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House of Commons Hansard #8 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mission.

Topics

Sports InfrastructureOral Questions

3 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to welcome the hon. member.

The Government of Canada is always very interested in every region of the country and, of course, every region of Quebec. It is a region I know very well, having played a lot of sports there myself. However, as the hon. member knows, the province of Quebec has to give priority to each infrastructure project in the province of Quebec. If the province gives priority to this specific project, then we will see what happens at the federal level. We will be pleased to help this beautiful region.

Air CanadaOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, late last night 3,800 Air Canada customer service and ticket agents went on strike. Canadians are worried about the effect this will have on our economy.

Could the Minister of Labour please advise the House of the government's intentions to respond to this strike?

Air CanadaOral Questions

3 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I welcome my hon. colleague from the great fortress of Conservative Toronto.

As the member indicated, we are concerned by the effect this strike will have on our economic recovery, which is still fragile, and on Canadians in general. Canadians gave us a strong mandate to complete our economic recovery. That is why we will put on notice tonight legislation to ensure continuing air service for passengers.

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, here is something the Conservatives never talk about in their budget. Since they took power, a 30% increase in food bank use in the country has been rising and 904,000 Canadians used a food bank last year. What is most despicable is that over 200 veterans, a fourfold increase, in the city of Calgary, where the Prime Minister comes from, use a food bank strictly for veterans.

How can the government brag about its budget when the heroes of our country have to go begging for food in the richest city in our country?

Veterans AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Lévis—Bellechasse Québec

Conservative

Steven Blaney ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I want to wish the member well in his position. I appreciate his concern for our veterans.

One veteran in the street is one veteran too many. That is why this government, under the leadership of this Prime Minister, has undertaken the largest initiative to help our homeless veterans in three cities: Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. That is why we have been helping more than 100 veterans and why we also are staying the course and ensuring we take care of our veterans all over the country.

The SenateOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, since coming to power, the Conservatives have been using the Senate to reward their friends and cronies and often to delay or even defeat bills passed by duly elected MPs. Instead of proposing simply to abolish the Senate, the Prime Minister is instead insisting on a piecemeal, unilateral reform of that institution.

Since the Government of Quebec intends to turn to the courts to block these bills if it is not consulted, will the Prime Minister put an end to this obsession with unilaterally reforming the Senate?

The SenateOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Edmonton—Sherwood Park Alberta

Conservative

Tim Uppal ConservativeMinister of State (Democratic Reform)

Mr. Speaker, we believe the Senate must change in order to reach its full potential as an accountable and democratic institution. As we have always said, we are not interested in opening up the Constitution. Canadians do not want drawn-out constitutional fights. That is why our government will be proceeding with Senate reform that is reasonable and within the authority of Parliament.

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

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3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

When oral question period began, the period for questions and comments after the speech by the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue was about to begin.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake

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3:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the hon. member to the House. It is my understanding that she has served a few years in the Canadian armed forces and I thank her for that service to Canada. I look forward to working with her on the national defence committee when we get organized next week.

In the her presentation to the House, she talked about all the horrors that had occurred in Libya because of Colonel Gadhafi. She mentioned all the murders that had taken place and how he had attacked people demonstrating in the streets against his regime. She also talked about Colonel Gadhafi using rape as a weapon against his citizens and about the use of his air force to bomb civilian places.

Does the hon. member believe Colonel Gadhafi should maintain his role as the leader of Libya, or do we need to get him out and replace his government?

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3:10 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. Conservative colleague for the question.

I do not think my opinion really matters. What is important is that the people of Libya decide for themselves what should happen to Colonel Gadhafi. Libyans have the power and the intelligence to decide and to take action to ensure that he no longer leads the country.

It is really up to the people of Libya to take control of their future. It is not up to the Canadian Forces or Canada to ask that. It is up to the people of Libya to decide what they want, and I believe they are intelligent enough to make the decisions needed in order to win back their freedom and regain a comfortable way of life in their own country.

