PARLIAMENT of CANADA

Section Home
Print format
 
Publications - October 7, 1998 (Previous - Next)
 



EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 134

CONTENTS

Wednesday, October 7, 1998

. 1400

VSTATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
VGEMINI AWARDS
VMs. Sarmite Bulte
VABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
VMr. Keith Martin
VMERRICKVILLE, ONTARIO
VMr. Joe Jordan
VINTERNATIONAL RURAL WOMEN'S DAY
VMr. Guy St-Julien
VBERNADETTE MCCANN
VMr. Hec Clouthier
VAGRICULTURE
VMr. Garry Breitkreuz

. 1405

VELECTRONIC COMMERCE
VMr. Eugène Bellemare
VDISCRIMINATION
VMr. Paul Mercier
VSACRED WALK FOR HEALING
VMr. Robert D. Nault
VKOSOVO
VMr. Bob Mills
VSACRED WALK FOR HEALING
VMr. Peter Adams

. 1410

VMERCHANT NAVY VETERANS
VMr. Gordon Earle
VPOVERTY
VMrs. Christiane Gagnon
VMERCHANT NAVY VETERANS
VMrs. Elsie Wayne
VINTERNATIONAL EASTERN TOWNSHIPS DUCK FESTIVAL
VMr. Denis Paradis

. 1415

VORAL QUESTION PERIOD
VAPEC SUMMIT
VMiss Deborah Grey
VHon. Andy Scott
VMiss Deborah Grey
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMiss Deborah Grey
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Chuck Strahl
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Chuck Strahl
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien

. 1420

VMr. Gilles Duceppe
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Gilles Duceppe
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Michel Gauthier
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Michel Gauthier

. 1425

VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMs. Alexa McDonough
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMs. Alexa McDonough
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Peter MacKay
VHon. Andy Scott

. 1430

VMr. Peter MacKay
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. John Reynolds
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. John Reynolds
VHon. Andy Scott
VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay

. 1435

VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Monte Solberg
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Monte Solberg
VHon. Andy Scott
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Grant McNally

. 1440

VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Grant McNally
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Gilles Duceppe
VHon. Andy Scott
VCANADIAN ECONOMY
VMrs. Sue Barnes
VHon. Paul Martin
VAPEC SUMMIT
VMr. Randy White
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien

. 1445

VMr. Randy White
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Svend J. Robinson
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Svend J. Robinson
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Jean Dubé
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Jean Dubé

. 1450

VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VIRAN
VMs. Colleen Beaumier
VHon. Lloyd Axworthy
VAPEC SUMMIT
VMr. David Chatters
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Michel Gauthier
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
VMr. Yvon Godin

. 1455

VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VTHE ENVIRONMENT
VMr. John Herron
VHon. Ralph E. Goodale
VNAV CANADA
VMr. Mark Assad
VHon. David M. Collenette
VAPEC SUMMIT
VMr. Dale Johnston
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Gilles Duceppe
VHon. Andy Scott
VARMS EXPORTS
VMr. Daniel Turp

. 1500

VHon. Lloyd Axworthy
VAPEC SUMMIT
VMr. Peter Mancini
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VPRESENCE IN GALLERY
VThe Speaker

. 1505

VPRIVILEGE
VOral Question Period
VMr. Stan Keyes
VThe Speaker
VPOINTS OF ORDER
VComments during Question Period
VMr. Peter MacKay
VThe Speaker

. 1510

VBUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
VKosovo
VHon. Don Boudria
VMotion
VBill C-51
VMr. John Reynolds
VMotion
VROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
VCOMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
VPublic accounts
VMr. Walt Lastewka
VGOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS
VMr. Peter Adams

. 1515

VINTERPARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION
VHon. Charles Caccia
VBANKRUPTCY AND INSOLVENCY ACT
VBill C-439. Introduction and first reading
VMs. Libby Davies
VCRIMINAL CODE
VBill C-440. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Dan McTeague
VIRAN
VMr. Svend J. Robinson

. 1520

VMotion
VMr. Keith Martin
VPETITIONS
VMarriage
VMr. Randy White
VProperty Rights
VMr. Ovid L. Jackson
VCandu Reactors
VMr. Ovid L. Jackson
VHepatitis C
VMr. Jim Hart
VDivorce Act
VMr. Mac Harb
VJustice
VMr. Ted White

. 1525

VMMT
VMrs. Rose-Marie Ur
VCanadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study
VMrs. Rose-Marie Ur
VNuclear Weapons
VMs. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
VMarriage
VMr. Tom Wappel
VWolf Hunt
VMr. Norman Doyle
VJustice
VMr. Walt Lastewka
VNuclear Weapons
VMr. Keith Martin
VYoung Offenders Act
VMr. Keith Martin

. 1530

VMr. Keith Martin
VThe Family
VMr. Steve Mahoney
VQUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
VMr. Peter Adams
VHon. Arthur C. Eggleton
VQUESTION PASSED AS ORDER FOR RETURN
VMr. Peter Adams
VMOTIONS FOR PAPERS
VMr. Peter Adams
VGOVERNMENT ORDERS
VCRIMINAL CODE
VBill C-51. Second reading
VMr. Keith Martin

. 1535

. 1540

. 1545

. 1550

VMr. Howard Hilstrom

. 1555

. 1600

. 1605

. 1610

. 1615

. 1620

. 1625

. 1630

VMr. Bill Blaikie

. 1635

. 1640

. 1645

VMr. Steve Mahoney

. 1650

. 1655

. 1700

. 1705

VMr. Gurmant Grewal

. 1710

. 1715

. 1720

VMr. René Canuel

. 1725

VMr. Steve Mahoney
VPRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

. 1730

VSCHOLARSHIPS NAMED AFTER OLYMPIC ATHLETES
VMotion No. M-374
VMr. John Solomon

. 1735

. 1740

VMr. Steve Mahoney

. 1745

. 1750

. 1755

VMrs. Diane Ablonczy

. 1800

. 1805

VMr. Paul Crête

. 1810

. 1815

VMr. Mark Muise

. 1820

VMr. Andrew Telegdi

. 1825

VMr. John Solomon

. 1830

VGOVERNMENT ORDERS
VKOSOVO
VHon. Lloyd Axworthy
VMotion

. 1835

. 1840

. 1845

. 1850

VMr. Bob Mills

. 1855

VMr. Daniel Turp

. 1900

VMr. Bob Mills

. 1905

. 1910

. 1915

VMr. Daniel Turp
VHon. Lloyd Axworthy

. 1920

VMr. Ted McWhinney
VMr. Chuck Strahl

. 1925

. 1930

VMr. Daniel Turp
VMr. Daniel Turp

. 1935

. 1940

. 1945

. 1950

VMr. Ted McWhinney

. 1955

VMr. Chuck Strahl

. 2000

VMr. Svend J. Robinson

. 2005

. 2010

VMr. Ted McWhinney

. 2015

VMr. Gordon Earle

. 2020

. 2025

VMr. David Price

. 2030

. 2035

VHon. Arthur C. Eggleton

. 2040

. 2045

VMr. David Price

. 2050

VMr. Gary Lunn

. 2055

. 2100

VHon. Charles Caccia

. 2105

VMr. René Laurin

. 2110

. 2115

VMr. Robert Bertrand

. 2120

. 2125

VMr. Keith Martin

. 2130

. 2135

VMr. Bill Graham

. 2140

VMr. Bill Graham

. 2145

. 2150

. 2155

VMr. Keith Martin
VMr. Julian Reed

. 2200

. 2205

VHon. Charles Caccia

. 2210

VMr. Bill Graham
VMs. Aileen Carroll

. 2215

. 2220

VMr. Bill Graham
VMr. Derek Lee

. 2225

. 2230

VMr. Art Hanger

. 2235

VMs. Aileen Carroll

. 2240

VMr. Art Hanger

. 2245

. 2250

VMr. Bill Graham

. 2255

VMr. Gurmant Grewal

. 2300

. 2305

VMs. Jean Augustine

. 2310

. 2315

VMr. Gurmant Grewal
VMr. Clifford Lincoln

. 2320

. 2325

VMr. Gurmant Grewal

. 2330

(Official Version)

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 134


HOUSE OF COMMONS

Wednesday, October 7, 1998

The House met at 2 p.m.



Prayers


 

. 1400 +

[English]

The Speaker: As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Saint John.

[Editor's Note: Members sang the national anthem]



STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[English]

GEMINI AWARDS

Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale—High Park, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this past weekend the 30th annual Gemini awards were held in Toronto. These awards honour all aspects of English language television production in Canada. On behalf of this House I would like to congratulate all nominees and award winners.

I would especially like to recognize the CBC for its outstanding achievement and commitment to excellence in Canadian television. Of the 67 Gemini trophies awarded, a total of 41 went to CBC shows and an unprecedented 11 went to TVOntario. This year the majority of prizes for the best and most innovative Canadian television programs were awarded to publicly funded broadcasters.

The Gemini awards are a wonderful tribute to the talent that exists both behind and in front of the cameras.

Once again, my congratulations to all nominees and award winners for their dedication to providing Canadians with excellent Canadian television.

*  *  *

ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, allegations of abuse against aboriginal people by their own councils abound. Native people have been trying for years to get answers as to where money they have earned or been given has ended up.

Their councils have dismissed them and the department just sticks its head in the sand, unwilling to help them in blatant violation of its duty to these people. While this is occurring, aboriginal people are living in third world conditions where violence, sexual abuse, substance abuse and diseases ranging from tuberculosis to diabetes tear away at the very fabric of their society.

People of the Pacheedaht and Kwicksutaineuk bands and others are pleading for answers. The minister of aboriginal affairs must get her head out of the sand. She must do forensic audits on some of these reserves so these people can get the answers they deserve. She must stop the thuggery that is taking place on some of the reserves. She must do her job to help these people to help themselves.

*  *  *

MERRICKVILLE, ONTARIO

Mr. Joe Jordan (Leeds—Grenville, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in the aftermath of the ice storm that hit eastern Ontario only eight short months ago, it is an honour to stand here today and congratulate the village of Merrickville which has been recognized as the prettiest village in all of Canada. The village of Merrickville won this award through the Communities In Bloom program which was launched in 1995.

This program is committed to fostering civic pride, environmental responsibility and beautification through community participation and the challenge of national competition. I know how hard the people in this community had to work to get their village in shape for this competition. Their community spirit and determination has certainly paid off.

I commend the organizing committee which consisted of Gary Clarke, Rhoda Drake, Joan Spencer and Doug Struthers, as well as the countless volunteers who supported this initiative.

Here's to Merrickville, the best bloomin' village in all of Canada.

*  *  *

[Translation]

INTERNATIONAL RURAL WOMEN'S DAY

Mr. Guy St-Julien (Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on October 15, women the world over will celebrate International Rural Women's Day.

In Canada, women living in rural communities make a large contribution to the diversity and the excellence of the Canadian agricultural sector. They have shown us how vital their role is by playing a direct role in farm operations and management.

In Canada, over 25% of farms are run by women and 30% are run by married couples. Rural women play an important role in keeping communities going and sustaining rural life, through the long hours they devote to volunteer and community activities.

On behalf of my colleague, the Secretary of State for Agriculture and Agri-Food and Fisheries and Oceans, the member for Bellechasse—Etchemins—Montmagny—L'Islet, who is responsible for this file, I encourage all rural women to continue to be active in agriculture, and I thank them for the tremendous contribution they are making to the cultural, social and economic life of our country.

*  *  *

[English]

BERNADETTE MCCANN

Mr. Hec Clouthier (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.

The name Bernadette McCann has been a shining symbol of hope for abused women and children in Renfrew county who have sought the comfort and solace of the institution which bears her name.

Bernadette McCann raised 11 children in Pembroke, Ontario, including the colourful former mayor Terry McCann. Bernadette was a humble and unassuming woman who went to church every day. When she died, over 30 priests attended her funeral. She was a tireless worker with a strong commitment to her family, to her friends, to her God, to her church and to her community. She left behind a legacy of caring and compassion that remains to sustain us in this altered world of ours.

It is with great pride that I say thank you to a great Canadian and great woman, Bernadette McCann.

*  *  *

AGRICULTURE

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prairie Pools reported: “In 1997 total net farm income in the prairies has dropped by 35% in Alberta, 40% in Manitoba, and 84% in Saskatchewan. Farm cash receipts for the first six months of 1998 are significantly lower than last year”.

The minister of agriculture says that current government programs are sufficient to address this looming economic crisis on the prairies. The minister is burying his head in a stubble field. Using off-farm income figures to hide from this western crisis will not protect the minister for long.

 

. 1405 + -

He knows the average NISA account will not adequately cover the needs of most western producers. Some farmers had to withdraw cash from their NISA accounts this year just to buy seed to plant their crops. Next year will be worse.

Is the minister going to let prairie farmers blow in the cruel winds caused in large part by almost three decades of mismanagement by Liberal governments? Do something now.

*  *  *

ELECTRONIC COMMERCE

Mr. Eugène Bellemare (Carleton—Gloucester, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canada and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development are hosting this week in Ottawa a ministerial level conference on electronic commerce entitled “A Borderless World: Realizing the Potential of Global Electronic Commerce”.

Electronic commerce makes goods and services from around the world or around the corner available, literally at the click of a mouse. It allows people to connect with each other. It facilitates the improvement and delivery of government services, reaching citizens where they live.

[Translation]

This leads to the growth of new industries, while meeting market requirements in a more timely and effective way.

Once again, Canada, like many countries, knows that it must play a leadership role in E-commerce.

*  *  *

DISCRIMINATION

Mr. Paul Mercier (Terrebonne—Blainville, BQ): Mr. Speaker, here we thought the fight for equality had been won. We thought discrimination in all its forms was a thing of the past. Men and women were equal before the law. Long before that, race equality was established in our country. And before that, the poll tax was eliminated.

Indeed, rich and poor, white and black, men and women, we thought we were at last all equal, not only before the law, but in the eyes of our employers. That is, until another head of the hydra of inequality appeared, in the form of the so-called orphan clauses in collective agreements under which, in situations where skills, seniority and education are equal, children will earn less than their father.

So we will fight this latest battle too, to ensure that discrimination on the basis of sex, race and income is not followed by the latest incarnation of the monster, discrimination on the basis of age.

*  *  *

[English]

SACRED WALK FOR HEALING

Mr. Robert D. Nault (Kenora—Rainy River, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today and recognize the efforts of Bishop Beardy from Muskrat Dam in my constituency. He is the first aboriginal bishop in the Anglican church. He is the spiritual leader of over 50 parishes scattered over 800,000 square kilometres in northern Ontario and Manitoba.

In August, Bishop Beardy and community members began the second Sacred Walk for Healing. They began in Lac Seul and have today reached their destination of Ottawa.

The purpose of the sacred walk is to raise awareness of past abuse in First Nations communities, to foster reconciliation between aboriginal peoples, non-aboriginal people and the church, and to raise money for community based healing initiatives.

As Bishop Beardy himself has said “You can't witness so much pain and do nothing. This is something we all can do, everyone together”.

I hope members of this House will join me in recognizing and applauding the contribution Bishop Beardy is making toward a more positive future for all Canadians.

*  *  *

KOSOVO

Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, recently the foreign affairs minister said that we cannot allow the humanitarian desecration in Kosovo to continue.

I want this House to go beyond a sense of concern. Obviously, Canadians are outraged over the horrors being endured by civilians in Kosovo.

As winter approaches, almost 275,000 ethnic Albanians are homeless while Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic continues to disregard the idle threats of NATO and the United Nations. This hurts the people of Kosovo and the people of Serbia.

The slaughter in Kosovo is finally forcing the western world to take bold action against Milosevic.

We have been discussing the murder of civilians for almost a year, and we must now stop the killing. Instead of remaining on the fence, it is time for Canada to act with its NATO allies to stop the slaughter.

It is time for NATO to use strategic strikes if necessary to break the chain of violence that is going on in this troubled land.

*  *  *

SACRED WALK FOR HEALING

Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, let us pay tribute again to Gordon Beardy, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese in Keewatin, and his companions.

Bishop Beardy is in the House today completing his Sacred Walk for Healing '98.

Two years ago Bishop Beardy led his first walk to show solidarity with survivors of abuse of aboriginal children in residential schools in the 1950s and 1960s.

 

. 1410 + -

Last year the walk involved him and people from 25 communities in a trek of 3,000 kilometres.

Bishop Beardy began these walks to raise awareness, promote healing and raise funds for victims of abuse.

This year Bishop Beardy has again carried his message from the Lac Seul First Nation near Sioux Lookout through northwestern and northeastern Ontario to the nation's capital. Along the way Bishop Beardy stayed overnight in Peterborough riding and visited the Curve Lake First Nation. He attended a reception in his honour hosted by All Saints Anglican Church.

It is said we cannot judge a man until we walk a mile in his shoes. The actions of Bishop Beardy and his companions speak for themselves.

*  *  *

MERCHANT NAVY VETERANS

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Thérèse Casgrain, former president of Voice of Women, once said “the only defence is peace”.

I am appalled at this government's callous attitude toward the Canadian merchant mariners who risked and often gave their lives during the second world war. It is time for this government to make peace with these veterans instead of waging a war of defensiveness and time.

In February the minister responded to an urgent letter of mine by writing “Canada is a world leader in the area of veterans benefits and that is a source of pride to our country”.

I am ashamed that this government finds a source of pride in denying justice to our merchant marine veterans. This government could and should finance a just benefit settlement instead of playing its heartless waiting game hoping that this issue will fade as our merchant mariners decline in numbers each year.

*  *  *

[Translation]

POVERTY

Mrs. Christiane Gagnon (Québec, BQ): Mr. Speaker, this coming October 17 has been set aside as the International Day for the Elimination of Poverty.

On September 24, 1997, the Prime Minister said, and I quote “Poverty is the factor that interferes most with a good start in life”. He went on “We will invest in children, our most important resource”.

In keeping with their tradition, the Liberals did exactly the opposite. They took billions of dollars from the pockets of low income families, by refusing to index the child tax benefit, income tax tables and GST credits.

In addition, they pushed the parents onto the welfare rolls because they were not entitled to employment insurance benefits. Since 1989, the number of children living in families receiving welfare has increased by 68%.

On behalf of the children arriving every morning at school without breakfast, on behalf of their parents, these men and women in despair because of the Prime Minister's political choices, I ask him to put people at the centre of his priorities.

*  *  *

[English]

MERCHANT NAVY VETERANS

Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC): Mr. Speaker, the merchant navy vets are on the ninth day of their hunger strike to get compensation and equality with other vets for their role in World War II. The vets on the hunger strike have already lost approximately 12 pounds and there is still no response from this government.

In April the minister promised to introduce legislation by June 1998 to make merchant navy vets equal with other vets in the regular armed forces. He has broken that promise. That is why these brave individuals who put their lives on the line for peace and freedom that we enjoy today began this hunger strike.

Merchant navy vets were denied many of the benefits afforded World War II vets. All they seek is fair compensation and equal treatment. They gave the Minister of Veterans Affairs the benefit of the doubt. They approached him in good faith and unfortunately he has not extended them the same courtesy.

It is our hope and the hope of all Canadians and other vets that the government will do the right thing and offer the vets—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi.

*  *  *

[Translation]

INTERNATIONAL EASTERN TOWNSHIPS DUCK FESTIVAL

Mr. Denis Paradis (Brome—Missisquoi, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, from October 2 to 31, 1998, the municipalities of Bromont and Lac-Brome are hosting the third International Eastern Townships Duck Festival.

This is a high quality gastronomical event that is already well-known abroad. The international duck festival received the award of excellence in the tourist event category at the recent Quebec tourism awards.

 

. 1415 + -

The Government of Canada contributed $128,000 to support the promotion and marketing of the festival on foreign markets, and to promote the development of international tourism in the Eastern Townships.

Given the current rate of exchange for the Canadian dollar, we must take advantage of every opportunity to attract tourists from abroad. This is what the riding of Brome—Missisquoi is doing, with the greatly appreciated support of the Government of Canada.



ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

[English]

APEC SUMMIT

Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general is supposed to be the nation's top cop. He is supposed to enforce the law, not prejudge it or jeopardize investigations that are ongoing like he did last week.

Why is the solicitor general still sitting in cabinet?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is very clear, as I said on Tuesday, that the allegations which have been made are unfounded. I denied them. The person I was speaking with supported my position.

The hon. members are joining in this story when in fact there is no reality in it.

Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is a funny thing that a Liberal lawyer might just agree and corroborate with him.

Last week the solicitor general publicly bragged to his long time Liberal pal on the airplane what a hot rock he had become in Ottawa. Yet he bragged at the same time about the secret Airbus investigation and about who the fall guys might be for APEC.

These petty boasts have betrayed sensitive government business. When will the Prime Minister demand the solicitor general's resignation?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer the hon. member to what was said because she referred to Airbus in the scrum by the member for Palliser, the famous member we have to watch for all the time.

“There was absolutely no reference per se to Airbus. I do not recall the solicitor general ever saying the word Airbus in the course of the remarks that were made”.

Again the hon. member does not have her facts right, as usual.

Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is a funny thing. If a lawyer betrayed his client he would be disbarred. If a doctor revealed sensitive information about a client he would lose his practice. However the solicitor general discusses sensitive government business about Airbus or individuals connected with it or APEC, and what does the Prime Minister do? He defends him, supports him and brags him up.

How could the Prime Minister defend behaviour that would have other Canadians disbarred, banned, fined or fired?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I just said to the hon. member that the member for Palliser said the word Airbus was never used or heard by anybody or discussed.

That is the best proof coming from that member. She knows it. She is bringing it up, repeating it, having no respect for what is known in the House, that there is some respect for the truth.

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, until now it has been a sacred parliamentary rule that solicitors general do not talk about cases that are under their jurisdiction.

Yet this solicitor general felt at ease discussing Frank Moores and Karlheinz Schreiber who are principals in the Airbus affair, if not by name at least by implication. He was comfortable discussing the outcome of the APEC inquiry, and he did all this with a fellow passenger on a public commercial airline. That is a public forum.

Does the Prime Minister not see that the solicitor general has compromised the integrity of his position and that he must ask for his resignation?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no respect for the truth. There was no discussion of Airbus in that discussion.

It is not only the solicitor general or the lawyer; it is even the member for Palliser who said that the word Airbus was never mentioned in relation to any of this.

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, by refusing to ask the solicitor general for his resignation the Prime Minister is setting a dangerous precedent.

It means that there is a new rule for solicitors general. It means that confidential investigations under his care are fair game and open for public discussion and debate, and even prejudgment in public fora.

To restore public confidence in the position of the solicitor general, the highest lawmaker in the land, will the Prime Minister do the right thing and ask for his resignation today?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I repeat that there was no discussion at all, according to the member for Palliser, about Airbus.

 

. 1420 + -

The hon. members have written questions. They are not quick enough to correct them. They have to read them again. I am telling them not to refer to Airbus. According to the member for Palliser there was absolutely no discussion of Airbus during that—

The Speaker: The hon. leader of the Bloc Quebecois.

[Translation]

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in his letter, Mr. Toole not only confirms that the topic of APEC was indeed discussed by the Solicitor General last Thursday on the plane, he also states that he did not interpret the words of the Solicitor General as prejudicial to the RCMP inquiry.

Does the Prime Minister realize that the Solicitor General's alibi is nothing more than a letter from a friend, who interpreted what he heard as a good little Liberal, and that it therefore does not have much substance to it?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows very well that an inquiry has been under way since Monday.

All we are asking, and all the government wants—and the House of Commons as well, I hope—is for the commission to look at the matter, hear witnesses describe what occurred in Vancouver that November afternoon, and report to the government, which will act accordingly.

At this time, however, Parliament should let the commission do its job, instead of speculating about hearsay.

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister would like the investigation to focus on what happened between the protestors and the RCMP. But what we would like to know is what the Prime Minister did, and what his Solicitor General had to say on the plane.

Does the Prime Minister not think that Mr. Toole's letter, his presence in Ottawa yesterday, his statement that he had not been asked to do anything further, all smack of someone following orders, just like the situation between the RCMP and the Prime Minister?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I have said, there is no need for concern, because I want the truth to be known.

I owe no one any apologies for my favourable prejudice toward the RCMP. They did an excellent job at the G-7 summit in Halifax. Prior to APEC, we had visits by the President of the United States and the Premier of China, with no problems whatsoever. For that reason, I had confidence in the RCMP in connection with the important meeting in Vancouver.

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister may have faith in the RCMP, but we in Quebec know what the RCMP is capable of.

On Monday, the Solicitor General suffered a complete memory lapse. Yesterday, he was able to make subtle distinctions about what he did or did not say aboard the plane.

Does the Prime Minister not realize that his Solicitor General's suddenly revived memory has no credibility, makes no sense and leaves a bad smell, and that he should demand his resignation?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, at 10 a.m. yesterday, the Solicitor General rose in the House of Commons and made a statement explaining his position, which was confirmed by the lawyer with whom he had had a conversation.

To me, that is good enough. As for the notes allegedly made, are they accurate or not? When we are having a private conversation, we do not expect the people around us to eavesdrop.

I thought we had rules in this House requiring members to respect each other—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Roberval.

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the only thing missing in the Prime Minister's answer is the fact that a Solicitor General is supposed to have enough common sense not to discuss his business on a plane.

I cannot blame the Prime Minister for wanting to defend his Solicitor General, who is his shield. Does the Prime Minister realize that there is not one single Canadian left who still has faith in the Solicitor General, his shield, and that he should boot him out?

 

. 1425 + -

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Solicitor General has been a highly respected member of this House for as long as he has been sitting in Parliament.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear.

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien: He has been involved in every social issue brought before the House of Commons, including the disabled persons issue. He has traveled extensively to advance the cause of the most vulnerable in our society. That is why I have faith in the person currently holding the position of Solicitor General.

[English]

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Canadians have heard compelling reasons why the solicitor general should go.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: The hon. leader of the New Democratic Party.

Ms. Alexa McDonough: They are trying to understand the Prime Minister's reasons for keeping him on.

If the solicitor general resigns, who will act as cover for the Prime Minister? Is not that the real reason the Prime Minister refuses to fire the solicitor general?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I spend most of my life, every afternoon in the House of Commons, on this side. I have never needed any cover to defend myself.

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not need cover in the House of Commons; apparently he needs cover at the commission.

[Translation]

The Prime Minister said it himself: Pelletier and Carle did not wait for a subpoena. They volunteered to appear before the commission.

Why is the Prime Minister refusing to do the same thing? Does he have something to hide?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I ask everyone to let the commission do its work. After that, everyone will know the truth.

When we hosted summit participants from 18 countries, we had a mechanism in place to ensure their safety and the peaceful conduct of proceedings, which is standard practice the world over. The Government of Canada and the Prime Minister had a duty to ensure that things went well in Canada. On the occasion of other summits and meetings held in Canada, the police did their work very well—

The Speaker: I am sorry to have to interrupt the Right Hon. Prime Minister. The hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough now has the floor.

[English]

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, for weeks the solicitor general has lectured the House about the impropriety of comments on APEC. Yet all it took was a flight home and the solicitor general became Mr. Chatterbox.

He chatted about APEC, Airbus, and private citizens attached to the subject of an ongoing ill-founded investigation. The solicitor general's lack of judgment proves him unfit to be in cabinet.

Will the solicitor general be accountable for his mistakes? Will he act honourably? Will he resign?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in the matter of acting honourably it has been established by the member across the way that Airbus was never even mentioned, but this hon. member resurrects the idea as if it was discussed. I think the request from hon. members hits back in the other direction.

 

. 1430 + -

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister promised Canada a government of integrity, yet he has delivered a solicitor general who talked openly about sensitive government matters in public.

The solicitor general took an oath to respect the rule of law and he violated that oath on an airline chat about APEC and numerous businessmen and politicians connected with Airbus.

Who is reliable? Who is credible? Who is discreet? The solicitor general general strikes out on all three of those. Will the Prime Minister now show some integrity, some leadership and ask for the solicitor general's resignation?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I quoted to the House of Commons a statement by the member for Palliser to the effect that he did not discuss Airbus at all. I cannot have a better witness than the member for Palliser.

The hon. member is the fourth member to use Airbus, when the solicitor general and the member for Palliser have said there was no discussion of Airbus. Who is not following the rules? He just wants to score cheap political points.

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Prime Minister.

As the Prime Minister knows, our entire ministerial system of government is based on confidentiality and accountability. This minister had public discussions on the airplane. Everyone can make mistakes. He talked about the new international centre for correctional studies in Canada. That is before the cabinet of this country.

This minister violated an oath by talking about something that is before this government. Should he not resign over that issue alone?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have debate. At this moment everybody is talking about the next budget. Everybody is raising questions about what we should do.

In the old days, nobody debated anything until the Minister of Finance decided. Today we have participation because we have an open government. When it is not confidential, I hope that members of the cabinet and the caucus discuss with their constituents what the government should do. That is democracy.

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, learning from this government we can say anything we want on an airplane, but just do not admit it.

Let me ask the solicitor general. At 3.30 p.m. on Monday, outside this House, he did not know who the person was, male or female. Would he advise this House what time he got on the phone and talked to Mr. Toole and asked him to write a letter to defend him? What time did he do that on Monday?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday when the question was originally put, it was unfamiliar to me. I could not recall who I was sitting with on the airplane.

Over the last five years I have taken that flight 300 times. Consequently, I inquired to find out who was on the plane. I determined who was sitting beside me. I made a phone call. I found out what the discussion was about. That is the basis of my position and it is the truth.

[Translation]

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Mitis, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

Even Mr. Toole, a member of the Liberal Party, does not wish to go any further than what he has written to cover the minister. Does the Prime Minister not realize that the Solicitor General's defence is pretty slim and that he should do the honourable thing and resign immediately?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have discussed this problem. What we want is for the commission to be able to do its work as soon as possible, so that all Canadians will know exactly what went on in Vancouver last November. That would serve everyone's interests.

The Solicitor General rose in the House, stated his position, confirmed by a letter from this lawyer, and I accepted that. I am confident that the Solicitor General is perfectly able to perform his duties, given his outstanding track record as a public servant in New Brunswick and his work as an MP here in the House of Commons.

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Mitis, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Prime Minister not to change the subject.

 

. 1435 + -

We are not talking about the commission, but about his minister. Mr. Toole's letter is clear. During the flight, the solicitor general discussed the APEC investigation, and he should not have done so in his capacity as solicitor general.

What is the Prime Minister waiting for to do the only honourable thing, which is to ask for the resignation of his minister and, more importantly, to accept it?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I answered that question yesterday and again today. The solicitor general has the confidence of the government.

I provided a clear reply and I am very proud to have a person of his calibre and experience serving in my cabinet.

[English]

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, let us summarize here. We have the solicitor general prejudging the outcome of the APEC inquiry. He is publicly commenting on Frank Moores and Karlheinz Schreiber. Finally, he is breaching cabinet security.

As a Yankee's fan he must know that three strikes mean you are out. When is the minister going to resign?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, all three of those allegations are false.

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, let me put this in words that the minister will understand. There are two exits in the front, two exits over the way and two in the back. When is he going to pick one and resign?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this entire exercise is on the basis of notes that were taken by a person who was two seats away from me on a plane, when in fact the person to whom I was speaking has substantiated my recollections of this discussion.

I think it is unworthy of this place. I have too much respect for parliament not to suggest that this is unconscionable in this country and in this place.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

Regardless of the actual content of the discussions between the solicitor general and Mr. Toole on the plane last Thursday, the fact remains that the solicitor general should never talk about his files in a public place.

Does the Prime Minister not agree that the carelessness of the solicitor general makes him unfit to fulfil his duties, and that he must therefore resign?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the answer is no.

Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, BQ): Mr. Speaker, discretion is an essential requirement for a solicitor general. It has now been proven that this minister has loose lips.

Is this not a sufficient motive for the Prime Minister to relieve him of his duties immediately?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general rose in this House. He followed the tradition by making a solemn statement, telling the House what he remembered from the conversation. This has been confirmed by the person to whom he talked, while someone was snooping on them, contrary to the ethics usually followed by the members of this House.

As far as I am concerned, eavesdroppers are not of the same calibre as Tommy Douglas and David Lewis.

[English]

Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, what is unconscionable in this House is that this minister does not have the good sense to resign. His indiscreet comments have convicted Staff Sergeant Hugh Stewart without a trial. Headlines across the country indicate that he is the fall guy. I thought people were innocent in this country until proven guilty.

I am going to ask the solicitor general again: Is he going to have the good sense here today to resign?

 

. 1440 + -

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I have said many, many times, I have incredible respect for this process. I speak of the process very often publicly, in support of the process and in support of getting to the truth. I have done that on many occasions and I have done it on many occasions in the House. I believe that we have an obligation to let that process get to the truth.

Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general is attempting to fasten his seat belt and ride through the credibility storm. It is unbelievable. He has obviously prejudiced the outcome of this procedure.

Because the solicitor general will not resign I will ask the Prime Minister, is he going to ask for his resignation today? Yes or no?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, six times I have said no. Maybe they are not listening.

We have an inquiry that is looking into the matter at this moment.

What is is amazing is that hon. members only have this to talk about. It is a great compliment to the government when I see, for example, the opposition finance critics getting up but not talking about the finances of the nation.

There is only one little problem. We want the inquiry to give us the truth as much as they do and as soon as possible. They do not want to have the truth because they have nothing else to talk about.

[Translation]

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, since the Prime Minister wants to speak of truth, Mr. Toole did not say in his letter that the Solicitor General had not spoken of APEC but that he had not interpreted the Solicitor General's words about APEC as prejudicial. In other words, the Solicitor General did speak of it.

I am asking the Solicitor General if he will tell us today whether or not he spoke of it, because his—

The Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the hon. leader of the Bloc Quebecois. The Solicitor General now has the floor.

[English]

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I spoke of my respect for the process to get to the truth.

*  *  *

[Translation]

CANADIAN ECONOMY

Mrs. Sue Barnes (London West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

In recent months, the world economic situation has become more and more precarious.

[English]

We have seen the government's efforts at the recent meetings of the Commonwealth, as well as the G-7 and the IMF.

Can the Minister of Finance tell us when he will present Canadians with a complete picture of Canada's economy, where it stands and how we will meet the challenges which face us now?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member is indeed correct, the world is in the grip of serious economic instability, although one would not know it from the questions of the opposition.

Within this context we must recognize that the choice we will make today will govern this country for generations to come.

I am therefore pleased to inform the House that I will appear before the Standing Committee on Finance on October 14 at 2 o'clock here in Ottawa.

[Translation]

I am going to present the country's economic statement on October 14 at 2 p.m. here in Ottawa.

*  *  *

[English]

APEC SUMMIT

Mr. Randy White (Langley—Abbotsford, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general talked publicly about fall guys in the APEC inquiry, presuming guilt before the inquiry even takes place.

When the solicitor general is questioned about this the Prime Minister covers for him. When the Prime Minister is asked about it the solicitor general stands up.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister, since the solicitor general really is Canada's worst security breach, why does the Prime Minister not stop covering for him and start firing him?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have replied to the same question many, many times. The answer is that the solicitor general is a man with a great reputation, who has been a member of the House for five years. He has been an extremely diligent member. He has said that he has never debated anything in relation to things that were not part of the public discussion at any time with anybody, and I believe him. That was confirmed by the lawyer with whom he was talking, but not confirmed by someone who was snooping on him. Usually a snooper does not get his facts right.

 

. 1445 + -

Mr. Randy White (Langley—Abbotsford, Ref.): That was then, this is now, Mr. Speaker. The solicitor general mentioned Frank Moores and Karlheinz Schreiber in his conversation with Mr. Toole.

If he was not talking about Airbus, exactly what was he talking about?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as has been stated even by the member for Palliser, Airbus did not come up. The rest of the conversation was private and the hon. member has no right to bring a private conversation to the floor of this House.

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is fascinating to see the reliance on the member for Palliser. The solicitor general has now admitted that the hon. member for Palliser had it right about Airbus, right about the sweat lodge, right about the Yankees and right about his great future as an ambassador.

The solicitor general cannot have it both ways. Will he now admit the member also got it right about APEC? Will he fess up? Will he tell the truth? Will he resign?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member for Palliser basically took a few words out of the air and fabricated a story. This parliament is not going to operate on that level—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: On both sides we are getting very close in our language. I ask you all to be very judicious both in the questions and in the answers.

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my supplementary is for the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister knows the Malaysian government has brutally beaten former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar, has arrested peaceful demonstrators and gay men and has jailed opposition MPs.

Since the Prime Minister has said that human rights is on the APEC agenda, does he agree with the Liberal member for Quadra that Malaysia is an inappropriate venue for the upcoming APEC summit? Will he boycott the Malaysia APEC summit?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the government the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Foreign Affairs last week protested against the Government of Malaysia very openly.

At this moment there is no member of the APEC nations planning to boycott that type of meeting. Should we boycott the UN because they are at the UN? Should we boycott every international organization because they happen to be members of those organizations?

I would like to repeat to the hon. member that as far as Indonesia was concerned, President Suharto was—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Madawaska—Restigouche.

[Translation]

Mr. Jean Dubé (Madawaska—Restigouche, PC): Mr. Speaker, whether the Solicitor General's conversation was a private or public one is not the question. What is important is that the minister responsible for the RCMP has revealed details concerning an investigation that is under way to a citizen who is not a party to that investigation. This is unacceptable.

That conversation, coupled with his behaviour over the past two days, leaves him no choice whatsoever. Will the minister do the honourable thing and resign?

[English]

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member is alleging is absolutely not true.

[Translation]

Mr. Jean Dubé (Madawaska—Restigouche, PC): Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the Solicitor General will not assume responsibility for his actions. If the Prime Minister allows the Solicitor General to retain his cabinet seat, he is sending the message that he accepts his minister discussing, in public, inquiries that are clearly confidential.

Will the Prime Minister protect the confidentiality and integrity of future inquiries? Will the Prime Minister show respect to this House by asking the Solicitor General to resign?

 

. 1450 + -

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the minister made absolutely no allusion whatsoever to the Airbus inquiry. There was no reference to it.

