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House of Commons Hansard #54 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was development.

Topics

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Glen Pearson Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wholeheartedly agree with that. I do think that the mission in Afghanistan has been full of successes but also some failures. I think the Manley panel pointed out those failures.

In order for what the minister spoke about to come to pass, we must begin to re-evaluate a 3D approach: defence, diplomacy and development, and do it in such a way that the Canadian Forces can work within a framework, that it can be accountable for and we can be responsible for.

I can tell the member, from being in Sudan, in conflicts in Guatemala, in Rwanda, Bangladesh and it goes on, that the need for the Canadian Forces to provide peace building would be absolutely essential and would help Canada's image in the world, especially in a place like Darfur.

However, we first must finish what we are doing in Afghanistan and also develop a better model from it.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, like the previous speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in this debate. I certainly supported the Liberal amendment that was tabled in the House. We are never sure of anything in the House but there seems to be a certain amount of general support. I am hopeful that the issue can be resolved around the wording of that particular motion and that we can go forward.

It is my submission that perhaps we should change the channel and continue the debate in a very frank, honest and transparent nature and talk about the future of NATO and the leadership that is presently exhibited at NATO.

We are in Afghanistan under the auspices of NATO. It is a coalition of 37 countries. It is a treaty alliance and it was an article 5 engagement. There is always this debate as to when the job will be done but when I listen to the debate and read the materials, it appears to me that this, on the part of NATO, is a long term commitment. We are dealing with a failed state with a failed generation. This has been going on for many years and we need to build the country from the ground up, which would include governance, infrastructure, economy, et cetera.

It is not a 2009, 2007-09 or 2011 issue. I submit that it is a much longer timeframe than that. When we look at NATO's involvement, NATO's main political objective was to work in cooperation with the United Nations and the European Union to support the Afghan transition authority to meet its responsibilities to provide security and order. I will not go into that strategy with the limited time available to me, but I will say that it had nine components which, I submit, were well thought out. If the strategy were successful everything would be fine.

I am troubled by what has taken place with NATO. This was clearly identified on page 38 of the Manley report, which states:

UN agency operations in Afghanistan have suffered from a lack of leadership, direction and effective coordination from UN headquarters in New York. The appointment of a high-level representative to lead and coordinate both the UN and NATO commitments in Afghanistan can help achieve more productive UN-NATO collaboration.

The whole chapter talks about the NATO situation.

Canada can act with other governments participating in Afghanistan to see that the special representative’s mandate is fully and effectively exercised.

I would like to see a complete strategy from NATO. A very important high level meeting in Bucharest is coming up in April and I think that will be the time that NATO owes it to all member countries to be frank, honest and constructive as to exactly what the plan is, how the strategy is going, at what point it is in the deployment of the strategy and whether there is an exit strategy. I would suggest that the exit strategy would be a few years down the road.

I believe that should be very much part of the debate as to what exactly is going on with NATO. As we are aware, of the 37 countries, only 4 countries are in a combat role in Afghanistan: Canada, the United States, Great Britain and the Netherlands, although there is all this talk about other countries, such as France, getting involved. Other countries are in the northern provinces of Afghanistan, such as Germany and a whole host of other countries, but, as the slang phrase would go, they are certainly out of harm's way.

When we read what goes on, up until today anyway, there appears to be an unwillingness by any of these countries to get more involved in the whole strategy approved by the 37 countries. That begs the question. Exactly how does NATO think it is will complete and accomplish the strategy that it so ably set out to do when it only has the support of a few of its member countries?

Canada went in and has done a good job, and I certainly support the motion. We have to be respectful of our commitment, but this talk of, “stay until the job is done”, is foolish. A NATO alliance commitment is there. We have to play our part and put our shoulder to the wheel as to the responsibilities of NATO, but there has to be an obligation, a responsibility and a commitment from other countries that are part of the alliance. I am not sure I see that.

