House of Commons Hansard #90 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was terrorism.


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12:35 p.m.


Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, this is my first opportunity other than a very brief intervention in the first week of September 17 to participate in the House. Therefore I will begin by expressing my profound regrets and condolences to the people of the United States and, as my colleague from Burnaby--Douglas said, the 60 other countries with representatives in the World Trade Center when the attacks took place.

I think I heard Mayor Giuliani say in recent days that it was now 80 countries that had representatives there. It is an enormous number and it is a tragedy of untold proportions. I extend my deep condolences to everyone who has been affected.

As this important debate takes place today we seem to be on the verge or the precipice of a military response, from listening to the prime minister of the United Kingdom and others. This is an extremely important debate today in the House of Commons.

I think that September 11 exposed the vulnerability of a free and open society to terrorist attacks. We should not be surprised that in the immediate aftermath the reaction was that of anger and even of hatred against the perpetrators.

The western civilized world and its laws have been designed by wise counsel over many generations. The resulting jurisprudence has been to ensure that anger and hate never become the last words on the subject. We have learned that revenge breeds revenge and that an eye for an eye is not the way to proceed in this regard.

When the terrorist attacks are referred to as acts of war as CNN does 24 hours a day under its subtitle America's New War , it seems to me all that does is help dignify the individuals who masterminded these appalling acts. They should be seen as international pariahs. Their crimes are against humanity and they must be brought to justice publicly and rationally. As Kofi Annan said a couple of days ago:

Terrorism will be defeated if the international community unites in a broad coalition, or it will not be defeated at all.

To seek indiscriminate revenge is merely to react in the same primitive and deadly way as the perpetrators of the acts of September 11.

We are at an incredible point where the entire world at the moment stands behind the United States in wanting to exterminate crimes against civilized society. There is an unshakable commitment at the moment to go forward and rid the world of these individuals, but if we risk the slaughter of innocent people in the hunt for revenge, it will guarantee that episodes of international terrorism will become the legacy of this new century. We want to avoid that at all costs and we have an opportunity to do so.

I want to shift gears for a moment. I was struck by a briefing book delivered to the Western Governors Association, which had a joint meeting almost a month to the day before the attacks in New York City and Washington. Material was provided by the Canadian consulates general for western Canadian premiers who were taking part in the conference. There was a small reference to border security and terrorism. It noted:

Terrorism is not typically seen as a border issue but the Ressam case has alerted both countries to the potential threat.

The reference is to the millennium bomber.

Just as a very brief aside, Terence McKenna's dramatization of that which played on Newsworld a couple of weekends ago was a very compelling television documentary, or docudrama, perhaps. It was appalling to see the ease with which Mr. Ressam was able to get in and out of Canada, acquire a false passport and use that to fly to Afghanistan, apparently for military training, fly back to Los Angeles and eventually into Montreal and on to British Columbia. He was apprehended only as he attempted to enter the state of Washington through Port Angeles.

The document provided by the Canadian consulate told the western Canadian premiers that “Canada and the U.S. are working to improve interdiction of potential terrorists before they reach North America”. That is something we have also heard in the House. The document states:

U.S. law enforcement officials note that the United States is a top target of international terrorists. While the threat to Canada is low, the Government of Canada has taken important steps to enhance Canada's ability to combat terrorism.

That seems to me to fly somewhat in the face of what the executive officer for the Canadian Police Association said yesterday when he said:

Canadians should not be lulled into a fall sense of security when it comes to border security, immigration enforcement, and security at Canada's airports and ports of entry.

Police association executive David Griffin also mentioned four specific points that our caucus has talked about for any number of years. One is the elimination of Canada's ports police. I well remember the NDP talking about its concern about that in 1997-98. Second, the privatization of airport security is something that we have talked about for a long time. Third, there are the drastic reductions in immigration and customs personnel. Finally, there has been a shifting focus at Canada's borders, from security and enforcement to revenue generation and cash collection.

Those are important points that we have talked about, both before this terrorist attack and certainly subsequently. It behooves the government opposite to take some remedial action and to do so very quickly.

I also want to make a comment about the third point in this resolution today, which deals with acts of intolerance against visible and racial minorities. I as well was discouraged to hear the comments from the member for Portage--Lisgar when he said that this is not an issue and that essentially we are overplaying it. That is unfortunate. In the spirit of generosity let me say that perhaps coming from a rural riding in Manitoba as the member does he has not seen or heard about these incidents, but from any number of people that I have been in contact with, we know that these incidents abound.

We heard the Minister of Foreign Affairs this morning relate an incident from his daughter's school. I know from friends and acquaintances in Quebec of similar occurrences there. I know that on the Friday after the attack it was noteworthy at one of the local colleges here in Ottawa how the Arab and Muslim students were simply not in attendance at classes that week, undoubtedly for fear of reprisal or attacks, verbal or otherwise.

I will make specific reference to an article that was written by Vanessa Redgrave. She makes reference to mayor Rudolph Giuliani's magnificent speech for unity and tolerance. On the same day he made that speech, a Pakistani shopkeeper whose son was murdered in the attack on the Twin Towers was beaten by racists outside his shop in Brooklyn. Such outrages also occurred all over Europe before and after September 11. Ms. Redgrave's point is that this will increase a thousandfold if and when the bombing missions begin, and people of all races will suffer.

In closing, this is a very important time and the world of the future will judge us on what we do.

It behooves us to act with discretion and to follow the lead of the United Nations in its approach to this attack against terrorism.

