This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #76 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was iraq.

Topics

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

York South—Weston Ontario

Liberal

Alan Tonks LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, could the previous speaker help this side understand why in the most recent poll taken of Canadians, I think 68% believe the government has exercised leadership. Could he help us to understand that? Or are 68% of Canadians wrong in coming to that conclusion?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, again, the hon. member just verified for all of us how the government operates on polls. Because this whole situation is extremely new to the Canadian populace, we will see what happens as this transaction progresses.

However, if he wants to talk about polls and if the government is going to react to polls, I hope tomorrow when we vote on the gun registration bill that the hon. member will go along with the polls and support what most of the people in this country say, and that is, to not put any more money into gun registration.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

They do not want any more money going to the gun registry. That is what the polls say.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, there is still a fair amount of discussion going on in the House about polls and I guess there are a couple of things about polls. Certainly anyone in the political arena should pay attention to them. It would be inadvisable for them not to pay attention. That does not necessarily mean that they have to be completely guided by them or follow them but they have to be aware of them. They have to know what the public opinion is. The other group in the country that is interested in polls of course is dogs. I would say in this case that perhaps the members who are paying too much attention to polls are in good company.

Perhaps without exception, no member in the House wants to go to war. No one wants to be seen as a warmonger. No one wants to support sending our men and women, our sons and daughters, to a foreign land where some of them will die in a foreign conflict. We are all aware of the gravity of the situation.

I have read this motion closely, as I read the Bloc motion very closely. A few days ago we debated the Bloc motion. We stood in the House and voted. I congratulate the Bloc members for bringing their motion to the House. I did not support it but I certainly congratulate them for bringing it forward.

I condemn the government for not having a vote on this issue, an issue of this importance to the future of the country, to the future of our armed forces and to the future of our role in the United Nations, in NATO, and in the free trade agreement with the biggest trading partner this country has. Certainly it would be incumbent upon the government under difficult circumstances and in difficult times to ask Canadians and their representatives in the Parliament of Canada to stand and be counted on this very important issue. That has not occurred.

In the last conflict in which Canada participated, there were three debates in the House. None of them were trivial, none of them were easy and none of them were taken lightly but all of them were important.

Again I refer to the Bloc motion. I did not support the Bloc motion because I felt it boxed us into a corner as a Parliament. It said that not only at this time but at any other time we would not participate in this current conflict. The government made a mistake and it was shortsighted. I do not think the government really read the motion, the same way the government does not read most of the information, except its polls, that is laid before them.

Let us take a look at the Alliance motion presented by its foreign affairs critic. I would like to break it down because I want it to be very clear to members of the public who are watching today and to my own constituents who are watching today. I would like to be on the record that nobody wants to support sending our troops to war. At the same time, with government comes responsibility. With government hopefully comes intelligence and prudence. With government comes the added responsibility of looking at the information in front of it and making an intelligent decision on it.

Let us go through this motion because I have not heard any of the other members actually go through it. The first part of the motion reads:

That this House:

(1) endorse the decision of the Allied international coalition of military forces to enforce Iraq's compliance with its international obligations under successive resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, with a view to restoring international peace and security in the Middle East region;

It is pretty difficult not to support that part of the motion. We can endorse the decision of our major allies without saying Canada is going to participate. It does not say that. It also recognizes the fact that the government has been anti-American, to its peril. Backbenchers in the government, like the member for Mississauga Centre, have stood in the House and called the Americans names for which we would wash out our children's mouths with soap if it happened at the dinner table.

The minister responsible for natural resources, whose largest trading partner for the industry he represents happens to be the United States, which it is for all of our industries, decided that he had the liberty as a minister of the Crown to pick a fight with the United States of America, to denigrate and call the President of the United States names. He has the right. Any member of Parliament has the right to think whatever they want. They should have the good sense not to call our largest trading partner and foremost ally names of any sort. It is unbelievable and unconscionable.

