This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #56 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

The hon. member said that they do it in the United States. I do not apologize for having a different kind of government.

Perhaps the Bloc motion before us today could sound attractive to some on first reading. However, a closer examination shows that the motion actually reduces the role of the House and denies members of Parliament the right to discuss the Iraq situation if certain conditions are met.

The motion says that the House can only consider the sending of troops to Iraq after a UN resolution authorizing military intervention has been passed. Unless there is a UN resolution, the government is not prevented from sending troops. It could send troops without a UN resolution but would be forbidden to debate it in the House until there is a UN resolution, if there ever is one. Those terms will not even expire under the motion. It limits members debating a unilateral decision.

Let us say there was a unilateral decision to send our troops to war, Canada and the United States together, or Canada alone as it does not matter for the purpose of the argument. I hope of course we have neither but it would mean that could be done, but we could not debate it if we passed the motion.

Let us reread the wording of the motion more carefully:

That this House consider the sending of troops to Iraq by the government only after the United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution explicitly authorizing a military intervention in Iraq.

Perhaps what the hon. member meant was “that the government consider only after UN approval”. He is free to propose this, but I would not agree. Nevertheless, in terms of logic, I think it would work. He could have said, “That the government consider only after UN approval—” or “That the government consider only after UN authorization, on the recommendation of the House of Commons--”.

I am not saying I would be in agreement with the motion, but at least its wording would be more logical. What we have before us at present calls for the following: In the event that Canada should support the United States in a military intervention without the support of the UN, the government would, as it is of course constitutionally empowered to, be totally authorized to participate, but it would be absolutely forbidden to discuss this in the House.

I am re-reading the motion and I invite all members to do the same. I do not understand why people want to impose a ban when we read, “That this House consider the sending of troops—”. Not that the government should not send troops, but that we are considering the matter or, in other words, that we are talking about it. The motion goes on to say, “—to Iraq by the government only after the United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution—”.

As it now stands, the motion does not prevent military participation with or without the UN, it does not prevent the government from acting with or without the UN but, under certain conditions, it would prevent the House from debating it.

I do not know what the hon. member intended. I can speculate but, as it now stands, this motion almost directly opposes the amendment proposed last week by the Bloc Quebecois to the Canadian Alliance's motion. That motion said that if a decision were made, with or without the UN, Parliament must be recalled immediately to debate the question. In the motion before us, if a decision is made, if the UN has not made a decision in this respect, we cannot debate it. In other words, if we adopt this motion, debate would be prohibited. However, by adopting the Canadian Alliance's motion, with the Bloc Quebecois' amendment, the debate would be authorized again five minutes later.

So the wording is faulty. We have a practice in this House, and it should be respected. I talked about it last week and I encourage, once again, all my hon. colleagues to vote against the motion before us, the Bloc Quebecois' amendment from last Thursday and, of course, the main motion proposed by the Canadian Alliance last Thursday. All three motions should be defeated for all the reasons I mentioned today and last week.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, rarely have we seen an intellectual mishmash that is so unpalatable, incoherent and, ultimately, stupid as the comments made by the House leader. To make fun of one the most serious concerns of our fellow citizens is truly to act in bad faith.

Those who listened to the government House leader can see his contempt for this institution.

Our proposal reflects what we have been saying since the House resumed sitting in January, that is we want a vote. If the government House leader has so little respect for his duties that he thinks it is unimportant that parliamentarians in this House rise and vote on the sending of troops, then there is something that he does not understand about his responsibilities.

The way that he made fun of an extremely important motion reflects a cavalier attitude. What argument does the government House leader have against the proposal whereby, should the UN decide, in a multilateral context, to send troops to Iraq, and should Canada be asked to participate, we should have a vote in the House?

If the government House leader does not have anything better to say than to use irony and make fun of such a serious issue, then he is not worthy of his position.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, if I have upset the member on the other side of the House, that is his problem. The fact remains that what he thinks he would like to vote on is not found in the motion that was moved and that is not my fault. The potential war in Iraq is important, I acknowledge that. I myself asked to consult with the other parliamentary leaders. We had a take note debate on this matter and I offered to hold a second debate. No other party in the House wanted this.

I thought that this issue was important, but the issue before us today is whether maintaining peace is important. The member can re-read my speech from last Thursday when I talked about this at length. That is not what is before us today. What we are talking about today is that the House will only consider sending troops to Iraq after a UN resolution. That means that if there is no UN resolution, there is no action to be taken. There would even be a ban on debating it in this House. That is what he does not understand and undoubtedly is not what he meant to say.

Nevertheless, that said, the Prime Minister said the following in the House last week.

In the event of military intervention and further to the request of the official opposition last week, the Prime Minister will allow on the first sitting day following a possible deployment—if there is one, but we all hope there will not be—an opposition day with a vote so that the opposition party for whom the day is designated may choose the theme it wants, presumably Iraq. Obviously it is not up to the government to choose the theme for an opposition day.

