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.


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1:20 p.m.


Brent St. Denis Liberal Algoma—Manitoulin, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's comments. He and I, along with all members in this place, share a deep, common sorrow for what happened in the U.S. and in the world last week. The legacy of those hours and ensuing days will be felt throughout time to come. The best that we can accomplish from this is to learn the lessons handed to us quite strongly by those who are the enemy of democracy and freedom.

I would personally like to resist the temptation, and I believe our Prime Minister has been very clear in saying so, to turn this into a simple good versus evil, a simple difference of religious points of view. That is very wrong.

What we are talking about is an approach to society that wants to destroy. Be that a terrorist gang, a biker gang or a drug cartel, there are elements in society in all corners of the world that wish to destroy that which we so strongly value and cherish.

My good friend just spoke about Canada's borders and the importance of making sure that those who enter this country enter with good intention. Ambassador Cellucci from the U.S. made comments, and I am not sure he heard them, about working with the U.S. on continental security with a view to making transit between Canada and the U.S. even easier.

Has he heard those comments and if so, does he have anything to say?

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1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Yes, I did, Mr. Speaker. The reality of our nation is that our inseparable links, especially on the issues of trade, are a tremendous strength to us. However we face an obligation in terms of responding properly as a nation to the threats posed to security in the United States. Many Canadian families were directly impacted by the horrible actions of last week, but we have an obligation to all people of the world in terms of standing up against terrorism. It was never more apparent than it is now.

The fact is that perimeter security, because of the shared continent we inhabit with the United States, is an essential issue that we must address proactively. Our failure to do so should be obvious to all hon. members.

Our failure to strongly endorse actions that would protect every person on the North American continent from the potential actions of terrorists would be to put at risk the strong trade and protectionist relationships between Canada and the United States.

We have seen as a consequence of last week's actions the impact Canadians and Americans felt directly. Those who have travelled here from other points around the world have seen the delays, the costs to our small business community and the costs to the significant number of Canadians who count on employment as a result of trade.

The direct impact of our unwillingness to address the challenges of perimeter security is that the border between Canada and the United States becomes a perimeter which the United States must concern itself with protecting.

Any action which necessitates further delays and reductions in the efficiency of the markets which function in our two countries has a profound impact in a negative way on Canadians. The challenges are clear.

There are those who argue that there is a sovereignty question and that we should somehow take pride in the fact that we have become a home for far too many terrorists and a land that is known in too many quarters of the world as a place that welcomes and is hospitable to those who might do damage to others. That is a very serious charge that we must address. We have to address that proactively in the House through meaningful measures and not through lip service. That is our challenge in the weeks ahead.

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1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to take part in the debate expressing heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of the attack on America and to the American people. I do so with a heavy heart.

My thoughts and prayers, as well as the prayers of all Canadians, have been and will continue to be with the many American and Canadian families who are grieving the loss of loved ones. The enormity of this tragedy is incomprehensible to most adults.

One can therefore only imagine the impact of these horrific events on children who suffered the loss of a mother, father, aunt, uncle, brother or sister. Our own children, only remotely affected by the evil death and devastation, are reeling from the mere thought, let alone the reality, of losing those they loved so dearly and depended on.

I for one have hugged my children just a little more fiercely and protectively in the last few days. Prior to my departure yesterday, my nine year old daughter Kristen and seven year old son Ryan expressed reservations about daddy flying to Ottawa. How can we assure our children, who cannot comprehend such world complexities and tragedies, that such tragedies will not befall us? The answer is that we cannot.

However we can assure them that as parliamentarians we will do everything within our power to minimize the chances of such atrocities happening in Canada and from reoccurring in the United States. I therefore join with all members of the House in urging and supporting the government to maintain the heightened levels and vigilance enacted in Canada following the attack on America. We cannot afford to do otherwise. Canada cannot remain complacent.