I do believe that resolution 1441 before the UN allows the British, the Americans and their allies the right to go into Iraq. We may or may not support that. That is immaterial. What this says is that they have the right to go in. I believe they have. The government does not have any legal opinion on it and there has never been a vote in the House. We cannot get the government to say the same thing two days in a row. What is the government's opinion? Who knows? Tomorrow it will be different.

Let us look at the second point made in the motion:

express its unequivocal support for the Canadian service men and women,--

Any time: I will stand in the House on any day and express my unequivocal support for our men and women in the service.

--and other personnel serving in an exchange program with the United States and for those service men and women performing escort duties for British and United States Ships, our full confidence in them and the hope that all will return safely to their homes;--

I would expect that there is not a member of Parliament in the House who can vote against that part of the motion. They may find something in some other place in the motion that they do not agree with, but I would hope that none of them can vote against that part.

The third point is:

extend to the innocent people of Iraq its support and sympathy during the military action to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction and the reconstruction period that will follow;--

I would hope everyone could support that.

I am actually surprised by the Alliance motion. Certainly in the past I have seen Alliance motions that were too strident and too difficult to support and that I was simply not comfortable with. This is not one of them. It was actually couched, I believe, with a fair amount of caution and I would say it was deliberately worded so that all members of Parliament could support it. It does not say that Canada should be at war in Iraq, but it does say that Canada has a role and a responsibility. We have traditional allies who are at war and if we are not going to support them we should have the common sense not to be critical of them. That is a pretty simple request.

The fourth point is:

urge the government to commit itself to help the Iraqi people, including through humanitarian assistance, to build a new Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbours.

Certainly most people could support this motion. Again, the motion is not a motion to put Canadian troops in the battlefield. This is a well balanced, well couched motion to support our men and women in the service and to support our traditional allies, and I would think most members of Parliament could support it.

There are millions of other things to say. I know I have five minutes of questions. I am certainly out of time and I recognize that, so I will take questions.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues in the Conservative Party. I listened and I was pleasantly surprised and not disappointed in any way with their stand and their support.

I could probably stand here and claim that I have more relatives in the United States than any member in the House. Some of those relatives come from the very hometown of George Bush. When they listen to one of those running for the leadership of the NDP say that George Bush, who grew up there as a boy, sits around and thinks about how he can kill Iraqi children, I am hurt and they are hurt. It is a terrible thing for Canadians to say this, both inside and outside of the House, and not have the stomach to say they are sorry. It will go down in history as a black day for Canada.

Finally, in my own constituency at this time of year implement dealers put on sales. We are very close to the U.S. border. For all the buyers and all the big sales, they got a phone call saying, “We are not coming this year”. So members opposite should not tell the members on this side of the House that this is not going to hurt our trade relationship.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments. I would say that as important as our trading relationship with the United States is, and it is extremely important, it is not the reason to go to war. But it certainly is a reason not to make anti-American statements. It is a reason to keep Liberal backbenchers and ministers of the Crown under control. It is a reason to be balanced in our comments about the war.

As for the government, I question who is writing the speaking points. Just because the Americans and the British go to war, we do not have to trail around behind them blindly. We can make our own decisions. Quite frankly, in World War I the Americans were not there until 1917. In World War II, they were not there until 1941.

There is a reason for calculated judgments to be made here. We do not, under any circumstances, have to be critical to the point of dereliction of our duty to the people of Canada. That is how critical the government has been and that is a mistake.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

Before I begin my remarks, I would like to read the motion that we are debating here today into the record because I think it is a very valuable motion, and if people take the time to see what we are trying to do, they will realize that it is something that we would have hoped to see as a form of leadership from the government. The motion reads:

That this House:

(1) endorse the decision of the Allied international coalition of military forces to enforce Iraq's compliance with its international obligations under successive resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, with a view to restoring international peace and security in the Middle East region;

(2) express its unequivocal support for the Canadian service men and women, and other personnel serving in an exchange program with the United States and for those service men and women performing escort duties for British and United States Ships, our full confidence in them and the hope that all will return safely to their homes;

(3) extend to the innocent people of Iraq its support and sympathy during the military action to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction and the reconstruction period that will follow; and

(4) urge the government to commit itself to help the Iraqi people, including through humanitarian assistance, to build a new Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbours.

