Madam Chairman, we have had a very good debate here this evening on this issue and although it will not be concluded with a vote there is always a possibility that as things evolve we will at some point be asked to stand up.
I will speak a little bit, without repeating things that have been spoken about by colleagues on both sides of the House, on two or three perspectives on this issue: Canada's role at this time in history and Canada's role leading up to the present. I tend to view it as a continuity.
Some around the House have suggested that Canada is changing in the way it is operating internationally. In my view, I do not think Canada has changed at all. We have a consistent record of peacekeeping, a consistent record of peacemaking where necessary and a consistent record of participation in collective security initiatives at the UN and with NATO. We have a record that goes back to Korea, the Middle East, Congo, Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo. Should Canada be called upon to contribute to a collective security action in Iraq again I am very confident that Canada will play a role.
There are of course some prerequisites before that happens but I am sure Canadians will accept that Canada must continue to play a role with the United Nations and with NATO, albeit in different circumstances and with different preconditions. We have done it before and we will do it again.
One of the members of the New Democratic Party asked whatever happened to Lester Pearson's way of doing things. He was one of our great Canadians who won a peacekeeping medal. My recollection is that when he won the peacekeeping medal it followed Canada's placement of its forces into the Gaza Strip in the Middle East for peacekeeping purposes.
Canadians' use of their military for collective security is not new. It is continuing. I think that essentially is the issue we are being asked to address here.
I want to make three points, which may have been discussed by others, but perhaps not, but I want to make sure that perspective is on the record. In my view, if something matures--and I will not call it a war if it is a war, it will be a collective security action--it will not have evolved out of 9/11 but out of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, what we called the gulf war of 11 or 12 years ago. This is, in a sense, unfinished business from that war. At the conclusion of that military engagement Iraq agreed to disarm.
At this time, most observers believe Iraq has not disarmed. At this time there are inspectors continuing the work, as has been discussed, of trying to determine how much Iraq has or has not disarmed.
Over this past period, just to reinforce the point, we have maintained fairly rigorous sanctions on Iraq, sanctions that have actually harmed human beings in Iraq. We have maintained no-fly zones in the north and south of Iraq, and other things have gone on such as minor military tactical engagements and special forces operations. These things have gone on over the last 10 years on the fringes, not necessarily in the headlines. Iraq continues to be a problem and has not yet shown to be disarmed or disengaged from those weapons that we know it had.
I would also suggest, in the event that we go into a military engagement in this case, that it could end with the lifting of sanctions, with the streaming of aid and with the channeling of resources that are already in Iraq toward the people who need it there, and then a reconstruction.
I want to talk about the evidence of weapons of mass destruction or non-evidence of weapons of mass destruction. In the business of intelligence gathering it is not always possible to make known what one knows.
There are two good reasons for that. I am talking about the intelligence gathering in relation to whether Iraq has or does not have weapons of mass destruction in existence, buried, hidden or whatever.
The two reasons for not making disclosures are: one, we give up our source. By telling our adversary what we know, we likely have given up our source, and we need that source. Second, we give up our edge, our advantage. We give up our advantage because we know what he does not know that we know.
Those are reasons why the United States and our allies may not want at this point in time to give up that information. If there is an end game in process, then they give up their source and then they make their intelligence known.
If February 5 is a date when the U.S. and others are prepared to give up information to the United Nations, then the end game is in process and Saddam Hussein should be aware of it.
In conclusion, as my time has run out, if there is an engagement, this engagement will not be like the others. If we must be involved, then I think we will be involved.