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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.

Topics

Environment and Sustainable Development

October 2nd, 2001 / 10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table, pursuant to subsection 23(3) of the Auditor General Act, the report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to the House of Commons for the year 2001.

This report is permanently referred to the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 29th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership and associate membership of some committees, and I would like to move concurrence at this time.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two more petitions from citizens of the Peterborough area who would like to see VIA service restored between Toronto and Peterborough.

The petitioners point out that this would help Canada meet its commitments in the Kyoto accord.

They also point out that this service would improve the economy of the Greater Toronto area and of the Peterborough area and would improve, in particular, employment mobility in the Peterborough area.

The petitioners are heartened by the transport minister's welcome of the Ontario government's decision to resume funding for municipal transit.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I suggest that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 52, I move that this House do now adjourn to consider Canada's military readiness in light of the likelihood that the Canadian armed forces will have to participate in the war against terrorism.

The rationale behind the motion is that given the recent attacks, which constitute a genuine emergency under Standing Order 52(6)( a ), we need to have a debate to keep the public informed and to allow members in the House to have a constructive debate that will guide the government in its deliberations in the future. This is critical to the lives of our military personnel.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has no doubt about the importance of the issue raised by the hon. member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca in his application for an emergency debate. However, I note that today is a supply day and that the motion that is about to be proposed by one of the opposition parties in the House deals with terrorism.

Accordingly, even if I were otherwise inclined to grant the hon. member's request, given the subject matter of the debate today I do not believe it is one that meets the exigencies of the standing order. Accordingly, I am not inclined to allow the application at this time.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wonder if I could seek unanimous consent to return to motions under routine proceedings.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Does the House give its consent to return to motions?

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would move concurrence in the 29th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs that I presented earlier this day.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

moved:

That this House

(a) condemn the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, 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;

(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; and

(c) direct the government to table in the House, within 90 days, a report setting out 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.

Mr. Speaker, it is with apprehension and alarm over a new wave of violence that is about to sweep over humanity that I rise today to introduce the NDP opposition day motion, seconded by the member for Winnipeg--Transcona.

The motion condemns the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11 as crimes against humanity and we reiterate our call for the perpetrators to be brought to justice in accordance with international law and under the auspices of the United Nations.

We also call for the government to endorse the objectives of the United Nations Security Council resolution No. 1373, which calls for the Canadian government to report back to the United Nations within 90 days on its progress in implementing a wide range of anti-terrorism measures.

We ask that our government simultaneously table Canada's 90 day report in the House.

Mr. Speaker, I neglected to say at the outset that I will be splitting my time with the member for Winnipeg North Centre.

Finally, our motion directs the government to also table within 90 days a report setting out the steps that 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.

The New Democratic Party, along with a wide range of voices, have been calling for the United Nations to be the primary body through which we direct the global response to terrorism.

Indeed, international law, under the auspices of the UN, is the only legal way that we can proceed. The United Nations charter is clear that no country or coalition of countries, no matter how broad, can take the law into its own hands. Put more simply, for very good reason it is illegal for anyone to act as judge, jury and executioner. Countries that flout international law must be on notice that military intervention is an option open to the international community but how we reach any such decision is critically important.

As we know, the world is in the process of establishing a world criminal court but the United Nations already has the means to establish international tribunals. We must therefore proceed with the sure moral footing of an independent tribunal, one that can assess the facts and determine the punishment in an open and democratic manner. To proceed otherwise is to descend to the lawlessness we abhor, to risk creating a new generation of martyrs, of terrorist fanatics, and to risk expanding the cycle of revenge that breeds the terrifying violence visited on the United States three weeks ago.

The United Nations is willing and able to accept its responsibility. The most recent UN Security Council resolution reaffirms its unequivocal condemnation of the terrorist attacks and it unanimously adopts a wide ranging comprehensive resolution with steps and strategies to combat international terrorism.

The security council recognizes that we need to do more than just talk. We need verifiable action. The requirement that countries report back within 90 days on the progress they have made is something the New Democratic Party supports. Today we call on the government to show the same respect to the people of Canada and table that same report here in the House of Commons.

We will no doubt have questions. We will undoubtedly have disagreements on some specifics of how the security council resolutions are implemented in Canada but we support its main thrust.

The third aspect of our motion today is the most immediate to the many Canadians who have felt the backlash of discrimination and scapegoating since the September 11 tragedy. Many are Canadian immigrants and visible minorities from the Arab world and from Central and South Asia.

I want to briefly tell the House of an experience I had last week, a meeting with representatives from that community.

On very short notice in Toronto, about two dozen Arab Canadian community leaders came together to share their experiences of the last three weeks with myself and Ontario NDP deputy leader Marilyn Churley. These are people, some of whom have been here for generations and others more recent arrivals, who are fiercely proud to be Canadians, people who have often risked their lives to get here and people who are working hard to build this country. Yet, in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attack, they are people themselves under attack for no other reason than their race, religion or ethnicity.

