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.


SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair is satisfied that the amendment to the New Democratic Party opposition day motion is in order.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Mississauga South Ontario


Paul Szabo LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the motion before the House today is quite appropriate. It represents a proxy by which we can express our condolences and continued concern about the aftermath and fallout. The racism element is a problem.

The leader of the New Democratic Party summarized her party's position by saying we should be pursuing peaceful solutions. She said any actions should be co-ordinated through one body, namely the UN.

I wonder whether the NDP would feel the same way if we were here today talking about the gulf war in which the UN was the central body? Would the NDP say the same things if we were talking about Kosovo where the UN was the principal body? We are talking about a situation in which the UN is not the lead body but it has clearly denounced the horrific acts of terrorism of September 11.

Should we pursue peaceful solutions with Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Osama bin Laden or the Taliban which treats women like non-entities? The NDP should explain to the House how we can have peaceful solutions. We are not talking about revenge. We are talking about defending ourselves.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. It gets to the heart of the debate before us today and the matter with which we have been struggling for the past two weeks in parliament. If we give up on searching for peaceful solutions we will be in deep trouble as a society and our goal of preserving the peace of the planet will be in jeopardy.

We have tried through the ages to be consistent. We have tried to promote the idea of non-violent, peaceful responses to acts of war, and in this case acts of terrorism. We recognize this was a crime against humanity. Through our traditions and our involvement in the United Nations we follow the rule of law. We will abide by international law and do everything in our power to bring to justice the criminals who executed thousands on September 11. That is fundamental.

However it would be absolutely wrong, as my leader has said, to turn to violence as a response to the terrorism. We would be feeding the agenda of the evil doers. David Matas, a well known lawyer from Winnipeg who deals with immigration and refugee cases, said it best in the aftermath of September 11: “Our answer to barbarity is civilization, not a descent into barbarity ourselves”. Those words are important.

We propose today to talk about concrete plans of action to deal with the direction provided by the UN security council resolution. We must ensure we do whatever we can in Canada about incidents of racism and enforcement problems with our immigration and refugee law.

We must also take precautionary measures against other threats such as bioterrorism, an area I did not have a chance to mention. Canada is ill prepared for the threat of biological or chemical warfare. However there are actions we can take to ensure we get to the root of the problem and the tragedy we are dealing with today.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario


John Manley LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I will be dividing my time. I thank the hon. leader of the New Democratic Party for bringing forward today's motion which refers to resolution 1373 of the United Nations Security Council which was adopted last Friday.

This is a resolution our government supports with pleasure, since it constitutes the most important step in the campaign against terrorism the international community has taken so far. It deserves a supportive reception here in Canada, in the House of Commons.

On September 11 when the terrorists and their as yet uncounted accomplices hijacked four aircraft from United Airlines and American Airlines they had only evil in mind. They wanted to create terror, wreak havoc, breed fear, and destabilize societies and economies.

Whatever they have accomplished, the terrorists have failed in their effort to create divisions between countries and peoples or to fragment the international community and create pockets of dissent where they might continue to hide themselves or find aid. Their terrible acts have raised a groundswell of solidarity within the international community rarely before seen, until now.

It is particularly timely that we address these issues today. This morning at NATO the United States briefed the North Atlantic Council on the results of the investigation into the terrorist attacks of September 11. The briefing covered a number of key issues including the involvement of Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda organization, their previous terrorist activities and the links between al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

As members will recall, the North Atlantic Council issued a clear statement on September 12 saying that if it were determined the attacks were directed from abroad, article 5 of the Washington treaty would be invoked. On the basis of today's briefing in Brussels the if clause in the statement of September 12 has been removed. We will be consulting bilaterally with the United States and multilaterally with our NATO allies in Brussels and other capitals regarding our next steps.

We are seeing unprecedented strength of unity and force of resolution in the response of nations and international organizations around the globe ranging from NATO to the G-8, to the OAS, to the EU.

Countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, some of them with great courage, have also expressed their support for the United States and the international campaign against terrorism. Russia and China have also rallied to this joint effort.

Nowhere has this been more evident than in the United Nations and the UN security council. We are pleased in particular to note the continued emphasis the U.S. administration has placed on the central role of the United Nations in consolidating international solidarity and driving multilateral action against terrorism.

The UN, and particularly the security council, reacted quickly to the attacks and adopted resolutions providing an immediate political and legal framework for an international response to the crisis.

This week the UN has begun a special debate on terrorism. The session was launched yesterday by Secretary General Kofi Annan and, in another moment of history making, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani has come to symbolize the courage, honesty and resolve that have inspired and invigorated the international community since the day of the attacks. In his speech yesterday he said the attack of September 11:

--was not just an attack on the City of New York or on the United States of America; it was an attack on the very ideal of a free, inclusive and civil society. It was a direct assault on the founding principles of the United Nations itself.

He also urged the UN that:

the best long term deterrent to terrorism is the spread of the principles of freedom, democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights.

He cautioned member nations that “this is not the time for further study or vague directives” and underscored that there was no room for neutrality in the fight against terrorism.

Much remains to be done, certainly, and numerous measures will be taken within the international community, by governments and by the parliaments of all member countries of the UN.

Security council resolution 1373 is the firmest and most consequence-laden resolution we have seen from that organization. It leaves no doubt whatsoever about the determination of the international community to make the terrorists pay for their actions.

Most significantly it establishes a number of obligations that member states must fulfill, provides tools for international action and imposes a clear timetable for the establishment of a work program and for the monitoring of states' implementation of its provisions.

It is a serious piece of business. It has Canada's full support.

Among its provisions the resolution includes measures to freeze the financial assets of terrorists and counter their fundraising capabilities; prevent the movement of terrorists across borders and deny them safe haven; improve information exchange and co-operation in the prevention and suppression of terrorist activities; and it calls upon all states to become party to, as quickly as possible, all the relevant international conventions and protocols related to terrorism.

As the House is aware, Canada has ratified 10 international counterterrorism conventions and is committed to moving quickly to ratify the remaining two, which we have already signed.

I can assure the House today that Canada will act promptly to implement resolution 1373 and that we will present our report to the UN security council committee within the 90 days specified in the resolution.

In addition to this, and not merely within the strict limits of the new security council resolution, we have already begun to take action here in Canada.

The government is taking steps that are indicative of its determination to respond to the concerns of Canadians, which relate to their very safety and security.

The Prime Minister noted yesterday the creation of a new ad hoc cabinet Committee of Ministers on Public Security and Anti-Terrorism, which I will chair at his request. The committee has already started its work on developing a strategy to address the immediate challenges facing the government in the area of public security.

We are reviewing policies, legislation, regulations and programs across the government in order to adjust all aspects of our public security in light of the events of September 11, including to reflect the obligations set out by the UN security council last week.

Ministers will, through the committee, propose initiatives on how to address issues related to the security of Canadians and in a way that respects and integrates the values which make this nation so strong and so proud.

We cannot speak enough, in my view, of the way that the Canadian people have lived those values through this crisis. Each day a new account, a letter, an article crosses my desk which tells of a new story of generosity and compassion extended to those over 33,000 travellers diverted to Canada on September 11. One couple from Rockville, Maryland, I think, described their reception in Halifax as “a collective act of love by our Canadian neighbours”.

Over the coming weeks and months as we work our way through the weighty and difficult agenda that has been put before us, we must always remain conscious that this is what we are working for: to preserve while we protect the sort of society that is captured in that comment and which has made Canada the envy and the friend of much of this world.

The government hopes that the unity of purpose so strongly evident within the international community will be reflected in the work and the goodwill of the House through this difficult fall session. The solidarity and multi-partisan approach taken by leaders of all parties as they walked through the ruins of ground zero in New York last weekend was, I am certain, welcomed by all in the House and deeply appreciated by Canadians. It was sincere and it was right. Let us continue to act in this spirit.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am sure all Canadians will welcome the very strong commitment given by the minister that Canada will indeed comply with the United Nations security council directive to report back on actions within 90 days.

I have two questions. First, I wonder if the minister would take the opportunity to indicate whether he, on behalf of his government, could commit to ensuring that the report will also be tabled here in the House. Increasingly we are dismayed at how much information these days comes not through the House of Commons but actually through Liberal fundraisers. It is in the same spirit of solidarity and Canadians coming together that such information needs to be shared through parliament with all the representatives of Canadians.

