Wednesday, March 12, 2003 ó 1:00 p.m.
Speaker:I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
INTRODUCTION OF PAGES
Speaker:Before proceeding with the Order Paper, the Chair wishes to inform members that we have a new page with us today who has not previously been introduced. She is Kate Smolne from Porter Creek Secondary School, and Iíd ask members to join me in welcoming Kate to the service of this House.
Speaker:We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In recognition of the Yukon placer industry
Ms. Duncan:Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the Yukon placer industry ó the family farms of the north. Mr. Speaker, placer mining isnít just a job; itís a way of life. On December 16, 2002, an announcement by the Minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to unilaterally phase out the Yukon placer authorization, a successful made-in-Yukon solution that effectively balanced responsible mining and the environment. Today, Yukoners join together in indicating how unacceptable this decision by the Minister of Department of Fisheries and Oceans was and is. As we work together as Yukoners, as the Yukon government, as Members of the Yukon Legislature, First Nation governments and most especially the placer mining industry, I rise to pay tribute to all the individuals working to have this decision changed.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: We, too, in the official opposition wish to pay tribute to the placer mining industry and all of the businesses and people in Dawson City and the rest of Yukon who are supporting Black Wednesday.
As indicated by the unanimous motion from this House yesterday, all representatives of each Yukon riding are in support of having the minister reconsider the decision, which severely impacts the industry. We came to a unanimous agreement on that in this House yesterday. I think this event in Dawson City today is certainly an indication that the business community is very strongly in support of the placer mining industry as well.
So, on this day, we also wish to recognize the importance of democracy in the world. Later today, we will be discussing the motion on the Iraq war. We live in very interesting times, Mr. Speaker. Even though we have been a democracy in this country for well over a century now, the very debate about democracy is still very relevant to our society today.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Iím also very pleased to recognize the unanimity of this House yesterday in support of the placer miners and the Yukon placer authorization, and to show my support, my partyís support and this governmentís support for the Klondike placer mining industry and the City of Dawson on this Black Wednesday.
The placer mining industry in the Yukon has a special significance to the territory. It helped to create a separate jurisdiction in Canada in 1898, and it remains an economic mainstay to this day, over 100 years later.
The establishment of the Yukon placer authority has served to enable the placer mining industry to continue operations while protecting and preserving fish habitat for over a decade.
Yesterday in this House, a unanimous motion in support of the Yukon placer mining industry was passed, and this is an issue that truly impacts all Yukoners.
The decision by the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to reject the report of the Yukon Placer Committee is very serious indeed. The DFO has dismissed 20 years of hard work by governments, including First Nation governments and stakeholders, out of hand.
The Yukon government is working cooperatively with the industry and with our Member of Parliament, Mr. Larry Bagnell, and with our Senator, Ione Christensen, and with First Nation governments across the board to come up with a solution that will be satisfactory to everyone.
I would like to give credit to all the people mentioned above for the hard work and effort they have put into the survival of this industry, which is essential, Mr. Speaker. We are seeking an extension of the Yukon placer authorization as the management tool to be used until such time as a new management tool has been fully developed ó and one that we can all agree to.
We are working toward a new arrangement that will seek ó immediately with the DFO and all Yukon stakeholders ó to rebuild a working relationship and a management regime that reflects the management responsibilities that DFO, First Nations and YTG share through the Fisheries Act, the land claims Umbrella Final Agreement, the Yukon Waters Act and the Environmental Assessment (Yukon) Act.
It is essential that industry can cooperate and continue to operate with legal certainty while maintaining the protection of the Yukon fishery.
Speaker: Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Ms. Duncan:I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) the Yukon Party made a public commitment to immediately increase the wages of child care workers throughout the Yukon; and
(2) the Yukon Party instead immediately issued several excessive sole-source contracts and increased wages for political staff and ignored the commitment to child care workers; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to introduce a supplementary budget this spring that contains an increase to the direct operating grant for daycares to address the following issues:
(1) a wage increase for staff, including the recognition that staff members with significant child care education be paid at a higher rate; and
(2) a significantly higher rate be paid per child cared for in order that the quality programming offered by licensed child care facilities can be enhanced.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Mr. Hardy: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) the unilateral decision by the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to phase out the Yukon placer authorization has created a great deal of economic uncertainty and social anxiety in the Yukon;
(2) this House unanimously passed a motion calling on the minister to conduct a proper consultation on this issue;
(3) one of the most important advisory bodies available to the minister is the House of Commons all-party Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which has the power to hold hearings and invite information, opinions and advice related to fisheries matters; and
THAT this House urges the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to visit the Yukon and conduct public hearings into the future of fish habitat protection in the territory in order to provide the minister with relevant advice that reflects Yukon values and concerns.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Mr. Hassard: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that the environmental liability for the seven major Type II mine sites in Yukon is the responsibility of the Government of Canada; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to establish a federal environmental liability fund sufficient to cover the cleanup costs of the seven major sites such as Faro and to turn the management of this fund over to the Government of Yukon to enable Yukon contractors to do the reclamation work.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Mr. Fairclough: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that Yukonís health care services are currently being eroded due to a shortage of health care professionals; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon government to implement programs and incentives that will attract and retain health care professionals, such as nurses, nurse practitioners, doctors and dentists.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a ministerial statement?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Family and childrenís services, budget cuts
Mr. Fairclough:My question is to the Minister of Health and Social Services. Mr. Speaker, in spite of the Yukon Partyís campaign promises, his departmentís budget has been cut dramatically, and in some very disturbing areas. Weíve heard the Premier and the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission say, in this House, that there will be no layoffs as a result of this budget.
Can the minister confirm that auxiliary on-call family support workers in rural Yukon are losing their jobs because of the 11-percent cut in family and childrenís services?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm that information. Itís incorrect.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, maybe the minister can pay a little bit more attention to whatís really happening here in the Yukon.
Mr. Speaker, the family support workers are people who are hands-on people. They work directly with individuals and families who are in need of counselling, and they provide intense home support dealing with parenting issues. What they do is very important in their communities.
The department estimates that 130 families in rural Yukon will need family services. Yet, Mr. Speaker, only eight families will be getting the services of the family support worker next year ó 130 and only eight will be getting it. Itís not about changing trajectories; itís about this government turning its back on Yukon children and Yukon families.
What is the minister going to do to make sure that rural Yukoners who need family support services will continue to get those services?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, the premise for the member oppositeís question is actually very incorrect. Itís our governmentís position that we will continue to provide the highest level of care possible in rural Yukon, either directly or indirectly through other agencies. And there are more government bodies involved in the delivery of this service than the Department of Health and Social Services.
So we will continue to provide the consistent high level of care in this area that our department has always provided and we will continue to provide.
Mr. Fairclough: Itís certainly shocking that this minister, who comes from a rural community in the Yukon, doesnít appreciate the impact of this cut. I ask the minister to really look carefully at what the cuts in this budget do. Apart from families affected directly, what about the on-call workers who are losing their jobs ó who are losing their jobs, Mr. Speaker? The ministerís own colleague promised no job losses in any YTG category, and this is exactly what is happening.
Now, jobs are scarce in the Yukon, we all know that. No wonder people are leaving, when their own government is making things even worse. Will the minister now undo the damage that this cut is causing and ensure that the auxiliary on-call family support workers will still have their jobs in the upcoming year? Will he ensure that?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member opposite is trying to make the case that this government is cutting jobs. That is a very, very inaccurate statement. It does not reflect what our government is doing. In fact, the level of employment by Yukon government today is at an all-time high, at approximately 3,600 employees. Itís an all-time high. Any of these positions that havenít been filled, the departments are taking the utmost direction and efforts to fill the positions.
But, as an elected official, itís not my responsibility to fill these positions; itís the departmentsí responsibility. In some areas, they are having a very difficult time. We have budgeted the funds necessary to fill these positions. We know we have to deliver these services, and we will continue to provide the best and highest level of care that we possibly can as a government.
Question re: Health care professionals, recruitment and retention
Mr. Fairclough:To the same minister. Mr. Speaker, a few minutes ago I tabled a motion calling on the government to implement programs and incentives to attract and retain health care professionals. Perhaps the motion sounded a bit familiar to the Minister of Health and Social Services, because it was word for word the same motion that stood in the ministerís name when he was on this side of the House. I would like to ask a simple question of the minister. Does the minister still support that position, or is that something else that has changed since the November 4, 2002, election?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: First of all let me thank the press for reporting on this because if it werenít for the press, and if it werenít for motions that I and my colleagues tabled in opposition, it would appear that the official opposition would have no questions to raise in this Legislature. With that said, it is our governmentís position that we have fully funded these categories for attraction and recruitment, and we are making our best effort to attract and recruit health care professionals in all categories.
Mr. Fairclough: People are more interested in deeds, not just in words. We have a new budget in front of us: a budget that is all about cutting services, cutting programs, all in the name of some horrible trajectory. I have read the departmentís budget over and over and I canít see where the money for recruiting nurses and nurse practitioners is identified. Maybe the minister can help me out with that and tell me how much his department plans to invest in this initiative next year compared to the current year level of funding?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Yes, I can help the member opposite out. Our government will be spending $1.108 million on human resources in this category.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, we see a 20-percent cut in the departmentís human resource budget. That must give some cause for concern for the minister. The situation weíve been facing in attracting and hanging on to our nurses and nurse practitioners is not going to get any better. In fact, Mr. Speaker, we see it getting steadily worse.
Yukon has an ageing population. Canadaís universities canít keep up with the growing demand for nurses. Many nurses are retiring or moving on to better paying locations and giving up their high-stress occupation. So I would like to ask the minister this: will the minister table his governmentís current strategy for attracting nurses and nurse practitioners in this highly competitive market, as well as any programs and incentives that are in the works to help keep the nurses and nurse practitioners we already have, especially in rural Yukon? Can the minister table those plans?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Now, what the member opposite is targeting on is the $270,000 that was reported in the newspaper as a reduction in the recruitment and retention of nurses. Thatís incorrect, Mr. Speaker ó totally incorrect. Our government is going to be spending $1.108 million on the relocation of all health care professionals across the department to the Yukon. The amount identified in the $270,000 is a reduction in the total relocation. A number of the positions have been filled, and we donít need to spend that amount of money across the entire department.
The recruitment and retention strategy that was implemented a couple years ago by the previous administration for the attraction and recruitment of health care professionals, specifically nurses and nurse practitioners, remains fully funded. In addition to this, our government is exploring other avenues with the Hospital Corporation and with other entities to address these shortfalls.
Question re: Political staff wages
Ms. Duncan:I have some questions for the Premier. Yesterday in Question Period, the Premier admitted that this government has no money for child care workers. The workers were promised money during the election campaign, and the promise has been broken. The government has no money for child care workers because itís handing out the money instead to sole-source contracts to Yukon Party friends and candidates, and $40,000 raises to top political staff.
Yesterday in this House the Premier suggested ó and he used the words "due process" ó that decisions to give raises were made by the Public Service Commission. Mr. Speaker, the due process is that if a job is reclassified and a raise is given to someone, itís either requested by the supervisor or by the employee ó in this case, either the Premier or the chief of staff.
My question to the Premier: whose decision was it to advance these $40,000 raises? Whose idea was it?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, again, the member is incorrect about the Public Service Commission in this regard. There is a process that classifies jobs for caucus and Cabinet staff. There is a process that sets salaries. Unfortunately, the member opposite, when in government, didnít follow any of that process and anointed people to positions. We didnít do that. We ensured that we did not interfere politically in any of these matters, and we are proud of that fact.
Frankly, Mr. Speaker, itís important that when we entice people in this territory to leave their businesses and come to work in the Yukon government with commitment and dedication to turn this territory around, I think we are getting fair value for what we are paying for. So, quite frankly, this is a non-issue. Thereís no correlation here to child care and the hiring of caucus and government staff ó never was and never will be.
Our commitment to the child care people of this territory, to children and to families, remains the same. We are working on that issue; thatís why we have put good people in place to deal with such things as this.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the issue is $40,000 raises for some people and no raises for other people as promised during the election campaign.
Now, what the Premier just said is that he is trying to have Yukon voters believe that the Public Service Commissioner came down to his office and said, "Mr. Premier, the job classification for the chief of staff under the former Yukon Party government, the chief of staff under the former NDP government, and the chief of staff under the former Liberal government were all vastly underpaid. You need to give them a $40,000 raise." The public isnít buying it, nor am I.
A $40,000 raise is either asked for by the employee or itís asked for by the employeeís supervisor. Who was it ó the Premier or the chief of staff ó who insisted on a $40,000 raise for political staff?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, there was no raise. Itís a job classification based on a salary rate. Itís as simple as that.
This is a process in which we, the elected people, did not interfere. The other side of this coin is how the former member conducted government by not having any such process and anointing people to positions, whether it be through contract or hiring. We did not do that. We followed due process, and the results are as we see them today.
We have absolutely no qualms about defending that position. This was not something that was done in any way, shape or form to circumvent how hiring practices take place. In fact, it followed exactly how hiring should be done for caucus and Cabinet staff.
Ms. Duncan: My first reaction to that speech by the Premier is unparliamentary, so Iím not even going to use it. The fact is that the job classifications ó a change in job to amount to a raise ó is either asked for by an employee or itís asked for by a supervisor. There was a choice made. There was a $40,000 raise given to the top political staff and no raises for child care workers, as promised publicly by the Premier.
Now the Premier can stand on his feet all he wants and say that the previous government did such and such and such and such ó which is absolute nonsense, Mr. Speaker. The fact is that the Premier hired the staff. The Premier or the chief of staff initiated the request of the Public Service Commission for a $40,000 wage increase. Who did it? Was it the Premier or was it the chief of staff who demanded a $40,000 raise for these positions ó positions that were classified at a rate for three previous governments?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, the Premier did no such thing in demanding anything. This is a job classification. Again, I point out that there is no correlation here to our commitment to child care. We are working on that issue and we are doing it properly. Instead of taking knee-jerk reactions, we contracted a Yukoner to get into the heart of the matter and provide for this government the information required to make informed decisions. Any increase in wages and salaries to child care workers is based on the big picture here when it comes to child care and the total equation.
I stated yesterday on the floor of this Legislature that, by increasing wages, the child care workers ó the way the system is set up ó there is no guarantee that those wages will flow to the workers. We are going to ensure that what we do is achieve the desired result.
Now, the member is making some serious accusations. Those accusations are false accusations ó they have no burden of proof. We conducted a process and we will continue to conduct those processes ó
Speaker: Order. Order please.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker:Member for Porter Creek South, on a point of order.
Ms. Duncan: The member opposite cannot in his response accuse another member of making false accusations. That is unparliamentary.
Speaker: The Member for Klondike, on the point of order.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: On the point of order, there is just a dispute between members.
Speaker:I find that it is unparliamentary. However, I am not asking the member to withdraw. What I am asking is each side to control itself a little bit better.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: As I was saying, Mr. Speaker ó and I thank you for that. Let us rephrase it anyway. These are incorrect accusations, and we are continuing with the process for hiring exactly as we commenced. There is no political interference. We were very careful to ensure that our political people did not interfere with hiring in any way, shape or form. There is good reason for that, and ó
Speaker: I would ask the member to conclude.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: As far as the child care issue goes, we are committed to it and we will deliver on it as we put together the necessary solutions along with all stakeholders.
Question re: Womenís Directorate
Mrs. Peter:I have a question for the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. The Yukon Partyís election platform promised to reinstate the Womenís Directorate to its status prior to the former governmentís renewal exercise. Last Thursdayís budget speech stated that this government has honoured that commitment and that the Womenís Directorate is no longer a branch within the Executive Council Office. Can the minister tell us what positions are involved in that change and when the actual move will take place?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I donít have that information with me at this point in time; however, I can get it to you within a short period of time.
Speaker: Presuming you mean me, the Chair? Youíll be getting the information ó thank you.
Mrs. Peter: There has been considerable concern in the community about what a stand-alone status actually means when it comes to the Womenís Directorate. From a Public Service Commission perspective, is the minister satisfied that the new arrangement fully restores the Womenís Directorate to its previous status?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, the Public Service Commission had a great deal of input on the re-establishment of the Womenís Directorate to a stand-alone status. Instead of the Womenís Directorate reporting to a manager, the Womenís Directorate now reports to a minister. The director of the Womenís Directorate now sits at DMRC, in the formal meetings where policy is set in government, and the minister responsible for the Womenís Directorate ó and this is testimony to our position and commitment to the women and the issues they face in this territory ó rests at the highest office of government, the Premierís office. I think weíve done an admirable job on delivering on our commitment to the women of this territory.
Mrs. Peter: Well, Mr. Speaker, at yesterdayís budget briefing on the Executive Council Office, we were advised that the new head of the Womenís Directorate will not have the full authority of a deputy minister. Apparently, certain functions related to the Public Service Commission will need to be channelled through a different department head. Will the minister tell us what those functions are, and can he explain how that reporting structure for the Womenís Directorate is consistent with the reporting structure prior to the renewal?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: It is completely consistent with how the Womenís Directorate reported prior to renewal. The director of the Womenís Directorate now reports to a minister. During renewal, that was completely changed and diminished, in terms of status.
Going back to the memberís original question, all these things take effect in the new fiscal year, April 1, because the impetus for the changes are in the new budget. So, going back to recap, the Womenís Directorate, as we committed to reinstate it to what it was prior to renewal, has been done. It is fully budgeted and resourced. All things for the Womenís Directorate under its new regime will begin April 1, in the new fiscal year. And we see great things, in terms of what the Womenís Directorate will be delivering internally, as far as influencing government policy, ensuring gender equity and also working externally, outside of government, on the many challenges women face in this territory. The Womenís Directorate is alive and well and is going to be a very useful agency on behalf of this government.
Question re: Seniors housing funding
Mr. McRobb:Earlier in this sitting, I tabled a motion calling on the government to give top priority to providing low-cost options for second- and third-stage housing for seniors and elders in all Yukon communities where the need exists. Yukon seniors and elders should have the right to live with dignity and continue to contribute to their own communities, and remain close to their families, friends and loved ones. The need is out there in several Yukon communities. For instance, I have identified this as a top priority for the Kluane region.
The budget speech spins good talk, but does it walk the walk, Mr. Speaker? Can the Health minister indicate for us how much is devoted to this need within the Yukon Partyís budget?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The preamble to the question is an area in which our government really agrees with the member opposite. There is a demonstrated need out there by the seniors for additional housing in all categories. Itís our partyís position that we will be addressing this issue in the most appropriate manner.
Now, weíve met as a government with a number of the seniors organizations, and in our budget we have identified $100,000 for a review of seniors housing.
Mr. McRobb: Well, in the budget speech, the Yukon Party government identifies Watson Lake and Dawson City as locations for future seniors facilities. Then in a news release from last week dated March 6, the Health minister is quoted as saying that initial projects to be funded include planning of multi-level care facilities in Watson Lake and Dawson City. This government talks about team Yukon, but in reality the minister and the Premier are hometown fans.
