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House of Commons Hansard #84 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was war.

Topics

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a second petition endorsed by 55 constituents who call upon Parliament to refrain from adding sexual orientation to the Criminal Code of Canada.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I wish to inform the House that, because of the ministerial statement, government orders will be extended by 14 minutes.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

moved:

That the House of Commons express its regret and apologize for offensive and inappropriate statements made against the United States of America by certain Members of this House; that it reaffirm the United States to be Canada’s closest friend and ally and hope that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein’s regime from power; and that the House urge the Government of Canada to assist the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq.

Mr. Speaker, I will advise you that I will be splitting my time.

This is an important motion as our allies and our friends head to victory in the war against Saddam, a war that we believe will change the world and its alliances and relationships fundamentally. The motion will assist Canada in preserving its place in the world, its relationships and its values. I believe there is no reason why any hon. member of the House should find objection to the motion.

The motion is divided into two parts. The second part calls upon the House to support a successful military conclusion of the allied effort. It says that we “hope that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power”, and it urges “the Government of Canada to assist the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq”.

I would like to give a little bit of a personal backdrop to this. Last night at Stornoway I hosted a reception for ambassadors and representatives of nearly 50 countries that have now joined the coalition. I did that on behalf of our caucus and, I believe, on behalf of the silent majority of Canadians, to tell them, to tell these countries and to tell their people that in this fight we Canadians are not and cannot be neutral any more than we can be for Saddam; that we are with our friends, our allies and our own troops; and that we support them for freedom, for democracy, for the reconstruction of Iraq, and for the liberation of its people.

This is not a question on how this war happened or whether it should have occurred in the first place. It is something very different. It is now how this will play out and how we will stand in it.

We are always surprised by the wisdom of children. I was surprised a few days ago when my six year old son Benjamin asked me in the car, as we were listening to a radio broadcast on the war, “What happens, Dad, if Saddam wins?” He said that very fearfully, because to a six year old the outcome of a war is not obvious as it may be to some of us here.

We do have to cast our thoughts on what would be the consequences if Saddam were to be victorious, and all that he is and all that he aspires to be if that were to be fulfilled. We think we have the luxury of guessing and second-guessing our friends and allies, but if we have guessed wrong it could, as a conclusion of this war, devastate every aspect of our economy, our country and our future. That is why unconditionally supporting an allied victory is unequivocally in the national interest of this country.

The first part of the motion is perhaps the one that will give some people more difficulty. It reads:

That the House of Commons express its regret and apologize for offensive and inappropriate statements made against the United States of America by certain Members of the House; that it reaffirm the United States to be Canada's closest friend and ally....

When we cut beneath the surface, in all but a few cases, anti-Americanism probably has clouded this debate and become, at this point, the only real motive that some have for hesitating to support our allies.

Anti-Americanism has a couple of roots in this country. One of those is history. The revolutionary war with the United States laid the groundwork for this country and the war of 1812 preserved the separation between the British Crown and the American republic.

However that division ended 100 years ago. In the last century, when the great nations of the world fought these tremendous battles, the Americans and the British were united against the evils that threatened our civilization. On this continent, Canada led those fights. We were there first.

I remember even Hollywood, which is sometimes awfully parochial, recognized this a few years ago. I think it was back in the 1980s when I saw a Sylvester Stallone movie where he played an American POW who was involved in liberating various allied POWs in France. This was in the early part of the war, so how was an American POW there? He was there because he had enlisted in the Canadian army when the Americans were still involved in a debate about whether they should or should not participate.

The Americans learned, I think partly from us as well as from other events, the error of isolationism. They learned that they could not sit smugly on the sidelines avoiding difficult moral choices that their friends had to make in a troubled world.

Let us pledge today that when America and Britain in the future make these choices we will never again allow ourselves to be isolated from them.

The other source of anti-Americanism, I believe, is more psychological. The fact is that we are different and our differences sometimes have irritated and, yes, sometimes even frightened others. When we go to the United States, even as English speaking Canadians, as much as many of us love the United States, have friends, acquaintances and even close relations there, we know Americans are different. We know Americans can sometimes be, if I can be honest, loud, boastful, aggressive, maybe overbearing and certainly overwhelming, but we also know they have hearts as big as this planet.

What other great power has ever rebuilt the enemies it has defeated? Even with the trade difficulties we have, what other great and huge country throws open its market in a way similar to what the United States does? What other dominant force has ever so clearly stood for the hopes, the dreams and the common good of ordinary people everywhere?

However if the Americans can occasionally be overbearing and overwhelming, we in this country, if we want to be frank, can sometimes be a little underwhelming.

Let me frank about this, in reference to something my office has prepared. This multiple page document is a litany of anti-American comments emanating from government benches in only the past few weeks and only over this particular conflict. I could add much more outside of that context. This litany of insults and outrageous abuse of our American friends contains quotes that range from the incredibly stupid to the truly vile. That is the only way I can put it. This is not a testament to our independence. It is a testament to a streak of immaturity and irresponsibility that this party does not share and will never embrace.

Let me be clear and let us all be clear on all sides of the House, because I know there are Liberals of goodwill in this, these kinds of quotes do not in any way diminish the United States of America. They diminish only us.

We are lucky to have the Americans as our neighbour, our ally and friend. To have had this relationship for so long makes us greater in the world, not weaker and lesser in the world. I suspect that there was not one nation represented at Stornoway last night, and, frankly, very few nations in the world, that do not envy our proximity to the United States in so many ways. It is not something fundamental for us to guard against. It is our biggest asset in this very dangerous world.

I urge the House to get behind this motion, to get behind our relationships, to get behind our friends, to get behind our allies and, needless to say, to get behind our own troops in this conflict and in the rebuilding that will occur.

God bless America. God save the Queen. The maple leaf forever.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is both a privilege and a pleasure for me to join in the debate today. As always, I am grateful for the opportunity.

At the outset of my remarks I will repeat the motion so it will be clear to everyone who is watching this debate unfold today in the House of Commons. The Leader of the Opposition brought the motion forward today which states:

That the House of Commons express its regret and apologize for offensive and inappropriate statements made against the United States of America by certain Members of this House; that it reaffirm the United States to be Canada's closest friend and ally and; hope that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power; and that the House urge the Government of Canada to assist the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq.

This is the second opportunity I have had to address this very important global issue.

