Madam Speaker, I will pick up on a comment the member for Dewdney--Alouette made a minute ago. He suggested the leaders of the opposition parties should be put in the privy council so they could be briefed on some of the sensitivities of the situation. This was done during the gulf war by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. He appointed then NDP leader Audrey McLaughlin to the privy council, a move which was extremely useful at the time.
I will say a few words about the motion before the House today. Like everyone else I too condemn the violence that took place on September 11. It was a tremendous crime against humanity and a tragedy that struck families around the world. Let us not forget that this was the World Trade Center and the victims were not only Americans. People from nearly 60 countries around the world were killed in the tragic event, including a number of Canadians.
This tremendous international tragedy was perpetrated by a small gang of terrorists who struck at the heart of the civilized world. They targeted ordinary people who were going to work, travelling on business or flying as stewardesses or passengers on the planes that crashed into the two towers in New York City, into the Pentagon and into the field in Pennsylvania.
We condemn what happened in the most forceful way possible. It is important that Canada do whatever it can in the campaign against terrorism around the world. We should play our role and make our contribution in a concerted way. It should be done in a multilateral sense, preferably through the United Nations and in accordance with the principles of international law.
That is extremely important. The response should be multilateral and in accordance with international law. It should not be undertaken by one or two countries taking military action by themselves. That could make the situation worse and lead to more violence.
I do not think there would be indiscriminate bombing but it is possible. It has happened many times before. If that happened it would play into the hands of the terrorists and give them another group of people from which to recruit for future terrorist acts. That is a concern I have.
Canada has a great reputation which goes back many years. Lester Pearson and many other Canadians have contributed to Canada's positive role as a middle power which uses diplomacy and a multilateral approach to solve serious problems around the world. That is what we should be doing. We should be leading the way in trying to settle the issue through an international tribunal.
We heard this morning from the British prime minister and NATO about all the evidence concerning bin Laden. It would be useful if the evidence were turned over to an international tribunal. There would be no need for the tribunal to operate in public. It could hold a private hearing to examine the evidence. If the evidence convinced the tribunal it would give the world community legitimacy to go in and do what it must to capture bin Laden, his lieutenants and anyone else involved in the terrorist ring. That is how the world community should proceed.
We should do this in a proper way. Our country and our Prime Minister could use Canada's credibility to advocate a multilateral approach through the United Nations. This would be good for humanity and all concerned.
We should also look at the causes of terrorism. Some people will resort to terrorism no matter what the world community does because they have extreme, fundamentalistic or racist views that we could not possibly massage. Others who get involved in these movements do so because they have lost hope, are on the brink of starvation or live in abject poverty in refugee camps.
That is one role we can play again, trying to move toward the eradication of world poverty because extreme poverty breeds the conditions where people can be recruited for different terrorist organizations and terrorist groups.
It struck me that when the September 11 tragedy occurred, which was probably the worst terrorist act over that short period time in the history of the world, some 35,615 children died of starvation in the world that day according to the United Nations food and agriculture organization.
Yet we did not hear anything about this in the news media. We did not have any moments of silence for all of those kids who died of starvation. There were no great speeches made anywhere around the world. It was one of those things that happens every day.
When that kind of poverty and that kind of suffering are going on it creates the conditions where terrorist groups can recruit people to be part of their organizations to strike out at what they think is an evil and unjust world.
Once again Canada should be playing the leading role as a middle size country in trying to promote a real campaign of war against poverty in the world. In the months that lie ahead we should try to pick up the leadership of initiating a modern day Marshall plan to attack poverty in places like Africa, Afghanistan and many other poor countries around the world.
The Marshall plan helped rebuild Europe after the second world war. It led to a peaceful Europe and to the development of the Europe we see today in terms of getting people jobs, opportunities, education and health care systems. Our country should lead the way toward the same kind of initiative in the years that lie ahead.
There is lots of money in the world for that kind of initiative. I recall a motion that parliament endorsed two years ago. It was a motion that I presented to the House on what is called the Tobin tax, which is a small tax on speculation in currency around the world. Every day around a trillion dollars or more of currency is speculated on in the world.