Even the hon. member for Palliser has said that this matter was not mentioned at any time. That, for me, is sufficient. If he had discussed it, I would act differently, but he did not. If I am given concrete, real facts with evidence to back them up, then I will act, but I will not act on hearsay and rumours like these.

*  *  *

[English]

IRAN

Ms. Colleen Beaumier (Brampton West—Mississauga, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on July 21, 1998 Iranian authorities executed Ruhullah Rawhani for practising his Baha'i faith. There are presently four more Baha'is on death row.

Would the Minister of Foreign Affairs please explain to Canadians Canada's position regarding Iran's abhorrent policies against the Baha'is?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think all members share the great concern the member has expressed.

I took the opportunity last week at the United Nations to raise the matter directly with the foreign affairs minister of Iran, making the case that these arrests were not justified and that they should be released and furthermore that their freedom should be established in Iran as it should be established around the world.

*  *  *

APEC SUMMIT

Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the 1994 privy council code of conduct, which all members of the front bench opposite claim to respect, states public office holders shall act with honesty and uphold the highest ethical standards so that public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of government are conserved and enhanced.

The Prime Minister and the solicitor general are making a mockery out of these principles and embarrassing this whole House in front of all Canadians. When will the Prime Minister ask the solicitor general to resign?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I understand what that oath is about. I respect it. I uphold those principles in this House. I have upheld those principles around this commission's inquiry. I take this extremely seriously. I know what the truth is and I am very confident in this position.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

How can the Prime Minister consider what the member for Palliser says as the norm, as reliable, when he speaks on the Airbus affair, but as inaccurate and unreliable when he speaks on APEC?

Should we believe him in the Airbus case, because it suits the Prime Minister, but not in the APEC case, because it would mean having to fire the Solicitor General?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in the Airbus affair, both the minister and the lawyer said the same thing. Even the hon. member, in his attempt to embarrass the minister with his fabrication, recognized that he had not talked about Airbus. This is even better.

[English]

The Speaker: My colleagues, once again I ask you to be very judicious in your choice of words today because we are getting a little carried away.

*  *  *

[Translation]

EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Mr. Speaker, as a child I used to watch Robin Hood, and Robin robbed the rich to give to the poor.

But the Robin Hood I grew up with has changed. Today's Robin Hood robs the poor to give to the rich.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: I hope Robin Hood is not here today. I would ask the hon. member to please put his question.

Mr. Yvon Godin: Ours was a fairy tale Robin Hood. He is not here today.

My question to the Prime Minister is this: Will he establish a separate employment insurance fund, so that the rich do not get richer at the expense of the poor?

 

. 1455 + -

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is a debate on this. The hon. member is welcome to participate in this debate and tell us what he thinks we should be doing in this regard.

It is interesting to note that other members are holding public consultations. According to Le Soleil, a poll conducted by the member for Rimouski—Mitis in her riding showed that it is not a major concern and that people would like us to invest in all sorts of programs. I could table the press clipping in the House.

*  *  *

[English]

THE ENVIRONMENT

Mr. John Herron (Fundy—Royal, PC): Mr. Speaker, in a few weeks environment ministers will be meeting in Buenos Aires to follow up on the Kyoto climate change conference. The provincial and federal energy ministers will be meeting in Halifax next week to discuss the Canadian position.

I hope this government has learned from its make it up as you go approach in Kyoto on climate change. It had no meaningful dialogue with Canadians, no meaningful dialogue with the provinces and at the eleventh hour meeting in Regina the agreed to position was abandoned the very next day.

Given the mistrust created by the Regina debacle, would the energy minister commit today that any position agreed to in Buenos Aires will have the full support of the provinces?

Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the first ministers of this country met within 48 hours after Kyoto to put in place an inclusive process involving provinces, industry, environmental organizations and many others.

Energy and environment ministers met in April to launch that process. That process is now underway. Fifteen issue tables are examining all the dimensions of this issue. Four hundred and fifty Canadian experts are involved. This is an open, inclusive, transparent effort and Canada is going to do a job on climate change.

*  *  *

[Translation]

NAV CANADA

Mr. Mark Assad (Gatineau, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Nav Canada recommended to the Department of Transport that the Gatineau flight information centre be transferred to Quebec City.

In the interest of transportation safety, could the Minister of Transport tell the House whether Nav Canada can effect such changes without his department's approval?

[English]

Hon. David M. Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the answer is no. We have analyzed the study by NAV Canada on the proposed transfer of flight information services from Gatineau to Quebec City. We have found it deficient in some safety areas. Today we have informed NAV Canada that it must revisit its aeronautical study and address all our safety concerns and the concerns of users who are not well informed as to the reasons for this decision. Nothing will happen until we are absolutely assured on the safety of this transfer.

*  *  *

APEC SUMMIT

Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general says he did not discuss the Airbus affair on the airplane the other day. Yet he did not deny bringing up the names of Frank Moores and Karlheinz Schreiber.

If he was not talking about Airbus, what was he talking about?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it has been established that we did not talk about Airbus. The conversation on the aircraft was private and nobody should have been eavesdropping.

[Translation]

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in his letter, Mr. Toole confirms that he and the Solicitor General discussed the matter of APEC on the plane.

The Solicitor General said yesterday that he had nothing further to say about the discussion, since it was a private conversation.

I would ask the Solicitor General if he considers it usual to discuss, allegedly privately, but in a public place, a highly confidential matter involving his duties. Does he consider that usual and responsible?

[English]

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I discussed in detail the public complaints commission's work, my faith in it, my respect for it and my desire that it get to the truth in this matter. That is what I discussed.

*  *  *

[Translation]

ARMS EXPORTS

Mr. Daniel Turp (Beauharnois—Salaberry, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Customarily, the Minister of Foreign Affairs tables a report in this House on Canada's arms exports.

When will the minister be tabling this report so we may have an idea whether the government sold weapons to Suharto's Indonesia, in 1996, for example?

 

. 1500 + -

[English]

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member seems already to know what is in the report although it has not been presented yet. That is the way the opposition seems to work these days.

I will be tabling the report very soon. I think the hon. member will find it very interesting.

*  *  *

APEC SUMMIT

Mr. Peter Mancini (Sydney—Victoria, NDP): Mr. Speaker, there is a well known maxim in the law. I know it. The Minister of Justice knows it. The solicitor general knows it. The Prime Minister knows it. Justice must not only be done; it must be seen to be done.

The public complaints commission investigating APEC is now mired in controversy as a result of the revelations and the inaction of the government on this issue. In the name of justice will the Prime Minister not now do what I asked him to do three weeks ago and set up an independent judicial inquiry to get to the bottom of this issue?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the inquiry started on Monday and the testimony started this afternoon.

The students will be witnesses. The RCMP will be witnesses. The people will know exactly what the facts are. They will be in a position to judge whether the RCMP acted according to what was normal under the circumstances.

Three competent people were appointed to that body. They will report to the government, as is their job according to the law which was set in parliament, not by this government but by the previous government.

*  *  *

PRESENCE IN GALLERY

The Speaker: I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery today of a delegation from Kuwait.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear.

The Speaker: Is the hon. member's question of privilege arising from question period?

Mr. Stan Keyes: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

*  *  *

 

. 1505 + -

PRIVILEGE

ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

Mr. Stan Keyes (Hamilton West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question of privilege arises from question period. I beg the indulgence of the Speaker to bring forward my point because quite certainly it is unrehearsed and unprepared. However I am going to try to make my point as succinctly as I can.

It has much to do with my privilege being breached in that there have been many times over the course of the last several weeks, and maybe even months, that during question period there are very important questions being put by the opposition. Just as weighty and just as important are the answers being put forward by members from the government side.

Unfortunately during the point at which one is trying to hear a question or hear the answer, we are cut off by the 30 second clock. Quite frankly, in a day when we are speeding through time—we have the one minute egg and the 30 second breakfast and everything else—I think this place deserves more than to have the Speaker moved by a time limitation. It stops me from hearing the question—

The Speaker: As a question of privilege I would judge that is not a question of privilege. However I think the hon. member has a point. The House of Commons, in its wisdom, has had discussions. The hon. member has another avenue by which he can pursue this matter. I am sure we can give him this advice a bit later.

This was a recommendation that was made by the House leaders as far as time is concerned, and I have taken the recommendation to heart. There are times when because of one reason or another I would give a little more time for a question and a little more time for an answer. By and large, hon. members have been getting their questions in and their answers in under the 35 seconds.

However, the hon. member does have the procedures committee. I am sure it would want to hear what he has to say about that. As a question of privilege I would judge it is not a question of privilege.

*  *  *

POINTS OF ORDER

COMMENTS DURING QUESTION PERIOD

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House on a point of order to protest the Chair's acceptance of the words fabricated and fabrication as used by the solicitor general in response to a question from the New Democratic Party and the use of the word fabrication directed in response to a member from the Bloc Quebecois.

I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to citation 494 at page 151 of Beauchesne's. Both these words are, I would suggest and in my submission, clearly unparliamentary and I would ask that the Chair ask for those words to be withdrawn.

The Speaker: Generally speaking there is no word which in and of itself is unparliamentary. It depends on the usage of the word and it depends on the context in which it is used.

With all respect to my colleagues, we do not use the word liar in the Chamber. We would not permit one member to call another member a liar. However, in the use of the word itself, if a member were to say “it has been said that I am a liar”, I would be hard pressed to stop the member from using the word about himself. I do not say this facetiously.

The words fabricated, hardly believable, unbelievable or incredible are all bordering on words that are unparliamentary. I would hope that words such as fabricated, fabrication and deliberately fabricated would not be used. That is why I caution members and I ask them not to use them in the course of our debates.

 

. 1510 + -

When we come that close I dislike intervening when a member is putting a question or giving an answer. Perhaps I will take the hon. member's admonition, if I can call it that, as a gentle admonition to the Chair. I will seriously consider these types of words when we even get close to an unparliamentary word and I will consider intervening more readily in the future.

I take the admonition in the spirit in which it is given.

*  *  *

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

KOSOVO

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if you were to seek it, I hope you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:  

    That, on October 7, 1998, the House shall not adjourn at 6.30 p.m., but, at that time, a minister of the crown shall propose a motion:

    That this House take note of the dire humanitarian situation confronting the people of Kosovo and the government's intention to take measures in co-operation with the international community to resolve the conflict, promote a political settlement for Kosovo and facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance to refugees.

    That during debate thereon, the first speaker for each party may speak for no more than twenty minutes, with a ten minute period for questions and comments, and no speaker thereafter may speak for more than ten minutes, with a five minute period for question and comments, provided that the Chair may receive no dilatory motions, demands for quorum or requests for unanimous consent to propose motions or waive rules and, when no members rise to speak, the House shall adjourn to the next sitting day.

The Deputy Speaker: Does the Government House Leader have unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Deputy Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

BILL C-51

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, after discussion on all sides I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion:  

    That when Bill C-51, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, is called before the House, the opening speech for the official opposition be allotted twenty minutes, followed by a ten minute period for questions and comments, yet when the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast rises to speak later in the debate, he shall maintain the privileges of the second speech in the debate, as stipulated it by Standing Order 74(1)(a).

The Deputy Speaker: Does the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Deputy Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[English]

COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE

PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

Mr. Walt Lastewka (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 109 I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to the 10th report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Account, chapter 29 of the December 1997 report of the Auditor General of Canada, Industry Canada, management of the small business loans program.

*  *  *

[Translation]

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS

Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

*  *  *

 

. 1515 + -

INTERPARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION

Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House of Commons, in both official languages, the report of the delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association to the April session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, held in Strasbourg from April 20 to 24, 1998, and the report of the delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association to the meetings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, held in Paris and Strasbourg from June 17 to 26, 1998.

*  *  *

[English]

BANKRUPTCY AND INSOLVENCY ACT

 

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-439, an act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (student loan).

She said: I am very pleased to rise in the House today to introduce my private member's bill to change the bankruptcy act affecting students.

The purpose of my bill is to repeal the discriminatory changes that were made to the bankruptcy act that forced students suffering from high student debtload to wait from the previous two years to now ten years before they can access bankruptcy proceedings.

Despite high tuition fees and increasing student debt 93% of students do find a way to pay back their loans. It is only those students who are most desperate and most in debt who seek bankruptcy protection.

This bill would repeal the extended waiting period of ten years back to two years to make it fairer for students. I hope all members of the House will support this bill in recognition of the severe difficulties that students face today.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

*  *  *

CRIMINAL CODE

 

Mr. Dan McTeague (Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge, Lib.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-440, an act to amend the Criminal Code (flight).

He said: The purpose of this bill is to amend the Criminal Code by adding a provision and penalties for anyone using a motor vehicle to evade police and in the process causing injury or death.

Fleeing from police by means that result in a high speed chase causes inordinate risks to the safety of their officers and to the public and merits special criminal sanction.

Current dangerous driving provisions of the Criminal Code are inadequate in dealing appropriately and specifically with such acts.

Under the bill any individual who operates a motor vehicle to evade a peace officer is guilty of an indictable offence under the Criminal Code and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

In addition, anyone who commits such an offence and in the process injures another person will be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years. Anyone causing death will be liable to imprisonment for life.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

*  *  *

IRAN

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, following consultations with members on all sides of the House, I seek the unanimous consent of the House to put the following motion, seconded by the hon. members for Rosedale, Red Deer, Beauharnois—Salaberry, and Richmond—Arthabaska:

 

. 1520 + -

 

    That this House express its profound concern over the recent grave attacks on the Iranian Baha'i community including the brutal execution of Mr. Rahu'llah Rawhani in July, arrests of 36 Baha'i academics, and confirmation of death sentences of two Baha'i men and the detention of 11 other Baha'i men for practising their faith; and calls upon the Government of Iran to end their oppression of the Baha'i community, ensure the safety and early release of all those Baha'i imprisoned in Iran, and respect the principles of the International Covenants on Human Rights to which Iran is a party.

(Motion agreed to)

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, in view of the ongoing carnage, devastation and genocide taking place in the former Yugoslavia, I propose the following motion:

    That in the opinion of this House the government should lobby the United Nations general assembly to indict Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for crimes against humanity and lobby the United Nations to assemble a UN observer force to ensure the immediate withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo, and allow the United Nations high commission for refugees and non-governmental organizations safe and unfettered access to Kosovo refugees.

The Deputy Speaker: Does the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

An hon. member: No.

The Deputy Speaker: There is no consent.

*  *  *

PETITIONS

MARRIAGE

Mr. Randy White (Langley—Abbotsford, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I have petition to table from residents of my riding of Langley—Abbotsford. They ask parliament to enact Bill C-225, an act to amend the Marriage Act, so as to define in statute that a marriage can only be entered into between a single male and single female.

PROPERTY RIGHTS

Mr. Ovid L. Jackson (Bruce—Grey, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I have the honour to present on behalf of the residents of Bruce—Grey two petitions.

In the first petitioners express their support for legislation with regard to Bill C-304 which would guarantee certain property rights to Canadian citizens.

CANDU REACTORS

Mr. Ovid L. Jackson (Bruce—Grey, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the second petition from constituents of Owen Sound, Annan, Meaford, Shallow Lake and Chatworth asks that parliament not finance or subsidize the sale of Candu reactors to China or any other country.

HEPATITIS C

Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan—Coquihalla, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, since 1867 it has been a right of Canadians to petition the Parliament of Canada and the crown for redress of grievances.

I have three such petitions today which are asking the crown to review the hepatitis C compensation package for Canadians infected by tainted blood.

I would like to be able to add these to Joey Haché's petition of 30,000 names which was presented to the Prime Minister yet I found out through the clerk of petitions that the Prime Minister has not enacted his responsibility by presenting that to the House.

Therefore I present these 259 names from Okanagan—Coquihalla and ask where is Joey Haché's petition.

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member better stick to the script for presentation of petitions and present the petition he has rather than worrying about other ones. I know it might be interesting to ask that kind of question, but clearly it is not a proper question at this time.

DIVORCE ACT

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by Canadians from Saskatchewan and Manitoba asking parliament to amend the Divorce Act to include a provision as proposed in Bill C-340 regarding the right of spouses' grandparents to access or to have custody of the child or children.

JUSTICE

Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of Leone and Peter Jackson and 99 other from North Vancouver.

 

. 1525 + -

They draw to the attention of the House that violent crimes committed by youth are of great concern to Canadians, that the incidence of violent crime by youth would decrease if the Young Offenders Act were amended to hold young persons fully accountable for their criminal behaviour, and to increase the periods of incarceration in order to defer young criminals from committing criminal acts.

The petitioners call on parliament to significantly amend the Young Offenders Act including but not limited to making the protection of society the number one priority, reducing the minimum age governed by the act from 12 to 10, allowing for the publishing of violent young offenders' names, increasing the maximum three year sentence for all offences except murder to seven years, and increasing the penalty for first degree murder from a maximum of 10 years to 15.

MMT

Mrs. Rose-Marie Ur (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I am honoured to present a petition signed by residents of Grand Bend, Burlington, London and Etobicoke.

They note that the use of MMT in gasoline has been proven to foul emission control devices and adversely affect engine performance, resulting in higher smog levels.

They call on parliament to set new national clean fuel standards for gasoline with zero MMT and lower sulphur content.

CANADIAN MULTICENTRE OSTEOPOROSIS STUDY

Mrs. Rose-Marie Ur (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by residents mainly in the Lambton area of my riding who request that the government adequately fund the remaining years of the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis study.

NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and honoured to present a petition on behalf of a number of constituents and residents in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The petitioners are concerned about the existence in our world today of over 35,000 nuclear weapons. They call on this government to respond to this concern and draw attention to the fact that nuclear weapons continue to pose a threat to the health and survival of human civilization and the global environment.

The petitioners refer to the statement of former secretary-general of the United Nations Boutros Boutros-Ghali indicating that the most safe, sure and swift way to deal with the threat of nuclear arms is to do away with them in every regard.

The petitioners call on this government and parliament to support the immediate initiation and conclusion by the year 2000 of an international convention which will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.

MARRIAGE

Mr. Tom Wappel (Scarborough Southwest, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have five petitions on the same subject matter from the communities of Surrey, B.C., Kamloops, Ottawa, Lethbridge, Alberta and Nipissing, Ontario.

All five, totalling some 200 signatures, call for parliament to enact Bill C-225 in order to define in statute that a marriage can only be entered into between a single male and a single female.

WOLF HUNT

Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, PC): Mr. Speaker, I present a petition on behalf of 100 people in St. John's East who are concerned about the wolf population left in the world. A wolf hunt has been allowed in the Northwest Territories and snow machines are being used for that purpose.

The petitioners call on parliament to enact measures to put an end to snow machine hunting of wolves in Canada.

JUSTICE

Mr. Walt Lastewka (St. Catharines, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I wish to table petitions from my constituents in the St. Catharines and Niagara area.

The petitioners say they are alarmed and deeply disturbed by the further victimization of the families of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy by reason of the use of the Bernardo video tapes.

The undersigned citizens of Canada petition the Parliament of Canada to amend section 486(1) of the Criminal Code by enacting a specific exemption to the rule by excluding evidence of child and coerced pornography.

NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions from my riding of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca and British Columbia.

In the first the petitioners request that parliament support the immediate initiation and conclusion by the year 2000 of an international convention which will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.

YOUNG OFFENDERS ACT

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the second petition from my riding and from British Columbians requests that drastic changes be made to the Young Offenders Act. They believe that youth violence is an increasing problem in our society and that crimes such as murder should be taken to adult court.

 

. 1530 + -

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): My last petition, Mr. Speaker, again signed by hundreds of citizens of British Columbia, asks that parliament enact legislation to repeal the Young Offenders Act and replace it with an act that will provide adequate penalties to protect society and at the same time work with the provinces to implement prevention programs that address the root causes of crime such as the head start program.

THE FAMILY

Mr. Steve Mahoney (Mississauga West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition with the signatures of 51 Canadians, most of whom are from my riding and all of whom are members of the Mississauga Gospel Temple. They petition parliament to support a motion that would ensure the fundamental rights of individuals to pursue family life free from undue state interference. They also support the fundamental right, responsibility and liberty of parents to direct the upbringing of their children.

*  *  *

QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER

Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Question No. 111 will be answered today. .[Text]

Question No. 111—Mr. Chris Axworthy:

    Is the Department of National Defence planning to change the communications systems on the Aurora aircrafts and, if so, what is the cost?

Hon. Arthur C. Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Consideration of changes to the Aurora communications systems has not proceeded beyond the planning stage. Changes could include the replacement of the Communications Management System, CMS; modernization of the data link capability; replacement of the HF, UHF, and VHF radios; acquisition of a satellite communication capability, and the acquisition of two additional UHF radios. Although planning is underway all changes to the Aurora communications systems are subject to approval by appropriate authorities. Cost data are proprietary figures obtained in confidence from a number of individual industries. It is not a certainty that all changes will proceed or that they will be implemented at the currently estimated costs.

*  *  *

[English]

QUESTION PASSED AS ORDER FOR RETURN

Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if Question No. 91 could be made an Order for Return, the return would be tabled immediately.

The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed. .[Text]

Question No. 91—Mr. John Cummins:

    With reference to the antimalarial drug mefloquine administered to Canadian Forces bound for Somalia in 1992-93 and the legal framework under which it was available for use and administered: (a) was mefloquine a licensed drug when it was administered to Canadian Forces, if not what was its status, and how was it legally available; (b) were the Canadian Forces participating in the Lariam (mefloquine) Safety Monitoring Study during this period; (c) was the mefloquine administered in accordance with the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study and the Food and Drug Act; (d) who was the “principal investigator” responsible for the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study in the Canadian Forces; (e) who was the Canadian Forces physician responsible to the “principal investigator” of the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study; (f) what was the role of Canadian Forces physician, Dr. Martin Tepper, in the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study; (g) who was responsible for the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study at the Department of Health's Health Protection Branch during this period; (h) what was the role and responsibility of the Health Protection Branch under the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study and the Food and Drug Act and its regulations in regard to the use of mefloquine by Canadian Forces personnel; (i) when did the Health Protection Branch become aware that mefloquine was being administered to Canadian Forces personnel bound for Somalia; (j) what responsibility did the Canadian Forces have under the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study and the Food and Drug Act prior to the licensing of mefloquine to inform the manufacturer of its use; (k) what responsibility did the Canadian Forces have under the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study and the Food and Drug Act to the soldiers who were administered the drug; (l) did the Canadian Forces fulfil their responsibility to the manufacturer under the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study and the Food and Drug Act prior to the licensing of mefloquine and if so how did they do so; (m) what responsibility prior to the licensing of mefloquine did the Canadian Forces have under the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study and the Food and Drug Act to the Health Protection Branch; (n) did the Canadian Forces fulfil their pre-licensing responsibilities to the Health Protection Branch under the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study and the Food and Drug Act and if so how did they comply; (o) what action did the Health Protection Branch take in regard to the manufacturer on becoming aware that mefloquine had been administered to Canadian Forces in association with subsequent unexpected bizarre homicidal/suicidal behaviour; (p) what action did the Health Protection take in regard to the Canadian Forces and Dr. Martin Tepper on becoming aware that mefloquine had been administered to Canadian Forces in association with subsequent unexpected bizarre homicidal/suicidal behaviour; (q) what disciplinary action is provided for under the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study and the Food and Drug Act for failure of the manufacturer to comply; (r) what disciplinary action was taken against the manufacturer for failure to comply with the requirements of the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study and the Food and Drug Act; (s) what disciplinary action was provided for under the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study and the Food and Drug Act for Dr. Martin Tepper or others in the Canadian Forces who failed to comply; (t) what disciplinary action was taken by the Health Protection Branch against Dr. Martin Tepper or others in the Canadian Forces for failure to comply with the requirements of the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study and the Food and Drug Act during the pre-licensing period; (u) what action was taken by the Health Protection Branch to remedy the failure to comply with the reporting requirements of the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study and the Food and Drug Act; (v) did the Health Protection Branch investigate to determine the nature of the adverse reactions that occurred among Canadian Forces personnel; (w) what action did the Health Protection Branch take to ensure that the reporting deficiencies in the Lariam Safety Monitoring Study were accounted for in the Study's final analysis of the drug; and (x) as a result of the Canadian Forces experience in Somalia with mefloquine, what measures to date has the Health Protection Branch taken to assess the accuracy of the information regarding the nature and frequency of behavioral and neuropsychiatric effects of mefloquine provided to Canadian physicians, in accordance with the Food and Drug Act?

Return tabled.

[English]

Mr. Peter Adams: I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

*  *  *

MOTIONS FOR PAPERS

Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I ask that all Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

The Deputy Speaker: Is it agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[English]

CRIMINAL CODE

 

The House resumed from September 28 consideration of the motion that Bill C-51, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

The Deputy Speaker: In accordance with the order made earlier this day, we will resume the debate.

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, again it is a privilege to speak to Bill C-51, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. It is an omnibus bill.

Let me say this at the outset. When we look at the legislative agenda and when we look at this bill we realize the great potential that this bill has to deal with issues such as gambling, homicide, child prostitution, conditional sentences and organized crime. Does this bill actually take this issue with both hands and try to implement constructive solutions to deal with these important issues? No, it does not. That reflects the ongoing problem that we have in this House. The problems that are occurring in our country are at best being nibbled at around the edges and at worst are being ignored.

We simply are not getting our hands into the meat of the issue and presenting constructive solutions that are out there in this country and around the world which we could implement.

Bill C-51 deals with gambling. Does it deal with gambling as an addiction? Does it deal with the huge problems that gambling is wreaking on certain families? Does it deal with the increasing problem of gambling as a health issue? No.

What does the bill do? It deals with permitting casinos on cruise ships to remove the prohibition on dice games. Surely we have better things to do in this House of Commons than to deal with that issue.

We could be dealing with constructive issues on how to help people who are having problems with gambling, rather than seeing gambling as just another tax grab, which in fact it is in many areas. It is causing huge problems in many societies and some on aboriginal reserves.

Are we dealing with violent crime? Are we dealing with ways to prevent violent crime? Are we dealing with ways to prevent innocent Canadians from getting hurt? No, we nibble around the edges and put this pithy amendment that will ensure victims no longer have to die within a year for it to be called a homicide.

 

. 1535 + -

We certainly support that, but surely the government could have put forth more constructive solutions in this bill to protect Canadians. Surely the government could have developed ways to adopt the idea of the Liberal member who put forth a private member's motion. The member is from Toronto and her motion deals with consecutive sentencing for violent crimes rather than the concurrent sentencing that currently exists.

Those convicted of violent crimes too often receive concurrent sentences. What kind of message does that send to people who commit murder or violent offences? It tells them that if they kill one person or rape one person, if they commit assault causing bodily harm to one person, it is the same as if they do it six times.

The government could have dealt with that. It could have implemented the private member's motion but it chose not to. What an embarrassment.

Child prostitution is a huge problem in our country. Prostitutes as young as 11 or 12 are being procured. Many are being put on drugs as a way to force them into lives of prostitution. It ruins their lives or, worse, it kills them through violence or through the acquisition of AIDS.

What has the government done concerning child prostitution? It has invoked suggestions and amendments to ensure that wiretaps are allowed. Our party has been putting forward constructive solutions for years.

Why do we have mandatory minimum sentencing for anybody who is pimping children? Why could the government not take this bill and put forth mandatory sentencing for people who are hooking children on drugs, who are pimping 11 and 12 year old girls and boys, who are grossly abusing these children for life? Why could the government not put forth a bill to address that?

I encourage and implore the government to listen to the constructive suggestions that are coming not only from our side but from all parties. These are constructive solutions on child prostitution. I challenge the Minister of Justice, whom I know is very interested in this, to go out on the street. She should not speak to the people on top, she should find out what is happening on the street from the prostitutes, the people whose lives are utterly ruined by this scourge. She should go to Vancouver or Toronto. She should see what is occurring on the street.

Let us consider conditional sentencing. I cannot believe the government did not adopt the motion put forward by a government member who had a constructive private member's bill that dealt with consecutive sentencing for violent offences.

Let us consider organized crime. The public would be interested in knowing that an individual who is sentenced can get parole after one-sixth of their sentence is up.

An hon. member: They have to apply for consideration for parole.

Mr. Keith Martin: But the fact that anybody can apply and receive a release after serving one-sixth of their sentence is appalling. What kind of message does it send to the RCMP and the police officers around this country when criminals can be out after serving one-sixth of their sentence after police put their lives on the line and worked hard to get the criminals arrested and convicted?

This bill ensures that people who are members of criminal organizations have to serve more than one-sixth of their sentence. Why are people involved in organized crime, racketeering, prostitution, scams and murder being released after serving one-sixth of their sentence? That is no way to give the Canadian people the confidence they require in the justice system in order for them to be able to say they feel safe in their country.

We are fully sympathetic with giving people a chance. We are fully sympathetic with understanding that some people can at times in their lives run afoul of the law and have a lot of angst about what they have done. But organized crime has little to do with having sympathy for a teenager who falls afoul of the law for a misdemeanour. It has little sympathy for somebody who has been abused during their life, who does something wrong and is convicted.

 

. 1540 + -

This has to do with people who commit murder. This has to do with people who take money from immigrants in our country and rob them for the promise of protection. This has to do with gross abuse of innocent civilians in our country. Those are the people we need to be hitting hard. Those are the laws that need to be made tougher and those are the people we need to be putting behind bars.

The bill deals with some issues, but it also misses some. The Reform Party is in favour of good constructive laws that protect Canadians from firearm violations. We do not approve of gun registration for the simple reason that it is going to make our streets less safe. It is taking money out of the functional arm of justice and putting it into something that is not going to make our streets more safe. If gun registration was going to make our streets safer then we would support it. But the cold hard facts support very clearly the notion that gun registration will not make Canadian streets safer.

We need to hire 350 RCMP officers in British Columbia, but they will not be hired because of a lack of funds. However, the government is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into something that will not work.

The government had an opportunity to deal with crime prevention. I know the Minister of Justice has started up a very good program in Edmonton dealing with crime prevention and I compliment her for doing that. I think it is a move in the right direction. The member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe has been a leader in the national head start program, which she and her husband have put together, and she deserves to be complimented for that.

Those ideas and ideas from all opposition parties have been put forth for some time, including Private Member's Motion 261 that I introduced in May, which passed unanimously in the House. They need to be looked at, examined and adopted quickly, because we are simply not dealing with the root causes of crime.

For example, it has been proved that dealing with children in the first eight years of life can have a dramatic, profound and positive effect in making sure these children stay in school longer. It reduces crime by 50%. It reduces teen pregnancy by 60%. There is a net saving to the social programs because fewer of them are on welfare. It saves the taxpayer $30,000 per child. How can hon. members disagree with that? The proof is there from Moncton to Hawaii to Ypsilanti, Michigan where effective programs have been implemented to prevent crime.

Why did the government in Bill C-51 not utilize the good suggestions that have come from across party lines, from within its own caucus, and implement them in a constructive and coherent fashion across this country?

The government has an enormous leadership role. Although it is true that many of these programs should indeed be in the realm and the purview of the provinces, it is within the government's power to call together the first ministers of health, of justice and of HRD and ask them to bring to the table what programs they already have. Then they could find out what does not work and eject those programs. They could keep what works and integrate those programs into a national program.

Not one single province, not one premier, not one minister in any province has the power to do that. It is only the ministers who are sitting across from us today. Those ministers have the power, have the duty, have the responsibility to exert the leadership that has been bestowed upon them by the Canadian people. They and only they have the power to call those ministers together and hold that meeting that will have a most dramatic and profound effect on the lives, health, welfare and future of young Canadians today.

 

. 1545 + -

Let us get on with it. Let us not see a bill such as Bill C-51. Let us stick our hands into these issues and problems and implement solutions that have been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to work and to save money. They are win-win situations across party lines.

Let us stop introducing politics into these issues and deal with the facts. If we dealt with the facts and if we managed to have some semblance of debate on the facts, we would be able to achieve to the greatest advantage the potential of members across party lines in this House.

I implore the government to look at the suggestions that are going to come from members in the Reform Party, that are going to come from members on the government side and from members of the other opposition parties. Look at those constructive solutions. Look at those solutions based on facts and implement them.

The government could also deal with the horrendous situations on aboriginal reserves. The member for Wild Rose and the member for Skeena have repeatedly brought up constructive solutions to deal with those situations.

I spent some time this summer working as a physician dealing with aboriginal people in emergencies. They had been beaten up, had overdosed, had attempted suicide, had been abused or sexually abused. The responsibility falls on the shoulders of the non-aboriginal leaders of this country and the aboriginal leaders in pursuing a course that in my personal view, and I am not speaking for the Reform Party, is leading their people absolutely nowhere.

They need to start dealing with the facts. They need to deal with the horrendous situations that are occurring on the reserves. They need to break the cycle of an institutionalized welfare state that we have implemented and which continues to shackle the aboriginal people in this country.

We need to ensure that the resources that are put forth by the department of Indian affairs are going where they are supposed to go. Many of my colleagues and I have aboriginal reserves in our constituencies. Aboriginal people have been looking for answers as to where the moneys have gone that they have generated and which have been given to them by the department.

Are these moneys being used for education? Are they being used for substance abuse issues? Are they used for training? Are the moneys being used on the Pacheedaht reserve in my riding to repair the septic tanks that are overflowing with sewage? The health department is aware of this yet nothing is done. People turn a blind eye. They stick their heads in the sand.

Money is given without accountability. Who do they abuse? They abuse the aboriginal people who have no recourse because when they go to the department they are told to go to their councils. When they go to their councils, a blind eye is turned on them again.

I do not know if many of the members on the other side understand the profound tragedy that is occurring and what their actions are doing to these people. The answer is to perform forensic audits on some of these reserves, not to go on a witch hunt, not to find a scapegoat, but merely to find answers so that the available resources are going to the people so they can stand up on their own two feet and take care of themselves.

The minister mentioned last week that her proposals and the way her government is pursuing this is a way to integrate and bring together aboriginal people. In my province of British Columbia the Nisga'a deal is going to do the exact opposite. It is going to be the wedge that will split aboriginal and non-aboriginal people apart. Aboriginal and non-aboriginal people have to come together in an environment of mutual respect and tolerance so they can work together to build a stronger constructive society where everybody can reach their fullest potential.

I have visited reserves where people are being shot. People are being sexually abused. They have no recourse.

 

. 1550 + -

Money that is supposed to go to them for educational purposes is somehow disappearing. It is alleged that it is going into the hands of the council. Does anybody look into this? No, no one does. Who pays for it? Certainly the taxpayer, but more importantly the aboriginal people on those reserves who in some cases are being abused by absolute and utter thuggery. Does anybody listen to them? No. Why? Because we are being hamstrung by political correctness and we are afraid to.

We have to overcome this fear, not for ourselves but for the aboriginal people who live in our country in conditions equivalent to third world conditions. I challenge any member on the other side to look at this.

Does Bill C-51 have anything to do with dealing with the violence that is occurring on the reserves? No, absolutely nothing. Does it deal with the rape, the sexual abuse, the abuse of children and the violence that is taking place? No, it does nothing.

Whose confidence do we lose? We lose the confidence of the grassroots aboriginal peoples. They are looking and pleading for leadership. They are crying out for help. And what do we do? We toss some money over to the council, to the Assembly of First Nations, a political body and not necessarily a body for the people.

Grassroots aboriginal people have been looking for years for people to champion them so they can stand on their own feet. They are not that interested in land claims but they do want to live in safety. They want jobs. They want to work. They want to keep their culture and have their language preserved. They want to be the masters of their destiny. They want what we want.

Why have we continued to pursue a course of separation and apartheid in Canada? Why have we done this? I ask members on the other side to look into their souls and find this out.

I know my time is over, but I hope the government members will work with us and all members in the House to make some constructive changes to justice for all people instead of sticking our heads in the sand and dealing with absolute pith.

Mr. Howard Hilstrom (Selkirk—Interlake, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, in regard to the native issues that have been going on around the countryside on the reserves, I have seen examples from being on many reserves in my day and currently visiting many during the time I spend in my constituency. After an election, people who had jobs on the reserves are arbitrarily fired the day after the election, obviously for having voted wrong or supported the wrong person. Hydro has been pulled out from a given residence. These are documented cases.

The problem seems to be a lack of democratic accountability. That democratic accountability does not seem to be as much as what we have in our municipal, provincial and federal governments. Those governments are not perfect in accountability in regard to access to information and labour laws and those kinds of things, but I would ask the member to comment in regard to that type of democratic accountability. Is there room for improvement in all provinces in that regard?

Mr. Keith Martin: Mr. Speaker, that question hits at a very important issue which many grassroots aboriginal people are concerned with. It deals not only with what is occurring now but what will occur in the future after land claims are settled. It deals with the issue of democratic accountability.

On Vancouver Island three grassroots bands have come to me, the Becher Bay band, Pacheedaht band and the Kwicksutaineuk band. These three bands and many others have been asking their members of parliament to find answers for them. The issue comes to accountability, not only for the way the bands are run but also for where the resources are going.

 

. 1555 + -

Right now many bands are run very well but many are not. Money is going to band councils and it is being put into the pockets of band council members. When band members ask where the money has gone, they receive a dismissive note or worse, they are abused. Some people have had their houses broken into. Some people have had violence committed against them and their families when they ask questions.

When those aboriginal people go to the department of Indian affairs, the minister slams protected on her letters and says “I do not see anything wrong here. Go to the RCMP if there is a problem”. The RCMP are unwilling to enter into this. They do not have the resources.

The bottom line is as my hon. friend mentioned. The grassroots aboriginal people are caught between a rock and hard place. No one is helping them out. If the minister of Indian affairs does not deal with this issue quickly, she will be in trouble because we will not stand for it any longer.

It is passing strange that members from the government are not even attempting to stand up on these very important issues on justice to ask even one question.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, BQ): Mr. Speaker, as I am the first member of my party to speak to this bill, I will speak for the 40 minutes accorded me.

To talk on such a vast and interesting topic, I would need more than 40 minutes, but I will not invoke the Standing Orders of this House to seek unanimous consent to speak longer. I will try to limit myself to the 40 minutes allotted me.

Mr. Speaker, as you are considerate toward members, I would ask you to let me know when I have only five minutes left, as is the practice in this House.

