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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

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12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, excuse me for reacting on the last comment. I was with the member until he said that if we do not believe his opinion we should read the editorials.

On this question of invisibility, I think the member actually has just characterized it very well. The government changed its position so many times that it was as if it did not have a position and therefore it became invisible. I would say to my Liberal friend who just posed the non-question that even her phrase would apply. She said the Liberals actually were visible and she described it as them reactivating dynamics which have now ceased to be productive. That is a euphemism for invisibility, I guess.

The Progressive Conservatives continue to talk about reconstruction and to say that there is only one nation or one group involved. There is a number of nations that are involved in discussions on reconstruction in a post-conflict Iraq. They are working with 14 groups right now, comprised significantly of Iraqi exiles and expatriates, in terms of plans for rebuilding civil society in Iraq. The former leader of the Progressive Conservatives and now the member who has followed him are suggesting that the cry of one's heart for freedom and the cry to have control over one's own destiny is something uniquely American. As a Canadian I am insulted by that, because this is a universal cry built into the heart and nature of every man and woman.

Will the member for Cumberland—Colchester please address this fact? Where did he get the idea that there is just one group, just some Americans, planning the reconstruction in a post-conflict phase? It is ongoing now with a number of groups. Quite rightly Canada has been shut out because of its invisibility or whatever one wants to call it. Where do he and his former leader get this idea that this cry of the heart for freedom and a sense of one's destiny are uniquely American? They are not. Where does he get that idea?

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12:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I do not have that idea. What I said was that Canada is not involved. I did not say that one group was involved. I did not say that there was only one country. What I said was that Canada is not involved. It is not at the table. It is not at the United Nations trying to develop a resolution. The British and the Americans are, but Canada is not there. We are not part of this formulation of a resolution to develop reconstruction.

The member suggested that we do not support freedom and the destiny of the people of Iraq. That is absolutely not true. We agree with the goal. We disagree with the strategy. We believe there were still steps that could have been taken and that did not involve a military conflict. The world did not exhaust every option before military conflict was resorted to. That is our position.

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1 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Mercier.

Today is a sad day. Many people are telling us that this is the first day of spring, starting at 8 p.m. We can see outside that even Mother Nature is sad.

I must tell you that, last night, when I was watching CNN to know if, after 8 p.m., there would be a military intervention, I left the television on until 9.30 or 10 p.m. This is when it began. I must tell you that this was heart-rending, because I was thinking about all the children, women and men who were at the mercy of American and British bombs.

It is when these kinds of events happen that we are able, I believe, to put ourselves in their place. The same thing happened when I witnessed the attacks against the World Trade Centre. At these times, we say that the people who are going through such situations are thinking about their families. I have a daughter and I would certainly hold her in my arms during these bombings, and I would also pray God to take me before my daughter.

Thus, as law makers and decision makers, we have a very important role to play. We, in the Bloc Quebecois, have shown that we are playing this role very well. Indeed, we are playing this role well in favour of peace, because, from the beginning—and I challenge everyone here to check—we have always promoted peace. We have always done so, we continue to do so and we will be doing so again this afternoon. For us, it is quite simple: one more day of war in Irak will be one day of war too many.

What is the situation now? Diplomacy has failed. The UN is completely paralyzed. Even some international organizations I belong to, such as NATO, are. There are divisions between Europe and the United States.

The UN has shown its inability to settle the issue. In my opinion, once the first bomb has been dropped, diplomacy has failed. It does not mean that diplomatic efforts must stop. We must not be fatalistic, as the Prime Minister has been over the past few days, and say, “We tried everything and there is nothing left that we can do now. From now on, the bombs will do the talking”. This is being fatalistic. And we cannot accept that the Prime Minister and this government being fatalistic and saying, “We are turning the page and we will wait for this to end”.

We must continue to be proactive. We must see to it that this war ends as quickly as possible, and I think that Canada has the means to achieve that goal. It is really unfortunate that the Prime Minister did not seize the opportunity before the first bombs were dropped.

When one looks at this war, one wonders if it is justified. Is this war justifiable? In my opinion, this is debatable. It is unjustified and it is unjustifiable, if only because of the $200 billion it could cost. Just think what we could do with $200 billion in Iraq and in the Middle East. We have been saying from the beginning that bombs are not the solution to terrorism. It is through understanding, kindness, solidarity and international cooperation that international issues will be solved. It is not by acting like bullies and saying, “We have the biggest planes; we have the biggest missiles; we have the biggest bombs, and you will do as we say or we will bomb your country”. Such an attitude is morally unacceptable.

