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EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 133

CONTENTS

Tuesday, October 6, 1998

. 1000

VPRIVILEGE
VAPEC Summit
VHon. Andy Scott

. 1005

VThe Speaker

. 1010

VROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
VGOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS
VMr. Peter Adams
VTABLING OF DOCUMENTS
VHon. Andy Scott
VCRIMINAL CODE
VBill C-438. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Myron Thompson

. 1015

VCOMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
VFisheries and Oceans
VMotion for concurrence
VMr. John Duncan

. 1020

. 1025

. 1030

VMr. Gary Lunn

. 1035

VMr. Wayne Easter

. 1040

VMr. Peter Adams
VMotion

. 1125

(Division 234)

VMotion agreed to on division
VGOVERNMENT ORDERS
VCOMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR TEST-BAN TREATY IMPLEMENTATION ACT
VBill C-52. Second reading
VHon. Lloyd Axworthy

. 1130

. 1135

. 1140

. 1145

VMr. Bob Mills

. 1150

. 1155

. 1200

. 1205

. 1210

. 1215

. 1220

VMr. Daniel Turp

. 1225

. 1230

. 1235

VMr. Svend J. Robinson

. 1240

. 1245

. 1250

. 1255

VMr. David Price

. 1300

. 1305

VMr. Svend J. Robinson
VMr. Keith Martin

. 1310

VMr. Sarkis Assadourian
VMr. Keith Martin

. 1315

. 1320

VMr. Chuck Strahl

. 1325

. 1330

VMr. Keith Martin

. 1335

VHon. Charles Caccia

. 1340

. 1345

. 1350

VMr. Svend J. Robinson
VMr. Peter Stoffer
VMr. David Price

. 1355

VMr. Bill Blaikie
VSTATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
VEARL GOFORTH
VMr. Bryon Wilfert
VGOVERNMENT SPENDING
VMr. David Chatters

. 1400

VMARY ANN SHADD
VMr. Jerry Pickard
VFIRE PREVENTION WEEK
VMrs. Brenda Chamberlain
VFLU AWARENESS MONTH
VMr. Raymond Lavigne
VAGRICULTURE
VMr. Jake E. Hoeppner
VEDUCATION SAVINGS PLAN
VMr. Claude Drouin

. 1405

VLABRADOR HELICOPTER CRASH
VMr. René Laurin
VVICTIMS OF GENOCIDE
VMr. Sarkis Assadourian
VFOREST INDUSTRY
VMr. Reed Elley
VHUMAN RIGHTS
VMs. Shaughnessy Cohen
VEDUCATION
VMs. Libby Davies

. 1410

VBREAST CANCER
VMrs. Pauline Picard
VHOM-ENET-MAN
VMs. Eleni Bakopanos
VLOBSTER FISHERY
VMr. Mark Muise
VTHE LATE PIERRE SAVARD
VMr. Mauril Bélanger
VABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
VMr. Myron Thompson
VORAL QUESTION PERIOD

. 1415

VAPEC SUMMIT
VMr. Preston Manning
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Preston Manning
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Preston Manning
VHon. Andy Scott
VMiss Deborah Grey
VHon. Andy Scott
VMiss Deborah Grey

. 1420

VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Gilles Duceppe
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Gilles Duceppe
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Michel Gauthier
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Michel Gauthier
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien

. 1425

VMs. Alexa McDonough
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMs. Alexa McDonough
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMrs. Elsie Wayne
VHon. Andy Scott
VMrs. Elsie Wayne

. 1430

VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. John Reynolds
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. John Reynolds
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Michel Gauthier
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Michel Gauthier
VHon. Andy Scott

. 1435

VMr. Monte Solberg
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Monte Solberg
VHon. Andy Scott
VEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
VMr. Paul Crête
VHon. Pierre S. Pettigrew
VMr. Paul Crête
VHon. Pierre S. Pettigrew
VAPEC SUMMIT
VMr. Randy White

. 1440

VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Randy White
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
VMrs. Christiane Gagnon
VHon. Pierre S. Pettigrew
VHEALTH
VMr. John Finlay
VHon. Allan Rock

. 1445

VAPEC SUMMIT
VMiss Deborah Grey
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Preston Manning
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Dick Proctor
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Dick Proctor