Second, I am sure the minister had his very particular emphasis which is understandable given the fact that he has agreed to chair the cabinet committee dealing with anti-terrorism measures. He therefore chose to focus on those aspects of the motion before the House. However I wonder if I might ask very directly whether the minister could give an undertaking on behalf of his government today that the Government of Canada will, with equal concern and vigour, commit to a plan of action that will address the pain and suffering that is being experienced by Muslim Canadians, Arab Canadians and other visible minorities as a result of this unbelievable, unprecedented backlash toward members of those communities in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


John Manley Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the questions. By the way, it was interesting when as I was coming in here I noticed that the leader of the labour party in the United Kingdom was delivering his speech on the situation to a party conference, so I guess it is not unknown to address important international issues in party conferences.

When we have our report prepared for the United Nations to itemize our response to the security council's resolution 1373, of course that will be made available to members of the House. As well it of course will be available for discussion and debate in the appropriate House committees.

With respect to what I think all of us are troubled about in terms of the distressing ease with which some Canadians have sought to characterize these incidents as somehow representative of a community within Canada, I think all of us share the outrage that is embodied in the resolution this morning. I can tell the leader of the New Democratic Party that shortly after the attacks I went home to discuss this with my 14 year old. About a third of her grade nine class here in Ottawa is Muslim. The upset that was caused when one of her classmates said the incident was caused by Muslims was something that she lived. We as a family are living it because we live in a community in the national capital region in which the third most commonly spoken language is Arabic.

All of us need to recognize that these extremists, these radicals, who took the actions on September 11 are no more typical of those who practise the religion of Islam than the extremists in Northern Ireland are typical of Christians, be they Protestant or Catholic, or other extremists of the groups with which they may otherwise be identified.

Yes, the government needs to continue to address these divisions and to speak the language of healing within our communities. Yes, people who are members of groups who have been affected by this, whether or not they are victims, need to also reach out and attempt to heal. Yes, many of those in the Muslim community who have come to me to say how deeply saddened they are and how horrified they are that anyone who might proclaim their religion would commit these atrocities need to be heard as well in our society so that the healing can occur.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the days since the tragic events of September 11 have been days of sadness and anxiety for Canadians everywhere. That dreadful morning will forever be etched in memory as a day when time stood still.

Once past the initial shock and horror, which we will never forget, Canadians and their government began to offer support to all those affected by the tragedies. We reacted as friends and neighbours and we were recognized as such. Soon we came to the realization that these were times for remembering and rededicating ourselves to the mutual respect and understanding that are so fundamental to who we are as Canadians. We decided to stand together as a people and with the nations of the world against the evil of terrorism.

The Government of Canada has been unequivocal in its support of the United States, ready to participate with aid for its people and in defence of our democratic freedoms and civil liberties. Let us be clear. We are in a war against terrorism, a war that will not be won by a single act of anger or retribution but by maintaining a strong, multicultural, democratic society in which no person should have his or her freedoms or personal security compromised or threatened because of religion, race or ethnicity.

Since the events of September 11 the Government of Canada has been firm in its resolve to stand by the values of tolerance, respect and equality. The Prime Minister said in the House of Commons:

Today more than ever we must reaffirm the fundamental values of our charter of rights and freedoms: the equality of every race, every colour, every religion and every ethnic origin.

Our plan to fight the rise of terrorism in the world includes action to fight the rise of intolerance in our midst. Yet we are aware that because of the alleged origins of the terrorists particular attention has been drawn to Arab and Muslim communities even here in Canada. We know that some members of these communities have been singled out for hate and violence and we have been quick to denounce these actions.

Our leader, the Prime Minister, has been clear in the articulation of this message. On September 21 at the Ottawa Central Mosque he reaffirmed it when he said:

I wanted to stand by your side today. And to reaffirm with you that Islam has nothing to do with the mass murder that was planned and carried out by the terrorists and their masters.

He added:

Above all I want to stand by your side to condemn the acts of intolerance and hatred that have been committed against your community since the attack. Let me say that I turn my back on the people who have done this. I have no time for them. And I call on our police and courts to apply the full force of our laws against them.

The Secretary of State for Multiculturalism has been in contact with Arab, Muslim and other communities around the country. She has been meeting with groups and will continue to discuss with them ways to help build intercultural relationships and develop strategies to bring communities together.

Multicultural officials in all regions of Canada have been monitoring the situation to ensure that leaders at all levels are able to respond to concerns, offer support and build harmony. To this end resources from existing multicultural programs will be used to support communities to reinforce tolerance and social cohesion.

Expressions of hate have no place in Canadian society. They undermine the fundamental values of respect, equality and security. They cause damage to multicultural tolerant and law-abiding societies. As long as citizens feel insecure and vulnerable to hate and biased activity, we cannot be complacent. This is as true now as it was before September 11.

The Government of Canada is working hard to encourage the widest possible acceptance of diversity in Canada, regardless of race, nationality, colour, religion, age, sexual orientation and mental or physical disability. When individuals are marginalized in our society because of hate and violence they are prevented from realizing their potential in contributing fully to society.

The government is taking action against hate in the following four areas: public education, the legal system, community initiatives and research. The multiculturalism program, with its mandate under the multiculturalism act, works with various levels of government, institutions, schools and community groups to combat intolerance, racism and hate.

The March 21 campaign builds upon the impetus of the United Nations international day for the elimination of racial discrimination. Canadian youth have been especially active in the March 21 website, the Mathieu Da Costa awards and the stop racism national video competition. Capacity building initiatives for youth are key to social change. Our anti-racism campaign engages public figures, the private sector and the media to promote awareness of the need to combat racism in communities and on the Internet.

Canada has strong anti-hate legislation. The Criminal Code of Canada and the Canadian Human Rights Act make it a crime to incite hatred against an identifiable group and to consider hate as an aggravating factor in criminal sentencing. Under the Customs Tariff Act, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency examines materials at the border for prohibited hate propaganda and is working internationally with the World Customs Organization to share information on transnational movement of hate propaganda.

The government recognizes that collective community initiatives, responses to hate motivated activity, and organized hate groups in Canada are key solutions.

Over the past two years the secretary of state held round tables with NGOs, the private sector, law enforcement officials, youth and other representatives to find solutions to hate activities resulting in the document entitled “Call for Action: Combating Hate and Bias Activity”. The September 11 tragedy serves as a reminder that the work underway is necessary and timely.

With respect to research the multiculturalism program has and will continue to support research in the areas of social justice, civic participation, racism and hate activity. It will work horizontally within government to promote the institutional change that will combat systemic problems.

September 11 was a chilling reminder of the consequences of hate. However there are encouraging signs as well. A recent Ipsos-Reid poll indicated that 82% of Canadians worried that Arabs and Muslims would become victims of racism and 73% felt that they had not become more suspicious of Arabs or Muslims.

Cultural diversity is not trivial to us. It has been a fundamental Canadian characteristic since our beginning. During these difficult times we must ensure we do not let acts of terrorism fragment the society we have built together. The values of multiculturalism, equality, shared citizenship and respect for the rule of law instill in us a determination to advance and protect human rights and human security around the world.

In the last Speech from the Throne the Government of Canada made a commitment to build a stronger, ever more inclusive Canada. We have long been set on this objective and we will continue in the same direction.

We recognize that recent incidents of hostility and violence against Middle Eastern, South Asian and visible minority communities have created anxiety and fear in these communities. However we must be careful not to escalate the anxiety into a crisis situation. As members of parliament we must remain calm, focused and measured in our response.

We believe it is important to engage in a renewed dialogue with concerned communities. We have begun and will continue regular ongoing communications with affected groups to ensure comfort with government action and strategic input.

We must continue to put our efforts and resources in close collaboration with communities toward building a safer and more secure Canada. We need to continue to find realistic ways to reaffirm our shared values of mutual respect and common citizenship. We need to continue to work to make a more equitable society today and a better future for generations to come.

Our goal is to give all Canadians, regardless of their origins, a sense of belonging to a country where they have the fullest opportunity to participate and contribute to the life of the nation.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will briefly comment on the NDP motion which I think is an excellent one to bring before the House and one that all members of parliament will support. My question for the member is more in line with the government's response to the events of September 11.

