Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues for agreeing to extend the debate that started this morning at 11 so that as many members as possible might speak in this House.
I am grateful to them because it gives me a chance to express the opinion of my constituents. Over the past weeks, at various events, they have made their views known to me. Some people have also reached me at my office. Together, we tried to comprehend the incomprehensible after an initial reaction of anger.
This terrible catastrophe in New York and Washington is to some extent the result of an escalation in terrorism. It must not be seen as just an event in time. In previous years, other events really did occur, which cast doubt on American assets. This was equally true in Europe. This might have been predicted, but we did not see it coming or see the whole impact, especially in North America where we were hit hard by these tragic events we have been seeing for the past week.
These events are all the more tragic because this attack has levelled the belief we had in our security in North America, that enjoyed by the United States. The people who planned this attack targeted very important symbols; symbols of the economic power of the United States, symbols of the political power of the United States, and symbols of the military power of the United States. It was carried out with means that made a mockery of all the spending in recent years, as the member for Hochelaga--Maisonneuve mentioned.
A lot of money had been invested in developing very impressive systems to deal with situations. With a diabolical plan that produced terrible results, civilian planes were taken and turned into military equipment. The towers with their economic role were targeted and became the tomb of thousands.
All that took us by surprise and shook not only physical structures, but cost the lives of thousands. It also shook our whole system of freedoms and our system of democracy. This is why, I think, we are giving it so much attention and we are right to devote a lot of time to it.
Indeed there are lessons to be learned from this event. It has struck a blow to a giant with feet of clay. In recent years, there has been talk of setting up an antimissile shield. Since last week's events, the president of the United States declared that the main mission of his mandate would be to fight against terrorism.
People are realizing that the money that was spent was not necessarily spent in the right place. I hope that the United States will reflect long and hard to solve the real causes of this situation. We must ensure that we can guarantee transportation safety and the safety of cities and towns throughout the world. We must also ensure that we do not sow the seeds of terrorism.
Terrorism is bred in societies where there are great gaps in wealth, where citizens are not necessarily accustomed to democracy.
If this type of situation were to multiply, if there were unbridled capitalism, terrorist movements would likely be created, eventually, that would commit unacceptable acts, and that would require not only disciplinary and coercive measures to counter them, but also measures that would eliminate any possible source leading to the development of this type of movement.
Therefore it is important to take some time to determine our position. The fifty thousand or seventy-five thousand people who came to Ottawa to demonstrate their sympathy and their compassion toward the American people also came to tell parliament, to tell the Government of Canada that they must have a considered attitude, one that is patient yet determined to get through this type of ordeal, and one that does not accept such actions.
These people showed that they did not want us to yield to fear, to change our way of living because someone, somewhere has decided that this is not an acceptable system.
So, we find ourselves with a system that has failed in terms of its policies to counter terrorism. We must realize that. We must correct the system through well thought out measures that will truly allow us to achieve a complete change of situation.
To this end, I would like to read the definition of terrorism. Terrorism is a series of acts of violence, individual or collective aggressions, and destruction that a political group performs to impress the public and generate a climate of insecurity.
I think that the situation to which we are confronted reflects this definition perfectly. There is one important issue to solve and it is to find out who is responsible for this action, so that we do not kill innocent people during military assaults and end up creating unacceptable bloodshed.
We cannot, on the one hand, accept terrorism and the loss of human lives and, on the other hand, accept that this may lead to military missions, to compulsory actions that may lead to mistakes.
We must have a very well thought out process to make sure we target the ones who are indeed responsible for this. This is not going to be an ordinary military action. This is an action that is somewhere between police action and military action. In the end, it may be that police action is required at the international level, with the capability of dismantling the movement. This is the reality that we must face.
My constituents and Quebecers in general have told me that they want us to co-operate to eradicate terrorism. Through what means? Through short term means in public areas, such as those put in place in airports to ensure that safety is adequate. We must also take middle and long term measures so that the whole world can tackle the problem at its roots. We must do this while being very aware of the urgency of the situation, but also in the calm and serenity needed to achieve the anticipated results.
What I would have liked to have seen, as far as the resolution is concerned, which I find most acceptable and on which the House is unanimous, is a fourth paragraph calling upon the Canadian government to take a lead role in the implementation of an international strategy to eradicate terrorism.
Canada is, I believe, an actor with potential on the military level, but this is not where is main strength lies. As far as Canada's political clout is concerned, we have had examples of this in the past, particularly Lester B. Pearson, who earned a Nobel peace prize for proposing actions that led to concrete results.
It is in our interest to take inspiration from our past and to ensure that the Canadian government, with its Prime Minister now the dean of the G-8 leaders, may pursue its solutions further. When we speak of our desire to stand alongside the Americans, the best way to do so is not necessary to go over the wall with them, but rather to advise them, find a way to deflect their fully justified rage away from excesses.
In this regard, I think that our priority as parliamentarians is to tell the Canadian government that what Canadians want is carefully considered action in support of the United States, expanded action that takes in all nations of the world.
We must ensure that the eradication of terrorism becomes an international goal. But questions must also be asked about the causes of terrorism, and a Marshall-like plan implemented so that all these problems can be eliminated at source, in order to eliminate hotbeds in which terrorist groups can spring up all over the place.
We must ensure that such a situation is avoided, that we not be afraid to look at how we do things, and to change them if we have a problem that is completely different from those we experienced in the past.
I think that if we devote sufficient energy to this issue and if similar action is taken throughout the world, we will be able, in 10, 15 or 20 years, to help democracy emerge the winner on our planet. We will have contributed to the greater happiness of people, and given a voice to those who take action of this sort, which is utterly unacceptable but which is probably a cry of pain which exists in the world.
I therefore express the wish, at the conclusion of this great debate, that we may be able to continue our action with all the parliamentary means available in order to attain this result. This is what we all deserve, with the energy we bring as parliamentarians and also as citizens of this world, so that there is greater democracy and a better quality of life for people everywhere.