This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Skip to Content

Speech in Senate Chamber: Senator Cools expresses sorrow and condolences to the American people after the terrorist attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001.

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I join senators on both sides of this chamber in supporting this initiative, which began with the Prime Minister of Canada and was brought forward to this chamber by our government leader, Senator Carstairs.

I have a few things I wish to say, but I should first like to bring some comfort to our new senator, Senator LaPierre.

Senator LaPierre, I am pretty certain that the Prime Minister and Senator Carstairs are fully aware and understand totally the difference between horrific and terrible individual acts of racism and murder and the events that unfolded in New York City and in Washington, D.C. I can assure the honourable senator, because I was in the United States of America during this time, that those members of the Armed Forces and all of those young men and women who are ready and on alert know the difference between, say, a lynching, if they are Black, and what happened September 11, 2001. There is a difference, and perhaps another day, another time, I will attempt to persuade my honourable friend of the difference.

However, today, this motion is to support our government and our leadership in sending support to the Americans. For myself, I send strength and support to our neighbours, the Americans, at this time of grief and sorrow. I especially uphold in my prayers the afflicted families of all those who were injured and who perished, the families of all the employees, rescue workers and even the passersby. To all of those who are still active in the rescue operations, I send my strength and my great respect and esteem in their difficult, dangerous and, I would admit, tedious work.

Honourable senators, as a quick review of some of the facts as they stand in today's news reports, we are dealing here with a phenomenon — the hijacking of four different airplanes. All of those airplanes were flown and crashed. All passengers and all crew were killed on impact. Two of those planes were crashed deliberately and wilfully into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, one was flown and crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and one crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. It did not hit a target. It is believed that this airplane was headed for the White House, but some male passengers, it is said, challenged the hijackers and tried to overpower them.

Currently, the number of people missing in New York is 5,422. We all know that many thousands of people normally worked in the World Trade Center. We are told that in Washington, D.C., 91 people are missing and 97 are dead. I read just a few moments ago that 218 people are confirmed dead in New York City and that hope is quickly being lost for the rest of the missing there. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York City has said that as every minute passes, hope is fading for those people.

Honourable senators, the attacks in these two cities have left us stunned and shaken. The enormity of the loss of life and destruction of property is greater than anything our minds can countenance. I do not think we have the ability to process what has happened. The massiveness of the attacks — conceived, planned and executed with unflinching, cold-blooded nerve to fulfil the goal of terror, pain, suffering, death and destruction — is truly diabolical, a cruel, cold-blooded plan with a terrible result.

Honourable senators, I was in the United States during these terrible events. I was stranded for several days in San Diego, California, far away from my home. It seemed to me to be an eternity and was a very difficult time indeed. I had been a keynote speaker at a conference organized by the National Centre for Strategic Non-Profit Planning and Community Leadership. Its president, Dr. Jeffrey Johnson, and its conference chairperson, Charlene Meeks, were stellar as they proceeded with the conference meetings. All participants of the conference joined hands in prayer that fateful Tuesday morning September 11, 2001, at 9 a.m. Pacific time. They joined their hands and prayed, as did most Americans from coast to coast.

Over those days, my experience with those Americans made their suffering mine, as conference participants scrambled for information about relatives and friends, and as I struggled to get back to Ottawa.

Honourable senators, the personal visit of United States President George W. Bush to the sites of the attacks was greatly welcomed and very needed by the families of the victims and by the rescue workers. President Bush's very presence there provided them with moral, emotional and spiritual strength. His visit was seen as an affirmation of the ancient concept of the leader as the servant of his followers and the societal dependence on the force of the moral character and the strength of the leader. Americans drew personal comfort from President Bush's very person and from his prayers.

At this moment, there is great uncertainty in the United States of America. I again offer them my affection, my love and my prayers. I ask them to proceed carefully and cautiously.

I should like to read to you a poem that some of the older members of the chamber will recognize. This poem was read by King George VI, our own King, in his Christmas broadcast in 1939, at a time of great uncertainty in Canadian and British history. In May and June of 1939, King George and Queen Elizabeth, the current Queen Mother, had visited Canada. That visit was apparently conceived by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and Winston Churchill as a way to bring the King to North America to meet with the then President of the United States of America Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The declaration of war had been made around September, and in his Christmas Day broadcast, King George VI immortalized these words written by M. Louise Haskins. The poem is entitled God Knows and was published in 1908 in a book entitled The Gate of the Year. I offer this poem to all Americans — to President Bush, all the families and all the rescue workers. It reads in part:

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

"Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown."

And he replied:

"Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way."
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East....

Honourable senators, this event is of such enormity that it is beyond our comprehension. The best thing I can say to President Bush, Mayor Giuliani and all those involved is "God bless America."

The remainder of this day's Senate Debates available here.