The minister mentioned earlier that the government had finally, as late as yesterday, formed a committee to deal with national security. The president of the United States had already established the position of secretary for homeland security. Although the minister announced yesterday that we would have a committee for national security, we are getting mixed messages from the government benches because the Prime Minister said that the committee had been in existence since September 11.

The Minister of National Defence was interviewed yesterday and said that he did not know anything about it. We need a very clear answer from the government side on when the committee was appointed. When did it first sit? What is its mandate? How does the government intend to apply that mandate? Who will be included within the umbrella association?

Would the member also comment on how the government intends to prevent acts of racism against visible minorities in Canada, especially our Muslim neighbours and citizens? How does the government intend to apply that and when will it show some leadership?

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.


Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the first day the House came back after our summer recess the Prime Minister rose to remind everyone that we are all Canadians. He reminded everyone that we would not sacrifice the very special values that make us Canadian and that we would continue to encourage people who are persecuted to come to Canada.

Canada is made up of immigrants. The Secretary of State for Multiculturalism has made numerous comments denouncing the September 11 attacks. Yesterday the Minister of Canadian Heritage spoke about the violence in her own riding and how important it was to promote our cultural diversity at this time.

When the Minister of Canadian Heritage was asked about the recent meeting of the international network for cultural policy which she attended last week in Switzerland, she made it absolutely clear the ministers all agreed in light of the recent events that it was very important for all countries to renew and to make a stronger commitment to fostering a greater respect and understanding of cultural diversity, something of which we are very proud.

There have been concrete measures. The Secretary of State for Multiculturalism has been in contact with numerous groups and communities that have been affected. We have seen the Prime Minister express his concern by visiting a mosque in Ottawa. Many of my colleagues who have mosques in their neighbourhoods have also visited them to reassure that community that this is not a time to target refugees. It is a time for all of us to get together.

In my riding there is an Afghan women's organization that works very hard in promoting the integration of Afghan refugees within our community. I phoned representatives of that organization after the attacks and they were very concerned because they were already hearing about children being attacked in schools and violence in the workplace.

We have a role as parliamentarians to stand in the House to tell people time and time again that violence is wrong. It is most important to remember that this is war against terrorism which exists throughout the world.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.


Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage for her comments. I too would like to see some concrete resources made available for groups to work on the issues of racism and hostility as a result of the September 11 atrocities. I would like to hear about the initiatives coming out of her department.

I am also very concerned about the obvious role the public broadcaster in this country plays in a situation such as this one. The CBC and RCI have an important role internationally. I understand that Arabic programming has been cut back this summer with RCI.

How will the Minister of Canadian Heritage assist in propping up a very crippled public broadcaster at this point in time in terms of more multicultural programming within the country? How will she ensure that foreign correspondents in places around the world will be able to provide Canadians with more balanced programming, a more Canadian perspective of moderation and tolerance?

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.


Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, with respect to RCI it is very important to understand that it was this Minister of Canadian Heritage who saved RCI. At the end of March 2001 she concluded a contribution agreement with RCI to allow it to perform its services. RCI is in the process of re-engineering itself as well.

It is important to note the money that was committed to RCI was in addition to the moneys the CBC already received. It was the additional $60 million the Prime Minister announced on May 2.

My hon. colleague knows very well that the CBC is the public broadcaster. The independence of the CBC is guaranteed by parliament under subsection 46(5) of the Broadcasting Act. Perhaps we could continue this conversation at our heritage committee.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to add my comments to those of my colleagues in the House on this motion.

The motion before the House begins by calling on the House to condemn the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 as crimes against humanity. Certainly everyone in the House will agree with that aspect of the motion. As many of us have pointed out, the most unfortunate acts referred to were crimes not against a nation or a government but were crimes against every right-thinking moral person in the world. It goes without saying that humanity itself was a victim of these crimes.

The motion then calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice in accordance with international law and within the framework of the United Nations. Again I think the entire House will be in total agreement with that aspect of the resolution.

Just as there can be no moral or practical justification for the indiscriminate mass murder on September 11, there can also be no justification for an indiscriminate, intemperate or ill-informed violent response. However, there is considerable latitude within the terms of the motion for responsible nations to act decisively and forcefully against the perpetrators of terrorist acts.

United Nations Security Council resolution 1373 reaffirms “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence” as recognized by the charter of the United Nations.

It also reaffirms “the need to combat by all means, in accordance with the charter of the United Nations, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts”. To say that any action taken against terrorists and in particular against the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks must be taken within the framework of the United Nations does not significantly limit the scope of measures available to any individual nation or alliance of nations. Moreover, the motion leaves the door open for an individual nation or alliance to take measures against countries that harbour terrorists, which is quite appropriate.

Resolution 1373 reaffirms that every state has the duty to refrain from organizing, instigating, assisting, or participating in terrorist acts in another state, or acquiescing in organized activities within its territory directed toward the commission of such acts. Taken together with “the need to combat by all means...threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts” and the inherent right to individual or collective self-defence against terrorism, this clause gives approval to actions taken by a state that has been victimized by terrorism against states that sponsor terrorism.

Paragraph (b) of the motion before us endorses the objectives of resolution 1373. Many of those objectives are exactly in keeping with what the official opposition and many other members on this side of the House have called for not just recently, and not just in response to the tragic events of three weeks ago, but rather for a considerable length of time.

Given my limited time today, I will dedicate the remainder of my speech to one particularly important objective of resolution 1373. I refer to the clause in the resolution which calls on all states to work together urgently to prevent and suppress terrorist acts, including through increased co-operation and full implementation of the relevant international conventions against terrorism.

Many nations took significant steps toward realizing those objectives long before resolution 1373 was passed. For example, the United Kingdom and the United States have already undertaken joint measures to locate those responsible for the September 11 attacks and to bring them to justice, as we all hope will happen. All 15 countries of the European Union have agreed to joint measures to combat terrorism. NATO has reaffirmed section 5 of its charter, which binds all member countries to act in defence of one another. All of those actions were taken urgently and all of those actions were taken together as the resolution calls for.

Unfortunately in our case it has been the inability of the government to demonstrate by more than words its commitment, which other nations have demonstrated already, to the battle against terrorism, such as for example, military commitments or the seizure of assets. Unfortunately there has been very little togetherness with other nations and even less urgency in the government's response to the terrorist threat.

The government seems to believe that safeguarding Canadian sovereignty consists of distancing itself or openly opposing any policy supported by the United States, even if it means also opposing the desires of Canadians.

The Liberal government has seized every opportunity for many years now to differentiate Canadian foreign policy from that of the United States in its effort to appeal to the insecurity and the envy with which some Canadians too often regard our southern neighbour. This is not a sign of confidence in our own sovereignty or in our own nationhood. The deliberate and overblown divergence of Liberal foreign policy from that of the U.S. has served the domestic image of the Liberal Party well at times. What the Liberals do not appreciate is that on September 11 those feelings of insecurity and envy were supplanted in the hearts of Canadians by feelings of kinship and feelings of obligation toward the United States.

The government's position has been one of vacillation between initial denials that there was anything wrong or that Canada had any involvement, complicity or responsibility in any way as articulated by the solicitor general and by the Prime Minister himself, to gradual and begrudging foot-dragging commitments to certain action which should be undertaken.

When questioned in the House the immigration minister denied there was anything that needed to be done in addition to what she had already done. Outside the House she declared there was tough new legislation on the way, which of course as we know is neither tough nor new. The reality is somewhat different from that which has been portrayed by the immigration minister.

The Prime Minister refused to outline here in the House any specific military commitments, or other commitments in fact, which we as a nation would be making in support of this battle, but was pleased to make an announcement of our willingness to commit in a military manner on a United States cable program hosted by Larry King. This is the kind of disrespect and vacillation of which Canadians grow weary. Just as the war on terrorism is a different kind of war for the United States, the issue of Canada's role in ensuring North American security presents a very different kind of war for the government of the day.

