada not implemented them? I can understand that it wants to make up for lost time. It will probably include them in the bill the House will be considering. I would also have liked to see this bill introduced prior to the events of September 11.

I feel things were improvised a bit in all that. I would hope that the bill will not reflect this improvisation. The government reacted to an event. Bills such as C-16 are currently before the Senate. What will the government do about them in connection with the one before us now? I can hardly wait to see.

Once again, there is a feeling of improvisation, but we will co-operate as best we can with the government in order to have a bill that is important both to Quebec and to Canada. We will be there when it counts.

Fight Against TerrorismRoutine Proceedings

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, perhaps we should first take note of the fact that we are using a new procedure here that comes from the modernization report, which gives us an opportunity to comment, however briefly, on legislation. I say briefly deliberately because it is a very large bill and in some senses very complicated. Certainly we would want to reserve our final judgment on the bill until we have a chance not only to study it ourselves, but to hear from various elements within Canadian society as to what they think of this bill.

I think everyone would agree that something needs to be done. There is no disagreement there. The status quo is not acceptable. On the face of it, the very fact that we have not yet ratified these UN conventions is something we could argue about when it should have been done. However, we certainly do not want to argue any more about whether it should be done. The fact that the government is moving to do this is welcome.

At this point I would say that the approach of the NDP will be to examine the bill with a view to making sure that the legitimate rights of Canadians to domestic political dissent are not in any way threatened or curtailed. That is to say, that rights to peaceful dissent are not curtailed in any way. That would be the guiding principle in our examination of the bill, and we will be interested to see what other Canadians have to say with respect to that concern as well.

Fight Against TerrorismRoutine Proceedings

11:20 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have an opportunity to respond initially to a new piece of legislation, perhaps one of the most comprehensive we will see in this parliament.

I want to begin by commending the minister, her department and all departments that have been involved in the process of drafting what is a very comprehensive, somewhat complicated but an extremely important piece of legislation.

We will obviously have an opportunity on the part of the coalition and on the part of members of the opposition to review this at the committee level. We will hear from experts and from those who may very well raise concerns about civil liberties. However, I believe an initial reading of the bill indicates that it sought to strike a careful balance between civil liberties and the protection of Canadian citizens, which is certainly very much the backdrop to Bill C-38 before us.

There are concerns with respect in particular to the preventive arrest provisions of the legislation. This, I suggest strongly, will have to be coupled with training and with follow up from municipal, RCMP and military police to ensure that there is no abuse of this element of the legislation. As well, I suspect there will be resources attached to this type of legislation. Clearly there has been an indication on the part of the government that this is forthcoming.

The Conservative coalition is tentatively supporting the legislation. We look forward to participating at the committee level to look at some of the gaps that the legislation seeks to fill. Other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia and the European Union, have taken steps in this direction to comply with international conventions and to comply with this new threat that came to fruition on September 11, but has been with us for a long time.

The minister, in quoting the Prime Minister, stated in regard to the legislation that the campaign against terrorism would not be painless but would be won. We take them at their word, but it will take time. Obviously this type of legislation goes a long way toward giving our law enforcement community, our defence and internal security the tools they will require to embark on this lengthy and in many cases extremely dangerous venture to combat international terrorism.

The bill itself has safeguards for parliamentary review. Some have suggested that a sunset clause of sorts might have been preferable. However, a parliamentary review in three years certainly gives parliamentarians and Canadians an opportunity to try the legislation on.

We share the sentiment of all Canadians that the preservation of peace, order and good government is the primary objective behind this type of legislation. We in the coalition very much attach ourselves to the comments of the minister in that regard.

We look forward to reviewing, as I said, elements of the arrest provision. Investigative hearings is another element that is some cause for concern. We will look at the investigative tools themselves to see how far they will go and how far they might be carried out in the pursuit of curtailing terrorism in this country.

