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House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was troops.

Topics

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, all of us who are old enough to remember the Vietnam war should be intent on ensuring that when our Canadian troops are deployed the mission is clear, the plan for success is precise, and the timeline is definite. We owe our troops that much.

The hon. member talks about the necessity of planning. I would ask the hon. member if he believes that the current Afghanistan mission is one where the mission is clear, the plan for success is precise, and the timeline and exit strategy are well defined. Does the hon. member believe that this mission has these attributes?

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, while I thank my hon. colleague for the question, I am afraid it does expose a bit of naiveté. I wish that conflict were precise, clear and definite. I wish that war were precise, clear and definite.

If everything was that definite, we probably would not get there in the first place, but we get there because of people like the Taliban and other terrorist organizations or national organizations around the world that prey on their own people. There is nothing clear, precise and definite about it, but the mission is clear.

We are there to get the Afghan national army, the Afghan national police, the government of Afghanistan and the economy of Afghanistan strong enough so that on their own they can carry on, because the Taliban is not going to disappear.

One of the people we met in Afghanistan was Abdul Rahim Wardak, former chief of defence staff and now minister of national defence of Afghanistan. He grew up with Osama Bin Laden. He grew up with the Taliban. He knows how evil they are. He knows that we cannot put a tick on a calendar and say, “That's it. When we're there, we're done”.

We cannot do that. We must have an objective in mind, which is the ability of Afghanistan to stand on its own and to look after itself. When that happens, the job will be done.

Will we still be there when that happens? I do not know, because none of this is precise. I wish it were.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member's comments, if we get it right, do not inspire much confidence. I believe that we had better get it right if we are putting our young Canadians in harm's way.

It seems quite clear that here we are talking about a war against an idea, a war of ideas, and the seek and kill counter-insurgency mission seems very unlikely to win the hearts and minds of those whose minds we are trying to change and whose hearts we are trying to win.

I am wondering how the member thinks we can crash down some doors, bomb villages, and build and undertake a very serious effort at inclusive and comprehensive peace negotiations.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, once again I am afraid my hon. friend reveals her naiveté. On August 19, 1942 at Dieppe we were probably pretty sure we did not have it right, but we sure did not quit.

She talks about the conflict in this war being a conflict against an idea, or an ideal, or an ideology. If evil is an idea or ideology, then she can bet that is what this is.

This is a war against evil, pure and simple. It is a war against an outfit called the Taliban, which is associated with an outfit called al-Qaeda, which is associated directly or indirectly with a whole bunch of other outfits around the world. They are, pure and simple, in four letters, evil. It is a four letter word.

Canada will always defend others against evil, whether it is Canadians, whether it is Afghanis and whether it is people in World War II or any other place. Canada will always defend people against that four letter word, evil, and we will not tolerate anything else.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Labrador.

First of all, like all my colleagues on both sides of the House today, I want to pay tribute to the men and women in the Canadian Forces for serving their country and their government in such an exemplary manner.

I will draw primarily on the first half of the speech that the Leader of the Opposition gave in February, in order to give some background and explain how we have reached the point we are at today.

First came Operation APOLLO. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, of which Canada is a founding member, invoked article 5 of its charter, which declares that an attack on one member of the alliance is an attack on all. This marked the first time in the history of NATO article 5 had been invoked. The principle underlying article 5, collective security, is one for which Canada will always stand.

In 2002, therefore, Canada went to Afghanistan under a UN mandate with 31 of our allies. For six months, roughly 800 Canadian soldiers joined the international coalition in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban. This mission had a clearly defined purpose and a clear exit strategy.

After the Taliban was overthrown, the international community had an obligation to remain in Afghanistan to help stabilize and rebuild the country, one of the poorest countries in the world devastated by 30 years of foreign invasions and civil wars, and thus came Operation ATHENA.