Polls show that the overwhelming majority of Canadians believe that Canada should be fully engaged in the fight against terrorism on all fronts at home and abroad. By deliberately responding to American calls for a more secure North American perimeter and by failing to adapt its foreign policy to reflect the zero tolerance attitude which Canadians have toward terrorists and those who harbour them, I believe the government has demonstrated that it has lost touch with public sentiment. For example, when American authorities suggest common standards for the admission of new arrivals in North America, the Prime Minister's immediate response is to tell Canadians that such an approach would require the sacrifice of Canadian values. Either he does not understand that immigration policies can be at once rigorous and generous or he believes wrongly that Canadians' tolerance of cultural diversity extends to would-be murderers. Either way, he is clearly out of touch with the attitude of Canadians.

When the United States and other nations enacted legislation outlawing terrorist organizations and prohibiting them from raising funds, the government answered by outlawing tax deductions for those who donate to terrorist groups. Rather than prohibiting funding for terrorist groups, the government has decided to tax it. This is inadequate tokenism.

The American response to the threat of aircraft hijackings is to place air marshals on all U.S. flights. The Canadian response to the same threat is to seize nail clippers from passengers and replace metal butter knives used during in-flight meals with plastic ones.

While the American president unequivocally states that those countries that do not side with the United States in the war on terrorism have chosen to be on the side of the terrorists, the Liberal Government of Canada sends aid to every country on the U.S. state department's list of states that sponsor terrorism, aid which the Auditor General of Canada said is not well tracked. Recently, aid sent to the Taliban regime, to Afghanistan, was seized by the Taliban regime for what use we do not know, though there is the possibility that such aid would be diverted to purposes not intended by those who offered it.

Our foreign affairs department has indicated that it will be supporting the bid of one of the countries that is most notorious for hosting terrorists in the world, Syria, to gain a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Again the government demonstrates that its deeds do not reflect the good words it says about fighting terrorism and about joining with other free thinking countries to fight terrorism in the world.

Even compared to countries much further removed from the September 11 attacks, the government response has been puny and/or inappropriate. It took the 15 diverse countries of the European Union only eight days to enact tough, joint anti-terrorism legislation. Yet Canada refuses to adopt joint security measures with its closest ally with whom we share the world's longest undefended border, the largest trade partnership and greatest military dependence.

As Great Britain and other European countries deploy impressive military resources to assist the United States on the front lines of the war against terrorism, the Conference of Defence Associations reports that the Canadian forces are “simply not operationally ready to do our part in the defence of North America, let alone in combating terrorism abroad”. What a shame. We know that under the government our military resources have been depleted. We know that our ability to contribute militarily has been damaged. That being said, certainly there are other things we could be doing.

I was pleased to learn yesterday that the government has decided to establish a committee, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs as its chair, to co-ordinate the response to these many issues. I was pleased because I have been heartened by the words of the Minister of Foreign Affairs on these issues. I would hope that the committee and the minister can prove that the committee is more than a token effort to appear to be dealing with an issue, but rather it is a genuine effort to co-ordinate a meaningful response to what Canadians believe is a series of issues that require such meaningful response. I do not question the minister's sincerity, though it does stand in stark contrast to the words of too many of his front bench colleagues over the last three weeks.

If the government wants to dispel the impression that we are following the United States, then it should stop following the United States and get in front and lead the United States. Instead of simply refusing to budge on United States initiatives or foot dragging, the government should assert Canadian sovereignty and put on the table specific and concrete offers, whether they are for assistance or in terms of policy changes.

Offers to our allies in their time of need are important, not just to be made, but to be genuinely and promptly given before being asked. The failure of the government to do so does not assert our sovereignty. It is quite the opposite. What it does is it makes us less a nation.

The final recommendation of the motion before us would require the government to table an action plan to fight racism against Arab and Muslim Canadians. Of course any response to the atrocities of September 11 must be appropriately targeted. It must be well informed and judicious. We do not want to overreact as has been the case in our history and in the history of other nations to these atrocities. We want to respond reasonably, intelligently and fairly.

Similarly, those attacks were not carried out by a particular nation or race or religious group. The attacks were carried out by terrorists who do not share our values. We are all naturally disgusted when we see misguided, racist attacks on particular Canadians or on any other person. Simply because people are of the same ethnicity or religion as the terrorists gives no justification whatsoever for such acts. Certainly I was pleased to see other members rise and make testament to the truth of that feeling in the House.

However, it is surely alarmist to refer to a few isolated incidents of bigotry as “a rising tide of intolerance and racism within our country”. The motion is extreme in those words. As tragic as these incidents are, I believe that fortunately they are rare exceptions to the general reaction of Canadians, to the general attitude of Canadians, to the general tolerance that exists within the country. We must not lose sight of that.

The vast majority of Canadians have felt a greater kinship with one another and with other tolerant and freedom loving people everywhere regardless of race, creed or colour in the wake of the attacks in New York City and Washington.

I would pause to question whether a detailed action plan on the part of the government would be useful in combating these instances of racist aggression that might arise. The most effective means of combating such acts is for each of us, for the tolerant majority of Canadians, to be ever vigilant and to bring to justice those who commit crimes of intolerance anywhere in the world.

Under our criminal code we have methods for bringing forward charges against those who exhibit this kind of behaviour. These crimes of intolerance against fellow Canadians are totally unacceptable, just as the international community must be ever vigilant and must bring to justice those who committed crimes of intolerance elsewhere and just as we must all bear in mind the great sympathy and the great obligation we have to act on the basis of the horrible atrocities of just three weeks ago in the United States.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I must say I was very disappointed to hear the hon. member, the spokesperson for the Canadian Alliance and foreign affairs, suggesting that his party does not support the call for an action plan as outlined in the motion that the leader of the New Democratic Party has put before the House.

The motion specifically calls on the government to table within 90 days a report setting out steps that the Canadian government will take to implement an action plan, including detailed budgets and timetables to fight the rising tide of intolerance and racism directed against Arab and Muslim Canadians in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The official spokesperson for the Alliance has indicated that he does not support the call for an action plan. What part of the action plan does he not support? Does he not recognize that there is a very serious concern in this country with growing incidents of racist attacks, not just on Muslims and Arab Canadians. A Hindu temple was attacked in Toronto and a number of Sikhs have been attacked in Hamilton and elsewhere. Children are being attacked in schools.

This cries out for action, not just from the government but from all parliamentarians to speak with one voice against this. I am deeply troubled by the fact that the Canadian Alliance apparently is not joining in this call.

Will the member reconsider his position upon reflection and join in ensuring that this call for a strong and effective action against these kinds of racist attacks is one which is unanimous from all parties in the House of Commons?

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, there is definitely a very real danger, which has been the case in the past, that when emotional and tragic events occur there is an overreaction that sometimes results in more harm being done than good.

The wording of the motion is what I object to. The sentiment of the motion, as I said in my comments, is something that I share with the members. However, as to the question of accepting the wording of the resolution, if the members would like to propose some type of modified wording the third component of the resolution certainly would be something I would entertain.

However to suggest that in Canada today there is a rising tide of intolerance and racism is extreme in its wording. It implies that qualities exist in the country in an alarmist way that are not the case. I believe a tremendous majority of Canadians are among the most tolerant people in the world today. I also believe that Canadians have expressed that tolerance in very real ways, not just by their sympathies toward the United States but by their sympathies in support of one another, to the Canadian families who have been victimized by these attacks and to one another in many ways.

I do not discount at all the tragedy of consequent actions that we have seen in the country, the intolerance that has stimulated the members to propose this resolution, the intolerance that all of us in the House find unacceptable. I in no way imply that it is acceptable. Of course it is not, but to move to suggest that there is somehow an epidemic of intolerance, a racism in the country, as the member's words suggest, is I believe an overreaction to the circumstances we have seen.

I accept the fact that there have been a few expressions of intolerant acts and they are unacceptable. The fact that we need to promote the ideas of tolerance and understanding and to be diligent and vigilant in doing so is of course an obligation for each and every one of us.

Yesterday we learned that a minister of the government attended a meeting where expressions of anti-American attitude were conveyed in very strong wording, very likely unacceptable to all members of the House. Yet that minister sat quietly by as those comments were made and did not rise in her place to express her disapproval or disagreement with that. I am sure had the members who put this resolution forward been there they would have been much more inclined to rise and express their concerns.

