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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5:20 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to take part on behalf of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party and to express first our deepest sympathies to the families of those who died and those who disappeared and whose whereabouts are unknown.

We acknowledge the profound sense of tragedy and numbness that all of us felt as we witnessed the horror of what took place on September 11. I know many of us have personal stories.

I listened with sadness to the comments of the member for Mercier, who spoke of her son.

We all have our personal stories of close friends and family members whose whereabouts we did not know and the fear, the anguish and the uncertainty that all of us faced. In some cases we know that they died in that terrible tragedy.

I want to pay particular tribute to the firefighters and the police officers who put their lives on the line for the rescue and the attempted rescue of the victims of this terrible tragedy. As a Canadian, I was very proud of the response of Canadians in this time of anguish and pain.

Canadians opened their hearts and their homes from coast to coast to coast to receive those who had been stranded in aircraft. They made a huge difference by donating blood and contributing funds through many different organizations.

The Vancouver emergency measures team was ready to contribute, and I thank the federal government for its support of that very important team.

We owe it as well to recognize that among those who died, those who assisted in the rescue, those who supported the ongoing struggle to recover bodies, were many Muslims and Arab Canadians.

As my leader and my colleagues on all sides of the House have said, it is incredibly important that we recognize that their community was affected just as profoundly and that the terrorists in this instance were not in any way representative or reflective of a particular faith community or religion. Mohamed Elmasry, national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, spoke very eloquently of this when he said:

The reality is that Canadian Muslims are grieving as deeply as everyone else. In fact, we grieve a double tragedy. For even as we mourn the loss of lives on Tuesday--including people of all faiths--we are also forced to look over our shoulders. After Tuesday's terrorist attacks, we live in fear of being found guilty by association because of North America's prevailing ignorance about our faith.

I was very pleased to hear the Prime Minister and the leaders of all parties in the House making a very powerful plea for an understanding that no faith group in any way should be targeted, least of all the Muslim and Arab Canadian group.

It is incumbent upon us after we grieve, and of course we continue to grieve, to decide how to respond effectively to this profound tragedy as a nation that is a close friend of the United States, as a neighbour that also lost citizens ourselves and as a member of the community of nations.

At the domestic level I agree with the leader of the Conservative Party, or whatever it is called these days, the progressive conservative democratic representative caucus. I agree completely that parliament must be fully engaged and examine a number of key issues that have come up in the wake of this tragedy that include border screening and the whole question of airport security.

My colleague from Sackville has pointed out the importance of restoring a strong federal government role through Transport Canada in airport security. We New Democrats say that is long overdue and it must happen now.

Unfortunately we are seeing the results of an era of privatization and deregulation not only in Canada but in the United States as well with respect to airport security.

We must not yield to the call of some that we harmonize our policies with the United States with respect to immigration and refugees or least of all our foreign policy.

Our grief and anger must not in any way lead us to a diminution of the most fundamental and most important civil liberties and human rights. Those who flee from terror themselves tragically must not be victimized now by the call from some, including those in the official opposition, to implement draconian new measures on immigration or refugee policy. As Tom Berger has said “our freedoms are fragile indeed”.

It is precisely at times such as this, when we respond in anguish and deep grief, when we must be most careful. We have heard the parallel of Pearl Harbor. Let us never forget what followed Pearl Harbour: the internment of Canadians and Americans of Japanese origin and the use of the ultimate outrage, the atomic bomb.

In 1970, in response to terrorist groups, the War Measures Act was used, which represented a powerful threat to civil liberties with over 300 Quebecers arrested and imprisoned.

We must be particularly vigilant at this time not to allow in any way our most basic and fundamental rights and freedoms to be trampled on in the name of the fight for security or against terrorism.

However, the most important issue I want to address in the few minutes that remain to me is the question of Canada's response, the government's response, to a possible request by the United States or NATO for military action. We have heard what I think are deeply troubling words from the solicitor general and the foreign affairs minister today during question period. I was pleased with the tone that the Prime Minister set in his comments today, but disturbed by the suggestions of some of his colleagues that we are indeed prepared to walk every step of the way with the United States. I believe that is what the solicitor general said. I do not believe that Canadians are prepared to give our government that kind of carte blanche.

I have been disturbed by the talk of war. I would appeal to our government to resist that talk. As the Belgian foreign minister and the Norwegian foreign minister have both said clearly, this is not war, with all of the horrible consequences it brings. So too must our government take that position. Retaliation is the call, but it must not lead to the death of innocent civilians. There must be full respect for international law. The Prime Minister was not yet prepared to commit to that.

Any response that Canada makes must be in the context of a multilateral response respecting international law and not simply within the framework of NATO. Part of that international response involves the whole issue of extradition. We must attempt to strengthen the International Criminal Court as well. We must also recognize that we have to deal with the root causes that lead desperate people. As Mario Cuomo, the former governor of New York, said “Why do they hate us so much?”

We must recognize that the causes of hopelessness and despair, for example, must be addressed, particularly in the Middle East. We must not allow this to lead to Canada supporting national missile defence, which would have had absolutely no impact whatsoever in this context. We must appeal to the government of Israel in particular at this time not to in any way exacerbate the situation there, to return to peace dialogue, to respect international law, to stop the attacks on Ramallah and in the occupied west bank and to end the settlements and respect international law.

Finally I suggest that we listen to our children. In closing I want to quote from a letter which I received from a young constituent. I am going to just take a minute here, with the indulgence of the House. She sent me a copy of a letter she wrote to the Prime Minister. Kimberly Peabody, a high school student, said she was very worried about the future of the world right now, and she wrote:

President Bush said “We will hunt down the people who did this and make them pay.” That is completely the wrong way to react to this. He shouldn't be reacting in this “we'll get them back” way. He should be thinking about what he did to make them so mad... Besides if he keeps thinking about “getting them back”, you know more innocent people are going to die. We were always taught in elementary school not to fight back right away but to take a few minutes to calm down and that way you will act more rationally.