That is why this war is unjustifiable and unjustified, particularly because before the United States, Britain and Spain put an end to the diplomatic process, the inspections were working. Hans Blix himself said it was working. He said yesterday that he found the decision to withdraw inspectors unfortunate. Why? Because there is real evidence that these inspections were working. They might not have been working as quickly as some would have liked, but they were working. There is proof. Inspectors could move freely wherever they wanted in Iraq, at any time.

The chief inspector, Hans Blix, asked that the Al-Samoud missiles be destroyed. Iraq started destroying them. Blix said they needed highly specialized U-2 planes over Iraq. They got them. In fact, the Americans in Iraq, just like in Afghanistan, even said, and I quote, “They cannot blink without us knowing it”.

So, the inspections were working. Therefore, this war is unjustified and unjustifiable.

Now, what has Canada's position been? Canada has hesitated in taking sides until recently. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we are still hesitating, because the Prime Minister's announcement that we will not be taking part in the conflict in Iraq has not made his position clear. He is saying one thing and doing the opposite with all of the military materiel and personnel that is currently in Kuwait.

Take, for instance, the Canadian ships. Admiral Buck appeared before the national defence committee. He told us that our ships have considerable defence capabilities, particularly the Iroquois , which is a flagship. What are the Iroquois and our ships doing? They are escorting ships in the theatre of operations. They are not taking part. We have been told that these ships are there for defence purposes.

This is like the driver of the getaway car who later proclaims his innocence, arguing that he did not rob the bank, he only drove the car. This is not a reasonable argument and it is confusing. It weakens the Prime Minister's message. He said, “I am for peace. We will not join the Americans and the British in the theatre, but we already have troops over there and they will stay there”. There may not be many, but the fact is they will join them.

It is the same thing in Qatar. We have military personnel who have been working on scenarios for the war in Iraq with the British and American officers for weeks. Some are still over there. Some are said to have been recalled, but some stayed behind as observers. This too should be discussed.

The issue of interoperability and personnel on exchange with American combat units is a problem. The fact that we have 20 people in a combat unit is not the point. Numbers do not matter; it is the involvement that matters. When these units enter into Iraq and get shot at, what will they pick up? A body wearing a uniform with a Canadian flag on the shoulder. And this, after the Prime Minister said we would not get involved. It is very dangerous to be pussyfooting around as the government is currently doing.

It is the same thing with the air personnel aboard the AWACS. We are told we will not be participating in the war, that we will just be observing it. Except that we are sending information. I call that participating in the war as well.

And what about the joint task force known as JTF2? Its operations are somewhat covert. No one knows what it is doing. Last time, in Kosovo and Afghanistan, we found out about them when they took Afghani prisoners back. They got off the plane with them.

There are some fundamental questions. Canada must absolutely pull out all its equipment and all its military personnel, as otherwise our position is confusing.

I think it is time the Prime Minister and his government stopped talking and started taking action. Fine words about our not going now or in future need to be connected to some concrete actions. The equipment and military personnel have to be withdrawn. Otherwise what he is telling us is false. He must be consistent. Now is the time to act, to withdraw all the military personnel who are there.

I therefore have an amendment to the motion to propose, seconded by my colleague from Mercier. I move that the motion be amended by adding after the word “Iraq” the following:

and, consequently the government repatriate all soldiersand military material in the region that could be used in awar effort in the conflict in Iraq.

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1:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the amendment in order.

We will now move on to questions and comments and continue the debate on the motion as amended.

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1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Saint-Jean, who has just spoken, says that the Bloc members are very serious in this debate, and I believe him. I also believe he is a serious and honest man, and I respect him.

I have a question for him. Today we have received a report stating that Saddam Hussein launched Al-Samoud missiles at Kuwait. Such missiles are forbidden in Iraq. How can he, with that evidence, say or think that the inspection process has been successful?

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1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must say that what my colleague just said is true, but I want to remind him that Baghdad was the target of 40 missiles and 40 bombs at 5:30 a.m., that is at about 10 p.m. in Montreal.

There is some form of self-defence when a country is under attack. It must be clearly understood that we do not want to show Saddam Hussein as a victim. Right now, the victims are the women, children and men of Baghdad, the Iraqi people. They are the victims of the attack by the Americans.

I must say that the essence of the debate has changed over the last few weeks. The proposal and the UN resolution were about disarming the Iraqi regime. Over the last two days, we have been hearing about the need to change the regime and to kill Saddam Hussein. That is what the Americans and the British are saying. Unfortunately, killing Saddam Hussein also means killing thousands of innocent civilians in Baghdad.

This is why we are saying that we will remain committed to peace and that one more day of war is one day too many. This is why we will continue our efforts. I think that our position reflects the views of Quebeckers. Last week, 250,000 individuals took to the streets in Montreal. Two weeks earlier, despite extremely cold weather, 150,000 had done so.