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3:10 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I commend the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue on her very fine speech on this extremely important issue to Canadians. I also note, for the record, that the member has served in the Canadian Forces and, through her knowledge, has been able to give a very detailed presentation of what is going on in Libya from that perspective as well.

Could she also elaborate on another aspect of this motion before us today, and that is a series of amendments that have been put forth by the official opposition? Why does she think it is necessary to have these amendments in order to have a proper resolution, reflecting the will of our party and the will of Canadians?

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3:10 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the proposed amendments to the motion are important because our Canadian Forces personnel deserve clear answers to their questions. Being in a country at war and being fired upon might naturally lead one to question why we are there. The amendments proposed by the Leader of the Opposition clearly state that the objective is to protect civilians. So there we have one answer to one of our soldiers' questions. They know they are there to protect civilians; that is very clear.

They are also wondering why we are there and exactly what we are doing there. Once again, the amendments proposed by the Leader of the Opposition are very clear: we are there to increase humanitarian aid.

I will read it in English. It states:

—the House supports an increase in Canada’s humanitarian assistance to those affected by the crisis and efforts to strengthen Canada’s support for the diplomatic efforts outlined in UNSCR 1973 to reach a ceasefire leading to a Libyan-led political transition, and supports the government’s commitment to not deploy Canadian ground troops.

With that, Canadian soldiers know exactly how things are going to work. Thus, the amendments give two very clear answers to our soldiers, who need to know before being deployed to Libya exactly why they are there and what will happen.

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3:10 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to participate in the debate on the motion by the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the Canadian role in Libya.

Canada's armed forces are helping protect the civilian population in Libya from violence at the hands of the Gadhafi regime. Our actions in Libya are part of a NATO-led mission authorized by United Nations Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973. The House of Commons unanimously voted for sanctions and to endorse military action. The conditions that prompted these actions still exist.

The Gadhafi regime has continually shown no regard for human rights and has refused to abide by its own international humanitarian and legal obligations. It has chosen to wage war against its own people, including alleged acts of sexual violence and the use of rape as a weapon of war to further the regime's military goals. For that reason, it is our Conservative government's position that Canada's role in Libya must continue alongside our NATO partners in the timeframe set out by the alliance, which is the reason we are debating this motion today.

NATO leaders have said that a 90-day extension is currently required to effect change in Libya and we have agreed with that assessment. Canada has and will continue to work closely with its international and regional partners, such as the United Nations, the Arab League, the African Union and NATO, to ensure that peace and security are brought to the people of Libya.

As the minister for the Status of Women and a female member of Parliament in a freely elected House of Commons, I wish to address the serious allegation that the Gadhafi regime is using rape, fear of rape and other forms of sexual violence against the Libyan population.

Given the chaotic situation in western Libya and the stigma attached to reporting rape in Libya, it is difficult to know exactly what is going on at this time, but we are learning more every day. The investigation by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court indicated on June 8 that the prosecutor has significant evidence that Gadhafi is using rape as a weapon against the Libyan population. The prosecutor, therefore, is considering adding rape to the serious charges against Gadhafi and his relatives.

We have all heard reports on the case of Ms. Imam al-Obeidi, who was abducted and subsequently detained while attempting to tell a group of foreign journalists in March that she had been tortured and gang raped by 15 members of Gadhafi's forces. Allegations of attacks such as those against Ms. al-Obeidi must be investigated. Torture and the widespread and systematic use of rape against the population are not only serious violations of international law but are abhorrent and unacceptable.

I would like to focus the rest of my comments on the broader perspective for women and girls.

The specific experience of women and girls in armed conflict is often linked to their status in society. We know that when women and girls thrive, the whole of society benefits. So empowering women and girls can help to promote peace and progress for all.

The use of sexual violence as a tool of war devastates societies in ways that few weapons can. It ravages families and communities. It is wrong, it is immoral, it is abhorrent. In these contexts, sexual violence can be a war crime or a crime against humanity.

Countries around the world came together at the 1995 the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and agreed that, “While entire communities suffer the consequences of armed conflict and terrorism, women and girls are particularly affected because of their status in society as well as their sex”.

