House of Commons Hansard #71 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


The BudgetGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.


Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I intend to address the whole situation in Iraq later on this evening in the debate, but I will say that I believe the humanitarian situation, if a war is launched, really will partake, and I perhaps can put it best, in the principle of unintended consequences. Those unintended consequences, in particular, will be of a humanitarian character and I suspect that in particular they will affect the most vulnerable in Iraqi society, namely women and children who are already living in a very fragile infrastructure and the like.

I believe it will behoove Canada, as it will other members of the international community, to address humanitarian concerns. When we talk about humanitarian intervention, and if we want to put the best construction upon it, that humanitarian intervention should really be one where we seek to prevent this from happening. If we cannot prevent it from happening then we should seek to alleviate the humanitarian concerns once the intervention takes place, and then we should seek to participate in the human reconstruction of a society thereafter.

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5:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Brandon—Souris.

It is a pleasure to say a few words on the budget. In relation to the budget itself, listening to part of the budget was a pleasure. In the budget there are a few measures which I would say every party in the House has been pressing to have implemented as they deal with child care and, in particular, as they deal with the cost of drugs in our country.

One of the crying needs in this country is the addressing of the concerns of seniors and people on fixed incomes. We have a tremendous amount of people in the workforce who are making slightly over the allowable wage. Under that, they would qualify for some sort of social benefits. They are trying to pay their way and yet they have no access to assistance when it comes to the cost of drugs in particular.

When it comes to our seniors, the one group in society that has built this great country of ours, the people who over the years have given us what we have and for which we are very proud and thankful, this one group, of all segments in society, is probably the one that has been the most neglected by the government opposite, and that is a shame. We have too many people trying to live on a fixed income from year to year. Everything else is increasing: the cost of living, the cost of food, the cost of transportation, the cost of heating homes, and we can go on and on. Yet for these people, the wages or the little pensions they get do not rise in comparison to the costs. Life just becomes harder for them. We owe a little more to the seniors in our country than to neglect them entirely.

Another group is neglected by the budget, despite a flash in the pan announcement which drew everyone's attention when there was talk about revamping the student aid program. What we did, and it is a credible thing, is that we made it possible for students from other countries coming to our Canadian post-secondary institutions to qualify for student loans. I have no problem with that. I praise it and I encourage it. We have to build this country, and for years it was built on the backs of people who came from other countries, and certainly we can continue to do so.

However, we have in this country millions of young students who are trying to push their way, work their way, through post-secondary education institutions, and we have many who have completed that and are trying to find work. In order for them to be able to pay off their student debt, they have to offer a lot up, a lot of recompense. The sad thing about it is that in our country many of them unfortunately cannot find employment that pays significantly enough for them to be able to exist. Many of them, our brightest and our best, head south of the border where they can make more money and can handle the tremendous millstone around their neck that is called a student loan.

We hear people talking about young people who have a degree and who are coming out of university. They say, “So what if they owe $20,000? Big deal. They will make good money. They will be able to pay off their debt.” If it were only that simple. If they come out of university with a four, five, six or seven year degree, or degrees, and owe $20,000, they are very lucky individuals. Many of them owe two, three, four or five times that much, depending on how long they were in the post-secondary institution. I have heard members say, “Why can't they pay their way through? Most of them are off during the summer. I worked and paid my tuition”. I did too, Mr. Speaker, but the thing was that tuition was a lot less and people could make a lot more.

Tuition is not all of it. If a student decides to go to university and wants to obtain a student loan to cover tuition, that is possible. Student loans will cover regular tuition, a few books and perhaps a few minor expenses. What many people do not seem to realize is that most of the young people in this country do not live within or under the shadow of a post-secondary institution. They live in the rural areas of our country and have to come into the centres where the post-secondary institutions are. Whether it be the one nearest or in some other province, it does not make any difference; they have to find board and lodging wherever they stay. It means apartments, it means furniture and it means travel costs. That in itself is much greater than the cost of tuition.

Unless students' parents are wealthy and can help them, most young people have two choices. One is to try to suffer with the economic problems, which usually leads to them dropping out because they just cannot cope financially. Even with a maximum student loan around their necks, they still cannot meet the costs of a university or post-secondary education. The other choice, which too many students are taking, is not to go at all. They ask themselves why they should go when they know they cannot make it. They say they will go out and find work. When they do that, it means they usually find menial employment, which leads to layoffs, which leads to drawing from the unemployment insurance system, which leads to welfare and higher social costs. That then leads to some of them getting into trouble, which leads to other social costs. It goes on and on.

Society pays the costs of these individuals. We pay for their unemployment insurance, welfare benefits, prison costs, health care costs and whatever. Does it not make a lot more sense to invest some money up front and educate them so that they are contributors to society rather than a drag on the system? It is a no-brainer, but the government refuses to listen. We have many young people who are not educated or cannot contribute simply because they cannot afford it, and that is a crying shame.

Other members have talked about the infrastructure program. We can talk about $3 billion going into infrastructure. An extra $1 billion of that, right off the bat, is going into the major infrastructure program, a program which we encouraged last year before it was introduced. From it we got funding to clean up the harbour in St. John's. In fact, I think if we look at the records we will see that I am the only one in the House who, on the record, recommended such a program, so I have no problem with $1 billion extra going into that program.

What I have concerns with is the $2 billion for infrastructure spread over 10 years. What it means to Newfoundland for our infrastructure needs is perhaps $5 million or $6 million a year. Everyone knows as well as I do what can be done for that kind of money in a country like ours. It is a drop in the bucket. It is perhaps the announcement in the budget that disappointed the most people in the country, and particularly our municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, one of the other things that is a crying shame, with which you would identify, is our complete lack of recognition for the athletes in our country. When we look at our population and geography, we have a country that turns out tremendous athletes. We are not putting money where we should to help those people reach the top and it is about time that issue was addressed.