In February 2003 Prime Minister Chrétien decided that Canada would lead the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, in Kabul for one year. This was a multinational force, involving many countries, whose mission was to provide security in the capital to assist the newly created Afghan transitional authority and to help set the appropriate conditions for presidential and parliamentary elections. The Afghan elections took place successfully and peacefully, thanks in part to the assistance provided by Canada, and resulted in the election of President Hamid Karzai.

With 2,000 Canadian troops on the ground and General Hillier commanding the 6,000 strong ISAF force, Canada's effort was at the time our most significant mission in decades. Our soldiers did an outstanding job earning the praise and respect of our allies and of all Canadians.

From the outset, the Chrétien government worked hard to secure a replacement nation for Canada once the one year ISAF mission ended. Consequently, in 2004 Turkey replaced Canada as the lead nation in ISAF. We were able to reduce our presence on the ground, remaining engaged with about 750 troops as well as a major development assistance contribution. At this time, Canada's commitment to Afghanistan became our largest bilateral development program in our history.

Also in 2003, with the support of the Afghan government, UN-NATO assumed responsibility for the ISAF mission. Shortly thereafter, NATO again, with the full support of the Afghan government, decided to expand its presence outside of Kabul and gradually expanded its involvement for reconstruction and security throughout all Afghanistan. Thus were born the provincial reconstruction teams, or PRTs.

As part of the NATO expansion, the previous government, led by the member for LaSalle—Émard, decided to establish a provincial reconstruction team of roughly 250 personnel in Kandahar province. Many countries have PRTs throughout Afghanistan. Their mandate is to establish the authority of the Afghan government throughout the country and to assist in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

In addition to the PRT, the previous government committed a task force of about 1,000 troops to Kandahar for one year, from February 2006 to February 2007, to work with our allies to provide security in this dangerous region and to facilitate the transition from a U.S.-led mission to a NATO-led one.

The key objective of this mission was first and foremost reconstruction and establishing security, recognizing that we would be undertaking this crucial work in a dangerous region. The government was under no illusion this mission would be more dangerous than our previous engagements in Afghanistan, as was said repeatedly by the then ministers of defence and foreign affairs.

However, Canada, NATO and the Americans had not anticipated how violent and dangerous Kandahar would become in 2006. Between January and May 2006, eight soldiers and one diplomat were killed. That contrasted sharply with the seven fatalities the Canadian Forces sustained in Afghanistan over the previous four years.

By May, a mere three months after Canada's combat force went into Kandahar, the current government knew that we were facing a significant and violent insurgency, well beyond anything NATO had experienced in the past or for which it had planned. Before too long we saw that the Canadian effort in Kandahar had shifted from the original overriding objective of reconstruction to fighting a violent insurgency.

Faced with a rapidly deteriorating security environment, the Conservative government did not take the time to determine whether and how our mission could still achieve the goals we had set up. Instead, the Prime Minister extended the mission by two years without having obtained commitments from our allies to help us cope with the changed situation.

The Conservative government made no prior effort to obtain assurances from the government of Pakistan, for instance, to secure its border with Afghanistan, across which the insurgents move with impunity. It received no assurances from our NATO allies to replace Canada at the end of our mission.

In addition, the Prime Minister said that this mission would not hinder Canada's ability to undertake peace support missions elsewhere, such as in Darfur or Haiti. However, within a few weeks of the vote in Parliament in May last year, the defence minister made it clear that Canada no longer had any such troop capacity. General Hillier, the Chief of Defence Staff, has more recently confirmed this.

Let me quote the Prime Minister during that May 17, 2006, debate before the vote later that evening as to why, perhaps, we are doing what we are doing today. I am quoting from Hansard. He said:

We are asking Parliament to make a commitment in three areas: diplomacy, development and defence.

All three are inextricably linked. In a moment I want to go through what we are asking Parliament specifically to support over the next couple of years.

I think I also need to be clear, given the events over the last 24 hours or so, of what the consequences would be if there were a No vote. Let me be clear on this. This would be a surprise to this government. In debates in this chamber up until last month and in private meetings until very recently, we had every reason to believe that three of four parties, which have consistently supported this action, would continue to do so.

