Madam Speaker, I had an opportunity to visit Mexico City with the Prime Minister about a month and a half ago. On the issue of war in Iraq, one of the Mexican deputies had a very interesting perception and I would like to repeat that for the House. He said that on the one hand was the evil of war and that on the other hand was the evil of Saddam Hussein. He said that he anguished with those leaders in the world who had to make a decision on which was the greater evil. This came from a Mexican deputy who is a pacifist.
The army in Mexico cannot by constitution leave the country. The country is pacifist. It was a very interesting insight on difficult decisions made by international leaders.
As a pacifist myself, as someone who treated the results of war in my surgical practice, someone who saw the results that lasted a lifetime, I found myself in the same position, talking about the evils of war and the evils of Saddam Hussein.
The debate today is not actually about whether or not the war is right or wrong. It frankly is about comments that have been made by senior Canadian officials who are anti-American. We are asking for an apology from the Canadian government for those statements. We are asking that in a formal manner.
I have a personal connection to this issue. I have a couple of sons who are currently studying and working in the United States. Paul, a young married man, is studying to become a fireman/paramedic and my other son, who is a bit younger, Peter, is studying to be an airline pilot. They are both in Provo, Utah. I had an occasion to visit them a very short time ago. The one son is going on a mission and I went to be part of a special ceremony. The question they asked me was what was happening back home in Canada. They said that the statements that were being made by senior people were being portrayed as the position that Canada has taken. They said to me, a statement that I have heard more times in the past month or so than I have ever heard in my life, that they were almost embarrassed to say they were Canadians.
I have had more constituents, more e-mails and more phone calls say that they are embarrassed to be Canadians. I believe this is fixable. How have my constituents reacted to the anti-American sentiments? Here I would like to mention Richard and Doreen Wambeke, and Dr. Calvin Booker. I have permission to mention them here in the House today. These are ordinary people; a rancher, a guy who said that he just did not understand how Canada could say that the U.S. has been our strongest and best ally and yet say those things that have been so hurtful.
They asked me what they could do. They set up a website, www.wesupporttheusa.com. A little advertising went around, a few interviews were held and these average Canadians from High River and Okotoks have had, as of today, 205,000 visitors to their website and 102,000 have signed a petition. They ran an $18,000 ad in USA Today , and that ad said, what I think we should be saying in the House, that we support the U.S. in the war in Iraq.
What could the Prime Minister have said so that he could have said that in good conscience and not actually participated in the war in Iraq? I respect the position of the Prime Minister when he says that he thinks we should step aside.
However, here is what he could have said: We support our allies now that they have decided to do what they have to do to stop Saddam Hussein, the tyrant. We do not have enough extra military to send a force but we will be sending some troops to Afghanistan to relieve the marines and let them go to Iraq and we will be in the background with our frigates, with our helicopters and with the AWACS support. That is what he could have said and that is what he should have said but he chose to say that the war was not justified. Having said that, he moved off to say that he thought Saddam Hussein was a tyrant. He was on both sides of the issue.
I came up with some other interesting quotes. Here is one from someone who the Liberals generally love, Justin Trudeau. He said “Canada must stand strong behind its closest friend”.
This is what Ernie Eves said:
I think it is important for our American friends south of the border to know that not all Canadians have taken the position that the Prime Minister and his government have taken. The United States is our long-time ally for many decades. We have the longest undefended border between the two countries in the entire world...I believe we should be there for them when they need us in their time of need.
Now, on the insults. The Prime Minister could have and should have distanced himself publicly from those insults, those hurtful comments. However, because I do not like to repeat insults and give them credence, I will only refer obliquely to probably the worst one that was made by the member for Oakville when she compared the attack on Iraq with the attack on Pearl Harbor, saying that this would have to rewrite history so Pearl Harbor would no longer be described as an atrocity. There is her connection. She connected Pearl Harbor and the events there with a pre-emptive strike in Iraq by the allies.
The Prime Minister did not distance himself from the insults publicly. He says that he did it behind closed doors in his caucus. However here is his opportunity, the opportunity for the members of the Liberal Party opposite and other members in this House, to distance themselves from those insulting comments.
Finally, where is the member for LaSalle—Émard on those insulting comments? His opportunity will be to come into the House on Tuesday next at the close of business for the House of Commons when we will have a vote on whether or not it is acceptable to insult our closest ally.
The Alliance position is that our closest ally should have and could have been supported but that did not take place. This is a choice opportunity for the member for LaSalle—Émard, the current Prime Minister of Canada and every Liberal member of Parliament to stand and say to the Canadian public, “We have been misunderstood. The occasional comment made inappropriately was just that, inappropriate. We apologize, we make amends for and we will not allow, again, statements of that kind”.
How will they vote? The Canadian public await that vote Tuesday night at the close of business. I can tell the House that I will be voting for an apology from every individual who made those hurtful comments.