When we sit quietly by and hear words such as were expressed yesterday at that meeting, we should not let anyone think that our beliefs are sincere or genuine. If we have the courage of our convictions we will stand in our place and say that they are unacceptable words and should not be uttered. Such is our obligation as individual Canadians and as members of parliament.

We want to make sure that we do everything in our power to stop the expressions of intolerance in our country. We have mechanisms for doing so. However to suggest somehow, as this resolution does, that this is of an epidemic nature, is a dramatic over-response to the realities of the case. I do not believe that the wording is well considered. I believe it is reactionary in tone.

For that reason and that reason only would I suggest to the members that if they wish me to stand in my place and express support for the resolution they might consider my comments as ones they may want to take under advisement.

I respect the intention of the wording and of the resolution itself and, as I said, the Canadian Alliance supports that, but the wording in this specific instance only is the cause of our concern.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.


Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I think what we want to do here is build on the commonly shared concern about the acts of intolerance, the evidence of racism and what one can only describe as an alarming growth in that kind of behaviour in the aftermath of September 11.

What concerns me a great deal, and I say this in an attempt to reach out and find common ground and understanding, is the reference in the member's comments to a few expressions of intolerance that have occurred. If the hon. member were in tune with what is happening in his own community, he could not possibly describe what has happened in such a casual way as a few expressions of intolerance.

It was about a week ago that there had already been publicly identified 173 specific incidents of behaviour that could only be described as extreme and very worrisome in terms of this rising tide of intolerance. I want to agree with the member when he says that where there are specific actions that are clearly indicative of hate and in violation of the charter of rights and freedoms and other specific legal provisions, then we should be pushing for the prosecution of such illegal actions.

Let me again appeal to the hon. member to understand that in a way this is a teachable moment, in a way this is a time to understand that the world of small children has been turned upside down and turned ugly by events that have happened that they cannot possibly comprehend unless we develop specific outreach measures to ensure there is meaningful dialogue about what is happening, why it is happening, what it means and, more important, why we must all pull together around a specific plan of action to put a stop to this unacceptable behaviour.

The hon. member would not for a moment say that we should just go on doing what we are doing now in the face of the terrorist attacks. He and all members of the House have said that we have to take extraordinary measures.

Let that member and his party also consider why it is not acceptable to say that we will just carry on doing what we are doing and that there is no need to mount a plan of action to deal with the horrors of the increasing intolerances that are occurring all around us.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, again I repeat that my concerns do not lie with the general thrust of the resolution or its intent but rather with the language which the member has chosen to employ in the resolution itself, which I think is exaggerated language and overdramatic.

There is nothing casual about my response. If the member would choose to read my comments and review them, she would find that there is absolutely nothing more than specific proposals for addressing some of the concerns that she and her party have raised in the resolution.

The reality is, though, that there have been expressions also of anti-American feeling, very strong expressions of an anti-American view, in fact by the hon. member who sits behind her in the House in a discussion we had just the other day.

I recognize that these are deplorable sentiments and that they have been expressed, unfortunately, by some members in the House toward the United States. The anger and the animosity that has been expressed toward people of other nations and of other races is not something any of us should find supportable. However the reality is that we need to move with specific measures and specific approaches to deal with this problem.

The larger problem with which I believe Canadians are concerned and want us to address is the violent threat of terrorist activity in the country and in the world. I think that is the issue that should focus the considerable amount of our time and resources in the House.

As I said earlier, we have, individually, responsibilities to stand up for what we believe in and we must do that . Certainly all of us in the House believe it is intolerable for people to express the attitudes that have been illustrated by a number of events around the country.

Again, the wording which the hon. member has proposed in her resolution is unacceptable to us. That does not mean that the sentiments she expresses are not genuine. I am not questioning her integrity whatsoever. What I am suggesting is that if members wish to have overly dramatic wording in the resolution, it will be difficult for us to support that concept. The earlier parts of the resolution are quite acceptable to us.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention at the outset that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.

I am pleased to speak this morning to the motion by the New Democratic Party, which seems perfectly appropriate to me. However, I cannot help but mention that we are running out of time. This motion is entirely appropriate, but the latest international news informs us that the Prime Minister of Great Britain is declaring war, and that NATO is accepting the proof of bin Laden's responsibility.

This motion is appropriate, not only because it reiterates the condemnation of these abominable acts and there are no words to describe them, but also because it condemns them as crimes against humanity. It demands that those who perpetrated them, those who are responsible, be brought to justice, in accordance with international law and within the framework of the United Nations.

This is a position that we share, something that we have spoken to on numerous occasions, and it is a perspective that more and more people are sharing. It is interesting to note that the Council of Europe, which I and other parliamentarians from the House just visited, identified the International Criminal Court as the institution that should judge terrorist acts.

I note in passing that the countries which had not ratified the convention should do so, because, unfortunately, only 48 have signed to date and 60 are needed to establish the court.

I am grateful to the NDP for wording its motion the way it did. We all know that the international criminal court, even once it is established, would not have the mandate to consider the crime perpetrated on September 11, because it does not have the mandate to pass judgment on previous acts.

This is why it has been stated the UN must find a way to have these people judged by an international tribunal and the way proposed by the legal affairs commission of the Council of Europe is the establishment of a special international tribunal to judge those responsible for these events. I thank the NDP for bringing this to the House's attention.

I also point out that the resolution of the Council of Europe provides, and I quote:

There can be no justification for terrorism. The Assembly--

Several hundred parliamentarians from 43 countries sit in this parliament.

The Assembly considers these terrorist actions to be crimes rather than acts of war. Any actions either by the United States acting alone or as a part of a broader international coalition, must be in line with existing UN anti-terrorist conventions and security council resolutions and must focus on bringing the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these crimes to justice, instead of inflicting a hasty revenge.

So I am grateful to the NDP for giving us an opportunity to remember the facts.

The second part of the NDP motion refers to resolution 1373 of the security council. Here again, I believe it is extremely important to point out that countries have decided to work together. Many are working to expand this coalition to include as many countries as possible.

This co-ordination exercise, which is strongly urged by everyone, including UN secretary general Kofi Annan in his speech yesterday, is a call to co-ordinate efforts, to crack down on the funding of terrorist acts and to abstain from any form of active or passive support for the people involved in terrorist acts, whether by denying asylum, providing mutual assistance and all other possible means, including through intelligence activities.

However, Kofi Annan reminded us yesterday that while this resolution is essential, it will not eradicate terrorism even if it is implemented. This means there must be a long term strategy and Mr. Annan is proposing that the UN be responsible for it, to legitimize the fight that is about to begin at the world level. This legitimacy will allow the largest possible number of states to take measures that are necessary but difficult from a diplomatic, legal and political perspective to defeat terrorism.

This means that we also support the part of the motion which provides that the government should table a report in the House.

Finally, yesterday, at the UN, the Belgian representative of the European Union also said that the fight against terrorism requires the largest possible global coalition and that this coalition should be under the aegis of the UN, which remains the most appropriate forum to renew and strengthen our co-ordinated efforts to eliminate international terrorism.

This is a far cry from the objective on which so many human beings agree. However, we all hope that these barbaric acts will bring out the best in this humanity, in all these countries and peoples, by generating solidarity in the refusal to let terror and horror win over democracy, freedom and human rights.

I can understand why the NDP motion is asking us to urge the government to table a report setting out the steps to implement an action plan to fight the rising tide of intolerance and racism directed against Arab and Muslim Canadians, in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

We all know that it is not up to the federal government alone to stop the rise of intolerance and racism. It can set out a plan, but the government of Quebec also has a role to play and, in the hours immediately following these horrible events, announced the action it was taking. I will read from a speech given by Bernard Landry on September 14. He said as follows:

For many communities, Quebec, and Montreal in particular, have represented a land of exile and asylum, a welcome refuge for people seeking peace and security. Ethnic diversity is one of our nation's most valued traits. Together, united, nothing can alter the solidarity which we have always shown--

He also said:

We must avoid hasty and extreme generalizations. Let us not allow the terrorists to sow hatred where they have failed to sow destruction.

He put these principles into action by striking a committee on Thursday, September 27. The purpose of this committee, which includes several ministers, one of them the Minister of Education, is to co-ordinate efforts with respect not just to the economy and jobs, but also with respect to intercommunity relations, for precisely the same reasons as set out in the motion.