Should that turn out not to be the case, this government is not in a position to simply walk away or to run away. What the government will do, if we do not get a clear mandate, the clear will of Parliament to extend for two years and beyond, is proceed cautiously with a one year extension.

I put it to the House that the mindset of the Prime Minister, and it has been demonstrated by the responses and comments from the Minister of Defence, may very well be of the government pursuing this beyond February 2009. The Prime Minister said that in his speech in the House in May of last year. It is therefore important that we make this quite clear. The will of Parliament, and we will determine that with a vote on this, is that after February 2009 another member of NATO will do what Canada has done since last year in Kandahar.

It is not walking away, cutting and running. It is ensuring that NATO, which is the lead agency in this endeavour, ensures that the load is shared by its members and not carried punitively by one member of NATO. That is the intent of the clarity of this motion. I sure hope my colleagues understand this is the extent, nothing else, and none of the imaginings we have heard today.

In closing—and I do not necessarily blame the government for this—the main objective of our mission in Afghanistan, which is the development and reconstruction of Afghanistan, is being neglected and is not being met.

When we as the government make decisions on behalf of Canadians, we have to consider what Canadians want. Canadians do not want to be in Afghanistan indefinitely, and they certainly do not want to be there for military reasons alone. Defence must be balanced by development and diplomacy, and this government does not seem to want to respect that balance.

With the adoption of a motion such as the one before us today, we hope that the government can refocus Canada's mission in Afghanistan, at least until February 2009.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have difficulty understanding today's Liberal motion, which seems to me to be premature and irresponsible. I would like the member for Ottawa—Vanier to tell me what he thinks about a statement by the special assistant to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who said that if United Nations troops left Afghanistan, the country would plunge into civil war again. If the coalition forces were to withdraw now, all the investments, sacrifices and achievements of the past five years would go up in smoke. More importantly—and this is what I would like the hon. member to comment on—he adds that Afghanistan was the hub of international terrorism and could well be again.

Our job as parliamentarians is to ensure the security of Canadians. The link between the mission in Afghanistan and the security of Canadians is clear. How can the member for Ottawa—Vanier support a motion that threatens the security of Canadians here in Canada?

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is incorrect: he forgets that our presence in Afghanistan is an intrinsic part of a broader mission that relies on more than the participation of our country alone. We are there because the United Nations and NATO are there.

As far as the multilateral forces are concerned, the will of the previous government, just like—I hope—that of the current government, was to participate in multilateral missions. The responsibilities are shared by a number of countries. After seven years, including three in Kandahar, Canada will have done its share, in our opinion. It will therefore be time for another member of the NATO sponsored multilateral mission or of the UN to replace Canada in Kandahar, if the presence of a force is still necessary.

No one on our side is talking about leaving Afghanistan. However, being the only ones in charge in Kandahar for an undetermined number of years, we believe the duration of the mission should be limited to February 2009.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I think the Liberal member's comments, particularly in view of his response to the question raised with him, will leave Canadians more confused than ever on the position of the Liberal Party as represented by MPs in the House. We have heard a number of members of the Liberal caucus acknowledging that there are deep flaws in the current strategy. They have acknowledged that conditions are deteriorating, that insecurity is greater than ever, that there are increased numbers of civilian casualties and on and on.

Then I just heard the Liberal member say that when we do pull out, when we finish continuing with the same failing strategy for two more years, that someone else should come along and continue with the same failed strategy. The Liberals are not advocating for this strategy to be abandoned, or rethought or reoriented.

Could the member to please clarify the comments he has just made to that effect?

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, we will not know the situation in Kandahar in 2009. I cannot speak for the NATO leadership or what actions will be agreed upon in two years' time.

We are saying our country, through the current government, gave a commitment to be there, and we believe that commitment has to be respected. Once that commitment is over, we believe it should be ended. Canada will have done its part in assuming the current leadership in Kandahar. That should be shared with other members of NATO.

