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House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was international.

Topics

Business of the House

10 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among House leaders earlier this morning and I think you would find unanimous consent that at the conclusion of routine proceedings the House suspend until 10:30 a.m. in order to permit the party leaders to react to the situation in Iraq. That would be to suspend at the conclusion of routine proceedings, perhaps in five or ten minutes from now, until 10:30 a.m.

Business of the House

10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Business of the House

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

March 20th, 2003 / 10 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 11 petitions.

Canada Airports ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-27, an act respecting airport authorities and other airport operators and amending other acts.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Tony Valeri Liberal Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 10

th

report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts relating to the May 8, 2002 Report of the Auditor General of Canada, relating to three contracts awarded to Groupaction Communications.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Special Economic Measures ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Anders Canadian Alliance Calgary West, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-414, an act to amend the Special Economic Measures Act (no foreign aid to countries that do not respect religious freedom).

Mr. Speaker, religious freedom is an issue we take for granted in Canada. It is a fundamental freedom guaranteed in our Constitution. Yet our government gives taxpayer money to nations that do not share these same values.

Millions of dollars through CIDA go to regimes that tear down churches, burn bibles and imprison church leaders. I do not believe the taxpayers would approve of their money being used to prop up governments which wilfully ignore this basic right.

My bill would limit CIDA funding to intolerant nations that do not respect religious freedom.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Nuclear Liability ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-415, an act to amend the Nuclear Liability Act.

Mr. Speaker, the Nuclear Liability Act, as it stands, now calls for operators to carry a minimum of $75 million in liability insurance. If damages beyond that amount occur, the federal government must cover the costs.

The amount of coverage is far below international standards.In its report dated June 2002 entitled “International Aspects of Nuclear Reactor Safety”, the Standing Committee of the Senate on Energy recommends:

--the government take immediate action to amend the Nuclear Liability Act, and increase and maintain the mandatory operator held insurance coverage...at an amount in line with the Paris and Vienna Conventions “over 600 million [Canadian] dollars.

The revised Paris convention would require that the minimum liability amount for operators be 700 million Euro dollars.

Therefore, in line with the Senate committees recommendation, international standards and in recognition of the unique risk associated with the nuclear industry, the bill seeks to amend the act to $1.1 billion Canadian.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to present signed by a number of constituents in my riding.

The petition refers to the working conditions and the pay of rural route mail couriers in Canada who, if their pay is measured on an hourly basis, often earn less than the minimum wage and whose working conditions are perhaps not what they ought to be.

The petitioners ask and pray that the House consider giving rural route mail couriers collective bargaining rights now or to allow their working conditions and their pays to be raised to levels that are equitable with those of other postal workers.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of the people of eastern Ontario, in particular White Lake, Braeside, Kinburn and Nepean, requesting that Parliament recognize that the Canadian Emergency Preparedness College is essential to training Canadians for emergency situations; that the facility should stay in Arnprior; and that the government should upgrade the facilities as promised in order to provide the necessary training for Canadians as first responders.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present this morning from a significant number of constituents in my riding calling upon Parliament to protect our children and take all necessary steps to ensure that all materials that promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children are outlawed.

I think it is extremely important that Parliament recognize the concerns of our citizens and act accordingly.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, Question No. 125 will be answered today.

Question No. 125Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

With respect to the Canadian Pension Plan and the Disability Pension (CPP): ( a ) what was the percentage increase for the year 2003; ( b ) how is the increase calculated; ( c ) what is the inflation rate for the year 2002; ( d ) is there a correlation between the inflation rate and the CPP increase; and ( e ) if not, what criteria does the Department of Human Resources and Development Canada use to justify increases and decreases to the CPP?

Question No. 125Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

In January 2003, Canada pension plan, CPP, including disability rates increased by 1.6%. This increase was based on the monthly average change in the Consumer Price Index, CPI—All items, compiled by Statistics Canada, for the 12 month period November 2001 to October 2002.

Although consumers paid 3.9% more in December 2002 than they did in December 2001 for the goods and services in the CPI basket, it should be noted that the CPI is a “snapshot” and the 3.9% quoted above reflects the change in the CPI between the index in December 2001 and the index in December 2002. The CPI experienced monthly increases and decreases during the year, i.e. goods and services became less expensive or more expensive throughout the year. CPP benefits are adjusted, increased, to even out fluctuations and take into account the average change, increase, in the CPI over a full 12 month period.

According to the latest release from the CPI, published by Statistics Canada on February 27, 2003, “…the annual average All items CPI increased 2.2%, a slightly slower rate of increase than the 2.6% observed for 2001”.