We look forward to working with the government and with all members of the opposition in the pursuit of this very lofty but extremely important activity which we are undertaking at this time to combat terrorism in this country and abroad.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34, I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, held in Strasbourg, France, from June 25 to 29, 2001.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

The Speaker

Before I call orders of the day, I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement government orders will be extended by 19 minutes.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

moved:

That this House reaffirm its condemnation of the terrorist attacks against our NATO ally, the United States of America, on September 11, 2001, and affirm its support for Canada's courageous men and women in the Canadian Forces who are responding to defend freedom and democracy in the international military coalition against terrorism; and

That this House hereby order the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs to sit jointly to hold frequent meetings with ministers and officials of the government and the military.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the hon. member for Saint John.

Five weeks ago Canadians lived in a world which felt much safer and more secure than it does today. The terrorist attacks of September 11 literally changed our lives forever.

These attacks took place on American soil, but they resulted in the death of Canadians. These assaults against freedom and order, which are values that are dear to Canadians, put an end to an illusory feeling of invulnerability that may have been more deep rooted here than in the land of our super powerful neighbour.

This attack was also directed against us, against who we are and what we believe in. It is our duty to react, not out of vengeance, but to protect our communities, to comfort and help our friends for whom any feeling of safety is gone, and to prevent a repeat of such terrorist acts.

I commend the Canadian government for now playing a more active role, including a military role, in the common front and common fight against terrorism.

The motion has three purposes. First, we will vote today to reaffirm our condemnation of the terrorist attack.

Second, we will vote to affirm our support for the courageous men and women of the Canadian armed forces who will be joining the international military coalition to fight terrorism and defend free and orderly societies.

Third, we will vote to order the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs to meet jointly and frequently to hear and examine ministers and officials of the government.

September 11 was a turning point in all our lives, an event marked by cruel losses, grotesque images, fear, anger, sleeplessness and helplessness. We have seen the looks on the faces of children who comprehend the anxiety better than we may think and wonder when their lives can be normal again.

This is Canada today. It is a country alert to a profound threat and consumed by an unaccustomed fear and sadness. It is a country that does not often ask for leadership, but Canada wants leadership now.

All of us in the House share responsibility for that leadership. We need leadership both in the short term, in playing Canada's full and unequivocal part in the common front against terrorism, and in the longer term in ensuring Canada has the military strength to meet its responsibilities. In concert with our allies, our intelligence services must be strong enough not to be taken by surprise again. We must ensure that Canada again assumes a leading role in international development.

As my colleague from Saint John will argue, we have let our military capacity run down dangerously and we are paying a price for it now. If public opinion is against military spending we need to change public opinion. Working for peace but planning to fight when necessary is decidedly better than planning for peace and hoping others will defend us when we are in trouble.

No one wants to imagine the kind of situation we would be facing in the world today if the United States had shirked its military responsibilities the way we have tiptoed around ours.

Let us be clear about our immediate obligation. It is to find, fight and stop the September 11 terrorists. The country of Afghanistan is not the target. The ravaged people of Afghanistan are not the target. That is why military strikes and humanitarian aid are being sent simultaneously. The target is the terrorists whom the Taliban regime cultivates and protects. The purpose is to cause the Taliban to surrender the terrorists.

The first attempts were diplomatic. That is why the coalition was so carefully built. That is why Prime Minister Blair was in Pakistan playing the last diplomatic card. We all knew the only argument that might persuade the Taliban was the threat of force, and one does not threaten force unless one intends to use it.

From the public statements of al-Qaeda we can only assume that the terrorists plan future attacks against the men, women and children of North America. The Government of Canada would know because it has access to intelligence assessments of the question, assessments the Prime Minister has refused to share with the House or with Canadians generally. However other governments have been more open with their assessments of the threat we face and they believe it is real.

I have always argued that one of the distinguishing assets of Canada in the world is a moral authority. If we have a moral authority we must use it or risk losing it. In these circumstances our language and our actions must be strong, clear and unequivocal. There is no moral justification for the statements and actions of the al-Qaeda network and Osama bin Laden.

I have been to refugee camps in the Middle East and in Peshawar. I have been to ground zero in New York. The horror of one does not justify the horror of the other. No serious student of the modern world would dispute that poverty, desperation and envy are spawning grounds for terrorism.

There can be no doubt at all that Canada and other democracies have let our commitment to international development and justice falter. That commitment must be renewed in the interest of populations who suffer and in our own interest.