It is true that Canada is not a major target for terrorist attacks. We cannot, however, presume to be immune from terrorism. It has been well documented that we are a venue opportunity for terrorist groups, a place where they may raise funds, purchase arms and conduct their activities and support their organizations in their terrorist activities.

Most major international organizations have a presence in Canada. The 1998 CSIS report indicated that there were as many as 50 organized terrorist groups active in Canada, mainly using our country as a banking centre.

The report indicated that liberal immigration laws, relatively open borders, freedom of movement, advanced communications systems and the proximity to the United States all made Canada inviting for terrorists. Our geographic location makes us a favourite conduit for terrorists wishing to enter the United States.

Over one-third of all terrorist attacks worldwide are against the United States. It is therefore absolutely imperative that we, for the sake of our best friends and closest neighbour, ensure that we effectively plug that conduit. We must begin by ensuring that our security and intelligence service, our front and first line of defence against terrorism, is adequately funded.

I am referring to the mandate of CSIS to collect and analyze all information and to report and advise our government on threats to the security of our nation. I am also referring to the RCMP that has the responsibility to take direct action to counter any terrorist threat.

The operating budgets for these agencies fell from $464 million in fiscal year 1989-90 to $333 million in 1997-98, or a $131 million reduction. Funding for CSIS fell from $179.4 million in 1991 to $167 million in 1997-98. The Canadian public wants to know whether the government is committed to the safety and security of its citizens.

The government's restraint program significantly affects the services resource levels. Between 1992 and 1998 personnel was reduced by 760 people, or a slash of 28%.

The 1996 CSIS report stated that it had more files than ever before but fewer resources to do the job. The CSIS 2000 public report said:

Up to now, CSIS has been able to risk-manage the challenges. However, the terrorist events of late 1999 underscored the continuing requirement to review efficiency within the context of the existing threat environment. More than ever, the Service must rely on risk management, concentrating resources selectively and precisely on the major issues, while assessing new and emerging issues.

The same report goes on to state:

Terrorism in the years ahead is expected to become more violent, indiscriminate, and unpredictable than in recent years. The use of advanced explosive materials, in combination with highly sophisticated timers and detonators, will produce increasingly higher numbers of casualties. There will likely be terrorist attacks whose sole aim would be to incite terror itself. A hardening attitude and a willingness on the part of certain terrorist organizations to directly support terrorist operations in North America reinforce the belief that Canadians, now more than ever, are potential victims and Canada a potential venue for terrorist attacks.

In the last couple of years CSIS has endured a number of setbacks or scandals. In November 1999, a top secret document was stolen from an analyst's van. On the heels of that incident, another agent left a computer diskette, brimming with highly confidential and classified information, in a busy Toronto phone booth. The worst security lapse occurred when CSIS failed to uncover two alleged terrorists living in Montreal. Algerian born Ahmed Ressam, at the centre of a terrorist organization, was operating out of a small apartment just hours away from Ottawa. According to the United States government, he was not the only suspected terrorist residing in Montreal, he had other brothers in the cause. Apparently on the eve of our millennial celebration, the pair, allegedly on a lethal mission for the Osama bin Laden group, were to slip from British Columbia down into Washington state where they had the ingredients for a bomb so powerful that it could have obliterated a large building. Fortunately, a United States custom agent stopped Ressam as he was attempting to cross the border on December 14, 1999.

Apparently CSIS had no role in Ressam's arrest despite the fact that the alleged terrorist had been in Canada since 1994. He had fraudulently obtained a Canadian passport and was using it to freely move back and forth between Europe and even up into Afghanistan and to Canada.

Ressam's failure to appear at immigration hearings and even his arrest for robbery apparently did not set off enough warning bells with CSIS or immigration.