One father described his 12 year old son. His first name was Osama. It was heartbreaking to hear about that little boy begging his parents to change his name to Michael. We heard the account of another child, a 7 year old, whose name was also Osama. Sensing the backlash and the growing tide of intolerance, his teacher suggested that from now on he would be called Sam. We need Canadians to know that Osama is a Canadian name, that Mohammed is a Canadian name and that worshipping in a mosque is a Canadian tradition.

I was deeply moved by the depth of the pain that these new Canadians expressed for the victims of the terrorist attacks in the United States, but also the pain they expressed for the backlash that they and their families had experienced, the backlash that has been visited upon them and their communities since September 11.

Many of these people have been victims of violence in their own countries of origin and yet their response has not been to demand vengeance but rather to express sympathy, peace and to search out deeper understanding among all Canadians and all members of the human family. We must learn from their experience, and today we call upon the Canadian government to develop a detailed action plan that brings citizens together in a dialogue for tolerance. We must reinforce the best of Canadian values and strengthen the bonds of tolerance.

We must let all Canadians know that prejudice is not a Canadian value and that racism will not be tolerated. I urge all members of the House to join with the New Democratic Party today in embracing Canada's multicultural reality, our commitment to internationalism and our commitment to the rule of law.

In conclusion, I will be splitting my time, Mr. Speaker, with the member for Winnipeg North Centre.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the leader of the New Democratic Party for her speech. I also congratulate her for the comments she made yesterday, condemning the comments made by Sunera Thobani who said that today in the world the United States was the most dangerous and most powerful global force unleashing horrific levels of violence and then went on to say many other things that were unacceptable in this changing climate due to the events of September 11. I believe the leader of the NDP did a good thing by condemning that.

I also believe the New Democrats have brought forward a worthwhile motion today. I think all of us on the opposition side appreciate it and hope there is wide agreement with this debate today.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member has underscored very ably why it is so important that at a time like this that we appeal to people's sense of tolerance and understanding. It is clear that we have to find deeper meaning in what is happening, and that we have generated cycles of violence. It is clear that we will not combat racism and have a peaceful world in which to raise our children unless we search for that deeper meaning and that tolerance in the hearts of the human family.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I too want to congratulate the leader of the New Democratic Party for her speech today. I certainly share in her comments in relation to Canadian citizens who come here from other countries and who have an ethnic origin that is different from others. Whether for instance it be Muslims or Canadians of Arab origin, I strongly share the view that we must as Canadians recognize that Mohammed is in fact a Canadian name and that there are Canadians with the name Osama. Therefore, I share that view entirely.

I also share the concern she has expressed about the concerns many Canadians and citizens of the world have about the escalation of violence. At the same time it strikes me that before we can bring terrorists to justice we have to find them. That presents a great challenge.

Obviously we are aware that the U.S. and Britain appear to be moving in the direction of some kind of action, if they have not already begun, in Afghanistan. They appear to be looking for Osama bin Laden using military means to do that.

Is the hon. member opposed to that kind of measure or perhaps she is opposed to some kinds of measures and not others? I am not clear on that. How would she pursue these terrorists? How would she see those countries that want to be involved in working toward the end of terrorism pursuing these terrorists, finding them and bringing them to justice?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member has heard me and my colleagues say this again and again inside and outside the House since September 11. We advocate no policy of appeasement. We advocate no policy of turning the other cheek. What we do advocate is the absolute necessity that whatever actions are taken, are taken under the broad auspices of the one international body that exists for the very purpose of dealing with a global crisis like this, namely the United Nations.

As I have said, how we respond to this crisis is every bit as important as what actions are taken and the how must include the broad auspices of the United Nations based on the rule of law. If we descend into a round of lawlessness and decide to flout international law, then we become the very enemy that we abhor.

I hope that members on all sides of the House are listening to the pleadings of those who understand that our actions must be driven not by revenge, not by retribution but by a genuine pursuit of a peaceful solution to the horror that terrorism has become in our world today.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow up where my leader just left off and address the comments of members across the way.

Let there be no misunderstanding, the New Democratic Party first and foremost condemns the terrorist acts of September 11. For all of us the horror of September 11 does not go away. More than three weeks after the terrorist acts in New York and Washington, the images of death and destruction are as horrific as ever and they continually haunt us.

The heroic acts of firefighters and first responders reacting to this terrible tragedy on September 11 continue to overwhelm us and evoke feelings of incredible appreciation for these professions. The courage we now see from the grieving families of the 7,000 victims is a source of incredible inspiration for all of us. It is often said that calamity brings out the best in people and that the greatest catastrophe produces goodness. That is what we are seeing today and that is giving us hope for the future.