First off, perhaps some of my colleagues opposite or elsewhere in this House are wondering why the Bloc Quebecois transport critic is speaking to a bill concerning major amendments to the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. The reason is quite simple. It is not just because I am a lawyer by training, but this bill contains a provision we find very interesting.

Without making any assumption about our party's position at third reading, I will say right off that this bill can be improved. We intend to make certain amendments in committee, which we believe will hold the government's attention and that of all the members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Let me begin by discussing the general provisions of this bill, before getting to the one which is of particular interest to me.

This bill includes amendments to permit the operation of casinos on international cruise ships that are Canadian or in Canadian waters.

It also amends the Criminal Code to permit dice-games conducted and managed by a province. I am convinced that Loto-Québec will be very interested in that provision.

The bill also seeks to widen the scope of the offence of obtaining the services of a prostitute under eighteen years old.

It amends the Criminal Code to repeal the “year and a day rule” for offences involving homicide and criminal negligence causing death.

 

. 1600 + -

The bill modernizes the fraud and theft provisions in respect of valuable minerals.

It also modernizes the provisions concerning the offence of making likenesses of bank-notes.

It ensures that only officials with law enforcement duties can execute search warrants.

It provides for the authority to remove lawfully-installed electronic surveillance devices.

It provides sentencing measures dealing with the consideration of outstanding charges, the offender's ability to pay a fine and addressing technical matters.

It provides rules governing when conditional sentences run following the breach of a condition.

It brings deceptive telemarketing offences against the Competition Act under the forfeiture provisions for the proceeds of crime.

Finally, it provides a number of other technical amendments.

The bill also provides for amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that deal with aggravating factors in sentencing and the criminal liability of law enforcement officers engaged in their duties.

And, finally, it provides for amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that exclude those convicted of organized-crime offences from eligibility for accelerated parole review.

Because Bill C-51 represents an important victory for the Bloc Quebecois with respect to the operation of casinos on international cruise ships, hence my remarks this afternoon, we support the bill in principle.

We feel, however, that the bill does not go far enough with respect to money laundering, particularly as it does not remove $1,000 bank notes from circulation. We know that our colleague, the hon. member for Charlesbourg, introduced a private member's bill about this.

Our party also believes that the bill will not prevent the distressing repetition of cases like that of Joseph Lagana, who was released from prison after serving only one-sixth of his sentence.

My colleague, the member for Berthier—Montcalm, will have an opportunity to take this up later on in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

To come back to the point that interests us, I ask the House to examine clause 7 of the bill, which would amend the act by adding the following after section 207 of the Criminal Code. I believe it is pertinent to read it:

    207.1 (1) Despite any of the provisions of this Part relating to gaming and betting, it is lawful for the owner or operator of an international cruise ship, or their agent, to conduct, manage or operate and for any person to participate in a lottery scheme during a voyage on an international cruise ship when all of the following conditions are satisfied:

      (a) all the people participating in the lottery scheme are located on the ship;

      (b) the lottery scheme is not linked, by any means of communication, with any lottery scheme, betting, pool selling or pool system of betting located off the ship;

      (c) the lottery scheme is not operated within five nautical miles of a Canadian port at which the ship calls or is scheduled to call; and

      (d) the ship is registered

    (i) in Canada and its entire voyage is scheduled to be outside Canada, or

    (ii) anywhere, including Canada, and its voyage includes some scheduled voyaging within Canada and the voyage

      (A) is of at least forty-eight hours duration and includes some voyaging in international waters and at least one non-Canadian port of call including the port at which the voyage begins or ends, and

      (B) is not scheduled to disembark any passengers at a Canadian port who have embarked at another Canadian port, without calling on at least one non-Canadian port between the two Canadian ports.

 

. 1605 + -

I would start off by indicating that this clause suits the Bloc Quebecois for a number of reasons I shall try to explain. It is also supported unanimously by the greater Quebec City regional community. I will have the opportunity later to refer to certain stakeholders who have supported certain actions by the Bloc Quebecois in the Quebec City region culminating in what we have before us now, Bill C-51.

I would like to return to one point, and I think it would be appropriate to do so. Our party, the Bloc Quebecois, had introduced private members' bills on behalf of the regional team of Bloc Quebecois MPs. I refer to Bill C-415, an act to amend the Criminal Code (gaming and betting), which I have introduced. I think it would be relevant to see to what extent the government listened to what the Bloc Quebecois was calling for.

In the latest election campaign, and in the one held in 1993, some people wondered—and it was often our neighbours opposite, when we met them in all party debates—what the Bloc was doing there. There were even some simple-minded plays on words to the effect that the Prime Minister was serving us or that the Progressive Conservative leader, Jean Charest, was serving us. It was said that the Bloc Quebecois would block the system. A very intellectual remark.

We had, and we still have, a role to play. The victory we gained because the government listened to our voice on this amendment to the Criminal Code shows very clearly that members of the Bloc Quebecois, who represent 60% of the ridings in Quebec, play an important role in the defence of Quebec's interests.

Therefore, by introducing Bill C-415, I sought to amend the Criminal Code to make it possible for someone on an international cruise ship in Canadian waters to set up and operate a prescribed casino for the passengers on that ship under certain conditions. The bill also provides that a passenger on such a ship may enter such a casino and engage in gaming and betting.

I will not refer to the amendment to section 207.1 of the Criminal Code that I was proposing, but I will remind the House that I had proposed the casino close one hour before the ship called at a Canadian port. The government preferred to have the casino close five nautical miles before the ship called at a Canadian port. We have no problem there. I will have to ask my friends who are pilots on the lower St. Lawrence what an hour is in nautical miles.

Members will recall that in another parliament, the Bloc Quebecois introduced another private member's bill, which unfortunately died on the Order Paper with the election call on June 2, 1997.

I must take a few minutes to speak about the antiquated private members' bill procedure, inherited from the British parliamentary system, just as your function as speaker and ours as members of parliament were. There is this procedure for private members' bills, commonly known as private bills.

The procedure for selecting private members' bills to be debated in this House is totally archaic. This is incredible, when the year 2000 is almost upon us.

 

. 1610 + -

We are on the eve of a new century, a new millennium. Yet, we are still using the archaic procedure consisting basically in picking the name of the member whose bill shall be debated out of a hat. You did hear correctly, Mr. Speaker, out of a hat. I noticed you almost fell out of your chair, but I can see you are sitting back comfortably now.

Members' names are put in a hat and bills are picked at random. This is a monumental aberration. I think that, on the eve of the new millennium, we should be able to find a different method for selecting private members' bills. By definition, a private member's bill has been drafted by a member of parliament democratically elected by his constituents, regardless of his or her political affiliation.

I greatly value parliamentary work and I have respect for all my colleagues from both sides of the House. Every one of us has a legitimate right to sit here. We have all been democratically elected to this place. No one in Canada had a gun to their head when they voted. No one voted under the threat of machine guns. That is democracy.

That is why, every opportunity I have, whether in this House or in committee, I ask that our fellow citizens' wish to have us represent them to the best of our abilities be respected.

We are not perfect. And no member can claim to have a magic wand and to be able to perform miracles. We do our best and have strong beliefs. I am asking our fellow members of Parliament to respect us as individuals. There is no ambiguity about the Bloc Quebecois' role: we are here to promote Quebec's sovereignty, to show that the federal system does not work, and to protect the interests of Quebec.

We were elected in a fair manner. Considering that 60% of the ridings in Quebec are represented by Bloc Quebecois members, I think everybody should accept the results of the democratic vote.

Having said that, I want to ask you something, Mr. Speaker, since you are an active and well-known jurist in the region of Kingston and the Islands. I would like you to seriously think about how to improve the selection process of private members' bills. I am asking you to do that, and I do hope to hear from you on this issue.

To allow the operation of casinos on cruise ships was one of the issues on the electoral platform of the regional caucus of the Bloc Quebecois, before the June 2, 1997 election. The hon. member for Quebec, who is sitting here and who chairs our eight-member regional caucus, remembers very well that we got together and consulted various stakeholders and groups in the greater Quebec City area. We gained some experience as a regional caucus during the previous Parliament.

This had given us an opportunity, since 1993, to regularly meet with various people and groups. Proposing an amendment to the Criminal Code, so as to permit the operation of casinos on international cruise ships, was an integral part of our regional electoral platform. That is why people in the greater Quebec City area are glad that the Criminal Code will be amended after the various stages required in the House of Commons so that this irritant can be eliminated.

I think it would be appropriate to take a few minutes to explain what the particular problem was. The configuration of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence River affected international cruise ships, most of which operate casinos, which are one of the activities offered on cruises, as well as a lucrative source of income for ship owners.

 

. 1615 + -

We met with ship owners like those of the Holland America company on the MS Veemdam when it first put in at Quebec City. Two years ago, in September, the MS Westerdam of the same company also stopped over in Quebec City.

Ship owners told us that, if they could operate casinos on board, a lot more ships would choose the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes system for a stopover. As well, ships that already come here, could do so more often. This would develop many more stopovers.

Most of these ships have American passengers. The people listening to us are aware that the dollar went through a terrible crisis this summer, while the government sat back and did nothing. When it dropped as low as 61 or 62 cents, the Prime Minister said that this was not serious, that it would encourage tourists to visit the beaches of New Brunswick. He was more worried about his golf game, and kept his eye on the ball more than on the falling dollar.

Be that as it may, given the state of our dollar, we know that a great many American cruise ship passengers are heading for the splendour of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and its river and the Great Lakes. Naturally, these are boats whose depth and width permit them to pass through the locks.

The ship owners told us: “If we could operate our casinos until an hour before we land, that would add considerably to the port traffic, not only at Quebec City but also at Trois-Rivières and Montreal, and for certain ships, as far inland as Thunder Bay.

This is why the Liberal member for Thunder Bay, had already indicated to me when we sat on the Standing Committee on Transport that he approved of the private member's bill I had introduced.

Because of the particular geography of the St. Lawrence, the limit of international waters fell more or less off Anticosti Island. Those who know their geography are aware that a cruise ship had to close its casino when it was off Anticosti, when it entered Canadian waters. The first landing was only at Quebec City, two days later, so there was a two-day period when the casino could not open. Passengers complained, and the St. Lawrence—Great Lakes route suffered considerably as a result.

On the other hand, I would point out that the port of Halifax does not experience the same problem, nor does Vancouver. Once a ship has left English Bay, it is in international waters almost immediately. Only an hour after the ship has left port, passengers can start gambling again, because they are already in international waters.

We say: let us amend the Criminal Code. Loto-Quebec, among others, supported the Bloc Quebecois in this regard, as did the Quebec ministry of tourism. They did not see any threat to the operation of provincial casinos because ship passengers are a captive clientele.

Certainly, when the ship docks, the ship operator must, of course, close down the casino. We have no problem with that. That is perfectly normal.

I mentioned earlier that this bill had the unanimous approval of the region's stakeholders. I will name some of the organizations that supported the Bloc Quebecois' position in asking the government for an amendment to the Criminal Code to allow casinos to operate on cruise ships.

 

. 1620 + -

There is the Quebec City Region Tourist and Convention Bureau, the Secrétariat à la mise en valeur du Saint-Laurent, the Corporation of the Lower St. Lawrence Pilots, the Coopérative des artisans et des commerçants du quartier Petit Champlain, the Association des gens d'affaires de Place-Royale, the Quebec ministry of tourism, Loto-Québec, the Société de développement économique du Québec known as SODES, the City of Quebec, the Quebec Urban Community and the Port of Quebec.

I think it would be relevant for me to quote, for your personal edification, a letter signed by the chairman of the Quebec Urban Community, Denis Giguère, who is the mayor of Loretteville, I believe, and who wrote to the Minister of Justice on April 20, 1998. He said this:

    Subject: Changes to the Criminal Code—authorization of casinos on the St. Lawrence

    Madam Minister:

    Over the past two years, the council of the Quebec Urban Community has tried on a number of occasions to make your predecessor aware of the importance of changing the Criminal Code to permit the rapid growth of the international cruise industry on the St. Lawrence and in eastern Canada. I have appended the letters sent to him and to your colleagues in the federal government.

    On a number of occasions, it was rumoured in the media that the federal government was prepared to act on this issue and that the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code would be up for debate before the House of Commons in the near future. Unfortunately, nothing came of it, and no progress has been made on this issue. Several stakeholders suggested the reason for this delay was the lack of consensus among those in the tourist industry who are closely associated with development of the cruise ship industry. I do not think so.

That is Mr. Giguère, the president of the Quebec Urban Community, speaking.

    On the contrary, this is a booming industry, and all of eastern Canada is benefiting from the spinoffs generated in our regional and provincial economies.

    I am therefore asking once again, Madam Minister, that the federal government look into this matter as soon as possible and take appropriate action.

    Thank you for your attention. Sincerely,

And it is signed “Denis Giguère, President of the Quebec Urban Community”. We received a copy of this letter.

I think that tourism industry stakeholders in the greater Quebec City area clearly supported our position, as confirmed by the government in agreeing to amend the Criminal Code.

My statement about the Quebec port authority supporting our approach is backed by an article published in Le Soleil on Saturday, April 25, 1998. The managing director of the port de Québec, Ross Gaudreault, held a press conference and the related article can be summed up as follows:

    Quebec City appears to be on its way to becoming a choice port of call for cruise ships. A growing number of passenger liners berth at Quebec City earlier and earlier in the season—

This fact prompted the managing director of the port de Québec, Ross Gaudreault, to say:

      —that the coming years should see a significant increase in the number of passengers stopping over in the old capital.

The article went on to say:

    When cruise ships stop over, they generate very important economic benefits for the City of Quebec. This year, it is estimated that 45,000 passengers will visit Quebec City and will spend approximately $110 US each, not to mention crew members and the expenditures related to the ships themselves. In 1997, the economies of the Province of Quebec and of Quebec City benefited to the tune of approximately $5.9 million.

And I will stop here.

I wanted to explain why this Criminal Code amendment was so important for economic development. This bill effectively removes an irritant, and I think that the region will now be able to play its leadership role unimpeded and will be represented at conferences.

 

. 1625 + -

Every year in March, a major North American conference is held in Miami at which cruise lines decide on their destinations for the coming years. The Port of Quebec spokespersons, SODES or the various stakeholders representing the greater Quebec City area will be able to tell the cruise lines and ship owners that the irritant of not being able to operate casinos has now been removed by an amendment to the Criminal Code.

I do not want to go on too long, because I want to leave time for other colleagues to speak as well, but I will mention that we raised this issue again with the Minister of Justice in a letter we sent her on May 21.

On June 8, my colleague, the member for Québec, and I held a press conference attended by various regional stakeholders. And on June 9, we questioned the Minister of Justice in the House as follows: “In order to remove this obstacle to the expansion of the international cruise industry for once and for all, will the minister agree to take action and immediately introduce the required Criminal Code amendments, so that cruise ships can operate casinos in the Gulf of St. Lawrence?”

The minister's response was a very simple one. On June 11, she tabled this omnibus bill, which contained a provision that would allow casinos on cruise ships.

I would ask in closing: why is it important for the greater Quebec City region to obtain this amendment? We are convinced that the government will listen to this request because it is something on which unanimity can be readily obtained.

I found the 1996 statistics on the traffic at the port of Vancouver in my files. As I have already pointed out, we know Vancouver does not have a problem. As soon as the cruise ship leaves English Bay, within an hour it can open up its casino again. From our experience on several transport committees, we know what a boom there has been in recent years with the Alaskan cruises. When their passengers visit ports of call, they leave money behind in the economy, including that of greater Vancouver.

I will give some figures for the number of cruise passengers visiting the port of Vancouver in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996. In 1992, there were 449,239 passengers; in 1994, the figure had gone up to 591,409, and in 1996, 701,547. According to all the economic studies, they contribute a lot when they come ashore. Let us not forget that these are people who are rather well off.

Last week, the Vision of the Sea, the biggest cruise ship in the world, docked at the port of Quebec. It carries 2,400 passengers who pay some $10,000 US for a week's cruise. We must point out that these are not cruises within the reach of the ordinary American. The passengers are people well enough off to be able to afford $10,000 US for a week's cruise. When the cruise ship is in port and these passengers are wandering around on foot exploring the city, they each leave behind between $110 and $150 US.

If Vancouver had 701,547 such visitors in 1996, one can just imagine what that represents. I will get the numbers for 1997, but they were significantly higher. Unless I am mistaken, they were close to 900,000. I do not want to give the wrong numbers. I will get back to this if I have the opportunity to take part in the debate at third reading.

It is important for the economic development of a large region, particularly since the Quebec City region is positioning itself for a new type of cruises. Indeed, the Board of Trade and Industry of the Metropolitan Quebec is proposing to promote northern luxury and ecotourist cruises. Quebec City would become the regional boarding port for cruises along the Labrador coast, and perhaps even all the way up to Greenland.

 

. 1630 + -

Again, this could lead to some very interesting economic spinoffs, once this irritant is removed and it becomes possible to operate casinos in international waters.

I am pleased to have had this opportunity to address the bill. Members may can rest assured that we will be vigilant during the next stages of this legislation, and the hon. member for Berthier—Montcalm will be on the lookout during the discussions in committee.

While we do not oppose the principle underlying Bill C-51, we will still move amendments through our critic on justice issues, the hon. member for Berthier—Montcalm. We do hope the government will be receptive to our recommendations.

[English]

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-51, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

First I would like to draw the attention of the House, but more particularly the listening public, to the fact that what we have before us is an omnibus bill. An omnibus bill is the name given to a bill that contains many unrelated amendments. We usually get omnibus bills in the context of amendments to the Criminal Code, but it is not only in the context of amendments to the Criminal Code and related acts that we get omnibus bills.

I would remind the House that in the past the House has found particular omnibus bills to be quite offensive. That is to say, offensive in terms of parliamentary procedure and offensive in terms of the limited opportunity that it gives to the House to express itself on the various matters that are contained within the omnibus bill.

One of the most paralyzing and significant crises in Canadian parliamentary history happened over an omnibus bill. It was the omnibus bill brought in by a Liberal government in 1982.

In that case it was not an omnibus bill having to do with the Criminal Code, but an omnibus bill having to do with energy policy that prompted the bell ringing crisis in the early months of 1982 when the bells rang for 16 days.

Those members of the House who do not go back that far should know that the bells used to be a lot louder than they are now. They rang and they rang for 16 days, 24 hours a day, until that crisis was finally dealt with. That was over an omnibus bill.

I say to the government that, although there is not that kind of controversy around this omnibus bill, I still find that omnibus bills in and of themselves provide a great deal of difficulty for members of the House of Commons, particularly for the opposition because we are put in the position of having to vote for the whole bill or against the whole bill. As is often the case with omnibus bills, there are aspects of the bill that we support and aspects of the bill that we do not.

With respect to Bill C-51, there are a number of things which we support, such as the provision to widen the scope of the offence for obtaining the services of a prostitute under 18 years old, the provision to repeal the year and a day rule for offences involving homicide and criminal negligence causing death, the provision to modernize the fraud and theft provisions with respect to valuable materials and the provision to modernize the provisions concerning the offence of making likenesses of bank notes.

We support provisions to ensure that only officials with law enforcement duties can execute search warrants, provisions having to do with sentencing measures dealing with the consideration of outstanding charges, the offender's ability to pay a fine and those which address technical matters. We support the provision of rules governing when conditional sentences run following the breach of a condition and bringing deceptive telemarketing offences against the Competition Act under the forfeiture provisions for the proceeds of crime.

 

. 1635 + -

A number of these are housekeeping, modernizing, technical amendments, but there are a couple of elements in this bill that we believe are worthy of debate and contention. I refer specifically to the provision that would permit the operation of casinos on international cruise ships that are Canadian or in Canadian waters and the provision to permit dice games conducted and managed by a province.

After having listened to the hon. member from the Bloc Quebecois I think I understand a little bit better where this amendment having to do with the operation of casinos on international cruise ships that are Canadian or in Canadian waters comes from. It may well be, upon reflection, that there is an argument to be made for this amendment that is peculiar to the circumstances that Quebec City finds itself in with regard to international cruise ships and Canadian cruise ships.

I was grateful to the member for explaining the value that the province of Quebec and Quebec City sees in this particular amendment.

Having said that, I will concentrate on the provision that permits dice games conducted and managed by a province. I speak to this because I share the concern of a lot of Canadians and certainly my colleagues in the New Democratic Party, and presumably members in other caucuses as well, that all parties, wherever they have been in government, whether they be federal or provincial, over the last 10 to 15 years have succumbed in one way or another or are in the process of succumbing to the gambling game, to a form of gambling addiction which is not just to be found in those individuals who are addicted to gambling, but is to be found in governments that are addicted to the revenue from gambling.

This is a problem that crosses party lines. I do not rise in my place here to pretend that any one particular political party is somehow exempt from criticism in this regard. It is simply to register my own concern and the concern of my colleagues and, as I said, I would hope colleagues from other parties that as a country we are becoming a nation of casinos.

I have a casino in my own riding called Club Regent. If someone had asked me 10 years ago whether I would have ever thought that driving between my home and my constituency office I would have to pass a casino every day I would have said they were crazy, that it would never happen. Yet today that is the case.

I am sure a lot of my constituents are happy that it is there. It is a good location for them. People enjoy going there and there are people, many of whom I know as they are good friends, who seem to be able to go to the casino, not spend all that much money and just enjoy themselves. They have some kind of internal limit on what they spend and when it is done they are gone. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, but it is not destructive.

However, the fact is that for a lot of Canadians it is destructive. It is destructive of their economic and personal lives. I cannot help but think that in the end it is destructive of our collective well-being to have governments dependent in the way they have become on revenue from gambling, dependent so much so that they are always looking for opportunities to expand this revenue base.

 

. 1640 + -

Where can they build another casino? Can they add a hotel that would attract more business from outside the city, outside the province or outside the country? What can they do to induce more Canadians and more non-Canadians to come to Canada to gamble?

I do not know about other members, but when I grew up gambling was something that happened in Las Vegas. Gambling was something that happened in back rooms, with guys playing poker. It was frowned upon. It seemed to be something on the seedy side of life.

The provinces have taken this particular phenomena which was regarded in that way in the past and have elevated it to a major component of our fiscal and social life. I think that is a mistake. I think a lot of Canadians think it is a mistake. I think it is a mistake whether it is done by an NDP government, a Liberal government, a Conservative government, a Péquistes government or, God forbid, a Reform government.

I just wanted to put that concern on the record. It is certainly something that comes not just out of my own political tradition. In spite of the actions of particular NDP governments, there was certainly a long tradition of opposition to gambling in the CCF and in the NDP. I think it comes out of the social gospel. It comes out of the Protestant churches. My own church, the United Church of Canada, is still resolutely opposed to any form of gambling.

I think we are at the point where we need to do some rethinking of this collective addiction to gambling, rather than expanding upon it, which is basically what Bill C-51 does. Up until this point we have not allowed people to participate in throwing the dice. We saw a bit of throwing the dice when it came to constitutional matters back in 1992 or whenever it was when the former prime minister said he was throwing the dice, but I digress because I am quite serious about this.

I think to expand the parameters of gambling in Canada at this time is a serious mistake. We know that gambling disproportionately disadvantages the poor. We know that in many ways it is a tax on the poor. I feel that instead of looking to gambling for more revenues, instead of looking to a way of raising money that disproportionately disadvantages low income people, we should be looking to a real reform of our tax system which gives meaningful income tax breaks to Canadians of low income and looking at ways in which we could make those who have, and have much, contribute more to the general well-being.

At the moment we have a tax system which basically subsidizes those who have. If people have enough money to put $10,000 or $15,000 into RRSPs, if they can max out on their RRSP limit, the Government of Canada is subsidizing their pensions at the same time as it is saying to a lot of low income Canadians that they are going to have to get by on less and less. There will be no significant increases in CPP or OAS. But when it comes to subsidizing the retirement incomes of those who are affluent enough to max out on their RRSPs there seems to be no limit. I suppose this is some perverse fulfilment of the biblical saying that for those who have, much more will be added, and to those who have little, they will have even less. I am paraphrasing, but members know the teaching I am talking about.

 

. 1645 + -

I do not think we ought to see that fulfilled in the way that we have through the tax system we have now. So I make that point, but fundamentally I wanted to make the point that I think somewhere in the eighties we took a wrong turn. Government by government and province by province we conceded in the eighties, and the nineties, but it started in the eighties. Actually it started before that, in the late seventies with lotteries, but it progressed.

We can argue about when it started, but the fact of the matter is that somewhere along the line I think we made a serious wrong turn. I would hope that some day we might see the wisdom of seeking genuine alternatives to gambling in terms of raising revenue and return to a time when there was either none or a whole lot less government sanctioned gambling going on than there is now.

Mr. Steve Mahoney (Mississauga West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of this bill. I too would like to talk about some of the issues mentioned by the member who just finished speaking.

I find it interesting how much time we spend in this place debating justice issues and crime issues. It is particularly true since the emergence of the Reform Party and its attempts to overdramatize and frankly to frighten the Canadian public and people visiting this country, when Canada is by and large a safe place to live, a safe place to work and raise a family and a safe place to visit.

I would like to reassure people that our justice system, with some of its faults, is a fine system. It does provide proper justice to criminals. It does provide safety and security for families. When there are tragedies and victims are involved, there is a mechanism in place that will respond to those tragedies.

I also say to visitors, to people like Stafford and Lesley Woods who just arrived today from Europe that their stay in Canada, even though it will be with me, will be reasonably safe. They need not worry that they have landed in a country that the Reform Party would have them think is fraught with criminals, with organized crime, with gangs running around, with rape and pillaging taking place. That is simply not the reality experienced in this country.

I was also particularly interested in the comments by the member from the Reform Party who said that we should somehow take the politics out of these debates, to paraphrase those remarks. Yet in the year and a bit I have been in this place I have seen no one here who plays politics more with justice issues, more with crime and more in a tragic sense with victims of crime than members of the Reform Party.

It is interesting to hear them say how they would support some form of safe gun legislation or gun registry, yet they have been opposed to what some 80% of Canadians have supported, which is a gun control law that does make our streets safer.

Last week or the week before we dealt with the DNA bill which will provide a system of enhanced enforcement and control for police right across the country. It is a bill that police chiefs and police associations have supported in large number. The police believe and know—and my colleague from Waterloo who I believe served on the police commission would tell us—that a system of registering DNA in a proper data bank will assist them in doing their job. Yet that was opposed and members of the Reform Party played politics on that legislation.

 

. 1650 + -

Members stand up and say that we should not be on a witch hunt, yet I see nothing but witch hunts in this place. It has got to the point that you have to check underneath the cubicle door in the washroom to make sure no one is sitting there with his feet up and a notepad trying to catch something someone might say that could be raised as a point of privilege in an attempt to embarrass someone who might have been having a private conversation. It appears there is no safe place where we do not find members of the opposition lurking about attempting to catch and trick members of the government, to fabricate and come forward with a horrendous scandal.

It is scandal envy. Members opposite see what President Clinton is going through. They see the feeding frenzy of the media in the United States and the games played by members of the Republican Party in coming forward in the impeachment process. They ask “Why can we not have that much fun? Why not make up a scandal and get somebody? We can write down some notes, put a glass up to the office wall to see what we might hear. Imagine the fun we could have”.

All this is done instead of getting on with the business of running the country. This is done instead of dealing with issues of serious economic impact, such as the Asian crisis and the problems our finance minister was dealing with in Washington. We do not have questions about those issues. There has not been one question from the opposition dealing with the seriousness of the IMF situation, the stock markets around the world, and the Japan crisis. What do we have? Members say that we should not be playing politics.

It is more than just a joke, it is quite sad. Because in essence when we get a bill like this bill, which I agree is an omnibus bill that requires looking at a number of different amendments to legislation, members opposite want to play politics instead of dealing with the substantive issues.

I want to talk about the gambling issue. The member from the New Democratic Party had the unmitigated gall to cast aspersions around the country when the slippery slope of casino gambling was started by Premier Bob Rae in the province of Ontario and was exacerbated by this New Democratic Party premier. He put the entire economic future of the province of Ontario into the hands of gambling.

The casino in Windsor generates hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue. Casino Rama is doing the same thing. There is also the casino of casinos in Niagara Falls. Can we close them? Can we say to those communities “Sorry ladies and gentlemen, we have to take all the jobs away”. The slippery slope was started by the New Democrats and they should at least have the courage and the moral fortitude to admit it.

People in Windsor look across the Detroit River and see a city of several million people about to embark on the construction and opening of three, count them, three mega casino projects. What will those casinos do to the casino in Windsor? It has a serious problem in competing with them.

The rolling of the dice referred to in the bill that often colloquially is called craps is not allowed in our country currently. This bill will at least give Casino Windsor and the one in Niagara which are across the border from major U.S. metropolises that will be in the casino business, the opportunity to survive.

 

. 1655 + -

What is our option? It is tragic, because what has really happened here is that provincial governments, and Ontario being the mother of all provincial governments in size and in economic impact in this country, now rely on the revenues from gambling. In fact, with the cutbacks and the changes, Mike Harris has now closed all the charity casinos in the province of Ontario.

Imagine that. The little charity casinos. Hockey organizations, scouting movements, volunteer groups from all across the country and certainly in my community in Mississauga relied on those charity casinos. What damage were they doing? The provincial government came along and said “They are unregulated. They are out of control. The charities are not making enough money so we are going to embark on a process to build 44 new casinos in the province of Ontario”.

The provincial government called for proposals. Proponents submitted proposals and spent millions of dollars. Then without any thought to the impact of having closed all the charity casinos, it said to the volunteers and the charities “You can no longer earn money from this endeavour”. The United Way, all kinds of groups who rely on them are now before municipal councils saying “What do we do now? Give us a bingo licence. Give us some lifeblood. Give us some opportunity to survive”.

Mike Harris and the Conservative government following in the footsteps of the creators of the great casino migration in the province of Ontario, the New Democrats, have banned the charity casinos and cancelled the RFP for the 44 casinos that were going to open. The charities would have been able at least to apply to the Trillium Foundation for some of their revenue but the province told those charities to find some other way to survive. What are their options? Quite clearly they have to look inward. They have to look to their membership. Only so many bake sales and garage sales can be held in an attempt to raise that lost revenue.

There is enough shame to go around at least in the province of Ontario on the issue of casinos. But we now have no choice. Whether a member is in opposition, whether it was that member's party that brought this in or whether it was the government, we have to ensure that these establishments survive. They have become huge generators of economic wealth on which the provinces now rely for health care, for social care and even for education because of the amount of money that is going into them. Therefore, welcome to crap city. That is what we are dealing with in this country because the casino phenomenon will indeed expand.

Another part of the bill which I think the opposition has failed to recognize as being critical is what it will do in the area of domestic violence. One of the changes in this omnibus bill deals with something we identified through working with the province which is that those who are arrested as a result of domestic violence often try to contact the victims. We all know this.

Having been in politics for almost 20 years, I and I know many other people in this place deal with battered women, with families who have suffered through domestic violence and know from experience that the perpetrators, the people who have been charged, try to contact the victims in domestic violence cases. Why do they do that? It is because they want to change the victim's mind. Or maybe they get their lawyer to offer some kind of deal or do some kind of plea so that the woman will back off. Most of the time it is the woman who is suffering from this violence.

This bill says that cannot be done any more. This bill says that they cannot contact the individual they are charged with battering. A lawyer cannot be sent as some kind of missionary to convince the battered or abused individual, often a wife, a girlfriend or a common law wife. They can no longer interfere.

 

. 1700 + -

Why is that important? I spent nine and a half years as a member of regional council and city council in the region of Peel and Mississauga. We administered social services during that time and still do. My wife is currently a member of that council. We dealt at the ground level with the results. We saw the women, in most cases women, with black eyes and broken bones as a result of domestic violence.

In addition to the tragedy of domestic violence all too often we see that women will back off, either through coercion, fear for their children or their own personal safety. They refuse to proceed. It is a scourge on society that we should not tolerate as parliamentarians, as city, local and regional councillors, as MPPs or MLAs. We must attack domestic violence and eliminate it from society as much as we possibly can.

If Bill C-51 is worth supporting for one reason and for one reason only, it is this aspect of the bill. To vote against the bill will mean this change will not occur.

I ask members opposite to stop playing the games I hear going on in this place and to look at the benefits of the bill and how it will assist the broad base of society. It will improve the justice system in relationship to domestic violence. It will say to the perpetrators, as I said before, that they cannot contact the victims or through some surreptitious manner have their lawyers do it.

Hopefully this will help social workers and people who deal with the victims of domestic violence to shore them up and give them the courage they need to go forward so that a conviction can take place and we do something about ending domestic violence.

That is not the only reason to support the bill. I suggest there are many others. There is the issue surrounding child prostitution. As well, the bill will benefit police enforcement. Why? Because it will permit police to use electronic surveillance to determine if a person has sought some kind of sexual favour from a minor. They can use that evidence to obtain a conviction. It is critically important and does not exist now. The bill will allow that to take place.

Members opposite might ask for a clause that toughens the punishment. The government has done that in other areas. This bill like all bills cannot be a panacea for all concerns in the justice system. We should not expect Bill C-51 to solve every problem.

No one in the House on either side, in any party, condones any kind of sexual offence against children. To suggest otherwise is playing politics. That brings me back to a private member's bill that we dealt with in this place earlier in the week, Bill C-284. There was an attempt to play politics with the issues surrounding amendments to the Criminal Records Act, the CRA, that deal with publishing the records of those who have been convicted of some form of sexual offence against a minor and are pardoned.

The solicitor general already has the discretion to disclose pardon records to bona fide organizations. Who are those organizations?

 

. 1705 + -

There are numerous examples of convicted people who have been paroled, finished their sentence or pardoned. I do not know of any who have been pardoned after being convicted of sexually abusing a minor, but certainly they complete their sentences and wind up at some point back in the community.

There are numerous examples of names being published, of photographs being published and of the communities in which they are to live being warned that these individuals are back. However it has been done appropriately. It has been done through the police force to ensure there is no abuse of anyone's rights.

That is one of the greatest things about this safe country of Canada, the country I welcomed Stafford and Lesley Woods to, the country I welcomed people from all over the world to. We are a safe country. We have a parliamentary democracy that allows us to put in place laws that will protect women and children, in fact our entire society.

The bill should be supported unanimously for many reasons, a couple of which I have outlined today.

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise on behalf of the official opposition and on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to address the contents of Bill C-51. The legislation proposes changes to the criminal law in the areas of gambling, homicide, child prostitution, conditional sentencing, organized crime, mineral claims, provisions regarding the use of computers in copying currency, and other matters too numerous to mention here.

I listened very carefully to Liberal members. I will dissect the bill to show them its anatomy. The Liberals are doing six things with the bill. Let us remember that number. I will go over those six things very soon.

Like so much legislation we have dealt with in this session since our return to the House in September, the government has chosen to do as little as possible in the bill. In Bill C-3 the Liberals tied the hands of law enforcement agencies by denying them full use of DNA identification technology. The Liberals ignored victims of crime and the safety and security of Canadians to ensure the rights of the accused would be protected. The Liberals care more about criminals than about victims.

Last week we saw Bill C-53 on fast track in the House. The bill was rammed through the House at first and second reading in four working days. The Liberals fail to address problems with the government's small business financing program. It is another failure.

In the process of doing very little in terms of what they should do and could not do to improve the small business loans program, the Liberals ignored the recommendations of the auditor general and 90,000 members of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Bill C-35 is another example. Last week the government did not go far enough in amending the legislation governing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tools applied to imported goods. The Liberals again ignored the interest of businesses and Canadian consumers that are downstream from an import duty or countervailing duty being imposed on an imported product.

Liberals could have granted the request made by our frontline police officers regarding the use of DNA identification to fight crime. Liberals could have helped small businesses prosper and create more jobs in the country. They could have simply provided for downstream businesses and consumers to be considered earlier in the process that would affect them.

In Bill C-51 the Liberals treat each of the six Criminal Code amendments in a very shallow manner. What they are proposing in the bill is very weak and indeed very meek.

 

. 1710 + -

The title of the bill mentions that it will amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Looking at the title, one would think this means the Liberals were to do something about drug related crime, drug gangs or other things.

The first issue the Liberals say they are addressing in Bill C-51 is illegal gambling. Can we imagine the dismay of my constituents and I when we realized that in terms of gambling solutions the government is doing only one thing. It is allowing international cruise ships to operate casinos while sailing in Canadian waters. That is all it is proposing in the bill.

There is no cleaning up of numbers games, bookies, illegal gambling rackets or underground black market racketeers. There is nothing of that sort. Canadians do not even take cruise ships because they cannot afford it. Canadians are so heavily taxed and our dollar is so low that they stay at home on their holidays. They cannot leave this country with a 65 cent dollar. They can only travel as far as their 10 year old cars can take them.

The Liberal government is not fooling anyone. In my constituency of Surrey the provincial government has approved slot machines and gambling and the local municipal government has not. There is a contradiction between both governments.

In Bill C-51 the federal government has moved toward legalizing some form of gambling. Something is wrong when various levels of government contradict themselves. Would it not be nice and progressive if all levels of government complement each other rather than contradict each other? Do the Liberals forget what synergy means? Do they want to make two plus two equal three or five?

The second effort in Bill C-51 is the homicide amendment. It does away with a 19th century law which says that in order for a murder to be considered a homicide the death of the victim must take place within a year plus a day of the incident which allegedly caused the death.

We had a death recently in my constituency of Surrey Central. Sandor Nyerges was a deaf and mute 80 year old veteran of two world wars. He was attacked in a botched robbery attempt in his home. This brave, strong and determined Canadian was a survivor. He lived in the hospital for several days before he succumbed to his injuries.

It is a good thing that the Liberals are finally doing away with this 19th century law. Not all victims die immediately and we should make room for that in our criminal law. Why did Canadians have to wait for a full century for this law to be changed?

The third thing the government is doing with the bill is allowing the use of wiretapping to solve the crime of living off the avails of child prostitution, keeping a common bawdy house and using underaged prostitutes. Also the bill makes it a crime to communicate with anyone for the purposes of obtaining or attempting to obtain the services I mentioned.

