Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton North.
In my 10 minutes I will read the amended version of the motion we are debating today just to remind people what we are talking about. Then I want to do a reality check for members of the governing party in particular, but also for some members of the opposition parties down the way. I will present six short points as a reality check. That is important. Then I will talk about support for our military, which is one of the key areas in our motion. The amended motion reads:
That this House:
(1) recognize the legitimacy of 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 including justice 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 with its neighbours.
It is the second point that most of my presentation will deal with. I first want to present six points as a reality check to members of the House. I have heard a lot of things stated again today that I think are not in touch with reality.
First, existing UN Security Council resolutions already provide for the use of force to disarm Iraq and to restore peace and security in the area. The gulf war did not end in an armistice; it ended in a ceasefire. We talked about the Security Council resolutions that spelled out the terms of the ceasefire. Saddam Hussein clearly has not met the conditions of that ceasefire, of that there is no doubt. Therefore action to be taken is clearly within international law.
The second point of clarification as a reality check is since Saddam Hussein came to power, more than one million people have died as a result of his heinous rule as a dictator.
Third, to the extent that Saddam Hussein has complied with the UN, it is only ever happened under threat of force. There are three occasions. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991, it was only through the use of U.S. and other forces, including Canadian forces, that Saddam Hussein was pushed out of Kuwait to end that invasion. By 1995, a short four years later, Saddam Hussein was amassing troops to invade Kuwait yet again. It was only the amassing of troops on the border of Iraq once again that stopped him from invading Kuwait such a short time after the armistice agreement. Also, the only reason that weapons inspectors went back into Iraq was because of the amassing of troops on the border once again.
Saddam Hussein understands one language and that is the language of a very real threat of force. That is what led to this war and let there be no doubt about that.
The fourth point is that the disarmament of Iraq is necessary for the long term security of our world. It is necessary for the collective interests of our key historic allies and therefore, inherently in the national interests of Canada itself. We should remember that. The government in fact has betrayed Canadians and their historic allies on this issue.
The fifth point is the Liberals have left Canada standing for nothing, no principle, no alternative, no vision. The Liberals have left Canada standing with no one. We are standing on the outside watching our allies deal with this situation which is a true and very real threat to our nation.
The sixth point is a reality check. The Canadian Alliance has taken a position on this issue and we are not with Saddam Hussein. We will not remain neutral as the government has done on this issue. We will stand with our allies and our friends as we have always done. The government should take note of that and it should be there with our allies as well. It is absolutely disgusting that it is not. It is absolutely disgusting that the government is simply unwilling to commit our nation to taking action against this heinous dictator who has killed over 1.2 million people. That is a reality check.
I want to speak about the second part of our motion which deals with the unequivocal support of the Canadian men and women serving in this war. Interestingly enough, we know the government has said time and again until very recently that no Canadian troops will have anything to do with dealing with Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
It is interesting to note that over the last few days we have seen the government creeping toward saying that there are a few men and women on exchange programs with the United States and the United Kingdom and they will fight. Over the last day or two the defence minister has said that we are helping out with the situation in Iraq through our three naval vessels that are leading a battle group of allies in the area. They are providing escorts to ships going to and coming from that area and are doing interdiction to try to pick out ships that may be carrying weapons of mass destruction and so on.
It is interesting that we have seen the government not officially change its position, but certainly creep toward saying it took the position against involvement in Iraq to a position where it is doing something at least. It is absolutely embarrassing to have that contradiction.
The Prime Minister has said that this cause in Iraq is not a cause in which Canadian lives should be put at risk, yet Canadian lives are at risk. I agree that our people on the exchange program should stay there. I also agree that our frigates and our battleships should be involved in escorting allies in and out.
Why did the government not come clean up front and say that we are involved? Why have we not made a much larger contribution to dethroning Saddam Hussein and removing his regime and his weapons of mass destruction? Those are questions the government has to answer for Canadians.
I stand here today with pride saying that our men and women are as good as any in the world and that they are involved at least to some extent. They know we should be involved more, but at least they are involved to some extent in dealing with the situation in Iraq. I stand behind them absolutely on that. Unfortunately, the government does not.
The government has shown words of support for our serving men and women, but the kind of support our military personnel needs more than anything else is to be provided with the resources they need to do their jobs as well as they possibly can. That means we need more people in our forces. The government has cut the forces back from 80,000 to under 60,000. We need to restore it to the 80,000 when the Liberals came to power.
We have to re-equip our men and women so they are working with acceptable equipment in doing their job in important missions like the mission in Iraq they will be involved in in the summer and like the mission that is going on now in Iraq. They have to have proper equipment, yet they do not. There is one example with which I can better explain just how bad the situation has become.
The Canadian Forces are operating with 40-year-old Sea Kings without proper night vision equipment. If the new helicopters were on board, the helicopter contract which the government cancelled, the effectiveness of our frigates that are worth about $1 billion apiece would be multiplied several fold. Because inadequate helicopters are on board, they can only perform a small fraction of the missions they would otherwise be able to perform when it comes to the exact work they are doing in the gulf, the escort work and especially the interdiction work.
The government should be ashamed. The fact is that these helicopters are not capable. They are no longer safe. A report was done by a captain who was hired to do exactly that, to point out the shortfalls in the Sea King and their equipment. When I raised this matter with the minister in the House he tried to deny it. He tried to say that the chief of defence staff somehow overrides all of these reports, even if they are done by military experts such as Captain Eric Hill. He should be ashamed of that. If we want to show support for Canadian military personnel we give them the resources they need and stop supporting them only with hollow words.