This was already said and repeated. I repeated this on Friday and the Prime Minister said it on Thursday. I talked about it myself afterward. It is all true, but it has nothing to do with the motion before us today. It is not at all the same. The motion does not say “A vote is called for if troops are deployed”.

I invite the member to consult what is in front of him. The motion does not say that.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do think that when troops are deployed people need to think through the proper order as to what the government should be obligated to do.

I brought forward a private member's bill quite a few years ago which basically urged the government to follow the gist of our own Alliance motion on which we will be voting soon. The government knows the urgency of the situation. It knows that in an emergency the House may not be sitting and it may have to deploy troops. However, upon that deployment, the government should immediately call the House back and we should have a vote on it.

Will the government House leader support the Alliance motion which asks for that? We all hope there will not be a war and that our troops will never be engaged in battle but, if that were to happen, would he support the Alliance motion later on?

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has brought forward a very important subject. No, I will not support the Alliance motion because it does not do that either.

Last week in the House of Commons the chief whip of the Alliance Party asked, should there be a deployment, whether the Prime Minister would immediately permit the next sitting day of Parliament to be an opposition day so it could choose a topic, presumably on the topic of deployment. However neither the Prime Minister nor I as House leader choose which party has the opposition day so I cannot say it would be the official opposition. It would be nice to have that authority but that is not the way parliamentary procedure works.

In any case, coming back to the essential point, the Prime Minister said yes to that request. The chief opposition whip said that he would withdraw his motion but to this date has failed to do so.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the motion. I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

The motion put before us today by the Bloc Quebecois reads:

That this House consider the sending of troops to Iraq by the government only after the United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution explicitly authorizing a military intervention in Iraq.

We in the official opposition are opposed to the motion because we think its intent is not founded on the facts. The fact is that many people engaged in this debate seem not to have read the operative resolution to which we all refer, UN Security Council resolution 1441, which was passed under the authority of chapter 7 of the United Nations charter last November, and which quite clearly provides the authority of the United Nations for military intervention. I will outline the reasons that is very clear. I wish that more people, instead of talking about resolution 1441, would actually read it because it is quite clear.

First, let us recall the history of this. This matter did not begin in September of last year with President Bush's address to the United Nations General Assembly. It did not begin in November with the passage of resolution 1441. Rather, the chain of events, which has brought us to this difficult moment, began in 1990 with Iraq's deliberate violation of world security through its invasion of the peaceful neighbouring country of Kuwait.

I will lead the House through all the resolutions so the intent of resolution 1441 will be clear.

At that time the United Nations Security Council seized itself of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, its possession and development of weapons of mass destruction, and its systematic violation of human rights, and passed a number of resolutions, the first among them being resolution 1660. Essentially, resolution 1660 required Iraq to remove itself from Kuwait, to suspend its weapons of mass destruction program, to cease co-operating with terrorist organizations, and to comply with the United Nations standards on human rights.

Iraq, of course, failed to do so and, after several UN resolutions were passed explicitly authorizing military intervention to expel Iraq from Kuwait, a ceasefire followed the gulf war. This is very important. We hear a lot of members in this place throw around terms like international law without, apparently, understanding the first principles of the matter before us. This was not a peace treaty. This was not a completion of a war. It was a cessation of military action authorized explicitly by the United Nations Security Council.

I remind the House that Canada had a seat at the Security Council at the time these operative resolutions were passed. Iraq undertook certain covenants in that ceasefire, among which were undertakings to destroy all its stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and to permit United Nations inspectors from UNMOVIC and the IAEA to verify their destruction. It was not to find their weapons, not to go on a hide and seek operation in a country the size of British Columbia, not to play a cat and mouse game with the Iraqi regime for 12 years, but to immediately verify the destruction of its stockpiles of WMD. This was not in 2002, but in 1991 under resolution 678 of the United Nations Security Council.

A further point is that this resolution was passed under chapter 7 of the UN charter. Chapter 7 deals explicitly with threats to peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression. It is the ultimate authority under which the UN Security Council can act. When dealing with resolutions under chapter 7, one is explicitly dealing with questions of military force.

Chapter 7 resolutions are not good intention resolutions. They are not pleas for good behaviour. They are, clearly and legally, the ultimate authority that the UN can use to threaten the use of force to require compliance of a recalcitrant nation that is threatening the peace of the world.

I mention all this because resolution 1441, which the government says is the basis of its policy, explicitly recalls the United Nations Security Council resolutions 660, 678 and so on. It states that the United Nations is now determined:

--to ensure full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations under resolution 687... and other relevant resolutions and recalling that the resolutions of the Council constitute the governing standard of Iraqi compliance....

Resolution 1441 also states that “the Government of Iraq has failed to comply with its commitments pursuant to resolution 687 with regard to terrorism” and destruction of “weapons of mass destruction”, and recalls in resolution 687:

--the Council declared that a ceasefire would be based on acceptance by Iraq of the provisions of that resolution, including the obligations on Iraq contained therein....

