That, in standing in solidarity with those seeking freedom in Libya, the House unanimously adopted a motion in the Third Session of the 40th Parliament on March 21, 2011, authorizing all necessary measures, including the use of the Canadian Forces and military assets in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973; and given that the House unanimously agreed that should the government require an extension to the involvement of the Canadian Forces for more than three months from the passage of the said motion, the government was to return to the House at its earliest opportunity to debate and seek the consent of the House for such an extension; therefore the House consents to another extension of three and a half months of the involvement of the Canadian Forces in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1973; that the House deplores the ongoing use of violence by the Libyan regime against the Libyan people, including the alleged use of rape as a weapon of war by the Libyan regime; that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Standing Committee on National Defence remain seized of Canada's activities under UNSC Resolution 1973; and that the House continues to offer its wholehearted support to the brave men and women of the Canadian Forces who stand on guard for all of us.
He said: Mr. Speaker, before I begin my formal remarks, I once again thank the people of Ottawa West—Nepean for their confidence and trust. I will work tirelessly on their behalf each and every day.
It is an honour to stand in this place and speak to the motion before us. It is an honour because I am proud of the part that Canada has played in the mission to protect the Libyan people from their rulers. It is a mission that is not over yet. The push for a more free and fair Libya is a cause that is not yet achieved, so Canada and its international partners must continue to show resolve, patience and determination to go the distance and help Libyans secure their future.
We must extend our military mission there, we must redouble our diplomatic efforts and we must continue to increase humanitarian aid. That is what our government proposes going forward. The hon. members who will speak for the government over the course of today's debate will elaborate on a suite of actions that we are proposing.
While the citizens of Libya contemplate and prepare for the establishment of a constitutional state, modern and respectful of human rights, Colonel Gadhafi, without the slightest concern for his country, is practising a true scorched-earth policy. We continue to believe that without the intervention of the international community and the adoption of resolution 1973, Benghazi, the home of the opposition who were within range of Gadhafi’s forces in March, would have been utterly devastated.
Remember the threat launched by Gadhafi himself: “The decision has been made. Get ready, we are coming tonight,” he said in an audio message sent to Benghazi and broadcast on Libyan television.
He promised to search “house by house” and to show no mercy. However, because of our decisive action, Benghazi today is a vibrant community that, through the strength of its partnership projects, is inspiring to all who observe it.
Canada has been vocal in condemning the targeting of civilians by the Gadhafi regime and the impact of that regime's actions on the hundreds of thousands of people who have been trapped in Libya or, worse yet, forced to flee its borders.
This regime has chosen to wage war against its own people. In the face of this blatant disregard for both human rights and international law, Canada has demanded that the regime halt its attacks against its own people and ensure that perpetrators of crimes are brought to justice.
We have been particularly disgusted by abhorrent reports that Gadhafi and his thugs are using torture and sexual violence, rape, as weapons against the Libyan population. Such actions are international crimes and may be war crimes or crimes against humanity.
Canada calls for a full and impartial investigation of these serious allegations, so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.
Canada has made significant contributions to humanitarian aid already, as my colleague will no doubt later detail. Let me say at this juncture that we are certainly prepared to do more. I am pleased to announce on behalf of my colleague, the , that Canada is prepared to commit an additional $2 million in humanitarian aid for Libya. A portion of this funding will go directly to support victims of sexual violence as a tool of war. I know this is something that all parties have called for and have supported. I appreciate their wise counsel.
On March 31, this House pledged, through a unanimous motion, its support for Canada's engagement in military operations in Libya. The men and women of the Canadian Forces, working under UN sanction, have helped to avert humanitarian tragedies in eastern Libya, and they have significantly limited the regime's capacity to launch indiscriminate attacks on the innocent civilian population in the east.
The will speak more to other achievements, but as important each of these victories is, they are only stepping stones on the way to ending, in a permanent way, the capacity of this regime to wage war against its own people. We must press on.
From the outset of this crisis in Libya, Canada has supported a swift and decisive international response to this crisis. Not only did we implement United Nations Security Council resolution 1970 quickly, but we extended it further under the Special Economic Measures Act, freezing regime assets, putting in place a travel ban on regime members, and an arms embargo.
We committed fully to the enforcement of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1973, which calls for an immediate ceasefire, an arms embargo, increased sanctions, and a no-fly zone to protect civilians.
Canada was among the first to call for the UN Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court and strongly supported the creation of an international commission of inquiry into violations of basic human rights.
The preliminary results of these inquiries have confirmed the seriousness of the crimes that are being committed. The report of the international commission of inquiry stated that these crimes are such as to indicate a policy directed by Gadhafi himself and his inner circle.
Colonel Gadhafi seeks to remain in power by committing crimes against the people. He needs to be stopped and he needs to be held accountable. He is a clear and present threat both to his people and to the stability of the region, including the emerging and promising democracies of Tunisia and Egypt.
I would note that Canada's end game is shared by our G8 partners as expressed at Deauville earlier this month. Canada's engagement has been the result of a concentrated whole of government effort. Abroad we have worked closely with international and regional partners, the League of Arab States, the African Union, and NATO partners and allies to press the regime to comply with its international obligation.
Canada has been a member of the Libya Contact Group since its inaugural meeting in Doha, Qatar in April. We participated in subsequent meetings in Rome and in Abu Dhabi last week where Canada was represented by my colleague, the associate minister of National Defence. The contact group is an organization of like-minded nations that is helping to provide leadership and to coordinate international efforts with regard to the future of Libya.
After three months of energetic diplomatic, military, and humanitarian engagement, the world's resolve to protect the civilians of Libya against attacks and threat of attacks from the Gadhafi regime, regrettably, has not faded. It is gaining momentum.
However, our work is far from over and so we must look at doing more in terms of humanitarian aid. We must continue our military assault on Gadhafi's command and control centres. We must also take a more robust and principled approach diplomatically if our mission is truly to succeed. Increasing our diplomatic efforts is what I would like to touch on here.
I am pleased to inform the House that Canada is embarking on an enhanced engagement strategy with the national transitional council of Libya, or NTC.
As part of this strategy, Canada will recognize the NTC as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people going forward. Our government will engage with institutions and representatives of the NTC. I will be seeking a meeting with my counterparts on the NTC, the vice-chairman and its ambassador to the United Nations. We will identify members of the NTC responsible for domestic issues and propose meetings with their Canadian counterparts.
We will also happily arrange meetings between NTC members and hon. members of this place. I know this was an engagement suggestion that was called on by my colleague in the Liberal Party, the member for .
We welcome the efforts of the national transitional council in defining core driving principles through its vision for a democratic Libya and its blueprint for building a post-Gadhafi Libya, the road map for Libya, outlining a transition process based on inclusiveness and based on balanced representation.
We will maintain an ongoing dialogue with the NTC to identify Libya's most pressing needs now and into the future. We will do all we can to link the NTC with Canadian expertise on governance and on civil society issues.
We hope this is the start of stronger ties between Canada and the Libyan people, and a brighter, better future for the country as a whole. The decision of this House to extend Canadian participation in the NATO mission should be accompanied by the steps outlined above, and more to come. By doing so, we will send a clear message that we are committed to fulfilling the United Nation's mandate and that we are willing to uphold our commitment to provide protection and assistance to those most vulnerable and to those most in need.
The Libya mission came out about in a unique set of circumstances. The threat to the civilian population, the threat of a massacre in Benghazi was real and imminent, coming from the mouths of the Libyan leaders themselves. The capability existed to intervene. Military assets were available and the geography made it possible. In regional terms, Libya represented and continues to represent a threat to the success of other nascent political openings in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere.
That is why the Arab League had called for action. It is why the international community, including Canada, was compelled to respond. The track record of the Gadhafi regime, of over 40 years of unpredictability and interference in the affairs of the states of Africa and the Middle East, was cause for real concern for the future.
Our strategy is clear. By applying steady and unrelenting military and diplomatic pressure, while also delivering humanitarian assistance, we can protect the civilian population, degrade the capabilities of the regime, and create the conditions for a genuine political opening. At the same time we can bolster the capacity of the Libyan opposition to meet the challenges of a post-Gadhafi Libya and to lay the foundations of a state based on the sovereignty of the people.
In conclusion, the government understands the genuine concerns of Canadians who oppose the use of lethal force and of turning to military action to resolve the problems of the international community. I believe this is an instinct that all Canadians share and is a credit to us all.
At the same time, we have a responsibility to act when we can, when our objectives are right, when our objectives are clear, to protect and to assist those who share the values and would share the institutions for which many of our ancestors gave up their lives so that we could enjoy the benefits.
Since the Libyan uprising began in February, the world community has borne witness to the tremendous courage, sacrifice and dignity of the Libyan people, and of their determination to open a new chapter in the history of their country. The Libyan people are desperate to secure a brighter future. To help secure this future, Canada must play its part.
Let us all strongly reaffirm today that Canada, along with the international community, stands in solidarity with the legitimate and irreversible aspirations of the Libyan people.
Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to the motion before the House with regard to the crisis in Libya and the potential extension of Canada's participation in the mission that we entered last March. I will make comments and then propose amendments in my remarks.
If we look at the timeline of this issue and its trajectory, we really have to go back not to Tripoli or Benghazi or Misrata but to the events that happened in Tunisia. We are all well aware of what happened there, where the so-called Arab spring was launched. It is important to note the similarities between what happened in Tunisia and Egypt and Libya, but there are profound differences in each of these situations, and I will elaborate on them later.
