As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Prince George--Bulkley Valley.
Mr. Dan McTeague (Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, residents of Pickering and all Canadians mourn the passing of a truly exceptional children's entertainer with the death yesterday of Mr. Ernie Coombs.
Known by generations of Canadians as Mr. Dressup, Ernie thrilled countless children with his beloved television program from 1967 until 1996, a program still seen in reruns today.
Ernie was a gifted entertainer who encouraged his audiences to use their imaginations. In 1994 he was awarded a Gemini for lifetime work and an ACTRA Earle Grey Award for excellence in Canadian television.
Ernie was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1996 for his lifelong achievement in providing quality children's programming. In 1997 he was awarded a Special Save the Children Canada Award for his work on behalf of that organization.
Especially during these difficult days, Canadians are blessed to have had a person like Ernie Coombs provide them with a better view of our society. While Ernie's warm personality and love for children will be missed, Canadians will fondly remember the time they spent growing up with Mr. Dressup.
I know all members of the House will join me in extending sincere condolences to Ernie's family and friends throughout this great nation. God bless Ernie.
Subtopic: Mr. Dressup
Mr. Peter Goldring (Edmonton Centre-East, Canadian Alliance)
Mr. Speaker, 60 years ago President Roosevelt called Canada the aerodrome of democracy for its efforts in wartime air training. On September 11 Canada was destined to receive many hundreds of airliners within mere hours as American airports were closed by terrorism.
Thirty-five thousand America-bound air travellers landed safely on Canadian airfields. Over six thousand went to Newfoundland's Gander alone, doubling the community's population. It was “like two large conventions arriving with only two hours' notice”, were the words of the mayor of St. John's.
Once more in a time of great need, Canadian workers, volunteers, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross all met the challenge and renewed Canada's status as the aerodrome of democracy.
Mr. Pat O'Brien (London—Fanshawe, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, like many Canadians I have American relatives, some living in New York City. The vicious terrorist attack on the United States is being felt personally and deeply in Canada. Canada will support the U.S.A. and our NATO allies in the important campaign to bring these criminals to justice.
In my city of London, Ontario, the leaders of our Muslim community have repeatedly and forcefully condemned the attack on the United States. I join them in that condemnation. I also stand with them in denouncing the misguided actions of a few of our citizens who wrongly accuse, threaten or attack our Muslim friends and neighbours in London or anywhere else.
This is exactly the kind of hatred and twisted logic which, taken to the extreme, produces the insane violence that victimized so many innocent Americans last week.
May those who were killed rest in peace. May those who mourn their loved ones be assured of the prayers and support of peace loving people everywhere.
Mr. Eugène Bellemare (Ottawa--Orléans, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, the acts of terrorism that took place in the United States on September 11 have shaken the entire world.
We have a duty to support our neighbours and to react in a decisive and reasoned way, in conjunction with the rest of the world community.
However we must not tolerate reactions of bigotry by anyone in our midst. I for one find it appalling that a group of teenagers in Orleans decided last Saturday to beat a Muslim teenager unconscious because of his race. Such acts of violence have no place in our country.
Multiculturalism is a source of pride for all Canadians. It should remain that way.
Mr. Paul Steckle (Huron—Bruce, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, 52 years ago this week the Right Hon. Lester B. Pearson represented Canada at the first NATO meeting in Washington. This is the same man who was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize for his unwaivering commitment to global peace.
I submit that former Prime Minister Pearson would not have endorsed a body such as NATO unless he believed it could be an instrument of peace. With this in mind, and in light of the horrific events that took place in New York and Washington last Tuesday, I applaud the government for its support of article 5 of the NATO charter.
Deliberate acts of terror directed against innocent civilians cannot be permitted to go unchallenged. That being said, let us heed the intentions of our former prime minister and use global organizations such as NATO to support peace and not to wage war.
In the coming weeks we will begin to see the changes that the western world faces, the stark realities brought about by the actions of madmen. I pray that we will keep our focus on the re-establishment of confidence and not on sponsoring vengeance. We must remember that our actions today will set the foundation for the world we will pass to our children.
Mrs. Carol Skelton (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, Canadian Alliance)
Mr. Speaker, yesterday Ernie Coombs, a much loved Canadian entertainer, passed away. Today I express my sympathies to his family on behalf of all Canadian families.