Where violence and discrimination against women and girls exist prior to conflict, they get worse during conflict. That is why our government is taking action. Today in Rome, the Minister of International Cooperation announced, among other measures, help for up to 50,000 women and girls in Libya who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing gender-based violence.

We must work to promote equality between women and men and ensure that the differential impact of conflict on women and girls is recognized and addressed through every phase of war and peace. To ensure that this happens, it is important that women be included in the peace process and that they be given the training and support they need to participate meaningfully.

In October of 2010, Canada unveiled its action plan on women, peace and security. This national action plan will help us focus and coordinate the implementation of our commitments and will increase the effectiveness of our response to ensure the systematic integration of the concerns and experiences of women and girls in conflict situations.

This principle of equality through all stages of conflict and peace is the key to the development of stable countries built on a foundation of human rights and the rule of law.

Our national action plan will guide the way Canada develops policy and how we select, train and deploy Canadian personnel and ensure they have the right knowledge and guidance for implementing Canadian policies effectively in the field. It will steer Canada's interventions abroad so they encourage the participation of women and girls, promote their rights and advance their equal access to humanitarian and development assistance.

It is in specific debates such as on this motion that national action plans are essential, and I applaud our government for its proactive position on this topic. Canada has a long history of supporting the rights and well-being of women and girls in situations of conflict, as reflected in our ongoing active implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security. We have also taken action through international programming to address sexual violence, to support civil society and to strengthen international criminal justice mechanisms.

Our government understands that work has to be undertaken in a number of areas to advance women's human rights and equality internationally. That is why we are proud that the Prime Minister is leading international efforts to improve the health and save the lives of mothers and children in some of the world's poorest countries by targeting the leading causes of mortality in mothers and children in vulnerable countries. These new initiatives will support comprehensive and integrated approaches to provide much-needed health services for mothers and children.

It was in this spirit that I spearheaded the recent successful all-party House of Commons initiative in the last parliament of Canada to lead a United Nations resolution proclaiming September 22 as an international day of the girl, a resolution supported by all parties of this chamber, recognized as key to advancing equality for girls throughout the world.

Canadians understand that when girls have a solid foundation in life with the best skills and living conditions, they can truly blossom, grow and join in building a stronger world. The international day of the girl will galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for these goals, helping to raise global awareness of the unique challenges facing girls, as well as their tremendous potential.

“Girls' Rights Matter“ was Canada's theme for International Women's Week this year, because we know that when girls know their rights, they are more likely to exercise them in ways that will benefit themselves, their families and their communities.

The promotion of human rights and the equality of women and men, boys and girls, will continue to be important priorities of Canada's foreign and aid policies. It is based on a belief that equal rights for women and girls are an essential and inherent component of progress on overall human rights and democratic development, and that sustainable and equitable development will only be achieved if women are able to participate as equal partners and decision-makers in the sustainable development of their societies.

Consequently, Canada has continuously promoted the integration and mainstreaming of gender analysis in the work of all international fora, including such multilateral organizations as the United Nations, the OECD, the Commonwealth, La francophonie and the OAS.

Canada has played a key role in bringing issues such as violence against women, women's rights as human rights, and national machinery for the advancement of women, and women in decision-making to the forefront of international discussion.

We have condemned the stoning of women in Afghanistan, spoken out against honour-motivated violence and condemned all forms of violence against women and girls worldwide.

Our government is also committed to addressing violence against women and girls in Canada. As members know, in the recent Speech from the Throne, we committed to taking action to address the problem of violence against women and girls.

Our government has no more fundamental duty than to protect the personal safety of our citizens. It takes this responsibility very seriously. We will continue to protect the most vulnerable in society and work to prevent crime. Violence against women affects us all. It destroys families, and weakens the fabric of our society.

I am proud to be part of a government that is committed to ensuring fair, equitable and respectful treatment of all citizens, and to taking further action against acts of violence against women and girls at home and around the world.