When we took over the leadership role in Kabul for a year, one thing we did was ensure that there would be another NATO nation member assuming that leadership after us. The current government does not seem to want to have any discussions as to who would replace Canada in Kandahar, if that is still necessary, in February 2009.

We believe the will of the House should insist that the government signify to NATO that we want our role there to be taken over by someone else, if it is still required at that time, which NATO will determine, but the government is refusing. I quoted the Prime Minister. He is looking to February 2009 “and beyond”, and we are not prepared to give that commitment.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Order, please. Before resuming debate, it is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Afghanistan; the hon. member for Madawaska—Restigouche, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to the motion put forward by my colleague from Bourassa.

Members on this side of the House are calling on the government to offer clarity and certainty to the Canadian people when it comes to our military mission in Afghanistan. There are Conservatives on that side of the House who will argue that to even raise this debate, to even ask these types of questions, is not to support the troops. Nothing could be further from the truth.

My riding of Labrador is a military riding in two senses. We have a major defence installation, 5 Wing Goose Bay, which has served the needs of Canada and our allies on both sides of the Atlantic since 1941. We also have numerous men and women in uniform in all three branches of the Canadian armed forces and many who have served overseas in Afghanistan, the Balkans and other international deployments over the years. Our broader community has been directly affected by our commitment as Canadians to serving in military missions overseas.

The past two weeks, as we all know, have been difficult for all of us, with nine Canadian servicemen losing their lives in the line of duty in Afghanistan. One of those was Private Kevin Kennedy, whose mother is from Wabush, Labrador. He is one of five soldiers from our province who has paid the ultimate price in service for the defence of Canada during the Afghanistan mission. On behalf of all Labrador constituents, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the Kennedy family and to all those whom Private Kevin Kennedy touched in his life.

I can say with full confidence that the people of Labrador, who I represent, support our troops and hold our Canadian armed forces in the highest regard. At the same time, Labradorians and indeed all Canadians demand and deserve an open and respectful debate on Afghanistan and our future role in that country.

It is an important principle of military policy in Canada and in all democratic nations that our armed forces are under civilian political responsibility. This means that the policy questions of what we expect our armed forces to do and how we expect them to carry out the tasks that Canadians require them to do are separate from day to day military operations. We can and should discuss policy without any fear of being smeared as not supporting our troops.

Wherever we send our Canadian armed forces in the world, whether to Afghanistan or the Balkans in the 1990s, or on humanitarian missions such as the relief operations in the wake of the Asian tsunami or hurricane Katrina, Canadians are proud of our men and women in uniform and support them fully. However, that is and must be separate from the policy questions of what we as a country and as a society want our armed forces to do on our behalf.

There are also some who will falsely allege that by raising these questions is to be soft on terrorism. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. I remember very well the morning of September 11, 2001. We all remember the horror of what became the worst single terrorist plot in human history, with nearly 3,000 dead, 9,000 injured and countless lives changed forever. We also remember that this plot was carried out by al-Qaeda, which at the time enjoyed the support and safe haven offered to it by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

That is why Canada, under the leadership of our former prime minister, Jean Chrétien, joined with the United States and our allies in a multinational effort to dismantle the Taliban regime, bring order to Afghanistan and to ensure that the country would no longer be a haven for international terrorism. That was a decision of a Liberal government and it was the right decision.

We will never let it be said that we are soft on terrorism. When the world needed us, we were there and our record will stand the test of history.

All that being said, there is no reason why we should not now, six years later, engage in a respectful and intelligent debate on what our role in Afghanistan should be in the future.

Canada has committed to remaining in Afghanistan until February 2009 and we support that, but we also take the position that Canada needs to set out a firm date for our rotation out of Afghanistan, with our place, after nearly a decade, to be taken up by one of our NATO partners.

It is not a question of abandoning Afghanistan. We are committed to a multi-pronged approach to achieving progress for the people of Afghanistan. That includes military operations for the duration of our involvement in the Afghanistan mission. It also includes diplomacy, development assistance and support for Canadian NGOs who are at work in the country, and by every means at our disposal to build a civil society.