Let me requote resolution 1441 for absolute clarity and emphasis. The United Nations Security Council unanimously stated:

Recalling that in its resolution 687 (1991) the Council declared that a ceasefire would be based on acceptance by Iraq of the provisions of that resolution....

After 12 years it is clear to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear that Iraq has not legally complied with its obligations under resolution 687 under the ceasefire. We hear people throwing around terms in international law but legally there is still a state of war with Iraq in which Canada was engaged. Legally we continue to be at a state of war with Iraq. The legal instrument that suspended hostilities in 1991 was a ceasefire and that ceasefire was contingent, as resolution 1441 tells us, on Iraq's compliance to destroying its weapons of mass destruction and the verified destruction of those weapons.

I will repeat that again and again because that is the central fact of the debate which some seem to have lost sight of.

Resolution 1441 goes on to say, notwithstanding the other 16 resolutions that have been passed over the past 12 years, notwithstanding 12 years of diplomatic efforts and notwithstanding repeated efforts to have Iraq comply with the inspections regime. Let me parenthetically add that sometimes people here say that it was the United Nations that withdrew the inspectors in 1998. That is not true. They should read resolution 1441. It says explicitly that ultimately it was Iraq that ceased all co-operation with UNSCOM and the IAEA in 1998.

After recalling all these legal obligations on Iraq and recalling that we are still legally in a state of war under resolutions 660 and 675, it states that further non-compliance, further material breaches will constitute further cause for serious consequences.

When the UN Security Council speaks of serious consequences, it is not talking about lectures from the Prime Minister of Canada. It is not talking about yet more sanctions, which punish the people of Iraq because of their misapplication through Saddam Hussein's brutality. We are not talking about sending Barney the purple dinosaur over there or the member for Vancouver East to engage in weapons inspections with the United States. Clearly the United Nations Security Council is contemplating what is implicit in chapter 7 of the charter, namely the use of force.

Let me say that the members of the official opposition hope that force can be avoided but, from our study of history and our understanding of reality, we know that the best way to avoid a war in Iraq today is through a credible threat of force.

We believe Canada has an obligation to participate in such a credible threat of force, along with its traditional allies. We believe it is preferable that there is a 17th resolution passed, not just a 2nd one, making even more explicit what is clear in resolution 1441. However if that is not the case, we believe that there are sufficient legal grounds for the Government of Canada to act in accordance with its allies in a multilateral coalition to ensure international security is maintained.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

I heard the hon. member, who was asking whether the members had indeed read resolution 1441. I certainly have. He referred to a series of resolutions Iraq had not complied with. I agree, but there have been UN resolutions about a number of countries. I will mention only Israel, which has not complied with a goodly number of them.

I would like to ask him whether he is aware of the reaction of France, which differs from his reaction, the reaction of Germany, Russia, Mexico, Chile, Pakistan, and many others. Public opinion in a number of countries, including the U.K. and Canada, is evidence that there is opposition to an intervention without another UN intervention. Is he aware of this?

What I would like is not just his opinion, but what he thinks of the current international reaction, even in the U.S., where there appears to be a shift in public opinion. I would like his opinion on this.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

I think there were two points, Mr. Speaker. With respect to United Nations resolutions on Israel, the member should know that the vast majority of such resolutions are passed by the general assembly, not the Security Council, a general assembly with some 25 Arab countries and some 40 predominantly Muslim countries, many of them totalitarian regimes explicitly dedicated to Israel's destruction. That is why general assembly resolutions carry neither legal nor moral weight in this respect. Further, the two UN Security Council resolutions on Israel, resolutions 242 and 338 which come under chapter 5 of the UN charter, deal with the “Pacific resolution of disputes”, and place obligations on both parties for a negotiated settlement. There is not a unilateral obligation on Israel.

Second, with respect to what the member calls a growing sense of international sentiments, he is absolutely right. There is a growing sense from 19 leaders of sovereign countries in Europe who have said that a second resolution is not necessary for force to be used to compel Iraq's compliance. I will quote briefly from the joint statement by the leaders of Italy, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Denmark, Spain and Portugal. It states:

The U.N. Charter charges the Security Council with the task of preserving international peace and security. To do so, the Security Council must maintain its credibility by ensuring full compliance with its resolutions. We cannot allow a dictator to systematically violate those resolutions. If they are not complied with, the Security Council will lose its credibility and world peace will suffer as a result...

We stand with the growing number of allies who share that sentiment.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague from Calgary, who has given a great speech and great responses to the questions, to comment on this.

The Bloc Quebecois fancies itself as the political party in Canada which is expert in the concept of sovereignty. Could he comment on this motion which asks the Canadian government to delegate its sovereignty to the United Nations?