We look back fondly on mornings spent around the television waiting to see what new and exciting adventures would be in store for Mr. Dressup, Casey and Finnegan. There was anticipation as we wondered which characters would spring from his tickle trunk. There were fun and positive stories, great sketches, drawings and much, much laughter.
Mr. Dressup was often visited by friends. Those friends represented many different cultures, races and religions. In a world of intolerance Ernie Coombs and Mr. Dressup sought to teach us tolerance.
Young and old alike were delighted by his antics. The positive influence of the show on the lives of those who watched will be remembered for all time. Mr. Dressup's fun and educational program was a relief to parents and a delight to children. We will remember him fondly. He will be greatly missed.
Subtopic: Mr. Dressup
Mr. Joe Fontana (London North Centre, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, I express my most sincere condolences to the families and friends of those killed as a result of the unspeakable tragedy on September 11, 2001. I also thank the people from every community across Canada, and specifically my constituency of London North Centre, who have taken the time to support our American friends by giving blood and helping in the rescue efforts.
In the coming weeks and months, and indeed years, we will be called upon in this place to make many difficult decisions. Perhaps the most difficult task facing us will be that of balancing the new concern for our collective safety with the longstanding Canadian values of acceptance and compassion.
We cannot allow ourselves to dictate something as fundamental as our immigration policies based on the terrible acts of a cowardly few. We cannot let fear change our way of life and the way we treat others. To do so would send a message to those who advance their own agendas with the murder of innocent civilians that they could win this new war.
It would also diminish Canada as a nation. We are a country built on the backs of immigrants. The diverse cultures represented here have made us aware of what we are.
Mr. Claude Bachand (Saint-Jean, BQ)
Mr. Speaker, yesterday today and for the next few days, the battle group of the 3rd Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment will be setting off for Bosnia, as part of rotation 9 of Operation Palladium.
The mission of this group consists in continuing to maintain the present safe and secure environment of the zone to which the battle group is assigned, in order to continue the operation of consolidating the peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
I had the honour and privilege to train with them at Valcartier this past summer. I must admit it is very tough training and provides the troops with an excellent preparation for dealing with any and all situations.
This coming November, I will be spending a week with them in Bosnia, along with other colleagues from the House of Commons.
To the men and women of the 3rd Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment, I say “Good luck, take care, see you soon”.
Subtopic: 3rd Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment
Mr. Mark Assad (Gatineau, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, last week's events in the United States elicited much compassion, solidarity and sympathy in Canada for the families of the victims of this inhumane tragedy.
The voice of our Prime Minister was heard clearly, not only by Canadians, but by Americans and also around the world: a voice tempered by moderation and caution, but also a voice resolute with conviction to fight terrorism throughout the world.
Last week, Canadians demonstrated great wisdom about the reality of the world, as well as a profound understanding of the injustices and social inequalities caused by fanaticism and violence.
Canada's Islamic community is thankful to the Prime Minister and all of the members of the House for their reassuring words. I am certain that Radio Canada International will once again be able to share Canada's message of hope with people around the world.
Mr. James Lunney (Nanaimo—Alberni, Canadian Alliance)
Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Nanaimo--Alberni we have been dealing with a crisis caused by the lapsed softwood lumber agreement. Hundreds of idle mill workers are looking for a speedy resolution.
However the events of the past week have caused all Canadians to take a sober look at the realities of national security in the face of international terrorism.
Canadians want assurance that known terrorist organizations will not ride into Canada on a red carpet. They want a complete ban on terrorist fundraising activities within our borders. They want to know that persons with known terrorist links will be prosecuted or extradited. They want to know that our national security services, the RCMP, CSIS and the armed forces, have sufficient funding to provide the protection Canadians require to live in peace.
We call on the government to commit immediately to comprehensive anti-terrorist legislation for the protection and security of Canadians and our neighbours.
Mr. Nick Discepola (Vaudreuil—Soulanges, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, the people of the United States are coping with a tragedy. Following the terrorist attacks against the United States, more than 5,000 people have disappeared. These people, people like us, were going about their daily business when the unexpected occurred.
My thoughts are with these people, those who will be found and those who will remain in our memories. My thoughts are with the families and friends of these victims. I bid them the strength required to get through this tragedy. It has changed our lives forever.
Last Friday's national day of mourning allowed all Canadians to express their most profound sympathies for the victims' families. I was deeply moved by the compassion and solidarity that Canadians showed toward our American friends. I am convinced that our prayers will be heard and that we will be able to bring some comfort to all those affected by this great tragedy.
