Mr. Speaker, I will address a number of important assumptions contained in the motion.
The first assumption, which is that if we had some international court in place that somehow the terrorists, the 30 cells thought to be in Germany and the people living in caves in Afghanistan, would just surrender to authorities and come to the international court of justice to be dealt with, is a fairly naive assumption. That will not happen. It flies in the face of historical experience.
I remember a person in about 1939 coming back from a meeting with Adolph Hitler in Munich. He waved a piece of paper around saying “peace in our times”. Thousands and thousands of people applauded him and said that it was a great accomplishment and that he was a man of peace.
However there was another man, Sir Winston Churchill, who said that appeasement never works with evil and terrorism. These people cannot be negotiated with. They have no respect for the rule of law.
I think we are dealing with the same sort of factor in this day and age. I have a lot of problems with the assumption built into the motion on that basis.
The other assumption I think could be very wrong is the assumption that nations under international law do not have the right to deal with criminals who have caused criminal harm in their territories. I think that is an age old international law and a law of the United Nations that nations have the right to take whatever legal action is required to protect themselves from criminal actions by individuals, and this is certainly a criminal action.
The fourth assumption is that the U.S. would be dealing with the criminals if it apprehended them and that somehow they would not get a fair shake in the American justice system. I have some problems with that assumption as well.
Anyone who is tried in the U.S. justice system has certain fundamental legal rights. People are presumed innocent until proven guilty. They are entitled to be represented by council. They are entitled to a full disclosure of the case in detail. They also have the right to determine how they are going to be tried, if by jury, to select who is on those juries. They have a concept called due process. A lot of people would say that gives the criminal element an advantage but the U.S. is one of those societies that believes it is better to err on the side of innocence. They also have a very elaborate appeal system.
The assumption is that maybe other people have a superior system and that an international court would be better. I wish the motion pointed to some real problems in this area. What about the Taliban justice system? Why does the motion not address the horrible justice systems we have in this world, such as the Taliban system where there is not really a rule of law.
The other implication suggests that the U.S. and its allies will use some very brutal, terroristic methods to deal with this matter. We are heading into week four on this matter and I have not seen a single bomb, rocket or anything fired into Afghanistan. The U.S. is taking its time. It is building a coalition. I believe it has virtually every civilized country in the world on side.
The U.S. has consulted with them and are working as a team to deal with this problem. Dealing with the motion that has been presented, the United States is working through the United Nations just as it did during the Bosnian and Serbian problem, and the gulf war.
There is an implication that the Americans will work outside of our international system. That is not the case. They are working with it.
Something I am concerned about in this area is the British. The British 1999 social democrat government, led by Prime Minister Blair, passed anti-terrorism legislation that brings them squarely within the 13 resolutions that the United Nations has passed dealing with terrorism. It does not have any problems bringing itself up to snuff with the resolutions that the United Nations passed. It fits squarely within that.
The only reason I am raising that issue is that two weeks there was a motion in the House to at least study the British anti-terrorist legislation. Members who presented the motion in the House today voted against that motion. Now they want to see action by this government to comply with United Nations resolutions. There was a way to really fast track that if they wanted to do it but they chose not to.
I want to deal with the subject of intolerance and racism. I think everybody in the House realizes that the best protection against excessive intolerance and racism is an open, democratic society where the rule of law does prevail and people are judged on the basis of their character, their individual attributes and so on, and we do not get into the business of judging people on the basis of arbitrary things, such as race, religion or some other characteristic.
I think those are the basic values of American and Canadian society. In some ways, and I think this has been said before, the very attack on the twin towers in New York City was an attack on those concepts. Our best protection against racism and intolerance is to have an open society.
The converse would be the Taliban. That would be a society where people would have legitimate concerns about excesses in terms of racism and discrimination based on religion. They execute people in that country for having a different religion.
The media in this country have some responsibility in this area. Certain town hall meetings put on by the people's network during this crisis were not conducive to bringing forward better relations between communities. I thought those town hall meetings were an attempt to reinforce some stereotypes that were not so good, the stereotypes that hate-mongers like to seize upon and use to their advantage. I thought some of those town hall meetings were not very good. They were not just toward Arabic and Muslim people, they were also with respect to attitudes toward the Americans.
A lot of closed societies in this world that do not have a strong history of respecting individual freedoms would be well advised to look at the systems that we have in the United States and Canada as a beginning point for reforming their societies.
My NDP colleagues make much of getting to the root cause of things. Maybe one of the solutions to root causes of things is the rule of law and respect for individual rights and democracy. Some of these countries have been preoccupied with dictatorial types of government where they have no respect for these sorts of things. They use scapegoats.
Someone else is always to blame for their problems. Perhaps they should look inward to their own societies to start finding the solutions from within and look at some of the success stories.
I will put on record that militant Islamic fundamentalism is a dangerous force in our world today. We are not talking about a small, insignificant element. It is a powerful and dangerous force in the modern world and goes much beyond Osama bin Laden. If we do not recognize that in the west, particularly in countries like Canada, we are doing it at our own peril.