The Los Angeles judge presiding over Mr. Ressam's trial has expressed outrage at Canada's handling of this case. No one really knows how Ressam evaded CSIS. However I will give our security intelligence service the benefit of the doubt assuming insufficient resources played a significant role. I would suggest that clearly it is time to reverse the government's restraint program that has so adversely affected CSIS and the RCMP and therefore undermined the security of this nation and the safety of its citizens.

It is time to reverse the RCMP's loss of 2,200 positions and close to $175 million in funds since 1994.

Due to time restraints today I cannot list the many unanswered questions regarding the effectiveness and abilities of security or intelligence services. However in the coming days I will, as the solicitor general critic for the official opposition, ask questions. As one of my constituents writes to me:

We owe our freedom and way of life to one thing only, the goodwill and protection afforded us by our neighbours to the south. Without them, we would be under the control of whomever had the might to take for themselves the rich resources of this country, for we surely do not have the strength to protect what is ours in this present day. Terrorism declared war upon our good neighbour on September 11, and so declared war upon us. This then is a time when we should support, in every manner possible, the United States.

We must ensure our first line of defence against terrorism is properly equipped, staffed and funded to ensure that Canadians are not potential victims and Canada a potential venue for terrorist attacks.

We must be vigilant.

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1:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague and share many of the comments, questions and concerns that he has expressed in his learned remarks.

Let me take this opportunity, on behalf of myself and the people of Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough, to similarly send our condolences to the families and victims, those who have been crushed both emotionally and physically by this tragedy, in the United States of America. Our neighbours, closest allies and friends need our unconditional support at this time.

I also offer brief words of congratulations and support to the firefighters, police and medical emergency personnel who, without thought for their own safety, have put themselves in harm's way. While many of the people who were involved in this tragedy were running out of the Pentagon and out of the World Trade Center, these emergency workers were running in. They continue to do their work, God's work, while trying to preserve life in the face of very tragic circumstances.

As the hon. member for Crowfoot has expressed in his words, I am sure he would share the sentiment of members of the Progressive Conservative Democratic Representative Coalition that we need to put greater resources into the areas of internal security and defence. He has quoted some statistics but we know our neighbour to the south has made a very strong commitment of $40 billion from the congress to the president to pursue these ideals in the United States.

We need to do more than simply express words now. As the hon. member has said, we need to put concrete resources behind these necessary departments. Would the hon. member care to share his thoughts on this issue?

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1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question as well as the best wishes offered by himself and his constituency.

What we have seen happen and the words that we bring forward are not new. No one wishes that they need stand in parliament or any place and offer condolences to the American people for what has happened. Everyone wishes that this event would have never happened. However the Canadian public expects the government's number one priority is for the security and safety of its citizens.

When we talk about cutbacks in the many different areas of funding, budgets and fiscal restraints, never has our party or any other party suggested that cutbacks should occur in areas that would negatively impact on the security of our nation and its citizens.

However, in answer to the question, CSIS, our Canadian Security Intelligence Service, has made it abundantly clear in its reports that we are risk managing. These words, which jump out of the reports, are being said by the individuals responsible for the security of our nation. When they conclude that we are trying to risk manage the files, issues and people we are performing intelligence on, it is of huge concern to the House.

As has already been mentioned, reports have shown that operating budgets have fallen from $464 million to $333 million. CSIS states in its reports that there are now more files and more cases but $131 million less with which to operate.

Our RCMP state that the responsibility of CSIS is to gather information and intelligence and bring it to parliament and the government so that the RCMP will be able to reach out and provide safety and security to our nation. We have seen 2,200 positions cut in the RCMP because of lack of resources and funding. We have seen $175 million cut.

As we say back in Crowfoot, we need to put our money where our mouth is. We need to show our commitment by taking action on these cutback measures and showing our commitment to providing security to our citizens again.

Attack on the United StatesGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario


David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House that I will be splitting my time with one of my colleagues.

