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37th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION
EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 003
Wednesday, October 2, 2002
|STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS|
|American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association|
|Eaux Vives Harricana|
|National Memorial Day|
|Hay West Campaign|
|Member for Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant|
|Speech from the Throne|
|Women's History Month|
|ORAL QUESTION PERIOD|
|Mr. Graham (Toronto Centre—Rosedale)|
|Mr. Graham (Toronto Centre—Rosedale)|
|Mr. Mills (Red Deer)|
|Mr. Anderson (Victoria)|
|Mr. Anderson (Victoria)|
|Mr. Mills (Red Deer)|
|Mr. Anderson (Victoria)|
|Mr. Graham (Toronto Centre—Rosedale)|
|Mr. Graham (Toronto Centre—Rosedale)|
|Mr. Knutson (Elgin—Middlesex—London)|
|Order in Council Appointments|
|Government Response to Petitions|
|Whistle Blower Human Rights Act|
|(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)|
|Canada Health Act|
|(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)|
|(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)|
|Youth Criminal Justice Act|
|(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)|
|Statutory Instruments Act|
|(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)|
|Stem Cell Research|
|Stem Cell Research|
|Stem Cell Research|
|Stem Cell Research|
|Mr. Efford (Bonavista—Trinity—Conception)|
|Canadian Coast Guard|
|Stem Cell Research|
|Stem Cell Research|
|Questions on the Order Paper|
|Motions for Papers|
|Request for Emergency Debate|
|Search and Rescue|
|Speech from the Throne|
|Resumption of debate on Address in Reply|
|Mr. Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)|
|Mr. Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)|
|Mr. Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)|
|The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)|
|The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)|
|The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)|
|The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)|
|The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)|
|Business of the House|
|The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)|
|(Motion agreed to)|
|Speech from the Throne|
|Resumption of debate on Address in Reply|
|The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)|
|The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)|
|The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)|
|The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)|
|Mr. Knutson (Elgin—Middlesex—London)|
|Mr. Knutson (Elgin—Middlesex—London)|
|Mr. Knutson (Elgin—Middlesex—London)|
|Mr. Knutson (Elgin—Middlesex—London)|
|The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)|
|The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)|
|Mr. Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)|
|The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)|
|Mr. Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)|
|Mr. Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)|
|The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)|
|Mr. Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)|
|The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)|
|Mr. Thompson (Wild Rose)|
|Mr. Thompson (Wild Rose)|
|The Deputy Speaker|
|The Deputy Speaker|
|House of Commons Debates|
OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)
Wednesday, October 2, 2002
Speaker: The Honourable Peter Milliken
The House met at 2 p.m.
[S. O. 31]
* * *
The Speaker: As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Fraser Valley.
[Editors' Note: Members sang the national anthem]
[S. O. 31]
* * *
Ms. Beth Phinney (Hamilton Mountain, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House, the Prime Minister of Canada reiterated the government's intention to ratify the Kyoto protocol on climate change by the end of this year.
The agreement has strong support among Canadians. Last week the City of Hamilton joined municipalities across the country, from Kelowna and Canmore to Saint John and Pictou, in publicly declaring its support for ratification of the Kyoto accord.
Hamilton Mayor Bob Wade and the city council recognized that it is important to make a commitment to environmental sustainability, to ratify the Kyoto protocol now. The City of Hamilton is confident of the government's ability to develop a fair plan of action.
I congratulate the City of Hamilton on its commitment. The federal government looks forward to working with our partners on implementing the principles of the Kyoto accord.
* * *
Mr. Gary Lunn (Saanich—Gulf Islands, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's legacy is a legacy of pain for softwood lumber workers. Punitive duties remain in place and every day the forestry workers of B.C. face an uncertain future.
If the Prime Minister wants a legacy, he should defend the hard-working people of this country. We are tired of hearing about the progress, but no real results. The Liberals have sat on their hands while this file gathered dust.
The official opposition has lobbied the government for months to support our displaced workers. We are the only ones who have been forging alliances with consumer groups in the United States. We are the ones who have tried to repair the damage the Prime Minister has done with our relationship with the U.S. presidency. We are the ones standing strong in defence of our position at NAFTA and the WTO.
The Canadian Alliance would build a legacy with a strong economy, jobs for ordinary Canadians and fair, free trade with the United States over softwood lumber.
The only thing the government is building for forest workers is the unemployment line.
* * *
Ms. Raymonde Folco (Laval West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, over the years, postage stamps have played an important role in our lives. They make it possible for us to keep in touch with loved ones by correspondence, regardless of where they live.
Stamps mark our lives and our history. A few days ago, Canada Post announced the issue of new stamps in its commemorative series.
This program commemorates crowning achievements and significant anniversaries that have shaped Canada as we know it today. I am pleased to see that one of these stamps will be issued shortly to mark the 75th anniversary of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association in Canada. The AHEPA is a Greek-American organization which promotes a mutual understanding of Greek and Canadian cultures and encourages members to participate in the civic and commercial activities of Canadian society.
My congratulations to the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association of Canada for all that it has accomplished for the past 75 years and more.
* * *
Mr. Guy St-Julien (Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Eaux Vives Harricana is launching a high end spring water for export, the Esker brand.
Eaux Vives Harricana has begun shipping its Esker famous spring water, which is bottled at Saint-Matthieu d'Harricana, in Abitibi.
According to vice-president Ghislain Gauthier, the Esker brand is trademark protected in 85 countries.
The official opening of the Harricana plant took place on September 18, and the President of Parmalat of North America, Michael Rosiski, was among those in attendance.
The Government of Canada is proud to see that it is possible to carry out projects that contribute to the diversification of the economy of Abitibi-Témiscamingue. It also takes pride in the fact that companies like Parmalat share the confidence felt by local businessmen, particularly the investors of Amos who had faith in this project.
* * *
Mr. Lynn Myers (Waterloo—Wellington, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to all police and peace officers, especially the officers who have fallen in the line of duty. Our hearts go out to their families and friends, and we say in a voice united in remembrance that we will never forget the sacrifice that they have made.
This past Sunday thousands of Canadians gathered on Parliament Hill to honour and remember the officers. This important memorial service provides Canadians an opportunity to express their appreciation to police and peace officers, all of whom put their lives on the line on a daily basis to keep our communities safe.
To all police and peace officers, we thank them. We thank them for their dedication, their courage, their bravery and their sacrifice. We thank them for everything they do for Canada and all Canadians.
* * *
Mrs. Carol Skelton (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, for the second year in a row farm families on the Prairies have watched their crops and pastures wither and the dust fly as drought continues to grip most of Canada's grainbelt.
When a group of our farming neighbours in the eastern provinces heard about the drought conditions on the Prairies, they decided to do what they could to help and the Hay West campaign was born. There are many people who deserve thanks for their donations to this campaign, but the organizers of the Hay West initiative deserve special recognition.
I have had the pleasure of meeting two of the people behind the Hay West campaign, Willard McWilliams and Cumberland Councillor Phil McNeely, who have given hours of their own time and resources to coordinate the donations of thousands of tonnes of hay to western farmers. They have taken on a huge job out of their own goodwill and through the kindness of their hearts.
On behalf of the constituents of Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, and indeed all the recipients of the much needed hay, I want to congratulate the people who have led the Hay West campaign and extend a huge heartfelt thanks.
* * *
Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale—High Park, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as chair of the federal branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, I rise today to congratulate the member for Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant on his election as chair of the executive committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association at its 48th conference held in Windhoek, Namibia, in September.
More than 225 members from approximately 135 Commonwealth parliaments and legislatures voted in the election which was contested by three other candidates.
The member for Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant is the first federal Canadian parliamentarian to hold this position. He also currently chairs the Prime Minister's caucus task force on future opportunities in farming.
The election is also a recognition of the important role that Canada plays in the Commonwealth and the international community. It is a recognition of our Canadian values.
I ask that the House join me in congratulating our colleague.
* * *
Ms. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, after having paid tribute to WorldBest's investment, I am happy to share with the House the news that a second Chinese company will be locating in Drummondville, its second plant in Canada.
The company is investing $2.5 million this year and another $2 million next year to create 35 jobs. Caoutchouc Crosston will be producing a unique product in Canada at its Drummondville plant.
This project came to fruition thanks to an economic mission to China, led by the Société de développement économique de Drummondville. Once again, the SDED's availability and the perseverance of the economic stakeholders in the Drummondville region have yielded positive results.
I would like to congratulate the executive director of the SDED, Martin Dupont, and welcome the Chinese visitors who will be living temporarily in Drummondville while the business gets started.
* * *
Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in September 2000, Canada's first marine protected area, Xwa Yen (Race Rocks), B.C., opened. In 2001 the House passed an act respecting marine conservation areas in Canada.
In 2002 the Speech from the Throne committed to new marine protected areas and new national parks.
Canada was late at moving to protect areas in our three oceans in comparison to the early protection of land areas through our magnificent national parks system.
We Canadians are responsible for areas in three oceans that are the equivalent of 50% of our land mass. This is a huge responsibility that we can take very seriously.
This month let us recognize the anniversary of our first marine protected area and celebrate the Speech from the Throne which extends protected areas offshore and on land.
* * *
Mr. Brian Pallister (Portage—Lisgar, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, failing to learn from one's mistakes, as we all know, is a recipe for eternal frustration. The throne speech left many Canadians frustrated with the government.
Twenty-five years of throwing increasing amounts of money at aboriginal problems has raised the level of frustration to an incredibly high degree. On a per capita basis the federal government now dedicates more than eight times as much to aboriginal specific programs as was done in 1973, yet welfare dependency and the associated problems of poor health, low levels of education attainment, crimes and suicide show no signs of abating.
This week's throne speech promised more of the same. This is hardly a compassionate approach. Increasing spending on failed old band-aid approaches shows a miserable lack of genuine caring.
Long term solutions can only result if we pursue major reforms that empower aboriginal communities by empowering aboriginal people.
* * *
Mr. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, while we debate the Iraq situation an historic development has been taking place behind and beyond the headlines, and I am pleased to address it on M'hatmah Gandhi's birthdate. I am referring to the beginning of a peace process in Sri Lanka--after 19 years of a tragic conflict has left 65,000 dead, 1.5 million displaced 12,000 disappeared, and untold human catastrophe.
This historic démarche was commemorated last week by the Quebec Coalition for Peace in Sri Lanka, based in my riding, which held a moving ceremony involving the diverse expatriate Sri Lankan communities for the first time in 19 years.
Canada has an important role to play in this peace process by: sharing our experience as a bilingual and multicultural federal policy; developing a rights charter; helping in the de-mining process, saving life and limb; supporting confidence building measures underlying the peace process; and mobilizing economic donor support and investment.
* * *
Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, what is a throne speech worth? Will the promises for housing actually translate into real and affordable housing units for the two million Canadians who need them?
Do the recycled promises to address deepening poverty actually put food on the tables for five million Canadians who have suffered under 10 years of Liberal commitment that was worthless?
I ask these questions because that is what the 200 people camped out in the tents around the empty Woodwards building in Vancouver are asking. That is what the 125 homeless people asked as they were evicted from a homeless depot in Toronto. It is cold comfort for them to hear another throne speech.
Political promises that purport to help the poor while the record shows the opposite is true is the worst form of political exploitation.
Today New Democrats call on the Prime Minister to honour his commitments. He should begin by acknowledging the damage that his government has done to the most vulnerable people in our society.
* * *
Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in the Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister missed a golden opportunity to leave a legacy and, more importantly, to make up for his devastating treatment of the sick and the unemployed.
Despite the fact that the health care system is crumbling, no real measures were announced for short term relief, and thousands of unemployed workers who do not qualify for EI will have to wait, as the speech contained nothing for them. For the Prime Minister, the fiscal imbalance is nothing more than a figment of the imagination, not the pernicious distortion of a system that contributes to impoverishing the population.
The Prime Minister is offering up more of what characterized his 40 years in politics: squabbles with Quebec. After interfering into education via the Millennium Scholarship Fund, he does one more by signing an announcement on a National Summit on Innovation and Learning, while at the same time announcing that it is taking over the securities sector.
The good intentions in this Speech from the Throne are spoiled by the actions of the past nine years and the Prime Minister's wish to go one last round with Quebec.
* * *
Mr. Gurbax Malhi (Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today in honour of the important role women have played in our nation's history.
October is the month for Canadians to celebrate the contributions of women in Canada's history and to honour their achievements in our Canadian heritage.
This year we are celebrating the theme “Women and Sports-Champions Forever”.
I would like to recognize the outstanding achievement just this past year by our female athletes who brought home numerous medals from the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Commonwealth Games.
I am pleased to celebrate these and many other accomplishments by women athletes and encourage the rising stars to stay active and promote the benefits of participating in sports events.
* * *
Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, the decision by the Liberal government to rethink Canada's policy regarding deportation of war criminals is morally wrong.
Age is no reason to stop prosecution of individuals responsible for crimes against humanity. Justice must be served. We owe it to the memory to the victims and to survivors who endured unthinkable atrocities.
What kind of message are we sending to those hundreds of thousands of families affected by Nazi bloodshed if we say to war criminals “Welcome to Canada. Enjoy the comforts of our democracy?”
What kind of message are we sending if we say prosecution and justice are too expensive and time consuming? Justice is not always cheap or quick.
What kind of message are we passing on to future generations if we ignore barbaric acts? We have a responsibility to remember but, most important, to ensure that justice is done.
Out of respect for the victims, I ask the government to show the commitment and courage necessary to pursue, prosecute and punish war criminals.
* * *
Ms. Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to stand today on behalf of all Canadians to congratulate the Prime Minister on being named World Statesman of the Year by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.
The Prime Minister was in Manhattan last night to receive this prestigious award.
It was awarded to recognize the leading role the Prime Minister is taking on the new economic plan for Africa, particularly during last summer's G-8 summit in Kananaskis.
This foundation works on behalf of religious freedom and human rights around the world. The annual award is for furthering mutual understanding, peace and tolerance. This award is a testament to the Prime Minister's vision and ability to effect a consensus on this hugely important initiative.
Previous recipients of the award include Mikhaïl Gorbatchev and Vaclav Havel.
* * *
Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, over the past few weeks the government's position on Iraq has been unclear and shifting. So to be clear now on the Iraqi threat, does the government now accept reports from security agencies in the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries, including CSIS, that Saddam Hussein represents a significant international security threat, that he has been developing weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological and nuclear, and that he would be willing to use these against his neighbours?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we know that Saddam Hussein has been a terrible leader for his country. He has attacked Iran and Kuwait, and he has used instruments of mass destruction against his own people.
However, we have always held the position that in order to move there we need to have a new resolution at the United Nations that will be tighter than the previous one to make sure that the inspectors will be able to go in and do their jobs, and that if he has those types of mass destruction armaments then they should be destroyed, as was agreed to by him after the war in Kuwait.
Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I think the Prime Minister has come a ways from saying that he needed proof.
There are also mixed signals from the government on its willingness to act on Iraq. So, to be clear, is the government now saying that it is standing with the allied coalition, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and others, demanding that there be clear consequences for Saddam Hussein for failure to comply with the United Nations resolutions?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we have said for many weeks. Our position has been very clear. We said that we have to operate with the United Nations and that it is very important to give international credibility to any intervention there. We do not believe in unilateralism. We believe in multilateralism. We need to have all the coalition working together to make sure that this type of armament will not be used either against his own people or neighbouring nations.
Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, in all of that the Prime Minister failed to say whether he is working with our allies or not, so let me ask the question a different way.
Yesterday evening in the House the defence minister suggested that U.S. policy in Iraq has not been rules based or consistent with international law. Specifically he compared American policy to “the law of the jungle”. To be clear, is this the government's evaluation of the American approach to Iraq?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in the many discussions I have had with President Bush I have always insisted that they should go through the United Nations with new resolutions, and that was the position taken by other leaders.
When I had discussions with the prime minister of Great Britain about this subject in South Africa we discussed the need to go to the United Nations. That was the message that was conveyed to the president by Mr. Blair. When I met the president on the Monday, it was evident that on the Thursday he would be asking the United Nations to adopt a strong, clear and effective resolution.
Mr. Stockwell Day (Okanagan—Coquihalla, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, especially when practised by the Liberals.
For instance, last night, in the debate on Iraq, we heard that President Bush's aspirations for an alliance of nations to resist Saddam Hussein is like and compared to the Nazi approach to the second world war. I quote the member who said “...Bush is insulting the memory of World War II soldiers...”.
Is this the government's position?
Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity of participating all last night in an important debate in the House. It was clear that all members sought to try and wrestle with this extraordinarily important issue.
Analogies that were made on this side of the House were made to say that if we choose unilateralism and if we choose to attack in circumstances which could be perceived as aggression, we would defy the memory of those who resisted aggression in the past. That is a valid position. It is consistent with world international law. It is consistent--
The Speaker: The hon. member for Okanagan--Coquihalla.
Mr. Stockwell Day (Okanagan—Coquihalla, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, that is not what was said. It is disappointing that the minister did not distance himself from those Liberal remarks because it gets worse.
There was another comparison that any allied action that might be taken against Saddam Hussein would be comparable to the Japanese invasion and attack on Pearl Harbour. Is that the government's position?
The Speaker: The Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
The Speaker: Order, please. We have questions and we have answers. We have to listen to both. The Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs has the floor.
Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is no more the position of this party than it is an accurate description of what the member said in the House. The member said in the House that we may not associate ourselves with attacks that are perceived as aggressive attacks.
We have spent our time and the member and the Leader of the Opposition took this position as well. We have created a world order which resists aggression. This party and this country believe that we must work through the United Nations, as the Prime Minister has said, to have a world order which restricts aggression.
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, today, President Bush reached a bipartisan agreement to table a resolution before the U.S. Congress allowing him to unilaterally take action in Iraq, outside the framework of the United Nations.
Given that he indicated yesterday his support for the American position, could the Prime Minister tell us today whether he will inform President Bush that Canada will never support unilateral action by the United States, whether the U.S. Congress authorizes it or not?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, a debate is indeed taking place in the U.S. Congress, and a resolution to support or not to support the president will be passed. This is a U.S. domestic matter.
Canada's position remains unchanged. Any military action in Iraq will require a UN resolution. If there is a UN resolution which clearly indicates that all members that took part in previous coalitions want to participate, Canada will participate, but only with the support of the security council.
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, does the Prime Minister realize that, by supporting the American position, under the UN resolutions, as he did yesterday, he is delaying the work of UN inspectors in Iraq and creating a split among security council members, when agreement and unanimity were not easy to obtain, and that he is condoning the unspeakable comments made yesterday by the White House spokesperson who alluded to the possibility of selective assassinations?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we hope that the inspectors will return to Iraq as soon as possible to do their job, but we also agree that a new resolution a required to clearly indicate what must be done and within what timeframes reports ought to be made to the United Nations.
There are already resolutions in effect. If they want to comply with the old resolutions, that is fine with me, but they will also have to comply with the one that will eventually and hopefully be adopted by the security council.
Ms. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said that the implementation of the Kyoto protocol was so important that there would be a vote on it in the House. So what about war and deploying troops? These are also matters important enough that the government should obtain a prior go-ahead from the House before taking any sort of military action against Iraq.
Will the Prime Minister assure us that members of this House will be given an opportunity to vote before Canada takes any military action against Iraq?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, a debate is now taking place on this topic, right here in the House of Commons. It was held yesterday and will continue today.
Should new actions be necessary, we will come back to the House, as we did last night.
Ms. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, if declaring war and sending troops abroad comes under the exclusive jurisdiction of the government, the same logic also applies to Kyoto. And the Prime Minister thinks that Kyoto is so important that he is calling for a vote in the House.
So why are the people's representatives, members of this House, not being asked to vote on something like war and the deployment of troops?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have followed the rules of procedure and, on several occasions since I became Prime Minister, have held debates here in the House of Commons. This was the case when we sent troops to Afghanistan, it was the case for Kosovo, and I believe that the procedure which was followed was satisfactory at the time, as it should normally be in the future.
Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.
The U.S. has introduced a new resolution in the Security Council permitting an invasion of Iraq if U.S. demands are not met. Even though the resolution is not yet public, the Prime Minister says he supports it.
Would the Prime Minister tell us precisely what that resolution says? If not, why is he giving a blank cheque to the United States?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no resolution. People are debating at this time what the next resolution should be. We say that we need a new resolution that has to be approved by the Security Council. Members of the Security Council are debating what the wording should be. We are not a member of that committee. The resolution does not yet exist.
The Security Council is trying to build one. We are in agreement with other governments that there is a need for a new resolution. The Americans are in agreement with that statement as well as the British and the French. The question now is what the words will be. When the words are known we will take action on the resolution. We need a new resolution and that is being worked on at this moment.
Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, in the 1993 red book the Liberals promised to carve out a more independent role for Canada and “to reject a camp follower approach to the U.S.”.
What do we have instead? We have the government giving comfort to assassination threats and silver bullet strategies. Is that really the legacy that the Prime Minister wants to leave behind?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is always like that when people do not look at all the facts. I was attacked by the Leader of the Opposition for statements I made about the situation. It so happened that many of the words I used in my interview with the CBC were used last week by President Bush himself.
This is another loose interpretation by the leader of the NDP rather than looking at the facts. The Canadian position is an extremely strong position that has gained support from a lot of people who did not support that type of position before.
* * *
Right Hon. Joe Clark (Calgary Centre, PC): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.
Former Premier Lougheed has noted that while the federal government has the power to ratify the Kyoto protocol it may not have the power to implement it.
Has the Government of Canada received a formal legal opinion that the federal government, acting alone, has the constitutional authority to implement Canada's Kyoto obligations? After he has answered that question, would the Prime Minister agree to table that legal opinion in Parliament today?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is an international obligation that can be taken by the national government. This has been the position that we have had over the years. The implementation is always done in Canada.
We have two levels of government, and we always manage to implement our international obligations in collaboration with the provinces and the private sector in Canada. It will be the same thing with Kyoto.
Mr. John Herron (Fundy—Royal, PC): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the environment minister told the House that Canada would meet the targets set out by Kyoto. Yet in La Presse yesterday the minister said Canada will likely ratify yet at the end of the day not meet the target. Enron had Andersen Accounting and look where that got it.
Is the Prime Minister prepared to ask the House to vote on a target that his own minister admits the government does not intend to honour?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the targets are well known and we have 10 years to meet the targets. In the past we moved on things like acid rain. It was supposed to be an awful problem and we dealt with it at a lower cost than predicted, and everybody was happy.
It was the same thing some years ago concerning the lead in gasoline. Everybody said if we were to force the industry to take out the lead the industry would collapse. Now there is no more lead in gasoline and the oil companies are not on welfare yet.
* * *
Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister made a lot of spending promises in Monday's throne speech. However he made no similar promises about holding the line on taxes. Yesterday he even hinted he may raise taxes to pay for health care. Instead of considering increasing taxes like the GST or some other dedicated tax for health care, the government needs to get control of its spending addiction.
Will the Minister of Finance assure Canadians that he will not be raising taxes to pay for all these promises, and will he bring down a fall budget to lay out his plans?
Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it has been the record of the government to lower taxes.
In fact, the announcement we made in October 2000 on tax reduction was a $100 billion package over five years, the largest tax reduction package in this country's history; of that, $20 billion of tax reductions in this year alone. I do not know what the hon. member is worrying about.
Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, Canadian travellers and air traffic would certainly know what I am referring to. There is a tax that has been put on that.
Canadian taxpayers deserve to know how the government intends to carry out financing all these programs. The government does not have a revenue problem. It has not had a revenue problem for a long time, but it has a spending problem, a spending addiction. That is the Prime Minister's real legacy, a spending problem.
Why does the finance minister think it is appropriate to keep Canadians in the dark for four or five months before he brings down a budget to tell us how he will pay for these programs?
Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this spending problem is so grave that our spending as a percentage of GDP is at the level it was in the early 1950s. Our spending problem is so grave that we are the only G-7 country that is running a surplus this year and next year.
Our spending problem is such an addiction that we are the only G-7 country to be posting a 3.5% growth rate this year and probably next year. If the member is in the dark I do not know what I can do about it.
* * *
Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, if there is to be fair and effective implementation of the Kyoto protocol, there must be unity of thought and of action. Yet the Minister of Health has come out against it and the Minister of Industry gives it only lip service support.
Does the Prime Minister feel that his cabinet is putting forth the unity that is necessary for ratification and implementation of the Kyoto protocol?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, BQ): Yet, Mr. Speaker, the ministers of health and natural resources oppose it, the industry minister is ambivalent, and the presumed successor to the Prime Minister is keeping mum.
Does the Prime Minister realize that his leadership problem is putting a damper on his intention to ratify Kyoto? In other words, does the Prime Minister agree that, in actual fact, it is the member for LaSalle—Émard who is pulling the strings, and his position on this is not known?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my party caucus is very much in favour of Kyoto. I have received petitions from MPs, and they have spoken to me about this for some years. I have listened to the caucus. They have been raising this for years, and we are now moving on it.
* * *
Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Public Works said that the purchases of Challenger jets and maritime helicopters are “quite different transactions”. I guess they are, because one is done and the other one is not.
However today we have learned his officials briefed the minister weeks in advance of the Challengers being ordered, that in fact the two purchases were definitely linked; linked in such a way that could result in more legal action against the questionable purchasing methods of his government.
Will the minister now admit that he has no idea about proper procurement practices or was he simply misleading the House yesterday?
Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the opposition has certainly tried to draw a linkage between the two transactions, but in fact they are quite different.
In one case it is a purchase of two aircraft; in the other case it is a purchase of 28 aircraft that would increase the fleet by a full two-thirds. In one case the contract value is $100 million or perhaps less; in the other case it is well over some billions of dollars.
In one case it is for a fairly simple task in terms of executive travel; in the other case it is a very complex task associated with the defence of the country. They are entirely different.
Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, to the minister it is a numbers game but to taxpayers it is about priorities; which one do we actually need? Let me quote from Deputy Minister Cochrane's memo:
|If the federal government cannot afford more for funding health care, how can it afford new planes while the old ones are still operational?|
How could the minister possibly justify the extravagant purchase of new jets to the growing number of Canadians on waiting lists for health care?
Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, any government at any moment in time has a whole range of priorities that have to be addressed.
In the case of health care, in the year 2000 the Prime Minister reached an historic accord with all of the premiers. The Government of Canada invested $23 billion in the short term. The Romanow commission was appointed to look at the long term. Romanow will report in November. The Prime Minister will hold a first ministers conference at the beginning of next year and the appropriate funding provisions will be provided in the next budget.
* * *
Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for International Trade. Yesterday, the minister said that he was firmly committed to supporting the supply management system.
However, a memo, which involves three departments and which was submitted to cabinet by very senior officials, proposed, as a strategy, that the supply management system be used as a bargaining chip in future WTO negotiations.
Can the Minister for International Trade assure us that this strategy has been totally ruled out and that making any kind of compromise in this area is out of the question?
Hon. Pierre Pettigrew (Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we never considered making any kind of compromise regarding our supply management system. We did not develop a negotiating strategy that would jeopardize supply management in Canada, because we believe in this system.
We built it ourselves, and that includes this government and the previous governments. We have contributed to it more than some hon. members, who are trying to scare people who earn a good living on their farms, across the country. We will continue to promote the supply management system in Canada.
Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, BQ): Mr. Speaker, if the minister's commitment is as firm and sincere as he claims, why does he not fully implement the measures provided under the existing agreement regarding border controls, by stopping imports that contain milk derivatives and by enforcing more strictly the 13% rule, for example in the case of chicken?
There is a great difference right now between what the minister says and does.
Hon. Pierre Pettigrew (Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, luckily, farmers have learned to work closely with us in recent years. These people were able to put their trust in us when it mattered.
When certain issues, such as cheese sticks imports, are brought to our attention, we settle the matter through discussions with the Americans. It is our government that solved issues which had not been settled in the years before it took office.
We will continue to work closely with farmers, even if this makes some people complain and even if it makes some waves in the regions.
* * *
Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's cavalier approach to the ratification of Kyoto seems to totally ignore many Canadians, among them those on fixed incomes who will suffer under this plan. How will the Prime Minister answer to these people when they pay a lot more for power, heat and transportation?
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as was said in the House--
The Speaker: Order. It is very difficult for the Chair to hear.
It is almost impossible for the Chair to hear the answer because of the noise at the other end of the House. I am urging hon. members to be a little more quiet, so that we can hear the questions and the answers. The hon. Minister of the Environment.
Hon. David Anderson: Mr. Speaker, as was said in the House yesterday on a number of occasions, we are attempting to work with the provinces and territories to put in place a plan whereby impact on Canadians, if any, is minimized.
In addition to the people the hon. member has mentioned, who of course are very important, he should also think of future generations and the impact of unfettered climate change on them and their future.
Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, we do care about future generations and the environment, but this Kyoto accord is just not going to do it and the minister knows that.
The Prime Minister talks about ratification. A number of companies have cut their future investments. They call this an investment chill and we are going to see a lot more of that. The minister knows that as well.
Why is the Prime Minister so intent on chasing his Kyoto legacy at the risk of an investment freeze?
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, some 18 months ago the President of the United States said that the United States would not ratify Kyoto. Some 15 months ago the Prime Minister of Canada indicated that his intention was to ratify.
The figures that the hon. member should look at are the economic figures for the first eight months of this year, where American jobs have declined by 48,000. But in Canada these jobs are the direct result of investment and in Canada the increase has been 384,000 jobs, that many.
* * *
Mr. Larry Bagnell (Yukon, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as chair of the foreign affairs caucus I, with many of my colleagues, have a great interest in assuring that Canada does as much as possible through diplomatic channels to find a resolution to the situation in Iraq.
Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs please tell the House what methods he has taken to date to defuse the crisis?
Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question and the work that his committee does, in the tradition of Canadians, to work through diplomatic channels to try to find peaceful solutions to conflicts in the world.
What we have done is that I have worked closely with the Prime Minister, who has contacted world leaders to ensure that we continue to work through diplomatic channels to find a peaceful solution to this potential conflict.
When I was in New York I met with foreign ministers, I met with the Arab league and I met with the G-8. In all cases we stayed with and worked with our game plan, which is to keep this within the world community way of solving this problem, which is in the tradition of the Canadian way--
The Speaker: The hon. member for Windsor West.
* * *
Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, this government has had since 1996 to deal with the softwood lumber issue.
Yesterday in the House the Minister for International Trade said “everyone knows, good progress continues to be made”. This morning we learned that Tembec, Canada's second largest lumber producer, is laying workers off and curtailing operations as a result of U.S. trade actions.
It would appear that the government considers the destruction of the Canadian softwood lumber industry and the resulting job losses as “good progress”.
Will the Minister of Industry commit today to implementing a plan of action to protect this industry and the jobs it provides until the Minister for International Trade finally manages to get this trade dispute resolved?
Hon. Pierre Pettigrew (Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have been working very closely with my colleague, the Minister of Industry, who absolutely cares about and believes, like me, in the future of the softwood lumber industry. As well, we have been working with our colleagues, the ministers of natural resources and human resources.
We do understand that the going is getting rough on that territory, in the regions, in the communities. We find that extremely painful, but we do believe that it is important to clear the air in terms of our discussions with the United States. Yes, indeed, we will stand by our workers and our communities through the programs that we do have to help them cope with the present difficult times.
* * *
Mr. Svend Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Last July, Omar Khadr, a 15-year-old Canadian citizen, was arrested by the U.S. army in Afghanistan. To date, the U.S. has allowed the Red Cross access but has refused all Canadian consular access, in blatant violation of international law.
I want to ask the minister this. What action is the government taking to ensure that this teenager will not be held at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely, tried before a secret military tribunal and possibly sentenced to death? What is Canada doing to defend the rights of this young Canadian citizen from this abuse of U.S. power?
Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my colleague opposite, who is very familiar with international law, will know that he is wrong in qualifying the right to consular access in these cases.
This young man in an unfortunate situation was arrested in the course of having been accused of killing an American serviceman in the course of a conflict. There is no consular access in the course of conflicts or we would have had consular access to all of our prisoners during the second world war.
We have access. We have requested to the United States to have access and it has assured us that we will have access. The Red Cross has assured us that the young man's health is in good condition. We continue to press the United States to ensure that his rights will be protected, but I want to assure the House--
The Speaker: The hon. member for Cumberland--Colchester.
* * *
Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester, PC): Mr. Speaker, many Canadians are being denied the disability tax credit because the form is convoluted and complicated, but at least 20,000 disabled Canadians are being denied simply because the forms were not returned. Whether they are disabled or not, they are taken off the list, kind of like negative billing.
Has the minister made any effort to contact these people to find out why the forms were not returned?
Hon. Elinor Caplan (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we are determined to see that those people who are entitled to receive this tax credit do so.
We also are consulting at the present time to ensure that the form is clearly understood. What we are finding through our consultations is that in fact there has been some confusion in the past. We are working very hard to make sure that anyone who needs information about how to fill out this form is able to receive it quickly.
I appreciate the member's question. We are determined to make sure that when we do our audit we do it in a way that conforms with the law and helps people get the assistance they need.
Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester, PC): Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the question again. Will the minister contact the between 20,000 and 30,000 Canadians who are disabled and who did not return the form? Will the department contact those disabled people to make sure they are able to reapply for the tax credit?
Hon. Elinor Caplan (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we are aware that many people have not returned the form simply because they recognize that they no longer need the credit or do not in fact qualify.
However, wherever we have received a request for additional information or an explanation of the form we do that because we are determined to make sure that anyone who is entitled to receive this credit does receive it.
* * *
Mr. John Cummins (Delta—South Richmond, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, on August 13 five lives were lost, including those of a mother and two small children, when the fishing vessel Cap Rouge II capsized. Coast Guard divers were directed not to attempt to rescue the persons trapped inside. Yesterday the Coast Guard commissioner stated that policy which would have permitted the divers to enter an overturned vessel had not been communicated to the divers.
What policy is he talking about?
The fleet safety manual prohibited divers from entering capsized vessels. Senior bureaucrats ordered them to stay out.
I ask the minister to table the policy which would have permitted a rescue attempt in this instance.
Hon. Robert Thibault (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Coast Guard's diving policy is consistent with the Canada Labour Code. As such, divers do not enter restricted areas, but under the Canada Shipping Act there is a provision for joint coordinators of search and rescue to permit any actions necessary to save human life under reasonable circumstances.
Mr. John Cummins (Delta—South Richmond, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Canadian labour code does not prohibit rescue dives. The fleet safety manual does. This minister's policy does.
The real issue here is that the minister and his senior bureaucrats have created a straw man. They would rather be held accountable for failing to communicate policy than putting in place a policy that may have cost five people their lives, including a mother and her two small children.
If that is not true, I challenge the minister to table the appropriate policy documents.
Hon. Robert Thibault (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government offers its condolences to the families and friends of all the people whose lives were lost, but it regrets the actions by the members opposite and others who would have it seem to be the responsibility of the Coast Guard and due to actions of the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard, the divers, search and rescue, the fire departments and all responders did a beautiful job. They save 1,500 people annually in B.C. and will continue to do so. To indicate any less is irresponsible.
* * *
Mr. Robert Lanctôt (Châteauguay, BQ): Mr. Speaker, with respect to the sponsorships scandal, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services yesterday denied that 80% of program spending was flawed.
However, the report produced by his department, which would give us a clearer picture, has yet to be made public, despite the minister's promise.
Why has the Minister of Public Works and Government Services not made this internal investigation report public, as he was supposed to do? Has he had a sudden change of heart?
Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first, let me congratulate the hon. member on his new assignment as critic for this portfolio. I should have offered my good wishes yesterday. I forgot to do so and I will do so at this time.
I am pleased to inform the House that the review of files in my department, which I announced in the spring, is nearing its completion. There are some 720 different files that had to be examined, about 125 or 130 of those in great detail. I am informed that the report is being finalized. I am looking forward to it, just as I am sure the hon. gentleman is.
Mr. Robert Lanctôt (Châteauguay, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the government has always refused to conduct an investigation pointing to the internal investigation and police investigation already underway.
Could the minister tell us how many police investigations are underway, how many contracts they involve and which companies are being targeted by these investigations?
Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it has already been noted in the public domain that there are some 13 matters that the police may have inquired into. I cannot confirm the number of investigations because, of course, it is up to the police themselves to determine that which they will investigate and that which they will not.
* * *
Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, on May 22 this year on the issue of the $24 air tax, the Minister of Transport promised in the House that the government “will review the charge in September”. It is now October 2. I ask the transport minister, when will we see the report that he promised, or did he keep his word at all?
Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we will review the transport charge when we have adequate data in order to be able to review it properly. However, we do have a difference in principle with the opposition members. That is that we believe the users of the air transportation system should bear the costs of the additional security measures. They believe we should simply spend more and take it out of other revenues.
Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, since the tax was introduced, Stephenville, Newfoundland; Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; and St. Leonard, New Brunswick have lost all Air Canada service. One airline in Saskatchewan has reported that boardings in Regina are down 52% and in Saskatoon they are down 42% from last year.
How many cities have to lose their air service before the government reacts by lowering or eliminating the air tax and getting more Canadians flying? When will the government listen?
Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, boardings are down all across North America in the wake of the events of September 11 last year. In attempting to determine the appropriate level for the security charge in the last budget, an attempt was made to estimate the level of boardings that would be experienced during this year in light of those events. In fact the estimate was fairly close, although perhaps boardings will prove to be slightly fewer than had been estimated in advance. These are variables we will take into account in the review of the charge.
* * *
Mr. Walt Lastewka (St. Catharines, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
The secretary of state will be visiting the gulf region next week. In light of the increased tension in the area due to Iraq, would the secretary of state please tell us what he hopes to accomplish during this visit?
Hon. Gar Knutson (Secretary of State (Central and Eastern Europe and Middle East), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my trade mission to the gulf next week, accompanied by 30 Canadian companies, including SNC-Lavalin and EnCana, along with the member for St. Catharines, will stress that Canada's relationship with the Arab world is not simply one-dimensional. We can help achieve regional stabilities through strengthening our economic ties while at the same time conveying messages of Canadian values.
However, I will have the opportunity to sit down with leaders of these countries and convey Canada's desire to see a resolution of the current impasse regarding Iraq and the absolute necessity of getting the weapons inspectors back to work.
* * *
Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, another piece of hype in the government's throne speech is its claim to the free flow of people, goods and commerce at our borders. The reality at the border crossings in my riding is mile long backups and two to four hour delays. Is it the government's position that two to four hour delays constitute the free flow of goods?
Hon. Elinor Caplan (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we are monitoring the situation on an ongoing basis.
The safety and security of Canadians is paramount. We know that there is the occasional job action going on. There is a collective agreement and an ongoing grievance process. However, I can assure the member that safety and security is not being jeopardized and the flow of traffic is moving and is being monitored because we recognize its importance to all Canadians, as do the dedicated officers who are working at the borders.
Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, this problem existed prior to the job delays. Despite a significant influx of U.S. customs personnel at the border, delays are caused by the American concern over the lack of Canada's commitment to continental security. Despite all the agreements, the Americans still do not trust the Liberal government to provide an appropriate level of security. What steps is the government taking to alleviate these concerns?
Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have met about every four to six weeks with the director of homeland security, Governor Tom Ridge. We were able to conclude a historic agreement which was acknowledged on September 9 at an important meeting in Detroit between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Canada.
I can honestly tell the member I do not know her source of information, but in all those months of meetings dealing with issues that have bedevilled both governments for years, I have never heard any of the U.S. officials, political representatives, or secretaries of the cabinet suggest that they had any doubts about Canada's security.
* * *
Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Transport said that he had no doubt that highway 30 would be extended shortly. On January 29, 2001, he considered this same highway a priority. In the spring of 2001, work would be starting as soon as possible. In a letter dated August 20, 2001, it was again a priority, and on August 6, 2002, it was a question of weeks, if not days.
Rather than spouting one empty statement after another, will the Minister of Transport give a formal commitment today that he will sign the memorandum of understanding the Government of Quebec sent him almost ten months ago, in order to extend highway 30 between Candiac and Vaudreuil?
Hon. David Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, before signing the agreement with the Government of Quebec, it is necessary to put in place all the measures for studying the situation. We have begun with the environmental and traffic studies. That is what I said yesterday.
* * *
Mr. Brian Pallister (Portage—Lisgar, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, over the last 30 years in Canada we have seen an eightfold increase in per capita spending on aboriginal problems, yet the societal problems continue and worsen. This billion dollar Band-Aid approach of dealing with symptoms and ignoring the causes just throws good money after bad.