Ever since the commencement of military action of coalition forces in Iraq, Canadians have become increasingly emotional and entrenched in their respective positions in either support or opposition to the war. Around the globe and even right here on Parliament Hill, people have gathered to express their views on this matter. Last Saturday marked the most recent of any such gathering with about 5,000 people showing up on Parliament Hill, not to express their opposition to the war but their support for the coalition effort of Australia, Great Britain and the United States of America. Many of these people expressed their profound disappointment in their government for, first, its wavering position on Iraq and, second, its opposition to removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power.

From the very beginning, the Canadian Alliance has been very clear in enunciating our support for the coalition effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power, something we have not seen from the government. We have taken this position for mainly two reasons: first, it is simply the right thing to do; and second, because we believe in supporting our traditional allies in global conflicts.

There are those who say that the choice we have as a nation is between war and peace. They say that the choice is to stand with those nations that wage war or with those that believe peace can be achieved by endless dialogue with Saddam Hussein, in other words, extending the existing dialogue we have had beyond the 12 years. I say the choice is between right and wrong.

There is only one way to end the rape, torture and rampant executions of the Iraqi people. There is only one way to free the Iraqi people. There is only one way to ensure lasting peace and make basic human rights a part of everyday life in Iraq. The only way is to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein permanently.

The Kurds, Shiites and Iraqis who have been longing for freedom found out in 1991 what happens to those who dare oppose Saddam. Thousands were tortured and murdered. Saddam is responsible for an estimated one million brutal deaths during his 25 year reign of terror. Let us not forget the 5,000 Kurdish men, women and children who were gassed because they dared to stand up against Saddam. He uses food as a weapon against his own people to punish those who oppose him. Just this week Saddam commanded his army to open fire on their own citizens who were trying to flee the city of Basra.

While the coalition is doing everything possible to prevent deaths of innocent civilians, Saddam Hussein's regime uses women and children as human shields. This is the reality the Iraqi people live through every day.

The world cannot allow another massacre. We should not and cannot remain neutral while thousands more perish at the hands of this tyrant and his brutal regime. We know that in the past he has used chemical weapons and he still threatens to use them at the same time as he denies owning them.

There is a price for peace and Canadians know this. There is a cost for freedom. We need only look back to our efforts at Vimy Ridge in World War I and Dieppe and Ortona in World War II as examples. Our brave Canadian soldiers fought hard during those battles, proudly earning Canada a rightful place in history defending peace and freedom.

Yet today we find ourselves in a situation where millions of Iraqis are in need of help and all diplomatic avenues are exhausted. Our traditional allies, Australia, Great Britain and the United States, have taken the next step by forming a coalition to remove the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein by force. Where is Canada during all of this? Nowhere. Not only is Canada not participating in the coalition effort, we are not even on the sidelines standing with our traditional allies encouraging them with our support for their cause.

Last Friday the United States Ambassador to Canada, Mr. Paul Cellucci, was in my riding of Prince George—Peace River to deliver a speech in my hometown of Fort St. John. After his remarks, he reiterated sentiments on Canada's position on the war that he had raised earlier in the week in Toronto. He said, “Canada is family and nothing is ever going to change that; people do pay attention to what leaders here in Canada say. We thought Canada would be there for its neighbour, particularly when we see this as a direct threat. On almost all of it, Canada is at our side, so it is a little disappointing on the war on Iraq that they are not”.

This quote followed an even clearer statement from the ambassador when he was in Toronto, “There is no threat to Canada that the United States would not be ready, willing and able to help with. There is no debate. There would be no hesitation. We would be there for Canada, part of our family”.

Never before have we let down one of our best friends in such a devastating manner. Not only are we not helping our friends, but we are not even giving them the support they need during a difficult time when they need us the most. It boggles the mind. I am sure almost every member of the House and many viewers who are watching at home today can relate to the hurt and betrayal they must be feeling, knowing that their friends were not there to support them when they needed them the most.

In addition to abandoning our friends and neighbours, the Liberal government across the way is adding insult to injury with uncalled for insults and derogatory remarks directed toward the United States and its president. Sadly these are not isolated incidents. They are symptoms of the out of control anti-American sentiment of the Liberal government. The disdain the government has for our American neighbours is thoroughly ingrained in its mentality. On a regular basis we see shocking examples of insults which can only hurt our important international relationship.

The Prime Minister's own press secretary had to submit her resignation after she called the President of the United States of America a moron. We can only hope she was not representing the views of her boss.

Within the Liberal backbenches the member for Mississauga Centre told reporters just outside the chamber, “Damn Americans, I hate those bastards”. Thankfully she retracted her statement, stating she did not mean to direct her comments to all Americans, perhaps just a couple of Americans she knows.

Last but not least, a member of cabinet was attacking the president for not being a statesman. The disdain the Liberal government holds for our neighbours to the south is, quite frankly, appalling.

Regardless of these hurtful sentiments, Canadians expect better from a federal government. They expect their government to represent the views of all Canadians, not just their own. If Liberal members truly hate Americans, I ask on behalf of Canadians that they keep those comments to themselves because they are hurting us as a nation.

As I begin to conclude my remarks I ask all members to support the motion before us today. The motion asks the House to do four simple things: one, express and apologize for the offensive remarks made toward our American friends; two, reaffirm our close friendship with the United States; three, wish a successful conclusion to the removal of Saddam Hussein from power; and four, urge the Government of Canada to assist with the reconstruction of Iraq.

I would think that even Liberals should be able to support those goals and this motion today.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated very much the speeches that were given by my colleague and by my leader earlier.

Mr. Speaker, you may have noticed that I hesitated a bit before I stood up. I wanted to give an opportunity to the Liberals opposite to stand and ask some questions and to express their views. It would be good if they were to engage in the debate instead of just sitting back. One of the most serious indictments in this whole situation is that the Prime Minister has not yet given a major speech on this issue. He is standing on the sidelines and we need leadership in this country.

I remember, and this is one of the disadvantages of being this old, when I was a youngster watching a movie, which was in black and white of course. The name of the movie is The Mouse That Roared . It is a classic. I recommend that everyone watch it.

The movie is about a little country that got into a lot of trouble so the people devised a strategy to solve their economic problems. They decided that they would attack the United States because it was known that after the little country lost, and it surely would, the United States would pour millions of dollars into the little country to rebuild and would restore it. That was their strategy.

Unfortunately, and this is what made the movie so funny, at every stage the little country was successful and it brought the Americans to their knees. It was really very funny. It was a comedy, so this is how it worked out. But the premise was that the Americans would help and this is their history.

I would like my colleague to comment on the fact that those who harbour ill feelings against our friends the Americans are totally wrong. Their whole history has been one of stepping into the breach, standing between tyrants and their victims, helping those who are in need.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly would agree with my hon. colleague from Elk Island. I would suggest that anyone who would do even a cursory examination of the history of the United States of America would have to agree with that.