In closing I appeal to our government to respect international law, not to add to the toll of human suffering and martyrdom. Let us do whatever we can to bring the perpetrators of this outrage to justice, but in a way that respects and reflects the Canadian values that are so precious and so dear to all of us.

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5:30 p.m.


Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am saddened to have to stand today to ask a question of my colleague. I think it was an extremely good intervention. As we have seen, an extraordinary turn of events in the past week has also affected us as Canadians in so many ways. Perhaps none of us ever imagined that such a day would come, that on the first day back after a period of time off we would be deliberating on an issue that has affected our families, our friends, our neighbours and our brothers and sisters, not just here in Canada and around the world, and most important, there are the efforts of our brave firemen, policemen and those who have suffered as ignominious victims of this brutality in New York.

As chair for several years I have tried to bring to parliament a realization of the awareness of what Islam and the Muslim faith are all about. I am encouraged by the comments made by so many of my colleagues, including the Prime Minister and the leaders in the House, to ensure that no revenge is sought. I too have a letter from constituents, young Muslim girls who are worried about retaliation. Events this week throughout my region and throughout Toronto have suggested that there is a great deal of tension, perhaps much of it misguided.

The hon. member's comments with respect to ensuring that we do not respond or act in a vengeful way and that we guard what we are doing, that we wait to see the outcome of this, interest me. I too am interested in looking at that as a viable option because of the modernization of evil, conventional forces and all the thinking, the missile defences and all these wonderful ideas we have had in the past to combat this problem. The social problems that are behind it cannot be ignored.

I would like to ask in the spirit of goodwill, the spirit of ensuring that God does indeed have a presence in this world and that evil also has a presence in this world, if the hon. member could give us an illustration of what he would like to see, perhaps with respect to Bill C-11, the immigration act. Are there ways in which the hon. member would have a willingness to co-operate to ensure that Canada plays a role to ensure that terrorism is at once snuffed out, but at the same time that the war takes a different form and that we wage war against those who wage war against peace?

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5:30 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his intervention. Perhaps the best response to his comments is to quote from the statement made by Project Ploughshares, which said:

Crimes against humanity cannot be redressed through actions which themselves circumvent the law and due process; nor is it possible for states or communities to individually build fortified islands of safety based on their own power or unilateral actions.

I think we have to be particularly vigilant in the coming days to speak to our friends and allies in the United States with respect to their response. I was troubled and alarmed when George Bush suggested that “We will rid the world of evil doers” as part of this mission of response, because when we look at those who have been defined as the evil doers historically by the United States, whether it was in Chile, where the tragic irony is that September 11 is also the anniversary date of the overthrow of the democratically elected Allende government there, whether it is the devastation and the genocidal impact of sanctions on the people of Iraq, whether it is the targeting of Cuba as a terrorist state by the United States, I think all of us have to be particularly vigilant to ensure that what guides us in our response is the quest for justice and not the quest for retribution and revenge.

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5:35 p.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join with my colleague from Burnaby--Douglas in speaking on behalf of the NDP at this time, of course following upon the comments of our leader earlier in the debate.

First of all I would like to extend on my own personal behalf, but again on behalf of my colleagues, as the member for Burnaby--Douglas did as well, our condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims, whether they be Canadian families, American families, British families or families from all around the world, because we understand that there were victims in the World Trade Center from literally dozens of countries around the world. We join in expressing our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, particularly when it comes to the victims who have yet to be found and who may never be found in a way that permits the kind of closure that is ordinarily available to families.

I also want to second the comments of the hon. member for Burnaby--Douglas with respect to emergency workers, the firefighters, the policemen and the other emergency workers. The people who were working at the World Trade Center were there by virtue of their work, by virtue of the chance that it was where they happened to work. It seems to me that it is something especially worthy of admiration when we imagine those firefighters and policemen going into that building and knowing, as many of them must have at a certain point, that they were literally marching to their own death. They died not so much from chance, but from doing their duty. I think that this is something that should be especially noteworthy and it certainly is something that has moved me. That is why I want to make particular mention of it.

I am also reminded in my own province of the way in which Manitobans have responded and lined up at the legislature in Manitoba to sign the books of condolence there and to express their solidarity with our American neighbours.

In the limited time I have I want to talk more about parliament and the response of parliament to this tragedy, this act of terrorism, because I think this event will test our maturity as a parliament. It will test our maturity as parliamentarians. It will test our maturity as a democracy in regard to just how we deal with this and what we say to each other today, tomorrow and in the coming days and weeks ahead as we try to sort out among ourselves what the appropriate Canadian response should be.

I would urge upon all hon. members a certain tone. There has been a lot of rhetoric about freedom and democracy, and one of the characteristics of freedom and democracy is that debate is permitted. Differences of opinion are permitted and expected when it comes to dealing with difficult problems.

I would certainly urge all hon. members to refrain from the temptation to caricature the arguments of those we do not agree with. I heard somebody earlier, for instance, talking about bleeding heart, weak-kneed Liberals. This is not the kind of rhetoric we need, any more than we need talk about other people being warmongers, bloodthirsty or whatever. We need to refrain from using these kinds of words to describe each other because we are in an entirely different situation.

There has never before been this kind of situation. There has never been terrorism on this scale. The hon. member talked about the fact that parliament has never opened with this kind of an event on its plate, so to speak. I recall parliament coming back in the fall to debate the shooting down of a Korean airliner in perhaps September 1983. That, we thought, was a tremendous tragedy, but it pales in comparison to what we have before us today.