How many more political IOUs are out there? Can the minister explain for us why only the needs of Watson Lake and Dawson City are attended to and other regions like Kluane are ignored?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Our partyís commitment is to seniors across the entire Yukon. Primarily the focus is in Whitehorse, and then we look at where the largest population of seniors are located and where the largest population centres are located. Itís not only Haines Junction; itís a lot of other smaller communities. These will be addressed over the course of the next few budgets in a timely fashion. Itís a top priority for our government. Yes, we have identified, first, $100,000 for Watson Lake and Dawson City, but there has also been a lot of work done way in excess of that amount for seniors housing right here in Whitehorse.
Mr. McRobb: Talk is cheap, Mr. Speaker. I would feel more comforted, and Iím sure all Yukoners would, if the minister would only have said itís not just Watson Lake and Dawson City, but also other communities, like Haines Junction. We would all feel a little more secure in this matter.
Now, this same press release, itís very interesting, because the minister is quoted in it as saying, "We will work with the public to determine just what our priorities and projects should be for the betterment of all Yukoners." Then it goes on to the quote, "Minister Jenkins said that initial projects to be funded include the planning of multi-level care facilities in Watson Lake and Dawson City."
Mr. Speaker, thereís a definite contradiction there. How can this government possibly be open-minded and willing to go and consult with Yukoners if it has the locations for these facilities predetermined? Will the minister now commit to holding a fair and open process and listening to all Yukoners on this issue?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Iíd like to thank the member opposite for the question, but all these studies, Mr. Speaker, are predicated on previous studies. There was a needs assessment study in Watson Lake. Itís 15 or 16 years old. There has been a needs assessment in Dawson City ó thatís perhaps not of the same age, but it might even be older.
So, every area we are dealing with are areas that have been brought to our attention by the general public. I must correct the member opposite in that our thrust initially is primarily focused on Whitehorse, where the greatest need exists but, under the previous administration, a whole group of bed-sits ó very small rooms ó were identified as being the need, and the seniors came to us, as a government, and said, "No, we do not want that." So weíre having to go back and re-examine our options in Whitehorse and provide the facilities that the seniors here in Whitehorse want, as well as undertake a study in both Watson Lake and Dawson City to identify the needs and to bring forward a proposal. Itíll have input from both those communities, and then we will move on to the next communities, in that order, in subsequent years, Mr. Speaker.
Question re: Education, post-secondary funding
Mr. Cardiff:Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Education about another top priority. Tuition fees at post-secondary institutions across Canada have been rising at astronomical rates for the last few years. Student debt is one of the greatest barriers facing students today. The Yukon Party promised in their platform to index the Yukon student grant. My question: is that promise a promise that the minister intends to honour, and how long will students have to wait to receive additional assistance?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The answer to that question is that the government does intend to work with the students. Students are a high priority to this government, and we will continue to go on that path.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, that provides some comfort.
Yukon College is currently strapped for money, and it has even gone so far as to lay off staff. Now it is proposing to raise tuition and student fees to try and make ends meet. This is going to put more pressure on students attending local institutions. Under the College Act, itís the ministerís responsibility to approve these increases. Does the minister intend to give his approval to these increases?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Itís true that I was approached by Yukon College. And at this point in time, I have had discussions with the president of the College and the board, and I have agreed that we will look at raising the tuition fees. The answer is yes.
Mr. Cardiff: Okay, so students can look forward to paying more to go to Yukon College. Hopefully, that will help address the shortfall at the College a little bit.
During the election and since they formed government, the minister and his colleagues have stated on many occasions that education is a major priority for them. Students attending Yukon College and universities and institutions in the south ó some of them are working two and three part-time jobs and eating Kraft Dinner while theyíre maintaining a full course load. And weíre waiting to hear when this minister is going to do something positive.
The line item in the budget related to student grants shows a four-percent decrease. So, will the minister tell the House how this reflects this governmentís commitment to students in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I thank the member opposite for that question. I would say today that the reason for that decrease, or reduction, is that there is a considerably lower projection in the number of students going out next year, and the budget reflects it that way.
Speaker: Order please. The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
OPPOSITION PRIVATE MEMBERSí BUSINESS
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Motion No. 6
Clerk:Motion No. 6, standing in the name of Mr. Hardy.
Speaker: It is moved by the leader of the official opposition
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) neither the United States Administration nor the United States Security Council has provided any compelling evidence to justify a declaration of war on the people of Iraq; and
(2) the integrity of Canada as a sovereign nation would be in jeopardy if this country allowed itself to be drawn into unjustified military ventures at the behest of the United States or any other military power; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to adopt an independent foreign policy that includes restricting the use of Canadian military personnel and resources to the roles of peacekeeping, research, assistance in civil emergencies and defence against direct threats to the Canadian nation or its people.
Mr. Hardy: I am very pleased to speak to this motion today. I believe itís appropriate that this is a motion before the House, considering the dire situation that weíre facing in the world today.
Over the last few months we have seen a buildup of arms in the Middle East, all targeted at Iraq. We stand on the brink of a disastrous war that would change the course of history. At stake are hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, 50 years of nuclear containment, the international legal framework constructed in the aftermath of the Second World War and a potential destabilization of the entire Middle East region.
This motion that we brought forward today is a request that Canada chart a different course in the actions that have been building up to this conflict. Itís extremely important that Canada have a separate foreign policy ó itís mentioned in the motion. Itís also very important that Canada lives up to a role that is recognized throughout the world so that countries that are in conflict or even in conflict within a country or nation, or when there are conflicts between countries, can be addressed by often going to another country to intervene.
Canada has fulfilled a role as peacekeepers in this world that is recognized among the people of the world. Itís extremely important that we, as Canadians, continue to support that.
There are already enough countries in this world today that are quite eager to go to war. There are already enough dominant countries that can oppose or put the pressure on another country as they see fit. What the world needs is more peacekeepers, and Canada does fulfill that role and is respected throughout the world for that.
The world community often looks toward Canada when there are conflicts, and we have served that role. We have been in areas of the world where there are catastrophes or uprisings or conflicts. We have been in the Middle East and tried to address some of the serious concerns between nations, between people. If Canada adopts a position in support of what I consider an unjust war, it will lose that credibility and the world itself will lose a role that is so desperately needed, and that is the role of peacekeeping.
I firmly believe, and I say it up front, that there is a resolution to this problem that exists today. I believe there is a peaceful solution, if people will give it time, if countries ó when I say "countries", I mean the United States government, not its people, and Great Britain ó would pull back a little bit, allow the process of the inspections to happen, allow what is obviously becoming very obvious, allow the Iraqi regime to dismantle some of their weapons, allow the UN to play the role that people in this world expect it to play, and not try to dominate that, not try to twist it or shape it to what the U.S. or Great Britain are trying to do in order to get a result that I firmly believe will not result in peace, nor will it result in the end of terrorism.
I do not believe that, by attacking Iraq, we are going to have an end to terrorism. I believe that, by attacking Iraq, weíll have an increase in terrorism.
I do not believe that by dropping bombs on the people of Iraq that the people of the Middle East will become a democratic area. As it is right now ó and I heard this at a lecture that was held last week up at the Yukon College; the guest speaker was Gwynne Dyer. It was a fabulous lecture. Everybody should have had opportunity to have gone to it. But what I heard was that going into Iraq will create a tremendous destabilization of that region and can cause tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of deaths. Also, it could have the impact of regime change ó not in the direction that we as peace-loving people, as democratic countries want, but in a different direction and one that will ultimately hate the West.
So why would you go into Iraq? There have been a lot of arguments. Iíll put some of them out there right now: weapons of mass destruction. That was one of the first ones that was brought forward: Iraq has weapons of mass destruction that can be used against its neighbours but moreso and what I heard was against the United States of America. Since it has been the United States government, George Bush, who has been leading this charge, you have to make that connection that there was some fear that Iraq, with its very small population that is extremely poor ó the people in Iraq live in tremendous poverty ó that there is actually no proof of nuclear weapons or any being developed, that it has been under tremendous sanctions since 1991, would have these weapons, somehow have these weapons hidden that would be able to go, shoot all the way across and be able to inflict damage to the people of the United States.
Well, if that were truly the case, maybe the United States would have an argument here. But there has been no proof given. As of now, over the last few months, putting aside all the rhetoric that we have heard out there, there has been absolutely no proof that there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The inspectors have been in there now for over a month ó I think almost two months ó and they have not found any evidence in that area.
The United States, which has been leading this charge ó and I should say the United States government. When I say the United States, I am referring to the government because I do not believe this is the will of the people. I have some polls that Iíll read later pointing to that. They have not been able to prove that those weapons exist. So at some point, they had to shift that argument because they didnít have the proof. So what did they shift it to? They shifted it to say that Iraq was a harbour for terrorists, a breeding ground for terrorists.
Now, there might be some truth in that but, if youíre going to attack the country, it canít be just speculation ó that they might have. Letís not forget that there was a war, there was an invasion two years ago in Afghanistan. That was to attack the terrorists. That was to flush out the terrorists ó terrorists who had attacked the United States of America on September 11, as we are all very familiar with. They went into Afghanistan. They went after the cells that existed to try to capture the people who were responsible for that horrific crime against humanity.
So they did attack a country. Afghanistan was the country. They went in there; it was a very successful operation by their standards; they overthrew the government, the Taliban; they went into the hills and, in some cases, they believe they were successful in getting some of the terrorists. They firmly believe they were able to disrupt the terrorist activities ó at least that cell.
So that has happened, but after the movement into Afghanistan, what were they going to do? They didnít have a leader; they didnít have many of what they felt were the players. They were very successful in Afghanistan, but they were still looking for a target. They were still trying to find the continuation of the role of war.
At the lecture the other night, Gwynne Dyer gave some reasons why, and one of them Iíll read here. In his words, "Bush and his advisors have concluded the administration needs the ongoing perception of a crisis to maintain a lofty perch in public opinion polls.
"Until September 11, 2001, Bush had been the least popular president since the Second World War. Half of Americans thought he had stolen the presidency. Two weeks after 9-11, his 50-percent approval was 90 percent.
" The real crisis ended in December 2001," Dyer says, "and Bush began a nine-month slide in the polls, with mid-term congressional elections looming last November." Dyer envisioned the Bush circle saying, "Wouldnít it be handy if we could keep a crisis going awhile longer? Round up the usual suspects."
So what did they do? They got a Canadian speech writer who was down there, one of the many speech writers they have ó this was a Canadian fellow ó and he coined the phrase "axis of evil", and they were able to create three countries that were considered, in their eyes, as evil, and three countries that had to be dealt with, and dealt with now, because theyíre a threat.
This is an interesting position and there might be a lot of truth to it. A lot of other people say there are other issues that are motivating the desire to go into Iraq. One of them is oil. Iraq happens to have the second largest oil deposits in the world and everybody knows that the west has a tremendous reliance on fossil fuels ó especially in the United States ó and they want access to those fuels. One way to get access to the Iraqi fuel is to overthrow Saddam Hussein and put in a puppet leader of their making who would ensure that the oil would flow to their markets. The terrorist argument was used ó that has kind of fallen by the wayside because, again, they havenít been able to connect the dots. That has been one of the most difficult things for those who are arguing to have this war. Finally, and I just heard this one more recently, is the new argument of why they have to go after Iraq and the people of Iraq and that is because they are "enemies of freedom". I heard that on the television the other night and it is starting to be said more and more. Well, what does that actually mean, "enemies of freedom"? Free from what? We can argue ó I donít think we even need to argue this one. There is no question out there that Saddam Hussein isnít a kind leader. He is an atrocious leader. He has treated his people horribly. But, are you going to free people ó are you going to go into somebody elseís country and free people by dropping 36,000 bombs on them? Are you going to go into the streets and kill tens of thousands of civilians to get at one man?
Is that freedom? Are you going to impose freedom? That is the question we have to ask: does the United States have the moral authority to impose their type of freedom on another country or other people? And if they are going to do that, then why just Iraq? Why not look around at the rest of the world and identify all these places ó these despotic leaders, these very cruel dictatorships ó and treat them the same way?
Why Iraq? Why now is it specifically Iraq? Because in the Middle East, there is not a true democracy. So all of those countries are subject to that same kind of treatment. And broaden it ó what about China? And now you have North Korea. They have been included in the "axis of evil". There are three of them ó Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Why isnít North Korea being targeted right now? They are far, far closer to creating a nuclear weapon, which is a weapon of mass destruction, than Iraq is ó far closer. Iran is far closer to creating that type of weapon. But neither of those are being targeted right at the moment. Maybe they will be later.
But thereís China, just as an example. Itís a huge country. Has it been targeted? And you can go around the world. You can look into many of the dictatorships within Africa and some of them down in South America. And whereís Cuba in this? In the eyes of the United States government, Cuba is not a democracy, and they have a serious problem, a very serious problem with Cuba.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Hardy: Iím glad the member across the way has indicated that it isnít. I agree with him ó itís not a democracy. But it also raises the question of whose democracy and what type of democracy ó the western view of democracy?
There are other democracies in the world; there are other shapes to a democracy. But imposing your form on another country does not indicate a democratic shift away from a dictatorship. It is a dictatorship imposing another form of country rule.
Now, the United Nations has a role to play in this world. For the longest time, the United Nations has in some ways been disregarded ó you could say that it has not been respected by many countries. Definitely the United States government has had problems with the United Nations. However, it is what its name implies ó united nations. It does allow input from a multitude of countries on major issues facing major international issues.
Interestingly enough, what this crisis that we are leading toward ó where weíre going ó has done for the United Nations is that it has, in many ways, reinvigorated its role and raised its stature throughout the world. Thatís important, Mr. Speaker, because many people on one side are saying that, if overlooked by the United States and if the United States goes it alone ó or with Great Britain, which seems to be really pulling back now and questioning how fast things are moving in regard to going into Iraq ó as they said they will do, because they believe itís their moral authority ó go in and attack Iraq ó the United Nations, as I was implying, will become ineffective and will ultimately be threatened itself. But I happen to disagree with that argument. I believe the United Nations is becoming more effective and itís becoming more relevant in todayís situation in the world today.
This is being re-established by this conflict that weíre facing. And the real conflict that exists between two members on the Security Council and the other members on the Security Council who are taking different views or thinking of abstaining, thinking of vetoing the vote that may come forward ó and with another few also supporting. Spain is one of them, even though even Spain now is saying, "Hold it here."
And why are they saying that? Theyíre saying that because theyíre seeing some real results happening with the inspections in Iraq. Theyíre seeing that Saddam Hussein is being contained by these inspections; theyíre seeing that weapons are now being destroyed. And theyíre not your first-class weapons, Iíll tell you right now, as anybody knows. These are not weapons that would have been able to cross any ocean. Most of them, if they had been fired into a neighbouring country, would have ended up in fields, as Iíve heard from other speakers. But they are being destroyed, and the inspectors are daily being given more opportunity to find out what exactly exists in Iraq.
So the world is seeing that it is working. So then the questions become: why do we have to go to war, why do we have to set an arbitrary date that is so short and almost impossible to fulfill, when there may be a possibility that in two weeks or three weeks this regime will be contained ó their weapons, definitely ó and it may also lead to an opportunity to have real change within Iraq for the people of Iraq?
If war happens there ó and some people predict that itís going to happen no matter what the UN says or what any other country says ó whatís it going to cause there? I donít believe, as I said earlier, that more democracies will pop up in the Middle East.
These problems that exist in the Middle East are very, very old. Most of them seemed to have derived from the intervention or the influence of western society trying to shape the Middle East the way it wants.
The Middle East region is very unstable. The people are very poor. The conflicts that exist there today are already volatile. This would not dampen that volatility. This will increase it. One that we are all familiar with of course is the Israel-Palestine situation. That is a terrible, terrible situation for two countries to be in ó if you can say that the Palestinians have a country because in many cases they donít.
And it will create more terrorists because the people there do not want, like we would not want, to see intervention again from the West telling them what they should and should not have and how they should and should not live. Unfortunately, you get some crazy people who would take that and fan the flames of hatred, and that is what they would create their terrorist cells out of. We could look toward retaliation in ways we have never, ever imagined. No one imagined September 11. So if you couldnít even imagine that, youíll never know how they could strike if we fan those flames into a greater deal of hatred. I honestly believe that peace begets peace and war begets war.
So the outcome in Iraq would not be the same as what happened in Afghanistan. Again, I want to read a few paragraphs of Gwynne Dyerís lecture to us that was reported in the paper and what he sees would happen ó not forgetting that in Afghanistan, there was only a small, limited amount of loss of life. There are a lot of people who believe that Iraq would be in the same situation but the majority of people who are involved in military operations ó generals and that ó say it will not be the same operation, itís a totally different situation. What Gwynne Dyer says here is often supported by many of them.
"Dyer foresees tens of thousands of Iraqis perishing, and hundreds, if not thousands, of U.S. soldiers dying as well. ĎThe objective is to kill as many Americans as possible. The American goal is to collapse as many buildings as possible. That will kill civilians.í
" ĎHussein sees his sole hope,í Dyer said, Ďas having as many Iraqis die and American soldiers killed as to inspire a global wave of revulsion against the conflict.
" ĎIt wonít work. He will let civilians die in the basements of the buildings they are living in. I think this is going to get quite ugly.í
" ĎIf Hussein has any missiles left,í Dyer said, Ďhe will fire them at Israel as he did during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.í But the weapons are old and inaccurate, and Ďmost will fall in the fields and kill a few grazing sheep.í "
Should Israelis retaliate ó something it did not do 12 years ago but it said it would do this time ó " Ďyou can guarantee the mobs will be out in the streets burning American buildings and bringing down American-backed governments in the Arab world,í Dyer said."
" ĎThose includes the unstable regimes of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan,í " he added.
" ĎThese would be succeeded by Islamic regimes sympathetic to the views of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden,í Dyer said. ĎPeace treaties would be cancelledÖ there is more potential for an Arab-Israeli war we have not seen in 30 years.í "
Itís frightening, when you think of that. This is a military analyst and journalist who has spent definitely the last 30 years of his life studying both Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East. He has been there many times; he knows the players there, heís an advisor, and this is his perspective. This is a perspective that is shared by many others.
I donít think thereís anybody here who wants to see something like that, nor can imagine that something like that would be of benefit to the world. It would create a new world order that we may not be able to comprehend at this moment, and we may not like.
An interesting comment by Mr. Chrétien that quite surprised me, as it surprised many others, is that when the Iraqi one is finished, whoís next? Who will be next in the line? Will it be all the axis of evil? Because if youíre using that kind of language and youíre promoting that kind of action to be taken, and this is being promoted, as I said earlier, by the United States government ó the only superpower of the world, the one that has thousands of nuclear weapons; they have arsenals of chemical weapons. They have the means to mobilize and move troops and ships anywhere in the world. They are the superpower. This is what is being proposed. Whoís next?