One of the saddest things of the whole debate that is taking place not only in Canada but around the world right now is the incredible increase in anti-American feeling and comment. Regardless of what reason people attribute to the fact that the Americans are in Iraq right now, the world owes them a huge debt of gratitude. They have young men and women in their armed forces along with British and Australians who are there risking their lives. Sadly, there already has been quite a number and I do not know what the latest count is but I think it is rapidly approaching 100 young men and women who have perished on the coalition side in this conflict.

I cannot imagine being a family member of one of those young soldiers and hearing some of the horrible anti-American comments being made. Those that are coming from Canada, it shames me as a Canadian to have those attributed to our nation, to individuals. Certainly they do not represent the vast majority of Canadians. I would not believe that for a minute.

I did not have time during my remarks to say that I and the members of the Canadian Alliance hold those who harbour the opposite point of view from our own with a great deal of respect. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right of a democracy. The fact that our country is so divided on this issue speaks volumes for the fact that we are a democratic nation.

Personally, I respect and I would defend the rights of Canadians to feel that it is wrong for the coalition to be involved in the war on Iraq. That does not change my personal views or the views of my party. I would hope that every person who marches for peace, who believes very strongly that the coalition should not be there, would hold similar views; that we also have a right to be heard, that we have the same rights to freedom of speech, that we have the same rights to vigorously express our opinion that we should be standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies, with our friends. I hope that the debate is in that manner, not only today but for however long this war lasts and we all hope and pray it will be short.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, may I begin by saying that I believe it is appropriate for parliamentarians once again to have the opportunity to express themselves on the events that we see unfolding daily in Iraq.

These are matters of profound importance that are of great concern to our fellow citizens. The conflict is painful to watch from afar for all of us, but it must be especially so for those who have family members in the region, either as ordinary inhabitants of Iraq or as members of the armed forces involved in conflict.

To those who are thus affected may I say on behalf of the government that our thoughts and our prayers are with you. We all hope for an early end to this conflict with as few casualties as possible.

It is extremely difficult for us to witness this conflict from afar. Imagine what those who have close relatives or members of their family in the region are going through, whether they are Iraqi citizens or members of the armed forces on the battleground.

To each and every one of those who are affected directly or indirectly, on behalf of the Government of Canada, let me reiterate that our thoughts and prayers are with you. We all hope for an early end to this conflict with as few casualties as possible.

Canada is not directly engaged in this conflict. We stood apart because we believe that it is the Security Council of the United Nations that ought to take the responsibility for authorizing the use of force in international conflict. This is consistent with decades of Canadian foreign policy and it is consistent with the charter of the United Nations. It is consistent with past practice, as long ago as the Korean war and as recently as the first gulf war.

It is for that reason that our diplomats worked in support of UN Security Council resolution 1441 authorizing an intrusive program of weapons inspections with a view to achieving the disarmament of Saddam Hussein's regime to the end of promoting peace in the region.

We share the frustration of the United States, the United Kingdom and others at the inadequate compliance by Iraq with resolution 1441 as evidenced by the testimony of Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector. It was our hope that by authorizing greater time for inspection, a broader consensus could emerge in the international community that the use of force was necessary.

Our principles have not changed. They are as strong today as they were when our diplomats were working tirelessly toward bringing a new resolution before the United Nations Security Council.

But events have unfolded very rapidly. There is a war going on as we speak.This is not the first time that, when either Canada or the U.S. is at war, we do not go to war at the same time. It happened between 1914 and 1917, and again between 1939 and 1941. The Vietnam war was another instance.

We have remained steadfast allies, partners in NATO and in Norad, sharing intelligence and co-operating in continental defence.

Let there be no mistake, however, as to the sympathies of Canadians and their government at this time. Our friends are at war. Our friends are putting their lives on the line for their beliefs. We watch the nightly news and we share every moment of grief felt by the families of both civilians and soldiers lost to this conflict. We are also outraged by the images of torture and exploitation of captured coalition soldiers, a direct violation by Iraq of the Geneva conventions.

I want it understood with absolute clarity that Canada stands with its friends, even if we cannot engage with them in this conflict. We mourn the losses of their sons and daughters in war. We pray with them for a swift end to the conflict and, yes, for a swift victory.

Our overarching goal to end terror and injustice so that a freer, more prosperous and more secure world can arise remains. We back that conviction with our soldiers in Afghanistan where hundreds of Canadians have fought with Americans and others to put an end to the Taliban and al-Qaeda since late 2001, where some of our young men have died and where Canada will return with a major troop deployment to play a key role in the international security assistance force this summer.

I also want to recognize with pride the 30 plus Canadian soldiers currently on exchange with the U.K. and U.S. armies, some of whom are known to be deployed in the Iraq theatre right now. We back our conviction with the Canadian ships that continue their mission in creating passages of safety in the Arabian Gulf for all who legitimately pass through there, including U.S. ships. The Canadian navy continues to provide the command and control for the anti-terrorism coalition vessels in that area, as well as undertaking a vital interdiction role, stopping traffickers and smugglers from moving their illicit drugs and other goods out of the region.

We back our conviction with our commitment to humanitarian assistance for the Iraqi people and our intention to play a role together with the United States and others in Iraq's reconstruction when the war is over and Saddam is gone.

We back our conviction by maintaining a global commitment to development and to human rights, the most important tools of freedom that exist. However we also have to back that conviction by staying united. I can think of nothing to give our enemies greater comfort than watching friends tearing at each other.

I do not want to hear another story about people booing each other's national anthems at sporting events. I do not want to hear about Canadians and Americans cancelling business transactions. I do not want to hear voices of disrespect at any level, and I have said so in Canada many times.

I want us to get serious, Canadians and Americans alike, and remember what we are about, about all that we have achieved in partnership and all that we still need to do together. We have a large global agenda to get on with. We have work to do in so many areas through whatever means our respective countries are best equipped to offer. There are peace and security issues, reconstruction, humanitarian crises, global development, anti-poverty, health agendas.

The Alliance resolution today makes reference to certain statements made outside this chamber by some of its members. May I say that it is regrettable that at a time of conflict disrespect may have been shown for the people, the President or the government of the United States.

Let us remember, however, that members of the House have every right to express their views in a responsible fashion on the policies and actions of this government or of any other government in the world, whether that be Iraq, the United States or another. We live in a democracy in which freedom of speech is one of its most fundamental characteristics. This is surely one of the objectives that coalition forces are fighting to bring about in Iraq.