All I am saying is that the government should take parliament into its confidence. We should have the kind of discussion that all parliaments should be able to. That will require not just an initiative on the part of the government and not just the willingness of the government to do that. That will require of all of us that we conduct ourselves in a certain way and that we refrain from some of the habits that we have developed over the years and which we enjoy so much because some issues simply do not permit that kind of behaviour.

One of the things we want to know from the government, and I think justly so, perhaps not today or tomorrow but when the time is ripe, is what is it that is being asked of the government. As members of parliament, we have a right to know what is being asked of the government by the United States or by NATO and what are the boundaries that the government has set in its own mind as to what it will do.

One of the boundaries that we suggested today in the questions asked by my leader in question period and by the member for Burnaby--Douglas and myself is the boundary of international law. If we want to respond to this in a way that creates respect for law and in a way that has more of a chance of being a long term solution, the kind of long term solution that the Prime Minister talked about, the kind of long term effective solution and not just something which feels good in the short run but which actually adds to the situation, then perhaps respect for international law is one of the boundaries that the government might want to commit itself to.

I hope at some point the government will answer that question because it did not today. It may have its own reasons for not doing so. There was not a commitment today to act within the boundaries of international law. We will be pressing the government on that point because we think it is important and we think Canadians want to know.

One of the anxieties that Canadians have when they are calling our constituency offices is, how far does this thing go. Is anything permissible? Are we like Raskolnikov in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment ? Is everything permissible, or are there limits to what as a Canadian government we are prepared to do in this pursuit? That is a very difficult question to ask because the quite natural emotional thing to feel at this point is whatever it takes. I think, yes, whatever it takes, but whatever it takes within the boundaries of international law, within the boundaries of what will actually work and what will not in its own way destabilize the climate and create the possibility for a much larger tragedy than anything that we have before us at the moment.

So, yes, we understand the rhetoric. We understand the rhetoric insofar as it emerges from the emotion and the outrage, but I think we need more clarity from the government as to what are the boundaries of that rhetoric. In that respect we probably need less rhetoric about war and more rhetoric about long term solutions and more reflective rhetoric.

I only have two minutes left and I have a few more things I want to reiterate, such as the need not to repeat the mistakes of the past and persecute minorities that are associated with perpetrators of such acts. The hon. member for Burnaby--Douglas did a good job of stressing that so I will not dwell on it.

We need to see that at these moments there is a need for reflection. Our leader said we need to reflect on why it is that so many people outside the west hate the United States and hate the west. We use the language of freedom often but we need to reflect on why they do not see as freedom what we see as freedom. They often see it as the imposition of a foreign way of doing things, particularly economically but not just economically.

That is why earlier today I talked about the need to make the distinction between fundamental values such as democracy and human rights, and ideological preferences which are sometimes held up as fundamental freedoms and which are not.

It is that confusion which is sometimes at the heart of the conflict between the United States and the people who find themselves at odds with it.

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5:45 p.m.


Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was following the hon. member's comments very closely. My question is, after everything is said and done and we retaliate and eliminate Mr. bin Laden and his followers, will that be the end or does the member see some other venue to follow, a plan a or a plan b that will bring an end to this kind of terrorism that will take away innocent lives from society forever?

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5:45 p.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think the answer is quite simple. Although it may well be exactly what we would like to do to bring the perpetrators of this particular crime, whoever they may be, to justice, after that is done that will not be the end of the problem.

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5:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments in his speech today as I have on a number of occasions. I have to ask him a question and maybe he can clarify something for the good old average hardworking Canadian who may not understand a lot of the lingo that comes out of this particular area.

The member may know that I lived in the United States for the first 35 years of my life before immigrating to Canada, which I have never regretted. I have deep roots and I love that country a great deal.

I have often asked myself over the years why it is that the Americans are hated to such a degree. I remember the Marshall plan, the Truman policies, the billions of dollars that went into rebuilding countries throughout the world with dollars that were never repaid. There were no complaints from American taxpayers in regard to helping build the railroads through India. I remember those days even though I was very young. I sat by the radio with my family when Pearl Harbor was bombed and I listened to the tragic events, not fully understanding them. I saw my oldest brother and many of my other relatives go off to war. I was a little older when they came back and unfortunately I had to attend some funerals. The price of freedom is not cheap.

The member and members of his party talked about the need to observe international law. Did Iraq observe international law when it took over Kuwait? Was international law being addressed with the gulf war? What about some of the other great battles that took place where Canadians sacrificed great losses?

I would like to remind the member who spoke before he did of a simple statement. When we talk about who causes crimes, try saying criminals to see if that answers it to some degree. Who causes these terrorist events? Terrorists, crazy people with absolutely evil minds. Admit it right up front. Rather than talking about the root causes and that this would not happen to the United States if it were more giving or more helpful to the rest of the world. I have seen it sacrifice billions of dollars to no end.

Would the member please address to the rest of the Canadian public just exactly what it means when his party insists that international law rule the day as we address this extremely serious problem?

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5:50 p.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member ranged over a wide area of questions and I do not have the time to address everything.

We would want to talk about international law because we believe in the kind of things that we were taught when we were kids, that two wrongs do not make a right. I wonder how many times the hon. member, as a teacher in a classroom, said that two wrongs do not make a right.

The member referred to World War II and presumably World War I and other wars where there is an identifiable nation and there is a declaration of war. These are different kinds of situations than the ones we face today. It is certainly not clear to me or any other Canadian at this point that we face a situation like that. The government has not said that is so. It uses that kind of rhetoric but it has not said that is so in any way that we could identify concretely. Mixing those images is probably not appropriate.

I concur with the hon. member with respect to the generosity of America after the second world war and the way it went about it with the Marshall plan and through the rebuilding of Europe and Japan. None of that is in question. At a certain point I would say to the hon. member there came this perception. It does not justify this action of terrorism.