I look forward to the communication coming from the government. Again, that was another point the Manley panel identified. A clear message in the report was that the communications from the government was not frank and not a true communication.

When I read the reports published by the Department of Foreign Affairs, it looks to me that they were been written by Aldous Huxley. Everything was great. Little girls were going to school. There was nothing to worry about and no one should be in any way concerned as to what was going in that country. This was clearly identified as wanting by the authors of the Manley report.

Canadians want answers. The answers have to be frank, clear, serious, honest and transparent as to the long term future of this mission. That is why I speak in support of the general direction of the motion, that in 2009 the nature of the engagement changes, that it be clearly terminated in the Kandahar province in 2011 and that it be clearly communicated to NATO. Why would it go and look for anyone else to be involved in the province if there were no clear message from Canada that it wants to be part of a natural rotation? As I said in my earlier remarks, I see this going on for several years. I do not see it ending in 2009 or in 2011 either.

I hope the level of the debate will be elevated. I hope the point I have made, in my limited time in the House this afternoon, regarding NATO is part of the debate as we go forward. I hope the leaders of the government when they go to the meeting, and we all know what happens before the meeting is what is important, that those positions, policies and aspirations are clearly communicated, and not in April when the people gather in Bucharest. . However, they have to be communicated right now. People need to know that Canada wants to see more leadership and direction coming from the alliance, which heretofore we have not seen.

I look for direction on this issue. Hopefully with leadership from the alliance, people in Afghanistan can benefit and in the future the country can become a prosperous one like many other countries in the world.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, my colleague touched on a number of points. He talked about the need to raise the level of debate.

Yesterday I was troubled by the comments from the deputy leader of the Liberal Party, the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore. He suggested that for some reason the New Democratic Party was not fit to govern. He said that it had a consistent position on Afghanistan over the last two years, calling for the removal of our troops from a combat role in Afghanistan, fully supported by a convention at which 90% of the delegates voted for the motion.

In a democracy the New Democratic Party has followed a pattern of achieving support from its constituency, representing the opinion of about 50% of Canadians on this mission. We have portrayed a consistent opinion over the past two years in the face of relentless name calling and diatribes from government members and from the opposition members to some degree.

How does the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore have the nerve to say that we are not fit to government, when his party has changed its policy three times in the last two years on this very thing? Now for the very crass political purpose of avoiding an election, the Liberals have made a deal with the government. How does he stand with kind of behaviour in the House by his own leader?

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, first, I am not the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore. I am the member for Charlottetown.

I make the point that the level of debate should be raised. Those who want to limit the mission should not be accused of being Taliban supporters. Those who want to continue the mission should not be accused of being warmongers.

This debate has to occur. I support the debate. I support the ability of the member's party to have the position. I do not agree with it. I debated it for 10 minutes. My position is we are part of the alliance. We have committed ourselves to be there at least until February 2009. To go forward now in Parliament and suggest that we should leave in February 2008, in my opinion, is wrong. That would be doing the very thing that I am suggesting some other countries are doing. We would be showing a total lack of commitment to the alliance and our world reputation would suffer greatly.

Again, we are part of the alliance. We have to work within the alliance. I am a strong supporter of NATO, but I am troubled by the lack of leadership on this initiative.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague that the NATO question is valid and should be debated, but it is probably beyond the scope of the debate in the House.

I would point out a couple of things. The member is right about the load being carried by mostly four countries. However, other countries are involved as well, and there should be more. Romania, Estonia, Australia, Denmark and soon to be added Poland are also contributing to the combat mission. Certainly more needs to be done.

Could my hon. colleague comment on the leadership role that Canada plays in operations such as this, which in my view are much greater from a leadership perspective than simply 2,500 divided by approximately 50,000 troops?

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I will respond briefly by challenging the premise of the question, that the debate and NATO is beyond the scope of the House. I would disagree with that. If the debate does not take place in this House, where will it take place? Will it be down the street or somewhere else?