We should look at the yearly basic exemption for small business, which would be a great benefit to them in encouraging students to become employed during the summer and in assisting small seasonal businesses.

I know that my time is up. I am just getting into it, but I hope my colleague from Brandon—Souris will continue.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Oak Ridges Ontario


Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments.

On the issue of support for university students, as we all know, tuition is determined by the provinces. In some cases, as the member quite rightly mentioned, I think, they have been going up significantly because of provincial decisions. However, this budget does address the issues of Canada student loans in putting more money in the hands of students, in students keeping a greater share of the income earned during studies, in keeping more money for merit based scholarships, and in broadening the eligibility for debt reductions in repayment programs. These are important elements at which the member should be looking in terms of the budget.

In terms of infrastructure, again I always find it ironic when the fifth party talks about the national infrastructure program, because when it had its chance in 1984 and 1993, it ignored the FCM and the FCM national program on infrastructure. I again will quote the president of the FCM, who said to the minister: “Since then we have noted your reference that the total funding represented is only a down payment. We welcome this clarification”. For years, the FCM wanted a 10 year national infrastructure program.

I hear the official opposition members harping away. They of course have always opposed a national infrastructure program, so we do not need any lessons from them.

I know the Newfoundland and Labrador municipal association members very well. I have talked to them. They were very happy about the moneys going to harbours. They were very happy about the fact that they can now plan for a 10 year program. I think that is what we are missing here. It is a down payment of $1 billion, for 10 years, so they can plan. It is a down payment, as the minister said.

I would like the member to respond to those two areas dealing with loans and infrastructure.

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6 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, I would certainly love to respond to both.

The member talks about some other benefits, which I did not mention because of the timeframe, in relation to student loans and scholarships. Let me say to the member that is wonderful for those who make it to university and do very well. An increase in scholarships, and more scholarships, is great for those people who have made it. My concern is for those who cannot make it, because we have many more who cannot make it than those who can, simply because of the lack of interest by the members opposite.

In relation to infrastructure, I would suggest to the member that if he has old videos he can look at the conditions of our infrastructure 15 years ago across the country in comparison to the state of the infrastructure today. He would see that the provinces and the country in general were much better off.

The member said that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and others across the country were looking for a long term plan so that they could address infrastructure. Let me say to him that they wanted a long term plan, and they would love to have a 10 year plan with money in it. The problem is that they have a plan with absolutely no money. The provinces are in debt. They cannot pick up their end.

We have infrastructure falling apart and it is your fault.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I know the member was saying that through the Speaker.

A very brief question from the member for Ancaster--Dundas--Flamborough--Aldershot.

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6 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member would correct me if I am wrong, but is not the constitutional responsibility to spend money on infrastructure 100% belonging to the provinces? I do not understand why he is saying it is our fault when the provinces themselves have failed to come up with the money to maintain their own infrastructure.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good point. This is the kind of political jargon that we get: “Oh, it is not our fault”. When we have a two- or three-way cost sharing, it gives the government a great out: that it is not the government's fault but the fault of the municipalities or the provinces. Let me say to the member that the provinces put what they can afford into infrastructure. So do the municipalities, despite the fact that there has never been as much downloading on municipalities as there has been in this last five or six years from the present government. What they are always waiting for is for you to come to the table.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I just want to remind members to please address their opposites through the Chair.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Brandon--Souris.

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6 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will speak through you to the members of the government. They are the ones who should be paying attention when I stand to speak. I will speak very quickly because I probably will not be able to finish in the time allotted.

Budgets are pretty simple. They collect money from the taxpayers of the country and spend money supposedly on services to benefit those same taxpayers who pay the money in the first place. It is pretty simple. The money is taken and put into what is supposed to be seen as the priorities. We can talk about what Canadians see as priorities. It is their money.

One thing the government has a tendency to forget is that it is the taxpayers' money. The Liberals seem to think it is their money when they bring it in by the shovel load or the barrelful. They think they should have the right to dole it out on their own pet projects. Budgets are simple; money in and money out.

The problem with the government is that in this budget we had the opportunity of having Canadians analyze it. Canadians throughout this great country over the last number of weeks have seen the different areas of priorities and expenditures the government put forward in the budget. I can honestly say that I have not had anyone run up to me and say, “Boy, have the Liberals ever done a wonderful job with our money this year”. Not one person suggested that maybe I should not stand up and take the LIberals to task because, boy have they ever hit the mark on this one and put the money to good use. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

A lot of Canadians have come up to me and said that just maybe the Liberals missed the mark on this one. The Liberals have tried the shotgun approach and hit every little piece they possibly could for whatever reason, and legacy comes to mind. They have tried to hit every little piece and quite frankly have failed miserably in trying to put that shotgun approach forward.

There were a number of areas which Canadians felt should be priorities. Needless to say the first one was health care. Health care was the priority. Yes, the Liberals sat down and bullied the provinces and by the way, put back into health care they money that they yanked out of the system in 1993 and 1994. It was the lack of that money through which they destroyed the system in the first place and they are now putting it back in dribs and drabs and saying, “Are we not wonderful”. The provinces and Canadians are saying that if the Liberals had not taken it out in the first place and put more resources in during that timeframe, the health care system would not be in the sad state it is in now.

Canadians wanted to see that as a priority along with the billions, and pick a number because it varies from $12 billion to $17 billion to $32 billion, depending on which Liberal member we talk to. The fact is that the dollars put into the health care system in this budget were the dollars that were yanked out of the system previously by the government.

On tax cuts, Canadians also said to me, and I am sure they said it to other members in the House, “It is our money. We give it to the government by the shovelful and the barrelful. It would be nice if we could keep some of it in our own pockets”. Canada is one of the highest taxed countries in the OECD.

Canadians say that it would be real nice, if there are surpluses that we talk about that perhaps, just perhaps, there could be a change in the basic exemption. It would be wonderful if there could be a change in the basic exemption and people of all incomes could take advantage of it. Was there any of that in the budget? No.

