I thank my colleague from Hochelaga for restoring order to the House. There does not seem to be a lot of interest in the speeches being made. I am grateful to my colleague for speaking up.
On February 26, resolution 1970 was adopted by the United Nations. That resolution recommended certain embargos so there could be no arms shipments to Libya. This was an effort to isolate the regime. That first step was important. Then there was a series of sanctions. The regime’s counteroffensive began on March 2 and 3. A lot of people say that military intervention must never be used against a dictatorial regime. But in this case, events have proved us right.
The regime was isolated diplomatically and sanctions were imposed on it. When sanctions are applied, Colonel Gadhafi is not the one who is deprived of anything, in his big tent in Tripoli. He is not the one who suffers, it is his people. When there is nothing to be done with a dictatorship, the only course left for us, if we do not want there to be a slaughter, is military intervention.
But it is not military intervention at any cost. The military intervention must be based on the international rules and must go through the United Nations. Canada refused to go with the Americans into Iraq because the UN had not got involved. Here, the UN has adopted two resolutions in a row and is calling on the international community to get involved.
This had been discussed for some time. Even though it was not easy to reach international agreement, a no-fly zone absolutely had to be established. Military doctrine demonstrates this: if you do not dominate in the air, you stand a good chance of losing the conflict. That is the first thing.
This is not a new military doctrine. It was used in Kosovo. Others before me have referred to this. At the time, Serbian and Croatian troops were playing hardball. NATO troops had to get involved. That is when the no-fly zone was imposed because, as I said, if one side is armed only with slingshots and is up against aircraft, they have no chance of winning the conflict. They are likely to lose and get themselves killed.
The international community understands this and decided to go ahead with the no-fly zone when it passed resolution 1973. The Paris summit was held and that is what happened.
A few hours after the Paris summit, military interventions undertaken by international forces began. The French were the first to strike. Resolution 1973 states that all necessary measures will be taken to enforce the no-fly zone. However, procedures also need to be established to protect civilians. France's first intervention, the attack on Libyan tanks, was meant to protect the people being threatened by the tanks. The attack was very successful. Immediately afterwards, about 120 Tomahawk missiles were launched, which struck Gadhafi's anti-aircraft defences. Indeed, if we send these planes into a no-fly zone without first destroying the anti-aircraft guns, we risk suffering losses. That is why this was done. This is a well-known military practice. Were other targets also hit? Probably.
This morning, in a much-appreciated briefing from the Department of Foreign Affairs, we were told that right now the focus would be more on reconnaissance work to determine exactly what is happening. Planes will obviously enter Libyan airspace. The no-fly zone is already being enforced. I think that if a Libyan plane decides to defy the international community, it will very likely be shot down within minutes. The no-fly zone is being enforced. I also think that it is important that it happen this way because we could not allow this slaughter to continue. The mission is called “Operation Odyssey Dawn”. Many nations are involved, including the United States.
The international and political aspects explain how this decision was made. It was a major one. Together, the African Union, the Arab League, the Islamic community, the European Union, the United States and Canada can all legitimately intervene. Of course, anti-Western forces such as Russia and China will voice their disagreement. But this disagreement is limited right now because everyone can see that things could not continue as they were.
I would now like to speak about the responsibility to protect, a new aspect of international law. It is relatively new, but there have been examples where the international community really reacted too late. I am thinking about Rwanda and about Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly the Srebrenica region, where horrific massacres occurred. The international community hesitated to intervene and the damage was done. I think that, this time, the responsibility to protect was really taken into consideration and we intervened quickly.
I would like to close by saying that we must now be careful. Let us not say that everything is perfect. All of the forces in place must pay very close attention to civilian deaths because that is often what shifts the debate and causes unease. They must also pay attention to ground troops. For now, there are not supposed to be any. I think that it is better that way because they could be taken for people who are trying to occupy the area.
I really appreciated this morning's briefing. We ask that the Department of Foreign Affairs provide the opposition with weekly updates on what is happening in Libya.
I would like to thank the members of the House for listening so intently to my speech.