As we can see, and as the member who just recently spoke said, that motion has been crafted very carefully to try to hit all the key points that we as a government and we as a country should be focusing on in trying to deal with the plight of the people in Iraq, who I think have suffered a huge amount especially if we look at the last 12 years of the regime of Saddam Hussein and the pain and torture he has inflicted on his own people.

As I previously stated, I have always stood here with mixed feelings when we stop to talk about war. It is not a pleasant thing and I think that most members in the House have similar sentiments. Why is that? Because on these issues of war and peace especially, I believe it is only natural to be conflicted on where we stand. For some people it is easy to say “peace at all costs”, a refrain disproven in Munich and a refrain, I believe, that has been disproven at the United Nations.

I have always been a firm believer that in order to disarm Saddam and free the people of Iraq we need to follow the UN process. I have stated this a number of times to my constituents and in the House. I have also said that we must follow the UN process to its logical conclusion, that being, hopefully, the disarmament of Iraq by the United Nations or through other means, although I will caution that I did not say here that, and I will quote, I support open-ended war in Iraq. Where does this leave my position on Iraq?

It has been ever evolving, especially as the twists and turns of the UN have played themselves out over the last few weeks. At first I was optimistic that the UN would do its job. My hopes were dashed by the intransigence of the French government. Then I hoped that the ultimatum put forward by the coalition would convince Saddam to accept exile, a life of luxury. He did not and war broke out, so I had to make a decision last week on whether or not I would support our allies. Indeed, I did vote to support our allied coalition.

Why did I support this? It came down to a moral choice for me, a choice between right and wrong. My family fled Uganda when Idi Amin began butchering the people of that country. The UN refused to stop it. Tanzania intervened without UN approval, just as the coalition has done today in Iraq. I asked myself how I could deny the people of Iraq the chance for freedom, the very same opportunity I was given, just because of a diplomatic disaster at the UN. I could not. As someone in a position to help others, I believe it is my duty to do what I can to help them and not ignore their pleas for freedom, such as the Liberals and the French have done.

Before I expand upon my own experience and my choice, let me back up and talk about the United Nations process, its successes and failures. After all, it was on this process that the hopes of the world were hinged.

Canadians passionately believe in the United Nations process. The UN has always been portrayed as the great international body where nations of all political stripes gather, debate and solve world crises. It does not matter if the nations are run by most terrible dictators who slaughter their civilians by hundreds of thousands or if the nations are democracies that win and lose elections on how fast they can deliver essential health care services.

Everyone is welcome at the UN. Everyone has an equal say. Well, everyone with the exception of France, the United Kingdom, China, the United States and Russia. Those countries, due to realities of winning World War II, were able to snag a great veto power for themselves, a power that allows one of those nations to stop all debate and prevent the solving of any problem that they may want.

In fact, as Canadians have looked to the United Nations as a beacon of hope, I would argue that it instead has become a blight on humanity. I am not referring to the many excellent programs that the UN delivers in the way of humanitarian assistance. I know that even in my own community the Aga Khan Foundation is involved in many of them. Programs such as UNICEF, UNESCO and others are indeed very worthy and do offer a beacon of hope. Programs such as the rebuilding of Afghanistan and the possible role it will play in the reconstruction of Iraq are commendable. Nor do I deny the UN's positive role in negotiating international treaties.

What I am referring to when I say blight is that archaic institution called the Security Council. That relic born of a post-World War II scenario was cemented during the cold war as a talk shop capable of doing nothing. The Security Council has always been governed by the veto of cold war powers. The Soviet Union would veto when the west would bring forward ideas and the west would veto when the Russians wanted to do something constructive.

