Mr. Speaker, may I begin by expressing the appreciation of the member for Scarborough—Guildwood for the Minister of National Defence and his staff.
Throughout the summer, as the member for Scarborough—Guildwood has expressed, he and other members of our caucus received briefings from the Minister of National Defence and his staff. They gave us updates on the unfolding situation in Libya which were thorough, frequent, extensive and candid. We appreciated the openness the minister demonstrated throughout this mission.
I would add that I had discussions with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and I appreciated as well the diplomatic initiatives he took with the contact group and otherwise the sanctions that were levied against the Libyan leadership and the movement to bring Libyan officials, beginning with Colonel Gadhafi, before the International Criminal Court for accountability.
I would also like to recognize the exemplary contribution of our armed forces. It really is due to the professionalism and dedication of our Canadian Forces and that of NATO that we can discuss what is happening in Libya today in a manner that speaks to the rebuilding of a free Libya, a Libya free from the tyrannical regime of Colonel Gadhafi and his cohorts.
I would like to highlight the work of our diplomatic representatives, particularly that of Sandra McCardell, the Canadian ambassador to Libya. We know that conflicts in this day and age are not simply addressed and won on the battlefield, but they also take place in the trenches of diplomacy. She has been a significant asset to Canada throughout the mission and will continue to play a very prominent role in the rebuilding process. As she and her family head off to Libya, my colleagues in the Liberal Party and I wish her safety and godspeed in her mission.
On this point of expressing appreciation, I want to express our thanks as well to the Libyan diaspora here in Canada and those outside Canada with whom our caucus has met singly and in groups. They identified for us the challenges that are confronting Libya today, as well as the opportunities. Some of those challenges which they outlined to us I am going to be abbreviating for reasons of time. They would be far more elaborate and clear were I able to convey them as they were initially conveyed in their deliberations with us.
First, they spoke of leadership issues. Gadhafi had effectively eliminated most of the political elite, including opposition figures in exile. As a result of that, political parties and opposition groups were almost non-existent. Gadhafi therefore remained the only dominant personality in the political realm which now has to be reconfigured, rebuilt and redeemed.
The second was the issue of the remnants of a divided society. Divisions between eastern, western, coastal and inland regions would still be a factor, as would tribal divisions, though this to a lesser extent. In particular, reference was made to the division between Benghazi and Tripoli. Residents of both cities have a certain apprehension of the other gaining dominance, while Tripoli itself remains a certain complex mix between old residents who, although anti-Gadhafi, are nonetheless concerned about the control to be exercised from Benghazi, and Gadhafi loyalists who came to that city in later years. I do not want to over-exaggerate this point. It has been made by others, including in briefings by the National Endowment for Democracy, but it at least deserves mention in this catalogue of some of the challenges.
The third one is that of a weak security sector. Unlike Egypt, for example, Libya lacks a sophisticated security sector in particular. Under the Gadhafi regime, security was heavily privatized and contracted to foreign mercenaries. Therefore, no effective, sophisticated and viable security sector was developed.
The fourth one was a lack of economic infrastructure. Here, too, there was a bifurcated economic system where the oil resources were largely separated from the rest of the economy, which remain for the most part underdeveloped. The allocation of oil revenues, therefore, in a democratically developing Libya raises the issue of a resource-based conflict that could develop between competing regions. This is something we will have to monitor as well, led of course by the Libyan Transitional Council and government.
Finally, reference has to be made to the character of the violent conflict and the transitional justice that will evolve. Such a conflict as we have been witnessing raises issues of accountability and demands for retribution.
In particular, given our experience with respect to transitional justice in terms of developing international justice frameworks and reforms, we can assist the Libyan Transitional Council in this regard.
May I just close in terms of that which was conveyed to us about some of the opportunities.
The opportunities exist because of, in effect, the disenchantment with the Gadhafist ideology. That ideology never did take hold. Libyans at this point are seeking, and indeed welcoming, the notion of having free elections, mechanisms for accountability, and putting to bed any reference to that remnant of an ideology that was never embraced by the Libyan people themselves.
There is also a commitment to democratic legitimacy. The NTC itself has recognized the need for free and fair multi-party elections and the establishment of a provisional government. It has expressed commitment to bring together intellectuals, human rights leaders, trade unions and citizens in any transition process so that it goes forward in an inclusive manner.
In the matter of local government, an important point is that local councils largely superseded tribal ties to provide for more independent, transparent and accountable government. There is a developing healthy interaction. I am speaking here about the potential opportunities between the National Transitional Council and local councils. This will help to develop a governance that promotes both a democratic voice and accountability.
Finally, in terms of civil society, the emerging civil society organizations offer opportunities for civic participation and possibilities to build trust outside the lesser institutions that have been allowed to develop in terms of family and tribe on any national scale. Labour unions can play an important role here. Although they were heavily controlled by Gadhafi, they are one of the few groupings in the civil society sector that were allowed to exist under the Gadhafi regime, although the influence there of course remained.
I participated, as many members did, in the debate on Libya that we had in the House last March. At the time, I mentioned in the House and wrote at the end of February in a series of op-eds:
[T]he threats and assaults on civilians in Libya continue to escalate. ...Muammar Gaddafi vows to exterminate the “greasy rats” of civilians, who “deserve to die”.
The continuing pronouncements by Gadhafi at the time led to ongoing condemnation and calls for action. Even opposition parties at the time in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco spoke of Gadhafi's genuine industry of extermination and the need to act, as did western political leaders, the European Union, the UN Secretary-General and the like. Interestingly enough, none of the political leaders who spoke about the compellability to act referred to the need to invoke the responsibility to protect doctrine. I was delighted that in its midnight session on February 26, the UN Security Council in its resolution then and later in March invoked the responsibility to protect doctrine.