. 1450

VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Peter MacKay
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Peter MacKay
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VTRADE
VMr. John Maloney
VHon. Lloyd Axworthy
VAPEC SUMMIT
VMr. Chuck Strahl

. 1455

VHon. Andy Scott
VEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
VMr. Bernard Bigras
VHon. Pierre S. Pettigrew
VAPEC SUMMIT
VMr. Svend J. Robinson
VHon. Andy Scott
VFISHERIES
VMr. Mark Muise
VHon. David Anderson
VHOUSING
VMr. Janko Peric
VHon. Alfonso Gagliano
VAPEC SUMMIT
VMr. Grant McNally

. 1500

VHon. Andy Scott
VTHE LATE LEONARD JONES
VMrs. Claudette Bradshaw

. 1505

VMr. Gurmant Grewal
VMr. Bill Blaikie
VMr. Gerald Keddy

. 1510

VTHE LATE DONALD MUNRO
VHon. David Anderson
VMr. Bill Casey
VMr. Keith Martin

. 1515

VMr. Pierre de Savoye
VMr. Bill Blaikie
VGOVERNMENT ORDERS
VCOMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR TEST-BAN TREATY IMPLEMENTATION ACT
VBillC-52. Second reading
VMrs. Maud Debien

. 1520

. 1525

. 1530

VMs. Libby Davies

. 1535

. 1540

. 1545

. 1550

VMr. Réal Ménard

. 1555

. 1600

. 1605

. 1610

VMr. Bill Blaikie

. 1615

. 1620

VHon. Don Boudria

. 1625

VMr. Svend J. Robinson
VHon. Lloyd Axworthy
VMr. Svend J. Robinson
VHon. Lloyd Axworthy
VMr. Daniel Turp
VAmendment
VHon. Lloyd Axworthy

. 1630

VMr. Bob Mills
VMr. Svend J. Robinson

. 1635

VHon. Lloyd Axworthy
VMr. Daniel Turp
VAmendment
VMr. Julian Reed

. 1640

. 1645

VHon. Lloyd Axworthy
VMr. Bob Mills

. 1650

. 1655

VMr. Paul Crête

. 1700

VMr. Daniel Turp
VAmendment
VHon. Lloyd Axworthy

. 1705

VCANADA SMALL BUSINESS FINANCING ACT
VBill C-53. Second reading

. 1710

VMs. Jean Augustine

. 1715

VMr. Gordon Earle

. 1720

VMr. Myron Thompson
VMs. Val Meredith

. 1725

VDivision on motion deferred
VPRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
VCRIMINAL RECORDS ACT
VBill C-284. Second reading

. 1750

. 1800

(Division 235)

VGOVERNMENT ORDERS
VCANADA SMALL BUSINESS FINANCING ACT
VBill C-53. Second reading

. 1810

(Division 236)

VMotion agreed to

(Division 237)

VMotion agreed to
VPRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
VMARRIAGE ACT, 1997
VBill C-225. Second reading
VMr. Tom Wappel

. 1815

. 1820

. 1825

VMr. Eric Lowther

. 1830

. 1835

VMr. Réal Ménard

. 1840

. 1845

VMr. Svend J. Robinson

. 1850

. 1855

VMr. Peter MacKay

. 1900

. 1905

VHon. Sheila Finestone

. 1910

VMr. Tom Wappel

. 1915

VADJOURNMENT PROCEEDINGS
VRoyal Canadian Mint
VMr. Gilles Bernier

. 1920

VMs. Carolyn Parrish
VBC Mine in Black Lake
VMr. Jean-Guy Chrétien

. 1925

VMs. Bonnie Brown

(Official Version)

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 133


HOUSE OF COMMONS

Tuesday, October 6, 1998

The House met at 10 a.m.



Prayers


 

. 1000 +

[English]

PRIVILEGE

APEC SUMMIT

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege.

Yesterday my hon. colleague, the member of parliament for Palliser, made some very serious charges in the House. The hon. member said that in the course of a private conversation he overheard on a flight from Ottawa to Fredericton that I discussed events relating to the RCMP Public Complaints Commission inquiry into events at APEC.

I categorically deny that I engaged in an inappropriate conversation that would in any way prejudice the outcome of that inquiry.