Of course a UN booster would point to the fact that there have been 1,400 resolutions passed by the Security Council; 1,400 resolutions that were obviously not vetoed. Fair enough, let us look at those resolutions. For example, in the Middle East we all know that Israel has been in defiance of numerous resolutions. We also know that the Palestinians have been in breach of others. Yet what does the international community do about it? Nothing. Why? It is because each of these groups have a veto wielding state behind them and the UN can only work when superpowers give their consent.

When this consent is not given, I would argue that the UN is impotent and has failed the citizens of the world. Three very recent cases I can think of are Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and of course Iraq. I will not go into much detail regarding Rwanda, but suffice it to say that I am sure we all remember the failure of the UN to prevent the genocide of millions of innocents.

Of course in Yugoslavia we all watched for years in the early 1990s as the UN peacekeepers failed to stop the daily massacres and constant civil war. We remember those Canadian peacekeepers taken hostage by Serbian forces and we remember the impotence of the UN to protect them. We watched Bosnia for years until finally the United States, not the UN, took the initiative and forced the combatants to make peace.

Again, only a couple of years later, when the crisis once again erupted in Yugoslavia, this time in Kosovo, we watched hopelessly as the Russians threatened to use their veto to block any attempt to end the genocide. Once again the United States acted. This time Canada was by its side in NATO. We declared war and we stopped the massacre. The UN failed once again.

Where does that leave Iraq? Interestingly, Iraq is a unique example in the history of the United Nations. It is a sad history when only three times it has authorized the use of force to prevent war and genocide. The first was the U.S.-initiated action on Korea. Resolution 82 passed on June 25, 1950, and several subsequent resolutions authorized the United States to make war on North Korea in order to liberate the south.

The second time the UN has authorized action was in 1990 when on November 29 the Security Council, in resolution 678 said:

Authorizes Member States... to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660....

This of course laid the basis for the UN action that took place in the early months of 1991.

The third time was the one with which we are all familiar, resolution 1441. This is where it was stated that:

--Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687....

It goes on to state:

--while acknowledging paragraph 1 above, to afford Iraq, by this resolution, a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council;

I know my time is running short but I want to make the case that clearly there have been violations and clearly Saddam has been persecuting his own people for years. There was a reason to act and there was a reason for us here in Canada to take a principled stand. I wish the government would have joined our coalition allies to be able to say that and liberate these people.

Since my time is up, I would like to offer an amendment. I move:

That the motion be amended in the first paragraph by replacing the words “endorse the decision” with the words “recognize the legitimacy of the decision” and by inserting after the word “security” the words “including justice”.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I find the amendment to be in order.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member would tell the House about his personal experiences with living under the rule of a dictator and how Canada at that time assisted in liberating that country, if at all.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a difficult thing to talk about at times because many of the stories that I was told with regard to what happened to our family in Uganda were pretty severe.

I was fortunate as I was only a toddler at the time, only nine months old, when we came to Canada as refugees. As I have said before, the reason I think I ended up in this place at such a young age was because of the value of democracy and freedom that my father always spoke to me about when I was growing up. At the time we left Uganda it was under pretty much life and death circumstances. We lost everything during that process. We were forced to leave. If we had not left we would have paid with our lives. From what I understand, that radical dictator, Idi Amin, killed about half a million of his own people.

There was enough justification to act at the time but the UN was not able to do so. Canada did its part, and I commend it for that. It played its part by accepting a large number of refugees. As a matter of fact I think it accepted one of the largest number of refugees at that time of any other country. I commend the government of the time for doing that.

However the only government that actually acted, which everyone basically endorsed it to go ahead, was the Tanzanian government which moved in and ousted Idi Amin who went into exile in Saudi Arabia.

I am torn. As we have heard, no one wants to endorse war but clearly where there are violations of human rights, where potentially millions of people can be killed senselessly by dictators such as, in the case of my family, Idi Amin, why can this country and other countries not stand together and do what is right? I know in my heart I am torn but in this case I cannot give in to a radical dictator like Saddam Hussein, the same way I can never endorse what happened to my family. I believe I have a moral obligation because of my experiences to try to bring that sort of opportunity of freedom to others who are facing those same circumstances.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

York South—Weston Ontario

Liberal

Alan Tonks LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the member has expressed very well some of the sentiments that many members in the House feel in terms of a number of issues, one of which being the inability of the United Nations, because of some of the reasons to which the member alluded, to come to a diplomatic solution and bring the forces to bear that would have influenced the Iraqi government and thereby avoided the whole conflict.