We, in the Bloc Quebecois, are very proud of the work that we do for peace. Contrary to what the Prime Minister says, our work is not done. It will continue day after day until we can find a peaceful solution to this conflict.

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1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Art Eggleton Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, while Canada is not participating in the war against Iraq with any of its military personnel in that theatre of operation, we are committed to the campaign against terrorism and have been from the beginning. We were one of the largest and earliest contributors to the campaign in Afghanistan.

Do I take it by the member's amendment that he would have our troops withdrawn from Afghanistan? In the commitment that the government has made to Afghanistan in the campaign against terrorism, would he have us remove those troops? He has said in his amendment “the entire region”. I understand he is trying to prevent any involvement in Iraq, but surely he is not suggesting that we would pull back our troops from our campaign against terrorism in the region.

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1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that the war on terrorism is being used as a cover for a full-fledged war in Iraq. That is the problem.

The ships I mentioned earlier, namely the Iroquois destroyer and the two accompanying frigates, are in the theatre of operation near Kuwait to take part in the attacks. Not that they will be the ones attacking, but they will protect the U.S. and British ships that will carry out the attacks.

There is so much confusion that some countries like Greece decided yesterday to make their position very clear and not take any chances. Right now, the number of ships in the Persian Gulf has not increased sharply because of al-Qaeda, but that is no reason to send three Canadian ships.

I personally find our role quite confusing. It is so obvious that our ships are there to support warships. We must avoid that. The best way to do so is to order these ships back home.

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1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the fact that the Bloc Quebecois has moved this motion today. Frankly, I would have liked this opportunity to vote on the principle of participating in the military intervention in Iraq to be given to us, as it should, by the government. I am very proud of the fact that we are giving all parliamentarians in this House the opportunity to speak on this major issue.

I think that we are all on the same wavelength since the bombings started last night. The Iraqis have already lived through two wars and 12 years of embargo. One million children are malnourished and may die, unfortunately, depending on the course of the war. We are worried and upset.

This war has begun. Some people expect it to be a very short one. The fact that the opposing forces are so unequal might lead us to believe so. However, since occupation is supposed to be the second phase of this war, it is possible that, at that time, given the nature of the population and the nature of the occupation, the war may last longer than is desired, with everything that means, once again, for the population, which has suffered so much.

This war will also have consequences that are desired by the U.S. administration, geostrategic consequences with regard to the oilfields and better control of the region. There are all kinds of objectives the Americans are talking about or not talking about. I am still talking about the U.S. administration.

But what scares me the most are the consequences which are not desired by any people, undesired and undesirable consequences, such as those of feeding hatred and facilitating recruitment of martyrs, as they say in the Middle East, or of young people who agree to take part in bombings. No one can say that it is not any clearer, today and until who knows when, that hatred has been fed. It is for this reason and many others--but I do not have much time—that it is urgent to stand by the United Nations.

It has been said and deeply deplored that the Security Council had the door slammed in its face, so to speak, by the U.S. administration and the British government. Deep regrets have been expressed about this, but, on second thought, it does not mean that the Security Council has lost its purpose and credit. Quite the opposite. It is worth emphasizing that, during the four months and more spent on its proceedings, the Security Council has held a debate that was followed throughout the world. It has held discussions that individuals and peoples found very important.

In the end, if the majority in the Security Council could not make a decision because its decision was not to the liking of the administration of this superpower and its faithful supporter, Great Britain.

The chief inspectors said they needed more time, that the cooperation of the government of a despicable dictator whom nobody here is seeking to rehabilitate was guaranteed by a strong military presence.

Despite the extraordinary contribution of Dr. Blix and Dr. El Baradei, the Security Council was ignored. Yet, the Security Council had done its job. It was unable to prevent this war, but does that mean it cannot function? No. It is meeting, and it has taken on a new mandate.

But beyond this—and that is what we are expecting from the Canadian government--when the Security Council is unable to fulfill its functions and duties under the charter, the UN General Assembly is empowered to meet and make decisions on behalf of all the member countries.

Given the undesirable effects and the profound and important divisions between the peoples of the world, it is all the more urgent for them to rally round the United Nations.

The Bloc Quebecois has made itself the proponent of that position. It did so as soon as it could, and will continue to do so, because there is no hope in unilateralism. Unilateralism, that is making decisions based solely on the judgment and the interests of the powerful, brought us straight to the catastrophes of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Peoples need to keep in mind that they are equal in right even if unequal in might.