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12:45 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Palliser for his excellent speech. I am sure everyone in the House would agree that any general bombing of civilians or attack on civilians would be the last thing we would want to do.

The American president made it very clear that it would be folly to allow this terrorist act to spread into any kind of war that could be argued as a war against people because of their ethnicity, their religion or whatever else.

Having said that, the member also said that these terrorists need to be brought to justice. His colleagues supported him on that, and we support that as well.

If we are to bring terrorists to justice what do we do when they are harboured by a foreign state? How can we bring these terrorists to justice when they are harboured by a foreign state without resorting to some form of military intervention or military violence?

In that context can I ask him whether or not he would agree that if the Americans or the allies or whomever go in and attempt to obtain these terrorists as a group and do the minimum amount of damage to civilians, this would be quite in keeping with their responsibilities.

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12:50 p.m.


Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question and the opportunity to respond. I realize it is a difficult situation for the western world as to how to respond.

If I lived in the United States I would likely never be accused of voting for the republican party up until this point in time. However I must say that the president of the United States has acted with more skill and diplomacy than I would have given him credit for at the outset in the aftermath of September 11. We are at a pivotal point and we will have to see whether that comes to fruition in the immediate days ahead.

In answer to the hon. member's question, if this attempt to get at the perpetrators or the masterminds of these attacks is done through the United Nations, I have full confidence it will be done with a minimum of harm to the civilian population of Afghanistan or other countries that may be involved in the process.

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12:50 p.m.


Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, there are a large number of Middle Eastern and Asian population groups in Nova Scotia. After September 11 one could feel the tension within those groups about the acts of vigilantism against them.

A lot of them were very nervous and very frightened even in the perception sense. I spoke to a couple of them in my area who run small businesses and they said that it reminded them of the countries they had left. It reminded them of the fear they had. They did not think Canada would instill that type of fear in them.

The NDP motion brought forward today is asking for leadership from the government to tell Canadians to stop the racist attacks against our Arab and Muslim friends and neighbours. The names Osama and Mohammed are just as Canadian as the names Michael and David.

Could the member for Palliser give some examples to the government of what it could do to educate all Canadians in preventing racism at its source?

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12:50 p.m.


Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, the motion as it has been presented today contains specific timetables and guidelines which recommend that the government should report to the House within 90 days its action plan to deal with outbreaks of racism and racial intolerance. If the government followed that it would go a long way to diffusing the current nasty situation to which the member has alluded.

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12:50 p.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that we are again debating this issue in the House. I thank all my colleagues who have participated with their words of wisdom on the issue. I would like to say to the House that we can certainly choose not to act at all but the result would be that we would have no peace and no stability.

On the other side, we can work with people of goodwill, as is taking place right now, and embrace timely action to defeat bad behaviour. It is my view that it is time to disallow these bad individuals from using time to promote intolerance, destruction and crimes against humanity.

There is no doubt my colleagues know that the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1373 which affirms that the world community condemns terrorism and all terrorist acts as crimes against humanity.

Before I go on, Mr. Speaker, I want to let you know that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Ancaster--Dundas--Flamborough--Aldershot.

While we condemn all acts of terrorism, we must be consistent in our action and persistent and diligent to do justice. We also need to build on our success as a humanity and not allow the oppression of people's hopes and dreams.

We cannot continue to have half stabilities around the world. We need to march and defend civilities. We need to console those left in the wake of this terrible act of terror. We need to console those who are left with shattered dreams. We need to protect those in our midst who by reason of their heritage are also feeling the heat of hate.

We must be engaged not only as a society but also as a world community. We must be proactive. We must have a dual plan for everything we do now and in the future.

Those who are trying to dismantle the bricks and mortar of our democracy will fail. They will fail because of our strength and our resolve as a civilization, as a democracy and as a people who have the resolve to rebuild.

For every action there will be a consequence, and we all know that. Our response must be measured and collective, and there is no doubt in my mind justice will prevail.

It is important to continue to build on a broad coalition, and what we have already is an excellent start. However it must not be an end by itself once we deal with the terrorists in Afghanistan. In effect, if anything, it should be a beginning.

In order to carry justice everywhere around the globe, we must have a policy for education, dialogue and engagement. We must invest more in the lives of poor people around the world.

A constituent of mine, Antonio Bucciarelli, had it right when he said that we must help to feed the poor people around the world so they do not become radicals. I agree.

I think we have to go even further. We have to establish international standards for individuals and individual incomes around the world. These minimum standards will ensure that no one, nowhere, no matter what will go without food, live without shelter or have no access to education.

In my view, Canada can play a leading role in this area and share with others what we have done in the past and what we continue to do presently, but we need the collective action of the world communities.

An equalization system of some sort could be established and explored. Payments from rich nations could be pooled to help individuals, and I stress individuals in poor nations. As a result, we could target resources to those in need which would take away one fundamental important tool from the hands of potential terrorists, and that is the financial support or the financial bribery that they provide to some of those people who unfortunately, in some situations, find themselves in the awkward position of having to follow the line of radicalism and eventually find themselves engaged in acts of terrorism, whether those are acts of terrorism like we have seen at the World Trade Center or other acts of terrorism.

We need to encourage the use of non-violent means in order to express ourselves, whether here in our society or anywhere around the world. We need to go back to doing the right thing.

Another constituent of mine came to see me the other day with a delegation of three individuals. They gave me a copy of a speech made by Martin Luther King. It was incredible how relevant Mr. King's 1963 speech seemed in today's state of affairs with which we have been faced. They asked me to share it with some of my colleagues.

