Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to contribute to this debate on the potential role for the Canadian forces against Iraq. As Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition critic for veterans affairs and based on my own military experience, I am sensitive to the nature of Canada's military involvement against Iraq.
Canada was built by immigrants from around the globe. Who better than Canada to defend world peace. Canada was one of the first signatories to membership in the United Nations and we are most admired internationally for our peacekeeping role in international conflicts. This peacekeeping role has been assumed notwithstanding significant inadequacies in funding to our military forces.
Our military performed admirably in the first gulf war. Our Canadian Armed Forces are ready, willing and able to serve with distinction and honour once again. Canada is willing to support the United States and Britain in addressing concerns associated with global security. Our neighbour to the south has long been a major defender of world peace and is deserving of our respect and support but first we wish to list the criteria for involvement.
Criteria are required to assist in deciding how Canada should respond to requests for our participation in military operations to establish or maintain peace in the world; that diplomatic efforts to resolve it have failed; that there is multinational support for military action; that there is a workable strategy for military action to resolve the issue; that the plan includes a clear definition of Canada's role; that the role expected of Canada is within our military capacity; and that there is a command and control structure satisfactory to Canada.
Canada has an obligation to support its allies in stopping terrorism by Saddam Hussein. Our support should be military as well as moral and political. The focus of our military actions should be on putting Saddam Hussein's weapons factories out of business and allowing UN inspectors to do their work. As parliamentarians we should make the political decision to support. We should then let the defence department make the recommendations concerning the form and scope of our military support. The reason for supporting military action is our moral obligation and our national interest in stopping terrorism and war on innocent civilians.
We must be mindful that our Canadian forces may once again be exposed to chemical and biological contaminants during the course of the mounting conflict and that such exposure may have far reaching and longstanding effects on their health.
Ask Louise Richard what unknown dangers await in the battles of the gulf region. Louise was a member of the Canadian forces in the first gulf war and today, in her early thirties she is debilitated by multiple health problems believed to be gulf war syndrome. While Louise acknowledges there are necessary risks taken by our military when serving in battle, she is disappointed of the current government's inability to help our veterans with the problems they are now left with.
Many of our gulf war veterans have had to rely on other countries to aid in their treatment. This must not happen again. If we decide to send our men and women to battle, we must also assume the responsibilities associated with their health and well-being when they return home. Ms. Richard who suffered as a veteran of the gulf war still agrees that risks must be taken to stop war's tyrants.
Iraq, defeated in the gulf war, committed crimes against its citizens and others and had to be stopped. Part of the terms of the ceasefire was to accept the monitoring and destruction of its weapons of mass destruction. Clearly, Saddam has not allowed this to happen and in fact has hidden an arsenal of warheads and chemical weapons. In the past, Saddam has used these chemicals of death against citizens of his country and others. The weapons must be destroyed and the capability to produce more be removed or there will forever be a threat to others.
It is very clear to me that an effective inspection for chemical and biological weapons could not be conducted without U.S. observers. I believe that political pride should be of secondary concern to the avoidance of the escalation of international military conflict. The only exception to this view would be where avoidance of international military conflict leads to the fruitless efforts at appeasement so well demonstrated by England's Neville Chamberlain before the commencement of World War II. We soon learned that there is no piece of paper to wave that will stop men like Saddam Hussein and Hitler.
Saddam lives by weight of arms and might. He will only submit to the same.
We have only to review the recent past threat and carnage unleashed by this committed tyrant of war seven short years ago. It was only the combined will of two dozen nations that clipped his military might and sent him home, but it left his chemical and biological threat alive. These two were scheduled for inspection and destruction until Saddam intervened once again. This is the threat that Saddam could build on to the point of regional threat again.
Saddam's legacy of 1991 in the mother of all wars left over 100,000 dead, oilfields set to torch, cities in ruins, his country in tatters. Yet seven years later the world might face more. Canada must do its part to stand and help extinguish this threat to the nations of the world in the name of world peace.