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.