I will quote the part of the speech where Martin Luther King said:

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice;

This is very relevant today. For us as a society and as a world community not to stand up and do justice and bring those who have committed these atrocities and crimes against humanity, we will be failing the most fundamental rules of humankind, which is to allow the collective interest of the people to prevail and to allow the interest of the people to be protected, both as individuals and as a group.

I am very much in tune and in support of what the government has done on this agenda. I have never been so proud to be a Canadian as I am now to see our government and our communities across the country coming together in these difficult times, this time of sadness, and trying to build a unified action to combat terrorism and to support those who are left with shattered dreams and without their loved ones. We have come out and said that we will not allow intolerance and hate against people who live in our midst regardless of their places of origin.

I was delighted to see our Prime Minister over and over again speaking out against hate crimes, speaking out against intolerance, speaking out in support of working together as a community to combat terrorism but also, at the same time, in order to protect the Canadian values that makes us the best country in the world in which to live and to raise a family.

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1 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I certainly share the sentiments raised by the NDP with respect to the Arab and Muslim community. The folks I have talked to in that community are as outraged as I am over what happened on September 11. I think it is the vast majority of those people who feel that way.

I want to raise another issue that is springing out of this topic. I believe in the last 20 or 30 years we have promoted some half truths about the U.S. and promoted an anti-Americanism in the world. The American people were kind of foisted into the cold war. Post-second world war they became the arsenal for democracy, so to speak. I agree that a lot of things happened in the cold war that were not so nice. There was a communist battle against our ways and a lot of things happened on both sides that were not nice.

There are some points I would like to address and then I will get to the question. The Americans did not bring in the Balfour declaration. The Americans brought in the Marshall plan that rebuilt Germany and Japan. Woodrow Wilson was looked at as the founder of the United Nations. There have been three attempts to bring peace between the Arabs and the Jewish people through the Americans. I am concerned when we are talking about promoting hatred against a group that the Americans are also in this fold as well.

Yesterday the Minister of State for Multiculturalism said that people were allowed to say what they want in this country. Well I am no so sure that is the--

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1:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.

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1:05 p.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that as a society, whether American, Canadian, French, English, regardless of what part of the world we come from, the attack that took place on New York is an attack on humanity, on civilization and on the foundation of democracy as we know it everywhere in every part of the world.

As a result of that, when an American is hurting, we are hurting. Simply put, the way the terrorists are getting around trying to undermine our civilization has to be stopped. Collectively we have to take action. Certainly the Americans historically have taken a leadership role on the international scene. We do not have to go back to the first world war, the second world war or the recent collapse of the former communist regime in the Soviet Union.

Whether we love them or not, the Americans have played a role in the world that no other country has played. They put the first man on the moon. They have done a tremendous amount of things. From time to time we may be upset with them because of this and that, nonetheless, at this point in time we have to stand collectively with our friends and democracies around the world to combat terrorism and get to the root of the problem. Otherwise, the next attack may be on others around the world. We must stop it now and get to the root of it.

While we are doing that, however, we cannot discriminate against those who are living among us, those who are grieving as we are grieving. That is what the terrorists want us to do. We cannot create a situation where we give them the breathing room to cultivate and create more radicals within communities around the world. We must be aggressive and proactive, we must be engaged and we must work with communities around the world to ensure that the target is the terrorist.

The target should not be somebody who comes from country A or country B. The target has to be the terrorists. The terrorists are using the name of a country and the name of a religion to obtain credibility. We must combat that because one's religion and place of origin have nothing to do with terrorism. Terrorism is an act of crime against humanity and we must fight it as such.

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1:05 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I was a child I dreamed of travel. When I became a young man I did my very level best to travel. Unfortunately the world is a very large place and I just could not get to all the corners of the world that I wanted to get to, so I decided to do something that reflects my ethnic origin which is British. I decided I would try to go to Timbuktu.

Timbuktu is on the other side of the Sahara desert. Timbuktu has a symbolism among the English speaking people as the place that is as far away as anywhere can possibly be, so it was a great adventure.

I embarked on that voyage in my early twenties. I was a graduate student at the University of Leeds in the north of England. I persuaded another young man who had the equipment, the rucksacks, the tents and all the rest of it, to hitchhike across France into Africa and across the Sahara desert to Timbuktu.

The reason I begin with this story is that it was my first encounter and my most memorable encounter with Islam. What happened is we arrived in Algiers on the day before Christmas. On the day after Christmas we set out on our journey from Algiers, the city, and we hitchhiked across the Atlas mountains. We realized that it was an impossible journey as we did not have the equipment or the money and we did not have the knowledge that would see us across the Sahara desert for 1,000 miles to see Timbuktu.

On a memorable morning we were outside an oasis just on the other side of the Atlas mountains, not really an oasis, a village. We were just in the semi-desert area of the Sahara desert and we resolved to hitchhike the first vehicle that came out of the oasis that morning.

In fact, two vehicles came out. They were two trucks and they had some people of the desert in the truck. I hesitate to use the word Arab because that does not really describe them. It is what people understand them to be. There were two rural Algerians or partly rural Algerians in the truck. Anyway, they said “come with us”. They put us on the top of the trucks which were carrying sacks of grain and they turned south.

For the next five days we were looked after by that party of Algerians in those two trucks. They put us on the top of the sacks of grain and they gave us the jalabas and we rolled across the Sahara desert.