Canadians also talk about the capital gains side of it, which we have certainly suggested should be struck. Was there anything in that area? No.

Was there any kind of tax relief at all in the budget? Yes, there was. There was 2¢ on every $100 to employment insurance earnings. The Liberals say it is 12¢ but 10¢ of it was a previous budget commitment so really it was 2¢ that came off.

By the way, that is an insurance program which has anywhere from $7 billion to $8 billion in surplus a year which has accumulated to about $40 billion. It has just been put into a black hole. In fact those people who are putting in the employment insurance premiums, not only the individuals, but the employers too, are being taxed substantially more to help balance the budget.

Let us talk about surplus and debt reduction. Has there been any identified in the budget? Well, there is a $3 billion contingency fund but if someone in some department decides to put in another gun registry, perhaps the $3 billion could be used for it. It is a contingency fund and if it is there at the end of it, perhaps it will go to debt.

We said a long time ago that it took a long time to get into this position. In fact it goes back to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau days where deficits were in vogue and started our deficit spiral downward. It took a while to get into that position. Perhaps it should take us a while to get out.

Our party said to put a line item in the budget and ensure that in every budget a specific amount went directly to debt reduction. Perhaps it could be a 25 year plan. It took time to get into it and it will take time to get out of it. We said to identify those numbers so that when we got revenue in from Canadians we could identify it and put it toward a debt reduction program. That is what Canadians are asking for. They want it. People come up to me on the streets and talk to me about it.

The member from Richmond Hill gets incensed when we talk about infrastructure. As the previous executive director of the FCM he knew it suggested that there is a $15 billion deficit in infrastructure.

Let us look at what the government has done. It has taken the shotgun approach. There has been $3 billion. There is $100 million in the next budget year, 2003-04, and $100 million in 2004-05. I refer to it as infrastructure Chinese water torture, a drip here, a drip there. That is all it has been.

Liberals can stand up on their hind legs and take great pride in this, but the member knows that the same executive director of the FCM has said quite emphatically that it is nothing but a down payment. CMHC needs a down payment when someone is buying a home. This is not even the beginning of a down payment, yet those members stand up and say they are wonderful because of this infrastructure funding of $100 million for the next budget year on this particular program over 10 years. When the government says $3 billion over a 10 year period, that is not even close to what is required by the FCM.

Canadians come up to me and say that it is a budget and that is very good and it is nice to know that the shotgun approach has dollars going into different areas. What they are really concerned about is the way the government is spending their money. It is called management. In this particular case with the government, it is called mismanagement.

If there are billions of dollars to be spent in different directions and which cannot be given back to the taxpayers, perhaps the $1 billion that went into the gun registry was not really best managed on behalf of Canadian taxpayers. Perhaps that $1 billion should have gone someplace else, to another priority, whether it be health care or tax cuts.

Today we learned of an untendered health care contract that went to a company that does retrofitting for automobiles. Heavens, there was also Groupaction. There was a thing called sponsorship programs where millions of dollars were expended with no reports and with no real benefit to Canadians.

There are so many examples of mismanagement that perhaps even the budget is a bit of a misnomer. Dollars can be thrown at all departments and they can waste it without being accountable to Canadians. That is what a budget is all about, being accountable to Canadians.

The last item I will talk about is one that is dear to my heart. One of the Liberal members talked about the wonderful dollars and the wonderful budget item on the APF, the agriculture policy framework. That is smoke and mirrors. That is the way the Liberals turn a phrase. They say they are doing wonderful things for different industries and different priorities. They talk about $5.2 billion that was identified for the APF. I asked the member if he could tell me what timeframe that was, but I do not think he knows because he did not answer the question. That is quite usual for members of the government.

The $5.2 billion he referred to in the budget is over six years. It is not $5.2 billion this year. It is like the smoke and mirrors of the infrastructure program. There is $3 billion but only $100 million this year. It is the same with agriculture. Over that six year period, $5.2 billion is less than what was in last year's budget.

The government can play with numbers. It can float the numbers. It can hide the numbers as best it can. That is what it has done in these budget documents.

The government believes sincerely that it has done a good job but I would like to pass this message on to the government of the day: it has not and Canadians will not be seen as accepting this budget document that is placed before us.

Believe it or not, we will vote against the budget when it comes before the House. I can honestly say that most Canadians will agree with us when we do that.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 6:15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of ways and means Motion No. 2.

Is the House ready for the question?

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6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


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6:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


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6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


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6:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour will please say yea.

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6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


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6:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


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6:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it. And more than five members having risen :

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6:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to order adopted on Thursday, February 27, 2003, the recorded division on the motion stands deferred until Tuesday, March 18, 2003 at the end of government orders.

Situation in IraqEmergency Debate

March 17th, 2003 / 6:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House will now proceed to the consideration of a motion to adjourn the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter requiring urgent consideration, namely the situation in Iraq.

Situation in IraqEmergency Debate

6:15 p.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC


That this House do now adjourn.

Mr. Speaker, I requested this emergency debate because I feel very strongly that we are experiencing a profoundly critical situation. I know that the people we have met and consulted with over the past two weeks are as sure as we are that this is a critical and dangerous, or at least worrisome, situation. But for most, it is much more than that.

As parliamentarians we have to be able to talk about it. We also have to vote on the deployment of troops, but that is not the sole purpose of the debate this evening.

I would like to begin by putting this extremely intense time into context. We have seen an inspections process led by the United Nations that works; not perfectly, but satisfactorily enough for both chief weapons inspectors at the United Nations. Saddam Hussein is—albeit for the first time and undoubtedly under the pressure of the forces that are building around Iraq—showing serious signs of cooperation.

The next report by the chief weapons inspector will be made public tomorrow. We do not know yet if it was submitted today to the Security Council. However, the chief inspector has already said he was very interested and quite satisfied.

