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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

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Matapédia—Matane.

Yesterday, at 9:35 p.m., the first U.S. missiles reached their targets in Baghdad. These targets of opportunity were fired on in an effort to eliminate the Iraqi regime and more particularly Saddam Hussein, his sons and his senior officials. These people appear to have survived. The only victim was a Jordanian citizen. He was the first victim in a war that will cost the lives of hundreds if not thousands of women and children, all innocent victims.

Today, we find ourselves in a situation that could have been avoided. Withresolution 1441, which had been adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council, Iraq could have been disarmed in a peaceful way. In a speech he made yesterday morning, the chief UN inspector, Hans Blix, stated in a resigned voice that progress had been made and that he was sorry to see all his good work annihilated by the impending war being initiated by the Americans and the British.

Pursuant to the resolution, Iraq would have had to let UN inspectors in. Before leaving Iraq, these inspectors had found no trace of any chemical or nuclear weapons. Destruction of the few Al-Samoud 2 missiles that had been found in Iraq had begun.

Yes, Saddam Hussein has made his people suffer and is still making them suffer. He is a small local dictator whom we must condemn. But this is not a good enough reason to make war when the international order is not threatened. The action taken yesterday by the Americans and their allies was unilateral.

We set up structures such as the UN and the Security Council, which are aimed at maintaining international order and ensuring that the major powers come to a unanimous agreement before proceeding with economic or military sanctions against a state. Unfortunately, and despite the positive effects of inspections in Irak, the United States and their allies still decided to act unilaterally, which threatens international order.

This precedent is very significant. We now have a new kind of war, the pre-emptive war, that is, attacking a state that might attack us one day. What will be the next step? Will Israel invade the neighbouring Arab countries? Will China attack North Korea?

This principle is quite different from the one that prevailed until last night, at 9:35 p.m. The old principle allowed military intervention against a state only if it had violated the sovereignty of another state. Let us call this the rule of the musketeer, “One for all and all for one”.

Indeed, in 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, the other states of the world had the moral and legal right to make war on Hitler. The same happened in 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kowait. A massive international coalition was created to force Iraq to withdraw. The coalition and the military intervention of January 1991 were justified on moral and legal grounds.

Today, this is not the case at all. The American intervention is illegal because Saddam Hussein did not attack anyone. I am not the only one to think this way. The Russian president, Vladimir Poutine, asked the United States and Great Britain to quickly put an end to the war in Iraq, saying that it was not justified in any way and that it was a serious political mistake. The same goes for China, which accused the Americans of violating international standards of conduct. The spokesman for the Chinese department of foreign affairs said:

The Iraq issue must be returned to political settlement mechanisms within the framework of the United Nations.

He stressed that the military offensive in Iraq had begun despite opposition from the international community.

In January, I polled all my constituents. The question was very simple: “Are you in favour of a military intervention in Iraq”? To date, I have received over 1,200 answers, and 85% of respondents say they completely oppose military action.

These are very serious times. In January, my constituents said they were overwhelmed by the possibility, now a reality, of armed intervention in Iraq. They said that we should not get involved in other people's affairs, and they absolutely opposed Canada's taking part in such a war.

The result could therefore not be clearer. People said they were fully aware that Iraq was not a threat to us.

I would like to read some of these comments. Suzanne Tremblay, aged 38, wrote:

Why, in the year 2000, can we not find other solutions than resorting to violence? We are forever telling our kids not to resort to violence—

Gilles Gagnon, aged 48, advised George Bush, and I quote:

There is a way to disarm Saddam without making the Iraqi people suffer. Use your imagination.

Jocelyne Tremblay, aged 60, said:

Negotiation is preferable.

Erika Dioskali said:

What right do we have to invade another country or interfere in its affairs when we have not been attacked?

Lisette and Alain Tremblay, aged 53 and 57, said:

If there is a war on Iraq because Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, all countries with such weapons should also be attacked.

Yolande Gendron said:

Peace does not come out of the end of a gun.

Finally, Normand St-Gelais, aged 47, said:

No to war. Even if Iraq has weapons of mass destructions, it is not the only country that does.

Members can see how astute and logical are my constituents. They think, and rightly so, that this illegal war is unjustified. Many of them wondered if controlling oil did not have something to do with it.

