Mr. Chairman, I want to pick up a bit on what the previous speaker said. I am of the belief that until we can find a way through to ending anti-Semitism, we will not have any hope of addressing all of the other antis either, the Islamophobias or whatever. We have to confront this right on.
I want to personalize this a little bit. The member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie talked about how her experience with anti-Semitism had affected her. I have a couple of stories from my history. As a young boy in 1959 in a little town called Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, where the train derailment was last year and where I grew up, we never had a black person in our community. We never had a Jewish person in our community. We had difficulties between the English and French, but we never learned racism.
As a boy of 12, one day in the summer, I was out on the lawn in front of my home and a car went by, a 1949 Dodge. I will never forget it. That has left a mark on me. A man and a woman were on the back seat having a disagreement, and all of a sudden a shoebox came out of the window and it was full of pictures. As a boy will do, I started to collect the pictures. To me, that became the saddest day of my life for many, many years, because the pictures had to have been taken by guards at Auschwitz.
We have heard the stories of the tattoos that became lampshades. There was a picture of that. The picture I still see from time to time was of a women, still alive, being pushed into a furnace on the rack.
I sat back for a long time trying to understand, as a 12-year-old cannot understand, how people could do this to one another. I did not have any idea that they were Jews, and I took the pictures.
My grandmother had an old sewing machine that had a cabinet. I stuffed the pictures in there to hide them, because I did not want to believe that these were anything other than pictures from some horrible movie. It took me many, many years to come to terms with all of that because I did not understand racism and came from a caring community.
Then, of course, it was around the period when the movie Exodus took place, and my father loved to take me to movies, and also Judgment at Nuremberg. That was the first point in time, in a movie, on screen, where there were pictures of bodies being bulldozed.
I cannot express the feeling, the connection between the pictures that I found as young boy and a couple of years later seeing that movie, which is when I started to understand the horror of what had taken place. It left me with a feeling to this day, enhancing the sense of justice and the need to protect all of our people.
As I went along in years and got involved in the labour movement. I was a simple delegate at the Hamilton District Labour Council. There was a gentleman there, probably in his sixties at the time, Al Smith. He was probably kindest, gentlest man you could ever hope to see. He stood about five foot two. He had spent 10 to 20 years on the human rights committee of that labour council.
I happened to be in the office one day and he was tasked with going to some event on behalf of the labour council and had paid for something. He brought the receipt in and was getting change. When the young lady gave the change back to this sweetheart of a man who had fought for 40 years for justice for people, he shoved a nickel back and said, “Oh, no, I cannot take that. That would be Hymie of me to take that”. I remember at the time thinking how insidious this was, how it became part of our culture to the point that Jewish people out and say, “Hymie”, or whatever other nasty name we wanted to put on them.
Tonight we have heard speaker after speaker say pretty well the same thing, that once again in our history anti-Semitism is growing.
We can get into debate on Israel. We can get into debate on Gaza, the PLO, or whatever we want, but we cannot deny that anti-Semitism is on the rise. We can do many things.
I am a firm believer in dialogue, communication, and debate. When we are confronted with hate, we have to stand up to it. If people have different views during Israeli Apartheid Week, they have to say so. I am very concerned that if we stifle that debate in the institutions of higher education, are we not, in the long run, preparing a path for some other form of hate?
The House is the place where we should be debating these issues. Yes, they are very personal for a variety of people and for a variety of reasons. Many members here have Jewish or Muslim communities in their ridings.
I had an experience in Hamilton. There was a firebombing of a Hindu samaj three days after 9/11. A group was started, called Strengthening Hamilton's Community Initiative. It got together to confront racism. The two men who firebombed that Hindu samaj thought that it was a mosque. Racism does not really understand much and the people that purvey it and do these things are pretty horrific.
That created a situation where we had leadership from the Muslim community, leadership from the Jewish community, and many others, during a time when Israel was in battle, one more time, in Gaza. That group of people put out joint statements of Muslims and Jews on the activities that took place. It is proof that people can come together who have extremely different points of view. That is important. We have to find a way to bring that level of understanding across the globe. There are governments who seem to be pleased when some ethnic groups, such as the Jews or the Arabs, or religious groups like the Christians, Muslims, Rohingyas, Tamils, or whoever, can point at another group and say, “They are different. They are lower than we are. They are not as good as we are”, or that they are taking people's jobs or land.
