Mr. Chair, one week ago, we stood in the House to honour the six million people killed in the Holocaust and the millions more whose lives were shattered.
On April 7, we marked the 12th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide in which the world turned its back on the atrocities, claiming the lives of 800,000 men, women and children.
Today, the House has a choice. We can choose to stand by and watch as yet another genocide unfolds so that some years from now those who follow us here can stand in their places and commemorate those who were lost. They can wonder why the world refused to act. Alternatively, we can commit ourselves to take action and to make the words “never again” resound with a ringing truth.
I want to commend the work of three Canadian groups, largely organized by young people, that have continuously spoken out against the suffering in Darfur: CASS, which is the Canadian Aid for Southern Sudan; STAND, Students Taking Action Now: Darfur; and SHOUT, Students Helping Others Understand Tolerance. Many of them were motivated by the words of Dr. Dror, a survivor from Sudan whose father was killed. She was in despair and told us all about this at a rally at Nathan Phillips Square only yesterday. She decided to turn her life toward trying to deal with the atrocities that were taking place. She began speaking with students about her experiences. They took up her cause and created some of these organizations. They handed out a green bracelet, which many of us are wearing now, and urged us to take action.
I hope the people who are watching this debate will support these students in their work and will visit their website called standcanada.org. I hope they will support the students who are calling on us to insist that our government take leadership now.
We could all stand to listen closely to the compelling case that these students are making and to the passion with which they seek to raise awareness in defending the lives that are at risk in Darfur. These students know that the young people in those camps and communities, which are under attack, do not have the luxury of thinking about what education they are going to get, or what they are going to learn in school, or whether they are going to get their assignment in on time, or what they are going to eat on that given day. In fact, they are struggling merely for their survival. These young Canadian citizens are calling on us to act and to do better. The test will be what happens following this debate.
As a nation, we could use our international influence to press the UN and countries around the world to take meaningful steps to stop genocide in Darfur. Two hundred thousand lives have already been lost. Two million people have been displaced. Let there be no doubt, what we are seeing in Darfur is genocide in slow motion.
Mr. Chair, Canada's approach must not be hesitant. The deadline imposed by the African Union on the warring parties—the date by which they must agree on security, power sharing and the distribution of wealth—has been pushed back by 48 hours. Nevertheless, even with the possibility of an agreement, no resolution can come about quickly without immediate international intervention.
The time has come for Canada to take a stand. The AU alone has been unable to compel the Sudanese government to end the violence. It will take a much larger UN-led international force to stand against the Khartoum regime's defiance.
How can we expect others to do so in our place? Our country has a proud tradition of working to make peace, of rebuilding failed and failing states. We must not now step to the sidelines and hope that other countries will take up the slack. It is time for the world to stop talking about the tragedy that is unfolding in Darfur, and it is time for action to stop this genocide.
New Democrats urge the government to use Canada's influence to insist that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council respect and support the right to protect.
Members of the Security Council, including China, Russia, France and the United States, must put an end to their self-serving delays and their lip service and act now to apply international pressure on the Khartoum regime to end the violence in Darfur by respecting the arms embargo mandated under Security Council resolution 1591.
Further, we believe that Canada must encourage the UN to consider the deployment of a UN-led peacekeeping force to join the AU in trying to stabilize and improve conditions for the people of Darfur. Beyond the UN, there are measures the government can take that will have an immediate impact.
The first step must be to increase the funding to the World Food Programme for emergency aid. I am sorry to say that funding for this program was slashed by the Liberal government from $20 million in 2005 to just $5 million in 2006. This can be corrected.
Second, Canada must strive to ensure that development is not diverted to the Sudanese government, but rather that it reaches the people in need. This country's record on foreign aid had been one of steady and shameful decline. That is why the NDP ensured the inclusion of half a billion dollars for foreign aid in Bill C-48, our budget amendment of last year, to help those suffering in countries such as Sudan. Those funds are now available and should be used.
Third, Canada must increase its direct aid to the African Union.
Finally, the government can take immediate steps to support target sanctions against government leaders.
New Democrats urge all members to fight on behalf of the people of Darfur. Let us be steadfast in our opposition to these atrocities. Let us not hesitate while still more victims perish.
New Democrats are standing up to stop the genocide in Darfur. We call on the government to join us.