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member raises an interesting point. The Bloc is concerned about sovereignty and Canada is a sovereign nation. We must act in our interests and, yes, according to our international obligations. I think we can do so in this case. We can support symbolically and practically the use of the credible threat of force and ultimately the use of force, with or without a 17th UN resolution, and we can do so while respecting our sovereignty.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, yes, we are sovereignists, but I would ask the hon. member, “What about Canadian sovereignty?” As a result of the way the government is acting right now, we are losing our Canadian sovereignty, because we are going along with what the Americans want. I want to hear his opinion on this.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, again, the legal exercise of sovereignty this nation can discharge in its national interest and preferably in accordance with international norms. However, the notion that Canada or any other democratic nation is limited in what it can do in its national interest and to protect international security by the whim of one country with a veto on the security Council, like that moral giant of China, like the Republic of France, the risible policy of the president of France, which has more national economic interest at stake in Iraq than any other country, is ridiculous. To suggest that any one of those countries, like the People's Republic of China, should be able to dictate foreign policy to Canada, I and most democratic Canadians would say that is ridiculous.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois for bringing forward this motion regarding Canada's participation in a war against international terrorism and Canada's role in this war, with or without United Nations sanctions.

It is truly fortunate that Canada has a vigorous official opposition. Unlike areas of jurisdiction that the federal government has no constitutional role to play, foreign affairs is something that should come up for regular debate in the House. While the federal government may be afraid to engage in democratic discourse, we on this side of the House are not. We demonstrated that fact last Thursday and we will continue in the debate today.

What is really disturbing is to hear the anti-American jingoism that passes for Canadian foreign policy, which we hear much too often from the government benches. By the same measure, attempts by government members to suggest that we in the Canadian Alliance stand for anything less than a strong and independent Canada demonstrates just how shallow government foreign policy has become.

I first want to deal with several issues that arose from last Thursday's debate. The support the Canadian Alliance has for our largest trading partner with whom we share a common heritage of language, culture and geography is not an act of submission. It is a clear recognition that the ties that bind us are stronger than any issues that divide us.

Our decision to support the United States is not a rejection of the United Nations or the goals and values that led to the founding of that institution. What we are prepared to recognize in the official opposition is that the decision to take decisive action in Iraq could be beyond the scope of which the UN is capable under the circumstances. We are also prepared to recognize that our decision to stand with our allies, Great Britain, Australia and the United States, is the right decision.

The next issue I want to deal with is the assumption that negotiating from a position of strength, which is what Canada would be doing in supporting our allies, is somehow the wrong way to negotiate. I also add to this assumption, on the part of some members of the House, that support for our allies will automatically or inevitably lead to war. A united front is designed to prevent war. Only by being strong together can we see Saddam Hussein being forced to comply with out request to destroy his weapons of mass destruction.

Let us move to the purpose of today's motion. It is time for the government to get off the fence and declare its intentions. The most appropriate way to do this is to bring forward a motion and put it to a vote in the House before any Canadian soldiers are asked to put their lives on the line for this country.

There are other ways to prevent this war. News reports in the Middle East say that Saudi Arabia and others have made overtures to Iraq about a plan whereby Saddam and his cohorts would go into exile. However Saddam insists that he will stay in Iraq and fight a war.

French President Chirac and German Chancellor Schroeder announced on January 22 that both countries would vote against any UN resolution for war against Iraq and that they would oppose any U.S.-led action. By coincidence, France and Russia, both veto bearing permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, have made oil deals with Iraq. These oil deals blatantly contravene the UN resolutions. On one hand they are asking that we go by the UN, yet in their own backrooms, they are making deals that defy resolutions that have already been passed. Syria has also. It is a known state sponsor of terrorism and is an ally of Iraq. It is also a temporary member of the Security Council.

The UN meekly accepted the eviction of UN weapons inspectors in 1998. The oil for food program has not been affected by Hussein's belligerence. Flagrant violations have gone unpunished for years. Is it any wonder that he continues to thumb his nose, even at resolution 1441?

The UN failed to act in Rwanda, East Timor, Kosovo. Thousands upon thousands of civilians were massacred. Children, torn by the arm out of school, were hacked to pieces. They were waiting for the UN to act. They were too late for those people.

The future of the UN itself is at risk if it fails to act on Iraq. UN authorization to confront Saddam is already in place. My colleague from Calgary explained that. There was never an armistice to end the gulf war, only a ceasefire. Iraq's continued violation of the ceasefire's disarmament resolution means that the ceasefire no longer exists.

Canada must work with our allies to disarm the Iraqi rogue regime. We must work together with our allies to ensure that the UN resolutions are enforced. The Liberal government is divided and confused about Canada's position on potential military intervention in Iraq. The UN must enforce its resolutions to preserve the influence it still has and its credibility as a body that ensures safety and security.

The Prime Minister has stated that there will be no vote in Parliament on whether Canada goes to war, before an executive decision is given or after. He says that decision is his and his alone to make. I think all my constituents who have written to me on this issue just this past weekend, many veterans, many survivors of World War II, have told me that they are not too old and that they have seen this all before. They saw another madman 60 years ago who did the same thing. At that time, it was the United States that was unwilling to get involved. It was only after its own people were struck at Pearl Harbor did it decide that it was important to stop the tyrant and all the other wars combined in that great war.