However it has always been my belief that it was possible to be critical of the policies of another government on the basis of principle without personalizing that criticism while demonstrating respect.

While the war is underway and while young men and women are offering themselves in service of their countries for a cause that they believe in, it is not the time for us to revisit the reasons for the conflict or to offer critical commentary.

There should be no mistaking the sympathy that we have for the ultimate success of the coalition forces. Saddam Hussein should take no comfort for his own brutal regime in the principles that we have espoused at the United Nations. It is time now for Canada and for Canadians to face the future squarely and to begin assuming the responsibility that we have for constructing a better and safer world.

Of course the security of North America must be of primary concern and we must strive to reassure our neighbours on this continent of our full commitment to North American security. I will reiterate this commitment in my meetings in Washington this coming Monday with Secretary Ridge.

We reaffirm our support and commitment to international institutions upon which world peace and security depend.

Canada firmly believes in the essential role the United Nations must play in the aftermath of this conflict as well as in the resolution of any other conflict.

Canada remains steadfastly committed to providing humanitarian assistance now and in the future, and to supporting the reconstruction process in Iraq once the conflict is over.

We reaffirm equally our commitment to our NATO allies and to the community of nations who have joined with us, the United States and others, in the global war on terrorism. Canadian foreign policy has a proud history of engagements in and support for multilateral institutions. These were in many case developed in the period following World War II and proved invaluable in maintaining peace and stability, at least among major powers, during the decades of the cold war.

In this post-cold war era our government believes that international consensus and the resulting legitimacy that flows therefrom is perhaps even more important. Why? We were shocked and profoundly affected by the events of September 11, 2001. Canadians were and are wholeheartedly supportive of the war against terrorism.

In a world in which the United States has emerged as the sole superpower, it is inevitable that it must bear a disproportionate burden in world affairs. It is thus in the interests, not only of the global community but of the United States itself, if the U.S. is not to be increasingly the target of the militant and disaffected everywhere, that multilateral institutions remain strong and proactive and that international consensus be the foundation of legitimacy when decisive action must be taken.

If Canada is to be the true friend and ally of the United States that we surely are then we must remain true to these principles. It is not by blindly following but by constructively supporting that we can be of the greatest assistance to the United States.

We can be reminded of the words of one of Canada's greatest diplomats, Nobel Peace Prize winner and prime minister, Lester B. Pearson who said:

One principle of our relationship with the United States is that we should exhibit a sympathetic understanding of the heavy burden of international responsibility borne by the United States--not of our own imperial choosing but caused in part by the unavoidable withdrawal of other states from certain of these responsibilities.

Above all, as American difficulties increase, we should resist the temptation to become smug and superior: “You are bigger but we are better”. Our own experience, as we wrestle with our own problems, gives us no grounds for any such convictions.

It is to be reminded that Mr. Pearson was the Prime Minister of Canada during the beginning of the Vietnam war.

My colleague, the leader of the government, will soon table a motion in the House that clearly defines the government's position. That motion will read as follows:

That this House reaffirms:

The substantial sense of the House, voted on March 20, 2003, in support of the government's decision not to participate in the military intervention in Iraq;

The unbreakable bonds of values, family, friendship and mutual respect that will always characterize Canada's relationship with the United States and the United Kingdom;

Our pride in the work of the members of the Canadian Forces who are deployed in the Persian Gulf region;

Our hope that the U.S.-led coalition accomplishes its mission as quickly as possible, with the fewest casualties; and

The commitment of Canada to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Anders Canadian Alliance Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I heard the member's speech, and I guess I am looking for an explanation.

The abuse of our friends in the United States by many of his colleagues over the last while has, and I think many Canadians would agree, been highly irresponsible.

If the Americans were to implement the visa system they have with many of the other countries in the world, which we do not have with regard to crossing its border, it would literally shut down probably a third or half of the Canadian economy. Therefore to tempt those types of things is highly irresponsible.

I also think back to the member's comments that he made with regard to the hypocrisy of going to the bathroom when somebody received the cheque. I think of Canada not standing by our allies and instead going to the bathroom when the cheque comes in this circumstance. What does the member think about Canada's situation now?

I also cannot help but think of the flip-flop when the government and this member said that our troops would stay out, but actually they are in. Even in his speech today he talked about the United Nations and wanting to ensure that we got UN approval. Yet that was not the case in Kosovo or Afghanistan. How can I trust that is actually what he seeks when in the two other situations he did not? There seems to be a contradiction.

I also cannot help but feel there is a sense of denial on behalf of the government when it has troops deployed in Iraq and has in a sense tried to hopefully hide that situation. I cannot help feeling let down over that.

Canada has sat on the sidelines in this whole thing while 50 countries are involved. If memory serves me correctly, I think there were just over 30 countries went in to liberate Kuwait. There is a larger coalition now than there was then but Canada this time is trying to keep itself outside.

There is a profound let down when the government claims that it stands for human rights, yet we have seen it let down the Kurdish population, the Shiites, women in Iraq and so on. Always keep in mind the problems that were in Kuwait with regard to organized rapes and systemic rapes. Will the government apologize for the insults against our allies and our neighbours, the United States?

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

John Manley Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is a jumble of various things mentioned. As far as I can tell, the one thing that really is of substance and which perhaps bears some response is the question of allied forces, particularly under the authority of NATO, having intervened in Kosovo admittedly without the strength of a UN Security Council Resolution.

If the hon. member takes the time to review my remarks, he will see is that we have viewed the UN Security Council as a very effective vehicle for delivering evidence of an international consensus. It is the broader international consensus that is needed to increase legitimacy of the use of force.

The action in Kosovo was based finally on a NATO decision not to change a regime in that case or even in fact to disarm a regime, but on the burden of the duty to protect Kosovars who were victims, as the world community saw it at that time, of genocide on the part of the Serbian leadership. It did not result in a change of regime. That in fact happened under democratic processes subsequent to the intervention.

Therefore the point I would leave with the hon. member is that the use of force and military action should always be seen as something that is very unusual. It is not to be condoned without broad international consensus. Ideally that should be consistent with the charter of the United Nations expressed by the UN Security Council.

However if there needs to be force used, the broadest possible basis of international consensus is what should be sought. That is in the interest not only of what we might call the victims of the action but also of those who are taking the action, so they can stand on the basis of precedent and international support in taking the action that they choose to take.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is great to be able to put a question to the Deputy Prime Minister on this topic. In all fairness, we would have to say that some of the rhetoric and condescending language that came from not only cabinet ministers but backbench members of the Liberal Party and staff members of the Prime Minister have taken a toll.