It has to take place here. This is the House of Commons. This is where the debate has to take place. NATO, through the Government of Canada to the Canadian people, owes the Canadian people an explanation as to the strategy. How it is getting along with the strategy? How it is intending to accomplish the strategy and the end game? So far I have not seen that.

I agree with the paragraph from the Manley report that we have seen a total lack of leadership from NATO on this initiative.

I really think the debate should be had in this House. I would urge other members to talk about NATO. I would urge the government of the day to be very aggressive, not start in April but start today, February 26, on the whole issue of—

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. the parliamentary secretary on a point of order.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

February 26th, 2008 / 3:30 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux ConservativeParliamentary Secretary for Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, I think if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, the motion to concur in the fourth report, extension of time to consider Bill C-237, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts), of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage be deemed concurred in.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Does the hon. member have the consent of the House to move the motion?

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with the member for Trinity—Spadina.

Today, debate in the House has focused on the war in Afghanistan. I want to talk specifically about the NDP amendment. I am very proud of our political party's position.

I remember that back when everything started in 2003, important discussions took place here in the House. At the time, Canada had decided to go to Afghanistan, but the goal was to provide humanitarian aid and help the Afghan people. Sadly, in 2005, the Liberal government decided to go forward with a combat mission.

Our colleagues here in the House have said that because we are members of the UN, which agreed to the mission and handed it over to NATO, we have to help each other. However, there are more than four countries in the UN. Today, Holland, Canada, the United States and England are taking part in the combat mission, but other countries are not. There are several reasons for that.

Some countries have problems: governments are no longer listening to the people. For example, last year I was in Germany, and members of the German parliament told us that 80% of Germans were against the combat mission in Afghanistan. Despite their opposition, the Germans were in Afghanistan, but not in the combat zone. In Canada, most Canadians have made it clear that they feel the same way.

The Conservative government is playing word games and trying to convince people that if they do not support the mission, that means they do not support our soldiers. Imagine that. The government is trying to make our soldiers, as well as Canadians, believe that not supporting the mission means not supporting the soldiers. George W. Bush pulled the same stunt with Americans when he said, “You're with me or you're not with me”.

It is important to understand that the government and the Parliament of Canada have the right to decide on the details of the mission. I think Canadians understand that.

Our soldiers are people who decided to join the Canadian Forces, whether it be the army, the air force or the navy. When their country, Canada, gives them a mission, they do it without question and they support it.

It is our responsibility, as leaders of our country, to give our soldiers that mission. It is clear that the combat mission in Afghanistan is not working. It is recognized that violence has increased and that Afghan women are still victims of violence. It is also recognized that the education system is not working as they would have us believe.

Even though we are talking about defending a country for democracy, I have difficulty understanding and accepting that a female member of the Afghan parliament, who wanted to express herself democratically, was thrown out of parliament by the government of Afghanistan. She lost her position as a member of parliament because she wanted to express herself democratically.

Today, we are defending a government that accepts drugs and the violence that is still being done to women. If the Canadian government really wants to help people, it could have sent money to the African countries grappling with AIDS, for example. The money spent on fighting and waging war could have saved many more lives and prevented what is happening in Afghanistan.

In any dispute, a negotiated settlement becomes necessary. We would accomplish more by engaging in diplomacy and working and negotiating with these people than by waging war.

We saw what happened to the Russians. They went into Afghanistan, they fought and fought, and they left, but today the situation is still the same. I believe they missed the boat, but we must not miss the boat. We should be able to succeed through peace missions.

For their part, the Liberals did an about-face and came to tell us that they did not do it for political reasons or because of the prospect of an election. Do they think that Canadians are that easily fooled? Do you think that people were not aware of the negotiating that went on?