Let us hope that the Prime Minister is not waiting for an attack directly on our soil to state his position clearly. The government has one motive, and one motive only; that is, to get re-elected. To get re-elected it likes to go with the flow. It gauges that by looking at the polls and the polls are closing in. More Canadians are recognizing that to stop Saddam, the threat of war is inevitable.

However, we cannot wait forever. We must show our unity and be a part of a strong, unified front threatening Saddam. Then, and only then, will he abide by the United Nations resolution and give up his weapons of mass destruction.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the speech from this fine member from Ontario.

I lived the first half of my life in the United States and I hope at least three-quarters of the rest of my life will be lived in Canada; although I cannot be too sure of that. I love these countries, both of them, with a great deal of compassion.

The member knows, as do many others, that I have a very personal interest in what is happening in this possible conflict and the possibility of a severe loss.

When I think of what is trying to be achieved by a group of men and women who are now on the borders, who understand the future security of their children and grandchildren and the nations at large, this event very well could be the turning point to bring long term peace and security to the world. It is their goal to do that.

In order to accomplish that we need to stand together. Those who do not want war and those who want peace should stand together in a show of strength against the tyrants who have demonstrated over and over again that they have no compassion for human life. That is what is so important about these two countries being so united in their stand for world peace. A show of strength is essential. The game that President Bush refers to, I believe, is a game of Saddam playing some countries against others by keeping them divided on this issue.

Everybody is for peace, but how do we obtain it? It has been stated loud and clear that a coalition of allies would be the loudest and strongest message that Saddam Hussein could ever understand. Does the hon. member agree with that?

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am familiar with the potential loss of which the member for Wild Rose speaks. Even though the member stands to lose his own son, his son knows that by putting his life on the line he could be saving millions of others in his own country and in the entire continent of North America.

The member stated that this tyrant has no compassion for human life. Nothing could be more clear in the way the women of Iraq are treated. On a whim, a husband can have his wife put to death. All he has to do is accuse her of adultery and her fate is sealed. To get the adults to comply with his politics, children routinely are raped and tortured in front of their family members or their parents.

We waited for the UN to respond in Kosovo. The houses in Kosovo were all made out of brick. The only wooden part of these houses was the door. These tyrants would take these children and nail them to the doors. They literally crucified the toddlers. Other infants were just thrown on fires. We must absolutely stand with our allies and stop this brutality dead in its tracks.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to participate in this extremely important debate of a motion that has been brought forward by one of my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois.

The motion states:

That this House consider the sending of troops to Iraq by the government only after the United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution explicitly authorizing a military intervention in Iraq.

I want to congratulate the Bloc for bringing forward the motion today. I do so for a couple of reasons. First, it pierces the absurdity of the arrogance of the position that has been articulated by the Liberal House leader again this morning, but also proclaimed by the Prime Minister following a debate on Thursday. They stated that as a result of the debate that took place on Thursday on the question of a vote in the House, that the Liberal government has somehow endorsed and authorized a vote in the House on the question of any participation by Canada in a war against Iraq.

Unless I am missing something, and perhaps you as Speaker can correct my understanding of procedures in the House, the Prime Minister, or the Liberal government House leader, could not prevent a vote in the House on this question if an opposition party, on its opposition day, chose to assign as the business of the day such a vote. It seems to me ridiculous to keep hearing this assertion from government members that now their Prime Minister has had the foresight and courage to allow something to take place in the House, namely a vote on this issue, if an opposition party on its opposition day brings forward such a motion. It is important to dispel the nonsense surrounding the rhetoric coming from the government benches.

The second and far more important thing is that the motion that is before us is based on a rejection of the notion that Canada's participation in a war in Iraq is somehow inevitable. One of the things that is of great concern to Canadians today, increasingly so, is the notion that somehow a war in Iraq is inevitable, unstoppable, and that the U.S. will do it no matter what, come hell or high water, and that somehow Canada had better grow up, get over it, and sign on. That is not only distressing to increasing numbers of Canadians, it is also, in my view and the view of my party, extremely dangerous and we need to be clear about that. The motion that is here today gives us an opportunity to express the opposition to that notion of inevitability and inalterability by supporting the motion.

I want to take a moment before I address the motion itself to say a bit about the context in which this debate is taking place. I was struck over the weekend by an article in the New York Times , by a well known commentator Maureen Dowd, entitled “Desert Spring, Sprung”. It struck me as really important to take note of a fact she cited. I am assuming it was accurate, or at least I am prepared to acknowledge that there must be some solid basis for the assertion. A CNN poll taken recently showed that 82% of Americans think going to war with Iraq would provide another terrorist attack on the U.S. as opposed to 13% of Americans who think it would prevent one.

Shocking as that statistic is there is buried within it an important ray of hope, because if it is indeed true that 82% of Americans actually believe that launching an attack on Iraq would result in terrorist attacks on the U.S., as opposed to 13% who think it would be a preventative action, it gives us a glimpse of how many Americans share with the growing numbers of Canadians and people around the world the belief that this war can and must be stopped and that we need to work together to find alternatives to any attack on Iraq.

