How should Canada respond to terrorism ... summary (Aileen Carroll MP)

Science for Peace Forum and Teach-In, University of Toronto, December 9, 2001

Aileen Carroll, MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Well, it’s certainly very interesting to join you. I did respond to the request from Professor Hamel. I was in New York last week, at the United Nations, and he called to ask if I could come, two others not being able to, and I thought it was very important that I come, and now, having listened to Professor Mandel, I really think it’s very important that I’ve come. Professor Mandel has given you a very strong, I would say polemical speech. It’s interesting — I think I’m taller than Mr. Mandel in addition to not being a lawyer, which I think I should declare as well.

I came about 20 minutes early and I came and listened to the last 20 minutes of Mr. Galati’s chat, and I was very disappointed. And I’m speaking to you as a person and I will very soon with pleasure give you the perspective of the government in addressing your topic today, which was ?How should Canada respond to terrorism and war?? and certainly I will hope to give you our thinking on that. But it was very disheartening from my perspective to sit there and listen to — I guess he also was a lawyer — hear him respond to the questions with a degree of misinformation that I found astounding. A student from the Netherlands who identified himself as such, asked him when I was in the room, many of you may have been in the room, whether or not C-36 our legislation, the first bill that is in the Senate, as was accurately described, whether it removed the presumption of innocence in Canada, and it of course does not — I don’t think there is anyone that would attempt to say it does — but he did not, I would assume, wish to give that answer, so instead he talked about the holding bin in a detention facility here in Toronto. And there was a variety of other questions put forward, one that I simply found appalling. So may I just say that you will not get polemics from me. You will get information, accurate to the very best of my ability. I will give you that now.

First of all, Mr. Mandel has said at the outset that the war is illegal. The day after Mr. Mandel wrote that article that said that in the Globe and Mail, I was a member of a panel at the Canadian Bar Association of International Lawyers, and all of those who participated in the panel with me argued why they disagreed with Mr. Mandel. But they are not here, I am not a lawyer, and I am indeed Parliamentary Secretary to Mr. Manley.

To try and put it into perspective, September 11th and the terrorism at the World Trade Center was not an isolated incident. I think that that did get mentioned. Instead, it was a hugely escalated portion of a sequence of terrorist attacks that were indeed directed at the United States, beginning in Africa against American embassies, as you know, in Kenya and Tanzania. There was an attempt to bomb the American embassy in Paris, and that was not successful. We recently, while we were in the United Nations last week, and I was there with the Council of Europe, because Canada is an observer there. And the Council of Europe, as many of you know, in Salzburg, is fifty years in existence and it’s predicated on three principles: human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and it was with that group that I was there, meeting with UN officials. While we were there, it has now been made public that there had been a planned attack of a bomber on the House of Commons on Tower Bridge in London that apparently at the last minute the people involved lost their nerve. While not directly connected with al Qaeda, or members of al Qaeda, there are connections, and arrests have been made in India.

I guess what I’m trying to convey to you is, that while I don’t think the world changed, as it has been said by some, on September 11th. I think that we are looking at a degree and an escalation that even in Britain, which has the bobbies that never were armed, now wear flak jackets and now are armed as they protect the House of Commons. So there’s a recognition there. There’s a recognition throughout that we are looking to provide security to our people, to the citizens in our country and other countries that we have never understood we had to provide.

And yes, as a result, Canada has responded diplomatically, politically as well as militarily and within our legislation. And I think it has to be conveyed that it is indeed a multi-layered approach. And that those facets of our response are all a parallel course. That we are committed to combatting and actively condemning terrorism, and that we have brought through a number of pieces of legislation, and I have a sense that most of you are going to want to ask me questions about it. And I am delighted to respond to you.

So rather than go into that legislation, I would tell you that we have, in our view, responded to Article 51of the United Nations Charter, and that obviously our perspective on the resolution that was passed on September 28th, 1373, which unanimously adopted a comprehensive resolution on terrorism, and it addresses many facets of the problem. We see it as a milestone in the fight against terrorism, and we see it as a critical tool for practical action. The resolution requires member states to take specific actions in countering terrorist fundraising, including freezing the financial assets of terrorists, countering their fundraising capabilities, and implementing all relevant international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism. It calls for increased information exchange and the ratification of 12 already existing United Nations conventions. It significantly, I think, creates a committee to monitor what all the member states do to implement that resolutions and you have to respond back within 90 days, as was mentioned at our discussions with the United Nations December 27th. So that is incumbent on all member states to do.

[Inaudible voice from the audience]

No, it’s not the party line. Just to share with you.

[Another voice]

Thank you for that.

I understand the strong feelings that I have listened to, about the United States, and that seems to be huge in Mr. Mandel’s concerns, and I too, I can understand where you’re coming from. But I don’t think I can understand what possibly some might see as a naivety. That we, as legislators do not have the luxury just to debate and debate, because at the end of all that we learn, and the end of all that we know, and at the end of all civil society groups such as yourselves with your input, we have to vote —because it is incumbent on us, to have the courage to create the environment that provides security for the people of this country. And it has been a difficult task for all concerned. But it is not one that I have any difficulty with at all. It is one that we have moved forward. We have made amendments, as we looked carefully at legislation.

You know, in the end, you might say that if we have erred on the equation of going toward the safety, rather than staying way over on the other side of the equation, concerned about only only liberties, maybe at the end of that, maybe we were wrong. But maybe we may have prevented people from being killed. Whereas, on the other side of that equation, if you are so concerned and swinging on the equation toward liberties, that you will not move forward with what you believe is necessary to keep Canadians secure, then you may find that what is the result of that is a lot worse that what might have been the result of our lack of courage.

So I do look forward to your questions. I am deliberately, as you can see, not talking about the legislation. I would be delighted to do that. But I stand here too as a person who, when I went to university in the sixties, we were very active in the movement against the war in Viet Nam. And when we were, in the sixties, in Halifax —it was a pretty conservative place and nobody much was walking around carrying signs — it took a certain amount of courage just to get out there and do that. And do you know what, it was something we felt pretty strongly about too, but you know, I look back at all of the people who were involved in that, and we had a variety of points of departure, and we came from many different backgrounds, united in that. But I never had the sense of what I sensed in chats with some of the people here, that there is an anger, and that there is a resistance, and there is a sense of agenda, that is far greater than the issue of what we were asked to discussed today, and that is, ?How Canada should respond to terrorism and war.? Anyway, I look forward to your questions. Thank you.