North America has a serious drug abuse problem. In the lower mainland of British Columbia this problem is well known. Injection drug use is on the rise and prevalent. It is the most dangerous and serious of the drug use categories. It causes people to become sick, reckless and desperate. It is good that Bill C-51 is helping the law enforcement community to deal with this problem.

The Liberals could have gone further. They could have taken the opportunity to increase the penalties for those convicted of these offences. However the Liberals are not getting tough on crime.

 

. 1715 + -

The fourth thing the government is doing is changing the conditional sentence portion of the law. This amendment will ensure that while a conditional sentence is being served, the clock is stopped immediately once a breach of the conditional sentence takes place. The clock starts ticking again once the breach of the conditions is dealt with and a new sentence commences.

It used to be that a court hearing regarding the alleged breach of the conditional sentence had to take place within 30 days of the alleged breach. Not anymore. Bill C-51 will make the requirement for a court hearing of a breach to be held as soon as practical. This will make our law less harsh in terms of dealing with breaches of conditional sentences.

The Liberals did not take the opportunity to prevent the application of conditional sentencing to violent offences. The government missed another opportunity today to get tough on crime.

The fifth area the bill deals with is organized crime. No more can a mobster be considered for parole after serving one sixteenth of the sentence. There is a big change. Canadians do not want anyone being released on parole after serving one sixteenth or even one third of the sentence they have been given by the court. We do not give sentences by square root. It does not mean five years. Twenty-five years means twenty-five years, but here we are talking one sixteenth.

Gangland figures are already given the full benefit of our generous system of day parole, full parole and statutory release. The Liberals are leaving Canadians with a penal system designed to process criminals as fast as possible. The Liberals return the criminals to the streets as soon as possible so that they are not taking up space or time in our penal institutions.

Canadians know the Liberals are allowing minimal if any concern to be given to the possibility that the offender will commit more crimes or more offences.

The Liberals are more concerned about the rights of criminals and they are less concerned about the rights of victims and the safety of Canadian society.

The Liberal government should not be concerned about the rehabilitation of the criminal. It should be concerned about the criminal committing further crimes. Instead, the government is concentrating on aspects of how early a person convicted of a crime can be released. Again the Liberals are not getting tough on crime.

In the sixth category of changes this bill proposes, we have the catch-all category and the Liberals are going to do a number of housekeeping things. For example, Bill C-51 proposes to put a stop to using computers to copy currency. That looks good but in this category there are other measures but my time will not permit me to go into them.

In five of the six categories I have mentioned, the governing party in the House has disappointed us and let us down again. The Liberals are not taking concrete measures to protect Canadians, make our homes and streets safe and reduce crime through deterrence measures. Gambling, drugs, prostitution, organized crime, gangs and even homicide are a sad and threatening part of our culture.

Last week the British Columbian attorney general stated that our law enforcement agencies are losing the war against organized crime, gangs, drugs, prostitution, et cetera.

Most of us wish we did not have to deal with these things. Yet again, we want to deal effectively with the perpetrators of these crimes and reduce their harmful effects on innocent victims.

Speaking in terms of government and society, we can see that all over the world different governments approve of different things for their societies.

Some governments permit liberal use of dangerous drugs like heroin. In some societies prostitution is legal. Sometimes the results are very bad and harmful in those societies and sometimes not, as hard as that is to believe. For example, in some societies gambling is allowed.

 

. 1720 + -

The problem we encountered with these activities was that very often where one activity is treated as a crime it is often linked to other vices. In the same geographical area where gambling is legal they may have problems with organized crime and prostitution. Through education and prevention we can improve the way our society handles these vices. Our government should be proactive and not just reactive.

My colleague from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca had the House pass a motion supporting a national head start program for our youth. The goal was to care for each child and ensure that the needs of each child are met. This would help our children to lead crime free, healthy and prosperous lives.

The people of Surrey Central want our federal government to exercise a leadership role in terms of getting tough on crime. The Liberals have not done so with Bill C-51 which we are debating in the House.

On this side of the House we hope the Liberals will want to strengthen Bill C-51 along the lines that I have been talking about at the committee stage and the bill's progress through this House.

Having said all these things, I will not be supporting Bill C-51 in the House.

[Translation]

Mr. René Canuel (Matapédia—Matane, BQ): Mr. Speaker, most definitely, when we open up our morning papers and read about crime, of course we feel we are under attack. When we see abused children and women, we say it makes no sense.

We live in a society where there should be no crime but we know very well that crime does exist—and we see far too many reports on it. I will ask my hon. colleague this later, but will there be less crime tomorrow, or next year, just because we strengthen an act? I am not sure of this.

We do need laws, of course. In my riding, a priest, Father Leblanc, gave a ride to someone and lost his life. I will say no more about this, because the case will be coming before the courts, but a good Samaritan stops and picks someone up, disappears, and is later found dead after a search.

My question does not address crime per se. Everyone is against crime, and agrees it must be stopped. But how? How can we eradicate it in a highly civilized society? I would love to see crime totally eradicated, or at least gradually reduced. I believe this can be done through prevention.

A child aged two, four or five years who is not loved already has great anger bottled up inside. It grows, and becomes part of his very being. At aged 12 or 14, he is teased by his classmates and he then gives vent to that hidden anger. If his teachers, his parents or his guardians do not equip him with any ways of overcoming it, that anger will be expressed even more strongly.

 

. 1725 + -

My point is that what is needed is prevention. How can it be that so much money is put into law enforcement and not into prevention? I am asking my colleague what means of prevention could be created to put an end to this?

[English]

Mr. Gurmant Grewal: Mr. Speaker, I give credit to the hon. member for the important question he has put forward. But it does not mean I necessarily agree with him in what he is saying.

Prevention is always good and prevention is better than a cure. We in this country are in a damage control mode as far as crime is concerned. We are not in a preventive mode.

The worst part is that I am surprised at how government members represent their constituents when they are not listening to them. All Canadians are demanding that our laws be tougher so that we can prevent crime.

Bills we see in this House do not have any teeth. The Canadian Police Association has demanded from this government DNA legislation so that it can solve more crimes and prevent more crimes from happening. But this government has not done that.

Our system is such that it is a motivation for the criminals to commit crime. It is not a deterrent to prevent crime.

In a newspaper article I read that there is rationing of gasoline in RCMP cars in my constituency. How can we control crime, how can we spend money and not get anywhere? This government is at fault.

Mr. Steve Mahoney (Mississauga West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. gentleman from the Reform Party how he can justify voting against this bill when in doing so, he is saying he is opposed to abolishing provisions that prevent prosecuting individuals for homicide or criminal negligence when more than a year and a day has passed. He is opposed to making it easier to prosecute people who obtain services from underage prostitutes. He is opposed to helping judges and police deal more effectively with offenders who breach a condition of a conditional sentence order. He is opposed to making people convicted of organized crime offences ineligible for accelerated parole review. By voting against this bill he is saying he is opposed to giving new powers to justices to order an accused who is detained pending a bail hearing not to communicate with any witness or other person.

I refer him to issues around domestic violence. He is opposed by voting against Bill C-51 to changes that will indeed help to eradicate domestic violence and resolve these other issues of grave concern to the safety of all people in this country.

Could the hon. member explain why he is opposed to those amendments, to those changes to the Criminal Code and why he is voting against those aspects?

Mr. Gurmant Grewal: Mr. Speaker, I am so aggravated listening to the explanation by the member that it is hard to answer in the short time I have. Let me ask the hon. member why his party is not listening to Canadians. Why is it not listening to the Canadian Police Association? Why is it not listening to victims? Why is it determined only to listen to the criminals? Why can Liberal members not see with their own eyes prostitution, gambling, homicides? Criminals are committing crimes and getting away with it.

That is why we are not supporting this bill. This government does not listen to the people. It is not producing legislation that will work, that will give the RCMP and our police agencies enough tools to fight crime on the street.

When we go door knocking in campaigns we see the alarm signs on doors and windows. Not only are people not safe on their streets, they are not even safe in their own homes. That is why they use alarms. I ask this member to appeal to his government to put this in the bill.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): It being 5.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's order paper.



PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

 

. 1730 + -

[English]

SCHOLARSHIPS NAMED AFTER OLYMPIC ATHLETES

 

Mr. John Solomon (Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, NDP) moved

    That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider establishing full tuition scholarships named after each and every Canadian Gold Medal Olympic athlete starting with the 1998 Winter Olympics to encourage talented young Canadian athletes to complete their education at Canadian universities while continuing to excel in their particular Olympic sport and with the consideration of naming the first of such scholarships after the Sandra Schmirler Rink of Regina.

He said: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to speak to this very important motion.

This motion was inspired by the incredible victory of the Sandra Schmirler rink earlier this year. In fact it was on Sunday, February 5, 1998 at the Nagano Olympics, a victory that was watched by virtually every resident of Saskatchewan and made every Canadian proud.

This team of Canadian women from Regina's Caledonia Curling Club had racked up six provincial championships and three world titles by the time they claimed their first ever Olympic gold medal for women's curling since it became a full medal sport at this year's winter Olympics.

These women have become heroes to a new generation of young Canadians dreaming of representing Canada in the Olympic games, in particular those in winter sports. The skip of this rink, Sandra Schmirler, the third, Jan Betker, the second, Joan McCusker, the lead, Marsha Gudereit, and the alternate, Atina Ford, are all Saskatchewan born individuals. They are all Canadians and they excel in their sport.

I believe we should be establishing this particular scholarship for many good reasons and I will get into them right now.

I believe it is time to consider what steps go into making Olympic calibre athletes in Canada and how we can promote excellence in athletics and academics in our country. Canadian universities have long had a policy that they will not provide athletic scholarships in excess of $1,500 annually and not at all to students entering first year.

I support the main thrust of that policy because it is intended to steer our university system away from some of the excesses of the American system in which more money and attention is sometimes devoted to athletic teams, especially in bigger and richer schools, than the academic performance of the students they subsidize.

The big schools raise fairly large dollars from their alumni and draw the best athletes. They have not always been the best students, but it leaves the smaller schools scrambling for funding for their academic programs, which is, after all, supposed to be their core business activity.

This is what Canadian universities have wanted to avoid. However, the generous U.S. scholarships are drawing some 1,800 Canadian students annually to study south of the border. For many young athletes it represents the chance of a lifetime.

For example, the NDP leader of Ontario, Howie Hampton, left Fort Frances, Ontario as a young boy on a hockey scholarship to go to an American university. He returned years later after completing a law degree in Canada to practise law in his hometown, after, of course, making a stop in Saskatchewan to share in some of the experience of the New Democratic government of the late 1970s.

When Mr. Hampton went back to Fort Frances he coached some local hockey teams. From there he was elected to Queen's Park to serve as attorney general and minister of natural resources, and is now leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party.

But the point is that those scholarships are the chance of a lifetime.

 

. 1735 + -

Canada has a $350 million education deficit with the United States in terms of foreign students and now some of the universities in our western Canadian provinces are trying to make changes to Canadian policy to stem some of the flow of our best athletes to American schools, because when the students go the alumni and parent donations follow.

We all know that the federal government recently made those contributions tax exempt under Bill S-9 in the last parliament, while slashing federal funding for post-secondary education student aid.

I would like to share with Canadians this incredible betrayal to Canadian education. The Liberal government in the last parliament passed Bill S-9. It was supported by the Reform Party, by the Bloc and by the Conservative Party. The NDP was the only party to suggest that this bill was only a bill for the rich and the wealthy and that it was totally unfair to our education system.

While the Liberal government cut education funding in Canada by $2 billion a year, it is allowing Canadians to make contributions to U.S. universities and post-secondary institutions and take a tax deduction in Canada. Now the tax system in this country is supporting the U.S. education system while we cut back our own students. This is the Liberal, the Reform, the Tory and the Bloc way.

Bill S-9 is an insidious bill. I think the Liberals in this House should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. The opposition parties should be ashamed of themselves for abandoning young people in this country for the sake of American institutions. I cannot believe it.

When I tell people about Bill S-9 they are shocked. We now have tax deductions in Canada for making contributions to U.S. universities and post-secondary institutions. Some people say there is reciprocity. However, the facts show that over 25,000 Canadian students go to the U.S. Following them are donations to U.S. campuses from their parents, family members and wealthy corporations. But just under 5,000 U.S. students come to Canada.

It is a five to one ratio. We are supporting the education system in the U.S. with Canadian tax dollars while we abandon our students, while we abandon our young people in terms of supporting their educational desires and needs. It is incredible.

My proposal is designed to create full tuition scholarships, paid for by the federal government out of public funds. If we can afford to subsidize U.S. universities we can afford to subsidize Canadian athletes and Canadian institutions. My sense is that this will assist young Canadian athletes and provide them with the proper academic qualifications they will require in the global economy.

This would help Canadian universities as well. It would keep some of our best athletes at home, without unduly taxing their own alumni fundraising efforts and without creating further disparities between Canadian universities such as we have witnessed in the U.S.

By naming the scholarships after Canada's Olympic gold medalists, starting as I have suggested with the Sandra Schmirler rink of Regina, we would serve the dual purpose of recognizing their accomplishments and taking advantage of their status as role models to inspire the next generation of Olympic calibre athletes.

The government could finance this proposal easily, by the way, out of the savings it could reap in tax expenditures if it reversed the odious provisions of Bill S-9 to which I referred a few moments ago.

I also want to take some time to express the concerns we hear every year at about this time in my Regina constituency office from students and their parents about the state of student aid in this country and about the outrageous levels of debt students are required to take on if they do what governments, industry and indeed the future of our economy demands they do, which is to acquire at least an undergraduate degree.

Post-secondary training has never been more essential to the future of our country and it has never been more expensive. The benefits accrue to industry, government and society as a whole, as well as students, but the associated costs and risks are being more and more assumed by only the students. In fact many recent changes to student assistance on the federal side, including some incredibly discriminatory provisions last year prohibiting bankruptcies for 10 years to anyone carrying a student loan, are being driven by the big banks, which hypocritically lobby against student grants and lower tuition and then make money from the interest charges on student loans.

It is no wonder the banks are among the targets of next week's week of action planned by the Canadian Federation of Students. I salute and support those efforts by the Canadian Federation of Students.

 

. 1740 + -

The big corporations are tying the hands of our young people because those corporations will not pay or assist in funding their education, which would benefit our own country, but we allow the Reichmanns and the Bronfmans to write off hundreds of millions of dollars, almost on an annual basis, against our tax system, and they can write it off in the regular term of one year. Our students are now handcuffed. They have to take 10 years to pay back the loans because we have burdened them with an average debt of $25,000.

To come back to where I started with this proposal, this morning I reread some of the news stories about Schmirler's win last February and was reminded of something she said at that time.

She was asked about being called the best-ever female curling team and her answer typified the Canadian ideal of sports personship that endeared her so much to the people in my province of Saskatchewan. She said “It does not matter if I believe it or not. We go out there, we play for fun and we play the best that we can, and we happen to play at this level. Yes, we have won quite a bit, but I even know that back in Regina there are plenty of good teams”.

“But are they the best?” she was asked. “It is a good combination for us and it has been right ever since the day we put this team together. The personalities click and we are not bad curlers to boot”.

Wherever they went the women talked of their families, of their communities and of their country. Their win was an accomplishment for them. However, it was not in boasting as an individual achievement, but more as an expression of the importance of teamwork within a supportive family and community environment.

Sandra Schmirler and her team represented the best values of Saskatchewan and they still represent the best values of Saskatchewan. We in Saskatchewan are very proud of our athletes for their values of family, of community, of hard work and of modesty.

We need more heroes like that. This is why I am proposing a federally funded, full tuition scholarship program to keep young athletes in Canadian universities to benefit Canada. I can think of no more fitting example than Sandra Schmirler and her rink to name the first fund after.

I happen to have a list of other gold medalists who I would like to see these scholarships named after. They are: Ross Rebagliati, a gold medalist in snowboarding; Catriona LeMay Doan from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, a gold medalist in the 500 metre long track speed skating event; Annie Perreault, a gold medalist in the 500 metre short track; Marc Gagnon, Derrick Campbell, Eric Bédard and François Drolet, gold medalists in the 5,000 metre men's relay short track; the women's curling team, as I mentioned, which won the gold medal; and Pierre Leuders and Dave MacEachern, gold medalists in the two-person bobsled.

We also won silver and bronze medals. At some point I would like to see this kind of a scholarship program extended not just to the gold medal winners but to those who receive silver and bronze medals in the Olympic Games.

In summary, I believe this is a very significant move which the government could make to assist some of the challenges that face our athletes in Canada and to make them Olympic calibre athletes.

I submit that we could pay for this probably 10,000 times over on an annual basis if we repealed Bill S-9, which literally drains money from our Canadian education system and gives it to the Americans. This is again a bill that was supported by the Liberals, the Reform Party, the Bloc and the Conservatives.

I think the more young people learn about this insidious legislation, which is costing them their birthright in terms of sufficiently funded post-secondary education, they are really going to make a serious decision come the next election and decide that maybe what they need is a government that will look at education from a very serious minded perspective and from a perspective that will be supportive for our young people because they are the future of our country.

I look forward to hearing the comments of my colleagues when they stand to speak to this motion. I will be happy to provide a five minute wrap up at the end.

Mr. Steve Mahoney (Mississauga West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I wish I could, in one sense, stand here and say to the member opposite that I am willing in whole or at least in part to support this motion because I think the intent is probably good.

 

. 1745 + -

It is unfortunate, however, when we politicize the Olympic games and our Olympic champions. Who will forget the pride that all Canadians felt, perhaps with the exception of one or two members of the Bloc who caused some difficulties with regard to the Olympics? I will not go into the great flag flap during this debate. Who can forget? Most of us stayed up until all hours of the night and morning to watch the events.

We all felt a great disappointment when Canada did not come home with hockey medals. However, when we look at the inclusion of the elite players of the National Hockey League, as exciting as the hockey could have been, might have been and should have been, the reality is that I never considered those individuals to be true Olympians in the same sense as the people the hon. member has mentioned such as Ross Rebagliati, Annie Perreault, Marc Gagnon and his team. There was excitement in their success and that of our bobsled team.

Probably we received more television coverage this time around due to the time change for curling. Some people made disparaging remarks about curling being an Olympic sport. It can be a demanding game requiring a tremendous amount of sacrifice and effort on behalf of the athletes.

The member suggests that the first scholarship fund should be named after Sandra Schmirler Rink of Regina. There is no question that we congratulate her and all the citizens of Saskatchewan. I may be wrong—and the member can correct me if he so wishes—but I believe Saskatchewan might have led the nation in medals at the Olympics. One of our smaller provinces turns out tremendously talented athletes who did—

Mr. John Solomon: And members of Parliament too.

Mr. Steve Mahoney: I do not know about that. Probably in the past that might have been true, thinking back to some of the member's predecessors like Tommy Douglas and some of the folk I knew quite well on a personal basis through my family connections. I will not go into disparaging remarks about the member opposite in relation to his level of talent.

While I believe his heart is in the right place in trying to come up with a plan that would establish a scholarship fund named after Canadians of which we are all proud, I believe in typical fashion his head is in the wrong place. The reason is that New Democrats very seldom take into account the economic impact of motions they put forward.

I give him credit that he suggested wrongly and in a partisan and political manner the way in which this might be funded. I do not believe he has done his homework. If he wants to bring forward a debate on whether or not those credits should be allowed for people investing in their children's education wherever the education may be, perhaps that is what he should do. Perhaps he could hear from the families making the investment to support their children in attaining higher education and higher levels of athletic excellence in some instances south of the border.

Very often we tend to have eight months of winter and four months of bad skating in Canada. There is a need at times for athletes to train in warmer climates. Therefore they go south to train at facilities which are not available here. Unless they are built indoors at a tremendous cost in most instances to the local taxpayer, those facilities are not available.

It is not as simple as the member opposite in the New Democratic Party would have it. He bashes big corporations and American institutions or the government, which NDPers attempt to do on an ongoing basis.

 

. 1750 + -

The Government of Canada does a number of things to assist athletes. During the last fiscal year under the athlete assistance program some 900 high performance athletes received financial support totalling more than $7.25 million. The taxpayer is supporting elite athletes in their attempts to improve their success rate, to bring home the gold, the silver and the bronze.

While we all revel in the success of our achievers who bring home some form of medal, is it not equally important to recognize those who compete, who try, who are a part of our team and perhaps do not succeed to the level where they bring home a medal?

There is a real danger of elitism if we are not careful in recognizing that our entire Olympic team should be supported. It should clearly be supported by all parliamentarians in all parties from all parts of the country. That has not been the case in the past.

The government has supported athletes to the tune of $7.25 million. Athletes receive living and training allowances, depending on the success and performance level, ranging from $185 up to as much as $810 per month. That can be a pretty major amount of money to assist an athlete who is training and working toward an education.

Other forms of scholarships exist which I will go into momentarily. The awards under the athlete assistance program are practical awards. They support the worthy. While the highest individual amounts awarded go to top Olympic and world championship performers, the largest number of awards go to athletes who have the potential to excel in high performance sport. That does not mean they are fortunate enough to be carrying a medal around their neck, but they have the potential to succeed.

I noted a story the other night which I believe was on CTV. I forget the name and I apologize to the individual. A young athlete was striving to make the national team as a diver. This is the kind of excellence. His parents were fundraising $12,000 to assist him in achieving his goal of making the national team and eventually the Olympic team. It is an extraordinary challenge for a family to undertake.

There are opportunities for fundraising. In spite of the comments of the members from the left spectre of the New Democratic Party, corporate Canada supports Olympic athletes. It supports young people trying to achieve greatness and trying to do better, whether to excel in the Olympics or to excel in sports in their home communities.

We also support them through Canada's millennium scholarship fund which was established in the last budget. It will award more than 100,000 scholarships annually to full time and part time students based on financial need and merit, not based on their ability to leap a bar, swim a course or play a particular game.

I support assisting our athletes, but to put in place a new level of scholarship without any concern about the cost to the taxpayers is more typically irresponsible NDP rhetoric. The member opposite has much to be proud of about the athletes in his province of Saskatchewan. All Canadians share that pride.

The member should take a look at the numbers and realize the government is supporting Olympic athletes and post-secondary education efforts on behalf of all students in Canada. As a result I am unfortunately unable to support the motion put forward by the member.

 

. 1755 + -

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, this evening we are debating a motion put forward by the member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre. It is a private member's motion which reads:

    That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider establishing full tuition scholarships named after each and every Canadian gold medal Olympic athlete starting with the 1998 Winter Olympics to encourage talented young Canadian athletes to complete their education at Canadian universities while continuing to excel in their particular Olympic sport and with the consideration of naming the first of such scholarships after the Sandra Schmirler Rink of Regina.

As the House knows this is not a votable motion. The House will not be making a decision on whether to move ahead on this motion. However, it is an idea which merits debate and consideration in the House. I commend the member for bringing it forward.

The speech from the government member opposite made me think of the Rodney Dangerfield line “I don't get no respect”. I am sure the member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre feels that way. I will probably say a couple of things that may not be construed as totally respectful, but we all have the highest respect for Sandra Schmirler and her rink.

I do not know about many others in the Chamber, but I remember rushing home last winter many times after my office work and my work in the House to watch the curling finals on the Olympic channel. It was a real pleasure and a real enjoyment to see Sandra Schmirler and the other Canadians on her rink from Saskatchewan be the best in the world, especially when it was the first time curling was part of the Olympic Games. It was a real highlight for all Canadians and I think for many of us here. The member's desire to recognize this achievement is certainly a very natural and very laudable one.

The member made some rather strong and gratuitous swipes at other parties in the House for suggesting that Canadians could save their money and decide to go outside the country to spend their education dollars. I think the United States was the one the member chose to attack. He then said later in his remarks that government actions would tie the hands of our young people with respect to their educational choices.

It is fair to say to the member that there is some inconsistency here. He does not want to tie the hands of young people in some ways, but he is quite happy to tie the hands of young people in other ways. Rather than imprisoning our young people in Canada by taxation policy or public economic policy, we should simply make Canadian educational institutions strong, good and competent so that they deliver a fine standard of education. Far from Canadians wanting to go outside the country for education, we would have people from many other countries flocking to Canada for the high quality of education. I think that would be a better goal to achieve.

In that regard I agree with the member that the government has wounded the post-secondary education system by its slashing and burning of support for post-secondary education. That is what it has done. It has taken away a full $1.5 billion each and every year from the post-secondary education system.

Then it gave back a pittance, $250 million a year or about one-sixth of what it took away, beat its chest and asked “Is this not wonderful?”. It forgot to mention that it trampled on provincial rights and jurisdiction in so doing because post-secondary education is the purview of the provinces. By setting up scholarship arrangements in that jurisdiction it simply trampled on federal-provincial relations. That has sown some bitter seeds that will bear bitter fruit for the federal government and for federal-provincial arrangements in a whole lot of areas where goodwill and good relations are vital.

 

. 1800 + -

It is extremely important that we support quality education in our country. Instead of slashing dollars from that sector government should find some dollars to slash from some of its other endeavours. It could cut some of the wasteful spending and duplications of spending we have pointed out many times on the record.

I am sure the member will respond to my concern that there is a double standard in attacking the wish of members of parliament from all parties except the New Democrats to give freedom of choice to our students and not to tie their hands in the matter of educational choices but to give them good reasons to stay in Canada other than you have to because we will not let you spend your money anywhere else.

It would be appropriate to address the idea of athletic scholarships as worthy of support. There are scholarships in many area of endeavour like science, engineering, music and literature. Most would agree that the answer to whether athletic scholarships are legitimate and desirable would be yes.

We want to encourage young Canadians to seek excellence in many diverse ways by drawing on the best that young minds and young bodies can achieve. Athletic excellence is a very important component of human endeavour. Athletic endeavour should therefore be encouraged and recognized.

Athletic awards of up to $1,500 are currently available to some students excluding freshmen at some Canadian universities. First year students are not eligible. The idea was to have students demonstrate some commitment to an educational program before scholarships would be available.

At a meeting of the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union in June some universities proposed increasing the amount from $1,500 to $3,000 and making first year students eligible. The motion did not pass at this meeting because many universities said that they did not have the necessary funds. We can thank the government for a lot of that difficulty.

The number of athletes receiving this type of assistance was estimated to be less than 200. There is a lack of dollars. I do not think it is because the super rich are being parsimonious with their support for a lot of these endeavours for helping our young people as the mover of the motion suggests. There has not been the commitment on the part of this government to make sure post-secondary dollars are protected and enhanced where possible.

The naming of scholarships after Olympic gold medalists is an interesting idea. Recognizing the achievements of our Canadian athletes in that way would have a lot of favour with the public. Our Olympic program is valued. Three Canadian cities are bidding to be the site of the 2010 Olympics, including my home city of Calgary. The decision as to what site in Canada will be designated as host city will be made next month. I salute my city of Calgary for the vigorous bid it is putting forward to host the Olympics.

The athletes who are looking forward to participating in the upcoming Olympics have the support and encouragement of all of us. Sometimes we think that what we do in the House is a bit of a marathon. I think our athletes who train and work so hard for these Olympic games and the cities and volunteers that host them are to be commended.

 

. 1805 + -

I think this is an interesting motion. I appreciate being able to speak on it. I thank the hon. member for putting it forward to the House.

[Translation]

Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, at the start of my presentation, I would like to thank the member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre for making it possible, with this motion, to finally hold a debate in this House on funding for competitive athletes in Canada.

The motion refers to study bursaries at the university level for top athletes. This proposal contains what I call the NDP illusion, in other words, the good news always has to come from the federal government, regardless of jurisdictions and responsibilities.

Education is a provincial matter. The differences between Quebec and other parts of Canada are very clear. For example, Quebec already has a system of loans and bursaries. Bursaries, which are based on financial need, are already available for students at both the college and the university levels. And they are available to everyone in all disciplines, regardless of performance.

The bursaries proposed in the motion are lot like the millennium scholarships. This is not the right sort.

Still, the member has clearly put his finger on the problem, a situation that requires examination, but his solution, in the end, is not a good one.

At the end of the summer, when I did my prebudget consultations, I met young parents, maybe 35 or 40 years old, who have young children who are active in high performance sports and could well compete nationally or internationally one day. These people are facing real financial problems. This is where we should look so we can assure parents of the help they need so they do not have to pay out themselves $2,000 or $3,000 or $5,000 a year for training for their child whose talents they want to develop.

One father, a bus driver, talked to me for an hour in my office about all the sacrifices he has to make and juggling he has to do to pay for his child's sports and studies. This includes skates and all sorts of equipment. It adds up to thousands of dollars very quickly.

The vision for the future has much more to do with ensuring that thousands of young people can reach their full athletic potential, take part in competitions, get the necessary support while they are growing, and seeing that their parents get that assistance.

During the pre-budget consultation, I made suggestions in that sense, proposing that tax credits or some other form of assistance be used to provide some relief to parents, given the financial efforts they are making to help their children.

I am very aware that parents often face a rather serious problem. On the one hand, there is the child's talent, while on the other hand, there is the question of whether the parents can afford to provide that support. Since we are all very proud when our athletes win, we should also be very proud to provide them with adequate training and financial support.

I want to say something to the Liberal member who said earlier that everyone in this House is proud of the achievements of Canadian athletes, except perhaps a few Bloc members. This is a petty attitude which does not at all reflect what happened here when our Olympic medallists came to meet us.

I do not think anyone went and asked Alexandre Depatie of Laval whether his parents were sovereignists or federalists. This is irrelevant when it comes to recognizing the quality of an athlete's performance. The important thing is to allow our athletes to develop their full potential and to congratulate them when they perform exceptionally well and make it all the way to the world championships.

 

. 1810 + -

The NPD's idea to raise the issue of financing, of helping elite athletes is a good one. This, however, is not the best way to go about it, as we saw when the heritage committee held hearings on professional and amateur sport.

The hearings on professional sports attracted a lot of people. Many members of Parliament came because of the presence of National Hockey League magnates. However, when we held our hearings on amateur sport, the audiences were a lot smaller. There were many empty seats. Yet, the problem that exists is a very important one.

Could a happy medium not be found between the tax credits offered for boxes at professional sports events and the financial assistance actually available to parents whose children show promise but who do not have the money to pay for equipment and travel so their kids can develop their potential?

This is not the only level of competition where there is a problem. Earlier, the Liberal member mentioned federal government programs to support outstanding athletes when they were selected for national teams.

People in my riding came to tell me that they had been selected to attend the World Cup in Germany, but were offered funding covering only 20% or 30% of the expenses they would actually incur. I saw folks who were unable to attend the World Cup because they did not have the money it took.

When it has been decided that someone has the skills and the ability to attend such an event, the funding should be adequate. There is perhaps nothing wrong with asking the athlete to contribute a portion, but it should be along the lines of 80-20, that is 80% funded by the government and 20% by the individual, by the student, not the reverse.

It is a bit insulting, when it comes right down to it. If your country has decided that you are talented enough to compete internationally and has selected you to represent it at these competitions, but you have a month, or a month and a half, to come up with $3,000, $4,000, $5,000 or $10,000 to pay for your trip, there is something wrong. These problems should be worked out in the next budget so that funding can be as fair as possible.

It hits home even more when put in perspective. For example, if the City of Quebec is selected as the site of the 2010 Games, now is when the athletes who will take part in those games are starting their training. Children who are now six, eight, ten years old will be 20 or 25 in 2010 and they will be the ones performing. I hope that Quebec will be able to have a team then, like all the other nations. This way, we will be able to say how proud we are of our young athletes' performance.

There is a detail missing in this proposal. It may sound technical, but it is nonetheless relevant. This motion refers to universities. Assistance could be directed not only to university students but also to college students.

In Quebec, we have vocational and professional colleges, commonly known as cegeps, where technicians are trained, individuals who will be available for employment when their training is completed. Their fields of study include computer science, wildlife management, animal health, biology and all kinds of other sectors. They can enter the labour force immediately upon graduation. Why would these students, and those in vocational training, not be eligible for this kind of program?

Why not help students training to become joiners or carpenters who also have athletic abilities to perform as athletes while at the same time being able to pursue their education in adequate conditions? I think this would be a good way to show that we value manual and technical work.

I am not suggesting the member's intent was to exclude these people. I just see in this debate a great opportunity to examine all aspects of the question and to raise all important issues.

 

. 1815 + -

Ultimately, and here lies the member's motion's greatest merit, the government will have to do something to help young athletes in Quebec and Canada who are taking part in international competitions. Care must be taken to change the current situation, where many young people give up, not because they cannot or will not compete, but because they do not have the financial support they need. In that sense, we must applaud the member's initiative in putting this issue forward.

[English]

Mr. Mark Muise (West Nova, PC): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to address Bill 374, a bill that would effectively establish and name scholarships after Olympic gold medalists.

Establishing scholarships for students would obviously be a huge benefit to all those considering attending university. Today's university students are struggling to cope with high tuition costs and excessive debt. The average university student graduating from university owes more than $25,000 and many students have been forced into bankruptcy. This is totally outrageous. Even before these students find their first real job they are straddled with a huge mortgage.

The Liberal answer to this problem was to create the millennium fund which is more of a monument to the current Prime Minister than a positive initiative. Only 7% of Canadian students will actually benefit from this fund.

Despite this bleak outlook students continue to pursue a university or college education because they realize it is their best opportunity at finding a decent job.

It is obvious our students require immediate assistance. They are mortgaging their futures without the hope of finding a decent job. Youth unemployment is at a staggering 15% nationwide and with the economic climate as it is today their hopes of finding a job are dwindling.

Reducing taxes would help stimulate greater economic growth, thereby providing greater employment opportunities for our youth. The government could further assist the economy by returning the EI premium surplus to workers and owners alike, where it rightfully belongs.

This bill would be beneficial to those students who are presently in university or who are contemplating entering in the near future. However, these scholarships would also serve other very important purposes.

Naming scholarships after Olympic gold medalists would be a wonderful way to pay tribute to those athletes who brought home Olympic glory. These athletes' hard work and dedication to their particular sport could serve as a reminder to our students of whatever accomplishments they set their minds to they could accomplish. Whether students are interested in sports or not these Olympic champions could serve as role models for our students. They epitomize the meaning of commitment. I am not necessarily talking only about commitment in sports. I am also talking about commitment needed to succeed in academics, business and in life.

Establishing and naming scholarships after Olympic gold medalists would also help bring recognition to our Canadian Olympic program. It would help remind all Canadians of the outstanding accomplishments of our athletes in international competition.

Canada's Olympic program needs visibility to encourage greater financial participation from the private sector. Our Olympic program is suffering from a serious lack of funding. Our athletes cannot focus their full attention on training because of a lack of training allowances. Our Canadian athletes need greater support if they are to achieve world class results and at present the government is not willing to provide the necessary funding for them to achieve this goal.

Only a few weeks ago one of Canada's bobsledders was forced to emigrate to the United States to try to make the U.S. team. The U.S. financially supports its athletes so they can concentrate on becoming the best they can be.

Canada still has much to be proud of in our Olympic athletes. Despite their financial limitations our athletes still manage to dazzle the world with a number of memorable performances that have resulted in Olympic gold.

 

. 1820 + -

Who can forget the Atlanta Olympics and Donovan Bailey, the fastest man in the world? For a moment in time his stunning victory captured the imagination of all Canadians and helped instill a sense of pride in ourselves that we as Canadians have not experienced since.

We often make fun of excessive American patriotism, however perhaps it is time Canadians began basking in our own history, in our own accomplishments. Canadians should be proud of who we are and what we have accomplished as a united country.

After all, let us not forget that we are still considered the best country in the world in which to live. Let us help instill some pride in our country and pride in our athletes.

We should not have to wait every four years during Olympic broadcasts to be reminded of the wonderful performance of gold medal winning athletes such as Nancy Greene, Barbara Ann Scott, Donovan Bailey, Gaétan Boucher and many others who have been named here.

Let us help keep the wonderful memories of their accomplishments alive and well by attaching their names to scholarships. Establishing and naming scholarships after Olympic gold medalists would serve a number of purposes I have previously mentioned.

I conclude by congratulating the hon. member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre for introducing this very interesting bill.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi (Kitchener—Waterloo, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Kitchener—Waterloo Oktoberfest will be starting this Friday and will be going for 10 days. I know all hon. members are most interested in enjoying our hospitality.

I will first make some comments on what the Bloc member said, that all Canadians from coast to coast, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, are incredibly proud of the achievements of our Olympic athletes.

We are proud of them for getting there, for participating at that elite level. We are also incredibly proud of them in terms of the medals they brought back to Canada. I think it is a point of real unity and it is a real understanding for Canadians from Quebec meeting people from B.C. and other parts of Canada, that intermingling.

The member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre's suggestion that a full series of full tuition scholarships for promising young Canadian athletes be established in the name of Canada's gold medalists is certainly a great suggestion and it is something that has response on all sides of the House. I can appreciate that he would want one of the scholarships to be named after curling gold medal winner Sandra Schmirler who thrilled many Canadians from coast to coast.

Every community greatly appreciates its own Olympic athletes. The late Victor Davis from my riding was one of the recipients at the 1984 Olympics.

I think all members of this House will agree that seeing Canadian athletes represent Canada on the world stage provides Canadians with a strong sense of national pride. Our high performance athletes are also excellent role models for all Canadians, particularly our youth.

Their achievements instil pride and inspire young Canadians to pursue excellence in sports and other endeavours.

 

. 1825 + -

The government is playing a great role. We are making great financial contributions. Let me also stress that it is the responsibility of all Canadians to make individual contributions.

Mr. John Solomon (Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments made by members tonight with respect to this motion. I thank the member for Churchill for seconding this motion. I thank as well the member for South Shore from the Progressive Conservative Party who supports this motion. That is a very important thing to do at this moment.

I assure the member for Calgary—Nose Hill from the Reform Party that this bill is not a double standard. It does provide an additional amount of support for our young people for their education. She says that if we repealed Bill S-9 it would tie the hands of young people. This will not tie the hands of young people. It will provide them with all kinds of opportunities.