However, we must not let the remnants of the Taliban dictate our policy or, even as the governing Conservatives suggest, dictate the terms of our political debate.

Our long-standing parliamentary tradition, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our human rights laws demand respect for free speech and respectful debate. This is fundamental to our democratic society. It is not a sign of weakness that we can have this debate. It is a sign of strength. It is everything that the Taliban has fought against.

To avoid this discussion, to avoid this conversation because of what the Taliban might read into it, because of whatever false hope they might derive from it, is to let ourselves become their puppets. It cannot happen and it will not happen.

These open debates make our democratic institutions such powerful examples for the world and for our friends in the fledgling Afghan democracy.

Afghanistan, with international support, including that of the Government of Canada and with the Canadian armed forces, have made progress since the fall of 2001 and the fall of the Taliban regime. We are proud of our achievements and we stand in full support of what our Canadian armed forces have achieved on the ground in Afghanistan. We support them.

We continue to support them even as we begin the rational and constructive process of discussing how Canada will disengage, just as we have done so in our other overseas deployments since the second world war.

It is not weakness to begin this policy discussion. It is not softness. It is strength. It is the strength of our democracy and the image of Canada we seek to project around the world.

We are proud of our record in Afghanistan and will remain proud, even as we work to transition our military responsibilities, and as we seek to ensure a robust continued Canadian involvement in Afghanistan through our other branches of the Canadian government and other instruments of foreign policy.

The Conservatives will try to score crass political points with this matter but they will fail, just as they have failed in their other shameful attempts to politicize our Canadian armed forces.

During the last election campaign, for example, they made an astounding variety of political promises to Goose Bay in my riding, promises they are unable to provide and increasingly unwilling to keep.

It was not just Goose Bay. They made similar promises on the backs of the Canadian armed forces and the Department of National Defence in St. John's, Comox, Bagotville, Trenton, Gagetown, Cold Lake, Iqaluit and many other communities across this country. The Conservatives wrote political IOUs on DND's account which they cannot cash.

Just as in the Afghanistan debate, the Conservatives were shameful and shameless in their willingness to use the Canadian military as a political pawn. We cannot allow that to happen.

Our discussions as a Parliament, as a government and as Canadians on military matters must be civil and respectful. It is not unpatriotic, it is not disrespectful of our troops and it is not failing to support them to engage in these debates.

Our democratic principles and the fundamental principle of civilian political responsibility for our military demand that we must engage in this debate. Again, we support our troops.

We ask these questions and contemplate these decisions without fear that our patriotism or respect for the Canadian armed forces would ever be questioned. Anything less would be disrespectful of the freedom and liberty that 54 Canadians have died for in the line of duty and what they have died for in building and defending Afghanistan.

I stand in favour of this motion.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to respond to the mixed message that we are getting today from the Liberals. They keep saying over and over that they support the troops and that is great. They are the ones who actually sent the troops over there in the first place. I suppose their willingness now to say that we are going to pull them out and give notice right now is a contradiction, at least in my mind.

Last Sunday I was at the Holocaust memorial remembrance. It impressed me to see the pain that those people are feeling a generation or two after the events of the Holocaust.

The people in Afghanistan right now are experiencing the same thing. I believe that we have an obligation and, indeed, even a privilege, as our troops did in World War II, to go there and to stand between victims and their oppressors. The tyrannical Taliban regime needs to be wiped out.

How can the Liberals and that member in particular justify even contemplating pulling out until the job is done? We need to ensure we are focused on the task, not on some arbitrary date on which we are simply going to say that we are pulling out. That would be to admit defeat in advance. In fact, I believe it would be, in a sense, planning that defeat and we ought not to do that.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, I believe the only confusion rests with the Conservatives in terms of their position on Afghanistan. It was the Conservative government that brought a motion before the House to extend the mission until February 2009. It was the Conservatives who received the consent of the House to stay until February 2009.

