Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Simcoe—Grey.
I have just received an e-mail from my office that tells me the second strike has already started and the ground troops are moving in as we speak here. This is obviously an extremely critical time in that part of the world.
Much of what I am about to say I am quite sure members opposite will not agree with, but there is one thing on which I think they would share agreement with me. We have one of our own in this place, the member for Wild Rose, who has a son in the war in the American military. On behalf of my party and everyone on this side, we just want to say we wish him Godspeed and safe return.
One of the things that upsets people is how words are used in this place and outside. There have been comments made by people from all sides of the House that have been inappropriate and send the wrong message to the people of the United States. The message that somehow Canadians do not support Americans is just not true. It is certainly not true that the government does not support the people of the United States or indeed the government of the United States, a duly elected government, properly constituted, and respected by this government.
Just because at times friends diverge or disagree with one another does not mean that they will not continue to be friends. It is somewhat offensive when people in Canada, in positions of such great responsibility as members of Parliament, on whatever side, stand up and say that somehow the government or our country is anti-American.
We have a long history with the Americans. That does not mean that we walk in lockstep with them. That does not mean that we agree with every policy, be it foreign or domestic. In fact, we had members opposite demanding that we fight against the Americans on the softwood lumber issue, that we fight and challenge the administration on the steel issue, and that we not allow the Americans to take our water. We hear that all the time. Now we have a situation where those very same people are standing up and demanding that we just simply do what President Bush says and go to war. We just do not agree that the proper process here is to launch an attack at this time. I think we have made that very clear.
For other members to suggest, as I have heard in this place, that we as a country, as a government, have done nothing in terms of contacting the heads of other states is an absolutely false statement. We know the work that our ambassador at the United Nations has done. We know the respect that he has in the United Nations and in the world community. Does anyone really think that he acted unilaterally, that somehow he was not in touch with our Minister of Foreign Affairs, with our Prime Minister, with officials in the government, that somehow he was flying solo? I do not think so. He represented our country with dignity and honour, aggressively trying to put together a compromise that could at the very least forestall the actions that we saw begin last night and that have just started up again.
The frustration that many of us feel here is that nobody around here supports Saddam Hussein and in fact I find it an insult that the Leader of the Opposition, a man who would stand in that office purporting to become Prime Minister of the country, would actually say, “If the Liberals are genuinely neutral or will be cheering for Saddam Hussein, then they should have the guts to say so”.
That is the most outrageous statement for anybody to make, to somehow insinuate that the Prime Minister of Canada, or the Government of Canada, or the Liberal Party of Canada, or any individual on this side are actually cheering for Saddam Hussein. It is an absolute insult and destroys any dignity that individual should have in that office.
Are we supporting the Americans or are we not? There is another statement here that is quite remarkable. It says, “We are relieving allied soldiers in Afghanistan so they can fight in Iraq”. Again the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition said that if the government really believed in its position it should pull out and that if it did not believe in that position it should not have people there. Talk about trying to have it both ways.
We have supported the United States policies on homeland security. Our Deputy Prime Minister is in touch regularly with Tom Ridge. We have supported the United States in its request to tighten up procedures at the border and to require that certain landed immigrants in this country who have not yet obtained citizenship apply for visas to go into the United States. We have said that we understand the fears of the United States. We do not, however, support targeting of people based on their race or their religion and we strongly oppose anything that leads to that. We do understand the need for the United States to feel more secure within its own borders and we will work very closely with it.
Any member who has had the opportunity to visit Norad in Colorado Springs would see the kind of relationship between the U.S. military and Canadian military, working hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder every single day running the facility that provides security for all of North America.
We have another operation in North Bay, Ontario, where the same thing exists, where American soldiers are working together with Canadian soldiers.
When we make a commitment to send 3,000 troops to Afghanistan, why would the Leader of the Opposition stand up and say we should not do that because somehow we do not support war in Iraq? We strongly support the war against terrorism. We have three ships in the gulf. The chief commander of the seven ships in the gulf patrolling the waters looking for terrorists, looking for subversives is Canadian. Should we withdraw him because somehow we did not run off to war?
The opposition members stood in this place and demanded that we go to war before it even knew where the war was going to be, for goodness sake. They wanted us to send troops, get them over there so that we are ready to go when somebody shoots a gun in the air. There is some real inconsistency here.
However, the point that I want to stress is that this country supports the United States of America, its people and government. What we do not support is war at this time. We have attempted to broker a peace, to use diplomacy. We have begged President Bush to hold off the dogs and allow for continued discussion in diplomatic negotiations. As a government it is our view that those negotiations may well have been successful if more time had been allowed.
Were we ever in danger of an attack coming from Iraq? We know North Korea has the capacity to launch an ICBM against North America, but we also know that Iraq does not. Therefore a pre-emptive strike in my view was what we were trying to avoid. A pre-emptive strike to go in for regime change was what the President of the United States clearly wanted to do. What we signed on for in resolution 1441 was not regime change. What we signed on for was disarmament, the elimination of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. This has elevated beyond that.
I believe that what our Prime Minister has done is taken a difficult but principled position, and as a result of that I am confident that the powers that be, including George Bush in Washington, will respect that decision and will understand that we are a sovereign nation with the responsibility and the right to make our own decisions, and that is what we have done.