Yet, despite these results that we were waiting for, the United States, backed by Great Britain and Spain, today told the Security Council that it had today and only today to make a decision to authorize the United States to attack Iraq.

The Security Council is made up of 11 countries, six of which are small countries susceptible to influence, particularly the great economic and financial power of the United States. These small countries resisted, they wanted to support a peaceful process. So, despite what these 11 countries wanted, the United States decided that there was no more role for the Security Council to play.

Yet, and I repeat this, the inspections worked to contain and disarm Saddam Hussein. But clearly, this was not enough for the U.S. administration. It does not seem to matter to the United States that the Security Council has ended up sidelined, even though it is the only body that is capable of taking action, under international law. It does not seem worried about starting a conflict that legal experts say that a conflict instigated against Iraq by the United States, Great Britain and Spain would be not only illegal under international law—this is on an altogether different level—but illegitimate or immoral, based on criteria reflecting public opinion around the world.

It is important to keep in mind that in terms of international law, only legitimate defence can be used as a justification for attacking another country. The United States is not under attack, it has no right to counterattack under section 51, aunlike what happened at the time of the al-Qaeda attacks, which had been supported by Afghanistan.

The Security Council, and only the Security Council, can authorize the use of force in such circumstances. But it has now been sidelined.

The fact that the apparently imminent conflict is illegal in that it contravenes international law is a very serious matter. This conflict is also illegitimate in many regards. The various secret services have confirmed that no evidence of a relationship between al-Qaeda and the regime of Saddam Hussein was found, in spite of investigations.

There is no comparison between the danger posed by Saddam Hussein and the war to be waged on Iraq. We are told that this super powerful army would launch 3,000 bombs against the palaces over a 48-hour period. These bombs may be very precisely guided, but the fact remains that these palaces are located in urban areas.

The NGOs have painted for us, at the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the picture of a humanitarian disaster. As far as Canada is concerned, the illegitimacy of this conflict would have been even greater had Canada gotten involved in it without first holding a vote in the House of Commons. Thankfully, and we are proud to say so, this has not been the case.

This has not been talked about a lot in the House, but I want to point out that there is every indication that a humanitarian disaster is anticipated. It is important to know that between 60% and 70% of the Iraqi population of 23 million currently depend for food on the oil for food deal administered by the Iraqi government. Food is distributed on a monthly basis in the form rations by 46,000 stores. The NGOs have told us that in that respect, this despicable dictator is doing a good job.

One million children under the age of five are chronically undernourished and at great risk of dying should the food programs stop. Five million people do not have access to drinking water or basic hygiene. It should be pointed out that following the 1991 attacks, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi, including a large number of children, died because water could no longer be treated for lack of electricity. Drinking water is in short supply. Iraqi people live mainly in urban areas.

I could go on and talk about refugees, whose numbers could be estimated to be as high as 1.4 million, and about the people displaced within their own country, who could be as many as 900,000. There is no mention of the enormous problems that this will cause.

It is not surprising that there were 250,000 protesters in Montreal, I am proud to say, on Saturday, according to the organizers. I was there. There were many protesters throughout Quebec: 18,000 in Quebec City, 2,500 in Rimouski, 4,000 in Trois Rivières, Gatineau, the Gaspé Peninsula, Baie-Comeau, and I may be forgetting others. People had a purpose in getting together. It was to show their opposition to an illegal and illegitimate war.

Quebec's national assembly voted unanimously in favour of a resolution. Quebec sides with international public opinion. There were also protests in the rest of Canada. They were, however, not as big. This was also true in other parts of the world, although certainly not in Milan, where there were over 600,00 protesters. People may seem discouraged and a bit depressed given the American offensive, which ignores public pressure.

It should be stressed that, in response to the attack the world's superpower would like to launch, there have been signs of an international public opinion which is still a delicate counterbalance, but is a new phenomenon that has not been seen until now and that owes its existence to the new methods of communication.

This movement experiences the same situations with the same information at the same moment. This is the positive side of globalization. This is the positive expression of this globalization, an expression of hope.

What huge wrong is the Bush administration doing to the American people? In what ways do they need their friends and what will they need from their friends after this attack? There are many reasons, including the fact that they will need to ensure that international order does not collapse.

To this end, it is important to state that the Security Council, despite our fear that it will be considered impotent from this day forward, did, in fact, show strength, an ability to lead an international debate, to discuss and come up with new means of keeping world order.

We have experienced many wonderful moments, but now we are stunned.

What are the objectives of the United States—I should say the American administration, because they should not be confused. What are their objectives? Links with al-Qaeda—as I said—could not be established. That was their first objective. Then they said it was the destruction of weapons of mass destruction. But there is no better way to destroy these weapons than through the inspections. Even Secretary of State Colin Powell was contradicted by the inspectors. The American administration came back to the links with al-Qaeda, saying it feared that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were being supplied to or stolen by terrorist groups or by al-Qaeda even though between 1998 and four months ago, Iraq did no such thing.

Then there was the report that Great Britain plagiarized, which contained data from 1991. That is all I will say about that.

What is the objective of the American administration? Regime change. I will not repeat the Prime Minister's very sensible words from when he was in Mexico or on ABC. But why change the regime?

Some have said that control of this second largest oil reserve in the world is one of the objectives, if not the prime objective of the American administration. I do not agree. I think it is a major objective, but not the prime objective. However, I know that this is what a large number of Iraqis think.

So, what is the prime objective? It seems to me that the prime objective is the document entitled “The National Security Strategy of the United States of America”, which was prepared under the direction of Ms. Condoleezza Rice.

According to this document, the United States, in these new times in which we are living since September 11, and also since the 20th century, has a new take on the situation.

Here are a few excepts from the document:

Defending our Nation against its enemies is the first and fundamental commitment of the Federal Government.

They are referring to the U.S. government here.

Today, that task has changed dramatically. Enemies in the past needed great armies and great industrial capabilities to endanger America. Now, shadowy networks of individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores for less than it costs to purchase a single tank. Terrorists are organized to penetrate open societies and to turn the power of modern technologies against us.

