Mr. Speaker, I would like to say first that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
Since this is my first speech in the House, I would like to thank, as members usually do, the people in my riding for choosing me as their member. I would also, of course, like to thank my friends, my family, my mother and father, my wife, Chloé, and my whole campaign team.
As the Bloc critic for foreign affairs and defence, I am pleased to express my views to the House in a debate as important as this.
Last March 21, our party approved this mission for some very specific reasons.
I should say at the outset that the Bloc Québécois will once again support the mission. We think, though, that Canada should be very careful with its actual implementation in the field.
The Bloc Québécois bases its support for this military mission in Libya on certain principles. The mission is being carried out, it must be said, at the peril of the men and women who chose to join the armed forces in order to serve the values and interests of their country, and who do so very responsibly and with great courage.
The principles to which we subscribe and which should continue to guide Canada and the other UN members involved in this action to provide military support to the persecuted civilian population are as follows: first, the multilateral nature of the military intervention, organized and directed by the Security Council and the United Nations; second, the specific strategic means laid out in resolutions 1970 and 1973 and legitimately approved in a vote of the House of Commons; and finally the ultimate purpose of the military intervention, which is to protect the lives of Libyan civilians.
It is important to say that, in our view, the international community’s involvement in Libya stems from the doctrine of the responsibility to protect.
The doctrine of the responsibility to protect is based on three pillars: the primary responsibility of states to protect their own people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity; the responsibility of the international community to help a state discharge its duty to protect; and finally, in the case of particular concern here, the responsibility of the international community to take prompt, decisive action in accordance with the UN charter when a state manifestly fails in its duty to protect its people from one or more of these four major crimes.
In this spirit of democracy, our party would remind the House and the government that renewal of the Canadian mission in Libya, in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973, calls for the greatest political and military prudence.
We believe that at the end of this three-and-a-half-month extension, this mission and the operational framework for it will have to be debated much more fully. Among other things, the debate will have to allow for an assessment of actions on the ground, the financial costs of the mission and the results as they relate to the intended objectives.
Accordingly, the Bloc Québécois reminds the House that the sovereignty of Parliament is the guarantee of the sovereignty of all Canadians, through the representatives they have chosen. That is why the National Defence Act provides that Parliament must be convened to debate any military deployment abroad, and that is what we will have to do beyond that three and a half months, should that be the case.
The success of an effective intervention strategy in this case will depend on a combination of limited military interventions, that is, interventions that should be essential to protect civilians, in accordance with the United Nations resolution, and promotion of de-escalation of the conflict leading to a ceasefire and genuine political dialogue.
We contend that Canada must continue to absolutely condemn the immoral use of force and abuses of power against Libyan citizens attributed to the Gadhafi regime, and in particular, as highlighted by the motion we are currently debating, the intolerable and inhumane practice of rape as a weapon of war, which transforms human bodies into machines of war and takes away the most fundamental security of the person.
Canada must also continue to promote recognition of the sovereignty of the Libyan people in determining their political destiny. On that point, the recent developments in the news attest to the desire expressed by the International Criminal Court prosecutor for Colonel Gadhafi to be arrested by his fellow Libyans.
Canada and NATO should demonstrate support more openly for diplomatic initiatives intended to achieve a ceasefire as soon as possible and to initiate a genuine dialogue in support of the efforts of the United Nations special envoy, Abdul Ilah Mohamed Al-Khatib.
We also welcome the decision by the International Criminal Court prosecutor to investigate what appear to be crimes against humanity in Libya. The Bloc Québécois would also like to say that it stands with and express its concern for Quebeckers and Canadians of Libyan origin, who have been worried for some weeks now and must be even more worried today.
The Bloc Québécois therefore supports the government in extending Canada’s military mission in the Libyan conflict based on the principles of respect for human life, respect for human rights and freedoms, and the political sovereignty of the Libyan people in their struggle for civil liberties and a better life, which is not without suffering for them.
Obviously this is not a case of military intervention with the aim of taking away the right of the Libyan people to sovereign self-determination, by invading or partitioning the country. On the contrary, the aim of the mission is to protect the lives of people who are determined to change their political situation at all costs.
The sequence of violent events in Libya shows that the adoption of resolutions 1970 and 1973 by the United Nations Security Council was necessary. As a result, our party supports the measures taken by Canada to implement resolution 1970, which in essence authorizes member states to seize and dispose of Libyan military equipment, impose an embargo on the sale of arms in Libya, impose sanctions against individuals and freeze their assets, facilitate and support the return of NGOs and humanitarian agencies to Libya, create a committee to monitor the situation in Libya, and co-operate with the International Criminal Court in its desire to bring the members of the Gadhafi regime who are accused of crimes against humanity to justice.
The Bloc Québécois also supports the government in the measures put in place to enforce resolution 1973, and in particular those measures relating to strengthening the freeze on assets provided for in resolution 1970.
Our party offers its support to the Government of Canada on a number of fundamental aspects of this humanitarian military mission. However, we must state our reservations concerning the management of this operation and the financial costs incurred to date, as well as the costs that will be incurred over the coming months.
We call on the government to be more rigorous in its calculations so it is able to present Parliament with detailed cost estimates for carrying out this military campaign. The estimates done by defence experts who have spoken on this in the national media in recent days are completely contrary to the forecasts made by the Department of National Defence. Those experts say that the government is much too lax in calculating the costs of this military operation. How high might these costs go in reality? Right now, we do not know.
I would like to thank the members of the House for their attention. Rest assured that the Bloc Québécois is still here, although our numbers are fewer, and that we bring determination and rigour to our analyses, in order to defend democracy and human rights.