The member suggested that perhaps it was the Security Council that was the problem. I would like the member to address further whether he feels that if there is an inability to deal with the Security Council and its structure, he sees some wisdom in changing the rules of membership in the Security Council such that a major player on the world stage, like Canada, would have an opportunity to influence diplomatically the course of events. Could different structural changes be made in the Security Council that would allow countries like Canada to play a major role as opposed to a minor role in terms of influencing events?

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I, as I think many members of the House, would be open to debating the future of the UN and look at how we could restructure it to some extent to work more equitably and actually not have cases such as we see today, where often one country can veto the direction of many others when it comes to maybe doing what is right.

I would like to see Canada have a stronger role at that table but we need to ask ourselves here in Canada whether we in fact are taken seriously internationally.

We have been doing some great things over the years when we look at our peacekeeping abilities and our influence at being seen as a neutral country but over the years this, unfortunately, has deteriorated. Why has this deteriorated? I would say that it is because the current government does not see the value of putting some of our military capability or some of the investments, which are required for us to be taken somewhat seriously internationally, at the forefront and evaluate what our role should be in international conflicts.

I have no doubt that people still respect our country and want Canada to bring its experiences to the forefront of many of these particular international crisis. We are such a pluralistic country, one that stands for a lot of values that other countries would like. How in fact could we strengthen our role here at home so we actually can be taken seriously?

I am all in favour of restructuring the UN but we need to take some concrete steps here at home to ensure that we as a country are strong and viewed that way internationally before we can even be taken seriously around the world.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague in the Canadian Alliance, the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla, for moving today's motion to support our allies in Iraq.

It was not my intention to rise in the House to speak to the motion as I had risen previously on this issue and wanted to give my hon. colleagues an opportunity to go on record regarding the issue. However I felt it was important to tell the House, but more important, to convey a message to our friends to the south that Canadians are outraged by the Liberal government's position of supporting Saddam Hussein rather than our traditional, democratic allies.

Here is an example of the letters I have been receiving regarding the Iraq policy of the government. The title is “The Cowardice Liberal Government”. The letter was sent to the Prime Minister with copies to the White House and myself:

Mr. Prime Minister, I'm certainly not surprised that you have sided with the government of France rather than support the American government with its decision.

You have succeeded in bringing shame upon all Canadians.

I've forwarded an e-mail to the White House, as a Canadian, offering my support.

Why the...are you still the Prime Minister?

I want to thank Jim from Pembroke for saying what is on the minds of millions of Canadians today. Canadians are telling us that they do want their government to be neutral.

Last Friday, March 21, I had the honour and the privilege of hosting a town hall meeting at the Best Western hotel with the leader of the only opposition to oppose the government's stand on Iraq, the leader of the Canadian Alliance.

It was standing room only as the people of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke packed the place to hear a real leader speak. My office was flooded with calls for copies of my leader's speech from the previous evening here in the House, a speech that was a true testament to Canadian values.

I have no doubt that it was the inspiring words from the Canadian Alliance, the member for Calgary Southwest, that brought the people out that night.

The anti-American stance that has been adopted by the government is looked upon by the people of my riding with shame and disgust. It is with pride that I recognize Reeve Gordon White of the Whitewater region of my riding for making the following motion to Renfrew County council:

Reeve Gordon White moved, seconded by Reeve Jack Wilson of Laurentian Valley:

That the Warden, in conjunction with Renfrew County staff, send a letter directed to Mr. Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister of Canada, regarding--

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Order. The member has just mentioned the Prime Minister by name. I ask her to please do not do it again.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

--the article of Thursday, February 27, 2003, Federal MP on Americans: “I hate those bastards” as stated by Liberal MP on February 26, 2003, MP for Mississauga Centre re: This type of comment toward American neighbours is totally irresponsible, despicable and not acceptable in the fostering of ongoing public relations with our trading partners south of the border. A copy of the letter be sent to MP for Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke.

