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House of Commons Hansard #79 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was united.

Topics

Attack on the United StatesGovernment Orders

11:35 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Americans have surely found a great deal of consolation in the various demonstrations of solidarity that have taken place in recent days, be they religious ceremonies or statements of support by various leaders. Obviously, Canadians and Quebecers have been greatly involved.

I believe pressure must be brought to bear on the various governments for yet another reform of democratic institutions, and for a far more sustained north-south dialogue than we have at the present moment.

Once again, the root causes of terrorism must be understood, while making it very clear that there is no possible negotiation on this, since it is not a way of settling international disputes.

Attack on the United StatesGovernment Orders

11:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with a couple of points that my colleague from the Bloc made when he said that terrorism is unavoidable because it is so hard to defend against and that we are very vulnerable. I would disagree with him on another issue that he mentioned, which is that this is not a battle of good and evil. He also mentioned that we need to get at root causes. Other members have mentioned that too.

Would the member examine the notion that the reason this war against terrorism will be so difficult is that those who are engaged in these activities believe they are right and are willing to die for their cause and will not stop at any length and will not reason in a way that those of us in a free country like Canada would reason? Does he think that is the root dilemma we face and that we must get our thinking in line with that in order to address how we proceed and that we must proceed long term in a number of different ways to make our actions match up with the words we are saying here tonight in order to proceed together as a unified group for our country and for the world?

Attack on the United StatesGovernment Orders

11:40 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, terrorism is unacceptable because, in a democracy, the end can never justify the means. Without a doubt, our colleague is right in stating that there are terrorists who have the deep conviction that their cause is right. However, because the end can never justify the means, terrorism cannot be acceptable.

According to the newspaper Libération , prime suspect bin Laden has been trained by the U.S. It must be kept in mind that in the Iran-Iraq situation, the Shah of Iran was one of the allies of the U.S., at one time.

So the reason I said that it is not a matter of good or evil is that on the international level there are geopolitical interests, which may differ according to one's standpoint.

Attack on the United StatesGovernment Orders

11:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

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.

Attack on the United StatesGovernment Orders

11:50 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to hear what the members opposite have to say. I was in Burkina Faso, along with several other members of the House of Commons, for the IPU conference attended by parliamentarians from around the world. They witnessed Tuesday's events on television. I believe that there are some members from the Bloc Quebecois who have friends working and living in the United States. This has been a particularly difficult period for us and for members of parliament everywhere. I find it sad that some members believe that there is a simple solution.

The member opposite mentioned many things that we should do. I would like to talk about the role of parliamentarians in this type of organization.

It is because of a jet lag in English. They help us understand and talk about issues. In Burkina Faso we were talking about the Middle East crisis. That was the backdrop to all the events on Tuesday.

I know the member opposite has participated and can tell us the value of that for leaders from communities around the world, how we can enhance the role of parliamentarians, ensure that people participate in the meetings and carry back the messages of common cause and ideals, and that we can work out all the details of these plans that we need to put in place, of the many facets of the ways we have to deal with this horrible terrorism and particularly the incidents that happened on Tuesday.

Attack on the United StatesGovernment Orders

11:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for her comments. What she told us about her visit to Burkina Faso is indeed very telling. She was in a part of the world where countries are facing very serious economic problems. They keep a very close watch on the situation. The member was taking part in a parliamentary forum and I think that we do need to use all the tools at our disposal to influence public opinion and the various states, so that we can set up an international strategy to fight terrorism.

The government has a role to play in this matter. Through its head of state, the government should say “We will make it a priority, we will raise this issue with our partners in the G-8; with the help of our representatives in various parliamentary and international associations, we will stress the significance of this issue; we will contact the United States to ensure that, as the resolution before us stipulates, matters will be settled in court”.

I think we have to consider all of these things. Canada's past experiences should come in handy and help us to co-operate with countries around the world to ensure this will truly be an multinational campaign. Of course, an indepth analysis of the situation is crucial. We should rely on international associations, as well as on exchanges of information between various international police forces to be able ultimately to come to the appropriate conclusion.

There is, of course, a whole network of parliamentary forums that we should tap to eradicate this terrible threat of terrorism, which is essentially based on fear. We have to ensure that never again will fear totally take over, and this is where we can make a difference.

Attack on the United StatesGovernment Orders

11:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the debate for the whole day but unfortunately, due to the time constraints, I will not be able to comment on the speeches.

It is quite evident that we have one thing in common around the globe: we are all human beings. We should also realize that the people who did this calculated terrible act are criminals. The wind has knocked down our human spirit but we will be up again once we deal with those who caused this terrible act.

Hate is like a monster that controls the mind and body, causing harm to others. The idea of dying for one's faith has been distorted by the evil ones. Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect, does not seem to be a true Muslim. He does not act like a Muslim but mosques have been attacked. Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma was not a Muslim.

This is not a religious thing and let us not make it into one. The retaliation against a religion or a faith is not appropriate. Some innocent American and Canadian Sikhs have been assaulted simply because they wear a turban, grow a beard or resemble the pictures of bin Laden.

Would the hon. member agree that we should look beyond the appearance of a person and rather look into the soul of the individual? We should not be killing our brothers and sisters based on their appearance or the religion they belong to. We should respect those who live with us in the same communities as we do. Would the hon. member agree with that?

Attack on the United StatesGovernment Orders

11:55 p.m.

The Speaker

It will be hard to answer the questions of the hon. member, since it is midnight.

It being 12 o'clock midnight, the time provided for the debate has expired. Pursuant to order made earlier this day the motion is deemed to have been adopted.

(Motion agreed to)

Attack on the United StatesGovernment Orders

11:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until later today, at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 12.00 a.m.)