By their own language, it would probably be Iran, which is right close to Iraq. Then it would be a jump over to North Korea.
I feel that if Iraq is attacked, and the war materializes the way it has been predicted here ó because no one can really tell you whatís going to happen, other than it will be far, far worse than Afghanistan. Thatís a given. And then it goes to Iran. I canít imagine the other Middle East countries sitting very comfortably with that. Eventually, they will say, "Enough." And they are beginning to say that already, because they will ask the same question: who is next? If we disagree with the superpower, will we be next?
And then you take this huge jump over to North Korea. I canít imagine South Korea sitting very easy with that. We have already seen indications along those lines, when they were just named. I canít imagine all the other countries in that region being very comfortable with another war in that area, because it was not long ago, in those peopleís minds, that Vietnam happened. That created a tremendous amount of hatred over there. Unfortunately, in this day and age we live in, the ability to conduct a war, not on your territory but on someone elseís ó whether itís through terrorist activities or missiles or nuclear weapons ó has become a lot easier.
So, what Pandoraís box are you opening up if you start down this path? The UN, through its inspectors, are trying to resolve this issue, and they are being successful. If it is weapons of mass destruction, and that is the issue here ó that was the primary issue ó then the UN inspectors are having an impact.
Throughout the world, Mr. Speaker, people have been speaking about this war. This in many ways has become the first global protest against war ó against anything, honestly ó where tens of millions of people were in the street ó on February 15, over 10 million people demonstrated in hundreds of cities around the world. That is a first. There is a very strong feeling in the world today that this war is unjust, that this desire by the United States government to attack Iraq, to go in and try to get Saddam Hussein, is unjust, not because anybody supports that man. Thereís not a person I know out there in any of these peace movements, I would suspect, who believes that he is a good person who should be in government. I believe he should be removed, but I do not believe that killing tens of thousands of people and going into a country, disrupting an area that may create more conflict and may cause more deaths and create a chain effect, a domino effect throughout the Middle East that may expand farther to take one person out is the way to do this.
I believe there is a way to do it. And it has been done in the past, Mr. Speaker. There have been great, great leaders in the worldís history who have changed the course of a country, a belief in a country, the leadership of a country, a change to democracy through peaceful means, through a belief that you can do it without violence. That doesnít say that violence doesnít erupt, but these people have led through peaceful means, and we are very familiar with some of the names. Ghandi was one of them, a non-violent person who changed India.
Martin Luther King, who dealt with segregation, changed it through peaceful means. He never took up arms to change the oppression of the black people of the United States. Nelson Mandela managed to do it. Those are examples and those are examples that we should take heart in. Those are people who believed that you could make a change through a m method other than violence, and in this case I believe it applies as well.
I am going to give a few figures here, Mr. Speaker, on the impacts of war. A U.S.-led attack on Iraq could kill between 48,000 and 260,000 civilians and combatants in just the first three months of conflict. Now that is far more than what Gwynne Dyer said, but this is the area that they are talking about. They are not talking about 100 or 50 or four that happened in Afghanistan. You are talking of tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands. This is according to a study by medical and public health experts. Post-war health effects could take an additional 200,000 lives, says the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. The health impacts of the Gulf War of 1991 on U.S. troops were massive, with 160,000 of the 573,000 present in the Gulf War now having been certified with service-related medical problems, many due to exposure of the chemical depleted uranium, biological agents and nerve gas. Since 1945, 84 percent of the people killed in war have been civilians ó 84 percent.
Now, there are petitions out there, Mr. Speaker. I would hope that people would be willing to sign them. There is a multitude of petitions. If you go on the Internet, you will find petitions from all around the world opposing war, saying no to war in Iraq. There are also local petitions. This one is by Alexa McDonough, MP for Halifax, NDP member. And this has been up here for awhile. People have been signing it, and I would hope that members opposite would be willing to sign this as well, so it can be presented to the House of Commons.
There is another petition as well. Itís called "Canadian Peace Alliance". Again, itís a petition that will be presented to the House of Commons by a Member of Parliament. It doesnít identify who, and I donít think it really matters who brings the petition forward in this case. Itís the message that is important.
Motions have been brought forward in the House of Commons. The Bloc brought forward a motion and there was debate on it, and Iíll just read a little bit of it:
"THAT this House consider the sending of troops to Iraq by the government only after the United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution explicitly authorizing a military intervention in Iraq". This is dated February 12. The position in this one, of course, is U.N. sanction for a military operation. I donít necessarily believe that that is even necessary, and our motion is not in support of this one, but it recognizes the importance of it. It recognizes what the Bloc was trying to do.
Interestingly enough, our Member of Parliament from the Yukon voted against it. There was also a Canadian Alliance motion and, more than anything else, it surrounded ensuring that the House has a say in any kind of actions taken. And there was an amendment by the Bloc to it. Iím just tying it all together right now. Iíll just read the last part of it, from the Bloc amendment. "Ö or in the event that a decision is made while the House stands adjourned." This should clarify it a little bit. "Notwithstanding any Standing Order, the Speaker shall convene the House at the earliest opportunity." What itís really saying is that the House ó the elected members, at the Canadian federal level ó should be able to have a debate around Canadaís involvement in any kind of actions in Iraq.
And our Member of Parliament did not support that one, either. And thatís a shame, because I do know that he has been up here saying he is opposed to war, and Iím glad to hear that. But you also have to say it in the House. This is why we stand here today and are having this motion brought forward and having this debate.
The UN has a huge role to play here. Unfortunately, because of the splits between these countries, I believe that this desire to have a war with Iraq is causing alliances to be formed that may not have existed in the past. And youíre seeing the European Union taking a side ó youíre seeing Germany, Russia and France saying they will veto any motion brought forward by the United States to begin the war operations, with China and Pakistan already indicating they may abstain.
Now, some countries, as I said earlier, indicated they were going to support the United States in the vote, but have now said, "Well, hold it here. We are seeing results. Letís give it more time."
Hopefully, that rational talk in there will have some sway, just as what we say here and what weíre trying to do will.
Interesting enough, in the United States, the people themselves are not necessarily for a war. No matter what the President says ó and Iíll give you a couple of figures here. According to a CBC News poll, Americans support the idea of using military force to remove Saddam Hussein, but they overwhelmingly want diplomatic efforts and the inspection to run their course first. The poll found that 63 percent of Americans want President Bush to find a diplomatic solution. Whatís more, Americans seem to want hard evidence that Iraq is cheating regarding its weapons. More than two-thirds, 77 to 17, say that if inspectors havenít found a smoking gun, they should keep looking ó give them time.
Just some examples around the world ó Italy is 85 percent against the war, according to polls taken there; Thailand, 75 percent; Uruguay, 79 percent; over in Pakistan, 60 percent; the majority of Canadians oppose the war; and the majority of people in Great Britain oppose the war, even though the leader, Mr. Blair, has been supporting the United States in their actions, and he has gotten himself into a difficult situation there.
Now, Canada yesterday introduced a new proposal, or a refined proposal from the one they introduced a couple of weeks ago, and it sets a three-week deadline for Iraq to meet disarmament demands or face the prospect of war.
The council has set three weeks for Iraq to demonstrate conclusively that it is cooperating actively and effectively on substance, on real disarmament and not only on process, Mr. Heinbecker told the Security Council during open debate. Now, Canada is not a council member. It goes on to say, "We are convinced that Iraq is substantially contained and that if it cooperates, it can be disarmed without a shot being fired." Thatís very heartening to hear. It shows Canada is not, in this case, following, but they are actually trying to find a resolution and they are trying to act as peacekeepers ó and I applaud that that work is happening.
I am going to finish talking here so everybody has a chance. But what I think is very clear is that the people of this world do not want this war ó Canadians do not want it ó and itís really time for the insanity to stop. We can and must find peaceful solutions to conflict if weíre going to have a future.
Mr. Cathers: I appreciate the comments weíve just heard expressed by the leader of the official opposition. Obviously this is a subject that he has a great deal of concern for and a great deal of passion is involved, but we have to be very careful as we sit here in this body that we donít let passion overwhelm reason. I must say that I was surprised when I heard this motion proposed and I sort of took a look around me and I thought, "Well, am I where I think I am?" I thought this was the Government of Canadaís business. National defence is very clearly the responsibility of the Government of Canada.
Itís very important that we donít confuse what our roles are here, and certainly, speaking for myself and, Iím sure, on behalf of my government colleagues ó as a matter of fact, I know on behalf of my government colleagues ó we donít have the intelligence information that the Canadian government has been receiving. We donít have the information the United States has been receiving. We are not on that list. We donít have the inside information on this.
Itís very dangerous, Mr. Speaker, to stand here and start making very serious decisions on this. And make no mistake ó this is a very serious matter. I agree with the leader of the official opposition on this. Weíre talking about the lives of people; weíre talking about nuclear weapons; weíre talking about chemical weapons, biological weapons. This is not a trifling matter here, and to make a decision without full information is ridiculous, itís ill-advised, itís tremendously dangerous ó and we do not have that information here.
If the members opposite are on the list for intelligence information from the Canadian government, Iíd certainly appreciate it if theyíd share it with us over on this side, because we certainly havenít been privileged in that manner.
This gets into another issue that has resounded throughout this entire debate. A major point has been that the United States claims it has intelligence information that it is not willing to release. Well, strictly from a policy angle, we can look at that and say, well, for heavenís sake, we need to make a decision here and we have to have that information. But, Mr. Speaker, we get into the issue here that intelligence information comes from intelligence sources. Intelligence sources are, in many cases, people. Thereís electronic intelligence, such as the radio frequency listening posts, the satellites, but thereís the human intelligence, the people on the ground, and people who are on the ground are usually in sensitive positions if they have any ability to give information.
So, the very fact of a government disclosing information may reveal who that source is. In many cases, the information that is revealed is so tightly controlled that there would only be a couple of sources of that. So, if a government, such as the United States ó if we demand that they reveal all intelligence sources and all information that they have, the very revelation of those sources by them would probably jeopardize the lives of those sources. These are people. You can call them sources, but theyíre people.
And now you might lay forth the argument, "Well, whatís one life or two lives or half a dozen or maybe a dozen, in comparison to the thousands weíre talking about?" Well, thatís fine if weíre playing the numbers game, but when a nation deals with their policy of gathering intelligence information, if they set the precedent that they are willing to sacrifice their sources, that they are willing to sacrifice their agents, at the drop of a hat for political expediency, how many sources do you think theyíll get in the future? To have a source trust you ó to give information, to risk their life ó they have to have absolute confidence, or as absolute as it gets ó but they have to be confident that the government they are dealing with will keep their information confidential ó that it will not sacrifice them.
So, as I say, it sounds like a reasonable request ó that we want to have all the information revealed ó but revealing that on the public stage is sacrificing people. Thereís no doubt about that. It has been made very clear by the United States that that would be the result of this. So, itís not an easy thing ó just to snuff them like that. Well, thatís not reasonable. We have to look at the long-term goals because, maybe 10 or 20 years down the road, you get into another crisis that suddenly you have no information about, no advance warning, and it blows up in your face because no one is willing to give you information.
The United States, of course, spends a lot more money on intelligence gathering than most nations, such as Canada does. Canada has very few intelligence assets these days, whether electronic or human. The United States has listening posts in Saudi Arabia, in Kuwait, in King Khalid military city in Saudi Arabia and in the City of Kuwait. These are big dishes that are monitoring radio signals or encrypted signals. This information goes to these posts in those two cities, which is shared among and between the United States government, their military intelligence services and the National Security Agency. The local governments have some involvement in there because it is on their soil. They deal also with decrypting encrypted information and with this, of course, often a certain portion of it and certainly anything very serious is transmitted back to the main NSA, CIA and military intelligence headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The United States also has satellites in the area. These are both photographic satellites ó I believe the KH-11 type is the one currently in use ó as well as infrared satellites that are capable of seeing through clouds and at night.
But we donít have those assets. We have no spy satellites. So weíre relying on their intelligence information and, once more, it gets into the sensitivity of the intelligence information. Even regarding photographic intelligence, Mr. Speaker, thereís always the danger that if that information is transmitted as, "Well, this is what weíve seen from the air," perhaps the Iraqi government or whomever is the target in any surveillance case with spy satellites then becomes aware that some activity they thought they were protecting well enough is being watched, because there is a deliberate attempt to fool satellites.
Saddam Hussein actually was reasonably successful with this back before the first war on the Persian Gulf ó it looks like we may have a second one here, but before the Persian Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, back in 1991ó so he does have experience with that. So as I say, Mr. Speaker, just to tie that back, if you then reveal when your satellites are passing overhead, and if you reveal what you have seen through those satellites, then it becomes obvious to the target the extent of the information that you have and, from that, they can conclude the extent that you donít have and the intelligence capabilities of those satellites.
We have to consider in this whole debate whom we are talking about here. There seems to be certainly a large amount of frustration and a deep feeling of human compassion, which I commend him for, coming from the leader of the official opposition, but I am not comfortable with his comments in regards to the United States. I donít feel they are appropriate. The suggestion and the wording of the motion here, which refers to the United States as a military power, is somewhat derogatory, and it is definitely very targeted, and we are talking about our greatest friend, our greatest ally. Then he follows up with criticism of Great Britain which, of course, is the other one of the two main countries who are driving the desire ó desire probably isnít the right word ó but are behind the motions, going forward at the UN Security Council right now, to begin the process of military action in the Republic of Iraq.
The United States and Great Britain ó these are our two greatest friends and our two greatest allies. We come, of course, from the tradition of British democracy. We are part of the British Commonwealth. Our head of state is the Queen, who is their head of state. We are deeply tied to Britain through our heritage, through our roots. We are deeply tied to the United States through our economic ties, through the fact that we share the longest undefended border in the world.
We have our people, Canadians, working in the United States. Weíve got the famous snow birds going down to Florida, or other southern climes of the United States in the winter, and returning to Canada in the summer months to maintain their residency status. Weíve got Americans working here. I have friends who are American who are living here. I have friends here ó a couple of families that I know ó good friends that moved here as Americans, and some of their children are American citizens and some are Canadian citizens ó or actually, I believe those ones have dual citizenship because of their American parentage. But weíve got within families Canadian and American citizens.
We share a common culture, common economic ties ó and this culture issue, we often get divided into the idea that there is a strictly Canadian culture and a strictly American culture and any crossover between the two is somehow horrible and detrimental to Canada. Well, we look at the Hollywood industry, for example, the movie industry there, and there are a lot of Canadians who are heavily involved as actors, as directors, as owners of companies in this whole thing. So itís one joint culture. But thatís a bit of a digression here.
But we are deeply linked with the United States. They are deeply linked with us. Thereís that old famous saying, "When the United States sneezes, Canada catches a cold." Well, we are ó we are so deeply linked that, as I believe Iíve mentioned before, the entire idea that this is an American issue, that threats to the United States are merely threats to the United States, is absolutely ridiculous ó even before the threats by Mr. bin Laden that have come out recently specifically naming Canada on the list of countries to be targeted by the al-Qaeda.
Iíd like to point out, Mr. Speaker, that a major thrust of the leader of the official oppositionís point seems to be the assumption that all this action, or proposed action, in Iraq is based on the concept that al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein are somehow linked here. Well, we donít know if thereís a linkage. Weíre told by the Americans that they have some suggestion now from intelligence sources that there may be a linkage. There may be; there may not. We donít know. It didnít seem to be that positive a statement coming from those intelligence services, but certainly it is not the main issue. The main issue here is that you have a country that has had numerous UN resolutions calling for them to disarm. They have jerked the UN around six ways from Sunday. They pretend to comply; they start to move forward; they get the inspectors out of Iraq; and then they change their direction. Theyíve done this before. Theyíve been fooling the UN and fooling inspectors for years. Theyíve been hiding things; theyíve been booting out UN inspectors. And this has happened ó 1991 was the war on the Persian Gulf, around about this time of year. I think it was on January 16, 1991 when they first began the attack and the aerial raids in the night hours of Baghdad time ó so 12 years.
Weíre talking about a country here. We know they had a nuclear program before. In fact, Israel, as part of their conflict with Iraq, had an F-16 raid back in the 1980s that destroyed an Iraqi nuclear plant. We know they had the program. France, which now is supposedly the great defender of all innocent people throughout the world in their positioning on the UN Security Council, was the seller of much of this nuclear information and technology to Iraq.
On that issue, Iíd also like to point out that here we have the three leading countries that are opposing action in Iraq ó they are Russia, France and Germany. Well, we always hear the argument, "Oh, the Americans are only interested in this for economic reasons." "Itís about the oil. Itís about this." Well, itís usually the oil they stress, and there is also mention about how the U.S. has sold military technology to Iraq. Well, thatís true. And there is also a lot of oil in Iraq. Thatís also true.
Mr. Speaker, the largest holder of rights to drill for oil within Iraq is Russia. The second largest holder is France. The largest supplier of military equipment to Iraq ó if you look at what they have in their inventory ó the largest supplier was Russia or, at the time, the Soviet Union. The second largest supplier was France. Russia is owed $12 billion U.S. in unpaid bills by Iraq.
Under the protocol ó I canít recall the exact name of it, but the international protocol that was first proposed in 1926 regarding the repudiation of debts incurred under a totalitarian regime ó under that policy, which has international acceptance, this protocol accepts that debts that are incurred ó sorry, I should give you a little background.
This protocol is accepted by the International Monetary Fund regarding what debts people ó having overthrown a dictator, after a revolution ó what debts they are required to pay and what debts they can throw out the window and which are immediately wiped clean.
And the acceptance in this protocol is that any debts that were incurred in oppressing the people, such as military equipment, or any debts that are for personal expenses, such as Mr. Husseinís numerous lavish palaces, his bomb shelters are erased. And, of course the Republic of Iraq spends a tremendous amount on the military. The military under this protocol is considered an area that debts can be repudiated on. They do not apply ó poof, out the window, as soon as a dictator is overthrown. So if Mr. Hussein is thrown out of power, this U.S. $12 billion that is owed to Russia ó they donít have to pay it. The International Monetary Fund acceptance, the banks accept that thatís wiped clean ó gone. Russia canít afford a $12-billion loss right now. They are just rebuilding their economy after the devastation that was caused during the communist era and the difficulty of moving from a communist system to a capitalist system. They can ill-afford that $12 billion. So they donít want to see the government of Iraq thrown out there because their debts will be cancelled. And thatís not even talking about their oil interests. Under that ó this is another thing Ė concessions and permits under this protocol issued by a regime ó itís considered you donít have to pay them. The people overthrow a dictator, they donít have to pay the debts, they donít have to honour contractual obligations ó itís gone.
So I have to look at this and question how pure their motives are. Every major country involved in this ó the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, Germany ó has economic interests in this. Germany was one of the major vendors of technology that the Iraqis used to develop their chemical and biological weapons.