My question for the finance minister is, what analysis has he done that would let the government believe that its failed approach will work in the future any better than it has in the past?
Hon. Robert Nault (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thought the opposition would be standing up to applaud the government for a Speech from the Throne that recognized the important work that needs to be done with aboriginal people.
In the last number of months we have been talking with aboriginal people right across the country. We are consulting with them. This fall we will be bringing forward four pieces of legislation, which we hope the opposition will agree with. They will move us toward a government to government relationship, and the kind of modern tools of governance that will help first nations build an economy to move them from the welfare situation they are in to an economy that we all want.
* * *
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères—Les-Patriotes, BQ): Mr. Speaker, after months of hemming and hawing, the government at least seems to have figured it out and is sending the message that it will shortly be announcing an assistance plan for the softwood lumber industry. As for the Bloc Quebecois, we grasped the situation long ago and, back in March, presented a plan upon which the government ought surely to draw in order to help businesses and workers through the crisis, pending the NAFTA and WTO decisions.
Can the Minister for International Trade assure us that the plan he intends to announce will, like that of the Bloc Quebecois, include measures to assist the workers and measures to assist the companies, for instance loan guarantees?
Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister for International Trade, I will start by saying that we have already announced financial assistance. Second, we have already been successful at the WTO. Our government is committed to working hard with the industry to find solutions promptly for the softwood lumber industry.
* * *
Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, a number of order in council appointments made recently by the government.
* * *
Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 10 petitions.
* * *
Mr. David Price (Compton—Stanstead, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the 15th report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association, which represented Canada at the spring 2002 session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly held in Sofia, Bulgaria from May 24 to May 28, 2002.
Mr. Bernard Patry (Pierrefonds—Dollard, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to table in the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian section of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, and the financial report relating to it.
The report refers to the 28th annual meeting of the APF, which took place in Berne, Switzerland, from July 4 to 10, 2002.
Mr. Joe Comuzzi (Thunder Bay—Superior North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to report on the Canadian delegation to the 43rd annual meeting of the Canada-United States interparliamentary group, held in Rhode Island in May 2002.
This is the first time that we have had the opportunity to meet with our American parliamentary colleagues since 9/11/01. Needless to say, terrorism and the security of our citizens was front and centre in our debate.
This year we introduced a new format. This report, which we consider to be so important with Canada-U.S. relations, will be circulated to every member of the House and every member of the Senate. I hope they take the time to go through it. It will also be circulated to members of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives.
* * *
Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Canadian Alliance) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-201, entitled Whistle Blower Human Rights Act.
He said: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the people of Surrey Central, and indeed all Canadians, I am reintroducing my private member's bill respecting the protection of employees in the public service who make allegations in good faith respecting wrongdoing in the public service. It is also known as the whistle blower human rights act.
The purpose of the bill is to protect the members of the Public Service of Canada who disclose, or blow the whistle in good faith, well-founded allegations of wrongdoing in the public service which would cover such situations as waste, fraud, corruption, abuse of power, violation of law, threats to public health and safety, et cetera. The public interest is served when employees are free to make such reports without fear of retaliation or discrimination.
The bill is in the same form as Bill C-201 which I introduced in the previous session. I also take the opportunity to thank the hon. member for Calgary--Nose Hill for seconding this important bill.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
The Speaker: The Chair is satisfied that this bill is in the same form as Bill C-201 was at the time of prorogation of the first session of the 37th Parliament. Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, the bill should be added to the bottom of the list of items in the order of precedence on the Order Paper following the first draw of the session, and be designated a votable item.
* * *
Mr. Mauril Bélanger (Ottawa—Vanier, Lib.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-202, An Act to amend the Canada Health Act (linguistic duality).
He said: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, I wish to return to the Order Paper my bill entitled an act to amend the Canada Health Act for first reading today.
This bill is identical to the one I introduced during the last session, at which time it was known as Bill C-407. I would like to see the bill revived during this session and placed at the same point in the order of precedence where it was when Parliament was prorogued.
I thank the hon. member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac for seconding it. This bill would add a sixth principle to the Canada Health Act, that of respecting Canada's linguistic duality.
This is an important bill for all linguistic minorities across the country. I look forward to the three hours of debate and the vote further on in this session.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
The Speaker: The Chair is satisfied that this bill is at the same stage as Bill C-407 was prior to the prorogation of the first session of the 37th Parliament.
Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86(1), this bill will be placed at the bottom of the order of precedence in the Order Paper, following the first draw of the session, and will be deemed a votable item.
* * *
Mr. John Bryden (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, Lib.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-203, an act to amend the Citizenship Act (Oath or Affirmation of Citizenship).
He said: Mr. Speaker, this bill, a new bill, would amend the act of citizenship to better define the responsibilities of Canadian citizenship. It would do that by changing the current text of the oath of citizenship to better reflect the principles that are laid out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I cannot think of another time in Canadian history when it is so important, given what is happening elsewhere in the world, for Canadians to be reminded of what we stand for as Canadians and to tell the world thusly what we stand for as Canadians, and that we uphold the basic rights of people around the world.
Therefore the basic text of the oath that I am proposing would be: “In pledging allegiance to Canada, I take my place among Canadians, a people united by God, whose sacred trust is to uphold these five principles: the equality of opportunity, freedom of speech, democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law”.
I thank the member for Saint-Lambert for seconding me on this bill.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
* * *
Mr. Gary Lunn (Saanich—Gulf Islands, Canadian Alliance) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-204, an act to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise on behalf of all the residents of Saanich--Gulf Islands. I rise to reintroduce my private member's bill to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act. This is the second time in six months the bill has had to be reintroduced, largely because of the Prime Minister's unnecessary prorogation of Parliament.
My bill seeks to balance the need to punish youth who commit property crimes with the understanding that many young offenders never reoffend if they get the help they need.
If passed, the bill will do three things. First, it will impose mandatory curfews for all young offenders convicted of a B and E or a home invasion until the age of 18, or one year to a maximum of three years.
Second, it will impose mandatory jail terms for repeat offenders of these crimes, with a minimum sentence of 30 days.
Third, it will lay charges against the guardians who fail to report breaches of a probation upon discovering them. Penalties could both be up to $2,000 or six months.
I conclude by saying that without enforcement mechanisms, many probation breaches go unreported. Without reporting, youth do not get the guidance they need. The bill seeks a fair balance between punishment and rehabilitation. I encourage all members to support it.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
* * *
Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Canadian Alliance) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-205, an act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act (disallowance procedure for statutory instruments).
He said: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central, and indeed all Canadians, in the spirit of democratic reform, I am reintroducing my private member's bill entitled an act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act (disallowance procedure for statutory instruments).
The bill seeks to establish a statutory disallowance procedure for all statutory instruments that are subject to review and scrutiny by the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, of which I was co-chair in the last parliament. The bill will give teeth to the joint committee and will empower members of the House and the Senate to democratize our rights in Parliament.
This bill is in the same form as Bill C-202 which I introduced in the previous session. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, I wish to have this bill returned to its previous status before prorogation.
May I have unanimous consent to have this bill called Bill C-202 rather than any other number?
The Speaker: That will be difficult because we already have a Bill C-202. These numbers get put on and those are the breaks. Therefore it will be difficult to do that, but we will deal with that issue in a minute. We will get the bill read a first time before the House.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
The Speaker: The Chair is satisfied that this bill is in the same form as Bill C-202 was at the time of prorogation of the first session of the 37th Parliament. Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, the bill shall be added to the bottom of the list of items in the order of precedence on the Order Paper following the first draw of the session, and designated a votable item.
Perhaps the hon. member could confer with the hon. member for Ottawa--Vanier who got his bill in as Bill C-202 and see if they can arrange something and come back to the House shortly. If there is consent we will make the appropriate adjustment.
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Mrs. Brenda Chamberlain (Guelph—Wellington, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today we have 1,500 signatures with the coalition formed within the House by 26 members of Parliament now and 32 senators.
This past June we also tabled 2,300 signatures calling on the Minister of Justice to keep the process moving in a timely fashion for the re-examination by the Hon. Fred Kaufman and that justice be restored to Mr. Steven Truscott.
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Mr. Reed Elley (Nanaimo—Cowichan, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure, on behalf of my constituents in Nanaimo--Cowichan, pursuant to Standing Order 36 to present to the House two petitions with 125 signatures. The petitioners have asked that in the present look at stem cell research the Parliament of Canada give a good deal of support to looking at adult stem cell research as the best alternative and, in taking a look at this serious problem, to focus its legislative support on adult stem cell research rather than on embryonic stem cell research which poses a great many moral problems.
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Mr. Svend Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present two petitions today.
The first petition is one which is signed by a large number of residents of my constituency of Burnaby--Douglas on the subject of a space preservation treaty. The petitioners refer to concerns about the termination of the ABM treaty on June 13 this year.
They call upon Parliament to ensure that there is an immediate approval, signature and ratification of a space preservation treaty by Canada and that the treaty be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations as a treaty depository.
They ask as well that the Government of Canada convene a treaty signing conference for the space preservation treaty.
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Mr. Svend Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I have a second petition which was also signed by residents of my constituency of Burnaby--Douglas, and in particular by Ms. Tania Jackson of Garden Grove Drive in Burnaby.
The petitioners draw to the attention of the House their concern that the creation and use of child pornography is condemned by the clear majority of Canadians. They note that the courts have not applied the current child pornography law in a way which makes it clear that such exploitation of children will always be met with swift punishment.
They call upon Parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials that promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children are outlawed.
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Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I have the honour to table a petition on behalf of hundreds of Canadians adding their names to thousands more in support of Steven Truscott. They call upon the government and the Minister of Justice to review the case which resulted in the 1959 conviction of 14 year old Steven Truscott for a murder I believe he did not commit.
This case received great attention and notoriety in the country. It is one with which the previous Minister of Justice took action. This petition is calling upon the current Minister of Justice to pursue this issue with a section 690 application under the Criminal Code to look at the case, to examine the evidence once again, including new evidence that has been brought forward, and to see that justice is finally done in this prolific case and journey that Mr. Truscott and his family have been on since 1959.
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Hon. Jim Peterson (Willowdale, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have six petitions. The first concerns focusing government support on adult stem cell research.
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Hon. Jim Peterson (Willowdale, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions concerning child pornography which urge tougher laws against matters that glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children.
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Hon. Jim Peterson (Willowdale, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions with thousands of names urging that Parliament complete its work in passing Bill C-15B, crimes against animals involving sections of the Criminal Code.
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Hon. Jim Peterson (Willowdale, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the last petition I present involves Steven Truscott. The petitioners urge the government to ensure that the investigation and re-examination of this case take place as quickly as possible.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi (Kitchener—Waterloo, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present a petition signed by 97 people related to the Steven Truscott case. Steven Truscott, as a 14 year old boy, was sentenced to hang in 1959. The case had unusual circumstances surrounding the police investigation and questions surrounding the consequent conviction of Mr. Truscott remain unanswered.
The petitioners call upon Parliament and ask the Minister of Justice, the Hon. Martin Cauchon to undertake--
The Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member knows he cannot refer to members by name and I know he would want to comply with the rules in every respect.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: I forgot, Mr. Speaker. It is important that the case be re-examined within a reasonable timeframe. I believe most Canadians would agree with me that justice should be restored to Mr. Truscott.
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Mr. Gary Lunn (Saanich—Gulf Islands, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition on behalf of the constituents of Saanich--Gulf Islands and throughout British Columbia.
The petitioners call upon Parliament to appeal subsection 13(5) of the Canada Post Corporation Act as rural route mail carriers have not been allowed to bargain collectively to improve their wages and working conditions, and often earn less than minimum wage.
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Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present two petitions on behalf of residents from the Lower Mainland. The first petition contains 249 signatures, the second petition contains 422 signatures.
Both petitions call upon Parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials that promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children are outlawed.
Mrs. Judi Longfield (Whitby—Ajax, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I wish to present two petitions which call upon the House to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children are outlawed. Pursuant to the Standing Orders I have affixed my signature.
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Mrs. Judi Longfield (Whitby—Ajax, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have two additional petitions that call upon the government to focus its legislation on non-embryonic stem cells, or adult stem cells, for research which finds cures and therapies necessary to treat the illnesses and diseases of suffering Canadians, and I affix my signature to these petitions as well.
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Mr. Ovid Jackson (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on behalf of my constituents of Bruce--Grey--Owen Sound to table four petitions. There are some 200 names on the petitions.
The petitioners call upon Parliament to take all necessary measures to ensure that children are protected by ensuring that materials promoting pornography and sado-masochistic activities against children be outlawed.
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Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central and many other Canadians I am pleased to table two petitions.
My first petition calls upon Parliament to support ethical stem cell research which has already shown an encouraging potential to provide cures and therapies for illnesses and diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer, MS, spinal cord injuries and so on.
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Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, my second petition is calls upon Parliament to repeal subsection 13(5) of the Canada Post Corporation Act.
Rural route mail carriers, who often earn less than the minimum wage and have working conditions reminiscent of another era, have not been allowed to bargain collectively to improve their wages and working conditions. The said section prohibits them from having collective bargaining rights. I am pleased to table these two petitions.
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Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, PC): Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by approximately 100 people asking the Minister of Justice to undertake a thorough re-examination of the Steven Truscott case. They believe that an injustice was done to Steven Truscott. The petitioners urge Hon. Justice Kaufman to re-examine the facts of the case in a timely fashion and that justice be restored.
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Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition from hundreds of citizens of Peterborough who do not want Canada to support another U.S. attack on Iraq. It is appropriate that I present this petition during the debate on Iraq.
The petitioners point out that by rejecting violence and lifting the sanctions against the Iraqi people we would win the goodwill of Iraqi citizens and open the door for them to make political changes leading to peace.
They call upon Parliament to refuse to cooperate in any way in a war against Iraq and to use Canada's diplomatic efforts to convince the United States, Britain and the United Nations to choose the tools of diplomacy, not the weapons of war, for establishing peace in the Middle East. They call for the lifting of all but military sanctions against Iraq.
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Mrs. Rose-Marie Ur (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I wish to present a petition on behalf of the citizens living in London and surrounding area. There are approximately 325 signatories who call upon Parliament to ask the Minister of Justice to undertake a thorough examination of the Steven Truscott case within a reasonable time period and to ensure that justice is restored to Mr. Truscott.
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Mrs. Rose-Marie Ur (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my second petition is on behalf of citizens living in my riding of Lambton--Kent--Middlesex. The petitioners call upon Parliament to protect children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia involving children are outlawed.
Mr. R. John Efford (Bonavista—Trinity—Conception, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition on behalf of Wanda Goodyear of Lumsden, Newfoundland, signed by 480 constituents of mine in the riding of Bonavista--Trinity--Conception.
The petitioners call upon Parliament to ensure all necessary steps are taken to protect our children from any material promoting child pornography and to make it clear that any such exploitation of children will be met with swift punishment.
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Mr. John Cummins (Delta—South Richmond, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to present a petition from the residents of Galiano Island, home port of the Cap Rouge, which sank tragically last August.
The citizens of Galiano Island are noting that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans no longer provides sufficient funding for the coast guard. Their wish is that the coast guard be separated from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, that it become an independent body and that it be provided with sufficient funds to allow it to act and perform its functions.
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Mr. Loyola Hearn (St. John's West, PC): Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a petition calling upon Parliament to review the Steven Truscott case. A thorough examination of this case should take place within a reasonable time. I fully concur with the remarks made earlier by my colleague, the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough. His remarks were extremely relevant to the petition being presented.
Mr. Janko Peric (Cambridge, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege to present to the House a petition from citizens who are deeply concerned that Mr. Steven Truscott suffered a grave injustice when he was wrongly convicted.
The petitioners wish to draw to the attention of the House that in 1959 a 14-year old Steven Truscott was charged, convicted and sentenced to death, yet questions about the investigation and the conviction have been raised time and time again. The petitioners pray and request that the Minister of Justice act now to restore Mr. Steven Truscott's name.
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Mr. Jerry Pickard (Chatham—Kent Essex, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to present a petition signed by my constituents that calls upon Parliament to take all necessary steps to ensure that any and all material dealing with child pornography or sado-masochistic activities involving children be outlawed. I believe that several other petitions have been presented, and the majority of Canadians agree with this petition.
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Mr. Jerry Pickard (Chatham—Kent Essex, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have a second petition calling upon Parliament to focus its legislation on adult stem cell research to find cures and therapies to treat illnesses, and focusing on adult stem cell research, not embryonic research.
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Mr. Jerry Pickard (Chatham—Kent Essex, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my third petition calls upon Parliament to act immediately to resolve the issue of residential school litigation outside the courts and specifically, to assume full responsibility for the Mohawk Institute lawsuit thereby recognizing that the Anglican Diocese of Huron was never a party to the operation of that residential school.
Parliament is called upon to act before further ruin occurs in the Diocese of Huron and other dioceses of the Anglican Church.
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Mr. John Bryden (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions on two themes that the House has heard repeatedly. My first petition deals with the issue of better control of material pertaining to child pornography.
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Mr. John Bryden (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the other two petitions I have the pleasure to present to the House today urge that adult stem cell research be emphasized over embryonic stem cell research.
The House has heard these themes repeated time and again. This Parliament should take these applications very seriously because they obviously reflect the concern of Canadians all across the country.
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Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in the event there are any and just to be safe, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
The Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Speaker: I want to clarify something to the House. The Chair made a mistake, but I will correct it right now. The mistake is with respect to Bill C-201, the whistle blower human rights act, standing in the name of the hon. member for Surrey Central. It had not been on the order of precedence in the previous session and accordingly will not be on the order of precedence today as I stated it would be. It will in fact be considered as part of the private members' business draw in the usual fashion with the other bills. I apologize to the House for that error.
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Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, along the same lines as my comments regarding questions on the order paper, I would ask that all Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.
The Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
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[S. O. 52]
The Speaker: The Chair has notice of a request for an emergency debate by the hon. member for Delta--South Richmond.
Mr. John Cummins (Delta—South Richmond, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your indulgence in allowing me to address this important issue.
The safety of passengers on flights in and out of Vancouver International Airport is in jeopardy. The airport depends on the Coast Guard to provide round-the-clock hovercraft search and rescue services on the tidal flats adjacent to the airport. Such service can no longer be provided as one of the two hovercraft is permanently going out of service at midnight, October 4, 2002 when its safety and seaworthiness certification expires.
Internal Coast Guard documents advise the Regional Director for the Coast Guard that, “In October 2002 the situation will reach a point where the federal search and rescue program will not be able to meet its mandated responsibilities in the shallow waters surrounding metropolitan Vancouver. The department will be blamed for the loss of lives resulting from a failure to meet our legal duty of care”.
The hovercraft are staffed with rescue divers capable of rescuing those trapped in an aircraft that has been forced to ditch in the tidal waters near the airport. The airport's emergency plan is predicated on the availability of a minimum of two hovercraft on a round-the-clock basis to pick up passengers, ferry out members of the Richmond fire department and, in the words of the emergency plan, “to continue to provide transportation for casualties, rescue personnel and equipment until the need no longer exists”.
The Superintendent of Marine Search and Rescue has already advised local fire departments that hovercraft search and rescue will be unavailable for certain periods, such that they will be unable to provide a rapid response. The superintendent further advised that until the situation is rectified it is suggested that any contingency plans that include the use of hovercraft be modified in the interim.
Without hovercraft search and rescue services, the airport's emergency plan is compromised, as is the safety of passengers at the Vancouver airport. On August 13, the day of the Cap Rouge tragedy, only the retiring hovercraft was in service and it suffered severe mechanical problems while attempting the rescue.
The search and rescue operations report on the tragic loss of a mother, her two children and two crew aboard the Cap Rouge recommends a replacement craft capable of operating on the large Fraser River mud flats should be acquired as soon as possible.
We cannot afford another Cap Rouge tragedy, where the Coast Guard lacks the authority and resources to effect a rescue, leaving body recovery as the only option.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your consideration on this important matter.
The Speaker: The Chair of course has carefully considered the letter that the hon. member sent in compliance with the standing order and his submissions today in the House. However in the circumstances I cannot find that the request falls within the ambit of the standing order and does not meet its exigencies, as we say, and I must therefore deny the request at this time.
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The House resumed from October 1 consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, of the amendment, and of the amendment to the amendment.
The Speaker: When the House last considered the matter, the hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest had the floor and there remained to him six minutes in the time allotted for his remarks. Accordingly the member for New Brunswick Southwest has the floor.
Mr. Greg Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest, PC): Mr. Speaker, last evening I was making the case for why the throne speech was not necessary and why it was basically a waste of Parliament's time to prorogue and then have us come back to hear a Speech from the Throne. Why is it unnecessary? Because in the throne speech following the election in 2000 there were 39 promises. In fact there have been two throne speeches and only one budget. Out of the 39 promises only nine of them have been completed.
It shows us how seriously the government takes its own throne speeches. The Liberals do not take them seriously and they routinely break promises. This is just another litany of promises of things the government wants to do, yet it does not bring down a budget. There is no fiscal framework in which to carry out the numerous promises.
I did not count them in Monday's throne speech, but I think something in the order of 50-some promises were made. How many of those will be kept? Why would we believe the government? There would be no reason to believe it because there is a very poor percentage of completed commitments on the part of the government.
This is the price the country is paying for the Prime Minister's determination to leave some sort of legacy, and I say a positive legacy because obviously if the Prime Minister left today, there certainly would not be a very positive legacy. He has had nine years to fulfill some of the broken promises and virtually none of them have been fulfilled. I want to go through the list of what some of those promises were.
The Prime Minister made a commitment many years ago to aboriginal issues and a commitment to children in poverty. As we speak, there are more children in poverty today than when the government took office. It has had nine years to do something and it has done nothing.
On military issues, we well know that our forces are poorly equipped, undermanned, totally demoralized and underfunded. The government has followed through on virtually none of the promises made to the military over the years.
The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is another example of no action on the part of the government. Health care is the biggest pressing issue in this country.
There is a litany of broken, bogus promises. It reminds me of a famous character, now deceased, from the area in which I live, St. Stephen, New Brunswick, by the name of Bad Cheque Charlie. He was in the habit of writing bogus cheques. One afternoon he was in my father's business, our family business, and he wanted to cash a $100 cheque. My father said to Bad Cheque Charlie, “Charlie, given your reputation, what am I to do? This cheque is obviously going to bounce”. Charlie's response was, “Don't worry, Ralph. I'll come in next week and write another one”. Is that not exactly what the government is doing? Do not worry about broken promises because the government will just make more promises next week or in the next throne speech with no intention of following through on any of those promises.
More important, the government does not have the fiscal framework in which to do it until the budget comes down. That will be the next shoe to drop because services of government have to be paid for or planned for. That is what we would expect in the real world, but not from the government.
In the one minute remaining I want to quote a headline story from the National Post:
|Jean Chrétien hinted yesterday that Canadians might have to shoulder a tax increase to pay for costly reforms to health care, even as he vowed not to turn into a big spender to create a legacy agenda for his last 16 months as Prime Minister. While he pledged to continue balancing the country's books and reducing the national debt, Mr. Chrétien offered no similar commitment to further reduce or even hold the line on taxes. He promised only that taxes will be “fair and competitive”.|
The Deputy Prime Minister may indeed have to jump off the Peace Tower. There will be no question about it, that to implement the throne speech the government will have to raise taxes. Let us wait for the next budget to find out how the government is going to pay for this litany of promises to leave a “positive legacy” for a Prime Minister that does not have a legacy to leave at this point in time.
Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, PC): Madam Speaker, issues facing rural Canadians were missing from the throne speech. Protection of core industries including fisheries, agriculture and forestry was missing. A plan to increase the number of health care workers was missing. A commitment to equip and support military men and women was missing. A plan to make sure our environment is not a hazard to our health is ad hoc and unpersuasive. These are bread and butter issues. The issue of student debt, as the member for St. John's West said, was missing as well.
Would the member agree that some of the most important issues facing rural Canadians were left out of the throne speech?
Mr. Greg Thompson: Madam Speaker, I do want to thank the member because last evening we shared our time on this very important debate. He is perfectly correct. Rural issues, one of them being agriculture, the others being forestry and certainly fishing and many of the other things the member has spoken on are missing from the throne speech.
This is an example of how the Prime Minister has squandered his political capital in nine years of government. There is no question about it. Even today the government is somewhat popular in terms of public support. That is political capital that the Liberals have. The Prime Minister has refused to spend any of that political capital to do the things that are necessary to move the country ahead.
There is one example which I often use. Today in relation to our U.S. neighbours we are 30% poorer. The Canadian dollar is worth exactly 63¢ American. In some ways that may be good for trade, but what is it doing? There is a lack of efficiency, and productivity is suffering in this country. We are making up for it with a low dollar. There is going to be a big price for Canadians down the road. Future generations are going to pay for that.
Those are some of the issues the Prime Minister has refused to deal with as a prime minister, because it has always been to take the easy way out. The easy way out is not to deal with the problem. Future governments are going to be saddled with that.
If there is a leadership change on that side of the House and there is a new prime minister, God forbid what he or she will be left with when that guy is through at the helm because it will not be pretty. The fact is there are many issues that have not been dealt with by the government over the last nine years. Now he is trying to cram nine years into 18 months to leave a legacy that he, his family and the country can be proud of. However, he is falling far short of the mark.
I do not think he is going to have too much help on this side of the House and probably very little on that side of the House, given the numbers that showed up yesterday to hear the Prime Minister's remarks in the House. I have never seen such an absence of government members, a lack of enthusiasm for a prime minister in his own debate.
Yesterday over 100 members of the Liberal caucus were missing when the Prime Minister was in the House in the debate on the throne speech. Where were they? The truth is they were back in their offices hiding under their desks because they do not agree with the Prime Minister. They do not have any confidence in him.
I do not think the government is going to survive a year, let alone 16 months or 18 months.
Mr. Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough—Agincourt, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am wondering if the hon. member across the way is dreaming in technicolour, is watching colour TV, or is watching reality. Which part of nine years and three solid majorities in which the people of Canada spoke time and time again does he not understand?
He is saying that the Liberal members are hiding underneath their desks. I have news for him. We are out there talking to people.
Could he tell us which state of mind he is in?
Mr. Greg Thompson: Madam Speaker, I would like the member to name just one cornerstone achievement of the government that he represents, because basically the cupboard is empty. He cannot do it.
The only one the government ever falls back on is the deficit reduction, and we accept that, but the fact is that Canada is more indebted today than when it took office, to the tune of $550 billion.
Hon. Denis Coderre (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am very honoured to rise, as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and of course as the member for Bourassa, and add my voice and take part in this extraordinary effort that is the Speech from the Throne.
This Speech from the Throne, entitled Le Canada que l'on veut/The Canada we want, delivered by Her Excellency the Governor General two days ago, shows just how responsible our government is, and just how ambitious, yet attainable, our plans are.
Obviously, much has been said about the health care system that we hold dearly, and that we want. Much has also been said about the role of youth, particularly how to fight poverty and deal with the problems that exist in various communities and to see how we can work toward improving representation and providing for a greater impact in all communities. Reference was made to a new urban strategy, establishing a better relationship between government and citizens and ensuring that Canada is doing all that it can.
The Speech from the Throne is very important. It sets out the tremendous approach that we have in mind. We have been here for the last nine years and we have shown that we are a responsible government. We also have shown that we are very profound. We still have a lot of things to do.
Thanks to our Prime Minister, and it will probably be his last Speech from the Throne, it shows a great inspiration and that, with the government and the caucus, we are clearly connected to the people.
However we have to talk about another issue. This country is built on immigration. Immigration is the foundation of our House. It is clearly important that we focus on that. I was thrilled that our government will be focused also on immigration because, not only do we have all those statistics, the last census showed us that immigration is not only a clear asset, a catalyst for our own population, but it is also a matter of survival.
The most recent census was very clear. In the next five years, there will be a shortfall of one million qualified workers. By 2011, our workforce will be entirely dependent on immigration. However, by 2025, our demographic growth will be entirely dependent on immigration. What does this mean?
This means that if we want to maintain our quality of life, if we really want to be able to preserve our social programs, we will need to use immigration as a tool for development. It is with these tools found in the Speech from the Throne that we will be able to come up with the solutions for tomorrow.
For the Canada we want and the society we want to build together, immigration is truly the solution. We do not consider immigrants or refugees as potential terrorists. We do not believe that we should shut the door. We have to find a balanced approach between vigilance and openness. This is the pragmatic approach that we need to take.
This is, of course, a situation we need to deal with. This does not mean we are not taking our responsibilities. We have a situation of concentration that needs to be addressed.
Last year, we had close to 250,000 new arrivals. Of these, 54% settled in Toronto, 15% in Vancouver, and 13% in Montreal. There is very often another concentration that occurs as well. Even if their port of entry is Montreal or Vancouver, many of these new arrivals end up heading to Toronto, Canada's metropolis.
We must therefore work together to establish a new partnership. We need to be sure to be able to find solutions to disperse immigration and we most certainly need to find tools to retain immigration.
For this reason I am extremely pleased to announce that, on October 15 and 16, we will be holding a first ever federal-provincial-territorial conference where all of my colleagues in the provinces and territories will be working together in a spirit of respect for the specific situations and agreements in place, to find the necessary tools to enable all of our people and all of our regions to benefit from this national treasure that is immigration.
It is clearly a priority for us. Remember the end of the 19th century or the beginning of the 20th century when the Hon. Clifford Sifton, a tremendous minister of immigration, a true Liberal, a true Grit, put forward some great ideas to populate western Canada. He was offering a piece of land for those who wanted to come to Canada and be part of that treasure. That piece of land today is knowledge. That piece of land now is skills. We have to find a win-win situation where every region and every citizen of the country can receive all the services they have the right to have, but at the same time to give a clear path for those who want to come with their families and who clearly want to build a future for their families and children, but at the same time they want to work in their own field.
How can we make that happen? I think in the Speech from the Throne we have all the tools. Immigration, of course, is a cycle. It starts with the port of entry, then we have integration and finally we have citizens. We want to build this nation with new citizens and we are focusing on that, but we want to make sure it is an inclusive policy. We want to make sure that everyone has the occasion to participate. We want to have an Ontario strategy, an Atlantic Canada strategy, a Quebec strategy and a western Canada strategy. We also need something for the territories and B.C. We have to find proper solutions so everyone will be able to participate.
I was very pleased a few weeks ago to sign the ninth agreement between a provincial government and federal government called the provincial nominee program. It reflects what we have in mind for the future decades because, of course, immigration is an ongoing issue. It is not just a matter of making some decisions and then that is it. What we are deciding today and what we are looking at today in the Speech from the Throne, all the results of our solutions, all the results of what we want to put forward, will have an impact for the next 25 years.
What we had in mind was to build that partnership with Nova Scotia. I signed an agreement with Nova Scotia. Nova Scotians will have an opportunity, through their government, to build a new partnership where they can acquire more skilled workers. As a start, it is 200 skilled workers for the next five years. At the same time we added some clauses that show the reality of Canada.
I was extremely proud to demonstrate that immigration is not only a tool and a factor of development but also one that impacts on our own identity. The respect of official languages, a bilingual Canada, the linguistic duality so dear to us, which represents a fundamental value of our country, all this is reflected in the agreement. It is a matter of finding a developmental tool capable of giving a place in the sun and a balanced role to women and men, francophones and anglophones, one which will be a reflection of all communities.
It was with great pride that I announced that, with this agreement with Nova Scotia, we had a first as far as a clause on official languages was concerned. The Acadian people will therefore be able to play a part in this collective effort, to determine the requirements of their region, and to ensure that there will be skilled francophone workers in Nova Scotia.
We do not want to reinvent the wheel. We want to make sure that things will work. We need a pragmatic approach but we need to base that on values. That is why it is so important that the partnership we build will be in an inclusive way. There are a lot of things to do. It is an ongoing issue. What we have to do together is to take care of all those files and gather all the pieces of the puzzle so we can have a full portrait. There are a lot of things we have to take care of.
Of course I was pretty pleased last June to announce that not only had we put in force the new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, but at the same time we had a series of new regulations that will bring more skilled workers, tradespeople and people who have Ph.D.s, people who truly want to come and help us build our nation.
There are other people we have to take care of. I see too many taxi drivers. They are doing a tremendous job. I have tremendous conversations with them. However when I see a microbiologist, a doctor from another country who is a taxi driver, I think we have to do something about that. We have to focus once and for all on foreign credential recognition.
This is why the federal-provincial-territorial conference is so important. It is a non-partisan issue. Everybody will have a say and everybody will be able to participate in the process because this is about Canada. This is about what kind of society we want to live in, what kind of society we want to develop together and what kind of future we want to deliver to our children.
One of the most important issues will be foreign credential recognition. When we respect that and when work together with other provinces and territories, we will have to focus on professional cooperation. If we need some doctors, nurses or engineers, we will have to find a process to make sure that people who are coming from India, the Philippines or wherever with their families to help build this nation do not have to wait years and years before being what they want to be in this country.
I was shocked to find out that there are still unspeakable things going on. Recently, I was in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts as part of a tour of Quebec and I met a doctor. He was originally from Haiti. As hon. members know, the Haitian diaspora is present in my riding of Bourassa. Therefore, I was very pleased to talk with him about what is going on in his country of origin.
He told me that he came to Canada in 1977. Imagine: he became a doctor and was able to practise in 1992. This is unspeakable, considering that there are crying needs and people who believe they are second class citizens because they are not getting the services to which they are entitled. We will have to make sure that this process is in place, once and for all.
This partnership cannot become a reality unless we manage to establish it with professional bodies, while respecting the existing jurisdictions and process.
I believe that Canada is not only Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. I believe that Canada is Kelowna, Okanagan, Chicoutimi, Saguenay now. It is also Corner Brook, Cambridge and Mississauga.
We have to find a better way, and to do so I will propose an action plan to my provincial colleagues where we will be able to have the skilled workers that we need in every nation of the country.
How can we do it? Frankly, we need a pragmatic approach. We could provide a temporary work permit for three to five years. We settle the issue of due process. We have to be respectful of the Canadian standards. It is not about lowering the standards, it is about respecting them but having a clear process. If we need some nurses in North Bay, Ontario, and we have done all our homework and there is no way to fill the vacancies except by people from outside the country, so be it. We will say “You want to come to Canada, benefit from this great nation and be part of this great treasure, let us do it together. Come to North Bay for three to five years, bring your children and family. After three to five years we will automatically grant you permanent residence”.
I know there probably are some lawyers listening to us saying that there is a Charter of Rights of Freedoms and we are forcing people to stay there. No, we are not doing that. It is already in the law. Remember the example of the farmers. We had an agreement with Mexico and the Caribbean that when people come during the summer to help us with our crops and harvest, they can have temporary work permits and they can work in specific locations.
Let us be frank. People in the RCMP or in the military are told where to go when they graduate. It is a pragmatic approach. We are telling people to come to Canada and we will make things happen.
So, this is not only a pragmatic approach that will allow us to meet the public's needs, it will also guarantee a future for those who want to be part of our country.
We—namely all members of Parliament and all political parties—can only benefit from working together to find a solution, because what we decide now will impact on the future.
There are of course other issues that we must examine. We talk about immigration, but we should talk about citizenship. There is a real need to review the legislation on citizenship, and we will review it.
Earlier, during members' statements, I heard my colleague from Nova Scotia talk about the issue of war criminals. I want to make it clear that we have zero tolerance for war criminals. We must do everything we can to deal with this problem. There is no prescription or limitation in public law. However, we must ensure efficiency. We must ensure that the system will meet our needs and allow us to deal efficiently with the root cause of the problem.
We will also have to reflect on issues like citizenship. We must promote citizenship. We need to reflect on the mechanisms of citizenship. We must reflect on the issue of adoption. We must reflect on all kinds of issues that touch on our values as Canadians.
This is why we will have new immigration legislation, which I plan on tabling very shortly this fall.
Obviously there is the whole issue of revocation of citizenship. I am looking forward to working together with all of my colleagues in order to get their input on this matter. Citizenship is important.
With respect to revocation, there are several schools of thought. We must ensure that we are truly valuing citizenship, and if we want to revoke citizenship, we have to see if what we are currently doing is sufficient.
There is one issue that is very important to us, and that is foreign students. We must focus our attention on foreign students.
The foreign student is clearly the cement between the bilateral and the multilateral approach between countries. I had a great occasion this summer to go with some of my colleagues to China. We were building what we call the China strategy. Of course, I had some people from the Korean community ask about what the Korean strategy is. Okay, why not? We will build it.
China was an important trip for us because last year not only did we have 40,000 new immigrants of Chinese origin but at the same time we had 14,000 foreign students from China. It was very important to focus and make sure that we can build on that. As members know, we changed the law so that those people who are coming from outside as foreign students will be able to apply and become Canadians in the field right now in Canada. We want to do more. We want to do better. I truly believe it will be very helpful, not only to promote the Canadian standard but at the same time if those people after that are willing to come to Canada it will be even more efficient to do it in that way.
Last but not least, I think we need a sectoral approach. Regarding skilled workers, I do not see any problem in sitting down with industry and with the provincial governments and finding the best way. If in a certain area within the pharmaceutical industry we need to facilitate the ways to bring more skilled workers into some region, so be it, but we need a process and we need to be fair, as long as we remember that it is a balanced approach between vigilance and openness.
Of course, we could speak for hours. The refugee issue is also very important for us. We had an accord in principle with the Americans regarding the safe third agreement. We put in more resources for immigration control officers. Together we brought back a prevention policy that will help us to fulfill our international duty. This fall, we are willing to go further and to discuss these issues.
All these issues are about Canada and, in conclusion, I truly believe that if we have the same dream as Clifford Sifton's at the beginning of the 20th century, that of providing that piece of land, it is today to provide that opportunity to make this country better and to make sure that we have those people who really want to contribute, because for those bad apples who think that they can do something here, we will take care of that.
I am very honoured to be associated with this government, with this Speech from the Throne, and with all those who seek to strike the balance between openness and vigilance, which makes this, once again, the best country in the world.
Mr. Paul Forseth (New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the minister a couple of very specific questions. It would certainly help our debate today in having confidence that the government is a competent manager.
He mentioned the category of foreign students and also temporary workers. It is special status when someone comes to Canada under that basis. Later on in his remarks he said that those individuals would be able to get landed status and eventually apply for citizenship. During the time individuals are here, as either foreign students or under a special contract as a temporary worker, would that time count for applying for citizenship or would they have to start once they get landed status?
My second question relates to his reference to the national lack of confidence in our refugee system. The minister talked about third safe country with the United States. Does he not have anything better to say than just “we are going to have further discussions in the fall”? I repeatedly asked the previous minister in the House about getting on with making proper security arrangements with the United States. When are we going to stop taking refugees from the U.S.A.? I understand that the claims are in the area of about 40%. Certainly we can do better than just further discussions.
Those are my two points: foreign students and temporary workers and the time limits, and also some new announcement that we are going to get on with dealing with the problem of refugees. I would appreciate his comments.
Hon. Denis Coderre: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, but he does not have it quite right.
First, a person must be a permanent resident in order to launch the citizenship process. Until they are a permanent resident, that process cannot begin. But it is important for us to find the tool we need to put things in order and above all to respond to the needs of a society short of skilled workers.
We must find a way to direct our efforts towards solving the problem of concentration. If we want immigrants to settle throughout Canada, if we want to retain them, there are some good projects.
Manitoba has made a start, with the provincial nominee program. You have 200 to begin with and we are now up to 1,000. The retention rate is 91%.
I am also pleased to say that we have an agreement with Quebec which is working very well. It is specific; it is in the legislation. We do not want to change it. I myself met with Minister Trudel a few weeks ago, and we agreed on these convergence tools.
It is important for the regions and it is important for the public. If we do nothing, some regions will empty. If we want to ensure that we have a way of helping the francophone community to grow, wherever it is in Canada, we must have a process that works. We can do something about the problem with students, with skilled workers, who will be temporary workers.
Regarding safe third, we could speak for hours and have a debate on that issue. I disagree with my colleague regarding refugees. Of course there is a process that we have to take care of, but for the last three years when we have a system that can welcome 25,000 to 29,000 refugees, and the average of the last three years is about 45,000 to 49,000, we have to do something about it especially when six out of ten are coming from a land border or coming from the United States.
