Mr. Speaker, you can interrupt me any time because I have immense respect for your judgment. Therefore, I will respect your judgment in terms of the clock.
This past June, the Canadian Parliament agreed on something very important which was UN resolution 1973. It talked about the need to bring, with our allies, an international human rights response to the murderous Gadhafi regime that was attacking its people and the threat of rape being used as a weapon of war. That was raised in the House by the New Democratic Party and we put it into our motion of support. It is the first time that rape, as a weapon of war, has been recognized in a parliamentary debate. So we did something very profound.
However, at the time, there were a number of people in Canada, certainly within our party, who were very concerned that this would be misinterpreted as a mandate for regime change. There is a fundamental difference between that and the international community coming together to protect civilians and the civilian enclaves. To see this as a mandate to begin regime change, certainly we would see the necessity then for a regime change in many countries. Regarding the murderous regime in Syria, there is not a comment from the government.
Now that the regime has fallen, there is a need for the international community to begin the important work of rebuilding, but we hear from the government continual talk of punching above our weight and militaristic talk. I heard my colleague for Selkirk—Interlake use the old tired Conservative slogan: “We don't cut and run”. Now my colleague is from farm country and probably does not know what “cut and run” means.
Cut and run is a nautical term. It means if one's ship is going to the hit rocks, one has to cut the anchor and run with the wind, otherwise the ship goes straight into the rocks. We do not hear that kind of nuance from the Conservatives because their plan is always to go straight into the rocks.
I speak on this because I was raised by my grandmother who has never gotten over the horror of the Battle of the Somme and the fact that every boy on her street died fighting for the British army in Somme. She said to me again and again as a little boy, “Charlie, always watch the politicians who get young boys killed”.
There is a sort of puffery in the way we talk about our allies. I think of the great Prime Minister Cameron who came here and spoke of the international community standing up against the murderous regime in Libya. Yet, just last year it was the British regime that was courting Gadhafi and signing deals. In fact, I was just reading an article in The Telegraph about how Britain courted, armed and trained a Libyan monster. As recently as June 16, 2010, it was providing Gadhafi's notorious son Khamis with special invitations to celebrate the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. While the British were engaging Gadhafi and treating him royally, they were also signing arms deals so that he could oppress and kill his own people.
That is the reality of international affairs. We must start being more honest in the House of Commons when we talk about our role in the international community with our allies in terms of dealing with murderous regimes like Gadhafi. Now that Gadhafi has been beaten and the people have risen up, we see the governments of the United States, England and the Conservative Government of Canada saying that it is an example of how we always stand with our allies. In fact, year after year they promoted Gadhafi and gave him the arms to oppress his people.
Now I do not have anything against Mr. Cameron coming into this House and pretending that he has always been against murderous regimes like Gadhafi when that was not the case. However, I have a problem with the House seemingly obsessed, and the Liberal Party's interventionist approach along with the Conservatives, by us in raising the issue of the need to move away from a military mission at this point and use Canada's extraordinary expertise to rebuild, bring in international development and international justice. We have been leaders on this. This is where we need to move now.
Somehow for the member for Toronto Centre, who has taken on the mantle formerly held by Mr. Ignatieff, and the Conservatives, this is a sign that we are cutting and running. It is somehow a slight to our brave men and women in uniform. I must say that I always find it deeply odious that the Conservatives always have to say that they are the only ones who care for our men and women in uniform. Our men and women in uniform go to do a specific job.
The regime has fallen. We were not signed on in UN resolution 1973 for a regime change. Anywhere does it say that our job was there for a regime change. This was a fight between the Libyan people, and our job as the international community was to go in and ensure that Gadhafi's thugs, who at that time of course were well armed by the British military, were not killing innocent civilians.
That phase has ended. That obligation to that mission has ended. The question is, where do we go as a Parliament?
It is incumbent for Canada to stand up and show that it stands for something more than just this sort of attempt to recreate the old cold war militarism, that Canada has been an international peacemaker, that Canada had an international reputation before this government came along, and in Libya today, we have the opportunity to be the good community, to be the good international citizen.
I call on this Parliament to take that step, to say that this fight in Libya has now moved to a new place, and we need a country that is willing to step up. We will not be seeing that. That is why we are hearing the heckling from the Conservative backbenches. These are the same guys who called Jack Layton Taliban Jack when Jack spoke six, seven years ago about the fundamental failure of the Conservative policy in Afghanistan. Now we see that with its failed policy, the United States is now trying to deal with the negotiations.
War is not a simple thing. People are hurt. People are killed. We are at the point now in this conflict where we need the international community to change gears, because if we try to misrepresent UN resolution 1973 and say that this was all a covert plan for regime change, then it sets a very dangerous international precedent. It sets the precedent that the United States set for Iraq and we saw the disastrous consequences there.
Our country's foreign policy is not about taking out any dictator any time we want. That does not meet the test of the rule of law. What we agreed to in the House was to protect the civilian population that was under the threat of the Gadhafi regime. That threat is now ended. This is the final mop-up. We have to move on as a Parliament. This is why the New Democrats are moving forward our amendment to move us toward the humanitarian phase and the rebuilding phase of this situation.