Mr. Speaker, since the tragic events of September 11 we in the federal New Democratic Party have condemned in the strongest possible terms as crimes against humanity the terrorist attacks of September 11. We call for the perpetrators to be brought to justice before an international tribunal to be established by the United Nations Security Council and approved by the UN General Assembly.
We have also been clear in opposing the federal government's decision to commit Canadian military support to the U.S. led military action, particularly given that the U.S. has indicated that it may be prepared to expand its attacks to other countries beyond Afghanistan.
We have also supported calls to work in the longer term to eradicate the conditions from which despair, violence, hatred and discord arise.
We have also urged the federal government to lead all Canadians in fighting against the rising tide of intolerance and racism in the aftermath of September 11, particularly directed at Muslims and Arab Canadians. That is the focus of my remarks in the House tonight.
Canada is one of the most ethnically mixed and multicultural nations in the world. My own riding of Vancouver East, which I am very proud to represent, is one of the most diverse in the country.
While we can all be proud that the very meaning of Canada is about diversity and respecting differences, we must also come to terms with the fact that nearly 275,000 Canadians were victims of hate crimes last year according to Statistics Canada. Sadly since September 11 the number of racist incidents in Canada has been on the rise. We have heard of them as they have been reported in the media.
In Cold Lake, Alberta, Canadian born Muslims got phone calls telling them that all Arabs should be killed. In Oakville, Ontario five students were assaulted for being Arabs. In Ottawa a young Arab teen was beaten unconscious by two other teenagers.
We can only begin to imagine the human pain and suffering that this causes, particularly for young people who are trying to come to terms with what is going on.
We also know that according to the police in Ottawa there has been a doubling of racist incidents reported in our national capital since the attack on the World Trade Center Other cities are also reporting a significant increase.
We in the NDP have called on the federal government to take urgent action to fight racism and discrimination. We have urged the federal government to adopt an action plan that would include public discussion and education and clear enforcement of the criminal code sections concerning racism. We have called on the government to appoint a task force to monitor the reported incidents of racism and to monitor police investigations and prosecutions.
We also call on the Liberal government to reaffirm Canadian values and support for multiculturalism that was introduced as Canadian policy in 1971 by then Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Back in 1971 the New Democratic Party welcomed that commitment. Our leader of the day, the Hon. David Lewis, clearly stated:
The diversity of cultures across (Canada) is a source of our greatness as a people...in every society a minority has a problem, the problem of survival, the problem of keeping alive its history, its language, its traditions, its songs, its legends, its identity. When the majority in a society is as cruel as majorities have often been, not only are minorities crushed but the spirit of that society, the soul of that society, is destroyed.
We need to heed the words of Mr. Lewis today. We need to reaffirm our commitment to the observance of human rights and civil liberties, particularly as we now debate Bill C-36 on anti-terrorism and respect civil rights in this country.