One cannot imagine what the Sahara desert is like. One can understand why the great religions were formed in this backdrop of the grand erg, as they call it there, the great zero, because it is the most spectacular scenery that one can possibly ever hope to see.

The only thing that has ever matched it has been the High Arctic because as we rolled on the top of these trucks we would look out across the arid land to the mountains, and what we would see is the mountains that were purple and green in the distance. We could see where the whole idea of paradise came from, people who saw around them the desert waste and then looked over to see the land of milk and honey in the distance, but of course those hills were arid hills.

Those people who took us on that voyage across the Sahara desert, they were desert people. What I learned from them was that Islam is a religion of great generosity. They never asked about our religion. They never asked about our culture. It was sufficient that these two strange young men, attired in a very strange way, were standing there at the edge of the desert by the road and that we were seeking their help. For days on end the hospitality was absolutely incredible.

In the evening what they would do is they would stop the trucks. They would cut a dry type of bush that they would gather wherever they could, and we would have a campfire in which they would put a great tin bowl and they would fill it with semolina which is the material that couscous is made out of. Each man would sit around, there were a total of eight of us, and we would share from the two bowls and we would eat together.

At night what would happen is they would roll the blankets on the desert floor and we would lie down like cord wood, all of us, myself and my friend and the others, and the last man on the end would roll the blanket on top. Lying out in the great Sahara desert and looking up at strange stars, it was an experience that was a defining moment in my life.

After that trip as my young family was growing up, when my wife and I wanted to take holidays occasionally we took separate holidays. She would go to Europe. I would go to North Africa. Over the years I visited Algeria again. I visited Morocco. I visited Tunis. I was actually thrown out of Libya at gunpoint, so I have mixed feelings about Mr. Khadafi, and then I went several times to Egypt.

All of this is to say that I have learned much about Islam. It is not definitive perhaps, but I have an emotional feeling for it because I realize and I learned that it is a religion of generosity. It is a religion that seeks to help the oppressed and puts that hand out, no questions asked.

I should add in passing that it gave me an understanding of the so-called Palestinian problem because among Muslims, I think around the globe, there is this desire to help people who are oppressed and there is this strong sense that the Palestinians have been wrongly done by and should deserve the support of Muslims around the world, but in saying that, there is nothing in my experience with the many Muslims I have met both at home here and in Africa that would ever suggest that violence is a part of what Islam is.

I say all this in addressing the part of this motion that deals with the problem of intolerance in the context of this dreadful occurrence at the World Trade Centre, this terrorist act.

My experience in travel made me realize how much we are children of this world. Whether we are Hebrew, whether we are Christian, whether we are Hindu, whether we are Muslim, we are still people of this world and people of the same God, if you will, Mr. Speaker.

When we learn that kind of thing, we realize that Canada's strength is in the fact that so many people from various parts of the world have come to this land. While I had, shall we say, this enlarging experience because I travelled to a remote corner of the world, many Canadians do not have that opportunity.

In the last 25 years because there has been such an influx of people from all around the world of different races, of different ethnicities, of different religions, if you will, Mr. Speaker, I have great confidence, and indeed I believe I see it every day, that Canadians as a people have a level of understanding and compassion and tolerance for people who are different than them. It is the very essence of this country of Canada. It is the very essence of the charter of rights and freedoms.

When I come to this motion which suggests that there is a rising tide of intolerance, I hesitate because what I think we are really dealing with is natural fear that happens among any nation and any group of people when terrible crimes are committed, but I do not think for one moment that it is something we could characterize as a rising tide of intolerance.

I do not think it is something that is addressed by governments. I think of it as something that is addressed by parliament. We as members of parliament should lead the way and make sure that our hands are out there in our communities bringing people together in these troubled times to quiet the fears, because I believe absolutely that in the end Canadians are far stronger than any terrorists anywhere in the world.

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1:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to debate the NDP motion. I express my shock and extend my deepest condolences to all those who lost their loved ones. My heart, thoughts, sympathy and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims of these cowardly and atrocious acts.

I condemn in the clearest possible terms terrorists and those who support them. Crimes against humanity means crimes against innocent people. It means murder, torture, rape or violence carried out by terrorists, repressive governments, military dictators or fanatics in the context of ethnic, religious and geographical conflicts. It also applies to such acts when carried out by organized criminals. Whenever or wherever innocent people are killed it is a crime against humanity.

We often think of the innocent people who were killed in the despicable acts of terrorism in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania. However the evil web of terror has affected many more lives. The attacks on the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania ended the lives of over 300 firefighters, over 100 police officers, and the many crew members and passengers on the airplanes. Over 6,000 people died in the attack. I agree 100% that it was a crime against humanity, civilization and the people of the global village.

However it was not only a crime against people living in New York City or Washington. It was a crime against everyone who believes in civility. While we stop to mourn those who died in the September attacks let us not forget the millions of victims of other crimes against humanity around the world. The people responsible for these horrible acts must be brought to justice.

To fight terrorism we need a concerted effort. We need international co-operation and resources. We need laws that have teeth both at home and abroad. In Canada we need to deal with lax laws that allow terrorists to raise funds, breach our security and transportation systems, flout our immigration and refugee laws and abuse our freedom.

The United Nations motion allows space for the types of changes for which the Canadian Alliance has been calling for a long time, changes that would let us stand with our allies in the fight against terrorism.

