House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was research.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Iraq January 29th, 2003

Madam Chairman, we are working within the framework of the UN and of the Security Council resolution. That is what I explained at the beginning. I am happy that the Prime Minister of Canada, through his dialogue with the President of the United States in September, contributed with other leaders to convincing Mr. Bush to let the Security Council deal with the situation.

At the time, there appeared to be a very real possibility that the U.S. would move alone to solve the so-called Iraqi problem. The Americans accepted to go through the UN. Resolution 1441 was adopted, but the process does not end there. The Security Council remains seized of the matter. Inspections have been carried out. There has been a report stating that the work is in progress. As regards nuclear weapons, a monitoring system has now been set up throughout Iraq, based on Monday's report.

As for chemical and biological weapons, there have been hundreds of inspections in hundreds of sites. There is work to be done. Iraq has been asked to continue to cooperate and to improve its cooperation. We need time. The Secretary General of the UN has asked for more time. I think that this is only reasonable.

As well, we might give some thought, when other reports are tabled in a few weeks, to beefing up the inspection system, by sending multinational military contingents along with the inspectors. Suggestions that have been made by people in positions who had observed many such conflict situations. The inspections could be backed up with more muscle before moving on to the thought of war.

When a decision is made to go to war, whether by the Security Council or by our American neighbours, we cannot know what all the consequences of this decision will be. It is all very fine to say that the bombing raids will be televised and so on, but will this change the situation in the slightest? What happened in Afghanistan? Did bombing Afghanistan change the mind of a single Taliban? Many people certainly lost their lives, but no change was made in the situation.

I do not think this is the way to go in Irak either, believing that this kind of problem can be settled with bombs. Bombs do not change anyone's mindset, all they do is cause damage and widen the gaps between peoples, nations and civilizations. There are other ways of achieving concrete results, but using peaceable means for as long as possible.

Iraq January 29th, 2003

Madam Chairman, this debate on Iraq is generating a great deal of passion and interest. The stakes are high. There is a serious possibility that the United States, and whatever allies they can bring on board if they cannot get the UN Security Council's approval, will unilaterally declare war on Iraq.

Like many of my colleagues, I have received hundreds of messages and calls on this issue from people in my riding. I would like to thank and congratulate theese people for taking the time to contact me on this issue. I will read a few of these documents.

I have here a letter from a woman by the name of Josée, whose family name I will not mention:

I am writing to you as the member for my riding to voice my vigorous opposition to war against Iraq. I believe:

(1) that the very principle of a preventive war is an aberration and is detrimental to the whole world and that negotiated solutions must always be favoured;

(2) that there is no evidence that this war would prevent anything whatsoever and that it might instead poison already bad relations between that region and the western world;

(3) that this war will first and foremost serve the political and economic interests of the United States;

Consequently, I think that our government has a duty to take a clear stand against this war and to bring all the pressure necessary to bear at the international level to avert it.

I do hope the Canadian government will remember that it must represent the Canada population, which is against this war.

I would like to read a second message that comes from a person who lives on Jumonville Street and whose name is Amélie:

You know better than anyone that the United States is preparing to launch an attack against Iraq. This intervention will have a serious impact on the people of Iraq—

According to the United Nations, between 142,000 and 206,000 people died in the gulf war. Since 1991, the embargo on Iraq has led to the death of more than 500,000 children—

Furthermore, the United Nations estimates that 23 million people will need food aid for more than one year after a military intervention—

You have a responsibility to find non-violent solutions to this conflict. What will you do to show that you oppose the war and violence? Will you be an example for my child and for future generations?

Her position can be boiled down to four points:

No to Canada's participation in the war, even with a Security Council resolution.

Yes to a free vote in Canada's Parliament.

No to the United States' war effort.

Yes to the end of sanctions that are killing the Iraqi population.

I have another letter from a couple, Denis and Sylvie, who live on Vendéens Avenue, in Anjou:

As Canadian citizens and residents of Anjou, we staunchly oppose Canada's participation in a war against Iraq. As our riding's representative, we ask that you pressure Parliament to:

(1) Clearly announce Canada's position in the event of a declaration of war by the United States against Iraq without a mandate from the UN—

(2) Stop the increasingly automatic alignment of our policy with U.S. policy—

(3) Freeze and even decrease the defence budget—

And the message continues.