This has been a very challenging week for all of us in government and Canadians, as well as others around the world. I do believe that the Canadian transportation sector responded vigorously and in time to deal with this most unprecedented of crises. In addition, the communities that received airline passengers performed a remarkable feat, one that went beyond imagination. Transport Canada, Nav Canada, our airports and all those people involved in transportation management and security did an outstanding job. We took this very decisive action without hesitation.

I should first say that I was addressing a conference of 2,000 executives of the worlds' Eleventh Airports Council International World Assembly, exhibition and conference in Montreal when this happened, including many of the chief executive officers of airports in the United States, who were absolutely shocked at what went on. As soon as we understood the severity of the situation, we closed Canadian airspace within the hour. In fact, this was a case of where the action of the government preceded the official communiqué. For those people in the media and others, I apologize, but the action had to be taken immediately and was issued by phone and by fax. The official communiqué got out some considerable time afterward.

The number of flights that were diverted were more than 200. We estimate that about 33,000 passengers were diverted and the majority of those passengers were diverted to east coast airports because as soon as it happened we had to get them out of the sky very quickly. That is why a disproportionate number of planes landed at Gander, Stephenville, Goose Bay, St. John's, Halifax and Moncton. Everyone in the country performed remarkably. Planes landed at Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Hamilton, Toronto and Winnipeg. Vancouver took 33 planes. Planes also landed at Thunder Bay, Dorval, Mirabel, Edmonton and Calgary. However the lion's share of the effort was taken on by the people of Atlantic Canada and they were remarkable in their efforts. They should be congratulated.

Members have to understand how difficult it was on the ground. As my colleagues know, these are airports, especially in the smaller communities of Atlantic Canada, that are not used to taking this number of planes. In Halifax there were 40 planes. Halifax is an international airport but it does not have 40 wide bodied jets on the ground at any one time. The taxiways were jammed. Gander had 38 planes, Stephenville had, I believe, 8, St. John's had 25 planes, Moncton had 10 and Goose Bay had 5. Those communities were absolutely overwhelmed, not just on the technical side but also in looking after passengers, but they performed a remarkable feat.

We wanted to get the planes back into the sky as soon as possible. We worked in conjunction with the FAA in the United States. Once we came to the determination that we could open up Canadian air space we opened it before U.S. air space was opened because we wanted to get Canadians back into the skies. We wanted to get those planes that had been diverted to Canada back to where they were going, largely to the United States but some to Mexico.

We had a lot of logistical problems in doing that. There was overcrowding on the runways. Security, immigration and customs matters, which my colleagues will be talking about later in the debate, and technical matters were also problems. When everything was in order, guess what? The weather took a big hit in Newfoundland as it always does, but the people of Newfoundland know what the weather can do, and it delayed things. However passengers were remarkably cool. We had reports of people sitting on planes for 8 to 10 hours. We could not off load those planes until those people were properly processed. We had to ensure the security of Canadians was paramount in the activities of that particular exercise.

I would like to speak briefly about flight safety, because the Government of Canada has been taking all necessary steps to maintain and improve the safety of our aviation system.

We are working with all other countries and international organizations in order to identify and eliminate the risks that could threaten Canadians.

When it comes to flight safety, Canada's reputation is quite enviable. We are committed to maintaining the highest level of safety. When the transportation system's safety is threatened, we react quickly and effectively.

We did react very quickly on new measures. Before we agreed to put one plane back in the sky, we brought in very strict measures. We worked with the airport community, the airlines, the unions and everybody concerned to ensure that there would be no mistake and that Canadians who then were boarding the aircraft had a greater degree of security.

It was not just those passengers going onto planes from inside security. The events that happened last week caused us to question all aspects of aviation security, not just affecting passengers and the boarding of aircraft, but how they are serviced, who they are serviced by, who has access to the tarmac, who has access to the terminal buildings and who has access to identification of airline workers. All this had to be looked at very quickly, and new measures were introduced.

We will not table a list of all the security measures on the floor of the House of Commons because by their very nature security measures are expected to be held very close at hand. We do not want to tip our hand to any terrorist who may be planning another assault, a second wave.