As I wrote at the time:
Strong condemnation--without effective action by the international community--would be a betrayal of the Libyan people and a repudiation of the [responsibility to protect] R2P Doctrine. It is our responsibility to ensure this Doctrine is not yet another exercise in empty rhetoric, but an effective resolve to protect people and human rights.
The two resolutions that were passed, in particular, resolution 1973 of March 17, authorized international military action against the Libyan government including a no-fly zone to protect the Libyan people, tightening the economic and financial sanctions along with calls for a ceasefire, diplomatic initiatives and movements toward self-determination for the Libyan people. This created a situation where not long thereafter, we were able to say that the international action authorized by the UN Security Council appeared to be working.
By the end of March the no-fly zone had not only been established, but enforced. A no-drive zone had effectively been implemented. Rebel forces that were on the cusp of desperation weeks before appeared emboldened by the United Nations' response. The international action was not a unilateral move by the United States or one in the absence of a UN Security Council resolution, but had been undertaken pursuant to two UN Security Council resolutions, the first invoking importantly the responsibility to protect doctrine together with targeted sanctions, and the second invoking the important no-fly zone and the accompanying initiatives to which I refer.
We had a situation that moved forward. This brings us to the present day where in discussions in the UN Security Council, Under-Secretary-General Lynn Pascoe spoke of the challenges that still await us and the role we can play in that regard. He mentioned the security concerns that still obtain in that regard and which still need to be addressed and that the formation of a new inclusive interim government would be a crucial step toward national reconciliation and unity and to ensuring that all military groups were brought under a unified command.
Also, and this is something that bears mention and action, regarding the issue of arms proliferation, he echoed the concerns of others that it is imperative the National Transitional Council and the international community establish control over the large stockpiles of sophisticated weapons amassed by the Gadhafi government, including ground-to-air missiles, warning against the spread as he did of those armaments and the threat that they could fall into terrorists' hands.
Re-establishing control over chemical weapons and prospective weapons of mass destruction is of paramount importance. Indeed there has been the discovery of chemical weapons stockpiles, some of which have been discovered as recently as September 22.
Mr. Pascoe spoke of the uncovering of mass graves which indicated the enormity of the human rights crimes that were perpetrated by the Gadhafi regime. Evidence has to be gathered reliably for future accountability. All countries must co-operate--and Canada can play a leading role--with the International Criminal Court in apprehending the indictees and bringing them to justice.
We will also have to make every effort to prevent revenge attacks as he mentioned in expressing concern over the forced displacement of groups of civilians among the Tewerga and Gwaliosh peoples, who were perceived as Gadhafi loyalists.
Another issue expressed today in the Security Council debate was the continuing concern about African migrants and other third party nationals, over 200,000 of whom the United Nations had helped evacuate since the beginning of the crisis. He noted that many more remained in transit camps inside the country. We will have to move to the early processing of those in detention and greater attention to the security of those who continue to work in Libya.
Finally, reference was made by Mr. Jibril today in his address about the need to continue the unfreezing of funds. These funds are needed now in the rebuilding of Libya. The needs of Libya at this point, whether they be housing and electricity, rebuilding infrastructure which was decimated by the conflict, even the security matters relating to weapons retention and the like, will need the kind of funds that the assets can provide.
I will close by making reference to the fact that the NDP amendment that we have been debating effectively calls for the end of our military participation in Libya. It is not a position expressed by the leader of our party, nor one that our party shares.
House of Commons rules are such that this amendment cannot be further amended to ensure that support for this mission continues. Had we been able to amend the government's motion, then the text of our amended motion would have read as follows, and with this I move to a close. I will speak to the substance of what would have been our proposed motion. It is as follows: That, in standing in solidarity with those seeking freedom and better governance in Libya, and in order to protect the civilian population of the country from violent attacks from their own government, the House adopted government motions on March 21 and June 14, 2011 authorizing all necessary measures, including the use of the Canadian armed forces and military assets in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolution 1973; that given the current military situation and the success of the National Transitional Council (NTC) and anti-Gaddafi forces to date, the House supports an extension of up to three months of the involvement of the Canadian armed forces operating with NATO in accordance with a legal mandate from UNSC resolution 1973; that the House continues to support Canada's engagement in all spheres in the rebuilding of a new Libya, including human rights, democratic development and the rule of law, as well as humanitarian and medical assistance in co-operation with the Libyan Canadian community; that the Government of Canada implement a broader engagement strategy with North Africa to promote democracy and stability in the region; that the House deplores the violence committed by the previous regime against the Libyan people, including violence against women, including sexual assault and torture as weapons of war, and including human rights abuses against migrant workers; that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Standing Committee on National Defence shall remain seized of Canada's activities under UNSC resolution 1973 and in the rebuilding of the new Libya.
This would continue to give us an active role with respect to the responsibility to protect doctrine and its implementation.
It further states: that the House extends thanks to Canada's Ambassador to Libya, Sandra McCardell, and her diplomatic colleagues, as well as those working at the Canadian International Development Agency for the good work that they have done; and that the House continues to offer its wholehearted and unconditional support to the brave men and women of the Canadian armed forces who stand on guard for all of us, and continue to protect Libyan civilians from the risks still posed by the Gaddhafi regime, and give effective implementation to the responsibility to protect doctrine.
However, since we are unable to move this specific motion and since we cannot support the NDP's amended motion, we will be supporting the main motion.