Over the last year I have met with women and girls from around the world. I have heard their struggles to access education and to live free from hunger, disease and violence.

We must be vigilant and stand steadfastly to ensure that women have the respect and dignity they are entitled to as human beings.

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3:25 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for her speech. I agree with most of what she had to say, especially in regard to the totally wanton, disgusting violence committed by Gadhafi’s troops against women and girls in Libya.

We all know that the UN mandated NATO-led mission has three objectives: an end to all attacks against civilians, verifiable withdrawal of the regime's military and paramilitary forces to bases, and full and unhindered access to humanitarian aid for all of those who need it across Libya.

The NDP's position is clear. We support the clear UN mandate to protect civilians in Libya from government attacks and to negotiate a ceasefire. However, we have concerns about mission creep and want to see the government do more on the diplomatic and humanitarian assistance fronts.

Can the minister address those concerns about the mission?

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3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think all members appreciate that while our men and women in uniform are doing very difficult work in Libya, our civilians and public servants and diplomats will be doing just as difficult work post-conflict in Libya. That is why it is important to highlight something as crucial as the announcement by the Minister of International Cooperation today. As we know, she announced additional emergency assistance for up to 780,000 affected people in Libya, as well as those who have fled to neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt and, very importantly, help for up to 50,000 women and girls in Libya who have experienced or at risk of experiencing gender-based violence. Canada has already provided, in response, food for 1 million displaced Libyans, tents and supplies for 90,000 Libyans, as well as medical supplies and care.

We continue to work with our international partners to monitor the humanitarian situation as it develops. Of course, I agree with the member opposite that the humanitarian side of this conflict is one that we will all continue to watch with extreme concern, particularly the impact on women and girls.

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3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I commend the minister for her work on the advancement of equality. The stories of rape as an instrument of war are troubling to us all.

I think the one item that is of the greatest concern to Canadians is the one that was actually identified in the last question, that of mission creep. When we hear of these atrocities, it strikes me that it will be most difficult to eliminate them within the present mandate and I wonder if it is not regime change that we are really talking about here.

Is it realistic to expect to put an end to these atrocities within the UN mandate or is this really about something bigger?

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3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think it is realistic to recognize that these horrific acts of violence are occurring. I think it is important that we have raised this issue in the motion and are debating it in the House of Commons and that it has been raised at the highest levels.

In past conflicts, issues like the use of rape as a tool of war were ignored and not recognized by some countries. Canada is taking a leadership role in this matter, as we have done in the past.

As the members know, we have continued to support the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 that was adopted in the year 2000. It was a very important resolution to ensure that violence against women and girls is considered unquestionably as unacceptable, and we will continue through this resolution to support and implement meaningful measures such as the action plan the Minister of Foreign Affairs put in place in October. This is to ensure not only that we improve the safety and justice for women and girls around the world who are affected by violence during conflict but also after conflict. We also have to ensure that women are part of the peace-making process once this conflict is over.

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3:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for her contribution to the debate today and all members for this important debate on Libya.

As members know, we have heard discussion of how Canada responded quickly by moving to Malta when we had to evacuate citizens out of the conflict zone. We moved quickly to help protect Libyan citizens. We have forces there now, on the water, and our air force is working out of Italy to help take out Libyan forces that are attacking their own civilians.

The minister focused her remarks on humanitarian aid. I understand that over $8 million in aid has already gone into the area and another $2 million was announced just recently. The minister was talking about the serious issue related to violence against women in the conflict zone.

I understand that of the aid that was recently announced, tens of thousands of dollars would be going toward the victims of rape and sexual violence. There is aid available to train people to help provide counselling and so on.

Could the minister tell us how the money that has been provided is going to assist people at risk from the outrageous acts against women in the conflict zone?

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3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier, Canada is taking a leadership role in this matter. It is important that all countries act in the same manner. I am very proud that Canada has recognized not only these despicable actions but has acted very quickly to offer emergency assistance to these victims.