That is the reason we signed that agreement in principle. Of course there is a process that we have to be respectful of. It is a matter of treaty, as members know. We signed an agreement that not only will respect the Canadian way but will help us to continentally regulate the system for those people who come to Canada as refugee claimants.
Since 1985 and the Singh affair, my colleague knows that we have a legal obligation to give a proper hearing. The only way to make sure that we are giving the proper hearing is that he would be sent back to a safe third country. That is the reason why we signed that agreement and is also the reason why the UNHCR signed that agreement with us and said it was very positive.
Of course efficiency is a priority. We always have to improve, but I really believe that this is a model for the rest of the world.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): There are five minutes left. We can hear five members, if they all ask a question and the minister responds.
Mr. Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough—Agincourt, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I overwhelmingly applaud my colleague, the minister of immigration, for putting forth the equalization of credentials from people who are coming from foreign countries. This is something communities have wanted for a long time.
However, I want to take the minister to what happens inland here in Canada. I remember when I came to this country. Then, if tourists came here and liked it, they could walk down to University and Dundas and within a couple of months they could have their paperwork done. That was in 1966. The number of people coming to Canada in 1967 was 223,000. Today, with computers, more staff, more information--
Mr. Scott Reid: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Questions and comments are not prepared speeches. I cannot help but notice that the hon. member is reading from a prepared text--
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): It is questions and comments, so I am a servant of the House, but I did request, in order to allow all the members to ask their questions to the minister because the minister was only here for a certain amount of time, if members would just ask the question and we could have an answer. Out of courtesy to all the members who have questions, I would appreciate it if the hon. member would ask his question.
Mr. Jim Karygiannis: Madam Speaker, the difficulty we face today is that people who come to this country and who might find someone here and marry them are having to wait up to three years for their paperwork to go through. I have discussed this matter with the minister and his predecessors. I wonder if the minister today could let us know how he is proposing to take away this three-year wait that is happening in my riding of Scarborough. These people have absolutely no status. They cannot work. They cannot have health care. What if someone were to get sick? Or if a wife were to become pregnant, the child born would be a Canadian and the father would have to bear the brunt of having to pay for the medical coverage of the birth. In light of this, I am wondering if the minister has anything in new proposals.
Hon. Denis Coderre: Madam Speaker, it would take more than 30 seconds to answer. Indeed, the reason we changed the legislation and the regulation was to address those kinds of issues. We talk a lot about skilled workers but we also can talk about family reunification. It is clearly a priority for us.
Efficiency is also the name of the game. We have to take a closer look. Of course every case is specific so we should take a closer look at that, but we are totally dedicated to making the system work. We saw in the Speech from the Throne that this is a priority for the government when we are talking about immigration. We want to create the proper environment to make sure that the person coming here will be able to bring family. That is what we are dedicated to.
Mr. Svend Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Madam Speaker, I know time is limited so I will try to be brief. I want to congratulate the minister on two specific initiatives. One is with respect to control of immigration consultants. We know there has been serious abuse in that area. Second is the recognition of foreign credentials. It is long overdue and I welcome that. I want to ask two specific questions.
First I will ask for an assurance from the minister that there will be absolutely no weakening in the government's resolve to ensure that those who are alleged to have been responsible for war crimes, Nazi war crimes, will in fact be brought to justice in Canada or will be denaturalized and deported.
My second specific question is with respect to the recent denial of a visa to the foreign minister of Taiwan who was in Seattle and wanted to come north to Vancouver for a very brief visit with a representative of the Taiwanese economic and cultural office in Vancouver. He was denied a visa. It was shameful. Taiwan is a thriving, vibrant democracy and a strong trade partner. I would like to ask the minister if he will assure the House that this mistake will not be repeated.
Hon. Denis Coderre: Madam Speaker, first I would like to thank my colleague and announce that tomorrow morning we will have an important press conference where we will talk specifically about what we intend to do with immigration consultants. We will make a major and clear announcement for the future.
As for the specific case of his colleague from Taiwan, I do not know what happened. Maybe there is always a way. A lot of my colleagues around here come to me when there are specific issues. Maybe we should take a closer look at that, but it is always a matter of an approach balanced between vigilance and openness. I will not comment on the specifics, but we should talk about it.
Regarding the war crimes, frankly there is zero tolerance. It is zero tolerance and we want to be focused. It is not a matter of years or money; it is a matter of efficiency. It is not just about World War II. It is about what happened in Rwanda, in Kosovo and in several places in the world. We want to make sure that Canada is clearly dedicated against those war criminals. Specifically, when we talk about the legislation of citizenship it might be a great opportunity to reinforce that.
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Madam Speaker, I am amazed that the minister, who was accused during the caucus meeting in the Saguenay by more than 2,000 demonstrators of having misled the public by making campaign promises at the time of the last election about major changes to be made to employment insurance, has not risen in this House today, when he can comment on the throne speech, to speak out against his government. He made promises, committed to significant changes during the election campaign. He heard from the 2,000 protesters in the Saguenay, who had understood very clearly that they had been misled, that they had been betrayed by the minister.
Should this minister not resign, or take a position against his government in order to honour his commitments, rather than burying his head in the sand and continuing to play politics? He made formal commitments that have not been honoured, and has thus misled people who have had $40 billion stolen from them by the government since 1993.
Hon. Denis Coderre: Madam Speaker, I find that regrettable. I went to Rivière-du-Loup on several occasions; I visited the member's riding on several occasions. People tell me “Mr. Coderre, we want solutions that will make us feel like full-fledged citizens. We too have our place in the sun”.
As for the future former member for Rivière-du-Loup, I think he would do better to look at what is going on in his riding than try to play politics. We are doing serious work here.
When it was time to vote on this bill, he again opposed it, because the Bloc Quebecois is now motivated less by passion than by pension, and is focussing on temporary effects in an attempt to make political hay out of them.
Mr. Paul Crête: You betrayed the public.
Hon. Denis Coderre: We have betrayed no one here. Madam Speaker, I ask that the member be made to withdraw the word “betrayed”. There is no traitor on this side of the House.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): I would ask the member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques if he wishes to withdraw the word “betrayed”.
Mr. Paul Crête: Madam Speaker, I maintain that the minister betrayed the public by not honouring this commitments. He was told this in Chicoutimi by 2,000 people, who allowed us to speak on their behalf, while you people did not even dare to come out of your hotel because you were too afraid.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): The hon. member may continue debate, because this is a debate; he said “betrayed the public”, and this is not an attack on a member or a minister.
Mr. Paul Forseth (New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time.
I have represented my community in every throne speech debate since the 1993 election. The Liberal pattern has been to tantalize with messages to make Canadians feel good as offer generalities and hints of a political direction. On the surface, many of these former throne speeches have created some temporary hope for national achievement. Then subsequent administration has not fulfilled that anticipation.
I want to applaud the government for mentioning national economic fundamentals for I have always said that a strong economy is the foundation of a strong society. The government must also provide the right balance of programs for people, such as health care and education. However I wonder if some advocacy groups today will be very happy with the throne speech.
For example, in a previous throne speech in January 2001 there was given an expectation, which today we can observe was not fulfilled. Here we go again. I quote from a January 2001 commentary about a former throne speech. It says:
|The speech from the throne is the signal that this government plans to ensure that all Canadians share the prosperity of Canada, and especially those people who have been shut out from the prosperity time and again.|
|We were particularly pleased by the emphasis on promoting a healthy democracy in which leadership can come from everyone. In the view of the National Council of Welfare, making sure that all Canadians share in Canada's riches must include the highest possible level of public participation.|
That was a quote from nearly two years ago. Where are we today? What has changed for the better? The government cannot hide how poor they have been. This throne speech was just too predictable. Called “The Canada We Want”, the speech does not reflect the government we need. It is a pedestrian laundry list of intentions and largely a repeat of much of what was needed to be done. High priority items were not mentioned. Many of the points should and could have been done years earlier. This statement certainly will not inspire Canadians. They must be saying, “Is that all there is?”
The biggest cost item is the Kyoto protocol. Parliament will be forced to vote on it without any sound basis of cost. There will likely be no cost benefit analysis laid before Parliament. The government will go forward on mostly environmental goodwill and emotion looking for the votes rather than working for Canada's fundamental international interest. Is the average family better off economically this year? Do we have more participatory democracy?
We do not have that, but what we do have now, I am sad to say, is a lot of talk about legacy rather than leadership, promises rather than policy. We are no further ahead. In fact we have slipped and continue to slide on the United Nations index of nations. On the world market our dollar buys less than it ever has before. The dollar value benchmark is one that the government cannot hide from or explain. It is the world's judgment about our economy now and our future prospects. The low dollar represents the undeniable failure of the government to meet the people's needs.
Significantly, in the throne speech there is no clear ultimatum to finally fix medicare once and for all, but just more talk and deliberations with the provinces. It has always been my community promise to compliment and help the government when it appears to be going in the right direction. It is my parliamentary duty to hold the government accountable when it strays and falls short. It is also my commitment to a vision that I provide constructive alternatives and improvements for the betterment of Canada.
I oppose the throne speech and the government today because Canada can do better. I hope that I will again be elected as the official opposition vice-chair of the House Standing Committee of Government Operations and Estimates. There we anticipate breaking new ground with this committee, to greatly enhance the accountability of government spending plans and examine the efficacy of much of the spending that is statutory and does not come before Parliament each year. It is about accountability and also about doing the right things. It is what a throne speech should be all about.
Parliament needs better oversight of where most of the taxpayer money is going. We have not had that under the former finance minister since 1993. In fact he is so out of it that he even voted in a lark for the Tobin tax on an NDP motion.
That is an esoteric international socialist idea to tax international monetary flows and redistribute world income. Heaven help Canada if this rogue has his way as prime minister in view of his past performance.
His one claim to significance was even a borrowed policy from us to balance the national books. However he did not have the wherewithal for the whole package, balanced budget legislation or programmed pay down of the national debt.
Even as we as a country stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies, it is necessary that we are not diverted from protecting the Canadian way of life. We must balance national security needs with the Canadian Alliance long term agenda for building a more prosperous, inclusive and democratic society.
Regardless of the mediocre government leadership we have had, Canada is still one of the world's success stories. We enjoy prosperity and a higher quality of life compared to many on the globe. We have grown from a small agrarian people at Confederation to a complex, multicultural economic powerhouse. However we recall that we were not touched on our shores by World War II and we emerged at that time on top of the social and industrial world order. Sadly our great leadership position has been squandered since then and now we can count ourselves lucky just to remain in the G-8 of countries.
In the global knowledge economy our world position will depend upon innovation as we invest in the future of science and research and skill development. We must do better to invest in the new technology but also help young Canadians to get a head start. With a more principled government, it could be envisioned that someday our people would find a culture of freedom and inclusion. More than ever we need a skilled workforce and an innovative economy for everyone.
Innovation is the bridge between today and tomorrow; between fresh ideas and new opportunities for all Canadians. Canada must become more debt free, keep inflation and unemployment low and become more internationally competitive in tax and regulatory structure. The barriers to greatness as a nation are often ones of our own making, such as the socialist bad habits, the politics of envy and regional resentment.
What I am saying is that Canada's fall from international leadership is Canadian made. Our missed opportunities or also-ran status as a nation is a legacy of Liberal and Conservative governments. What we really need is more freedom. We need the basic freedom to move goods, capital and labour. We need the freedom to learn, through investments in education and skill development. We need the freedom to become, through participatory democracy and support for rights.
I love my country. We are a blessed nation and there is no better place to live. Indeed we are a great country but we have accomplished much, not because we have had great governments. Our achievements have not come from great political leaders. We are favoured because it is the Canadian people who have built a great society. Canadians have overcome geography. We have made cultural and language differences an advantage rather than a problem. It is the people who paid the price for peace and justice. Graves of brave Canadians around the world is the testament.
The many waves of arrivals to our shores made their contributions. First, aboriginals came in successive migrations. Then the Europeans and Asians came in many waves. We became a destination of hope and opportunity. We now have a rich cultural mix which gives us an international advantage.
However Canada remains below its potential. We are poorly led and not wisely governed. The old habit of electing either a Conservative or Liberal federal government is not good enough any more. Canadians can do better. Canada can earn its way to the top if we forsake our old ways of voting.
We must vote for our children's future, rather than old prejudice. We must vote greater democracy, rather than Liberal and Conservative special interest.
Canadians can free themselves by electing a Canadian Alliance government. Canada has everything it needs to be the best.
Our task in the next two years is to give us a government worthy of the good Canadian people. We must vote to build, rather than just to avoid risk. We must vote for achievement, rather than old loyalties. Canadians must vote to give themselves a prosperous democracy that includes everyone, where no corner of the land is left behind.
The best is yet to come for Canada. I believe that it is not overreaching to say that we can be the world leader, to make a truly peaceful and sustainable world.
Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, it is a privilege and a pleasure for me to speak in response to the throne speech as the hon. member for Yellowhead and as opposition health critic.
As Parliament resumes, the minds of Canadians are on the state of the beleaguered health care system. What they see and what too many Canadians have experienced is a system that is under decay and under a tremendous amount of stress. Look at the strikes going on from coast to coast right now, or the acute problems with wait times, which are absolutely phenomenal, or the nursing shortage or human resources problem.
On the nursing shortage we can say that projections for growth in that field are such that we will need 113,000 new nurses by 2011. That will hinder patient care in tremendous ways, ways in which we have no idea at the present time.
When we look at how we are doing in comparison with other OECD nations, we see that we rank 18th when it comes to access to MRIs. We are 17th in CT scanners and 8th in radiology equipment. It is no wonder and no surprise that Canadian confidence in the health care system is decaying and waning at the present time.
An example of this is that in 1988 a study was done and 43% of Canadians said that they thought the system was fundamentally flawed. Last year the same study was done again and an astounding figure of 77% came forward. Clearly the patient is ailing.
The Liberal health care legacy of underfunding and neglect has come home to roost. The Prime Minister and the former finance minister presided over the massive cuts in the middle of the 1990s and the consequences of that action at the time are being felt now in today's health care system.
The Prime Minister and the former minister of health announced the Romanow commission almost two years ago. It was a desperate attempt by the Liberal government to just buy more time. That is exactly what happened. Then they sat back and comfortably waited while somebody else tried to do the dirty work and wrestled with the tough problems of reforming the health care system. We are waiting for the report in November of this year.
It is not the first time we have seen this action by the Liberal government. We remember the National Forum on Health in 1997. Its report sits on the proverbial shelf collecting dust. We can see that this is a ploy the government has used once before.
There are some things the Liberal government does do well. It studies health care. We asked the Library of Parliament how much money had been spent by the Liberal government since 1993 just to study health care. A figure of $243 million came back. The Liberal government has shown a grave lack of leadership when it comes to health care over the last 10 years. All the problems I just mentioned lay right at the feet of the Liberal government. Nobody else can take responsibility for them.
The health highlight of the throne speech was the announcement of the forthcoming first ministers conference early next year and the necessary federal funding that would have to go into investments in the long term security of our health care system. I say better late than never, but did we really need a throne speech for that announcement?
Most of the other health care items offered in the throne speech consisted of vague promises on health protection, prevention and aboriginal health. Many of these are just recycled ideas. We have heard them many times before in previous throne speeches. We could go through the last eight or ten throne speeches and there are similarities in all of them.
Here is just one of the examples. I quote, “The government will take further action to close the gap in health status between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians”. That is a worthy goal, but we have heard that many times before. It is no wonder the aboriginal community is thinking that this government speaks with a forked tongue on that.
Some alarming numbers came out earlier this week. They show that the rate of diabetes among first nations peoples is two to three times that of the Canadian population as a whole. The amount of tuberculosis on native reserves is eight to ten times higher than for the Canadian population.
The government should acknowledge that its current aboriginal policies are failing. It should announce firm targets for improving aboriginal health and life status.
I was particularly concerned about the government's pledge to speed up drug safety approval. We have a drug problem in the country and it is a serious problem. Up to 10,000 Canadians die each year because of avoidable prescription drug reactions. Up to 46% of our seniors receive at least one inappropriate prescription per year.
The Vanessa Young inquiry cited a number of problems in Health Canada's drug safety regime. The minister's rebranded Marketed Health Products Directorate still cannot remove drugs from the market.
Do not get me wrong. We are not opposed to bureaucrats working faster or more efficiently to speed up drug approvals. There are some very good benefits in that. However this is clearly a matter of the cart going before the horse and announcing faster drug approvals before adequately addressing the drug safety concerns that we have across this nation.
One glaring omission in the throne speech was the mention of the government's plan of dealing with the possible bioterror attack. Last year the government promised to obtain the smallpox vaccine for every Canadian. The government still has not obtained that vaccine. Where is the long-range plan that the government promised Canadians? By the way, where is the reproductive technology bill that was also promised? It met the same fate once before of dying on the order paper, so it is not the first time that has happened.
Canadians could be forgiven for having expected some leadership on health care this week from the government. However on most fronts, they were very sorely disappointed.
The government will soon be reviewing the recommendations of the Romanow report. As it prepares to do so, the official opposition should offer some principles and proposals that would guide its deliberations.
The Canadian Alliance is clear about its values on health care. Our policy states our commitment to ensuring that “timely, quality and sustainable health care is available to every Canadian, regardless of their financial means”.
The Canadian Alliance supports adequate, stable funding and transparent funding for health care. More funding will be required to shore up our ailing health care system and to place it on a firmer footing for the years and decades ahead. I am pleased to see an acknowledgment of this in the throne speech. However the federal transfer for health care has only now surpassed what it was back in 1993 and 1994. In the meantime, we have a population growth of 8% and an increase of over 15%, and our population is also growing older at the same time. Therefore, the federal government's contribution is 14¢ on every dollar right now. That is a far cry from the fifty-fifty split of a generation ago.
In putting more funding into health care, the government should resist its natural urge. Guess what that is? To raise taxes. Canadians do not want to pay any more taxes. Believe it or not, we would not want to see the finance minister jump from that Peace Tower. However, the government has chopped $25 billion from the CHST, but has left $16 billion a year in questionable grants and contributions. This is all about priorities or the lack of them.
It must be noted that more money, in the absence of other reforms, is not a viable or long term solution. This has been the recognition of many of those who have taken a look at our health care system over the last couple of years, whether it be Fyke, Mazankowski, Clair, Kirby or Romanow.
In return for more funding there must be a greater accountability of how that money is spent. The government must use this opportunity of another cash injection to encourage health reform and efficiencies.
We also reiterate the call for stable funding for health care. To prevent the kind of unprecedented, unilateral cuts inflicted by the Prime Minister and the former finance minister in the mid-nineties, we must entrench the commitment in the Canada Health Act for stable funding.
The Canada Health Act needs to be modernized. All five of the act's principles are routinely compromised. Moreover, there is a growing recognition that the act does not make provisions for important contributions such as quality, timeliness, sustainability or accountability. New provisions need to be added in the act.
The delivery of health care has changed dramatically since the act was passed in 1984. Through the development of new technologies, drug therapies and new treatment options, what constitutes medically necessary needs to be revisited in an era of new medical technologies and those therapies. A view of the scope of the services covered under the public system should be undertaken as a viable component of the first ministers consultation after Romanow.
I want to address the controversial issue of the private involvement in our public health care system. The provinces should have the maximum flexibility around health care delivery within a universal health care system, and I stress within a universal health care system.
The Canada Health Act discourages private payment of medically necessary health care services but does not prohibit nor does it discourage private delivery of those services. What is important is not who provides a service but that the service is provided and that it is provided in a timely and a quality fashion regardless of the individual's financial means to pay.
As our leader pointed out yesterday, the government monopoly is not the only way to deliver health care to Canadians. The federal health minister cannot stop the provinces from acting within their jurisdiction nor should she. Let me be clear. No province, no federal party, including the Canadian Alliance, is calling for a private parallel system.
Finally, the government owes it to Canadians to act quickly and responsibly once the Romanow commission report is called. Health care reform is too important to place on another waiting list. The government should act within 90 days after receiving the Romanow report.
Health care is the number one public policy priority of Canadians. It is clear that our system is in need of renewal. Health care requires innovative ideas and approaches in order to address the pressing challenges of increased expectations, escalating costs and aging population.
The Canadian Alliance will continue to engage the government in vigorous debate on the reform of the health care in this country. We will work--
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): I am sorry, the hon. member's time is up.
* * *
[Business of the House]
Hon. Don Boudria (Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Madam Speaker, there have been a number of consultations among all parties in the House. I am pleased to say that there is agreement for the following motion, and I will explain the purpose of it. This evening we were to have a debate, which would have lasted a long time, on a very important issue involving Iraq. The motion allows us to have a shorter debate this evening and to have one tomorrow evening to permit people to speak at hours that are more reasonable. In exchange, there would be no quorum calls either evening. I move:
|That the final paragraph of the Order of September 30, 2002, respecting the take-note debate with regard to Iraq, be amended to read as follows:|
|That, at the ordinary time of daily adjournment on October 2, 2002 and 2003, the House continue to sit in order to resume the said debate, provided that, during the said debate, the Chair shall not receive any quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent to propose any motion, and that, at 12:00 a.m. during the sitting of October 2, 2002, the debate shall be adjourned and the House shall adjourn and that, at 12:00 a.m. during the sitting of October 2003 or when no Member rises to speak, as the case may be, the motion shall be deemed to have been withdrawn and the House shall adjourn.|
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to)
* * *
The House resumed consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.
Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Blackstrap, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, could the hon. member tell me if he believes that there is, as was mentioned in the throne speech, a paved and a speedy process for drugs, both illicit and prescription drugs? Would he explain what he thought of that particular clause in the throne speech?
Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, it is difficult to know exactly what is in that throne speech because the words are so vague.
There is some reference to illicit drugs. We all know the problem of illicit drugs in the country. It is acute, regardless of what our friends in the Senate. They perhaps would like to see marijuana legalized. I believe we have a serious problem with illicit drugs, but that was not the question.
The question refers to speeding up the process for prescription drugs. That is something we should take a serious look at because there are some up sides to that in the sense that faster, newer drugs and newer technologies have some benefits.
As we go into the 21st century drug therapies will be much more used than we have seen before. However, if we approve more before we deal with the abuses that are within the system right now, we will be making a terrible error. We have to look after the problem of abuse of prescription medications. It is an epidemic out there. It is something that we have talked about very little in the House and it is high time we started to do that.
Mr. Jerry Pickard (Chatham—Kent Essex, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Scarborough—Agincourt.
September 30 was an important day for the government as it set out an ambitious plan for Canada's future. The Speech from the Throne 2002 outlined the next steps in the Liberal government's plan to build an ever-widening greater opportunity for all Canadians.
Since taking office in 1993 our Liberal government has worked hard with Canadians hand-in-hand to build an economic and social environment which is good for all Canadians. No one can deny the tatters in which the former government left Canada in 1993. We refer to the huge deficit, little direction, Canada's credit rating being downgraded, interest rates being intolerable and an environment where no one was satisfied.
Canadians looked at what the former government had done and virtually wiped it out. There was good reason for that because it did not have an agenda, it was not in touch with reality with Canadians and as a result Canadians would not support it.
Today I note that many of the opposition have no reality with Canadians again. Canadians tell me that since 1993 the government has done a fabulous job in its economic work. The government has done a tremendous job reducing the deficit. Our trade with other countries has dramatically increased.
Today we can talk about $2 billion a day flowing back and forth between Canada and the United States in trade. We can talk about the wonderful concepts of things moving forward.
When the opposition says the government has not paid any attention to health care I can say that there was an agreement signed in September 2000, where the government put on the table $21 billion to further advance health care.
However let us look at some of the things that were referenced in the throne speech. A throne speech, and everyone in the House knows, is not there to itemize and give in detail all the acts the government will be introducing. The throne speech is there to set direction and give ideas of where the government feels important issues need to go. It is a setting of priorities for Canadians and quite frankly health care was placed far up front in Canada's priorities.
There is no question that one of the ambitious steps put forward in the last Parliament was the appointment of Mr. Roy Romanow to look at health care across the country, to consult with all health care specialists, members of the House of Commons and with the provinces. He had a tremendous task.
I recall him coming to Parliament and listening to members of Parliament putting forth their ideas, concepts and their constituents' feelings about what health care needed to have to improve.
That takes time and there is no question that when we look at the throne speech, we look at the fact that Mr. Romanow's report will be laid on the table this fall. The throne speech made it clear that in the spring of next year the government will work on a comprehensive plan to deal with the recommendations that Mr. Romanow will put on the table. Anyone who suggests that the government is not serious, is not working hard at health care and is not concerned, is out of touch with what is going on. I would like to point out that if we look at a comprehensive plan in the year 2003 that does not mean that all health care problems will cease to exist.
It means that we will put a plan together. We will have steps that we can work on. We will look at doctor shortages. We will look at facilities that would most accommodate drug restrictions and an aging society. All of those things are important to a comprehensive plan and cannot be answered in a minute or two as the opposition would suggest.
The Prime Minister made it clear that children and low-income families are most important. In the throne speech we heard of families and family support, energies put toward helping those children who need a lot of extra care and extra benefits. We know that education is a key important issue to ensure that younger people have the greatest opportunity possible in this country.
The government has laid on the table that quality of life, sharing economic prosperity, low-income families with better benefits, and fair and proper education for all young people are high priorities. That is extremely important when we realize that in the future our young people will lead this nation and be responsible for all of the progress that goes forward. That is clear to me.
I heard the opposition talking about the tremendous costs of Kyoto but I have not heard a word about the positive benefits or the commitments around the world. Last week I was in Japan. The first thing the Japanese said to the Canadian delegation was to ensure that Kyoto was approved. Why? Because it is important to the world community.
It is important that a nation like Canada shows world leadership in cleaning up our environment. It is important that we put actions and activities in place that will make the future of young people and future generations much better. I have no doubt that if we start looking at Kyoto there are great benefits that can be achieved.
In my riding I have an ethanol plant which is typical of ethanol plants found throughout the United States and some other areas of the world. That ethanol plant is world class. It generates a tremendous amount of green fuels which we know, if anyone looks at it, benefits society dramatically. It ends a lot of bad pollution problems in our major cities. It helps with jobs in the farm and rural communities across the nation. It is a facility by which we can improve our environment, our air quality, and at the same time we can employ Canadians and build a nation of greater strengths.
Within the Kyoto protocol there is no question that there are many good environmental projects that can be carried out to make this nation stronger, to make our future generations more healthy and to help the environment. I look forward to the debate on the Kyoto protocol accord.
It is clear in my mind that we must be cautious and careful about where we are going in the future and we must open to debate all of the issues. It is not really the government that sets down all the steps and says how much each step will cost. It is important that we listen to industry and talk about the barriers and the opportunities that industry has in things like the Kyoto accord.
It is important that we look at the infrastructure program that we have suggested. At the border, Windsor happens to be the bottleneck of Canada's trade. We must look at infrastructure that will improve that and do tremendous change for us.
I believe that the Speech from the Throne is setting a direction which will carry on the tremendous Liberal development over the last several years. There is no question in my mind that Canada is far better off than it was under a Tory government with a huge debt and deficit increasing by $42 billion annually.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): Before I take questions and comments, because we have avid readers of Hansard, I want to ensure that everybody understood the motion that had been moved earlier because there was a question in terms of the date. I want to read into the record the exact motion that we all agreed to:
|That, at the ordinary time of daily adjournment on October 2, 2002 and October 3, 2002, the House continue to sit in order to resume the said debate, provided that, during the said debate, the Chair shall not receive any quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent to propose any motion, and that, at 12:00 a.m. during the sitting of October 2, 2002, the debate shall be adjourned and the House shall adjourn and that, at 12:00 a.m. during the sitting of October 3, 2002--|
Not October 2003, as was earlier indicated:
|--or when no Member rises to speak, as the case may be, the motion shall be deemed to have been withdrawn and the House shall adjourn.|
Questions and comments.
Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, I could not help but notice the many references to the Kyoto accord in the member's presentation. It always frightens me to listen to Liberal members who do not seem to understand what the Kyoto accord is all about and yet support it.
The member makes reference to improved air quality and reduction of air pollution. The Kyoto accord is about the reduction of CO2 emissions, which in fact is an essential element of life on this planet. Many greenhouses pump it into the greenhouse to grow plants. Would the member tell me how reducing CO2 will clean the air quality and how sending billions of dollars of Canadian money to Russia to buy credits when Russia produces six times the amount of CO2 Canada does will help the environment in Canada?
Mr. Jerry Pickard: Madam Speaker, I think the member opposite is naive when he talks of Liberal members not knowing what is happening.
I believe the Alliance has been out of touch with Canadians that it shows in the numbers of people it has sitting in the House of Commons. I do not believe that at any time the government has lost seats or lost support. The fact is that if we go to the Kyoto accord and we start looking at green fuels, we are increasing the quality of air in all countries of the world. Oxygen is the base of all breathing animals. CO2 is used by plants to ensure they grow better.
The member is right on one fact but he is only half right, as he always is. He does not follow the reality of what happens when too much CO2 emission gets into the air. We are talking about all kinds of problems in urban centres, heating globally our environment, problems that are created by an imbalance of what the natural balance is in this country and industrial smog and emissions. They are caused by all kinds of other problems. In the greenhouses we do not create imbalances. We look at an environment where people live and talk about the best opportunity to have clean air and great oxygen content in the atmosphere.
Mr. Loyola Hearn (St. John's West, PC): Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the comments made by my colleague from across the House. Will he tell us, because nobody has yet, what the government's plan is for addressing the Kyoto requirements and how much it will cost the people of Canada?
Mr. Jerry Pickard: Madam Speaker, when people ask what is the Kyoto accord, clearly they are asking the government to say exactly what the restrictions are going to be. People do not care what industry is saying. They do not care about consultation with industry. They do not care about how provincial governments feel about things. They do not want that consultation. They do not care about the viewpoints of members of the House of Commons. People want the government to put it down in rules. They want the government to put it down in a piece of legislation and not give that flexibility.
Since I have been in the House of Commons the government has been asked to be more open and receptive to ideas, clearly accepting the input that it can. Kyoto is very important. There will be legislation tabled in the House. The throne speech is not the process to be used to table legislation in the House of Commons. At the same time, a tremendous amount of consultation, a tremendous amount of work with industry and a tremendous amount of work with other governments is required in order to make sure we get it right. Those guys over there just have it wrong.
Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne was totally silent about a fairer and more equitable distribution of infrastructure money particularly with regard to excise taxes on gasoline. When will the government become fairer in its equitable distribution of those funds? It collected $572 million in excise taxes on gasoline.
Mr. Jerry Pickard: Mr. Speaker, I believe the government's plan has been equitable on gasoline and equitable on all forms of energy across the country. We are in the process of developing new strategies by looking at wind power and other forms of power. We are a progressive government and we want to see green fuels move forward. We want to see a cleaner environment. As a result we are looking very carefully at policies that will achieve that.
Mr. Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough—Agincourt, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne which has been outlined so eloquently by many members in the last few days provides the framework under which we will govern the country over the next year.
Our plan will ensure a brighter future for all Canadians and strike the right balance between social spending and fiscal responsibility. It includes a commitment to balancing the budget, paying down the national debt, investing in health care, investing in families and children and protecting our environment, just to name a few. These initiatives are not new to the people of Canada as they are the initiatives that were promised during the last election campaign.
Health care has long been the major preoccupation of most people across Canada. In my riding of Scarborough--Agincourt it is by far the most important issue. The federal government must do more to ensure that quality health care is available on a timely and equal basis. The principles of the Canada Health Act must be adhered to across the country. The provinces and territories must have the resources to enact such policies. I am pleased that the government has made a commitment to address the health care concerns by hosting a premiers conference on health early in the new year.
Following our promises in the last election to reduce child poverty, we will commit more money for programs such as subsidized day care, income supplements for poor families and subsidized social housing.
We are also continuing with our commitment to upgrade the infrastructure of our cities to ensure that environmentally responsible transportation systems will help reduce congestion in our cities and bottlenecks in our trade corridors. I welcome these initiatives and look forward to their quick enactment.
The throne speech also addressed our commitment to ratify the Kyoto accord. Yesterday we heard the leader of the official opposition tell us that his party would use every possible trick in the book to block the Kyoto process to ensure that it is never ratified. If by some miracle his party ever formed the government, it would rescind this deal.
Yes, the evidence is clear. For a number of years now the United Nations has consulted some 2,500 top level scientists. These people have come to the conclusion that the human impact on world climate is very significant. These experts urged us to act as quickly as possible and to change our way of doing things and our way of living.
No international agreement is perfect. Kyoto is far from perfect. We could second guess them all. Yet this is a resolution taken by countries, particularly rich and industrialized countries, to change their ways of doing things, to live differently, to create and to produce things differently in order to save our planet. The fact is the richest and most fortunate countries are the ones that did nearly all the damage. They are the same countries that have benefited the most from the past few decades of unfettered developments. At the same time innocent nations, including small underdeveloped ones, have suffered from the causes generated by rich and developed countries.
One area of great concern to many of my constituents is that of immigration. The government has committed to ensuring that immigrants who come from every corner of the globe will be able to integrate more quickly into Canadian society and take advantage of the opportunities available to them.
The government has said it will work with its partners to break down the barriers to the recognition of foreign credentials and will fast-track the entry of skilled workers entering Canada with jobs already waiting for them. This will serve to position Canada as a destination of choice for talented foreign students and highly skilled workers by more aggressive selection and recruitment through universities and in key embassies abroad. I applaud our government's commitment in this regard. I know it will take negotiation with the provinces and territories and regulatory boards to make this happen, but these measures are long overdue.
One other area that was not addressed in the Speech from the Throne has to do with the low staffing levels of immigration offices in foreign embassies which has led to exceedingly long waiting periods for those wishing to come to Canada. Most of those waiting are family members of Canadian citizens who have sponsored their wives, husbands, brothers, sisters or parents and through no fault of their own have to wait up to two years before their family reunification becomes a reality.
Demographics clearly show that Canada needs more immigrants now and in the future to ensure economic prosperity for our aging population. While this issue was not addressed in the Speech from the Throne, I can assure the House and the people of Scarborough--Agincourt that I will keep raising this matter until a successful resolution is achieved.
There is one thing that has concerned me many times. When young people come to Canada wishing to start new lives and they meet and marry a husband or a wife here in Canada, after they are married inside the country there is a process where the spouse can sponsor his or her partner. The process ends up in Vegreville. For whatever reason if Vegreville doubts their relationship or there is a question as to one of the partners being married before, or one of the partners comes from a country that leaks a lot of refugees into Canada, Vegreville will then send that decision to the local office.
If a person is unfortunate enough to live in areas such as Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, and especially in my riding of Scarborough--Agincourt, the person could be waiting for a hearing with an immigration officer for up to three years; not one month, not two months, not 12 months, but 30 to 36 months. These figures have been creeping up slowly. Yet when the issue has been raised with successive immigration ministers, unfortunately it has not been listened to.
One thing we could easily do is provide speed for the spousal cases and put them at the front of the line. If they have to wait 30 to 36 months, then we could easily provide health care as well as a work permit.
If a young lady were to come to Canada and marry one of our sons and she were to become pregnant, that young lady would end up at the hospital and unfortunately, the husband, a landed immigrant or a citizen of Canada, would end up paying $10,000 to $15,000 for the young one to be born. We are talking about the birth of a Canadian, a child coming into the world who will be a taxpayer for the rest of his or her life. Yet we are taxing the parent in order for the child to come into this world. This is a great injustice. We have to move steadily and we have to move quickly.
If one of my daughters were to meet a young man and they wanted to get married and he wants to provide for his family, he will be hamstrung. He will not have the opportunity to do so.
I am asking and imploring that we find ways to make sure that the cases of these young couples move quickly. We must work with them rather than hinder them. We must work with them to start new lives. Let us work with them in order for them to be productive citizens in this country of ours. We bring in people from overseas. Why do we not also help our people here?
Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the member made reference to man's catastrophic influence on our climate. Again, that reference bothers me. Science tells us that 3% of the world's CO2 emissions are contributed by human activity and 97% of CO2 emissions are produced by natural causes. How can that 3% cause such a catastrophic effect on our environment?
His colleague who spoke before him chose not to answer my question about sending billions of dollars to Russia. Russia produces six times the amount of CO2 emissions that Canada does. How can that be helpful to our environment?
Mr. Jim Karygiannis: Mr. Speaker, I will go back to my speech and reiterate the following. It is innocent nations, including small underdeveloped ones, that have suffered from the causes generated by rich and developed countries.
We live in a country where when people want to go to the corner store they jump in their cars and drive there. People in other countries do not have that luxury. I visited countries where children have to carry water for a mile in order to have drinking facilities. Here in Canada people do not think for 30 seconds before jumping in their cars to go to the corner store to buy milk or bread.
We have to change our ways. We have to change our thinking. We have to ratify the Kyoto accord, not tomorrow, not 10 years from now, but as soon as possible.
Mr. Loyola Hearn (St. John's West, PC): Mr. Speaker, I have two short questions for the hon. member.
He mentioned more income for poor families. This will probably be delivered through the child tax credit, so I wonder if the member thinks a sufficient amount can be delivered in such a manner to poor families to take them out of that circle of poverty, as has been mentioned.
Second, is not the member himself, as others should be, appalled by the fact that no mention at all was made of assisting people who are trying to get into post-secondary education? We have two types of young people. One type goes into post-secondary education and comes out with a horrendous debt, which usually drives them out of the country for employment. The second are those who, when they look at the cost of education, and because they come from poor families or areas away from the centre of education, decide they cannot afford to go anyway.
What has the government done in the Speech from the Throne to assist these people? I did not see anything.
Mr. Jim Karygiannis: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for a very important question. I believe that we do as we preach. I live in my riding. I work in my riding for the constituents there. As well, I encourage my children and wife to shop in the riding.
I have four daughters who are currently in university. I said to them a long time ago that when I was going through university I paid my way. I worked in the summertime and I paid my tuition in the fall. That might not be possible these days in that these days it is not easy to find work. However, I am proud to say that all my four daughters are going through university and they have laboured over the summer in order to find employment and pay their way. It is not easy and some children are not as fortunate. This is why we have the Canada student loans and why those loans are there when sometimes the provincial loans are failing.
Maybe we should revisit the area and the era in which we were providing a bit of a grant. There is room for discussion. I want to thank the hon. member for bringing this to the floor. It will be something that I will be speaking with my colleagues about to make sure that we aggressively go after it.
Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise you that I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the hon. member for Calgary--Nose Hill.
I would like to address my remarks in reply to the Speech from the Throne and couch them by illustrating my points with two average citizens of Canada.
In particular, the Speech from the Throne illustrated that the government and that speech in particular are out of touch with ordinary Canadians who are asked to shoulder the burdens of Canada to a greater and greater extent. They are finding that their standard of living is going down. It used to be on a parallel with that of the United States and it has now dropped a considerable degree below that.
Yesterday was the International Day of Older Persons. I am wondering how many senior citizens actually celebrated that day. I cannot not help but think of a fellow named Joe Shephard. Last spring he wrote a letter to every MP. I want to quote the contents of that letter today. This is what he said last April:
|I am a senior Canadian citizen, decreed by you to live on $13,000 a year, trying to keep myself and my rural home warm, fed, repaired and healthy and my vehicle together to access needs.|
|In 2000, ends were not meeting.... Which included my '87 vehicle. So, I went to work for 6 months in a boatyard, earned $7,400, less tax, CPP and EI for which I had too few hours to qualify.|
|This was followed by a further tax demand for $1,400 and the application of my HST refunds as a tax payment.|
|Revenue Canada reduced my income ($13,000) by $3,600 per year, leaving $800 a month to pay for living, mortgage, insurance, property taxes, repairs, car insurance, gas, power and phone, water, oil, wood, clothing and food.|
|No computer, no e-mail, no fax, no phone and the typewriter ribbon has died.|
|I am an expert and I know it can't be done.|
There was no solution for Mr. Shephard in the throne speech. Joe will have to struggle just to make ends meet. There was no such action because this throne speech is out of touch with the everyday lives of Canadians.