However let us not confuse the conditions which spawn terrorism with the cynical, calculated, cold blooded and deadly determination of an Osama bin Laden to exploit those conditions. These terrorists are professional, well trained, well funded killers. It is clear who they are. They are terrorists. Spreading fear and terror is their motivation. Terrorism is their only real religion.

On September 11 Osama bin Laden and his followers killed Muslims, Christians and Jews. He killed men, women and children. He killed rich people and poor people. He asked for nothing. He made no demands. He put forward no agenda. He accepted no responsibility. He and the killers he recruited and shaped deserve scorn, not understanding. No one in the House or in the country should confuse the conditions which might nurture terrorism with the cold blooded criminal intent to exploit those conditions.

The urgent task now is to catch and stop the criminals whose weapon is reckless terror. That is why it is right and necessary for Canada to play a full and active military role. The motion calls on the government to keep parliament and Canadians informed about the crisis in the same way parliament and Canadians were informed during the gulf war. We propose the same procedure that members of the government argued for and used so constructively during that crisis.

At other times I will argue that the government has a general obligation to inform and involve Canadians. What I will argue today is that informing and involving Canadians is an opportunity to enlarge the contribution Canada and its citizens can make to the campaign against terrorism. Parliamentarians and private citizens must plan responses to the attacks. We need the most basic information about the government's analysis of the threat.

I understand fully the need for confidentiality on sensitive matters. My diplomats moved hostages out of Iran. I briefed the House and its committees fully during the gulf war. What is at issue here is not a matter of national security. It is about the practical value of facts and the advantage of information in helping to mobilize and reassure a free society. That reassurance is important.

Ordinary Canadians are more concerned about their safety and their children's safety than they have been in decades. Each new report of anthrax, crop dusters or outrageous statements by Osama bin Laden and his followers increase that anxiety.

Ignorance feeds fear. Secrecy feeds fear. Facts fight fear. One reason to tell Canadians the truth is that it would help offset the worries that secrecy inspires. Another powerful reason is that getting the facts out would help mobilize the information and insights of Canadians outside government who know things the government does not know.

Let us be realistic. Osama bin Laden did not plan his attacks on a computer or communicate by Internet. The plots began quite literally in some obscure corner of the world which most Canadians do not know and which our security services do not know well enough. They have not kept up to date in Canada or among our allies.

On the other hand, there are Canadians who work in that part of the globe and who know the language, culture and anguish of its inhabitants.

For these reasons, the government should agree to share with parliament and Canadians more of the information that it has.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Dennis Mills Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question for the right hon. member deals with the second part of his speech. He was very clear on the fact that we must continue to act. The first statement made was that we would be there with military support, with our national armed forces, et cetera. My question is on the last point that the member was dwelling on: the human intelligence that we must develop in order to participate and have the knowledge that Canadians want in a more effective way.

What specific recommendations does he have for the House on how the human intelligence can be improved through our spy systems, et cetera?

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will try to be very brief. First, I think it is clear, and it is not meant as a criticism, that the capacity of our security and intelligence services and that of our allies has not kept up with the kind of world in which these plots are developed. A lot of money needs to be put into those services immediately. We need to bring back people who are experts in those fields and gather that information.

However, there is another aspect in the country, this most international of countries. We send people out every day into the far corners of this world where these plots are conceived. They do not go out with their computers. They go out on the ground. From my own city of Calgary geologists and other oil workers go out every day. They work in the far places of the globe. They sit down at night with people who might be tempted to be drawn into these kinds of plots.

Again, let us look at all the non-governmental organizations that work on Canada's behalf, going to places where children are in need, where women are in need, where there is desperation that must be addressed. Those people dig themselves deeply into the communities. They understand the culture. Our intelligence networks do not understand the culture from which these plots come.

What we need to do is draw upon the information that exists in the grand public. The best way to do that is for the government to say “Here is what we know. Tell us what you know.” I believe that kind of partnership between private Canadians who know things and the public would be very productive.