The text concludes as follows:

Freedom is the non-negotiable demand of human dignity; the birthright of every person—in every civilization. Throughout history, freedom has been threatened by war and terror; it has been challenged by the clashing wills of powerful states and the evil designs of tyrants; and it has been tested by widespread poverty and disease. Today, humanity holds in its hands the opportunity to further freedom’s triumph over all these foes. The United States welcomes our responsibility to lead in this great mission.

The United States, through its administration, wants to present the world with a hegemony, and holds the naive belief that democracy can be won with bayonets. Yet this attack on Iraq might well have the opposite effect, unfortunately.

Will this attack on Iraq convince North Korea? Perhaps it will spur it to quickly arm itself with nuclear weapons in order to gain some respect. Will it convince the international terrorist groups? On the contrary, that this attack on Iraq may well create a desire in young people to sacrifice their lives for objectives which they may not properly understand, but which the situation may encourage them to espouse.

As I said, the United States will be needing friends it respects and will need to accept that those friends can be totally opposed to their strategy. Far from leading to progress in the fight against terrorism, a commitment made repeatedly in this House, this strategy may very well hinder that fight, and involve us instead in a clash of civilizations, which we reject with all our strength.

In these, the dawning years of the new century, it is imperative for the international community to tell this superpower that might does not make right, that the only international law that exists is expressed by the institutions we know, the only ones that can save the world from anarchy.

Situation in IraqEmergency Debate

6:35 p.m.

Elgin—Middlesex—London Ontario


Gar Knutson LiberalSecretary of State (Central and Eastern Europe and Middle East)

Mr. Speaker, it is with honour that I rise this evening to speak on behalf of the Government of Canada. Before I begin I would like to advise the Chair that I plan on splitting my time with the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier.

As the Prime Minister said earlier today, Canada has worked very hard to secure a peaceful resolution of the Iraq crisis and bridge the differences with the international community. Regrettably, the members of the Security Council were unable to agree on a way ahead.

The Canadian position has been clear from the outset, our commitment to the disarmament of Iraq and our support for the United Nations Security Council resolution 1441 have been unwaivering.

We recognize the importance of the pressure that the United States and the United Kingdom forces have brought to bear in supporting the work of the United Nations inspectors in the region. Moreover we have been consistently clear that if military action proceeds without the clear authorization of the UN Security Council, Canada would be unable to participate.

We will continue to work with our friends and closest allies, the United States of America, throughout the campaign against terrorism, in particular in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Although the Security Council has not been able to resolve its differences over the interpretation of 1441, its members remain united in their shared goal of the disarmament of Iraq. This too has been Canada's goal since the outset. It has been incumbent upon us all to put in every effort to find a peaceful diplomatic course forward toward Iraqi disarmament. The disarmament of Iraq remains the shared objective of the entire world community, even if there remain differences among countries on the Security Council as to how best to achieve this end.

In meetings and many phone calls over the past few months, the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs have emphasized the need for Iraqi co-operation with the UN and for unity with the UNSC in its dealings with Iraq. We have repeatedly emphasized the need for a strong message from the United Nations Security Council to Iraq, pressing for Iraq's disarmament, supported by a united Security Council. Over the past few weeks we have worked hard to support the efforts of the UNSC, even though we are not currently on the council. We offered ideas and constructive suggestions to bridge the differences of views in the council over the interpretation of 1441.

We regret the council has not been able to resolve its differences of views. The UN Security Council is the only institution that may have been capable of ensuring a peaceful diplomatic solution to the Iraqi crisis.

The current crisis in Iraq is not the last crisis that the international community will need to confront. The UN, and specifically the Security Council, must remain central to the international community's efforts to rebuild Iraq as well as any future crises we may face.

Whatever happens in the next few days, we remain committed to the UN system as the best vehicle for addressing threats to international peace and security and for helping to foster a better life for people around the world. I have been pleased to see millions of people around the world expressing their desire that the UN will be given every possible opportunity to resolve this crisis peacefully. It speaks volumes about the extent to which, at the start of the 21st century, people everywhere see the UN as an indispensable part of their world.

The days ahead however will be difficult. Our actions will continue to be guided by principles that have long been held by Canada and Canadians. These principles have stood the test of time. They work and they are as relevant today as they were the day the UN was formed. We know that working multilaterally has served Canadian values and interests well. Thus, we believe the UN must be central to any humanitarian response and post-conflict efforts.

We must now turn to look at how we, the international community through the UN, can help the Iraqi people in the days ahead, to deliver necessary humanitarian assistance to ensure that displaced persons can find protection should they need it and after a conflict to see Iraq on the path toward peace and stability.

We believe the UN must continue to play a central role throughout the crisis to deliver humanitarian assistance to the long suffering Iraqi people, seek to offer assistance and protection to refugees and internally displaced persons who may be forced to flee from their homes, support Iraq's reconstruction and help set the Iraqi people on a course toward peace and prosperity.

Canada already has contributed funds towards the UN's preparedness efforts for Iraq and we stand ready to respond to any new humanitarian needs which may arise. We know that nations of the world must work together if we are to build an enduring peace. Canada will play its role and the UN will be central to that effort.

Situation in IraqEmergency Debate

6:40 p.m.


Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to quote the three speeches that were presented at the time the United Nations was created.

The first was by William Lyon Mackenzie King who was the chairman of the Canadian delegation. I am quoting excepts because I do not have sufficient time to cover all the speeches. He said:

This Conference is meeting at a time without parallel in the history of human affairs. The present is one of those moments of transition when an old order is passing away. As representatives of the United Nations, we are all here to help lay the foundation of a new world order. The ends that we seek to serve transcend the limits of race and the bounds of nationality...