I will not say that I agree one hundred percent with all of these requests, but I can say that I have not received one message saying the opposite. Of the hundreds of messages we received, none said that Canada should immediately ally itself with the United States, with or without the UN, and go to war against Iraq. None of the messages said that.

I must reflect this view, which is very widely shared, particularly by my constituents and by Quebeckers, and people from the Montreal area.

What also makes me want to take part in this evening's debate is the speech delivered by Mr. Bush yesterday evening, which followed the tabling, on Monday, of the inspection teams' report.

What struck me in Mr. Bush's speech is that the U.S. President spoke constantly of war, threats and the use of force. He advocated unilateral action and preventive strikes. He donned the mantle of patriotism. Last night, he even sounded like a preacher at the end of his speech. Let me read the closing paragraph of his speech.

Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity.

We Americans have faith in ourselves, but not in ourselves alone. We do not know--we do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life, and all of history.

May He guide us now. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

I think they have to be very conceited to think of themselves as God's representatives and chosen ones on earth, being responsible, as Heaven's intermediaries, for bringing freedom to the poor ignorants who do not have the good fortune to be living in the United States.

Mr. Bush and the American Republicans do not have much legitimacy to act as international referees and vigilantes. After barely managing to get elected in their own country two years ago, they have not been very successful from an economic point of view and in the area of rights, on the contrary. Moreover, they are ringing up a deficit.

What gives them the right to tell the world what to do? Mr. Bush did not even get half of the votes of half of the U.S. voters. Reminding our friends south of the border that they should do their democratic homework at home before claiming to be the agents of democracy in the world is not being anti-American. The Bush administration did not get any mandate from a majority of Americans, the UN, or Canadians to wage war against anyone.

The option before us as Canadians is to work for peace within the UN framework—making use of the timeframes involved, as it seems there may be a few weeks of inspection left—to suggest approaches along the lines of international cooperation. There are other kinds of inspections that might be contemplated, if the others get nowhere.

It is,however, up to the Security Council to decide. In my opinion, there should be another debate within a few weeks and another resolution should be adopted and examined by all member states, all member states on the Security Council and all parliaments, including ours. Then we shall see what the best approach is.

I think that if we can move away from what we heard in last night's speech, which leads straight to war unilaterally, we could look at other approaches, such as stepping up cooperative programs and measures promoting dialogue with a number of countries. I feel that Canada has a good international reputation and it would be in all our best interests to work toward this.

Moreover, here in this country, in the United States, and in Europe and everywhere else in the world, we have many allies who would support us and stand by us if we took that direction, for it is the path of dignity and responsibility, and we would retain the confidence of the Canadian people.

Kyoto Protocol December 3rd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Eglinton—Lawrence.

The Kyoto protocol is an international accord established five years ago, which led to several large international conferences where the world community negotiated, sometimes bitterly, the conditions for the implementation of the accord. It was at the Conferences of the Parties held in Bonn and Marrakech in 2001 that the international community, or some 178 countries, came up with the realistic framework that gave each country a certain flexibility in determining how they would meet their targets.

This is the context in which the government has already, it should be noted, committed more than one billion dollars toward measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and undertaken studies and consultations leading to an action plan tailored to the realities and the limitations of our country.

Through, on the one hand, our sustained participation in this international process of unprecedented scope and complexity, and also through a large-scale mobilization here within Canada, we have paved the way toward the ratification of the Kyoto protocol

Now the time has come for our Parliament to approve the process and to ask our government to ratify the protocol, in other words, to announce officially that Canada will take part in this international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By this agreement, we send the message that our country agrees with this major international contract to fight global warming within the framework of a combined effort involving dozens of other countries.

I wanted to recall briefly the international context surrounding the ratification procedure that we are now debating, in order to show that our actions here in Canada will be an integral part of international actions.

I wanted to remind members of this to demonstrate that one cannot contrast—as some have tried to do—a completely Canadian action plan with the enormous international effort resulting from the Kyoto protocol.

Our action plan fits within the international action plan, and is not independent of it. However, it can be completely tailored to Canadian realities.

In the past few days, our colleagues have debated the Kyoto protocol and Canada's ratification of it in scientific and economic terms, and in terms of the political repercussions.

As far as the scientific aspects are concerned, I will refer to the findings of the three working groups of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This panel brought together the best government experts in the world and prepared consensus reports that the Financial Times considered to be models of their kind. These reports describe what we can expect. When I say we, I mean the earth, the oceans, the climate, human beings and other life forms if we continue down the current slope in terms of climate change brought about by human activity. These reports suggest possible adaptation strategies, while noting that “tackling climate change is now a political, at least as much as a technical or economic, problem”.

