Statement made on 26 April 2012 by Senator Roméo Dallaire
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire :
Honourable senators, at this late hour I think a moment of levity might be of use before I say a few words on my inquiry and then ask that the rest be deferred to next week.
I return to my favourite book on Winston Churchill's wicked wit. I thought I would recount an anecdote for honourable senators. Newly elected in the House of Commons in the year 1900, young Winston Churchill thought that a moustache might add dignity and maturity to his youthful looks. I certainly believe in that.
Not long after, a woman came up to him and said forthrightly: "There are two things I don't like about you, Mr. Churchill — your politics and your moustache." Already then it would seem he was never at a loss for the satisfying retort. "My dear madam," he replied, "pray do not disturb yourself. You are not likely to come into contact with either."
The subject that I want to bring to your attention is no laughing matter, of course. This is the prevention of mass atrocities and particularly the United Nations Secretary-General's proposal that 2012 be the year of prevention of mass atrocity crimes. Today we have just learned that Charles Taylor has been found guilty of crimes against humanity with the Sierra Leone war.
I will present to you in my inquiry at the next sitting the details of how I believe Canada can and should play a significant role in advancing the prevention of mass atrocities, not just responding to catastrophic events but actually being engaged in the prevention thereof. In so doing, we can take a leadership role and be simpatico with our good neighbours to the south. That is not always the area where I look for leadership or necessarily an example, but certainly President Obama and his administration have moved significantly over the last days to bring forward some very deliberate policy positions and actions that will set the American government and its institutions well on the way to being able to respond in a proactive way to catastrophic scenarios that are still being played out in countries, for example Darfur, Syria, which we know so well, and the Congo, from where I have just returned.
I request, honourable senators, that I return to you at the next sitting for the rest of my time.