The Liberal Party is divided in two. It is scared of a vote that could trigger an election. Everyone can see what happened. Now they would have us think that they really believe in continuing the mission through 2011. But a few months ago, the Liberal leader said that it would end in 2009 and that we would leave Afghanistan. He was saying the same thing just a few weeks ago, as my colleague stated. The Liberals said that we must withdraw because they did not at all believe in this combat mission.

But now, all of a sudden, they are scared of losing the election, so they are joining up with the Conservatives. But they are not really joining up with the Conservatives, since I think it is the Conservatives who are joining the Liberals' team. The Liberals are the ones who led us into a combat mission in August 2005, under the member for LaSalle—Émard, the leader of the Liberal Party at the time. The Liberals forced this combat mission on us, and later they have tried to make us believe they had nothing to do with it. The Conservatives liked this, because at the time, they were the official opposition and wanted to engage in a combat mission to support George Bush and his administration. That was the situation. Then, they were happy to say that they would keep it going.

The Conservatives then got a little scared, because for a number of weeks the Liberals did not rise in the House of Commons and even, as we say in the unions, staged a walkout; they left the House.

At one point, I wondered if someone should dock their pay because they were no longer doing their jobs. They refuse to stand up to vote on important issues, because they are afraid of losing elections. The NDP, on the other hand, is not here to see whether we will win or lose elections; we are here to vote for what Canadians want, and what they want is a peacekeeping mission.

Now even the Bloc Québécois agrees with us and wants a peacekeeping mission. In the past, the Bloc Québécois voted with us to end the combat mission in 2009, only to later change its stance. Indeed, after Parliament reached a decision, the Bloc decided that it was over, that it would no longer argue the issue and it would respect the voice of Parliament. That is what it did.

The House of Commons must now reach a decision on extending the mission to 2011. I fear that the Bloc Québécois, following a majority vote in favour of this motion by the Conservative government supported by the Liberals, will sit down and say that, since Parliament has spoken, there is no point in trying to convince people that this is definitely not a good mission.

This is why we will vote against prolonging the war in Afghanistan. At the very least, the combat mission must end and Canada must assume its proper role as a peacekeeper. That is what we are most appreciated for around the world. In doing so, Canada will be able to take its place in the world.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, in World War I and World War II, there were predecessor parties and movements to the NDP. Those folks were as reckless and naive as their modern counterparts in assuming that aid workers wearing peace buttons and handing out flowers would make all the problems go away. Historically, these World War II appeasers are mere afterthoughts to our brave soldiers at war. After 9/11 though, the positions of parties like the NDP and BQ are not just comical, they are hypocritical.

I notice the NDP's amendment makes no mention of the rights of women, and I do not think this is a coincidence or an oversight. The NDP gave up any claim to the rights of women when it sided with the reactionary peaceniks at the expense of Afghan women and children who need our support and protection. The NDP gave up crowing for human rights when it embraced a wilful isolationism that would return women in Afghanistan to executions in soccer stadiums.

Too many people in this House assume that the Taliban are a ragtag band of primeval warriors. It is easy to think that because their values are so primitive. However, Brigadier General Atkinson answered thoughtfully and echoed many comments by General Hillier recently. He stated that when there is a story printed in the Ottawa Citizen today, no matter what it is, it is being read. We should all ponder that statement when we debate in the House of Commons.

While I certainly understand that the modern media and communications have made--

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member could perhaps ask her question at this moment.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, why is the member for Acadie—Bathurst purposely making statements that will endanger the lives of our soldiers in Afghanistan?

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, from 1939 to 1945, our country fought to have democracy and to have the right to speak. That is the right that our veterans gave us, and I thank them for that. Nobody will take that away from us.

If we want to talk about support for our soldiers, what did we do for our World War II veterans of 1939 to 1945, whom the member was talking about? They are 80 years old and they are still fighting to get their pensions. When they came out with the VIP for the wives of our veterans, the only ones who got it were from 1981 and up. The ones before that do not deserve it, according to the Conservative government and the former Liberal government. They never gave it to our veterans.