Of course, the main justification given by the U.S. and Britain is the fact that Saddam Hussein is a dictator who has brutalized his people. I am not calling this into question. However, it needs to be said that the inspections were producing results and no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq up until yesterday. The fact that this is a unilateral action makes this conflict illegal and Canada must not get involved in this war, and even more importantly, we must not condone this intervention, which is in no way justified at this time.

In the last hours we have witnessed explosions over the Iraqi and Kuwaiti skies live on television. There is only one thing to say: it is terrifying.

I urge all members of the House to support the Bloc Quebecois motion, which reads as follows:

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

We need to think about after the war. Members will recall that after the first war in Iraq, in 1991, the UN imposed a military embargo against Iraq to prevent it from importing any more weapons. Everyone supported that. However, there was also an economic embargo, and Iraqi civilians suffered enormously. Iraq could no longer import certain products that were designated as “dual use products”, in other words, products that could be used for both harmless and military purposes.

Take chlorine, for example. Chlorine can be used to manufacture bombs. However, the proper and normal use of chlorine is in treating water to make it potable. Because of the economic embargo, Iraq could no longer import chlorine. More than 50,000 civilians have died since 1991 due to disease and malnutrition.

Men, women and children who had nothing to do with the war have died. We must keep this terrible fact in mind during the reconstruction of Iraq to avoid repeating it.

Do you know what an employee of the House said to me this morning? He said that we all had a problem, a sickness: we no longer have a heart. Let us show him today that we still do have a heart, and let us take the legal and moral high road. We must say no to this war. Someone has already died. There will be more deaths. Iraqis will not allow their country to be invaded without standing up for themselves. They will defend their territory, their women and children—

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I am sorry to have to interrupt the hon. member for Jonquière, but unfortunately her time has expired. The hon. member for Charleswood —St. James—Assiniboia.

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments made by the hon. member from the Bloc Quebecois.

I have heard from the other side, particularly the Alliance members, that they have a great fear that the Americans will take great umbrage at our decision to stay out of the war. Let me say that I have much greater faith and respect for the Americans than that. The Americans have a long-standing and very deep democracy. While they may be disappointed with our position, I can assure the House that they will respect it. I think that we will remain steadfast friends for a long time to come.

I also want to say that we as Canadians take pride in the fact that we are a nation of laws. We follow the laws and I think that we have to behave in the same way when it comes to international law. In this case, the law is the United Nations and more specifically resolution 1441. It is only the UN Security Council that can decide whether the Iraqis were in breach of resolution 1441. It is only the Security Council that can decide whether there should be consequences as a result of Saddam Hussein not living up to the terms of resolution 1441.

Resolution 1441 does not say that if the United Nations remains silent on that resolution some individual country, the United States, Britain or someone else, can take it upon itself to invade Iraq. That is not the way the international law works.

I just hope that when this war is over, and I hope it is mercifully short and there are few deaths, that the world community will be able to address this issue of the Bush doctrine having to do with pre-emptive war or pre-emptive strikes. To me that simply is not fitting and does not match international law. It simply does not. I hope that the United Nations can find a way of dealing with this very serious issue.

If we are going to leave the world at this particular risk, so that strong powers in the world can take the law into their own hands, who knows where that takes us? I would like to address that question to the hon. member who spoke previously.

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I thought the hon. member was making a speech, so he kind of lost me there. I can tell him, however, that those who promote peace cannot have enemies anywhere in the world.

Because of all the people who marched for peace in the world and who promoted peace, notwithstanding what the Alliance believes, we will have to promote peace. That is the only way to settle conflicts around the world.

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, in response to the speaker prior to the member from the Bloc who said that pre-emptive war is a bad idea and that this is a move of unprecedented proportion and without historical precedent, let me say that in fact that is not true.

Israel launched a pre-emptive war against Iraq, and thank God it did because it took out a nuclear reactor in Iraq. If Iraq had had nuclear weapons in the first gulf war, today Kuwait would be the 19th province of Iraq. That is an example of pre-emptive war working. It led to a more peaceful world. It led to Saddam Hussein not having nuclear weapons and not terrorizing the Middle East. Thank God Israel did it and thank God people have learned that lesson.

I am sorry that the Liberal member opposite has not quite figured that out.

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I do not know if there was a question in there. All I can say is that pre-emptive war does not work. We will have to promote peace. That is our only hope for world order.