During the debate on that motion they made comments about why we should be there until 2009. It was definitive in their minds that we would be there until 2009. It was not until February 2010 or February 2011. The Conservatives put a motion before the House that said we want to extend the mission until February 2009.

It is now the Conservatives who do not know how long they want to be in Afghanistan. Is it for another five years, ten years or fifteen years? It is the Minister of National Defence who one day says that we will be there until February 2009 and then the next day says that we will be there until we see irreversible progress, whenever that is or however they define that.

It is not the Liberals who are confused about the mission. It is the Conservatives and that is why we brought this motion before the House.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased the member supports a multi-pronged approach but there seems to be an apparent contradiction that I do not seem to understand.

On the one hand the member is supporting a multi-pronged approach but in the Liberal motion the Liberals are supporting the Conservative motion to extend the mission, which the Conservatives have embarked us on, and where Canadians will continue to pay the ultimate price in a futile and failing mission that is not multi-pronged.

On one hand, the Liberals want to continue this approach for the next two years but on the other hand the member says that he wants to have a multi-pronged approach. Could he explain that contradiction?

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, there is no contradiction. I would ask the member to read the motion very carefully and to go over the Hansard and read the comments by Liberal members. It is very clear that we are committed to the military mission until 2009. That was decided in this House and we will respect that. We have also said that diplomacy and development are other prongs that need to be continued. I do not believe that there is any contradiction whatsoever in terms of this motion or in the position of the Liberal Party of Canada.

The only confusion rests with the Conservatives as to whether they want to pull out and stop our military portion of the mission in 2009 or whether they want to continue for another five or ten years.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Halifax will want to craft her remarks knowing that she will be interrupted at 5:15 p.m.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am very sorry to have so little time and to not be able to share my time with the member for Burnaby--Douglas who also had hoped to participate in the debate.

Let me say very briefly that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I stood in the House as leader of the New Democratic Party and issued a plea that was being expressed around the world that the same values that cause us to be outraged and repulsed by the acts of barbarity of 9/11 guide us in our response to those horrible crimes. From that day to this, I have had ringing in my ears the words of a survivor of 9/11, who stated the following at the World Trade Center site:

As I silently remember my friends and co-workers who have perished, I know only this: If we fail to wage peace instead of war, if we do not learn to value all life as fervently as we value our own, then their deaths will mean nothing, and terror and violence will remain our dark companions.

I will never forget standing on the tarmac in Kandahar surrounded by troops, courageous men and women, who are doing what they have been asked and assigned to do on behalf of Canadians as members of the Canadian armed forces. They continue to do what is being asked of them to this day. A very tragic number of them have lost their lives.

Let me make it clear, as I once again issue a plea, that we understand we have to commit to participation in a comprehensive peace process. I issue the plea for the government to understand that if it continues to say that every Taliban is evil and the enemy and must be exterminated, it is going to continue to drive people into the arms of the Taliban as the loved ones of civilians, men, women and children, are killed in the attempt to defeat the Taliban.

The case has been made again and again by many with much broader experience than I that we must launch a comprehensive peace process, understanding that we must reach out to the moderate Taliban. We must understand that we will drive people into the arms of the Taliban if we continue to kill civilians, if we continue to ignore the fact that babies die because they are starving because we are directing more and more of our resources into expensive military equipment. Instead we should understand that the way to rebuild the lives of people in Afghanistan, which surely is what our commitment is supposed to be about, is to do what needs to be done to improve life conditions in that country.

We are so out of balance and we have so lost sight of that needing to be the path to peace that I and my colleagues cannot possibly commit to what the Liberals are proposing today, that we continue with two years of the flawed failing strategy that is condemned to fail in the mission.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

It being 5:15 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today all questions necessary to dispose of the opposition motion are deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Tuesday, April 24, at 5:30 p.m.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, with the debate having collapsed, I think you would find unanimous consent to see the clock as being at 5:30 p.m., so we could proceed to private members' business.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Is that agreed?

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition motion—AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-278, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (benefits for illness, injury or quarantine), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed without debate to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

moved that the bill be concurred in.