However if the government stays silent, it will not release the information that could be so helpful for us in understanding not only what caused the attacks last month but also what threats might emerge or exist for Canada in the future. That is why information is so important. This is a place for information and that is why we have proposed a regular reference for the standing committee, as was so successful during the gulf war, to ensure that the maximum amount of information is made available to people who may return in kind with information that the government and the country desperately need.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the House and my right hon. colleague for allowing me the opportunity to speak to this important motion.

I have come to believe that in every generation Canadians are tested, both by foreign and domestic events. In these trying times our commitment to the basic principles of equality, diversity, tolerance and justice are tested. How we conduct ourselves in the face of danger and adversity is what defines our national character. I am proud of the determination and compassion shown by the Canadian people in the aftermath of September 11. It is with that spirit of confidence and pride in the people of Canada that I stand here today.

When I first considered the motion I was struck by the need for the House to maintain the important balance between the duty to be accountable to the Canadian people and the duty to ensure our national security. While our rich military heritage has afforded us a number of precedents for how to accomplish this task, I believe that perhaps we should look to our charter of rights and freedoms for guidance.

Section 1 of the charter states that we should always guarantee the basic principles of fundamental justice “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”.

I believe, and I hope my colleagues here today would agree, that our duty to remain accountable to the Canadian people in times of war, as in times of peace, should be limited only by what can be justified in a free and democratic society. Without question the government must not disclose any information that might place our armed forces, or indeed those of our allies, at even greater risk. The purpose and effect of the motion before the House does not in any way suggest that we compromise national security. What is expressed in this motion is the desire of the Canadian people to have their government remain as accountable as is reasonable under the circumstances.

The concept of a joint committee of the standing committee on national defence and the standing committee on foreign affairs is based on the fundamental truth that the government is never completely excused from its duty to inform parliament of its actions. If this is the truth we hold in times of peace, it is that much more crucial in times of war. The joint standing committee would serve two basic principles. First and foremost it would ensure that parliament has at its disposal the most current information as to the status of the ongoing campaign against terrorism. Second, it could serve as a vivid reminder that the Canadian government remains a government of the people, even in the most pressing and difficult of times.

Each and every conflict our nation has faced in its proud history has been substantially different from any other. However, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that this current war against terrorism is a new type of conflict, novel not only to Canada but to mankind as a whole. In the past our ocean borders have served to protect us from the many horrors of war. For this reason, in the last century our nation has been spared much of the civilian death and destruction that has ravaged so many other continents.

On September 11 we were taught a vicious lesson and were shown that evil will strike whenever and wherever it wishes. If we remain idle the battlegrounds of the 21st century could well be our cities. We have received notice in the cruellest of fashions that we are now targets. We are targets because we value a free and democratic system of government. We are targets because we do not discriminate on the basis of gender, religious faith or ethnic race.

In short, we are targets for the very reason that makes us Canadians. Therefore if we change our system of government, if we alter our way of life from free to secret, from overt to covert, in effect we are giving the terrorists what they want most. The greatest proof that their attacks have failed and that their future attacks would be futile would be for Canada and our government to continue with these fundamental principles of justice and freedom that have served us so well since 1867.

We in the House are extremely fortunate that we have been allowed to make our stand against terrorism from inside the security of the Chamber. From this sheltered House we have sent our most courageous citizens into the path of danger.

To prove that we are worthy of this power, the power to wage war and the power to order Canadians in the prime of their lives to serve their country in the most dangerous place on earth, we must make the case for it each and every day. We must prove to the nation and to the families of our men and women in uniform that what we have done and what we continue to do is just and right. Each and every one of us has a duty to support without condition or moderation our Canadian men and women in uniform. We also have an equal duty to honour our commitments to our nation's allies, to NATO, to NORAD and to the United Nations.

Since Confederation our country has sent its most courageous citizens to fight injustice and tyranny on almost every continent. To that end, Canadians have offered their lives in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Ours is a proud military heritage forged both in times of war and in times of peace. Ours is a reputation earned through a constant commitment to the highest principles of mankind and an unwavering faith in the just equality of the world's people.