The members of this House will have an opportunity to vote on the motion against authorizing the deployment of troops. Parliament will, I trust, say that there will be no Canadian troops, in all or in part, participating in the war on Iraq. This will be a step other parliamentarians before us have taken. I would point out that it is only since this government took office that parliamentarians have not had the opportunity to vote on troops being sent or not sent.

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1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to join with my two hon. colleagues who just made speeches to say how concerned I am about the war that has just been declared.

Last week, demonstrations were held in Montreal, Quebec City and my hometown of Trois-Rivières. Today, I want to talk to you about a young man, a 12-year-old, who spoke to at least 1,000 people at a rally. Throughout his speech, there were moments of eloquent silence while he searched for the right words to raise the awareness of the world leaders. From time to time, he would take a few seconds and wonder, “How can I put this?” This eloquent young man was able to communicate the pain he shared with the Iraqi children. He was feeling the pain these children will be subjected to because of the war.

I thought I had to share with the House what I learned from this eloquent young man. The children we meet in the schools and the petitions we receive make us realize how senseless this war is. Canada however could play a key role for peace. In the past, our peacekeepers have played a key role.

I want to ask my colleague, the hon. member for Mercier, how she sees Canada playing a key role for peace, a role that would help bring nations together instead of dividing them? I am worried about the state the United Nations will be in after this immoral and illegal war.

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1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I think that the nations of the world will feel the need, more than ever, to promote peace, as shown by public opinion in the various demonstrations that took place around the world. It was unprecedented. So there is a good side to globalization, which is taking action simultaneously and sharing information.

Canada, with its reputation, through the United Nations, can ask the secretary general to consult the other countries so that the UN General Assembly can meet and reaffirm the principles that will have to apply at the end of this war and beyond. This is the responsibility of the UN. Nations must not give in. The United Nations has international legality and legitimacy on its side. Canada, which, at various times in its history, found a way to be extremely useful and instrumental in developing international law, can play this role again.

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1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Canadian Alliance Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a specific comment and I will ask the member about it. A suggestion was made that this action somehow would create more martyrs and more terrorists in that country than continuing the previous stalemate. What kind of logic is that?

What feeds hatred is a regime such as Saddam's regime, his gang of 13 tyrants who have tortured, raped, executed, and intimidated their people since 1979, a regime where the rule of law does not exist. Will there be more or less terrorists created now in Afghanistan than there were before the rule of law was brought to Afghanistan? This multilateralism has become an excuse for doing nothing.

Does the member actually believe that somehow terrorism would be spawned by removing Saddam Hussein from power?

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1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know how my remarks were translated by the interpreters, but I will repeat very clearly what I meant to say earlier.

This war is seen by many Arabs and Muslims as an anti-Muslim and anti-Arab war. This is what can spur other candidates.

This can prompt them to recruit what they call martyrs to commit attacks. If, like me, members like to get all kinds of information from different sources, they will see that this is one of the biggest threats. Of course, this is an unwanted effect, but many people are expecting this to happen.

As for comparisons with Afghanistan, we must be very careful because right now things are not going well at all in that country. If we read reports from ICG Group for example, we see that the warlords are back everywhere, that Kabul is the only place that is safe, that progress on human rights is extremely slow, if there is any progress at all, and that the status of women has not improved, except in Kabul.

Therefore, in conclusion, it is easier to win a war than to create the conditions for security and democracy.

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1:30 p.m.

Mississauga West Ontario

Liberal

Steve Mahoney LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Simcoe—Grey.

I have just received an e-mail from my office that tells me the second strike has already started and the ground troops are moving in as we speak here. This is obviously an extremely critical time in that part of the world.

Much of what I am about to say I am quite sure members opposite will not agree with, but there is one thing on which I think they would share agreement with me. We have one of our own in this place, the member for Wild Rose, who has a son in the war in the American military. On behalf of my party and everyone on this side, we just want to say we wish him Godspeed and safe return.

One of the things that upsets people is how words are used in this place and outside. There have been comments made by people from all sides of the House that have been inappropriate and send the wrong message to the people of the United States. The message that somehow Canadians do not support Americans is just not true. It is certainly not true that the government does not support the people of the United States or indeed the government of the United States, a duly elected government, properly constituted, and respected by this government.

Just because at times friends diverge or disagree with one another does not mean that they will not continue to be friends. It is somewhat offensive when people in Canada, in positions of such great responsibility as members of Parliament, on whatever side, stand up and say that somehow the government or our country is anti-American.

We have a long history with the Americans. That does not mean that we walk in lockstep with them. That does not mean that we agree with every policy, be it foreign or domestic. In fact, we had members opposite demanding that we fight against the Americans on the softwood lumber issue, that we fight and challenge the administration on the steel issue, and that we not allow the Americans to take our water. We hear that all the time. Now we have a situation where those very same people are standing up and demanding that we just simply do what President Bush says and go to war. We just do not agree that the proper process here is to launch an attack at this time. I think we have made that very clear.

