Mr. Speaker, first I want to inform you that I will by sharing my time with my new colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay.
I am very pleased to take part in this debate, which is of the utmost importance to our work, to democracy and to peace. I feel the need to read the motion brought forward by the Bloc Quebecois:
That this House consider the sending of troops to Iraq by the government only after the United Nations Security Council has passed are solution explicitly authorizing a military intervention in Iraq.
I am very happy, because it is an important debate that deals with one of the main issues relating to the role of the United Nations and the need for the United Nations not only to be respected, but to be involved in this decision.
Indeed, with the evolution of the world and of mankind, we are supposed to have gone beyond the days when a state, However powerful, would unilaterally decide to declare war, with everything that that implies, on another sovereign state.
Those days in the history of mankind are long gone, and the League of Nations, which later became the United Nations, was given the authority and the mandate to examine and assess the merit of any decision to attack another sovereign state.
This is what today's debate is all about. The role of the United Nations has to be respected. This organization is the guardian of international law, and that is no small task. We know what human nature is like. We can see what goes on in the Liberal Party, and we can see what goes on at the UN as well. There can be bargaining, but the authority to approve war rests with the UN, after discussions and after looking at whatever bargaining there may have been between countries. We can also see bargaining elsewhere, for example between states and between governments, where they say, “You give me this and I will give you that”.
Still, despite all of this, we need to respect the United Nations, because it is our best achievement so far. To act without the consent of the UN would be a travesty and a denial of justice. As implied in the motion, the role of the UN as sole repository of international law must be recognized, and anyone who does not respect the authority of the UN should eventually bear the brunt of it.
This issue raises a lot of concerns. I have received a lot of submissions from various groups in my riding that I will mention briefly: MagnificArt, École Bois-Joli of Trois-Rivières-Ouest, where some twenty students wrote to me, as did students from the École Saint-François-d'Assise. I might read some of these letters later on. Also, 11 organizations from the Mauricie, under the aegis of the Comité de Solidarité Tiers-Monde, got together to criticize the attitude exhibited and the threats made by the Americans.
The following organizations supported the initiative of Brian Barton, chairman of the Comité de Solidarité Tiers-Monde, in the hope of finding a pacific resolution to this problem: the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste of the Mauricie, the Centre de femmes of Shawinigan, in the Prime Minister's riding, the Centre d'action bénévole of Shawinigan, the Centre Roland-Bertrand, also of Shawinigan, the Conseil central Coeur-du-Québec of the CSN, the Table de concertation du mouvement des femmes de la Mauricie, the Office diocésain de pastorale de Trois-Rivières, the Fédération des syndicats du secteur de l'aluminium, namely the FSSA of Mauricie, the Syndicat de l'enseignement des vieilles Forges de la Mauricie, the COMSEP group, which is doing a great job in the area of literacy training, and the Corporation de développement communautaire de Francheville.
These organizations are quite representative of our society. They are against this almost unstoppable movement, this determination to go to war at all costs, without establishing the legitimacy or the necessity of such a war. And this is another aspect of this issue.
I was speaking earlier to students in grade four at Saint-François-d’Assise school who had sent me letters to pass on to the Prime Minister, which I did.
I will read you the one, for example, written by little Maude Langlois, who is in grade four; she wrote the following:
I think that violence is not the best way to fix things. We do not have to go to war. I am scared. I do not want to die so young. If we go to war and we lose, what will we do?
I think this letter shows that there is fear and dissatisfaction. The crux of the problem, in my opinion as a citizen and as a parliamentarian, is that the need for this aggression or war, or the legitimacy of this war, has not been demonstrated. Its legitimacy was not demonstrated by Tony Blair a few weeks ago nor by Colin Powell last week.
Both times, there was a lamentable failure, I believe, to make the case. They only convinced people who were already convinced. They did not present any truly new evidence to prove the real threat posed by Saddam Hussein and his government to the Western world.
That is the crux of the matter: the legitimacy and the need for this war have not been demonstrated. That is why, currently, throughout the world, there are protests, and polls in Quebec and elsewhere show that the public does not support aggression.
There were protests in Paris, Beijing, Moscow and across the continent. There were protests in Montreal, and there will be more to show that people do not agree. In Quebec, 49% of the population say that, even with the UN's approval, Canada should not participate in this war. This is extremely telling.