We should focus not only on terrorists but on suspected terrorists. They should not be allowed to repeat their terrible acts. We should also focus on organized criminals. Terrorism and organized crime go hand in hand. The effect of terrorism is visual and emotional. The effect of organized crime is latent and hidden but equally dangerous.

Our remedy against terrorism should begin in the House with a change in the political will of the weak Liberal government. Rather than denying terrorists or terrorist fronts tax free status and declaring their activities illegal, Liberal ministers have attended their fundraisers to help them raise funds in Canada. They have done this despite warnings by CSIS and the U.S. state department. When my Canadian Alliance colleagues and I questioned Liberal members about this in the House they ridiculed us. We were right then and we are right now.

The arrogant Liberal government refused to support our motion asking the government to introduce effective anti-terrorism legislation, to reallocate funding and resources to our law enforcement agencies and upgrade safety and security standards. It refused that motion in the House. To live up to the spirit of the NDP motion the government needs to admit its mistakes and change its don't worry be happy mentality.

Canada's foreign policy, which is supposed to project our interests around the world, has as one of its three objectives a focus on Canadian culture. I am not against promoting Canadian culture but no one has been able to define what Canadian culture is so how is DFAIT supposed to promote it? Instead of these flimsy notions, DFAIT should have clear and focused objectives and goals. The objectives of our foreign policy have to be revisited and the policy should be formulated to achieve those goals.

No foreign policy in the world should have double standards. I am not only talking about Canada, but globally. They should be just and fair. Preventive diplomacy should be one of the top priorities of foreign policy.

Let me give an analogy. When a pressure cooker is heated it produces steam. If we attempt to stop that steam by applying more weight on the pressure cooker, the steam will not stop; rather, the pressure cooker will explode. We simply have to remove the heat under the cooker and it will stop producing steam.

When foreign policies are unfair, when they apply double standards, favouritism, or use governments or people for selfish motives, they create uneasy, apathetic feelings that lead to conflicts, revenge and terrorism. The root causes of terrorism should also be dealt with simultaneously or before applying military pressure or force. I repeat that the root causes of terrorism should also be dealt with simultaneously or before applying military pressure or force. Hate or revenge is hard to contain with force alone, at least in the long run.

The motion calls on us to support an action against ethnic based intolerance directed against Arabs and Muslims in Canada. Sikhs have been attacked and even killed in the aftermath of September 11. The motion omits to include intolerance against Sikhs, Hindus and other minorities.

I call upon people of all faiths, religions and backgrounds to work together to put a stop to terrorism and terrorist acts. The idea of dying for one's faith has been distorted by the evil ones. Retaliation against a religion or faith is not appropriate. This is not a religious issue and let us not make it into one. Evil resides in the hearts of individuals, not in a religion or a nation. Let us look beyond the appearance of a person and into a person's soul.

It also suggests that Canada's multicultural policies are not as successful as the government touts. They officially promote tolerance. Tolerance implies that I do not like someone but somehow I will tolerate him or her. Rather than promoting tolerance, government policies should be promoting acceptance. We are all Canadians. No one is more Canadian than another. All Canadians are proud of that. The government should promote acceptance. We should accept everyone, whether they are ethnic minorities, no matter what religion, colour or whatever the criteria may be.

In conclusion I would like to say that as Mayor Rudy Giuliani said, this is not a time for further study or vague directives. In his words, this is a wake up call and it is a time for action. I urge the government to be proactive and take action, introduce anti-terrorism legislation and other things that we have been recommending.

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1:25 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the member specifically whether he supports the motion before the House and in particular the provisions in subparagraph (c) directing the government to table a report setting out the steps that Canada will take to implement an action plan. I ask this question because his colleague, the spokesperson for foreign affairs, indicated that he did not support this provision. He believed that we were exaggerating the extent of racist attacks in Canada. Is that the position of the member who has just spoken?

I also want to raise another issue and perhaps he could comment on it. The member has spoken of the importance of tolerance and respect for fundamental human rights. As one member of the House, and I emphasize I am speaking only for myself, I want to say that I reject the criticisms and the attacks on the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism which were made in the House by a number of members in the context of the comments that were made at a women's conference recently at which the secretary of state was participating.

Surely one of the most precious and fundamental rights in a civilized and democratic society is freedom of speech. I would hope that the member would join in recognizing that it is inappropriate and unfair to attack the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism for not criticizing comments that were made by Sunera Thobani during that conference.

I want to ask the member to comment both on the motion and also with respect to the importance of freedom of speech and respecting freedom of speech.

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1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I see there are more members who want to ask questions so I will be very brief.

The hon. member is a learned member of the House and I respect him. However, from time to time he is very partisan and he distorts the opinions of the other political parties. Earlier in the day he distorted the position of the Canadian Alliance which was put forward by the chief critic for foreign affairs.

Part (c) of the motion sparks emotion. It is very reactive. We have to be proactive. We have to accept the realities in Canada. We have to condemn what needs to be condemned, such as racial intolerance. My colleagues join me in condemning these insidious acts.

That is why focus on the multiculturalism policy in Canada should be integration of communities, not segregation. The purpose should be acceptance and harmony. I believe all my colleagues believe in that.

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1:30 p.m.


Jean Augustine Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the remarks made by the member across the way. I remember in other speeches that the member has made, he talked about these issues as being wasteful spending.

I want to ask the member to reflect on his or his party's ideological position on multiculturalism, visible minorities, human rights and all those things which are not found in the platform of his party. It seems as though the Alliance is either rewriting or writing it as we go along.

