Mr. Speaker, for the record I will read the motion because I am not sure whether anybody who has spoken recently has read it and because there are a lot of Canadians watching this debate who are extremely interested in what is being said on this issue and who may not know exactly what we are debating.
The motion that has been put forth by the Bloc Quebecois 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.
The ironic thing is that even though we are supposed to have parties that are on different sides of this entirely, if I heard rightly, and I listened carefully to those who spoke recently, if we pick what is behind what they are all saying, most of us are saying the same thing and very few of us are in total disagreement with the motion.
We are discussing this issue because the Bloc Quebecois, and on Thursday last the Canadian Alliance Party, brought forth motions. It is unfortunate that our debates are restricted to motions brought forth by opposition parties.
We should be debating an issue that is so important to this nation because the government brought forth a motion to the House. Whether it would be similar to the one we have today or similar to the one we had last week, that would be irrelevant. However it should be a motion that would open up debate and would give the government some clear cut direction.
The House might ask why, when the government is elected to govern and the government will do whatever it wants to do. Certainly that is the view of the current government. There is absolutely no doubt about that. We have seen that in relation to every issue that has been brought before the House.
Times have changed since the war of 1914, the war of 1939 and the Korean conflict. These were wars that were fought in another country of which we knew little and saw nothing. Wars today are fought before our very eyes. The negotiations, the planning, the strategies and the conniving are all laid out beforehand.
Sometimes we wonder why everything is so secret. We tell people when we will invade, how we will invade, what we will do and what the results will be. It is a different world we live in.
Because of that, people across Canada are well aware of what is happening. Not only are they aware, they also are very concerned about what it happening. They all have opinions on what is happening and they would like those opinions addressed. They would like their views heard and their questions asked.
How can that be done? It can be done right here because this is the only forum in the country where these views can be discussed openly, where the questions can be asked and where we have the individuals who can give the legitimate answers. This is the only forum which represents all the people across this great country.
As I said, it is unfortunate that it had to be the opposition parties that forced the debate.
Having said that, I have listened, as I said, to the members of the different parties as they spoke. A while ago I heard the member for Wild Rose stand and say quite clearly that nobody wants a war, which is basically what the NDP is saying, which is what the Bloc Quebecois is saying, which is what the Liberals are saying and which is what we are saying. Nobody wants a war.
Everyone also has said that if we must to go to war that there is a proper mechanism for doing that. We may not agree totally on that mechanism but I suggest that our differences are little when really pushed.
To again quote the member for Wild Rose when he said “Nobody wants a war”, that would be everybody's choice. However do we then sit back and do nothing about looking at that side of the issue?
Where are the great leaders of the past? We always talk about the leaders of wartime, the heroes who led us through the battles, who won or who lost but who, in winning or losing, caused irreparable damage to their countries and to the people of their countries. Sometimes these things could not have been provided and nobody held their heads higher in these confrontations than Canadians. However there were other times in history when wars, which seemed imminent, were prevented by the intervention of our great negotiators, our great diplomats, our great leaders who found the way to find peace instead of war.
I will go back to the days of the cold war when Russia seemed to be the enemy of the western world. Day after day we sat, listened and waited to see if Mr. Kruschev, or some of the others during that time, would push the button that would destroy the world. We were in fear. Russia was our enemy.
In 1972, when the Russian hockey team came to Canada to play the first four games of a great hockey tournament, it was almost as if we were being invaded by the enemy. We looked upon them as our enemies because they were Russians. When we found out how good they were they became an even worse enemy.
When our hockey players went into Russia, we all shuddered because they were going into a foreign country and we did not know if they would ever get out. I am sure there were times during that last game that some of them asked themselves the same question.
However exchanges like that began to open up doors, through other mechanisms besides those directly involved in the war measures. The armed forces, people connected with security and people whose jobs it is to talk war and peace, prevention and destruction, these people have a job to do and they are narrowly focused in relation to doing that job.
It is true that exchanges, such as our hockey games and our cultural exchanges, began to open up doors. The more we began to learn about other nations, the more we saw that a lot of people in this world were the same. As the old saying goes, “both ends of the rifle are the same”. Throughout the world many of us are the same, given a chance to really understand the other.
That is where the great diplomats, the great leaders of our time moved in and took advantage of such a situation. Canada over the years has had tremendous leaders. One of them, former Prime Minister Pearson, won the Nobel Peace Prize. It was not because he always led us in war but because he worked for peace.