Canada pension plan benefit increases have a direct correlation to the CPI and are calculated in the following manner in accordance with the Canada Pension Plan Act and Canada Pension Plan Regulations: Every January, CPP benefit increases are based on the average CPI increase over the 12 month period, November to October, as compared to the same preceding 12 month period.

To determine the CPP increase for 2003, i.e. 1.6%, we calculated the average CPI between November 2001 and October 2002, 118.2, and divided it by the previous year’s average CPI. Between November 2000 and October 2001, the average CPI was 116.3. One hundred and eighteen point two, 118.2, divided by one hundred and sixteen point three, 116.3, equals 1.016. Expressed as a percentage, there was a 1.6% increase in the average CPI between 2000-01 and 2001-02 and this percentage was used to escalate the CPP rates.

It should be noted that where there is a decrease in the average CPI year over year, this will not result in a decrease in CPP benefits. Rates would not change for the year following the decrease. Rates are only adjusted upwards.

In a time when the rate of inflation is increasing, such as now, the resulting adjustment in benefits may be less than if a December to December comparison had been used. But this is not always the case. For example, if the December to December increase in the Consumer Price Index had been used for CPP benefits in January 2002, the benefits would only have been increased by 0.7%. Instead, using the method set out in the CPP legislation, the increase was 3.0%.

Question No. 125Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 125Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is that agreed?

Question No. 125Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 125Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The House is suspended until 10:30 at the call of the Chair.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 10:12 a.m.)

(The House resumed at 10:30 a.m.)

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

moved:

That this House call upon the government not to participate in the military intervention initiated by the United States in Iraq.

Mr. Speaker, today is a terribly sad day. We are forced to admit that diplomacy has failed and that hostilities were begun late last night. Not only is this war unjustified, as the Prime Minister has said; it is illegal and illegitimate as well.

Our thoughts go out immediately to the innocent civilians, the men, women and children who do not deserve what is happening to them.

War is always an admission of failure, particularly since the inspections were making progress. Mr. Blix made his report to the Security Council yesterday.

By far the majority of countries wanted peaceful disarmament to continue. Yes, Iraq must certainly be disarmed, but peacefully. Thus this war is not only pointless, it also represents a serious mistake.

Today is also an important day, because the House of Commons will get to vote. That is the role of the elected representatives that we are, men and women who represent the people in our respective ridings.

There are two important occasions when this House must express itself, when we must vote as parliamentarians. First there are the budgets, obviously, since they set out the priorities for the year to come, but then there is also, and above all, the matter of war or peace. There is nothing more important in life for Parliament, for the elected members that we are, than deciding whether to opt for the logic of war or the logic of peace. This is the most important question we can be asked. And today we will be able to vote.

The government's position on this question of whether or not to hold a vote was untenable. The Prime Minister told us it had to be assumed that he had the support of the House, because he was proposing to refuse to take part in this war, and a vote was not necessary. I repeat, he always presumes he has the House's support, for Kyoto and for the budget, yet votes must be held, so that argument does not hold water.

Second, it is false to claim that, in our parliamentary tradition, in a British-style system, the executive, with the undisputed authority to make such a decision, is not required to consult the House. As recently as the day before yesterday, Tony Blair was doing just that under very difficult circumstances. I do not agree with Tony Blair, but we must admit that he at least respected the democracy of the House of Commons.

During today's debate and through the vote to be held at its conclusion, we will be expressing the opinion of Quebeckers and Canadians. We witnessed those peace and anti-war protests, and I am speaking, in particular, about Quebec, since I am a member from Quebec. Three major protests were held. At the last one, some 250,000 people gathered in Montreal. There were another 18,000 in Quebec City. Protests were held in Trois-Rivières, Gatineau, Rimouski, and Sherbrooke. Some 5,000 protesters gathered in Alma, a city of 30,000 people.

People do not want war. They want peace. Not once have I heard someone say, “We support Saddam Hussein”. Wanting peace does not mean supporting that dictator. We must not buy into that absurd logic. We must disarm the regime of Saddam Hussein, but through peaceful means.

We must be clear about the principles underlying our position. The conditions that authorize war, that justify resorting to such a terrible step, are as follows: the first condition is legitimate defence. A country under attack has the right to defend itself, no argument there. The second is a significant threat to international security, supported by an explicit United Nations Security Council resolution. The third is a threat of genocide.

We were right to intervene in Kosovo. There was a risk of genocide. We should have intervened in Rwanda. Our position is a peaceful one and we understand—as pacifists in Quebec have also told me—that unfortunately, in some situations like in Rwanda or during the Second World War, we have to take the terrible step of resorting to war.

However, none of the three conditions I just mentioned apply to the situation in Iraq. That is why we agree with the Prime Minister that this war is unjustified. But we would add, as Boutros Boutros-Ghali said yesterday, that it is also illegal and illegitimate.

