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.