I was seated with another passenger in the course of a two hour flight from Ottawa to Fredericton. We had a wide-ranging conversation covering various subjects. At no time did I prejudge the outcome of the PCC inquiry, nor did I suggest that my role was to prevent the Prime Minister from attending the inquiry.

First, I have much respect for the independence of the PCC and its civilian oversight function.

Second, I am determined to allow this inquiry to run its course and establish what happened at APEC and why.

Third, I fully understand the responsibilities of the Solicitor General and would never jeopardize my lawful duties.

Finally, I am personally offended that the hon. member has chosen to impugn my integrity, my ethics and my commitment to this process, particularly since these attacks were made by a political opponent who spent two hours eavesdropping on a private conversation.

There were only two parties to this conversation, myself and Mr. Fred Toole. I would now like to table a letter from Mr. Toole which supports what I have just told the House.

 

. 1005 + -

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for allowing me to rise on this question of privilege and to state for the record what really transpired. I am not going to say anything further about what we discussed because this was a private conversation.

I have full confidence in the independence and impartiality of the PCC and I would ask all hon. members to give the hearing process a chance to work.

The Speaker: Colleagues, this is clearly not a question of privilege. It is a dispute as to the facts, as they may or may not be, depending on one point or the other. I am going to rule that it is not a question of privilege. The statement is on the record, but it is not a question of privilege.

Mr. Dick Proctor: Mr. Speaker, may I respond very briefly to say with great—

The Speaker: I have ruled that this is not a question of privilege, as we understand it in the House, so the matter is closed.

I would add this addendum. I will not allow the tabling of this document at this time. There are other means by which the minister can do this.

With respect to the hon. member for Palliser, although his name was mentioned in this non-question of privilege, at this point my ruling is that there is not a question of privilege. Of course the hon. member has other means at his disposal if he wishes to pursue any other points which he deems to be valuable to this House.

We are now going to proceed to the orders of the day.

Mr. Randy White: Mr. Speaker, if this is not considered a question of privilege—

The Speaker: I ask the hon. member if this deals with the question of privilege that I have ruled on because that point is over.

Hon. David Kilgour: No, Mr. Speaker, it is separate. The House can do anything it wishes by unanimous consent. I would ask for unanimous consent to table the letter in the House.

The Speaker: We now have before us in this House a request for unanimous consent from one of our members to table a document in this House. Does the House give permission to put this question?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

An hon. member: No.

The Speaker: Permission denied.

 

. 1010 + -

Mr. Peter Adams: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It seems to me that it is quite possible for the minister to table this document under Tabling of Documents, which will happen in Routine Proceedings fairly shortly.

Under Standing Order 32(1), a minister is allowed to table any document relating to the administration of government.

The Speaker: There is no question about that. The hon. parliamentary secretary is correct.

Mr. Randy White: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Surely if the minister is to make a statement or table a document in this House it should pertain specifically to that which the minister is responsible for and not a document that has been created to cover up any particular tracks in an investigation.

The Speaker: We are going to proceed with the rules of the House. The hon. parliamentary secretary gave information to the House which is correct. Any one of us can see that if we just look at the rules.

I do not have anything in front of me right now except the statement that I concurred with. Now we will proceed to the daily routine of business.



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[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.

*  *  *

[English]

TABLING OF DOCUMENTS

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(1), I would like to table a document before the House.

*  *  *

CRIMINAL CODE

 

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Ref.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-438, an act to amend the Criminal Code (taking samples of bodily substances).

He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce my private member's bill today. The idea for this bill came from Bev and Lloyd Bergeson of Cremona, Alberta who lost their daughter Denise to a dangerous driver.

This bill would amend the Criminal Code to add that where a peace officer believes on reasonable and probable grounds that a person operating a motor vehicle in a dangerous manner has thereby caused the death of another person, the peace officer shall, by demand made to that person, require the person to provide a urine sample to enable proper analysis to be made in order to determine the presence, if any, of drugs in the person's urine, breath or blood.

The taking of samples is necessary for proper analysis to be made in order to determine the concentration, if any, of alcohol in the person's blood.

This bill will ensure that those who are suspected of driving drunk will be tested immediately by a police officer. There will no longer be any reason for delay or not testing a person immediately as a result of this bill.