As for the economic aspects of the issue, during this debate we have seen numerous scenarios unfold, often with alarmist predictions, including an economic slowdown, loss of competitiveness, loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, unknown costs, unfair distribution of the burden, and so on.

In reality, the most credible numbers come from the National Climate Change Process, Analysis and Modeling Group, a group comprised of representatives from all levels of government in Canada.

What does this group predict? After consulting with experts from business, universities and environmental groups, this group predicts that our GDP will increase by 30.4% in 2012, instead of 31%.

Is there really cause for concern with such a prediction that is well within the standard margin of error? More importantly, this prediction does not weigh the possible positive impact on our economy, health and lifestyle stemming from innovation, new investment, new developments in energy and so on.

We also know that hundreds of businesses in many European and Asian countries and even in the United States, with billions in sales have joined in support of the Kyoto protocol under the banner “e-mission 55--Business for Climate”. These businesses believe Kyoto is appropriate.

We also know that dozens of Canadian companies, including oil companies, have taken the lead and understand that reducing greenhouse gases will in no way harm their ability to compete or be efficient.

We also know, and the Canadian Labour Congress reminded us of this point, that the Kyoto protocol is not seen as a threat to jobs in Canada. On the contrary.

The CLC urges the Government of Canada to ratify Kyoto because, they say, it would be good for the Canadian economy, for job creation, for the health of workers, for our children and for our cities.

Furthermore, we know that the federal and provincial governments can negotiate sectoral agreements with industry and unions, while ensuring that fair transitional measures and incentives for change and adaptation measures are established to ensure the necessary flexibility.

Over and above these measures, however, what counts the most, both now in the debate and in the years to come, is our capacity for innovation and creativity as far as clean and renewable energies, as well as new construction materials, new technologies, transportation and bioeconomics, are concerned.

Then there are the political dimensions of this debate, which merit considerable attention also.

I feel that our primary responsibility as elected representatives is to call upon the business community to show greater vision, to move beyond short term considerations and follow the lead of the numerous companies that have already embarked upon new practices which have proven that economy can go hand in hand with respect for the environment, and that it can be profitable to work with the environment.

We also have a duty to point out the path we want our country to follow, while still keeping the door open to bilateral, multilateral and sectoral negotiations, with a view to ensuring all necessary fairness to the various parties to the action plan, and while respecting jurisdictional limitations and the past efforts of certain provinces, as well as their specific characteristics.

In my opinion, this is not the right time for the federal government to wait for consensus on an action plan that would dot all the i's and cross all the t's, as far as each measure to be adopted and each phase to be undertaken are concerned.

We are not here for the purpose of micromanaging every transitional and adaptive measure arising out of the action plan. What we are here for is to define the horizon and the vision that is right for this country and for the international situation.

The cost of inaction is greater than the cost of action. The time for action, concerted action, has come. It is time Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol.

International Day of Tolerance November 19th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, Saturday, November 16, was the UNESCO declared International Day of Tolerance. On behalf of the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism, I call upon all Canadians to reflect on what we have accomplished and what remains to be done.

As Canadians, we should be proud of our multiculturalism policy, which has been a part of our heritage for over 30 years. Canada was the first country in the world to introduce such a policy, the success of which is reflected in the scores of diverse newcomers who choose to make Canada their home.

We should be proud that we are moving beyond tolerance, through acceptance and respect, to valuing and cherishing deeply the diverse nature of the people who make up our country. It is our duty as Canadians to work together to build an inclusive society. Our diversity is recognized as being a source of strength. It is a national asset.

Let us continue to build a truly multicultural country and—

YWCA Week Without Violence October 21st, 2002

Mr. Speaker, this week is the YMCA Week Without Violence, an occasion for all Canadians to become more aware of the consequences of violence in our society.

A variety of themes will be addressed in the week's activities, including eradicating bullying and creating more peaceful communities.

Canada may not be one of the most obviously violent of countries, but according to Statistics Canada, there are more than 300,000 violent crimes annually. As well, family violence drove close to 90,000 women and children to emergency shelters last year.

The federal government has taken several steps to help eradicate violence in all of its forms, in particular the legislation against organized crime, firearm registration and the prevention of delinquency.

