Mr. Speaker, today I rise to comment on the strong friendship that Alberta has with Canada’s closest ally and neighbour, the United States.
As American troops put their lives on the line across the world to defend very fundamental principles that Albertans share with the United States, I believe it is important that our friends in the U.S. hear voices of friendship and support from abroad.
Equally important is a message of support for troops from Britain and Australia, our friends in the Commonwealth. They, too, are at the front lines of this conflict, and our prayers are with them.
Mr. Speaker, Albertans have strong ties with the United States. These ties extend far beyond economic interests.
The ties between Alberta and the U.S. are rooted in much common history, a tradition of interchange of ideas, and shared values.
Today, as conflict rages in Iraq, the thoughts of Albertans, including me and everyone in the Government Caucus, are not on economic issues. Our thoughts are with the troops, their families, and the American people, who are risking so much in order to uphold what so many believe in.
Our thoughts are also with the people of Iraq, a people with a long and honourable history of contributions to civilization, the arts, and human progress. We pray that peace will come quickly to their nation, and that the result of this conflict will be lasting freedom and prosperity for them.
Certainly, Mr. Speaker, war is a horrible thing. Television images that Albertans and people around the world have seen over the last few days are powerful, sobering reminders of the ugliness that is war.
These images, and the very idea of war, are stirring passionate emotions among Albertans and people across the globe. There are profound differences of opinion among people as to whether this conflict is necessary or justified.
I respect the views of those who disagree with the conflict, Mr. Speaker. I know that people who oppose this war speak honestly and from the heart.
For me, our friendship with the United States means that we must send a message of support, and support for the other partners of the coalition.
This does not mean I advocate the use of Canadian troops in the conflict. I don’t even know if Canadian troops have been requested. There are Canadian military personnel in the region, and our thoughts today are for their safety and the well-being of their families. In regard to the Iraq conflict, the deployment of the Canadian military is a matter strictly for the federal government, and I will respect their decisions on the issue.
My message, therefore, is one of friendship. It’s a message of support for our neighbours and friends in the United States. It’s the hope that the conflict will end as soon as possible, and that coalition troops will return home to the arms of their families safely and soon. It’s the wish that the values that all free peoples share – values such as freedom of expression, of beliefs, of opportunity – will echo in Iraq and across the world as a result of this conflict.Thank you.