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5:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. I regret but in the spirit of fairness to try to give as many people the opportunity to speak, resuming debate, the hon. member for Ottawa Centre.

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5:50 p.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

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

Mr. Speaker, before I continue I would like to indicate that I will split my time with the hon. member for Fredericton.

Our sorrow and sadness is shared by all Canadians, many of whom have attended services like the one held here on Parliament Hill.

September 11, 2001 marks the first time in history that we have seen people from different countries and different religious backgrounds perish innocently and without knowing their enemy or the cause. September 11 will go down in history as the day when people from all countries, all religions and all cultures were united in their grief, united in their sadness, united in their anger and perhaps most of all, were united in disbelief and shock.

I deplore violence and I condemn it.

I watched with shock and horror the images of this tragedy. I reacted with anger and disbelief along with millions around the world. My heart went out to the families and the loved ones of the victims who perished in this senseless act of terror.

As people go back to their daily lives, I feel sad that the pain and suffering of the victims' families and friends will continue regardless of what governments might do.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States became the only undisputed superpower around the world. This new global order created a number of challenges and opportunities for the United States, including shouldering the greater burden of responsibility for preserving international peace. Yet along with this power came a lot of responsibilities.

Being the most powerful does not provide one with the chance to sit back and watch from the sidelines. Being the most powerful means many more demands to break up fights, to mediate, to make compromises and above all to be continuously engaged. Being the most powerful means dealing with the risk of becoming a target, a magnet and an outlet for grievances, attacks and, unfortunately, a crisis like the one we have just seen.

In this context the United States has the experience of being involved in numerous complex and difficult situations all of which require diligence and hard work. Yet being the only superpower means more pressure from different parts of the world, different interests and different needs. Being the most powerful means that short term and long term policies must be continually updated and focused to meet the new role of being the only judge in town.

We must therefore ask ourselves if NATO and other regional security arrangements have policies that reflect this new era. Today we can no longer rely simply on a strong military to ensure our security. Today as governments around the world prepare for action, we as Canadians must join in and do what is necessary to prevent this from ever happening again. We must remain vigilant and keep a watchful eye on the international scene to protect not only our own country but also to protect all of our neighbours around the globe.

We must also ensure not to confuse and discriminate against our neighbours just because of their religious background or place of origin. We must remember that most of our recent immigrants from that part of the world are here because of fear of violence and war. They are here to build a better future for their children. They too are feeling the pain and suffering of the victims and their families.

As Canadians we must continue our tradition of helping those in times of need wherever and whenever disaster and tragedy strikes. We must also encourage all nations to do the same and to pursue foreign policies that build on international co-operation.

The strongest and most powerful nation must take the lead and confront the cruel reality that we witnessed on September 11. None of us, not one single government, not one single country, can afford to sit on the sidelines any longer. We all must stand up and confront terrorism in all of its forms.

Decision makers around the world must update and adopt policies and long term plans to prevent events similar to those we witnessed on September 11.

The most powerful government must accept responsibility for maintaining peace and security on a global scale. This burden requires bold leadership and a determination to succeed, no matter how long it takes.

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5:55 p.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member across the way for his very thoughtful comments. Indeed, there have been many thoughtful comments made in the House today.

I have been quite overwhelmed by the e-mails, letters and phone calls that I have received from my constituents in east Vancouver expressing their deep feelings about this tragedy and about the heroic efforts of the rescue workers, firefighters, police officers and the people of New York city who volunteered to help and who are still helping.

I certainly want to add my voice to that of my colleague's and other members of the House today who have expressed their sense of loss about this tragedy and the fact that our world has now changed.

I also want to pick up on the very thoughtful comments from the leader of the NDP, the member for Burnaby--Douglas and the member for Winnipeg--Transcona made earlier today about this being a time when parliamentarians have to be very thoughtful about what we do. The member across the way, I think, also expressed some of those sentiments.

I have been really overwhelmed by the response from my constituents who are incredibly fearful about what will now happen. People feel the sense of the tragedy but they also fear a great sense of unease and insecurity.

The NDP House leader raised this question. When we consider our response in the name of freedom and democracy, what do we mean and when does our freedom become someone else's oppression?

Does the member agree with me? Members in our caucus have really tried to put a very strong message out today that in that response we have to ensure violence does not now beget violence, that we do not escalate the kind of conflict we have seen and that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past in terms of NATO policy or U.S. policy that caused great suffering and oppression for peoples around the world.

If we truly mean that we want to give respect to all faiths and all peoples both here in Canada as well as globally, then we must show that by our actions not just by the words that we use.

Would the member agree that we need to engage in a response that is within the bounds of international law and judicial process rather than allowing rampant militarism to take over our society which I think in the long run it will create more oppression and more suffering, and we will not have solved the crisis before us.

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6 p.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I totally agree that we have to work collectively in a multilateral approach to deal with these issues. I suggest to my colleagues that this is precisely what the American administration, as well as its allies around the globe and friends in the free world are doing as we speak. That is to build a coalition so they can collectively take action to weed out terrorism, wherever it exists.

On that note, I was reading an e-mail on the website last night from someone who was from Afghanistan and presently living in the states. The person indicated that there was no need to worry about marching into Afghanistan to destroy it because Russia and the Taliban had already done that. There was nothing left except the rubble.

In essence, there is a tremendous fear out there whether we will target civilians. That fear is shared not only by Canadians, but also by Americans and collectively by the free world.

The mere notion of whether or not we should act should not even be a question. The action must take place now to weed out the problem.

We also have to have a parallel approach that goes along with it, and that is the engagement approach. We must not act without having that parallel approach. We can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch events unfold around the world and say that this is not our problem any more. Every problem in every part of the world is our problem regardless of where we live.