I encourage all of my colleagues to join in this movement to find lasting solutions to violence, for the good of our communities.

Iraq October 1st, 2002

Mr. Speaker, in his question, the member pretended to be surprised that parliamentarians from a country that is a friend and ally of the Americans would raise questions that seem to be critical of the American strategy with regard to Iraq.

I would remind the member that this kind of criticism has also been voiced by many within the United States. One does not have to be Canadian to express this kind of criticism.

For example, Scott Ritter, the former chief of UN inspectors for disarmament in Iraq, asked that we give peace a chance and reminded everyone that the elimination of a regime is not compatible with the UN charter.

I would also remind my colleague opposite of the words of a former U.S. Attorney General, Ramsay Clark, no doubt a good American, who said that possible military action against Iraq would be “criminal”, these are his words, “illegal” and “irrational” in light of known facts and considering the possible ripple effect. Ramsay Clark has accused the Bush administration of trying to lead the United Nations and the international community toward a world without laws and a world of endless wars. Therefore, he called upon the UN to adhere, in a firm and independent fashion, to the international order dictated by its own charter.

If I had the time, I could also quote a coalition of American churches, called Churches for Middle East Peace, which also made a convincing argument in favour of an alternative approach to the one adopted by the Bush administration with regard to Iraq.

Iraq October 1st, 2002

Mr. Speaker, in this take-note debate on the subject of Iraq, we are all invited to share our feelings and ideas regarding a situation that has become increasingly hot and complex, particularly since the Bush administration has decided to make it, or so it seems, the number one priority of its foreign policy.

Just over a year ago, we were having the same type of special debate in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11.

In both cases, there is one question that we must ask ourselves as Canadians and as parliamentarians: what are the reference points that could guide us in this debate and in the actions that could result from it, as we saw a year ago, through the alliance formed to fight terrorist groups from Afghanistan, an alliance which, let us not forget, is sanctioned by the UN and of which Canada is a member? Therefore, this kind of debate can have real consequences.

My first point of reference is to reaffirm my trust in multilateral action and my mistrust in unilateral initiatives.

It was with great pride that, this morning, I heard our Prime Minister reaffirm this great principle of Canada's international policy, and I quote:

I am a great believer in a multi-lateral approach to dealing with international issues. The United Nations can be a great force for good in the world. It is in all of our interests to use the power of international institutions in this complex world...It is the best way to deal with states which support terrorism or who attempt to develop weapons of mass destruction. And deal with them we must. We must deal collectively and directly with those who threaten our peace and security.

It seems to me that our second benchmark should be the following: as the neighbour of the United States, are we condemned to automatically follow their political agenda, or can we still conduct our own analysis of the international situation? Can we allow ourselves to support our own priorities, in spite of our economic relations and our necessary relations for security and defence purposes?

I believe that we owe it to ourselves and to Canadians to take the time to hold our own debates and make our own decisions, based on our own values, beliefs and interests.

This morning again, I was very pleased to hear our Prime Minister repeat that, in these unsettled times of international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and war in several parts of the world, and I quote:

We have a special role to play because of the nature of our country. A country that has proven that pluralism works. And so we will continue to promote the values of democracy, peace and freedom, human rights and the rule of law.

In order to clearly delineate our concerns and also our government's priorities for action, the Prime Minister announced that we would be taking the appropriate measures to ensure that our values and interests are defended in the long term, including the use of appropriate military force.

However, he also said that first and foremost, we would affirm ourselves as Canadians through our strong commitment to fighting poverty both in Africa and at home, through our commitment to doubling international assistance by 2010, through support for developing countries in investments and trade, and through our resolute commitment to working for sustainable development both in terms of our own environmentally-friendly resources and internationally.

This is what it means to be Canadian, here at home and internationally. We have no interest in betraying our priorities and our values to fall in line with our neighbours to the south who could have other priorities just as important as looking for trouble in Iraq, I should think. Particularly when one considers the colossal deficit the Bush administration is ringing up, and when one considers the state of the U.S. health care system and health care costs in the United States, and when one considers all the work that remains to be done in literacy and in fighting poverty on the home front there. I would think there would be other targets that are just as legitimate, even more so.

My third point of reference consists in asking myself how we are to arrive at a reasonable resolution of this entire conflict with Iraq, which, it must be remembered, has been going on for more than ten years. There is no denying that the list of the Iraqi regime's violations of UN resolutions, leaving aside the new facts supplied by the Americans and the British, is a lengthy and reprehensible one, and there is no point in playing it down.