Second, with respect to the context, in spite of the fact that increasing numbers of Americans are expressing alarm at where their country is headed, at where the George Bush administration is aiming to take them, there are today 113,000 American troops amassed along the Iraqi border and another 37,000 on their way. The U.S. has a fleet of aircraft carriers, F-18 fighter jets and Stealth bombers, forming, as Michael Harris stated in the Ottawa Sun over the weekend, “the most formidable fighting force the world has ever seen”.

I think there is a third bit of context for this important debate. It is one that also gives hope to those in this world who cannot conceive of charging ahead with a war in Iraq when alternatives to war exist. Despite Colin Powell's presentation on Thursday to the UN Security Council, which I do not know whether to call a performance or presentation, all I know is that it was not solid evidence, among the 15 members of the Security Council, only 4 have publicly stated their endorsement of the position put forward by Colin Powell, namely Britain, Spain, Bulgaria and Chile.

Why do I say that is a basis for hope? Because I think what it indicates is that there is a growing body of public opinion that says no to war in Iraq, that says no, it is not inevitable, and yes, there are alternatives to war. On previous occasions in a debate in the House I had the opportunity to make reference to some really excellent work done and published in a paper, “Alternatives to War with Iraq”, coming from an expert panel that was assembled here in Ottawa in mid-December. Those who have not read it should seek it out and give it the careful attention it deserves.

It is not only thoughtful, expert Canadians who are giving consideration to these matters. I think we should be glad to know that over the weekend France and Germany put forward what they see as an alternative to this notion of the inevitability of moving with the U.S. to an early declaration of war.

I am not in a position to say at this point that the details of the proposal that have been set out are absolutely feasible, but what I do say is that kudos should go to France and Germany for putting forward alternatives, for asking the world to consider why it is the sensible course of action to recognize that the deployment of troops to maintain pressure on the Iraqi regime is worth considering, that the assignment of a permanent UN coordinator for disarmament to Iraq is worthy of consideration, and that a UN court for dealing with infractions and human rights abuses that rear their ugly head in Iraq is worth considering. Yes, let us all be realistic that such ugly abuses and atrocities are happening in Iraq as we speak, not in Iraq alone but in Iraq and in other countries that also cause concern to the international community. And yes, UN inspectors could be bolstered by a UN force several thousand strong to keep the pressure on.

As I say, at least there are thoughtful commentators, researchers and academics, there are military experts and, yes, there are democratic nations addressing the question of what kind of alternatives to war there are. Let Canada decide to be among those nations that are serious about committing to a path to peace.

What are we hearing from Canada? Over the weekend, I think that a lot of Canadians considered it an embarrassment to have our foreign affairs minister applauding Colin Powell for the convincing evidence he had put forward at the very same time that revelations were swirling around the world that the so-called intelligence dossier putting forward this supposedly persuasive evidence in fact contained plagiarized material, which not only was presented a year and a half ago but was based on a student paper that used 12 year old material. It was cited by Colin Powell as important documentation brought forward by the British. I do not know how we can be among those nations that say not only is that solid evidence but it is sufficient justification for us to contemplate the notion that Canada should join in a war in Iraq when there are alternatives, when there are other options to be pursued.

I went home on the weekend very discouraged. I am sure I am not alone in this, because I am sure members on the government benches would say so as well if they were free to say so publicly. I was very discouraged by the events of last week. I was very daunted by the challenge of what in the name of heaven we can do to try to avert this war.

I was quite delighted to open a copy of the Halifax Daily News , from my own riding, shortly after I got off the plane and read an article by a highly respected author, writer and poet, a creative thinker by the name of Lesley Choyce, a former American, in fact, now a Canadian citizen. In that article he touched upon one of those simple, concrete, sensible notions, one that I think is worthy of consideration by every single Canadian.

In that article he expressed his concern about the notion of war being inevitable, of it being the only option. Then he suggested such a simple idea but one that I think is worthy of every single one of us in the House embracing, and that is, recognizing that we are indeed the closest friends of and neighbours to the Americans, and that therefore means that there is not one among us who does not have family or friends in the U.S. He suggested, and I think he is right about this, that it would not matter if every single Canadian called George Bush or Colin Powell and said, “We plead with you to consider the alternatives to war”, because it still would not amount to a hill of beans.

However, he went on to ask why every Canadian who wants to avert that war does not pick up the phone or fire off a message on their e-mail to their friends and relatives in the U.S. and respectfully say to them, “We are pleading with you to have more faith in your own democratic potential and your own democratic ideals, so we want to talk to you about why we think there are alternatives and why we think the human catastrophe that is going to unfold is simply unthinkable”. Then, as he said, if we receive even a glimmer of support for the alternatives to war, we should encourage our friends or relatives in the U.S. to pick up their phones and register their views with their local senators or local congressmen.