All our actions and interventions have to be based on law. This means multilateral action within the framework of international institutions. No country should set itself above international institutions.

Today the Security Council is paralyzed. There is a major division, although a large majority of countries within the Security Council—11 out of 15—have refused to declare war. The U.S., Britain and Spain were unable to convince nine members of the Security Council to launch hostilities and with good reason, since the weapons inspectors were making progress. We were on the way to peaceful disarmament. I repeat, we have to pursue the peaceful disarmament of Iraq. This is difficult, given what took place yesterday.

No one supports Saddam Hussein. He is a dictator who committed atrocities not only in 2003, but in the 1990s, 1980s and 1970s when he had the support of some western powers, including the U.S. This is the same man who used biological and chemical weapons. Yet at the time, no one talked about disarming him.

Disarming Iraq is not the same as changing the regime. It is not that we want the regime to stay, far from it, as I said earlier. But changes in regime have to be carried out by the people themselves, or by an international coalition respecting the conditions and principles of international law.

This happens through a number of treaties that have been signed since the second world war, since the UN was formed. Take the international criminal court, for example. This is one of the means that countries have to try war criminals, to try those who took certain actions, who initiated genocide. That was the case in Rwanda; it is the case with Milosevic. Unfortunately, it must be pointed out that the United States refuses to support the international criminal court, as well as the Ottawa treaty on landmines. We need to go the route of international institutions and conventions that favour diplomacy and cooperation over force.

The Bloc Quebecois opposes the war, like thousands of Quebeckers and like thousands of men and women across Canada and around the world, like the National Assembly, where all of the parties unanimously voiced their opposition.

And now for Canada's position. Canada hesitated for a long time, but we completely support the Government of Canada's refusal to take part in the military intervention by the U.S. in Iraq. On this issue, we are solidly behind the government.

However, there appears to be some inconsistency in Canada's position. There are still Canadian ships in the Persian Gulf. There are soldiers who are integrated with American and British battalions. There are still officers at the American and British headquarters in Qatar. This seems completely inconsistent, to me, not only with Canada's principled stand, but with the position expressed and chosen by Canada not to participate in this military intervention.

This makes me think of the case of Spain. They support the military intervention, but President Aznar was forced to back down because of the objections voiced by Spanish parliamentarians, and to refuse to send troops. Spain supports the intervention but is not taking part; Canada does not support it, but some of its soldiers and ships are there.

I think this is a mistake. It is hard to imagine that at the headquarters in Qatar, they are going to discuss the fight against terrorism with officers, then ask Canadian officers to leave to discuss the situation in Iraq. That does not make sense.

I agree that there should be Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan; we supported Canada's position at that time. However, Canada should be more consistent and withdraw all military equipment and personnel.

I also disapprove of Canada's fatalistic attitude these past few days, with the Prime Minister saying that every effort was made and that nothing more can be done now. Diplomatic efforts must continue.

We brought up resolution 377, which was first used during the Suez crisis in 1956. The conflict had begun, yet the U.S. convened the UN General Assembly to discuss the issue and bring greater pressure to bear on the two belligerent states that were occupying the Suez Canal area at the time, namely France and Great Britain. This effort was successful. It led to the creation of a peacekeeping force, at the instigation of Lester B. Pearson, who was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize that same year.

Canada should take an active approach to diplomacy. It should not lapse into fatalism and make the American position its own, as if nothing more could be done, but rather continue its diplomatic efforts and fully support non-governmental organizations involved in humanitarian relief and the inevitable reconstruction of Iraq.

In this respect, we should learn from the experience in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, promises were not kept, women are still suffering, and freedom has yet to be restored. There are very real efforts that need to be made, right away in Afghanistan, and tomorrow in Iraq.

Canada must also make every effort to ensure that the Geneva conventions concerning prisoners are followed, which was not the case in Afghanistan; they must be followed in Iraq.

I am raising the Afghanistan conflict again because it would seem, as President Bush indicated on several occasions, that this action in Iraq is a consequence of the events of September 11, 2001, even if the Americans' evidence of ties between al-Qaeda and Iraq are not conclusive.

There are more al-Qaeda members in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait than there were in Iraq. One must not jump to conclusions and be trigger-happy. It is important to learn the lessons of September 11.

At the time, people said that the attack against the United States was not an attack against the Americans, but an attack against all democracies. People here said it. I said it and many of my hon. colleagues said it. The government also said it, and it is true. But if it is true that is an attack against all democracies, should there not be a response from all democracies, an international response? Is this not the lesson to be learned? Is another lesson—and we were drawing these conclusions the day after the sad events in New York and Washington—that we must not fall for Osama bin Laden's arguments and not bring God or Allah into the wars of men? Unfortunately, we have fallen into that same trap. This is another mistake that will lead to religious fanaticism and that should be avoided at all costs.

