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.