It is quite obvious that people have to get to the airports earlier. It is quite obvious that they will be subject to greater screening, both on their person and their effects. Any object they may have that could be loosely construed as being dangerous will have to be taken away.

I think people understand that and are prepared for it. In this era of electronic gadgetry, every electronic device that we take on a plane, whether it is a personal computer, or a BlackBerry, or anything that emits a signal or is of a technical nature, we have to be assured that particular device does not have any nefarious objective in the hands of the passenger.

We have enhanced security. I will be announcing further measures later today with respect to security. This is an ongoing file.

Security was under review before September 11. The constant testing of security measures is extremely rigorous and standards are then changed and the bar is raised higher and has been raised higher, but because of the terrible events of last week we are not taking any further chances and new measures will come forward.

Anything my colleagues put forward in debate today will be considered. We have to work together as a group of legislators with one mind and one purpose, and that is to protect the people we represent. The Government of Canada does not have a monopoly on all good ideas with respect to government policies in any field, but certainly in the case of security.

The good thing is that other modes of transport functioned quite well, especially the rail system. A lot of that has to do with the way goods are cleared. My colleague, the Minister of National Revenue, will talk about that. However,the rail system was virtually unscathed.

We had a lot of problems with clearance at the border which he will touch on. However, we were able to be flexible within federal law to allow truckers to get beyond the borders, and the relaxation of rest periods. We did this in concert with all provincial governments, so we could get the goods to and from their destination.

Going back to the airlines. the recovery of airline operations has been rather rapid. I was on the phone this weekend with the chief executive officers of the Canadian carriers and also some of the international carriers. Air Canada was operating at 80% to 90% plus 100% on the international front. Canada 3000 was operating 100% domestically, but with some international delays of a couple of days. WestJet was operating at 100% on domestic flights.

The airline companies are back in the field. Yes, there have been some reductions. Air Canada issued a release this morning reducing capacity, especially transborder, which we think will be most affected in the short run.

People who were planning to go south this winter, to Florida, Hawaii, Europe, should not let terrorists change their plans. Let us not be cowed by these people. If Canadians want a holiday, need a holiday and deserve a holiday, then we will ensure that the air system is safe enough to travel so that their plans can be kept as made.

I would encourage people to go back and travel and take solace in the fact that everyone is watching. All government agencies are taking every precaution necessary to ensure safety.

Obviously there are implications for the viability of the airline industry in particular with what has happened. We think much of this will be borne in the United States, but there will be some challenges in Canada that we will discuss in the days and weeks ahead.

Let us get the facts straight and let us get them right so we can make a proper judgment before we deal with any of the other issues that will arise in the coming weeks.

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1:50 p.m.


Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the hon. Minister of Transport for his acknowledgement of the yeomen's work done by airline staff and the authorities throughout the country.

As a former airline employee for 18 years, having served nine years in the Yukon and nine years at the Halifax airport, I know exactly what those people went through during those long hours. The patience and understanding of all authorities, the generosity of all communities and especially the understanding of the passengers who sat on airplanes for 12 hours made their jobs that much more effective and easier.

As the hon. member knows, security for airports is contracted out by the major carriers. I remember trying to assist some Halifax security airport workers on the screening process during their contract deliberations with Air Canada a few years ago. I could not help but notice that Air Canada and others are now writing the minister asking that the federal government take 100% control of airport security and screening processes throughout the country.

I know it is a little premature to ask if he will do this, but will the minister at least take it under advisement and review the screening contracts for the entire country so that it falls under a national screening process devised and operated by the federal government?

Attack on the United StatesGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


David Collenette Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the screening process operates that way. Transport Canada has the authority to oversee safety on every aspect of our aviation industry. I suppose there could be a debate in the House as to whether or not it is better to return that function from an operational point of view to the public service versus a private company. That is a debate we should have.