On Tuesday of this week, following the Speech from the Throne on Monday, a call came in to my office from a senior citizen in Edmonton, Ernie Psikla. I dare say that some of my colleagues from Edmonton know this gentleman. Ernie called to say that he can no longer afford the costs of the drugs that help his wife. At $12 per pill he finds it a struggle, especially when his health plan does not cover the cost of new and improved medicine. Ernie wonders if people like him, living on a fixed income, could not find some relief through a fairer tax deduction for the costs of medication. Ernie also mentioned that he will be moving soon, leaving the apartment he has lived in for the past 12 years, because he can no longer afford the rent, which has increased by 50%.
He mentioned that he was disappointed with the Speech from the Throne because the government was not recognizing where the real difficulties lie for people like himself and his wife. He was not complaining and he was not looking for a handout. Ernie is not even giving up. I was surprised at that. He was simply asking that the government recognize the increasing difficulty people like he and his wife are facing. Did it? No.
Is it right that people like Joe and Ernie and his wife are asked to shoulder the burden of the government's overspending? Is it right that the Prime Minister and his government say nothing about reducing the tax burden for these families? How do these citizens feel when the only concrete solution to come from the government on any problem, like improving the health care system, is to raise taxes?
I cannot not help but refer to that one line in the Speech from the Throne which went something like this: We will have a fairer relationship between the tax burden and the GDP. That is all very well, but it does not help these people at all, because what it means is that if the GDP goes up so does the tax rate. There will always be a relationship like that. These people are on a fixed income and that is a real problem.
Exactly where does the Liberal government think Canadians are going to get the money to pay? Why is it acceptable to the Liberal government that every year the standard of living falls for people like Joe and Ernie?
However, Joe and Ernie are not without hope. There is hope when they hear what the official opposition is saying. When the leader of the official opposition said yesterday that necessary health care should be available for every citizen regardless of ability to pay, that there should be no delays for critical treatment and that Canadians should not be saddled with enormous bills for catastrophic health problems, Canadians were relieved to hear that.
When I stood in the House yesterday and said that the Canadian Alliance is committed to achieving and sustaining a good standard of living for all seniors in Canada, that not one Canadian senior in this country should be in distress because of a lack of services or support, Canadian seniors like Joe and Ernie were glad to hear that.
We know, as they do, that the only way to achieve and sustain a good standard of living in Canada is to ensure an economy where the pillars are strong and where the workers, small businesses and homegrown industries are given every advantage to get ahead. There are two elements that have to take place: one, there has to be a reduction in taxes and, two, there has to be a reduction and simplifying of regulations.
As the hon. Leader of the Opposition said in the House yesterday, as late as the 1960s, 42 years ago, Canada's standard of living was on a par with that of the United States. Today it is more than one-third lower and falling.
The Speech from the Throne includes no concrete plan to reverse what is happening in the country in that regard. The Speech from the Throne reveals only that we are being led by a government that stubbornly refuses to see what is happening to Canadians and continues to insist that the path of 1993 is good enough for 2002, when clearly the lives of Canadians are not improving. So crippled is the government by its size, its lack of solutions and its internal infighting that it fails to heed cries from the opposition to concentrate on an agenda that will build strength in this economy from the bottom up, in our families, our small businesses or homegrown industries. Members opposite do not seem to hear any of that because they are out of touch with ordinary Canadians.
I cannot help but refer to the hon. member a moment ago mentioning going to the corner store and having to get into a car. That sounded like such a terrible thing to do, but I would like to ask the hon. member how he would get to his corner store if it were 30 miles away. We have a gentleman sitting in the House, the hon. member for Athabasca, and I will ask him where his nearest corner store is. I ask the hon. member: surely there is a difference between going a block or going 30 miles. Yet he made no such distinction.
That is the difficulty with the Speech from the Throne. It zeros in on things that do not relate to the ordinary Canadian. That is where the difficulty lies. There is a better way to protect the environment without sacrificing the economy. It really touched me and grabbed me in place that I do not like, that is, right down in my emotions. It had to do with the Prime Minister announcing in South Africa that he was going to ratify the Kyoto accord. There was no consultation with industry, no consultation with provinces and no indication of what the implementation of a plan like that might cost, not even how such an implementation would actually be done.
There he was, standing as the leader of this country, which he is, and saying on his own behalf, for a country that is supposed to be a democracy, that he will cause this to take place. I am sure there are many members opposite who sit in the backbenches who wish that the Prime Minister did not have quite as much power as that.
Canadians are no longer willing to accept that kind of tyrannical behaviour. The time has come for us to recognize that we are a democracy and that our Prime Minister and all of the members of Parliament are accountable in the first instance to the people of Canada and not to the Prime Minister. It is time that we curtailed the power of that office.
Mr. Larry Bagnell (Yukon, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the very thoughtful speech of my colleague and was delighted that he was sensitive to older people in his constituency. He made a good point that I think we basically agree on, in that Canada's productivity level is lower than the United States. Where we disagree, though, is that there was no action by the government. I want to update him in case he is not aware.
This year the government has produced two major initiatives, one at HRDC and one at Industry Canada: the skills agenda at HRDC and the innovation agenda. I think there have been 34 conferences across the country. A rural conference has been held on this and there will be a national conference on innovation. As the member knows, innovation is how we will close that productivity gap.
I know my constituents in Yukon are so aware of this that they are actually now doing a strategy for Yukon, as well as a national strategy. I am sure the member would agree that this important and very detailed step to increasing productivity is what we are both after. Is he aware of this having occurred in his constituency? If so, has his constituents had enough time for input? If he is not aware of this, would he like us to get him the documents?
Mr. Werner Schmidt: Mr. Speaker, not only am I aware but I am also very aware that not very much innovation has ever taken place as a result of a conference or at the conference.
Words are many. Studies are many. The time has come to give to the people the tools so that they can in fact innovate. One of those tools is to reduce taxes, to reduce government interference through regulation and let that happen. Innovations will happen if we allow people the initiative and create the environment where they can do these kinds of things. To have a bunch of conferences across Canada is not the answer.
I must make a comment with regard to seniors. These are people who are on a fixed income. These are not the people who are at the innovative strategies. These are not the people who are starting businesses. These are the people who have contributed to this country, who built this country and who are being intruded upon. Their standard of living has dropped.
I would like to refer the member to just one thing. The reference to a $12 pill that Ernie's wife has to take is a major issue. The government today needs to carefully re-examine the relationship between the cost of generic drugs, for example, and patented drugs. There was a time when the average price of a generic drug was about 50% of the patented drugs. That is no longer the case. The price has risen dramatically. No longer is the price advantage nearly as great in purchasing generic drugs as it was in years gone by.
There is nothing in the throne speech at all in getting greater equity and greater fairness in the position that the seniors find themselves in. That was the point I was trying to make.
Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I also heard no reference in the throne speech about helping those on fixed incomes, particularly when the effects of ratifying and implementing Kyoto will see energy costs go through the roof. How will these people on fixed incomes be able to cope with that?
I would ask the member for Kelowna how these individuals, who he spoke to or who spoke to him and expressed their concerns, feel about the commitment in the throne speech to double the foreign aid to Africa without any commitment from those African countries for democratic reform so that those Canadian tax dollars do not end up in the hidden bank accounts of people like Robert Mugabe. How do the seniors who are facing this hardship feel about those things?
Mr. Werner Schmidt: Mr. Speaker, I can answer that question very directly because I have had more calls about that particular concern than I have had about the other. These people, who are on fixed incomes, have asked me how they would be able to make ends meet if their utilities or electricity increased by 25% and the gas prices by maybe 30% to 50%.
This year, for example, I think they have had a 1.2% increase in their old age security in the first quarter and yet they are facing this kind of an increase. They asks themselves “What is the government trying to do? Does it not care about us as seniors? We built this country. We thought we had a democracy. Are they asking us? No, not at all. They are making it increasingly difficult for us to survive”.
The Kyoto accord seems to be going ahead without any indication whatsoever of what the costs will be. All we know is that it will increase costs. It will reduce the number of people who are employed. It will cost jobs. How in the world will these people make ends meet? They are concerned but they are not without hope. They are looking at people, like the official opposition, to do something. They want us to hold government members to account and to make sure that does not continue to be the case.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Liberal's throne speech has kind of a wistful title, “The Canada We Want”. That is because Monday's throne speech was an admission that the Liberals have failed to deliver. They have failed to deliver a modern health care system. They have failed to deliver progress in getting Canada's children off welfare. In fact StatsCan says that child poverty actually has climbed under the Liberals.
They have failed any reasonable level of life chances for aboriginals. They have failed to deliver any sort of plan to tackle the challenge of climate change. They have failed to support those things that would allow Canada to be a world leader in innovation and learning. They have failed to deliver worldclass cities and healthy communities.
They have failed in bringing government and citizens together in partnership. There is a bigger divide between Canadians and their government than ever before. They have failed to secure Canada's place in North America and the world as a mature country.
We have this terrible indictment of failure, and that is out of the Liberals' own mouth in Monday's throne speech, because this list is in the government's own words from its throne speech, and the Liberals have said that they want these things for Canada because of their own failure to deliver the goods in these critical areas. There is absolutely no excuse for their failure. They have had nine years of absolute power.
They have spent an average of $115 billion each and every one of those nine years. That is over $1 trillion. In fact since the last election the Liberals have raised their spending by 10% a year. How many Canadians would love to have 10% more to work with every year? Well the government has and yet it is still saying that it wants these important things for Canada.
Despite the Liberals' complete power to do anything they want, despite over $1 trillion to spend any way they wanted and despite more and more money each year, the Liberals have not had either the will or the savvy to deliver on their own publicly stated priorities.
After nine years, after $1 trillion, after the power to do whatever they want, after all of that and in spite of all the wealth of resources and opportunities, these things are still merely on the government's wish list.
Liberals call it “The Canada We Want”. They should also call it the opportunity we have squandered. Monday's throne speech was a shocking and sad admission of Liberal failure and hypocrisy. Liberals say that they want health care, generous provisions for our children, aboriginals with a bright future, to fix climate change, to have Canada renowned for innovation and learning, worldclass cities and healthy communities, close relations between government and citizens, and respect for Canada on the world stage, but Liberal hot air on these important topics is very likely the real and hidden cause of global warming.
If these were things the Liberals truly wanted they would not be on some Liberal nice-to-have list after nine long years of unchecked Liberal power. This is a list of what the Prime Minister wishes could be part of his legacy. Instead, the throne speech was a sad outline of a Liberal legacy of lameness, a Liberal legacy of failure, a legacy of failing Canada and failing Canadians.
Liberal failure is evident in every single department of government. I have responsibility as critic for immigration issues. I literally could speak all day on the failures of the Liberals in the important area of immigration. Time permits me to place only one or two such failures on the record today but they are a telling indication of the incompetence and weakness of the Liberal government in looking after our country's interests.
I have learned through an access to information request that as of 2001 over 6,000 foreign criminals without standing removal orders still remain at large in Canada. Out of all criminals ordered removed, 34% of them still remain in Canada.
I have also found out that of almost 300,000 refugee claimants ordered removed since 1985, as of 2001 only about 20,000 have actually been confirmed and removed. Only 11% of people found to have not been legitimate refugees and ordered removed can be confirmed as having left. Essentially what we have is a 90% failure rate for these removals. That is what these Liberals have done in administering important areas of our immigration system.
In the throne speech the Liberals say that they want to break down the barriers to the recognition of foreign credentials, to fast track skilled workers with jobs waiting for them in Canada, to attract more talented foreign students, to reduce settlement barriers and to help children of immigrants learn English and French.
All this is just wishful thinking with these Liberals. Again, they have had nine long years to get serious about the needs of people coming to our shores from around the world to build a new life and to help build the Canada of the future.
The truth is that the Liberals have known ever since they took over the reigns of government that immigrants to Canada urgently needed the government to take action on these issues. They have had nine years to take serious action, any action, on foreign credentials, speeding up the process when jobs were waiting, attracting the brightest and best international students and helping children learn our languages. However, these important immigrant needs, after all this Liberal opportunity, still languish on the Liberal wish list.
Canadians have a turn of phrase to express our skepticism and disrespect when people with an uninspiring track record tells us what they plan to do. We just say “promises, promises”.
That pretty much sums up the throne speech from this bunch of talk big but do nothing, do little Liberals who govern Canada. It is just promises, promises. Their track record is one of failure on these issues. Where it counts, they just do not deliver for Canada.
Canadians deserve better. Immigrants coming to Canada deserve better. The Canadian Alliance is determined to provide the alternative that Canada wants and that Canada deserves.
Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Calgary--Nose Hill is a distinguished parliamentarian who has served here since 1993 and has spent a lot of time touring across Canada. Most recently she spent a great deal of time campaigning in a very substance based leadership campaign of the Canadian Alliance. A good part of her campaign was about the democratic deficits that we see in this country, an idea that was apparently stolen by the former finance minister in rhetoric only.
I wonder if she could address some of the things that she has seen in the House and how the Liberals have failed to address the real democratic deficit. They talk about it in campaigns but they do not act on it. They have a full 177 seats in the House and can do anything they want but for the past decade they have failed to address that issue. I wonder if the member could enlighten them on how they might do that.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: Mr. Speaker, my colleague must have known that was my other speech I wish I could have given.
The fact of the matter is that the biggest indication of the democratic deficit in our country is the scandals and the exposure of corruption and cronyism and pork-barrelling that we have seen month after month for the last several years from the Liberal government. The fact is that the government does not have the proper accountability and transparency measures that would hold the Liberals to the standard that Canadians would want from them. What happens? Canadians give up. They feel the government does not speak for them, that it is not in tune with their wishes and their values, and so they disconnect. That is a real problem. We all see this as parliamentarians. The Liberals see it. We see it. Everyone sees it.
There are some very clear measures that we in the Canadian Alliance have been proposing since we came to this place. They would address the democratic deficit. They would reconnect what happens in this place with what Canadians want and what serves their interests truly.
They are things as simple as an ethics counsellor who could investigate these terrible instances of corruption and cronyism and report back to us as a parliament. Instead we have an ethics counsellor who has been completely hired by and controlled by the very government that needs to be held to account for that individual. Nobody in the country thinks that makes sense. In fact, the Liberals do not think it makes sense either because in their 1993 red book they promised there would be an ethics counsellor who would be completely independent and would report directly to parliament.
We gave the Liberals a chance to put that red book promise into effect. We brought forward a motion in the House last year saying that this House would put into place an ethics counsellor who would report to us as parliamentarians and not be controlled by the government. What happened was the Liberals stood on their feet and voted the motion down. It is no wonder Canadians say, “We don't have a government we can trust. We don't have a government that we believe is accountable”. The Liberals will not do anything to address it. That is why we have to have an alternative to replace them that can implement the measures we have been talking about for nine years in this place to really move us back into a true democracy.
Mr. Loyola Hearn (St. John's West, PC): Mr. Speaker, in light of the comments the member for Calgary--Nose Hill just made and from her tone, is she trying to tell us that perhaps we should not believe that the government is going to deliver the money for the poor that it promised, the money for health care that it promised, when the government itself thinks these issues are so important that it has promised them three times in a row?
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: Mr. Speaker, let us examine the Liberals' track record. We know people by what they have done, where they have been, what they have said, what they have delivered. What the Liberal government did is it cut spending on health care. It hacked it so deeply that we have problems which started back in 1995 when it slashed its support for health care, and it is coming home to roost today. What did the Liberals do? They got up on the throne speech and said, “We are going to deliver a health care system that meets the needs of the 21st century”.
They are the same guys who gave a mortal blow to our health care system. Are Canadians really going to trust them to deliver this wonderful vision of a health care system of the future? I do not think so. It is under the Liberal watch that Statistics Canada has said that child poverty has actually worsened. It is worse under the Liberals.
No matter what they promise, this is what they have given us as Canadians. A Canadian who is watching and evaluating the trustworthiness of the Liberals' promises will have to look at their track record.
Mr. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the Secretary of State for Rural Development.
First, I cannot resist talking a bit about the right wing rant we just heard from the member for Calgary--Nose Hill when she talked about nine long years.
The throne speech is a real Liberal throne speech based on a Liberal agenda. We are not catering to the right wing ideas of the party opposite, which has been done too much in the past. Today as we set the stage for the throne speech, Canadians have fiscal sovereignty and they are united. We are united as a country and we are a confident people. We can move forward with the kind of economic and social agenda that we can be proud of as Liberals and which meets Liberal values.
I welcome the throne speech. It lays out an important direction. It is a road map for the future and where the government will go in the next several years.
This is a real Liberal throne speech and I am proud to take part in the debate on it. In the throne speech there are some of the issues we campaigned on as far back as 1993 and I will admit that. When we came to power we ended up facing the fiscal deficit that was left as a result of the Mulroney years. We had to get the country's finances in order and we did. We made some tough decisions. Some of them have been mentioned that we made in 1995. We made the necessary cuts and today the foundation is under us to enable us to move forward.
The throne speech breaks the catering to some of the right wing values of the past and moves us forward. It not only builds on a strong economic base but it also builds on a social policy for better health care. It helps families and children. It improves the situation in agriculture. It deals with climate change. It tries to develop a better opportunity for others around the world. It is based on Liberal values.
I was very pleased that the Prime Minister gave caucus members the opportunity to participate and put forward their ideas in the development of the throne speech. I am pleased that a good many of our ideas in the discussions we had as a party are in the throne speech.
I want to quote from the letter I gave to the Prime Minister. I do so because we have to be ever vigilant of our natural resource industries including fisheries, as members opposite yell about from time to time.
Sometimes the difficulty with the heady excitement surrounding new technologies is that we lose sight of the fact that the key enduring strength in the Canadian economy lies in our natural resources: agriculture, fisheries, forestry and mining and the value added that we get from those resources. Those natural resource industries have been the foundation of the country from the beginning and they will remain the foundation. We have to make sure those natural resource industries are well funded in the future. We will do that through the budgetary measures.
Most of those areas were mentioned in the throne speech. The throne speech addresses several of these points and we must be vigilant to ensure that we spend the necessary moneys in the future.
Since my background is in agriculture, I want to talk about it. The initiative outlined in the agricultural policy framework stated as its purpose that the government is committed to “moving agriculture beyond crisis management to greater profitability and prosperity in the 21st century”. This marks a new activist involvement of the federal government in agriculture.
This past June the announcement of the framework was accompanied by a new infusion of funds from the federal government in the amount of $5.2 billion. With provincial cooperation this funding will increase to $8.18 billion for agriculture. This initiative has the support of the farming community and is one which must be built upon further.
The benefits of this initiative depend not only on domestic efforts, but also on the situation our farmers face at the international level. I do not have time to go through the figures and the subsidization levels in the United States and Europe, but they are outrageous. We have to stand by our farmers in the interim.
The United States farm bill and the renewed United States trade actions targeting the Canadian Wheat Board demonstrate that the efforts of the federal government to meet the commitments under the agricultural policy framework will include action in response to the United States agricultural policies and unwarranted trade challenges.
The U.S. farm bill will put about $190 billion into their agricultural industry over the next 10 years. However this new level of protectionism will continue to drive commodity prices down in this country and around the world and will have a direct negative impact on Canadian farmers. To respond to these unfair trading practices and subsidies, the government must be committed to a direct response as outlined in the throne speech, noting that the government will work “bilaterally and multilaterally to resolve trade disputes”.
A more activist government agenda will be one securing the critical infrastructure of our agricultural sector. There must be a strong and aggressive challenge to the United States efforts at undermining the Canadian Wheat Board. We must stand up to the Canadian Alliance as well, which is also trying to undermine the Canadian Wheat Board. The most recent challenge is the 10th effort by the United States. All previous attempts to challenge the board have been unsuccessful.
The federal government must issue a strong statement of support for the supply managed commodity sector, one of the unique Canadian success stories in terms of agricultural management and production benefiting farmers. It must ensure that at the World Trade Organization and other trade negotiations this important institution is not compromised.
As a final point, with respect to resolving trade issues, the rules must be the same across the board. Specifically with respect to the issue of potato wart and mop top virus, the United States has been attempting to negotiate a more stringent quarantine program for Prince Edward Island farmers than the Americans are willing to accept for theirs. That is unacceptable and we must have similar program restrictions for both countries.
I emphasize that in terms of health care the throne speech is moving in the right direction. In terms of environmental protection and climate change, we are also moving in the right direction.
Regional development is one of the areas the Alliance Party always attacks, especially in Atlantic Canada. I want to talk for a moment about what regional development has done for Atlantic Canada in terms of putting it at the forefront in moving forward.
Let us look at business costs. The most comprehensive business cost environment among the G-7 countries is in fact Atlantic Canada. In Atlantic Canada the cost of living is 25% to 65% lower than other regions. Building permits and environmental assessments are done much faster, in a matter of weeks or months. Land costs are in the lowest 5% of locations around North America. We have competitive reliable energy rates. We have a workforce of 1.2 million people who are well educated. We have a strong infrastructure in terms of 16 seaports and 15 commercial airports.
Canada has the second highest rates of broadband penetration in the OECD. We have over 40 colleges and universities. We have a dependable and very strong labour force. The Alliance should listen to this one on taxation. Atlantic Canada has the second lowest average corporate taxes in the G-7.
As well, property taxes are 30% lower and it is one of North America's leading e-learning clusters. We have more than 1,400 training companies. Atlantic Canada is the place to do business. We have been able to do it and maintain our social agenda and it is in part thanks to our regional development agencies like ACOA.
Mr. John Cummins (Delta—South Richmond, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it was delightful to listen to my friend from Malpeque and his comments about the great throne speech, but the member opposite has been the chairman of the House of Commons fisheries committee and not once in the throne speech was the word fishery mentioned.
I am absolutely amazed and dumbfounded that the chairman of the fisheries committee would get up and distribute accolades to the government for this throne speech when it never mentioned a critical area like fishery. He knows as well as I do the great problems that the fishing industry is having. He knows as well as I do about the shortage of money for the Coast Guard and the lack of resources directed toward it. There was not a word on it.
In fact, he was not even going to mention the word fishery until I gave him the opportunity with some well-placed comments, so I would like to give the member just a couple of minutes to correct some of his oversights.
Mr. Wayne Easter: Mr. Speaker, if we just go back to the speech of the member for Calgary—Nose Hill we will see how that member of the Canadian Alliance, of which the member for Delta—South Richmond is a part, although I am sure he must hate to admit it sometimes, took every section of the speech we mentioned and talked about it as if we have not done enough when we are moving forward in these areas.
In terms of fisheries, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is doing very good work. Yes, work has to be done. We have tabled some reports from the fisheries committee too. We did not expect this to be in the throne speech. Where we expect to see the efforts in the fishery is in the forthcoming budget, so as a past chair of the fisheries committee, along with my colleague opposite, we are certainly serving notice to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans right now that we expect great strides forward to come in the next budget.
Mr. Svend Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Malpeque, the outgoing chair of the fisheries committee, for his comments. I certainly associate myself with a concern that was raised about the absence of any reference to fisheries in the Speech from the Throne and will put two very specific questions to the hon. member, particularly in his capacity as the outgoing chair of the fisheries committee.
First, as a British Columbian member of Parliament, I want to say to the member that we in British Columbia are deeply concerned about the massive cuts to the budget of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the west coast. Salmon enhancement programs and other programs are being absolutely slashed while the budget of the headquarters here in Ottawa is just bloated. Is the member prepared to take up that issue seriously?
The second issue is one that was raised by the member for Delta—South Richmond, by me and by a number of other British Columbians, and that is the very serious concern about the situation following the tragic loss of five lives on the Cap Rouge II, and particularly the incoherent response of the minister of fisheries on the issue, the really shameful attempt--
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): The hon. member for Malpeque.
Mr. Wayne Easter: Mr. Speaker, in terms of the funding, the fisheries committee has been doing pretty strenuous work in terms of looking at the Fraser River and the aquaculture. Those two reports are in draft form and no doubt will come forward, and the minister and the government will have time in which to respond.
Previously today, the minister answered the question related to the divers and I think we will have to go to the record to see that.
I want to point out that the throne speech lays out basically the general road map. It does not get into the specifics. That is basically what the throne speech did. As I said earlier, we do have a good, strong fiscal foundation and we do have the ability to move forward. It is as a result of the Liberal values that we are now moving forward with. We will have a better economic and social agenda and a stronger country as a result of what the government, under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, is doing.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): The hon. member for Malpeque knows full well that he cannot refer to a member by name.
Resuming debate, the hon. secretary of state for rural development and FedNor. I would like to inform the member that he has five minutes before I call in the members for a recorded division.
Hon. Andy Mitchell (Secretary of State (Rural Development) (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will have to talk quickly.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the throne speech. Despite all of the great things in the throne speech, and many of my colleagues have talked about them, I want to reserve my comments for the issue of urban and rural Canada.
One of the basic things that the throne speech recognizes, indeed, that the government recognizes and which the opposition has not even begun to think about, is that the success of this nation, the success of Canada, the success of our people, is based on the understanding that we need both a strong urban and a strong rural Canada, that if we are to be successful both of our component parts need to be strong. If we look at the reasons why and look at the contributions that rural Canada makes to this nation in employment, in what it adds to our trade surplus and in the amount of the GDP, they are all significant. The reality is that if we are to be successful in urban Canada, if we are to be successful in rural Canada, both parts need to be strong.
One of the things I was pleased to see in the Speech from the Throne was that a number of issues that involve rural Canadians were talked about directly. Those individual and particular challenges that we as rural Canadians face, in terms of geography, population density and the cyclical nature of our economy, are dealt with in the Speech from the Throne.
The member for Malpeque talked about some of them. For instance, in terms of the agricultural policy framework and related measures, there was that announcement the Prime Minister made in June, the $5.2 billion, which was to be implemented and put forward for the benefit of rural Canadians and indeed for the benefit of all Canadians.
Yes, the throne speech talked about something very critical for our rural members, and that is our regional development agencies, but it talked about more than just the regional development agencies. It talked about the need to focus programming for the knowledge-based economy, to make sure that the innovations we are talking about as a society are also applicable to rural Canadians and rural businesses so that rural citizens have an opportunity to participate in a knowledge-based economy.
The throne speech talked about some of the issues of globalization. It talked about some of the trade issues. The hon. member for Malpeque talked about this as well. It said that the government has in the past dealt with and will continue in the future to deal with those trade-distorting policies that are having a harmful impact on our agricultural industry. It talked about our softwood lumber industry and the need for us to deal with the Americans on this issue. That commitment is clearly in the Speech from the Throne. That is important for rural Canadians and rural Canadian communities that depend on agriculture and that depend on forestry.
It talked about a national infrastructure program, a ten-year national infrastructure program. This is critical for rural Canadians. We need to have the basic infrastructure built into our communities. We need to have the water, the sewers and the roads, the types of networks within our rural communities that would allow us to fully participate in the economy of Canada.
I was pleased to see that long-term commitment made in the Speech from the Throne, because I travel through rural Canada and I have an opportunity to talk to municipal leaders about their relationship with government, their need for government to provide them with the tools in order to pursue their development activities in a way that makes sense for their local communities. They talk about the need for infrastructure, whether that be traditional infrastructure or telecommunications infrastructure.
I was so pleased, and I know that members were because several of them were with me, when we made the announcement of BRAN, which will help us ensure that all rural Canadians have an opportunity to access high-speed broadband Internet so that those communities can have access to important things such as health care, education and lifelong learning in a competitive business environment.
I was pleased with the Speech from the Throne, and I know my colleagues were as well, when we saw the commitment to those important projects that we want to see take place in rural Canada. The Voisey's Bay project that will take place in Newfoundland and Labrador is a project that is going to create real economic activity in rural Canada and real jobs for rural Canadians and improve the standard of living and the quality of life for Canadians in rural Canada.
Our commitment to work in northern Canada to ensure that those gas pipelines have an opportunity to be developed and to provide economic opportunities for those north of 60 is a commitment that was in the Speech from the Throne and is one that rural Canadians applaud fully as they see that taking place.
Housing is a critical issue in rural Canada, as it is in urban Canada. Concerns with housing may manifest themselves differently in a rural context compared to an urban context. They oftentimes do. I know that the Alliance Party in trying to come to grips with this, which is not happening because they do not come to grips with this or any other policy, quite frankly, but in fact we see a policy in place to allow communities to deal with housing issues.
In summary, the Speech from the Throne is great for all Canadians and it is particularly good for those Canadians who live in rural Canada.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): It being 6.15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the amendment to the amendment now before the House.
The question is on the subamendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the subamendment?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): All those in favour of the subamendment will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): In my opinion the nays have it.
And more than five members having risen:
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): Call in the members.
* * *
(The House divided on the amendment to the amendment which was negatived on the following division:)
(Division No. 1)
The Speaker: I declare the amendment to the amendment lost.
* * *
The House resumed from October 1 consideration of the motion.
Hon. Gar Knutson (Secretary of State (Central and Eastern Europe and Middle East), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to participate in this debate this evening. The House has a serious task before it.
As we debate what Canada's policy toward Iraq ought to be under the current circumstances it is essential to look back at Iraq's recent past. It is essential to speak the truth about the nature of the regime in Iraq and unfortunately the truth about the regime in Iraq is quite awful. It is an awful fact of life for 25 million Iraqis. It is a fact of life for hundreds of thousands more who have fled that country often leaving behind loved ones to face an uncertain future. It is also a fact of life for Iraq's neighbours, two of whom have been invaded in the past 20 years and for the broader region in which Iraq is situated.
The police state was born in Iraq in 1968 when Saddam Hussein and various collaborators seized power in Baghdad. With his final triumph over his junta rivals in 1978 Saddam consolidated not only his grip on power but the rein of terror he had launched a decade earlier. From that point on for almost a quarter of a century the regime in Iraq has pursued essentially two policies: the ruthless repression of its own people and military aggression against its neighbours with the aims of asserting regional dominance and acquiring territory. The result of these policies has been an unmitigated tragedy for the Iraqis and for Iraq's neighbours.
Let us first look at the regime's main domestic priority which is the preservation of its power at any cost. The government of Saddam Hussein has sought to retain its control over Iraq through the use of force, coercion and the brutal suppression of all potential sources of opposition. The basic rights of a number of ethnic and religious communities have been systematically violated. Political dissent is simply not tolerated in any form.
The forms that this oppression take have been documented in detail by the United Nations and by the international human rights organizations. Virtually the entire population of Iraq lives in fear of its government for the horrifying reason that the regime of Saddam Hussein has found that arbitrary arrest, torture, mutilation and executions are brutally effective means of crushing dissent.
Whole religious and ethnic communities in Iraq: Kurds, Shiite, Marsh Arabs, Turkomans, Assyrians and others have been targeted for vicious treatment aimed at destroying any potential they might have to organize even the mildest, most peaceful opposition to the government.
The details of how the Iraqi government runs its terrorist state are chilling. Iraq has the largest number of recorded instances of government organized disappearances with thousands of perceived opponents of the regime simply vanishing into Iraq's extensive prison system or without any trace at all. Over 16,000 cases of political disappearances remain unresolved including thousands who vanished following Iraq's suppression of the Shiite uprisings in 1991.
Iraq's security services carry out extra-judicial executions in the most brutal of fashions, killing parents in front of their children, beheading suspects on the street and using methods to terrify the survivors, as well as murdering the innocent. Interrogations are based on brutal, degrading and barbaric tortures. Punishments are routinely inflicted on entire families or communities in response to the perceived transgression of a single person. Most infamously, Saddam Hussein has used chemical weapons to exterminate whole towns; to kill thousands of men, women and children.
Despite the obstacles his government has thrown up to thwart every kind of external investigation, the international community has established without a doubt the true attitude of Saddam Hussein's regime to the Iraqi people. Faced with documentation of its brutality, the Iraqi government responds with lies.
As Max van der Stoel, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in Iraq, explained to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1999:
|Nevertheless, I have continued to seek and receive information, and I have continued to report my findings. The Government has continued simply to deny everything or to offer limpid excuses even for its own laws which blatantly sanction arbitrary killing for anyone who insults the President or institutions of the regime, and laws which prescribe tortures for criminal acts like petty theft or evasion from military service. Increasingly, the Government of Iraq seems to find comfort in attacking my personal integrity—attacking the messenger since they are unable to refute the message. And all the while, there have continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights in Iraq.|
Perhaps the most succinct comment on the state of the rule of law in Iraq comes from Saddam himself, who has been quoted by a former senior nuclear weapons scientist as saying “Don't tell me about the law. The law is anything I write on a scrap of paper”.
Saddam Hussein has not been content to direct his violent will against only the helpless Iraqi people. He has also directed the states' resources, counted in human lives and oil wealth, against Iraq's neighbours. Scarcely two years after he consolidated his control of Iraq, Saddam Hussein unleashed an unprovoked war against Iran. His aim was both to bolster his claim to leadership of the Arab world and to grab vast chunks of Iranian territory. Within months his campaign had bogged down and the two countries settled into one of the longest wars of the 20th century.
At the end of the war, in 1988, at least 800,000 people were dead on both sides. Some of the Iranian side died as a result of chemical weapons attacks. Others were killed when the Iraqi government began to terrorize the civilian residents of Iranian cities with massive but dangerously inaccurate missiles.
Within two years of the end of that conflict, the regime in Iraq launched another military venture. In the summer of 1990, Saddam Hussein's forces overran Kuwait and annexed the sovereign state as a mere province of Iraq. The resulting showdown with the international community led to massive population movements and the deaths of thousands before Saddam Hussein was forced to withdraw his forces from Kuwait and abandon his territorial ambitions against the country, but not before he had attacked two more regional states, Saudi Arabia and Israel, again with missile attacks directed against civilian targets.
The disaffection provoked among Iraqis by Saddam's pointless war and defeat came close to resulting in the collapse of his regime but his government responded by putting down this insurrection with characteristic brutality.
Since the end of the gulf war we have seen further evidence of the Iraqi government's refusal to conform to even minimal standards of internationally acceptable behaviour. As Minister Graham and others have noted, the government of Saddam Hussein has deliberately resisted fulfilling its obligations to the United Nations Security Council, using every available subterfuge to conceal its efforts to build weapons of mass destruction. It has also allowed the humanitarian situation in Iraq to deteriorate and ignored the efforts of the international community to remedy the situation.
It has illegally exported billions of dollars worth of oil outside the oil for food program with the aim of directing these ill-gotten proceeds to banned military projects. Together with its appalling record on human rights, the Iraqi government's diplomatic and military behaviour demonstrates that it remains unrepentant and unreformed.
While Iraq remains recalcitrant, Canada's policy objectives remain clear and unchanged. We want to see Iraq comply with its obligations to the UN Security Council and the international community. Only in this manner can Iraq resume its place among the family of nations and can the Iraqi people look forward to a brighter future after so many years of suffering.
Mr. Peter Goldring (Edmonton Centre-East, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I want to refer to some of the comments my colleague made about disappearances, executions, beheadings and brutality. We could add to that, ignoring 15 United Nations resolutions and an entire litany of outrageous and criminal acts that have been committed.
What chance does he see for the latest rounds of inspections to be successful and have a conclusion, or should we face the inevitable that action after all will probably be necessary?
Hon. Gar Knutson: Mr. Speaker, I think the question basically is, why wait? Why not go now? Why give him one more chance? I think the answer is quite simply that we want to go to war as a last resort. If there is any hope, albeit a small one, that whatever forces are working in Iraq will force the president to comply, we have to give it a chance to work.
We will know soon enough whether the Iraqi regime is not acting in good faith. I think we should let the UN process take its course. We should let the inspectors go in and do their job. If it is reported that they are not being allowed to do their job we should then take the necessary action.
Mr. Janko Peric (Cambridge, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have documents here of a speech delivered on September 14, 2002, by U.S. representative Dennis Kucinich at the University of California, Berkeley. He said:
|Throughout 1989 and 1990, US companies, with the permission of the first Bush government, sent to the government of Saddam Hussein tons of mustard gas precursors, live cultures for bacteriological research, helped to build a chemical weapons factory, supplied West Nile virus, supplied fuel air explosive technology, computers for weapons technology, hydrogen cyanide precursors, computers for weapons research and development and vacuum pumps and bellows for nuclear weapons plants. “We have met the enemy,” said Walt Kelly's ‘Pogo’, “And he is us.” US.|
Could the hon. minister make comments about those quotes?
Hon. Gar Knutson: Mr. Speaker, I cannot make any direct comments on the quotes. I am not familiar with them. All I can say is that we have lots of evidence that the Iraqi regime is corrupt to the core. It is capable of the greatest brutality.
We have been given this one last opportunity hopefully to remedy it without going to war. Again, I think we have to let the process take its course.
Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, clearly it is great to hear the secretary of state today talk about some of the concerns that I think everyone has, especially as we discuss Iraq.
It is clear that Saddam Hussein is a bad man, and I do not think many people would disagree with that, but what I would like to hear from the government, especially the secretary of state responsible for that area, is what things he and the government have been doing to improve diplomatic relations in the area.
I understand there was a public service announcement today stating that he will be going on a junket next week to promote some economic ties in the region, but clearly there has been no leadership on this front when it comes to easing tensions in the area and trying to reduce potential spill-over if in fact we end up with military intervention on behalf of the allies in Iraq.
Maybe he could bring us up to speed. Hopefully the government is doing something useful when it comes to exerting some diplomatic pressures in the region.
Hon. Gar Knutson: Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, I do not go on junkets, I go on work missions.
In terms of the issue, I think Canadians can be quite proud of what their government has done on the issue. When it looked like the Americans were heading down a road toward unilateral action, which basically would have put a severe split into NATO between the Americans, the Europeans and the Canadians, the Prime Minister, among others, was able to convince the Americans that they should go to the UN and that we should use that process. I think that process is working. In terms of dealing with the Iraqis, we tell them at every opportunity that we are serious.
The main thing we have done is that we have supported the international community through the United Nations. It looks like the United Nations process is working. The United Nations may have to face some very difficult decisions in the coming months but I am optimistic that the UN will do its job and that we will get through this period with a stronger international community and a safer world.
Mr. Antoine Dubé (Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I rise to take part in this debate, first as a member of the sub-committee on human rights and international development, but also, obviously, as the member for Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.
I say this because I see my role as a member of parliament first and foremost as a representative, or reflection, if you will, of our population. And, despite the fact that the make-up of Lévis, located in the Quebec City region, is 98% francophone, the people there are very worried about this possible new war against Iraq. They are very concerned because they followed what happened during the gulf war in 1990 and 1991, and subsequently.
There were a number of troubling circumstances. Indeed, Canadian and Quebec soldiers returned from the gulf sick. Apparently, they were exposed to depleted uranium. As a result, they suffered from health problems and psychological after-effects. So much so that they were compensated by the government.
Obviously, we have to be concerned about what happened to the others, particularly the people of Iraq who, in addition to the hardships of the war, suffered through economic sanctions, bombings and more. We must not forget that hundreds of thousands of people died.
It must also be realized that the concerns are now diverging. At the time, hon. members will recall that the war against Iraq was in reaction to its invasion of Kuweit. Today, what we are talking about is a preventive attack against Iraq. Preventive, because the Americans and the Bush government claim to have proof that Iraq has instruments of mass destruction. They imply that it collaborated with the terrorist groups responsible for the events of September 11, 2001. In this connection at least, it must be admitted that no proof has been made public.
Now for the point I would like to raise. I was delighted that there was a debate on Iraq as soon as Parliament got back in session. Last night's debate was interesting and worthwhile, I would say. I heard the various parties' and members' points of view. In particular, I noted that the members across the way held differing views. Many had concerns along the same lines as those of us on this side.
At 10 p.m., however, I stepped out for a few minutes only to learn from the CBC French network's Téléjournal that the Prime Minister of Canada had just given his support to the American government's attempts to obtain a new security council resolution in order to have some manoeuvring room, to have the go-ahead to take action, to attack Saddam Hussein, a mandate to do what it wanted to do. Today, moreover, we learn that it has obtained the support of the U.S. Congress for taking unilateral action if it so desires.
Even in this context, at the very same time as we are holding this debate here in the House, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs telling us at the onset that “we need to know what members think; we want to know if you have any solutions, suggestions, activities, actions to be taken”, this very same evening the present Prime Minister of Canada is in New York getting an award. His support to the American government is nearly unconditional.
Of course, he pointed out today that this support did not mean that he condoned unilateral action. Still, he supported the idea of a new resolution by the security council, this a mere few hours after the coordinator for the inspectors who will travel to Iraq reached an agreement with Iraqi authorities allowing for unconditional access to the various sites that they may want to inspect.
Today, we saw the reaction of France, Russia and China. These countries are taking good note of this openness and this opportunity.