Today, the Minister of International Cooperation has announced additional assistance that will help up to 50,000 women and girls in Libya who have either already experienced or are at risk of experiencing sexual violence. We can only imagine the horror as this conflict unfolds, and the fear that women and girls are experiencing.

Sending a message like this from a free, democratic and just country like Canada to the people of Libya is an important message. We want the women in Libya to know that Canada stands behind them and we will do what we can to support them in this very difficult time.

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3:30 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the minister for her comments, particularly around UN resolutions 1325 and 1888. In fact, on this side of the House we did commend the government for its action plan on resolution 1325. We believe that is something that should be front and centre in Canada's role in the world.

Is the minister part of a coordinating group in her role for Status of Women to ensure that this is an action plan that will be further resourced? Clearly, this action plan needs to be animated. The Department of Foreign Affairs did an excellent job in briefing members when they asked for the action plan. Are there further plans to ensure that this action plan will be continuing?

It is not just a one-off, if you will, when it comes to Libya. It is enacted not only overseas but here in Canada as well.

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3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member and I thank his party for supporting our government's action plan to support resolution 1325.

The action plan responded to a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions on the subject of women, peace and security. Together these resolutions confirm the need to account for equality between women and men in all stages of conflict, prevention and resolution.

I can assure the member that this action plan is very much alive and ongoing. As we speak, our action plan guides the way that Canada develops our policy. It helps us select, train and deploy Canadian personnel. It ensures that we have the right knowledge and guidance for implementing Canadian policies effectively in the field. I know that it will steer our interventions abroad, so that they encourage the participation of women and girls, promote their rights and advance their equal access to humanitarian and development assistance.

We will continue to be guided by this resolution and I thank the member for his support of our action plan.

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3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to speak in the House today on this important motion.

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with a very distinguished member of the House, the member for Scarborough—Guildwood.

I would like to start by thanking the voters of Beauséjour, New Brunswick. This is the first opportunity I have had to take the floor in the new Parliament. It is the fifth time that the voters of Beauséjour have placed their confidence in me, and I would therefore like to thank them very much and say I will serve them to the best of my ability for the next four years.

I would also like to tell the House, as my colleagues from Cape Breton—Canso and Toronto Centre did before me, that we will support the motion brought forward by the government and amended by the NDP, with an amendment to the amendment from my colleague from Toronto Centre.

It is important also to note that this action in Libya, where Canadian Forces are participating in a robust and important way, has been authorized by the United Nations. Colleagues in previous comments have referred to the two specific resolutions, resolutions 1970 and 1973, which have authorized military action in support of protecting civilians, ensuring that aid is able to reach those affected by this devastating crisis, and to ensure that the regime of Colonel Gadhafi is not able to use aircraft or helicopter gunships, or other heavy weapons to attack Libya's unarmed civilian population.

Last March 17, the United Nations imposed a no-fly zone over Libya by adopting resolution 1973.

The Parliament of Canada approved Canadian participation on March 21. Our participation was unanimously approved by Parliament before the last federal election.

NATO has decided now to extend the mission until September 22, 2011.

It is also important to indicate our party's support, and my colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood will elaborate on that in his incisive comments in a few minutes, for the men and women of the Canadian Forces, who are doing, as they always do, a terrific job in very difficult circumstances.

From a foreign policy perspective, the member for Toronto Centre correctly articulated the Liberal Party's view that we should broaden Canada's role not only in Libya but in other struggling democracies in that region.

I thought the Minister of Foreign Affairs in his comments, that began this debate today, was correct to recognize in a formal way the Libyan national transitional council, and its important work not only in Benghazi, but in attempting to build democratic and state institutions that will be available to the people of Libya when and if there is a change of government.

Canada, from our perspective, can play a broader role. We certainly supported the government's decision to recognize this representative institution of the people of Libya. But we also applauded and were encouraged by the government's announcement that it will increase humanitarian aid by $2 million. It is a good beginning.