What is notable in all of these situations and in what is happening in Yemen, Syria and Jordan, and the list goes on, is that the people of the respective countries have decided to hold their regimes to account. This is unprecedented in modern history in the region. It is something worthy of note, particularly for these countries in a post-colonial era, where the people themselves have decided they will set the agenda, that they will decide who is going to lead them and to throw off the shackles of oppression and suppression.
On February 15 in Benghazi, riots were triggered by the arrest of a human rights activist, and that is important for people to note. There was finally a coalescence of humanitarian action around those who typically have been isolated, arrested and tortured. People said they would no longer stand by and watch their fellow citizens jailed and oppressed. The riots soon turned into a fight against government forces, with protestors peacefully demanding that Colonel Gadhafi step down, similar to the situations in Tunisia and Egypt.
Just days later on February 21, two Libyan air force pilots decided to defect because they were ordered to use their monopoly on violence, as it were, in this case their jets, to massacre their fellow citizens. It was just after that on February 24 that anti-government forces coalesced around Misrata, evicting forces loyal to Gadhafi.
On February 27, we saw the first UN resolution, resolution 1970, which looked to impose sanctions on Gadhafi and his family. On March 1, the UN General Assembly suspended Libya's membership of the Human Rights Council, and aid agencies reported at that point that 147,000 people had fled Libya for Tunisia and Egypt.
It was on March 5 that the Libyan National Council met in Benghazi and declared itself the representative of the Libyan people.
On March 6, the former Jordanian foreign minister was appointed by the UN as a special envoy to Libya. The next day a regional flash appeal for the Libyan crisis was launched by aid agencies, and foreign workers started to flee Libya.
On March 9, over 100 physicians who were deployed in eastern Libya by the Arab Medical Union coalesced to support the humanitarian crisis there. I might note that many Canadian Libyan doctors and civil society coalesced in support of the humanitarian crisis.
It was on March 10 that forces loyal to Gadhafi bombed the oil town of Brega and took control of another town nearby, just west of Tripoli. It was then that we started to hear calls, after this massacre and bombing, by the Arab League. It was on March 12 that the Arab League called on the UN to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.
There was also support from the African Union, which expressed:
[Its] deep concern at the prevailing situation in Libya, which poses a serious threat to peace and security in that country and in the region as a whole, as well as to the safety and dignity of Libyans and of the migrant workers, notably the African ones, living in Libya. [The] Council is equally deeply concerned with the resulting humanitarian situation.
It was after the cry for help from both the Arab League and the African Union that on March 17 the UN Security Council voted on resolution 1973, which authorized a no-fly zone and all necessary measures to protect civilians from the government forces.
On March 20, Libya declared a ceasefire. The problem was that it continued to oppress its citizens and use violence against them, which clearly showed the cards of the regime, that it was not serious about a ceasefire at that point.
On March 24 NATO was given command to enforce the no-fly zone. It did not take full control of that until other countries signed on. I might note that Canada was joined in the mission by countries like Norway, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, the U.K., France, Italy, Turkey, Qatar, UAE, Jordan and Morocco.
These are important points because many people have forgotten how we got here. The fact of the matter is that we were asked by the African Union, the Arab League and the United Nations to act, and that is why we supported the initial motion of the House.
As has been noted by many, there have been many changes on the ground. For that reason, I think amendments are required to support the humanitarian concerns that exist, especially the internally displaced people and refugees resulting from this conflict; to ensure that we investigate and prosecute rape as a weapon of war, which is something my party has asked for in places like the Congo; and to ensure that there is a strengthened diplomatic pledge by the government to ensure that we fall in line with UN resolution 1973.
I say this because it is not a crisis that will be solved by Canada, by NATO or by more bombing, but by diplomatic and humanitarian pursuit and making sure that the UN is in the lead and is coordinating matters. For the New Democratic Party, it is absolutely important that the UN is involved. I say that because some would put their trust only in regional representation. We in the NDP believe that the UN is the right body to coordinate a crisis of the proportion we have seen in Libya.
I might also note that Libya has challenges. Libya is different from Tunisia and Egypt. It is in some ways about having to look at not just democratic development, as has been mentioned and is certainly true, but also at state formation. For 40 years we have seen one person dominate that particular state, tear down institutions and ensure that he has full power over the people of Libya. So there is a problem and challenge there that is different from the other two countries I have mentioned.
It is also clear to all that if we are to pursue the UN resolution in a way that is meaningful, we need to strengthen diplomatic support. I was glad to hear the minister announce that there would be recognition of the national council.
I would also hope that we work with the diaspora community here. I also would hope that we would see a continued support for diplomatic efforts. Without that, we are not living within the spirit of UN Resolution 1973.
Finally, I want to touch on the need for full accountability and transparency.
I realize that after the initial motion was passed in this House we were in an election. However, it is absolutely imperative that the House and Parliament are seized with this issue through our committees of Parliament and that we actually live up to the same standards as other countries when it comes to transparency of our military mission as well as humanitarian and diplomatic efforts. For that, we believe an amendment is required that is in line with the spirit of the motion as presented.
I also believe we need to ensure that we have not only what was mentioned today by the minister, more humanitarian support, but that it needs to be explicit in the motion as well, and I think that amendments are required for that.
Finally, we have to say after three and a half months of a military commitment to the mission, that would be it. However, that is something that we will abide by, in terms of this motion, in terms of a three and a half month commitment. It is important that amendments be made to assure Canadians that this is not just about a military mission, that this is about making sure we live to the spirit of UN Resolution 1973. For that, I would like to amend the motion with the following. I move:
That the motion be amended by:
(a) substituting the word “consent” with the word “support” and the word “consents” with the word “supports;
(b) adding after the word, “therefore”, the following:
“, with the objective of protecting civilians,”
(c) adding after the words “with UNSC Resolution 1973”; the following:
“the House supports an increase in Canada's humanitarian assistance to those affected by the crisis and efforts to strengthen Canada's support for the diplomatic efforts outlined in UNSCR 1973 to reach a ceasefire leading to a Libyan-led political transition, and supports the government's commitment to not deploy Canadian ground troops”
(d) adding after the words “war by the Libyan regime” the following:
“and supports Canada's participation in the international effort in investigating, preventing and prosecuting these alleged crimes;” and
(e) adding after the words “under UNSC Resolution 1973” the following:
“, appreciates the government's full and continued co-operation on committee meetings and the sharing of information in accordance with the highest levels of transparency practised by our partners in the operation”
I submit these amendments and I look forward to the House supporting them.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time this morning with the member for Toronto Centre.
First, I thank the hon. member for appointing me as the CIDA critic in the Liberal shadow cabinet. I also thank the people of Sydney—Victoria for once again placing their trust in me to represent them here in Ottawa.
Helping people around the world in need has always been a passion of mine even before I entered politics. Since entering politics, the last 11 years I have had a lot of input on the foreign affairs committee and I have travelled to many countries to see the benefits of the help by Canadians.
As the Liberal critic for CIDA, I am honoured to stand in this House today to talk about our country's role in Libya post-Gadhafi.
I will begin by commending the brave men and women in the Canadian armed forces for the amazing job they are doing in Libya and around the world on behalf of all Canadians.
What will we see in Libya after the Gadhafi regime is gone? We will see reports of injustice toward Libyan women, men and children. We will hear more reports of mistreatment under a regime that must be dealt with. Funds will be needed for infrastructure but, most important, Libya will be without a democratic and judicial system, a basic right that we all cherish in this country.
When the G8 met at the summit last month in Deauville, the said that he did not intend to contribute any more funding to new democracies in Egypt, Tunisia or any other country that is now facing rebellions, such as we have seen in Libya and Syria, even though he strongly supports the democratic movements in these regions.
Democracy will not flourish without funds and proper guidance. The absence of social and government cohesion will be a tremendous obstacle in any possible transition to democracy. In fact, a post-Gadhafi Libya must first embark on a process of basic state formation, particularly the construction of a national identity and public administration, and, of course, the return of law and order before this democracy can take root.
The government seems to be in need of a bit of a history lesson. Some historians say that World War II may not have happened in Europe if the allies had assisted Germany in the reconstruction and instilling proper institutions. Instead, the victors after World War I were mostly interested in obtaining more land. The allies learned from this mistake and after World War II they set forth with a major reconstruction effort in western Europe. This was known as the Marshall Plan which was enacted in 1947 as a way to help rebuild Europe. This was also set up to discourage Communism from entering the region.
Canada also played another big role in the development of Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. We see that many of the east bloc countries have instilled our democratic institutions and our Charter of Rights in their constitutions.
Another example in Europe is the role we have played in the former Yugoslavia. We now see that justice is still moving forward in the court system .
At present, Europe is a thriving democratic region and, over the last century, Canada played a big role in making that happen.
Another example is after the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003. Iraqis were faced with turmoil and civil war. This House and many Canadians may not know but, under the Paul Martin Liberal government, Canada pledged over $300 million over seven years for reconstruction. The largest share of Canada's contribution of $115 million was disbursed through the international reconstruction fund for Iraq and was managed by the World Bank and the United Nations.
Canada's support focused on the development of stable, self-governing and prosperous Iraq, with a representative and a democratic government respectful of human rights and promoting equality between women and men. The Canadian assistance in the areas of social and economic development also helped meet human needs, such as food, water and medical care.
Another more recent example of the work we are doing is in Afghanistan where we are helping it move forward as the conflicts diminish. Why are we not taking lessons learned in Afghanistan to other missions such as Libya?
Afghanistan is Canada's largest ever bilateral aid recipient. We are rebuilding schools, helping to build a governance structure and we are training the military and the police. We also have programs to support maternal and child health. We are doing it in Afghanistan and we must continue to do it in other countries.