So everyone is tied into this. Pureness of motives around this ó well, there may be some of that, but among the big countries involved in this debate, it is pretty hard to call anyoneís motives pure. Everyone has an economic interest in Iraq regarding this. Every one of these countries sitting here having the debate on the Security Council ó Russia and France threatening to use the veto power ó they have good reason to use that veto power, because theyíd lose money if Saddam Hussein was kicked out of power in Iraq.
So the oil interest from the United States ó well, I am not going to say they have pure motives either but, in comparison, I am not sure that they actually look as bad when we look at that.
Irrespective of that, it doesnít mean that the governments of any of these countries are acting purely based on those economic interests. Maybe they are and maybe they arenít. We are not sitting at the Cabinet table of the United States or of Great Britain, France, Russia or Germany. I doubt that any members in this House have read a recent Hansard or their comparable counterpart from the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia or Germany within the last several months. We donít know what their debates are, not only in Cabinet in those private forums, but in their public forum ó in their legislatures, their assemblies, the Bundesrat and the British Parliament and the U.S. Congress. We donít know what is going on.
If you donít even know the issues that these countries are debating, and you only know what you have heard on the news ó youíve probably watched it on television, listened to it on the radio or maybe read the paper ó Iíd be surprised if any members in this House have surpassed that in research regarding this issue ó by surpassed in research, meaning regarding the motives and the discussions that these countries are undergoing in their consideration of whether to support military action in Iraq.
Have you read the papers? Has anyone in this body ó Mr. Speaker, I would be surprised if they have read the papers. Perhaps the Washington Times, maybe the London Times, but Iíd be very surprised if anyone in this body has read any of the newspapers or listened to the TV reports or the radio reports or transcripts thereof, or translations from any of these countries weíre debating here, within the last several months. So it seems a little bit short-sighted, a little bit insular and a little closed-minded, Mr. Speaker, to think that we know what their motives are in this.
Regardless of that, we come down to the Canadian perspective. What is Canadaís direction? Regardless of the motives of our allies, of these other nations, Canada has to make the decision about what it will do ó Canada, Mr. Speaker, not the Yukon Legislative Assembly. Weíre not elected with that mandate. I was elected with what I consider a fairly strong mandate by my constituents, but I donít feel they elected me to debate the Iraq issue, to decide whether Canada should support military action in Iraq. I never discussed that issue with them on the doorsteps. It never occurred to them, Iím sure, to ask whether I supported action in Iraq. It never came up on a single doorstep. So they didnít have the option of deciding whether I represented their deepest beliefs on this, the beliefs in balancing information and the humanitarian concerns and the possible ramifications. I donít have a mandate to pass a motion on Iraq to either support or oppose military action in that country.
Iíd be very surprised if any member of this House received that mandate from their constituents ó if they discussed this as a major issue. Possibly the leader of the opposition did raise this as an issue on doorsteps. Maybe he did. Maybe he does have the confidence of his constituents that they trust that his opinion on this issue represents their opinion. Or, maybe he has polled them individually, or gone around to everybodyís doorsteps since the election. Perhaps he has. But again, this is a jurisdictional issue.
Mr. Speaker, it is not our jurisdiction to deal with this. We have a Government of Canada which, depending on the time and the issues ó we may have different views about whether theyíre competent or not competent to decide this issue, but itís not our business to tell them how to run things. We donít want them to come here and tell us what to do with the Yukon placer authorization or how we should be managing our resources.
We donít want them to revoke the Epp letter, which has been mentioned as an issue here. It is a problem under the Yukon Act that was recently passed. In the next 10 years, from the date of application, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has the ability to issue new instructions to the Commissioner, which destroys the principle that was outlined in the Epp letter of 1979 that gave the Yukon Legislature the exclusive ability to give instructions to the Commissioner. Mr. Speaker, for anyone who is listening and not familiar with this ó as Iím sure you yourself are, Mr. Speaker ó in Canada, the way we operate, the Commissioner in the Yukon, the Lieutenant Governors in the provinces, and the Governor General in Ottawa, are the actual instruments for implementing a decision.
We, as a legislative body, depending on the level, by acts or by constitution ó or in our case, to some extent, just by letter ó are guaranteed that the Commissioner, or the Lieutenant Governor or the Governor General will only act as we instruct them. Without that, we have a return to monarchy. Well, we do have a monarchy, but we have a departure from representative government is what I should say.
We have the tearing down of the Westminster conventions and the protocols that have been in place that were used in Westminster in Britain and used in the Parliament of Canada in Ottawa ó used in every parliament and every legislature across this country. The principle is that the elected representatives have the exclusive ability to direct the representative of the Crown ó to advise them officially ó in what action should be taken.
But the new Yukon Act gives the ability for, once more, this power to be taken from this Legislature and to go back to the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs.
So, as I say, you can guess my distaste for that concept, my disagreement with it, and thatís one of the issues that has been mentioned when we discuss improving devolution.
But if we donít want the federal government to intrude into our affairs, why are we intruding into theirs? We have a Member of Parliament, Mr. Bagnell ó he is sent off to Ottawa to represent us. Maybe you agree with him, maybe you donít, but he has the mandate from the people of the Yukon to be their representative in dealing with this issue, because this issue is very clearly a matter of (a) foreign policy, and (b) national defence, which are both exclusively the jurisdiction of the federal government to act in Canadaís best interest.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cathers: I hear the comment "freedom of speech" coming from the leader of the official opposition. I agree. Certainly I would not want to have any limits on what this Legislature could discuss and, if the leader of the opposition feels that this is an appropriate issue to bring up, then I commend him for doing so, if he feels itís necessary.
I do, however, question the appropriateness and the relevance of this. As I pointed out, Mr. Speaker, I question whether any of us in this House have a mandate from our constituents to do so, because it is the mandate given by the people that counts. The power in a democracy is vested with the people, and power is delegated to their elected representatives on their behalf. I donít believe we have been delegated the power, the right, to represent our constituents on this issue, and thatís my point on that. However, as I said, if the leader of the official opposition feels that he has been empowered and entrusted by his constituents to be their voice on this matter, then more power to him for doing so.
Now, Mr. Speaker, Iíd like to go back to an issue that Iíve strayed from here ó that it has been 12 years since the war in the Persian Gulf, 12 years of the Iraqi government under the leadership of Mr. Hussein, who, by the way, calls himself the president, 12 years of jerking the UN around by its leash, of pretending to comply, then reversing his track of kicking out UN inspectors, of letting them in, of playing every game in the book until finally he gets backed into a corner, and then he finds a way to weasel out of it again. It has been 12 years, and weíre talking about a country here. The issue of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons ó the very question of the ability of any inspectors to locate those weapons is absolutely ridiculous when theyíve had 12 years to hide them in an entire country. As soon as the inspectors leave, they can go dig them out from wherever they hid them a decade ago.
Itís ridiculous. If you think of the area that we have in this territory and you image trying to hide a nuclear bomb ó I believe itís somewhere around the size of my desk here. You bury that in sand and, two weeks later, there isnít even any evidence of it. The tracks are blown away; thereís nothing ó nothing. Bury it in a concrete case, drop it in the desert ó itís gone. But with a GPS, you know exactly where you put it, you dig it up or you go to such and such an oasis with the three camels that were tied there and the skulls that are on the post ó however theyíve got them marked. Itís not that hard for them to mark it, but itís pretty darn hard to find it.
Now the members opposite may think, "Well, weíve got this wonderful satellite intelligence ó or we donít have it, but our allies in the United States do." Well, thatís true, but do you have any idea how much information is coming in from these satellites from how many countries around the world? The ability to evaluate all that information ó itís almost impossible to do. Youíre looking down at maybe grainy satellite imagery and you try and figure out whatís on the ground. Well, it sounds wonderful, but itís very easy to overlook something like that. When you get into the entire issue of traffic and cities ó you could hide it in the basement. You donít know whatís in the back of a truck. You canít tell if there is a nuclear bomb there when you look from the air. So you see these wonderful vehicles travelling there ó it goes from one building to the next building, backs up to the loading dock, goes down to the other one, goes in there ó you canít look at every satellite frame, every image that you see and evaluate every parcel that someone is carrying, every vehicle that moves, every truck. Itís impossible ó no nation can do it. As wonderful as electronic intelligence is, as satellite imagery is, it is not a miracle.
In fact, some of the problems faced in the area of intelligence-gathering, not specifically electronic intelligence but in the area of intelligence-gathering, are the fact that, following the Cold War, the United States government, particularly under former President Clintonís watch, massively cut the resources to the human intelligence side of CIA and the military intelligence organizations. Well, "So what?" you say. The Cold War was over. Well, now weíve discovered thereís a problem ó that satellite imagery, electronic imagery and the gathering of radio frequencies, all these communications, can be done to deliberately fool a country.
Say, if youíre looking for a nuclear bomb, Mr. Speaker, and you see one moved and hidden in such a location, then great, we know where it is. Well, it turns out it was just a snow cone maker. I say that somewhat facetiously. Obviously, it is not a snow cone maker, but you donít know what it actually turned out to be. Itís deliberately constructed to look like a nuclear weapon from the air. Particularly with satellite imagery, when you see what you expect to see, you donít look further. Itís wonderful. Youíve fooled the satellite. Saddam Hussein is sitting there. The American government, in all its power and its glory, doesnít realize that we just gave them this nice box here. They think itís a nuclear weapon. Well, isnít that wonderful. And theyíve done this, as I mentioned, Mr. Speaker, not with nuclear weapons but with tanks, with armoured personnel carriers. They did this during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. They had plywood cut-outs. In fact, I believe they even had heaters inside some of them to simulate the heat from a tankís engine and fool the overhead satellites.
To a large extent, they were successful. Well, as you probably know, Mr. Speaker, they do have the ability to get closer images of this using remote-controlled drones, the unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, as they call them. They send them overhead, but they go at a very low speed. They are hard to detect, they donít show up on radar, or not very easily, but if theyíre detected, the Iraqis can blow them out of the air even with their massively restricted aerial defences. And you can only send so many of them. And, of course, if you bring this up here, well, thereís probably the issue of "Gee, the United States is sending flights over Iraq."
So, as I mentioned, intelligence information ó we sit here and think, "Wow, we have watched all these movies about how all-powerful the United States government is; therefore, they must know everything thatís going on there. They probably know what brand of toilet paper every Iraqi uses." It isnít quite the case. Or, as the member opposite pointed out, they probably donít use toilet paper. But letís not delve further into that issue.
So, Mr. Speaker, weíre about to possibly face military action in Iraq. Iím sure all of us watched on the news or listened to it or read it in the papers the other day when the Canadian ships were taken off ó Iím sorry, I canít recall the name of the vessel, but the one that the Sea King helicopter took off from and immediately crash-landed on the deck just outside of port.
We all know this issue. It has been floating around for a long time ó since 1993. Actually it has been floating around longer. The issue regarding the Sea Kings, in particular the Sea Kings versus the EH101s that were contracted by the one-time Mulroney federal government and during the 1993 federal election campaign that Chrétien ó well the soon-to-be-Chrétien government Liberal Party at the time ó promised to cancel the contract and did so at the cost of, I believe it was, one-quarter billion dollars. Now we have 40-year-old helicopters that take 33 hours of maintenance for every one hour of flying time and half of them are down for maintenance at any time.
In fairness to the Canadian government, they arenít the only country that did this. Following the Cold War the whole world said, "Wow. Itís over. We saw the Berlin Wall topple and perestroika and glasnost. Itís over. Itís a kinder, gentler world." Well, that is wonderful; except itís not. The problem was that all of these countries looked at this, and the politicians and the people disregarded the advice of their military ó who of course ó as happens in many departments, there can be a tendency to ruthlessly promote your side of the case and the desire for more funding, so they cut back funding. Canada did this; United States did this; every NATO country did this because, of course, the enemy we had faced for so many years, the Soviet Union, didnít exist and it had massively cut back its military and couldnít afford to pay the soldiers even.
So we butchered our military. At the end of World War II, Canada had the third largest navy in the world and the fourth largest standing army. Today, I believe the current number is 52,800 military personnel in all services in the Canadian Forces. During both World Wars, there were well over a million Canadians in service at any time ó I canít give you the exact numbers on that.
The United States, of course, which is roughly nine times our population, back in the 1991 conflict, I know their military standing armed forces were over a million in personnel ó I donít know the exact numbers today, but they cut it back as well.
So we didnít see the problem. We didnít think it was necessary to replace helicopters. We didnít think it was necessary to buy new tanks, to replace the fighter aircraft, to replace the ships. In the year 2000, the Canadian government cut the Canadian Air Force from 564 operational aircraft to 282 ó barely a whisper in the public. So itís all well and good to blame the federal government for doing that ó and Iím sure not going to defend them on that ó but the Canadian public obviously really didnít care that much at that time. Well, weíre maybe starting to see the reasons after September 11 and the concerns that we face now, and we realize that our military is in pretty rough shape. The lives of our service personnel are in danger just flying in their helicopters, let alone even considering embarking on combat operations.
I believe I mentioned previously in this House, Mr. Speaker, the fact that during the air show here we had four F-18 Hornet fighter jets from the Canadian Air Force sitting at the Whitehorse Airport, broken ó 6.7 percent of our fighter group.
In 1984, I believe it was, when the order was placed for those F-18 aircraft ó I believe they were delivered in 1985 ó there were 132 of them ordered. It turned out there were problems with the air frames. So we have 60 operational. Canada also flies the C-130 Hercules. The model we fly they refer to as the H84, which was, I believe, ordered in 1983 and received in 1984. And Canada is still augmenting its fighter air force ó certainly in the training realm ó with the F-5 Freedom Fighter aircraft, which, by the way, for anyone who isnít familiar, is an aircraft that was designed to be sold to the United Statesí allies that were Third World countries. Itís a very bare bones aircraft. It doesnít even have locational radar. It has targeting radar; thatís all. They donít have GPS; they donít have anything resembling modern targeting equipment. The only First World country that hasnít scrapped them is Canada.
Canada spends less on its military than any one of our NATO allies except Luxemburg, and Iíd challenge the members opposite ó in fact, probably most of the members in this House ó to even locate Luxemburg on a map, and Iíd be interested to see what percentage would come up with its location. Luxemburg is much, much smaller than the Yukon. Of course, they have a larger population, but weíre talking about a country that would fit into one of our ridings ó a tiny country. And theyíre the only country in NATO that spends less than we do on the military.
You may recall, Mr. Speaker, the argument that was going on last year. It was mentioned in the national newspapers, on the radio and on TV, that the United States had a major dispute with its allies at the NATO conference because it felt it was shouldering an unfair burden of the NATO responsibility. The United States spends 1.5 times the amount spent on military by all its NATO allies put together ó 1.5 times the amount of all its allies put together. I should clarify that that was as of last year. I donít know the precise figures from the NATO allies for this year, but I do know that Canada would have to increase its yearly military expenditures by $13.6 billion ó thatís billion, with a "b" ó to come up to the NATO average.
Well, thatís interesting ó $13.6 billion. And by the way, in case anyone ó we toss around figures in the millions and billions; a billion dollars is a little over twice what the Yukonís yearly budget is.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cathers: I hear some comments from the member opposite. It seems there is a little confusion on this. Iíd be happy to discuss this with the opposition House leader at a different point, perhaps following the Legislature, if heíd like clarification on any of my points here. Although, feel free to ask questions during my comments here. Iíd be happy to provide him with any information about this that doesnít go on at too great a length.
Speaker: Order please. There will be no questions or answers in this debate.
Mr. Cathers: I apologize for that, Mr. Speaker, I was being facetious. I apologize if the members opposite or you interpreted this as being a serious suggestion.
So my point on this is, here we are, we figure we donít need a military any more. Well, I think that the Canadian public ó and, to its credit, the Government of Canada ó are starting to realize differently, that too much has been cut from the military.
I spoke a little bit about what the Canadian military operates for its vehicles. Weíve all heard touted the Coyote reconnaissance vehicles, which were touted because they are about Canadaís only new piece of military hardware ó actually, I think they really are. We just purchased three diesel subs from Great Britain. There was a reason why Great Britain was selling them ó they were diesel submarines. They were leaky. So we buy our new, leaky, state-of-the-art diesel submarines that were moth-balled by the British. In comparison, the United States and Britain are operating nuclear submarines. The reason for this is the ability to operate ó the ability to be silent ó which is the primary goal of a submarine: to be silently in place so no one has any idea where your military assets are and whether theyíre being tracked by you or not. The United States has been very successful at this with their recent classes of submarines.
But we have diesel subs.
Weíve ignored our military and now our soldiers are paying the price. Every time theyíre put forward in combat operations, they are at risk.
I definitely share the member oppositeís concern over the possibility that Canadian soldiers will be going into harmís way, and the possibility that other people are being risked in this ó that the civilians of Iraq may pay the price.
Mr. Speaker, itís a good argument. It also needs to be noted that the civilians of Iraq pay the price every single day for Mr. Husseinís actions. He is not a nice person. Heís not a good dictator, if there is such a thing as a good dictator, although he refers to himself as the president, so democracy, as was pointed out by the leader of the official opposition, is something that doesnít apply to every country in the world.
He stated statistics of the percentage of countries in the world that are now democratic, and I canít take up that argument with him. I donít know the details on these countries. But democracy isnít a universal issue. The communists had elections. They had elections every year, and no, despite what we think here, they didnít just have one candidate. They actually had other candidates. They werenít allowed to win. They were only allowed to get less than a tenth of a percent of a vote, but it was made clear to the world community that no, weíre not some horrible regime here that shuts out the citizens; weíre democratically elected communists.
A friend of mine came from Czechoslovakia, which now, of course, is the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, but it was Czechoslovakia for many years during its Communist days. He was a newspaper reporter. Well, he was young. I believe he was about 21 at the time, and according to him, he felt like he was on top of the world. He was very cocky, and he criticized the government. That was okay for a little bit, and then Russia came in to rescue Czechoslovakia ó sorry, I have my chronology mixed up. He was initially ó in the early days of setting it up, he was under the Czechoslovakian government. He was imprisoned. Then there was an amnesty when a new leader came into place. He was put in prison for his comments ó a prisoner of war camp.
He told me that he had this surreal experience of doing things like cleaning out sewers without any gloves ó with a scrub brush. He would be standing there with all this excrement on the walls. And they were political prisoners. He was with philosophers, professors, and some of the brightest intellectuals in Czechoslovakian society. He told me that one time they were discussing Plato, and as heís scrubbing away at the wall of this sewer, he brushed an itch on his face and realized what his hands were in.
And he had the lovely experience of cracking uranium without any protection. To this day, if you ran a Geiger counter over him, it would probably go off like crazy.
But these guys had elections. Sure, they silence political dissidents ó but they had elections. So, itís possible that not all democracies are created equal and President Saddam Hussein would probably list some very good arguments, along with his arguments about why invasion is not justified, despite his lack of compliance over 12 years. Heíd probably have some very good arguments on how well he is supported by his people and how the people of Iraq love him, even though heís gassed over 10,000 Kurds ó the Kurdish minority, which I believe is basically an Animist religion, and itís also an ethnic minority in northern Iraq and also into Turkey.