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

*  *  *

 

. 1015 + -

COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE

FISHERIES AND OCEANS

 

Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I move that the first report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, presented to the House Monday, March 23, otherwise known as the east coast report, be concurred in.

The government has now tabled its response to the east coast report. The east coast report was tabled in the House by the chair of the standing committee on March 23, 1998.

I was pleased to be a member of the standing committee that produced this report especially as it was a unanimous report in almost every respect. The crises in the fishery were seen by the committee to be of pressing importance, and this report was put out directly in response to these issues on the east coast.

The government had an opportunity to accept this report as a breath of fresh air, an opportunity to create a new mandate, a chance to change the status quo defensive posture of the department and embark on some vital changes. Instead, the government has chosen to challenge the report and to shoot the messenger, in this case the chair of the standing committee, the member for Gander—Grand Falls.

The east coast report has 23 recommendations. The first 9 deal with foreign fishing concerns. In particular, recommendation 9 talks about extending our jurisdiction to beyond 200 miles. Reform was instrumental in having this become a focus of the report. In fact, the importance of conserving natural resources is stated Reform policy.

We believe governments have a responsibility to protect our environment and if extending Canada's economic jurisdiction over the entire Grand Banks is what it takes to protect this environment, then we should do it. Reform policy is that Canada should assert its control over the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap.

The rest of the east coast report addresses such important issues as rationalizing the fisheries, the management problems at DFO, overfishing of particular species and sealing and ecological issues such as ghost nets.

The government response to the east coast report of the standing committee is pathetic. It is typically bureaucratic and merely defends the status quo. It appears to say a lot but does not commit to any effective change. It avoids the real question on TAGS which is the mismanagement to date and the breaking of a promise to continue benefits to May 1999. It does nothing substantive on seal populations beyond consultation and information gathering. It shoots the messenger rather than deal with foreign fishing recommendations of the committee.

This kind of government response illustrates the attitude of the minister and senior department officials toward any investigation into commercial foreign harvesting off Canada's east coast. A prime example of this attitude can be found in the issue of my request for access to foreign fishing observer reports.

I am going to focus much of my comments today on these foreign fishing observer reports. There is only one reason why the public is denied full access to reports from Canadian observers on foreign vessels fishing inside Canada's 200 mile limit. The reason is that this government cares less about the public interest and Canada's sovereignty than about maintaining comfortable relationships with foreign fishing interests.

For anyone who has any doubt about this, I recommend the 1998 book by Michael Harris Lament for an Ocean regarding the collapse of the east coast cod fishery. However, members should consider reading this book only if they are able to control their emotions. They will be sickened by how political timidity leads to horrendous consequences; in this case biologically for our fisheries resources and socially and economically for Atlantic Canadians.

 

. 1020 + -

For many months members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and I have been trying to get DFO to release to the public these foreign fishing observer reports.

The minister tried to cut a deal with us. The committee members could look at the reports but they could not talk publicly about their contents. The minister claimed this was because the reports contained confidential commercial information and releasing them would violate section 20 of the Access to Information Act.

Section 20(6) states that the head of a government institution may disclose any record if that disclosure would be in the public interest as it relates to public health, public safety or protection of the environment.

The public interest in knowing what foreign vessels are up to far outweighs any potential prejudice to the third party, in this case foreign vessels. In this case the public has an environmental interest in knowing if certain species of fish are being overfished.

The minister said in response to my questioning that he had an opinion as to why he should not release the reports to the committee. I asked for a copy of this opinion and I received it. It is very enlightening.

To set the backdrop for this scenario, there is a strong body of opinion that parliamentary committees do have the authority to compel any persons, papers and records as witnesses before the committees.

In a paper produced by the parliamentary legislative services branch, it also made the point that when considering whether to compel evidence, committees have been more likely to excuse matters for reasons of national security than for considerations of commercial interests. The minister has declared that these reports contain confidential information or trade secrets. The burden of proof should be on the foreign vessels to do this. It should not be up to the minister to so declare.

These observer reports are produced by public authorities in order to protect the public. As Justice Jerome stated in Intercontinental Packers Limited v Canada, the reports must therefore be presumed to contain public information. This has been tested in the courts before.