We are parliamentarians, and those who elected us are asking us to represent them. They want us to speak on their behalf but, considering his action, it looks as if the Prime Minister is saying “Parliamentarians may talk as much as they want to, I will do what I want and decide as I please on this issue”. Of course, under the Constitution, the Prime Minister is not required to hold a vote in Parliament.
It is rather odd that in the United States, President George Bush needs a resolution and a vote by Congress, that in France, they need a resolution and a vote by the national assembly, and that in England, Prime Minister Blair needs a vote from parliamentarians, but not here in Canada. The Prime Minister of Canada claims to be a protector of democracy. We often talk about protecting human rights, but here in Canada, this component of democracy, namely a vote and the opinion of parliamentarians, is ignored.
This evening, like yesterday, we are given an opportunity to speak and we will speak. It is interesting to hear parliamentarians from all sides of this House express their thoughts, share their concerns and make suggestions. But at the same time, I sense that there is contempt toward this institution, because Canada's parliamentarians cannot vote.
Under the circumstances, this is fairly strange. When the Liberals were in opposition, during the gulf war, the former House leader and the Prime Minister said that there should be a vote before deploying troops to Iraq. However, now that they are in power, nine years later, it is no longer necessary, it is no longer required. They have had a change of heart. Of course, it is a majority government; of course, there will be a vote in cabinet, but it is the Prime Minister who chooses his ministers.
We saw what happened with the former Minister of Finance. Those who express disagreement cease to be ministers. This is a fine lesson in democracy. It needs to be said, and that is why I am saying so.
I find such an attitude contemptible. Debate is permitted, but members are not given the right to vote on it. Again today, the leader of my party twice gave him the choice. He asked him “Will you allow a vote”? His reply today was not no, but not once did he answer yes.
We have got to be careful. When there was the offensive against Afghanistan, there was no vote. Yes, there was a debate; we were allowed to talk, and yes, the members will be able to talk tonight and in the coming days. However, what good is it if parliamentarians are told they can talk, but they cannot vote? How can we defend this among our constituents, when in the United States, England, France, Australia, and in most western countries, a vote is required, but not in Canada?
I will conclude with this, and perhaps also with one more comment. Yesterday, a member from the Canadian Alliance invited us to speak up. I invite the Liberal members, and members from all parties to speak up. Doing so means not automatically saying yes to the United States, but affirming what our constituents in our ridings are telling us.
Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this take note debate on the state of the world in Iraq.
Canadian policy on Iraq is motivated by our concern over three main issues: first, the humanitarian situation; second, Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction; and third, its failure to comply with the numerous resolutions adopted by the Security Council of the United Nations. All these factors constitute a threat to the stability of the region.
The series of events that have brought Iraqi non-compliance and Iraq's humanitarian crisis to the forefront of international concerns should also be seen in the historical context of the United Nations interventions and also its sanctions. Let us begin.
The invasion and illegal occupation of Kuwait by Iraqi forces on August 2, 1990 was swiftly condemned by the security council which demanded an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces. On August 6 the Security Council adopted resolution 661 under chapter 7 of the U.S. charter, which deals with actions with respect to threats to peace and acts of aggression, imposing comprehensive, mandatory sanctions on Iraq and creating a sanctions committee to monitor the implementation of these. Unfortunately, since the humanitarian emergency in Iraq was not addressed by the Security Council until April of 1991, this ban also included food imports.
Unfortunately various attempts to negotiate an Iraqi withdrawal failed and the Security Council adopted resolution 678, authorizing the use of “all necessary means” to liberate Kuwait and giving Iraq until January 15, 1991 to comply with UN demands. On January 16 the coalition partners, including Canada, launched a massive air and ground attack, effectively achieving the UN's objective of reversing Baghdad's aggression.
On April 3, 1991, the Security Council adopted resolution 687, establishing the terms of the ceasefire and conditions for lifting the sanctions. This extremely comprehensive resolution set out eight specific conditions for the lifting of the sanctions imposed previously, including: the monitoring and destruction of all chemical, biological and ballistic missile weapons; an acceptance of a permanent, ongoing monitoring program managed by the United Nations; the monitored elimination of nuclear weapons materials and capabilities to be conducted by the United Nations special commission; the return of Kuwaitis and others held in Iraq, the missing persons; a mechanism to compensate victims for damage done by Iraq; and a pledge not to commit or support any act of international terrorism.
Although the Iraqi government pledged to comply, its actions from the outset unfortunately demonstrated extreme reluctance to implement the stated terms, and thus began a protracted contest of wills between Saddam Hussein and the Security Council which still continues today.
A full accounting of Iraq's prohibited weapons remains outstanding. Iraq consistently denied access to UN monitors, interfered with inspections and provided false and misleading disclosures. Over the years the United Nations special commission nonetheless succeeded in locating and dismantling much of Iraq's weapons capability, but not without great difficulty and disruptions of its work.
The Security Council adopted a number of additional resolutions such as resolution 706 and 712, related to the creation and implementation of the oil for food program as a response to the alarming humanitarian crisis. This program was a serious attempt to address the needs of the Iraqi people but the humanitarian operation was again hindered by Iraq itself. For five years it refused to participate at all, and when it finally did, it never gave the program its full support and participation.
I believe it would be trite to say that Iraq is one of the most repressive governments in the world. This was a strong factor in rendering sanctions less effective. The comprehensive scope of the ceasefire resolution became a problem, for it mandated Iraqi compliance across a broad range of requirements, leaving little room for partial easing of sanctions pressure in response to progress.
Rather than complying fully and promptly with Security Council resolutions, Saddam Hussein delayed and then made concessions in an expectation that the council would reduce its requirements. When these concessions did not bring results, Iraq refused further compliance.
After considerable initial progress, the UN inspection and dismantlement effort was interrupted and its inspectors were withdrawn in 1998 as a result of Iraqi lack of cooperation. However biological weapons remained a threat. The end of the inspection program created a dilemma for the Security Council and further delayed a resolution of the crisis. An atmosphere of permanent distrust, obstructions and confrontations had followed the withdrawal of inspectors and made the search for solutions problematic.
Then in January of 1999, acting on a proposal from Canada, the Security Council established three expert panels to explore options for resolving weapons inspections, humanitarian needs and missing persons and property. Unfortunately, these never functioned.
In December of 1999 the council approved a new weapons inspection system under resolution 1284. The resolution also increased the authorized volume of Iraqi oil exports for humanitarian purchases. Unfortunately, Iraq has never allowed the new weapons inspection system inspectors to enter the country.
Four years have passed since the last UN inspections in Iraq. The United Nations weapons inspectors must be allowed back into Iraq immediately so that accurate information on Iraq's capacity to manufacture and deploy weapons of mass destruction can be obtained and any reconstituted Iraqi weapons programs dismantled. The United Nations, and specifically the Security Council, remain central to the international community's efforts to find a diplomatic solution. Iraq must not be allowed to defy the authority of the Security Council any longer.
It is the Security Council that is seized with the issue and Canada will continue to work to ensure that Iraq allows the UN's inspection team back into the country as soon as possible. It is imperative that inspectors be allowed full access to Iraq's installations and programs. The world needs to ascertain that Iraq, indeed, has nothing to hide. I would further submit that the credibility of the United Nations organization has never depended more on a collective resolve than it does today.
Defiance of Security Council resolutions by the Iraqi regime has gone on long enough and immediate and resolute action must be taken. The next step is for the council to obtain immediate and unconditional acceptance by Iraq of weapons inspectors and compliance with all provisions of council resolutions.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, has already noted the Security Council will have to face its responsibility should the threat caused by Iraq's defiance not subside. In such a case the Prime Minister and our Minister of Foreign Affairs have already stated the Security Council would have to consider appropriate measures.
In article 24 of the UN Charter the responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security is defined as a collective responsibility, discharged through the authority of the Security Council. This is what gives the decision to use force its legitimacy, but only when a collective decision has been made. When we decided to use force against Iraqi aggression in 1991, the international community sought the sanction of the Security Council. This was the proper way to proceed then and it is the proper way to proceed now.
In conclusion, I would respectfully submit that the international community must be united in its resolve to have Iraq abide by the decision of the Security Council. Such unity of purpose must express itself in a resolution of the Security Council.
Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I wish to commend my hon. colleague for her thoughtful and responsible intervention in this debate. She reflected the struggle and the conclusions that have been reached by people among our major allies that this is not a matter which can be delayed any longer. We can no longer allow the Iraqi regime to procrastinate in fulfilling its international obligations.
Her speech elevated the level of debate from some of what we heard last night which spent a lot more time criticizing the United States than Saddam Hussein's non-compliance with the United Nations Security Council's resolutions.
My question for her is this. Heaven forbid that the Iraqi regime once again fails to comply with the UN security resolutions, either the existing ones or potentially a new one which may be forthcoming with respect to weapons inspections. Would she be willing to advise the Minister of Foreign Affairs that there should be consequences for non-compliance? Does she agree that there must be some sort of consequences, some sort of serious action taken for non-compliance on the part of the Iraqi regime should that happen?
Ms. Sarmite Bulte: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from across the floor for his question.
We must remember one important thing. There is a process in place and we must follow that process. We should not conjecture what will be or what should not be. With respect to consequences, we have accepted the fact that there will be consequences. The Prime Minister has been quite clear about that. What is also important is whatever consequences there will be, will be the result of a collective decision and an act of multilateralism and not unilateralism.
Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, I too would like to commend my hon. colleague for her insights and the useful recitation of some of the facts leading up to the present as to what has transpired in Iraq and some of the history to put it in a context of what has taken place.
Part of the issue, and she touched on it in a telling fashion, is the fact that the information as to what weapons of mass destruction may exist within Iraq. The evidence still seems to be somewhat scant and even nebulous at times. There is a document of which the hon. member is aware called “Iraq's weapons of mass destruction” that was compiled by the British government. We know that the American forces have compiled some intelligence on this issue as well which is sometimes suspect for those who are questioning the American's true intent here.
I agree with my colleague from Calgary that much of the focus last night took us away from the actual debate as to what we must do collectively as peaceful nations and what our allies and all of those involved in the effort must do to quell this potential disunity.
I know there is incredible concern for the domino effect that this could have in further destabilizing what is happening in the Middle East.
I would like to ask the hon. member what type of further evidence she believes the United Nations, in particular, should be looking for and what credible means we have to attain that? Further, and I guess perhaps important and apropos for this debate, what role Canada can play either on the inspection side or in pursuing efforts to obtain the credible evidence that we need to support the UN, to support our allies in this effort to address this very troubling and destabilizing situation in Iraq?
Ms. Sarmite Bulte: Mr. Speaker, again I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his question. First and foremost, the document which my hon. colleague refers to is of course a British document. It was a 54 page document that Prime Minister Blair brought to his caucus and his government.
What do we want? We want the arms inspectors in there now, as soon as possible, unconditionally, without any reservations so we can determine whether or not there are weapons of mass destruction. That is the evidence we want. The arms inspectors should be let in and Canada will help by sending in their best inspectors. Let them go in now and do their work as soon as possible and perhaps give Iraq a chance to show that there is nothing for us to worry about. The evidence that we are looking for is absolutely clear. Is there or is there not evidence of mass destruction?
Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this debate, in particular in my capacity as spokesman for the official opposition on Canada-U.S. relations, which are much at play in the issue that the House considers this evening.
I rise today to urge the House and the government to support the strongest action possible in ensuring that Saddam Hussein's regime is fully disarmed of weapons of mass destruction and their components, and rendered incapable of threatening the region or supporting terrorism in the future.
Full disarmament is the goal we should be seeking as a country. Neither the official opposition nor the American or British governments are seeking war, contrary to some of the comments we heard in this place last night. Rather, we are seeking the dismantling of Saddam's deadly arsenal so that the world's most terrible leaders are no longer able to threaten us with the world's most terrible weapons. Disarmament, not war, is our goal and should be the goal of the civilized world.
Given what we know about Saddam Hussein and his past behaviour, we must be realists enough to recognize that, regrettably, military force may well ultimately be a necessary step to achieving disarmament. Inspections under an adequate mandate will not be sufficient to ensure full disarmament and full compliance with the 1991 ceasefire. The goal is not to have Hans Blix and his bureaucrats spend a few weeks in Baghdad hotels or to ensure that Russian and French egos are not bruised at the Security Council.
Rather, the goal, and about this we must be absolutely clear, is and should be to ensure that Saddam is never in a position to hold Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraqi Kurds or Shiites or for that matter American and Canadian citizens in Europe and North America through terrorist networks, or anybody else, hostage with the threat of weapons of mass destruction. Real disarmament, not a half-baked compromised inspection program, is and must be the goal of the government and the United Nations.
Some members of the House have asked, sometimes in a spirit of honest questioning and sometimes in a sophomoric reactionary anti-American spirit, “Why the focus on Saddam Hussein and Iraq?” They raise of course the fact that he is not the only brutal dictator afoot in the world today. North Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Libya and other countries have governments which routinely abuse human rights. Of course that is true.
Indeed all five permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with countries such as India and Pakistan, perhaps including North Korea and Iran, possess nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction or may be capable of acquiring them.
However, Saddam Hussein is unique in the world in running a brutal and dictatorial regime which either has or is actively pursuing weapons of mass destruction and has demonstrated the willingness to use them. Furthermore, Iraq is a known sponsor of global terrorism. It is subsidizing, as we speak, Palestinian suicide bombers who kill innocent Israeli civilians to the tune of $25,000 a piece. It has trained al-Qaeda operatives in manufacturing and using chemical weapons, not to mention the fact that the Czech intelligence service has demonstrated that Mohammed Atta, the ring leader of the September 11 attacks, met with a senior Iraqi official in Prague last year.
As long as the Iraqi regime persists with its weapons program, we do not know when one morning we may wake up to the reality of sarin gas in the New York subway, anthrax spores in postal stations somewhere in the western world, or indeed a dirty nuclear bomb being detonated in the streets of Tel Aviv.
After September 11 of last year, it is unconscionable to allow this threat to persist. Brutal regimes which not only possess or pursue weapons of mass destruction but have shown a willingness to consider their use cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged. This should be beyond debate. The only question, a question on which reasonable people can certainly disagree, should be how to pursue the end of disarming the dangerous and deadly Iraqi regime. There is room for disagreement about the details, for example, about the balance between the need for an effective, credible threat of force and the importance of a broad-based multilateral coalition, or about whether there should be one United Nations resolution or two.
For the most part, after some weak and wobbly talk in August and September of this year, what we have heard in the last 48 hours from the Prime Minister and the foreign and defence ministers has been a responsible engagement about how best to address the Iraqi threat.
Unfortunately there are still some in the Liberal Party who are not engaged in this kind of responsible debate but are engaged in irresponsible rhetoric that puts the President of the United States and Saddam Hussein on an equal moral footing. We heard this last night. The member for Brampton West--Mississauga quoted people from the fevered swamps of the far left in the United States such as Ramsey Clark and Robert Fisk.
Many speakers asserted that President Bush's concern about the regime in Baghdad, an issue he has raised repeatedly, starting with the state of the union speech in January, was simply about mid-term elections. The member for Scarborough--Agincourt compared the president's tactics to Saddam Hussein, saying:
|The United States is going into congressional and senate elections and needs an external evil to rally Republican voters to go to the polls...What irony. The same [method] is practised by Saddam Hussein...|
The member for Oakville, a committee chair, went one step further, comparing George Bush to the Nazi regime in Germany when she said:
|When we moved in World War II as Allies, we were moving against the idea of one nation aggressively invading and taking over another. This is exactly what George Bush is now proposing.|
Comparing the American willingness to lead an international coalition of democratic forces to enforce United Nations resolutions against one of the world's most brutal dictatorships to the aggression of Adolf Hitler, I submit, is totally irresponsible engagement in this debate.
She also ridiculed the intervention in Afghanistan when she cynically said:
|...it was supposed to be a war against terrorism, it turned out to be bombing Afghanistan and its innocent civilians. He was really after terrorists who were born in Saudi Arabia, but he would not think of bombing Saudi Arabia because that might destroy his cheap supply of oil.|
I find it hard to believe that anybody can think the world would be better off if the Taliban were still denying women the right to go to school and Osama bin Laden was still plotting terror attacks in the Afghan mountains. I suggest that this member has disgraced the Canadians who participated in the action in Afghanistan. This kind of anti-American hostility is irresponsible coming from members of a governing party of a NATO nation and a G-7 member.
Many members in this debate have suggested that there is no evidence of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. I do not know what evidence they need to persuade them apart from what has been presented in the public forum.
I have in my hands the dossier presented to the British parliament on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. It is the assessment of the British government compiled by the joint intelligence committee of the three intelligence branches of the United Kingdom government, of a labour government, a party historically hostile to the foreign policy of the United States. Their main conclusions are:
|Iraq has a usable chemical and biological weapons capability, in breach of UNSCR 687, which has included recent production of chemical and biological agents;|
|Saddam continues to attach great importance to the possession of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles which he regards as being the basis for Iraq's regional power. He is determined to retain these capabilities;|
|Iraq can deliver chemical and biological agents using an extensive range of artillery shells, free-fall bombs, sprayers and ballistic missiles;|
|Iraq continues to work on developing nuclear weapons, in breach of its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and in breach of UNSCR 687. Uranium has been sought from Africa that has no civil nuclear application in Iraq;|
|Iraq possesses extended-range versions of the SCUD ballistic missile in breach of UNSCR 687 which are capable of reaching Cyprus, Eastern Turkey, Tehran and Israel. It is also developing longer-range ballistic missiles;|
|Iraq's current military planning specifically envisages the use of chemical and biological weapons;|
|Iraq has learnt lessons from previous UN weapons inspections and is already taking steps to conceal and disperse sensitive equipment and documentation in advance of the return of inspectors.|
If the civilized world does not take firm action, preferably multilateral action, and the UN does not work, it fails the challenge and demonstrates that it has become another talking shop like the League of Nations, unwilling and incapable of challenging dictators of this nature, then we must join the growing number of allies in taking action lest this dangerous dictator possess weapons which can hold the free world hostage.
Let us not give Saddam Hussein the opportunity to develop a nuclear warhead that he can attach to a Scud missile and, for instance, make good on his word to destroy half of Israel, which he promised to do in 1991. I submit that we must be prepared to act in a multilateral fashion with our allies if and when necessary.
Ms. Aileen Carroll (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have listened carefully to the hon. member from across the House. I have one question for the member. Does his party or would his party support unilateral action on behalf of the United States with regard to Saddam Hussein?
Mr. Jason Kenney: Mr. Speaker, we no more support what she characterizes as unilateral action on the part of the United States than the government supported military action against Iraq for its non-compliance in 1998 without a specific authorizing UN resolution.
We maintain exactly the same position that the government maintained in 1998, which is that the terms of the ceasefire in 1991, and the many United Nations resolutions since then, authorized responsible members of the United Nations to take military action. That was the position of her government in 1998 and remains the position of the official opposition today.
Mr. Larry Bagnell (Yukon, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have a short non-partisan question just for clarification.
At the present time and with the present facts is there any difference between the Canadian Alliance position and the position of the United States?
Mr. Jason Kenney: Mr. Speaker, our position was arrived at independently, much like that of the Labour Party of the United Kingdom or the Liberal Party of Australia. I do not know if it is identical to that of the United States. I think it is probably different in some respects. We perhaps place more emphasis on necessity, on the desirability of achieving a resolution of the Security Council and multilateral action.
However, at the end of the day we agree with our responsible allies in the Labour Party of Britain, the Liberal Party of Australia and other democracies across the world, that responsible democracies must stand up for the integrity of international law if the United Nations system fails to do so itself.
Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, my colleague for Calgary Southeast was here last night when I asked the member for Oakville a question, which he referenced in his speech. I asked her a plain, simple question: Does she believe that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are evil, yes or no?
It was a simple question but an important question because every once in a while people do emerge on the international stage where it is crystal clear that we must rally around a moral principle. This has happened time and time again in world history.
The hon. member could not summon the will to say that Osama bin Laden was evil. In fact, she said that Osama bin Laden was a terrible inconvenience, was offensive to us on September 11, to paraphrase her quote. She said that he was offensive and inconvenienced us last year.
I wonder if my colleague could comment on the idea that a member of the Liberal Party cannot stand up and clearly say, with certainty, that Osama bin Laden is an evil person in the entire ethic of morality and foreign policy?
Mr. Jason Kenney: Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague makes an important point, that in dealing with matters such as this we must have moral clarity. We must not be blinded by the myth of moral equivalence. We must not see tyrants, like Saddam Hussein, as somehow equivalent to democratic leaders, like George Bush, or indeed violent terrorists like Osama bin Laden, in anything but the truest terms.
Yes, of course, the actions, the intentions and the philosophy of Osama bin Laden is a dark, evil, twisted misanthropy against humanity and western civilization in particular.
It is very important that the government understand the nature of that. I am not sure it does given the Prime Minister's remarks, which suggested that the terrorism on September 11 was somehow connected to socio-economic inequities in the world rather than categories of moral evil, which clearly were an inspiration in the acts of September 11.
Mr. John Harvard (Charleswood St. James—Assiniboia, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, after listening to the hon. member for Calgary Southeast, what bothers me is that he demonstrates absolutely no self-respect as a Canadian. I would think that the man from Calgary would stand up and exhibit some pride in Canada and instead of being a clone of Americans and a clone of their policy, that he would want some independent thought from Canadian policy-makers. No, just throw our lot in completely with the Americans.
I listened closely to the hon. gentleman from Calgary Southeast and not once did he ever mention the word consequence as the result of an invasion of Iraq.
Reasonable thinking people will conclude that there will be terrible consequences from a military action in Iraq but not once did that member mention the word consequence.
Mr. Jason Kenney: Mr. Speaker, I take exception to the hon. member questioning my pride as a Canadian. I have had ancestors fight for this country in every one of its armed conflicts since the American Revolution on the side of the Crown.
What I am most proud about this country is that when the time calls it is unafraid to step up to its responsibilities, as it has done every time in the last century. We may be called upon to do so again.
What I am least proud about in this government is its refusal to accept that proud tradition of willingness to stand with our democratic allies. There is no shame in doing that. There is no shame in standing with our friends in the United Kingdom and the United States for the principles that make this country great.
In terms of consequences, of course there will be consequences. Some of them tragic but many of them will be great if the people of Iraq are liberated from this dangerous dictator. The consequence, I submit, will be of stability and opportunity for a people who have too long been oppressed. The hon. member should consider that consequence.
Mr. Clifford Lincoln (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, no one would wish to make light of the unacceptable conditions now prevailing in Iraq under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. This is a secret and autocratic regime which is brutalizing its Kurdish minority and is responsible for multiple executions, a regime which refuses to observe international ethics and bow to the entirely legitimate resolutions of the United Nations.
It is clear that Iraq and Saddam Hussein must immediately comply with the recent UN directives that it allow not just the entry but the complete freedom of action of accredited UN inspectors to examine the Iraqi infrastructure of illegal chemical, nuclear and other weapons.
There was a consensus to this effect in the UN security council. It is certainly Canada's position. Where the consensus breaks down, however, is around the insistence of the United States, with the backing of Great Britain, to look for any excuse for a so-called pre-emptive strike against Iraq.
The constant and systematic statements by President Bush and his associates on the White House staff leave no doubt as to the president's fierce determination to wage war on Iraq at any cost. Yesterday, at a press conference, his press secretary, Ari Fleischer, even went so far as to publicly suggest that Saddam Hussein be assassinated. In any form it takes, he said.
Without in any way supporting what is going on in Iraq, if wars were necessary every time UN resolutions were ignored, whether in the Middle East or elsewhere, or every time human rights and freedoms were trampled by one dictatorial regime or another—President Mugabe's or someone else's—it would be necessary to wage war on many more countries than just Iraq.
If it were necessary to selectively assassinate every autocratic leader who did not suit us, we would be looking at much more than just one assassination.
The United States and its allies rightly call for Iraq to open itself without delay and, without excuses or subterfuge, to complete and total arms inspections.
At the most recent meeting in Vienna between Iraqi officials and the UN arms inspection team, the chief UN arms inspector, Dr. Hans Blix, advised that Iraq had accepted to permit inspectors into its territory within two weeks from now.
However, suspicions against Iraq run very deep within the free world, suspicions that Iraq will once again subvert the UN process and turn its back on the latest UN resolutions. Therefore the Security Council nations rightly insist on the strictest observance of the resolutions. They insist that Iraq should comply completely and let the UN establish the incontrovertible proof that it is not resorting to building an arsenal of mass destruction, this being the only condition for lifting the sanctions imposed on Iraq through Security Council resolution No. 687 of 1991 as well as subsequent Security Council resolution No. 1284. This position was made quite clear last night by our Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Now that the resolve of Security Council members, backed by a large body of free world opinion, including our country, is in place to force Iraq to comply with transparent inspections, surely the wise and only decision at this point is to let this first phase of the process prove or disprove itself.
To talk of pre-emptive or other types of military strikes at this stage is not only premature and ill-advised, but it is to ignore the tremendous calamity that war always visits on innocent people. War must be and always must be the very ultimate option when all possible means of diplomatic and other means of settlement have been exhausted.
I read Senator Kennedy's words in the current debate in the U.S. Senate. With courage, he spoke eloquently about the fact that war must be the ultimate resort and answer, that all possible means of settlement must be exhausted first. To speak in that fashion in the U.S. Senate in the climate of the U.S. administration today shows courage. I hope that senators on all sides of the political divide in the United States will echo his words.
I must admit very frankly that I find the triumvirate of President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld scary and frightening for world peace. They give the impression of a war happy trio, anxious to pull the trigger at all costs, looking for the excuse and the self-justification to let the B-52 bombers and the small bombs loose.
President Bush gives the impression of someone involved on a personal vendetta, on a crusade, determined no matter what the odds to complete the task left uncompleted by his presidential father. Somehow this has become a Bush fixation: Let us fire the torpedos and somehow the world will be a better and safer place, immediately Iraq is military defeated and Saddam Hussein disappears from the scene. It is the magic of war; it will solve all our world problems overnight.
The international community, including Canada, must resist at all costs going beyond the strict reach and resolutions of the Security Council and treat the Iraqi crisis with the firmest resolve, of course, but also with wisdom and caution.
Canada has an important role to play as a neighbour and closest historical ally of the United States. After all, we have shown decisive leadership on many key international issues where the United States has taken a completely different stand from our own. Let me mention in passing key international issues and agreements, such as the international criminal code, in which we led the way and where the United States has been looking for escape hatches; the anti-personnel landmine convention, again led by us and which the Americans refused to join; the biodiversity convention of the United Nations, again led by us at Rio and which the United States decided not to sign; and more recently the Kyoto protocol.
The evidence is increasingly present of a unilateral stance in the United States administration, which is to decide that what is good and safe and worthy for the United States is good and safe and worthy for the whole world, no matter what the judgment of the rest of the world may be. Perhaps this became evident when President Bush unilaterally withdrew from the anti-ballistic missile treaty or was the first important signatory to withdraw from and denounce the Kyoto protocol.
Lest I be misunderstood, I have nothing but revulsion for dictatorships and brutality, as practised by Saddam Hussein, or Mugabe or anybody else. I understand and sympathize deeply and warmly with the American people over the terrorist acts that claimed American lives so savagely last year. However despite all this, I remain convinced that war is an instrument of destruction and killing and that war causes untold savagery on innocent people with consequences that we cannot foresee in advance.
It was one thing to go to war to defend human liberties on a world scale when Hitler attacked or the Japanese attacked. However this is a far different question, where a small country can certainly listen and be told that it must comply with United Nations resolutions.
War in this case must definitely be an ultimate weapon and I hope that we will continue our resolve to persuade the United States and Great Britain to exercise the greatest caution and wisdom before using B-52 bombers and small bombs, which obviously will kill innocent people.
Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I am encouraged by the hon. member's comments. I think everyone in the House would agree that we want to try to avoid war at all costs. He has eloquently said that. He is also concerned, as many are, for the livelihoods of the Iraqis in Iraq.
Obviously, I can speak a little bit to that because my family escaped persecution from a radical regime in Uganda. My heart goes out to other countries in the world where people have to face that sort of persecution. We were lucky we could come to a country like Canada, which defends freedom around the world, at least in the past, and make our home here.
One thing was a little disturbing to me in recent comments by the government in trying to deal with this issue. We in the opposition have been calling for, as the government has, involvement of the UN and the arm's agents to go back into Iraq to do an unfettered job. Hopefully, they will be able to do so. We have not been calling for military action at all yet and we say that is a last resort as well.
Recently the defence minister, from what I understand, has said that Canada would be willing to deploy troops in military action into Iraq. We have to walk before we run. The government is getting ahead of itself, especially in trying to exercise diplomatic involvement in the region. Perhaps the member can explain how the government has moved to this complete opposite direction when before it had almost no position on the particular issue.
Mr. Clifford Lincoln: Mr. Speaker, it is quite clear that the position of the government is unequivocal. The Prime Minister has stated it time and again. The foreign affairs minister, who is obviously responsible for our external position in the United Nations and elsewhere, said last night and previously that Canada viewed the United Nations resolutions as sacrosanct. Iraq must comply. If it does not comply with the inspections or the inspections find it to be deficient in its compliance, then it will go back to the United Nations for further resolution.
This is the position of the government. It has been quite clear. The defence minister might have said that in theory if we were called to eventually use military force, then ultimately our forces would be there. However, I think this was very much a theoretical position.
The position of Canada is quite clear. We are not for war. We believe war is an ultimate resort. We want to exhaust all avenues at the United Nations over settlement with Iraq. The foreign affairs minister has said that he has rejoiced in his meeting with the Iraqi foreign minister recently that Iraq has accepted UN inspection teams on its soil and more recently that it will accept UN inspection within two weeks.
Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. member for his remarks. He always brings to this debate and to the House a great deal of experience and a great deal of perspective. I personally would feel very comfortable if he was in the position to be at the table in negotiations as serious as this. He has been commended by other members for his positions in the past. I believe he makes an enormous contribution.
My question is in reference to the issue of the compilation of the weapons, the fears that need to be allayed and the evidence that must be presented to address the issue of the amassing of weapons of mass destruction. We know, and there is evidence available, that suggests that the Iraqis have amassed al-Hussein missiles and that they have been in possession them for some time. Certainly there is reference to chemical, biological and nuclear weapons that have some capacity, perhaps a capacity to reach allies that are in closer proximity than any in North America. This concern has to be met by having some assurances that the information itself is accurate.
Could the hon. member bring any insight to that and whether there should be a time limit on this, and not a time limit that would be provocative?
Mr. Clifford Lincoln: Mr. Speaker, I believe the premises brought forward by my colleague are quite correct. There should be a thorough inspection. After all, the U.N. inspection team is composed of perhaps the foremost experts in arms inspection and weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons. The inspections should be thorough.
There should be a reasonable time line at which point the whole issue would be reported back to the United Nations Security Council for review. I really believe that there should be a firm inspection team and a deadline.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères—Les-Patriotes, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I will start by saying that I am not going to use the standard formula with which we generally start our speech, about being pleased to take part in this debate. I believe there is no more difficult prospect for a Parliament or a government than to be forced to envision the possibility of shedding the blood of its sons and daughters. It is not, therefore, a great pleasure for me to take part in this debate, but I am taking part in it because I feel the matter is one of critical importance.
Yesterday, I was greatly surprised at what was being said by the ministers of foreign affairs and defence. Their contributions to the debate seemed to be singularly out of line with the positions expressed by the great majority of the members of this Parliament, with the exception of course of the representatives of the official opposition. My impression, listening to the debates yesterday, was that the sound of marching boots was beginning to resound within these walls. I had the impression that we were slowly heading along the path toward war.
Let me make myself perfectly clear. I would like to state loud and clear right off that no lover of peace, democracy and the respect of human rights can feel an ounce of sympathy for the regime of Saddam Hussein. His is a regime that has never hesitated to eliminate or imprison its opponents, that has never hesitated to use chemical warfare against its own civilian populations, at Al-Basrah for instance. It is a government that has never hesitated to adopt a warlike stance with its neighbours.
I would also like to make it clear from the start that it would be a bad thing to adopt a position of facile, blind and complacent pacifism. We merely need to remember where this desire to achieve peace at any price took Europe after the Munich accords. I also want to emphasize the importance the Bloc Quebecois attaches to the special relationship between Canada and its powerful neighbour, the U.S. The U.S. is our main trading partner and our main ally. We have proven this friendship on numerous occasions in the past.
In the wake of the tragic events of September 11 last year, we did not hesitate to join the coalition, to send troops to Afghanistan, to risk the lives of our sons and daughters because we felt that that was the right thing to do. In this regard, it is appropriate to have some questions and to be concerned about how reciprocal this friendship with the Americans is when we see the completely unacceptable attitude of our powerful neighbours in something like the softwood lumber dispute, for instance.
That being said, I do not want anyone interpreting my point of view as being vilely and stupidly anti-American, to use the cheap rhetoric of our Alliance friends. It is not, and I say so loud and clear.
Yesterday, and again this evening, the debate here in the House, and I would say throughout the world, focussed on this fundamental question. Are there or are there not weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Is the Iraqi government stockpiling, producing and developing weapons of mass destruction? Obviously, opinions differ.
According to Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, there is a significant volume of weapons of mass destruction. According to Scott Ritter, who led the UN team of inspectors from 1991 to 1997, that is not the case. So, there are conflicting views.
Allow me to relate a story. An official from the Department of Foreign Affairs, who wishes to remain anonymous, made a comment to me. He said, “Listen, there is no better indicator of the presence in the region of so-called weapons of mass destruction than the reaction of the state of Israel to the presence of such weapons”.
When Israeli intelligence services, which, as we know, are the best in the world, concluded, based on their information, that there were weapons of mass destruction in Pakistan, Israel did not hesitate to unilaterally send bombers to destroy these facilities.
According to this spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the fact that Israel is not going after Iraq is a good indication that there are not, or at least not to the extent that some would have us believe, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Yesterday, some views were expressed regarding a kind of double standard among the international community regarding Iraq's attitude toward the resolutions passed by the community.
Some suggested that the international community should be as harsh and as strict in ensuring that other states, specifically Israel, comply with UN resolutions. It was pointed out repeatedly that Saddam Hussein and his regime are getting away with violating 16 UN resolutions. However, let us not forget that Israel is getting away with violating some 28 UN resolutions, but the U.S. government or the Canadian Alliance do not seem overly concerned about that.
I was told, “It is not appropriate to compare the two situations. It is not at all the same thing. Israel is one of our most precious allies—it is a democratic state”. Fine, but we have a duty to be even more demanding toward our friends when we feel that they are on the path to delinquency.
Perhaps it is true that it is not appropriate to draw a parallel between Israel and Iraq. However, Tony Blair himself, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, whom our Canadian Alliance friends have been quoting over the past two days, drew such a parallel between Israel and Iraq and said that the international community should ensure that UN resolutions are complied with in the whole region.
It is hardly surprising that the government of Iraq is suspicious about letting the United Nations inspectors back in. However, despite this suspicion, Iraq accepted to comply with the resolution that was passed by the security council. This is no small feat.
The debate that began yesterday and that continues today seems to take into account the fact that, yesterday, the United Nations and Iraqi authorities reached an agreement under which the government of Iraq authorized the presence of United Nations inspectors on its territory, apparently granting immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access.
We should not be surprised about this suspicion, since Scott Ritter, who led the inspectors, and Rolf Ekeus, who was also one of the inspectors' leaders, acknowledged openly that the UN inspection mission in Iraq had an espionage role.
It is hardly surprising then that the Iraqi authorities were concerned. Despite this, they agreed, which is quite something, and we need to take that into account.
In closing, as the hon. Herb Gray said during the debate on the gulf war in 1990, this House must hold a vote before any of our troops are deployed to fight on Iraqi soil.
Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his excellent speech.
The member made some very good points. One in particular that he spoke of is the attitude that exists around this issue around the world. He spoke of the need to stand with friends in times of trouble, but also to stand with friends in telling them when a mistake might be made. I totally agree with that sentiment. His insight is very important at this time. Although we need to be sure about the evidence, we need to be there, of course relying very much on the information that is available, but looking to the United Nations as a source of stability and a rock solid source of information.
My question for the hon. member relates specifically to the role that Canada can play. Where I think he was headed with his remarks is that Canada can be a more interventionist player in terms of mediation at the United Nations and in terms of influencing American policy toward their attitudes. They are living in a different atmosphere. We were affected by what happened on September 11, but clearly no country was affected to the extent that the United States was affected.
Does my friend believe that we could be more active in seeking out solutions with the Americans and at the table with the UN?
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough for his question. I believe that, in the very wording of his question, he has given the answer, or at least a pointer to the arguments I would now like to raise in response to his question.
Yes, I believe Canada can play a role as a mediator. It can be an impartial go-between. Let us bear in mind that, in the midst of the Gulf War, Canada was one of the few countries, if not the only one, involved in the coalition with which Iraq decided to maintain diplomatic relations. Canada is a valuable player, in the eyes of Iraq as much as of the U.S. or the U.K.
Consequently, I return to the motion adopted by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade two weeks ago. It read:
|That the Committee recommend to the Government that it examine any steps it might take in support of the Security Council, including offering our diplomatic services to the Secretary General--|
Canada can play a role in this conflict, through its influence on its powerful neighbour, the U.S. In my opinion, instead of committing ourselves to war without having exhausted all of our diplomatic efforts, we should indeed see what could be done on the diplomatic level, before even considering a solution that would involve the shedding of our sons' and daughters' blood.
Mr. James Rajotte (Edmonton Southwest, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned the fact that Israel has failed to comply with certain UN resolutions, which is true, but we should also note that the Palestinians have failed to comply with many of these resolutions as well. We should be fair and accurate on that.
I was a little concerned about his equation and his comparison of the democratic state of Israel with the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. I would ask him to clarify whether he is drawing equity or making a moral equivalence between those two regimes. I was in Israel this year for the first time and I was certainly impressed by the type of democratic society Israel has.
Finally, if Saddam Hussein is developing or has developed weapons of mass destruction, or if it can be proven that he is on the path to developing them, what should Canada's response be at that time?
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I do not know whether he was in the House when I began my speech. I said clearly and unequivocally that we cannot have any sympathy at all for the criminal regime of Saddam Hussein, and that no comparison can be made between Saddam Hussein's regime and the Israeli democratic system.
This being said, it must be recognized that the state of Israel is illegally occupying foreign territories. The situation that prevails in the occupied territories is not compatible with a democratic state, and that is not acceptable.
As to what should be Canada's reaction—and I will conclude with this—if it was proven beyond any reasonable doubt that weapons of mass destruction are being produced and stored in Iraq and that this country refused to comply with the UN resolutions, then, and only then should military action be considered. However, the whole process should be conducted under the aegis of the United Nations, following a vote in the House.
Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I was not planning to speak in this debate but I was inspired to speak tonight by the statement made late last evening by the member for Cumberland--Colchester, a member incidentally not of my own party. He said anytime we talk about taking an action that will result in somebody's death, we need to have a sober second thought. I wanted to comment on that perspective.
A few years ago Shimon Peres, the current foreign affairs minister for the Israeli government, former prime minister of Israel and former minister of national defence, spoke at the Canada-Israel committee dinner and I will badly massacre the words of a very eloquent spokesperson. In essence he said that for generations we have sent our children, our young men and women off to war to die. “I have done it,” he said, “and we have to stop doing it”.
War has changed. It has become sanitized and remote. We can launch bombs from thousands of miles away by the press of a button on a helicopter. We never have to face the reality of the pictures we saw of the second world war and of what it means to be involved in hostilities.
I went back and reviewed what I said in January 1991 when our country had just joined the United States and others in Iraq in desert storm. I want to quote part of what I said:
|Does the 24-hour TV docudrama we have witnessed...show us any of this reality? Have we seen one dead child? Have we seen one drop of blood? Do we know how many people have died? Have we been allowed to see the reality of this war? No.|
|What we have seen is sanitized science fiction, Star Trek with bright lights flashing off into the universe. The Enterprise goes off into the darkness, sparkling explosions filling the sky...but obscuring the reality of thousands of living beings, breathing in a living city. People quiver in fear.|
As we deliberate what Canada's role should be in dealing with the situation in Iraq, we have to remember the consequences. As war has changed, the victims of war have also changed. It used to be that 90% of the casualties of war were people in the military on both sides. That has changed dramatically. The casualties of war now are 90% civilians, 80% of whom are women and children. As we talk objectively and rationally here in this chamber let us remember that dead women and children are the potential consequences of our actions.