The parts of the equation that I see missing in this whole charade are the advantages we have today compared to the past to understand and to know. We seem to be closing our eyes and our minds to some of the opportunities to open doors.
If there is a way to prevent a war that is what we should be concentrating on, not how we should enter the war.
How should we enter the war? Should we go if the United States says go because we are its neighbour, its ally and we have always been there? We should ask that question because a lot of people have been asking that.
Should we wait for the United Nations to make the decision on whether to go to war? If we thumb our nose at the United Nations, what will be the end result of that great organization? That again is argued by a lot of people.
Should we just say that we are pacifists, that we want nothing to do with war and not go at all? Some people would say that is the answer. However, as we know, if we want to be a player in the free world, if we want to defend democracy and the free world that we have because other people went before and put their lives on the line for us and for our country, then we have to follow them.
We should try, if at all possible, to find a way to settle the issue with Iraq peacefully. If we cannot, then we should be guided by the United Nations and be involved if it gets involved. I would agree to that and would support the motion to that degree.
However, I do not think we should close doors. When we look at the type of individual with whom we are dealing, there is always the possibility that the United Nations Security Council could vote to enter the fray and disarm Saddam Hussein, or we could see one country objecting. What do we do then? Do we say that because it is not unanimous we will participate only if the United Nations, totally accepted by the Security Council, agrees to enter the fray?
We need to open the door and make our own decision based upon the events and the facts of the time. That is where real leadership comes in. That is where we have to trust our government and the people involved within the total process. That perhaps is what leaves a lot of us lying awake at night worrying about the whole situation.
Time is running out. We have heard that said too often quite recently. We have heard it said by President Bush almost daily. We all know time is running out. Iraq has been given notice. It has been asked to co-operate, and people might say that to some degree it has. To what degree? Hopefully within the next few days that answer will be clear.
However there is no doubt that unless there is a major peace initiative over the next few days by people experienced in the field, leaders who are respected, to convince Hussein to leave Iraq and to go into exile, which was discussed earlier, or to unequivocally open up and let the inspectors do their jobs, people will want to go to war. The decision will rest heavily on our shoulders as to what we are going to do.
It has been said that Canada's stand to date has left us completely marginalized. We were once a country that was such a player in the world, not only in wartime but more specifically in peacetime, but we are no longer that great player.
Why is that? A country is just a large portion of land. What makes a country work, what makes a country powerful and what makes a country influential is the population that lives within the boundaries of that great country.
It is the people who lived here before, the leaders who ran our governments and who represented us internationally, these were the people who in the past gave Canada that great name as a player in international relations, particularly in relation to a country that sought peace first and then war.
What is it we are really trying to do? Are we just trying to disarm Iraq? Are we trying to find an excuse to go to war? Or are we looking for some peaceful situation to defuse a very explosive situation in the Middle East? We tried before, 10 or 12 years ago, and some people say that we should have finished the job, but what were we trying to do then? Were we successful? Is it entirely different now? It probably is, because it is a lot more serious now.
The interest that has built up in the destruction of the world, not just different parts of it, through terrorism, in particular over the last few years and since 9/11, has created such an awareness that people throughout the world are ready to participate in avenues of mass destruction. They just do not care, individually or collectively. They are out to get even. We might ask, get even for what? With proper discussions, those questions could be answered and maybe some of the people who are so caught up in their tunnel vision of destroying people they think are destroying them might realize that this is not the way it should be.
The unfortunate thing about all of this is that the leaders who eventually will make this decision have an awful weight on their shoulders. Hopefully it is some avenue of peace they can find, but if they go to war and our aim is to get Hussein, then the question is, how many have to pay the price in the interim?
Again I have a quote from an old song: It is not the ones who give the orders who are the first to die. That is always the case. Maybe if those who are going to make that decision look upon themselves as being the leaders in battle instead of saying “Go on, my troops, I am right behind you”, which is what most leaders do, then they might think twice about making such a decision.
I congratulate the Bloc Quebecois for bringing forth the resolution so that we can debate it and hear what others think of the part that Canada should play, our own views and the views of the people we represent. We must proceed with caution. I believe the steps must be: peace if at all possible, and if not, confrontation with others, not in some half-cocked manner. But if the time comes when a war has to be fought, then Canada cannot shirk its duties.