With this backdrop, what was the opinion given to the minister by the deputy minister as to the request by the chair of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to receive these foreign fishing observer reports? On February 5, 1998 the deputy minister informed the minister by memo that the committee request was not yet of the status of a formal access to information request. In other words, the minister should give the committee request less credence than a request under the Access to Information Act. Also, the chair should be consulted about reviewing the documents in camera. The committee turned that suggestion down flat.

If confidentiality is involved, as in camera states, that would muzzle the members and would not serve the public interest. Since that time we have seen the department fulfil an access to information request and provide these very same foreign fishing observer reports to a member of the media, heavily blacked out of course. Then the department made a grand production of presenting these very same heavily censored observer reports to the committee. This of course did not satisfy the committee request in any way.

Instead of respecting committees of the House of Commons, the minister has treated the fisheries committee with disdain. Instead of pursuing the public interest, DFO has catered to foreign interests. The minister states in his response to the standing committee's report on the east coast fishery: “The perceptions of foreign fishing as relayed in the report are of great concern to the department”.

 

. 1025 + -

The government continues to defend foreign quotas on Canada's continental shelf inside and outside the 200 mile limit. If we listen only to the government we might think that DFO had developed a new attitude, that DFO had seen the light. It might even look to some like the poor practices which led to a collapse of confidence in the department were being changed by new attitudes at the top.

I am here to tell the House there is no new attitude. The stonewall continues. An aide to the minister tried to cut a deal with me to drop my formal request for the observer reports. The net result would have been that I would have received the same censored reports that the media and the committee had already received. My request for papers is still on the order paper. It is still on the books.

While I am waiting for a response I would like to pursue the issue of Canadian economic jurisdiction over the continental shelf off Canada's east coast. It is not well known that when it comes to our continental shelf Canada is in a unique position. We are the only nation with a major portion of our continental shelf extending beyond the 200 mile limit, more specifically the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap.

The Grand Banks are a part of what were once the richest fishing grounds in the world. The area outside the 200 mile limit is still heavily exploited by foreign fishing interests. Yet the fish we find on the Grand Banks are part of the important food chain for strictly Canadian fish that often live most of their lives in wholly Canadian waters. Some are highly migratory and cross the 200 mile limit unpredictably.

The committee recommends that Canada gain control over all resources that lie on Canada's continental shelf and the department responds in bureaucratese saying Canada cannot do this and that foreign overfishing after all is not as bad as it used to be. Why does the department say this rather than consider the merits of the argument?

The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans knows there are legal experts who agree with the committee recommendation to extend its jurisdiction beyond 200 miles. They agree that all foreign fishing outside and inside the 200 mile zone should stop.

Certainly this would be controversial. Our soft touch foreign affairs department might balk at suggesting such a thing, but we know there are legal experts not only in foreign affairs but in other organizations and federal departments who agree that Canadian jurisdiction can be extended from 200 miles to 350 miles to include all of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap. I highly recommend that members read sections 76 to 84 of the Law of the Sea for further elaboration.

This is what the chair of the standing committee, the member for Gander—Grand Falls, wrote to the minister when the minister threw the east coast report recommendations back at the committee. The minister wants no part of upsetting foreign interests or promoting Canadian economic and biological interests by extending our jurisdiction. We continue to cater to and sell out to Cuban and European fishing interests rather than express our sovereignty to the maximum degree possible over the continental shelf. Until the government does this, everything Canada does on the east coast is a compromise. We all know that compromise is not the answer. It is a sure fire way to continue to sell out Canadian interests at the expense of Atlantic Canadians.

 

. 1030 + -

The area of seabed in question is enormous and the stakes are huge. Canada has every right to exert its legal authority in jurisdiction out to 350 miles. Given the horrendous economic and social consequences that Atlantic Canada has already suffered, we also have the moral authority.

The department has its shirt in a knot with concerns about the standing committee's report on the east coast because of criticism of DFO's handling of foreign fishing. This does not bode well for government acceptance that Canada's approach to jurisdiction over our continental shelf must be focused and aggressive.

Canada's current attitude is “resistance is useless”. I hope we can save Canadian interests from Canadian government apathy. If there was ever a need for strong visionary leadership from the government to establish Canada's interests on the east coast the time is now. Rather than supporting the status quo the minister should be setting a new course. It is time for boldness, not timidity.