I cannot help but be concerned about what a terrible precedent we set if we buy into the argument that it is alright for one government to decide to take out the government of another sovereign country, no matter how terrible that government may be. What is the next government a country in this world may not like and may decide to take out? To talk about essentially assassinating the leader of another country no matter how evil we consider him, no matter what destruction we feel he may rain, can we really accept that as a reasonable, rational reaction in a supposedly civilized world by supposedly civilized countries and leaders of democratic states? I do not think so.
We cannot afford to buy into that argument and legitimize the right of a nation in this world no matter how close an ally, no matter how close a friend, no matter how important a trading partner, to say, “I and I alone will decide that a government does not deserve to continue in existence”.
I want to refer to something else I said because here we are 11 years later dealing with the same situation. We are dealing with the fact that there is a country which we believe has weapons of mass destruction, biological, chemical and nuclear, capable of wreaking terrible damage on other people in other countries. In 11 years we still have not addressed where those weapons came from.
Where did Iraq get them from? How did it manage to build these stockpiles? We know the Soviet Union, the U.S.S.R. at the time, was regretting that missiles made in the U.S.S.R. were being used against Israel in the course of the gulf war.
As I said at the time, what is the country of origin of the droplets of nerve gas that may strangle the children? What is the country of origin of the biological warfare that may be unleashed on allied forces and innocent civilians? Who are the nations that have armed the madmen of the world? Who are the governments that have based their economies on weapons and technologies of destruction and death, where every year their economies prosper on a new toy of war and markets have to be found for last year's model? Who are the merchants of death who do not care where their products end up as long as their dividends are up?
We are facing the same situation we faced 11 years ago because we still have not dealt with the answers to those questions. Saddam Hussein is supplied by countries outside, by countries we call civilized, with the components of what now is such a threat to all of us.
There is a lot of discussion about what are the real motives. I believe Canada has a very important role to play. We are not seen as having motives of dominance or control or wanting to secure our own supply of energy or wanting to complete a task started 11 years ago and not completed at the time. We have a role to stand apart to assist to the ultimate to seek other solutions. Our role is to do our best through the United Nations, through inspections to ensure that if it is the weapons of mass destruction we are concerned about that they are rooted out and destroyed. We must ensure that that is our objective, not the destruction of a particularly heinous leader, or a state or a government and not the securing of our own selfish interests or those of our allies.
I have talked about the perils of war and about considering the huge consequences of the kinds of decisions we make about the terrible things that will happen to other people while sitting here in nice comfortable surroundings. Yet in the last half of the 1930s we also learned the perils of sitting back and doing nothing as evil and the threat to democracy and the threat to human life around the globe grew to the point where it dominated the world for six years. We have to balance that. We have to consider the consequences of inaction as well.
However, let us not just take action without considering the very real consequences for tens of thousands of people of the actions we take. Also let us examine our own motives.
Let us examine if we are prepared to take the same action against every country in the world that is amassing weapons of mass destruction. Think where that would take us before we decide where we are going on this.
Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question of my colleague across the way. I appreciated her passionate, heartfelt speech this evening. It is one of the first lengthy speeches I have heard her give although I know she has an important role in a different capacity.
I would like to ask the hon. member this. If Saddam Hussein has amassed weapons of mass destruction and this is proven to be the case, would she agree that there could in fact then be a loss of life in neighbouring countries, those within that circle around Iraq, or a loss of life abroad through biological and nuclear warfare? I think the member alluded to it. In fact maybe there is considerable loss of life continuing to go on in that country, as it has in the past with respect to the Kurds in the north or the liquidating of his own family members, those kinds of things, and the continued suffering and loss of life of people in that country. I would like a response in terms of loss of life on the other side of the equation, as alluded to by the member.
Ms. Marlene Catterall: Mr. Speaker, well over a decade ago a wonderful woman named Helen Caldicott made a video about nuclear weapons in which she pointed out that there already exist enough weapons in the world to destroy the entire globe 14 times over. Iraq is not the only country that has weapons of mass destruction. Virtually any country of any wealth is capable of wreaking what the member referred to and of destroying life in countries surrounding it.
I think we have to ask how far we are going to carry this. Are we going to take action to make sure the Americans get rid of their nuclear weapons, that China does, that India does, that Pakistan does? If not, why not? Why Iraq?
Mr. Maurice Vellacott: Because it has crazy people in charge.
Ms. Marlene Catterall: Yes, and we also have other countries that abuse human rights or massacre their own citizens.
Saddam Hussein has used these weapons against his own people. We all know that. My objective here is, and I think our objective as a globe should be, that we are getting rid of those weapons of mass destruction if and where they exist in that country. That is our objective.
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member on her eloquent speech. She is very convincing, and speaks with conviction when it comes to the importance of peace and respecting human life. The member for Ottawa West—Nepean has once again demonstrated that ultimately—for reasons that are beyond me—women seem to be more sensitive to the importance of peace and the negative impact of war. Indeed, she spoke specifically about the loss of human life, of women and children. This is the fundamental criterion that we must consider.
I would like to ask her if she is of mind that the American support for a new UN resolution is a way of feeding the conflict, rather than simply allowing the inspectors to do their work, as is the case with the agreement that currently exists between Iraq and the United Nations? Could we not circumvent the American hawkish approach by allowing the inspectors to play out their role, so that we can see if Iraq will in fact allow them to do their job? If, in the end, things turn out badly, then we will cross that bridge when we get there. Do we not hurt the chances of achieving peace by having a new resolution passed before the inspectors have carried out their work?
Ms. Marlene Catterall: Mr. Speaker, because of the issues raised by the hon. member, I commented on the two reasons that seem to be motivating the United States. There is a conflict between these two reasons, if you will, but they are quite clear to me.
How can it be determined whether or not there are weapons? How can these weapons be destroyed? That should be the purpose of our participation. I thank the hon. member for his question.
Mrs. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask our hon. colleague where this government was when Saddam's own people were quivering in fear as they were being bombarded with gas by their own head of state, when children were killed as they were playing. Where was the government when Saddam attempted an assassination on the former president of the United States? Why is it only now, when we are dealing with the amassing of weapons of mass destruction, that we are even talking about the atrocities of Saddam? Why is it only now?
Now we are looking at the tables in reverse. We are sympathizing with Saddam instead of looking at--
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): Order, please. Please address your comments to the Chair. The hon. member for Ottawa West--Nepean on a very brief answer.
Ms. Marlene Catterall: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite may be sympathizing with Saddam. I do not think there is anybody on this side of the House who is doing so. I am not sure where she could possibly have come up with that impression.
Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today in the House to debate a very serious issue, one that I think is causing a lot of tension among members. Clearly any sort of aggression in any other country or getting involved in any action using military forces, even though we have not yet discussed that at this point in the discussion, does create some sense of unease among all of us.
Before I begin my speech, I have to take note of what was said by the hon. member who just spoke. It seems to me that she was missing a very valuable point in this whole debate. We are very fortunate in Canada because we do not have to deal with the pressure of having bombs blowing up around us. We live in relative peace and harmony. I can only speak from my family's experience coming here as refugees almost 30 years ago, when we fled an oppressive regime that quite frankly would have killed us if we had not left. Unfortunately, many people did die in the exodus from Uganda. We were very fortunate to come to a country such as Canada. Here I am 30 years later in Parliament, able to discuss what sort of action we should be taking in other countries to stop similar dictators.
The point I want to make for the hon. member is that Idi Amin, the dictator that our family was forced to flee in Uganda, did not pose a world threat. He did not pose a threat to his neighbours. Actually he was kept in check in Uganda. He was quite crazy and was taken care of in that country. The fact is that Saddam Hussein poses a world threat, a threat to people in the region and a threat to other democracies around the world. He may even possess, and actually the proof is there, the type of military equipment to be able to do so.
This is the point we have to start bringing back to this debate, this fact that we are justifying some future attempt. Hopefully we will not even have military action, but in the event that it happens the reason why there is some moral justification here is the fact Saddam Hussein has gone well beyond the bounds, not only treating his own people with huge human rights abuses but posing that same threat around the world. This is why countries like ours should take an interest in what is happening. I wish the government would have taken more of an interest in what is happening. Maybe we could have influenced the process of what was happening in the Middle East. I will get to that during my speech.
I want to start by saying for the people at home who are watching this debate and wondering where everyone is coming from that we need to summarize the context. Where exactly are we going with what sort of action we may take here in Canada or what sort of support we may give our allies? I would hazard a guess that we are debating if Canada should “pledge support to the developing coalition of nations, including Britain, Australia and the United States, determined to send a clear signal to Saddam Hussein that failure to comply with an unconditional program of inspection, as spelled out in either new or existing UN resolutions”, could “justify action to ensure the safety...of people in the region from Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction”, that we would take action in order to protect those people, but even, as I attempted to begin by saying, other areas where this radical dictator may attack next.
It is interesting that as we have been watching the debate unfold, especially on the government side, in my opinion there was no clear direction or focus for what the government's position would be other than supporting the UN in its work in sending arms and weapons inspectors into Iraq. This is something that I think almost all sides of the House tend to agree on.
Recently, though, we have heard even stronger comments coming from the government because, I would hazard a guess, the official opposition has never been shy to make its position clear and quite frankly the government tends to listen to us first before it starts to make any sort of proactive attempt on any policy, now including foreign affairs. I say that because one of the journalists I spoke to today told me that it is interesting that I would tell him what my position is, that clearly there is no difference now between the opposition and the government. I told him there is a big difference: It is called leadership. The current government has shown no leadership when it comes to trying to put something into place, especially when it comes to the influence of diplomatic relations in a wartorn region. The government has been absent.
Rather than hiding behind the UN, we could have led the process. We have the capability and we were respected around the world at one point for doing so. The government has done nothing proactive in that area and now the government is going even further than the official opposition.
I was shocked to hear, from a government that has had no position on how it would handle this, the defence minister saying yesterday that Canada could expect to provide military support to some of our allies if it comes to that. We have to walk before we can run.
I was shocked again at the flip-flop of the government. There was no clear, decisive direction. All of a sudden it is coming from all different directions, now saying that we may even consider going with military action with our allies, or at least that we have the capability to do so, as the defence minister said. We would like to see proof of that because that was one of the concerns in the official opposition.
Can we take any military action against Iraq? The way the government has treated the armed forces in the country and the way it has stretched the budgets and resources, we in the official opposition question what sort of commitment, other than a moral commitment to our allies, we could give. We would not want to send our military troops into a situation that would put their lives at risk, as the government has been prepared to do in the past. We hope that the minister will clarify his statements and say exactly what the position of the government is on this and what sort of military commitment he is talking about, because this was quite a shock to most of us in the opposition.
I would like to talk specifically about any action that the government could take over the next little while when it comes to supporting diplomatic efforts. However before that, we need to back up and put one thing into perspective.
I have been talking to a number of groups as the critic for Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East. One of the groups that is taking a huge interest in what is happening here tonight and in the future is the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations. It sent me a report with its concerns. It agrees that the regime of Saddam Hussein is a corrupt one which abuses human rights and that something needs to be done.
Its focus is more on diplomatic pressure. I wish the government would step up to the plate to provide that sort of leadership. One of the things the council brought to our attention, which we must consider no matter what one's opinion is as we continue to move forward on this debate, is about the regional instability. This is why Canada has a role to play. The concern of the council was that an attack on Iraq would increase popular opposition in Arab countries toward governments that are complicit with the United States. This would cause political instability for some of our strongest Arab allies, including Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Political instability in these countries could quickly escalate into regional crisis.
“Just open a map,” said a member of the Kuwaiti royal family in close consultation with Washington. “Afghanistan is in turmoil, the Middle East is in flames, and you want to open a third front in the region? That would truly turn into a war of civilizations”.
Ultimately we may still be facing a case of war in that particular country, but the reason I bring up that quote is because I would like to move into an area I spoke about earlier, the fact that the government has shown no leadership when it comes to diplomatic pressures in this particular region and how we should be focusing in on that particular area before even the Minister of Defence starts wading into any military action.
When we look at the past regarding Canada's role, we were respected in the international community for many years for our role in peacekeeping, mediating, and in trying to bring people to the table who had never spoken to each other, or influencing radical dictators and people around them to basically put things into perspective and hopefully showing the example of Canada to the world as how many diverse cultures can live together. This is an area where we unfortunately have fallen behind the eight ball when it comes to leadership around the world.
I touched upon the fact that even our peacekeepers, our armed forces, have not been equipped to do their jobs effectively around the world. The government does not seem to show the leadership outside the UN. Even our influence in the UN is somewhat limited. We have not been brokers anywhere around the world any longer. We have joined various groups in the past but we have not led in any type of initiative.
The Aga Khan recently visited Canada. The Aga Khan is the spiritual leader for the Ismaili Muslims and a world leader when it comes to bringing stability and a lot of goodwill around the world. He spoke about Canada's traditional role in peacekeeping, but also exporting something we have done so well, and that is creating one of the most successful pluralistic societies around the world. We can do that because we respect diversity. We respect differences and we build on those strengths. This is something, if we learn to export, the government could show some leadership and move this forward.
On the diplomatic front, before we even get to any military action, I ask the government and I challenge the Secretary of State for Central and Eastern Europe and Middle East, other than going on a junket next week to promote trade, to promote some of these ideas to promote peace. Members will find that the government has failed miserably.
Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I am always interested in hearing this thoughtful young man's speech. He obviously had life experiences that have given him a great deal of insight into the topic we are dealing with here tonight. In his past life in Uganda he must have felt very frustrated with a leader who was so brutal.
Different adjectives have been used to describe Saddam Hussein. It is evident that he too is a bad man, much beyond the fact that he has caused us some inconvenience as was mentioned by one of the Liberal members last night.
I have heard it mentioned that even members of his own family left the country. A couple of Saddam Hussein's daughters left with their husbands and children. Saddam Hussein wanted them back. He said he missed his grandchildren. He said to come back and all would be forgiven. Within a couple of days he had the fathers of his grandchildren executed. That is the kind of man we are dealing with.
How does one turn events such as these around without immobilizing the person and replacing the head of that government?
Mr. Rahim Jaffer: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his thoughtful question.
I know it is difficult to share some of the experiences that people go through on a daily basis in some of these corrupt regimes that are willing to impose personal harm on their own people. This astounds me. I can speak to my family's experience, not completely and directly from my own experience as I was young when we left.
My family's experience was that they lost everything through the process of coming to Canada. The only saving grace was that we came to a country that welcomed us with open arms and gave us an opportunity to make a new start. Everything was lost in Uganda. I have been back to Uganda and everything has been devastated. The country has never recuperated from the constant civil war.
There needs to be a proactive approach. This is what my colleague was driving at. We cannot idly sit by, especially in the case of Iraq, where one has constant human rights violations.
I will reiterate the point I made when I began my speech. Someone who is not only inflicting harm on their own, but is willing to inflict harm on others within the region of the Middle East and even potentially here on our own continent is a threat we must take seriously and that is something that needs particular action.
Mr. Larry Bagnell (Yukon, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I enjoy hearing the comments of the two Alliance members debating among themselves on this point. This illustrates the point I will make on consistency. The member did suggest that there was inconsistency in the Liberal position.
If the member had been here during the last two nights for the whole time he would have seen, as I have seen, that we have been entirely consistent. Members of the Liberal Party and many members of his party have insisted that there must be peace. They have said that everything we do should be through peaceful means and then we will work multilaterally.
We want to work through international law. We have not precluded military action. Many members on this side have said this time and time again. However, the debate seems to be on the hon. member's side. He began asking why we were suggesting military action, when member after member of the official opposition demanded to know from members of all the other parties throughout this debate whether they would take military action?
Inconsistency is not on this side of the House.
Mr. Rahim Jaffer: Mr. Speaker, I will attempt to do my best to answer the question. I am not clear what the member was asking.
Following the debate as I have and as many Canadians have over last night and tonight, we are concerned about what is happening in Iraq and we want to resolve the problem.
I will take the opportunity, if the member says the debate is going over well on the other side, to ask where the leadership was? The government does nothing but portray anyone who says we need to support our allies or even work with countries such as the United States as being pro-American.
If anything, the government has shown poor anti-American sentiments. If it were proactive, I would argue, it would have had a more positive effect on foreign policy in the United States than any other country because of our proximity and relation to the United States.
It is because the government has been so absent on foreign affairs relations, and especially its relations with the United States, that now maybe if the member has something to complain about he should be pointing the finger at himself.
Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for this opportunity to engage in this important debate.
It seems to me that the starting point of any debate should be, what is the available evidence and does that evidence disclose a threat to our own peace and security? If the evidence discloses that there is no appreciable threat to our peace and security, then why would we engage in hostilities? If, however, the evidence does disclose a risk, we may or may not wish to enter into hostilities based upon the analysis of the evidence of the risk.
I made a point of reading Prime Minister Blair's document. It is well argued and an intelligent and cogent document, but I must admit that it was somewhat muddy. The material in it was open to all kinds of interpretations, not necessarily the interpretation that the Prime Minister would like to put upon it.
That is, I am afraid, what we are dealing with in the public domain. Namely, we are left with speculation, hearsay, gossip and conjecture which, frankly, no rational jurist would admit, let alone consider as evidence in any kind of low level criminal case. There is an enormous difference between what we would consider to be evidence and what is intelligence.
Not only was the material put forward somewhat dubious--I want to correct myself in that I do not want to criticize Prime Minister Blair's material as dubious--but the media material was somewhat dubious. Our difficulty is that virtually none of our intelligence is self-generated. Regrettably, we end up relying on Americans and sometimes the British for our information. While they are fine people and helpful to us, I would be somewhat skeptical, however, that it does not go through an American or British filter. That filter may or may not coincide with our own.
The first point I want to make is that intelligence is not evidence. Evidence, such as it is, is not independently verifiable and that is the nature of the beast. It is source driven and somewhat filtered by those who create it. Necessarily, in the public domain the evidence is somewhat limited. Based upon the foregoing, we are then invited to go to war by the Bush administration.
There is not a person in the House of Commons who has any serious understanding of the intelligence or evidence, as one may call it, other than those like myself who have read it second or third hand in the media fed by certain sources. It does not sound like an overly rational reason for going to engage in hostilities.
My second point concerns the war on terrorism or the so-called war on terrorism. It appears to have no limits. Even allowing that the western world and the U.S. in particular had every right to strike back at al-Qaeda, surely Canadians have the right to know why the original war on terrorism must now spread to Iraq. The results to date have been somewhat less than outstanding.
So far only about 8 out of the 25 al-Qaeda people have been captured or killed. There is no evidence or intelligence that either bin Laden or Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri has either been killed or captured. In fact there is some evidence that al-Zawahiri was allowed to escape through either the bungling or corruption of our Afghani surrogates. There is no evidence that they are hiding out in Iraq. Rather, the evidence points to Pakistan and Indonesia and some lawless points between Iran and Afghanistan.
Not having done the job in Afghanistan, President Bush wants to further destabilize the region by chasing down weapons of mass destruction in another country while leaving conditions for breeding terror untouched in Afghanistan. We appear to be awfully good at bombing people from five miles up, but not really interested in doing the heavy lifting required to take Afghanistan out of the Dark Ages and point it toward democracy and the rule of law. It would be interesting to compare the costs of waging war with the costs of waging peace.
Every time we in the west invade a country we get sucked into the rhetoric of free the peace loving people of Afghanistan, of Iraq or whatever. Five years later we are still not out of Bosnia or Kosovo. It is utter hypocritical nonsense. We spend billions making war in Afghanistan and spend virtually nothing on what is needed to get Afghanistan going in the direction of peace, stability and prosperity.
Point number two is that not having done the job in Afghanistan we now propose invading another country while convincing ourselves of our own generosity.
The third point is that invading Iraq is counterproductive to the so-called war on terrorism. Going around the region making enemies of those very countries that we may need as allies in order to prosecute the war against al-Qaeda and terrorist entities is just plain dumb.
So far Pakistan has been an ally. That is based, frankly, on a number of huge incentives to Musharraf and his government. There has been some cooperation, but invading Iraq will be likely seen as an attack on Islam. Hussein will play that card for all it is worth and Musharraf will have to deal with an enormous constituency which sympathizes with the al-Qaeda and which will inevitably put pressure on him.
Never mind that this group confuses Islam and Islamism, a particularly nasty and fascist form of Islam, what truly is worrisome is that while the U.S. is on its little venture in Iraq, Pakistan could be destabilized and the al-Qaeda, or versions thereof, could actually seize weapons of mass destruction. Never mind the pathetic efforts of Mr. Hussein to try to manufacture weapons of mass destruction, as set out in Mr. Blair's report, rather, we should be really worried that there is access to a country that actually has built and can deliver weapons of mass destruction.
It is frequently said that the U.S. is the only remaining superpower. However even the only remaining superpower cannot bomb everyone and everything.
Saddam is crazy but removing him from power only opens up all kinds of other problems. The Kurds will feel more aggressive against Turkey and Iran. The Shiite Muslims in the south of Iraq will want to assert themselves against the Sunni majority. The House of Saud, another nasty and corrupt regime, will have certain elements of its society emboldened. Iran may see this incursion as an opportunity to join forces with its Shia brethren.
Even the world's only remaining superpower does not have the resources to cope with all the forces that would be unleashed by a successful invasion, a successful regime change and a successful winding up of weapons of mass destruction. Success will be very difficult to measure and will be a long time coming, even if it is a short war.
As the Chinese proverb goes, “Be careful for what you wish for because you might get it”.
In some ways the worst thing that could happen is a successful invasion. Not only do we unleash the unknown but we also create an environment for some ironical results, such as creation of new al-Qaeda cells in areas in which we cannot pay attention.
Finally, I want to comment upon the back and forth of UN resolutions. This strikes me as a giant smokescreen. It is good that the U.S. seeks a multilateral UN-driven approach. I would like to think that Canada had something to do with that. However let us be candid here. Hussein has no interest in UN resolutions and will only agree or disagree as it suits him.
Similarly, the U.S. has very little interest in UN resolutions and if Iraq shows any willingness to comply then the U.S. will simply up the ante.
The U.S. wants a regime change, pure and simple, and it wants it by any means. Apparently it is not overly fussy about what means it might use. It leaves countries like Canada in a strange and difficult position. I hope the U.S. will reconsider its recent comments about assassination as a means of regime change.
Iraq has been an unstable, complex country for a long time. The evidence does not support an invasion, the consequences, both short and long term, are unknowable and the results may actually expand the war on terrorism rather than narrow it.
It is always a good idea in sports to keep one's eye on the ball; the same is true in war.
The issue is terrorism and its ability to project itself into the west. Canada should not participate even if the U.S. tortures the United Nations into sanctioning an invasion.
Mr. Leon Benoit (Lakeland, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. member's presentation and found it to be actually quite shocking.
First, he refuses to acknowledge that weapons of mass destruction in fact are being produced in Iraq. He said that the intelligence produced was not evidence. He is a lawyer so I forgive him for his thinking.
What evidence are we waiting for? The only real evidence, if inspectors are not allowed in, would be the use of one of these weapons of mass destruction against either Hussein's own people, a neighbouring country or us. That is the only real evidence if the hon. member wants to wait until evidence is produced.
The intelligence from the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom has indicated that weapons of mass destruction are there and that Hussein is actively trying to increase that stockpile. The member said, yes, but that intelligence is filtered through the government's eye.
What about the CSIS document that was put out in January or February which stated that Saddam Hussein was actively trying to produce an atomic weapon and to deliver that atomic weapon?
Mr. John McKay: Mr. Speaker, I am charmed by the hon. member's blind faith in intelligence. In talking to those who actually produce intelligence documents and reading material that is intelligence documents, much of which is frequently taken off the Internet, there is a lot less veracity to it than meets the eye. My point in raising it was that what is in the public domain is not evidence that would convict someone of a petty theft. It is something well below that. Having said that, it does not mean that the material that is generated is not useful intelligence.
The point I want to make with the hon. member is that he needs to look at the Blair document, the CSIS document and the material in the public domain with a very skeptical eye because the consequence is that we end up going to war on the basis of sometimes dubious material.
Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I have a question of a rather different sort.
I know that in the last number of weeks various individuals in positions of influence and power in our country have indicated that terrorism around the world has been created or caused by western wealth. Would the hon. member opposite be of the view that western wealth is to blame for Saddam Hussein's illegal weapons program?
Mr. John McKay: Mr. Speaker, I do not think we can make a connection between this dot and that dot and then get all the way out to that dot. However, there are conditions.
There is a growing discrepancy between the wealth in the west and various other areas of the world. It creates conditions in and of themselves which lead to irrational actions and to conditions where people will respond to irrational rhetoric.
The distinction I made was between Islam and Islamism. Islam is a fine religion that has been around for many years but when conditions are left to fester and fester then there is an appeal to Islamism among people which is just not warranted.
As I said, I do not think I can connect all those dots but, at the same time, I do not think that we in the west should be contributing to the creation of conditions of great difficulty for many people.
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to take part in the debate on the following motion:
|That this House take note of the international situation concerning Iraq.|
Indeed, this is an important and tragic situation in which Canada must play its role as well as possible. Let us first try to put the problem in context.
There are serious doubts about the possible existence of weapons of mass destruction and biological weapons in Iraq. There are also questions as to whether a dictator might be able and willing to use these weapons of mass destruction.
The reality is that there are also other factors which must be taken into consideration. First of all, there is the oil situation in this region; this is very important. Some people, including the Americans, may be very interested in taking control of what is produced in this region.
There is also a very powerful lobby of arms producers, which is there on the eve of the American elections to exert influence in order to be able to sell a product. These elements are all part of the reality of the situation.
In this country, there was a war in the early 1990s, because Iraq had invaded Kuwait. There was a reaction from the international community. Iraq was driven out of Kuwait, but nobody went so far as to topple the government of Saddam Hussein.
The Americans themselves supplied arms to Saddam Hussein's government. In fact, they probably also supplied raw materials for the production of biological weapons.
Our challenge is to ensure that there is a peaceful solution to eliminate these weapons of mass destruction and these biological weapons, if they exist, so that they cannot be activated. A peaceful solution to the current situation must be found. If our final objective is to topple Saddam Hussein, that is not the same objective as ensuring peace. We have a responsibility in this regard.
Last night, we heard what I think was the most unfortunate statement in many months and years. It was perhaps terrorism's greatest victory when the U.S. president's spokesman said that he was prepared to go as far as selective assassination to get rid of Saddam Hussein. I think, unfortunately, that this is a victory for terrorism.
Those who want to see problems resolved through violence are winning the battle. They are even winning it in a country which considers itself the most democratic in the world and which is, at the same time, the most powerful economic and military force in the world.
It is not our responsibility, as a friend to the United States, to always say exactly what they say. As friends, whether referring to people or countries, we do not always try to parrot them, but to help them by making suggestions that may be of interest. In the present case, I think that we need to provide for the greatest number of opportunities to find diplomatic solutions to the current situation.
This is not just about Iraq. We are trying to define a new framework for international action. On the one hand, there is the international community and the United Nations, who want to come up with diplomatic solutions, peaceful solutions based on a legal framework. On the other hand, there are currently people in government in the U.S. who think that a hawkish solution can solve every issue, which is unfortunate. They figured that the situation in Afghanistan could be solved by war, but nothing has yet been solved.
They also believe that the “might is right” rule will solve all of the problems on the planet, but this in not true. In the medium and long term, issues are not settled in this way.
In the end, there are thousands of human lives at stake. If there is a war and a massive military action in Iraq, it will be men and women and children, Iraqis, Americans, and even Canadians and Quebeckers who will pay the price for this terrible decision.
Before resorting to this type of solution, we should try to solve the underlying problem. Is Iraq producing weapons of massive destruction and lethal biological weapons that could threaten the balance of the planet, that could be used against the United States, the western world and the entire planet, or not? Do these weapons exist or not?
We have a draft of a diplomatic solution on the table that is of considerable interest. There is an agreement between Iraq and the United Nations to allow inspections to resume. I believe we should exhaust that possibility before opting to intervene in some other way.
I am disappointed, very disappointed even. Yesterday evening, a debate took place in this House, and a number of members of all parties spoke, particularly members of the Liberal majority. They told us that peace is important, that peaceful solutions are important, that they had to be given precedence. At the same time as this was being said, the Prime Minister of Canada saw fit to state that supporting the Americans' call for a new resolution was a short term solution, this without having any idea of the content of that resolution, yet being well aware that this approach was in some way fueling the conflict.
If the decision is made to put aside the agreement with Iraq on allowing the inspectors in, and to await a new and more stringent UN resolution, days, weeks and even months may go by before the international community adopts any firm position. This could pave the way for all manners of actions that would later be regretted.
I have a hard time understanding Canada's position today. It appears to belong only to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The rest of the Liberal members did not seem to be very much on side with it. They seemed more in favour of the necessity of doing our utmost to seek a diplomatic solution, of indeed sending inspectors on Iraqi soil in order to verify whether such weapons are in fact there and whether actions are called for.
A number of experts, including Hans Blix who heads the UN inspection team, refuse to delay the return of the inspectors. I think the message they are delivering is a clear one. The international community hopes to see the solution involve diplomatic avenues and to make as much use of these as possible. In the end, after an evaluation, if the United Nations is of the opinion that Iraq ought indeed to carry out the destruction of certain weapons, there are mechanisms already in place for this. Also, this would be the time to revisit the situation and this would be the time to set deadlines. We are, however, nowhere near that point yet.
As for the Americans, we are still at the stage where, regardless of what is proposed, it will never be enough to prevent them from taking action. This is very dangerous, because it tends to spread a might is right attitude on our planet. The world's most powerful nation, from an economic and military point of view, will call the shots. The United States will become both judge and jury.
We do not want this type of decision making process. This is not the world we want in the future and this is not the type of solution we want in the short term for Iraq. There are many other situations in the world that might warrant the same type of short and middle term action.
What right does a nation have to act as a judge of what is happening on our planet? I believe some important messages should be conveyed to the U.S. government.
This should be done by a government like the Government of Canada, a friendly government that also has a long-standing reputation for advocating diplomatic solutions to problems.
Some have argued that, in the past, there were situations where this was not the appropriate solution. However, it does not mean that, because it did not work once or twice, we should not continue to work to find peaceful solutions in the future.
This evening, as we are addressing all Canadians, let us not forget that military missions will be carried out by Canadians and Quebeckers in this conflict. For this reason, it is clear that the House of Commons has to vote on this, as it will on the Kyoto protocol. If it is important for the future of our environment, it is all the more important in the short term that we vote on commitments made by the Canadian government with regard to a conflict about which the public has reservations.
I urge the government to be very cautious in expressing what I would call its spontaneous support. Yesterday, when he was accepting an award, the Prime Minister felt that he had to reach out to the Americans. The photo shown in the newspapers spoke volumes. Mr. Kissinger has not always been blameless. There were actions that led to things such as selective assassinations.
We absolutely must make a firm stand and tell the Americans that the inspectors have to be allowed to do a full assessment. This is the solution for the future and the one we must convince the U.S. government and the international community to go for. Our voices must be heard, loud and clear, on this issue.
Mr. Peter Goldring (Edmonton Centre-East, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my colleague for his remarks. However I would also like to remind my colleague of an earlier day too and an earlier resolution or promise that was waived and had great hope and high expectations from the people of the world, and certainly the people of Europe too. We all know that Prime Minister Chamberlain waved aloft this final agreement, one of many signed documents and pieces of paper that he had received at Hitler at the time.
I suppose I would ask my colleague this. Is this not comparable to this day? Is this is not one of the reasons why the United States and England, with their superior intelligence to back it up and substantiate it, have watched Saddam set aside 15 United Nations resolutions? What makes the 16th one work?
Would it not be prudent good sense and rational thought to say, yes, let us watch this final UN resolution as it transpires on through, but let us carry on with the process of plan B because the likelihood of that resolution coming to successful fruition is very slim indeed? Would he not think it would be prudent for them to carry on with their ideas and carry on--
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): The hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques.
Mr. Paul Crête: Mr. Speaker, I would point out that the example of Mr. Chamberlain was before the United Nations was created, after World War II. In fact, since then, we have developed means of communication between peoples and nations, and we must develop them for the future as well. It seems to me that we are far from having exhausted all available diplomatic means.
As for the superior intelligence of the Americans and the British, given what went on with al-Qaeda, it is my opinion that these two countries have failed miserably, despite the billions of dollars spent; and they did not succeed in preventing these attacks. In my view, they are no more credible when it comes to the intelligence they might have, particularly since Mr. Blair's document, which was supposed to provide us with clear evidence, was viewed as unsatisfactory by governments worldwide, with the obvious exception of the United States, which is using it to back its case. However, for the rest of the planet, there has been nothing to say that we have the evidence and that we can act on it.
We must not be naive; that is obvious. It is also obvious that we must be prepared to take action if necessary. However, before attacking and then checking whether we were right, we would do better to check whether we are right first and attack later if necessary, if the Iraqi leaders do not change their tune.
When we have weighed the actual gains against the losses in human life, I hope that the scales will provide us with an answer. Otherwise, history will hold us responsible for a very bad decision, a very bad recommendation, especially if we do not send this message clearly to the U.S. government.
Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is quite evident that this debate is taking place in an atmosphere of uncertainty. The question that comes to mind, while listening to the various interventions and while reading about developments in the newspapers and media, is: Will the U.S. administration abide by the policy directions emanating from the United Nations Security Council? That is a question that is unanswerable at this time.
Parallel to that question is whether American public opinion will manage to influence the administration in Washington or will President Bush manage to draw American public opinion to his side and attack Iraq in the new year, even if inspectors, who are expected to be in Iraq as of the middle of this month, give a reassuring report.
From the mail that I have received, it is quite evident that Canadians do not want to go to war and do not want our troops sent to Iraq. Canadians believe that the United Nations is the institution that can be entrusted for peacekeeping and prefer to have the Iraq question resolved by the Security Council.
Canadians feel the war in Afghanistan has not been completed and there is a war in Palestine. These two situations do not justify the opening of a third front in Iraq where the outcome of that intervention may be quite unclear at this stage. How will American forces be able to withdraw safely and leave behind an improved and new Iraq is a very legitimate question to be posed at this time.
The case that has been made for the war against Iraq has been presented by President Bush along four points.
The first point is that Saddam Hussein is a dictator. That is true. We would all rejoice if Iraq became a democracy. Saddam Hussein is not the only dictator in the world or in the Middle East. It is not acceptable therefore for one country to use military force to remove a dictator from power in another country.
Second, it is said that Saddam Hussein is a cruel dictator. This is also true. However many of Saddam Hussein's abuses occurred at a time when western governments were supporting and supplying him in his war against Iran.
Third, President Bush says that for many years Iraq has flouted many United Nations resolutions. That is also true. However Iraq is not alone. Many other resolutions have been ignored by other countries for even longer periods.
We are then left with the fourth part of this case and that is the allegation that Saddam Hussein has continued to develop biological, chemical and nuclear weapons contrary to United Nations resolutions and has refused to allow effective inspections by United Nations representatives, again over a period of many years. One can reply to that by saying that military action to enforce United Nations resolutions can be authorized only by the United Nations Security Council.
It is not for one country to take military action alone or with the support of its allies. The decision cannot and must not be taken by one man, President Bush or anyone else, on the basis that he is not satisfied with Saddam Hussein's response to the United Nations resolutions or the findings of the United Nations inspectors.
In his speech at the United Nations, President Bush said that the situation is an important test for the United Nations. That was quite an important recognition. He is right in saying that. However it is not only a question of whether the United Nations can control Iraq but it is also a question of whether the United Nations can control the United States of America.
Last night our Minister of Foreign Affairs made the point for Canada very well when he said that the appropriate forum for discussion and the authorization of an action was the United Nations Security Council. The Prime Minister himself conveyed this message in Detroit when he met President Bush. He indicated clearly the preference of the Canadian people.
The other point the Minister of Foreign Affairs made last night was that the objective for us, and I think the global community that is interested in this very difficult matter, is to rid the Iraqi regime of weapons of mass destruction. There are those who claim that regime change is the only means to this end and if Iraq refuses to cooperate, they may turn out to be right. However our responsibility to Canadians, to the world community and to the future of the international rule of law is to be certain that we have exhausted all other options and that we so conduct ourselves in this crisis that the international order on which Canada so much depends emerges strengthened and reinvigorated.
It seems to me this is a very sound approach to which most Canadians would subscribe, except for those who prefer an isolationist type of policy just in North America regardless of what the rest of the global community is saying.
I am also very anxious to put on the record, as the member for Oakville did last night, the fact that the former senior United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq and ex-marine, Mr. Scott Ritter, stated repeatedly in giving evidence before a commission that as of December 1998 Iraq had been fundamentally disarmed and possessed no meaningful weapons of mass destruction. In 1998 the International Atomic Energy Agency certified also that Iraq no longer had a viable nuclear weapons program.
It seems to me now that in two weeks a visit by the inspectors to Iraq will bring out additional information. It may confirm what Scott Ritter has testified. It may give us different information. It seems to me that we have to bide our time and make sure that we are on the right path in dealing with this extremely delicate and potentially dangerous situation.
Mr. Leon Benoit (Lakeland, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member said first of all that people do not want to go to war and do not want to have Canadian military intervention. That is a motherhood statement. Of course people do not want to go to war and do not want Canadian military intervention or any military intervention. I think that goes without saying. Second, he said that people would prefer a peaceful resolution through a UN resolution. Of course people would prefer that. Who on earth would not? These are givens.
The member went on to say that Iraq is not the only dictatorship and Saddam Hussein is not the only person who ignores UN resolutions. He went through that argument. That is true, but what the member refuses to acknowledge is that Iraq is the only country known to have chemical and biological weapons and is very close to producing nuclear weapons. It has a delivery system, the scud missiles left over from the gulf war of which 10 to 20 are missing.
Also, Saddam Hussein has threatened to use them against the United States and its ally, Canada. Not only has he threatened to use them but he has proven that he is very willing to do so because he has done so in the past. He used them against his own people. He used them against the Kurds. He invaded Kuwait when he said he would. When he has threatened to do something in the past, he has followed through with it. What makes the member think he will not use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and its ally, Canada, if he could?
Hon. Charles Caccia: Mr. Speaker, the questions raised by the member for Lakeland are probably the essence of this debate.
So far the weapons have not been used. Evidently there must be a reason. Either it is restraint, they do not exist or they may be in the process of being manufactured. We do not know. This is why the international community has decided to send in inspectors to find out rather than to judge a priori without knowledge.
What surprises me is that the member for Lakeland in his intervention refused to mention or to acknowledge at least the existence of Scott Ritter, the former senior UN weapons inspector in Iraq and his testimony to the effect that no meaningful weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq until now. He is an American citizen and he is making this declaration so there are conflicting views in this respect.
For a government to be responsible to its population at home and abroad it should be very careful before reaching conclusions and it should wait until all the facts are in. This is why the inspection as of the middle of this month in Iraq is such a welcome development. It would not have been possible had it not been for the initiative of the United Nations.
Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, our foreign affairs minister, whom I respect a great deal, has said that he would support Canada's acceptance and participation in a military intervention with the United States if all diplomatic initiatives had been exhausted because Iraq would pose an imminent threat to regional stability.
Would my friend on the other side apply that same reasoning to Canada supporting an active, multinational intervention in Zimbabwe, where six million people will die in the next six months as a direct result of Robert Mugabe's actions? What about in the Congo, where two million people have died? What about in Angola, where people are dying right now as a result of a famine, or in Liberia where Charles Taylor chops off the limbs of children just to terrorize the population? Would the hon. member support an act of multinational intervention in those countries where the magnitude of suffering is far greater?
Hon. Charles Caccia: Mr. Speaker, first of all I did not say what the hon. member attributes to me.
The position that the Government of Canada has taken and with which I concur is that we would be moving into a military phase only if and when the Security Council arrived at the conclusion that this would be the only and inevitable action to be taken. If that is what the hon. member means by the exhaustion of diplomatic efforts, then that is a correct interpretation.
It seems that the hon. member is mixing apples and oranges by referring to the situation in Zimbabwe because that is a completely different set of circumstances where famine exists. It is not an issue of weaponry nor of an attack on neighbouring countries. That is a humanitarian condition which would require--
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): Order. Resuming debate, the hon. member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca.
Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, to invade Iraq or not to invade Iraq. That is the question we are dealing with today. It is a very delicate situation. Saddam Hussein is evil, pure and simple, beginning and end but is that grounds for invasion at this point in time? That is what we are grappling with today.
It would be prudent for us to look at objectives. What are our objectives and those of Saddam Hussein? Our objectives are twofold: stability in the Middle East and the war against terrorism. It is not at this point in time a regime change. According to the UN resolutions that we support, it is the identification and destruction of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Saddam Hussein's objectives are a little different. He wants to be the dominant player in the Persian Gulf. By all intelligence accounts, he was not involved in the attacks of September 11. In fact his goals are somewhat different from those of the terrorists. Their goals would be an attack against corrupt Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia. It is also an objective for them to change modern Islamic states into ones that are more fundamental. It is a war between Islamic fundamentalism and Islamic moderation.
Let us assume for a moment that Saddam Hussein does have weapons of mass destruction, both chemical and biological weapons. To date all intelligence, including the very eloquent British analysis, states that he does not have nuclear weapons at this time. There are certainly indications that he has been pursuing this through uranium tubing he has been trying to get in Africa. I might add there is a connection with Robert Mugabe and Mugabe's actions in the Congo where there are vast stores of uranium. Saddam Hussein is evil but he is not stupid.
Why does Saddam Hussein want weapons of mass destruction? To be the big bully in the Middle East, to scare off potential attacks by the United States, to inflict penalties and punishment against people within his own country, as he has done with the Kurds in northern Iraq, and also for larger aggressive interventions in the region which he demonstrated in Kuwait.
We may need to remove him from power, absolutely. The question is do we need to do it tomorrow? I would argue that we have some time. We have to exhaust all diplomatic possibilities before we look at the military option because we have to think of the consequences.
An attack on Iraq would do a number of things. It would jeopardize our primary objective which is the war on terrorism. If there was an attack on Iraq we could be sure Saddam Hussein would use his weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological weapons, against our troops and those of our allies.
He would also fire them off against Israel because Israel is doing intelligence operations in Iraq right now according to Jane's monthly reports. He would also attack nations that comply with the United States and us. Israel of course would respond in kind, probably with nuclear weapons, setting off an armageddon in the Middle East with massive numbers of casualties.
Also, invading Iraq would open up a third front in a very unstable region. Afghanistan is in turmoil and the situation between Palestine and Israel is also very unstable.
We have to look at other options. We have to look at some of the political solutions that need to be applied in conjunction with pushing Saddam Hussein to adopt the ultimate resolution which is a no notice, no holds barred weapons inspection anyplace, anywhere, anytime and give him a temporal end point for all this to happen, not now, but soon. The reason I say this is that we have to adopt a number of other initiatives at the same time.
First, and I say this particularly to our American friends down south, we have to be seen as a fair player in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We have to push for a Palestinian Authority that is democratic, that is not corrupt, and will work for the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people need a free and secure state. Israel needs a free and secure state. Their security must be assured.
Jerusalem is a city for all people. Not only is it important to Jews and Muslims but it is also important to Christians. Israeli settlements have to get out of the West Bank.
Second, the United States and its allies cannot be seen to be blindly supporting Saudi Arabia. In fact it is Saudi Arabia that is the number one threat to Middle East security. It is ruled by the House of Ibn Saud. There are 5,000 princes. They have been draining the public coffers in an undemocratic way and they have been leaving their fellow countrymen in a state of poverty. The number of people becoming restless is growing and their poverty is enlarging, creating a fertile ground for a cataclysmic event along the lines of what we saw in Iran. Saudi Arabia is the major threat to regional security in the Middle East at this time.
America must be seen to be engaging in not only political but economic emancipation in Saudi Arabia as well as in other countries, and it must get and curry favour with other Arab nations to pursue this because if it does not there will be massive regional instability in the region. Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia will pay a heavy penalty.
We also have to pursue a line in the sand for Saddam Hussein and his regime and engage the Arab states to do the same. The Arab states have a vested interest in supporting us to get weapons inspectors into Iraq. As my colleagues mentioned, Saddam Hussein has used weapons of mass destruction against his own people in Kurdistan. He fired off rockets against Riyadh, he has invaded Kuwait and the list goes on.
If we do pursue a military option down the road, which may be entirely possible and feasible, those are the preconditions. Those other actions must be addressed. We must address the Palestinian-Israeli situation. We must be seen to be a fair player in Saudi Arabia. We cannot blindly support Saudi Arabia for the oil that is there. We have to look at political and economic emancipation in that country and work with other Arab nations to that end. We must engage Arab countries to do that.
If we do go into Iraq we have to understand that it will be for the long haul. We cannot simply go in, invade and leave as we usually do, because if we do we will be leaving a power vacuum that will enable that country to descend into a perilous state. We usually go in, engage and leave without following up with the democratic institutional building blocks that have to be put in place. We are seeing that now in Afghanistan, where failure to actually engage in the political and economic development of the country is fostering the warlords, the natural state of affairs in Afghanistan. If we do not continue to engage actively in political and economic emancipation in Afghanistan, we will see the warlords fight it out and Afghanistan will go back to being the backwater that it has been for decades. It too will be a failed state along the lines of Somalia.
In the end, if we were to go into Iraq it would set an interesting precedent for a number of other profound tragedies that exist in our world today. I mentioned to my hon. friend from Davenport that in Zimbabwe six million people, the same number of people who died in the Holocaust, will potentially die in the next six months from a famine politically engineered by Robert Mugabe, who is using food as a weapon to kill half his population. The people who did not and do not support him will be killed by their leader depriving them of food. Will we intervene to help those people?
Are we going to intervene in the Congo, where two million people have died in the last two years and no one has said anything? Will we intervene in Liberia, where a man by the name of Charles Taylor, with impunity, supports regional instability in the area and thugs such as Foday Sanko, who has been involved with the chopping off of the limbs of innocent men, women and children, not to kill them but to terrorize them. Charles Taylor is a criminal like Robert Mugabe is a criminal like Mobutu Sese Seko was a criminal. Are we going to intervene?
My time is up, Mr. Speaker, but I hope that our country engages the Americans to take a larger, broader look at regional stability, not only in the Middle East but in other countries. We have an exciting opportunity to use this. The military is one option which we may have to use and we will support it if necessary after we exhaust all diplomatic possibilities.
A firm line in the sand has to be drawn with Saddam Hussein. We must be firm in our resolve to keep it that way in the interests of security, not only for us and the United States but also for the security of all people in the Middle East, especially the Iraqi people.
Mr. Larry Bagnell (Yukon, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy listening to the interventions from the member opposite. He brings a unique perspective from the other side. I especially appreciate his bringing into the debate his knowledge of the world and other countries. In that respect, perhaps he could help us out on two items and just add to the great information that has been tabled by all parties in this debate.
First, there are a number of other countries in the world with dictatorships or authoritarian governments that have biological, chemical or nuclear weapons or are trying to get them. If the member could give us any knowledge he has in the area, it would be helpful to all of us.
My second question is about the local countries in the area of Iraq. As the member said, we do not have to act right away. There are some countries within range of Saddam Hussein's new missiles that have not yet signed on to join the United States in such an attack. Does the member think there is a benefit in waiting? What would be the effects of going in too early on the peace and order of the countries around Iraq and on their relationships with us?
Mr. Keith Martin: Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my hon. friend for the two questions.
On the first question regarding other countries that are looking to acquire biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, I am not aware of any at this time.
The second question deals with the local countries. He brings up a very important point. My view is that we do not have to invade Iraq tomorrow but maybe soon, after diplomatic initiatives have ended. While we are waiting, after we have drawn that line in the sand, we have to do what he suggests, which is to engage other Arab states and argue through the framework of regional security.
I would argue that Saddam Hussein has demonstrated that he has invaded Kuwait. He has shot off rockets and missiles to Riyadh. He has killed Kurds in northern Iraq. He has ordered mass killings of Marsh Arabs in Iraq. Based on this, it is clearly in the best interests of other Middle Eastern countries to support a multinational response to go in and identify and destroy weapons of mass destruction in the very near future.
I would also suggest and bring to the member's attention that Saudi Arabia is such a threat to regional security. We must not forget that within Saudi Arabia is wahhabism, the type of Islamic fundamentalism that Osama bin Laden follows. He and individuals responsible for the events of September 11 are Saudis. These people are there today and within them is a large pool of individuals who are potential terrorists. It really behooves us to deal with political and economic emancipation in Saudi Arabia for the benefit of regional security. In order to do that, we will need support from a number of Middle Eastern states, but we have to argue through their self-interests. I would argue that regional security and stability through dealing with Saudi Arabia and Saddam Hussein clearly is in their best interests.
Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his thoughtful remarks and associate myself with his views about the broader scope of security in the Middle East region and the very important question of Saudi Arabia.
Would he agree or disagree with those who argue that the removal and replacement of the current regime in Iraq would help to reorient that major central power in the Middle East to a democratic free market posture which would be friendly toward its neighbours and the west, and that it in fact would be a positive political force in the region for restraining some of the more destructive influences that exist in countries like Saudi Arabia? Would he not agree that a regime change in Iraq, should that be achieved in the future, would in fact benefit the entire region in terms of a direction--
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): The hon. member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca.
Mr. Keith Martin: Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my friend for the question.
With respect to Saudi Arabia, the real answer is regime modification within Saudi Arabia. There is a democratic free market system in Saudi Arabia, where there are 5,000 crown princes who have been milking the country dry, driving it into a debt situation and pocketing the moneys themselves.
It is interesting that we buy oil from Saudi Arabia and that money goes into the pockets of the 5,000 member elite in Saudi Arabia, which funds wahhabism and the madrossa schools that teach Islamic fundamentalism and the anti-American hatred that spawned the devastation one year ago on September 11. That is what is happening right now.
So we would deal with Saudi Arabia as an issue and we would love to have a democratic free market system in Iraq. That will be up to the Iraqi people. I hope we will give them the opportunity to have that choice.
Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, it is with much emotion that I rise to take part in this emergency debate on Iraq, because I believe that no one in this House should take lightly the threat of military action against Iraq and the potential consequences of such action.
It seems obvious to me that Canada must speak out in this matter, against Saddam Hussein in particular, but also against the unilateralism of the U.S. authorities. It is clear in this connection that President Bush has already chosen the path that should eventually lead to his finding one way or another to get into a conflict with Saddam Hussein and Iraq. This is somewhat along the same lines as the Americans' decision not to sign the Kyoto protocol, or to refuse to allow the international criminal court to have jurisdiction over U.S. citizens.
It seems to me that, where these questions are concerned, Canada must make itself very clear. All of the decisions to be made in connection with Iraq must be made within a multilateral framework, and that framework cannot be other than the United Nations. Any regulatory process and anything to do with compliance with the resolutions adopted must be within that UN framework.
However, it seems obvious as well that we cannot, in a situation as critical as the one in Iraq and the Middle East as a whole, depend exclusively and solely on a government decision. The House of Commons and all of its members must be truly involved in this debate. In my opinion, this emergency debate is an important first step but not the only one. Debate must be followed by all the MPs being involved in reaching a decision at the end of the debate. Once again, we are calling for the House of Commons to be required to hold a vote before any Canadian military intervention in this conflict.
Yesterday, in New York City, the Prime Minister in my opinion was not taking the situation quite seriously enough by not waiting until the entire emergency debate was over before taking so clearly a stance on the position of the Americans and of British Prime Minister Tony Blair as well, announcing that Canada was behind the United States and Great Britain in their call for a resolution from the United Nations Security Council.
It seems to me that the Prime Minister should have waited until the debate was over—it took place last night, it is taking place tonight, and it will continue tomorrow night—before taking such a clear stand. I think that this created a great deal of confusion regarding the position of the Government of Canada, and undermines Canada's position on the world stage. We come across, I think, as a country that supports unconditionally any initiative that U.S. authorities will end up taking against Iraq.
Again, it is quite strange to see how U.S. officials are reacting to the changing situation, in particular to the presence of UN inspectors in Iraq. Yesterday, Iraq and the UN signed an agreement on the upcoming inspections in Iraq by UN inspectors to see if Iraq does indeed have weapons that could constitute a threat to security for the whole world or for the Middle East.
So what should have been viewed by U.S. officials as a step toward a peaceful resolution of the situation was instead seen by a number of observers of the political scene as a failure. This is extremely worrisome.
How can U.S. officials view the fact that Iraq and the UN have reached an agreement on the provisions for UN inspectors in Iraq as a failure, or an obstacle?
It seems to me that this news that the United Nations inspectors will be able to visit the sites, without any conditions, within 15 days, to see if there are any weapons on the sites, should be met with calls for pressure on Iraq, Saddam Hussein in particular, to ensure that the new agreement is carried out.
Obviously, we must not be naive. We are well aware that a certain number of the UN resolutions have not been complied with by Saddam Hussein, much as other countries have not complied with UN resolutions. Take Israel, for example, which again recently, refused to comply with a Security Council decision.
It would seem to me that developments in the last few hours should have, to the contrary, reduced American pressure for a possible military initiative. However, it would appear as though U.S. officials, and the U.S. president, are disappointed by the fact that the UN and Iraq reached an agreement on UN weapons inspectors in Iraq.
This is what has me very worried and it is why I am saying that, one way or another, the U.S. president seems to have already decided on the outcome of this crisis and, for him, armed conflict seems to be the only possible choice.
In this context, it seems to me that Canada, the Canadian Prime Minister, should have been much clearer and reserved its support for the resolution demanded by the Americans and the British until the end of this take-note debate.
I therefore repeat the Bloc Quebecois' request that, before any intervention by Canada in a possible conflict with Iraq, which nobody wants, there be another debate and vote in this House. No action in this crisis must be taken lightly. We must be very aware of one thing and that is that a deep divide has been created between the west and the Muslim world, particularly after the tragic events of September 11.
Any rash action in Iraq at this time would only make matters worse, particularly in a context where there is no sign of a solution in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. It is still hard for me today to understand why the U.S. Congress decided to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, contrary to the wishes of the international community.
Once again, we get the impression that American authorities—and I do say “American authorities” because I do not believe that most Americans support President Bush's strategy at this time, and that a good number of American representatives, and the American Congress also have differing opinions—have an attitude that will end up further provoking the Muslim world.
It is clear, and I reiterate the fact that we must put more pressure on Saddam Hussein; we must put pressure on Iraq to comply with the UN resolutions, particularly, as I was saying, when it comes to the most recent agreement that was reached yesterday between the United Nations and Iraq regarding the inspection of sites in Iraq. This agreement must be fully respected.
I believe that Canada must be clear: without the explicit approval of the Security Council, there is no possibility that Canada will support any U.S. military intervention in Iraq. Canada must support the efforts of the United Nations to reach a peaceful resolution to the conflict. This, for the greater good of Quebeckers, Canadians and obviously, the people of Iraq.
Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I would at least agree with my hon. colleague's call for a debate and a vote in this place on any potential action, should it be required, before it takes place. I would agree with his party on that point. However, I would like to make a comment and then ask a question.
He said that the American government and the president were provoking the Muslim world currently. I think that is a little irresponsible, particularly when we look at the fact that President Bush is the first American president to publicly and consistently call for a free and independent Palestinian state, and to indicate his support for that objective, alongside a secure and democratic Israel within recognized boundaries.
Further, the United States and its coalition allies, such as Canada, have intervened at significant cost to support the Muslim people from the tyranny of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and liberated them to their great delight. The west and the United States in particular made tremendous sacrifices in defending the Muslim population of Kosovo from the attacks of the Serbian army. The Americans intervened, at significant cost, in Somalia to protect the Muslim population from a chaotic environment, and so on. Indeed, in Iraq what we seek to do is the same--
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): I am sorry to interrupt. The hon. member for Joliette.
Mr. Pierre Paquette: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately the hon. member could not ask his question.
My impression is that there is a deep anti-American feeling in the world right now. I regret it, because I believe that the American people is a great people, but we must take note of this reality, whether it is in Europe, Asia, Africa or Latin America—we can actually see this in Brazil's presidential campaign.
The Americans do not realize that right now—and I am not saying that this is necessarily the reality—a large part of the world feels that they want to dominate the world, without assuming the responsibilities that come with this status. They want the whole world to look like the United States, but they do not want the United States to look like the whole world.
As regards Iraq, I believe that the U.S. president and a number of U.S. representatives are headed in the wrong direction if they think that they will promote the cause of democracy by provoking Saddam Hussein. On the contrary, they are building the foundations of a new terrorist coalition.
We must be extremely careful with this issue and we must examine all the variables. I feel that the Americans, and particularly British Prime Minister Tony Blair, are taking the consequences of an armed conflict in the Middle East involving Iraq lightly.
Again, I agree with all the members of this House tthat Saddam Hussein is a dictator who deserves to be overthrown. But in my opinion, the consequences of any armed conflict must be weighed carefully.
Mrs. Karen Redman (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to participate in tonight's debate on the situation in Iraq. I have listened closely to the thoughtful debate that has progressed thus far.
There is no doubt this is a complex topic. As a Canadian parliamentarian with a healthy respect for democracy as well as human rights, Saddam Hussein's regime is as unimaginable to me as it is deplorable. There is no doubt that through the Iraqi dictator's penchant for war and weaponry he has become an undisputed global menace.
The Iraqi administration has an indefensible record. It has engaged in warfare against its neighbours. It has sponsored and sheltered terrorists. It has developed weapons of mass destruction and it has used these weapons on its own people. The Iraqi regime has consistently and repeatedly defied the authority of the United Nations Security Council.
UN inspectors did not have the opportunity to complete their work prior to their withdrawal in 1998. By all accounts, Saddam Hussein's regime has been developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. It is widely believed that the regime will soon have the capacity to build crude nuclear weapons. Iraq's dictator has a deplorable record of oppressing and violating the citizens of Iraq.
Clearly, Saddam Hussein poses a certain and rising threat to global security. There is no question, he must be disarmed. If diplomatic means are unsuccessful, military methods must be employed but these must be employed as a last resort.
How does Canada respond to this threat? What is our role and what are our responsibilities?
In my constituency of Kitchener Centre, residents are troubled by these unsettling times. The threat of terrorism is not new but it has never before been more relevant than it is today. The city I have the privilege of representing is shaped by immigrants from all parts of the globe and that includes citizens formerly from Iraq. To many of them, Canada is the ideal. Canada is a just society that holds promises of democracy, human rights, peace and freedom. I am proud of Canada's rich history as a member of this global community.
Canada's response to the situation in Iraq must be reflective of the fundamental Canadian foreign policy. Canada has a long-standing, unwavering commitment to promoting human security, including human rights, peacekeeping, humanitarianism and disarmament.
Multilateral cooperation is critical. Canada must continue to work with our allies and the United Nations to ensure the safety and security of Canadians and to ensure that the rule of international law is respected as well as enforced. Canada has a long history of helping to solve global problems and we will secure our place in North America and the world as a mature and confident country.
Canada has been steadfast in our efforts to right terrorism at home and abroad alongside our friend and ally the United States. Canada has consistently supported the U.S. attempts to contain Iraq. Canada has supported UNSCOM, the UN special commission charged with ensuring that Saddam was stripped of all weapons of mass destruction.
Throughout the past decade, Canadians have worked inside Iraq under the UN to gather information on Saddam's alleged nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs.
Further, Canada has a long tradition of being counted in when western values are challenged, from both world wars to Korea, Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
At the same time, Canada does not endorse a pre-emptive strike against Iraq by the United States without the approval of the United Nations.
As the Prime Minister said yesterday, the United Nations can be a great force for good in the world and it is in all our interests to use the power of international institutions in this complex world.
A strong, clear resolution on Iraq, through the United Nations Security Council, provides the desired option for peaceful, legitimate resolution to the situation in Iraq. Of course we welcome Iraq's announcement to accept, albeit conditional, the return of the UN's weapons inspectors. However, in spite of the small concession, we are unconvinced that Iraq will adopt a new course of cooperation.
Iraq has a long history of obstruction and failures to comply with Security Council resolutions. The government has stressed its willingness to back firm enforcement of the new United Nations Security Council resolution. The resolution must require Iraq to accept full and unfettered weapons inspection and set out consequences for failure to do so.
This is Saddam Hussein's opportunity to comply with his international obligations. We cannot compromise the integrity and the credibility of the United Nations in favour of unilateral action. The risk is simply too great.
Canadians are proud of our longstanding tradition in foreign policy which has been to pursue and promote dialogue and understanding among the peoples of the world and to seek political and diplomatic solutions, even in the face of imminent conflict.
By continuing to act consistently with those values, world peace and security will be enhanced and international institutions strengthened. The Canadian goal is shared throughout the international community to rid the Iraq regime of weapons of mass destruction. Military action must not be the first course of action.
The rightful role of government is the protection of human rights. The United Nations provides an appropriate arena in which Canada can join our allies and ensure the protection and preservation of our freedom as well as world security.
Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I listened to the speeches of last night and tonight. First, I want to compliment the member and her speech in that I did not hear nearly as much anti-American sentiments as I did in a few speeches prior to hers from that side of the House. I compliment her on that.
I want to inform the member that during the last part of the summer I spent some time down in the United States, where I have lots of relatives. I went to a bluegrass concert. There is nothing like good old gospel bluegrass to get one in the mood for getting ready to come back to the House of Commons when the summer ends.
I had an opportunity to talk to a number of Americans from different parts of the country who were there to enjoy the same event. I asked them the specific question of how they felt about their President and what he was saying in regard to Iraq. The sentiment expressed to me in a broad sense from many of them, and by many others, was that the Americans were not prepared to ever put up with another the September 11 and that they were fully behind their President in whatever action was necessary to make absolutely certain that it was prevented.
They were disgusted when they learned that some of the reports that came out prior to September 11 gave strong indications of a serious problem but they were ignored. They were going to sit and wait until it happened.
Saddam Hussein has given every indication possible to this side of the world that we had better beware. Pre-emptive strikes are a sad thing. However the Americans have said loud and clear that if the actions that this crazy man might take are pre-empted and if it prevents another September 11 and saves the lives of millions of people, they are fully behind their President.
I get very disturbed when I hear a number of Canadians say, as this member has said, “We do not support a pre-emptive strike.” Would the hon. member rather Saddam strike first? Is that what they want? They cannot give any--
Mrs. Karen Redman: Mr. Speaker, I am glad my hon. colleague sensed the fact that I am looking for solutions rather than problems.
Clearly September 11 showed all of us that terrorism knows no boundaries and there are no walls that we can build high enough or strong enough. It is something which we have to deal with, in partnership with the rest of the world. The United States itself acknowledged that need was there after September 11.
In the context of the United Nations and the Security Council looking for a resolution and due process, I would point out to my hon. colleague that one of the tools of terrorism throughout the world, other than just chemical weapons of mass destruction, is corruption.
A colleague in the member's own caucus was talking about the 10 richest families getting rich while people suffered. We have to deal with the rule of law and we have to protect human rights. That is something that needs to be done in an international context and we have the United Nations Security Council in which to do it.
Ms. Aileen Carroll (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke so well. She was questioned by the member from the opposition. He and other members of his party have shown support for the ability of one nation to decide when, where and against whom it should launch a pre-emptive attack. Would she care to comment on whether there is a precedent to be set that might be somewhat fearful in an international forum usually based on the rule of law?
Mrs. Karen Redman: Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, for that thoughtful question. Clearly I believe that terrorism and the rule of law is something that needs to be dealt with in the international scene. We have the United Nations and the United Nations Security Council to do that.
I know my hon. colleague and myself, as well as many colleagues on the other side, have had the opportunity to deal in international conferences representing Canada. I think back to this past month when I was in Namibia at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference and heard Canada being held out as a model in looking for international involvement and in countries looking for leadership. This can only happen in the context of a multilateral event.
Mrs. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues for putting forth this opportunity to speak on this very important debate.
I believe it is important to remind Canadians of the tremendous role the men and women of our military play when it comes to the implementation of our nation's foreign policy. It is my privilege to represent the soldiers stationed at CFB Petawawa. The presence of this significant base in my riding of Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke has given me a special insight into the challenges that the soldiers face as they are called upon to do the many tasks that the government sets forth. This is an opportunity that I would like to share with other members of the House in a meaningful way.
The decisions we make in the House impact the lives of those individuals who are in the service of our country. It is important not to lose sight of that fact the next time the government decides to make an international commitment without the necessary resources to go along with that commitment.
Our position regarding Iraq must be put in the context of the events of September 11, 2001. There was no mercy given in the calculated, cold-blooded act of murder that day. The deliberate massacre of innocent civilians means we have to take more than just a token stand against the perpetrators. It is necessary to not only track down the perpetrators of that spineless act, but it is also necessary to track down those nations that support and defend international terrorism.
As a nation we suffered a tremendous drop in credibility as a consequence of the Prime Minister who carefully chose of all days the one year anniversary date of the terrorist atrocity in New York to blame the victims for that cowardly attack. As the Prime Minister has smeared all Americans with his blame the victims speech, all Canadians will suffer from a deteriorating relationship with our largest trading partner.
People in my riding find it incredible that he would slur the American people on one hand, yet pursue a policy of unilateral disarmament on the other hand which effectively contracts out our defence to the Pentagon. If there is any doubt regarding the move to contract out the defence of Canada, one only needs to look at the supply chain proposal being considered by the government right now.
By contracting out the military supply chain to a foreign multinational, the Liberal Party is surrendering a vital element of Canadian sovereignty. The minister's officials have already admitted that there will be no cost savings to Canadians, and in fact by all accounts it will end up costing taxpayers more money. My only hope is that the government will come to its senses, do the right thing, take the off ramp and buy Canadian.
The increasingly erratic and inexplicable behaviour of the Prime Minister and those with whom he has surrounded himself has given rise to many unflattering and accurate portrayals, mostly by members of his own party. They are describing the Prime Minister as one whose best before date expired a long time ago. So is the case with Saddam Hussein, another leader whose best before date expired a long time ago.
Where the Prime Minister and Saddam Hussein differ is that the Liberal Party has been pursuing a policy of neglect of Canada's military whereas Saddam Hussein has been steadily building up a great war machine, the showpieces of which are weapons of mass destruction. Chemical, biological and in short order nuclear weapons will all be used without the slightest bit of apprehension by this tyrant. After 11 years of unheeded UN resolutions, it is clear that Saddam is insincere when it comes to eliminating his weapons of destruction.
If the world were dealing with a rational human being, this debate would not be occurring. What we are dealing with is a fanatic and a regime that refuses to be reasonable. It is in this context that prominent Canadians have come together to tell the government the time has come to rebuild our military. The presence of a well paid, well equipped modern military does not mean that Canadians are a warmongering people. We are not a warlike people.
However, we must take more than a token stand if we wish as a nation to keep a place among other western democratic nations and preserve our foreign affairs policy as a sovereign issue.
If members will pardon the expression, it is time the government put its money where its mouth is when it comes to Canada's military. Members of the Prime Minister's own party have been lamenting the democratic deficit which is the decline of our democratic system of government since this party took office. We see in Saddam Hussein what can happen when a democratic deficit is left unchecked.
Every member of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, of which I have been a member, has called for an increase in military spending. Yet even with the budgetary crisis in Canada's military, the Prime Minister forced the Department of National Defence to spend $100 million from its budget to buy luxury jets for him and his party members to fly around on.
Imagine how people in Renfrew County feel when they read in the local newspaper that 4,000 children in the county live in poverty and they see that the lobbyist for the jet company would have been paid close to a million dollars for getting the government to buy those jets.
Voters in my riding and across the country see this hypocrisy in these types of government decisions and on our stand on Iraq. The democratic deficit and the steady deterioration of Canada's military are no coincidence. As the political will to sustain a credible military presence in Canada does not exist, so also is the decision by the government to purposely under-represent, if not underestimate, the threat that is posed by the corrupt regime of Saddam Hussein.
The Canadian Forces are a mirror of Canadian society. If the government is serious about restoring participatory democracy in Canada, so too must it be serious about reviving the institutions we depend on to defend our way of life. This is true in our own country and it is true in the international community. Given the choice Canadians prefer to stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends and allies such as Great Britain, Australia and the United States rather than sympathizing with corrupt regimes such as Mugabe in Zimbabwe and Saddam in Iraq.
The case against Saddam Hussein is detailed and compelling. He has defied 16 United Nations Security Council resolutions designed to ensure that Iraq does not pose a threat to international peace and security. He has started two wars of aggression against neighbouring Iran and Kuwait. He has used chemical weapons against his own people. He fired ballistic missiles at Jewish civilians and tried to assassinate a former President of the United States.
The evidence released by the British government of Saddam's ready-to-use chemical and biological weapons and the fact that he has the know-how to build nuclear weapons should he decide to use them could easily destabilize an area of the world that is already wrought with tension. Should any of these weapons be used in addition to the horrific loss of life, they may create an environmental catastrophe of monumental proportions. Saddam Hussein has had a long history of human rights abuses that include mass arrests, torture, rape, genocide and summary executions. For over a decade he has defied the UN resolutions.
Now the credibility of the UN is being called into question. The UN puts more emphasis on Canadian duck hunters being disarmed than disarming a mass murdering maniac. While I am pleased that the foreign affairs minister has adopted the Canadian Alliance position of making it certain that there must be consequences to Saddam's actions and defiance of UN resolutions, I must ask the government the same question I asked at the foreign affairs committee two weeks ago. What is Canada's threshold of tolerance to the defiance? Is it a matter of time? Is it a deadline? How many months or years will we put up with it or is it a matter of direct assault on North America?
The government did not answer my question two weeks ago but I hope that we get an answer today and I hope the answer is yes. The evidence is clear whom we should be supporting in this conflict. Canada's poor relations with our largest trading partner will take some time to heal. Taking a clear and unequivocal stand in the war against international terrorism will be a good step.
Mr. Larry Bagnell (Yukon, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the member for Yukon I have received a number of e-mails from constituents saying that they do not want Canada to go to war at this time with Iraq. We have heard during this debate a number of members from Ontario who have said that a vast majority of their e-mail from their constituents is taking that position at this time.
I am curious about the Alliance members, but this member from the Alliance in particular because her riding is in Ontario. What does the member tell her constituents who have written to her, e-mailed her, phoned her or met her on the street, who do not want Canada, for various reasons brought forward in this debate I assume, to engage in military action at this time?
Mrs. Cheryl Gallant: Mr. Speaker, by and large the people who have contacted my office and talked to me do not want to send our men and women to war. They feel the right thing to do is to stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States, our protector. Our military has disintegrated to the point where we are heavily dependent upon the United States for our defence. For that reason they feel there should be some reciprocity on our part.
Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan—Shuswap, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I listened to the question posed by the member on the other side of the floor to the member who just spoke. I would like to add that in my constituency, as I travelled around, I found more and more that people had little confidence in the United Nations. It seems that Hussein has had a way of pushing the Security Council, the top end of the UN, 16 times, and nobody has done anything about it.
Has the hon. member also heard the same concerns with regard to the UN having no teeth? That seems to be the major concern that I heard from the public.
Mrs. Cheryl Gallant: Mr. Speaker, yes, I have heard that. In fact a letter today crossed my desk requesting that Canada pull out of the UN because it seems to be just a figure head organization.
That is not the policy of our party but it does reflect what is going on in the minds of Canadians. The fact that not only 16 resolutions have gone unheeded but there have been over 30 statements that the UN has put forth on the issue of Iraq as well. Unless there is a mechanism put in place to ensure that the resolutions will be enforced, the credibility of the UN will be called into question.
Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, nobody wants to go to war. Nobody wants war. That is a given. I have a son who is in the United States army stationed in Germany. He has been spending the last few days with his unit preparing for deployment when necessary and ready to do it.
What we are talking about here is the very thing that we have talked about for many years, starting with Winston Churchill who begged the Europeans during pre-World War II that something had to be done about the Nazi regime. He was called a warmonger and a fearmonger. He was called every name in the book. His name could have been Bush at that time. Had they listened to Winston Churchill things would have been a whole lot different than as they turned out.
What we are saying is for Pete's sake, the same kind of evidence is before us. Do not be blinded by the rhetoric of let us wait, let us give it a chance. The man is insane. He has said what he would like to do. He has proven what he is capable of doing. He has to be stopped and if that is the choice that is made, then Canada had better be there to defend the very freedoms that we enjoy today.
Hon. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this take note debate on the international situation in Iraq because I do not see this as a fighting controversy between one side or the other. There is room for us as parliamentarians to sit together to have some thoughtful discussion, to look at the facts, and to examine the consequences both short and long term.
What do we know? We know that the United States claims that Iraq is one of the three countries of the axis of evil. We know that the United States claims that Iraq harbours terrorists; that it is secretly building weapons of mass destruction, chemical, nuclear and biological; that it has misled United Nations inspectors in the past; that it engaged in wars of aggression and expansion; and, finally, that it is linked to September 11. Let us examine this.
To date in terms of the claim of harbouring terrorists and being linked to September 11, the United States has not given us any proof at all that Iraq has been linked to al-Qaeda. That is the first thing we must ask ourselves.
Second, it has claimed that Iraq is building secret weapons of mass destruction. Inspectors over the last seven years have said that indeed Iraq had been doing that. We should be concerned that an emotionally volatile dictator in a country like Iraq would have those weapons. We have also seen those weapons used in the 1980s against the Kurds and, of course, against Iran. We know there is proof this has happened in the past.
Have we been misled by the United Nations inspectors? Has Iraq misled them? Well, we all agree in Canada that in fact in 1998 the United Nations inspectors said that they did not believe they had been able to finish that job appropriately.
Finally, has Iraq been engaged in wars of aggression or expansion? We know that it has. This is the crux of the issue. Are we still being misled by Iraq? Does it still have these weapons of mass destruction? If so, how close is it to using them and does this present a real and imminent danger to us?
To date neither the United Nations nor the United Kingdom has been able to come up with any new or conclusive evidence that there exists in Iraq a state of immediate danger and crisis that would warrant a pre-emptive strike. That is a question I would like to ask.
We cannot use war as a first weapon in any armoury we have in any way, shape or form when we are dealing with conflict. War must always be a last resort.
What do we need to do? We need to find proof that Iraq is indeed amassing these weapons, that it is close to using them and that this presents an immediate danger. Talks have recently finished in Europe that said that Iraq would allow the United Nations to come in unconditionally and immediately to inspect.
This is an important thing that we should do, because we cannot afford to start a war on the basis of assumption only. What are the consequences of a pre-emptive strike based solely on assumption or on the will of one nation, even though we believe that nation may have valid reasons for being fearful or for having a vendetta?
What is the precedent we set if we allow one nation to make that decision based on assumption? The precedent would be that India could say that it believes Pakistan is going to come and attack it tomorrow and make a pre-emptive strike on Pakistan. Pakistan could say the same thing about India. We could have China saying this about its neighbours. We could have Russia saying it, moving into Georgia making pre-emptive strikes. We would have set a precedent that says that any one nation, based on what may seem to be a rational fear or real reason can go on a pre-emptive strike.
In the past we have heard a lot of people speak about Winston Churchill, the second world war and the things we need to be afraid of. We are all aware that with 20/20 vision we can look back at the second world war. It was as a result of that 20/20 vision that an international body was put in place so that all nations around the world could share information, could watch-dog each other, could keep a check on each other, and could ensure that they were behaving honestly and that they did not allow any one nation to become a pre-emptive invasive force. We are there to check each other. That is what the United Nations is about.
Some people have said that if we allow the United Nations to go ahead and perform the way it was meant to perform following the second world war, then it would have no teeth. Of course the United Nations will have no teeth. We, the members of the United Nations, must give it teeth and the only way we can give it teeth is to allow it to perform the way it was meant to perform. If we keep second-guessing and pre-empting it, the United Nations will never become a strong body and be able to deal with exactly what it was meant to deal with following the second world war.
I also believe that if we do not follow the rule of law and allow for all nations to come together and decide that there is, to quote the novelist, “a clear and present danger”, then we will continue to set a precedent for any one nation to do exactly what happened in our last major wars, the first and second world wars. We need to be completely aware of the chicken and egg syndrome of war.
In my estimation, war has never seemed to really solve anything. War has always led to more conflict. War breeds war and, in today's world, war breeds terrorism. We can crush one nation and pre-empt it but it will seek its vendetta tomorrow. The people who watch their families die will become terrorists and will seek to continue the war in the new world of war, which is terrorism.
Will we be able to stop anything by suddenly jumping into war ourselves? What are the long term consequences: more and more terrorism? Have we looked at that? What do we need to do?
People have accused the Liberals by saying that we are scaredy-cats, that we are afraid. Canadians never need to hold their heads in shame with regard to their performance in war. Canadian soldiers fought valiantly. The courage of Canadian soldiers, in the face of all odds at Vimy, stands out loud and clear for anyone who thinks of Canadian soldiers. Canadians can show that we can go to war, that we can perform and that we can shine and punch well above our weight when we go to war.
However we learned some other things following the second world war. With the United Nations and with people like Lester Pearson, we learned to find ways of dealing with conflict or of finding other alternatives to conflict. Canada has now gained a name for itself around the world of being a country that has supported international rule of law, the United Nations and multilateral instruments. We must continue to make that happen. We must continue to allow multilateral decisions to be made. We must continue to allow ourselves to watchdog each other.
We have seen that even this nation, which seeks to go to war with Iraq, is very scared and wants to be left out of the international criminal court. It wants to be given an exemption. Why? No one should be exempt. We must all be wary of each other. We must all watchdog each other and support each other.
If I recall Henry V, it says “Cry havoc and let fly the dogs of war”. We must be careful how we let loose the dogs of war. We must be very careful that those dogs do not unleash consequences for which we are not ready. We must be very careful that when we do go to war it is for a cause that we are sure of and that it is, indeed, something that will end the problems that we are seeking to alleviate. I want us to think of that.
We will do what we must do as Canadians. We have always done that in the past and we will continue to do that. We will go to war if we must and we will support our allies if we must but we also have another reputation to guard: our ability to look at international instruments, such as the United Nations and the rule of law, and then decide what our next step must be.
Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, while I agree with the hon. member that multilateral action is preferable to unilateral action and that while war is not desirable and it has many deleterious consequences, I must take the strongest exception to the member's assertion that war “never solves anything” and that war “does nothing but breed war.”
I submit to my hon. colleague that for the Jews, who were rescued from the death camps in Nazi Germany in 1945, the war solved something for them, namely the salvation of their lives. Without our participation in that war, a war which began because an international organization called the League of Nations refused, after years and years of warnings, to take action. Sixty million people lost their lives in that conflict because action was not taken by an international agency.
I would like the member to comment on the following. Her own government, and presumably she, supported an active war against Iraq in 1998 through the United States and United Kingdom air force bombings of Iraq without specific authorization of a UN Security Council resolution and did so in order to try to enforce the 16 outstanding UN Security Council resolutions vis-à-vis Iraq.
Further, her government supported, with the explicit veto of the UN Security Council, NATO acts of war against the government of Serbia in order to protect the innocent civilians of Kosovo. This was another instance where regrettably war is sometimes necessary to protect lives, to protect the innocent and to maintain order against unjust aggressors.
Will she not agree with me, at least in principle, that sometimes war is necessary to save the innocent and, further, that her own government has supported acts of war even in the last five years, including one against Iraq, without the specific authorization of the United Nations Security Council?
Hon. Hedy Fry: Mr. Speaker, I have said that war breeds other things as well. However war does indeed solve problems when there is clear evidence and proof that there is danger.
Obviously we saw what happened to the Jews in the second world war. There was a need to go in there because we were fighting against something that we were absolutely certain was going on.
In the war against Iraq we knew that Iraq was attacking the Kurds. We saw clear evidence of them using chemical weapons in the eighties against the Kurds and the Iranians. We had clear evidence that something was going on.
What I am saying is that when we go to war based on an assumption only, we do not solve a problem, we create one. What I am saying is that we should wait until we know whether there is a clear and imminent danger and a crisis that we must alleviate and only then should we go to war. It should not be as a first act but as an act of final resort when everything else has failed.
We need to protect and defend ourselves and the world against aggression. Obviously we have to go to war at that time. I am not saying we can never go to war. I am just saying that it should be an act of last resort.
Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan—Shuswap, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I would like to suggest to the hon. member that the UN has failed in Iraq, 16 times as a matter of fact.