Another personal experience I have witnessed with the reconstruction of another country post a notorious regime was in Panama. In 1980, Panama, under Noriega, was a police state with no democracy. The largest revenue was from the drug trade. After the fall of Noriega, the Panama Canal was handed over to the people by the U.S. and a new constitution was formed, but the economy also had to be restructured. I was asked to help with the reconstruction of its agriculture industry. I witnessed a transformation in Panama, which is now one of the most democratic and thriving countries in Central America.
Those are all examples that the House must realize have made countries vibrant and democratic.
Where is the government's post-Gadhafi strategy? The government has been notorious for its lack of detail. Why has it not put forward a more detailed plan regarding the future of a post-Gadhafi Libya or what if any role will Canada play in it? There is a known presence of extremist forces in certain areas of Libya, including some links to al-Qaeda. There is a very real fear that the extremists will gain a footing in a power vacuum that will undeniably occur once Gadhafi is finally ousted.
We know the situation we are facing in Libya. I have spoken of the great contributions Canada has made to help foster democracy. The reality is that the government has changed the way Canada operates on the world stage. By only offering to take military action and letting other multilateral international organizations do the restructuring is not acceptable.
The in a recent speech talked about playing a bigger leadership role on the international scene, but what we have seen is completely the opposite. It was with great interest yesterday when we heard in the House the member for criticize companies for working in Libya. The companies the hon. member criticized will be instrumental in rebuilding Libya.
We need to work with Libya to help with reconstruction. There will be a benefit for our companies as we get the oil industry back and get everything to work well in that area. We saw the situation in Egypt where there was insufficient international support after the regime change left Egypt in a vulnerable state.
We cannot let this happen in the Middle East. We especially cannot let it happen in Libya. I ask the House to vote for the subamendment by the member for .
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the chance to spend some time in this debate. I want to express my appreciation to the member from for sharing his time. When we become a Gideon's army, we have to share more, and we are happy to do so.
The member from and the have outlined some of the history of the conflict. I simply want to say a couple of things in addition to the comments that have been made by my friend from .
First, we should not make the mistake of believing that military intervention on its own represents a diplomatic and comprehensive solution to the challenges that we face in the world. It is very important for Canadians to have the understanding that while Canada deeply appreciates and respects the work that our military is doing in Afghanistan and in Libya, as it has done in many other conflicts, the resolution of these conflicts requires more than simply a military effort. This is the first principle that we need to observe.
There are many times when it becomes a little easy to think that if we send planes over and drop some bombs, we are doing our bit for the mission. However, I was pleased to hear the today reflect on the fact that Canada's role needed to expand well beyond that.
Also, for my colleague from , we are fully supportive of the amendments he has proposed. I hope very much that those amendments will be satisfactory to the government.
We need to understand what is happening. We live in an unstable world where democracy does not exist for everyone and where human rights are not respected. In certain areas of the world, people live in terribly difficult economic conditions and an unstable political climate where repressive governments do not respect human rights. That is the world we live in.
As the hon. member for said, we could rhyme off examples of significant progress that has been made. We have seen much positive change in Eastern Europe and Latin America over the past 50 years. There are still major challenges in Africa, the Middle East and China in particular. China is not currently a democracy, but it is a country of more than one billion people.
The question becomes, what is this standard? How do we deal with the fact that the world is not fully democratic, that the world is not one that fully respects human rights? Do we simply take the case of national sovereignty and say that we can never intervene in the affairs of another country, or do we understand, which I think we have to do, that the entire evolution of international law has taken us to this point where we have to say that what goes on inside a country is just as important as what happens between countries. The question is not so much any more what are the rights of the state, vis-a-vis other states. The question much more is whether the rights of citizens in countries, who are being mistreated by their government, are important.
This afternoon, and I am sure the minister will be there, we will be commemorating the Holocaust. We will be reflecting on the fact that the world turned away from those who were being viciously discriminated against in Germany. We waited for a long time and then the interventions came in Poland. Then the interventions came in Russia and then in all of eastern Europe, and six million people were killed because they were Jews.
After the second world war, we began to realize that we had to develop some sense of the rights of the world community and the rights that people had as a result of the injustices that were being faced.
That is the way we have to understand what is happening in Libya. People ask me, “Why Libya? Why not Syria?” How do we explain this intervention and not that one? The answers are not always simple and, in fact, the answers are not always clear, but we are, slowly but surely as a world, taking the human footsteps toward the point where we can say that we will not allow people to be brutalized by their own government, that we will not simply sit back and do nothing and that we will intervene. Yes, that intervention may have a military component and people will be killed as a result of that intervention, and none of us should take joy in the fact that it is a consequence of what happened.
However, we also understand, from everything we have learned in human history, the consequences of appeasement, of not facing up to dictators, of letting people get away with impunity with killing their own people.
I would like to move an amendment to the amendment proposed by my colleague from . I move:
That the amendment be further amended by inserting after the words “political transition”, the following:
That the Government of Canada engage with the Libyan National Council (LNC) based in Benghazi as a legitimate political entity and representative of the Libyan people; that it provide the LNC with advice and assistance in governance, including women's rights;
And further by inserting after the words “alleged crimes”, the following:
That it ensure that Canadian citizens, landed immigrants, or visitors to Canada are not subject to any threats or intimidation by representatives of the Gadhafi regime.
I would add that I fully support the amendments proposed by the New Democratic Party. We had additional language, but we did not want to be redundant in simply putting forward the same perspective. I hope these proposals will have the support of the government. They are entirely consistent with the comments which the minister made today, and I hope they will be accepted.
Madam Speaker, I think we have seen a high-water mark. Early days albeit in this Parliament, but the great traditions of this place include taking part in thoughtful and inclusive debate on subjects such as this.
I am pleased to participate as well in the debate regarding Canada's mission in Libya. The motion itself is clear. We are seeking an extension. There will be a vote.
Libyans themselves, most importantly, have been adamantly opposed to Gadhafi's autocratic regime and they took to the streets. Exasperated by the denial of their basic human rights, the endemic corruption in their country, and the concentration of Libya's wealth in the hands of few, in the hands of the repressive regime and its associates, they demanded that their voices be heard. Democracy has sprung in the Arab spring. Libyans have asked for a say in the affairs of their own nation, something we as Canadians believe is a basic right and a fundamental element of any good government.
The peaceful protests were met with brutal repression, devastating air and ground attacks, behaviour that is absolutely contradictory to Canadian and universal values of human rights and freedom of democracy. These fundamental pillars are truly fundamental to any functional society and they have been absent under Gadhafi.
It soon became evident in Libya that unless the international community assisted the people, further atrocities and massacres would follow. Let there be no doubt, we have already saved innumerable lives. The maniacal ravings of a lunatic made it very clear what the intentions were.
The international community did not stand idly by. I would suggest it moved with unprecedented speed and collaboration. The Arab League, for example, called for an intervention to protect the civilian population of Libya. The United Nations Security Council quickly recognized the deteriorating situation and it passed resolution 1970 on September 26 and resolution 1973 on March 17, calling for the protection of the Libyan population, including an arms embargo and the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya.
Canada and our allies in NATO and partners in the Arab world, including Qatar, the UAE and Jordan, answered the call and proceeded to enforce resolution 1973.
We launched Operation Mobile on February 25 and pre-deployed to Malta. I take this opportunity to acknowledge the participation and support that was provided to us by the people of Malta.
The Canadian Forces are playing a key role in Canada's response to the crisis in Libya, and we can all be proud of the leadership that our country has been showing since this crisis began. We quickly contributed to the efforts of the international community to stabilize the troubling situation in Libya and to protect its people.
Members of our armed forces were first deployed to Libya to help evacuate Canadians. Two C-17 Globemaster aircraft, two C-130J Hercules aircraft and approximately 80 soldiers were deployed to Malta, making it possible for hundreds of Canadians and others to leave the country safely.
Madam Speaker, I should have indicated at the outset that will be splitting my time with the member for .
After the passing of resolution 1973, Canada again acted quickly and decisively in support of the UN Security Council's decision. On March 18, we announced a deployment of fighter aircraft to assist international efforts to enforce the United Nations resolution. Three days later, the government was extremely pleased to garner unanimous support here in the House for the parameters of Canada's military deployment.
When NATO took command of all operations on March 31, the Canadian Forces were already well engaged in the international mission. We leaned forward, and ask we speak, six CF-18 fighter aircraft and one spare, along with one CC-150 Polaris air refueller, two CC-130 Hercules tankers and two Aurora maritime patrol aircraft, as well as the HMCS Charlottetown with an embarked Sea King helicopter are all participating, along with and most importantly the support personnel in theatre. That is roughly 650 Canadian Forces men and women in uniform.
With a navy frigate and several air force assets in action, Canada has been at the very forefront, at the point of the spear in the NATO-led Operation Unified Protector, aptly named I might say.
Under the very capable command of a Canadian general, Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard, who is heading up the overall NATO mission, we can safely say in this place and throughout the country that we are all very proud of the leadership being demonstrated by Lieutenant General Bouchard and all of the men and women who are participating with our allies.
The Canadian Forces operations, whether air patrols or strikes, aerial surveillance or refuelling, maritime patrols or interdiction are critical and are having the desired effect. Along with the contributions of our allies and partners, they have significantly and steadily brought about progress.
The NATO-led international mission is fulfilling its mandate, consistent with the UN resolutions. It has saved the lives of civilians, as I mentioned earlier, and has considerably reduced the ability of Gadhafi's regime and its forces to plan and conduct attacks against the opposition and the civilian population.