He has gassed over 10,000 of them because he doesnít like their religion, because he thought they were a threat to him. Well, thatís political intolerance, but he probably has a really good reason for it, Mr. Speaker. So weíre in here, weíre in a debate that has sort of settled down between what the Iraqi government is saying and what the United States is saying in the issue over this allegedly evil, military dictatorship of the United States going in to take out that really nice dictator, who has only massacred 10,000 or so of his citizens. Letís remember who our friends are on this, but there is a very big difference between remembering who our friends are and accepting everything they say.
I pointed out that the dispute with the United States is a reasonable thing. But letís keep the level of debate civil. Letís not characterize them as some horrible dictatorship or horrible military power or something like this horrible, roughshod government in power in the United States is just running over the whole world in their desire for power and oil revenue. Thatís ridiculous. And aligned with them is Great Britain. As I mentioned, our two greatest friends of any nation in the entire world, the two greatest defenders of democracy in the history of the world are the United States and Great Britain. That doesnít mean every aspect of their foreign policy is necessarily right ó it doesnít mean itís anointed by God or angels or something because they say it, but letís not demonize them here. These are our two greatest friends in the entire world, our two greatest allies ó our greatest trading partner and the other country, Great Britain, being the country from which we take our entire parliamentary history, the history of our laws, of our common laws, of our Constitution and, to this date still, we have Her Majesty the Queen as our head of state.
These guys are the bad guys, right? I donít believe that. So if weíre going to disagree with them, I would urge all the members in this House and encourage all Canadians to argue civilly with it. If you donít agree with it, fine, but letís be civil on all sides of this issue. Letís be civil, letís be respectful. If the United States feels it is necessary and if Great Britain feels it is necessary to take military action in Iraq, they are saying that because they believe it is necessary for their security interests, for the interests of their people ó which, by the way, we are so deeply tied to, it isnít funny.
I heard the leader of the opposition refer to a lecture the other night by Mr. Gwynne Dyer. As you may know ó in fact, I found to my surprise that it was mentioned in the paper that I had attended. I was at that lecture. It was very well-presented. I commend Mr. Dyer for that. He has obviously done a lot of research on this and heís a very convincing speaker. He made some very good arguments as to the dangers of taking action in Iraq. He mentioned the possibility that al-Qaeda has sought this direction. He mentioned that, when the bombings of the American embassies took place in Sudan and Kenya, I believe it was, by al-Qaeda, the President at the time, Mr. Clinton, was having a little bit of a domestic crisis ó which you know the nature of, but I am sure that commenting on it is neither parliamentary nor appropriate.
So Mr. Clinton was coming up, I believe 10 days before his arraignment on the charges of perjury, and there were the attacks on the American Embassy and 24 Americans were killed, and Mr. Dyer brought up the very excellent point that President Clinton seemed to say, "Great, weíve got an issue here, a national security issue. I can take the focus off this." He fired 75 cruise missiles at different countries, including the famous destruction of a pharmaceutical plant, which had to do with pill manufacturing but nothing to do with chemical warfare, which they thought it was. But they needed an attack and they needed it quickly. So Mr. Dyerís argument ó and a very good one was ó perhaps Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda buddies were sitting around the campfire ó or, at that time, they probably had a nice house to sit around on the floors of in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime ó and said, "Boy, look what has happened here. Twenty-four Americans are killed and they overreact and fire out all these missiles. What would happen if we blow up something like the World Trade Center and kill a few thousand people? Think of the American reaction."
Mr. Dyerís argument was that the desire in this is to achieve regime change in the Arab nations, because they are controlled by governments that are Islamic, but not Islamic fundamentalists, and the Islamic fundamentalists in every one of those countries has the desire to kick out those regimes and replace them with a radical regime. Mr. Dyer argued that the radicals are not supported by anything resembling a large portion of the population.
But those radicals, the only way they could achieve it is by fooling the public into revolting and rioting in the streets, getting a million people in the streets, and his suggestion was that al-Qaedaís thought process and their strategy on this might be: "We blow up the World Trade Centre. The United States will react at random again, causing much destruction, and it will bring the people of the Arab nations in revolt against their governments as puppets of this horrible American regime that just threw bombs out at random in their countries." He could be right. His argument was that this was playing into their hands, that an attack in Iraq would cause the Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Sharon, to respond if Iraq fired weapons at Israel.
As youíre aware, the last time, in 1991, Iraq did fire weapons at Israel but the United States had used the full weight of its diplomatic pressure and talked very seriously with the Israeli government and achieved their cooperation and their agreement that they would not fire back at Iraq, no matter what happened.
So, a few Scud missiles landed there and there wasnít a tremendous devastation that took place. Scuds, of course, are not a very effective weapon, and we all heard the radio clips and saw the TV shots of the Patriot missile systems destroying the scud missiles ó as a point of interest for you, Mr. Speaker, the Patriots themselves are not actually that accurate a missile system. They fire a number of missiles out to hit an incoming ballistic target and the rate of failure is actually pretty high, but it was the first system that was actually significantly effective in taking a ballistic missile out of the sky, coming in at that speed and on that track.
Letís go back to the issue of Mr. Dyerís comments. He suggested that it would be a different affair this time if there was action in Iraq, that, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sharon, thereís no way Israel would stay out of this crisis if they were fired at. They would immediately respond, and weíve all heard the discussions and the concerns that took place back in 1991 and at other times about the ó my train of thought just got hijacked, apparently, here.
So Mr. Dyerís suggestion that Israel would respond is a serious possibility, though I was disappointed that, along with his excellent arguments, he was making a lot of what I felt were very positive statements ó positive, I mean as in definitive, and I found this a little baffling, because I would be extremely shocked if Mr. Dyer is privy to the United Statesí intelligence information, to Britainís intelligence information, to Canadaís intelligence information, yet it seemed to me that he was expressing that he knew all the factors in this, all the concerns, seemed to know the diplomatic efforts, as well, what Mr. Sharon would do. Itís interesting. As I said, he gave a very persuasive and very excellent argument on the danger of trying to proceed with regime change in Iraq and the possible effect on the surrounding area.
But he completely ignored the issue of the non-compliance by Mr. Hussein and the Iraq government with the UN resolutions dating back to 1991. He completely failed to mention it and totally illustrated this as an issue regarding the possibility of an al-Qaeda connection with Iraq, which he dismissed as impossible ó or he didnít say "impossible". I should be accurate here, but he seemed to feel it was highly unlikely. I canít comment on that. I donít have access to that intelligence information.
Iíve commented before, though, Mr. Speaker, on the danger of any one of us making a positive, definitive statement or strongly lobbying on any issue ó any one of us, any citizen, of doing this ó with only a small part of the information before us. It is very dangerous. This is not childís play. This is not some model parliament issue to debate ó should we invade this country or should we not? What will we do? Okay, I say we invade; I say we donít invade; and then the teacher marks you at the end. Weíre talking about nuclear and biological weapons here.
The United States government is obviously very concerned about the possibility that these weapons may be created and that, once created, theyíre very easy to transport. The leader of the official opposition referred to the fact that Iraq doesnít have the ability to deploy nuclear, biological or chemical weapons through their military technology. Heís correct on that. They do not have the ability to deploy that beyond the immediately surrounding area. They have no possibility of reaching Canada or the United States with their military technology firing a nuclear, biological or chemical missile.
But can we forget what is going on here? Do you remember the discussions ó you, Mr. Speaker, I should clarify that ó on the issues that weíve been talking about post-September 11 about the lack of customs inspectors at ports, the relative ease of slipping terrorists or material in via containership or a small vessel from international waters? We have the longest coastline in the world. Even through a port, itís pretty easy to slip something in because of the lack of customs inspectors.
You bring in a container, say, of clothing from Indonesia, which is one of the main al-Qaeda bases ó or countries where they exist, I should clarify, Mr. Speaker ó bring in a load of clothing manufactured there and, possibly at the bottom, you throw in a chemical, nuclear or biological weapon. Itís not that hard to do. You think theyíre going to empty out the entire container? They donít have that time or those resources. Our customs inspectors canít do that. As weíve heard, the equipment that they have for testing for the presence of these things is ó it doesnít exist. It only is deployed in Canada in a few places.
Much like September 11, we are getting locked into a box here ó a previous mentality, a Cold War idea, the idea that we had with the aircraft hijacking September 11 was ó oh, a hijacking is obviously for hostages or for money or something here. Theyíve taken the hostages for either money or a political objective ó and it turned out they were crashing them into the buildings there.
Much like this, they donít have to deploy these weapons. There is no military in the world that can stand up to the United States.
They donít have the ability to deploy military technology over here, to drop nuclear weapons or send biological weapons in here, but a container ship isnít that hard. It has been said before: "We donít want the smoking gun that Iraq has these weapons." We donít want that smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud ó and there is that possibility, and itís all too real. Balanced with that is this concern: what happens if you attack? What if Israel gets drawn in? Even without that, whatís the effect on the region? And the Arab people of the region, what do they feel about this foreign involvement in their affairs ó the foreign military involvement in their area? Whatís the reaction to that? Thereís a real risk either way. Youíre dancing on a high wire and, either way, if you fall out, youíre landing on rocks.
But the United States, Canadian and British governments ó and Russia, France, Germany ó every government in the world has to evaluate the possible risks involved in doing this. What if we proceed? What are those risks? What if we donít proceed, and theyíre allowed to proceed with their development programs? What happens?
Well, we donít know what happens. They donít know what happens either. But we are very poorly equipped in this Legislature to stand here and decide what the right course of action is because we donít even have the barest hint or whiff of intelligence information. As I spoke about earlier, itís very doubtful that anyone here has even read the public record from these other nations and what their concerns are.
So as I spoke of it, with Mr. Dyerís lecture, it was a very good argument, but on one side of the issue. Weíve got to listen to all sides, and our role, to clarify, as I see it, in listening to all sides, is as Canadian citizens, not as Members of the Legislative Assembly. Youíve got to remember what your mandate is.
You know, we see here the wording of the motion that refers to a war on the people of Iraq. Saddam Hussein, as I mentioned, has gassed his own people, heís known for seeing a likely female walking down the street and having her snatched by his bodyguards, taking her and ó you know what Iím referring to, Mr. Speaker, but ó taking her and raping her. Heís known for this. And if he likes her, maybe she gets coin in her pocket and goes back home. Otherwise, she has her throat slit and is dumped in the Euphrates, but thatís okay, heís not that bad a guy, apparently.
In some times, the idea of a people revolting against a leader such as Mr. Hussein, of throwing out a tyrant, a revolution like that would be called ó theyíd be called freedom fighters. If they did that, I suspect that the leader of the official opposition and all the members opposite would be the first to stand up and wave the flag about commending the wonderful freedom fighters of Iraq for overthrowing this horrible regime and establishing a democracy, or whatever they establish, for simply getting rid of Mr. Hussein. Do you have any idea of how many thousands of them would die in that process?
So, one might call it ó thereís the argument that it could be an act of kindness to go and remove this fellow for them.
We are so poorly equipped in this Legislature to deal with this issue regarding the information we have that it isnít funny. As I say, Mr. Speaker, I was baffled to see this come forward. Iím glad the leader of the official opposition has understood that.
Let me elaborate on Mr. Husseinís connection to terrorism, as this is being pooh-poohed. In the year 2000, national Canadian newspapers ó it was probably also on TV but I saw it in the newspaper ó mentioned that Saddam Hussein was offering, publicly, on Iraqi television, $25,000 U.S., or the equivalent of that ó I believe he was offering it in their currency ó $25,000 U.S. to any family who would send a child of theirs to go and be a suicide bomber in Israel. But he doesnít have any connections to terrorism. That was just his public announcement on TV. Unfair press, or something.
So, it has already been established that this is a fellow whoís willing to do this, to pay terrorists to go out and murder innocent people as a political statement. Can you imagine if one of those suicide bombers walked down the street of New York or Toronto or Vancouver with a chemical agent strapped to them, or a nuclear weapon ó it would be difficult to carry a nuclear weapon but not quite impossible, but it wouldnít be that hard to carry a nerve gas agent or a biological agent ó and maybe wipe out a million people? But, hey, if that happens, weíll realize we made a mistake.
Perhaps the member opposite would say that there is not much risk of that, that it would be difficult for them to actually achieve that. Possibly, but how would they know? How would I know? We donít have the barest, even the slightest, smell of intelligence information. The lack of intelligence here is just scary ó I apologize for that, Mr. Speaker.
Canada has a long history of peacekeeping ó it was a Prime Minister of ours who proposed it. Canada has long been involved in trying to protect people who are unable to protect themselves.
Going back to the partnership of Canada with the U.S. and Great Britain. Remember World War II? I can understand that the leader of the opposition and probably his colleagues obviously feel that war is a horrible thing. Well, of course it is. But is war always wrong? Iím sure that probably the leader of the official opposition would concur with me in saying that a war such as World War II, going to stop the slaughter of millions of innocent citizens by a totalitarian government, was justified.
So yes, war is a horrible thing. Is it always wrong? Sometimes there is a greater evil in the world. Is this the case now? Who knows? "Not I," said the fox ó sorry, Mr. Speaker, a quote from a book and I actually donít even remember where it came from.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cathers: I understand from one of the members opposite he has read it in a nursery rhyme book, which is quite possible, but I havenít read those for at least a couple of weeks.
We have here in Canada right now a debate on this issue that is very serious and has extended to violence. I donít know if the members opposite or my colleagues are familiar with what happened last week at York University, the fourth largest campus, in terms of students on campus, in the country. There was a riot that took place there by anti-war demonstrators who physically attacked students who were distributing leaflets expressing their opinion that it was necessary to take military action. They were physically attacked by those who really wanted peace. It gets worse than that, though, because there were anti-Semitic comments going on there in this riot at York University that were targeted against Jewish students.
Letís be careful here that, in dealing with this issue and in dealing with the desire to stop war and the Canadian people and all these groups and students that you hear who are against war, that we donít think, oh, everyone is so wonderful here. Some of these groups that are so ardently promoting the anti-war movement are doing it because they are anti-Semitic and they are characterizing this as an attack led by the U.S. on behalf of Israel. Well, Mr. Speaker, I would have hoped that we would have gotten rid of that type of attitude in World War II. Apparently we have not.
I heard the leader of the official opposition refer to North Korea and to Iran. Well, this is completely hypothetical. We donít know what the United States has as plans or what any country has as plans.
We donít know what their plans are. Perhaps they do intend to go forward in Iran, in North Korea. Perhaps itís justified. The issue has been brought up a number of times. Iíve heard people say, "Well, North Korea has nuclear weapons. Why arenít you taking the action there?" Well, itís very easy to say this, sitting back in our homes, watching our TV sets. We have no idea of the issues surrounding this.
North Korea is right next to South Korea. They had a serious conflict a number of years ago that Canada was involved in ó a little conflict called the Korean War, which you might have heard of, Mr. Speaker. North Korea has nuclear weapons. It was also announced a few weeks ago that they have the ability to launch those nuclear weapons via intercontinental ballistic missile as far as the west coast of the United States and to the Yukon, so itís easy to say, "Oh, letís go in and deal with them here," but youíve got to look to the danger of retaliation. What is the effect of that retaliation?
If Mr. Hussein doesnít have nuclear weapons on a boat coming to Canada right now, going in to invade him is going to make it more difficult for him to get those out, not less difficult. So the issue that itís going to make him mad is kind of a funny one because itís going to be a lot harder once you have American troops on every doorstep, if that happens, Mr. Speaker.
But if we go and attack North Korea, they can launch a nuclear weapon and go blow up somewhere on the west coast. So Iíd be careful about advocating that they should go there first. It seems to me that the direction the United States has taken with this is diplomacy, in that they feel, as they did one time before, the issue of an economic agreement with North Korea ó paying them off, you might want to call it ó in exchange for them cancelling that program and dismantling their weaponry might be a possibility. Well, personally, Iíd rather that they did that than have a nuclear weapon come screaming out of the sky and blow up some west coast city and kill a few million people.
Mr. Speaker, the accusations that the United States is some military power ó with the "evil" understood ó are completely unreasonable. I have pointed out several times our history with the United States and Great Britain. They are our friends, and friends do not turn on friends over a policy debate. Yes, itís a very serious policy, but you disagree, you advocate your opinion, you criticize, but you donít start accusing them of horrible intentions. You donít turn on them.
It has been said that countries have no friends, only interests. Well, our relationship with both the United States and Great Britain has belied that ó until now, it appears. And the question arises: are we worthy of their friendship? You know, we canít criticize them: we attack them. Letís raise this debate with them, and letís acknowledge here that they are our friends.
Iíd like to communicate a quote to the members opposite that arose during World War II with regard to individuals like Neville Chamberlain who ó well, certain members might feel some empathy for him. He, of course, was the Prime Minister of Great Britain and was accused of not taking action soon enough with Mr. Adolf Hitler. And today we sort of brush aside Neville Chamberlain as some sort of weak leader who had poor vision. Well, he was backed up by the people at the time. He was backed up by the intellectual community and the thought, "We can negotiate with Herr Hitler."
We can deal with it here; we can come up with something. Sir Winston Churchill was condemned at the time for his radical views and his promotion of taking action on this and dealing with something. He was condemned for this until, I believe, May 10, 1940 when they made him Prime Minister. He wasnít ó in fact possible in the British parliamentary system ó the leader of any political party. Mr. Chamberlain resigned. He resigned because, whatever mistakes he made, he cared for his country and he acknowledged, as most of the British Parliament did, that Mr. Churchill had been right, that they had criticized him and ostracized him for his assertions, but he was right, and they realized that he had seen what they hadnít seen. He was someone who, at the end of the First World War, was very critical of the treaty ending it. He was very critical because he said that demanding the Germans to pay compensation for their actions and to accept blame for ó I forget the exact wording of it ó their actions and the atrocities committed would be such an affront to the proud German people and would have such a tremendous impact on their economy that, in the long run, they would rise up again and risk a war again.
Sure enough, he was right, and that is why the policy was adopted at the end of World War II, that there would be compensation by the United States and other countries to Japan and the efforts to rebuild in Germany, because they had recognized that, in driving a people too low, you get a backlash, a revolt, and thatís what happened. Thatís what brought Adolf Hitler to power.
So Mr. Churchill had predicted this, and now, today, we condemn Mr. Chamberlain. Well, Mr. Chamberlain actually, as many of the members of the House may not know, was heavily involved in the government after that point. There was a war Cabinet put in place by then Prime Minister Churchill ó a five-member war Cabinet with the full power to make all decisions of the British government when it was necessary. Mr. Chamberlain was on that. He was on that until his declining health required that he step aside. Yet, we condemn him and then maybe repeat his actions. Maybe we are, maybe we arenít. But itís pretty easy to get locked into our blinders and our ideological directions without looking at the big picture, without even having access to the big picture.