It is not the intention of the Canadian delegation to put forth in plenary session special amendments to the Proposals. Our delegation will express its point of view at an appropriate time and place on specific questions as they arise. Our sole preoccupation in any amendment which we may put forward or support at a later stage will be to help in creating an organization which over the years and decades to come will be strong enough and flexible enough to stand any strains to which it may be subjected.

We shall not be guided by considerations of national pride or prestige and shall not seek to have changes made for reasons such as these. We recognize the principle that power and responsibility must go hand in hand and that international security depends primarily upon the maintenance of an overwhelming preponderance of power on the side of peace...

In conclusion, may I express my firm conviction that the spirit in which we approach the great task of this Conference will determine the measure of its success. It is for each nation to remember that over all nations is humanity. It is for all to remember that justice is the common concern of mankind. The years of war have surely taught the supreme lesson that man and nation should not be made to serve selfish national ends, whether those ends be isolated self-defence of world domination. Nations everywhere must unite to save and to serve humanity.

There is a great passage also from the address by the Earl of Halifax, the chairman of the United Kingdom delegation. He said:

Here in San Francisco we have seen but the beginnings of a long and challenging endeavour. And there is a sense in which what we have done here is less important than what we have learnt here. We have learnt to know one another better; to argue with patience; to differ with respect; and at all times to pay honour to sincerity. That the thought of many men of many nations should thus have met in a large constructive task will have a value beyond price during the coming years, as stone by stone we carry on what we have here begun. Time alone can show whether the house that we have tried to build rests upon shifting sand, or, as I firmly hope, upon solid rock, to stand as shield and shelter against every storm.

The final speech from which I would like to quote is by Harry S. Truman, the president of the United States of America. He said:

The Charter of the United Nations which you have just signed is a solid structure upon which we can build a better world. History will honor you for it. Between the victory in Europe and the final victory in Japan, in this most destructive of all wars, you have won a victory against war itself.

It was the hope of such a Charter that helped sustain the courage of stricken peoples through the darkest days of the war. For it is a declaration of great faith by the nations of the earth--faith that war is not inevitable, faith that peace can be maintained.

If we had had this Charter a few years ago--and above all, the will to use it--millions now dead would be alive. If we should falter in the future in our will to use it, millions now living will surely die.

It has already been said by many that this is only a first step to a lasting peace. That is true. The important thing is that all our thinking and all our actions be based on the realization that it is in fact only a first step. Let us all have it firmly in mind that we start today from a good beginning and, with our eye always on the final objective, let us march forward...

This Charter, like our own Constitution, will be expanded and improved as time goes on. No one claims that it is now a final or a perfect instrument. It has not been poured into any fixed mold. Changing world conditions will require readjustments--but they will be readjustments of peace and not of war.

He went on:

What you have accomplished in San Francisco shows how well these lessons of military and economic co-operation have been learned. You have created a great instrument for peace and security and human progress in the world.

The world must now use it.

If we fail to use it, we shall betray all those who have died in order that we might meet here in freedom and safety to create it.

If we seek to use it selfishly--for the advantage of any one nation or any small group of nations--we shall be equally guilty of that betrayal.

The successful use of this instrument will require the united will and firm determination of the free peoples who have created it. The job will tax the moral strength and fiber of us all.

We all have to recognize--no matter how great our strength--that we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please. No one nation, no regional group, can or should expect any special privilege which harms any other nation...

Out of this conflict have come powerful military nations, now fully trained and equipped for war. But they have no right to dominate the world. It is rather the duty of these powerful nations to assume the responsibility for leadership toward a world of peace. That is why we have here resolved that power and strength shall be used not to wage war, but to keep the world at peace, and free from the fear of war.

Perhaps we should revisit these declarations of the founding time of the United Nations once in a while. My first point that I wish to put on the table is that these thoughts at the time are still worth our courage and moral conviction today.

There is another matter about this whole situation confronting us today which I think has to be understood, and that is the efforts and the time allocated for disarmament have not been sufficient. I would like to quote a gentleman who was interviewed on the CBC station here at the end of January, Mr. Jon Wolfsthal, who is the deputy director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. I will quote excerpts of his radio interview on CBC local. He said:

--if you look at how long the process took in South Africa even, it took us two years to verify once a decision had been made to disarm, that in fact they had effectively disarmed. And 10 years later, we're still monitoring nuclear materials in that country. In Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine we had to provide very concrete security guarantees to those countries as well as spend a lot of money. So, on the one hand yes, we do know co-operative disarmament when we see it. But this is not a one cookie cutter fits all circumstances type of situation.

If we are serious about disarmament, the inspectors are going to be the only effective way of achieving that and that's going to take a number of years. That may not fit the time scale of certain people in government or elsewhere, but if disarmament is the goal, we know that inspections work, but that it does take time.

...even though the Gulf War was a resounding military success in liberating Kuwait, we have destroyed more of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction through inspections after the war than we did during the military campaign. And I think that should be a lesson for our future activity.

That is the end of the quote by Mr. John Wolfsthal, Deputy Director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

If indeed in the days to come, or hours to come for that matter, the world should be precipitated into a war situation in the Middle East, then I believe that it behooves us and parliamentarians around the world to ensure that the multilateral institution we have created, the United Nations, is supported and remains as relevant as it has been in the last few months leading up to the situation.

I would pray that we would indeed have the courage and the moral fortitude to do what needs to be done. If we need to strengthen the United Nations, we do so, and we look beyond today into the next 50 years and into the next 100 years, because we do not want to avoid war only today. We want to keep avoiding war for decades and centuries to come.

Situation in IraqEmergency Debate

6:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, tonight we stand in a Parliament that is estranged from its most important allies and it is on the most important matter facing the world today. We stand here tonight facing a government that now opposes the enforcement of resolution 1441, a government that will play no role in the historic liberation of the Iraqi people, a government that will not be involved in the disarming of Saddam Hussein. That is a decision the Canadian government made today.