After listening to the member's speech it seems that she has shown only the United States evidence. I beg to differ. Evidence has been gathered, not only by United States intelligence but also from British, Australian and even Canadian intelligence. She should perhaps read the Canadian CSIS report with regard to the probability of Saddam Hussein having these weapons. That report was done by her own government organization.
Hon. Hedy Fry: Mr. Speaker, what I have said is that there is no evidence of a new and imminent threat. Iraq has been building these weapons. Do we know whether it has disarmed or not? It has said that it has. We need to find proof that it has. That is why we need unconditional and immediate inspection by the United Nations with Canada playing a major role. We know Canadians have very highly trained technological teams that are capable of finding biological and chemical weapons. Let us do that. Let us first find the proof that we need to go to war.
Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor—St. Clair, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I want to echo the sentiments of a number of speakers this evening and last evening in recognizing the importance of the opportunity we have been given to debate this issue around the current situation in Iraq and the response that the international community should have to that situation.
Let me begin by saying that I have sat in the House both evenings and have been very concerned about some of the rhetoric that has taken place in the House, of which we have heard more this evening, some of which is out there in the world. There is just way too much willingness to talk about war and the use of war.
If we truly believe that human life is sacred, then the decision to wage war must be made only as an absolute last resort. It is not something to be played with.
I suggest that members of the House should think about what they are saying when they advocate the use of war. They should listen to themselves. They said the same things when the U.S. went into Vietnam.
Let us talk about both of those situations, not just the second world war but the mess that the west ended up in because of what the U.S. did in Vietnam. Let us talk specifically about the gulf war in which 100,000 people died, 35,000 of whom were civilians.
Since the gulf war, sanctions that were imposed after the war have resulted in somewhere between a half a million and a million civilians dying in Iraq from starvation and the lack of medicine. We cannot fall into that trap.
Some of the comments we have heard from Nelson Mandela have been very interesting and very educational. This is a man who has every right to be bitter at the way his country treated him. I think it is very important that we listen to some of the comments he has made. He has directed these comments to the United States specifically and, more generally I believe, to the west. He has talked about how appalled he was with the talk and the rhetoric about the invasion of independent countries. He has accused the U.S. of being the greatest threat to stability and security.
Those are harsh words and, quite frankly, they may not be totally fair, but it is a signal from that great man, who we honoured here just a year ago, that again we should be careful about how we speak about the use of war and how we act when we head down that road.
I want to speak specifically about the consequences of the invasion of Iraq. I had a very personal experience in this regard. This past summer while the House was in recess I had the opportunity to attend a banquet where the local Chaldean Church was being dedicated. It is the first one in Canada. The Chaldean sect is from Iraq, mainly centred in Baghdad.
I sat that evening with the bishop of that church, who told me about his experiences in the gulf war and about being in Baghdad one evening when the bombing was going on. He was in his church when several bombs fell nearby, destroying buildings and, of course more important, killing many of his neighbours and close friends who lived in the neighbourhood. He then explained the type of work that church has been doing in Baghdad to deal with the sanctions and told me about the number of people they are feeding. He finished by giving me what I think was a caution about what he felt would happen to those women, men and children they were feeding if Baghdad were bombed again. It was very personal.
We have to stop and think. What role does Canada have to play? In some of the speeches we have heard that gung-ho, macho attitude of “let us get in there and support whoever the allies are”, whether it is the U.S. by itself or with England. It is a joke. It is easy for us as parliamentarians in Canada to talk that way because we know we have very little capability in terms of deploying military power. That is a shame. We have to correct it, but that is the reality of what we have now.
It is easy to talk that way when we know there is hardly anything we can do about it. But what we can do, as we have so often in the past, as our diplomats and leaders historically have so often done, is seek out diplomatic, creative solutions to those types of world problems that Iraq now represents for us. I listened to some of the speeches in which parliamentarians suggested that there is no other choice, that we all know what Saddam Hussein is and there is only one thing we can do. I could not help but think that this lack of hope, this lack of creativity in how to deal with that monster, is not in keeping with the Canadian tradition.
I thought about another hot spot in another country, Sri Lanka. As recently as a few months ago, people were saying the same thing about that country, that there was nothing we could do and no solution, that we would have to use some type of military force. In fact, Norway, in its peacekeeping efforts, just kept plugging away at it using whatever diplomatic suasion it could. To give Canada its due, we have been in there too. There have been 60,000 people killed there in the last 20 years and that issue now appears to be resolving itself without further violence.
There are times when we can use creative thinking and creative action to solve those problems short of war. That is what we must do now. We must rely on the rule of law. We must allow those inspectors to get into Baghdad, to get into Iraq and to do their jobs. The talk of war must cease until we see those results. We must not demean their work, as I have heard many speakers do, but let them do the jobs that they know how to do. Only then do we decide what further steps may be necessary in order to deal with the issues that confront us from Iraq.
Again, we have to tone down the rhetoric. We have to let the rule of law apply. We have to let Canadian diplomacy work creatively and, hopefully, for the sake of the world, successfully.
Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I regard my colleague from Windsor--St. Clair as a thoughtful member. I know that his objection to war on principle is heartfelt. I would only hope that he would grant some consideration to those of us who believe that at some point action may have to be taken to ensure that Saddam Hussein is not able to completely destabilize the Middle East and threaten millions of innocent lives. To suggest that those such as myself who take that position are somehow indifferent to the horrific consequences of war is just as irresponsible, I think, as if I were to suggest that his position is somehow unpatriotic or cowardly. I do not feel that way. I think his position is conscientious.
I really think he should contemplate whether he wants to paint with such a brush, or whether he wants to disregard, all of those who believe that some sort of military action may regrettably be necessary in situations such as this as though they are thoughtless, unthinking, unfeeling warmongers. That is an unfair and inaccurate characterization.
I would simply ask him this. He has called for us to use diplomatic means, to be imaginative and so on. The United Nations and the world have waited for ten years now for diplomatic and political solutions to work, for three rounds of weapons inspectors, sixteen United Nations Security Council resolutions, and an armistice following a war that was provoked by Mr. Hussein's military aggression. Ten years, sixteen resolutions and we continue to wait.
Suppose we go back and send in yet another team of inspectors that gets exactly the same response, which is a lack of cooperation from the Iraqis and off limits in the eight enormous so-called presidential compounds where many of these weapons are likely being kept. What then does he propose? That we continue to talk for another ten years and pass another sixteen resolutions? At which point, and I think this is a fair question, does he believe, if ever, that action must be taken, that words must stop and action must start? At what point does he believe the integrity of international institutions like the United Nations is jeopardized by inaction?
Mr. Joe Comartin: Mr. Speaker, that, in terms of both the comments and the questions, is almost impossible to answer in the two minutes I have left.
Let me just say this about the over-defensiveness, perhaps, of my colleague from the Alliance. We have to tone down the rhetoric. We have to stop prejudging what is going to happen and throw out the hypotheticals. So the inspectors go back and they find one small gram of chemical-biological warfare material: Does the hon. member want me to answer that in fact we should go in and bomb Baghdad? No, we should not. He cannot give me the reality. Until we get the reality we should not be prejudging and presuming we are going to have to use military force, because if we start from that vantage point we will in fact use military force.
Hon. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the hon. member a question. I was quite impressed by his thoughtful consideration in his speech.
Does the hon. member have a response or has he thought about something that I have noticed? I may be wrong in my perception, but yesterday's heroes are today's monsters. Are we creating sort of a Frankenstein syndrome here? Iraq, we know, was very active against Iran. Where did Iraq get the weapons of chemical and biological warfare to do that? The Taliban was created in order to get rid of the great Communist scourge when Russia was within Afghanistan and today the Taliban are monsters.
Does he see a pattern here? Does he feel that manipulative interests in other countries' “democratic institutions” or non-democratic institutions can lead to a sort of Frankenstein syndrome?
Mr. Joe Comartin: Mr. Speaker, the simple answer of course would be yes. We can extend the examples to any number of other cases. Do we still criticize Germany for using mustard gas in the first world war? Do we attack the United States because it was the first one, the only one, to use nuclear bombs? The examples go on and on.
We know as recently as this week from information released that in fact some of the chemical weapons Hussein had at one point came directly from the United States. Do we look at them and point our guns at them? Obviously not.
The Deputy Speaker: I know the observation will be made that there is now a break in the rotation here. That having been said, I am satisfied that I understand there has been some arrangement made. The hon. member for Winnipeg--Transcona will be taking a slot that would normally go the governing party.
Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, tonight I want to talk about a subtext of the debate going on in this country about Canada's possible participation in any military action against Iraq. The underlying debate has to do with Canadian sovereignty and whether or not we really actually can or are permitted to have an independent foreign policy when our American friends are dead set on a certain course of action and see Canadian support as a test of our friendship.
I will say more about this later, but first I want to say that I come to this debate not from a pacifist perspective or from an anti-military perspective, as is sometimes suggested by those who disagree with the NDP on such issues. Indeed, I am one of the few members in this place with any military service, in this case in the militia, and I have a great deal of respect for those who put their lives on the line on an ongoing basis in the Canadian armed forces.
I do believe that force is sometimes justified. I believe that the UN should have something like a permanent standing army, ready to enforce its will when necessary. I regret the weakness of the United Nations, and I regret the role that the United States has played in making and keeping the United Nations weak. Only a weak UN would have to consider contracting out the enforcement of its resolutions, as is now the case.
What I do not believe is that force is justified in this case, for a variety of reasons. It is not justified because there is now an opportunity, arguably because of the threat of force, but an opportunity nevertheless real, for weapons inspectors to return to Iraq and complete the work they began several years ago. We need to trust the competency of Hans Blix, who seems to feel that the upcoming inspections now agreed upon will be meaningful, and to trust the judgment of Mr. Scott Ritter, a former weapons inspector, who has testified, as I understand, to the effect that there is no urgency that would justify not letting this new opportunity for weapons inspections be exploited. A new resolution at the UN seems unnecessary at this point.
The apparent eagerness of the U.S. administration for a war with Iraq is a source of great concern to many Canadians. They know that wars, even against bad men and bad regimes like Saddam Hussein's, are not always fought for the best of reasons. They know that today's bad guy was often yesterday's good guy. They know that economic interests are often at play. They know that domestic political interests are often at play, and they may also sense in this case, in the post-September 11 context, that our American neighbours may be acting out of a collective consciousness that we just simply cannot be expected to share, even though Canadians were killed on September 11. And of course, there is still no active claim that Iraq is connected to the events of September 11.
Whatever the combination of reasons, it now appears that the U.S. is determined to create the context for justifying an attack on Iraq in the near future. What should Canada's response be? That is the question. But the underlying question is whether Canada has any choice in the matter. It may be okay to take a different position than the United States on Kyoto or the International Criminal Court or the landmines treaty, but when it comes to Iraq the argument is often heard that given U.S. vehemence on this issue we have no choice, that it would not be in our best interests to not participate.
This line of argument was quite prevalent in a debate that I was part of recently, sponsored by TVO, which took place in Calgary. The argument seemed to be that our economy was so integrated with that of the United States that we would be at great economic risk if the Americans decided to punish us for lack of conformity to their view of this particular situation. This is exactly what those of us who fought the free trade agreement feared: that with integration would come a loss of political freedom. That day seems to have arrived, and it is this that Canadians should be also concerned about. For if we have no choice economically, then what kind of country are we? There may be situations in which one does not have a choice, morally speaking. That is different. But economic arguments for Canadian acquiescence raise a different set of questions.
Finally, I believe that all of us who subscribe to multilateral global solutions to problems have to devote ourselves to the reform of the United Nations. It has such a diversity of weaknesses at the moment that no matter what one's point of view one is able to identify some reason why UN resolutions that one does not support should not be enforced while resolutions that one does like should be enforced.
It is common to cite UN resolutions on the occupied territories at this point but my point is this. Two wrongs do not make a right and some day we must have a UN with greater democratic and moral legitimacy with an independent capacity for enforcement that no country will be able to ignore.
I wish the government much wisdom in charting a course that is respectful of international law, of Canadian sovereignty and of the need not to sign on to the new American doctrine enunciated by President Bush on September 20. This doctrine effectively ended any pretence that the rules which obtained for decades after World War II are any longer valid. From now on the United States has taken onto itself the role of global arbiter of what regime survives and what regime does not, of who is pre-emptively hit and who is not. If the UN goes along, fine, but if it does not, it happens anyway.
This is not the world the distinguished Canadian diplomats and politicians like Lester Pearson set out to create. It is not a world that the current Liberal government should go into without raging against the dying of the light.
Mr. Larry Bagnell (Yukon, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first I would like to make a comment. The Prime Minister has made it quite clear that while this government is in place Canada will make its own decisions. We have always made our own decisions and I do not think we have ever made the decision to go into war on the exact same date as the United States.
That being said, often we share a common interest. When we have people who share a lot of common values, freedom and democracy, and share a border it makes sense to trade and it makes sense to be good partners in that way.
I agree with a lot of things the member said. I think a lot of the parties in the House and other people agree that we should definitely give peace every opportunity. We want to fight through as many diplomatic channels as we can. We want the weapons inspectors to go in. We do not want unilateral action by one country. We would like multilateral action by the United States.
However, if it comes to the same situation as it did the last time, where Iraq would not let the inspectors in, by stalling them, firing gunshots in the air and doing everything possible, including the development of mobile labs, and the United Nations passed a resolution in the Security Council for military intervention, would the member agree that Canada should join it?
Mr. Bill Blaikie: Mr. Speaker, the Liberals do not like to answer hypothetical questions any more than I like to.
Obviously, it would be of great concern to all of us if it turned out that the current opportunity for a renewed weapons inspection, providing that weapons inspection happened in good faith and did not become, as has been admitted in the past, an opportunity for other agendas to be served beyond what was necessary in terms of a weapons inspection and if the Iraqi offer turned out to be a false one and there was a need for access to sites that was denied, then that would something that would have to be demonstrated and a judgment would have to be made in that context whenever that situation arrived. Obviously, my hope is that the situation will not arise and that we will not have to deal with that.
I am concerned that we may not even create the opportunity for that context to arrive, either in a negative or a positive way, because of the determination, it seems to me, of the current administration in Washington to act before we have an opportunity to make that determination. Our concern here tonight is that there is a stubbornness of will there, which is actually contrary to the rhetoric and which talks about the risk to the world of allowing Saddam Hussein to continue any longer in the current context. The real risk is not giving this new opportunity for a weapons inspection a chance.
Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for this member, and we all do. However this is a motion dealing with a situation in Iraq not a critique of American foreign policy. I really regret the fact that he focused his remarks almost exclusively on his critique of American foreign policy and not the situation in Iraq.
I do not believe personally, like he has implied, that the American interest in this is to simply expand its global hegemony over all parts of the world. I actually happen to be seriously concerned that if Saddam Hussein gets his hands on even a rudimentary nuclear warhead and affixes it to a Scud missile, this is not some bizarre space age hypothesis but it is a concrete possibility, that he could then hold hostage the entire world in a sense.
He has indicated, and I take him at his word and I wonder if the member does, that if he had the capacity he would wipe out half of Israel. I think he said the Zionist entity.
Is the member not at all concerned that, or he certainly did not express his concern, that if we allow him to obfuscate for too long and he gets his hands on a weapon of this nature, it will then be too late to stop him?
Mr. Bill Blaikie: Mr. Speaker, I think this is a fundamental difference between the member and I. He thinks somehow that we can have a debate about Iraq without having a debate about American foreign policy. Obviously what is going on with respect to Iraq is intimately related to American foreign policy. It is a policy of the United States with respect to a particular foreign country called Iraq that we are debating here tonight. It is quite clearly a matter of American foreign policy.
As for the various statements that Saddam Hussein may or may not have made, I take the hon. member at his word. If we were to bomb everybody who ever said they wanted to do something there would be an awful lot of bombing going on in the world
I take my view from this I suppose as someone who grew up in the post-war world when there were lots of grounds, given the grounds that the member has indicated are valid tonight, for going to war against the former Soviet Union but we did not because we thought that the risk of doing that was too great.
I am not a fan of the doctrine of mutual assured destruction and I do not think that is the situation that we are in anyway with respect to Iraq because I believe the evidence that has been put forward so far by people who have been on the ground that it is not in that kind of situation. Therefore, we should take advantage of the opportunity to ensure, in a peaceable way, that it never actually has that capacity.
It is not oranges and apples here. I do not believe we are in the situation that the member describes so it really is a case of what one believes the objective conditions are. If one believes in a different set of objective conditions, one might come to different conclusions.
My analysis of the objective conditions at this moment is that there is not sufficient evidence that we are in the situation the member describes and that therefore, given all the other factors, we should take every opportunity to ensure that we never arrive at the situation the member describes by taking advantage of the opportunity for a new weapons inspection protocol now available.
Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River, PC): Mr. Speaker, I want to take part in this very important debate tonight on Iraq because of the potential for putting Canadians in harm's way.
Debate in this House of the people has been a part of our political history anytime this country has gone to war. Having listened to much of this debate over the past several evenings, I would like to present the point of view found in my riding of Dauphin--Swan River.
The constituents of Dauphin--Swan River are concerned about the possibility of this country going to war on another front when our troops are not finished with the war against terrorism being fought in Afghanistan. Two points of view have been communicated to me by my constituents.
First, how we can possibly not support the position of President Bush? We have to just look at our economy which is closely tied to our American neighbour. We share a common border, the longest undefended border in the world. We are the best of friends. Our economy is dependent on the American marketplace. In fact, 80% of the products we produce are shipped south. We share many of the same democratic values. Over a billion dollars daily of trade moves north and south from B.C. to P.E.I.
Constituents who share this view support following the direction of President Bush. These constituents feel it would be seen as a betrayal to our friendship to not support President Bush and would let Saddam Hussein continue his bullying of the world community.
The other point of view shared by the majority of people of Dauphin--Swan River is that, as a member of the world community, Canada must work through the United Nations to resolve all conflicts around the globe. As a country we believe in the rule of law. Our behaviour needs to reflect this principle. These constituents believe that all diplomatic options must be exhausted before the use of force.
Canadians are a peaceful and we live in a peace loving nation. When stirred by a just cause, Canadians are second to none when it comes to defending our nation. Our world record speaks for itself. Canada has never run away from any armed conflict.
This summer I had the opportunity to take part in a cenotaph rededication service in the community of Gilbert Plains, my hometown and the place where I grew up. The people who attended this very important ceremony were reminded of the supreme sacrifice made by the young men and women from the village of Gilbert Plains in both the first world war and the second world war.
We are also reminded of the effect that war has on Canadian families, as we recently witnessed with the loss of lives in our campaign in Afghanistan.
War has also had tragic effects on my life. After the second world war, my family lost everything they owned and were forced to escape from mainland China during the political climate change. Fortunately I was only three years old at the time. Thank God I do not remember a lot of traumatic things that took place at that time.
At this time as a father I am proud to have my son who is currently in the Canadian army go to war to defend this country for a just cause. I am sure most Canadian parents feel the same way as I do this evening.
We need to sort out the real issues in this debate. First, let us talk about Saddam Hussein. Enough has been said about him over the last two evenings to convince most of us in the House and probably in this country that he is not a nice guy. If he were not around, the people of Iraq and the world would certainly be better off. Most of us would agree there is no argument on that point.
The debate now is on how Canada should operate at this time. Should Canada follow blindly the President of the United States and his point of view? Should Canada follow a process as established by the community of the world through the United Nations?
Canada is a sovereign country and can think for itself. We are independent. A strong friendship with the United States should promote differing views. We need only to look at the domestic problems that we experience all the time. Currently we have disputes in the area of agricultural subsidies. We are having a dispute over softwood lumber. These are examples of how we differ in our points of view. We should not look at different views as being weak or disloyal to our American friends. As a sovereign country we need to do what is right for Canada first and foremost.
I want to reiterate some of the most recent developments of this past week. On September 30 the United Nations weapons inspectors began talks with Iraq regarding their return to Baghdad. The discussion began by holding Saddam Hussein to his pledge of unfettered access to suspect sites. Hans Blix, the chief UN inspector, stated that the talks would operate under the assumption that nothing in Iraq, including Saddam's palaces, would be considered off limits to inspectors. A deal was expected to be reached and it was reached yesterday.
Under a new United States resolution which we have been hearing about and expected to be brought to the Security Council soon, inspectors would have access to all sites including the palaces or any other government buildings. They would be protected by security forces during their visit.
The people of Dauphin—Swan River support the use of force only after all diplomatic options have been expended. If and when Canada sends soldiers abroad to participate in any campaign against Iraq, every single diplomatic channel must be exhausted beforehand. All Canadian diplomats need to use all of their contacts to pressure the Iraq regime to cooperate with the United Nations and its weapons inspectors.
A rare effort must be made to follow the directives of the United Nations and Secretary General Kofi Annan in taking action against Iraq. We must ensure that Iraq honours its commitments to ensure unfettered inspections take place and Canada must work with the United States to ensure that all of us work under the auspices of the United Nations.
Finally, rules based diplomacy must remain the centre of international cooperation and conflict. One superpower must not be allowed to change or make up rules as it sees fit. This would be a certain recipe for disaster in the present and the future.
Mr. Larry Bagnell (Yukon, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments. I think most of us agree with them actually. As the member said, our position is to do everything diplomatically to solve this situation and ultimately only act under international law and multilaterally. Does the Conservative Party have an official position on this situation?
Mr. Inky Mark: Mr. Speaker, the official position of the PC Party of Canada is exactly as I have presented it this evening.
Mr. Bryon Wilfert (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this discussion this evening.
The issue of Iraq must be seen in the context of a working system of collective security. The problem of security is no longer the concern of an individual state, to be taken care of by armaments and other elements of national power. Security becomes the concern of all states, which will take care collectively of the security of each of them, as though their own security were at stake.
If A threatens B's security, C, D, E, F and G will take measures on behalf of B against A, as though it was threatening them as well as B and vice versa. One for all and all for one is the watchword of collective security. As Bismarck put it to British ambassador Lord Loftus in 1869, according to the latter's report to the British foreign secretary:
|If you would only declare that whatever power should wilfully break the peace of Europe, would be looked upon by you as common enemy--we will readily adhere to, and join you in that declaration--and such a course, if supported by other powers, would be the surest guarantee for the peace of Europe.|
These words have relevance today in dealing with Iraq. There is no question the government of Saddam Hussein has been a blight on the international community since 1979. His policies of mass murder and use of chemical and biological weapons against the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south are well documented.
The United States which once supported Iraq against Iran in the 1980s shifted by the end of the decade and culminated in the actions of Desert Storm. In 1991 the United States sought a multilateral approach to Iraq but could not indefinitely quarantine Iraq. It was naive to think that the broad coalition cobbled together during an unusually perilous moment in 1990-91 would stand as a permanent arrangement. The demographic and economic weight of Iraq and Iran meant that those states were bound to reassert themselves.
The United States has done well in the Persian Gulf by Iraq's brazen revisionism and the Iranian revolution's assault on its neighbours. It has been able to negotiate the terms of the U.S. presence: the positioning of equipment in the oil states, the establishment of a trip wire in Kuwait, and the acceptance of an American troop presence in the Arabian Peninsula at a time when both Iraq and Iran were on a rampage.
As time went by Iraq steadily chipped away at the sanctions that were imposed upon it and the sanctions began to be seen as nothing but an Anglo-American siege of a brutalized Iraqi population. It has been said that the campaign against Saddam Hussein had been waged during a unique moment in the politics of the Arab world. Some Muslim scholars have even suggested that the alliance with foreign states to check the aggression of Iraq was permissible under Islamic law.
The government of Saddam Hussein outlasted the campaign by foreign powers against him. He worked his way into the local order of things. He knew the distress that was created in the region after the 1991 gulf war. All around Iraq the region was poorer; oil prices slumped and the war had been expensive for the oil states that financed it. Oil states suspected they were being overbilled for military services and for weapons they could not afford.
In 1996 Saddam Hussein brazenly sent his squads of assassins into the safe haven that the United States had marked out for the Kurds in northern Iraq after Desert Storm. He sacked that region and executed hundreds who had cast their fate with American power. The U.S. was alone. The two volleys of Tomahawk missiles fired against Iraqi air defence installations had to be launched from U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf and B-52 bombers that flew in from Guam.
The United States had not stayed for the long term. United States officials characterized this episode as an internal Kurdish fight, the doings of a fratricidal people. After the gulf war Iraq was left wounded but not killed. President Clinton had spent his time and his energies on the Israeli-Palestinian issue and had paid scant attention to the Persian Gulf. There was a pattern of half-hearted responses to terrorist attacks.
September 11 changed American policy but regrettably it seems only briefly. In the events before that tragedy the United States under President Bush had retreated into a situation where it took a go-it-alone approach, rejecting international attempts at dealing with issues ranging from chemical weapons to small arms.
After September 11 the United States briefly rediscovered multilateralism and the collective security approach to international terrorism. It lined up states as diverse as Russia, Iran, European states, Malaysia and others in a common cause against terrorism. Now the United States is urging a strike against Iraq. This time there is no broad coalition. Canada and other states have stated that a multilateral approach is key in responding to the issue.
The United Nations was created in part to deal with international crises. Responding to crises through a collective voice is critical to provide legitimacy and weight to actions against Iraq or any other state. The United States cannot plunge the Middle East into a crisis by acting as a vigilante. We know that war is the extension of politics by other means. Is it unreasonable to say that the UN weapons inspectors should have unfettered access to any sites, including Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces?
The facts can be placed before the international community. If weapons of mass destruction are found, then the collective will of the international community can be heard through UN resolutions and possible military action. If the U.S. acts alone against Iraq, why not against another international pariah, such as Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the Burmese junta, and the list could go on.
The rule of law must be maintained and adhered to. If we allow the actions of one state to dictate in this case, we will have turned the clock back many years to a time when states acted in their own national self-interest to the peril of others. Canada must continue to support and advocate a multilateral approach to this issue. If the decision is war, then the international community will have spoken clearly. We cannot afford otherwise.
Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I find it difficult to grasp the devotion of some members opposite to a slogan of multilateralism without defining what it is. The member seems to imply a connection between international law and an adherence to it. How does he define international law?
Is Iraq's refusal to comply with 16 resolutions of the United Nations Security Council respectful of international law? Does it do any honour to or does it protect the integrity of international law, as he defines it, to not respond? What is the meaning of law if it has no sanctions, if there are no consequences to disregarding it? International institutions, such as the United Nations, which impose certain requirements on countries that habitually ignore them is no law at all. Its entire moral authority is being undermined.
Does he not agree with me that for the United Nations to save its moral authority, to avoid becoming another League of Nations, another useless talking shop, to demonstrate that it actually does have the capacity to solve and not just talk about international crises, it must make clear that there will be consequences?
Further, how does he explain his own government's willingness in 1998 to support quite vigorously what he would characterize as the unilateral American and British bombing of Iraq to seek to enforce it to comply with UN resolutions outside of a specific authorizing resolution of the Security Council? Finally, how does he justify his government's and our military's active support for the attacks of NATO on Kosovo specifically outside of the UN mandate where the Russians offered a veto?
Ultimately, what he is saying is that Russia, for instance, and that great moral giant China, which has a veto on the Security Council, can determine what constitutes international law. That is not consistent with the norms that we as Canadians recognize.
Mr. Bryon Wilfert: Mr. Speaker, I think a multilateral approach to the member's multiple questions might be in order.
First, without giving the member a basic 101 lesson on international law, international law is traced back to the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648. There are certain norms of behaviour in the international community that have been developed over the years. Aggression clearly is not acceptable in the international community. What is important is how states respond to aggression. We saw the failures of aggression that were not responded to with the Japanese in Manchuria in 1931, the Italians in Ethiopia in 1935 which as we know eventually led to the second world war.
In this case, the issue of multilateralism is that there must be a collective approach in dealing with world issues. If we do not have that, what is the point of the UN? Maybe the member opposite is advocating that we close down the United Nations, but the fact is that the United Nations is the forum to bring these issues to.
The United Nations has acted. In 1950 when South Korea was invaded by North Korea, the United Nations responded with a collective voice in a collective action against the invasion by the north. The United Nations responded in 1956 in the Suez crisis. The United Nations responded in the Congo in 1960-61, and the list goes on.
The fact is that no state has that right in my view. I could certainly agree to disagree and I am sure the hon. member would respect my view. If the United States decided that it is Iraq which is one of the axis of evil, and I do not think anybody in the House is suggesting that Saddam Hussein is a boy scout; clearly he needs to be dealt with. However, the question is, what approach should we take in dealing with that individual?
If we use the scenario that Saddam Hussein is eliminated, and I do not know who would take power because the Iraqi opposition is very fragmented, then do we move on to Zimbabwe, Burma, or wherever? Clearly, taking out states individually without a collective approach in my view is folly and is very short-sighted.
Kosovo was a collective--
The Deputy Speaker: Order. Resuming debate with the hon. member for Edmonton Centre-East.
Mr. Peter Goldring (Edmonton Centre-East, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the main purpose of this important debate is to clarify Canada's position on Iraq and its participation in any conflict involving Iraq.
It is important to remember that Canada's participation in Afghanistan in late 2001 and through 2002, while involving great honour and bravery and the loss of life on the part of our individual soldiers, was not the result of an immediate commitment on the part of the government to assist the United States immediately following the events of September 11.
Many will remember how President Bush did not identify Canada when he thanked those countries that had come immediately to the aid of the United States shortly after September 11. We have seen repeatedly that the closest ally of the United States in the war against terrorism has been Great Britain, while the Canadian government has been a reluctant later participant. One positive outcome of this debate will hopefully be a greater degree of public concern with respect to the government's foot dragging and the dereliction of its duty in the war on terrorism.
On the one hand the government's behaviour has involved reluctant support for our closest ally and trading partner in this time of great need. On the other hand, even if the government were committed to full participation in the war against terrorism, it has only limited assistance to offer. Year after year, both opposition politicians and the general public have tried to motivate the government to make a more substantial and immediate commitment to the revitalization of our defence capabilities. Year after year the government has chosen to balance its budgets on the backs of our armed forces through continued cutbacks and delays.
For example, our helicopters in Afghanistan were a true disgrace, being many years older than those who were flying them and requiring 35 hours of maintenance for each hour in the sky. Their flight capabilities were severely limited in terms of how far they could fly without risk of accident or failure. This situation should have been remedied 15 years ago by replacement helicopters, yet it was not. Liberal politics of the past interfered with Canada's military capability of today. Our troops showed up in Afghanistan in dry lands wearing bright green camouflage which the troops spray-painted beige just to make do.
The government has been warned repeatedly that there will be consequences in terms of its global influence if it depends upon a policy of piggybacking on and borrowing U.S. defence capabilities to defend Canada's own borders. In matters of defence, the government has made Canada the true free rider. Free riders always get dumped eventually since countries will not let themselves be taken advantage of indefinitely.
We wonder how many of Canada's trade disputes with the United States, be they softwood lumber or agriculture subsidies, could be more readily resolved if the government were not seen as riding on the back of the United States in matters of defence.
Throughout the text of the September 30 Speech from the Throne there was much reference to what a great country Canada is and how there are so many social issues to be addressed by further federal spending, but very little indication of the government's financial commitment to enhancing Canada's defence capabilities. When a country is attacked as the United States was attacked, it is very important to know who one's friends are relative to acting decisively against one's enemies. In issues of our mutual interests with the United States, our government has turned Canada into a peacetime, fair-weather friend; a friend who is only there to share in the benefits and the good times but is unwilling to make the commitments and sacrifices that are necessary to overcome the bad times.
One result of our free rider status in defence matters is that Canada now has been described as little more than an afterthought in the United States' North American defence plans. Our government has made our country largely irrelevant. The United States northern command structure has been designed largely without reference to Canada. Could this be because time and again in recent years and months, the government and the Prime Minister have demonstrated that they cannot be counted upon?
Many have been concerned that the new United States missile defence system again has been planned without Canadian input. Why should the United States consult Canada when the current Canadian government has demonstrated that it is not interested in making a significant commitment to the defence of its own country, quite apart from any allied defence commitment?
We are here today to address how Canada will approach the United States' position that a demagogue, Saddam Hussein, must be removed from power.
Some say that Iraq is barely months away from having nuclear capabilities. We know that Iraq already has chemical weapons of mass destruction and that it has used them in the past.
Some may remember the folly of the position of the United States at the time of desert storm. It was the United Nations that determined to let Saddam Hussein go free despite his atrocities in Kuwait. The United States was in a position to topple him 10 years ago but stopped short out of respect for the United Nations position.
This time around it is noteworthy that the United States is not waiting for the direction or the opinion of the United Nations prior to determining to act. As President Bush has said, the actions against the United States on September 11 were an act of war and that the United States would act against both perpetrators of those acts and against those who would harbour or support them.
Iraq is a principal supporter of Islamic terrorism. The Deputy Prime Minister's view at the time was that there was no possible excuse or moral justification for the actions of September 11 and Canadians must demonstrate that they unequivocally support the United States in its actions against terrorism. It is regrettable that our Prime Minister and the government he currently controls do not demonstrate a similar degree of moral conviction.
In terms of Iraq, the Prime Minister's fairly consistent position is that he must see a smoking gun. As far as the Prime Minister is concerned, there was terrorism in Afghanistan but no terrorism in Iraq. The Prime Minister stated his position as follows. The logic of the Prime Minister is illustrated in the recently reported quote from him:
|A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It's a proof. A proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof, it's because it's proven.|
The current Minister of Foreign Affairs has stated that before one invades a foreign country there has to be a reason for it. The reason here should be self-evident. Supporters and harbourers of terrorism are no different from the terrorists themselves. Supporters and harbourers of terrorism are complicit in the terrorist acts of war against the United States and must be counted. If we stand on the sidelines, we risk becoming the last Jew in the Berlin of the 1940s, continuing to deny the threat that is self-evident until the enemy is at our door ready to take us to our destruction.
To those who would say to wait until the evidence is crystal clear, I say never again. Terrorist activities by their nature are covert and concealed with terrorists ready to strike at the moment of greatest weakness. Waiting for crystal clear evidence of intent can be far too late. Acting on good intelligence and striking based on a high probability of terrorist action is a prudent response given the current times and also given the lessons of history. Supporting England and the United States, our allies in both war and peace, becomes imperative if we consider ourselves to be national citizens of the free world.
Mr. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to organize my remarks around a series of questions and then proceed in sequence to answer them.
Number one, does the situation in Iraq pose a threat to international peace and security? More particularly, is there a clear and present danger that Saddam Hussein has the intent and the capacity to develop, transfer and use weapons of mass destruction?
Number two, what are the remedies available, political, diplomatic, economic and juridical to counter, contain and address this threat? Again, more particularly, have all the remedies short of military force been exhausted? This has to be a bedrock principle in our approach to appreciating the international and indeed Canadian domestic strategy with respect to Iraq. Have all remedies short of military force been exhausted?
Number three, what has been the experience and what is the status of the United Nations weapons inspection regime?
Number four, what role can and should the United Nations, particularly the UN Security Council now play in countering the Iraq threat?
Number five, does a democratic country like the United States or a coalition of democratic countries have the right to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iraq on the grounds that it constitutes a threat to international peace and security?
Number six, what are the risks involved in the use of military action and what are the risks involved in forgoing military action if all other remedies have been exhausted, short of military action, and we have come to the point where we have to make that decision?
Finally, what is the specific and distinguishable contribution that Canada can make?
I am not sure whether time will permit me to answer these questions, but I will take them now seriatim. I will begin with the first, whether the situation in Iraq poses a threat to international peace and security and in particular, whether there is a clear and present danger that the Saddam Hussein regime has both the intent and capacity to develop, transfer and use weapons of mass destruction.
The record demonstrates that Saddam Hussein has historically constituted a threat to international peace and security, whether one speaks of the acts of genocide against his own people in the Halabja genocide in 1988, the war crimes and crimes against humanity in the war with Iran, the crimes against the peace which has been called, if I may borrow from his own phrase, the mother of all international crimes in the acts of aggression against Kuwait, or in the torture, execution and repression of his own civilians. One could go on and on. The record is clear. The importance of that record is that Saddam Hussein has demonstrated the will and the capacity to commit the most horrific of international crimes.
It is no less clear that Iraq under Saddam Hussein has the intent and the capacity to produce chemical and biological weapons, retains the capacity to produce mass casualty chemical weapons and is on the threshold of acquiring weapons grade material for building nuclear weapons or constructing one on its own.
In other words, if Iraq is not yet a clear and present danger to international peace and security, its intent, coupled with its capacity and the historical record, places us in the position of appreciating that it is certainly in the process of evolving into such a clear and present and imminent danger to international peace and security as well as to regional instability and a threat within the Middle East itself. This leads me to the second question.
Given the remedies available, what can one characterize as the spectrum of remedies that we can identify as having been used and that can be used to contain, to counter and to redress the Iraqi threat?
First there will be political démarche, démarche for member states in the international community on a bilateral level and on a regional level, in particular the League of Arab States to whom the threat to international peace and security involves also, as I indicated, a threat to Middle East peace and security. We know that these démarches, from a political point of view, are being made by the Arab states themselves to Iraq.
Second, there are diplomatic remedies in the form of démarches from the United Nations and its specialized agencies, be it the Atomic Energy Commission or UNSCOM and the weapons inspection regime and the like.
Third are the economic remedies in the form of the economic sanctions.
Finally, interestingly enough, given the overall explosion in international criminal law, there are legal remedies. For example, there is the indictment of Saddam Hussein as a war criminal. It is a remedy however that has not been used, notwithstanding the salutary effects it may have in so indicting him, both with regard to isolating him in the international community as a kind of pariah of such a nature that ought to deter any other states from having any other relationships with him, if not also encouraging an opposition in that regard, not unlike what indictments have done with war criminals in other killing fields.
This brings me to the third point. What has been the experience and the status of the United Nations inspections regime in its relationship with Iraq, both from the beginning of that inspection regime to the present day?
An examination of the evidence demonstrates on the part of Iraq a pattern of obstruction, obfuscation, deception and denial, of accepting inspections without conditions and then imposing conditions, even at gunpoint, so as to obstruct, obfuscate and in fact immunize itself from any inspections regime.
This brings me to the fourth point. What role can and should the UN now play in countering the Iraqi threat given this pattern of obstruction and denial of a Union Nations inspection regime?
First, if there cannot be an agreement obtained between the United Nations inspection regime and Iraq with respect to a full, unfettered and unconditional access to an international inspection regime allowing for inspections anywhere, any time, including for example the presidential palaces of Saddam Hussein which thus far have been immune from inspection but which have been characterized as clearly able to be weapons of mass production factories, then the UN Security Council will have to unequivocally authorize such a weapons inspection regime supported by a chapter VII authority under the UN charter. It is a triggering mechanism whereby any obstruction or obfuscation, deception or denial by Iraq will result in a determination by the United Nations Security Council that such behaviour constitutes a threat to international peace and security and that such a determination will include also the authorization for the use of force under chapter VII in the name of and under the authority of the United Nations Security Council and, in effect, in the name of and under the authority of the community of nations. In effect this will constitute authority for forceable humanitarian intervention.
I prefer to use that approach rather than the terminology or characterization of this as war, not unlike for some of the authority that was given with respect to the NATO intervention in Kosovo. At that time the United Nations determined that the situation in Kosovo was a threat to international peace and security. It triggered a chapter VII authority. From that, NATO inferred that it had specific authority to militarily intervene although that had some questionable authority at the time; it was an inferred and not expressly a specific one. However the UN Security Council could now make this a specific one.
This brings me to the fifth question. Does a democratic country such as the United States, or a coalition of democratic countries, have the right under international law to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iraq on the grounds that Iraq constitutes a threat to international peace and security?
There would be two main sources of legal authority for that kind of strike by the United States or a coalition of democratic states. One would be the Kosovo precedent, that once the United Nations has determined, if it indeed does determine, that the situation in Iraq constitutes a threat to international peace and security but does not expressly subsequently also authorize forcible military intervention, then a coalition of democratic states, following upon the Kosovo precedent, can make, if it wishes, that kind of inference.
However, the situation in Iraq may have to demonstrate that it indeed constitutes such a threat to international peace and security for this first rubric to in fact be legally persuasive.
The second would be article 51 of the United Nations charter, the principle of self-defence against an armed attack. Here one will have to refine in the post-September 11 age, w