It would be very easy for Canadians and people around the world to fall into deep depression and despair as a result of these events. It would be terribly wrong to allow that to happen. It would be a capitulation to evil. It would be committing a sin of omission. It would be a diminishment of the very lives that were lost.

Such despair or psychic numbing as Dr. Helen Caldicott has called it, is the temptation to shut out from our minds and hearts the terrifying acts of September 11. The resolution we propose today is in the spirit shown by parliament over these past two weeks to avoid falling into despair, to remember that the situation is not hopeless, to give Canadians that message, to find answers and to seek justice.

This motion is a very clear and unequivocal condemnation of the terrorist acts of September 11 as crimes against humanity. The catastrophe we are responding to is terrorism and terrorism that went beyond the pale of anybody's understanding. These acts are crimes against humanity that must be condemned and rooted out of our global society.

Those responsible for hijacking innocent aircraft passengers and crashing planes into buildings slaughtering thousands more must be brought to justice in accordance as our motion says “with international law and within the framework of the United Nations”. That justice be done and that the evil doers be held accountable for these most heinous of acts is our overriding preoccupation.

There is a danger in all of this that must be avoided. As one Manitoban, the president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour Rob Hilliard, said in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks:

Our history is littered with examples of equally innocent people being blamed and punished or even killed for the acts of others who shared their racial, ethnic or religious characteristics. In our grief and rage, we must remember that the perpetrators must be held accountable--not every member of an ethnic or religious community that they may come from.

This sentiment is very much a part of the motion we present today. Parliament acknowledged this concern on September 21 when we, together with one voice, issued a plea for political, community and faith leaders to speak out against violence, hatred and intolerance of any kind. We all agreed to reassert our country's fundamental adherence to the rule of law and to preserving and protecting human rights as outlined in our charter.

Today we call on the government to translate this statement of principle into actions. The rising tide of intolerance and racism, the growing evidence of hatred and xenophobia in our society today, demand concerted efforts, a concerted, deliberate plan of action with a timetable and resources. That is a fundamental part of the motion we present to parliament today.

This is an issue we are all dealing with in our own communities and for which we are searching for answers. In my own constituency in Winnipeg, which is probably one of the most ethnically diverse ridings anywhere in the country, many walk in fear. They walk in fear of misplaced anger. Many are victims of ethnic slurs or racial taunts.

Members of the Sikh community in my constituency have told me about their fears. Many have decided to lay low, stay at home and avoid travel in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. Many others have talked about the humiliation of seeing their homes or garages spray painted with the words go home.

The fires at mosques, the beating of young kids and the verbal attacks being unleashed on our whole community are reprehensible. We must stand together today with a determined effort, especially in these times, to eradicate our society of such incidents.

The harmony of our neighbourhoods, a harmony created over the years by efforts to share cultural traditions, have interfaith exchanges and put in place anti-racism initiatives, is facing a serious setback. Today we turn collectively to parliament and the Government of Canada to address this critical issue.

The danger of people equating Islam with terrorism is the most disturbing development following the terrorist act. Mary Sanchez from the Winnipeg Free Press said:

The words “Islamic terrorists” have been repeated like a mantra by media commentators, around dinner tables, in workplaces and schools. Yet Muslims and Islamic scholars say it would be hard to find two words more opposite in meaning. Experts say that to be a Muslim--which means to be a follower of Islam--is to be fundamentally opposed to the acts last week that likely killed more than 5,000 at the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

We are mindful that all religions have fanatical sects and Islam is no different. We are saying today that we deplore the hijacking of any religion to justify violent political acts. The United Church said the same thing in a statement following the events of September 11.

We are all dealing with constituents who are more fearful and worried in the aftermath of September 11. Members themselves often walk in fear and look at strangers in a different way. That cannot be. It must not be allowed to continue. We must regain our confidence and reassert our beliefs, especially during this difficult time.

We are facing a precarious situation and a new climate of insecurity. This will test our commitment to individual liberties and harden in some instances, as we have seen in circles around us, our attitudes toward immigration policy.

There is no question that the events of September 11 have brought anti-immigration, anti-refugee and anti-multicultural zealots out of the woodwork. It is a development we are gravely concerned about. We will fight it with the motion and by doing everything we can in the House.

My time is nearing an end. As my party's leader has said, in the search for answers and solutions Canada must be true to its traditions. It must uphold its belief in freedom, democracy and the rule of law. It must maintain its history of recognizing the strengths of multiculturalism and the tremendous benefits to our society of cultural exchanges. Canadians must continue to respect differences and refuse to tolerate racism, intolerance or xenophobia.

In that context I am pleased to be able to make an amendment to the motion before us today. I move:

That the motion be amended by inserting the words “and other visible minorities” after the word “Canadians”.