Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the whole House for the support it has shown for this concurrence motion and for the support that members are showing by being here today for the people of Syria, and to the members opposite for having brought this most important issue before the House on a Friday at a time when there are other issues on the front pages on newspapers.
We need, as Canadians, to be active. We need to be building on the proud legacy of engagement that we have had with the Syrian people, above all on the humanitarian front, but also to be speaking out for the larger issues of international peace and security that are at stake, because 40,000 civilian deaths is beyond comprehension for most of us. They have come quickly. They have come in horrific ways. It has been a civilian toll for the most part. The threat to Syrians has come from the air. It has come from snipers. It has come from bombs. It has come from a government using heavy weapons against its own population. From what we heard in this debate and in committee, the House is of one voice and of one mind in thinking that the despicable strategy of the Syrian government is absolutely reprehensible.
It does not accord with our values. We spoke about those on both sides of the House in question period and in the period for Standing Order 31 statements. We are concerned about the possible use of chemical weapons. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has been absolutely forthright on this point, joining his international partners, joining the whole international community, in reaffirming that any kind of use of these weapons of mass destruction is unacceptable. It runs against not only our values but the principles of the United Nations charter.
Every arms control agreement and framework that we hold dear has stood against the use of chemical weapons since at least the First World War. To think that a government could be using such weapons against its own people in 2012 boggles the mind.
It is important for us to be engaged on this issue. It is important for us to be thinking of our friends and allies in this endeavour. Obviously the one NATO nation that has a direct border with Syria is Turkey, and Canada supports the request made by Turkey to NATO for support in the defence of its own border.
NATO is a defensive line. Turkey is looking for support to defend its borders, seeing refugee flows, seeing bombardment coming across its borders, which is obviously targeting refugees who have crossed over in all innocence, trying to save their lives and their families. We stand with Turkey and other regional partners and believe they have the right to defend themselves and their citizens against the reckless Assad regime.
I do not think this is anything other than obvious to us as Canadians, but it may not be obvious to those in Syria who are seeing a distorted picture of events, given the state control of media. We call for calm, and we are calling on the Assad regime to stop drawing in neighbouring countries to this self-inflicted, violent struggle to hold on to power. It is the absolute lowest of the low in terms of the behaviour that reckless states can engage in.
It will end. We are confident that Bashar al-Assad's days are numbered, that he will go, that it is the will of the Syrian people that he go, and obviously the international community is more and more united on this point. The sooner that happens the better for Syrians, for the neighbourhood and for the world.
We are obviously looking to the Syrian opposition to take the lead, to the Syrian National Council, to pull those elements opposed to President Assad together. We have been encouraging the Syrian opposition to come together and the Government of Canada has been very clear on this point.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has played an active role in encouraging those groups to take that action. We congratulate them on the recent announcement that they made, which is a major step forward. However, to be successful, any opposition has to demonstrate that they have the support of the religious minorities. This is a fundamental issue for this government and for Canadians.
We judge our success by the status of our minorities, by the freedom they feel they have. We see that success in other democracies around the world. We encourage it in countries that do not yet have it.
For the Syrian opposition to be successful, it is going to need to be composed of Christians, Kurds, Alawites, Druze and others. We believe in a united opposition to ensure there is a place for all religious minorities in a new Syria.
With that, I move:
That the debate be now adjourned.