Mr. Chairman, I am grateful for what I thought was going to be a non-partisan opportunity to reflect on the very tragic events that occurred in the United States, the act of terrorism that not only affected the citizens of the United States but citizens from Canada and all over the world.
We should remember that the attack on the symbol of the United States, its strength and its free society, could have been an attack on Canada or on any other place in the free world. It could have also been an attack on the United Nations. As has been pointed out time and again, the act of terrorism was not a religious act, it was an act of violence against humanity.
We reflect this evening, in a non-partisan way, on what we can tell the Prime Minister to pass along to President Bush.
I understand concerns have been raised by those who are deeply concerned about terrorism about the position the Canadian government has taken. I am not able to give a chapter and verse defence of what we are or are not doing. The role of the opposition, quite frankly and quite appropriately, has been very well articulated, it is to ask those questions. Over the next number of weeks, if not months and years, those questions will be raised for the benefit of our citizens, and the government should attempt to answer them.
I must say that if the defence system against terrorism were the most up to date, with the most costly intelligence and surveillance equipment available and the most vigilant arms service capable of matching and reacting, the United States would not have been affected by this act of terrorism any more than the British are affected by the violence reaped upon it by the IRA or Israel being attacked in a terrorist fashion. The fact is, from what I understand and from what people in my constituency have been telling me, acts of terrorism are often not related at all to those provisions of capacity and how much we spend. They are related to how vigilant, how resolute and how committed we are to the values that we wish to protect.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that over the next few months, with the kind of vigilant questioning that is being brought to the floor and the follow up that will come from the government, we will be resolute and focused and we will take those actions that will convince our communities that we not only know the mechanisms that will protect us but also the values.
As I said this afternoon in an S. O. 31, Graham Green wrote something about the door of terrorism opening. He said that one of the most profound things that happens when the genie of terrorism opens the door is the terror and fear that we feel, that in the name of civilized society that we are incapable of acting or responding.
That is not the message we should send to the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister should take on behalf of Canadians to the president. We are capable of responding. The United States has been the bastion of freedom and the American way in which we in fact believe. Those values have been the greatest experienced in modern times. We will reaffirm that we are capable of responding. That is the first thing we should tell the president.
The second is how we respond. There are those who believe that the strategic response should be around the perimeter of North America or in fact the perimeter of Canada and the perimeter of the United States.
In this era of globalization, which is the prevailing trend, we are talking about breaking down boundaries. Europe is moving toward a common monetary system. We are attempting to allow capital to flow and to do things in a positive way so that capital and investment can start to eradicate poverty and start not only to export the values we believe in but in a real fashion create multilateral institutions that will not only serve the world well but will serve us well.
The third message we should give the president is that where the United States has been withdrawing from multilateral action the times beg for it because we cannot go backward. We must go forward.
We must reaffirm our faith in each other through multilateral entities. We must firm up the World Bank and the Organization for Economic and Co-operative Development, the OECD. We must work through the IMF, the American banking system and the Latin American banking system. We must develop mechanisms which make people start to understand, not in global terms that the WTO cannot work, is the enemy and we need acts of terrorism, not that dialogue and true grappling with the forces of poverty and extremism cannot be dealt with in the summit of the Americas, that we can work together to make multilateral institutions in keeping with globalization effective for the world. That is the message we have to give to the president.
To do that it seems to me there is some American experience. I refer to Franklin Delano Roosevelt who in his day had to respond to the situation. He described the epidemic of world lawlessness by saying that if it were a physical disease it would have to be quarantined and that those who did not support the quarantine would have to be brought into international accountability. He also said under different circumstances that America should walk softly but carry a big stick, and it was right then.
President John Kennedy said that in a thousand years when the history of civilized society was written we would not and should not be remembered for the political battles we won or lost but for the manner in which we contributed to human dignity and the freeing of the human spirit.
That is the litmus test against which we will be effective in combating terrorism by bringing everyone together and recognizing the total historical context within which we must operate. That historical context demands, indeed it cries out in this global community when so much can be lost so quickly, that we work together.
Those are the messages that my community and I are asking our Prime Minister to carry to President Bush.