I am being told that my time is up. It is indeed short when talking about matters as pressing as these.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the hon. member for Mercier, the Bloc Quebecois critic, for supporting our motion.

I know that the member has just returned from sessions of the European Parliament and I would like her, if possible, to share with our parliament the discussions and the resolutions it adopted with respect to this important issue.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for giving me this opportunity. In fact, the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly spent a day and a half, which is quite exceptional and something I have never seen, debating this important matter.

The political affairs commission submitted a resolution that I should forward to all members of the House.

This resolution contains many of the points raised in the debate today by the Bloc Quebecois, the NDP and the Liberals, addressing the possibility of a reaction, but one which must be targeted and which does not harm civilians.

The Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly also cautioned against intolerance and racism, without naming the communities mentioned in his party's motion, which we ourselves named in our speech. This was done at the request of countries who said that the resolution must go further. It was intended to encompass more than the events of September; it is an indictment of all terrorists. As such, it says that no nationality, people, ethnic or religious group should be identified with the terrorist attacks.

The motions on the assembly's agenda were broad and truly shared. Nor was there any attempt to shy away from the long term economic, social and political causes which provide fertile ground for the support and networks that extremists need. This is something we ourselves have mentioned in the House.

A resolution was therefore passed. Recommendations were also passed by the committee of ministers. The Council of Europe will therefore wait for the ministers' report.

I think that, because I was there, I could see the extent to which the entire world was outraged. The positive outcome Kofi Annan hopes to see rise from the still smoking ruins is a sense of solidarity and a desire to reaffirm the fundamental characteristics of humanity, of humankind. This is what gives us the greatest strength in the times we are now living in and are just beginning to live in, because we do not know what this afternoon or tomorrow morning holds in store for us.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.


Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, like the hon. member for Mercier, I too would like to congratulate our colleague from the New Democratic Party for initiating this debate in the House today.

It is as important today as it has been since September 11, particularly because today we see the focus being concentrated on more precise and more targeted declarations of war. This is an appropriate time to speak of respecting human rights.

I would like to repeat the NDP motion, because every word of it is important. It reads:

That this House:

(a) condemn the terrorist attacks in the United States—as crimes against humanity, and call for the perpetrators to be brought to justice in accordance with international law and within the framework of the United Nations—

I believe that what happened on September 11 may have made North Americans aware of the existence of terrorism. The more we examine the issue, the more we realize that terrorism has been around for a long time and that it can be found in many places on our planet.

The events of September 11 have raised Canadians' and Quebecers' awareness of this problem, because they have felt more affected. While the attacks were aimed more specifically at the Americans, we must not think that we here are free from terrorism. Much as we would not want it to happen here, it could.

The first part of the motion says that reference must be made to international law and within the framework of the United Nations. This would be desirable. Since September 11, we have only to turn on the television or read the newspaper or listen to the comments coming from all sides, to realize this is perceived as an American crisis, whereas it must be placed instead in a context of terrorism against democracy, against individual freedoms, against human rights.

I believe that all countries of the world should form as broad and as effective a coalition as possible in order to fight terrorism, which is taking on totally new and different forms.

For example, there is an International convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings. The events of September 11 had nothing to do with conventional bombs. Aircraft were used in attacks on buildings. Not only were there victims on the planes, there were far more because of all the people in the buildings. This has affected many aspects of people's lives and thousands no longer feel safe to fly; this has meant a heavy blow to the economy.

The second paragraph of the NDP motion reads as follows:

(b) endorse the objectives of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001) and call upon the Government, in accordance with this resolution, to deliver a report to the U.N. Security Council Committee, within 90 days, setting out the steps Canada will take to implement resolution 1373, and further direct the Government to table this report in the House.

I think that we have to acknowledge that this morning's debate has been carried out in a non-partisan manner. The minister promised us that he would table the report in the House.

As far as we are concerned, it will take more than tabling reports in the House. During a Bloc Quebecois opposition day last week, we proposed that there be a vote by parliamentarians if ever a military offensive was to be undertaken.

The UN resolution is comprehensive. It contains nine elements, but it would take too long to list them all here.

The first element deals with the financing of terrorist acts and consists of freezing funds and other financial assets of persons who commit, or who attempt to commit, terrorist acts. It contains a whole series of measures to this effect.

While I do not wish to make a partisan speech this morning, I cannot help but note that Canada has yet to ratify two international conventions regarding terrorism. This is regrettable, in my opinion. The first convention, which I referred to earlier, the convention on the suppression of terrorist bombings, makes all terrorist activity illegal and requires that states party to the convention prohibit all terrorist activity through their own laws. Thus, any person who takes part in a terrorist attack, inside or outside a country's borders, would be imprisoned.

This convention has yet to be ratified and I think that the government should move quickly to get parliament to ratify it, or at the very least, refer it to the relevant parliamentary committee as soon as possible. I hope this will be done in the days or weeks to come.

There is a second convention. It is the convention for the suppression of terrorist funding. The Americans acted very quickly. We saw President Bush's statement last week to this effect, in which he invited other nations to do likewise. This then is something we must do quickly.

I am no expert on international matters since my role as an MP does not require me to be. However, it does require me to listen to and hear the people who have sometimes divergent opinions to express. There is no feeling of consensus on these issues. On the weekend, my constituents pointed out that, following reports on the CBC, in particular, they feared Canada may have many terrorist organizations represented by individuals within its borders. They expressed their concerns about this.

According to the Internet site of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service:

With perhaps the singular exception of the United States, there are more international terrorist organizations active here than any other country of the world. As of mid-1998, the Service’s Counter-Terrorism Branch was investigating over 50 organizational targets and about 350 individual targets.

That is not my opinion. I rely on what this federal body reports. I continue:

The vast majority of terrorist activities in Canada relate to the support of actions elsewhere that are linked to homeland conflicts. These activities include providing safe haven for terrorist supporters and may involve using the refugee stream to enter Canada, or immigrant smuggling.

I am not saying that I am opposed to admitting refugees but, under the United Nations convention for the suppression of terrorism, all countries must be asked to be very cautious when refugees knock at their door, and to pay particular attention to the past activities of these people and their possible connections with terrorist networks. I do support the NDP's objective, which insists that this must not mark the beginning of a witch hunt against people who have nothing to do with terrorists. To be an Arab in Canada does not mean to be a terrorist. There are over 1.5 billion Arabs in the world, but there is not of course 1.5 billion terrorists. So, this is an invitation to all Canadians.

However, there is one aspect of the NDP motion with which I do not necessarily disagree, but which should be qualified. In my riding and in my region, I do not feel with the same acuteness any anti-Arab of anti-Muslim movement.

The federal state has a role to play, but when we think about schools, we should not forget that the provinces also have a role and we must ask all of them to fulfill it. I know that, in Quebec, Mr. Landry has already asked the public to be as tolerant as possible.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the very distinguished member for Dewdney--Alouette.

It is interesting to talk about this subject again. A minute ago I was reading through the motion and highlighting what I thought was important. I ended up highlighting every single word because every single word is important.

I want to start with the last issue, which the last speaker spoke about it as did the member for Portage--Lisgar. The member from Portage seemed to take exception to the statement that there is a rising tide of intolerance and racism in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. I take exception to his taking exception to that fact, because I think it is true.

Last week I had occasion to meet with several families of Arab or Muslim background, perhaps 30 families. We were talking about a completely different subject, but the minute this subject came up they just went silent. I asked them if they had been feeling an impact from this. Those people were not at the meeting because of the issue of racism or intolerance, but to a person they have all felt pressure in the Muslim community.

I do not know if we can classify it as an epidemic. I do not think that is the right word, but there is certainly the feeling that the pressure is on that community. We in the House have to do everything we can to make sure that people understand that, as the minister said today, the terrorist acts do not reflect the Muslim community or people with Arab backgrounds or anything else. The attackers were terrorists, evil, wrong people, and they should not be associated with these other communities for any other reason.

Once again here we are talking about this issue, which is an indication of how much the terrorist act of September 11 has impacted the whole world and especially Canada. Not only did we experience fatalities of Canadians who were directly involved, but many aspects of our lives have changed. Parliament has changed. Security on the Hill has changed. Business has changed. Yesterday we talked about Air Canada all night and now we are talking about terrorism again today. This has taken away our preoccupation with and attention on other issues and has really changed the way we do business here.