For other members to suggest, as I have heard in this place, that we as a country, as a government, have done nothing in terms of contacting the heads of other states is an absolutely false statement. We know the work that our ambassador at the United Nations has done. We know the respect that he has in the United Nations and in the world community. Does anyone really think that he acted unilaterally, that somehow he was not in touch with our Minister of Foreign Affairs, with our Prime Minister, with officials in the government, that somehow he was flying solo? I do not think so. He represented our country with dignity and honour, aggressively trying to put together a compromise that could at the very least forestall the actions that we saw begin last night and that have just started up again.

The frustration that many of us feel here is that nobody around here supports Saddam Hussein and in fact I find it an insult that the Leader of the Opposition, a man who would stand in that office purporting to become Prime Minister of the country, would actually say, “If the Liberals are genuinely neutral or will be cheering for Saddam Hussein, then they should have the guts to say so”.

That is the most outrageous statement for anybody to make, to somehow insinuate that the Prime Minister of Canada, or the Government of Canada, or the Liberal Party of Canada, or any individual on this side are actually cheering for Saddam Hussein. It is an absolute insult and destroys any dignity that individual should have in that office.

Are we supporting the Americans or are we not? There is another statement here that is quite remarkable. It says, “We are relieving allied soldiers in Afghanistan so they can fight in Iraq”. Again the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition said that if the government really believed in its position it should pull out and that if it did not believe in that position it should not have people there. Talk about trying to have it both ways.

We have supported the United States policies on homeland security. Our Deputy Prime Minister is in touch regularly with Tom Ridge. We have supported the United States in its request to tighten up procedures at the border and to require that certain landed immigrants in this country who have not yet obtained citizenship apply for visas to go into the United States. We have said that we understand the fears of the United States. We do not, however, support targeting of people based on their race or their religion and we strongly oppose anything that leads to that. We do understand the need for the United States to feel more secure within its own borders and we will work very closely with it.

Any member who has had the opportunity to visit Norad in Colorado Springs would see the kind of relationship between the U.S. military and Canadian military, working hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder every single day running the facility that provides security for all of North America.

We have another operation in North Bay, Ontario, where the same thing exists, where American soldiers are working together with Canadian soldiers.

When we make a commitment to send 3,000 troops to Afghanistan, why would the Leader of the Opposition stand up and say we should not do that because somehow we do not support war in Iraq? We strongly support the war against terrorism. We have three ships in the gulf. The chief commander of the seven ships in the gulf patrolling the waters looking for terrorists, looking for subversives is Canadian. Should we withdraw him because somehow we did not run off to war?

The opposition members stood in this place and demanded that we go to war before it even knew where the war was going to be, for goodness sake. They wanted us to send troops, get them over there so that we are ready to go when somebody shoots a gun in the air. There is some real inconsistency here.

However, the point that I want to stress is that this country supports the United States of America, its people and government. What we do not support is war at this time. We have attempted to broker a peace, to use diplomacy. We have begged President Bush to hold off the dogs and allow for continued discussion in diplomatic negotiations. As a government it is our view that those negotiations may well have been successful if more time had been allowed.

Were we ever in danger of an attack coming from Iraq? We know North Korea has the capacity to launch an ICBM against North America, but we also know that Iraq does not. Therefore a pre-emptive strike in my view was what we were trying to avoid. A pre-emptive strike to go in for regime change was what the President of the United States clearly wanted to do. What we signed on for in resolution 1441 was not regime change. What we signed on for was disarmament, the elimination of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. This has elevated beyond that.

I believe that what our Prime Minister has done is taken a difficult but principled position, and as a result of that I am confident that the powers that be, including George Bush in Washington, will respect that decision and will understand that we are a sovereign nation with the responsibility and the right to make our own decisions, and that is what we have done.

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1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member started out by talking about how unfortunate it is when inflammatory statements are made in this place, when motives are wrongly attributed, and when positions are grossly distorted.

I have not heard anyone on this side of the House, not just from the official opposition, but I have not heard our Bloc friends or NDP friends or Progressive Conservative friends say anything negative about lack of hard work or diligence on the part of our ambassador or on the part of our officials in diplomatic service in the United States. As a matter of fact, knowing what it is to work with those officials, I believe we are served in a very fine and capable way by our Canadians officials in the United States.

Nobody was attributing that and nobody was making that comment. If there were inflammatory remarks made and if there were positions grotesquely distorted, they would certainly be by the member attributing certain positions to the House. I am glad he is smiling and nodding his head a bit. He got caught up in the fervour of his own debate and almost started believing himself.