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6 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, will the member agree with me that one of the most elemental duties of the House of Commons and its members is to provide the very best we can to protect the citizens of our country, the sovereignty of our land and of the North American continent? Is that a very high priority and is it essential on the member's list?

If so, is he as an individual member of government prepared to encourage his finance minister to find ways to stop spending money that is not necessary for other things and direct it toward this great cause?

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6 p.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government is doing all it can to take all the necessary actions to deal with the issue at hand.

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6 p.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all of us who live in my riding of Fredericton, we share the expressions of shock, horror and sadness that I have heard all day here. What happened in New York and Washington last week was not only an immense tragedy for the United States as a country, it was a tragedy for all humanity.

Just last year we entered into a new era, the 21st century, an era of new hope and possibility. No one could have foreseen that we would be here today after this horrendous act that has sent shock waves through the entire global community.

I was prompted last week to call and try to have the opportunity to speak in this debate because of what I was hearing in my community, on the television, on the radio and what I was reading in the media. These were calls for great force, immediate force and indiscriminate force in some cases.

While I continue to be concerned about that, having heard the leaders of all parties speak today, I feel more confident that we all understand the need for a measured response. In fact, over the course of the last week we could measure the moderation that came into the debate.

A service was held last night in Fredericton, at the First Wesleyan Church. Dr. Medders, the president of the Bethany Bible College in Sussex, New Brunswick, spoke as an American. He talked of his own struggle as a man of faith dealing with this, and as an American. He called upon my community and his community to remember that God was a God of love. He appealed to everyone for moderation.

The assault last week was targeted at the Americans, but it was also an assault on civilized humanity of all faiths.

When we examine what it is that defines our civility, it is a respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms. I believe we have evolved to a place where we hold life and freedom of the utmost importance above all else, crossing over geographic boundaries, religious or political affiliation and values like love and tolerance. These are values with which Canadians are very familiar.

Unfortunately, it would seem there also exist on the planet those who lack this level of civility, who do not share our values and who feel that it is acceptable to take away these basic fundamental human rights. They hold their views above the sanctity of life itself.

I make the point is because if we are going to respond on the basis of the argument that the terrorists violated our sense of civility, then we need to ensure that we respond on the basis of those same standards of civility and do not sink to the depths that the terrorists have. I believe that would play into their hands and to those who would welcome our sinking to their level.

The attack was not about a particular region or faith. Rather it was a misguided idea that in all cases the ends justify the means. This instance shows how wrongheaded that expression can be. This is not to say that this unprecedented attack does not make us angry and instinctively wish to punish those responsible for their terror. They must be brought to justice. However we need to ensure that we define with great precision the other side of the conflict. Bringing harm to civilians while waging war against a religion or region will not bring justice. It will indicate that we have been unworthy stewards of the very values that these criminals have violated.

We need to argue for the rule of law, not the tyranny of excessive power any more than we can abide by the tyranny of terror. The events have caused great interest and angst. Our call-in shows have been inundated, and it would seem the conclusion is that the world will never be the same. There is a great sense of just how defining these events will be for all of us.

Probably the most important defining element of all of this may be in the response for better or for worse. I would hope that in our response we will seek justice and not revenge. We must view innocent people in other parts of the world the same as we do those same people in North America and any actions against them as horrendous as those perpetrated last week.

As President Bush's message to the Prime Minister suggests that he would thank Canadians, I would like to thank all my constituents in the riding of Fredericton for their prayers, support and generosity toward the victims during this difficult time.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the faith community in Fredericton for their outpouring of support and faith for the victims of this event. I would like to commend Premier Lord and the Leader of the Opposition, Bernard Richard, who called on using restraint when we defined what the Canadian response would be. They called on all New Brunswickers not to lose sight of our historic values of tolerance and love for each other.

I would also like to acknowledge all of the timely preparedness of everyone at CFB Gagetown who on short notice were ready to provide any emergency support and service as needed.

I spoke with Sherif Fahmy, the leader of the Muslim community in Fredericton last week, to offer my own personal support to that community and encouraged him to bring any incidents of backlash to my immediate attention. I urge everyone in the constituency to remember that the Muslim community in Fredericton are people of love and innocence. Now more than ever they too need our respect, affection and support.

After carefully considering these events, we need to rethink the security systems in Canada. Many of these systems are expensive but critical. We need to make the resources available to these agencies, as well as our local airports. If it is to work we must realize that some of the smaller airports are going to have difficulty living with higher standards of security. I believe this is an obligation that falls on the federal government.

On a final and personal note, I would like to join with my constituents to pay tribute to the emergency workers whose heroism stands out as a beacon at a time when evil is getting so much attention.

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6:10 p.m.


Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have some comments. The events of September 11, 2001, the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, have left all of us in a state of shock. These attacks were senseless and misdirected acts of brutality against innocent men and women. On behalf of the Sikh community I condemn this act.

I want to express my deepest sympathy toward those who lost loved family members, friends and co-workers in these horrible events.

Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in these heinous acts, wears a beard and a turban. Suspicion and anger are being directed by those who simply do not know any better against members of communities whose dress, culture and religion are different. Many Sikhs who wear the turban and beard belong to a different religion, but perhaps have been mistakenly linked because of their dress code to the prime suspect, Osama bin Laden.

There are already reports of violence against visible minorities in Canada and the United States, but all of us must know better.

We must know better because all decent women and men, no matter their ethnic or cultural background, are one in grieving the events at the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

We must know better because if we are to wage war against these terrorists we must know that we are not waging war against a particular race, religion or ethnic community.

Canada celebrates its multiculturalism. All Canadians, no matter their racial background or religious beliefs, are working together to create a global community of democracy, decency and fairness. We can be proud of that. We must not allow the terrible incidents of September 11 to take that way from us.