If we want to give support to our soldiers when they go to war, we should give them support when they come back from war. They should not have to fight for it the way they are fighting for it today. Every day, every office of every member of Parliament has to fight to try to get something for our veterans. It is a shame the way they are being treated. Go talk to the veterans, but not only on the 11th of November. We should talk to them every day, listen to them and give them answers.

The support should be there when they come back too, and neither the Conservative government nor the Liberal government has done things for our soldiers when they come back. If we want to talk about supporting women, we should support our own women too, the wives of our veterans who are suffering every day because of the--

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca. The member should try to keep his comments to one minute.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe that the NDP think that the milk of human kindness courses through the veins of everybody in the world. If we truly profess to support human rights, what on earth are we going to do when narco-warlords or fundamentalists go to a clinic or go to a school and threaten to chop the heads off the teachers and the people who work there? What on earth is the member going to do? Is he going to offer a carnation in response? There is only one option. Development demands security. Unless there is security, there can be no development.

Will the member support the four pillars approach of Afghanistan security that are in the motion? Will he also support the internal political reconciliation we have championed within Afghanistan that will produce real results of peace and security within the country?

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the last time we asked Parliament to bring our troops back, the Liberals were split on it. I would like to ask the member why.

I will say something in French that a writer said:

Peace is not achieved through the fear of war, but through the love of peace.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada's involvement in Afghanistan is one of either war or peace. The Prime Minister's Conservatives, helped out by their Liberal friends, are staying the course on destruction, counter-insurgency and George Bush's war.

We know that opium production is up, corruption is up, crime is up, and the rate of violence is up, in fact up by 20% since 2006. The number of Afghan civilians killed has doubled since 2005 and last year alone NATO bombs killed over 6,500 Afghani people. We are talking about 6,500 lives and no one really seems to care. The situation is getting worse; it is not getting better.

Over the last few months food prices, especially those containing wheat and wheat flour, have increased by 60% to 80%. If our mission in Afghanistan is to better the lives of the Afghan people, we are failing. NATO is failing and the international community is failing. That is why it is time for a change in direction.

Canada has already spent $7 billion on this war. How much has it spent on peace? Less than $700 million has been spent on development aid. Imagine what we could do if we turned those numbers around. Imagine what $7 billion in aid could do.

Hundreds of thousands of children in Africa could live free of AIDS, hunger, starvation, malnutrition, malaria, and hundreds of thousands of children in Darfur, Congo and Afghanistan could live full lives and be educated. Instead, many are now starving and living in fear of death.

Canada spent $4.7 billion on planes and tanks. This amount could provide 30,000 homes for ordinary families. That means 30,000 affordable homes with roofs and warm beds. It would also mean that thousands of children would not have to move every few months because their families have no permanent place to call home.

At the end of the day, there is a choice to be made. Canada can invest in war and the military or in average Canadian families. Last year the Conservative government spent $18.2 billion on the military, but on early childhood education, does anyone know how much it spent? It spent $1.2 billion. How much did it spend on housing? It spent $2 billion, which is far short of what we need to support hard-working families.

No wonder Canada has the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression. In terms of child care and investment, no wonder Canada is at the bottom of the heap of the OECD countries. That is a dirty secret. That is right, we are at the bottom of the heap.

The Conservatives have no problem with cutting and running. What do they do? They cut child care funding, women's programs, affordable housing retrofit programs, and run the government with military lobbyists. They run away from tough questions, like telling Canadian families why our troops are in Afghanistan. What is our purpose in Afghanistan? What is our definition of success?

They are running away from doing the tough political work and peace negotiations. They are running away from using Canadian skills and expertise to bring various factions in Afghanistan to the table to talk about peace. They are running away from putting in place an effective disarmament program even though 65% of Afghans say that disarmament is the most important step toward improving security in Afghanistan.