Along the line of inflammatory comments being made, does he not believe that the Prime Minister has an obligation to publicly rein in, to publicly denounce, and even to take some disciplinary action toward his own ministers who continue this toxic stream of invective toward the United States?

It is one thing, as the member said, to debate with the United States on issues. We should be fighting them on issues like softwood lumber, steel subsidies, and on the U.S. farm bill, which hurts our own agriculture community. But when ministers of the Crown continue this toxic stream of invective toward the United States, does he not feel it would be appropriate for the Prime Minister to publicly make a statement, to rein in his ministers, to denounce them, and to take disciplinary action, especially at a time as sensitive as this?

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1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Liberal Mississauga West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would not want the member to think I was smiling and nodding because I agreed with him. That would be a distortion that would get carried away.

Let me point out however, in reference to the member's first point about not criticizing the ambassador to the United Nations, I quite agree. I was not suggesting that. My point was this. Does the member think the ambassador was flying solo? That is exactly what I said. Does the hon. member think that our ambassador to the United Nations was not in touch with the Minister of Foreign Affairs on a regular basis, with the Prime Minister, and with officials in the government in an attempt to put together a compromise?

When it was not members here it was members of the fifth party who were actually saying that the Prime Minister did not contact the presidents of France or China or whatever. He does not know that. The appropriate channel for that kind of work to take place is at the United Nations. That is where we were working diligently and I believe we gained tremendous respect on the world stage because we made those efforts.

Let me address the other point which I am sure people would rather I did not address. For members to stand here and suggest that there are ministers, plural, and members, plural--it is a small minority who make unfortunate comments. Those comments, I quite agree, are inappropriate, but does anybody talk about the comments that are made on a regular basis, such as those that I have made here about the position that this country has with the United States, about the longstanding relationship this country has with the United States?

I stood in this place and even said “God bless America” because I was trying to counter those negative comments made by certain individuals. It is not the government or the Prime Minister or the Liberal Party. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, more than a small minority making inappropriate comments, and I think the member should recognize that.

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1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Bonwick Liberal Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to address this critically important topic. I wish to thank my hon. colleague from Mississauga West for splitting his time with me. As I sat here and listened to his relevant remarks regarding this crisis situation we are facing internationally right now, I cannot help but take a certain amount of pride in many of the members who are sitting on this side of the House.

Many of these comments may be repetitive in nature, whether they are coming from this side or from some of the parties on the other side of the House, but the real issue here is that members like myself from Simcoe—Grey feel a responsibility to voice their support for the government and the Prime Minister's position. If that means repeating some of the facts that are out there, I think it does us well to do so.

I would like to take the time to congratulate the vast majority of my colleagues. The vast majority of my colleagues right up to the Prime Minister have taken a leadership role not only here in Canada, but a leadership role that is being recognized within the international community that is second to none.

We have a long history in this country of making our domestic and foreign policy decisions here in the House. We do not accept economic pressures or the perceived economic pressures to sway us one way or the other. We are a country that has a set of values. We are a society that believes in multiculturalism and multilateral support for various countries. That is exactly what we have been trying to do. I hear from some members on the opposite side as well as read in some of the stories in the media that there is flip-flopping and confusion. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Certainly, my constituents and I have had a clear understanding of where the government is coming from since last year. The Prime Minister could not have been more clear. He said that we want to work through the United Nations. He believes it is important as a representative body of the planet that we work through that organization, that we source out consensus, and that the number one priority must be to exhaust all possibilities prior to going to war.

Hans Blix and his inspection teams were in Afghanistan suggesting that they did not have the unfettered or unencumbered access that they should have had. They reported that back and there was increased pressure put on Iraq. Then they reported back again saying that Iraq was becoming more open and giving them less fettered access to the places that they wanted to go. They were saying to the Security Council and General Assembly that this might work, but to give them more time.

President Bush, and I certainly understand his position based on some of the absolute tragedies the Americans have had to face in the last couple of years, made a comment along the lines that it was difficult to ever secure success because there were small numbers of people inspecting a country about the size of the state of California. Why then did he support these inspection teams going into Iraq in the first place? The international community is thinking that it was window dressing.

What Canada and other members of the international community suggested was that if the inspection teams felt there was an opportunity for success, if they required more resources and we had to double, triple, quadruple whatever the number might be to get the arms inspectors on the ground to pursue that option of success, did we not have a responsibility as political leaders to pursue that avenue prior to war?