It is weakening the infrastructure that supports the Gadhafi regime. We have seen high-level political and military defections in recent weeks, and the support for Gadhafi is weakening. The opposition is holding ground with increasing capacity to counter Gadhafi's attacks.
Unfortunately, some of the conditions that led the international community and Canada to intervene still exist. The situation has improved in certain areas of Libya; however, acts of violence are still being committed.
Forces loyal to the Gadhafi regime continue to terrorize the people of Libya. Libyans are still suffering and are still in need of protection. Moreover, considerable restrictions are preventing aid workers from providing care and delivering urgently needed items.
Aid workers are often unable to reach the people who are most affected by the violence: the disadvantaged, the injured and those in need of immediate assistance.
As the stated a few weeks ago, Gadhafi and the Libyan government are clearly failing to fulfill their responsibilities to protect the Libyan population. Not only have they lost all legitimacy but they are also an obvious danger, and continue to be, to their own people. Two weeks ago, the UN Human Rights Council accused Gadhafi's regime of committing not just war crimes but crimes against humanity, when it carried out systemic attacks against the Libyan population over the past few weeks. He has been indicted.
Clearly, pressure must be maintained on the Gadhafi regime to ensure that civilians are protected against further attacks, and strikes on his command and control posts must and will continue.
To address a specific suggestion by some critics, withdrawing Canadian Forces from the NATO-led mission at this point would clearly send a wrong signal. More importantly, it would have dire consequences for the citizens of Libya, given the important role we are shouldering. It would be contrary to the core Canadian values of freedom, democracy and human rights, and it would not conform with our commitment as a country to the international community and would undermine the credibility of the alliance.
On June 1, NATO members announced that the alliance mission, Operation Unified Protector, would be extended for a period of 90 days, which is the subject of this debate. The decision sends a clear message to the Gadhafi regime that NATO partners and allies are determined to continue its operations to protect the Libyan people, to sustain its efforts to protect the United Nations, to fulfill the United Nations mandate and to keep up the pressure to see it through. Alliance members and partners alike expressed firm resolve to continue the mission and work together to bring about success.
Maintaining the Canadian Forces' contribution to these operations is the responsible thing to do. It supports the international community's effort to achieve a peaceful solution to the crisis and continues to demonstrate Canadian leadership and our commitment to NATO as a credible partner and ally. We need to continue our commitment to Libya until the terms of the UN Security Council resolution are met.
Just to remind all members of what those three existing goals are, they are: to ensure that all threats and attacks against civilians have ended; to make sure Gadhafi's regime and military and paramilitary forces have verifiably withdrawn to their bases; and that immediate full and safe unhindered access to humanitarian relief to civilians is guaranteed.
I conclude by remarks be referring to the inscription on the cabinet wall, which says, “Love justice, you that are the rulers of the earth”. This is the wisdom of Solomon. I suggest that we take that advice. It is the responsible, compassionate and right thing to do for our country and the people of Libya.
Madam Speaker, Canada is greatly concerned by the crisis in Libya and the plight of the hundreds of thousands of people trapped inside Libya or forced to flee to neighbouring Egypt, Tunisia and other border countries.
The situation on the ground in Libya is extremely volatile and its citizens, who are caught in the middle, are in urgent need of food, water, sanitation, protection and medical supplies. I note that although the food situation is stable for now, estimates are that food stocks will only last another four to five weeks with no way of procuring new supplies at present.
Some progress has been made. On May 30, a ship charted by the International Organization for Migration evacuated stranded migrants and war wounded, and delivered food from the World Food Programme as well as medical supplies. Since mid-April the IOM has delivered 2,600 tonnes of humanitarian assistance and rescued 7,000 migrants and war wounded.
Canada was among the first to respond, and we continue to work with experienced partners to support the most pressing needs of the people affected by the violence.
However, the Libyan Red Crescent, which is providing a unique and incredibly valuable service on the ground, is stretched to capacity. Today the , announced $2 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help civilians in Libya.
This most recent announcement will assist the International Committee of the Red Cross, together with the Red Crescent societies of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt to continue efforts to deliver aid to conflict-affected people there. It will also assist the United Nations population fund to protect women and girls from sexual assault, including rape, and provide critical care to these survivors in Libya. The UNFPA aims to assist up to 50,000 women and girls in Libya who are victims of sexual violence.
Of the $2 million in new funding, the Canadian International Development Agency is providing $1.75 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross and $250,000 to the UNFPA, building on Canada's earlier action, which I will outline in a moment.
Overall, Canada has now provided $10.6 million in humanitarian assistance to assist people affected by the crisis. Canada is helping through the Red Cross movement, the International Organization for Migration, the World Food Programme and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, among others.
I remind members that on February 16, a popular uprising began against the four-decade long rule of Moammar Gadhafi. The reaction of the Gadhafi regime was swift and extremely brutal, including military operations against civilians. The conflict between forces for and against the government has since plunged the country into chaos.
The crisis has resulted in the exodus of a large number of people fleeing the violence to surrounding countries. As of the middle of May, over 790,000 people have fled Libya, more than a third of them migrant workers. The United Nations estimates that approximately 1.5 million people are affected. Many migrant workers are stranded at the borders, waiting to be repatriated to their countries of origin.
The international community has since been working to repatriate them back to their countries of origin: Egypt, Tunisia, Niger, Chad, Algeria and Sudan. At the same time, hundreds of thousands more people are still trapped inside Libya.
Canada calls on all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and to allow humanitarian workers full, safe and unhindered access to people in need. Canada is especially concerned about recent allegations that sexual violence, including rape, is being used against the civilian population, not just by Libyan government forces but possibly also by armed opposition forces.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs has stated that the most urgent priority right now is for a humanitarian pause in hostilities in the Nafusa mountainous region where it will assess needs and secure the delivery of food and medical supplies.
UN OCHA will also help to evacuate the wounded and third country nationals still in the area. An appeal was issued by the United Nations on April 1. By mid-May, nearly 53% of the international response had been received.
Of CIDA's $8 million earlier contribution, $6,325,000 was in response to the United Nations regional flash appeal and $1,675,000 was provided to the International Red Cross. Let me give a more detailed breakdown.
The International Organization for Migration has received $3,575,000 to support repatriation efforts for migrants displaced by the fighting in Libya and repatriated 144,890 third country nationals. As well, $1,350,000 has gone to the International Committee of the Red Cross to meet emergency medical needs inside Libya and to support Red Cross relief efforts in Tunisia and Egypt, which has reached 780,000 people, including internally displaced people and their host families.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has received $250,000 to provide humanitarian relief, including food, non-food items, medical support to displaced migrants in Egypt and Tunisia. The revised appeal will help them to reach 200,000 people.
A total of $1.5 million in emergency food assistance has been provided to displaced and conflict-affected populations in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.
An additional $1.25 million has been provided to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for shelter, non-food items, water and sanitation for displaced people in neighbouring countries.
Also, the Red Cross Society has received $75,000 to transport humanitarian relief supplies from stockpiles in Dubai to Tunisia.
In addition, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has contributed $630,000 for essential security equipment to enhance the safety of UN humanitarian personnel in this dangerous situation.
The UN Human Rights Council has established an international commission of inquiry to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in Libya, including allegations of sexual assault and rape. In addition, on February 26, allegations of rape and sexual violence were referred to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court through UN Security Council Resolution 1970 and action is being taken. The ICC is an independent, permanent court with jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of the most serious international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Under the leadership of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN has also established a protection cluster. As the situation evolves, this working group will investigate and address all forms of sexual violence, including sexual exploitation and abuse, trafficking, domestic violence and harmful traditional practices. The group is working closely with non-governmental organizations inside Libya, Tunisia and the border with Libya.
In addition, the International Committee of the Red Cross, working on both sides of the front lines, also provides protection and medical services to women who have suffered sexual violence.
My fellow members, Canada is doing everything it can to monitor the situation in Libya, provide humanitarian support where needed through its partners, and orchestrate a whole of government response to the situation to ensure the safety of the civilian population.
Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to rise in the House today to speak about this very important issue. UN resolution 1973 is a good example of what is referred to as the responsibility to protect doctrine. It is an approach or concept that is particularly dear to my heart since I was able to help promote it in a former life.
Since this resolution clearly reflects a consensus in the United Nations Security Council and clearly reflects this new citizen protection philosophy, it is important to strictly adhere to its terms. From military and other perspectives, I believe we all agree that, as the resolution states, the main goal is protecting civilians rather than trying to change the regime or meet any other objective.
I will not really get into the issue of the military because there are many other aspects that are equally important. I am thinking, for example, of those aspects that are more diplomatic in nature. It is important that Canada, all the other countries involved and NATO work with intermediaries who are currently on the ground and are trying to establish a dialogue, as well as with the United Nations Secretary-General's special envoy, Abdel-Elah Mohamed Al-Khatib.
We hope that all conflicts eventually end through diplomatic negotiations. We need to work towards that goal immediately and prepare for the future. It is also time to think about peace operations after the conflict and about ways to support the people of Libya to resolve the situation and find more peaceful solutions to the existing conflicts.
Another very important aspect of all this is the question of human rights. UN Security Council resolution 1970 has already referred the Libyan situation to the International Criminal Court and investigations are under way. In fact, a Canadian, Philippe Kirsch, is one of three jurists responsible for investigating human rights violations in Libya. Allegations of systematic rape, the use of rape as a weapon of war, are one of the specific aspects that must be examined. This situation is unacceptable and, if it turns out to be true, the guilty parties must be tried before the International Criminal Court. Similarly, anyone else responsible for serious crimes against humanity must be brought before the International Criminal Court.