This is the false logic of the good guys and the bad guys. Those using this good guy, bad guy logic are no better than Osama bin Laden; the logic is the same and so are the consequences. This is not the conclusion we must draw.

There is another lesson to be learned. How many times over the past several decades have we heard this false logic that my enemy's enemy is my friend? Saddam Hussein was the Americans' friend in fighting Iran; we see what this has led to. Osama bin Laden was the Americans' friend in fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan; and we see what this has led to. We must break with this false logic and instead put our faith in the principles of international law.

We must condemn at all costs this new theory of pre-emptive war. What are the implications for the future? What dictator will say tomorrow, “I am declaring war, because I think that one day, that guy will declare war on me”? What are the consequences for the world? This is an erroneous theory, a theory that can only lead to increased conflicts around the planet.

Nothing can justify terrorism, as we have so often said. We have also said, however, that terrorism does not just crop up out of nowhere, just by chance. There must be fertile ground for it to develop. Terrorism is rooted in poverty, the lack of democracy, the maintenance of dictatorships. These are what must be attacked. Denying cultural and national identities, denying the rights of men and of women, this is where the roots of terrorism lie. We have not taken that lesson to heart, but today we must. We must take it to heart in the reconstruction. We must take it to heart in the provision of humanitarian aid.

In conclusion, today's vote is important. It will make it possible to strengthen the Canadian position and to make it known to all of the member states of the United Nations that not only is this the position of the government and the Prime Minister, but it is also that of the great majority of us parliamentarians. It will bolster the credibility of international institutions, which is why we are calling for the government to intervene, through its ambassador to the United Nations General Assembly. This vote will strengthen the pro-peace camp.

In closing, I wish to say how proud I am that our party, the Bloc Quebecois, is the one making it possible for the House to express itself on this major question, the most vital and important of questions, whether to have peace or war. We are proud to have this opportunity and we trust the government will ensure that the vote in question is held this very day.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the leader of the Bloc Quebecois for a speech that is in keeping with the best traditions of the House, as we have come to expect from the leader.

However, I have two questions for him. He spoke of the need for an international response. I hope that he would agree with me that this is exactly what this government has been working on for months and weeks, and especially in the last few days, which have led to this unfortunate conflict. I hope that he will acknowledge this fact, in the spirit of generosity of the House.

I also hope that he will acknowledge with me, that despite his criticism of the United States, he must admit that it was the action of the United States and the Americans' promise of the use of force that led Saddam Hussein to recognize that he had the duty to disarm. As neighbours of the United States, we have to recognize their merits as well as their faults.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I heard just a minute ago that the leader of the Bloc seems to value the impact of having U.S. and British soldiers massed on the border of Iraq. The impact, of course, was that there were actually some weapons inspectors allowed back into Iraq, so I would think that out of fairness he should acknowledge that this actually moved the whole process of peaceful disarmament closer to becoming a reality.

Unfortunately, because Iraq would not disarm completely and because troops cannot be kept on the border forever, it strikes me that the logical conclusion is that at some point troops have to be sent in to ensure that there is some kind of disarmament. Why does the member not recognize this?

If he does recognize the benefit of massing troops on the border, why did he not call for Canadian troops to go to the border to spell off the Americans so that they could be there for a longer time? Why did he not call on French troops and German troops to go to the border of Iraq so that there could be peaceful disarmament?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us follow that through to its logical conclusion; there is no place for half-measures with logic. If indeed the presence of U.S. and British troops helped move the disarmament process along and allowed weapons inspectors to make progress, I imagine that we can agree that the outbreak of hostilities is what made the inspectors leave. It seems logical to me; either the logic is applied or it is not, and it has to work both ways.

That having been said, should inspectors stay forever? I think not. Dr. Blix said it was not a matter of weeks or years, but certainly a matter of months. And there was progress being made.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

An hon. member

That is ridiculous.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

I listened to you without commenting about you being ridiculous. But if you go on, you will be proving that you are.

The demonstration is being made that, should the inspections be allowed to continue, disarmament could take place within a matter of months. But if everything is destroyed in the bombings, it will be possible to suggest later that no weapons were found, of course, since they have been destroyed. That kind of logic does not hold water.

Bear in mind that President Bush spoke of a military presence in Iraq for a number of years. There will be forces on site for a number of years, supposedly to maintain democracy, because of a man whom we put in power in the 1970s, but we could not stay a few more weeks because, all of a sudden, there was this big emergency.

Let us leave it up to time, and give peace a chance. It is far better to take a peaceful approach and stay a little longer than to start bombing and withdraw completely.