I would like to know what is the present position. Is he speaking on his party's position or is he speaking as an individual? What is his party's position in those areas?

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1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am against wasteful spending and so are my colleagues in this party. Wasteful spending should occur. The multiculturalism department is no exception. There is wasteful spending, which is what we are against.

We are not against the concept of multiculturalism, harmony in Canada or accepting other communities and groups in Canada. However, when the government uses grants or contributions as a means for political propaganda and creates different tiers in the communities by giving more money to one group and less to another, it creates disparity in the community. That is what we are against. We are against government funds, taxpayer money, being used for political purposes to give handouts. That is what we are against.

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1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to speak to this very important motion. I thank the NDP for bringing this issue forward. Many issues being dealt with today are of critical importance to all Canadians and the government would be wise to listen to the creative solutions that are coming forth.

September 11 focused all Canadians and indeed the international community on some challenges that have been ignored for far too long. I would like to dispel some of the myths surrounding this particular problem.

Some individuals have portrayed this as an issue of poverty and social inequities. If that were the case, there would be umpteen numbers of terrorist groups coming out of sub-Saharan Africa. That is not the problem. Osama bin Laden is worth up to $300 million. Islam is a very rich religion. It is true that many of the people who have committed acts of suicide for their jihad are individuals from impoverished areas. The people who committed these atrocities, the people who were on those planes, were well educated and from a middle income background. It is not an issue of poverty. It is not an issue of social inequities.

Why would somebody take up arms against us? The type of fundamental Islam that Osama bin Laden portrays has nothing to do with social inequity. They hate us and the west for what the west portrays. We are what the Taliban is not; the Taliban is what we are not. The west represents freedom and individualism. We are actually perceived as being venal to those who want to support the Osama bin Ladens of this world. Fundamental Islam is anathema to our western culture and vice versa.

Osama bin Laden would rather blow up the negotiating table than sit at it. Therefore there is no room for negotiation. That is why we are looking at military options to deal with those individuals. However it is interesting to look at why people would support them.

In looking at the precursors to conflict, one of the most potent tools in conflict is communication. It can be used as a tool for peace but can also be used as a tool for conflict. Look at the communication that has gone into the camps in the Gaza Strip, into Palestinian held territory and into many of the other Arab states in the world. Venal, obnoxious, vile communication is used to stir up people against the west. That is what happens and there is no counterpoint to it. Those people do not see our viewpoint and our world. Communication is used as a tool to whip up frenzy and to stimulate people to take up arms against us.

Therein lies an opportunity for us and the international community to get into those areas and portray another point of view. Some have said this could be done by using shortwave radio, the BBC or other tools as a very potent force in trying to calm down conflict and its precursors. The UN has explored this option. We would be wise to go where people are being stirred up by these vile comments and statements, lies in fact, and counteract that by portraying what is really going on in the world.

In order to combat this there are a number of opportunities. From a foreign policy perspective we have a great opportunity to raise something out of the ashes. We have a great opportunity to build communications and solid relationships with states that we have had difficult relationships with in the past. I am talking about countries like Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Arab countries, Iran. Many of these countries have come on side at least tacitly. There is an opportunity to improve that. For example, with respect to Pakistan we have lowered its debt load. We can forgive some loans internationally and decrease barriers to trade. Decreasing barriers to trade and removing sanctions would probably be the best way to improve the socioeconomic conditions in these countries. That is what we can do as a condition for working together to deal with the threat of terrorism.

Countries such as Chechnya, Azerbaijan,Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and many others and a number of Middle East states are threatened by fundamental Islam. It behooves them to work with us. We can start building relations not only from a political dimension but also through communication, bilateral movement of people between countries as well as giving these countries the economic tools to allow them to stand on their own two feet. Therein lies a grand opportunity to build up relations which to this point has been very difficult to do.

Our military has been guided through cuts. NATO, the Commonwealth of defence associations and a recent report by the UN castigated Canada for not living up to its 1994 defence white paper commitments.

In my view this is what Canada needs. First, we need a $1 billion to $2 billion per year investment, 23% of which has to go into capital costs to avoid the rust out which is occurring now. Second, the navy at present can only put out one ship per coast. That has to be increased to at least two. Third, we need to increase our manpower from the low 50,000 to a minimum of 60,000 and hopefully as high as 65,000.

With respect to our air force, we have a great rust out. We need to upgrade our weapons systems on the CF-18s and improve our tanker capabilities, as well as our heavy lift capabilities. Our soldiers are burnt out psychologically and physically. They simply cannot keep up the rapid rotations. Because of this we are losing a lot of very good people. The way to avoid that is to lessen our demands and increase the numbers.

On the issue of Revenue Canada, my colleague from Surrey mentioned a couple of constructive things. One was that we can no longer allow individuals raising money for terrorist organizations to have a tax creditable status. They should be shut down completely. CSIS and the international community knows who they are, and Canada has to have the guts to shut them down as soon as possible.

On the issue of immigration, we need a steel sheath around Canada, but it has to be porous. It has to allow the flow of goods and services in an unrestricted fashion. It has to allow the movement of honest people who want to immigrate to Canada. However, it has to be a steel sheath against those individuals who are criminals, crooks and terrorists who intend to come to Canada and abuse our good nature. This is fundamentally important.

