Mr. Speaker, as I rise in the debate today I look around and think about how many people were here on January 16, 1991, when we saw gulf war one.
You and I were here, Mr. Speaker, and three more were of these members were here in 1991. Everyone else in the House is experiencing their first gulf war. I got out my speaking notes from that night and I think I was the one who was up on debate exactly when CNN declared that the war had begun. That was a traumatic experience for all of us. I said back then, over 12 years ago:
Those of us who have been following the news hour by hour in these last several days, have seen Saddam Hussein and his entire Iraqi Parliament standing up and chanting: “With our blood and with our souls, we will die for this cause and go to death for Saddam”.
I wonder how many of them have in the ensuing years, and maybe not by choice. I think about that kind of attitude where they would stand up and be so blinded as to say that this was a noble thing for them to do. Here we are 12 years later and I really wonder what we have learned or how far we have come.
On that same day, Mr. Speaker, your leader at the time, John Turner, said that we were global citizens and had crossed that boundary and were involved. You were part of that caucus, Mr. Speaker. I am sure you remember him saying that. It was a traumatic night for all of us.
He said that we were global citizens and had crossed that boundary and were involved. Those are true words now. I see a member across the way who is a member of the government now and was a Tory at the time. I am sure he remembers that day as well.
Sometimes we do not get any options about whether or not we would like to be involved; sometimes we get dealt a hand. But in fact we might not want to go war. I do not think any one of us in the House is keen to go to war. Nobody could be accused of being a warmonger. Let us get that inflammatory language right out of this debate.
When I think about what has changed in those 12 years, I wonder. I have seen a regime change here, if I may use those words. Instead of the Conservatives in power, as they were in 1991, now the Liberals are and suddenly they need a UN Security Council recommendation and resolution. But when they were in power in the late 1990s, we saw that they did not really need a UN Security Council resolution to go into Kosovo. I wonder about the consistency and I wonder about the matter of principle and the matter of disarming Saddam Hussein.
When it was important in 1991 and there were resolutions brought forward for disarming, to have a ceasefire, not an armistice, as was mentioned earlier, we somehow think 12 years later that it was okay, but the government continues to say that it needs time. Now, in gulf war two, I think about what has lapsed in those 12 years, about how many innocent people have died. The question being asked on the government benches and by many people, which is a fair enough question to a point about “we need more time”, is this: How much time is enough? Of course the answer to that is that there is never enough. It would never be enough for people to think that some good nature of Saddam Hussein's is suddenly going to take over and that he is going to think it is cool to live up to the resolutions.
If we watch human nature and look at the patterns of people and how they develop, we can see that if someone is not going to change their behaviour in a dozen years, my answer would be to everyone here, and I surely think they would agree with me, that there is never enough time for that. He simply is not going to change. In these last few days we have seen weapons being fired that were definitely on the list of equipment he was not supposed to have. So again, if we prove someone inconsistent in one area, then guess what, it is quite likely we will prove him inconsistent again.
It was fine for the member from York to stand up and talk about how we need more time, how we need to be really careful about being nasty to Saddam, and that as for the weapons he is basically a good guy and the weapons are okay. That is ridiculous. What is going to happen when something else comes trotting out? It is going to look foolish to say we did not really know that he was lying to us or we did not really know that he was being inconsistent. Good heavens, we have enough proof right now six ways to Sunday to know that this man is evil, inconsistent and dishonest and has people in his country thinking that he is going to be kind to them as their leader when thousands upon thousands of people have died at his own hands or by his own orders.
I see the government across the way being inconsistent, especially in regard to the Kosovo deal when it did not need a UN Security Council resolution then, which was important, as it ran under NATO. This week it is showing its inconsistencies by saying we really need it. If the Liberals were to look at their former leader, John Turner, they would see that he at least had the nerve to stand up and say, “I did not like it and I was not keen on it, but I think I should read it a third time”. It was not because it was John Turner. He would be the first to admit he is not the most wonderful or brightest fellow on the planet, but he was a member and the leader of the Liberal Party that sat in opposition and is now the government. I wish the Liberals would take the time to let this sink in. We are global citizens and we have now crossed that boundary and are involved, so we do not have a lot of options.
We talk about humanitarian aid. They are waxing on about when the war is over: We were not there with our allies, but boy, we will be there to do mop up and hope we get all kinds of contracts. In fact, on humanitarian aid there are now several working groups starting to put these things together, because we know there will be cleanup and rebuilding of all kinds. There are 14 groups working in the United States right now. What part is Canada playing? Precious little. Canada is not in the running. It has been basically non-existent. The minister for CIDA stood up in question period today and said yes, CIDA would be there, but there are no dollar figures and nothing is committed to.
If there is anything we know how to do well in this country it is oil exploration and oil recapping. Someone from my province of Alberta was being interviewed the other day and said that we are experts at this. He was involved in the Kuwaiti cleanup when all the oil wells were burning in Kuwait. He said on national TV that we are not going to have a chance of getting in there, first, to help, but second, for any sort of economic benefit in terms of cleaning up. He asked why we would when we were not there to stand with them in their time of need. Why would we expect anyone to be kind and loving to us so that we could say, “Good luck on your war and thanks a lot for our contracts. We will be there to pick up the economic benefit”. That is just ludicrous.
There are many expatriates in Canada who are in exile and would love to go home, to their homeland of Iraq, and start rebuilding. I think that is going to be excellent. I think that will be a positive thing.
Twelve years ago we talked about Saddam Hussein. Here we are talking about him again, yet somehow the government hopes and prays that someone else will look after it. It is like someone standing up and saying, “Here I am. Send someone else”. That is not courageous. That is not responsible in the global community. We are global citizens and for the first time ever we have said no to the United Kingdom. Great Britain is our mother of parliaments; we all keep talking about how we are fashioned after Great Britain. It is the first time that the United States and Great Britain have been unified in a mission and Canada is not there as a part of it. I just cannot believe how we would be, first, ignorant enough, but second, arrogant enough to think that we could kind of sit out the war and then move on in for economic benefits. It is bizarre.
I would ask members to rethink their stand, to say that it is important globally to stand with our allies and say how important that is, and not just say that we are going to side with Jacques Chirac. That is not right, because they are showing an inconsistency.
Jacques Chirac is standing and saying that he is the veto man. I do not want to be aligned with the veto man. I want to be aligned with getting Saddam Hussein out of office. You and I, Mr. Speaker, sat here in January 1991, and I am sure you would admit that it was a very difficult time for both of us and we do not want to see a repeat of that. Therefore let us make sure that when people ask the question of how much time is enough, we say that it is never enough. We are there now. Let us get involved and get the job done.