There are 25,000 Canadian young people attending American universities and other institutions which is 500% more than the number of Americans attending our institutions. That was the case before Bill S-9, which provided tax deductions for making contributions to U.S. universities, was implemented in the House. I disagree with the member on that. It is something she should look a little closer at.

With respect to the Liberal Party, the member for Ottawa—Vanier mentioned that he thinks this is a good idea. I appreciate that. However, the member for Mississauga West who read the response from the government side did not read the motion. He is still fighting the 1995 Ontario provincial election. That was the indication I had from his remarks. They were quite provocative. He was speaking for his government and basically it missed the point.

It is not surprising that he attacked the New Democratic Party. He attacked athletes. He attacked young people. He attacked the unemployed. He is playing politics. He thinks this motion is something that is not worthy of consideration by this House. As a matter of fact, what is more political is that he and his government have cut back education, in particular post-secondary funding for education, to such an extent that there is a looming crisis in education for young people in terms of their opportunity to access it.

In order to buy some political capital the government institutes a new program called the millennium fund which may over a number of years provide additional scholarships for 6% or 7% of the eligible students. It excludes 93% or 94% of all students who may require some additional funding. The government in my view has intruded in the provincial scene with respect to the millennium fund scholarship program initiatives.

The Bloc made a correct observation when the member indicated that we have not included in the motion funding for cégeps or technical schools. That is a good idea that could be incorporated in this motion.

I thank members for participating in the debate. I appreciate their viewpoints. Although the motion is not universally embraced, I would ask for unanimous consent to allow this motion to be votable.

The Deputy Speaker: Does the House give its consent that this motion be made votable?

An hon. member: No.

Mr. John Solomon: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I ask the House if it would consider allowing this motion to be referred to committee for further study.

The Deputy Speaker: Does the House give its consent to have the motion referred to committee for further study?

An hon. member: No.

The Deputy Speaker: The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped from the order paper.

 

. 1830 + -

[Translation]

It being 6.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to a special debate on the situation in Kosovo, pursuant to the order adopted earlier today.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[English]

KOSOVO

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.) moved:  

    That this House take note of the dire humanitarian situation confronting the people of Kosovo and the government's intention to take measures in co-operation with the international community to resolve the conflict, promote a political settlement for Kosovo and facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance to refugees.

He said: Mr. Speaker, let me express my thanks to members of the House for granting the opportunity for this special debate on the situation in Kosovo.

It is a difficult and troubling time as we watch a tragedy unfold in that part of the world. It is one in which I believe Canadians are deeply engaged in seeing how we can try to find a solution. The immediate issue we face of course is the imminent danger to the life and well-being of tens of thousands of people in that area.

The Yugoslav government has a long history of its involvement. It is important to point out that in the late 1980s, 1989 to be exact, it withdrew the autonomous status that Kosovo had enjoyed with the former Yugoslavia. This gave rise to an insurgent movement and after nearly a decade of political repression, it has resulted in open fighting.

We can understand and perhaps could even have accepted the Yugoslav government's need to preserve its own internal security and to defend its borders from outside, which it says is the roots of its campaign of mass military action that it launched last February and March. But it is clear and obvious to anyone who looks at what is taking place that the Yugoslav government has gone way beyond anything that can be justified in terms of those set objectives.

The brutal tactics of the Yugoslav authorities in countering the Kosovo Liberation Army have included shelling civilian populations, burning homes and crops, and the execution of innocent civilians. A couple of quite tragic examples will suffice to make the point.

Just one week ago diplomatic observers visited the village of Gladno Selo, which means hungry village in our language. Virtually every house in that village had been destroyed. No furniture or possessions remained anywhere. It was flattened to the ground. There was no trace of any of the inhabitants of that village.

On the same day villagers in the Vranic area said that an indiscriminate Yugoslav offensive had started a few days earlier with artillery and then infantry backed by mechanized weapon vehicles. Twenty thousand villagers were reportedly driven from their homes into the mountains.

The next day the military informed the villagers that it was safe to return. As their convoy began to work its way back to the village, police, army and others stopped, attacked, searched and looted the convoy. The charred remains of 150 vehicles were later observed along the road to Vranic. Clearly, many people paid the price with their lives.

[Translation]

It is very clear. Canada and the communities must reject terrorism as a means of obtaining independence for Kosovo. We have stated clearly that the solution for Kosovo is independence within Yugoslavia. No peace is possible in the Balkans if the borders can be changed by force.

We invested a lot to prevent that in Bosnia. No one in Canada and in the international community supports the use of violence to achieve political ends.

 

. 1835 + -

We have even less tolerance for the actions of the Government of Yugoslavia, which controls the military, paramilitary and police forces, which in turn are using the government's artillery, tanks and planes to subdue its own people.

[English]

There are times when we have to look at the rules that guide us. There are precedents, conventions, covenants, agreements, documents and treaties, but oftentimes those have to be weighed against the sheer weight of humanity and the suffering that goes along with it.

Clearly, in this case we have the making of a major humanitarian disaster. Aid agencies report that close to 300,000 people have been displaced as a result of the actions of militarists in Yugoslavia and Kosovo. Thirty thousand have become refugees in surrounding countries. The remainder are displaced persons within the republic of Yugoslavia.

We also know that in that part of the world winter is soon approaching. It is just a matter of days before the snow arrives and upward of 50,000 people are living without any form of shelter. I do not think we can afford to wait until they are frozen on the hillsides to resolve to do something, to draw the line on the actions of the government that has made them flee in the first place and put them in this untenable situation.

I want to say that from the outset Canada has attempted to mobilize and energize international action. Last summer we underwent a quite substantial diplomatic campaign in capitals around the world to try to get the United Nations Security Council engaged directly in this issue, with some degree of success. It was through those urgings that the security council, which had lain dormant on this issue for a long period time, began to meet.

I also wrote directly to Russian foreign minister Primakov reminding him that as a permanent member of the council and a privileged partner with the Belgrade government, Russia had a special role to play in putting effective pressure on Milosevic.

As many members will recall, when we had the meetings of the G-8 summit in London and Birmingham last spring, there had been a direct commitment by the Russian government to intercede with Milosevic, to ask for the kind of response on the humanitarian basis that was required. As I said, they have that special access. We have made a particular effort to try to have the Russians live up to that kind of commitment and to use whatever special offices they may occupy with the Belgrade people.

I have also just recently repeated the same message to the new foreign minister, Ivanov, just before he travelled to Belgrade this weekend.

I would also like to report that we also sent our special envoy to Belgrade and to Kosovo over this past weekend to begin to undertake direct Canadian representations within that area itself, but not with a great deal of success.

I think these actions are clearly reflective of the combined actions of many other countries that have been introducing envoys, making representations and trying to get a peaceful, political reconciliation or resolution to this dispute.

In September the security council adopted a resolution that demanded that Yugoslav forces cease attacking civilians and withdraw forces that were being used to oppress their population, that they should begin meaningful dialogue and negotiations with political leaders in Kosovo with a view to achieving a political settlement, that the Kosovars themselves, the KLA, refrain from violence and also come to the negotiation table, and that there be clear commitments to allow for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and freedom of movement for international observers.

At the same time, there has been an opportunity for organizations like the OSCE and others to send missions in. Again Canada has participated in observer missions within Kosovo in an attempt to provide an international presence and an opportunity to monitor these areas.

 

. 1840 + -

The United States government has made a variety of efforts, including one that is still ongoing with its special envoy to again try to come to grips with the Yugoslav government and the Kosovars to say that there are ways and means of resolving this and the international community is behind them.

It is clear that up to this point the Belgrade government has simply been playing a cat and mouse game with the rest of the world and has been toying with the lives of its own citizens. It has claimed that the Kosovo crisis is purely an internal affair, that there is no violation of human rights, and that it is simply responding to terrorist attacks. This is after close to 15,000 Kosovar refugees have already crossed the border into Albania.

When NATO ministers agreed to prepare a wide range of contingency plans to prevent a spillover into the neighbourhoods of Macedonia, President Milosevic again promised that mediation and peaceful activities would ensue. He had promised President Yeltsin in a widely publicized meeting that he would implement a plan of action so a group of observers could come to Belgrade to start talking about the return of the international community to the OSCE. He agreed to set up centres where displaced persons could seek help.

However, just to show the calumny that takes place, within two weeks of making that commitment, the Yugoslav army intensified shelling and pursued actions which pushed more people out of their homes and their villages. Police routinely denied any kind of access for international observers. Over the summer the tempo of aggression toward its own people had increased.

The Belgrade authorities had clearly decided two things. First, to uproot as many Kosovars as possible, torching their homes, destroying their livelihoods. The price of supporting the insurgents would become too great. It was an act of terrorism. Those the army and the police could not convince, the winter would. Second is very much the point of tonight's debate. It was clear they did not believe the international community would act so decisively to prevent this from happening.

When we look at this record of attempts and efforts to try to come to grips with the situation and the duplicitous responses from the government itself, we can see how those conclusions could be reached. The question is what are the choices and options before us. That is the point of the debate tonight and why we welcome the participation of members of parliament who are speaking on behalf of their constituents.

To focus that debate I turn back to resolution 1199 which was adopted in September and the demands that were made. At the same time those demands were clearly articulated, NATO, which is the only international organization that has the capacity to mobilize any form of international action in the area, also began to prepare plans for air intervention and to implement and look at the contingencies for those plans. As NATO countries identified their contributions, Belgrade again in its cat and mouse game began to moderate its behaviour.

Resolution 1199 has clearly called upon the Yugoslav authorities to meet a series of conditions. As the secretary general said in his report which was tabled on Monday, those conditions have not been met. He reported that there still continues to be violations of human rights, that there still continues to be transgressions against humanitarian principles and standards, and that any compliance is clearly far from complete.

 

. 1845 + -

While the security council continues to wrestle with its problems in trying to come to grips with this issue it is also important that the broader international community of which we are also members begin to look at how it can exert maximum pressure and follow through on the declarations that have been made. It is clear that the Belgrade authorities are not of a mind to negotiate willingly. They must feel the full weight and pressure of the international community to bring them to the table and find a solution. NATO is an important part of this effort.

I have urged NATO colleagues from the outset to look at the broadest possible range of contingencies they can take to promote a resolution with particular emphasis on having a proportionate response using the right modulated measure to suit the condition. NATO has prepared a number of actions to show Milosevic that he has gone too far and must change his ways. These plans include air strikes aimed at the capacity of the Yugoslav army and police to drive people from their homes and to try to use that in a selective way to show they cannot use these forces as a form of intimidation and terror against their own population.

I emphasize that NATO is also looking at ways in which it can create a more secure environment for displaced persons to return to their homes. As the NATO meetings continue to the end of this week we will continue to emphasize the importance of developing those plans and actions that can ensure proper treatment of the displaced persons and the access to humanitarian assistance. It is also clear that NATO must be ready to act. It is also clear that Canada must be able to contribute to its readiness to act. It is also clear that such actions do not come easy. They are difficult and they must be wrestled with. That is why it is very important that we use this opportunity to consult with the House.

I was at United Nations last week for several days, meeting with the secretary-general and I spoke to members of the security council, a body by which we hope some time tomorrow we will be accepted. In the meantime we can only make our representations. I expressed that it is preferable that the security council use its article VII mandate to give clear direction. It ought to do that but there is also another reality that one or two permanent members of the security council who hold the veto power have said they will refuse to give such a mandate.

That is a tough dilemma. I still expect that tomorrow or the day after there will be further attempts to have the security council come to resolution but if not and the veto is exercised or the security council itself does not take action, does that mean that we stop and give up and allow the humanitarian tragedy to unfold? That is a dilemma we have to face.

I want to give every assurance that we have made every effort on the phones, in the corridors and in the various embassies around the world the last several days doing everything we possibly can to find a way of ensuring these actions take place within the right context and the right frame. We still have to face the terrible tragedy that we may have to decide that without that clear mandate there is enough legitimacy in resolution 1199 already passed and the clear statement by the secretary-general that has not been complied with that we would have to contemplate other actions and other measures. These would be considered at NATO council meetings at the end of this week. It is one of those tough choices that have to be made by all of us in this setting. However, under these circumstances we must be reminded of the saying that all it takes for evil to triumph is that the good do nothing.

 

. 1850 + -

I am here in the House this evening to invite members to express themselves on this issue and give us the best of their judgments so that we can take into account, as we go through as a government some difficult decisions in the next three or four days. I hope members will remember that all it takes for evil to triumph is for the good to do nothing.

Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I have a number of questions for the minister. I will try to be brief.

I realize how difficult the situation is. I guess the question a lot of people are asking is what are we going to bomb if we bomb something. That is a question we need to ask. We also need to know what happens after that. What are the contingency plans? What are we going to do to help those 270,000 homeless people?

There is also a real concern about the expansion, things like the predicament Russia is in and the impending decision it might make. What will be the reaction the minister would foresee to action by NATO after it has vetoed a potential UN involvement? I could of course also ask about Turkey, Greece and all the other countries but let us just zero in on Russia.

The other thing Canadians want to know is the level of involvement the minister foresees for Canada. What are we actually going to do? We hear about the independent Kosovo. That is what Kosovans want.

Could the minister clarify that he is not looking at that sort of thing?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy: Mr. Speaker, as I said in my opening remarks, there has been a quite active series of examinations by the NATO council, the strategic command within NATO and the military forces of a series of contingency phases.

I do not think it would be very appropriate for me to outline what the steps would be until the decisions are taken. I can assure the member that one of the clear options would be to use a form of air strikes. Where the targets would be and so on I am not at liberty to discuss. We would hope the clear will and determination that could be shown to use those would mean that they would not have to be used. There is some suggestion that in the past, as we know in Bosnia, when the question of air strikes came up Milosevic did come to the table. That is the kind of equation we are dealing with.

As far as our relation with Russia, again it is not easy. The Russians have made very clear statements. They were in Belgrade just this last weekend. There will be meetings tomorrow in London of the contact group. I was in touch with certain foreign ministers today to talk about that. We would hope that those discussions would lead to discussion with the Russian foreign minister which I hope would lead to a more active and positive contribution in the security council itself and the support of a resolution in the security council. I cannot say that I am wildly optimistic about that and the time grows short.

 

. 1855 + -

There will be a planned meeting I believe on Friday of the NATO-Russian joint council. Members will recall that when we talked about the NATO expansion there was an agreement to have this joint council that brings NATO and Russia together. I believe there is a meeting planned on Friday before we go into the weekend discussions at the NATO council level.

As for the commitment at the present time, Canada has six CF-18s in the theatre stationed in Italy. They have been part of the contingency planning at this point. It is probably more proper to raise the question with the Minister of Defence who will be here later this evening, but at this point there are no further commitments on that.

It is one of the areas we have been emphasizing during the discussions both at the UN and at NATO that we also see the need for some form of provision for security within Kosovo from the point of view of humanitarian assistance and for assurances of protection of displaced persons. These people are afraid. They are not going to come back to their villages. They are going to freeze. They think when they come back they are going to be hit, and that is the difficulty we face. I have to say to the member for Red Deer that is part of the contingency plan as well.

[Translation]

Mr. Daniel Turp (Beauharnois—Salaberry, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I have three questions for the minister.

In his speech, he referred to the fact that two permanent members of the Security Council could exercise their veto. We all realize that Russia is one of the members, since he said so clearly. Could he tell us which other member he considers likely to exercise its veto and why it would do so?

My second question concerns the work done by the minister's personal representative. I think the minister made a very good choice in calling on James Wright, an official with his department, who is very well liked. I have had the opportunity of working with him on a mission to Bosnia-Herzegovina, and I understand that he has met Yugoslav government officials as well as representatives of the Kosovars. I would like to know what the minister's personal representative had to report and what was the outcome of the discussions he referred to earlier.

Third and last, I would like to know what the minister thinks of a statement made at the start of the week, I think, by someone described as arcane and a notorious warlord, who said, and I quote—

[English]

“We shall not kneel before NATO missiles. We shall not allow ourselves to become enslaved to NATO or any other foreign power”.

[Translation]

Is the minister concerned about such statements? Does he think that military intervention under the NATO or UN banner could lead to a dangerous war for the people of Kosovo and the Yugoslavs?

[English]

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the questions.

The answer to the first is that reports are that China has also indicated that it would exercise a veto. But I think that again depends on the resolution itself. As I said, there is still some time to play.

As the hon. member knows, because he and I talked about it at length, based on this question of the balance between non-ingérence that is classic under article 2 of the United Nations charter versus the broader humanitarian issue, I will not give a full description at this time but that is one of the major transition issues that we are facing today. How far can the international community go to its international organizations to hold nations accountable to humanitarian standards? That really is the issue which is at stake at this point in time.

 

. 1900 + -

I certainly agree with the hon. member's assessment that Mr. Wright is by far the best and most appropriate person, which is the reason he was there. I have not received written reports, but we have had telephone conversations.

He was able to get access to Belgrade authorities and was able to deal directly with the Kosovar civilian people, not the armed rebels. But he did not have a great deal of success. They do not seem to be willing to change what is going on at this point in time. But we never know. We were there. We were making the case. It was heard and listened to and we can only hope that the cumulative effect of that will perhaps have some influence over the next day or two.

As for the statement that was read, it is somewhat of a threatening statement. It is not unusual. I am not surprised by it. We certainly heard similar kinds of statements when we wrestled with the problems in Bosnia. I do not think it will result in a wider conflict. In fact I still have very much hope that by having debates such as this, by showing that there is some will that is going to be exercised, we may be able to find a political solution by the end of the week. But it has to be accompanied, clearly, not simply by the minuet that has been going on; it has to be accompanied by a much clearer sense of direction and it must be made clear that we are prepared to use the necessary measures.

Before I conclude I want to assure members that we have already, as a concern related to Canadians within Yugoslavia, given warning notices to dependants and the non-essential staff at our embassy. They have been given notice to leave. We will likely maintain a small skeleton staff at the embassy for the duration.

Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, certainly it is my pleasure to speak to this issue. I guess it is the sort of thing that one wishes they did not have to talk to in this parliament.

I have to go back to when I first came to this parliament. I think the very first week we were here we were discussing Bosnia. That was one of the first issues on the table. At that point we again had a take note debate and again we were dealing with the issue of how to deal with this sort of situation.

It is obvious that we do need to deal with it. There are 275,000 people suffering, both of Albanian and Serbian background. There are 50,000 or more homeless people. All of us are touched by that. We all watch television, and we all believe that we must respond.

I do not think the question is that we need to respond, that we need to do something. However, there are a lot of questions that we need to address, that we need to bring forward. Therefore, this evening I will try to ask some of these questions. Some of them are not answerable, but I still think Canadians expect us to discuss them in this House.

It is symptomatic of the age in which we live, the post-cold war period, that we have a lot of these problem areas which require action.

We agree with much of what the minister says. That is the case on issues such as this. Certainly we have to support the fact that we may require NATO action because people like Slobodan Milosevic seem to understand only one thing and that is the big hammer over the head. It is unfortunate that people like that exist, but there are many of them in many parts of this world that we have to deal with. We obviously support that sort of NATO response or the ultimate probability that that response will be required.

We as well read the report of Kofi Annan this week. We read about the 6,000 to 7,000 buildings which have been destroyed. We saw villages totally damaged, being shelled, and people living in fear of returning to their homes.

 

. 1905 + -

As I look at those pictures on television I cannot help but think back to travelling through some of those valleys in Bosnia where there was mile after mile, kilometre after kilometre, of bombed out villages. There was nobody there. The only thing we could see were the graves in the ditches as we drove along in the bus. There was total silence. I have never experienced war. There were not even birds flying in the air. It was totally dead silence. There were nothing but graves.

That brought it home very quickly. We could not step off the roadside. We could not drive our vehicle off the road. We were told to only stand on what looked like old pavement because there were mines everywhere. There were mines in the corn fields. Cobs of corn had plastic explosives in them. When someone picked that cob of corn they would loose an arm or a leg. They would be maimed.

The most serious thing I saw was in a schoolyard. The children had all gone into the school. I visited with those children. They wrote to me about what it was like to live in a war zone. I have 12 pages of 10 and 11 year old kids telling me what it was like and what their future would be like. What I saw in the schoolyard were Coke tins. They looked like full Coke tins sitting on the table. I said to the translator “Those are Coke tins. The kids are going to love those”. He said “Let me grab a big stick”. He grabbed a big stick and pushed the Coke tin off the table. There was a loud boom and the table disappeared. There was a mine underneath that Coke tin. Some little kid was going to grab that Coke tin when they came out from class. That would be retaliation.

That is what we are talking about. That is the kind of environment that we as Canadians cannot imagine exists anywhere in the world.

It is obvious why we need to get involved. The humanitarian factor is so obvious, but the problems are many. We saw the guy on television carrying the limp body of his young child. That wells up something in all of us and says that we must respond to this kind of terror.

As well the minister mentioned the problem of the United Nations. This is a problem that we are going to have to deal with. This problem is not just in Kosovo. We can go back and talk about Rwanda. We can talk about Nigeria. We can talk about Bosnia. The inability of the United Nations to respond is becoming a more serious problem.

I travelled to India and Pakistan this summer. The inability to respond to the problem in that area is something that the world has to deal with. We need to deal with the Kashmir problem. I have said, and I will say it again, that Canada has an important role to play. We can show some leadership. I call it diplomatic leadership. I call it mediation. We could become the mediators of the world. I use some of these examples and I would even carry it as far Kosovo. We have a reputation which would allow us to be there and do things that the Americans cannot do, the Russians cannot do, the French cannot do and the British cannot do. No one can do it but a country like Canada which is a middle power. We are in the G-7. We belong to NATO. We belong to all kinds of things. We would be respected in playing that role.

I am frustrated, as I am sure the minister is. I grabbed from my notes a note of March 23, 1998 when I talked to our caucus about Kosovo. I could grab other ones. I said that there has to be action. People are being killed. Women and children are being killed. We are now in October and we are still talking. We have done nothing. That is extremely frustrating for all of us. We have to end it. We have to find a better way of dealing with these kinds of situations. I wish I had all the answers and could say “Mr. Minister, this is what we have to do and it will all work”. I can give him some suggestions, but I do not know that they will answer all of the problems.

I have difficulty with take note debates. I repeat this and I will say it every time we have one of these debates. I think the better way would be to have the House invite someone to give us a complete briefing. It would be for all members of parliament and it would be done in a non-partisan fashion. We should bring in the best experts we have in this country, and we have a number of them. Let them tell us all about this issue so that we as Canadians understand the issue much better.

 

. 1910 + -

Then we could let two speakers or four from the government and two from the opposition, whatever the formula, give the position of their respective party.

Then we could have an honest vote, based not on partisan politics. This is not partisan stuff. We are talking about lives. We are talking about people. Then we could vote on what we should do. We could come to a consensus. I think foreign affairs lends itself to that and we would be respected. We would feel better in ourselves. Many feel they should speak on these issues but do not necessarily have the background, understanding or information to do it. I would put forward that suggestion as being a better way than the take note debate we are having here tonight.

I think the problem of being so slow to respond is probably more frustrating than anything else about this issue. I would like us to address that. When we deal with someone like Slobodan Milosevic or Saddam Hussein, or whoever we want to put in this category, we know what kind of person we are dealing with and, therefore, we should be able to build a response to these kinds of people.

Canadians want to know a number of things. They want to know what we will bomb if we have to bomb something. They want to be assured that we are not just going to create more victims. They are concerned about the nature of the police force, the nature of the Serbian clean-up and the ethnic cleansing. Can we really go in and bomb unless it is decided that we are going for Belgrade and we are really going to teach this guy a lesson? He would understand that all right, but is that really the solution that we should be talking about? How far do we go? We should talk about that.

What about the dangers for Canadians? We should talk about that too. We understand that in Serbia there is a really good radar system. There are missiles, there are rockets and there is a defence system set up there.

If Canadians are at risk we should know that ahead of time. I know it is fine to say military is always at risk, but I think the levels of risk could certainly be discussed more fully.

Are we considering using ground troops? We know ground troops would be the way to make it work. In Bosnia it works because there are people with big guns and they use a big stick.

One thing I learned from talking to people there was that the hatred is still there and they are waiting. They are waiting because that big gun will go away some day and when it does they will kill their neighbour who killed their grandmother, their grandfather or their child.

These kids can talk about what happened in 1942. They are 10 years old. They can relate what happened in 1536 when the Ottoman Turks came. My goodness, they are living 500 years of history and it is affecting them.

The answer would be to get on the ground and come up with a plan.

I think we always have to ask about U.S. dedication to this whole issue. That is a question that we all need to know because I do not know that any of us could be there without that big U.S. stick.

We need to know and we need to be assured by our defence minister about the readiness of our troops and equipment. We are proud of them. Those of us who have travelled in war zones, when we see the Canadian flag on the troop carrier, it makes us darned proud. But we have to be sure that they are equipped to handle this sort of thing.

As well, besides saying that we need a long term plan, we should be a part of the contact group. I think we have earned our stripes. We have been there from the beginning. I cannot see how we cannot force ourselves, more aggressively, to become a part of that contact group. Our future involvement should partly depend on our having a say about what our troops do.

 

. 1915 + -

When we talk about a long term plan we need to involve the European Union. We need to ask what it is prepared to commit in its backyard. I know the difficulties in asking that question. I posed it to Germans and French and have received opposite stories. They need to face up to that as well.

We need schools. We need infrastructure. We need planned society for 30 years or 40 years if we are to fix that part of the world. Who has the commitment and the money? Only on a big, collective issue can we do it. Then we could be proud and say that we have done something for that country.

The concept of regional instability troubles us all. We are concerned about Russia economically, from a nuclear standpoint and from a stability standpoint in Europe and the rest of the world. We are concerned about Macedonia and Albania and a potential flare-up. We are also concerned about Greece and Turkey, two NATO partners that may come into conflict in terms of this decision. We need to ask those questions and need to be sure we have looked at them before we get too far into any kind of military action.

I wish I could say tonight that I have the solution, that this is what the minister should be doing and if we were government we would do it. However, this is not situation we are looking at. We are looking at a situation where Canadians need to understand our involvement. We need to get that information out through members of parliament of all parties. We need to answer their questions. We need to address the issues. Then we can say we have done what we are here to do in terms of an issue like this one.

I hope the minister thinks seriously about a different approach to take note debates. If it does not work we can always come back to this method. If we could just give it a try we would have better informed members of parliament, better informed Canadians, and more pride in the actions we take to help people of the world in serious crises such has the one in Kosovo.

[Translation]

Mr. Daniel Turp (Beauharnois—Salaberry, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague, the member for Red Deer.

Since we are not in a position to evaluate the costs of any intervention by Canada or the form such intervention would take, would he like to see this issue debated again in the House or by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade?

[English]

Mr. Bob Mills: Mr. Speaker, we had what I would consider to be a fairly successful debate in committee regarding the Haiti situation. Experts came before us and resolutions were put forward. I see the chairman nodding on the other side. He would agree that it worked quite well. It was extensive. We had a chance to ask a lot of questions and we had a chance to debate. The problem was that it was only members of the committee. It did not get out to Canadians the way it would if we used the full House for something as important.

It needs more debate. We need to get the information out. This take note debate will not do it. I am firmly convinced of that, even though our briefings will help solve some of the problems.

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have taken into account the comments of the hon. member. I will defer to my friend from Vancouver soon.

 

. 1920 + -

I do not consider this debate to be necessarily the only opportunity we will have as parliamentarians to deal with the issue. We wanted a take note debate now because we will be facing, particularly this coming weekend, decisions at the NATO council and at the United Nations. It is important to get the views of parliamentarians before we actually move forward with those and have to make a decision as government.

I know there is a break next week, but I would certainly undertake to members of the House to work with the critics and the House leaders to organize some system, whether through the committee or whatever, to maintain a degree of information and briefing and so on. We can work out the techniques for that.

Mr. Ted McWhinney (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, might I address the hon. member for Red Deer and ask him whether I am correct in assuming that his party would authorize the use of armed force involving Canadian forces.

If so, would he relate that to existing security council resolutions which are territorialized rather precisely, or would he base it on more general chapter 7, article 51 provisions? In particular, what is his feeling on the use of aerial power? How would he relate that to the protocols additional to the Geneva protocols of 1977?

Mr. Bob Mills: Mr. Speaker, as we have always done in take note debates, we would support the ultimate decision to use military force if dealing with someone like Mr. Milosevic. That is the only thing he understands. We also believe that these questions should be asked and answered. That is what Canadians want to know.

Overall our party and Canadians support our involvement in international situations. Obviously, though, we are responding to a humanitarian need. It is very troubling that the veto will be used. We may end up fulfilling NATO action as opposed to UN action.

That is troubling because I believe it greatly weakens the position of the United Nations. It means that more and more people will challenge its authority. Going outside the UN does nothing but hurt that organization and could ultimately lead to its demise.

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention a couple of things for the member for Red Deer and the minister.

Both the minister and the opposition critic used personal examples of the ongoing horror in Kosovo. That in itself is justification to take decisive action. The problem many Canadians and I are having understanding is what the decisive action will be.

The member for Vancouver Quadra asked whether we would support air strikes. I would support air strikes. I would support quite a bit if I knew for sure what the objective was. The difficulty is that we want to stop the horror and the suffering, but I am puzzled what we will consider a victory.

We can call up air strikes, one of those surgical things we can do which do not get our hands too dirty. We want to solve it. We do not want to get our guys in harm's way but we will want to blow up a few fuel dumps and stuff. The difficulty is what we will consider a victory once we start the process. What is the political and military objective when we start the process?

When I think of committing the Canadian Armed Forces to the process, I would like to know what we will accomplish, what is the end goal. I want to stop the suffering. I want peace. I want all those good things it is easy to be in favour of. The difficulty I am having is what we will consider a victory.

Kosovo has been not annihilated but mostly annihilated. What will get people back into their areas? What will get the refugees to come back? What assurances, what political stability do we hope to offer in the long term?

 

. 1925 + -

What military assurances can we give those people? We could take out all the fuel dumps we could find and take out the heavy military stuff, the stuff that can be taken out with aircraft, but we cannot protect them from the presence on the ground of a bunch of Milosevic's animals.

The people will not go back. They need the assurance of a long term of 30 years or 40 years, a generation or two of stability. Although this is a take note debate and I understand we are limited in what we can do, I still remain puzzled about what we hope to achieve in the long run both politically and militarily.

Because we want to do something we will send in the jets. I think that is what will happen. Dammit, we want to do something, but what will we offer the people of Kosovo that says when we are finished this is what they will have? I have not seen it yet. I do not know what it is. There is no simple answer.

Will we do this with F-18s? Will we strike and make a statement? Milosevic will pull back a bit and say that it is still his because we cannot do the military and political things required to keep him out of there in the long term.

That is basically what I wanted to say comment-wise. However, what are will we do that is more than the emphatic and heart-felt desire to take decisive action? What will we offer the people of Kosovo that will give them assurance that pinpoint bombing and then a withdrawal will make any difference in their lives?

What is the long term plan? What is the vision? If it is just to bomb and strafe a few regions to make our point, I am not sure what commitment we can make. Other than I wish it would stop over there, I do not know what commitment we can make that will make any difference in the long run.

It is discouraging for me because we all want to take that decisive action. I am afraid we will take action that in the long run the people of Kosovo will say thanks for the bombing but still have no homes, no future, no stability, no political structure, and no civil society.

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Red Deer deserves some time to reply. He will have about 30 seconds.

Mr. Bob Mills: Mr. Speaker, I think the frustration is obvious. The minister has expressed that. I think all of us would express it.

If I were answering that question I would say that the bombing will bring Milosevic to the table because he understands a plank over the head. Then the real problem starts because there has to be a long term plan to provide the people with a solution. I would start with education, hospitals and infrastructure.

We could ask about dollars and who will do that. Then the diplomatic work starts to get everybody involved in solving the problem. Do we have the will? Do we have the money? Those are the questions.

[Translation]

Mr. Daniel Turp: Mr. Speaker, may I make a request? I know that the Minister of Foreign Affairs has to leave, but I would like to make a comment that might perhaps give him an opportunity to answer a question. Could I have the unanimous consent of the House for that purpose?

[English]

The Deputy Speaker: Our difficulty is that the House agreed not to have people seeking unanimous consent during this debate. That is the order under which we are operating. That is why the Chair is being put in a rather difficult position here, and there will be other requests.

The hon. member now has the floor. He can make a speech and the minister may want to question him or make a comment on it later.

Does the House want to hear the minister say something further in response to a question?

Mr. Bill Graham: Ask for unanimous consent.

 

. 1930 + -

The Deputy Speaker: That is the problem. If we do it on one we are going to get it later. Perhaps with the leave of the House, the minister will give a response but we are not getting consent to do this.

[Translation]

Mr. Daniel Turp (Beauharnois—Salaberry, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague's concern is interesting. The minister replied that he could not give the House specific details of the form of military intervention.

A question that I think is much more important and that merits perhaps an answer or at least a comment from the minister is the following: If President Milosevic gives assurances, how good would they have to be for the idea of military intervention to be dropped? I put the question because Mr. Milosevic has given such assurances in the past, to Russia in particular, without following through.

The Deputy Speaker: I have an idea: the Minister may answer, but it will be included in the time allowed the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has the floor.

[English]

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy: Mr. Speaker, I will not eat into the hon. member's time but let me say first that resolution 1199 passed by the security council does set out very specific conditions that we would want the Belgrade authorities to meet.

Beyond that I think it is important to look at the text of the secretary-general's report which also indicates that in order to have this occur there would have to be a more active form of international presence. I think that answers the previous questions regarding how to get some form of guarantee, some assurances, particularly to the displaced people, that they can come back. That would have to be part of any discussions and negotiations at the table. There is that combination.

I am not trying to be vague. I think these comments are very helpful. There is still security council activity potentially tomorrow, Thursday. There will certainly be NATO meetings beginning on Thursday, Friday and likely Saturday. These types of comments will inform us as we make representation in terms of formulating the ultimate plan that will be decided at the NATO council.

[Translation]

Mr. Daniel Turp (Beauharnois—Salaberry, BQ): Mr. Speaker, thank you for your flexibility this evening, which has enabled us to obtain from a minister the answer to what, in my opinion, is a very important question, one that is at the heart of the debate that will go on for some days. It will, without a doubt, be of interest to the Kosovars, the Yugoslavs and the entire international community, which is seeking a solution to this armed conflict, a conflict which has already left so many Kosovars dead or in exile.

I would like to begin by indicating our party's agreement with the proposals by the Reform Party. It is not often that we both agree, but where foreign affairs are concerned, we do sometimes support some of their initiatives, as we did for instance last spring when the hon. member for Red Deer introduced his motion on debates on peacekeeping operations and the role parliament ought to play in this. We indicated our agreement that parliament, this House in particular, ought to have a greater presence, be more active.

The proposal by the hon. member for Red Deer is interesting in that it is intended to be instructive. It seeks to get the members of this House more interested in foreign affairs and to ensure that MPs are aware of the issues behind major conflicts and therefore better equipped to make informed decisions on action the government wishes to make on behalf of this country aimed at keeping, or in some cases restoring, international peace.

The Bloc Quebecois supports the motion before the House this evening. It supports an initiative aimed at putting an end to the cycle of violence that has really occurred in Kosovo, in the federal republic of Yugoslavia.

 

. 1935 + -

As early as last March, the Bloc Quebecois drew the attention of this House to the urgent need to act before the situation in that region of the Balkans deteriorated. The conflict has been degenerating since March, forcing us today to have an eleventh hour debate as the international community prepares for more aggressive action to pressure President Slobodan Milosevic into honouring his country's commitments under the UN charter.

Canada announced that it would impose sanctions, but the sanctions that were eventually imposed in the spring and summer were quite modest, as the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra and then parliamentary secretary admitted. He even said that these measures were perhaps too modest to deal effectively with the problems at hand. Six months later, we must recognize that the sanctions imposed by Canada and other countries were not successful, and the situation is much worse.

In fact, the kind of soft diplomacy exemplified by these sanctions gave attackers plenty of time to consolidate their positions, while their victims, who are confronted to this situation on a daily basis, are forced into exile as part of a mass exodus. The member for Red Deer mentioned that in excess of 250,000 Kosovars have fled their villages and communes and sought refuge outside their country. They also took refuge in European countries that are neither immediate neighbours nor states likely to provide a safe haven for the victims of the terror imposed by Slobodan Milosevic and his troops in Kosovo.

Economic sanctions are only effective if there is a real political will to demand that the actions of a foreign government which violate human rights be immediately stopped.

The brutal acts of violence and the repression of the Kosovo people by Serbian security forces are now well documented. They have been known for a long time, in fact for too long. These acts of violence and this repression justify a response on the part of the international community, but it must act in a consistent and coherent manner. But, first and foremost, the international community must act before it is too late. Canada must act jointly with other countries, including those that are part of the contact group that the member for Red Deer would like Canada to join—it is not for lack of trying on our part, but this select club simply does not want to invite Canada to join.

Canada must work in partnership with the countries that are members of the contact group, and with the other members of the UN security council, to act quickly and decisively, so that a clear and unequivocal message is sent to Mr. Milosevic.

The numerous calls for negotiation made this summer by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and his officials have remained unanswered. These appeals have been fruitless. This is why we must now use a different approach. We must now resort to means other than diplomatic and economic sanctions, because these too have been ineffective.

 

. 1940 + -

It is not that there has been no Security Council intervention, for on March 31, 1998 it adopted resolution 60, and more recently, on September 23, resolution 1199, to which the minister has referred several times in his speech. Intervention by the Security Council, which has obviously had only limited, if any, effects, now must be more energetic and more significant than ever before.

It is time for the Security Council to act for reasons that are essentially humanitarian in nature. It is time to act, because too many people have been forced into exile, because too many people may be slaughtered. Many have already been the victims of massacres, but many more Kosovars have been driven out of their communes, out of their towns by the killings, rapes, inhuman and degrading treatment, and torture.

Too many fear what is going on in their homeland, and have vivid memories of what went on in Sarajevo, only a few kilometres from the capital of the Republic. Too many women and children, too many young and old people, have chosen exile because winter is approaching and their harvests have been destroyed by this filthy war, a war which has laid waste to village after village, commune after commune, a war which will leave famine in its wake.