However that is not our focus right now because Transport Canada oversees the operations of the security companies and has been introducing tougher evaluation over the last year. It certainly has been much more rigorous in the last week in working with the companies that perform the security for the airlines. After all, the airlines have taken responsibility.

I would not want the hon. member to inadvertently mislead the House that because of the changes in government policy over the last few years that somehow there has been no control or no unity of purpose on airport screening. We have been very vigilant and very tough.

The question is how we proceed from now on. The focus should be on specific ways to improve and enhance security rather than focus on who actually does the job under what auspices in a contractual sense.

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1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the Minister of Transport on the subject. I wish he had not split his time and had more to offer in terms of a timeline as to when he may be tabling some broader recommendations on the subject.

We all have anecdotal examples of airport security. I want to offer mine for the minister's consumption.

When one goes through an airport security check, one is supposed to be asked to turn on any cellphone, laptop computer or palm pilot. Clearly one is not supposed to bring knives on a plane.

Since I was elected as a member of parliament in this place last November, I have travelled to and from my constituency almost every single week. Up until yesterday when I travelled here I was never asked to turn on my cellphone, laptop or palm pilot. On 25 or 30 flights over the past year I have carried a pocket knife onto the airplane every single flight. I use it to open mail.

In the past 10 days, I and my legislative assistant brought pocket knives on board and my executive assistant brought a pair of scissors on board. That compiled with the question about electronics has clearly violated safety standards which the minister is supposed to be enforcing in airports.

The transport minister's website only mentions that the current safety measures--

Attack on the United StatesGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I regret to interrupt the hon. member but the minister has no more than a minute to respond briefly before we proceed to member's statements.

Attack on the United StatesGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


David Collenette Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, we can have further discussion on this. The members of the transport committee might want to have me there at some point to speak in detail.

I appreciate my colleague's point that we do not really have time to get into great detail. However, we are looking at measures on a daily basis and we will make changes when we believe that they should be introduced.

With respect to some of the points before, what he is essentially saying is, why did we not do this before? What happened last week changed the whole nature of air travel, the kind of threat and the fact that commercial airliners were in effect used as missiles on civilian structures. That requires much more concerted and deliberate measures.

TerrorismStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my constituents, I offer my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the victims and our heartfelt support for the American people.

We are all horrified that a small band of well organized and well financed terrorists were able to take so many innocent lives.

While we feel outrage and anger, we must ensure that the world responds to this crisis in a precise and timely fashion. This is not a war between nation states. It is not a war of religion. In fact all religions of the world have condemned this senseless act.

It is a matter of hunting those responsible and bringing to justice all those who participated in this despicable and horrific crime against humanity.

In the spirit of the hundred of thousands of people who gathered on Parliament Hill last week, I call on all Canadians to cling onto the values that built our country, to love and respect our neighbours, to embrace our many cultures and to reaffirm our strong, everlasting commitment to building a better future for our children.

TerrorismStatements By Members

September 17th, 2001 / 2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Canadian Alliance Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the constituents of Cypress Hills--Grasslands, I rise to express my sympathy for the victims and families affected by last Tuesday's tragedy. This horrendous act of terrorism not only destroyed many lives, it also permanently scarred the world for all of us.

These evil acts come from the heart, from hatred and ambition, emotions with which we are all familiar. These events forced us to look at our own hearts.

Billy Graham spoke last week of our desperate need for spiritual renewal. Are we willing to let God heal our land?

We pray for the victims and their families and we continue to pray that God will keep our land glorious and free. We need great wisdom as we work to ensure an act such as this will never happen again.

This is an appropriate time for parliamentarians to examine ourselves and for each of us to ask, what is my responsibility and what is my role in the renewal of our country?

TerrorismStatements By Members

2 p.m.


David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, with the images of live television seared forever in our memories, last Tuesday we witnessed one of the most horrific acts against a civilian population in the history of humankind.