I will give an example of what can happen if we allow that to take place, which New Democrats raise here regularly, and that is Iran, with its rhetoric and hate pointed toward Israel. While it is doing that, it is actually masking the horrific things it is doing to its own people. Last month, 90-some people were hanged in Iran. I do not know the numbers for the last year, but they will be in the hundreds. We can go back to the time when people thought there was a rising in Iran and a chance of democracy blossoming, but we remember the slaughter that took place in the streets. We all remember the young girl who was killed—actually several of them.
I do not profess to have the answer, but I understand one thing: that we have to keep communicating. Canada has to remain a leader, because this is one of the few countries that I am aware of where there can be absolute debate and public discussion. I used to joke with my friends in Hamilton. Gore Park is in Hamilton, the centre of the community, and I used to say that in Canada, we can stand on a box in Gore Park and say whatever we want to say, as long as we are not preaching hate. We can say that we do not like the Prime Minister, not that I would ever say such a thing, but that can be done in this democracy and it can be done freely. If we were to try that in the United States, going to a park in New York City, standing on a soapbox and starting to rant, we would be put in police cars, and the U.S. claims to be the freest country on the face of the earth. No, we are here in Canada, and that is why we have to have a leadership role in fighting anti-Semitism.
We are the one country that many countries listen to and we have to put the programs in place and set the agenda within our own country to ensure that everyone, be they Jews, Arabs, whoever they are, are equally welcome and equally safe. What just happened in Montreal today is absolutely offensive.
Mr. Chair, I want to thank the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie for her remarks.
I jotted down a quote earlier today, one that has affected me for a long period of time:
New Democrats have long believed that so long as any among us are unfree, all of us are unfree. So long as any among us are persecuted, so we all are persecuted.
Earlier, my friend from Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale was talking about McMaster University. In Hamilton, people will know that following 9/11 there was a firebombing of the Hindu samaj. The racists thought it was a mosque. The member also mentioned Israeli Apartheid Week. As well, there was an event where one of the professors wore an niqab, which caused a problem.
I think it is really important to look at the Shoa, or just before the Shoa, and at what happened to Jews in Germany. They lost their voice. They lost their opportunity to be themselves and to present their case on whatever kind of an issue that was happening.
Therefore, when we have Israeli Apartheid Week, I agree that we have to engage and have to try to change the direction. Be it on the issue of a niqab, or whatever anti-racism work that we can do, we have to engage.
It does not work and has not worked to go from the top down, saying that we have an edict and that this is how we must act. We have to protect people's freedom of voice so they can deliver the message needed to change history.
Anti-Semitism has the longest history, and many speakers tonight have said this. For century upon century, the Jewish people have been the victims of anti-Semitism. We have to protect the voice of our communities to fight that.
Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie for doing such a fine job explaining all the benefits of our InSite program in Vancouver. She presented evidence showing that the program has saved lives, reduced the spread of disease and saved money. Giving drug addicts access to a safe site results in lower costs to society. They are given help to stay off the streets and to live healthier lives.
The government claims that this bill will allow more sites like the one in Vancouver to open and it talks about a number of commitments. However, the Conservative member who just spoke clearly said that it would be better not to have another site, rather than having a site where illegal drugs are consumed.
In the hon. member's view, which of the two is the real objective of the Conservative government when it comes to Bill C-2?
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to the motion of the government. I believe we have to put it clearly on the record what our concerns and views are with respect to the motion.
We are dealing with a motion that sometimes has been framed as air support and sometimes as air combat. Really, it not air combat, because we are not engaging fighter jet to fighter jet. This is clearly an air strike, a bombing mission, within Iraq.
We have clearly stated through our leader and elsewhere that we do not support this aspect of the mission. The motion calls for other things as does our amendment, but the question is whether we should join about a dozen other countries in bombing raids. We do not believe that is an effective Canadian solution to save lives now.
When we are talking about bombing and air strikes, there is a lot of controversy about whether it would even be effective in this situation. Even those who believe it is necessary are saying, and these are military strategists and other people who do not believe in military action, we will run out of targets very soon. Therefore, how effective will this be in the kind of contribution Canada could and should make?
The third thing is that air strikes of this nature, and in this case we are talking about air strikes in Iraq and Syria, are a bridge too far in the kind of mission we were told about on September 5.
I would like to make it clear that we did not support the first mission because we were not given the information to support it. We did not say that we would not support assisting, advising and helping the Kurdish peshmerga to be strong enough to take on this threat. We did not get a chance to say it. We were not even getting the answers as to when the government was planning to go or what it was planning to do.
The member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie actually provided the answers for the government because the government was not providing them in committee. It was one of the more humorous things I have ever seen. Direct questions were being asked of the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. We were not getting answers from them as they were stonewalling the questions. Rather the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie was giving the answers for them.