I take great personal comfort in knowing that our Canadian forces personnel will stand on the frontlines of this campaign as they have stood on the front lines of every significant campaign of the last century. There is no question that our freedom is as safe and secure as it can be when it is in the protective care of the Canadian military and our men and women in uniform.

I have always said and will always continue to say that in any discussion of our armed forces we must leave politics at the door. I want to appeal to all Canadians to support our military in these difficult times. I want to appeal to the government to ensure that from this day forward our military will receive the funds it requires to get the tools it needs to do its job.

There has been a great deal of concern expressed in the country about the status of our military equipment, perhaps most notably the dependability of our Sea King helicopters. I have the utmost confidence in the pilots and the crews of our Sea King fleet, but like all Canadians I am well aware of how unreliable the Sea Kings have proven to be in recent years. The minister of defence himself has indicated that the Sea Kings are near the end of their operational life and yet no replacement has been chosen, let alone purchased or delivered. If the government had not cancelled the EH-101 and had left politics at the door in 1993 we would have new helicopters for our pilots.

Let there be no mistake. We have seen the reality of our post-cold war country. We continue to live in a vicious and dangerous world where threats are not always obvious and risks are rarely clear. We must therefore always take seriously our responsibility to maintain a robust and effective armed forces, knowing that many of the threats we will face in the future will now be unpredictable. The attacks of September 11 have given us ample proof that we must always be vigilant in the defence of freedom.

Being vigilant means being ready. Being ready means having an effective armed forces and giving it the tools and capabilities it needs to meet every imaginable challenge. While I might not be convinced that our military has all the tools it needs to complete those complicated tasks we assign them, I can say without hesitation that person for person we have the best military in the world.

The motion before the House today affords us another opportunity to justify our presence here in the House. It allows us another opportunity to condemn the cowardly terrorist acts of September 11 and also to take positive action to secure our system of government.

In closing, it is crucial that the courage and compassion of the Canadian people be reflected in the actions of our government. It is vital that in the exercise of our parliamentary duties we adhere to the same principles of open accountability that we did before September 11. I therefore urge all members to support the motion. I feel so strongly about the merits of the motion that I move:

That the words “jointly to hold frequent meetings” be substituted by the words “frequently, including joint meetings”.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The amendment is in order.

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11:50 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Saint John said she believed that we have competent people in the armed forces but that she had concerns regarding the Sea King helicopters. She felt that she did not want to get into politics and that the government missed the boat in 1993.

If she does not have any confidence in the Sea Kings, would she recommend to the Government of Canada to keep them in Canada and not send our armed forces to sea with them, particularly if they are not in good shape? I would like her opinion on that because she said she wanted the safety of our people to be primary but at the same time she made the comment that the Sea Kings were not in acceptable shape.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to have seen our EH-101s there, but that will not be the case. We have committed 2,000 personnel to assist Great Britain and the United States to bring about peace in the world. We have to rise above the situation in Afghanistan and the terrorists.

I am hoping and praying, as is the minister of defence, that our Sea Kings will be able to do the job while they are there. A lot of repairs and changes have been carried out and the situation is being monitored.

We have to make sure that our borders are safe. For that reason we need to keep some of the Sea Kings here, and we will. We are not sending all of them over there. That is not what is happening. One of our frigates that is in the Mediterranean will be going to the Persian Gulf and the rest will be leaving on Wednesday.

We have been fighting for the replacement of the Sea Kings and we will continue to do that. I pray that the minister is accurate when he says that our men will be all right with the Sea Kings at the present time.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her comments about the military. She has a well deserved and well earned reputation for being concerned not only about the military capabilities of our armed forces but its equipment needs as well.

She talked about how to depoliticize the armed forces issue and how it was time for the country to consider a new way of looking after our military. We are all proud of it. We send our military into harm's way around the world and yet it ends up being a political football. It is affected by budget cuts, political decisions like the EH-101 and closures of army bases. It is all political football.

Funding is allocated in other countries for the military on a long term basis. They give their military a chunk of funding and say what they want done. They ask what is needed in terms of budget and in turn they do not politicize it. The military is left with that budget for a long term.

Does the hon. member think that it may be a way to depoliticize the military because there have been far too many examples of this in recent times?