Mr. Speaker, this is the first time I have had the opportunity to offer condolences on behalf of the people of my constituency of Yellowhead to the families in Canada and around the globe who have felt the loss of the September 11 tragedy in the United States.
In one day the tragedy brought the entire world closer together. On a typical day we come to this place to conduct the business of the nation and represent the views of our constituents. We are often divided in our vision of the country we love. I admit that our actions as members of parliament are sometimes less than parliamentary.
However in the big picture this place symbolizes all that is good and right in the democratic Canada we love and try to protect. By standing in this place each and every one of us is taking the first step in the stand against terrorists who look to cast fear and chaos into democratic society.
The terrorist acts in the United States have been forever etched in our minds and will be the lens through which we look at our duties and live our lives.
Our young nation was built on the sweat and ideas of people who came from all across the globe for a better life, people who wished for democracy, freedom and peace. The horrifying acts of September 11 were committed outside our borders but their violence against the symbols of democracy and freedom was an attack on all western democracies.
The deplorable actions of faceless fanatics have challenged the fundamental principles of free and democratic nations around the world. On September 11 a cancerous faction of evil attempted to tear down the ideas we have come to believe in as Canadians. However the terrorists have underestimated the strength of our beliefs and our resolve to bring them to justice.
I support the sentiments of the NDP motion. There is no question that we must condemn the September 11 attacks on the United States. We should look to international law at this time. We must also acknowledge that the United Nations has provisions for collective and individual security.
The second point of the NDP motion speaks to the general attitude of the Liberal government. We should not need to debate whether the government will table its action plan within 90 days. The Prime Minister needs to return power to the people of Canada by making parliament relevant again. We want to be part of the solution. Canadians should not have to listen to Larry King Live or pay $600 a plate at a Liberal fundraiser to hear the government's action plan.
I have received countless calls and e-mails from constituents looking for action from the government. We have seen nothing but delays and assertions that the U.S. idea of security and immigration goes against our sovereignty. I am not sure where that comes from.
The reality is that we share the world's longest undefended border with an economic giant. Canada needs to open its border with the United States. We need to open the border for the sake of our economy. That is what is potentially at risk.
Sharing common immigration and security philosophies with the United States would not go against our sovereignty. It would reaffirm our sovereignty and power by showing the world we are a trusted and influential friend of the United States.
The NDP motion raises a third point to which I will speak. Intolerance and racism toward any Canadian is unacceptable. We should have a zero tolerance policy against any such action.
We must not take an alarmist attitude in our response to terrorism. There is not a rising tide of racism in Canada. Canada is a tolerant society. Canadians have become closer to one another. They have a sense of solidarity with and tolerance for all who seek to build a better Canada. Isolated incidents do not warrant panic but are a reminder that we need continued vigilance against intolerance.
The terrorists attacks have given rise to the bigger issue of holes in our laws and our defences. They are obvious to anyone who lives in Canada or south of the border. The sense of security we have been lulled into over the past 50 years has been shattered. We have had the luxury of living peaceful lives on Canadian soil far removed from the wars and conflicts that have become a daily occurrence in many places around the world.
Canadians have a long history of defending democracy and freedom around the globe. Our fathers and forefathers hoped their sacrifices would be the last. Unfortunately the tragic events of September 11 have shown that there is a new evil out there. It is not a single enemy but one that lurks in the shadows and is too cowardly to show its face.
The terrorists hiding throughout the world have gone against the civilized world's rules of war and deliberately attacked innocent civilians. The attack on September 11 has forever changed the meaning of war. It was not an attack to win treasure or land. It was an attack against the ideas that have made us strong.
In this war there will not be a battle line drawn in the sand. There will be no decisive battle to force the enemy into submission. The rules of war have changed but the sacrifices of war have not.
As in previous generations the call to arms has been issued and we must answer. Our sense of security in living next to the most powerful nation in the world has ended. The reality is that we are vulnerable. Terrorists know no borders.
I am not one to make sense of the events, but I have a responsibility to ensure that the government is prepared to protect the interests of Canadians. In times of crisis Canadians look to their leaders. They look to their words for reassurance and to their actions for confidence. Canadians have received neither from the Liberal government.
We must ask why we have waited for evil to strike North America before acting. Closing its eyes and hoping problems will go away is an alarming trend of the Liberal government. Perhaps it is a defining characteristic of the Prime Minister's reign.
Whether with respect to stronger laws to root out terrorism or legislation to ban human cloning which we have been waiting for since 1993, why does the government wait until the genie is half out of the bottle before it is prepared to act on behalf of Canadians?
We have known for years that terrorists have seen Canada as a safe haven to carry out fundraising and planning for their organizations. Canadians are no longer willing to support such activity on our soil. It is time we as the people's representatives took the initiative in defending democracy.
I encourage the government to use all reasonable measures to protect our citizens. Let us strengthen our borders and stop evil before it lands on our soil. Let us find the strength in our justice system to root out the evil we know is there. Let us build the nation's forces and intellectual organizations to defend against this evil. This war will need to be fought with different weapons and tools.
We know our military forces will never be the strongest. However Canada can do its part with intelligence and technology, a field in which we have led for years. We must shore up our commitment to CSIS and our technological resources to fight this new battle. I call on the government to immediately table anti-terrorist legislation and increase resources to our military and police forces to fight terrorism.
As a nation and in tandem with our allies we must fight the evil that threatens the values of freedom, safety and democracy on which Canada was founded. The dollar cost will perhaps be significant. However we must spare no reasonable effort to ensure Canada remains a safe place for Canadians and for our neighbours to the south.
I call on Canadians to continue to support our American friends and neighbours who are feeling the emotional ripple of the attack that was levelled against them. We should think about them because the attack and the victims are not something one gets over quickly. Let us ask God to protect our nation.