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6:10 p.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the intervention from my colleague, only to say that I believe at this time that it is necessary for people from all backgrounds to express themselves clearly and without equivocation in terms of those values that he articulated. Many members have articulated these values all day.

It makes me proud to be a Canadian and to hear those values resonating from all corners of the House, from all regions of the country and from all religious faiths.

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6:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to speak to this very important motion that will pass unanimously later this day.

On behalf of my constituents, I would like to express the sadness and horror we all felt over the last week, especially for our American friends but also for the many Canadian families who have suffered. I think all of us will look back obviously and say that we are changed people.

I think we all believe that as of September 11 everything has changed. In many ways it has but in another way maybe nothing has changed. The date, the scenes and the horror will be forever in our minds because of the newspaper reports and what we have seen on television for endless hours.

The fight against terrorism has been going on for a long time and it will go on from this day forward for a long time as well. It is never an easy fight because the war, which everyone will willingly engage in on terrorism, is not an old fashioned war. It is a different type of war. The war that we fought in World War I, then changed to a more technological war in World War II, and then when we got to the Stealth bombers in the Iraq war it changed again, but this war is different again. It will not be easily won but obviously win it we must.

The other thing that has not changed is the role of government. The role of government is to maintain order and to extend the rule of law on behalf of its citizens. We count on our governments to do that. When we give up, for example, the right to bear arms, we do that because we expect the government to look after our safety. We do it willingly because we want the government to have that primary role.

However the government has to exert that role and has to exercise its responsibilities wisely. Over the next few days, weeks and maybe even years there will be continual calls for the government to use its power properly in the fight against terrorism both here and abroad.

Before I go further, Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate that I am splitting my time with the member for Cumberland--Colchester.

I have also heard of two extremes. I have not heard this personally but I have read it in the papers and I have heard a little bit about it just in passing. One is that somehow the west is responsible for this, that somehow we have created this monster, this problem or whatever, and we are to blame. The other one is that we need to go over there and bomb somebody into the dark ages even though we do not even know who they are.

Neither extreme can carry the day. Now is not the time to say that we are going to get even with somebody or we are going to show them how much explosive power we have. On the other hand, it is not the day to point at other people, other countries or our American friends and say “You're to blame somehow”. I think it is preposterous to say that. However, I hear it and I have read it a little bit. I think we should do away with that in our lexicon and in our discussions. It is not someone's fault when some terrorist does a dirty deed. It is evil, it is wrong and it needs to be fought with all the power that governments and individuals have so that people around the world know that we have a zero tolerance for racism and violence in homes.

We also have zero tolerance toward terrorism. We do not entertain the thought. We do not blame others. We find it, we ferret it out and we deal with it. We do not blame others. We deal with the issue.

September 11, 2001 was supposed to be known as the 20th anniversary of the UN day of peace. Early that day the UN secretary general issued a press release calling for an end to hostilities around the world. Instead the world watched history's most despicable terrorist act unfold before their eyes and, in a sad and perhaps inevitable way, another generation has seen an end to innocence.

How were we innocent? Some of us were simply gullible. We have seen a lot of terrorism. We have seen it in Israel, in Ireland and around the world but it was always over there, over there being some thousands of miles away, an ocean way. It has always been somewhere else.

Surely that innocence is gone. Even for kids as young as five or six years old who have been watching this stuff on television are seized with it. They are afraid and so terrorism has worked its ugly magic. It is in everybody's mind and in everybody's heart.

It is also an innocence in that we have been complacent. We have seen terrorism and have known of terrorism activity in Canada. They have raised funds here or have set up headquarters here. We have been complacent.

We have to sit down, not in the months ahead but quickly, and ask what steps are needed to make sure that terrorism does not use this country as a jumping off spot to attack others, that it does not raise funds here and that it is not welcome here. We want everyone around the world to know that there is no welcome mat here and that if terrorists come here they are looking for trouble.

Terrorism is different from people visiting, immigrating or finding refuge in our country. Terrorism is evil. It is a crime that should not have any place in Canadian society. We need to send that message around the world.

I think we had an innocence about globalization. We wanted to believe all the good things about globalization. We wanted to believe the advantages of free trade, in which I believe. We wanted the opportunity to share wealth with the poorer nations. We wanted the technological advances to be shared around the world. We saw great opportunities. What a great number of pluses in that whole potpourri of globalization issues.

However there is a downside. The downside is that we have to be careful because there is ease of access to easy targets. Terrorism does not know borders any more. There is ease of travel and ease of using technology against innocent people. Even the simple use of cell phones and the Internet to co-ordinate that stuff is a downside with which we have to deal. We need to realize that something else has happened that we need to work into lives and into government policy.

I think all of us will be able to describe forever where we were and what we were doing when the news first hit us on Tuesday morning. It is one of those moments in history that will not come and go. While the debate here today is a good one, it will be quickly forgotten but we will all remember where we were on Tuesday morning.

I was in Edmonton at the time. I was doing an interview early that morning. I got up at 5.30 a.m. because it was important. I did an interview on CBC about what would happen in the House this week. It turned out to be completely irrelevant, not only for that day but almost irrelevant to my thoughts for the last week. I have not been able to think about this place or concentrate on getting ready for parliament. My staff has been glued to the television. We cannot get out of this because the horror is too much. We will never forget it but it has to galvanize us now into action.

We are here in the House because it is about the business of the nation. Our business now is not just for Canada but for the world, and the world has said that we have a war against terrorism and this House and this nation must do their part.

I think older generations already know the feelings we are experiencing now. I think they felt the same way when Pearl Harbor was bombed and when President Kennedy was killed. We wonder what has gone wrong. We wonder where we are and we feel we have lost control. The nice little world I was planning for the fall session has come unglued. I think the older generations knew and felt that too.

