Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Mississauga West. The United States has formally requested Canada's assistance in a possible air strike against Iraq, enforcing Iraq to uphold United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Although the United States has not requested combat troops, it has requested non-combative military support. Before any military support or actions could ensue, and in the hope of protection for innocent victims, we must carefully examine the ramifications of a possible air strike.
Canada has set examples through its peacekeeping forces and through initiatives such as removing land mines to make the world free and allow children to run. It will continue to protect innocent victims from being persecuted by any force in many corners of the globe.
It is, however, in our best interest and in the interest of those directly affected to work toward a workable diplomatic solution to this situation. In the event of diplomatic failure we must act as a conscientious nation, believing in peace, order and responsible government. We must stand behind the United Nations to protect the lives of innocent people.
Nuclear development by Iraq and the continual creation of germ warfare technologies by Dr. Germ is something we cannot overlook. It cannot be overlooked by the United Nations, Canada or any other nation.
Based on precedence alone, the United Nations cannot stand by and allow Saddam Hussein to continue his production of tools of mass destruction.
We are dealing with a man of no conscience. Saddam Hussein is a leader who has repressed his own people and viciously attacked the peoples of surrounding countries. Therefore we cannot sit by naively in the hopes that his development of nuclear warfare will have no grave repercussions all around the world.
We must not lose sight of Saddam Hussein's wanton and reckless aggression. He turned chemical weapons upon his own people in Iraq in 1988 with complete disregard for human life.
In 1991 Saddam Hussein launched Scud missiles against Saudi Arabia and Israel. By all accounts he is continuing to develop tools of destruction and the means to deliver them. Other nations are guilty by association and by helping his supply. This is all in direct violation of explicit UN security council resolutions.
Israel suffered 39 Scud missile attacks during the gulf war. The population had to don gas masks. It was traumatic. It is reported by the United Nations chief arms inspectors in Iraq that Israel is to be a potential target of Iraqi missiles, this time, however, armed with chemical weapons which could wipe out large segments of its population and potentially that of others in the surrounding areas.
The possibility of such an attack is frightening beyond measure. The world has never been faced with such a threat or such a horrific form of devastation.
It is for those reasons we must make a call to the world to force Saddam Hussein to respect United Nations resolutions. The need for the international community including Canada to confront and stop Iraq is a necessity for all those who are concerned with global peace and security.
I was in synagogue at 7.30 this morning saying memorial prayers for my late sister, Joan Abbey Pass, and my late Uncle Nathan Cummings. A young man, David Schneiderman, was there also for his late dad. He read a poem that I feel is pertinent to the grave situation we face tonight. It is called “Why Do We Pray”. It is an excerpt from “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Harold Kushner and reads:
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end war; For we know that You have made the world in a way That man must find his own path to peace Within himself and his neighbour.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end starvation For You have already given us the resources With which to feed the entire world If we would only use them wisely.
We cannot pray to You, O God, to root out prejudice For You have already given us eyes With which to see the good in all people If we would only use them rightly.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end despair, For You have already given us the power To clear away slums and to give hope If we would only use our power justly.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end disease, For You have already given us great minds with which to search out cures and healing If we would only use them constructively.
Therefore we pray to You instead, O God For strength, determination and will power, To do instead of to just pray; To become instead of merely to wish.
I believe that U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright spoke unequivocally about the reality of Saddam Hussein when she called the Iraqi president a liar, an obstructionist. I wish he would listen and would read this prayer and put it into practice. When she was talking about his approach to arms inspection she said he had lied, delayed, obstructed and tried to deceive.
Our foreign affairs minister and our prime minister have said that the conduct of the Government of Iraq is not acceptable at this point. All of us favour long term stability in the Middle East and the building of a safe, secure and economically viable region for all people who choose to live there. Therefore we must find the means to apply effective international pressure on Saddam Hussein and stop his never ending challenge to the UN arms inspectors and his ignoring of the United Nations and the development of potential horrendous death weapons.
In the end it is the Arab Middle East which faces the gravest danger of weapons of mass destruction. That is why we must stand behind the United Nations in order to secure peace and stability for our world and generations to come. Let us home Saddam Hussein comes to his senses and let some nations of the world stop selling them arms. Let our diplomacy work in the interest of all mankind.