It does not amount to a solution, but let me relate very briefly what happened when I said that was not a bad idea. I spent a good deal of time yesterday making exactly those kinds of phone calls and sending those e-mails. I want to describe briefly what happened. I was thrilled at what happened, because what I received in response was a lot of information that we are not getting here in Ottawa where we think we are concerned enough about this issue to know what is going on.

I learned about the alternatives to war that Jimmy Carter has outlined in considerable detail. I learned about the Patriots for Peace, an organization that started up in Vermont and is gathering considerable momentum, with people taking simple actions to display their opposition to the war on Iraq. I already have had the pleasure of being introduced to representatives of the military families who speak out, who have sons and daughters already deployed in the Persian Gulf being prepared for battle, and who are standing up and saying, “We are not in agreement with this war and we are pleading with our neighbours and friends to share their views, which we know they share with us, and make them known to their representatives”.

Then I received some information, which I thought was very encouraging, about 39 Congress members who have been very strenuous in increasingly trying to put the pressure on the Bush administration to back away from this notion that a war is somehow the only alternative and that it is inevitable. It is a letter that was signed by 39 Congress members. It is dated January 29. Let me quote briefly from it. It states:

Over the past several months we have received a huge amount of correspondence from our constituents who believe that the crisis in Iraq can be resolved without bloodshed. They believe, as we do, that a “preemptive” attack on Iraq will result in a massive increase in anti-Americanism throughout the world, and will make our country less safe from terrorist attacks, not more safe.

They are 39 American congressmen who put this point of view forward to the American president and said, “We want to sit down and talk to you about this”. They went on to state:

Our constituents are concerned that if the United States ignores... international law, we will help create a climate bordering on international anarchy and a mind-set in which all nations will feel freer to attack other nations for whatever reason. In a world where at least eight countries have nuclear weapons, this is not a good idea. Under those conditions, what moral authority will the United States have in calling for peace and negotiations in the Middle East or between India and Pakistan, or China and Taiwan?

They went on to state:

--many people in our districts are extremely fearful about the costs associated with a war in Iraq and the ensuing occupation. At a time when we have a growing deficit and you [President Bush] are proposing cut-backs in veterans' needs, Medicare, education and environmental protection, a war with Iraq could cost over $100 billion and increase both the suffering of the present generation and the financial liabilities of future generations.

These are excerpts from a letter that I think is very significant, because we are not hearing this. In fact, I think what we generally hear is that the American elected officials are of one view, which is “Straight ahead, George Bush, we are on board”.

Finally, I thought it was very significant that U.S. representative Jim Oberstar, a veteran of I think almost 30 years in the American Congress, has actually issued a statement in which he has made it clear that he personally is withdrawing the support that he gave at an earlier date for the expropriation of funds to launch that war in Iraq. He is introducing a bill and encouraging his colleagues to support that bill cancelling out that appropriation of funds.

It is time for us in the House to speak with one voice, a voice in support of concrete, practical steps that can be taken to avert that war. We must make it clear that Canada wants to be among the peace builders and the peace seekers, not simply to tag on to an American declaration of war in Iraq.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the member for Halifax for her speech and her approach. This is not the first time I have heard her speak on such issues. It is not that she is a woman, but her comments are ones that we often hear from women. As a man, I am very open to this approach, which seeks to explore every opportunity to avoid war, rather than the usual, traditional approach, which involves demonstrating terrible force in an attempt to force one's opponent to back down.

Like the member for Halifax, I was in my riding this weekend. I felt that the vast majority of people would like to do something. Of course, there are demonstrations, but the member provided a fairly accurate picture of public opinion. She even used newspaper articles, studies, and so on.

People said to me, “If we are going to send an e-mail, it sure will not be to President Bush or Mr. Powell, because they will just ignore it”.

What does the member for Halifax think would be the best way for people from my riding, and others, to express their opposition to a warpath approach, and a way that would be effective?

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, there are a variety of ways in which Canadians are now making their voices heard.

The thrust of the argument which Lesley Choyce, the Nova Scotian and former American, put forward this weekend was that every single person who has contacts, whether they be political colleagues, personal friends, family members, or students with whom one may have gone to school, should be urging them to make their opposition to a war in Iraq known to their elected officials.

There is a lot of evidence that people increasingly are saying that they really do not expect that their politicians will do anything about this. That is very worrisome. Not only is that very condemning of what it is we all think we are doing here, it is very dangerous if we think about the responsibility of government virtually being abandoned by the citizenry because they do not believe that their elected representatives and their leaders actually are going to take a stand in the face of something as horrifying as launching a war in Iraq.

I found a further source of encouragement on the weekend. I do not know this gentleman, Leonard Friesen, who is the chair of the global studies program at Sir Wilfrid Laurier. In the Kitchener-Waterloo Record , he spoke about the fact that there are more people searching for an alternative to the escalating spiral of militarized madness. He went on to remind us--and it is important for us to remind our American friends, family members and colleagues of this--that $400 billion U.S. is spent on the military on an annual basis, making it by far the most militarized state on the planet.