Last but not least, the humanitarian situation in Libya is a real concern. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 people have been killed during the four months of conflict in that country. That is a huge number and it is completely unacceptable. Also, about half a million people have left the country since the crisis began and another 330,000 have been internally displaced. The UN also estimates that at least 1,000 people—mainly men—have been kidnapped or have disappeared from Misrata since the conflict began in February.
Right now thousands of people on both sides of the border are afraid they will not have enough food, medicine and other basic necessities. However, the crisis extends beyond Libya's borders. Many people have been internationally displaced, particularly to Tunisia. Among those people are many migrant workers who cannot return to their homes.
According to the United Nations, in the worst-case scenario, as many as 3.6 million people in Libya could be affected by a humanitarian crisis. Problems exist not only in Libya and in neighbouring countries, but here as well. Libyans here are running into problems. Libyan students in particular are no longer receiving funding and their visas might expire as they no longer have the means to support themselves. We have to think about those people as well.
A lot more needs to be done on a humanitarian level. So far what we have given in humanitarian aid is a little more than a third of what we have spent on the military effort.
I welcome the announcement from my hon. colleague that $2 million more has been credited to this effort today.
However, we must continue in that vein. We are quite certain that as things progress on the ground, there will be growing needs. Of course money is needed, but so is a plan. Let us not forget to use the resources we have on the ground. We have seen the International Organization on Migration use boats to evacuate people and to deliver food and drugs. We also have resources on the ground that could be used in that way, when possible.
Finally, I would like to say that recognizing the national transitional council of Libya is certainly a step in the right direction that will allow us to have a dialogue to further our humanitarian efforts and determine what to do next.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on being elected Speaker. I also wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the member for , the , who is doing a remarkable job.
I am very honoured to participate in this important debate today. I am able to do so because I was re-elected by the people of Lévis, Bellechasse and Les Etchemins on May 2. I would first like to thank them for their continued support.
I would also like to thank all the volunteers who worked on the election campaign and my office staff, my team, who, for more than five years, have worked on behalf of the people of and Les Etchemins. I would like to say that we are here for all the people in my riding, to meet their needs and give them the straight goods, to the best of our knowledge.
Naturally, I would like to thank the members of my family: my parents, Monique and Irvin, an accordion player whom many people know; my children, who are becoming increasingly involved in this adventure, sometimes in spite of themselves; and my wife Marie, who is always by my side. If we are in this place, it is because we have people who make it possible for us to perform this wonderful duty, and I am very grateful to them. I would also like to thank my in-laws, Louise and Jacques, who will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
We live today in such a great country because we stand up for the values of freedom as well as for the women and children who live here and elsewhere. I want to take part in this debate today in order to maintain peace here and abroad.
As has been said in many speeches today, the humanitarian situation in Libya remains very precarious and, unfortunately, continues to deteriorate. There is a serious crisis in terms of the protection of civilians, and our main concern remains the fate of people trapped in areas where there is fighting, including Tripoli, Misrata and the mountainous region in the western part of the country.
Damages to infrastructure and shortages of money and gas will likely have significant repercussions on the population over the weeks and months to come, particularly on the most vulnerable. That is why Canada remains committed to the mission in Libya and is determined to ensure that Libyans' most basic humanitarian needs are met.
The UN assessment mission in Misrata found that infrastructure in the downtown core had been generally destroyed. What is even more worrisome are the deficiencies when it comes to protection, particularly the protection of women and children, that the mission also found. We are extremely worried about the allegations of sexual violence used by military forces as a weapon against civilians. We have called for a thorough investigation into the situation so that the aggressors can be brought to justice for these deplorable acts.
Furthermore, the use of anti-personnel mines by Gadhafi's forces and the negative impact they are having on the ability of humanitarian organizations to carry out their activities is completely unacceptable. We are especially concerned about the situation in the mountainous region in western Libya. We have emphatically told the Libyan government of the importance of providing civilians with basic necessities and we have urged that country's government to ensure that humanitarian organizations have unrestricted and safe access.
To date, Canada has responded to international appeals for humanitarian aid by giving some $8.6 million to its partners in the region. The full amount of this contribution was allocated and spent and it provided the people of Libya with much needed water, essential items, food, shelter and emergency medical care.
In conjunction with the Canadian International Development Agency, we are working with several partners, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Food Programme and the United Nations Department of Security and Safety. Canada has also taken a leading role in ensuring that the humanitarian situation in Libya steadily improves; however, there is still much work to be done.
On June 9, it was estimated that over 660,000 people had left Libya and not returned and that 135,000 people had been internally displaced.
Canada continues to raise serious concerns about the measures taken by the Gadhafi regime, which have led Libyans and migrants to leave the country to go to Egypt, Tunisia and other neighbouring countries. As well, we have publicly exhorted the Gadhafi regime and the anti-Gadhafi forces to protect civilians.
The Gadhafi regime chose to wage a war on its own people. In so doing, it violated international law. In light of this blatant disregard for human rights and international law, Canada was among the first to demand that the regime immediately cease the attacks on its own people and guarantee that the perpetrators of these deplorable crimes would be brought to justice.
Our country, Canada, was one of the first to ask the UN Security Council to bring the situation before the International Criminal Court, and we have strongly supported the creation of an international commission of inquiry into the human rights violations. The preliminary results of this inquiry have confirmed the severity of the crimes committed. The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court has asked that warrants be issued for the arrest of Moammar Gadhafi, his son, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, and his brother-in-law, Abdullah Senussi.
The prosecutor alleged that these three people planned and ordered crimes against humanity and organized widespread, systematic attacks against civilian populations, including murder, torture and persecution. The international community cannot and will not tolerate this situation. The international commission of inquiry conducted an investigation and found that crimes against humanity and war crimes had been committed by Libyan government forces. What is more, the commission says there are indications that these crimes are part of a strategy devised by Colonel Gadhafi and his inner circle.
Canada is extremely alarmed by the allegations, which are currently under investigation by these two bodies, that the Libyan regime systematically uses rape and sexual violence as an instrument to repress its population. When used as a weapon of war, rape is a war crime and a contemptible act. When used to systematically attack, repress and terrorize people, rape can also be a crime against humanity. These are heinous acts of sexual violence perpetrated to advance the military objectives of a regime. We unreservedly condemn these acts and express our most sincere sympathy to the victims.
These reprehensible acts are the reason for Canada's involvement in the NATO mission. War crimes and crimes against humanity are serious crimes that threaten world peace, security and well-being. The scope, extent and brutality of these acts make them international crimes, an international concern that calls for an international response. The international community must demonstrate a collective determination and continue to guarantee accountability and protection for the people of Libya.
Canada supports the investigations by the commission of inquiry and the International Criminal Court. The perpetrators of these crimes have to face justice, and these crimes must never be committed again. Let the people in Libya who continue to order these heinous crimes be warned that the world is watching and they will not escape justice.
Canada will ensure that those who seek to remain in power in Libya by committing these crimes against their people are arrested and held accountable for their actions. Canada's role in Libya must continue for the reasons I just mentioned. Colonel Gadhafi must leave. The Libyan people must be liberated and protected.
Mr. Speaker, once again, let me congratulate you on being elected as Chair.
Today, the and all my colleagues will continue speaking about the importance of the continuation of this military mission. I would like to make it very clear for the Liberal member, who asked whether we were committed to a regime change, that the military mission is not part of a regime change. The political dimensions require that Mr. Gadhafi go, but that does not mean we are looking for a military regime change. That is not the military objective.
Hopefully that answers the member's question. That is what the said this morning.
I have visited Libya. I went there a couple of years ago to attend the African Union Summit, hosted by Libya. Colonel Gadhafi hosted the conference. I saw him and I met his foreign minister.
In no uncertain terms, the general consensus of Mr. Gadhafi was he was a man with a very high ego, with very eccentric ideas, living in his own dream world that he created and wanted others to follow him. In fact, at the African Union Summit, he antagonized everyone by having his own ideas of the direction he wanted to go even when others did not want to go that way. He has been in charge of the country for 40 years.
My colleague talked about the business dealings that Canada had with this individual. The world tolerated Gadhafi for 40 years. We are not in the business of regime change. Therefore, while Mr. Gadhafi was there, with his eccentric ideas, the world tolerated him.
He used his people's wealth for his own ideas, coming out with some weird ideas that could only be attributed to a very high ego. In fact, the man, who deposed a king by taking over power, called himself the king of kings, by the votes of tribal kings giving him this title. That is the type of individual who is in power.
When he was challenged, following the Arab revolution, some comments were made that Tunisia and Egypt were not similar to what happened in Libya. What has happened in Libya is the continuation of the Arab spring revolution that is now touching Yemen as well as Syria. It is the desire of the people to get rid of their eccentric leaders who have been in power for 40 years and who have done practically nothing with their wealth for their people. Therefore, the people are demanding legitimate change.
This fellow has come forward with a very brutal repression against his people. Everybody is talking about it. My friend talked about that. We have been told that he is even hiding his military assets from the civilian population and he is actually killing his own people. The ICC, of which we are very positive, will very shortly indict him for crimes against humanity, which he richly deserves.
It is of critical importance to note that the UN Security Council has finally said that enough is enough, that he cannot carry on like this. Today the Liberal leader talked about the Holocaust and the six billion people who lost their lives because not enough action was taken.