Now the people of Kosovo are turning to the international community, to the Security Council itself, for the only ray of hope they have left. The message the international community must send to the Yugoslav Republic and its president must be a clear one: civilian populations must not be abandoned. Efforts must be made to ensure that they are spared further misery.

Above all, the international community must act out of concern for these populations. Its actions must be consistent. The international community must intervene in Kosovo, in the Yugoslav Federal Republic, to ensure that its people have some chance of a better life. Not only must it engage in humanitarian efforts, but now it must go beyond them to contemplate armed retaliation, military action, until peace is restored to this region of the Balkans.

The international community has had to intervene in this region and is still involved in Bosnia, especially in Sarajevo, in certain areas where the Bosnians, the Serbs and the Croats were killing each other and where a threat remains to the lives of all these people.

At the time, however, the international community and Canada were slow to take real action against this constant threat to peace and security by, yet again, Slobodan Milosevic and his Yugoslav government.

We also tried at the time to impose sanctions and to promote a return to diplomacy and dialogue. We hoped these measures would succeed, measures that we thought Slobodan Milosevic would act on. We were forced into military intervention only in the face of the parties' refusal to negotiate a lasting ceasefire.

We considered the problem at the time with blinkers on, intimating that the problem was in Sarajevo and should be settled for Sarajevo, where the conflict was better known, more dramatic, receiving more media attention and more symbolic. Few countries intervening in Bosnia thought that the problem could surface in Kosovo.

 

. 1945 + -

So today, we must consider our intervention in much broader terms to prevent this conflict, once peace is returned to Kosovo, from moving on to Macedonia, as it well might. Kosovo refugees are already on Macedonian territory. Refugees could find themselves in neighbouring regions as well.

The current situation therefore calls for consistent action, a strong humanitarian commitment by UN member countries and by the members of the Security Council and the General Assembly and of NATO, which could implement the provisions of the Security Council. Consistent action is called for.

We must act quickly in concert with our international allies. I understand the dilemma the Minister of Foreign Affairs described. Obviously, the UN Security Council could be prevented from taking action under chapter VII, if Russia and China were to use their veto.

This is a major dilemma, because action taken by the international community, through a group of countries or through NATO, may be construed as illegal under international law. The member for Vancouver Quadra is perfectly aware of the illegal situation the international community would put itself in by acting without the council's approval.

But what the minister is telling us is that the international community, that a group of countries, that NATO may act illegally, because military action is justified in this case.

We have a motion before us, a motion that may be too modest, too timid. There is no mention, in this motion, of the use of armed forces or of Canadian participation through NATO. It only refers to the humanitarian situation facing an increasing number of men, women and children, the well-being of whom we must be concerned with, even though Ottawa is thousands of kilometres away from Kosovo.

The government is asking that we take notice of this terrible situation. It is indeed time Parliament took notice of this situation. The government has announced its intention to take measures. But what measures?

Reform Party members were right to point out that we do not have here, this evening, concrete indications on the measures that Canada favours, or wants to favour, in the debates that will take place at the Security Council, the NATO council and in other forums where this issue will be discussed over the next few hours or days. We are told that these measures seek a diplomatic solution to the problem. This is fine, but what specific measures? What would be Kosovo's status within or outside the Yugoslav Republic? We should consider any solution that respects the wishes of the Kosovo people.

All this seems pretty weak. The motion does not go far enough. It should have been worded in stronger terms, because the daily tragedy of these populations deserves stronger wording.

I will conclude by saying that this is a matter of justice. I am going to quote someone, not George Washington—whom the minister likes to quote, as he did yesterday during a debate on a piece of legislation—but Blaise Pascal, a philosopher whom some of you know and like. Pascal said: “Justice without strength is powerless. Strength without justice is tyrannical. Therefore, both justice and strength must be present and, to that end, we must make sure that what is just is also strong”.

In this particular case, justice and strength must be combined to end the tragedy suffered by the people of Kosovo. We must put an end to their tragedy.

 

. 1950 + -

Mr. Ted McWhinney (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will take advantage of the legal expertise of the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.

The possibility was mentioned of a NATO-led intervention. The hon. member is well aware that NATO is a regional association governed by the UN charter, that it is limited by charter imposed conditions regarding the use of armed force.

He will certainly recall that, during the Korean War, the well-known resolution 377(V) passed by the General Assembly was used to compensate for the gaps in international public law.

Does the hon. member think that there is a new category of humanitarian intervention distinct from the charter, or are specific security council resolutions necessary before Canadian troops can be sent in?

He is well aware that the resolutions passed for Bosnia apply to a very specific area. What way is there around this legal impasse? Does he have any useful suggestions?

He is also certainly aware that the protocols, additional to the Geneva protocol of 1977, set very tight restrictions on the use of air strikes.

Mr. Daniel Turp: Mr. Speaker, the House wants to hear about international law tonight. How very interesting.

Earlier tonight, the member for Vancouver Quadra had a test question for the member for Red Deer, a very difficult one too. The member for Red Deer gave a very political answer.

I will try to reply to the question using the knowledge we share, which we want to see benefit the House, moreover. There is some value to having expertise and to being willing to share it with one's colleagues during debates such as this.

It is difficult under current international law to claim that force can be used under chapter 7 without the formal approval of the Security Council. The use of force was possible during the Gulf crisis because the Security Council authorized certain states to use force.

Just a few months ago, we debated in this House the potential use of force against Iraq. Members will remember that, on several occasions, I asked the government if it thought that Canada and other states had the authority to use force against Iraq. That question remained unanswered. I know that legal opinions were provided on the subject.

But I think it is difficult to claim, under international law as it currently stands, that the use of force, even in this case, would be consistent with the charter without prior authorization of the Security Council.

On the other hand, are we seeing a customary rule emerge from a practice whereby the states will be able to invoke a breach of the peace to justify an intervention? I think that circumventing the charter by invoking a customary rule that would allow states to intervene in a case like this may be a way to solve the problem.

Article 51 may be the only legal basis that could be used to justify an intervention in this case, even though it would require a very liberal interpretation of that article.

Beyond all that and even as an internationalist, I think we must weigh the good and the bad in this type of situation.

 

. 1955 + -

If we think that an armed intervention is necessary to protect the most fundamental of human rights, if the international community agrees that such an intervention is legitimate, and if the international public is in favour of this intervention, then it is surely justified. Such intervention will free many people from the terror inflicted upon them by individuals who, one day, will hopefully have to appear before an international criminal tribunal and be held accountable for their war crimes and their crimes against humanity before the international community.

[English]

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I cannot quote Pascal or Washington, but the quote I have dug up is one by the Greek philosopher Pindar who said “the test of any man lies in action”. Versions of this have been regurgitated over time.

I do not have the answer for the question I have for the member but I would like to have his comment on it. Why is it that problems in central Europe receive, necessarily, a very high priority at the United Nations but often other equally horrendous human rights abuses in other parts of the world do not seem to grab the United Nations by the throat to say that it is a compelling problem that has to be solved today?

One example I can think of is what is going on in Algeria. According to Amnesty International thousands of people have been massacred in rural areas, and there is not a blink and no resolution. It is a human rights abuse on a grand scale and no one says anything.

In the southern part of Sudan there are Christians and tribal communities that are being actively ethnic cleansed by a Muslim government in this case. It is persecuting people systematically and no one blinks.

There are problems in Angola. We certainly know about the problems in Rwanda and they are entering into more problems in Rwanda, hopefully not as bad as they had. There are hundreds of thousands of refugees from Somalia.

There is systematic and systemic abuses in a large part of the world, a lot in Africa, and the United Nations just does not consider these to be the crisis that it does Kosovo. It is a crisis in Kosovo and that is why we are here. We all agree about that. However, I wonder why this is and I wonder if the member has thought about it.

Regardless of whether it is the Geneva convention, section 77 or security council resolutions or whatever technical things, why is it there are so many other areas of the world that the western world remains quiet about but the problem in Kosovo is seizing the world? I have some ideas on why this is happening but I was wondering if the member had any ideas.

I think it is a tragedy that the United Nations and those of us who are concerned about human rights abuses do not treat all human rights abuses as a problem for all of us. Martin Luther King was right when he coined the phrase.

Mr. Daniel Turp: Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question, and a very difficult one to answer. Maybe the simplest answer would be that there are double standards in the international community. There are too many double standards when it comes to human rights and the ways in which the United Nations and other international organizations intervene when there are conflicts. That is the simplest answer.

The more complex answer would be that when human rights abuses bring a real threat to peace and security, that is when there is a drive toward involving the security council and other organs of the United Nations.

 

. 2000 + -

That is when it happens. Because there was a severe threat of international peace and security in Bosnia there was an intervention of the international community and there still is. There was also a threat of international peace and security in Somalia, in Africa. The member also mentioned Sudan and Algeria. When there was a very important threat to peace and security in Somalia there was an intervention of the UN.

Maybe because of that the problem of the intervention of the UN in Somalia was created, especially in the eyes of the Americans. That is why there is a very cautious attitude to intervene in Africa. That is very unwise. Africa is a lost continent. It is continent that is sacrificed nowadays. I do not think it should be. We should not accuse the United Nations of that. We should never forget that the United Nations is composed of member states. Those states allow or disallow the intervention of the security council.

That is the more complex answer. It does not justify double standards. Once double standards are lifted we will live in a better international community.

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might seek the leave of the House to divide my time with my colleague from Halifax West.

The Deputy Speaker: Is the House prepared to allow this division of time?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member will have 10 minutes with 5 minutes questions and comments.

Mr. Svend J. Robinson: Mr. Speaker, I begin by expressing my appreciation to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for giving the House this opportunity to debate this very important motion.

My colleagues and I in the New Democratic Party support the motion.

[Translation]

As the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry said, we were hoping that it would go further, that it would be stronger, that justice and strength, two fundamental principles, would have been expressed more clearly in this motion. Nevertheless, we support the motion.

[English]

It was last week that this House unanimously spoke with one voice following the terrible atrocities that were brought to light by Human Rights Watch, the massacre of 18 innocent civilians in a forest in the Drenica region. Other members have spoken of this earlier. The House spoke with one voice urging the Government of Yugoslavia, Milosevic and the parties involved to put down arms immediately and start negotiating a solution with the help of international organizations like the United Nations and the OSCE.

It was last week as well, a few days afterward, that Human Rights Watch issued a report that documented the terrible violations of international law showing that the Serbian special police and the Yugoslav army units have executed civilians, systematically destroyed civilian property and attacked humanitarian aid workers.

The director said it has been clear for seven months that the government is conducting a brutal war against civilians in Kosovo. These are war crimes. These are crimes against humanity and yet the Government of Yugoslavia and Milosevic refuse to co-operate with the international tribunal investigating it. They have gone further and have restricted the work of domestic and foreign journalists seeking to report on these terrible atrocities.

These atrocities can also strike home. The hon. member for Churchill spoke with family members in a community that she has the honour of representing who have family in Kosovo who were terribly injured. This strikes home to her and to each of us at a very profoundly human level.

 

. 2005 + -

This has gone on for far too long. We have heard the same threats, the same promises of action in the case of Kosovo that we heard in the case of Bosnia, and there the international community failed terribly. It took three years, 200,000 people who died and too many warnings before finally when spurred by the terrible mortar attack by the Serbs on a crowded marketplace in Sarajevo in August 1995 the west took action.

Tragically that action was not taken by the United Nations. One of the great dilemmas and tragedies of the situation in Kosovo is that we cannot rely on the United Nations in these circumstances to definitely respond to this humanitarian crisis. We cannot assume the security council will adopt a resolution that will authorize the kind of firm military response that clearly is warranted and was likely warranted some time ago.

We saw the effects of Serb aggression in Bosnia and now we see them in Kosovo. I witnessed them when I visited Vukovar. I witnessed the Serb aggression on Croatia and its people. I will never forget walking through the ruins of a church in Vukovar and picking up a small piece of wood, the remains of a small wooden cross.

The community of nations has to say that the occurrence of this kind of atrocity is not acceptable. The United Nations' own high commissioner for refugees has estimated that over 280,000 people have been displaced by the fighting since March. This is mostly within Kosovo. Some 50,000 have not found shelter yet. Many others are living in very difficult conditions. Over 700 have died. And with winter fast approaching there is a very real danger of a humanitarian disaster.

I urge the Government of Canada to respond to that disaster, to step up donor funding for reconstruction and winter emergency plans in Kosovo and to provide financial assistance to Montenegro, to Albania and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia hosting many of the refugees and which desperately need support as winter fast approaches.

We would prefer a resolution of the United Nations security council. We would hope the OSCE, the regional security body in that region, would be able to come to a consensus, but we cannot allow the veto power of Russia and possibly China, the consensus rule of the OSCE to prevent the kind of action that very likely must be taken, the kind of military action that must be taken to save human lives.

Let us be under no illusions about the possible risk to Canadians. Canada has six CF-18 aircraft on the ground in Aviano, Italy, 130 Canadian pilots and ground crew. They are courageous men and women who will be directly affected by the decision our government makes. I am sure that every member of this House wishes those men and women well at this very difficult time. I am sure we all recognize that when we talk about the possibility of military action, it is our sons and daughters who may very well be on the front lines, who may be fired on by those ground to air missiles that the Serbs have threatened to use.

This is a humanitarian disaster. I believe that as Canadians we have an obligation not to stand by but to act. The member for Fraser Valley has spoken at the same time, and rightly so I believe, of the fact that there is certainly a great deal of selectivity in the international response. Of course we are profoundly concerned about the situation in Kosovo and we must recognize that air strikes alone fall far short of what would be a thoughtful and appropriate response. If there is not a presence on the ground, that could exacerbate the situation and make it even more difficult.

 

. 2010 + -

We must remember as well that in whatever military action that may be undertaken innocent people's lives must not be put at risk, whether Yugoslavians, Kosovars or anybody else, but we made the mistake globally of waiting too long in Bosnia and we cannot afford to make that mistake in Kosovo.

The world though has stood by, as the member for Fraser Valley said, in cases of other humanitarian disasters; the genocide in East Timor, a third of the population, 200,000 people, murdered by the Suharto regime. Where is the international outcry on that? Where is Canada's voice on that?

There have been ten resolutions at the United Nations on East Timor and Canada shamefully has either abstained or voted against every one. So the member for Fraser Valley is right. There is a double standard, whether in East Timor, the situation with the Kurds, in Turkey, northern Iraq, Colombia, Sudan.

Again, my colleagues and I in the New Democratic Party support this motion. We desperately hope that Milosevic will come to his senses, pull back, respect the rights of the people of Kosovo to determine their own future, hopefully have the kind of autonomy they had previously, but to respect their rights to self-determination, and that we can avert the continued horrors, because already too many people have died, that would in many respects be totally unacceptable not just to Canadians but to all civilized people should the global community not respond, not just with words but with action. La justice et la force.

Mr. Ted McWhinney (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Madam Speaker, there exists a strong possibility after hearing the addresses already in the House that there will be a political consensus. It may be an all-party political consensus within the House. I wonder if he could help us over the next stage and comment on the suggestions by the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.

There is a new concept of humanitarian intervention which is separate, its origins different, from classic intervention. It is still subject to some limitations. The OSCE is like NATO, a regional security organization and cannot exceed charter conditions and limitations.

Would the hon. member believe either through customary international law or through the general assembly that we might find an adequate base for Canadian armed intervention if that would arise and also take us over the aerial bombardment issue?

I believe in the war in the gulf he had some difficulties with the compatibility with some of the operations. Can he help us to this next step? Customary law can gallop at the present time. There has been the phrase used, instant customary law. A number of quick precedents can help make new norms.

Can the hon. member help us here? I think there is a good possibility of a political all-party consensus emerging.

Mr. Svend J. Robinson: Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra is correct. Certainly as we listen to the debate tonight it appears there is an emerging political consensus around the desirability of hopefully the United Nations with a resolution; if not the United Nations, then certainly the OSCE as the regional body under article VII. Failing that—and I think the member asks a very important question—is there another basis in international law for military intervention?

 

. 2015 + -

Clearly international law is an evolving body of law. There is a clear and demonstrable threat to human life on the massive scale that we have witnessed already in Kosovo. This is not an anticipatory action, as the member is well aware. This is an action in response to brutal war crimes against humanity. Those crimes are well described in international law. If the community of nations in taking action does not exceed what is required to respond to those well documented war crimes against humanity are, I would hope that international law would recognize the justice of that intervention.

It is important at the same time that the intervention not be excessive. It is important that it be based on humanitarian law principles and that there be support and follow up. It is not acceptable to drop bombs, to conduct air strikes, and then what happens next? If there is no support for the Kosovars on the ground, there could be massive retaliation by the Serb military, a situation of complete anarchy could prevail, and it could be counterproductive.

In terms of the international legal basis for action, had the world waited for a new concept of international law in the case of Bosnia as it did in Rwanda to the shame of the international community, I can only imagine the kind of carnage that would have continued to take place. If international law does not provide that base at this point, certainly it may be time to establish that precedent.

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share this opportunity to speak with the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas. I guess I am as pleased as one can be to speak to a topic of this nature. We all know it is a very serious topic. It is a very sad event. It is something that most of us would rather not be discussing.

The motion before the House reads:

    That this House take note of the dire humanitarian situation confronting the people of Kosovo and the government's intention to take measures in co-operation with the international community to resolve the conflict, promote a political settlement for Kosovo and facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance to refugees.

As has been indicated by my hon. colleague, the NDP supports the motion. Interestingly enough it was just a few days ago that our federal council approved a resolution which read as follows:

    Whereas the Serbian armed forces are continuing to attack the people of Kosovo, killing, injuring and driving away hundreds and thousands of civilians in their attempt at ethnic cleansing of the area;

    And whereas massacres have been conducted by the Serbian authorities in Kosovo and that these massacres have been documented and confirmed by diplomats and journalists;

    And whereas all diplomatic attempts by European and North American governments have achieved nothing to stop these massacres and ethnic cleaning,

    Therefore be it resolved that the federal NDP in condemning the massacre of innocent civilians of Kosovo demands the federal Liberal government in Ottawa to use its influence in NATO and the United Nations to call for intervention to halt the killings and ethnic cleansing.

    Be it further resolved that the federal NDP affirms and recognizes the right of self-determination for the people of Kosovo to decide their own political future without the fear of oppression and the military presence of the Serbian armed forces.

I find it very rewarding to see tonight that the motion the government brought forward takes into consideration the concerns expressed by the grassroots people who attended our council.

 

. 2020 + -

In reality it shows that the issue we are dealing with is not a partisan issue. It is an issue that cuts across all parties. It is a humanitarian issue. It is one that should be of concern to all of us.

I reinforce the point that I believe was made by the hon. Reform member who spoke earlier. He talked about the fact that this was a take note debate and that it might well have served us better if we had a gathering where we could have been informed as a body about what was really happening and obtained the appropriate information so that as we debated the issue we would be more informed.

I say with all due respect that since I started the political business far too often I have found—and I am sure there may be others who have found the same thing—that we as members are rushing from one topic to the next. We are dealing with all kinds of things that are coming at a very fast and furious pace. Quite often people are speaking on subjects in the House and using notes they made at the last minute. They do not have all the information at hand they would like to have to deal with the matters appropriately.

One might say this is the nature of the business, that this is the kind of life we are living today, that it is a very fast paced life and we have to be able to deal with it. Perhaps that is one of the problems with the world today. We are moving fast. Perhaps that is why we are seeing so much unrest and so many humanitarian problems in all parts of the world. We do not take the time to slow down and deal with issues appropriately.

That aside, this is a humanitarian issue. We read statements about the suffering that has taken place. One news article contained these words “the television pictures are bad. A toddler lying dead, pacifier still hanging from her purple snowsuit. The corpse of a man set on fire while tied to a tree. The crumpled body of another cut down by machine gunfire from a passing car”.

And then it went on to talk about 200 villages in Kosovo that had been destroyed. An estimated 250,000 people were homeless. Thousands had died as Serb forces rooted the Kosovo liberation army. It talked about winter coming on and the prospects for mass starvation.

These things are very disturbing to us. Perhaps years ago we would not have seen or heard these things, but today we sit in our homes and see those images in our living rooms as we watch television, as our young people and our children watch television. We can see the dire consequences of man's inhumanity toward man.

This is a serious problem. We know there is a long history between the two factions fighting in the area. When we look at it and we hear talk about ethnic cleansing, the wiping out of a certain group of people, we have to come back to the basics of what we as a human race are doing to one another.

The Serbian armed forces are continuing to attack, injure and kill people. Another news article talked about a family that was massacred. We read about the corpses of five women and two children, ages 5 and 7, lying in a narrow gully near a makeshift tent where villagers said the family had sought refuge from the shelling. All the victims had been shot in the head at close range, apparently while attempting to flee the attack. The bodies of several of the victims displayed clear evidence of mutilation.

We read about a woman aged 28 who was two months pregnant according to family members. Her belly had been cut open. We read about an older man, 65, who was found in a makeshift tent. His throat had been cut open and part of his brain had been removed and placed next to him.

It is hard to believe in this day and age in the 21st century we could be talking about such atrocities. Yet these things are happening. We all agree quite readily that action must be taken to stop these things. Ideally we would all like to see the action being other than military action, because we know that military action in itself creates problems.

 

. 2025 + -

The minister mentioned earlier that many meetings had been attempted to try to bring about a peaceful solution. There has been consideration of the matter by the United Nations and by various officials trying to bring about a peaceful end. These have been to no avail.

When push comes to shove we have to look seriously at how to make it stop. Also, as was mentioned by an hon. member, we have to be mindful that if we make a decision to move toward military aid we are looking at our own men and women going into a very dangerous situation. We must be assured that our men and women are adequately prepared with proper equipment as well as properly equipped emotionally and otherwise. There are many other things to consider as we look at the total picture and this very serious situation.

Questions have been raised around how such things can happen, why there are double standards, why we can allow atrocities in one area and not deal with them, yet look at them in another area and deal with them. Ultimately it comes down to the responsibility of each and every one of us as individuals.

The United Nations is comprised of individuals. The security council is comprised of individuals. In reality, it comes down to what each and every one of us as individuals feels in our hearts in terms of how we deal with our fellow human beings and whether we allow these atrocities to exist.

I am reminded of a story from a well known book about man who was travelling from one village to another. He fell among thieves, was beaten, was stripped of his clothes, was robbed and left lying by the side of the road for dead.

Along came a very highly educated person who looked, crossed over and walked by on the other side. Then along came a religious leader. I am sure we have lots of religious leaders and lots of highly educated people in our society. Along came a religious leader who also looked, crossed over and walked by on the other side.

Then we are told that along came a man, a Samaritan, one of the people who was despised in that day and age by others. He was perhaps an outcast. He looked at the person lying in need. He went to him, bound his wounds, put him on his own beast, took him to town, left him at an inn and said “Here is the money to look after him. When I come back, if you have spent more I will repay you”.

That is the kind of concern that we as individuals—

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): I am afraid I have to interrupt the hon. member. His time has expired.

Mr. Svend J. Robinson: Madam Speaker, I listened with great care to the very thoughtful comments of the member for Halifax West. I wonder if I might hear his concluding comment.

Mr. Gordon Earle: Madam Speaker, I will conclude very quickly. The kind of concern we must show for each other as we sit around a security table, as we sit at the United Nations, as we in the House debate this very important issue, must be the kind of concern shown by the man who looked after the person in need.

It is up to each and every one of us to do that if we are to build a better world for our children and our children's children.

Mr. David Price (Compton—Stanstead, PC): Madam Speaker, this debate concerns a very serious matter, one of life and death. It merits the attention of all members and all Canadians. I notice that there are no ministers in the House, no one to listen to my party's views. That is totally unacceptable.

The government has asked the House to take note of the situation. During the take note debate in February concerning sending Canadian troops to Iraq to what might very well have been a dangerous situation I said that it was the weakest parliamentary engagement a government could undertake.

 

. 2030 + -

The government refuses to place a substantive question before the House when it concerns defence matters. The government refuses to let members vote to support or condemn its policy when it concerns defence matters. It is clear that the government is ashamed of its policy when it comes to defence matters, and should it be any wonder.

The Prime Minister likes to tell Canadians that he has consulted the House of Commons. But Canadians know that the Prime Minister will not let the House vote on this issue, just as he has not let the House vote on every other military issue. He refuses to put his policy to a vote, a fundamental characteristic of democracy. In doing so, the Prime Minister weakens his case when he tells other nations how they should behave.

The issue before us is the Yugoslavian province of Kosovo. Slobodan Milosevic is the Serbian leader of Yugoslavia and the evidence suggests that he has ordered the slaughter of thousands of ethnic Albanians. This is not new evidence. The west has known publicly about these atrocities at least since February. Now 200 villages in Kosovo have been destroyed and more than 250,000 people have become refugees. Thousands have been killed.

The west has failed to act, and Canada under this government has done nothing to urge the United Nations or NATO to take action sooner. Only now when the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Britain decide it is time to take action will the government move. That is not leadership. But then Canadians have not come to expect leadership from this government. From this government they have come to expect excuses.

In Bosnia the European Union looked foolish. In Bosnia the United Nations failed. Only when NATO took action, belated action admittedly, did Milosevic respond. That action was late, but it was tough.

In 1995 air strikes led to the Dayton accords, a fragile settlement that is being monitored by 1,300 Canadian troops to this day.

Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, came out with a statement that condones military action. While the west has been late, it is important this action be taken now.

As some of us have learned, this century's greatest lesson is that if an aggressor is appeased, their appetite only grows. Although leadership on this issue has been lacking, NATO must act now.

But it is not a straightforward issue. Kosovo is a province inside Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia is ruled by Milosevic. Should we be in favour of Kosovo independence at this juncture? This is a classic case of how not to deal with ethnic minorities, but it is certainly a difficult dilemma between self-determination and not breaking up countries.

If only it could be as simple as pointing to Canada as a beacon of how two distinct peoples can live together with occasional debate and heartache, but mostly a great love and respect for each other. If only Milosevic listened to reason the way the people of Quebec and the people of Alberta listen to reason, the Balkans would be a lot safer place.

But Mr. Milosevic is not a reasonable man. By all accounts he is a murderous tyrant who must be dealt with and must be dealt with harshly. NATO has proven that it is the only credible force that can act at this time.

This government talks about taking measures. If these measures do not include helping our NATO allies who will be using force, then my party will have to disagree with the government.

Canada has six CF-18s based at Aviano Air Force Base in Italy. They must be used. There is no reason that I am aware of that Canada could not fly air cover for this mission. If there are reasons why they cannot be used, the minister has to tell the House right now. But there are risks and the government must do all that it can to prepare Canadians for these risks.

First, the CF-18s will be flying over hostile territory. Milosevic has no small force. He has four brigades and will attempt to shoot down any NATO planes. This is a risk, but a risk that Canada must take.

 

. 2035 + -

Second, Milosevic has threatened retaliation against NATO troops anywhere, and that includes Bosnia. As I mentioned earlier, Canada has 1,300 troops in Bosnia. I visited them last spring and they are certainly up to the task but there will be danger. They will be threatened and that is a danger. The government must tell the Canadian public about this danger. The Canadian public must know that Canadians will be part of this operation.

Third, after this bombing, it may be necessary to put troops on the ground. U.S. Secretary of Defence Cohen said yesterday in Washington that might indeed be necessary. He said that if it is done, it will only be European troops. Canada needs to know if that has been agreed to and exactly what role Canada will be playing after the initial bombings.

There are other factors. There is the Russian factor. As the House knows, the Russians are related ethnically and religiously to the Serbs. They have told us that they are against NATO bombing. That is unfortunate, but unfortunately NATO will have to go ahead without their approval. Hopefully they will get on side once the urgency of the matter is made clear to them.

There is another factor that I must make reference to and that is the Clinton factor. The president is weakened because he is under investigation in a legitimate legal inquiry under the U.S. constitution. At this time, in my party's opinion, it is important for our NATO allies to show solidarity more than ever.

While U.S. leadership is essential, if Canada is assertive and plays its role as it should, the world will know that NATO continues to be history's finest example of collective security. And while the situation in Kosovo is certainly a humanitarian crisis, it is also a military situation.

Bosnia showed that NATO was the only credible force Milosevic will respect.

At this time the foreign minister, who has no understanding of the world, is talking about Canada leading the way in calling for total nuclear disarmament, a policy that would have Canada expelled from NATO. Now is the time for this government, this minister of defence to be serious about Canada and the world and live up to its good name.

Canada must play a role of responsibility. It must understand that NATO is the one structure that can make a difference and it must take action with our allies.

My party will stand behind this government if this government stands behind its soldiers.

Hon. Arthur C. Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Madam Speaker, before I begin my remarks I would like to inform the House that I just returned from Greenwood, Nova Scotia from a memorial service for the victims of the tragic helicopter crash last Friday that took six lives. I know all members, both present and not, would join me in expressing sympathy to the families of these brave Canadians.

The sad events of last Friday serve to remind us of the contribution that is made by the men and women of the Canadian forces.

There are times when international peace and security and respect for human rights are a threat and where action must be taken. Canada has always considered these issues worthy of its concern. On occasion the Canadian forces have been called upon to be the instruments of our resolve.

I believe we face one of those moments today. What is occurring in Kosovo represents a serious threat to international peace and stability and it undermines our most basic belief in the principle of human rights. For these reasons, I join with my colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs who spoke earlier, in endorsing Canadian participation in operations with our NATO allies, if such action is deemed necessary.

Canadian participation with our allies in Kosovo is in every way consistent with our traditional approach to international security threats and the protection of human rights. We have always been ready to join the international community in opposing threats to stability and to peace.

 

. 2040 + -

[Translation]

For all these reasons, we are one of the founding members of NATO. The men and women in the Canadian armed forces have been involved in NATO peacetime operations for over 50 years.

[English]

We have been engaged from day one. If the alliance to which we belong becomes involved in an operation to promote peace and stability and restore human rights, Canada should play its part.

This willingness to stand up and be counted reaches all the way back to the early days of Canadian statehood. We went to Europe in 1914 to help return peace to that continent. We returned in 1939 to do so again. In the early years of the cold war Canadian forces went to Korea to preserve the peace. They did it for the same reasons that we twice fought in Europe.

Some six years after, Prime Minister Pearson gave the world a simple yet powerful idea, military forces of the international community should be used to maintain the peace between conflicting parties. As history shows, the idea caught on.

With few exceptions, the United Nations peacekeeping missions almost always involve the men and women of the Canadian forces.

For Canada, two of the fundamental tenets of our foreign and defence policies are rooted in the concept introduced by Mr. Pearson. First, the promotion of international peace and stability is of paramount importance to Canada. Second, the promotion of this stability is best undertaken collectively because it clearly demonstrates the will of the international community.

For these reasons Canada may be required from time to time to commit its military resources to protect deeply held Canadian interests and values, and our record of doing so speaks for itself.

We must remember that Prime Minister Pearson's concept of peacekeeping was not limited to only providing troops when the fighting had stopped. He clearly understood that military forces sometimes have to be employed not merely to monitor peace, but to create the conditions in which peace can be re-established. This decade alone has given us several examples of just such circumstances.

In Bosnia NATO has had to use selective force to bring about the conditions for peace and stability.

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait the international community had to employ its military resources again. We were there with our allies. We recently returned to the gulf to pressure Iraq to comply with the United Nations weapons inspections.

In this case UN Secretary General Kofi Annan went to Iraq to try to secure the compliance of Saddam Hussein by diplomatic means. He was successful in doing so, but in his words from Baghdad at the end of the session, and they are worth reflecting on, he said “you can do a lot more with diplomacy when it is backed up with firmness and force”.

Canada has been an active player in the troubled region of the Balkans since 1991 when war broke out. We participated first in the European Community monitoring mission and then with UNPROFOR from 1992 to 1995. Over the years, thousands of members of the Canadian forces have made Canada's presence felt.

Canada remains in Bosnia under SFOR as part of our longstanding commitment to security in this region. Currently we have almost 1,300 Canadian personnel in Bosnia-Hercegovina. They are supported by a contingent of six CF-18s located in Aviano, Italy, whose role is to help enforce no-fly zones over Bosnia, and to participate in NATO led flight operations intended to demonstrate our resolve with respect to Kosovo.

 

. 2045 + -

In the last SFOR renewal debate held in the House, member after member stood up and agreed that Canada should do its part to preserve the peace brought about as a result of NATO's intervention in Bosnia. We agreed that our work was not done in this important region of the world. That was a good thing because our interest in Europe's stability is not merely altruistic. Let us not forget that over 100,000 members who served in Canada's forces are buried in European soil. They are the reminder of the importance we place on peace and stability in Europe.

For several months in Kosovo we faced the problems of ethnic violence, ethnic cleansing and the displacement of thousands and thousands of refugees. The cold blooded murder of innocent civilians has again confronted us in recent days. The heavy hand of the Yugoslav authorities in dealing with the Kosovars is unacceptable. We also deplore the abuses of the Kosovo liberation army, the UCK, and Kosovar Albanians must be pressured to participate in negotiations in good faith.

However, diplomatic pressure may not be enough. Earlier this year NATO aircraft were deployed to demonstrate our resolve in this matter. We did this with the notion of diplomacy backed by force. Canada augmented its longstanding contribution of troops to this European region by deploying six CF-18 aircraft.

The Canadian Forces have the capability and the readiness to participate in NATO led operations should they be deemed necessary. Our contribution to operations in the former Yugoslavia, our recent deployment into the Central African Republic and our recent deployment to the gulf clearly demonstrate that they are ready and they are capable.

[Translation]

Naturally, Canada would prefer a diplomatic solution. Traditionally, we always appeal to reason and we have tried to restore peace without using force, without even the threat of using it.

[English]

It is not our tradition to retreat in the face of intransigence. Our freedom and our regard for the dignity of human beings of all ethnic and religious backgrounds mean little if we will not stand up for these principles when they are violated. If necessary, Canada must be ready to act with our NATO allies.

Mr. David Price (Compton—Stanstead, PC): Madam Speaker, the minister says we will be ready but if there are NATO air strikes will we be actively participating? If so, are we preparing our troops on the ground in other parts of Bosnia for the retaliation that will probably happen?

It would have been nice before this debate had we had an all-party briefing to prepare us a little more. That is what happened the last time and it would have appreciated if we could have had the same type of thing this time. I hope we can expect that there will be briefings along the way as this file progresses.

Hon. Arthur C. Eggleton: Madam Speaker, in terms of an all-party briefing, I remind the hon. member that events have moved very rapidly. There has been every effort made. My colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, has spent a considerable amount of time trying to bring a diplomatic resolution to this matter. He has recently been to the United Nations to try to bring that about. That has been uppermost in this government's mind. Every effort has been made to bring about a diplomatic resolution.

Time is now running out. Winter is approaching. There are people who have been displaced. There are refugees who risk starvation, who risk freezing to death this coming winter. So we have had to move very quickly.

All the issues involved here and the difficulties in getting security council support for further action if necessary had been part of the daily media coverage. I think we have a pretty good idea of what the issues are here.

 

. 2050 + -

This take note debate provides every opportunity to hear different opinions on our involvement and the precedent setting issues that could be involved here if there is no further resolution of the security council and if NATO makes the determination to take further action.

If NATO decides to take further action, we have military assets in the area that could be made available subject to a decision of this government. We are trying to get the input before we make the decision which is why we are here tonight. We have six CF-18 aircraft and a Hercules air refuelling aircraft that would be provided. We have had discussions accordingly with the supreme allied commander in Europe with respect to that. Upon a final decision by this government and upon a final decision by the NATO those assets and the personnel involved would be made available as part of an operation.

As I said quite clearly in my remarks, if our NATO allies are going to go in there, if action has to be taken, if we cannot come to a diplomatic resolution, Canada expects to be there with its allies.

As far as troops on the ground are concerned, that matter is under active consideration. It would most likely be necessary but it has not yet been finalized. The military authorities of NATO are examining the possibilities, the size, where the operations might take place on the ground. I expect we will be asked to participate in that as well but that is still in the preliminary planning stage. At this point two activation warnings have been given by NATO. Both relate to the possibility of a limited air option, a limited air strike. The other is a phased air campaign. If the first one does not work then there is the possibility of an ever accelerating air campaign.

I reiterate our hope that a diplomatic resolution can be found but we know the history in terms of Mr. Milosevic with respect to Bosnia. We know that air strikes worked there to bring him to the table. As the hon. member indicated a few moments ago, that led to the Dayton accord. If we have to use these means to bring him to the table then, subject to the decision of this government and the decision of NATO, those resources would be made available to do so.

Mr. Gary Lunn (Saanich—Gulf Islands, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I begin by thanking the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs for their comments this evening. For the record I support the positions they have stated. I support the use of military intervention. As the minister stated and as somebody said earlier, the only thing Mr. Milosevic understands is being clubbed over the head.

I will add a few comments and some concerns. I understand it is very difficult to get the permission of the UN security council. As we know, there are some vetoes likely to be used by Russia and China. They may proceed under a current security council resolution or they may end up proceeding under NATO but we will have to let that take its course. I support Canada's involvement there and the use of Canada's military. We have a role to play.

Someone's first question might be why should Canada be there. We have to state from the outset that we have seen the slaughter of thousands and thousands of innocent individuals. We have seen something in the magnitude of 250,000 to 300,000 people driven from their homes. We have seen entire communities burned. This is clearly not acceptable to a civilized nation such as ours. I believe we have a duty to intervene. I do not know if words can describe how bad it is over there. I came back from the Canada-Europe parliamentary meetings in Strasbourg. This was an emergency debate over there. I had an opportunity to speak to many of my colleagues from the European Community. They also expressed exactly what I have stated in this House.

 

. 2055 + -

This is the feeling I had after speaking to some of these people. I will read a few sentences from an article written by Gwynne Dyer on October 4 of this year, very current. It will set the tone. I cannot go very far into it because it becomes unacceptable to read it in the House: “They stripped one woman and cut off her ears, nose and fingers, said a farmer who watched from a hiding as the Serbian police massacred 18 members of the family ranging from 18 months to 95 years old”.

