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House of Commons Hansard #73 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was transportation.

Topics

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I realize regime change is an important topic of discussion and one that generates some enthusiasm on every side but we have to be able to hear the question from the Leader of the Opposition.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian Alliance Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I got that line from the member for LaSalle—Émard.

The Prime Minister has said that Saddam is currently contained and that this containment is working. He knows that Saddam is contained by a quarter of a million allied troops, British, American and Australian, at his doorstep.

Does the Prime Minister really expect these troops to stay there indefinitely and if this strategy was working, why was his government not participating in it?

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, talking about change of regime, they did that in the opposition and they went from 25% to 9% in the popular vote.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian Alliance Calgary Southwest, AB

My caucus did not force me to resign.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Liberal Saint-Maurice, QC

Mr. Speaker, they do not want to have an answer, so I will not reply.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, Holocaust survivor and renowned human rights activist, Simon Wiesenthal recently said the following:

[The allies] do not seek to conquer Iraq but rather Iraq but rather to confront a dictator who has used weapons of mass destruction and committed genocide against his own people...Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, but for six years the world did not act. Has he been taken seriously then, the lives of innocent millions may have been spared.

Why does the Prime Minister seem so obsessed with not offending Saddam Hussein and leaving him in power?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the opposition wants to have a different debate than the real debate. The debate was to disarm Saddam Hussein. We think he has to be disarmed. Resolution 1441 was not on a change of regime. It was on disarmament. The process was on its way to being realized. The Americans decided that it was not proceeding fast enough. They decided to go.

We said that we would not to be there unless there was an approval by the United Nations. There was not such a thing. We said that a year ago and we repeated the same thing on Monday.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, because of disarmament the world is witnessing a global realignment of nations, a new geopolitical divide.

The Prime Minister's decision to not support UN resolution 1441 puts us in the camp of nations like Libya, Syria, Iran, communist China and Cuba, and not on the side of our historic allies like Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, the United States, Spain and the new democracies of the new Europe.

Why does the Prime Minister think that the economic and strategic interests of Canada will be enhanced by clearly placing us on the wrong side of this new divide?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Canada is an independent country and Canada made a decision on behalf of all Canadians.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the work of the Canadian government is not finished as regards the Iraqi issue. The Prime Minister made the right decision when he announced that Canada would not participate in the war against Iraq, but he must go further. In this sense, his commitment to review the proposal made by the Bloc Quebecois is encouraging.

Since time is of the essence, I want to know if the Prime Minister instructed the Canadian ambassador to the United Nations to immediately ask the UN General Assembly to address the Iraqi crisis?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Security Council met this morning. It is pointless, at this time, to submit that proposal. The Security Council is aware of the problem and it is up to it to decide whether or not it wants to refer the matter to the General Assembly.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the Security Council is deadlocked. Resolution 377 was used for the first time when the Suez conflict had already begun and France and Great Britain were present on the theatre of operations. I believe it is the United States that used it.

Should we not do the same thing now? Considering that there is this impasse, even if the war began in 12 hours, could Canada not play a constructive role for peace by asking the General Assembly to act as the second line, after the Security Council, in the promotion of peace?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, over the past three weeks, we have worked very hard, harder than any other country, to try to solve this issue. We did everything we could.

As I said, right now, the Security Council is in session. At least it was this morning, and it is up to it to decide, given the existing impasse, whether it should refer the matter to the General Assembly.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, in expressing support for the Uniting for Peace resolution 377, Lester B. Pearson said the following on behalf of Canada:

It has always been the view of our delegation that the Assembly should be a second line of defense for the security of members of the UN.

Does the Prime Minister not think that the situation is sufficiently serious to require recourse to that “second line of defense”?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister has said, the matter is now in the hands of the Security Council. Some of the countries in New York are seeking to bring the matter before the General Assembly.

Canada will do its job. It will go before the General Assembly. It will participate. We will continue our efforts toward securing peace, if that is possible. Even today, we are continuing our efforts.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, we want to urge the government to address this matter more rapidly.

According to yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer :

Iraq is a test case for a new Bush Doctrine to police the world and remake it in our image.

Does the Prime Minister not feel it is urgent for the countries of the world joined together by the United Nations to address this crisis?

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what has guided us in recent weeks. The Prime Minister and the entire government have been working precisely to that end: to work within the UN context and with other countries in the world in an attempt to avoid war if at all possible.

Contrary to the wishes of the Canadian Alliance, which was absolutely intent on rushing into war, we have presented a proposal. We have presented a proposal to avoid war, and we are continuing our efforts to that end.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister was very clear when he said to the House that Canadian Forces personnel in the gulf would not participate in the war on Iraq, and yet it appears that the Minister of National Defence may have another opinion because he is reported to have said that Canadian warships will escort U.S. and British vessels sailing up to the northern edge of the Persian Gulf to wage the war on Iraq.

Could the Prime Minister tell us who is speaking for the government? Is it the Minister of National Defence or the Prime Minister when he was so very clear yesterday?

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the ships that are there have a task in relation to the Operation Apollo program. They are there to protect the circulation of ships in that part of the world so the Canadian troops that are in Afghanistan or that will be going to Afghanistan, and other people who want to deliver goods and services to the people operating in Afghanistan, can go to a port in that area.

Our troops are there and will remain there to help in the Apollo program for the good of the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, many people applaud the Prime Minister's decision but they will not be applauding if they find out that the Prime Minister is trying to have it both ways.

Could the Prime Minister ask the Minister of National Defence to tell us what the new rules of engagement are to make sure that Canadian Forces personnel in the gulf do not do what the Prime Minister has said they will not do?

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, they have their rules of engagement, which we have given them, to do exactly what they are doing. We did that months ago and we do not have to change what is already clear.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, in the 1995 referendum campaign in Quebec, the Prime Minister said “don't worry, don't prepare, wait”, and then he nearly lost the country.

Yesterday, with a war hours away, this head-in-the-sand Prime Minister said “before working on reconstruction wait for the war to start”. Other countries are not waiting. The Canadian Red Cross is not waiting.

How many bombs must fall? How many Iraqis must die before Canada uses our undoubted influence to put the United Nations in a position to lead any reconstruction efforts?

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, on these programs Canada is always one of the first to move. Already at the United Nations the Canadian delegation is talking with the authorities to make sure that we will be participating in the program when the need arises.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is some progress from yesterday.

On Monday afternoon the Prime Minister finally announced a policy on Iraq. Monday night the foreign minister said “that is Canada's policy at this time”.

Yesterday the minister said “Our position has to reflect the reality on the ground at any one time”. That can only mean that the government is prepared to change its policy again.

Will the Prime Minister tell the House if there are circumstances in which Canada would change the position the Prime Minister stated on Monday and, if not, then why is the foreign minister saying that this is a policy only for this moment, this time?