My question to the Deputy Prime Minister is simply this: Can we move beyond that and how do we do it? Does he see some possibilities, in this difficult period for the United States and the world, to repair some of that damage which we feel has been done?

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

John Manley Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not think I have been ambiguous about the fact that I share the regret and the distaste for some of the remarks that have been made. At this point, given that most if not all of the people who have made those remarks have sought to apologize, the best thing we can do is stop repeating them. That would be a good start.

Moving on, it is important that we reaffirm the continuing and ongoing agenda, as I mentioned in my speech, that we have with the United States. In my most recent conversations with Secretary Ridge, we have been quite capable to reaffirm the work that we want to continue to do and to build on the cooperation that we have.

As I also said in my speech, we can be of greatest assistance to the Americans by constructively supporting them, not simply blindly following them. The opportunity to offer that constructive support in the aftermath of this conflict will be evident and it will be a burden that we must bear.

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11:35 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was interested to hear the Deputy Prime Minister speak with words of non-participation in the war in Iraq, and then also listen to him quote former Prime Minister Pearson.

The reality is that we are participating. We are participating because the government is allowing our troops, sailors and airmen to be involved. Doing it in a fashion that is unsafe for our troops is simply not fair to them and not fair to the Canadian people either. If we have taken a position based upon our principles of multilateralism and support for the UN that we are not going to be involved, then we must pursue that.

When former Prime Minister Pearson had the opportunity to be involved in a similar situation regarding the Vietnam war, he did not allow any of our troops to participate. I want to ask the Deputy Prime Minister, is that not a precedent that the government should be following?

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11:40 a.m.

Liberal

John Manley Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is a serious question and not an easy one to answer.

Let me say there are principles that can coexist but are not mutually exclusive. One of the principles that is involved here is that we share a close degree of cooperation between Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and some other countries in terms of military cooperation. We are allies in NATO. The practice of having exchanges among officers is one that is well established. In this circumstance, while our troops are not there under the Canadian flag, clearly for certain principles which I have explained, some are there in fulfillment of exchange obligations.

They are involved in a conflict which we felt could have been resolved differently in the sense that a greater level of international consensus could have been achieved if more time had been allowed. We worked very hard at that. However, we share the ultimate objective of disarming the Saddam Hussein regime.

Therefore, the principle that they should fulfill their duties in accordance with their obligations to allied forces is a principle that can be respected at the same time. They do not necessarily become mutually exclusive principles.

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11:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a brief question for the Deputy Prime Minister. I appreciated and agreed with many of his comments.

I would like to know whether he will support the motion or not? He has mentioned the idea of tabling another motion today. He knows that will be out of order. We will be voting on the motion that is before the House as a business of supply. It is important for Canadians to know and they will eventually see in the vote whether the government will support these four simple but profound principles that are in the motion. I would like him to address that and that alone will set the debate for the day.

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11:40 a.m.

Liberal

John Manley Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I outlined the foundation for a resolution which I would hope that both sides of the House could support. The hon. member will know that if his party refuses to adopt a motion that we can all support, it is still open to the government to table a motion at any time, which is what we would do.

It is my hope that at this time we could put aside the partisanship at least for a day and agree on a common motion that we would all be able to support.

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11:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like the Speaker to pay particular attention to Standing Order 81(2) which states:

On any day or days appointed for the consideration of any business under the provisions of this Standing Order [which is the business of supply], that order of business shall have precedence over all other government business in such sitting or sittings.

Any effort to supplant today's supply day motion with another motion would be out of order throughout the day. I encourage the government House leader and the Deputy Prime Minister to keep that in mind as we debate this important issue.

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11:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

In his speech, the Deputy Prime Minister indicated, in so many words, that there would be the possibility of tabling another motion at some other point in time. He was not precise in saying that it would be today. Therefore, I am inviting the hon. member or his House leader to check with the government House leader as to what the intentions would be.

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11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to let you know that I will be sharing my time with my friend and colleague, the hon. member for Trois-Rivières.

Motions often contain several elements. The motion before us now is no exception. This motion contains exactly four elements, and as always, parties and members are confronted with the fact that they must balance the pros and cons. Obviously, there are elements of this motion that are very valid. However, other elements are less so, and some are not valid at all. Allow me to explain.

Let us look at the first part, the part dealing with apologies regarding comments made by colleagues, either in or outside the House. This has usually occurred outside the House. I think we have to establish the right balance between freedom of expression and responsibility. Of course, when one is a legislator, a member of Parliament, one has to be careful about what one says. However, our freedom of expression must not give us the right to go so far as to make comments that could jeopardize diplomatic or economic relations.

This is what happened as a result of comments made by certain colleagues from the Liberal party. These comments, in our opinion, were unjustified. In fact, the United States of America is geographically very close, it is much bigger than us and it is our main trading and diplomatic partner. Therefore we must be careful when a member of Parliament makes statements that I do not even care to repeat in the House. Everyone understands that this is unacceptable. If the motion asked that the House of Commons make an apology, I am sure that the Bloc Quebecois would support it.

As for the second element, that we reaffirm the United States to be our closest friend and ally, the Bloc Quebecois would also, obviously, agree with it. There is no question about that, since we are so intimately linked by our history.

Many years ago, I created what I call a triangle of excellence in my region with my city and American cities in the states of Vermont and New York. Each time I go to the State of New York, particularly Plattsburgh, I am reminded of the great battle of Plattsburgh, where the American navy sunk the British navy. I often joke that, had it not been for the American navy in 1812, they would probably all be Canadians today. They go on and on about this battle, and I often say that a quarter of a century earlier, in 1775, General Montgomery came down with American ships and was stuck for 49 days in my riding. I must tell Canadians listening to me today that, were it not for the strong resistance movement in the Saint-Jean region, we would probably all be Americans today. They do not find this very funny. But it is all between friends.

We must not think that the current dispute between Canada and the U.S. threatens this kind of exchange. I am continuing such exchanges. I met with Senators Clinton and Shumer, of New York state, and also with Senators Leahy and Jeffords, from Vermont. We are still able to talk to one another and get past our differences to discuss economic, cultural, social and other exchanges. But, such statements, obviously, do not help matters.

I think that more evidence of this was seen this morning. Ambassador Cellucci was reluctant to discuss the fact that Canada was not taking part in this war. I will come back to this point because, in my opinion, we are taking part. Ambassador Cellucci was saying that Washington had taken note of the very strong statements made about Washington. I think that it is terrible that this occurred. This fosters anti-Americanism and, on this point, the Bloc Quebecois wants to state loud and clear that we are not anti-American.

