Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the members for Etobicoke North, Don Valley West and Etobicoke Centre.
I have the opportunity to participate in this emergency debate on the unfortunate circumstances in Sri Lanka.
Earlier today I welcomed here in Ottawa a group of students from Precious Blood school in my riding. They arrived while the people were out there demonstrating, and I use that word in a positive way, to express their concern and their message.
The students asked me what was going on outside. I explained to them that a group from across Canada was here to demonstrate with respect to what is happening in their former homeland of Sri Lanka, and I explained a bit of the circumstances.
They were surprisingly attentive. They wanted to know and hear. In the mosaic, the representation of students before me, I think there had to be some students from that community as well. I think they were pleased that I was leaving the reception to go and add my voice to the voices of the many colleagues who were out there earlier today.
Throughout this debate, we have heard a historical perspective of what has happened in decades past, the thousands of innocent lives that have been lost, from parliamentarians to young boys and girls, young men and women, seniors and so on. We have heard about a society that is not able to progress.
The humanitarian tragedy that is unfolding today is unfortunate. I think we could go so far as to use the word that is not permitted to be used: genocide, or ethnic cleansing.
We are all aware that organizations and groups such as the European community, the U.K., Norway, Switzerland, the United States and Canada have expressed their concern for what is happening. It is odd that although all these prominent, powerful nations have made these statements, they are going nowhere.
It prompted me to go back to a quote of what was said. Earlier they talked about UN declarations. I am going to quote, for the record, what Javier Solana said here in this honourable House, when we had a joint session with the House of Commons and the Senate. He was then the NATO Secretary-General. He said, “The solution to the problem is not in signing papers; it is in compliance”.
The frustration is that bodies such as the UN, whose credibility I believe is on the line today, can sit around those wonderful chambers and bring forth resolutions. Then, regarding these conflicts, wherever they are unfolding--today it is Sri Lanka--people say that there was a resolution, but why is it not being complied with and not being carried out? As a result, the conflict escalates.
We need a way to enforce these resolutions and have these nations comply with the resolutions through measures mentioned earlier by several colleagues, as was done by the Mulroney government and as was mentioned earlier by the member for Scarborough—Agincourt.
I have had the Canadian Tamil Congress visit me in my office. We talked about how we could approach this issue. We talked about petitions. Petitions have been presented and are waiting for accreditation so that we can present them to express their views.
However, an interesting thing came up earlier, and I ask the member for Oak Ridges—Markham to take this to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism or even their whole caucus. At a time of great difficulty like this, when loved ones are being killed, when they are being thrown out of their homes, villages and towns and have nowhere to go, maybe there could be an application for them to come and move over with their loved ones.
I remember that during the Yugoslavian conflict, we here in Canada opened our doors and allowed many thousands of people to come over temporarily to get out of that conflict. They stayed with their relatives. Some of them stayed in Canada and some of them went back.
We talk about resolutions, but what a unique opportunity it would be if the government side today could ask our immigration officers over there to look at all the applications so that we could reunite them, or unite them, with their families here in Canada. It is one suggestion for a unique opportunity to alleviate some of the pain.