We also do not support this action because it does not respond to the direct ask that Canada got from the Government of Iraq. My colleague for Ottawa Centre described this from the visit he had with the president of Iraq and the president of the Kurdish regional council. They spoke of the terrible tragedy they were facing with the immense crisis of the 1.8 million now internally displaced persons in need of help. We support the idea of doing something about that and we support the coalition.
This is a big coalition. There are some 60 nations involved and they are all playing different roles. As I mentioned, there are about a dozen now that are engaged in certain aspects of military support in terms of air strikes, including about five of the Arab nations in the region. That is what they have chosen to do.
A lot of nations are providing different military support, like Canada was doing up until now, in delivering munitions and ammunition from the Czech Republic and Albania. Italy has been doing things like that, as have other countries as well. However, we have a lot of other countries that are doing different things solely on the humanitarian side, for example, Norway, Italy and Germany, with a combination of military efforts and supplies as well as humanitarian aid.
Effectively, the amendment to the motion would be to put Canada in the same group as that. Saving lives now is a priority for Canadians.
I did a little research and it seems that the Libya mission and air strike mission cost about $350 million. Imagine that. If that was the level of commitment made then and if the government is prepared to make a similar level of commitment to an air campaign, imagine how many lives could be saved and what Canada could accomplish using its military, resources, expertise and history in helping some of those 1.8 million people get through what is to be a very harsh winter? There is a need for food, shelter, clothing, and those kinds of things. A significant effort could actually save lives.
We are dealing with a question of choice, and Canada has that choice. This is a legitimate disagreement, as my friend just pointed out, morally outrageous and not a strategy. It is all right to be morally outraged. We are all pretty outraged, frankly, with the kinds of atrocities that are being committed in Iraq. We are looking for a long-term solution. We have seen the Americans, Brits and others try to deal with the situation in Iraq for the past 10 years and what we are left with is this situation.
We want a long-term solution. We are outraged by the activities of this group as well, but we want to know what Canada can best do right now that will help save lives immediately and help the peshmerga and the others get to the point where they can deal with this on the ground. As anybody in the military world says, air strikes are not going to solve the problem. Some even go so far as to say that they are counterproductive. Peggy Mason, who is a prominent former Canadian ambassador and adviser to a former prime minister, says that they are counterproductive, that they will not be effective and that we have to do something different because it has not worked in the past.
We want to do something that is going to be effective, in keeping with Canadian history, and save lives now. We believe that it will take a serious effort. I am not talking about sending another few million dollars; I am talking a serious commitment on behalf of Canada to address, to the best of its ability and resources, the humanitarian crisis as a result of the tragedy due to the atrocities going on there.
If members look at the amendment that the New Democrats have put forward, we have made it pretty clear that we want changes in the motion that would ensure that we first support the coalition. We want to ensure military support for the transportation of weapons. That is something we do support. We want a significant boost in humanitarian aid. We call on the government to provide assistance for the investigation and prosecution of war crimes, which I think there has been some nod toward today, especially dealing with sexual violence using rape as a weapon of war.
This requires significant investigation. It is not something we can simply forget about and hope that someone will bring them to justice. We have to get the evidence, provide the means to do that and put effort into getting the stories and collecting all of that. Many of these people who are victims of these atrocities and have that evidence are in these refugee camps or hope to be in refugee camps. Many of them do not want to leave the country and want to stay there, but they will need help until that country is safer.
We call on the government not to deploy Canadian Forces in combat operations and to report back on the cost of the mission on a monthly basis. We have made it clear. This is not supposed to be divisive. This is not about people who support the military and people who do not. We are calling for military support, but we also want to add that the government continue to offer its resolute and wholehearted support to the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces who stand on guard for all of us.
It is a question of what choices we would make to contribute to this international mission. We believe the amendment to this motion contains them. They are serious, they are robust and they are part of the Canadian effort that will save lives now.
Mr. Speaker, we always take the first week to get back into shape for the fall and winter.
It has been a big week for our Parliament. On Monday we had an important debate on the Ebola epidemic that is currently affecting West Africa and has claimed thousands of victims. We thank the NDP member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie for having requested that debate in the House.
On Tuesday we heard a memorable, very important speech from the Leader of the Opposition on the Canadian military mission in Iraq.
On Wednesday, as everyone knows, we had an important visit from the President of Ukraine, President Poroshenko.
That is what has happened this week. I would like to ask my colleague, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, what the government has in store for us next week.
The electoral district of Laurier--Sainte-Marie (Quebec) has a population of 101,758 with 79,182 registered voters and 201 polling divisions.
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