Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 72

Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Condemnation of Execution of Saddam Hussein

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, are only some Canadian values for export? Saddam Hussein’s execution for crimes against humanity by Iraqi authorities has been met with a mixture of elation and outrage the world over. As a Shia Muslim, I am well aware of the atrocities he committed while he held power. He was a thuggish, even monstrous, dictator who cemented his reign with terror and oppression. Though Canada was not involved in his trial or capture, there can be no doubt that the international community, including Canada, had a tremendous investment in seeing him brought to justice.

His execution raises important issues about the types of values we hope to export to the rest of the world and whether countries like Canada wish to export all of their values or whether we will keep some of our values to ourselves. Are some of our values only to be exercised in Canada?

Like many Muslims, both Sunni and Shia throughout the world, my family and I were beginning the celebration of Eid ul-Adha when Saddam was hanged. Eid ul-Adha commemorates an event many Canadians, both Muslim and non-Muslim, are familiar with, when God called upon his Prophet Ibrahim — peace be upon him — to sacrifice his son as a test of his faith. It is a time when Muslims reflect on the sacrifice. The significance of executing as controversial a figure as Saddam Hussein during a time of sectarian conflict in Iraq, at the start of one of the holiest times on the Islamic calendar, cannot be overlooked.

Death by hanging is a practice that would revolt most Canadians today, even for the most terrible of criminals, if it took place within our own borders. Why, then, do we remain silent when it happens elsewhere? Why do we allow it to pass without comment when the whole world is watching?

This ignores the values we hold dear. It is our own values against which Canadians should be comparing the process, not those of Saddam’s brutal regime. While the process may have succeeded in improving on the one that existed during Saddam’s dictatorship, it has failed utterly to achieve the standards that we would expect in the type of democracy we ourselves enjoy and want Iraq to have.

The Vatican and many countries have strongly condemned the death penalty. It requires courage to stand up like this and I commend them for doing so. It shows that no single man can be so terrible that we have to abandon our principles to defeat him. I am disappointed that our government has remained silent on the hanging of Saddam Hussein.

When Canada refuses to stand for all its values, we risk sending the message that some of our values do not matter. The execution of Saddam Hussein cannot be changed, but it falls to all of us to speak out with one voice and condemn any departure from the values we seek to promote elsewhere, regardless of where they occur. If we fail to do so, we will undermine them everywhere.