I think our memories will now be divided by life before the attack on America and life after the attack. It will never be the same. Every trip through heightened airport security will remind us of that day. Every lengthy border crossing will twig our memories. Every replay on the television will drive it home that we are not an island, that we do not live in isolation and that we are not able to protect ourselves any more.

Perhaps the most important thing of all is that it is finally our generations' moment to pick up the torch of freedom and liberty handed to us by our forefathers at such tremendous personal cost.

The true north strong and free did not happen by accident. America's life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was not given to the people of the United States as a birthright. These privileges came about because men and women made a conscious decision that some things are worth fighting for, that atrocities committed far away and against total strangers are unacceptable acts against the liberties of us all.

We have now lived for a generation dreaming that because the battle against evil was fought and won, it was won for all time, but it was a pipe dream, an illusion. The type of war being waged against freedom has changed but the evil continues on unrelenting.

I will conclude with the words of Winston Churchill during the darkest part of the second world war when he said:

You ask, what is our policy? I say it is to wage war by land, sea, and air. War with all our might and with all the strength God has given us.... You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs--Victory in spite of all terrors--Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.

We have had a horrible wake-up call. We will not go back to sleep. We will keep pressing forward. Let us hope that future generations will say that we rose to the challenge given to our generation, that we were not found wanting and that we did our part to put evil back in its place.

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6:20 p.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with considerable interest to the member for Fraser Valley who ended with a quotation. I would like to read one. This came in an e-mail to me today from a young women named Janet Mader, a 15 year old who lives in Calgary. This is a couplet. I think it is actually haiku, if that is the right word. This is what she said:

May what's left of peace blossom and grow, Turn the anger and tears to unity and strength.

That was the response from one young person in Canada.

As I mentioned earlier today, people come to us bewildered, frightened and sometimes simply confused. The member also mentioned that. I have been asking members today, and I will now ask the member for Fraser Valley, what has he been saying to individual constituents. He is saying to donate blood, yes, in the short run, help the Canadian Red Cross now and in the future, but what specific things is he saying to his constituents.

I understand the general things but in this confusing situation I have been asking different members the same question. What does he say to a constituent on the street who is confused, angry and wants to do something specific?

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6:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, there are some specific things which have already been mentioned. I know funds have been set up to help the victims in New York. Obviously people have been giving blood and so on.

Many people in my community have been called to prayer, which is something unusual, not normally done in our sedate Canadian culture. People have actually found solace in places of worship where they have been able to gather together, support one another and communicate their compassion and concern not only for the victims of the tragedy but for the evolving situation. They pray for wisdom. They want people to weigh the different options before them. They almost ask for a divine intervention. We all understand how serious this is. People are doing that and I think it is a good thing. It has been a good thing in our community.

I have also been encouraging people not to let terrorists win by giving up on their routine. It will not be routine again. When people get on a plane now it is not routine. Some people in caucus have been saying that their five and six year old children have asked them not to get on the plane. It will never be the same.

I think we fight back, at least in part, by saying that we will not cower before these cowardly acts. We will get up in the morning, put our pants on, go to work, pay our bills and get at it. We must steel our resolve.

Canadians should understand what we are up against when people talk about the war on terrorism. Our own foreign minister said it and the president of the United States has said it. When terms like that are used it means that it is not a quick fix. When we resolve to do something and say that we should do something we must understand what it means.

I have been telling my own constituents the same thing. It is not a quick fix. Anything could be a target and there might be another one. What if it is the subway tomorrow? What if it is a train? What if it is another country? We cannot stop. We have to get up, ask for God's guidance, if you will, but we have to get back in the saddle and go at it.

I have been saying to people that the worst thing we could do is close the borders, hunker down in our cell, not talk to our neighbours, to start pointing fingers at other religions, all those kinds of things. Those are all the wrong responses.

The right response is that we will have zero tolerance for terrorism and for people who harbour terrorists but we will reach out to people around the world. We will do what Canadians have done best for a long time, which is to show our compassionate side knowing full well, as the president has said about the Americans, we are a great and generous people. We can be fierce when angered as well and right now my constituents are damned angry.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

September 17th, 2001 / 6:25 p.m.


Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I understand there have been discussions among the House leaders and that there is consent, given the importance of this debate, for the following motion. I move:

That the House continue to sit until midnight today.

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6:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

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

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6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

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6:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased to join this debate and I am certainly proud to follow the last speaker, the member for Fraser Valley, who did such a great job in expressing many of the feelings of the progressive conservative democratic representative coalition. We certainly extend our condolences to all of the victims of this terrible disaster, in both the United States and Canada and around the world.

I want to extend those condolences from my own riding of Cumberland--Colchester as well. We have had many calls. People just call and ask how they can help and what they can do. We are trying to help them through that.

I am also pleased that our coalition will stand shoulder to shoulder and support the government in its effort to fight terrorism. As the member for Fraser Valley stated very clearly, we will have zero tolerance for terrorism anywhere. I think that is the proper attitude at this time and we are all very supportive of that.

I want to refer to the actual government motion today, which says that part of the purpose of this debate is that the House express its heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and the American people. I am moved and impressed by the reaction of Canadians and how they are doing this. If there is any question about the sincere sentiment of Canadians, about how they feel, all one has to do is visit the condolences books set up by the Speaker in the Hall of Honour and take some time to read the comments from people from across the country and from other countries who have come here to write notes in these books. They do not just sign the condolences book. Often they will tell a story and maybe write a page, or they will have their children add comments. It is truly impressive and moving when they express their sadness, their sorrow and their concern in regard to this terrible act.