I could not go on reading because it gets worse and worse. It makes my stomach turn to realize that this is what is happening over there, that Mr. Milosevic has ordered his officials to carry out these types of tasks. They burned out entire villages.

We have heard the foreign affairs critic for the official opposition talk about his observations driving down the roads and seeing grave after grave and entire villages burnt out.

I believe Canada has a duty to participate. This type of ethnic cleansing is equal to what we have seen and heard of the Holocaust in World War II. It is not acceptable. I think Mr. Milosevic has had ample opportunity to comply with current UN security resolutions and he has elected not to do so.

I do not have the same optimism and I may be mischaracterizing the minister of defence when he says our goal is for a peaceful resolution. I honestly believe he does wish we could achieve that. However, I do not think that is possible with this man we are dealing with. He may even agree with that. I think Canada and the rest of the world have been more than patient with Mr. Milosevic and we now must act as the slaughter of innocent people by the thousands is clearly not acceptable anywhere in the world now or at any other time.

Let us assume we are going to proceed. I support that whether it is under NATO or whether we get a UN security agreement or we have to proceed under an existing one. What happens next? We know there are hundreds of thousands of these families and people who have been driven to the hills. As the minister has correctly stated, winter is fast approaching; 300,000 people left shelterless and homeless.

I think we also have to be prepared as a nation to make a commitment, whether it is the UN or NATO. That has to be followed up after. Yes, the air strikes have to happen. I am not even so sure that we want to bring Milosevic back to the table or we just want to find some place where we can put him. I am not sure whether we can reason with a man like that.

I guess the point I am emphasizing is that we as a nation have to make a long term commitment to ensure that what actions we carry out now are not temporary, that there is an overall plan, a goal we have to achieve. It is a very difficult situation. The Serbs are not prepared to give up the province of Kosovo for all kinds of reasons. Yet it is 90% Albanian. I think we are there for the long haul and hopefully part of a UN force that will be present to ensure the safety of these individuals.

 

. 2100 + -

Hopefully this region could become a republic separate from Serbia. That may be argued against by some of my colleagues. We have had a very interesting debate. Some of them do not think that is achievable, that in the long term it could not become an independent republic but would have to remain a part of Serbia, with autonomy, as it did prior to 1990.

These are fascinating debates when we look at all the details. However, at the end of the day I would like to offer my encouragement to both ministers who were present tonight. I hope there will be a long term commitment on the part of Canada. I am very pleased to be a part of this debate and to see that everybody is focused on the crisis in Kosovo and looking toward a solution in the near future.

Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.): Madam Speaker, the government's motion tonight is timely, appropriate and sound.

Each member who has spoken before me has supported the motion of the foreign affairs minister in his call to resolve the conflict, promote a political settlement for Kosovo and facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance to refugees.

In Kosovo we face a very complex situation for historic and symbolic reasons. It was here I learned that in 1389 the Serbs fought their battle of the Kosovo polie; namely, the field of Kosovo battle against the Turks. It was in Kosovo that the church of Serbia was born. It is here we find the symbolic values the Serbs attribute to Kosovo, to their religious ground, virtually their holy land or the equivalent of it.

However, against this background it must also be said that although the Serbs pretend to be civilized members of the world community, they have failed miserably to prove themselves. For weeks and months now we have witnessed a situation to which we cannot remain indifferent despite the distances and the ocean between Europe and us. The suffering is immense, the atrocities unbearable and the crimes unforgivable.

As members of the human species we must resolve this conflict and find ways to resolve it soon. We must push for a political settlement. We must provide humanitarian assistance to the 300,000 displaced people and the 30,000 refugees.

Several speakers have referred to a NATO intervention. I hope we will not be so naive as to believe that NATO air attacks will solve the problem. They will only strengthen the already rigid and unbearable position taken by the Serbs. Instead, NATO ground forces to protect the entire civilian population would represent the first necessary step.

In that context let us have no elusion. The presence of troops to protect the population may be required for years. Kosovo could turn out to be another Cypress and the presence of troops, be they NATO or the United Nations, may be necessary for many decades to come.

The Council of Europe, where this parliament has, through the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, observer status, produced a political report prepared by Andras Bargony of Hungary. It is entitled “Crisis in Kosovo and the situation in the federal Republic of Yugoslavia”. The recommendations of the report, adopted two weeks ago by the Assembly of the Council of Europe, include the following elements considered as essential by European parliamentarians in reaching a lasting peaceful solution to the crisis.

 

. 2105 + -

The first element is to guarantee the security of all people living in Kosovo, to be achieved through the withdrawal of the Serbian security forces, the disarmament of armed groups of ethnic Albanians and the deployment of an international peace force.

The second is to give a new political status to Kosovo based on a high level of autonomy within the Yugoslav federation, based on the prerogatives the province enjoyed according to the 1974 constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, adapted of course to the new situation and, where necessary, enlarged.

Thirdly, such status would include the highest possible form of self-government for Kosovo in lawmaking, the executive, the judiciary, public order, economy, education and culture with respect to the rights of Serbs and other minorities living in Kosovo, and finally the direct participation of Kosovo representatives in federal institutions and also through the adoption of democratic reforms.

The fourth element is to give international guarantees, ensuring respect for the future agreement and preventing any attempts to return to the status quo or to secede.

The final element is to introduce democratic reforms implemented through the federal Republic of Yugoslavia, guaranteeing full compliance with the Council of Europe standards concerning the functioning of a democratic political system, the rule of law and the protection of human rights and the rights of national minorities, notably in Kosovo, in Vojvodina and in Sanjak.

It seems to me that these are very sensible proposals made by the Council of Europe, by the assembly and by our European colleagues. The assembly also considered that in the absence of a clear and unequivocal position of the international community the political and military pressure exerted on the two sides to engage in negotiations would remain largely unaffected.

Therefore, it would seem that a clear and unequivocal position of the international community is urgently needed. The future status of Kosovo must be placed at the top of the international agenda. That is quite clear now. The participation of all interested parties, governments and relevant international bodies is essential.

I am sure that everyone will agree tonight that we must not fail the people of Kosovo. We must prove that the international community can intervene in the name of humanity. It is high time that we do so.

[Translation]

Mr. René Laurin (Joliette, BQ): Madam Speaker, as we in this House are peacefully discussing international problems, as we speak freely, in peace, in confidence, in the respect of our institutions and in the safety of our own homes, in another part of the world people are dying, being martyred and abused, watching their children being raped and their families being separated, without a flicker of hope that this conflict will be quickly settled.

In another part of the world, people want autonomy so they may be their own leaders and control their own institutions. A bloodthirsty president, who does not share their opinions, is making them suffer and depriving them of their dignity.

 

. 2110 + -

Today, we are wondering what we could or should do to help the people of Kosovo, these Albanian-speaking people who are being victimized. Last winter, serious situations were experienced in some parts of Canada and Quebec, which warranted a humanitarian operation. The people who had to leave their homes temporarily and relocate away from their familiar surroundings were finding themselves in need of assistance.

Back then, if we had known of any means of stopping the wind, the rain, the storm and the ice, all the people of Quebec and of Canada would have agreed that that means ought to be used to halt the force of nature, whose effects become devastating when spread over a period of days or weeks. All would have agreed that everything should be done to spare a few children and families a disagreeable situation lasting a few weeks, one which did not endanger their lives.

If we spared no effort in trying to limit the ravages of nature in our own country, how could we not agree today that the Government of Canada should take the necessary action to help people who are 100, 1,000 times worse off than we were?

Our floods and our ice storm pale in comparison with what is now going on in Yugoslavia, in Kosovo. It is not just the lives of these particular people that will be marked, but the lives of several generations to come. We have the means of helping to resolve this situation quickly. Perhaps we have even delayed too long.

The government is moving that action be taken because it is clear that diplomatic efforts have failed. But while our diplomats were talking, people were being driven out of their villages and homes. They were being forced to take refuge in the mountains and the forests, sometimes without their children. Sometimes, it was the children who had to flee, who sought shelter because they no longer had any parents. Some of these fleeing children were even missing limbs. They were orphans.

If we could experience, even for half a day, the horrors of being victims of domination, we would not need a full evening's debate in the House of Commons to decide that Quebeckers and Canadians are in agreement on going to the assistance of a population that is the victim of a cold-blooded adversary once again, one who has not yet been made to heed the voice of reason.

I myself would not subscribe to the policy of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, but what we are dealing with here is not attacking someone we do not like, but preventing an attacker from continuing his inhumane actions against defenceless populations.

 

. 2115 + -

The idea is to give these helpless people the means to protect themselves against a ruthless aggressor. It is not a case of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, but a matter of self-defence. It is a case of protecting oneself against an invader that will simply not listen to reason.

Even the pressure exerted by the international community was not enough to make Mr. Milosevic realize that his action is condemned almost everywhere in the world, except for a few countries that have not clearly expressed their disapproval.

Canada must not hesitate. We must offer our modest contribution. We are not, of course, as powerful as the United States, but we are a country whose military capability and humanitarian intervention forces are well developed and can enable us to fulfil our role in the world, our obligations to other countries, and our commitment to provide humanitarian assistance.

We must now do for others what we would like others to do for us in one, five, ten or twenty years should the Canadian or Quebec people be attacked by dictators of that type, who might decide to rule over people who decided some day to have their own government and institutions.

Everything has been taken from these people, including their institutions, their right to practice a religion, their universities, their newspapers, their radio stations, their means of expression, their means of being themselves. Such is the justification of the bloodthirsty dictator who wants to subdue these people. This is why he is pursuing these people into their homes, and even into their bedrooms.

This is a barbaric act. It is an unacceptable action which Canada must not condone. I am convinced our country must take the necessary measures advocated in today's motion.

I am sure all Canadians and Quebeckers will agree that our officials should act so as to put an end to this massacre and restore peace in Kosovo.

Mr. Robert Bertrand (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in this House today in support of Canada's participation in a possible NATO operation in Kosovo.

There are many excellent reasons for Canada to participate in such an operation.

First, like the rest of the international community, Canada is very concerned about the climate of violence and human rights violation that continue to prevail in Kosovo. We have been appalled by the recent massacre of 14 civilians. We are holding the Yugoslav leadership and President Milosevic in particular, directly responsible for the current situation in Kosovo.

The Yugoslav republic's failure to co-operate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia constitutes a serious breach of its international obligations. The number of displaced persons, that is those brutally forced out of their homes, has already exceeded 280,000.

 

. 2120 + -

Our country, with its long and proud tradition of promoting respect for human life and human dignity throughout the world, cannot remain indifferent to such abuses, such atrocities. The time has come for action in Kosovo.

Second, as loyal members of NATO, we feel we are duty-bound to continue to unreservedly support the efforts of our allies and the international community to prevent a catastrophe in this region that has suffered so much already.

Third, such participation would be in keeping with our commitment to the principle of collective security. It would be in line with our foreign and defence policies.

Fourth, this participation would constitute a logical extension of our prior commitments in the Balkans.

In fact, since 1991 we have been involved in the efforts by the international community to put an end to the violence and the taking of innocent lives, and to restore peace to this region, within either the UN or NATO. Since the signature of the Dayton agreement, we have been playing a vital role in the measures taken by NATO in restoring stability to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

At the present time, we have six CF-18s stationed at Aviano, Italy, where they are backing up the ground element of the Bosnia stabilization force. These aircraft take part in the effort to enforce NATO's no-fly zone over these territories and in a NATO partnership for peace exercises in this region.

Resolution 1199 passed by the United Nations security council on September 23 shows how seriously the world community takes this situation.

Canada calls upon the warring parties to fulfil their obligations under this resolution and especially, pursuant to the ceasefire agreement, to take measures to bring the humanitarian crisis to an end and to come to a peaceful solution.

NATO is developing plans for various possible operations in Kosovo. It has started to take stock of all the resources its member states could provide if it was decided to launch a military operation.

Members of the alliance have yet to decide if they are going to take military action in Kosovo. However, should NATO decide in favour of military action, Canada should take part in it.

There are two main reasons why I wholeheartedly support Canada's participation in possible NATO action in Kosovo. First, I have personally been witness to the horrors hidden behind the antiseptic term “ethnic cleansing”. Also, I was able to see with my own eyes the positive impact of the presence of Canadian troops in Bosnia and the remarkable work done by our forces through NATO's stabilization force.

As the chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, I had, last November, the honour of heading a delegation of eight members of the defence and foreign affairs committees visiting Bosnia.

We saw how Canada helped implement policies to establish peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Peace was maintained through our military involvement in the stabilization force under NATO. We visited reconstruction projects carried out with the help of Canadian NGOs and the Canadian armed forces.

 

. 2125 + -

I would like to digress a moment to remind my colleagues that Canada's participation in the region continues. In fact, since March, Canada has contributed $430,000 to UNICEF emergency measures, $435,000 to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and $400,000 to the Red Cross for aid to refugees.

During our fact-finding trip in November of last year, we witnessed democratization initiatives being undertaken with the co-operation of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the international police group and many more organizations. Judging from all we have seen there, we have concluded that considerable progress had been made in Bosnia since the Dayton accord.

We have been proud to hear and see for ourselves that Canada has played a major role in the military and civilian aspects of the peace accord, and members of our group unanimously concluded that Canada should continue to take part in this international initiative.

In all the places we visited, we felt a deep emotion and pride when we heard people tell use repeatedly how important our presence was. They also asked us to thank Canadians for their contribution and their efforts to help them rebuild their country.

During that November trip, my colleagues and I saw for ourselves the horrible destruction brought about by ethnic cleansing. Ruins could be seen throughout the countryside. In every village we visited, we could see houses that had been destroyed by bombardments during the war and other houses that had been destroyed to make it impossible for their occupants to return home.

When we first arrived in Bosnia, one of our first briefing sessions dealt with the use of land mines as a means of ethnic cleansing. We were told to stay on the paved portion of the roads and to avoid walking in the grass around the villages. We were told that, for years, the fields had not been planted with crops but with mines.

We were told that in Bosnia there were still probably a million mines left. Brief though our visit was, we were horrified by this constant, invisible and insidious threat. We could not imagine how the local people had, for years, been able to live in such an atmosphere, knowing that death or mutilation awaited them or their children at every turn.

It is difficult to describe the horror of such an experience, difficult to understand the hatred that drives neighbours who, the day before, were friends to kill each other, difficult to understand the extent of the violence of which humanity is capable.

I therefore urge my colleagues to approve Canada's participation in any NATO action in Kosovo.

[English]

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak in this debate on Kosovo.

We have been here before. When I was first elected in 1993 I remember a debate in the House on the same conflict. What the intervening five years have proven is that we have learned nothing.

 

. 2130 + -

While over the last nine months Albanians in Kosovo have been slaughtered, murdered, mutilated and raped, we in the international community have wrung our hands, pointed fingers and done nothing. This has happened time and time again. The last five years have proven that we have learned no lessons whatsoever.

With respect to Kosovo, in 1989 Slobodan Milosevic came to power with a promise to rid Kosovo of its 93% ethnic Albanian population. This was a promise he made and true to his word he has been engaging in the process of ethnic and cultural genocide of the people there.

First he started to close down the schools, then he threw Albanians out of jobs. What are they supposed to do? They started the Kosovo Liberation Army to try to defend their people. They were successful initially but they have been losing quite badly.

As we speak, 250,000 innocent civilians have been displaced and 50,000 innocent Albanian people from Kosovo are in the forests freezing, starving and sick. Some have been subjected to some of the worst atrocities any of us could possibly imagine. And we still sit on our hands.

It is remarkable that as we stand here today trying to decide what we are going to do, for months people have been slaughtered. We have only one option in the face of a despot like Milosevic. That is to bomb. He understands one thing and one thing only and that unfortunately is force. I am certain that is not what his people want but he, a man of shrewd political and ruthless means, wants to do that. He will understand nothing but force.

We have tried diplomatic initiatives time and time again and they have been completely fruitless. He has played games with us. He has teased us with the hope that he will negotiate rather than fight, but this is only temporary and he goes back and continues the onslaught. No more. There are some solutions that would solve the problem.

One, Milosevic has been given the ultimatum. We know from Secretary General Annan that he is not withdrawing his troops and we must bomb. We must bomb hard military targets, hard military Serbian targets within Kosovo and move into greater Serbia if necessary.

Two, we have to ensure that in the future, after that is done, there will be a continued reinforcement of the blockade around Serbia. Right now it is a joke. The Russians and the Greeks are providing arms and cash, and military hardware to the Serbs, thereby fueling this problem. The Russians want a foot in the Balkans. That blockade has to be strengthened if we are going to meet success.

Three, the legitimate concerns of the Serbian people have to be met. Kosovo is to the Serbs what Jerusalem is to the Jews. The Field of Black Birds is a very important symbol for them. Unfortunately it is a negative symbol for them but it is an important one and one that must be respected. It is a shrine for the Serbian people. They must be allowed free and unfettered access to it.

We must not support an independent country called Kosovo. If we were to support the pre-1989 situation when Kosovo was an autonomous state, then I think we would find a reasonable compromise which would enable the Albanians in Kosovo to live peacefully and would enable the Serbs and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to have free access to those shrines.

If we do this, a compromise can be made. However, the compromise is being made much more difficult by the actions of President Milosevic. Through his genocidal actions he is polarizing communities and laying the seeds of future violent ethnic discontent for years to come. Unfortunately this tragic situation will bubble up again.

We have heard some discussions today about intervention. It has been proven over the last several decades that the world has been unable or unwilling to deal with conflicts when they occur and only get involved after a huge loss of lives has taken place. From Rwanda to Chechnya, to Cambodia, to the Sudan and to others, the world has sat on its hands while innocent civilians have been slaughtered.

 

. 2135 + -

That is why international law respects, acknowledges and supports intervention by outside powers within the borders of a country if gross human rights abuses are taking place. The reason it supports that is that although we support the integrity of a nation state, international law respects the integrity and safety of people over and above the nation state. In other words, a despot cannot abuse people and expect to go away unscathed.

We collectively have a responsibility to protect people not only on humanitarian grounds but also for very pragmatic reasons. What happens in a conflict half a world away winds up on our own doorstep through increasing demands on our defence budgets, aid budgets and our social programs domestically as people migrate away from an ethnic conflict and wind up as refugees on our shores.

International law respects and supports intervention. The proof in the pudding is when we look at who pays the price. Civilians pay the price. It was not always that way. In World War I 85% of the casualties were soldiers. Wars took place between nation states. In World War II 60% were soldiers. Today 85% of the penalties that are paid in blood, in death and in rape are paid for by innocent unarmed men, women and children. The civilian population pays the price in conflicts that are by and large ethnic conflicts within the boundaries of a country. They generally are not wars between nation states.

We need political will. We need a spine, we need guts and we need courage. I and my colleagues do not want to stand here five years from now on a debate about another group of people who have been murdered and slaughtered while we sat around waiting for somebody to go first.

Canada with its enormous diplomatic ability and international respect can work with other nation states to pull them together. I introduced a private members' motion last year asking the Minister of Foreign Affairs to bring together like-minded nations to have a common foreign policy in certain areas and particularly the area of conflict prevention.

I am very happy to see that the Minister of Foreign Affairs signed a treaty with Norway. We need to expand this treaty with other like-minded nations such as New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Sweden, Finland and Costa Rica for starters. There are others. We should bring them together maybe in Ottawa to discuss a common foreign policy for certain areas. We should have a common focus in a certain part of our foreign policy that deals with one thing, conflict prevention.

Early intervention by identifying the precursors to conflict and having the tools to address them are essential. We should first start with non-military means and then work up to military means.

I was disappointed earlier today. I introduced a private members' motion asking the House of Commons to call on the United Nations to indict Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes and to allow the UNHCR and NGOs free and unfettered access to the refugees in and around Kosovo. I was deeply saddened that the House did not give unanimous consent. I hope the government will take heed of that motion and adopt it as soon as possible.

I am glad we had this debate. We must remember that in the future we cannot allow this genocide in Kosovo or in other country to continue. We must work early and preventatively because the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children are at stake.

Mr. Bill Graham (Toronto Centre—Rosedale, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca for his positive contribution to the debate and his usual insightful observations about the situation we have to talk about tonight.

I have been listening to the debate tonight and, if I may say, I have been impressed with the change in the attitude of the Reform Party. In earlier debates we had on Bosnia and other issues there was a great deal of reticence about the engagement of Canada. I now notice that the party of which the member is a prominent member is much more active in recognizing the engagement of Canada in the world and our necessity to participate.

 

. 2140 + -

I listened carefully to the words of the member of parliament for Red Deer who represents the member's party as its foreign affairs spokesman. I noticed perhaps a slight nuance between the member who just spoke and the member for Red Deer.

I felt that the member for Red Deer was saying that if we act without the sanction of the United Nations Security Council, which as the foreign minister clearly indicated is probably unlikely because of the position both of Russia and possibly of China, that will cause a great deal of problems for us and for the United Nations in the long run. The member himself was much more aggressive in saying that we must act and we must act now if we are to answer to the humanitarian requirements of this terrible situation.

Can he help us with his view as to how he believes this will impact on the relationship between Canada and the United Nations and other countries in the region if NATO moves in a somewhat more ambiguous area than one that would be given the comfort of a cover of a firm security council resolution?

Mr. Keith Martin: Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague and friend from the government, the talented chairman of the House standing committee on foreign affairs. His question is an excellent one.

He points to the first thing that I think we all desire, which is support from the United Nations. We have a larger commitment here and a larger rationale for involvement: the humanitarian reasons that many members in the House articulated earlier today.

We would like to have the UN involved, but if it is not involved, NATO certainly has the power and the ability to do that. The justification comes within the confines of international law which supports intervention in environments where gross human rights abuses are clearly taking place and in this case where genocide is occurring.

I think NATO has a responsibility. Although as the hon. member mentioned it is slightly out of its purview, NATO is largely responsible for a good segment of the security of Europe. If the situation in Kosovo expands, the expanding conflict would involve Montenegro, Greece, Russia and other nation states in the surrounding area. All those nation states could be involved in the larger conflagration. If that happened, the world simply could not turn a blind eye.

In the larger scheme of things, in an effort to prevent more bloodshed and in an effort to save more lives, while NATO would like to have the UN's tacit involvement, it should go ahead regardless because I think a larger principle is involved. It would add a lot more credibility to the United Nations in its ability to act early to intervene.

With respect to Bosnia, we were far too late in intervening. As a result, 250,000 people were killed and the countryside was laid to waste for generations to come.

If there is any lesson to be learned from recent history, we should look at Bosnia and see the abysmal failure of NATO. If it moves a little further along within the confines of international law to act where it is appropriate, then I think it will be justified in the long term not only within the nation states that participate but also history will take a favourable view to the intervention.

Mr. Bill Graham (Toronto Centre—Rosedale, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this important debate this evening.

It is important to recognize the tremendous unanimity of views in the House tonight, faced as we are and watching as we do the tremendous destruction and the devastation of the livelihood of innocent people who live in Kosovo. We have now been watching this for more than a year.

The humanitarian situation in Kosovo is disastrous with hundreds of thousands of displaced people and refugees, some of whom lack basic shelter and basic necessity.

What is the most shocking is that many of the problems are the direct result of the due actions of the Yugoslav government which itself is charged with the basic responsibility of its own people, its own citizens in that area. It is clear we are watching the war of a government on its own citizens, determined to drive them into the country, determined to drive them into the ground.

 

. 2145 + -

The situation of violence and oppression is creating a humanitarian situation of enormous proportions. Some 290,000 people have been displaced as a result of the conflict in Kosovo. I come from a city of 3.5 million people. If we had 300,000 people displaced in the city of Toronto, imagine how we would cope with that tremendous problem. We are having problems coping with homelessness, with disease and with other issues within our own communities now. How would we cope with the enormity of that disaster?

For those who go back to the Quebec ice storm, think of what it would be in terms of humanitarian tragedy if the people the ice storm struck had nowhere to go, nowhere to return, and were going back to bombed houses, totally destroyed places. This is the type of life that the people in Kosovo are living at the behest of their own government. This is the terrifying aspect. Winter approaches. Some 50,000 people, children and elderly, are without shelter and afraid to return to the remains of their homes.

We watch the situation on television. We read about it in the newspapers but we have little firsthand experience. This evening in the House we heard from the Reform member for Red Deer. He spoke of when he travelled to Bosnia. I can echo that. We have some experience with it, as does the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence. We travelled to Bosnia. We have been there. We have seen devastation in those areas. The same is now taking place in Kosovo.

There is a difference between what is taking place in Kosovo today and what is taking place in Bosnia today. That difference is the fact that in Bosnia some years ago NATO chose to act. We acted with efficiency. We finally were pushed into the situation where we had to do something. We did it. Today, while we have to live with the tremendous situation the member for Red Deer described, to some extent we are seeing a situation where peace, security and civil society are returning. Farmers can till their fields. Children can play. Birds can sing again. There is a chance for life, which does not exist in Kosovo.

Why is there that difference? The difference is, as the minister pointed out in his opening statement, the Yugoslav authorities have a plan to terrorize their own population. That plan is succeeding for one reason and one reason only. It is that there is no credible threat from the international community that will stop them.

Stopping them with resolutions was proven in the Bosnia situation not to be successful. Words are good in parliaments. They are a part of our work. However words will not deal with Slobodan Milosevic. We learned that in Bosnia. He will only be stopped by actions. That was our experience. There is no reason it would not apply here as it applied in Bosnia.

The need to act is clear. All members in the House that I heard speak tonight have echoed that. How to act, however, is less clear. There will be debate and there will be reasonable discussions about how we should act. We know, as the member from Esquimalt and many others have pointed out, that NATO has the capacity to act. The question we must ask ourselves is a reasonable one. What is the legal authority by which NATO will act? If we act without legal authority that is an issue.

I had the privilege of attending the debates of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, in Copenhagen this summer. We debated a resolution on Kosovo. A strong debate took place between those of us who wanted to ensure there would be a capacity to act and those who were more determined that whatever action would be taken would be taken under legal authority.

 

. 2150 + -

Eventually the OSCE adopted a resolution which provided that military measures should be taken in Kosovo with the explicit endorsement of a relevant UN security council resolution.

I opposed that aspect of the resolution when it came up in the OSCE assembly. I would oppose the same approach we are taking tonight. The foreign minister addressed the reason in his remarks. If we depend upon a clear security council resolution with Russian and Chinese approval, there is a serious chance it just will not happen.

The member for Red Deer put that in context tonight. We have to look at that as members of parliament who believe in a world society which is governed more and more by the rule of law. The very humanitarian principles we seek to apply tonight are those that create the sense of the world law to which we want to adhere if we are to have a rule of law we can all live within. It would be similar to the rule of law those of us in the House adhere to, wish to adhere to, and wish to build in a world community in the same way we have in our wonderful Canadian society. We must be aware of that.

While the security council resolution is important and may put the UN authority in jeopardy if we act without it, we have to face the fact that if we allow the UN security council issue to prevent us from acting the UN will lose its authority in the world. It will be eroded to such a point that it will become irrelevant for all of us.

I believe my view echoes that of most members who have spoken tonight. We must prepare to act. It must be a preparation that is credible and determined. It is only this credible and determined action and the ability to deliver it that will provide the Yugoslav authorities with a reason to back down. Only that will bring them to the table. Only that will force them to act. If not, we will see this situation drag on. We will see problems develop in the region that will be worse than those if we do not act.

I met with the Macedonian ambassador today. He told me not to be hasty in this matter. He said that they would be ineffective if precipitous NATO action was taken. I asked him what would happen if this situation were to drag on for another year, what would happen to the communities and societies living on the border of this untenable situation.

That is what the situation will be. It will drag on for years. We will not see 200,000 refugees; we will see 400,000 refugees. Inevitably people will be dragged into the situation. If we do not act now, the worst thing that will happen is that we will have to act a year from now when thousands of lives will have been lost and the situation will be much worse. It is always that way. We are forced to act.

We must deal with Russia's reaction, with Turkey and with Greece. All of this is true. The risk of not acting is worse than the threat of acting. We must act if we are to preserve the moral authority of our situation in a world where we must preserve humanitarian rights in the face of the determination of states to deny rights to their own citizens.

I read a little history as I prepared for my speech tonight. Count Bismarck who subsequently became Prince Bismarck, the chancellor of the German Empire as it was then, said in 1890 “If there is another war in Europe it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans”. This is not a damned silly thing we are talking about tonight. This is a human tragedy. We are on the threshold of the 21st century and nothing has changed.

We owe it to ourselves to act as parliamentarians and as citizens of the world to make a change. Let us pledge in the House tonight that we will act together to make a change. Let us pledge that we will keep the spirit of the House tonight in which all members are saying that we must act. Let us encourage our government to be positive, to act and to end the humanitarian tragedy that we are facing. If we do not act today we will act in the future and it will be worse.

 

. 2155 + -

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I value the comments of the hon. member for Toronto Centre—Rosedale. They are always highly intelligent and highly constructive. I would like to pose a few questions and some challenges to him as chairman of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs because he wields significant power on the other side in the area of foreign affairs.

As he correctly and eloquently said, the problem has been inaction. Since 1890 until now we have seen inaction in the face of gross human rights abuses. There are solutions. The solutions require changing the way in which we think of conflict and changing the way in which we deal with conflict. Essentially it boils down to conflict prevention and how we identify the precursors to conflict and the actions necessary to deal with those conflicts. I suggest we start out with non-military intervention, particularly economic intervention.

Will the hon. member, in his capacity as chairman of the committee of foreign affairs, submit to the Minister of Foreign Affairs the following?

First, we should convene like-minded nations in Ottawa to develop a concerted, united effort to deal with conflict prevention in whichever forum we happen to be in, be it the United Nations, OSCE, OAU, OAS or whatever.

Will he work behind the scenes to support the private member's motion I put forth on that idea and Motion No. 477 that I put forth today to have our country present to the United Nations a proposal to indict Slobodan Milosevic for crimes against humanity and to ensure that refugees in the region around Kosovo will have free access to representatives of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and other humanitarian NGOs?

Mr. Bill Graham: Madam Speaker, as usual, the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca has a way of being able to put the challenge right on the table. I cannot pick up that challenge in every respect, but I can certainly say that I will take the issues he has referred to, to the steering committee of the foreign affairs committee, particularly a recommendation for the indictment of Mr. Milosevic. His party is represented excellently by the member for Red Deer and the member himself is an associate member of our committee.

I had the opportunity on the weekend to meet with Madam Arbour, our representative in Brussels. She is doing a wonderful job as a Canadian representative on the War Crimes Tribunal. We will raise that issue with her. We have seen Canadians rally together around such issues. We saw the tremendous support for Canada from other nations on the land mines issue. There is an opportunity to bring like-minded countries together.

I believe the member will give credit to the foreign affairs minister who has been very active on these files. Our foreign affairs minister is not a quiet person. He is an activist as we know from the land mines debate. I can be confident that he is doing everything to deal with the situation and to bring like-minded states together.

The parliamentary secretary is in the House tonight and will be speaking to the motion. He is also active on this file and is trying to deal with like-minded nations. I am sure that he will be able to speak to this issue when he rises shortly.

In our committee we will do our best to respond to all the suggestions of the member, largely because this is an issue which is bringing us together. We can work together in an all party way to try to resolve a humanitarian issue. Canadians can bring a special quality to bear on this debate on the world stage. I thank the member for his questions.

Mr. Julian Reed (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Madam Speaker, in listening to the exchanges that have taken place tonight, it is an honour to be part of this debate. Sometimes when we face crises and are able to put aside the partisan differences in the House it rises to a new level. It is a privilege to participate in this brief time.

 

. 2200 + -

Many of the things I will say will perhaps be a repetition of what has already been said tonight, but I believe they are worth saying and emphasizing. Since March of this year the security forces of the federal republic of Yugoslavia have been waging a brutal campaign of violence and repetition against the civilian population of Kosovo.

While the Yugoslav government has argued consistently that its actions have been directed solely against the armed Albanian separatists of Kosovo, the security forces have undertaken a consistent strategy of destroying villages, burning and looting homes and directly targeting innocent civilians. Numerous reports, including those made by the Canadian team working in the Kosovo diplomatic observer mission, have documented the abuses of the security forces. It is obvious that grave breaches of international humanitarian law, human rights standards and the law of armed conflict have taken place. While the world recognizes a sovereign state's right to defend itself against armed insurrection, the actions of the Yugoslav government in Kosovo have clearly gone far beyond the pale of acceptable behaviour.

These atrocious actions have ramifications which are being felt far beyond Kosovo in a region which has been torn by war and fractured by leaders who have shamelessly played on people's fears. In inciting conflict the actions of the Yugoslav government are again victimizing the weak and moving the Balkans away from advancement and integration.

The displacement of Kosovo Albanian civilians and the polarization of communities which has resulted from the conflict has direct implications not only for Serbia and Montenegro but for the neighbouring countries of Albania, the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia and Bosnia as well.

The consequences of this conflict are reverberating through southern Europe. The international community is simply not prepared to stand by and allow the government of Milosevic to carry out this campaign of violence and oppression which is rapidly leading to a humanitarian crises of terrible proportions.

As winter fast approaches some 50,000 people including children and the elderly are either without shelter or are afraid to return to what remains of their homes. Unless the Yugoslav government completely withdraws its security forces from their field deployments and begins at once substantive dialogue on broad autonomy for Kosovo these people will begin to perish and what is now a humanitarian crisis will quickly become a catastrophe. Despite numerous warnings and several opportunities to cease the campaign of violence, President Milosevic continues to defy the will of the international community.

The claims that his security forces have ceased their operations in Kosovo are too little and they are much too late. The military and police forces which have been responsible for the intentional deaths of civilians, the destruction of homes and property and the deliberate creation of a humanitarian crisis have for the most part yet to leave Kosovo and remain capable of returning to their destructive tasks at almost a moment's notice.

Rather than respecting international humanitarian law and human rights agreements by withdrawing the security forces which have been used to repress civilians, President Milosevic has instead allowed his forces to conclude their offensive and displace thousands of people before offering any sign of compliance with the demands of the international community.

 

. 2205 + -

Yet again President Milosevic has done the bare minimum in an effort to forestall the action against him.

President Milosevic and the Yugoslav government have had ample opportunity to end and to prevent this conflict, or at the very least to attenuate its effects. Instead, a policy of heavy handed tactics has been pursued which has served only to aggravate the humanitarian situation and to further polarize the communities in Kosovo, making a settlement all the more difficult to achieve. As a result of this deliberate decision to shun accommodation and pursue violence, President Milosevic must now shoulder the blame for the situation which confronts the world in Kosovo.

Since the outbreak of hostilities NATO has been fully engaged in support of the international community's efforts to bring an end to this terrible conflict. The alliance has consistently demonstrated to the Yugoslav government and to president Milosevic that it is prepared to act in a decisive way. As an important guarantor of stability in Europe, NATO cannot stand by and allow this humanitarian crisis to unfold.

The international community is in clear agreement that the Yugoslav government must not be allowed to continue its policy of intentionally creating a humanitarian crisis among its own people. NATO is ready to act to support the will of the international community by assuring that this policy stops.

Canada has played an important role in the Balkans in recent years. After several years of peacekeeping, as part of United Nations forces in Bosnia, we continue now as an alliance member of the NATO led stabilization force. To make significant contribution to peace there, the international community recognizes that NATO has proven vital not only in bringing about peace in Bosnia but in helping to preserve that peace and moving the country closer to stability and normality.

Several months have passed since the fighting began in Kosovo. President Milosevic has made and subsequently broken numerous promises to stop fighting and begin serious negotiations. The time for inaction and wringing of hands has run out. NATO must now act. It must act to bring an end to the violence, to demonstrate that a peaceful negotiated settlement must be found and to ensure that the thousands of displaced persons can be accessed by humanitarian organizations and eventually return to their homes. Canada stands ready to play its role in these important efforts.

Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether the parliamentary secretary could give us the benefit of his views as to the role of the security council, following the rather cogent and learned intervention by the member for Rosedale who seemed to place great importance on the security council's playing a role in Kosovo and overcoming the difficulties it faces internally with respect to the possibility that Russia would impose a veto on any resolution.

Mr. Julian Reed: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for that question.

As members know, Canada has always preferred that the security council pass the resolution that would determine what the world would do with the situation in Kosovo.

We are deeply disappointed that if such a resolution were attempted to be passed Russia would object and possibly China would object. Therefore we find ourselves in a situation where our preferred situation is not going to work. The humanitarian crisis is there nonetheless.

 

. 2210 + -

Winter is setting in and things are get worse actually by the hour in Kosovo. Therefore Canada stands ready to act with NATO.

Mr. Bill Graham (Toronto Centre—Rosedale, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow that up with the parliamentary secretary.

I recall when the minister was speaking the parliamentary secretary was here as well. He pointed out that the secretary general's report in respect of the situation in Kosovo had clearly indicated that the conditions which security council mandated for an improvement in the situation in Kosovo have not been lived up to.

Would the parliamentary secretary agree with me that if perhaps there is not a formal resolution at least it is clear that within the United Nations situation itself there is a clear opportunity for NATO and Canada to say we must take advantage of this situation and deal with it and that the secretary-general, by his findings, has indicated that the situation for an imperative intervention is there? Would that be a fair way of putting it?

Mr. Julian Reed: Mr. Speaker, the report of the secretary-general actually shows that the world is appalled by this situation. When he came back to report that Mr. Milosevic had not undertaken to comply with the security council resolution it stands to reason that while NATO may be the one that has to take action, essentially the whole world will be in support of this action.

Ms. Aileen Carroll (Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the United Nations secretary-general has released a report in which he lays the lion's share of the blame for the current humanitarian crisis in the province of Kosovo squarely on the shoulders of the Yugoslav authorities.

The humanitarian situation in Kosovo is disastrous, with hundreds of thousands of displaced people and refugees, some of whom lack shelter and basic necessities. What is most shocking is that many of these problems are due to the actions of the Yugoslav government against its own citizens.

In particular, the report points to a clear policy of the Yugoslav authorities intentionally driving civilians from their own homes and in many cases from their own countries.

We call on Yugoslavia and on President Milosevic as head of state with the ability to act with decisive authority to meet their obligations under international law and to lead the way toward a just solution.