Just think for a moment about what it means. The so-called security assistance that is being given to countries to help them with their own development of security and civilized infrastructure, programs, supports and so on, amounts to less than $10 billion U.S. a year. Compare the two, $400 billion U.S. for militarization and $10 billion in terms of foreign aid that actually would help with that human security network which surely is the true alternative to war in this world.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, throughout the debate I have heard the member speak a number of times. One thing I am tired of hearing from the member's mouth is that if we support the coalition of the United States and other nations, we automatically want war and if we do not support it, we want peace.

I have news for the member. Whether she said it, inferred it or however she wants to put it, there are a number of us who have a lot at stake in regard to what is taking place. Nobody wants war. How we can avert that is what the debate is about.

The constant reminder that if we support Bush, we are in favour of war and if we support the United Nations, we have to be in favour of something else, when will the member get it straight in her head that nobody wants war, including this party?

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, those were the member's words. Let me respectfully suggest that it is not a question of who wants war and who does not want war. Can anybody seriously suggest that the 301 members in the chamber want war?

The reason it is important for us to be having these debates and to be considering concrete practical steps, however small they may be, to avert war is it is not just a question of what we want to see happen, it is a question of whether we are willing to do some of the things that can be done to actually avert that war and build on those alternatives for peace. That surely is the only purpose of our having debates like this.

I do not think we have to stand up and say to one another 301 times that none of us want war so why are we discussing it. Surely it is about finding those practical steps that can be taken, however small or however big, that 301 members of Parliament can actually roll up their sleeves and do something to try to get us back on a path of peace.

I do not think anybody watching what is happening thinks that we are currently launched on a path to anything but war in Iraq, the way we are going.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

When the debate is resumed following question period, there will be two and one-half minutes remaining to the hon. member for Halifax for questions and comments.

Vehicle Scrappage ProgramStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, Environment Canada is happy to contribute to the New Brunswick Lung Association's Fredericton vehicle scrappage program. The contribution will ensure that this program and others like it in Canada will continue to be a success.

Poor air quality continues to impact on the health of Canadians. On-road vehicles, especially older vehicles, are significant contributors to this problem. While the Government of Canada's recently finalized stringent regulations for new on-road vehicles and fuels will go far in reducing harmful emissions which cause smog, there is still much work to be done to reduce these emissions from the transportation sector.

We must continue to work to improve air quality for Canadians everywhere. Vehicle scrappage programs play an important role in reducing emissions that contribute to smog and climate change.

Government SpendingStatements By Members

February 10th, 2003 / 2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Canadian Alliance Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, here is some free advice for the finance minister as he prepares his upcoming budget.

Stop giving corporate handouts to billionaires who just happen to be Liberals. Start giving broad based tax relief to call Canadians so that they may better provide for themselves and their families.

Stop trying, and failing, to pick winners and losers in the marketplace by subsidizing certain companies and certain industries. Start creating an economic environment favourable to all industries by reducing or eliminating certain taxes such as the capital tax.

Stop hiding money in the public accounts that has been lost to GST fraud. Start being transparent so that Canadians can see how their money is being used or misused.

Finally, stop wasting money on a useless firearms registry that has already gone 500 times over budget and done absolutely nothing to combat crime.

Start being accountable to Parliament and taxpayers for what the government spends and how it spends it, unlike the last Minister of Finance.

Queen's Golden JubileeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, on February 5, 2003 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's golden jubilee year came to a close.

The 50th anniversary of Her Majesty's accession to the throne was a chance to celebrate the past 50 years of Canada's history, people and achievements and to look forward to the years to come. More than 45,000 Canadians were awarded the Golden Jubilee Medal honouring their significant contribution to Canada during the last 50 years.

The culminating point of the jubilee year, the royal couple's visit to our country in October saw a remarkable and memorable tour of many regions of Canada.

The golden jubilee year in Canada began with the House wishing Her Majesty a future bounding with hope and possibility.

We congratulate Her Majesty on such a successful and meaningful jubilee year.

Black History MonthStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Walt Lastewka Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 1995 the Government of Canada officially declared February as Black History Month. Black History Month is an opportunity to highlight the many contributions of black Canadians as inventors, politicians, military force members and community leaders.

Herb Carnegie, recipient of the 1996 Order of Ontario and founder of the first hockey school in Canada, was a star player in the 1940s. Because of racism he was never able to play in the National Hockey League.

Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré, the first black judge to be appointed to the courts in Quebec and first black dean of a law school in Canada, stands as a symbol of great achievement and is a source of inspiration.

Each February the St. Catharines Museum celebrates Black History Month as a tribute to Harriet Tubman. Her struggle with the underground railroad delivered more than 300 black slaves to the northern terminus, St. Catharines British Methodist Episcopal Church, better known as BME.

By celebrating the history and achievements of people of African heritage, we promote our diversity and a better understanding between our cultures.