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I wonder if the hon. member could comment on the fact that Alliance Party members for the last few weeks have accused anyone who does not agree with their policy of supporting the American war against Iraq of being anti-American. Would the hon. member comment on that statement that because we do not agree with the war and the Bloc Quebecois, the NDP and others do not agree with the war the Alliance Party members think we are anti-American?

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, what I hear from the Alliance members is a bit disconcerting. We do not make enemies by promoting peace. So, why would they think that we are making enemies out of the Americans by promoting peace? I think that they should reconsider their position, stop looking at the little picture and take a good look at themselves.

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, contrary to my habit, I am not going to say that I am pleased to speak today. I believe that the situation is extremely serious and dangerous. It may be much more serious than we think it is today and perhaps even more than we may realize now.

This morning, at 11:06 a.m., I was watching and listening to the news. I will give a few examples. Of course, I will not quote all of the examples that I saw. Simply on the news at 11:06 a.m., it was mentioned that the first refugees had arrived in Jordan.

Shortly after the beginning of the attack, around 11 p.m., the United States initiated a global alert in anticipation of potential terrorist acts against American citizens in foreign countries. Artillery fire has allegedly been heard at the Kowait-Iraq border. Israel has asked its people to start wearing gas masks, and I could go on. At 11 a.m., CNN confirmed that two oilfields in southern Iraq were on fire. There might be more now.

Eye witnesses report that southern Iraq has been under heavy bombardment. In Italy, demonstrations against the war are being held in several cities, and I could go on. There is talk of sirens, of attacks. There is talk of people having been injured, but all we see on our television screens is a green image that looks like a video game; an image that looks like what our kids use in our houses on their computers. But this has nothing to do with video games. This has absolutely nothing to do with these games. This is a real war, an intensive war that could give rise to a major increase in terrorism.

We know that all our communities, countries and the countries of the free world have been forced to dramatically increase security because attacks are anticipated.

War has been declared and a country like Iraq is being attacked. Naturally I do not condone the regime that governs Iraq. I cannot condone a dictator. I do not condone the way Saddam Hussein treated his people, the Kurds and his neighbours in 1990.

But was it justified for democracies to attack Iraq without the approval of the United Nations? No, because as a democracy, we must respect democracy and the institutions that we have created, namely the United Nations. This is a fundamental principle. If we no longer respect the institutions that we have created for ourselves, if we as democracies no longer respect the institutions that we have promoted, that we have contributed to creating and continue to run, it will no longer be possible to enforce international law.

The arbitrary war against Iraq by the United States, Great Britain and Australia is very serious. This act is very serious for democracy and our international institutions, but it is also very serious for the women, children and citizens of Iraq who will suffer after already having suffered for years under a dictatorial regime. This desire to destroy a regime and replace a dictator adds to their suffering.

In 1970, I read Building Peace by Dominique Pire, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1958. After the events of September 11, I did not remember the reference, but I said that peace is much more than the silence of guns.

In 1990, after the gulf war, the guns were silenced. We stopped bombing Iraq, but what did we do as a democracy for the Iraqi people?

The Americans had promised to back the Sunni among others, in the south. And what happened? They did not really support them.

We need only look at the present-day situation in Afghanistan. The guns are silent, but have there been any real improvements? I would say not. At the present time in Afghanistan, we can consider that any real improvements are limited to the capital. The country is still under the domination of the war lords, who control the nation as a whole and are once again tyrannizing the population, especially women and children.

As far as the status of women is concerned, it is wrong to claim that Afghani women are living any different lives than they were under the Taliban.

I too have received e-mails, and will read from a few:

You have declared war on me, but I propose peace to you in return.

This reaction may seem as unreal as the 2001 attack on New York did.

In terms of democracy, this is, in my opinion, what our response to those attacks should have been and what our response should be today. You have declared a kind of war on us but we propose peace to you, the sort of peace in which we will provide you with help as a people, will help you develop, will help you to grow and progress.

I know that Saddam Hussein is no angel and that his regime is corrupt and dictatorial. But is it really necessary at this time to take action without the authority of the United Nations? Once again, I say no. As many nations around the world, including France, Russian and Germany, have said, given a little time, we might have been able to bring about a regime change.

Also, had we seriously taken matters into our hands right after the first gulf war, we might not have to change the regime in Iraq now. It would probably have been gone for years.