Tragically, the Prime Minister's abandonment of the Iraqi people comes the day after the 15th anniversary of Saddam Hussein's genocidal chemical attack on the Kurds in Halabja. The Kurds only yesterday observed a moment of silence to remember 15 years ago almost to the day when Saddam Hussein carried out one of a long list of atrocities in his attempt to rid the world of an entire people. Children, women and men were brutally gassed to death.

A decade and a half later here we are. Saddam Hussein is as evil as he ever was. He still has weapons of mass destruction. He still oppresses his people. He still supports terror. Though our Prime Minister fails to recognize it, Saddam Hussein is still our enemy.

Let us review how we arrived at this stage in the crisis where we find ourselves in today. I would like to review the advice that our leader of the Canadian Alliance offered the House in two previous debates on this subject. He said:

Let me be very clear here. The Canadian Alliance position is that it does not want to encourage or urge war. Our position states the following: The time has come for Canada to pledge support to the developing coalition of nations, including Britain, Australia and the United States, determined to send a clear signal to Saddam Hussein that failure to comply with an unconditional program of inspection, as spelled out in either new or existing UN resolutions, would justify action to ensure the safety of millions of people in the region from Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction.

That has been the clear position that the leader of the Canadian Alliance has maintained all the way along in this process. Further to that, our position has been clear, articulated and public as follows:

Should Saddam Hussein not agree to or not fulfil an agreement to unconditional and unrestricted access for UN weapons inspectors, or

Should the UN Security Council issue a declaration to demand Iraqi compliance and should Iraq fail to meet those conditions, or

Should some UN Security Council members falter in re-emphasizing their own past declarations,

Canada should stand with its allies in ensuring that Saddam understands that failure to comply will bring consequences.

That was our position then and it remains our position six months later.

Saddam has failed to disarm. The United Nations has failed once again to disarm him. Now is the time that we should be joining with our closest allies to disarm Saddam Hussein. That is why I am compelled to state the Canadian Alliance's deep dissatisfaction with the Prime Minister's government sad mishandling of the crisis in the disarmament of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

The Liberal government has seriously injured the interests and reputation of Canada by refusing to support the effort of the United States, the United Kingdom and 32 other countries. Let us not continue to use the word unilateral in this debate. This is not a unilateral movement of one nation. This is a coalition of some 32 allied nations that have committed to this task of disarming Saddam Hussein from his weapons of horror.

The Prime Minister's reason for abandoning our allies is the failure to secure a second resolution at the United Nations Security Council. The Liberal government has chosen to support the symbolism of multilateral process over the substance of advancing the ideals of the United Nations. We have taken our sovereignty and subjected it to the veto of one or two nations, nations that are seriously implicated in conflict of interest in Iraq.

It is erroneous that resolution 1441 does not permit military action. It does and I will quote the words of the Prime Minister himself who said on January 30, “resolution 1441 will authorize action”. He was right. Resolution 1441 called for serious consequences for non-compliance. The resolution also called for, “full, immediate and unconditional cooperation from Saddam Hussein”. Thirty-two allied nations have recognized that. Canada has not.

Saddam has met none of these three requirements. Not a single member of the Security Council, no matter how sympathetic they are to Saddam, and some of those nations are very sympathetic, is willing to state that Saddam's compliance has been full, immediate or unconditional because it has not been.

Nor has the Prime Minister at any time stated that Iraq has been in full, immediate and unconditional compliance. His own foreign minister has conceded that Saddam's behaviour has not met the standards that the United Nations put out in resolution 1441. In light of that admission, there is only one conclusion that the government should have reached; that Canada should join with her allies to disarm Saddam Hussein.

The Prime Minister talks about containment. He supports a policy of containment for Iraq. Listen to what he said on March 9. He said, “Saddam cannot do anything anymore”. He said, “He has troops at the door, inspectors on the ground and planes flying over and he cannot do anything”.

The Liberal position is that somehow Saddam Hussein can be isolated in some kind of a box and sanctioned into not threatening the Middle East or the international community. He has broken all sanctions. He has lived beyond, through and over and under the sanctions. He has amassed billions of dollars to himself while he continues year after year to categorically and step by step kill, torture and imprison illegally thousands of his own citizens.

Within this so-called containment is the evidence of chemical and biological weapons and support for international terrorism. A strategy of containment that tolerates Saddam Hussein's murderous regime to threaten the world through terrorism and technological reach is a failure.

The Liberal policy is unsustainable. It is ineffective. It is unworkable and it is dangerous. It is costing Canada's allies billions of dollars, a billion dollars a day at least, to sustain the military build-up in the gulf. The Canadian government has shouldered none of this burden but it is prepared to insist that the allies continue that great cost inevitably.

International unity is required for any containment policy. Yet given the Liberal anti-Americanism and its penchant for obstructing the efforts of our closest allies, international unity was not achievable through Canadian foreign policy. Given Saddam's ties to international terrorism, there is no question that continuing a policy of containment indefinitely will be dangerous in the extreme. Canada cannot afford to risk the safety of the international community for its own lack of resolve.

More than that, it is time for the government to undertake a number of other important steps to protect Canadian security and to protect our diminishing international reputation. The government should reassure our allies of Canada's commitment to security by outlawing all known terrorist groups. particularly those groups that operate in the Middle East. It continues to drag its feet on that.

We must ban the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. We refuse to do that. That group routinely takes credit for suicide attacks in Israel and causes tremendous instability in the region. We must also outlaw the National Liberation Army. That is an Iraq-based terrorist group with links to Saddam Hussein. CSIS, our own intelligence agency, confirms that the groups raises money in Canada.

Finally, Canada must join its allies in banning Jemaah Islamiya, the al-Qaeda-linked Bali bombers, which can still operate with impunity in our country. This is outrageous. This is not a partisan comment I am making. Here is an international group that proudly and gleefully takes responsibility for the Bali bombings, decimating hundreds of people including our friends and allies. Other countries have banned this group of murderers and this government does not. We wonder why we lose influence in the international community.