On behalf of myself, my family and my constituents, I extend our greatest sympathies to the American people. May God be their guidance in this very difficult period. Our hearts are with them.
Subtopic: United States of America
Ms. Wendy Lill (Dartmouth, NDP)
Mr. Speaker, in the last eight days we have seen the chilling impact and grief that TV images can have on our children. Today I would like to express a gentler sadness and remember kinder images.
I am referring to the passing of Ernie Coombs, better known to generations of Canadians as Mr. Dressup .
Millions of Canadians grew up with the whimsy, charm and innocent imagination as expressed in the art of Ernie Coombs. His tickle trunk, his drawings, his whacky constructions, his real and imagined companions both inspired and comforted his eager audience.
Kids laughed, they learned and they felt safe and parents knew their children were safe with Ernie on the screen.
The days of Mr. Dressup , Chez Hélène and the Friendly Giant on CBC were a more innocent time, a time before gameboys and playstations, before Howard Stern, before we worried about seeing too much violence on TV, either as entertainment or on the news.
During this terrible time I remember the world of Mr. Dressup and I can smile again.
I thank Mr. Coombs for bringing such magic to our lives.
Subtopic: Mr. Dressup
Mrs. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ)
Mr. Speaker, the tragic events in the United States on September 11 are causing all countries of the world to reassess their security measures and to join the fight against terrorism.
In all of this, democracy and freedom must be preserved as security measures are beefed up at airports, at the borders and on airplanes, and certain regulations must be reviewed.
We must certainly support the Americans, but we must also exercise caution in order to prevent these initiatives from being used to satisfy a need for vengeance.
In the longer term, governments will have to resolve situations that generate terrorism, such as war, poverty and despair.
Mr. Mauril Bélanger (Ottawa—Vanier, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, since this is the first opportunity I have had to speak since the resumption of the session, I would like to add the voices of everyone in Ottawa--Vanier, who wish to offer their condolences to the families of those who perished and who disappeared in last week's terrorist attacks in the United States.
Some of us will remember Bush Sr. talking about a thousand points of light. As darkness threatened last Tuesday, there were some points of light that emerged and I would like to pay tribute to one of them today.
I had tried to imagine what went through the minds of the people who were aboard United Airlines flight 93 when they decided to cause the plane to crash as it did in Pennsylvania in the fields therefore avoiding an incredible augmentation of the threats that the terrorist attacks represented to democracy and freedom in our countries.
I pay tribute to the incredible courage that these people showed. I think we owe them a great deal of thanks.
Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, PC/DR)
Mr. Speaker, in view of last week's tragic events in New York and Washington, it is incumbent on the Minister of Transport to take measures to ensure the safety of Canada's airline system.
Canada has pledged to support the U.S. and our NATO allies in rooting out terrorism. That means we need to be in a state of heightened awareness with regard to possible terrorist attacks. Security at our airports needs to be strengthened now and in the foreseeable future. We should also consider having security personnel on randomly selected flights.
Terrorism knows no national boundaries. The countries of the civilized world are all in this crusade together and the Government of Canada would do well to implement security procedures that allow Canadians to travel with the same confidence to which we have grown accustomed.
Subtopic: Airline Safety
Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance)
Mr. Speaker, yesterday the king of Jordan revealed on CNN that Jordan had informed European, American and Canadian security agencies of terrorist threats during the millennium celebrations.
When exactly was the government informed about these threats and exactly what steps did the government take to protect the security of Canadians? We would like to hear from the Prime Minister on that.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the statement made by the king of Jordan yesterday. Of course everyone knows that there were some threats at that time. Action was taken at that time. That action led to the arrest at the United States border of someone coming from Canada, which prevented any kind of activity from occurring.
Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance)
Mr. Speaker, the government action had nothing to do with why that person was arrested. It has been public knowledge for some time that bin Laden operative Ahmed Ressam operated freely in Canada for six years, including activities such as bomb building. He did this despite being under a deportation order and after having broken Canadian laws.
The Government of Canada had been warned by Jordan of a bin Laden terror threat. If it had not been for United States customs officers arresting him, Ressam may have brought death and destruction to our American friends.
How is it that U.S. officials were able to arrest Ressam and Canadian officials could not?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, everyone knows that these organizations operate all over the world. It is an example of the collaboration that exists between the different levels of governments. At that time there were some threats and we had been warned about them. Everyone worked together and eventually the individual was arrested. What is the hon. member complaining about?