Let me quote from another excellent e-mail I have received:

Instead of praying for a few hours before launching into war for years to come, acting out of vengeance, out of the desire to fight terrorism, an announcement should be made to the effect that every effort will be made to build peace on justice and sharing.

As long as democracies do not understand that peace must be built, and built on the firm foundations of justice and sharing, we will continue to be faced with the same problems.

Terrorism flourishes in fertile ground. Poverty and misery constitute a breeding ground for terrorism, and there is no shortage of poverty and misery around the world. It is safe to say that two-thirds of the world population currently has to make do with the bare minimum and that the situation of the so-called fourth world is extremely tragic.

What is the Bloc Quebecois calling for today in its motion? It is simple, and I would like to come back to it. The Prime Minister of Canada told us, “We will not go to war.” However, we already have military personnel on site, and the Bloc would like the government to reconsider its position in that respect.

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Canadian Alliance Vancouver Island North, BC

Madam Speaker, the member from the Bloc made the statement that he really did not think much about the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and indeed after the gulf war in Iraq. We all recognize that there are improvements that can be made, but the member also made a statement that he did not think that the situation for women in Afghanistan was any better today than under the Taliban. I take great exception to that.

I cannot comprehend how this can somehow be construed as an excuse for inaction when we have basic human rights being violated by two regimes, one of which has now been overturned. There is an international effort to turn things around and we do not put all of that burden on the original combatants.

As a matter of fact, the Americans have said very clearly that it is not their interest in doing the reconstruction. They are not good at it and they want others to step in and do that. Canada is a country which is very good at that.

I would like the member to respond to the impression he left that people would not be better off.

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Madam Speaker, there is one thing that my hon. colleague needs to understand. Violence begets violence; it is unavoidable. Our democracy will have to learn that lesson someday.

It is pointless to initiate a violent action without the authorization of the United Nations, without the backing of the United Nations and other international institutions. For any action that is questionable, there will be a reaction, and that reaction might be even more violent than the action itself. If you have the backing of the United Nations, then you have the backing of the whole international community.

Therefore, if there is a reaction, it can be dealt with. In what direction is the action initiated by the United States taking us? If more attacks like those of September 11 were to be sponsored by another country, will the U.S. feel they have the right to attack that country right away?

Let us take a more concrete example. If an attack were to come from Indonesia, one of the largest countries in the world, would the U.S. decide to attack Indonesia the next day? That is what we need to understand. No action can be justified without the backing of international institutions.

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot.

Like tens of millions of people around the world, I was deeply troubled by the idea of the war that was going to be declared, and that has now started. All war brings is destruction. So many innocent people, who have nothing to do with the decision to go to war, will die.

I could not help but see the great paradox in the comments used by those who support the war. The other day I heard the President of the United States talk about peace and security in the world. How do you make peace by going to war? What kind of example for peace are we setting for the world when we go to war and drop the most deadly bombs on innocent people?

I also heard those in favour of the war speak of reconstruction after the war. In order to rebuild, first you have to destroy. How paradoxical to destroy places in order to rebuild them, instead of trying to work together to build a better world.

In this war, we have forgotten about the innocent, the women and children, the soldiers sent to the front, while their leaders go about their daily lives in a maximum of comfort. And that is what is so wrong about this war. That is why, in this euphoria, there are potentially catastrophic consequences for those who want war at all costs. There is the polarization between the countries in our world and, on the other hand, the countries in the Islamic world who will turn this war into a real cause, a sure breeding ground for future terrorists. Is that how to fight terrorism?

I would like to quote an editorial from the New York Times of March 18, 2003, that talked about the consequences of this war:

The Atlantic alliance is now more deeply riven than at any time since its creation more than a half-century ago. A promising new era of cooperation with a democratizing Russia has been put at risk. China, whose constructive incorporation into global affairs is crucial to the peace of this century, has been needlessly estranged. Governments across the Muslim world, whose cooperation is so vital to the war against terrorism, are now warily navigating between popular anger and American power.

Senator Byrd had this to say in the Senate on February 12, 2003:

Will our war inflame the Muslim world resulting in devastating attacks on Israel? Will Israel retaliate with its own nuclear arsenal? Will the Jordanian and Saudi Arabian governments be toppled by radicals, bolstered by Iran, which has much closer ties to terrorism than Iraq?