The government is running away from involving regional actors like Pakistan, cooperation that would lead to regional peace, security and prosperity. With this cut and run strategy, no wonder a growing number of Afghans are joining or supporting the Taliban and other armed groups. No wonder there is more violence. No wonder there is a rise in insurgency. No wonder there is more corruption.

Surely, staying on this path and on this course is absurd. It is not working. It is not going anywhere fast. This strategy has been tried for seven years in a row. It is ineffective and it is failing.

The counter-insurgency combat mission has failed to build security for the Afghan people. It has failed to build a robust economy. It has failed to have gender equality. It has failed to have a stable and lasting peace.

A few months ago, this winter, over 900 Afghans died of cold and starvation. They will never see a conclusion to this war. What about those children who had to be sold by their parents in northern Afghanistan so their families could buy coal and bread? What kind of future do they expect?

Tomorrow will never come for the Canadian soldiers who fought and died in Afghanistan. Tomorrow will never come for the 26,000 children under five years of age who die every day because we are not investing enough in foreign aid. Tomorrow will not come for thousands of children living in poverty while their families are desperately waiting for affordable housing.

This is the legacy of war: more destruction, more death, more dying. This is not the path we want.

Speaking about legacies, let us stop for a moment to consider the legacy of that once mighty Liberal Party of Canada. The Liberal Party is so divided it has no courage to face the reality of war. It is so divided that it is willing to betray all its principles and support the Conservative government once again, and over again. In doing so, this proud party is betraying Canada's values of peace. It is betraying the principles of peacekeeping, development, aid, reconstruction and human rights.

Today, the respected writer and journalist Linda McQuaig said in the Toronto Star that the Liberal leader is “helping [the Prime Minister] transform Canada from a respected player on the world stage into a stick-wielding loudmouth, braying at the world from a protected perch inside the American empire”. How have the mighty fallen?

The NDP and the majority of Canadians want an end to the war. We are saying yes to peace negotiations. We are saying yes to reconstruction. We are saying yes to aid.

I am proud to stand here on behalf of the New Democratic Party of Canada and say that we should not extend the war. We should end it and bring the troops home right now.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Trinity—Spadina has laid out her party's position on the mission in Afghanistan.

I point out to her that in the 19th century the United Kingdom, the United States and many other allies pursued a policy of splendid isolation. Before Woodrow Wilson became President of the United States, the Americans pursued this policy of splendid isolation. They did not engage in complex problems overseas. They thought that those problems would always stay away.

If there is anything that the 20th century taught us, it is that we cannot live in splendid isolation. We live in an interconnected world. That is why external affairs diplomats like Norman Robertson and Humphrey Wrong, both of whom are buried in Wakefield just a few miles from here, crafted Canada's multilateralist foreign policy.

It is something on which Canada has built a reputation over the decades. Now in the 21st century the NDP is arguing that we should unilaterally withdraw from our mission in Afghanistan.

The NDP's position on this is one of two things. Either it wants to return us to the isolationist policies of the 19th century which led to the bloodshed in the 20th century or it is completely naive that we could do diplomacy and development work without defence.

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3:55 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of the Canadian men and women who served in the second world war. I am proud of what they have done in places like Hong Kong. I am proud of their accomplishments. But I am also proud of the government that did not send our troops to Vietnam. I am proud of that because that was not a war that we should have been engaged in. I am very impressed that at that time the government did not agree to go with the U.S. to Vietnam. Just like today, we should never go to Iraq.

In terms of Afghanistan, on February 2, 2002, when the first wave of Canadian troops went into Afghanistan, it was under U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom. Right from the beginning, it was a George Bush war. It was not about reconstruction, not about gender equality, not about development, and it was not about aid. That is not the path we want to choose.

We want to choose peace through negotiation. We want to do the tough work to bring people together. That is the skill, the legacy, that Canada has. It is not one of just fighting a war. It is one of peace negotiations. That is the legacy that I want to have Canada follow, not the wrong path of staying the course that is completely in the wrong direction.