There is a quotation: "They have sought peace at any price as if peace were merely the absence of war." Sir Winston Churchill, as you may know, wrote chronicles of his experiences during World War II ó and I would highly recommend that all the members read them. Itís a very interesting perspective on the things that he faced on a daily basis. He was somebody who kept a diary even during the crisis. The second book of his chronicles of the war, Our Finest Hour ó when you open it up, there is a dedication. The dedication is: "To the British people: who held the fort alone until those who hitherto had been half-blind were half-ready." That, of course, was a reference to the American people.
They made that mistake back then. They thought they were doing the right thing. We may be making the same mistake today. We donít know. History will tell, although even history ó hindsight is not 20/20, because you never know what the other course of action would have brought.
Mr. Speaker, Iíd suggest to the members opposite that they read Mr. Churchill, that they pick up books on the Middle East, that they read some books on the scientific elements weíre dealing with, the technological elements, the culture there.
Mr. Speaker, obviously I canít ask this question here, but I would like to know. I wish that I could ask the members opposite but Iíll just phrase this as something for them to ask themselves. Do they know what the religious factions are in the Arabian area? Because this comes down to religion. A lot of it is the radical religious groups involved in this. What party is Mr. Hussein the head of? Itís the Baíath party, spelled with two "a"s and an apostrophe in the middle. In Iraq, Mr. Hussein is leading a secular government that is composed of members of the Sunni faction of Islam. There are two main factions of Islam: the Sunni and the Shia. You have Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims. The Shiite Muslims are in control of Iran and they tend to have more of the radical factions come from the Shiite. By no means are all Shiites or even anything approaching a large proportion of them radical.
But one concern that took place during Operation Desert Storm was the possibility that removing Mr. Hussein from power at that time would mean no one to take his place and that the Sunni minority is in power in Iraq; secular government, Sunni minority. The Shiite are the majority in that country as in Iran and the concern was that you have two Shiite countries, that they form as a coalition and that you may have terrorists or people very much like them in control. Well, apparently there are other factors at play now. Again, I would like the members opposite to ask themselves what is the religious faction that the leadership of Saudi Arabia is from. Itís the Sunni. Do they know that? And if they didnít, I would wonder why they feel they are qualified to debate this. It reminds me of a story of someone who sat down on a plane and someone sits next to them. The person says, "You know what? Iíve heard that talking to your seatmate makes a flight go quicker." The other person says, "Okay. What do you want to talk about? Well the first guy says, "Letís talk about nuclear physics." The other guy says, "Well, let me ask you a question before we talk about nuclear physics. A deer, a cow and a rabbit all eat grass. It is what they exist on mainly, yet their manure is of different dimensions ó why is that?" The other guy says, "Well, I have no idea." "Okay. "Well, we have established that you donít know manure so why do you feel you are qualified to discuss nuclear physics?"
We donít have the intelligence information, Mr. Speaker, and I am baffled that we are dealing with this issue, so I will at this point turn it over to the next member to express their opinion on this, but I would like to state for the record that it is ridiculous that we are even dealing with this issue when we have a Government of Canada whose responsibilities are National Defence and Foreign Affairs.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: Itís just a few minutes after 4:00 p.m. Iíd like to thank the member for allowing the rest of the members in this House a few minutes to express their points of view on this very serious matter.
Now, in debating most issues in this House, MLAs have first-hand knowledge of the region and people they are representing ó the Yukon Territory and Yukoners. I have never been to Iraq and rely only on what some journalists, politicians and diplomats present about the situation there. I donít think any member in this Legislature can claim to be entirely familiar with international issues such as this. But that doesnít mean that this is not an issue that demands our attention, careful consideration, debate and urging.
North Americans often tune out war, strife and poverty in the rest of the world, focusing instead on issues closer to home ó issues they have more control over in their daily lives ó instead of matters that seem to be out of our hands. Now is the time for us to tune in and think about the consequences of standing by and watching one world leader choose the destiny of so many.
Yukoners have been tuning in to the magnitude of events since September 11, 2001. On that day, what hit home is that while we may be living in a relatively remote corner of the world, weíre not immune from global politics.
We had a vivid illustration of that as we watched a commercial jet being escorted to our airport by fighter jets. If we recall the reason the Alaska Highway was originally, we remember that September 11 is not the first time global politics has affected Yukoners. Canadians, including Yukoners, care a lot about this international issue. We saw that last Wednesday evening during a Yukon Development Education Centre presentation at Hellaby Hall, when journalist Hadani Ditmars spoke to a full house about the poverty and deprivation that war and sanctions and, yes, Saddam Hussein, have brought to Iraqi people. Hundreds of Yukoners of all ages, including many College students, listened intently to Gwynne Dyer on Friday evening at Yukon College. He provided insights we are not likely to get from watching CNN. By the way, Mr. Speaker, that station has for its headline on this day, "Prepped for Emergency." Dyerís analysis of how the real crisis followed September 11, 2001, ended in December 2001, and how the Bush administration maintained and even ratcheted up the perception of crisis to stave off a popularity slide in the polls may be the truly scary aspects of all of this. Just a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Speaker, I visited the Gallup Polls Web site and printed off a bit of a history on the popularity of the U.S. President and the opinions of Americans, and it is very interesting to watch the slide. I believe the January poll indicated that only 57 percent of Americans were in support of the President, which is at an all-time low, given that the year before the number was in the neighbourhood of 90 percent.
So, itís encouraging to note that the people of this world who are subjected to what could be the most intense level of propaganda from their government are coming to understand a lot of the facts about this issue.
Now, the Member for Lake Laberge is advocating reason over passion in this Legislature. Well, thank goodness for that. Heís claiming citizens need to be privy to the nationís intelligence information to take a stand on going to war. Now, that member would have us defer our sovereignty to the U.S. because they spend more money on spying and intelligence than Canada does.
Like never before, people across the globe are saying no to bloodshed before guns are fired and bombs are dropped. On February 15, citizens marched in hundreds of cities around the world against a war on Iraq. More than four million people rallied across North America, Asia, Europe, New Zealand and Australia, in cities including Washington ó 500,000 in New York; Baghdad; 750,000 in London; one million in Rome; about 100,000 in Paris; half a million in Berlin; 600,000 in Barcelona; 500,000 in Madrid; in Hong Kong; and 6,000 in Tokyo. People from Amsterdam to Cape Town to Kiev and Canberra carried banners denouncing military action against Iraq.
In Canada, at least 150,000 Canadians came out in cold weather in towns and cities across the country with their message for peace ó in Halifax, Windsor, Edmonton and Victoria. There were 100,000 in Montreal, 10,000 in Toronto, 20,000 in Vancouver. Yukoners have participated in peaceful demonstrations in Whitehorse against the war in Iraq. We, as politicians, cannot ignore that more and more people are voicing their opposition. Canadian foreign policy should be where the Canadians want it to be. But the Prime Minister has been ambiguous in his leadership, seemingly afraid of being stepped on by the elephant to the south. Many Canadians are questioning why the world should be bullied into going along with the bellicose voices within the current U.S. administration, which believes this is the American historical moment.
Many Canadians do not believe the present American assertion that the United Nations is becoming irrelevant simply because it is seeking a peaceful solution to the so-called Iraq crisis. Many countries, including France, Germany, Russia and China, are not willing to cave into the demands of President Bush just because he is the leader of the superpower making those demands. I would argue that the UN is more relevant now than ever. It is convenient but highly questionable for the U.S. government to be challenging the authority of the United Nations and the charter on which it is founded at this time.
In the words of Paul Heinbecker, Canadaís Ambassador to the UN, our best hope is that, when people come to the edge of the abyss, theyíll decide theyíd rather find another way. Where is the logic in asserting that bombing Iraq will finish the work of counter-terrorism? It follows that American aggression, as it did in the Muslim world decades ago, will promote increased anger and resentment against the West, spawning increased future terrorism. It has not gone unnoticed that the White House has expended much on attacking Saddam Hussein and comparatively less on counter-terrorism.
It is time for Prime Minister Chrétien to stand up for Canadians ó hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and the lives of those serving in the military. It is time to uphold our well-earned international reputation as peacekeepers. It is time for Canada to reject U.S. government proposals to have Canada participate in what is an illegal war. Canada is a sovereign nation and can adopt an independent foreign policy that restricts the use of Canadian military personnel and resources to the roles of peacekeeping, research, assistance in civil emergencies and defence against direct threats to our nation or our people.
People across the world are saying there is another way to deal with a tin-pot dictator in Iraq ó give peace a chance. Canada has the opportunity to help lead the way in breaking free of the old, destructive ways of disposing of such dictatorships.
It will take courage on the part of the Prime Minister and the Canadian government to stand up to the might of our good neighbour, but courage is what Canadians expect of him.
Mr. Speaker, we know the contingent of representatives from Alaska is due to visit us in Whitehorse in the near future, and I would call on my colleagues who will be meeting with those people to also convey to them our thoughts on this matter.
So, in keeping with the spirit of the House, Mr. Speaker, to allow other members a chance to put their positions on record, I wish to thank you for this opportunity.
Mr. Rouble: Mr. Speaker, I stand today to discuss the motion put forward by the opposition and I appreciate the importance that they put on this motion and this issue. It must be very important as it displaces our own pressing territorial issues such as mirror legislation, which must be passed by April 1, the budget and the other bills that have been introduced. Those issues can be deferred until we discuss this.
As this is the first issue that the official opposition has called, I must conclude that this is the most pressing, most urgent issue that their constituents have ó more pressing and more urgent than the Porcupine caribou herd, child care issues, the Mount Lorne fire department, justice, education, the environment, and the state of our highways.
Mr. Speaker, when I started putting my notes together for this discussion, I tried to find a title to it. After reading the motion through, I concluded that it was all about an independent foreign policy.
I did find it interesting, though, that all the debate and discussion so far has taken place surrounding a potential war on Iraq and on questioning the motives of the American government. I did find it, too, Mr. Speaker, rather frustrating that I was spending a lot of time responding to this and doing some research and looking into it because, honestly, I believe my time would have been better served looking into issues such as the Carcross multi-use recreational facility, housing for seniors and elders in Tagish, community planning in Marsh Lake, the Tagish Road, access to clean drinking water in the South MíClintock area, and other pressing issues that we have some control over.
Mr. Speaker, I was reminded of the phrase "think globally and act locally" when I reviewed this. This is certainly a global issue, and itís one that our own federal government is putting an awful lot of time and attention and care toward. Itís a federal responsibility to create foreign policy. Canada has a very proud history in foreign policy and foreign affairs, one that we and all Canadians take pride in. I believe we all wear it as a badge of honour for accomplishments such as the hon. Lester B. Pearsonís Nobel Prize for his work in promoting peace throughout the world.
But addressing this issue in this House is a way of acting locally. This is a global issue that will affect each and every one of us, and it already has.
It has affected me personally, Mr. Speaker. Sometimes we feel up here in our own beautiful corner of the planet that weíre all alone, that we arenít as influenced by global issues as they are in the rest of the world, but that certainly changed on September 11. I remember waking up that morning and hearing about a plane that had hit the World Trade Center, quickly went back to sleep, thinking it was probably another Cessna lost in a cloud. It was a bit of a shock, though, when I did see the news later in the day that that certainly wasnít the case, and we all watched in horror as the buildings fell down.
I remember that day at work ó we were all in a bit of a daze, seeing this act of terrorism, wondering about the implications and recognizing that the world had changed. And then our own world changed that day. Iím sure we all remember looking up and seeing fighter jets circling the town, hearing the news on the radio, the urgency, the sense of emergency that was felt throughout the community, the sense of panic. I remember the sense of, "Oh, my gosh, what are we going to do? Where can we go? Arenít we even safe here in Whitehorse?" And I remember the sense of panic in the streets, watching people drive through intersections and race through downtown Whitehorse, trying to escape.
Mr. Speaker, that really changed my feeling about my sense of safety and security. I believe we all feel a loss of that sense of security since that day, and now weíre all living in a world with more fear.
The other day I spoke about government being responsible for collectively and responsibly satisfying some of our collective needs. I often find it useful, when looking at human needs, to refer to the social scientist, Maslow, and his hierarchy of needs, where he outlines that we all have some common needs, number one being our physiological needs: hunger, thirst, that type of thing. The second greatest need that we have is that sense of safety and security, being out of danger. We then go on to more personal issues, such as belongingness and love; and finally, all human beings have a need for esteem, to achieve, to be competent, to gain approval and recognition.
The governmentís role is not to satisfy all of these needs but to help create an environment where these needs can be met. In response to some of these needs, we collectively combine forces to satisfy them ó the area of safety and security being of key importance. We create systems to prevent chaos and anarchy. We create enforcement agencies to ensure that these systems and laws are kept, and we keep armies to protect our national and collective security, to protect our way of life.
I didnít feel safe and secure in my own home. I lived in fear and I wanted something done. There is something that has to be done so that we can live in a more safe and secure world.
This is an important motion and one that Iíve given a great deal of thought to, but I am concerned with some of the assumptions made in it.
The motion states in clause (1) "neither the United States Administration nor the United Nations Security Council has provided any compelling evidence to justify a declaration of war on the people of Iraq." Well I donít feel comfortable in declaring war on the people of Iraq. I am not sure that is the case. The leadership in this undemocratic country is the one that the conflict is with, a leadership that I believe, Mr. Speaker, has used weapons of mass destruction on its own people. The conflict is not with the people of Iraq but with the leadership. As for evidence, I havenít access to the information that would tell me conclusively, beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is or isnít justified, and some of the discussion that we have had earlier here and some of the possible conspiracies verge on some of the plots of X-Files.
In the second clause, I find concern with the assumption that Canadian sovereignty is in jeopardy. If we agree with someone else, are we likely to risk losing our own sovereignty? I donít accept that premise because, if you accept that, then you canít accept the fact that another point of view might be valid. It would certainly be a shame if, in this House, we couldnít come to an agreement that another point of view might be valid. It would certainly be a shame that, if in this House, we couldnít come to an agreement that another point of view might be valid. Why have debate, Mr. Speaker, if we are only going to accept the point of view that we begin with? Just by agreeing with someone else doesnít mean that we lose our own individuality or if we as a nation agree with another nation, it doesnít imply that we will lose our sovereignty.
And I find the recommendation that we encourage the Government of Canada to adopt an independent foreign policy to be redundant. Canada certainly is a sovereign nation. There is no question about that, and we certainly do have an independent foreign policy. As for restricting the use of Canadian military personnel and resources for defence against direct threats against Canada and its people, after September 11, when those planes were overhead, I certainly felt threatened.
Mr. Speaker, this is a global issue, and I applaud the opposition for wanting to act locally, but there are several assumptions in this motion that I have difficulty with. I agree that we should use our military to respond to threats against Canada and its citizens, but I donít feel that this motion addresses it properly. And to bring clarity to this issue, our party proposes the following amendment.
Mr. Rouble: I move
THAT Motion No. 6 be amended by:
(1) deleting clause (1);
(2) renumbering clause (2) as clause (1);
(3) replacing the words following the word "military" in
the new clause (1) with the word "action";
(4) adding a new clause (2) as follows:
"the use of force should be used only after all reasonable able diplomatic avenues have been exhausted"; and
(5) replacing the words following the expression "independent foreign policy" with the following:
"that takes into account the security needs of our allies, but first and foremost focuses on protection of Canada, its people and its interests; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to carefully and seriously consider all available information in determining whether military action in Iraq is justified at this time."
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Southern Lakes that Motion No. 6 be amended by:
(1) deleting clause (1);
(2) renumbering clause (2) as clause (1);
(3) replacing the words following the word "military" in
the new clause (1) with the word "action";
(4) adding a new clause (2) as follows:
"the use of force should be used only after all reasonable able diplomatic avenues have been exhausted"; and
(5) replacing the words following the expression "independent foreign policy" with the following:
"that takes into account the security needs of our allies, but first and foremost focuses on protection of Canada, its people and its interests; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to carefully and seriously consider all available information in determining whether military action in Iraq is justified at this time."
The hon. Member for Southern Lakes ó you have eight minutes.
Mr. Rouble: I believe this motion, or amendment to the motion, clarifies the issue. It eliminates the issue that we would be declaring a war on the people of Iraq, with which I particularly took a point of concern. As well, it alleviates the fear that was expressed earlier about not having access to all of the information available and some of the rationale for not revealing all of the compelling evidence.
The amendment also addresses the issue that all reasonable diplomatic avenues should be exhausted prior to any type of force being used.
And, Mr. Speaker, I believe this is a very compelling argument. It does recognize that force may have to be used. I believe that was pointed out earlier, that, on occasions, force is necessary. However, we should use all means possible to us to seek to delay deadlines, to seek to encourage additional envoys or whatever other options may be put forward in order to come to a diplomatic solution to this.
Also, this amendment takes into consideration that we have a responsibility not only to our own citizens in Canada but also to our allies, those whom we stood with before and those who stood with us. Mr. Speaker, it was coined earlier that countries donít have friends, they only have interests. Well, Canada certainly is a country with a lot of friends, and it is a country with a lot of interests, and I believe it would certainly be in our best interest to stand with our allies, to stand with those who have stood with us before, to stand with those with whom we share a common vision, to stand with those who champion the cause of democracy.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker:The hon. Member for Mayo-Tatchun, on a point of order.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, we just got the words to the amendments to the motion and would like your ruling on whether or not the amendments change the intent of the motion. We feel that the intent has been changed and that these amendments should be ruled out of order.
Speaker: Hon. Member for Klondike, on the point of order.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, we have examined the amendments that were brought forward and it was our position that the amendments are consistent with other motions that have been amended in this Legislature on previous occasions. We are very cognizant of our responsibility in that area, and Iím sure the issue has been addressed and you will hopefully find a rule that there is no point of order. This amendment is consistent with the motion previously and the previous course of action taken in this Legislature.
Speaker:Order please. The Chair has considered the point of order raised by the Member for Mayo-Tatchun. The Chair finds it difficult to discern the exact point that is being raised as the Member for Mayo-Tatchun did not provide any detail on how he thought the amendment changed the intent of the main motion. Therefore, the Chair is not certain of the extent of the point being raised by the member.
The Chair is informed that this sort of issue has been raised many times during Assemblies dating back to the beginning of party politics and that this amendment is consistent with those that have been ruled in order in the past. The Chair rules that there is no point of order, and the Member for Southern Lakes has the floor on the amendment.
Mr. Rouble: Thank you for allowing the amendment to stand as it does indeed bring clarity to the issue. Mr. Speaker, as this is an important issue, I would also like to give others the opportunity to respond to it. Thank you for your time and attention.
Mr. Hardy: It is quite interesting that two people stand up and say that this shouldnít even be discussed in here and that a fire hall in some riding is more important than the realization of the horrors of war.
Itís very shocking to me and to many people, I think. Many people in the Yukon would be quite shocked about that.