It is my privilege to publicly acknowledge the following mayors and reeves of Renfrew County Council who endorsed this motion: Reeve Janice Bush, Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards; Reeve Bill Croshaw, Head, Clara and Maria; Reeve John Doering, Horton; Reeve Arlene Felhaber, Bonnechere Valley; Reeve Audrey Green, Renfrew; Mayor Russ Havelin, McNab Braeside; Reeve Norm Lentz, Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglin; Reeve John Frost, Greater Madawaska; Warden of Renfrew County and Mayor of Madawaska Valley, Bill Schweig; Mayor Bob Sweet, Petawawa; Reeve Harold Weckworth, North Algona Wilberforce; Reeve Gordon White, Whitewater Region; and Reeve Jack Wilson, Laurentian Valley.

While the official government line is that the member from Mississauga is a minority in her party, the message has gone through to rank and file Liberals to defend intemperate comments that if they were directed at a visible minority, for example, would have been called racist.

It is interesting to note that of the three councillors who voted against the motion condoning the anti-American remarks in the process, one is actually a declared candidate for a federal Liberal nomination and one of the others has a reputation for speaking before thinking, particularly when the issue involves a party which she calls common sense.

The Renfrew county councillors who voted for this motion are smart enough to understand the economic importance of American markets. The U.S. is, in the words of Reeve Gordon White, our lifeline when it comes to selling agricultural and lumber products as well as attracting tourists. Reeve Bush observed that the anti-American stance of the Liberal government only harms the struggle to reach a fair softwood lumber agreement that is so important to Canada.

Consumers are already feeling the slowdown at our borders. The government is only fooling itself if it thinks there would be no long term repercussions from its decision to ally Canada with the likes of Libya rather than our traditional allies like Great Britain and Australia.

Canadian veterans are concerned about Canada's lack of involvement. I was interested to read in the Pembroke Daily Observer a quote from Korean Veteran Harold Doner who was speaking at Branch 72 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Pembroke. He said, “We should have backed the States. We used to be reliable like England, but now,...”

America will remember who her friends are. With 93% of our trade with the United States and a Canadian military that has been gutted by the current government, I find it incredible that the federal government is taking a pro-Saddam Hussein position.

As the riding that is home to CFB Petawawa I am in contact with our troops. These soldiers, who regularly train with their US counterparts, feel shame at being labelled cowards. The Canadian military relies on US equipment with which to train. We rely on US planes to fly our troops to peace missions because we do not possess any strategic lift. How can we, with any sense of honesty, ask the Americans for anything again?

So much for the expression “middle power”. The government gave away our sovereignty both economically and militarily long ago. Very soon it will find that being a friend and an ally has its responsibilities.

In closing, I will quote from my leader's speech, for which he received a standing ovation in Pembroke last Friday night, words that stirred the heart.

For the first time in history, the Liberal government has left us outside our joint British and American allies in their time of need.

The Canadian Alliance supported the American and British position on this issue because we share their concerns. We share their worries about the future if Iraq is left unattended to and we share a fundamental vision of civilization and human values. Alliances are two-way processes and where we are in agreement we should not leave it to the United States to do all the heavy lifting just because it is the world's superpower. To do so would undermine the most important relationships we have and in an increasingly globalized and borderless world, such relationships become even more important in the future.

Since Saddam Hussein came to power in 1979, more than one million people have died as a consequence. They have died through killing and torture as individual opponents, real and imagined.

A country that does not honour its own friends and allies in a dangerous world but uses them and rejects them at will, such a country in time will endanger its own existence. This country was forged in large part by war, not because it was easy but because it was right. We did so for freedom, democracy and civilization itself, values that today continue to be embodied in our allies and in their leaders.