From our perspective, the focus cannot only be on military action. The effective work of our diplomats, our non-governmental organizations and development agencies, obviously the Canadian International Development Agency, can play a critical role in protecting the people of the great country of Libya. They can also help the people of Libya build the capacity necessary and the institutions necessary to ensure that a fledgling democracy is able to take hold and state institutions develop in a way that can be long-lasting and durable in a part of the world that unfortunately has often seen armed conflict at a time when democracy would have offered such a positive and progressive alternative to those countries.

This morning the Minister of Foreign Affairs announced a $2 million increase in Canada’s humanitarian assistance as well as our official recognition of the Libyan national council as the legitimate representative of the people of Libya. We applaud him for that. We think it is an important start. As I said, Canada has a long tradition of supporting democracies embarking on this stage in the civil life of a country, even though it is often difficult.

If anybody doubted that we live in an unstable world, the events of this spring in that part of the world, the Middle East, now known as the Arab spring, I think have reminded us of the role that the international community can play.

I think that this House has comes together, as we have today, to support not only the work done by the women and men who serve in our armed forces but also the work done by our diplomats, the work done by the very impressive women and men who serve in our Department of Foreign Affairs, who work in the Canadian International Development Agency, and the thousands of others who work in non-governmental organizations.

There are also the experts in constitutional law. It is difficult to set up a federal system in areas of the world that have scarcely known anything other than conflict. Political scientists and professors of international law have helped build a democratic future in several countries in Libya’s neighbourhood, the Middle East. The government should continue to show much greater openness toward efforts of this kind and not just focus on our military contribution, although it is important and authorized by the United Nations. We think that Canada can make a greater, more lasting contribution by supporting these efforts.

I will conclude by saying that the Liberal Party is very proud of the role that Canada has played in developing democratic institutions, and supporting and protecting people facing very serious human rights challenges.

I think all of us were appalled when we saw, in February, some of the savage and brutal attacks inflicted by Colonel Gadhafi's regime on unarmed populations, when we had peaceful protests in countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, when people were expressing their desire to choose their own future, to elect the people who will govern their country, who will rule their country in the spirit of respect for the rule of law, of human rights, and for the rights of women who so often are brutalized by those very regimes that were seeking to put an end to the peaceful protests. When we saw that brutality, I think everybody agreed in this House, and in Canada, as we did in March, that we had a role to play.

We began with a military role. We sent HMCS Charlottetown, some air force personnel and some support personnel and, as I said at the beginning of my remarks, we did a great job. I think nobody doubts our contribution militarily.

However, the time has come now for the government, for this House, and I hope for the foreign affairs committee of this House, to look at what additional steps we can take, in terms of governance, capacity-building, respecting the rights of women, and ensuring that the International Criminal Court is able to bring those responsible for these massacres to justice. This was a Canadian invention. We should continue to support multilateral institutions like that in helping the Libyan people on their path to democracy and freedom.

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3:45 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the Liberal Party for his intervention. I look forward to working with him on the foreign affairs committee.

One of the issues that needs to be addressed, of course, is who we work with on the ground. It is important to look to the national transitional council, the NTC, and that has been brought up in an amendment today, because we need to have partners to work with in the days and months ahead.

I just want to get a read from him on the importance of actually having a connection to deal with the governance question. We had presented an amendment today to ensure that there was support for that. However, does the member see this as something that we have to continue to push for, not just in this debate today and the next couple of months but actually something we have to commit to for the next couple of years, in fact?

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3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I also look forward to working with the member and our colleagues on the foreign affairs committee. I am encouraged that our first meeting will be this week. My hope is that the committee can work on exactly that issue. The member for Ottawa Centre has said it very well. Increasing governance assistance, capacity building, a democratic institution and a building assistance require a reliable partner.

There has been a lot of confusion about the nomenclature of the National Transitional Council. Often when we are translating from a different language, the names get confusing. From our perspective, this is a good start. The government's decision to recognize that council today and engage in direct and, we hope, robust talks with its members will be important.

However, I agree with the member that this is not something that can end in September. That level of assistance and that principle should extend for many more months if we are to do the job properly.