And the other one saying that itís out of our jurisdiction, we shouldnít be talking about this, itís the federal government that deals with this stuff, and then have the audacity to bring forward an amendment on it ó frankly, I believe they just want to talk this out. They donít take this very seriously, and they donít take us very seriously on this side.
Mr. Speaker, I believe the members opposite have a very low regard of a motion on the situation facing the world today and have indicated ó Iíll have to assume that this is indicative of all the members sitting opposite ó that the Yukon people should not have a say or have this dialogue or debate in this House. Well, I stand here to say that I think theyíre wrong. I think the people of the Yukon expect the people who were elected to have an opinion on this, to have free and open discussion. That is what democracy is about, and to be told on this side that we shouldnít even be discussing this, I find it disgraceful.
But that seems to be the opinion over there, and thatís an opinion that Iím sure is going to be shared with all people of the Yukon. And all the peace rallies that have happened in the Yukon and elsewhere, all the e-mails and petitions that are circulating around the Yukon, all the discussions in the coffee shops, all the discussions that are happening in the schools from one end of the Yukon to the other, all the phone calls among people and friends when they gather to talk about the situation ó this war with Iraq ó all the letters that are being written and the organizations and associations that are working on this amount to nothing in the eyes of the members opposite.
I had a member stand up, Mr. Speaker, and tell us that we donít represent our constituency, and yet I know that just about every single person in the Yukon is aware of the issues around this war. I do not believe that the people of the Yukon live in a bubble and do not watch the news at night, do not listen to the radio during the day, do not talk about this at the supper tables or in the coffee shops. Well, they do, and theyíre going to talk about it a lot more, and theyíre going to be talking about the comments that were made from the other side. Mr. Speaker, I attended that lecture with Gwynne Dyer in regard to this war, and I know other people in this House did, as well, and that place was packed to the rafters. People were very, very interested in what this man had to say, and Iím sure there were people there from all ridings and reflective of the concerns that they have in regard to the war and the impact it has upon the world, upon the people of Iraq, upon the people of the United States and Great Britain and, of course, upon the people of Canada and the people of the Yukon.
Speaker: Order please. I would ask the member to speak to the amendment, please.
Mr. Hardy: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will speak to the amendment.
I canít support this amendment. I believe that this amendment does change the intent of what we were trying to achieve here: adding a new clause, number (2), as follows: "The use of force should be used only after all reasonable diplomatic avenues have been exhausted."
Nowhere in our motion do we talk about using force after all reasonable diplomatic avenues have been exhausted. Nowhere do we talk about that. Our motion does not talk about using military force. This amendment to this motion alters it drastically, because it does change it. It actually recognizes that military force will be used, or could be used.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I respect your ruling and Iím not challenging it, but Iím giving you my impression of what it does to the motion that we brought forward.
If you have a motion that comes forward that talks about peacekeeping, about research, assistance and civil emergencies and direct threats to the Canadian nation or its people, defence, and you alter it to where youíre now stating that force will be used after all reasonable diplomatic avenues have been exhausted, you are changing it.
What I have to ask myself and what I think we have to ask ourselves ó because there are obviously different opinions on whatís happening here ó is how do you define "all reasonable diplomatic avenues" and who defines it?
Right now what weíre seeing before the UN is differences of opinions on what is "reasonable diplomatic avenues". We are seeing action being taken by the UN with their inspections, which many countries approve of, that can be considered a diplomatic avenue, and that is inspections, that is working with the Iraqi leadership to disarm, that is to identify the weapons of mass destruction, if there are any. As I said, they still havenít been discovered, because Iím sure they would be trumpeted everywhere, Mr. Speaker, if they were, because that would justify going in, but they havenít been discovered. But dismantling what weapons they do have can be considered a diplomatic avenue. As well, on the side, there are a lot of discussions and negotiations happening with Iraq and with other Middle East countries as well, with regard to nuclear weapons. Israel carries a substantial amount of nuclear weapons, for instance, and thatís a big concern.
But where does a person say that weíve left the reasonable diplomatic avenue and now there is no reason to continue; therefore, we must go straight into military action. I am a very strong believer that, given enough time ó I donít mean forever ó and very hard work, very concentrated, focused effort, you will achieve results. It has been proven in this case because with the pressure on Iraq that has been put on by the rest of the world, with the actions taken by the UN inspectors, with the debate and discussions that are happening within the UN and the lobbying that is happening, with the military rhetoric that weíre hearing from Great Britain, the United States and some other countries, it has had a huge impact on the regime in Iraq. Those can be considered diplomatic because they havenít resorted to actual war yet.
So on those grounds I have a big problem with the changing the motion and the addition of that one, for instance, as Iíve already said.
Now, the last one: "(5) replacing the words following the expression Ďindependent foreign policyí with the following: Ďthat takes into account the security needs of our allies, but first and foremost focuses on the protection of Canada, its people and its interests; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to carefully and seriously consider all available information in determining whether military action in Iraq is justified at this time.í"
Well, it would really be my hope that Canada is doing that right at this moment and that it is considering all available information in trying to determine what their actions will be.
But I still do not take a position that military action is the outcome of what is happening today. I do not believe that you should assume that this is where you are going to end up. Youíll try not to get there, but this is where you are going to end up. I should hope that we are assuming that, through peaceful action, we will resolve these outstanding issues, and then we can look at how we can assist in changing, or assisting the people of the Middle East in making changes that they support, that we can assist them without imposing our will, our religions, our viewpoints, our forms of democracy on them, but give assistance in freeing the people in the regimes where they are not free and trying to stop the atrocities that are happening.
In the Middle East where the atrocities are happening, and Iraq is definitely one of them, we cannot just single them out. If we are going to take that high moral ground in regards to human rights, which we have in the past, we must apply it around the world equally and fairly. We cannot be targeting certain countries because of other interests that may exist. And, in this case, I believe there are other interests that do exist, and I believe that they have come out to the forefront, and that is why many, many people in this world are protesting this.
The case has not been made, Mr. Speaker, to have war with Iraq. The case has not been made by the United States of America, and it hasnít been made by Great Britain. That does not mean that I have disrespect for either of those countries -- rather that I question their evidence. I question the direction they are going in, and that is what I want this country to do. That is what this motion is about. I want the Government of Canada to stand separate in its decision making, Mr. Speaker.
Thatís what this motion is about: to have a separate foreign policy that reflects the values of our country ó not another country, but reflects our values and our beliefs and the roles that we believe we should take in assisting other countries, in assisting our own country, the roles that, in many cases, Canadians are very proud of, roles that we have taken in the past, and that is peacekeeping. That is assistance in civil emergencies. That is research, and that is the defence against direct threats, which a terrorist attack is.
So because of this, because of the changes, my belief is that it strongly changes the intent of this motion, and I canít support it.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, Iím pleased to rise this afternoon to state my views as the representative of Porter Creek South and the leader of the third party on this particular issue before us, the amendment and the motion. In discussing the amendment, listening intently to the discussion of the amendment and the discussion of the motion, as I have done this afternoon, I must say that I would like to applaud all of the speakers who have gone before me. With respect to the amendment and the motion, I understand the reason for bringing it forward and appreciate the intent, the ó if youíll permit me ó the idealism in bringing this motion forward, and I understand the arguments that have been presented, that this is outside the jurisdiction of this Legislature and that perhaps some people donít feel they have as much to add to the discussion because itís not necessarily what constituents are raising with them at the doorstep.
However, I also appreciate the idealism that brought it forward and that recognizes that this is a topic that Canadians are hearing on the news and listening to on their radios and are asking themselves about. Many of us are daughters and sons of parents who have served in the military; some of us have nieces and nephews who are considering enlisting in Canadaís military. We have all watched the debate in the House of Commons about the lack of funding for Canadaís military and heard it decried from all political spectrums.
I appreciate, most of all, that this is what elected representatives, no matter what level they serve at, should have a discussion about. People with whom we speak door to door elect us and believe that we should have discussions, and we should have opinions. The Member for Whitehorse Centre is right to challenge us to put those opinions on the record and to find out where we stand. And I appreciate the motivation in doing that. Even though this Legislature has other business before it, this is also important Canadian and international business and philosophy.
Mr. Speaker, what Iím trying to say, in short, is that I appreciate the point of view that has been expressed by other members in the House that maybe this isnít as immediate to this Legislature ó this discussion about international affairs. However, I appreciate equally the high idealism with which the Member for Whitehorse Centre has brought this forward, and his recognition of the fact that this is an important discussion.
My regret is that all Yukoners didnít have the opportunity to hear Gwynne Dyer when he was in the Yukon; and perhaps thatís something we, as legislators, should be talking about one Wednesday afternoon, or at some point among ourselves in this new order of decorum. Perhaps there is some way, when thereís an internationally respected authority and strong Canadian, that we, as legislators, should somehow have an opportunity to provide a forum for that individual. Perhaps thatís something we, as legislators, should discuss in the interest of collaboration.
With respect to the amendment, I have difficulty with the amendment itself, in that it has developed into an amendment to a motion with respect to military action and discussion of one action over another. I have difficulty with the motion itself with respect to my view on the military, which is far different from the member who put the motion forward.
The memberís original motion indicates a view on the military that is a different view from my own. The memberís motion suggests that the military should be only engaged in peacekeeping ó I donít have the motion in front of me, Mr. Speaker, but there are other references as well ó and that denies a proud Canadian tradition of our military of defending freedoms throughout the world.
These are freedoms that we hold dear as legislators and as Canadians, and I canít agree with a motion that doesnít defend that and accept that role for our military. Thatís not to say that the only way of defending freedoms is military action. Another diplomatic example of where Canada has made significant strides without military action is the significant work done in China in promotion of the rule of law. I speak of the lecture at the Chinese university that our current Prime Minister gave, I believe in 2001, in that respect and the significant advances that have been made.
So, Mr. Speaker, my point this afternoon is that, with the original motion, I donít agree with the position on the military. I believe the wording could be different, and the amendment that has been put forward doesnít change that wording of the military. Its comments and amendments ó I donít disagree; Iím not challenging the Speaker or disagreeing with the Speakerís ruling that it doesnít change the intent. I think it changes the focus of the discussion. The amendment doesnít enhance the motion in the way the member wishes it would, and I would suggest that it requires further work before I could support the amendment to the motion either.
So, Mr. Speaker, Iím pleased to have risen in the House on behalf of the people of Porter Creek South to state clearly that, first and foremost, I believe in the opportunity of legislators in this place to have discussions that are beyond the scope of just our riding issues or just Yukon issues, and I will defend to the end the right to do that, because that is what we are here to do ó to discuss issues and to hopefully reach some resolution.
Secondly, I would state that I believe strongly in Canada and in Canadaís foreign policy, Canadaís military and the way that Canada has, as a country, promoted, as Iíve said, the rule of law in countries and defended freedom throughout the world. I believe in our actions and I support and thank the members for bringing forward the discussion, and I wish the members of Canadaís Privy Council, who will be ultimately fully briefed and discussing and making decisions in this regard ó I wish them well and Godspeed.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: On the amendment, I would first like to begin by presenting to the House what I believe to be the intention of the official opposition in bringing forward this motion. I think their intention is a very valid one. I think the problem here is that there are some differing views on what Canadaís role should be in regard to matters like these.
First, I would like to point out that when it comes to Canadaís role, Canada has taken a bit of a different approach than the United States and continues to today when it comes to the issue of Iraq. The Prime Minister himself has actually been working very hard on a different resolution, a different approach. Prior to that, Canada has been very clear that 1441 is the impetus. As long as Iraq does not contravene 1441, a resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council, there should be no military action. I think Canadaís position has been consistent throughout.
What we should be doing here in the Legislative Assembly in regard to this motion and this matter is seeing if we can come to some arrangement where the House would agree on a position for this Assembly to forward to the Government of Canada. I think here is where we ó given the amendment that has been put forward in the context of amending the original motion ó donít agree. We on this side of the House have stated clearly on any occasion that there is no way you can completely remove the possibility of military action. That element must always be a part of the bigger equation. I look back to Neville Chamberlain coming home to England waving that piece of paper, and a few short months later the Second World War broke out. It is important that we have the option of military action to protect Canadians, our allies and ensure that ó in the world, we do not have situations like weíve seen over the last number of years ó I guess in two decades with a country like Iraq.
We canít dispute the fact of what this regime has done. The sanctions placed upon Iraq have had little effect on the ruling power and the people who control that power. They have had a terrible impact on the citizenry of that country. There is no question that that government, that regime, has ignored at every turn the original attempt 12 years ago of the resolution by the United Nations to disarm and make sure that weapons of mass destruction are not a part of the arsenal of this country and this regime.
In 12 years, this regime has done little toward honouring that resolution. The official opposition has presented a motion that, I think, in context, is good. It hits the buttons. It is what Canada does. We are world renowned for peacekeeping, for mediation, for facilitating, all those things. But still Canada cannot ignore its responsibilities on the international stage of the possibility of military action and contribute to that in the protection of our citizens, our country, our allies and democracy itself. The amendment we brought forward, though there could be argument that it does dilute a great deal the position that the official opposition is trying to make on the peacekeeping side, really what it does is add to it the components that we on this side of the House feel to be the complete equation in this matter.
Now, this is specific to Iraq and the situation thatís going on there, and I, for one ó nor do I think this House is privy to all the detail, to all the things that are happening. We see the news every day, but I donít think that we are privy to all the information that would allow us to pass judgement on either the United States, Iraq, England or anybody else.
The question about controlling oil, for instance, I have some problems with, when the real issue here is, when it comes to the price of crude oil, the control that OPEC ó those member nations, those producers ó has on the volume of production, which has for decades, without Iraq as an issue, or any other war in that region as an issue, controlled the price of crude oil. They could drop the price of crude oil tomorrow by simply upping production. So, I donít buy the oil argument.
I go back to what I witnessed on television on 9/11 and what was taking place. And make no mistake about it, Mr. Speaker, that day changed the course of history. The United States of America was attacked. No matter what, that same attack could have happened in this country. What took place there is, I think, a clear indication of what weíre dealing with when it comes to terrorism.
Now again, we may have differing views on what generates and creates terrorism. The official opposition will say, in most instances, that it is the policy of the United States of America that is creating terrorism, but I think itís much deeper and much more involved. This is linked back to the very beginning of history, religion and how all of these things have unfolded and evolved over the thousands of years.
Thatís why I say thereís much more to this, and this House should be taking a position that reflects our limited knowledge of the situation at hand.
We believe that Saddam Hussein and his regime should not be allowed to operate and continue as they have. They have shown a complete lack of respect for human life, even for their own people. This gentleman, this man, even in his own family has committed atrocities. Now, whether that justifies a war by the United States or not, I donít think for a moment that it does, but it points out what weíre dealing with.
I think Canadaís position today reflects the fact that much of the information is simply not available and Canada is trying to find, through the leadership of the federal government, a way to solve the problem in the best interests of everybody concerned.
Our amendment is, to some degree, trying to get to that point because there cannot be any removal of the possibility of military action, because, as the course of history has shown and in the future, we will come to these junctures over and over. We have in the past. We will again in the future. Is it our position, then, that, no matter what, Canada will never, ever entertain military action in the protection of its citizens and its allies and democracy, our way of life? I donít think we can say that.
I think that we have to combine the two, and that is whatís happening today. Canada is very focused on finding a peaceful resolution but, if that cannot be created ó if that cannot be found ó Canada does not rule out military action. I donít think this House can rule out military action. I donít think we should. We must always be prepared for that eventuality. History has taught us that.
I think, in this particular instance, I would like to hear more from the official opposition in that regard because the debate right now, when it comes to the motion and the amendment, is centred on whether or not Canada should use or promote military action in some cases. Iíd like to hear more from the members opposite. I think the member from the third party has been fairly clear in that regard. The third party does believe that, in some cases, military action is going to be required but, always, we must strive to find the peaceful resolution.
I think Canada is a champion in that area, and weíve proven it, time and time and time again. And again, we are trying to get there. Considering all the circumstances and all the strife on an international stage with many of these countries, for whatever reasons, now disagreeing on how we should proceed, Canada still remains consistent. Thatís a great sign for this country to stand there and present that continual, consistent position. But Canada will, if required, provide military assistance and enter into military action.
If the members opposite would like to debate the issue of whether we should include in this motion the fact that there may be times when military action is the only course, the only choice, I would like to hear from them.
We believe that this amendment takes the motion and completes it for that possible eventuality. We agree that peace is the course that we should follow. We agree that Canada ó though I would question urging the Government of Canada to adopt our own foreign policy because I think we do have our own foreign policy. Weíve proven that out time and time again. Whether it be in Cyprus, Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Bosnia or wherever, weíve proven that out.
I think we have to consider adding to the motion the possibility that Canada will have to, in some instances, resort to military action. This is not intended to completely change the motion at all. Itís intended to add to the motion and complete the equation that every country in this world must deal with. We do not want to bash the United States. We donít have to agree with their approach, but we certainly are going to have to work with them, for obvious reasons. So why donít we just debate the fact that, in the context of being agreeable, maybe there is a way to insert the requirement that we must include the possibility of military action for the protection of this country and our citizens and our allies. And Iíd like to hear from the official opposition in that regard.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: I am pleased to speak to the amendment. I will be brief. We believe the amendment changes the intent and meaning of the motion on the floor today. The amendment introduces and supports the use of military force, of military action. That is a significant departure from the motion we introduced.
Mr. Speaker, that is an amendment that we on this side cannot support. We believe Canada has a role in peacekeeping. Canada can protect its citizens through such a role, and for us to send a message that sanctions the use of military force, albeit qualified, sends the wrong signal.
Now, the Premier expressed his view that we could have come to terms on the wording to send a common message, but the government did not consult us in the drafting of the amendment. The wording in the amendment as mentioned is something that we cannot support. So we have some ideal words of cooperation, but in reality this is something we cannot cooperate on.
So we on this side will be voting against this amendment. The government will no doubt use its majority to win the vote. The result is that it will significantly alter the intent of this motion.
Let the record show that the Yukon Party supports military action.
Mr. Hassard: Mr. Speaker, I thank all members for their passionate words and sincere interest in the well-being of the world. While I do not always agree with our federal government, I believe we have to put some faith in the fact that they have our best interests in mind. They should be much better informed than we are, so we should look to them for the leadership on this.
Mr. Speaker, there is no denying that it is a sad day when any country is threatened with war. Too often, it is the decisions of a few that affect the lives of many. The civilians who are threatened have literally no say in whether or not Iraq chooses to comply with the demands of the United Nations. Those civilians are the ones who have the most to lose ó not the would-be leaders of their country, not the military officials who make the decisions. Those individuals will probably be safely hidden away at the appropriate time.
I think back to discussions I have had over the course of my life with veterans of the Second World War and their stories about what a horrible time that was. Yet, we look at how many people today are still so appreciative of the work the Canadian and U.S. military people did during those years ó people from Holland and other European countries who have moved over here and who were liberated by the U.S. troops. We still hear them talk about how thankful they were to receive that help.