We will stand, and I believe most Canadians will quietly stand with us, for these higher values which shaped our past and which we will need in an uncertain future.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a note about the concept of courageous compassion. We are not there shoulder to shoulder with our soldiers, but we hear the discussion that we are going to be there to put Iraq together afterward. But because we are not there now there is no guarantee that we are really going to be there later because we will not be running the show.

We have already seen the unloading of compassionate aid coming in once the port was secured. That operation of humanitarian aid and compassion is already underway, and we are not part of it.

Can the member talk a little about courageous compassion and what this is all about? It is for our security but certainly also for the humanitarian aspect of the people of Iraq.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, courageous compassion is demonstrated through the benefits of modern technology in that we are able to see exactly what is going on at the war front. While it is necessary to punch through the Iraqi forces, many of them not wanting to fight the Americans and their allies who are trying to liberate them, we see that some are injured, but as soon the forces catch up with those who are surrendering, immediately the compassion is showing through in the videos.

Sometimes they incur injury but immediately they are offered compassion and medical aid. Contrast that with the videos that the Iraqi government has put out with the captured U.S. troops and some of them civilians. They were shot down and their bodies were thrown into a pile for all the world to see.

It is against the rules of the Geneva convention, against anything humane--shooting and executing civilians and troops before a camera. Contrasting the compassion that we see through the video feed, it goes to follow that what this conflict is about is liberating those who have a leader who shows no compassion for his constituents, the women and children who are routinely beaten, tortured, starved and raped by their own leadership.

Millions of dollars are flowing in as a result of oil, but instead of helping his own people he uses it to build arms and to kill his own people.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was listening to the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. She mentioned a higher value. In case she does not know, the higher value is peace; peace at any cost.

Over the last few weeks and months it has been remarkable how Canadians stood fast with their own government in advocating that the only solution to the problems that we are having is through the United Nations. Many people have criticized the United Nations through the years. There is no doubt that it is not a perfect organization, but nevertheless it is the only thing we have as a collectivity in the world.

Many times we heard that democracy is not perfect, but there is nothing else that comes close to it that we would prefer. It is the same thing with the United Nations.

Through the years after the second world war, the failure of the League of Nations after the first world war gave birth to another attempt, the United Nations. We had great hope that this collectivity of the world powers would protect us against the abuses that we saw through the years.

The United Nations has had many difficulties in this Middle East effort. I could not help but note that the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla stated in the first part of his motion:

(1) endorse the decision of the Allied international coalition of military forces to enforce Iraq's compliance with its international obligations under successive resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, with a view to restoring international peace and security in the Middle East region;

All we would have to do is take out a few words and say, “endorse the decision of the allied international coalition of military forces to enforce resolutions 181, 242 and 380”, and continue. That would have contributed greatly to peace in the Middle East.

The United Nations was confronted with the situation whereby we had a rogue state like Iraq with a leader who nobody disputes is lacking in sanity. We all agree that his own people have suffered. We figured that the time had come and realized that the only solution was peace. It cannot be done any other way if we want to progress and truly become civilized in this world.

The United Nations has many drawbacks, but at least the attempt has been laudable. In this particular event with Iraq, which had been contained, it was going very well. I am sure that the French, Germans, Russians and Chinese had legitimate reasons to feel that they took the endorsement of the United Nations. The Canadian government stood behind that and the polls have shown that the majority of Canadians endorse that. We felt that the time had come that we had to go to the bitter end and find a solution peacefully.

Many years ago, a Canadian journalist wrote a book, in which he was advocating how Canada could be a real powerful agent in the world as a peacekeeper. The book was entitled Peacemaker or Powder-Monkey; Canada's role in a revolutionary world . Obviously we chose to be peacekeepers, and that has not been easy for us.

When this issue dawned on us in the Middle East, where there has been confusion ever since the second world war, we had to stand our ground. It is with great proud that Canadians saw their government take a stand. By far most of the colleagues in the House stood by the government and felt that this was the only solution. We are very happy with that.