The Bloc brings forward a motion by way of opposition day asking that we as a Parliament say we will not engage in war in Iraq. The Prime Minister has said all along that until such time as we are a signatory member of the UN General Assembly we would back whatever the Security Council said. There is rhetoric coming from the other side about how this will have such a massive impact on our relationship, friendship and trade with the United States. That is hogwash.

Let us look at the history. Let us look back and truly appreciate the relationship Canada has with the United States. I must say that I have cousins, aunts and some great friends in the United States and certainly I am there to help them whenever they need that help, but it is not unconditional. Let us look back in time to September 11, when that terrible tragedy and heinous act took place by way of al-Qaeda attacking the United States and the twin towers. What country was there first? It was Canada. What country was recognized by the United States over and over again? Canada. In my own constituency we had a condolences book as well as donations coming in from all across the riding and, for that matter, from all across the country. We had emergency service personnel, fine Canadians who dedicate their lives to the safety of Canada, volunteering their time to go to New York and help their brothers and sisters south of the border.

It was appreciated. I was in Washington this past July. I met with several members of Congress in one on one meetings and had the opportunity to meet with a couple of senators as well. Let me say that Americans do appreciate the relationship that they have with Canada. They do know that we are there for them and they know we have been there for them in the past.

Then we listen to the rhetoric coming from the other side as to how this will have a longstanding impact and longstanding consequences for the Canadian people because we choose a direction on international policy that is different from what the United States chooses. Nothing could be a more foolish statement than that. The United States does not buy from us because we do or do not support their foreign policy. The United States buys from us because we are one of the best manufacturers and one of the best producers in the entire world. We have one of the most competitive workforces in the entire world. That is why they buy from us. That is why so much of our product goes south of the border. Certainly proximity plays a significant role, but we have one of the most competitive workforces in the entire world. That is why the American people buy our product over other products around the world.

If anything has taught us in the House about how small the planet is with regard to accessing products or information, it is the last five years. Why is Canada the single largest purchaser from the United States? Because in turn the Americans make great products. It is not because we consider ourselves a big family. It is not because we consider ourselves best friends. Those things may be true. The reality is that business operates on both sides of the border. We are each other's largest purchaser because it is best for business.

I will say this, having been to Washington and having met with members of Congress. If any members in this House believe that the United States, the executive branch, Senate or Congress, is going to do anything to further disrupt its economy because a country such as Canada has chosen a different direction, I would suggest that they go and spend some time with our friends south of the border, because that is simply not the case.

In closing, I will say that the men and women in our military are playing a role in Afghanistan, and there are few countries as committed to fighting terrorism as Canada, but we have to put things in perspective when we are talking about this war on terrorism.

I mentioned this to my colleagues in Congress when I was in Washington in July. When we announce $5 billion in homeland security spending, it does not necessarily resonate very well down there, but when we start talking about extrapolating that to the tenth, that is $50 billion in the United States by the size of their economy. That is a huge investment on behalf of the taxpayers of Canada to ensure that our country is as safe as it can possibly be.

No party, no government, has a bigger responsibility than the security of its citizens and I am here to tell hon. members that the government, the Prime Minister and my caucus take that very seriously. We have demonstrated it by the significant amount of tax dollars we have invested in homeland security. We have demonstrated it by tightening our ties with the United States to rationalize the services that we will be receiving.

Regardless of the rhetoric that is going to come across from the gun-toting Alliance, I am here to say that the Americans clearly believe we are their best friends.

CIS HockeyStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to remind the House that the University of New Brunswick, Canada's oldest university, will be hosting the 2003 Canadian intercollegiate sport hockey championships this weekend in Fredericton. This is the first of two consecutive years in which UNB will host this prominent intercollegiate event, one of the biggest on the CIS calendar.

The tournament features the University of Alberta, York University, Université de Québec à Trois-Rivières, Lakehead University, St. Francis Xavier, and the host UNB Varsity Reds. The Varsity Reds are the Atlantic conference champions and are ranked third in the nation.

This event is made possible thanks in part to municipal, provincial and federal support, including $25,000 from the Government of Canada. I wish to express my thanks to the ministers of public works and sport.

I extend best wishes to the UNB Varsity Reds and wish good luck to all the teams in this event, which I am confident will be a national success and will leave a significant legacy of student scholarships.

IraqStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, in these most serious of times, Canadians have no comfort in knowing that this Prime Minister cooks up foreign policy the same way one would flip a pancake.

In the January 31 edition of the Charlottetown Guardian , the Prime Minister said, “Resolution 1441 will authorize action” to disarm Saddam Hussein. On Monday of this week, he finally stood up and told the Canadian people that he wanted Canada to wimp out and not support our traditional allies.