I believe the U.S. military has provided assistance to the protection of democracy in many countries. We cannot forget the sacrifices made by those individuals who lost their lives doing so, and one would hope that the use of force in those cases was only used after all reasonable diplomatic avenues were exhausted.
Mr. Speaker, Canada has a long-standing peaceful relationship with the United States. I would think we would want to maintain those relations. We have the longest undefended border in the world separating us. I would like to see that border stay that way. I canít imagine the costs to us if we had to suddenly throw up military force to start protecting that border. I donít want to pay for that.
We also have one of the longest undefended coastlines in the world and, in my mind, the U.S. military protects that for us. We just take that for granted. As far as Iím concerned, we are in debt to the United States for many things.
Where would the Yukon be today without the U.S. involvement in the Second World War? The Alaska Highway is, without a doubt, one of the largest reasons that the majority of non-aboriginal Yukoners are here today. Would Canada ever have built that highway? I doubt it. Could they afford to build such a highway? Not today. I think of the economic benefits to Yukon and the rest of Canada because of that highway. The very communities that many of us represent are a result of that highway. I donít know what kind of a price we put on that.
Mr. Speaker, the sovereign nation of Canada has a strong history of peacekeeping, a proud tradition of peacekeeping in places like Cyprus, Bosnia, Sierra Leone, and other places, Iím sure, that I donít know about. We are an international leader and a respected country when it comes to peacekeeping.
Iím sure that our peacekeepers ensure human rights for every man, woman and child they can, by ensuring these people have the same rights we have and so often take for granted. Weíve all seen the pictures of our Canadian forces providing food and shelter and everything else to refugees and people in need. These are things I feel that, as Canadians, we should be extremely proud of, but the question that comes to my mind is: is it enough?
Speaker: Order please. Iíd like to remind the member that heís speaking to the amendment.
Mr. Hassard: My son was born on September 6, 2001. Five days later, we all know what happened. Weíve all seen the pictures, the videos and documentaries that have been made, and it makes me wonder if I in fact made the right choice of bringing a child into this world. It makes me wonder what kind of world he will grow up in. Will he enjoy the same freedoms that I and all other members of this House grew up with, or will he grow up in a society that lives in fear of chemical and biological weapons, such as those we know the country of Iraq has? Will he have to take a personalized gas mask to school? I certainly hope not. Will he live in a house that has the windows and doors sealed shut? I hope not. I hope we will never again have to witness incidents as horrific as those of September 11, but imagine the feelings of the people who were in those cities that were directly affected. Can we honestly say that if we had lost loved ones in those tragic events, we would sit idly by?
Think of the motivation those people must have to take action. I recently was on the computer at home, on the Internet, doing what I like to do, looking at snowmobile stories, and I was looking at some information that was passed on. It was actually a bit of an argument between two people on the Internet, for whatever thatís worth, but one of the comments made by one of the individuals was that they were not impressed that the Canadian government did not come to the aid, so far, of their President. His remarks of smelling the charred bodies in the streets of Manhattan hit home with me.
I believe that the U.S. is our greatest ally and we should treat them as such. As a country, Canada should be prepared to use military force if necessary.
Mr. Fairclough: Iíd like to speak briefly to the amendment. Iím glad that the members opposite are voicing themselves in this House on this motion enough to bring amendments to the motion on the floor of this Legislature. They must feel passionate about it. They must feel that it affects them somehow in some way, and we on this side of the House just hope that they would do the same thing when it comes to the budget. We noticed they did choke out a few words to satisfy the Premier, even though they werenít involved in the development of that budget.
I feel that this amendment has changed ó
Speaker: Order please. Now you are to the amendment, thatís fine.
Mr. Fairclough: Yes, I know how much time I have, Mr. Speaker.
I feel that the amendment that is put before us has changed the motion, so our feeling on this side of the House is that this is not an amendment we can support. It moved in so many different directions away from the original motion that it makes it very difficult for us on this side of the House to even support the wording that is put before us. That might be a position that the Yukon Party has taken in regard to the whole issue of Iraq and war on Iraq. We on this side of the House look at our military and what they should be doing ó and following the traditions that they have done in the past in regard to peacekeeping, research and so on.
Two things in this motion that bother us are the words themselves, the use of force ó this is not something that we brought up at all in the original motion but it is in the amendment ó and, of course, military action in Iraq. Iraq was not mentioned at all in the original motion. Canada has always been out there to resolve conflicts, and that is one of the reasons why we put the motions forward in continuing with that tradition rather than falling into line with other countries. We are not in support of this amendment, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cathers: I found the statement that the Member for Mayo-Tatchun made very interesting ó that the motion doesnít mention Iraq at all.
Iíd have to question whether the Member for Mayo-Tatchun actually read the motion that his party put forward. Mr. Speaker, the original motion that the amendment on the table amends begins by saying that the U.S. and the UN have not provided compelling evidence to justify the declaration of war on the people of Iraq. Thatís the original motion. Iím very puzzled by the statements by the Member for Mayo-Tatchun. So the amendment to the motion that has been put forward mentions Iraq. Iím puzzled as to whether the Member for Mayo-Tatchun thinks that this is not dealing with Iraq, considering their original motion, and if it isnít with regard to Iraq, what weíre even talking about here today, what he thinks weíre talking about.
I also heard comments from the opposition House leader criticizing us on this side of the House for not consulting with them in framing the amendment to the motion. Mr. Speaker, do we have a double standard here? I was not consulted by the official opposition, by the leader of the official opposition, who is the mover of the motion, in the framing of the motion. They never once spoke to me. My first notice of this motion was when it was presented in this House. They gave notice of the motion. They gave notice of the motion; an amendment was moved by my colleague, the Member for Southern Lakes. But somehow itís fine that they put together a motion ó according to them, itís fine they put together a motion without consulting with us on this side of the House, nor, I suspect, consulting with the third party, but we, in putting forward an amendment, are supposed to consult with everyone on this.
This is clearly a double standard, Mr. Speaker. Iím baffled and dismayed to hear this coming up here. Iíd like the official opposition to decide what their stance is on this. If they feel that every motion and every amendment needs full consultation by a committee of 17 hon. members ó well, I heard comments referring to an 18th person, but I was assuming that, in a partisan political discussion, you would be exempt from that, Mr. Speaker ó but that all 17 members who do not sit in the Speakerís chair would be involved in drafting every motion and every amendment ó well, thatís fine, but thatís not how our parliamentary system works. They canít be, nor should they be, denied of their right to put forward any motion they want to without consulting with us. But we should have to consult with them on every amendment, Mr. Speaker? I donít feel thatís a reasonable representation on this.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cathers: Mr. Speaker, Iíd like to thank the members opposite for their numerous and appreciative comments. I appreciate the friendly heckling there, and Iím gratified they are so interested to have me continue to finish the point I was addressing when they brought up their comments before.
Another issue was raised, and Iíd like to express ó I think the member of the third party misinterpreted what my suggestions were on the appropriateness of this House discussing the issue. Certainly itís appropriate for this House to discuss any issue that we wish to. But the issue I brought up is whether we have the mandate from the people of the Yukon to make a decision on their behalf regarding this issue. What I understood the member of the third party to be expressing was the feeling that, as members of this House, we should make it clear to the people of the Yukon how we stand on issues. Well, thatís fine. Thatís whatís done in election campaigns but, in this House, maybe the member of the third party is of the opinion that we represent ourselves in this House. Itís a philosophy, but ó
Speaker: I would remind the member that weíre speaking to the amendment to the motion.
Mr. Cathers: Sorry, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw that.
Iíd just like to clarify here that we have a responsibility to represent our constituents, and this amendment to the motion, I believe, is entirely in line with principles that are well-understood and well-supported within Canadian society ó that we must, as a nation, refrain from unjustified military action, that use of force is always an option but should not be the first option and should always be the last option after diplomatic avenues have been exhausted, that our foreign policy should be independent. And I believe the intention of the motion was to reinforce the position of the Government of Canada in maintaining an independent foreign policy but taking into account the security needs of our allies ó our treaty obligations to them. The NATO treaty ó chapter 5, I believe ó has a specific obligation for us to defend our allies if theyíre under direct attack. We should not repudiate these treaties.
We have to respect the security needs of our allies. But first and foremost, as this amendment outlines, the direction for the Canadian military must be defence. We call it the Department of National Defence because the military is supposed to defend us ó protect Canada, protect our people and protect our interests.
Mr. Speaker, the final point in the motion as amended is to urge the Government of Canada to carefully and seriously consider all the available information.
I would suggest that the responsibility of all of us as parliamentarians, at any given point, is to consider all available information. I think it is important in this amendment to lay this out to the Government of Canada, to reinforce this, that this is what we expect of them ó what we, as a jurisdiction, we, the people, elected to represent Yukoners in the Yukon Legislature, what we as a body expect of the Government of Canada. We expect them to carefully and seriously consider the information that is before them in determining whether military action in Iraq or any other action they take is justified ó whether military or non-military, to carefully and seriously consider all the available information.
Iím puzzled what the members opposite find offensive about the amendment here. I can understand that it seems there is a desire simply to speak against war under any circumstances, but I donít think, after debate and an examining of feelings, I highly doubt that the members opposite would themselves state that war is never acceptable, that action in World War II to stop millions of people from being slaughtered was unjustified. Iím sure they just donít disagree with taking action under circumstances like that.
Peacekeeping, which was mentioned, is a minor version of that issue ó where we try and go into areas to protect people, to prevent them from conflict, from dictatorships, from regimes like Mr. Milosevicís, which was in power in Yugoslavia and engaged in ethnic cleansing. So how can we say that war is not justified? War must always, always be an option ó the last option, but it must be an option.
This has been very much in line with the Canadian policy that has been established over the last half-century, that we as a nation are prepared to use military action. We are members of NATO. We are not a nation like Switzerland that has made a deliberate decision to remain neutral. That is an acceptable decision for a country to make. We havenít chosen that. We have chosen to be a country that is prepared to use our military but not to use it without careful and due consideration. The amendment to this supports this intent. It supports a policy that has been well-accepted in this nation over the last half-century and it removes from the original motion the parts that were offensive ó I know to myself, and I believe to some of my colleagues here, that seems to be pointing fingers at the United States and suggesting that it was a military power that was engaging in going and making war on the people of Iraq. That is just ridiculous.
I apologize if I am offending the members opposite, but the idea that suggesting Mr. Hussein should be removed from office is a war on the people of Iraq is ridiculous. There is an article that someone handed to me earlier today about the development by the United States of a new bomb ó this new super bomb that they intend to video and give to Iraq in an attempt to create a level of fear and dismay in there and hopefully take action toward averting the war, toward achieving the surrender of forces there. As those who watched the televised coverage back in 1991 may recall with Desert Storm, the war in the Persian Gulf, there were a tremendous number of Iraqi troops that surrendered. They didnít want to fight. They are not given the choice democratically: would you like to fight in Mr. Husseinís army? No, you are going to go fight or he is probably going to shoot your family.
You donít defect; you donít quit the military there. You do what youíre told. They donít want to fight and defend President Hussein. The military in Iraq is no more democratically consulted or involved in the process than the people of Iraq. The generals run the show. The colonels run the show. All the rest are kept in line or theyíre lined up against the wall and theyíre shot. They showed very clearly their willingness in 1991, whenever given the option, that they can surrender and not be shot for it, that theyíd love to do that.
Iíve located the element here on the super bomb. Itís a giant device that contains 21,000 pounds of high explosive, and thatís larger than the "daisy cutter" bombs, as they called them, which were used against the Taliban in Afghanistan and were 5,000-pound devices. It says the Pentagon intends to test the bomb and to videotape the results as a warning to Iraq of what the U.S. could inflict.
So even now, with the consideration of military action, the United States is still pursuing as an option the attempts to convince Iraq that military conflict is not well-advised to deal with this. Again, I bring the issue back to our two greatest allies, the United States and Great Britain. If this is such a horrible and unjustified thing to consider the possibility of action in Iraq, why are they supporting it? As I said before, Mr. Speaker, that does not mean that they are right in taking this action. Canada may adopt a different point of view. We may feel that the evidence simply is not quite there that weíre ready to take action, but that is something that Canada, as a sovereign nation with independent foreign policy, has to consider very carefully: what direction it will take, where the line will fall, and are our two greatest allies justified in their action or do we simply disagree?
But above all, I reiterate, once again, that we cannot stab our friends in the back and turn on them because we have a disagreement on policy. And I donít appreciate the comment suggesting that the United States is some horrible military power. I donít think thatís called for.
So, I have spoken at some length on this issue here. As you can tell, this is an issue that I regard as seriously as do the members of the opposition.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Cathers: I hear the members from the other side making some appreciative comments again, Iím sure, and once again, I thank them for their appreciation of my remarks. Iím sure they will consider the issues I have raised very carefully in re-evaluating their position on this amendment.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: On the amendment, it gives me pleasure to rise and give some thoughts and different perspective ó or at least my perspective on this amendment.
When I start reading through some of the vast amounts of literature on this, one of the most telling comments, I thought, appeared in the Hill Times about a week ago from David Jones. It says, "Everything useful has been said about the confrontation over Iraq." Well, it has probably not all been said. Thereís probably a lot more to be said, but unfortunately, weíre not really sure where any of this is going.
Directly to the amendment, I do have some concerns about this. One of the members opposite rose earlier, and spoke very passionately about the amendment, and was quite critical about how it was presented, and was quite upset about how it was presented. I do find that rather strange, because we presented a motion here a few days ago concerning the problems with the placer miners and what they face with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans decision, if the members opposite do want to talk monetary things for half a moment here. And it does relate to the amendment, Mr. Speaker.
I have difficulties with the comments earlier. Iím not really sure, as we all sit here and talk about cooperation in the House and talking with each other and developing things in unison, Iím not at all sure why yesterday an amendment showed great cooperation and restraint of the House yet, today, an amendment from the other side shows audacity and that the member found it disgraceful. Reasonable debate at any point in time has great value, Mr. Speaker, and Iím not really sure why that difference happens, depending on which way the debate is going.
One of the things in this whole thing that bothers me the most, of course, central to the entire debate, is that we are expecting a rational decision from someone who has been very much shown to be an irrational person. The words "pipe dream" certainly come to mind. I think itís really not reasonable at all, Mr. Speaker, to expect that kind of a rational decision, and Iím not sure how to do that. Iím not sure how, in my own mind ó itís something that I grapple with a great deal.
We have a situation in the Middle East that is extremely explosive. We have a situation that probably does have to be dealt with. We have a situation in other parts of the world that probably should be dealt with as well. Despite the fact that North and South Korea are next to each other, as was pointed out earlier very eloquently, Iím not really sure why that situation is any different. Is it because the North Koreans are better armed, because they might fight back better? Iím not really sure why that issue has gone to the back-burner and the situation with Iraq seems to be in an escalating timetable. We donít go to war on a timetable, and I have great problems, as do some of the speakers opposite, as to why the timetable keeps getting under such great urgency, and we donít want to let the United Nations do their work or let the inspectors do their work.
If we have trusted inspectors to go in and to review and to look at things, and they feel they have reasonable access, Iím not really sure why the American approach of simply going in, bombing, taking it over and looking in the same places is an awful lot better. It certainly doesnít justify the taking of human life.
Iím sorry, that certainly does not. So I have difficulties with that, Mr. Speaker.
We expect rational decisions by an irrational person. There is a very inherent flaw in that argument, and I do have a great deal of difficulty with that. Canada has been very superficial to the discussion, and one thing with the comments ó that Iím sure wonít make it into Hansard ó that weíve been continually bombarded with from the Member for Mayo-Tatchun is, "What about the budget?"
With one notable exception and I very, very much commend the individual for his services in the Canadian Armed Forces and services in Afghanistan, Iím not aware of the fact that the Yukon is a direct partner to this. Iím not convinced that the Yukon is going to send its troops in ó maybe weíre going to mobilize some Rangers or something. Itís a very important issue, and I donít want to denigrate that discussion, but I do have to agree with the Member for Mayo-Tatchun that Iím not really convinced why weíre spending four hours debating something that really isnít relevant when there are such horrible problems within this territory ó so many economic problems, so many people out of work. I have problems with that.
Another thing that sort of brings home to me how this affects us, of course, is September 11 and the direct involvement of the Yukon Territory. I had either the good fortune or misfortune ó Iím not sure which ó of owning a restaurant and I was shopping at that point in time when my watch commander, when I was in the RCMP, basically grabbed me and said, "Weíve got as many as 10 incoming planes, possibly loaded with explosives. Get to Detachment now."
We closed the restaurant and we left. But once the reality of what happened on that day really began to become apparent within Whitehorse, I went back and I had a chance to observe something that really brought this whole issue home to me. The fellow I had purchased the restaurant from and who was working for me at that time ó after many months of working with him, I consider him a very close and dear friend. He is ethnic Chinese, but he grew up in Vietnam. He grew up in Da Nang. He is a welder by trade and when the war started in that part of the world, he was inside of the ships as the Americans were bombing the ships, floors above him. He made the very clear decision very, very quickly that his future was not in Vietnam. He walked all the way from Vietnam into China, into the coast of China, and came to Canada on a very rickety old boat, and he was one of the original boat people.
I tell that story because sometimes we donít know what we have in the Yukon. We may sit here and complain about a certain economic opportunity lost, or something that we would like to do that we have to delay, but the look on this manís face as F-18s and F-15s loaded with more armour than Iíve ever seen at an air show circled the airport, the look on his face, Mr. Speaker, brought that aspect of war directly to downtown Whitehorse. Interestingly, and it wasnít because of that incident, he left the Yukon as soon as the planes started flying, and he is back in Toronto now. But for those few moments and those few days, it brought the horrors of war to the Yukon, and it was a real eye opener to me.
But at some point in time, we do have to do something, I suppose. What I struggle with is how we do that and what we will do.
I listened to the leader of the official opposition, and I listened to his tone of voice in replying to this amendment. Heís a very passionate man, and the tone of voice, certainly, does not come across in Hansard. But he is a very passionate man, and he is a very religious man. I know that and I respect him very much for that. And I find myself in a bit of a dilemma, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to continue for a moment to speak to the motion but, in that regard, I find my own beliefs very much compromised to a large degree by the discussion, but mostly to the immediate problem of the amendment as it reads, that the House urges the Government of Canada to carefully and seriously consider all available information in determining whether military action in Iraq is justified at this time.
My problem is, as soon as military action becomes part of that debate, my beliefs do require that I probably will have to abstain from that amendment. That is part of the debate that, while I both cannot make solid recommendations, I donít know. But I know one thing, and that is I canít make any part of a decision that involves the taking of human life.
The debate has become animated in many different ways. I wasnít even aware that Liechtenstein had enough of a land mass to land a jet ó
Speaker: Order please. The time being 6:00 p.m., this House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
Debate on Motion No. 6 accordingly adjourned
The House adjourned at 6:00 p.m.