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.