Thank goodness he finally took a position on Iraq, but it was based on polls and going down the middle of the road, not on principles. Unbelievably, he made his statement only five hours before he knew that the President of the United States was going on the air, thereby undercutting the president and throwing up more obstacles for our allies. What is most shameful is that he made his statement without even having the common decency to inform the president of Canada's position.

This Prime Minister is leading Canada down a blind alley of mediocrity and irrelevance and I say shame on him.

Democracy and Human RightsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, while we are understandably occupied with the war in Iraq we might miss an inspiring and indeed historical development that has taken place in the Middle East.

I am referring to the judgment just handed down by Egypt's highest court, the Cour de Cassation, acquitting Professor Saad Eddin Ibrahim, the leading democracy activist in Egypt if not all of the Arab world, of a series of trumped up charges which were utterly devoid of any legal authority or evidence. Indeed, the whole prosecution was an attempt to quarantine Dr. Ibrahim and intimidate the fledgling Egyptian democracy movement.

As one who had the privilege of acting as Professor Ibrahim's international legal counsel, I regard this judgment as a landmark event. In the words of Professor Ibrahim upon hearing the judgment, “I am grateful and hope that no other intellectual will go to prison because of his opinions. It is a victory for democracy and human rights”.

I would like to express my appreciation to the foreign affairs minister, the secretary of state for the Middle East and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade for their support and assistance in this case.

Pond HockeyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Savoy Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, the second World Pond Hockey Championships were recently held in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, and what a success they were. I wish to congratulate the organizers on their tremendous efforts.

Drawing media attention and interest from hockey enthusiasts around the globe, this 64 team tournament raised $18,000 to help fund a new local arena. This is double the number of entrants from its inaugural year, and proceeds more than tripled.

Played on a postcard perfect lake and river, this puck party is pure Canadiana, recreating fond memories of open air matches from childhood. This tournament is a shining example of community spirit and Canada's passion for our national sport.

Again, I extend congratulations to everyone involved. The World Pond Hockey Championships have become an important annual tradition on the Tobique River and have put Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, on the map.

Energy InnovationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to congratulate Norwest Precision Limited, a business in my riding of York West that has registered as an industrial energy innovator under Natural Resources Canada's program for energy conservation.

The president, Sam Falcitelli, has made a long term commitment for his company to be an energy innovator and to support Canada's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through greater energy efficiency.

With the participation of Norwest Precision, the number of firms listed as industrial energy innovators has increased to 330.

Please join with me in applauding Norwest Precision Limited for its commitment and efforts to become part of the solution to address climate change. Its responsible contribution to support Canada's implementation of the Kyoto accord can only benefit the environment and all Canadians.

TerrorismStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, security experts have been quick to point out that the Prime Minister's decision to break ranks with the United States will have a direct impact on Canada's intelligence gathering capabilities. Effectively, this country will be cut off from the world intelligence network we are so dependent on, given that CSIS has no power to operate abroad. Canada is the only G-8 country without a foreign spy agency.

Security experts are warning that without the United States to depend on, the likelihood of Canada being used as a staging ground for terrorist attacks against the United States increases.

Just this week, even one member from the backbench across the way recognized that there might be a growing United States reluctance to share information with us.

I therefore call upon the government to immediately seek to increase the power of CSIS to operate abroad to prevent terrorists from planning and launching their deadly attacks against our neighbours from Canada.

Racial DiscriminationStatements By Members

March 20th, 2003 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

John Finlay Liberal Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, March 21 is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. On this occasion we recognize the success Canadians have had in building an open and culturally diverse society based on tolerance and respect.

However we also know that too many of our fellow citizens still experience the sting of racism. That is why the Government of Canada sponsors initiatives designed to foster awareness and understanding of cultural diversity.

The “Racism. Stop it!” national video competition for students is one such initiative aimed at raising awareness about the harmful effects of racism in our society.

I am proud that of 10 teams from across Canada chosen as winners this year, one is from Norwich High School in my riding of Oxford.

I congratulate Jamie Jacques, Jeremy Gear, Adam Buck, Steve Wilkinson and their teacher, Mr. Jeff Overeem, on this special award. They are in the gallery and I welcome them.

International Day of La FrancophonieStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, we are celebrating the Journée Internationale de la Francophonie. United by their shared desire to promote the development and expansion of French and continue the dialogue of cultures within the Francophonie, 56 states and governments are members of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. They have adopted a shared policy framework aimed at establishing cooperation between member states.

On March 13, the Secretary General of the OIF described the Francophonie as a force for good.

Today, let us celebrate this and not lose sight of the urgency of showing the political will to use our solidarity as francophone states as a means of continuing the Francophonie's efforts to, among other things, defend human rights, oppose threats to democracy and ensure respect for cultural diversity.