The second element, however, makes reference to friendship. We are friends and, as in any relationship between friends, this does not mean we always have to agree. It means we can tell the other that he has made a mistake. That is what the people of Quebec and the Bloc Quebecois have been doing from the start. We think the President og the United States made a mistake. So now are we going to put them all into one category and call them a bunch of so-and-so's? We will not do that. We can retain our critical judgment and ask our friend to reconsider. That is, I think, what we have wanted to do from the start of the debate, and what we want to continue to do.

Now for the third element, which is problematical for us. I must remind hon. members that we believe UN resolution 1441 called for the disarmament of Iraq, peaceful disarmament. Chief inspector Hans Blix made several reports, and we saw some progress being made by the inspections.

In our opinion, resolution 1441 did not specify that military force ought to be resorted to. We have always had objections to this type of military intervention because of that belief. I would also remind hon. members that this resolution dealt with disarmament and not with a change of regime.

So why should we in the Bloc Quebecois change our attitude now? Why should we now say that, since the coalition forces are there, they might as well put an end to that regime? I must remind you that the Prime Minister has even stated in this House that this could not be done, that he was not in favour of it. We have said the same in several speeches: if we allow that, we will end up with military intervention in North Korea, Iran or Syria, because we do not like their regimes. I believe this needs to be settled at the UN. It is the ideal international forum for settling disputes and differences between nations; otherwise, we will end up with the law of the jungle.

The third element of this motion is very harsh. It states that we “hope that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power”. This is very warlike wording. Not only do we not agree with the substance of it, but we do not agree, either, with the wording of this motion.

I heard the Deputy Prime Minister say that, in principle, we are not directly engaged in this war. However, the hypocrisy of the Liberal government must be pointed out. A few weeks ago, in a grand statement, the minister told us that we would not take part in a military intervention in Iraq, yet we now have soldiers in Iraq who are taking part in the operation. They are not there to disarm the regime, but to destroy it. This needs to be made clear. A Canadian soldier in Iraq under the command of British or American forces is taking part in the American and British mission, which is to destroy the regime.

The government is not out of the woods with this attitude and this position. We believe, that since the beginning, we should have pulled out our troops, withdrawn our equipment, and this would have been consistent with the statement made by the Prime Minister to the effect that we would not be taking part in this war in Iraq. As long as we have soldiers there, be it 30 or 300, we are participating in the war in Iraq, and for us, this is unacceptable.

We also take issue with the fourth element of the motion. It refers to a coalition to reconstruct Iraq. Some of the great losers in this conflict, in addition to the people of Iraq, are international institutions such as the UN. The UN has been sidelined in all this. The inspection process, which was supported by most UN countries, was aborted. We were in the process of disarming the regime. It would have taken more time, but the United States and Great Britain started up the hostilities, which brought an end to the inspections.

I think that we should make some efforts. Canada should make the effort and say to its American and British friends, “Listen, we have to make the UN a respectable institution once more”. To do that, the international community, along with the UN, has to deal with the issue of reconstruction. One nation alone cannot accomplish the reconstruction, any more than it can impose a military government. The UN must be responsible.

In conclusion, I would say that Quebec has always been opposed to this war. Quebec believes firmly in multilateralism. The goal was to disarm Iraq peacefully and that did not succeed; the inspectors were making progress. Military intervention was not the solution. We would prefer that the reconstruction of Iraq take place under the aegis of the United Nations.

We have weighed the pros and cons, as I said before, and we have debated it at length, and the Bloc Quebecois, for all the reasons I have listed, will not vote in favour of the Canadian Alliance's motion.

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11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend my colleague, the member for Saint-Jean, for his excellent speech. For the benefit of those who are listening, I would like to read the motion moved by the Canadian Alliance. It reads as follows:

That the House of Commons express its regret and apologize for offensive and inappropriate statements made against the United States of America by certain Members of this House; that it reaffirm the United States to be Canada's closest friend and ally and; hope that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power; and that the House urge the Government of Canada to assist the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq.

I would like to begin my comments by talking about what the motion does not contain. It makes no reference to the heart of the matter, which is whether or not international law is being complied with.

This type of conflict was supposed to have been solved following the terrible second world war by the establishment of the United Nation, in 1948. As such, it became illegal for a sovereign state to attack another sovereign state without the permission of this great assembly, known as the United Nations, which was technically represented by the Security Council.

Those, then, are the rules of civility that were set out to require that states no longer act arbitrarily, that they no longer act unilaterally and based on their own aggressive interests. That is the spirit of international law on this issue. And the depository of international law in this case is the United Nations.

What is worrisome here is that those who were asked to demonstrate the need for this aggression, as the Vatican has described it, were not at all able to do so. The Vatican stated that if a country took upon itself to intervene in this matter, based on its own authority and without the support of the UN, then it was an aggression and not a war. These words are important words. And neither Colin Powell, during his presentations, nor by Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, managed to demonstrate the need for, let alone the legitimacy of, this war. The inspectors, who were on site in Iraq, mandated by the UN to verify if Iraq had the capacity to use weapons of mass destruction, were even less able to demonstrate the need for or legitimacy of this war.

Up to now, all the inspections have showed that there was no cause for concern. Perhaps, with time, if the inspections had continued, weapons of mass destruction would have been found. However, none were nor have been yet—we must remember this—even during the current aggression against Iraq. Never did we hear about any weapons of mass destruction being found.

Since this war is not legitimate and the need has not been proven, there is a universal and international outcry. Millions of people have physically manifested their disapproval of this unilateral gesture. It is important to remember this, because institutions and international law are being ignored. Neither individuals nor sovereign states have the right to take the law into their own hands.

Obviously, on September 11, 2001, the Americans suffered a terrible blow. They are still suffering. Their national pride has taken a beating, but this does not justify—not for states nor for individuals—taking the law into their own hands. It is essential not to forget this.

As for the motion as presented by the Canadian Alliance, I too have reservations. I am glad that my hon. colleague, the member for Saint-Jean, said what he did about the offensive and inappropriate statements. In fact, the right of members to speak is protected, but this privilege must be used properly. However, it is also dangerous for a political party to point fingers and jeopardize freedom of expression. It becomes essential, in situations as sensitive as these, to respect the freedom of expression of the people's elected representatives. I hope that the Canadian right considered that before writing this.

As for the bonds of friendship between the United States of America, Canada and Quebec, these are obvious.