I am very happy to say that the Security Council, with the African Union leaders, all agree that they need to stop him from killing his people. That is the key element of the resolution. That is the key element of why Canada is over there. As the has said, we will make our mark felt on the world stage in the promotion of democracy and of rule of law, which is the cornerstone value of foreign policy of this government. That is extended to Libya.
We are there because we need to protect civilians and the only way we can protect them is to ensure that Gadhafi does not have the power and prevent his forces from continuing to kill his people. As we heard, he is now not only using his military assets, but using rape and everything else to suppress his people.
We must understand that this UN mission has two components to it. Today the made it very clear that there is a diplomatic initiative arising out of this, which is why today we have recognized the transitional authority in Libya to continue the dialogue process so we can continue to build that country. The institutions that Mr. Gadhafi built for 40 years were only to allow him to stay in power and not for the benefit of his people. Therefore, it is important for us to help.
Today's support, through the NDP amendment, is that we agree to humanitarian assistance because his brutal regime has created a humanitarian crisis and we need to assist the people. We are working with our international partners to ensure we deal with that humanitarian crisis. However, the extension of the military mission is to ensure that peace and stability return to Libya and that the Libyan people are not harmed by that lunatic dictator who refuses to give up power.
We are putting political pressure on Mr. Gadhafi. When we talk about Mr. Gadhafi leaving, it would be in the interests of he and his son to do so because the writing is on the wall, as has been said many times. Once the ICC indicts both of them, they will have no place else to go. It is best for them right now, in the interests of their people, to go. This is the diplomatic pressure that Canada and the international community are applying and will continue to apply.
When we say Mr. Gadhafi has to go, we are not talking about a regime change. We are saying that the man has lost all moral authority to govern his country. He has been killing his own people and he is a man who is very soon going to be indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, which is a huge indictment against him by the international community.
Therefore, I am happy to say, as I listen to my colleagues on both sides, that we are going to pass this extension unanimously. We are sending a message internationally by saying we are part of NATO, will remain part of NATO and we want to get rid of the president. Canada is telling people that it is there to help protect the people who seek legitimate democratic rights and the rule of law.
I am glad this message will go to the international community that Canada will stand firmly and solidly in promotion of its core and democratic values, democracy and the rule of law. We will not accept people like Mr. Gadhafi or anybody else around world who pick up arms and kill their people. Mr. Gadhafi is not the only one. It happened before him, but I hope it will not happen in the future.
However, if it does, this mission will be an example that the international community will respond. Not only will the international community respond but countries like Canada will also respond. The debate held over this year will send a unanimous message to the international community, the world and to dictators that we will not remain silent.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to participate in this debate today. We are trying to achieve something here that Canadians can support and there is indeed a legitimate debate taking place just as there was on March 21.
Although we share the goal of protecting civilians in Libya, there is a certain set of issues that our party, in particular, has found important to insert into the debate and into Canada's actions in Libya. We found it necessary to do that back in March when the motion that was being discussed between the parties and being presented by the government, after the United Nations Security Council resolution 1973, was simply dealing with the military aspect of what Canadian efforts would be.
The talked about what goes on behind the scenes. Well, behind the scenes over the weekend leading to that resolution there was considerable input by my colleague, the critic for foreign affairs, the member for , and myself on the shape of that resolution. It was very important for us to see in that resolution Parliament supporting and promoting all aspects of UN resolution 1973, which is again what we are doing here today.
In his speech, the accepted our interest to have on the record the changes pertaining to the humanitarian side and the stepping up of diplomatic efforts in achieving a lasting resolution in Libya.
The situation, of course, is changing, but the situation is changing because we had an expectation I suppose that this would not last very long. However, we have seen it last a lot longer than we expected.
We have heard that the diplomatic efforts needed to be stepped up and of the need for, as the resolution itself points out, a ceasefire as a primary goal of the intervention in order to protect civilians. We have also heard over the past number of weeks a considerable amount of talk by, in some cases, the and, particularly, the on something that is seen to be more than that. The mission and goal of protecting civilians had changed to something different. We were into some sort of regime change as an objective of the NATO mission.
We have an objection to that. This intervention is based on the responsibility to protect, and the necessity of intervening in another country militarily is part of that end, but it is also to avoid a situation where interventions take place to affect a change in the regime in some other country.
It is not for this country to do that. This is why we have insisted in our amendments that there be recognition that the results of what we are proposing here would end up with having a Libyan-led political transition that must take place in Libya, and that is the goal here.
I have heard the come out with statements that I would refer to as a “muscular militarism”, a bellicose state that Canada is somehow going to play a different role in the world from here on in. We are using our military as an aim in foreign policy and building ourselves up in the world through that means.
We do not support that approach. We do not support that kind of foreign policy for Canada. It is not in keeping with Canada's tradition and we speak out against it.
As we speak out against that, we also recognize that it is not what the Canadian leader who is on the ground directing this mission on behalf of NATO says. I will quote from yesterday's Globe and Mail in an extensive article by Paul Koring, who is very knowledgeable in military affairs. He interviewed Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard and said:
But he carefully sticks to the UN mandate that the conflict isn’t to achieve regime change, just to protect civilians.
He talks about Colonel Gadhafi, as many would, and we all understand that.
He quotes Lieutenant General Bouchard as saying:
This is someone is giving orders to go and kill his own people...He has lost his moral authority to lead his nation--
This is the general who is coordinating all of the NATO actions, including the efforts by the French and the British who on their own wanted to use armed helicopters as part of this, to which he insisted would have to be brought in under NATO command as well.
When talking about Gadhafi the general said:
He has lost his moral authority to lead his nation…but my job is not regime change.
I thank General Bouchard for stating that so emphatically and clearly, so that we will not be confused, regardless of the kind of statements that we hear from the .
As defence critic for the New Democratic Party and the official opposition, I do have to raise one important point coming out of the 's speech. I have to acknowledge that he was very moderate in his tone today. I thank him for that. I hope he continues that and that it is evidence of a new approach by the government on this issue.
I see the . I congratulate him on his new position and on being elected, and joining us here in this House. I know he himself has broad experience in providing diplomatic service to our nation and I thank him for that. However, I have a problem and perhaps he can address it. I did not get a chance to ask the minister himself.
It has to do with perhaps a bit of redefinition by NATO of the objectives because the minister sort of said this came from resolution 1973, but it actually comes from the NATO mission objectives. One, of course, is to end the attacks on civilians. That is consistent in both of those.
The one that causes me some difficulty from a strategic point of view is the verifiable withdrawal of the regime's military and paramilitary forces to bases and unhindered access for humanitarian aid.
I accept the latter, but not the verifiable withdrawal of the regime's military and paramilitary forces to bases as a requirement and objective of the UN mission.
We know a ceasefire is the objective. There have been various attempts to see that happen by asking Mr. Gadhafi to take steps that he has not taken. However, if the objective is to get everybody back to their barracks and back to their bases, how can that be accomplished if one of the targets of the NATO mission has consistently been the barracks of soldiers operated by Gadhafi? If barracks are being targeted and at the same time the objective is to get everybody to come back to the barracks, how does that make military sense? Is there not a significant conflict?
I hope that the hon. parliamentary secretary will have an opportunity in questions and comments to address that because I think it is an important point if we are to achieve the possibility of a speedy resolution to this particular conflict.
For example, I note that Turkey has been active on the diplomatic score. We saw a report on Sunday regarding members of the Turkish diplomatic corps meeting with Mr. Gadhafi and, in fact, offering him guarantees of protection in an attempt to get a ceasefire operating there. Unfortunately, there has been no success to date. Nonetheless, there seems to be some significant effort in that regard, an enhanced diplomatic effort by our partners.
I believe we still have a good relationship with Turkey despite some resolutions by this government and we should because Turkey is key in this regard. I believe the parliamentary secretary could tell us from his own experience in Afghanistan and elsewhere that Turkey is a key state in dealing with people and other nations, and other countries in that part of the world. I will leave that to my foreign affairs colleague to talk more about that.
However, I believe Turkey provides a terrific potential for a bilateral relationship with Canada both economically and obviously on the diplomatic side. Here is an example where Turkey may have some credibility in that region and can help in this matter. We should perhaps work closely with it.
I do still have a problem with this stated objective here and how that intersects with the ability to achieve a ceasefire, which frankly is the first objective. If we look at the United Nations Security Council resolution 1973, number one is to obtain a ceasefire and protect civilians. That is the way to do it.
We realize we are dealing with an unusual individual in the case of Colonel Gadhafi. I will not use some of the epithets that were used earlier. We do know, of course, that he stands accused of significant humanitarian crimes and war crimes, and we all hope these are dealt with in the appropriate forum. In the meantime, there is significant effort to be undertaken.
I will add to some of the concerns we had here. We recognize, of course, that there is a lot of work still to be done. We have had an intervention in the form of a request to members of Parliament. I am sure other members of Parliament have received these. I know my colleague, the member for , and I received correspondence from the Canadian Libyan Council seeking our support for the continuation of the support for UN resolution 1973 and Canada's action. It specifically referred to the continued shelling and bombing. The letter of June 5 said:
[...] it is our wish that NATO step-up its efforts in the Western Nafusa Mountain region where civilians have been suffering from shelling at the hands of Gadhafi troops for months.
Then the letter makes reference to the humanitarian aid report for further information. This is the Canadian Libyan Council that speaks on behalf of Libyan Canadians across the country. It has expressed very strong support for the intervention by Canada as part of this mission.