I have heard that this war will cost us at least $200 billion. This money could have been used in a much more constructive or positive manner. The purpose of this war is to get rid of Saddam Hussein, this despot, this tyrant. Clearly there is a consensus here among us all that he is an extremely cruel despot and tyrant, but we must be consistent.

Are we also going to go to war against Zimbabwe to get rid of the dictator there who will bring famine to 6 million of his own people? Are we going to go to war against Libya which also has a dictator? Are we going to go to war against Myanmar which has imprisoned for years the duly elected leader of the opposition? Are we going to war against North Korea which is thumbing its nose at the world, against all the edicts of the United Nations about nuclear power?

No. In North Korea the United States has decided to use diplomatic arrangements because of course the shadow of China looms very large there. War against North Korea would be far more inconvenient than war against a feeble Iraq.

I heard it said by the proponents of war that it was the French and its veto that prevented a diplomatic settlement. Yet the second resolution brought in by the United States and Great Britain could not get enough support to carry itself.

I remind the people who blame only the French, that the Russians, the Chinese, certainly Germany, Mexico, Chile, Guinea, Cameroon, all these countries were there despite tremendous pressures by the United States, and especially on the small ones, to conform and vote for them. In effect all the votes that the United States and Britain had was Great Britain, the United States, Spain and Bulgaria.

I marched with the marches for peace three times in Montreal. The first time there were 15,000 people. The second time there were 100,000 people. When we marched the other day there were upwards of 200,000 people. The story was repeated across the world, on every continent of the world, in the United Kingdom itself, which is in the war. Millions of people turned out in London, Manchester and all the other cities.

In Spain, where the Prime Minister is for the war, 95% of the people are against the war. In Italy where the Prime Minister is for the war, again 95% of the population is against the war. It is all across the world and here in Canada.

Are we listening to our people? Our people say that wars are not always inevitable. Sometimes we have to go to war because it is a last resort and there is no other option. This time war is totally unjustified and unnecessary and so say the tens of millions of people all over the world. It is really symbolic that in the organization of NAFTA two of the main partners of the United States are staying away from the war for the same reasons as so many other countries of the world are staying away from it.

War is abominable. War kills innocents and it destroys. Senator Byrd said in his speech on February 12. He said:

To contemplate war is to think about the most horrible human experiences. On this February day, as this nation stands at the brink of battle, every American on some level must be contemplating the horrors of war.

Indeed, war is a horror. I find it very sad to see on the television these images as if there is an euphoria and a great testimony to war, all these explosions and so forth. Meanwhile who suffers from the explosions and our wonderful smart bombs and the other ones, the cruise missiles and all the other missiles? It is the innocent, women and children. Fifty per cent of the population of Iraq is under 18 years old, 10 million people, and they do not want war.

Why deplore the war when we cannot do anything about it, sadly? I hope we will find in there a lesson for the future that the only salvation for a peaceful world is to be part of the forum of nations, not to take it upon ourselves to decide that this dictator or that dictator is wrong and we should pre-empt his or her actions and go to war against him or her when it suits us and our own interests. The only way that peace can be established is through a forum of nations.

Therefore I hope we take the resolve today that never again will we face as we do today, as a world, an unnecessary, unjustified and therefore immoral war.

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Canadian Alliance Vancouver Island North, BC

Madam Speaker, the member is talking about the victims of war as being innocent women and children. They are the victims of the tyrants who are in control, whether it is the Taliban or Saddam Hussein. I think the million plus people, who are no longer alive because they were living under that regime, might have something different to say than with what the member has been coming forward.

I would also like to inform the member that he may want to check out the background of Senator Byrd before he starts aligning himself with someone who has a track record of being very supportive of the KKK.

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, I am not going to characterize Senator Byrd and his personality. I am just quoting from a speech he made which I thought reflected--

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

An hon. member

Oh, oh.

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Will the member please allow me to speak? I listened to him with great civility and I ask the same thing of him.

I am not going to characterize Senator Byrd and look into his past. All I was doing was reading from a speech which I thought was cohesive, which made a lot of sense and which came from an American Senator in the senate.

I could also quote from Senator Kennedy and he was not a member of the KKK. I could also quote from the minority leader the other day, Senator Daschle, and many Americans who today refuse to accept the doctrine that pre-emptive war is the only reason for replacing dictators.

