Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.
Ironically, only a few days after the adoption in this House, with a very strong majority, of a motion calling upon Canada not to go to war—a motion we accepted immediately—today we are debating a totally opposite motion. This one suggests that we change sides, undo the decision reached in the House with a strong majority, and say, “No, there was no such majority; no, there was no such motion”. It is quite ironic, then, that only a few days later we would have to do otherwise. That is what would happen today if we accepted the Canadian Alliance motion calling upon us to join the U.S.-U.K. coalition.
This morning, I heard the member presenting the motion say that it was disgraceful that, for the first time, we were not alongside the United States, our greatest ally, that we were letting Great Britain and the United States go it alone, that Canada was not with them.
However, I then asked him the following question which he did not answer, “Why, in 1939, was it perfectly legitimate for the United States not to join the coalition consisting of England, France, Canada and other countries, which had declared war in September?” The United States stayed out of it for very legitimate reasons. It is a sovereign nation which must make up its own mind. It was perfectly legitimate for the United States to decide, for its own reasons, not to go to war. Two years later, the United States declared war, after Pearl Harbor.
At the time, Canada's friendship with the United States did not suffer. Our friendship continued as before. We continued to trade with one another. We did not lose respect for the United States because it did not declare war at the same time we did. Why would it be any different today?
In fact, I support our noble and consistent reasons for not taking part in the war right now. First, because war is a last resort. Second, because war should be declared only if there is an immediate danger of being attacked by others. The danger was certainly not immediate. Third, we decided from the beginning that we needed UN approval.
It is easy, today, for the United States to say that resolution 1441 and the preceding resolutions on Iraq were sufficient reason to declare war.
If that were the case, that 1441 and previous resolutions on Iraq were enough to give them the right to declare war, why then did the United States and Great Britain decide to present another resolution beyond 1441? If they presented a second resolution after 1441, surely they themselves were not satisfied that 1441 was enough. If 1441 and previous resolutions had been enough, why then present another resolution? Once they presented another resolution, surely they had to accept the decision on that resolution.
The second resolution, according to the United States and Great Britain, meant that if the majority agreed with them, then the second resolution was fine and they would go to war with the UN approval. However, if the majority went against them, then the second resolution would not count and they would go to war anyway.
It is very convenient to say that it was France's veto that decided the whole issue, but the numbers were not there in the first place. Only four countries backed the U.S.-British resolution: the United States, Great Britain, Spain and Bulgaria. Let us leave France, China, Germany and the big powers alone. The fact is that smaller countries, such as Mexico, Chile, Guinea and Cameroon, underwent tremendous pressure from the United States, pressures almost to the point where people were saying that it was a coalition of bullying and of billing. In spite of that, they resisted. They never agreed to join the United States and Great Britain in the second resolution.
I also heard this morning, in the course of the debate, when the member for Regina--Qu'Appelle was making his speech, people from the Canadian Alliance making interjections time and again saying to him that he must be with Saddam. If people oppose the war they are with Saddam. I find that assessment simplistic, naive and insulting to the millions and millions of people all over the world who day in and day out, every weekend and every day, go out on the streets to protest.
I have been in three peace marches myself. Am I for Saddam? Are the hundreds of thousands of people who marched with me in Montreal, 200,000 last week, 200,000 this week, for Saddam? I hate dictatorships. I hate brutality. At the same time, surely we can think for ourselves and decide that being against the war does not mean being for the dictatorship.
What is amusing is that in the United States, major cities in 30 of the 50 states have passed resolutions denouncing the war: in California, 29 cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland, San Fransisco and others; Colorado; Connecticut; New Haven; New London; Atlanta; Illinois; Chicago; Des Moines, Iowa; Baltimore, Maryland; Boston; Detroit, Michigan; Jersey City, New Jersey; New Mexico and in New York itself, the very heart and soul of the 9/11 process and the 9/11 horror. New York City went against the war. Is it for Saddam? Syracuse went against the war. Is it for Saddam? Cleveland and Dayton in Ohio, Philadephia and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, and Austin in Texas, the very state of George Bush, went against the war. Are they for Saddam? Cities in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin, et cetera, went against the war. Are they for Saddam?
I find it insulting that people who stand and say that they are against brutal dictatorships are not consistent. If they are against brutal dictatorships, what do they do after Saddam is finished? Do they go to war against Iran? Do they go to war against Libya? Do they go to war against Zimbabwe and Mugabe? Do they go to war against Myanmar, which has ignored the dictates of the world powers for 10 years and has brutally imprisoned the duly elected leader of the opposition? Why do we leave them alone.
Why do we leave North Korea alone? North Korea is thumbing its nose at the United States and the world. It has tools of mass destruction far worse than an enfeebled Iraq has today. However we are scared of North Korea. We do not go to war there because the shadow of China looms very large. We use negotiation and diplomatic manoeuvres with North Korea but we go to war against Iraq because we know we are going to win easier there.
I am against dictatorship as are all of us here. I am against Saddam Hussein. At the same time, my reason, my heart and my soul tell me that war is abominable and a last ultimate resort. We were disarming Saddam, thanks to the United States and Great Britain and we all agree on that. Thanks to those pressures and to the inspectors doing their work, Iraq was dismantling rockets. We could have sent in more inspectors. We could have done more over flights of the Iraqi territory. In time the people of Iraq would have ousted Saddam Hussein as they have ousted dictators all over the world. Mobutu was a dictator who was ousted. Idi Amen was a dictator who was ousted. How many dictators have been ousted without wars?
What we are trying to do in Iraq is impose our democracy on a people. What will ensue are consequences we cannot even imagine. The Muslim world will be polarized against our world in the name of Islam. What will happen to Iraq? Will the United States be able to sort out the Shiites, the Sunni Muslims and the Kurds by magic because President Bush has decided it?
Asking those questions is to say that we who have decided against the war have a fair case, that war was unjustified and that we must resolve more than ever to join in multilateral actions with other people of the world to decide. The United Nations may be imperfect but it is the only multilateral forum that we have for possible conciliation and peace.
I know it is futile to speak about conciliation and peace at this time when the United States and Britain, with their four star generals with all their bars, are praising the great allies that are moving forward to destroy Baghdad. When I see all these terrible bombs blowing up so many buildings I think of the many civilians who are within those buildings, women and children.
I speak against the war. I speak for peace. I hope that in the future we will resolve to work with other friends in the world rather than declare unilateral war.