Mr. Chair, the Bloc Québécois supports Canada’s armed participation in the multilateral intervention in Libya. We support the troops who have been called on to participate in it. It is a perfectly legitimate operation since it is being carried out as a multilateral effort and its purpose is to protect the civilian populations.
While the Bloc Québécois supports Canada’s military intervention within this international undertaking in Libya, it also calls for extreme caution on Canada’s part. This intervention must not lead to human losses among Libyan civilians. That would be a gross violation of Security Council resolution 1973, which specifically provided that protection of civilians had to be the primary objective of the intervention.
We reiterate our belief that the federal government must consult parliamentarians concerning any deployment of troops abroad. Moreover, we condemn the immoral use of force by the Gadhafi regime against innocent people, and we believe that President Gadhafi's abuses of power must end. There must be an immediate ceasefire by the Gadhafi regime in relation to civilians and it must be honoured, as was not the case when the regime announced a ceasefire.
We have supported the measures taken by Canada to implement the two Security Council resolutions on Libya, including the asset freeze. We also applaud the decision by the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court to investigate actions committed in Libya that look like crimes against humanity. As well, we believe that Canada must pursue its discussions with the National Transition Council that the opposition has established in Libya. And we express our compassion for all our citizens of Libyan origin who are living through a troubled time, in view of the situation in their country of origin, and we stand with them.
We support the sending of CF-18s to Libya because that intervention is consistent with a value that is fundamental to Quebeckers: that military intervention must be carried out in a multilateral framework. The Bloc Québécois believes that military interventions should be undertaken with the approval of the UN, the organization that has the specific duty to ensure that alternative solutions are found to war. We are opposed to any unilateral action, that is, any action decided on by a single country or a small number of countries.
The Bloc is also against the notion of preventive war, in other words, a war instigated against another country because we suspect it of intending to wage war. Of course, in the absence of an established and imminent threat, a country cannot go to war against another country merely because it harbours misgivings in respect of that country.
Two principles that guide our position on any conflict in which Canada is called upon to participate are our opposition to any and all unilateral action and our disapproval of preventive wars.
Multilateralism is, quite logically, in Quebec’s best interests. Moreover, it is in the best interests of nations that are not superpowers, such as Canada and any future sovereign Quebec, that there be a multilateral organization to manage conflicts.
The air raids in Libya are authorized under Security Council resolution 1973, which authorizes member states to take any and all necessary steps for the enforcement of a no fly zone to ensure that aircraft cannot be used for the purpose of airborne attacks on the civilian population.
The Gadhafi regime has on several occasions in recent days used its aircraft to attack civilian populations. The Bloc Québécois is therefore of the view that action must be taken to protect the civilian population against the attacks launched by its own government, which, as I said earlier, are tantamount to crimes against humanity.
Of course, Parliament must be consulted before any troops are deployed abroad. That much is made clear in sections 31 and 32 of the National Defence Act. We recognize the government’s prerogative to place the Canadian Forces on active service, which is what it did over the weekend, but we believe that any such decision must be approved post-haste by the House in order for it to be legal. We must bear in mind that the government’s authority comes from Parliament.
Furthermore, it is clear that soldiers risk their lives on these overseas missions. These soldiers are Quebeckers and Canadians. They have families and friends. They are risking their lives in another country because Canada has asked them to be there. Any such decision on Canada’s part cannot be made without the blessing of its citizens, and the representatives of those citizens are the members of Parliament.
We also know that the rebel leaders in Libya called on the UN to impose a no fly zone. Ultimately, Libyans and Libyans alone can, and must, decide what their future will be, but it is clear that the Gadhafi regime has no intention of allowing this to happen.
There was resolution 1970 on February 26, which provided for the seizure of Libyan military equipment, the imposition of an embargo on arms sales to Libya, sanctions against certain individuals whose assets would be frozen, the creation of a panel to review the situation in Libya, and co-operation with the International Criminal Court in its desire to bring to justice the members of the Gadhafi regime who are accused of crimes against humanity.
There was resolution 1973 on March 17, which called for an immediate ceasefire, the creation of a no fly zone over Libya, and other similar measures. The primary purpose of all these resolutions is to protect civilians.
The resolution aims to impose a ceasefire between the Gadhafi regime and the civilian population. Its aim is not the invasion, division or dismemberment of Libya. A clear message is being sent to the Arab world: this operation is not another Western intervention against the Arab world or against Muslims. It has clearly defined limits. This is not another Iraq.
For all these reasons and in light of the Paris summit last Saturday—which confirmed the multilateral nature of this intervention with the presence not only of many countries but also of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of the Arab League and the President of the Council of Europe—we support the participation of the Canadian Forces in this operation.