We hold President Milosevic and all Yugoslav authorities fully accountable for the actions of their security forces and urge them to co-operate with the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in this regard.

The actions of the security forces are exactly what fuels extremism and violence in the Albanian Kosovor population. The Yugoslav government should instead show leadership by creating the conditions for meaningful dialogue on a political solution and by fully addressing the humanitarian crisis.

This can be achieved only by calling an immediate end to the offensive and repressive activities of the police as well as the military and by offering gestures of good faith to the Albanians of Kosovo such as a commitment to offer real, meaningful autonomy for Kosovo.

At the same time, we strongly urge the Albanian Kosovars to return to their earlier policy of peaceful engagement, to pursue their legitimate goals within the borders of the federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

While Canadians understand the frustration and anger the Kosovars feel, especially in light of the scant regard the Yugoslavian authorities have paid to legitimate Kosovar grievances, violence is not the means to a viable solution to the problems Kosovo and the rest of the region face.

 

. 2215 + -

Canada has long supported the diplomatic efforts being pursued to bring about a peaceful resolution to this region. The Organization for Security and Co-operation has been trying to play a constructive role in Yugoslavia but has been continually rebuffed.

United States Ambassador Hill is continuing his efforts to broker an autonomy agreement. The international community is working very hard to find a solution, but we need the co-operation of the combatants to do so.

Problems in Kosovo have recently developed into a major humanitarian crisis in which civilians are the main victims. But this crisis has not occurred in a void. Its current phase is intimately linked to the factors and to the individuals which created the conditions for the violent dissolution of the former socialist federal Republic of Yugoslavia and war in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina, with thousands of lives being lost.

Irresponsible politicians in the Balkans have for years set neighbour against neighbour with one key goal, the maintenance of power at any cost, and that cost is borne by their people. The suffering of their citizens, whether ethnic Albanians, Serbs or others, is rarely uppermost in these leaders' minds. Ethnic ties are betrayed at a whim when it serves the interests of such politicians. But they find playing off people's fears to be the most convenient and effective tactic. It is a tactic to which they frequently resort.

Canadians find such behaviour reprehensible. One's ethnicity makes little difference if one is hungry, cold, terrified and in extreme physical danger. Innocent victims are innocent victims, regardless of religion, language or ethnicity. Simply put, there is no such thing as collective guilt where individuals are held responsible for the crimes, real or perceived, of their ethnic kin. Recognizing this is key to any lasting solutions.

Canada has played a constructive role in all the countries of the former Yugoslavia since we first sent peacekeepers there at the beginning of this decade. We have paid high costs, most notably in terms of the 16 soldiers who lost their lives in the region. Other Canadians have tried through non-governmental organizations or international agencies to help the people of the western Balkans find their own peaceful, sustainable answers to these many challenges.

Canadian taxpayers have been generous in helping the peace process bring tangible benefits to ordinary people. We, in turn, have benefited enormously through immigration from the former Yugoslavia which provides a bridge between our countries.

We have no agenda to damage anyone's legitimate interests in that region. But we do have an obligation to make our voices heard when we see tens of thousands of suffering people whose human rights have been callously disregarded and who have in many cases lost all that they hold dear.

When international humanitarian law and international human rights standards are cast aside in the name of fighting and armed insurgency in a manner opposed to the letter and spirit of international law we must not be oblivious to the implications this has for all of us.

Members of this House must therefore condemn in the strongest terms the philosophy which lies behind the actions of all the combatants who commit atrocities against civilians in Kosovo.

Regardless of who commits such actions, the Serbian forces or the Kosovar insurgents, such actions will never lead to a just and peaceful resolution for the inhabitants of Kosovo.

We are all deeply concerned with the plight of the displaced persons within Kosovo and of Kosovo refugees fleeing into Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Hercegovina. Canada has contributed to the efforts of the UN, the UN children's fund and the Red Cross, and Canada will continue to do its part.

A stable solution reflecting the best interests of all ethnic groups in Kosovo is what is needed. There is only one source for justice, reconciliation and a lasting peace. While Canada and our partners in the international community do not seek to impose our own solutions, we cannot be neutral to the suffering being experienced and to the threat to international peace and security that is posed by this current crisis.

 

. 2220 + -

Through the United Nations and through NATO we must act to help end the suffering and bring about a lasting answer to these very complex problems. Time is running out.

Mr. Bill Graham (Toronto Centre—Rosedale, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford for her very thoughtful and sensitive appreciation of the situation.

I think she has introduced into the debate tonight an element that we really have not heard from a lot of other members, which is the need for reconciliation, because, as we know, violence begets violence.

While it is clear that the United Nations has indicated that the majority of responsibility lies with the Yugoslav government since it has the force of power, there is another party in that conflict, the Kosovo Liberation Army.

The KLA, while in no way bearing the same level of responsibility, has a responsibility, which is to return to the bargaining table and ensure that civil peace is restored.

When one seeks to destroy a state or a society violence comes with it. It is a lesson in this country that we have to bear in mind ourselves. This is a lesson for all societies and I think the member brought that to our attention.

Does the member feel there is some way that Canadians can help the Kosovo Liberation Army and Kosovars themselves to understand the way in which they could live in an autonomous region within a federal state, the way we have managed to achieve in our own society, where we deal with these problems in a peaceful, civil way? Is there something we should be urging our government to do, whether it is through CIDA or another organization, to take to these countries a lesson from Canada, a lesson from our own federal experience which will enable them to do exactly what the member suggested? A peaceful reconciliation is ultimately required on both sides if we are going to achieve a resolution of this terrible humanitarian problem.

Ms. Aileen Carroll: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the insight shared by the hon. member for Toronto Centre—Rosedale. Indeed, he underlines very well the dilemma.

Canadians have moved beyond their history in some regards. We have not carried the baggage of some of the European countries and, as such, we have been freer to take risks and, by so doing, have created a federalism that is indeed one of tolerance and one that grows and overcomes the dilemmas which we face.

Canada has a reputation internationally. At one time we referred to it as a middle power, and former Prime Minister Pearson exemplified greatly what roles a middle power could play.

I think today we still have enormous credibility in the international community. We must be peace brokers. We must exemplify tolerance in our own history when we attempt to hold it out as an example to as troubled a region of the world as the Balkans.

But indeed both sides must come forward through CIDA and through international organizations, through our parliamentary associations and the opportunity which they provide for us to stand witness to exactly what we believe and what we act on every day. I think we can reach out. I do not mean in any way to sound naive. The history is long. The hatreds appear to be even longer, but I think they can be remedied by what we bring to the table. But we must be willing to go to the table as well and to take the risks.

Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough—Rouge River, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have had a debate this evening that addresses a very serious international problem recognized by our government, by the United Nations, by NATO and, doubtless, by many other countries around the world. We have heard tonight ample evidence of the brutality and suffering in the province of Kosovo. We have heard that there are some 200,000 to 300,000 people who are homeless and being brutalized by a campaign of terror initiated by Serb forces in that province. The terror is intended to bring about the submission of the people, in response to an insurgency or an alleged insurgency, calculated to bring about independence.

 

. 2225 + -

That poses, potentially, a dilemma for many countries. We do not in this country condone armed insurgencies. We continually and constantly commend to the rest of the world peaceful ways of governance and evolution of governance. While we regret the appearance of arms in Kosovo, the greater evil now is not the original appearance of the armed attempt to produce independence, but the reign of terror now brought by the police response. That reign of terror includes murder. It is not just murder, it is murder with a message.

We have seen this message before. We have debated this type of murder before. It is murder which leaves a message. It includes the mutilation of the victims and it is intended to bring about so much fear that it will numb the will, the initiative, of the victims and the victim group. We have seen this in months gone by in Bosnia and in Croatia.

For those of us who had an opportunity to be in the Balkans after the break-up of the former Yugoslav Republic, we have seen the villages utterly destroyed and burned. What were apparently happy settlements are settlements no more. The people are gone. Some are dead. They have certainly dispersed. It is a very sad situation.

I need only mention Rwanda as another reference point for all of us, where regrettably the world was not able to act soon enough. I do not think any of us wants to let that type of scenario happen again when we have the ability to respond.

Tonight it would appear that most members of parliament who have spoken have supported an international effort to respond to the evils that have been outlined. It appears that all of the parties support an international action to respond to these evils and our government appears ready to act internationally in an attempt to end the evils described and to bring about an improved situation for the victims and hopefully an improved political solution for the future.

One of the areas that has puzzled me as a layman looking at international relations for some time now is this business of gamesmanship theory. When we sit down with an opponent to negotiate we must in the beginning decide whether or not the opponent is telling the truth or is lying.

It seems to me that all of our international organizations have operated without any gamesmanship theory. They have simply assumed that the party on the other side of the table is telling the truth. We have seen a number of occasions on which it is painfully obvious that the party on the other side of the table is not telling the truth.

 

. 2230 + -

If one were to simply operate one's life in gamesmanship theory without any reference to morality, without any reference to life and death, I could hypothetically here say why not lie on the international scene, why not cheat, why not kill. The objective is to reach our goal, to attain our goal. As long as we get there, it does not matter how. I have seen this and as a legislator I do not have a solution.

It is very frustrating to see our international institutions victimized by countries, interest groups that simply play gamesman theory with more than one tactic. I think we are getting better at dealing with deceit. It is sometimes difficult to call our opponent deceitful when negotiating with them. With the inability of our institutions and people who in good faith operate to be able to do this, we lose innocent lives in the process. We lose valuable time and that is a great tragedy.

I do not have a solution. In the matter of Kosovo, because we have previous experience going back not too many months with the parties involved here, we are more able to tell it like it is.

I hope we get better at telling it like it is, calling a liar a liar and I hope we get quicker at doing it. The quicker we can reach these conclusions, the better we can respond.

The United Nations is a large, sometimes unwieldy body but sometimes it is all we have on this planet bringing us together. If there is a veto gridlock there which has been referred to here tonight, it is quite possible that the UN may not be in a position to authorize a specific response to the Kosovo situation. We are then fortunate in having NATO. NATO is prepared with indirect authority from the United Nations to do it and Canada is a player in NATO.

Last Sunday I was at an exhibition of Islamic arts and science in the Scarborough area of Toronto. A man came up to me quite unannounced. I did not even get his name. He said please do something about Kosovo, you must do something. He was a man who obviously had some personal experience in connection with the Balkans. That was my read on the situation. I do not doubt his sincerity in his exhortation to me. He was a new Canadian but a real Canadian and I do not doubt the need for our Canadian government to act.

I will not, as a member of parliament, let him or the rest of my constituents down. I will not turn my back on the victimized people of Kosovo and I support the initiative of this country to intervene, to cause the Serb government to cease its evil and inhumane operations in Kosovo and to allow humanitarian aid to get to the homeless in Kosovo. I hope this initiative will happen within hours.

Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I have a question pertaining to the statement presented by Trent Lott, the United States Senate majority leader, when Clinton's administration briefed Congress on what the Americans were going to do.

He basically said that he was shaken by the presentation made by Clinton's administration, that there was no real plan and that there was no plan B. I wonder if the member for Scarborough—Rouge River would be concerned about that statement given that we are supporting the Americans and on the other side of the coin we are bit players in the whole scheme of things. If there is no plan on that side, where does Canada fit into the big scheme of things?

 

. 2235 + -

Mr. Derek Lee: Mr. Speaker, the question is a good one. On a hearsay basis it suggests there may not be a plan B in the event that the likely operation to cause the Serbian forces to take note and to withdraw is not successful. As I understand from our minister and from my reading on the subject, in this case the purpose of the initiative is to exact a toll, a cost, a price from the military forces doing their evil deeds in Kosovo and to continue to exact a cost from those military and police forces until they are prepared to negotiate in good faith without deceit.

I cannot imagine that any of the military operations intended here or contemplated would proceed without a backup and a contingency plan for whatever operation was contemplated. The initial phases would probably involve hardware and low risk to military personnel on the operational side. However, we are dealing with a complex international situation. I have not been briefed. There may be members of this House who will be briefed before Canadian forces are operational. My experience in watching these things is that our forces are very professional, the NATO forces are very professional and neither the Canadians nor the British nor the Americans nor the French nor any of the other participating countries are going to place their forces in a situation where there is not appropriate backup.

Ms. Aileen Carroll (Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will comment and conclude with a question to my colleague regarding the willingness to take a risk and to act even when all the results cannot be within our control. Many of us have concerns, as I mentioned on Monday in an S. O. 31, about the attendant risks of a military intervention.

I recall as a young child in 1958 watching the tanks roll into Budapest and asking my father if we were going to help. I do not remember his answer because I do not think he had one. As a graduate student in 1968 I watched again as the tanks went into Prague and Dubcek. So many hopes and aspirations were stopped.

I fear the inertia that is a component of all that and perhaps the inertia in Europe today. In discussions with some of our colleagues from Europe I was told it was complicated. Indeed it is and there are risks when we take action but I fear having to watch on television the same scenes in Kosovo that we saw in 1958 and 1968. I believe my colleague would agree with me and I ask him if it is a risk we must take at this time.

Mr. Derek Lee: Mr. Speaker, I agree that we have to take the risk. If we are going to engage ourselves militarily we have to be prepared to make sure there is containment militarily. There is a reasonable prospect that objective can be met. In terms of other risks on the ground after the intervention, the people we are dealing with appear to operate exclusively on military gamesmanship theories.

 

. 2240 + -

I am not saying they are a one trick pony but we have not seen any other tactical rationale. If we have a NATO operation intended to address specifically the one trick pony this is how we do it, psychology. The hope, notwithstanding that there is risk as the hon. member points out, is that will be sufficient to bring about an end game on the Serb military operations simply because that is the mode they are dealing with which is military might. Hopefully the Serbian military is not capable of going much beyond where it is now when faced with sufficient military force.

Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me rise tonight to be part of this very important debate. I lend my qualified support for the international action to end the suffering in this region of Kosovo.

Canada has a very undeniable obligation to its allies, NATO allies in particular. We also have a proud history of international engagement and involvement in supporting our allies as well as those who may be in regions of severe conflict and suffering.

If the alliance decides to take military action I do not believe Canada can step aside. We certainly have a moral obligation to take action against ethnic cleansing. There has unfortunately been quite a history in that region of such terrifying conflict and Canada has always played a role, sometimes a minor role but we have been there. We have that moral obligation to take action against the systematic murder and torture of innocent civilians.

There is no doubt that the international community must not stand idly by while Serbian forces commit flagrant human rights atrocities against Kosovars. Ultimately we must support our allies. Canada cannot shirk its responsibility in this regard.

Nevertheless, quite frankly there are some serious questions concerning possible military action which give us cause for serious concern. We have a duty to ask these questions because we have an obligation to the Canadian troops whose lives will be put on the line.

These are the questions. Have all diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis failed? What are the dangers and possible implications of military action? Is there true multinational support for this mission? Is there a workable plan for military action? What precisely is Canada's role to be? Is the role realistic in terms of Canada's military capability? Who will command the Canadian troops?

I will now go through these questions and maybe put a little of meat to them. Have diplomatic efforts failed? We will see but the answer to date appears to be yes, they have. The Serbs have dragged their feet in agreeing to all the terms of UN security council resolution 1199 passed on September 23. History has certainly shown that the threat of massive military action has frequently been the very thing that brings aggressors to the bargaining table. I think we can all hope this will be a similar case.

However, at the same time, we cannot be certain the Serbs will comply. Serbia has a deep historic attachment, however misguided it may be, to the Kosovo territory. It was in Kosovo that the Serbs lost their independence to the Turks in 1389. Given their attachment to Kosovo, the Serbs may not roll over if they just face a few pinprick air strikes. The sobering fact is that they may well be in for a long and possibly difficult struggle.

 

. 2245 + -

With regard to the second question, there are obviously deep concerns that fighting in Kosovo could escalate into the neighbouring countries. Kosovo is a pivotal territory and it has always been seen as a linchpin for both stability and instability in the Balkans. NATO must make every effort to ensure that war does not spread beyond the borders of Yugoslavia to engulf neighbouring states.

We must be prepared for the fact that the Serbs may make an effort to escalate the war. In other words, we should be looking at the worst case scenario. Perhaps they will attack NATO troops, including Canadians serving in Bosnia. NATO has to be prepared for that eventuality.

The answer to the third question appears to be clear. The very fact that this will be a NATO sanctioned operation implies that it will have multinational support. Nevertheless, on October 5 the European Union's Council of Ministers failed to agree to use rapid force in Kosovo. Obviously some concerns remain among the European members of the alliance.

Is there a workable plan for military action? I believe that this is absolutely the most fundamental question which remains largely unanswered and the reason I put the question to the government side, specifically to the member for Scarborough—Rouge River. Granted, the member may not have been briefed on that. Maybe there is a plan, but Canadians should know. We are possibly sending Canadian troops into an area of conflict. Why should Canadians not know exactly what is going to happen?

United States senate majority leader Trent Lott stated that he was shaken after the Clinton administration briefed Congress on its plans last week. He said “There is no real plan on how to carry this out” and “There is no plan B if that should go wrong”.

Does the plan, if any, entail only air strikes or does it include ground troops? If ground troops are required, then we had better brace ourselves for a much larger number of casualties. Would ground troops be necessary as part of a subsequent peace enforcement operation? How long would they be there? Will the UN Security Council approve the action?

If the six to ten Canadian CF-18s already stationed at Aviano are to be involved, are they the same aircraft which were recently upgraded to carry precision guided munitions, or are they a mixture of upgraded and non-upgraded aircraft? Are they compatible with the system that is in force right now under the Americans and the British? Our planes are moving back and forth. Are all of them upgraded to the point where they can fit into the program that is already there?

A myriad of questions remain unanswered. Does the government know the answer to any of these questions? I have not heard much debate in that regard. The debate has been more philosophical.

Preparation is essential. Has the government asked NATO what will be required? It is impossible to address the question of whether or not our military has the capability of doing this job given that we do not know the job they are going to be doing. If ground troops are sent in, how will they get there? How many ground troops can we send? The Canadian army is already stretched to the limit.

Despite the claim made in the government's 1994 white paper on defence, we cannot send a combat capable brigade overseas. All we can send is a smaller battalion group force. Even that would be a severe strain on our capabilities given the present task. What equipment do they have? I could give a list of what equipment we do not have, but what equipment do we have to send over there that will support our troops?

 

. 2250 + -

A number of questions remain unanswered, but in conclusion we must ultimately support the alliance and support our troops once committed. We must however be clear and realistic about Canada's role. That should be spelled out in the House and spelled out to the people of Canada.

We must not send our troops anywhere without reflecting on the practical implications of the mission. We must support our allies, but we must also support our troops.

Mr. Bill Graham (Toronto Centre—Rosedale, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the knowledgeable intervention of the member for Calgary Northeast as the defence critic for the Reform Party.

We have had the opportunity of travelling together in Bosnia and looking at these issues. He is very knowledgeable but perhaps he will permit me if I say to him that it looks to me as if he is trying to have the best of both worlds in this debate.

He says that he lends qualified support to the action of participating, but then sets out a series of conditions which enables him to say if there is a problem “See, I told you so. Yes, let us do it but here are the problems and if it does not work out the way we would like it to, we will be able to stand up and say we told you so”.

I think the member has more depth to him than that. I have watched him and I would like his answer to my question. I appreciate all the questions he raised are appropriate questions for us to ask, particularly concerning escalation in neighbouring regions, the true nature of what we will have and Canada's facilities.

We have looked at what we have at the base at Aviano. We all recognize that our facilities are stretched to the limit.

We have asked a great deal of our troops. Some of us have had an opportunity to see the professional qualities that they have developed in Bosnia and the tremendous professionalism they exhibit in the way in which they operate around the world. Whether it is in Haiti or Bosnia or the many other jurisdictions, we know what wonderful performers they are. We cannot ask too much of them. All of that is true.

The member knows that NATO has been looking at this situation for over six months. He knows how NATO operates. He knows that NATO has some of the most professional people, Americans, British, French, the top people in the world. They have been looking at this for six months. Does he not believe that the NATO planners are looking at the questions that he is asking in the House tonight? Does he not believe that the NATO planners have the capacity to resolve those issues?

Does he not believe that what we need in the House tonight is a commitment to act and act forcefully if we are going to resolve the questions in the area. At the same time does he not believe that we need to have confidence that the NATO planners, our NATO colleagues and our own troops are able to address the logistical questions which he asked in the House tonight?

Mr. Art Hanger: Mr. Speaker, the member poses a good question but there is a political side as well as a practical side to the issue.

The practical side is whether we are in a position to go into an area of possible conflict with our troops protected with the best equipment available and under the best command. Are we also able to rotate the troops over time if that conflict rolls on and on.

On the political side there is a hesitancy on the part of the European Community which has already hesitated about rapid force strikes into Kosovo. Why? Does it not want to get into the fray? The American public is getting very tired of having that expense and American troops in the Balkan area. There is no question that debate is raging on in a very substantive way.

On the political side it is not very clear exactly what is going to happen. Certainly we can debate the issue philosophically but we must also consider the practical side and not blindly jump into something without going in a very specific direction and knowing what our limitations are.

 

. 2255 + -

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I think Canadians are great people. They have the kindest hearts on this planet, despite the fact that they are paying high taxes which is not their fault. Unfortunately from time to time, they have been getting some ineffective governments ruling this country.

The government has the habit of not appropriately addressing various issues, whether it be taxes, the economy, a justice issue, unity, and so on. The government has done it again today. The hon. member for Calgary North has given some examples of how we are jumping without knowing where we are jumping to.

This take note debate is not an appropriate way of dealing with the important and the sad situation in Kosovo, but this is the only option given by the Liberal government to members of parliament.

The issue at hand is very important. It is a non-partisan issue. The crisis in Kosovo is at a climax. I hope the Liberal government will show some leadership. The government will probably come up with a strong, elaborate strategy to deal with the peace initiatives. We will be dealing with these peace initiatives in the future as well, unfortunately. We expect that the government will come up with some strategy to educate Canadians, to let them know what we are doing, why we are doing it and where we are going.

Kosovo has a population of about 2.2 million. Ninety-three per cent of the population is ethnic Albanian. Most of the others are ethnic Serbs. During the communist rule in Yugoslavia, Kosovo had the status of an autonomous province within the Republic of Serbia. This status was abolished by Mr. Milosevic in 1989.

The Kosovo region has a historical significance to Serbia. The Serbs lost a battle to the Turks in Kosovo in 1389, losing their national independence. In 1989 Serb President Milosevic launched his national campaign while celebrating the 600th anniversary of this defeat.

Since last spring Serb forces of the Yugoslav army have constantly attacked and terrorized the ethnic Albanian population. The Kosovo Liberation Army has fought against the repression and lost ground over the summer.

The civilian population in Kosovo is in a desperate situation. A quarter of a million Kosovo Albanians have been forced from their homes and their homes have been raided and burned by Yugoslavian government troops. Fifty thousand people are without adequate shelter and are unlikely to survive the upcoming winter.

The official opposition foreign affairs critic, the hon. member for Red Deer, visited Kosovo. He talked to terrorized children in various schools. He listened to their horror stories.

The farms, the fields and the residential areas are infested with mines. Some mines are very cleverly designed to specifically kill children. Some mines look like attractive toys and pop cans.

The Serb armed presence remains a significant force in that area. The disproportionate use of force is designed to terrorize and subjugate the population. A collective punishment is given to teach them that the price of supporting Kosovo Albanian paramilitary units is too high. We must respond to this terror.

We are debating a motion to co-operate with NATO forces in the military action they intend to take.

 

. 2300 + -

There could be two plans. Plan A should be a diplomatic initiative. I wanted to ask a question of the member opposite earlier as to whether he could highlight the diplomatic initiatives the government has taken to address the situation. The government should have been aggressively pursuing initiatives long ago at least when we saw signs of this problem.

Now that we know plan A has failed, even though the government did not pursue it aggressively, we can go to plan B and plan B is military action. I understand why we have to do that. There are people who say we should; there are people who say that we should not take military action.

Perhaps I can tell a story about a donkey that was sick. The farmer who owned the donkey was giving it medicine that was very bitter. The farmer's son was helping him by holding the donkey by the ears. They were forcing the medicine into the donkey's nostrils because they wanted to cure it, but the donkey thought that they were pulling his ears.

We have to do that; we have to pull the ears. When diplomacy fails we have to take military action. This bitter medicine is the only medicine that will work in this situation. Before we prescribe this bitter medicine, my constituents, and all Canadians for that matter, need answers to the many questions they are asking.

They are asking why we are choosing a military situation over a diplomatic situation. What are the actions the government has taken? What other possible solutions could we pursue? What are the possibilities of finding a long term solution? How are we dealing with the hatred in the minds of ethnic people? How much involvement are we asking from the European Community or the other affected and related countries to deal with this issue in their backyard?

Canadians want to know whether we are creating more victims by bombing that area. They want to know how far we will go, how much is the cost, who is paying the costs, and what share we will pay.

Did the government assess the degree of risk before committing the men and women of the Canadian defence forces? Do they have enough equipment and facilities? What strategy do we have to deal with the regional security situation? I will be looking forward to those answers.

Repeatedly there have been serious situations in the world like in Rwanda, Nigeria, Bosnia, Haiti, Iraq, and the list goes on. Unfortunately this situation will happen again. I am sorry for the inability of the United Nations to respond in a timely fashion. We have to show leadership.

Britain, France, Russia and the United States of America, which is kept busy by Monica, cannot do that. We are in a strong position as a nation to be mediators in the world. We belong to NATO. We belong to the security council. We are a member of the G-8 countries. We have sent many peacekeeping missions around the world. I ask the foreign minister to look into the possibilities of peacemaking missions, rather than peacekeeping missions in the long run.

Let me give an analogy. When a domestic pressure cooker is heated, steam is produced. To contain that stream we put weight on the pressure cooker. We try to put military pressure to contain the steam, but have we ever taken an action to remove the heat from under the pressure cooker? Have we ever involved an issue by solving the problem before it happens? Unfortunately the government has not has taken any action. The government lacks a pro-active role. It is just reactive. It does very little to prevent conflicts in the world. The government needs to have a broader agenda for peacekeeping and peacemaking issues. The humanitarian crisis is the consequence of what is fundamentally a political problem. We try to resolve the political problem by our foreign aid and by various other issues like military solutions.

 

. 2305 + -

I support our allies in this action at this time for Kosovo and for the sake of the suffering of the innocent people in Kosovo. I look forward to the government showing—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The hon. member's time has expired.

Ms. Jean Augustine (Etobicoke—Lakeshore, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness that I join in this debate. It is also with sadness that I have watched over the last while the images on our television screens depicting what is happening in Kosovo.

Why should we as Canadians be involved? I think tonight many speakers addressed that question. I heard many say that it was time for us to act, that it was our duty to offer support and that it was our duty to avert further misery and bloodshed. We need the resources available to participate in whatever action.

I have heard other speakers refer to the fact that we have been and we are in a state of readiness where we can act. We have the CF-18 aircraft in Aviano right now. We need to work with speed because winter is approaching. We cannot allow more innocent civilians to suffer the atrocities we see nightly on our television screen.

There are a few comments I want to add because I know many of my constituents in Etobicoke—Lakeshore come from that part of the world. Many of them are watching nightly what they seem to think is the inertia and the inability of the international community to respond. They are saddened and want us as Canadians and as the Canadian government to act swiftly, to act with care to make sure our resources are not barred so that we can get humanitarian help directly to the people who need it.

These barbarous actions have ramifications that are felt beyond Kosovo. The displacement of Kosovar and Albanian civilians and the polarization of communities which has resulted from this conflict have direct implications not only for Serbia and Montenegro but for the neighbouring countries of Albania, the former Yugoslav, the republic of Macedonia and Bosnia. The consequences of this conflict are reverberating throughout southern Europe. My constituents who come from that part of the world know what happens to families and individuals when that reverberation throughout Europe is felt.

The campaign of violence and oppression that is ongoing right now, that humanitarian crisis that is before us, calls for our assistance. What can we do as Canadians? Are we to just stand here and speak in this debate? Is this doing something? Is this really my effort to ensure that there is some alleviation of the pain and suffering? I think it is.

It is important that the federal republic of Yugoslavia, and in particular President Milosevic as head of the state with the ability to act with decisive authority, know that I and others are standing here tonight calling on him to meet his obligations under international law and to lead the way to a just solution to the conflict.

 

. 2310 + -

To use disproportionate force against civilians will ultimately prove counterproductive in resisting armed separatist forces. The actions of the security forces are exactly what fuels extremism and violence among the population.

We have other places in the world where we have seen the results of such action. The Yugoslav government must know that we have said tonight that it must create the conditions necessary for a dialogue to a political solution and must fully address this crisis. It must know that we have said here tonight that we are calling for an immediate end to the offensive and repressive activities of the police and the military, and that we have also said here tonight that withdrawing its forces is the thing that should be done immediately.

President Milosevic and all Yugoslav authorities are responsible for the actions of their security forces. They must know that the international community stands in horror at the events that are taking place right now in their country, under their command.

It is also crucial that they allow human rights managers in Kosovo to continue their important work. We have to commend those individuals who would want to go in, those individuals who have been on diplomatic missions over these past months, including the work that we are doing as Canadians. The individuals who are part of those diplomatic missions, who are part of the human rights missions, must be allowed to do their work and inform the international community of what is happening there.

It is important for stability in Europe that this human rights mission be allowed to continue.

The United Nations and the international community has expressed concern and outrage. It seems to me that is not enough. Two UN security council resolutions have been adopted calling for this conflict to end and for the flight of the displaced to be addressed. Who is listening? It is certainly not those with the arms who are using force against the people.

Canada has used every means at its disposal to bring about a peaceful resolution of the conflict through diplomatic means. In various international fora and in several places we have, with numerous friends and allies, tried to resolve the crisis. Despite numerous appeals, despite talks, despite the plight of individuals being put before those in power, the situation continues to worsen. We see it daily.

We are on the verge of a new century. There was a time when there was a glimmer and a window of hope that there would be peace in this world. There was a time when we saw a tunnel where we thought there was some light, that there would be peace and that leaders and the people who were in the positions of making decisions would make the kind of decisions for their people that would see this world at peace.

Whatever needs to be done at this point in time, I am urging that Canada stand with the rest of the international community, with NATO and with others, to ensure that we do what is necessary to bring the horrible and horrendous daily slaughtering of people that we see on our screens to an end.

 

. 2315 + -

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member very carefully. We are talking about a humanitarian issue here.

It is a very important issue but there is another issue attached to this, that if we are planning to take any military action or if we are committing our military support to NATO, that means we are committing men and women of the Canadian forces.

The question arises here of whether we are well equipped. Are our brave men and women well equipped with the materials they need?

I would also like to know from the member how much it will cost us. For how long are we going to commit our military forces? What are the long term plans? Can the member throw some light on that?

Ms. Jean Augustine: Mr. Speaker, when I stood I did not stand as an accountant, not as someone who is looking at the bottom line. I spoke because, as most Canadians, we are moved by the slaughter of human beings.

I think Canada has a responsibility to stand and be counted, not in terms of dollars, not in terms of what it will cost us economically. I think there is a moral situation here. That decision has to be one whereby we join with others. We use whatever resources we have.

When the minister of defence spoke earlier I think I heard him say the number of aircraft we have, the men and women we have in that part of the world at this point and our capability at this point. I do not think Canada will be marching off on its own but that Canada will be playing a role, supportive and otherwise, to ensure a quick resolution.

It is not an accounting job here. It is not looking for the bottom line but it is looking at human beings who are caught in a very horrendous situation.

[Translation]

Mr. Clifford Lincoln (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I was in Montreal tonight but I wanted to come back even at this late hour—and excuse me for keeping you here so late—to add my voice to the debate on this motion that is so important from a humanitarian standpoint, a motion that unites us all in this House and makes us set all partisan considerations aside.

Few of us, if any, have experienced racial and ethnic conflicts, armed conflicts where a majority uses instruments of war to torture, mutilate, kill and drive from their homes members of a minority whose only fault is to belong to a different ethnic group or to have different religious beliefs.

For us who have the very special privilege of living in a peaceful country, it is extremely difficult to understand how a majority can use such barbarity to impose its views on an innocent minority. We cannot understand how racial, ethnic and religious conflicts can plunge humanity into such darkness.

[English]

It is extremely hard for us to understand how human beings can use all their powers, whatever these be, to destroy other human beings in the name of race, colour or creed.

We would have thought that the lessons of World War II which are still fresh in our minds would have taught us that six million people and more lived the most terrible atrocities, the most degrading and inhuman treatment, including death by the most violent means, just because one majority decided that one minority was not worthy of living in its midst.

 

. 2320 + -

Yet in spite of the lessons of World War II, in spite of the lessons of the Holocaust, one ethnic conflict today seems to give way to another, killing in its wake tens of thousands of people all over the world. Lives are lost in the name of racial or religious purity or racial or religious superiority.

Yesterday it was Northern Ireland. Yesterday it was Bosnia. Yesterday it was Somalia. Yesterday it was Afghanistan. Yesterday it was Chechnya. Today it is Kosovo. Tomorrow, so help the Lord, it may not be.

How can we justify that one and three quarter million of the two million people of Kosovo should be evicted from their homes, should be killed, should be brutalized at the hands of Yugoslavia and its president Slobodan Milosevic because they are of different racial origins?

President Milosevic would use arms and death and eviction from their homes of the ethnic Albanians who are yearning for self-rule to impose his dictatorship just as he did in Bosnia, disregarding their human right to live, their fundamental freedom as human beings to exist as we all do with a quality of life, with a right not only to live but certainly with the essential right to survive as human beings.

I hope we do not make this into a partisan issue. I heard some talk about lack of leadership being exercised and I think it is important to underline what our foreign minister has done. He is a man of peace. He is a man who has fought extremely hard against armaments and for the installation of peace in the world.

It is worth mentioning what has been done. Canada lobbied in New York and in the capitals of the security council members this summer for decisive council action. The foreign minister wrote to then Russian foreign minister Primakov in August, reminding him that as permanent member of the council and as a privileged partner of the Belgrade government Russia had a special role to play in putting effective pressure on President Milosevic.

He repeated this message to Foreign Minister Ivanov just before he travelled to Belgrade over the past weekend. This week we sent an envoy to underline to the leadership in Belgrade and Kosovo to stop the violence, to negotiate a solution and facilitate humanitarian relief for innocent victims.

Canada's actions have actually reflected other efforts taken by the international community. In March and September the UN security council adopted resolutions that demanded that first of all Yugoslav forces cease attacking civilians and withdraw their forces that are used to oppress civilians, and that they begin meaningful negotiation with Kosovar political leaders with a view to achieving a political settlement that would lead to a significant measure of autonomy for Kosovo within the Yugoslav federation.

When the Prime Minister took part in the G-8 meeting in Birmingham, he impressed on the other leaders, including President Yeltsin, the need for concerted action in Kosovo. In June Russia with its special influence the Belgrade regime brought in President Milosevic to Moscow where President Yeltsin repeated the profound concerns of the international community.

However, it seems as though President Milosevic has decided to act on his own regardless of world opinion, regardless of the human lives he sacrifices willy-nilly whenever he wants to impose his will by force of arms.

 

. 2325 + -

We are now faced with the terrible dilemma of having to use planes and instruments of warfare to instil peace. It is the irony of our world today. But if it must be, it must be because the plan eventually is to bring President Milosevic to the negotiation table so we can negotiate and instil peace. The people in Kosovo deserve to live as we deserve to live. They deserve to live not only in the condition they are in today but to live in peace. They deserve to live in their homes, to create their own homeland if this is their wish as a majority. This right must be fundamentally recognized as it has been recognized in the UN declaration of human rights.

That is why all of us from the five political parties on every side of this House have united to support this motion. I support the work of our foreign minister for effective action that will bring peace and hope to the people of Kosovo and also to the other people of the world who are suffering. For those in central Africa or anywhere else in the world, let peace begin. We need it so badly. We need peace because first of all we are all human beings regardless of race, colour or creed.

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has mentioned some other situations in the past that have been similar to the situation of today in Kosovo. He mentioned Chechnya, Bosnia, Haiti, Rwanda, Iraq and so on. All members in this House who participated in this debate have shown their support of our allies on the Kosovo issue in terms of military support.

Does the member or his government have any long term plan for dealing with issues like this? Do we simply have a take note emergency debate and then decide that because it is a humanitarian issue we have to show support? What plan does the government have to prevent this type of conflict in the world? What role is his government willing to play to show some leadership so that we can know how to handle such a situation in the future in a better, more efficient manner?

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: Mr. Speaker, Canada is one country among many in the world today. We are certainly not the most powerful country of all. Thank goodness we have established a role which is some sort of leadership role as peacemakers or peace brokers. That goes back to the time of Prime Minister Pearson. This tradition has been maintained all along.

This government and previous governments of all stripes have tried to work closely within the framework of the United Nations to bring peace around the world. I remind the member that in all areas where conflict has arisen, Canada has played a leading role. The other day I heard the president of the Irish republic tell us what a huge role Canada has played and what a huge role General de Chastelain played as co-chairman of the peace agreement. He is today in charge of the commission in Northern Ireland and is playing a vital role.

How has Canada helped? The other day President Mandela told us how Canada has been instrumental in changing the state of things in South Africa. Perhaps Canada was helping in its own way to avoid racial conflict and bloodshed there.

 

. 2330 + -

Today what we are trying to do is bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Tomorrow there will be a vote in the United Nations. We have proposed several solutions to reform the security council so there will be more interaction between the five permanent members and the other members of the security council, of which we hope to be one again, so that we can exercise direct influence on matters of peace. We have participated in peacekeeping all over the world, as recently as the terrible Bosnian war, where again we played a significant role in bringing about peace.

What we are trying to do today is to work in co-operation with the United Nations and with the NATO membership. If we must bear force of arms to put pressure on president Milosevic to come to the table and negotiate, our foreign minister, our Prime Minister and our government will again play a crucial role as peacemakers. We have credibility in the world and we will continue to exercise our influence.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): There being no further members rising, this debate is concluded.

Pursuant to order made earlier this day, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 11.31 p.m.)

 

ParlVU