Minutes ago I talked to a man with a company in the trucking business. He told me that his trucks are all parked in the yard. There is no business because of what happened on September 11. There was an immediate impact after September 11 and his business has declined to the point now that all his trucks are parked.

Last weekend I went to a ribbon cutting for a plaque commemorating an internment camp for Ukrainians, from the first world war. The plaque was not there because of transportation delays as a result of security at the border and so on, and if anybody in Canada says it is somebody else's war, it is not our problem, let somebody else take this on, it is absolutely our problem. It is our duty to take part in this whole offensive, diplomatically, economically and militarily. It is our duty to support our friends and it is our duty to support and protect the quality of life in Canada.

However we have been really slow to react in this country. I noticed that the headline in one of the national papers today is “Blair to Declare War Today”. It is amazing that other countries are so far ahead of us. I am not suggesting that we should declare war, but at least yesterday the government announced that we will have a committee to deal with security issues. We are behind the other countries involved in this whole reaction to September 11. I am pleased to see that the Minister of Foreign Affairs has been selected to chair that committee. I am sure he will do a really good job. He has been very firm in his position all through this great debate about terrorism.

The motion today deals with several different subjects. The first point asks the House to condemn the terrorist attacks in the United States as “crimes against humanity”. The attack is even more than that. It is a crime against humanity, democracy and quality of life. It is a crime against everything we stand for and do and think.

From my point of view we support that part of the motion. In fact we support all parts of the motion. However, the second part is the most interesting to me. That is the part where it asks us to endorse the objectives of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1373. Here is the tool that will allow us to do the job that has to be done. While I do not always agree with resolutions of the United Nations, this is a well crafted one.

I want to briefly summarize some of the aspects of the resolution because parliament and the government should move as quickly as possible to put the legislation in place so we can use this tool in the fight against terrorism.

The first part of resolution 1373 is an attempt to end the financing of terrorism groups. The purpose is to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts, criminalize the wilful provision or collection of funds with the intention that the funds should be used for the fight against terrorism. This is an intelligent, non-military action that we can take as a government and as a parliament to fight terrorism.

The second part of the resolution declares that all states shall refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts. Any country in effect that hides terrorists, or provides a safe haven for terrorists or protects them will incur the wrath of the United Nations and its members.

Third, section 3 of the resolution declares that all states shall find ways of intensifying and accelerating the exchange of operational information, especially regarding the movement of terrorists, forged travel documents, traffic in arms, use of communications technology and so on.

One thing that amazed me after the September 11 tragedy was how fast the intelligence agencies around the world uncovered these planned actions and conspiracies to carry out these awful crimes in the United States. Now it is said that there are several more planned. If that resolution had been in place and if all the intelligence agencies around the world had been sharing information on this very subject, perhaps thousands of people might be alive today, including many Canadians. That part of the resolution is right.

As far as the NDP motion goes, I totally agree that there should be no vacillation nor hesitation. We should do everything we can in parliament and in the government to implement resolution 1373. We should get on with it as fast as we can because it is important to Canadians.

Canadians have always wanted to be part of the United Nations operation. They do not want us going off in our own direction. They want to feel comfortable that there are other partners in these efforts, whether it be Desert Storm or the war against terrorism.

The motion also calls for a report to the House. This brings up another issue. Many parliamentarians, including myself, feel that we are being left out. In the foreign affairs committee this morning we called on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to give a report to us on this at this very critical time. There was some indication that he might be busy and could not come. I am sure he is busy, but it is important for the foreign affairs committee to hear from the minister if we are to be part of this exercise and effort to fight terrorism.

The last part of the NDP motion is to develop an action plan to implement resolution 1373. For all the reasons I gave before in support of the resolution, I support this part of the motion too. The government should be working very quickly to put in place an action plan and let us be part of that plan. Let us help develop a plan and implement it. Even though this does not happen very often, I think the government would find that there would be total unanimity in the House to do that.

I will wind up by saying that we support the motion by the NDP. I personally support every single aspect of it. I want to again emphasize the issue about intolerance and racism. I believe it is an issue. In Nova Scotia we have had windows smashed. We have had threats. We have had all kinds of awful remarks made to people who are totally innocent bystanders and should not be involved in this awful situation.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure also to add my voice of support to the motion before us brought forward by our colleagues from the New Democratic Party. It is a well worded and well thought out motion. Members of the Progressive Conservative Democratic Representative coalition are supportive of the motion.

I would like to frame my comments in three areas today. The first is the government's response to the events of September 11. The second is a response to this actual motion. The third is what our response should be as members of parliament to the events surrounding September 11 and the actions that need to be taken as a result of those events.

Let me start with the good news first. I commend the government for its response on the actual day of September 11 when airplanes were being diverted and also the Canadian people who responded so overwhelmingly with their good nature to help stranded travellers from around the world who unexpectedly ended up here in Canada.

The memorial service held on the first Friday after the tragic events was a positive event which showed that Canadians were concerned about this issue and that we had great support for our friends and neighbours in the United States, our closest friend and ally. We commend the Prime Minister for going to ground zero this past weekend, perhaps later than he should have, and we commend him for inviting the leaders of the opposition parties to go as well. That is the good news.

There are things that could have been and still can be improved in the government's response to the issues surrounding September 11. There seems to be a hesitancy to come to parliament with concrete plans and actions as to what the government is doing. We have been given glimpses into what the government will do in the future through media reports and speeches given at party fundraisers. We invite the government at this time to make these suggestions and come forward with these ideas in this place.

If ever there were a time in our history as a country and as a world where there is an opportunity for leadership and opportunity to operate in a non-partisan way, it is now. There is goodwill among the members of the opposition toward the government at this time to work together in a way we have never seen because of a set of tragic circumstances which none of us could have foreseen. There is a time right now for us to grasp together this goodwill and put it into play.

Members from every party are waiting to roll up their sleeves and get involved. Many who are on particular committees are involved already. Others are feeling a bit shut out of the process, as my colleague just mentioned. We want to be involved with the government. We have some ideas and suggestions that we think are good and we know the government has good ideas. Let us make this place more meaningful and relevant by bringing them to the floor of the House of Commons, by striking some special committees, by getting the members involved and by bringing together the ministers directly responsible so we can move forward in a co-ordinated way.

Canadians are waiting for that. They are urging us as leaders in the country to do this. There is goodwill from Canadians and members to do this. Let us get on with it. I would urge the government to demonstrate by its actions some bigger steps of leadership. We acknowledge it is a difficult task and it can be all-consuming, but at the same time we encourage it to move forward and trust not only its colleagues across the way but the people of the country by demonstrating leadership in areas in which it has been lacking in some degree to this point.

I was disappointed that the Prime Minister did not go to the United States quicker, or perhaps even attend the joint session of the speech given by President Bush a week ago.

I was disappointed with the minister for multiculturalism yesterday. She has been rather silent over the last couple of weeks since September 11. Then the first major public attention she received turned out to be rather negative. She was in attendance at a speech given with extremist language directed toward the United States and sat in silence.

That is not the kind of message we want to send out not only to Canadians but to our neighbours to the south. We want to combat extremist language and attitudes of intolerance and hatred toward people within communities across Canada and also toward our neighbours to the south. We cannot have one without the other. We must stand against intolerance and extremism in all circumstances. That definitely did not show leadership on the part of the minister for multiculturalism.

In fact, I said earlier in this place that I agreed with the comments made by the New Democratic Party member for Halifax who condemned those comments. I echo her comments that the minister's credibility is seriously damaged in the area of implementing any kind of plan or program to combat the intolerance in these communities that are receiving these kinds of attacks in light of the events of September 11.

The motion brought forward by the NDP states that there needs to be a detailed plan with budgets and timelines laid out before the House, and I agree with that. How could we then expect the current minister for multiculturalism to be the one to implement such a plan given her woeful record in this area in the last several months in this place? We need a credible display of leadership in this area.

I want to touch briefly on the motion. It is a detailed motion, but I particularly want to pay attention to the last section that talks about a plan. It states:

--the steps Canada will take to implement an action plan, including detailed budgets and timetables, to fight the rising tide of intolerance and racism, directed against Arab and Muslim Canadians, in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

That is a good part of the motion. I disagree with others in the House who have said that they cannot support the motion because of this wording. I believe this strengthens the motion and we should all support this part of it.