Quebec has four U.S. states as neighbours. Quebeckers feel great affection for the American people. Everyone knows how many Quebeckers have property in Florida, or visit there regularly. Our emotional and tourist connections with the entire eastern seaboard is well known, particularly Boston, Cape Cod, Myrtle Beach, Old Orchard and so on. How many of us are familiar with New York City, the victim of the terrible attack we are all familiar with? Some, myself included, have had the privilege of travelling to New Orleans, in Louisiana, a wonderful city with its Spanish-French flavour, Bourbon Street and all the rest.

There are historical connections as well as commercial ones, and the latter are of such importance that, as a result, to echo what my colleague from Saint-Jean has said, we are not going to end a friendship because we disagree with our friend.

In this connection, President Chirac had some marvellous words to say about the historic connection between France and the United States, which ought not to be threatened by France's attitude in advising its friend not to go down this dead-end path, in other words, that victory without risk brings triumph without glory. This is more or less what is happening and is, I think, the message old Europe wanted to pass to the Americans before any physical intervention in Iraq with its longtime friend, Great Britain.

I think, as far as friendship is concerned, there is no ambiguity on this concept. Disagreement does not put an end to friendship.

The third Alliance proposal is a very serious one. To quote:

—that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power;

Giving support to such a proposal is tantamount to supporting anarchy. This must be realized. Resolution 1441 directly addressed the disarmament of Iraq, not a change of regime. In this connection, the Prime Minister was very quick to act in denouncing the slippage from one concept to the other.

If it is valid today for Iraq, why would it not be valid later for Iran or Syria? It is obvious that there are risks in this. In the same way, why not Korea against Japan or vice versa? Why not China against Taiwan? Why not India against Pakistan and vice versa? Why not the United States against Cuba or against Venezuela? When it is not what they want, will they change the regime?

This is too easy, and it is anarchy. We must stand firmly opposed. When the role of the United Nations is ignored, this is the kind of slippery slope that lies ahead.

Finally, the last proposal, that the House “urge the Government of Canada to assist the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq”, takes us even farther down that slippery slope. On the day after the victory we know is coming, the coalition will maintain its leadership. Quasi-anarchy will be maintained even though the reconstruction of Iraq ought to be the responsibility of the international community, as represented internationally by the United Nations.

Therefore, we must insist—and this is urgent—that the reconstruction take place under the responsibility of the United Nations—that it be funded by the coalition—this is something I personally want to see—that it be well managed and that we avoid destabilizing the whole region—for that is the risk.

We know that the Muslim world is taking this quite bitterly. We know that Syria and Jordan are near the boiling point and Egypt is in a difficult situation. We are walking on eggshells and this is not the time to put on our heavy boots. We must approach this with diplomacy and ensure that those who are responsible for the task take their responsibilities seriously.

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12:05 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to participate in this debate today. I think it is extremely important for all members of Parliament to continue to be very much engaged, not so much in the debate around the tragedy of the unilateral choice made by our closest neighbour, the United States, in rejecting the peaceful disarmament of Saddam Hussein that was underway, but in staying focused very much on where we are now and on how we can get to a better, more peaceful place in the world of tomorrow.

I have briefly reviewed the motion that has been placed before us by the official opposition, the Alliance Party. I have to say this from the outset. Whether deliberately or not, because I guess motives do not actually count and in fact there is a question about whether it is parliamentary to judge motives, I think it has to be said that the Alliance has certainly put on the floor for debate a motion that it has made absolutely impossible for most members of the House to support. I want to very briefly say why that is so in dealing with the four basic elements of the motion.

I am going to pass over the first very briefly. Actually I agree generally with the sentiment of that motion, which may surprise some people, but I think what the Alliance has sought to do is to condemn offensive and inappropriate statements that have been made against the United States by various members of the House.

I have no trouble associating myself with the sense of regret about that, because I think that if one did not give some really thoughtful consideration to how destructive and counterproductive this could be before this morning's foreign affairs committee meeting, one could certainly not come away from that excellent foreign affairs committee this morning without being mindful of some of the important considerations that need to enter into how we actually debate substantively an issue as fundamentally important as this.

Before the foreign affairs committee this morning there was a really excellent pair of presenters, if I could put it that way, Professor Kim Richard Nossal from Queen's University and Professor Pierre Martin from the University of Montreal, both of whom addressed this issue in terms of what is a very important foreign policy dialogue going on in the country today, and I commend the foreign affairs minister for this, around the question of how we can on the one hand as Canadians absolutely maintain and strengthen our commitment to multilateralism while at the same time managing the relationship with the superpower or hyper-power, the United States of America of today, that is our closest neighbour.

What we really came away from that foreign affairs committee thinking about, and I hope it is true of all members, is that in some respects it has been the vagueness, the contradictions, the lack of substance, really, in the government's addressing of the issue about the war in Iraq that has created an environment in which the focus has tended to be more on inflammatory statements made on what I think one would characterize in many cases as unhelpful and provocative anti-Americanism.

I think there is a lesson in that for all of us, but I hope the government is prepared to listen to the argument that was made very skilfully and persuasively this morning: that if the government had been clearer about its position on the very question of the launching of a military offensive in Iraq rather than sort of playing around the edges with, “We are in favour of delaying to a certain date but not beyond a certain date, if we could delay the date”, and never clearly setting out the substantive arguments for why Canada should not be participating in the war on Iraq, then I think we would have seen a display of leadership that would have been easier to stand behind. I think then we would have seen a follow-through such that, having said we were opposed to participating in a war on Iraq, we would actually ensure that we are living up to that position and not participating in the war on Iraq when in fact we are doing that. We have a government that is saying one thing and doing another.

Now I want to move to the more substantive parts of the motion, the first having to do with hoping “that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power”. This goes to the heart of the single most unacceptable thing about the U.S. invoking a policy of regime change.

This is a very terrifying initiative that has been taken in a world where we thought we had made some substantial progress in creating the international architecture of the United Nations, in building up a body of international law and in establishing a charter of the United Nations, all of these to try to ensure that no country in the world feels free to engage in a pre-emptive strike against another country.

The concerns about this are obvious. If it is Iraq today, is it to be Saudi Arabia tomorrow? If the United States feels free to thumb its nose at the United Nations and launch a pre-emptive strike, then who tomorrow will feel free to launch a pre-emptive strike? Will it be North Korea? This is a really terrifying development in a world where we thought we had begun to make some real progress toward ensuring that the family of nations works together through the international body of the United Nations to deal with its principal objective, that is, to rid the world and future generations of the scourge of war.

The second substantive part of the resolution before us urges that the Government of Canada “assist the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq”. This is also a very troublesome notion.