For the sake of both domestic security and international credibility, Canada must outlaw these and all other terrorist groups.

Finally, now that Saddam Hussein has chosen war, and we need to be clear on that--we wanted to see war avoided and Saddam Hussein appears to have chosen war--and now that our government has whimpered in appeasement, Canada's contribution will not be as it could have been.

We must not abandon the Iraqi people in a post-Saddam world. People agree that when Saddam Hussein is disarmed, others from within will move him along. Disarmament is the goal, but there will be some positive consequences. It is incumbent upon us: We should be there to help Iraqis build institutions of lasting liberty in the post-Saddam era. These ethnic and religious rivalries could persist in the country, with various factions vying for power. If the international community abandons Iraq when the war is done, the country could come under the control of just another menacing dictator.

Happily, we can report that a number of free nations have taken upon themselves the role to plan, along with ex-patriots who have been exiled from Iraq. Already the planning is well under way to begin to set up the institutions for a civil society in Iraq. Other nations have taken up that task. This international working group has not invited Canada to be a part of that, because Canada has not been there when it comes to supporting our own military in funding it the way it should and the way the Auditor General tells us it should. Canada has not been there in banning these international terrorist groups and so our allies have wondered why we should be involved in other things. And now Canada, or at least the Prime Minister, has made a decision that we will not be there standing to avoid war by presenting a united front against Saddam Hussein.

As Canadians, we have a lot to offer. We could be helping the Iraqi people cultivate a constitutional democracy that protects private property, a democracy that allows true elections, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise, and freedom of thought, along with all the freedoms that together constitute the natural interests of all people, including the Iraqi people. Canada has something to offer, but we have not been invited because of our diminished influence and role on the international scene. That contribution we could have made would have been a great act of humanity.

It also would have furthered Canada's national interests. It is in our national interest. Historical evidence is very clear that democracies tend to trade more and go to war less. It is in our national interest that Iraq would be democratized. A process of democratization abroad, therefore, would serve our economic, political and security interests and the interests of all freedom loving people. We could have been there, advancing these causes, helping Iraqis to achieve theirs, but we have not been invited to be a part of this group. I asked the Prime Minister that question today and he refused to acknowledge it. We could have been there for them.

So we have a date to remember: March 17, 2003. Shakespeare warned about the Ides of March. This decision of the Prime Minister for Canada not to march is madness. History is clear all down through the centuries that when dictators have faced a united, allied opposition, they have backed down from their evil designs. But history is also very clear that when dictators believe that opposition to them will be fractured and divided then they will move ahead with their evil plans, with disastrous consequences. And further down the road, the cost of pushing back these twisted dictators has always been significantly more profound, especially in terms of loss of human life, than if these dictators had faced an allied, united opposition earlier.

Tragically, the United Nations has once again failed to live up to its own resolution.

Not many years ago, in the 1990s, when a Canadian general was begging the United Nations to get involved, to intervene in Rwanda, to stop a genocide, to stop a massacre, the United Nations failed, and over a million people, mainly women and children, were brutally murdered. A million people. It could be so easy to say this happened because the United Nations failed to act.

The United Nations failed to act when Canadian generals, among others, were saying, “Please intervene in the situation in Bosnia”. Its delay in acting cost a quarter of a million lives. In Kosovo, the United Nations failed to act again, in 1999. It was only the action of NATO partners that stopped a massacre there.

We would all like to see the United Nations exist as a viable force for peace, but it continues to fail to act. It has done that again.

History shows that there will always be people who fully recognize that the price of peace is eternal vigilance. More than 30 allied nations are, with a grave sense of purpose, taking up that torch, that torch of eternal vigilance, a torch that was dropped from the failing hands of the United Nations Security Council. In taking up that torch, these 32 other nations will be taking it up for those who handed it off from the other failing hands who fought and died for freedom in the past. Those people will not have died in vain, because 32 allied nations are taking up that torch to stand for freedom.

Those 32 brave nations will win. Iraq will be disarmed, not because of anything the United Nations did but because of what 32 nations are about to do unless in the next few days Saddam Hussein should step down. Iraq will be disarmed. That will begin a process of freedom for the beleaguered people of Iraq. As history shows, the flame of freedom will burn with an increasing fervency in the hearts of the Iraqis. Though the pathway following disarmament will not be easy, though that path will be difficult, as surely as night follows day that path will lead to freedom and democracy and a future of hope for the children, the women and the men of Iraq.

That is how history has unfolded in the past. That is how it has unfolded many times in the last century, when allied nations have stood strong against evil dictators. The difference this time is that Canada will not be a part of that allied group of freedom loving nations that will stand together to disarm Saddam Hussein. There will be freedom, eventually, for the people of Iraq. The part of this reality that is somewhat sad is that Canada has chosen not to be a part of that process.

Today we witness an historic divide, an historic realignment of geopolitical forces in the early part of this 21st century. We are witnessing this divide right in front of our eyes. The United Nations may or may not continue in its present form and NATO may or may not continue in its present form, but we are witnessing a new divide of geopolitical interests. Today our Prime Minister put us on the side of Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq and China. The government has put us on that side, not on the side of Great Britain, Australia, Spain and the great emerging nations of the new Europe that experienced communism and have only recently broken free from it. Are we with those freedom loving nations? No, we are not. This is a sad day, a sad moment for us as Canadians.

The possibility of avoiding war is there, but Canada has let it slip from its grasp. Should Saddam Hussein not step down, our prayers and our hopes will be with those 32 brave nations who are willing to fulfill the UN resolution, disarm Saddam Hussein and eventually see peace and freedom come to Iraq. Sadly, Canada will not be part of that this time. Though we were there in the past, we will not be this time.

Our only hope is that in the future we will regain that fervency in our hearts for the principles of democracy and freedom, a fervency that once burned brightly. I believe it will burn again, but not with this government.