The NDP mentioned the prejudice and discrimination of individuals like Osama bin Laden who have warped and twisted the Koran. In Canada 99.99% of Muslims have nothing to do with what he represents and abhor all of what he says. There is a statement in the Koran, which I will paraphrase. It states that if a life is saved, it is saving the life of humanity. If a life is killed, humanity is killed.

Perhaps it makes us take notice that all the great religions of the world are peaceful religions. All support peace and kindness to each other. It is the perversion of religion, whether it be Christianity, Judaism or Islam, that is wrong and that allows this bloodletting to go on. It is wise for us to remember that people of the Muslim faith abhor this type of violence as much as any of us in the House.

In closing, there is a great opportunity after the September 11 disaster to build relations with those countries that we have not had relations with before and to improve communication with those disaffected populations that Osama bin Laden finds as a ripe garden to get to soldiers for his cause. We can combat that but it can only be done by working with our international partners in a multifactorial and multinational fashion.

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1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the speeches of course and I will point out that of all the great religions in the world we one has not been mentioned. There are many more besides the ones that arose in the deserts of Africa. I am speaking of our aboriginal people.

The members from the NDP have also spoke about Sunera Thobani, who is a professor at the University of British Columbia, and her remarks the other day at the women's conference. I personally stand behind the charter of rights to freedom of speech, but I certainly want to publicly declare that I do not agree with the position that she took. Nor do I agree that she should be receive any government moneys to advance causes that are not in keeping with the majority of Canadians' opinions. Lee Lakeman of the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres was also there supporting those kinds of remarks.

If these kinds of organizations expect to continue to receive government moneys, they should concentrate on the mission statements of their organizations and not use taxpayer money for purposes other than those mission statements. I ask the member about that.

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1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, as a party we have never been supportive of taxpayer money going to groups that would foment hatred or disaffection within our society.

The individual mentioned has made some comments in the past, and there are others. If we look at Concordia University, we see a heinous situation taking place. Non-students professing to represent the students are asking people to take up arms against other groups. It is absolutely vile.

No longer can we use taxpayer money or the money of any public group to further that type of hatred and disaffection.

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1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Werner Schmidt Canadian Alliance Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for raising what is a very rational and tightly reasoned presentation on the motion.

I know he is an international traveller and a person who has performed many professional services in other countries of the world. He has also seen some of the terror and the suffering that goes on in these other countries.

Can a man who has seen the suffering honestly say that in Canada we have a rising wave of racism and discrimination against people because of what they believe? Would these people who he has served and observed in other countries feel they would be better off in Canada than elsewhere?

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1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are very lucky to live in one of the most tolerant, if not the most tolerant country in the world. We are only tolerant by virtue of the vigilance that we have as a country and as a people. I know my party, as we all are in the House, is supportive of a country that continues to uphold the basic rights and freedoms that we have all enjoyed up to this point.

It is only with this vigilance and the support of the freedom that we have enjoyed these rights. If we let our guard down we run the risk of losing those freedoms.

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1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have more of a comment than a question. I remember hearing a couplet a long time ago that said “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still”.

Passing laws to reduce feelings of racism and hatred are totally non-productive and not effective. It makes us feel good if we pass such laws, and we should do everything we can to practice the tolerance we have.

I grew up as a Germany-speaking child three-quarters of a mile away from an air force training base in the second world war. How did we got along in that community in those years? Because my mother and father led our family to be the most co-operative, helpful, useful and tolerant people in that community. We had great acceptance, not because someone passed a law, but because we proved to them that we were tolerant.

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1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is saying that we want a country where there are laws against discrimination and racism. Thankfully we have that in Canada.

He is also saying that the great strength of people in the immigrant communities in Canada, including people like him, myself and many others, is their effort, their hard work, their tolerance and their integration, and not assimilation necessarily, within Canadian society. That is something we are all proud of.

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1:45 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the NDP Party for putting forward this resolution. It is certainly something that is in need of debate. I wanted to join in with the first part of the resolution. Members have condemned this act of terrorism and I wanted to add my voice to that of the Prime Minister in that respect.

I want to focus however on the second and third part of the resolution and deal with some of the difficulties that Canada and this Chamber will be facing in the next few weeks and months with respect to the issue of terrorism.

By happenstance, I was travelling in Great Britain with the Minister of Foreign Affairs prior to September 11. Part of my program was in London and part of it had to deal with the issues of organized crime and terrorism. I was fortunate enough to meet with several MPs and members who would be enforcing an act called the terrorism act 2000 in Great Britain.

Great Britain of course has a long history of dealing with terrorism and organized crime. Frankly I thought that its experience would be instructive to us as we started to grapple with these issues. I was aware that we were going to have to ratify certain UN conventions and that charter issues would come up inevitably. Therefore, I knew we would have a very animated debate about balancing of those issues.

Ironically just as I was writing up my notes, 35,000 feet over the mid-Atlantic, I was informed of the disaster in New York and Washington . It added a certain poignancy to the notes and to the conversations that I had with colleagues in Great Britain.

The British bill is elegantly simple but quite instructive. The day to day reality of terrorist attacks is much more evident in the U.K. than in Canada. It has dealt with car bombs, with the IRA, with the real IRA and with a variety of other terrorist activities. That is a cultural fact in Great Britain, particularly in London where I was. The terrorism act 2000 of U.K. is the response to this horrible reality.

First, this bill enjoys broad public support. I was somewhat struck by my difference as a Canadian of the British people's willingness to assume that the government would always do the right thing, would always make the right decision was somewhat striking to me but under the circumstances possibly quite understandable.