Nor should we forget that it is this same reprehensible regime which the United States supported against Iran in the 1980s.

We must not ignore the death and suffering of millions of Iraqi civilians in the wake of sanctions which were supposed to topple the regime, with the success we all know.

And we must not forget that seven countries possess nuclear arms and that ten others could produce them within a short period of time, that 19 countries are said to possess chemical and biological weapons, and that 16 of them apparently have the means to deploy them over long distances, according to the information of the Federation of American Scientists.

I am sure that we would all agree that this information is rather disturbing. It also leads us to ask legitimate questions about the merits of the position or about the strategy of the current U.S. administration. Why are they going after Iraq at this time, since the situation over there has not changed in the last few years? In fact, in the areas of human rights or weapons of mass destruction, the situation over there is no more and no less disturbing than in many other countries.

The Bush administration sometimes argues that Iraq was in collusion with the terrorists who attacked the United States. But the evidence is weak, if not non-existent. One day, the Bush administration says it wants to disarm the Iraqi regime. The next day, it wants to overturn the regime and even get rid of Saddam Hussein, which, in terms of international law, is not at all the same thing. One day, the Bush administration says it wants to build an alliance with other countries and work with the United Nations. The next day, it is ready to go to war all by itself if need be.

Is the Bush administration going after Iraq to deflect attention away from the fact that it has not reached its anti-terrorism objectives? Is it trying to cover up the inefficiency of its intelligence services in the months preceding the events of September 11? Or does the Bush administration need a target abroad to try to get a greater majority at home?

In any case, I hope Canada, like most of the members of the UN security council, will agree to ensure that the United States and the United Nations act in good faith. Acting in good faith will prevent them from being found guilty, whatever happens. If exhaustive and careful inspections are carried out and no evidence is found, the logical thing to do would be to lift the sanctions that have hurt so many people.

If the inspections indicate that there is a problem, they should go back to the UN security council. It would be up to the council to take the appropriate measures to deal with the issue.

This is what I think the next few steps should be. I do hope Canada will play a positive role and initiate a rapprochement with the Arab Muslim countries, which have always seemed to find themselves among the main targets of the United States in the last few years.

Tourist Industry April 11th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, on April 9 I had the pleasure of announcing on behalf of my colleague, the Secretary of State responsible for Canada Economic Development, the renewal of a three year agreement which will enable Montreal to enhances its international profile even more.

The funding agreement between Economic Development Canada and Tourisme Montréal totals over $5.2 million. It will be used to raise the profile of Montreal on the international market, via publicity and promotional activities, greater use of the new information technologies, to attract more business tourism and to continue the development of pleasure tourism.

Tourism is an industry with indisputable effects on the economy of Quebec and of Canada.

This is just one more example of our government's actions to make Canada and Montreal top tourist attractions.

The Middle East April 9th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, 52 years ago today, on April 9, 1948, the Deir Yassin massacre took place. During a whole day on April 9, 1948, Jewish soldiers killed a vast number of Palestinians in a cold and premeditated way.

This is what Israeli author Simha Flapan wrote in The Birth of Israel , and I quote:

Referring to the attackers, it read:

--lined men, women and children up against the walls and shot them...the ruthlessness of the attack on Deir Yassin shocked Jewish and world opinion alike, drove fear and panic into the Arab population, and led to the flight of unarmed civilians from their homes all over the country.

The Deir Yassin massacre, as scores of others that took place during the so-called Israeli War of Independence in Lydda, Ramley, Doueimah, Qibya, Kafr Kassem, all the expulsions, the destruction of homes, summary arrests, torture and mutilation, all these acts of violence perpetrated more than half a century ago against Palestinians by the founders of Israel, have they brought peace and security to Israel? No, they have not.

All the territories that have been confiscated and occupied by Israel since 1967, all the settlements built in the occupied territories over the past 30 years in blatant violation of international law, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 causing the death of tens of thousands of innocent victims and several billion dollars in damages, the Sabra and Shatila massacres under Sharon, all these illegal and criminal violent acts, have they brought peace and security to Israel? The answer is no.

We can rest assured that the terror campaign waged by Israel right now against scores of Palestinian town will not secure peace and security. On the contrary, Sharon and his army are sowing more hatred and determination among their victims.