This is an important function that still continues. We do not want to see a circumstance where we get involved in a quagmire with no end. We want to see swift action to resolve this issue, and I think it may be that the objectives spelled out here in the NATO objectives could be a hindrance to that if that is stated as an objective without the means to get there, particularly if there is continued bombing of barracks and no other means of going about that solution.
With these kinds of concerns here, the bellicose talk and the muscular militarism we are hearing from the in particular and others, we are also hearing from other countries. We have heard it from the U.K., France and other countries at the G8.
We all share a similar view of the fact that Colonel Gadhafi is not the kind of person we have any respect for. We would think that any post-conflict regime or situation in Libya, as chosen by the Libyan people, would not include Colonel Gadhafi. I think that is a given. If the people of Libya had a choice, I think that is what they would be. However, we want to see this as a Libyan-led solution and not one that is affected by military action under the responsibility to protect.
We have to be careful about what we are doing and we have to be careful that we do it in a way that respects the international regime under which we are doing this. The responsibility to protect is an emerging doctrine that is becoming a part of the convention in international law. It is something we must do right because if we do not do it right, it may be very difficult to do it again. That is an important marker to lay down here, that, when talking about this kind of action, a lot of people in this country, and rightly so, are very leery of Canadian involvement in military action outside this country. We have seen from history what happens when we start something and do not know where to finish it.
We have seen that in the Afghanistan conflict. Our party took a very strong position on this. There was a point when we said that we wanted Canada to leave. Canada was not, in our view, to continue the military mission in Afghanistan. We felt it was time to bring that to an end.
We have seen what can happen when we start in one place and all of a sudden something called mission creep takes over. That was the danger we spoke about on March 21, and it was a danger that we kept repeating when we heard talk of regime change in Libya as part of the goals of this mission. This is something that we want to avoid. Canadians do not want us to get into another quagmire, where we see Canadian involvement to the extent that Canadians did not know what they were supporting in the beginning.
There are many who believe that when we talked about a no-fly zone, it was simply a matter of taking planes out of the air that were going to bomb facilities or bomb civilians. However, the reality set in pretty quickly when bombing missions were taking out anti-aircraft guns and tanks and planes, and their ability to drop bombs on civilians. That shocked some people in this country. When we start taking that further again and start talking about regime change or using loose language, which is irresponsible by the leaders of this country, then Canadians get very worried.
We want, as much as possible, to frame Canada's actions clearly within UN resolution 1973. Our amendments to the motion today are clearly designed to do that, to emphasize that all aspects of UN resolution 1973 must be acted on by government. We have laid out some specific measures that we would want to see in any resolution passed by the House in order to continue this mission.
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to add my voice to this important debate about Canada's continuing engagement in Libya.
I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for , and focusing these remarks in support of those made by the , particularly on our military contribution. I am providing a few more details by way of an update as to the nature of that contribution and its effect on the ground, in the air and on the seas off Libya.
I would like to pay tribute to all members who have spoken so far in this debate for the sense of unity and purpose prevailing in this House so far today, and for the constructive manner and frame of mind in which all have come to this debate today.
The contributions by the Canadian Forces to Operation Mobile give them an opportunity to demonstrate their exceptional capabilities once again. This operation proves that the Canadian Forces continue to maintain a high level of operational readiness and to show the utmost professionalism, which has been true for decades.
As the minister mentioned earlier, the Canadian Forces are once again showing their leadership on the international stage by standing up for the interests and values of Canadians. We are making a vital contribution to NATO's Operation Unified Protector, which aims to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1973 in order to put an end to violence in Libya.
And it is a Canadian, one of our own, Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard—who is also a gifted communicator, as was clearly demonstrated in the interview he gave in yesterday's Globe and Mail—who is the commanding officer.
The Canadian Forces are playing this key role, alongside NATO allies and partners, in protecting Libyan civilians. However, despite that and in spite of this progress, the Gadhafi regime continues to use violence against its own citizens. It is this conclusion that lies at the base of the need for this debate today.
I want to take this opportunity to expand on the remarkable efforts our military is undertaking as part of Operation Mobile. The current contribution includes three task forces. As the minister said, that represents approximately 650 uniform personnel, but they are broken into three main elements: a coordinating team, Task Force Naples; an air component, Task Force Libeccio; and the naval element, Task Force Charlottetown.
Task Force Naples is our national coordination component linking Canadian expeditionary force command headquarters here in Ottawa with NATO's Combined Joint Task Force Unified Protector headquarters in Europe and coordinating our forces' participation, as well as providing staff for Lieutenant-General Bouchard.
Task Force Libeccio, led by Colonel Alain Pelletier, is our air component for the mission. Canadian aircraft is flying out of two NATO bases in Italy: Trapani Birgi in western Sicily and Sigonella in eastern Sicily. Sicily has featured in our military history in the past, so it is certainly not unknown in the annals of Canadian military operations, but, for the reference of members, people going to Trapani fly with Ryanair. Sigonella, as some may remember, was an air base featured in the terrorist incident in 1985 involving the Achille Lauro, a ship that was hijacked on the Mediterranean Sea.
Aircraft currently assigned to the task force include seven CF-18 fighters, two maritime patrol aircraft, two CC-130 Hercules and one CC-150 Polaris air refueller. Our CF-18s operate in pairs with one spare and are high-performance multi-purpose fighters.
The important point is to emphasize the significant role that these assets have played within the NATO effort in the air and on the sea in the roles that they have been given. In particular, our refuelling aircraft, our tankers, have played a vital role in keeping not only Canadian aircraft operating over Libya in surveillance and attack roles but also in search and rescue roles because that is required as pilots enter dangerous parts of airspace and stay in the air longer than otherwise would have been possible.
These are interoperable assets with allied fighters. They are capable of conducting air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. In Libya, they are doing both: enforcing the Security Council mandated low-fly zone above Libya and engaging ground targets, as required, through that very rigorous targeting process led by Lieutenant-General Bouchard, including the authority granted by this House to a government that oversees these operations and throughout the civilian oversight to the military chain of command that NATO is proud to call its own.
Canada is one of only 8 out of NATO's 28 members participating in air-to-ground strikes, which are targeting vehicle and ammunition storage facilities, electronic warfare sites and enemy vehicles. I would like to point out that while the CF-18s are themselves highly versatile platforms, the fact that they departed Canada for Italy in less than three hours after the 's announcement on March 18 is testament to the preparedness, responsiveness and flexibility of the Canadian Forces.
Receiving less attention, but no less important, are the refuelling aircraft, vital to the success of the overall campaign. As a NATO spokesman recently said:
This is the most diverse and extensive air-to-air refuelling operation in the history of aviation and is a clear example of the strength and cohesiveness of NATO.
The ability to deliver fuel in the air has allowed NATO strike aircraft to simply do more.
Finally, our Aurora maritime patrol aircraft also play a key part in the operation, conducting surveillance and reconnaissance missions. These missions, conducted mostly in the vicinity of Brega, Misrata and Ajdabiya, provide valuable information about what is happening on the ground.
As for the naval sector, Commander Craig Skjerpen and the crew of HMCS Charlottetown have been demonstrating the flexibility of our Halifax class frigates since they arrived in the Mediterranean on March 17. Some 18 NATO ships are patrolling constantly to ensure compliance with the arms embargo. This embargo is having a positive effect, since it is reducing the amount of illegal weaponry getting into Libya and this effect will only increase over time.
While NATO ships are enforcing the embargo, the alliance is ensuring that marine traffic can flow freely, particularly so that humanitarian aid can be sent.
Charlottetown has also supported mine clearance operations in Misrata Harbour. Last month, for instance, Charlottetown escorted Belgian and British mine countermeasure ships while they spent a week clearing Misrata Harbour of dangerous mines that might otherwise have had a devastating effect on civilian maritime traffic. That was crucially important at that time because Gadhafi's forces, as hon. members will recall, had surrounded Misrata on three sides and humanitarian shipments could only enter the city by sea.
It is important to note that while Task Forces Libeccio and Charlottetown are doing outstanding work in their respective domains, they are not working independently of one another.
On April 26, while patrolling close to the Libyan coastline, Charlottetown tracked vehicles firing rockets near populated areas of Misrata. This information was relayed to Canadian Forces members aboard a NATO airborne warning and control system, which was then passed to air operations in Italy. Canadian CF-18s were airborne in response within minutes. The pilots tracked the origin of fire, confirmed hostile acts being committed against civilians and dropped precision guided bombs to destroy two military vehicles.
That is a very concrete example of how, even when targets are not pre-planned, Canadian air and naval assets work flawlessly together in a coalition environment to prevent civilian casualties.
The Canadian Forces are making a considerable, large-scale effort to ensure the success of Operation Unified Protector. We have demonstrated the versatility and effectiveness of our contribution.
Given what we have heard today, we on this side of the House have every confidence that there are unprecedented grounds for supporting the motion today. I would encourage all hon. members, not only to support today's motion to continue Canadian engagement but also to take pride in the fact that Canada's unified approach in this House and elsewhere to this mission has been absolutely crucial in securing the international resolve, determination and effort on the ground that is now serving to protect Libyan civilians across that country and to protect some of the gains of the Arab spring. We know they are not yet irreversible, that this complex process throughout the Mediterranean area is still unfolding, but our operation in Libya with NATO under a UN mandate is absolutely vital to giving hope to a beleaguered population.
Mr. Speaker, as this is my first opportunity to speak since the occurrence of the last election, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of for the trust they have placed in me in returning me to this place to represent them. I pledge to them today that I will work each and every day to the best of my ability to continue to earn that trust as we go forward over the next four years.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my family, friends, supporters and volunteers for their efforts on my behalf in assisting me to return to this place to continue to represent the people of and the broader city of Mississauga.