For the past few weeks, there have been huge demonstrations, especially in Montreal. It was pleasing and almost surprising to see the number of Canadians who took to the streets to show that they truly value peace. It is difficult to maintain peace. It is not difficult to make people angry and afraid, but maintaining peace is something else.

During the demonstrations that we have seen across the country—and I followed those in Montreal very closely—it was wonderful to see the unity, and the hope that peace, not war, would prevail, because war leads to more violence and other reactions.

We could talk about this for hours in this House, but to sum up, it is important to note that Canadians were behind the government's position that the United Nations is the only organization that can order such drastic measures as declaring war.

We hope to see in this world, and celebrate in this House a day when the United Nations alone will have the power to decide what action to take in circumstances so serious as to require nations to join together in war. We are always going to work toward this goal. However, we must realize what is at stake, and it is very difficult to know what the truth is.

In conclusion, I was very happy to see Canadians from all provinces back the government in its desire to support the measures for peace. It was one of the greatest things I have seen done by our community and I am very happy and proud—more than ever—to be Canadian and to be for peace.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Before proceeding to questions and comments, I would like the hon. member for Gatineau to confirm whether or not he will be sharing his time with the hon. member for York Centre, because we have an indication to that effect.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau, QC

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I forgot to indicate at the beginning of my speech that I was going to share my time with my hon. colleague from York Centre.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Chicoutimi—Le Fjord Québec

Liberal

André Harvey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, thank you for recognizing me. Allow me to congratulate the hon. member for Gatineau on his speech.

I know very well how terribly complex the whole reconstruction phase is. Even while the conflict is going on, our government is working together with UN organizations to develop and implement strategies to make us as effective as possible.

I would like to give my hon. colleague the opportunity to explain what role Canada will play, given the important strategic position in which our Prime Minister has put himself throughout the period leading up to actual conflict. He is one of the heads of state with the most experience in this regard, and is in a position to have extremely productive discussions with both parties to the conflict. I would like to give my hon. colleague an opportunity to elaborate on the extremely important role of Canada during the reconstruction phase, which is already underway.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to reiterate the fact that we are proud of the exemplary courage demonstrated by the Prime Minister. He felt supported by Canadians, by the colleagues in his party and even by members of the opposition.

As for the issue of reconstruction in Iraq, I am one of those who feels that Canada will play a role in it. In articles appeared in the United States last week, it was said that it would be private sector companies that would do this reconstruction. The role of other countries was not mentioned. We know that most of these private companies will come from the United States.

Who will pay for this reconstruction? We know very well how it will be funded, given the riches that exist in Iraq. I had hoped that the United Nations would say it was up to the UN to decide how to proceed and what means to use in the reconstruction of Iraq. We must help these poor people who have been victimized by a man who is out of control, there is no doubt about that. It is up to the United Nations to help the Iraqis, to give them a chance to live in peace and to give them hope. None of Iraq's riches were being used to support the most fundamental needs in life.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to my colleague that I was in Montreal for these big demonstrations. I was so very happy to call myself a Montrealer. So many people marched for peace. It was beautiful to see. Taking part in it felt good. It gives us hope for the future.

I also wanted to tell my colleague that I fully agree with what he said with regard to the reconstruction. In fact, that was the subject of my question this afternoon.

Canada must pressure the United Nations. We are concerned, and for good reason, that the unity and sovereignty of Iraq could be threatened if it becomes a protectorate of anyone other than the United Nations. It is critical that the UN oversee the reconstruction.

SupplyGovernment Orders

March 24th, 2003 / 4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I agree fully with the hon. member. If the UN and the world community do not do the reconstruction, there will be resistance and that will complicate things. The only approach is for the UN to oversee the reconstruction. This will provide hope for bolstering the United Nations so that it may play an enhanced role everywhere there is conflict. We must realize that this is the only instrument available to us. We must help the United Nations as much as possible, and ensure that they are an instrument of peace, regardless of the consequences.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows:the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville, Iraq.