By turning a deaf hear to the UN security council, the American government, the European Union, the Vatican and indeed the whole world, Sharon and his associates are turning Israel into a rogue state, a state that has no respect for friends or foes, a state that relies solely on the use of brutal force for its survival.

This strategy will lead nowhere and, unfortunately, it will backfire against its authors and its supporters in the Middle East and throughout the world. There will not be security for Israel and there will not be peace in the region until Israel withdraws from the territories it has occupied since 1967, until it recognizes the right of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees to return and until issues such as Jerusalem, the settlements, water and many more are solved in a fair and equitable manner through negotiation.

I invite those who are searching for the cause of the acts of desperation and violence committed by some Palestinians to look closely at the unbearable reality of the occupation that has been going on for decades and the terror it creates every day for these people.

We can and we must condemn acts of violence that make innocent civilian victims, but we must do it for both sides: for the Palestinian suicide bombers, but also for the Israeli troops and Israeli settlers who also kill Palestinian civilians.

But most importantly, we must do whatever we can to find a political solution to the problems that cause all this violence instead of making them worse.

On February 3 Chairman Arafat published his vision of peace in the New York Times . Let me quote him:

First let me be very clear. I condemn the attacks carried out by terrorist groups against Israeli civilians. These groups do not represent the Palestinian people or their legitimate aspirations for freedom. They are terrorist organizations. I am determined to put an end to their activities. No degree of oppression and no level of desperation can justify the killing of innocent civilians.

What did Israel do in response to Arafat's condemnations and commitments? It isolated Arafat, it deprived him of all his means, it humiliated him and it confined him to Ramallah. Israel ignored the peace proposals put forward by the Saudi Arabians and adopted by the Arab summit in Beirut. Sharon challenged the whole world, he fired on ambulances, churches, mosques, to the point where one could believe that he is looking for some kind of final solution to the Palestinian issue.

According to today's Jerusalem Post , even Shimon Peres has said that the Israeli army's operations in the Jenin refugee camp were a massacre. Even Israel's dear friend and close ally, President Bush, has said “Enough is enough”.

Canada's official position is clear: the violence between the two sides must stop, and Israel must withdraw from the occupied territories. We support UN resolutions 1397 and 1402, the Tenet plan and the Mitchell report. We object to unilateral actions, such as the settlements, that could adversely affect future negotiations. In my opinion, we must consider, as additional measures, recalling of our ambassador to Israel for consultations, and suspending or reducing our economic and free trade activities with Israel.

We must also consider taking part in an international mission responsible for obtaining an immediate ceasefire, assessing the damage suffered by the parties and getting the negotiations back on track. We must consider strengthening our humanitarian assistance programs for the victims of these barbaric acts.

I will conclude by reminding the House that the day that is about to end in a few minutes is dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust, and I join all the hon. members who, in the course of this debate, have condemned recent acts of anti-semitism committed in Canada or elsewhere. In my opinion, it is not by targeting Jewish cemeteries, synagogues or people of Jewish origin that will make progress on this issue, quite the contrary.

I would also ask our friends of Jewish origin or religion to distance themselves from the current strategy of the Sharon government, which is based on brute force and fait accompli.

As Canadians, regardless of our political allegiance, our origin or our religion, we have something more important to do than to side with the Israelis or the Palestinians: we have to side with peace, with a just peace resulting from an honourable compromise between the parties. We must dare to act purposefully, with the support of the international community, to trigger a negotiated solution, a solution that will ensure the recognition, in a safe environment, of the Palestinian and Israeli states. We must do so before the situation degenerates into an international conflict, the consequences of which would be unpredictable.

International Mother Language Day February 21st, 2002

Mr. Speaker, February 21 was proclaimed International Mother Language Day by UNESCO. The purpose of this day, which is being celebrated for the third time, is to promote linguistic diversity and multilingual education in all of UNESCO's areas of activity, and to increase development of fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

Mother languages are in integral part of our intangible heritage and are an essential component of everyone's cultural identity, an identity which must be protected and strengthened in the interest of all peoples in this era of accelerated globalization.

On this day, UNESCO pays tribute to the myriad of languages of the world and to the cultures transmitted therein. There are over 6,000 languages spoken in the world; some are written, others are not. However, on this International Mother Language Day, all languages are treated equally, because each one is a unique response to the human condition and each one is a living heritage that deserves our concern.

As the saying goes, “By speaking to one another we can understand one another”.