I am pleased to participate today in this debate on the motion before the House which seeks the support of members to extend Canada's military engagement in Libya. In March of this year, the House unanimously adopted a motion deploring the ongoing use of violence by the Gadhafi regime against the Libyan people.
Our actions in Libya came after the passage of United Nations Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 and sought to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and populated areas under threat of attack.
At that time members from all parties stood together in support of Canada's engagement in Libya and for the men and women of the Canadian Forces. It was not then and should not be now an issue for partisan or political games. It is an issue of human rights and we believe that the horrific violence which is being imposed on the Libyan people must come to an end.
Canada has shown international leadership in Libya and from the outset has pushed for swift and decisive action. Abroad we have worked closely with international and regional partners, including the League of Arab States, the African Union, NATO partners and allies to press the regime to comply with its international obligations.
Canada, along with our NATO allies and partners, has called on the Libyan regime to respect a ceasefire and to adhere to the United Nations Resolution 1973. These calls have thus far been ignored.
We have clearly defined the three military objectives of the mission in Libya. First, an end to all attacks and threats of attack against civilians. Second, the withdrawal of the regime's military and paramilitary forces to their bases. Third, full and unhindered access to humanitarian aid to all those who need it across Libya.
None of these demands has been seriously considered by Gadhafi, even less respected. Gadhafi's attacks on his own population are unacceptable and abhorrent. We believe that he is a clear and present threat to both his people and to the stability in the region, a region which has been undergoing an important transition.
Clearly we have reached the point of no return and we need to be forward-looking. The overwhelming majority of Libyan citizens cannot imagine a future or building a civil society in Libya in association with Gadhafi or his inner circle.
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has requested that arrest warrants be issued for Gadhafi, his son, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and his brother-in-law, Abdullah Senussi. The prosecutor alleged that these individuals have planned and directed crimes against humanity, that is they have organized widespread and systematic attacks on civilian populations, including murder, torture and persecution.
The International Commission of Inquiry conducted an investigation and also concluded that crimes against humanity and war crimes were being committed by the government forces of Libya.
Canada continues to support calls for Gadhafi's inevitable departure. We are encouraged by the increasing international consensus in that regard.
Consistent with our principle of diplomacy, we are engaging more closely with the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people who commit to stand by democratic and human rights principles and values. People in Benghazi, Misrata and other cities are being empowered to take on the responsibility of protecting civilians, developing policy and administrative structures, and providing urgent social services.
These are transformative moments and we should not underestimate how fragile and unique this period is. Canada will therefore enhance its engagement with the national transitional council which we base on a continued commitment to a vigorous democratic transition, respect for the rule of law and transparent governance.
As clearly expressed at the contact group meeting in the UAE, the national transitional council is endeavouring credible efforts to prepare for the future and set Libya on a decisive path of transition. Canada and its members stand ready to offer support for this process, as well as for the political dialogue led by the very capable UN special envoy, al-Khatib.
It is clear that we expect full compliance with the international humanitarian law and human rights as a new and free Libya takes shape. The national transitional council must ensure the protection of all civilians, including migrants and sub-Saharan Africans.
We welcome and fully support the NTC's vision for a democratic Libya and road map for a political transition.
For all these reasons, Canada considers the interim national council the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.
However, let me be clear. Libya is not ours to reconcile, nor is it ours to reconstruct. The reconciliation and reconstruction of Libya is a project that must be led and undertaken by the Libyan people.
As clearly expressed by the Libya contact group, the UN international regional partners and also Canada, will be there to provide help and support. Just as Canadians are actively engaged in protecting civilians from Gadhafi and his regime, we will also be there as they rebuild their country.
Despite progress that has been made, the reasons for which Parliament voted unanimously to endorse military engagement in Libya still exists today; so do the conditions that prompted the UN and NATO to act. Colonel Gadhafi must go. The Libyan people must be protected. For that reason, it is our position that Canada's role in Libya must continue.
Canada stands in solidarity with the Libyan people and is proud that our contributions will help them to determine their own united, independent and sovereign future.
I encourage all members to once again support this motion.
Mr. Speaker, I am rising in the House today to support the UN mission in Libya and Canada's participation in it. I join with those who believe that this mission is justified and that it should be extended because of Moammar Gadhafi's actions towards the Libyan people. The sad reality of the situation in Libya is that the real victims of Colonel Gadhafi's lust for power are the civilians. Make no mistake about it, Libya's civilians are not just collateral damage from a conflict between two factions. They are being directly targeted by Colonel Gadhafi and his armed forces.
And this is not coming from marginal sources with questionable information. It is coming from organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Criminal Court. As a result of an investigation, the International Criminal Court prosecutor concluded that Gadhafi personally ordered attacks on unarmed civilians, that he authorized the use of aircraft to attack protesters, that his troops attacked Libyan civilians in their homes and in public areas, that he posted snipers outside mosques to kill people leaving after prayer and that he used heavy artillery to fire on funeral processions.
This is not the only source of evidence. A mission by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to Tripoli and rebel-held areas found evidence that Gadhafi's troops had attacked civilians, workers and medical units. For its part, Human Right Watch has documented serious violations of the laws of war by Libyan forces, including indiscriminate attacks in residential areas in Misrata and in the villages of the Nafusa mountains. In February, Amnesty International also found overwhelming evidence of the use of lethal force against protestors who posed no threat and were directly targeted.
This evidence clearly shows that Colonel Gadhafi's actions do not respect the laws of war and that some of these actions could be condemned as war crimes. These violent attacks against the population justify the intervention of the international community because history has shown that action must be taken in such situations and that prompt action is vital.
When I was a member of the Canadian Forces, a number of colleagues spoke to me about their experiences in countries ravaged by civil war. Whether it was Rwanda or Yugoslavia, they talked about horrible situations in which no child should be involved.
The quick adoption of resolution 1973 and the rapid deployment of international forces to put in place a no-fly zone must be applauded. However, history shows us that it is also important to act with a clearly defined mandate. For that reason it is vital to clearly define the mandate of the troops deployed, to establish a specific time frame, and to target interventions based on clearly-defined objectives, those set out by the UN resolution. We must put a stop to attacks against civilians. Libyan military and paramilitary forces must return to their bases, and humanitarian aid must be accessible to all those in need.
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has investigated and has drawn conclusion of the following allegations of war crimes.
The evidence shows that Moammar Gadhafi personally ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians, including the use of aircraft to attack protesters. His forces attacked Libyan civilians in their homes and in public space, repressed demonstrations with live ammunition, used heavy artillery against participants in funeral processions and placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after the prayers. Gadhafi forces have lists with the names of alleged dissidents. They are being arrested, put into prisons in Tripoli, tortured and made to disappear.
The UN Human Rights Council's mission to Tripoli and rebel-held areas in late April found evidence of war crimes by Gadhafi's forces, including attacks on civilians, aid workers and medical units. Aircraft, tanks, artillery grad rockets and snipers were used. It also found some evidence of crimes by opposition armed forces, including the arbitrary detention and torture of suspected Gadhafi supporters. The commission did not find evidence that the opposition armed forces were part of any widespread or systematic attacks against the civilian population.
Human Rights Watch has documented serious violations of the laws of war by Libyan government forces, including repeat indiscriminate attacks into residential neighbourhoods in Misrata and towns in the western Nafusa Mountains.
Amnesty International has also found clear evidence of the use of lethal force against protestors in February and, more worrying still, that in many cases protesters who posed no threat were deliberately killed.
The International Criminal Court is also investigating allegations that Gadhafi ordered his troops to commit the systematic rape of women in rebel-held areas, based on information that Gadhafi himself authorized the rapes and provided drugs to enhance the ability of his force to rape women. Due to the social stigma associated with reporting rape and the displacement of civilians, it is difficult to know how widespread the use of rape as a weapon of war is, but the ICC has received information that there are several hundred victims in some areas.
As far as humanitarian aid is concerned, the situation in Libya is alarming. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 people have been killed in the past four months of combat; close to half a million civilians have left their homes and fled the country since the crisis started; another 330,000 people in the country have had to leave their homes to seek shelter elsewhere in Libya. These people have to live with very little and face shortages of food and water. They have almost no access to medicines and are unable to travel because of fuel shortages.
The situation is even worse at the border with Tunisia, where Tunisian authorities are struggling to receive thousands of Libyan refugees who want to flee their country. The United Nations estimates that as many as 3.6 million people could be in need of humanitarian assistance and that is where our government can and must do more. So far, only half the United Nations' requests for aid have been met.
If we talk about people being killed, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people have been killed on both sides in four months of fighting in Libya. Almost 500,000 people have left the country since the crisis began, while about 330,000 people have been internally displaced. It is estimated by the UN that at least 1,000 people, mainly men, have been kidnapped or have disappeared in Misrata since the conflict began in February.
The UN refugee agency reports that tens of thousands of people on both sides of the battle lines in Libya are facing a critical shortage of essential goods, including food, medicine and fuel.
The situation on the Tunisian border is increasingly strained as Tunisian authorities struggle to absorb the tens of thousands of Libyans fleeing the conflict. Under the United Nations' worst-case scenario, as many as 3.6 million people in the country could eventually require humanitarian assistance.
This is why we have to support those people. We need to be there to support all the women and all the people living in Libya.
There are probably people in Canada of Libyan origin and I sincerely believe they would be proud that we are supporting them. I would not want to have to inform any of them that their family members back in Libya had been killed or raped. I believe we must support them out of respect for human rights. These people have the right to feel safe in their homes.