Troubling issues such as the broad definition of terrorism in the bill were acknowledged as logical inconsistencies but of no great consequence when compared with the harm intended to be addressed. What definition there is is so broad as to be virtually meaningless. If the home secretary decides that a group is a terrorist organization, it is a terrorist organization.

The bill has designated 21 terrorist organizations in Great Britain. If people are members of a terrorist organization or on the prescribed list, the home secretary gets to decide that they part of a terrorist organization. If they do not like that designation, they have within 30 days to appeal to the home secretary to change his mind. In the great unlikelihood that the home secretary will change his mind, they then have an opportunity to appeal to the chancellor of the exchequer who has set up a special commission. That special commission is then invited to overrule the home secretary who has decided that the organization is a terrorist organization on two occasions.

The legislation was passed in the United Kingdom with one hour's worth of debate in the house of commons and one hour's worth of debate in the house of lords. All 21 of the alleged terrorist organizations were placed before parliament on the same day and by the end of the day, they were all deemed to be terrorist organizations. There were no committee hearings, no public consultation and virtually no debate. One has to congratulate Prime Minister Blair on his efficiency if nothing else.

To be found a member of a terrorist organization one is exposed to a 14 year sentence.

Such proof of belonging to a terrorist organization can include wearing certain kinds of clothing; carrying on certain kinds of activities; and, for instance, making a speech in support of a terrorist organization or being on the stage while somebody makes a speech in support of a terrorist organization.

Presumably a politician who is unfortunate enough to be on the stage at the same time as someone who speaks out about the PLO, the PTK or the Tamil tigers is sufficient to attract the unwelcome attention of the authorities and leaves that politician exposed to explaining to the authorities that he does not really support this terrorist organization.

It is a charming notion that this situation could never happen here. However there is enough pressure and urgency in the general public to require us to do something. We saw a bit of a chicken little response on the part of the premier of Ontario yesterday who believes that the sky is falling and that the appointment of two esteemed individuals in our community would somehow or another assuage our terrorist threat.

More frequently this is a simple solution to a complicated problem. More often than not a simple solution is the wrong solution. The U.K. terrorism act, 2000 is the wrong solution.

The U.S. model is only slightly less draconian. The anti-terrorism and effective death penalty act, I do not know what an ineffective death penalty act might be, prohibits contribution to designated foreign terrorist organizations regardless of the intended purpose.

The issue here is the designation. The designation expires every two years unless renewed and the American secretary of state can add or revoke a designation. Congress can legislate a revocation. The designations are also subject to judicial review.

On the face of it the U.S. model is somewhat more attractive than the U.K. model. This sounds a lot less draconian but it has its own problems.

If I told the House that the IRA is not part of the prescribed list in the U.S. legislation I expect members would be somewhat surprised. That is in fact true. The IRA is not a terrorist organization as far as the United States is concerned. One can speculate on the politics that might be involved in that but that is a reality.

Similarly Sinn Fein is not a prescribed entity in the United States. According to representatives of Sinn Fein they do not see themselves as a front for or participating in a terrorist organization such as the IRA.

These are the kinds of decisions the Government of Canada and the House will have to make. Will Sinn Fein be considered a terrorist organization for the purposes of legislation that we might put forward to the House? What about the Hezbollah? The Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government. I believe that pretty well everyone in the Chamber would think that the Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.

What will Canadians do? What will the government do? My first recommendation is not to do anything in haste. If we legislate in haste we will repent in leisure.

Let us consider the model of the judge advocate designation. When we studied the organized crime legislation that model was given consideration. However our judiciary did not want to involve itself in the issue of designating organized crime as a criminal organization. We should also look at the model that we used for organized crime whereby the solicitor general designates who is or who is not part of a criminal organization.

How will SIRC supervise CSIS? CSIS will be fairly involved and I would like to know that SIRC will have some significant input.

My final point is to say that we should not throw the baby of our fundamental rights and freedoms out with the bathwater of real or apprehended security. We have a lot of decisions to make. I neglected to mention at the outset of my speech that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Oak Ridges.

Family Services CanadaStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in view of the tremendous loss of life and devastation to families that our American friends and neighbours suffered on September 11, Family Services Canada is dedicating the October 1 to October 7 National Family Week 2001 to the victims of this tragedy.

It encourages all Canadians to come together as families to demonstrate our concern, compassion and caring for all of our fellow human beings affected by this calamity.

I commend Family Services Canada for planning events throughout this week to celebrate the importance of families, something we all depend on to get us through the happiest and most difficult periods in our lives.

In the spirit of National Family Week I call upon all Canadians to set aside some time this week to think about the members of their own families and communities and how they can make a personal difference in the lives of others, be they family, friends or neighbours.

AgricultureStatements By Members

October 2nd, 2001 / 1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, an April 18 report from the solicitor general states:

There is now a growing awareness that the agriculture sector--that is, crops or livestock--has to be considered a potential target for terrorist attacks.

Next week the solicitor general's office will finally meet with one provincial government to discuss this threat. The beginning of this consultation process is really six months late.

It has been six months since the solicitor general's own staff told him that our farmers were at risk of terrorist attack. He should have immediately begun meetings with farmers along with municipal and provincial governments to improve security.

The solicitor general is not the only minister who is failing Canadians. Last Wednesday when I questioned the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food he had an opportunity to tell farmers what he had done to protect our industry from terrorist attack. His answer revealed that he had done nothing. The government's failure to act in a timely fashion could cost our farmers and our economy dearly.