The idea behind the Tobin tax by Professor Tobin in the United States was to place a very small tax of 0.1% to 0.5% on the speculation of currency for two purposes: first, to try to slow down the currency which distorts the economies of many countries and, second, to create a developable fund of billions of dollars a year.
The funds would then be used to tackle poverty and hunger and clean up the environment and all other conditions of inequality that we see in the world today.
After what happened on September 11 there may be an opening in the world to look at spending more of our collective resources on a modern day Marshall plan for the world's poorest countries in terms of relieving their debt, providing economic aid, and assistance in terms of education, health, agriculture and so on.
That is the way we have to go. That is the kind of vision our country should be promoting in the international community right around the globe. Those are a couple of extremely important points.
We must also be concerned about security at home. The finance committee is meeting at this hour. Later this week the committee will be hearing from the Department of National Defence, the Minister of National Defence, the RCMP, CSIS, the customs people and other organizations about what might be needed to improve security at home and what role we would play in terms of the campaign against terrorism.
We have to look at security at airports. A number of years ago there was a mad dash to privatize everything including Air Canada and security at the airports. Now all of a sudden when we have a crisis we have more people talking about the role of government being relevant once again and the role of public institutions being more relevant. We should make sure that we have a public institution like the federal government looking after security at airports.
If a lot more money is to be put into Air Canada, which may be necessary, it should be made a crown corporation. We can take out some equity in Air Canada or take a majority share in Air Canada.
This is a position being looked at by a couple of cabinet ministers across the way. If public money is to be used then let us make sure the public has the equity and shares in the company so that it has an eye on the inside and has some input into the direction in which this major airline would go. Those are some of the things that we will have to do as a country to come to terms with the new reality and the new world out there.
Finally we have to look at the economy. We were going into a real slowdown in the economy before September 11. The growth rates in Canada and in the United States were dropping before September 11. After September 11 the economy has slowed down a lot quicker. We will be into a recession, if we are not already into one, within the next few weeks.
It is important that we continue the downward push in interest rates at this time to try to stimulate demand. We should make sure we have a stimulus budget. The federal government should put more money into programs for people instead of putting more money into huge tax cuts which benefit wealthier people and large corporations for the most part. We have a human deficit. We have the largest household debt in the history of Canada; 98% of households are in debt.
We should be spending more money in terms of infrastructure programs, health care, the education system, housing and agriculture. If we do that we will be stimulating the economy and creating more jobs, thus creating more revenue for the federal government at the same time. That is the direction in which we have to go.
Recessions are caused by the lack of demand. When we have a situation like the one that happened on September 11 people are scared and they stop spending. They put off going on a holiday, renovating a house or purchasing a car.
If the federal government does not take the opportunity to make sure it invests in programs for people to stimulate the economy and create more demand, it is making a very large mistake.
I hope the Minister of Finance will bring in a budget some time in the next month or two and make a commitment that the role of the government will be more important.
The federal government's role now is smaller in terms of the percentage of the GDP than it has been at any time since the second world war. There has been a mad dash to privatize, deregulate and turn things over to the large business community. The move has been to shrink the government. This started to go fast forward with the 1995 budget of the Minister of Finance.
What we have across the way now is probably the most conservative government the country has ever seen. It is certainly the most conservative Liberal government in the history of the country compared to Pierre Trudeau's, Lester Pearson's and other Liberal governments in the past that saw a vision of a more mixed society. That is gone now with this mad dash to go to the political right. We have a chance to correct that move.
I was in Peterborough on Friday. I know the member for Peterborough is concerned about the right wing conservative drift of the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister. He cannot speak publicly about that because of our parliamentary system, but I know he is concerned about the conservative drift within the Liberal Party across the way.
This is the time to speak up. This is a time for my hon. friend to have the courage to speak out in the House of Commons for a more important role for the federal government and for public institutions in Canada.