Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I speak today on the motion by the hon. member for Saint-Jean, a member of the Bloc Quebecois, who has been doing excellent work on this file, on which I congratulate him.
This is an issue that worries many Quebeckers, all over Quebec. In my riding office, I have received many calls and e-mails. In the riding of Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier last week I launched a local campaign against the missile defence program the federal government wants to get involved in. People are calling me; they are talking to me; they are seeking a way to show their disagreement with the Bush government's missile defence shield that the Canadian federal government wants to join. For this reason I launched this campaign and it is already bearing fruit because I have received a number of postcards and petitions, which I will be presenting in the House later.
There are many good reasons to oppose the missile defence program. There are political, philosophical, economic and moral reasons. I will be discussing the following reason: the missile defence shield, as designed by the Bush government, is based on a faulty reading of the international geopolitical situation.
There is no conflict today between the countries of the West, or North America, and any other state, whether it be a superpower, a small or large power, or a rogue state. There is none. The conflict of today is between the open societies of the West—mainly, although there are others—and the angry men and women who are rising up against us, many of them from weakened, overthrown or broken states. They often come from the third world and from the Arab or Muslim world. I will come back to this later.
The defenders of the missile defence shield idea think that states, even rogue states, are so crazy and their leaders so out of touch with reality that they would be prepared to attack the United States or North America, even if such an attack would automatically and inevitably lead to their destruction. The idea that any leader, even of a so-called rogue state, could be crazy enough not to be dissuaded by such a threat of destruction, is in itself a completely crazy idea.
Who in this House would think that these leaders—whether of North Korea or other countries that have been mentioned in our debates—have stayed in power so long because they are suicidal fanatics? Is there anyone in this House who thinks, for example, that the family in power in North Korea has been leading that country for more than 50 years, because it has an instinct for survival? Of course it does.
Currently, there have not been any direct attacks on what I will call the West, for a lack of a better word, by a nation, a government or any entity claiming statehood, but rather very indirect attacks, often by terrorists and on easy civilian targets.
The proponents of the missile defence system seem to have forgotten that the main characteristic of these leaders of so-called rogue states is their survival instinct. They want to survive and, naturally, they want their regime to survive.
I was quite surprised to see that those in favour of the missile defence shield have not asked themselves the following question. If these leaders wanted to attack North America one day, why not do it now, before the shield is built and everything is in place? If they wanted to, they would do it before.
What is deterring these leaders or states, be they rogue states or not, is the knowledge that if they attack North America, the United States or Canada, with one or more missiles, their regime will not survive. That is what is stopping them. The thing they want most in the world is to stay in power and to continue to rule over their society.
Consequently, saying that a rogue state might attack us to justify this insane multi-billion dollar investment is not a valid explanation of or justification for the missile defence program.
I challenge everyone who spoke in the House in support of the missile program to answer the question I asked earlier: If anyone wanted to launch a missile attack on us, why not just do it now, before the shield is in place.
The real threat is not from any state or regime. The primary threat for North America, the West, is groups or individuals who are disappointed or angry, often with regard to their own country's leaders.
In my opinion, this is especially true in the Middle East. The Middle East is a real powder keg and is producing masses of unemployed youth who have no future and often, unfortunately, no democratic outlet. They live in repressive regimes. These men and women, these angry and frustrated individuals, will never launch ballistic missiles on the United States, Canada or North America. But they may blow up a suitcase containing a weapon of mass destruction, in the middle of one of our major cities.
This terrifying possibility is becoming all too real with the rapid development of new technologies, like the Internet, that permit the ready dissemination of information on the manufacture of dangerous and easily produced weapons.
That is the threat we should be worrying about. The billions of dollars invested in this shield, the facilities throughout northern Canada, Greenland and North America, cannot stop individuals who have nothing to lose by launching another 9/11 attack, by hijacking a plane and dropping a nuclear bomb, dirty or otherwise, on Manhattan, Toronto or Montreal, or even using biological warfare.
The shield would never protect us against that kind of threat, which is, I think, far more pressing than that of missiles launched from another country.
So, what should we do? What should we do instead of—how should I put it—throwing billions of dollars out of the window? The best way to deal with these threats, with these unemployed youths who have no prospects, who have been so far disappointed by democracy and development in their countries, is to support these countries.
We should insist in very specific terms, using a carrot and a stick if need be, on democratization and true respect for human rights, the rule of the law and true equality between men and women.
We need to help these closed and totalitarian societies set in place democratic governments that are untainted by corruption, governments that would meet the needs of ordinary citizens instead of serving the interests of a small group of leaders who usually benefit from totalitarian regimes.
It is about helping societies cope with the new economic world order, which is led, among other things, by globalization.
It is about providing tangible assistance to these societies in restructuring their economies so that economic development benefits their entire populations, not just a few friends of the regime.
It is about opening respectful and understanding dialogue with these societies, particularly Arab countries where unfortunately we do not have enough ties with their leaders.
Far too often, we in the West have accepted the dictatorships in that region. Far too often, we have accepted totalitarian societies because it has served our economic interests. Far too often, we in the West have turned a blind eye to human rights abuse for the sake of oil, for instance.
Far too often, we have turned a blind eye to the development of totalitarian ideologies that are conducive to terrorist potentials, because this affected trade.
I will conclude by saying that a foreign policy based on our values—democracy, human rights, women's rights, peace, the rule of law—would allow us to eliminate the threat posed by these angry people.
We who live in a free and wealthy society owe it to those who do not have the fortune to live in a society like ours. In doing what I have suggested, instead of investing billions of dollars in an antimissile defence shield, we would be helping these societies and these countries and helping ourselves.