The Prime Minister expressed very well our collective horror and revulsion in condemning these barbaric attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

With over 40 nationalities listed in the ranks of the dead and missing, this was truly an attack upon the civilized world. To President Bush and the people in government of the United States, we extend our profound and deepest sympathies. To the families and relatives of those who have been killed or are listed as missing, our thoughts and prayers are with them as they seek God's wisdom in trying to understand and cope with their loss.

Canada will stand together with the United States to vanquish terrorism. Together with our allies we must summon the resources and the resolve to do what is necessary to rid the world of this unspeakable evil.

TerrorismStatements By Members

2 p.m.


John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the aftermath of the tragedy in the United States on September 11, we are reminded of the crucial role of parliament and government in leading the country through troubled times.

What do people in Canada and around the world want right now? What do they expect? They want security.

A prime function of government is to ensure our safety and security in our local community, our national community and our international community. This is the true human security agenda, but Canadians also expect our governments to act prudently, intelligently and wisely.

We must not let evil triumph because we allowed ourselves to be provoked in ways which will ultimately destroy our security, not enhance it.

TerrorismStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Walt Lastewka Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to offer, on behalf of all the citizens of the Niagara region, our deepest sympathies to our American neighbours following the horrific events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

As our region is in such close proximity to the border with the United States, we have many friends who reside just across the border and the Niagara region has rallied to show our support and compassion.

The regional emergency control group was convened and placed on alert status early on Tuesday as the events in New York and Washington began to unfold. This group has been ready to act and assist with whatever resources required if and when asked.

Five Niagara critical Incident staff members are assisting with family victim counselling in Washington. The Regional Municipality of Niagara has co-ordinated with the Niagara Credit Union to set up a fund for the victims of this tragedy and their families. Radio stations and many organizations have raised thousands of dollars.

The thoughts and prayers of all citizens of the Niagara region are with the American people today as they face the challenges of rebuilding their lives after this most unspeakable event which has forever changed the lives of all of us.

Canadian MuslimsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, as the only Muslim elected to parliament in Canada, it gives me great sadness not only to have witnessed what happened in the U.S. but the backlash against the Islamic community over the last week.

Most Canadians realize the value of living in a multicultural society and the strength the country has because of its diversity. I fear that due to a perverse interpretation of Islam by an extreme few a whole community is at risk of being painted with the same brush.

Canadian Muslims have come far and wide to make Canada their home because they share the values of peace, freedom and democracy. These values are cherished and this country loved due to the opportunity it has given all Canadians, all races and creeds. Most are willing to fight and die for Canada.

Now is the time for all Canadians to link arms together regardless of origin, race or religion, to fight the terrorist threat and not to turn on each other. We must remember that we are no better than the faceless cowards who committed these acts in the U.S. if we turn on our own communities at home with violence or threatening acts.

I am proud to be a Canadian and equally proud to be a member of the Islamic community, a group that has contributed so much to this great nation.

TerrorismStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, September 11, 2001, will remain forever engraved in the heart of humanity. It is difficult even now to put the horror of this day into words.

Such a deed defies all human understanding. We will never be able to explain what drove individuals to take such a cowardly action. We sympathize with the horror and anguish being felt by our American neighbours.

They are not alone in this ordeal. The thousands of victims of this tragedy include a number of Canadians. An outpouring of sympathy and support was a clear sign of the indignation and grief felt by all Canadians.

Last Friday, more than one hundred thousand of us gathered on Parliament Hill to express our compassion and our friendship towards the American people. This solidarity between our two nations will help us to join forces in meeting the threat of terrorism to our democracies.

TerrorismStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, on September 11, my youngest son was to go to work at the World Trade Center. It took me nearly an hour to find out that he was safe and sound.

I do not need to tell members that I understand the suffering of the Americans and of all those who mourn a death, or perhaps worse yet, a disappearance.

