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—