Had the official opposition, the Alliance, chosen to put forward a motion which urged that the Government of Canada participate and provide leadership in assisting with the reconstruction of Iraq and had it done so through the United Nations, then we would be first in line to say bravo. We would be the first in line to support that return to multilateralism, to support the return from this romp with chaos and hegemony to an orderly approach, to something that the world must rally to support, but must support through the United Nations.

It is not an accident that there is now a raging debate going on about how in the name of heaven we are to ensure that the United States, in its unilateralist mentality of the day, does not see its next step of world dominance being to reconstruct the supposedly liberated Iraq in its own image. This is a very great concern.

As the closest friends and neighbours of the United States, we have to urge, to coax and to persuade, to use every aspect of diplomacy available to us, to help the United States see that the world is poised and ready to contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq. This in fact is an appropriate role for Canada, having said no to the war in Iraq, to focus its attentions on. To state the obvious, if the Government of Canada were genuinely prepared to do what it said was its position for opposing the war, in other words, not to participate in the war, we would actually be saving millions, tens of millions, and potentially hundreds of millions of dollars, because one does not know any more what length of time this war is going to take. It certainly looks as though it is going to be longer than ever was imagined by the U.S. decision makers.

We could save hundreds of millions of dollars that could appropriately be directed to the reconstruction of Iraq, as it could be redirected to other critically important humanitarian needs in the world, including one that we have been speaking about in the Chamber, and we will continue to do so until the Canadian government does live up to its commitments, for example, to pay its proportionate share to the global fund to deal with the HIV-AIDS pandemic.

The issue is not whether Canada should play a role in the reconstruction of Iraq. Of course it should. What is fundamentally important is that we do so within the framework of multilateralism and the well-established body that exists through the United Nations to do that in the most effective, the most efficient and the most sensitive way.

I do not want to dwell on the fact that the Alliance--and perhaps I should not predict but we will see--appears as though it is more interested in introducing a motion that it makes impossible for us to support when it once again takes this totally unilateralist view and talks only about the coalition doing the reconstruction of Iraq.

I know that when one speaks in these terms, when one criticizes the decision of the Bush administration to plunge the United States and the world into this tragic war in Iraq, one is often accused of being anti-American. In the moments that remain to me I will quote a couple of American politicians who themselves, after I think a disappointing period of silence and complicity for many American politicians, have found their voices and appear to have found courage, and who are now speaking out, in response, I think, to a great deal of anti-war mobilization by large numbers of Americans.

I start with a Democratic congressman from Ohio by the name of Dennis Kucinich. Some will know that he has become an articulate voice, not just in opposing the U.S. launching the war but now in an increasing crescendo urging that the war be stopped and that it be stopped now. We are pleased to associate ourselves with that position.

At the absolute minimum, unless we are to turn our backs on a humanitarian tragedy of monumental proportions, there has to be a ceasefire, and a ceasefire now, in order to get the food aid, the humanitarian aid and the medical aid in to deal with the increasing numbers of casualties that are occurring and the widespread hunger that will lead to premature death, even among those who have not been directly injured in the hostilities and the violence.

Let me quote briefly from Dennis Kucinich, the U.S. congressman:

Stop the war now. As Baghdad will be encircled, this is the time to get the UN back in to inspect Baghdad and the rest of Iraq. Our troops should not have to be the ones who will find out....whether...[there are biological and chemical] weapons.

This of course goes to the very point of how tragic it is, of why it is so tragic that the U.S. chose to shut down, because that is what happened, the peaceful weapons inspection process that was taking place. Because of course what we have now is a situation where not only are the weapons inspections not taking place, but if there were any genuine belief in spite of the absence of any real evidence, if there were any genuine belief about biological and chemical weapons being present in Iraq, then would not the last thing on earth one would want be to engage in hostilities that would unleash those weapons?

Mr. Kucinich goes on to make the argument that before the sending of any troops into house to house combat in Baghdad, a city of five million people, surely we have to put a stop to this before we create the kind of casualties that are going to be involved but also before we put troops in a position that is so absolutely and horrifyingly unsafe, destroying both body and soul of all of those who end up locked into that war.

This brings me back to the question of Canada's complicity. I do not know how else to describe it. While the Prime Minister took the position officially, for which he had our congratulations and support, that Canada would not participate in the war, we now know that in fact Canadian troops are involved in that war. I think it is very hard for people to have confidence in the moral authority of the government or, frankly, in the truth telling of the government if it says that we will not participate and then, when challenged to address the evidence that was coming more and more to the fore, to then say that we were still not participating despite the evidence, to the point now where the government essentially is saying that it decided to have it both ways.

As a member of Parliament who proudly represents the riding of Halifax, I am deeply disturbed about the safety of our troops who find themselves in that impossible position in which the government has placed them. There is reason to be concerned about whether the protections under the Geneva convention would apply to Canadian troops who are participating in someone else's war at the very time that its own government is saying that we are not participating.

The fact is that the evidence is there for all to see. The government can no longer deny, even though it tried initially to mask the evidence, that we have Canadian military men and women on Iraqi soil, on ships that are accompanying warships involved in the Iraqi war, and in the air. What are they doing in the air? They are participating in the targeting of air strikes, of bombings in Iraq.

I know my time is almost up but I have to say that it makes no sense whatsoever for Canada to have taken the position that it took of non-participation and then turn around and hide behind what is a grotesque misrepresentation. It is an act of deception for the Prime Minister, the defence minister and the foreign affairs minister to say that the reason they are leaving the Canadian troops, at least 1,331 troops that have been acknowledged, who are involved in the combat zone, in there is because of an agreement Canada has with the U.S., the U.K. and Australia and one that we do not want to turn our backs on. That agreement specifically says that in the event of a war in which one of those countries becomes involved and in which Canada is not participating, then we bring our troops home.

Furthermore, that has always been the case. I do not know of a single example, although there may be one that proves the exception, but there are many examples for which military personnel and retired military personnel who are free to speak the truth know that under similar circumstances of a combat or a war in which Canada was a non-participant, we brought our troops home.

I will finish by pleading with government members to address this issue, to remove this deception that is being perpetrated on Canadians and to live up to our own obligations to our own military and to our own agreements.

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12:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dale Johnston Canadian Alliance Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been consultations among the parties and I believe that if you seek it you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That following the conclusion of the debate on today's Canadian Alliance opposition motion all questions necessary to dispose of the motion be deemed put, a recorded division demanded and deferred until 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 8.

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12:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Does the House give its consent to the motion?