I would like to repeat for my hon. colleague that it is very nice to say that this dictator caused millions of deaths. Mugabe will cause famine for six million people. Do we declare war there? Do we declare war against North Korea? Why is the United States treating North Korea differently from Iraq? North Korea is a far greater threat and danger and its regime also has caused all kinds of brutality and death in its country. Yet we just leave it alone. There diplomacy will work. Obviously the United States is really worried about the big shadow of China next door. Therefore one regime is one way and the other regime we go to war with all our smart bombs, 250,000 soldiers and so many ships.

We have many questions to answer ourselves. How is it that tens of millions of people around the world, the greatest demonstration for peace ever, have spoken so loud? Perhaps this is what the members of the Canadian Alliance should reflect on, including 80% or more Canadians who say that war when it is inevitable, yes; but not war at any cost at any price every day when we decide we want it.

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

York South—Weston Ontario

Liberal

Alan Tonks LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Madam Speaker, my colleague talked about reconstruction, conciliation and building a better world. The member is obviously characterizing the role that the United Nations and the vision and the hope that the United Nations would offer.

The member also has talked about the future needless estrangement of China and Russia at time when we are developing a global attitude and a strengthening hopefully of the United Nations.

The member also has talked about the future in terms of Korea and the problems with the Palestinians and Israel.

I ask my colleague this. How can we strengthen the United Nations and what is the role that Canada can play in recognizing that the future is very precarious, as he has described, inasmuch as the United Nations has not been able to respond to the present situation?

Committees of the HouseGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, for those who say that the United Nations is now irrelevant because of the war, I say exactly the reverse. Never have we needed the United Nations more than we do now. If this war has taught us something, it is that now there must be conciliation. People of the world must get together in the only forum we have. It may have all its flaws. It may not be the perfect forum by any means. No human forum is ever perfect. At the same time it is the only source of conciliation, of getting together, that we have across the world where small nations and large nations can all have a say.

We need the United Nations more than ever to rebuild, to reconstruct and to reconcile this world and stop it from polarizing into blocs that hate each other and that want war.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

March 20th, 2003 / 5 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, discussions have taken place between all the parties as well as with the member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, concerning the taking of the division on Bill C-206, scheduled at the conclusion of private members' business later this day. I believe you would find consent that at the conclusion of today's debate on Bill C-206, all questions necessary to disposed of the motion be deemed put, a recorded division deemed requested and deferred to Tuesday, March 25 at the end of government orders.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is that agreed?

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, now that the bombs are falling I have struggled as much as I can with trying to find some good or benefit out of what is occurring by the attack on Iraq. I share the misgivings that have been expressed in the House about the attack and how it threatens institutions like the United Nations. It raises the spectre of retaliatory aggression by terrorists. There are many, many negatives, many of them negatives in the interests of the United States itself, and I have commented upon those.

So it is with a struggle that one searches to find a good, a real good, out of what is occurring today and I think I have found one. I would say it is a beautiful good and it is also something that is very sad. That good focuses on what happened with Turkey leading up to the decision to attack Iraq.

Turkey, you will remember, Madam Speaker, is a Muslim nation that for a very, very long time has struggled to balance religion with advancement of western economic and political values. It has been a long struggle that has extended over a century and a half, and only now does it have a parliament that has been re-elected with great hopes of joining the European Union, of being accepted as one of the western nations, not just in terms of economics but also in terms of the freedoms and liberties that have been developed by the western nations.

I would like to quote from the Honourable Abdullah Gul, who spoke to his parliament. He was speaking to the proposed program of the new government. In his remarks, which dealt with many things economic, with trying to rescue Turkey from severe economic problems and political problems, he said:

The objective of our democratic government approach is to secure all civil and political freedoms, primarily that of thought, belief, education, association and entrepreneurship and to make available an environment where people can continue with their individual development free from any fear or worry.

In this framework, the international democratic standards in basic human rights and freedoms, that we regard as the accumulation of humankind, will be taken as the basis of all our policies.

Let us think of what was just said there: basic rights and freedoms, democratic standards that are the accumulation of humankind.

I would submit to you, Madam Speaker, that this is one of the great gifts that the western democracies, the western countries, have given to the world, and indeed it is one of the great gifts of the United States and Britain. We have to acknowledge that the United States, with its Declaration of Independence--life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all--and the model of the British parliament, has led the world into an appreciation that democracy is the hope of the world. It has taken many years to spread that idea across Europe and it has been very difficult to spread it in the third world, in the Far East, and most especially, some might say, in the Muslim world.