I do know I can say that all of Quebec and Canada join me, us, in offering our sympathy to all these people.

However, in the face of an abomination such as the events in New York and Washington, although it is important to discover the culprits and to bring them to justice and to react, it is all the more important to find ways of preventing the recurrence of another such tragedy.

This determination, our determination, must be unshakeable. Our reaction in giving effect to it must be devoid of all thoughts of vengeance. Otherwise, we will only reap more hatred, and I--

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2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis.

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2:05 p.m.


Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, violence is always profoundly unjust, because it is inevitably the innocent who pay the price, an incalculable price. How do we measure the value and nobility of a single human life?

Today we pause, above all, to remember the thousands of innocent human beings who paid the terrible price of hate and violence with their own lives. Mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, young and old, all they sought was to go about their daily lives and return to their loved ones once their day was done.

In mourning them we say a special prayer for all the loved ones who will never see them again and whose lives will be changed forever. May they be given the strength and fortitude to find peace and acceptance in the difficult days and years ahead. God bless them all.

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Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, as many members know, I was born and raised in the United States. Many of my family members are still there. I have grand kids two and a half hours from New York and my son is presently on high alert with the American army in Seattle. The events of last week have cut me deeply.

In discussions with my brother, a veteran of the United States army, he recounted his story of being caught in a foxhole during World War II. He was under fire in a pool of water that turned to ice very slowly and as the hours passed he had no hope until over the hill came Canadian troops who saved his life for which he will be forever eternally grateful.

In this time of tragedy, now more so than ever, we again need the strong arms of this type of brotherhood. The Canadian military reputation throughout history may have been small in number but enormous in courage and tenacity. We cannot waiver or procrastinate this unity. It is time for action, not contemplation. If ever there was a time for Canadians to strike a blow for freedom, that time is now.

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2:10 p.m.


Susan Whelan Liberal Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the residents of Essex county and the city of Windsor, who share not only an international border but a way of life with our neighbour the United States, I would like to express our condolences and offer our prayers to the families, friends and co-workers of the innocent victims of the tragic events in the United States on September 11.

To the firefighters, police officers, medical and emergency personnel who served their communities and faced perilous danger each day, we offer our prayers for continued strength and courage. To those rescuers who have lost their lives, to their families, friends and co-workers, we offer our condolences and prayers.

America, a beacon of freedom and hope to the world, was built by the courage and determination of all those who sought democracy and opportunity on her shores. Canadians share those values and are prepared to stand side by side with our friends to defend our way of life. We share their sorrow at this horrific tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends and co-workers of the victims and the survivors. Everything is different now.

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Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, as we seek to comprehend the enormity of what has happened in recent days and what the Canadian response should be, I urge all of us with political responsibilities to pray for the gift of discernment, for the power to discern the difference between righteousness and self-righteousness, between humility and hubris, between vengeance and justice, between fundamental values and ideological preferences, between long term effective solutions and short term feel good solutions, between actions that make the world a safer place and actions that pour fuel on an already blazing fire and, finally, between the faith of the false prophets who criticize only others and the truly prophetic who call on us to reflect on our own sins as well as those of others.

May God grant us all the power to make these distinctions.

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Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week's carnage on American soil represents an unacceptable attack on humankind and on life itself.

Our pain and our suffering are profound, but they do not blind us to our primary purpose, which is to build a better, fairer and more humane world.

We will not allow a group of terrorists to determine our future. It is the duty of elected representatives to build a world of peace, and we will continue to work towards that end.

The perpetrators of these crimes must be hunted down and brought before the courts, but we must never confuse these criminals with certain communities which have already suffered too much.

On behalf of all Quebecers, I say to the families who have been affected and to the American people that their pain is ours. We pay tribute to the courage of those who put their own lives on the line and did everything they could to help their felllow citizens.

May all these acts of fraternity ease our sorrow and open our hearts to generosity, tolerance and life.