We should go even a little further and ask the government for a detailed budget and detailed plans on issues such as border security and funding to the RCMP, CSIS and our customs agents who are the frontline workers when it comes to border security, airport security and other measures. This is another area the government needs to improve on. It needs to have ideas and plans specifically related to these issues, as well as the ones outlined by the New Democratic motion.

I would like to move to what our response should be. Our response should be to support this motion, to ask for more details, to move ahead and to work together in a non-partisan way.

The leader of our coalition made a good suggestion yesterday when he said that the government and the Prime Minister could show some leadership by including the leaders of the other parties in the Privy Council as the situation gets more serious so that we could, in a concrete way, see the actions of this government to be inclusive of all parliament. Then we could march together united against terrorism, against extremism, and against those who would use the name of a particular religion to sully the reputation of many others. We must fight these things in our country and our world. We must move ahead in a unified way.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Palliser.

I rise to speak in strong support of the motion which is now before the House which effectively calls on the House to endorse three fundamental principles.

First, it reiterates in the strongest possible terms our condemnation of the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11. It makes it very clear that we view these as crimes against humanity and it calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice in accordance with international law and within the framework of the United Nations.

As well, the motion endorses the objectives of the UN Security Council resolution that was recently adopted with respect to the issue of measures that member states might take to confront terrorism. I want to be clear that in endorsing the objectives and principles of that resolution we are not necessarily endorsing each and every component but certainly the broad objectives we do support.

Most important, the motion calls on the government to table in the House within a short timeframe of 90 days, a report setting out steps that Canada will take to implement an action plan with details to fight the rising tide of intolerance and racism directed against Arab and Muslim Canadians, and indeed against other visible minorities in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

I have listened with interest to the debate thus far and was disappointed that the Minister of Foreign Affairs in his comments in the House did not specifically commit the government to that third important element of the resolution which is a concrete action plan to fight the kind of racist attacks we have witnessed. It was with an even greater sense of concern that I listened to the official spokesperson for the Canadian Alliance, the member for Portage--Lisgar, who said the Canadian Alliance does not support this provision.

The Canadian Alliance does not support a call for an action plan to deal with the rising tide of intolerance and racism. If ever Canadians were wondering why that party is sinking into total and utter irrelevance, all they had to do was listen to the speech by the member for Portage--Lisgar who was not prepared to join in a broad all party consensus in condemning in the strongest possible terms these racist attacks, and very important, not just condemning but calling for strong action. It is a sad day in the House of Commons and a pretty appalling performance on behalf of the Canadian Alliance.

In the few minutes I have to speak to the House I want to focus on a couple of areas of concern at this time, particularly as we hear the call from some, including Prime Minister Tony Blair in the United Kingdom and others, for military strikes now in Afghanistan.

As the resolution points out, it is essential that we deal with the attacks within the framework of international law and that we recognize that these are crimes against humanity and that those who are responsible must be brought to justice in accordance with the principles of international law. Today and yesterday as I understand it, the United States presented compelling evidence of the involvement of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda in the attacks in New York and Washington and the tragic deaths in Pennsylvania.

Surely it is not just NATO and individual allies who must be briefed on this. It must be the United Nations itself. There were nationals of over 60 countries who were murdered, killed in these terrible attacks. Indeed, as the UN secretary general said yesterday, in response to these attacks we must recognize that it is an assault on the founding principles of the United Nations itself. It is in that light that we call today for the United Nations to be playing the key role, not the United States alone or the United States having put together a coalition within NATO under article 5, but the response to this crime must be within the framework of the United Nations itself. Indeed there are precedents for that.

We urge the Government of Canada to act under the provisions of article 35 of the UN charter to call for the United Nations to establish an ad hoc tribunal to review the evidence that the United States has apparently already presented before NATO, as well as to be responsible for bringing to justice and for trying those who are responsible for these terrible crimes.

There are precedents, as I pointed out in the case of an ad hoc international tribunal, in the case of the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Unfortunately the international criminal court is not yet constituted. Even if it were, it would not have retroactive jurisdiction.

Certainly the crimes we are speaking of, the recent attacks in New York and Washington, would qualify as crimes against humanity even under the recently enacted Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court which includes murder when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population with knowledge of the attack.That is surely the direction in which we must proceed as a community of nations. We would strongly oppose any suggestion of unilateral military attacks by the United States, or a coalition of states including NATO, that shows contempt for that important principle of international law.

It is also very important that we underscore the principle that this parliament must speak before any Canadian troops are committed to any military action. We strongly support that principle. We supported an earlier motion that called for a vote in the House before any troops are committed.

Article 51 has been relied upon by the government in suggesting that the United States or NATO has the power to unilaterally respond. We reject that suggestion. There is considerable international law to back up our position, going back to the October 1985 attacks by Israeli planes which bombed the headquarters of the PLO in Tunis. They sought the support of the security council to do that. They argued that the bombing was justified by Tunisia having knowingly harboured terrorists who had targeted Israel. At that time the security council rejected the claim unanimously by a vote of 14 to zero with the United States abstaining.

In international law, and certainly according to the precedent of the International Court of Justice case in the Nicaragua decision, the United States and NATO do not have the power to bomb. To bomb, creating even more civilian casualties, would surely be succumbing to the desire for vengeance and revenge which my colleague from Winnipeg North Centre said earlier we must resist.

Certainly there is a real concern about the situation of refugees attempting to flee Afghanistan both in terror of the Taliban regime and fear of the bombing. Canada can and must do far more to respond to that humanitarian crisis which is unfolding.

Because I am sharing my time with my colleague from Palliser, I have very little time left. I want to close by reading a letter sent by the parents of one of the victims of the terrorist attacks on September 11. Their son was killed in one of the towers. They wrote a letter to President Bush:

Our son is one of the victims of Tuesday's attack on the World Trade Center. We read about your response in the last few days and about the resolutions from both Houses, giving you undefined power to respond to the terror attacks.

Your response to this attack does not make us feel better about our son's death. It makes us feel worse. It makes us feel that our government is using our son's memory as a justification to cause suffering for other sons and parents in other lands.

It is not the first time that a person in your position has been given unlimited power and came to regret it. This is not the time for empty gestures to make us feel better. It is not the time to act like bullies.

We urge you to think about how our government can develop peaceful, rational solutions to terrorism, solutions that do not sink us to the inhuman level of terrorists.

I echo that call today on behalf of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, as I understand what has been said by the Bush administration and others, it is really not a question of a bombing action in the traditional sense of war between sovereign states. What appears to be talked about is essentially a military police action in which the perpetrators of terror are neutralized by armed force. That is what we seem to be talking about.

Given all that the member opposite has said, would he not agree that countries have a right to defend themselves when attacked, if the response is focused precisely on the perpetrators of terror and not on the general population of Afghanistan?

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, certainly we have to look at this issue very carefully. I think also we have to place it in an historical context. A number of times the point has been made that we have to deal with some of the broader issues that arise.

One of the tragedies in this instance is the fact that Osama bin Laden in a sense has been a beneficiary of the United States in the past. In fact Osama bin Laden was supported vigorously by the CIA in the CIA's battle against the Soviets in Afghanistan. It supported Osama bin Laden. It supported him with weapons. It trained him and now tragically he has apparently turned, and the evidence is compelling and powerful, against those who fed him initially.

The same thing happened with Saddam Hussein when he was supported. In the war between Iraq and Iran Saddam Hussein was the CIA's god.

We have to deal with the broader context of these issues as an international community and recognize that we have to stop supporting those who are prepared to resort to violence in circumstances in which we might share their geopolitical agenda.

In terms of the question the hon. member raised specifically, it is essential we understand that no nation can take the law into its own hands. In this instance if there is compelling and powerful evidence pointing in the direction of bin Laden, it should be brought before an ad hoc international tribunal. That tribunal will be in a position to weigh that evidence with care.

Should the evidence be compelling and should it be found that a nation is deliberately harbouring that individual, the international community would be able under the provisions of chapter 7 of the United Nations charter to take the appropriate response. That is the framework within which we must operate.