Here we have Turkey that is undertaking this grand experiment and is really on the threshold, I think, with language like that, of certainly joining any country like Canada or the United States in terms of our commitment to basic human rights and democratic freedoms. But Turkey is in trouble. It is in terrible trouble economically, and I think what is so significant in what has happened with Iraq is the fact that, despite its difficulties, the Turkish parliament refused to allow the Americans to use Turkish soil for an attack on Iraq and refused to allow the American army and air force to occupy Turkish bases for an attack on Iraq. I point out that this was not a decision of the leadership of Turkey. This was a decision of the parliament of Turkey. It was a democratic decision.

I suggest that this is a singular event, a brilliant event, that is coming out of this terrible thing that has happened with the war in Iraq. I say that because what we are seeing here is a nation leading other nations into saying that it is not enough to have economic wealth, that it is not enough to benefit from the largesse of the Americans or the British in order to make a decision that is morally right, at least in the eyes of that people.

We must remember that the Turkish people were offered the carrot, shall we say, of $25 billion, and the Turkish people turned it down on the basis of sticking to a moral principle. That moral principle was that the attack on Iraq without the support of the UN Security Council was not morally justified. That is the Turkish position.

We see around the world that a similar thing happened with this debate in the United Nations. It is true that the United Nations has probably been fatally wounded, but one of the very good things is that we see individual countries, some of them very small, standing up to the United States and saying, “Even though you are a superpower, even though you have tremendous economic power, we will try to do what is right”. It was because of that resolve, not because of the leadership of France or the leadership of China or the leadership of Russia, it was because the people of the world did not accept that this was a just war that the Americans and the British were embarking on.

That, Mr. Speaker, is a tremendous hope for the world. It means that countries around the world have adopted the democratic values, the respect for human rights that originally sprang from the declaration of independence and then was followed by the British parliament and spread around western Europe.

And now, Mr. Speaker, here is the sad part. The sad part is that what this implies is that the United States has probably lost its leadership as a model of democracy and liberty in the world. Indeed, we know this is so, because we know that American politics is probably no longer the model of democratic politics that the rest of the world would want to follow. What the White House has done by this attack on Iraq is it has driven the world into deciding what kind of democracy the world wants. It would appear that the leadership of the United States and of Britain is no longer there. Countries like Turkey will follow their own hearts in discovering their own democratic institutions and making sure that their members of parliament are free to speak and are elected in ways that are not dependent upon how much money one has or dependent upon special interests.

That is the evolution of democracy and I think one of the things the war in Iraq is showing us is that the countries of the world are discovering this, not just democracy,discovering a strong desire to see justice done in the world and that aggression, no matter how justified, is not acceptable, and that countries are prepared to make decisions even though those decisions are not in their own interests if it is a decision that is morally correct in their eyes.

The irony is, of course, that for the White House, the President of the United States, I really do believe the intention in his attack on Iraq is regime change in order to bring democracy to the region. And maybe it will work. There was the model of Japan and Germany in the post-war period, but I suggest that it is a very dangerous and doubtful process to expect that one can bring democracy to other countries by the sword. I am not so sure it is going to work and we will see in due course.

Finally, I would like to speak a little about how this affects Canada because it does affect Canada. It affects Canada deeply, in somewhat the same way as with Turkey. All my life growing up, I was taught to believe that Canada is very much a country of the British democratic traditions and a country very much of American cultural traditions. It is true that the British and the Americans are our closest cousins, but one of the things this has shown is that at last Canada has embarked upon a decision that actually takes it away from the leadership of Britain.

Consider the significance: this is the first war in a century that Canada has refused to follow Britain's lead in even though we have the same Queen, the same Crown.

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5:10 p.m.

An hon. member

Are you proud of that?

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5:10 p.m.

Liberal

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

Someone on the opposite side asks if I am proud of that. Yes, I am proud of it. It is so important for Canada to stand up for its own principles. The one thing that we will take from this is that Canada is its own country with its own values, its own democratic values. At last we perhaps have broken the chain of Britain and we have become Canada for the Canadians who live in this country and not the monarchy or anyone else in a different land.