In fact I called my own office and asked that condolences books be established in our two offices in Amherst and Truro. The condolence books will be available starting today. It is just a reaction from the comments made by Canadian people in those books.

Another sign of the sentiment of Canadians that impressed me a lot was that on Wednesday when I drove through four provinces from Nova Scotia to Ottawa, it struck me that everywhere flags were at half mast. That is a sign of the sadness and sorrow felt by people everywhere in all of those four provinces, and I am sure all the other provinces and territories feel the sadness and sorrow.

Very quickly the thought crossed my mind that maybe we should fly our flags at half mast one day for every victim until I figured out that it would take us over 14 years. It is really devastating to think of the disaster that has happened.

On Tuesday, in my own riding, volunteers went to New York on news of this incredible disaster. From little communities in my riding like Southampton, Joggins, Parrsboro and Amherst, volunteer firefighters jumped in the car, drove to New York through the night, arrived at 10 o'clock in the morning and offered to help. They were immediately recognized because they are first responders and are trained in high angle rescue. They went right to work. There were no questions asked. They just did it, these volunteers from these little. communities. It makes all of us proud as members of parliament to have constituents like that.

The Minister of Transport today acknowledged all the contributions of the airports across the country, which took in the aircraft that could not land in the United States. They came to Canada and that presented a great risk, but Canadians took that risk. These planes were not allowed to land in the U.S. for good reason: because there was a risk. They came to Canada and were not turned away. Canada welcomed those planes to little communities right across the country. Again, the Minister of Transport acknowledged that Atlantic Canada bore the brunt of that in airports like Halifax, Gander, St. John's, Stephenville and so on. We are just really proud that our constituents and our people in Atlantic Canada reacted in such a manner.

In every tragedy and every situation like this, be it Swiss Air 111 or what have you, I think that Atlantic Canadians and Canadians have acted in the most compassionate, responsible and competent way possible. I believe it was our leader, the member for Calgary Centre, who said today that Canadians are ahead of us on this whole issue, and they are.

Although these crashes did not occur here they certainly affected us all in many ways and will continue to affect us.

There are still between 40 and 70 missing and innocent Canadians who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. That is going to affect hundreds of people directly and thousands of people indirectly in the country. We may never know what happened to some of those people.

When I arrived in Ottawa the other day, I found gates everywhere. The access to my workplace was blocked off. There were policemen in bulletproof vests and police cars everywhere. It really sent me a signal about how much our lives here have changed. The heightened security was incredible. A Muslim diplomat came to my office to see me to talk about these issues. He was not allowed in the building, not because he was Muslim but because no one was allowed in my building. The only way someone could come to see me was to go through a metal detector at the back of the building. They had to go around to the back of the building to come in. I was embarrassed for my visitor to have to go through this, but again it is a sign of what we are faced with in the future.

The Muslim diplomat relayed to me how his relatives in Canada are already being singled out and being identified as perhaps part of this terrorism. It was very troubling to him and is very troubling to his community. It raises awful questions about labelling any religion, culture or nation with this terrible hate crime of terrorism. It is not accurate and should not be done. Almost every member in every party has spoken on this. It is very important that we understand that these are hate crimes. These are not crimes committed by regular people no matter what their religion or culture.

In my opinion this whole exercise has clarified the situation and the word terrorism. I have heard the word terrorism my whole life and I have never really realized what it meant. I am not sure I realize now, but I realize it must be redefined in our own way of thinking. It is not just a crime; it is worse than a crime and it must be treated differently from other crimes in my opinion. Certainly Canada can no longer sit on the sidelines and talk about terrorism in an abstract manner. We are very much a part of this now. It has come to us, it has affected our country and will continue to affect our country. It is important that we as a government and as a parliament come up with a comprehensive strategy to deal with this now and in the long term. We have to share with other countries that have experienced this terrible terrorism. We have to share in the responsibility to stop it. We have to stop it in a responsible fashion. We will be insisting that whatever strategy is developed from this event, we will be responsible. We have to understand that we are almost on a treadmill. The acts of terrorism are continuing and are getting worse, from a bar in Germany to the ship that was bombed in 2000, to the barracks in Saudi Arabia, and now this incredible series of crashes in New York that took perhaps 5,000 lives at once.

This is an incredible story of successful hijackings. Four out of four hijackings were successful. It really brings it home and emphasizes and focuses on the terrible shortcoming in our security systems. Although it happened in the U.S., I am sure that it could have happened in Canada. If there was ever a clear message about security this is it. We must completely revamp all our systems. I heard the Minister of Transport say today that the department is reviewing all aspects of transportation. I am certainly pleased to hear that. We will be focusing on ensuring that he does follow up. This escalating series of terrorist acts must stop. We must stop them now. We must take a stand as a world and stop them.

As I said, the target was the U.S. but Canada has been severely impacted, as if we were the target. Our transportation system ground to a halt immediately. Our economic markets and stock markets ground to a halt. Our systems ground to a halt, our security changed and we are now very much a part of this worldwide crisis.

We must act responsibly. In the coming days this coalition will be asking questions. We will be asking the government to move quickly and responsibly in many ways. There will be a debate about a continental security system. We have to be involved with that debate from its very inception. We cannot come in at the very end when it is too late to talk about protection for our sovereignty and our culture in Canada. We can be a part of this but still protect our sovereignty and culture and we must be in on the ground floor.

We must talk about the failure of the intelligence service in North America. We must ensure that it is well funded and properly equipped to do the job. We must ask for briefings from the Americans on what they will do, on how they will react. We should ask the Americans to brief parliamentarians on what they will do. There are many other questions that we will be asking of them about the transportation system and also the security system.

I will close by saying that we as a party, we as members, share in the grief that the Americans are feeling. We absolutely commit to share in the resolution of this problem in every effort to stop terrorism worldwide.