The committee has pointed the way and will continue to promote this vision unless it is totally neutered by the government. DFO has the reputation of being the most difficult department of government to deal with to solve longstanding problems.

At the same time the policies of DFO impact directly on the lives of tens of thousands of Canadians. Rather than a fresh approach we can add the removal of the chairman of the committee to the long list of people stifled by the government in its arrogant belief that disagreeing with the PMO, the government or a minister is not to be tolerated. This flat, bland, tasteless do nothing government should be doing more than reaching for the pepper.

We have just to ask the auditor general, the ex-chief actuary for CPP, Michelle Brill-Edwards, the APEC demonstrators or the ex-chair of the fisheries committee.

Mr. Gary Lunn (Saanich—Gulf Islands, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to get the member's comments on a few issues. He focused his discussion primarily on the observer reports and made a lot of comments on foreign overfishing. Those were key recommendations in the report. He talked about where he had requested observer reports. The minister has denied access to them even though he has the authority to release them.

A few weeks ago—and this was raised in the House last week—we learned again that the minister had negotiations with foreign nations to have observers put on all foreign fishing vessels. We learned that the minister moved zone 3L which gave access to our shrimp to foreign nations. He sold out again and gave our shrimp away to foreign nations.

I would like the member's comments on that. I would also like him to comment on whether he believes the recent firing of the member for Gander—Grand Falls had anything to do with this report.

Mr. John Duncan: Mr. Speaker, in terms of any dealings we have with our fisheries portfolio in terms of foreign interests the member can be assured that Canada's interests will take second fiddle to either public relations or to some other deal that is cut for some other industry, whether it is automotive or whatever.

Canada's natural resources, our commodity industries, are continuously sold out by our foreign affairs department in collaboration with the other departments in charge of our natural resources.

 

. 1035 + -

The whole question of foreign fishing observers getting 100% coverage would only occur, given the government's posture, if they were prepared to trade something off. The fact that we traded off and sold out some shrimp areas to the Europeans to achieve that would come as no surprise to me.

There are many ways to spin a story on where we sit with regard to the previous chair of the standing committee. There is no doubt in my mind, according to the news which came out with the announcement of his chairmanship last year, that it is a challenge to the department.

A letter was sent to the minister this year saying that the committee's focus would be on the whole question of expanding Canada's economic jurisdiction to 350 miles off the east coast. That is the prime reason for his removal. No one can convince me that his removal was voluntary. It was initiated by the minister and the department. There is no question about that.

Mr. Wayne Easter (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely amazed that the member opposite could have his facts so wrong. He either has not read the response from the minister to the fisheries report or he has not tried to understand it.

I admit that the standing committee on fisheries has done very good work. However, the member opposite is doing fishermen in the country a major disservice when he tries to leave the impression that if foreign fishing could be done away with there would be no problem. He knows very well that foreign fishing today is not the problem that it used to be. Foreign fishing is under control. Canadian fishermen have never picked up the quotas offered to them partly because of cost and partly because the economic returns are not there.

I have a lot of respect for the member opposite. I was very disappointed when he was fired as chief critic for fisheries of the Reform Party because he was doing a good job and not trying to create the rage, myths and perceptions he is trying to create today.

Let me directly ask a question of the member. Is it a fact that he was fired because he was co-operating with the government too much? Is he now trying to get back on the committee by creating these misconceptions and myths to please the leadership of the Reform Party?

Mr. Randy White: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I understood we were supposed to be on questions and comments and that the questions and comments should be relevant and relative to the discussion at hand, not rhetoric like we are hearing.

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member is correct. After a member has made a speech the general tenor of the debate is to allow fairly wide-ranging comments and questions.

The hon. member is directing questions to the hon. member for Vancouver Island North. He is about to ask a second one. I know he would not want to take too long in order to give the hon. member for Vancouver Island North a reasonable opportunity to reply.

Mr. Wayne Easter: Mr. Speaker, I believe my questions are relevant.

Just to review them, why is the member opposite playing games? Is he trying to get in the favour of the leadership of the Reform Party? Why are Canadian fishermen not picking up the quotas that have been offered to them and that foreigners are not utilizing? We are not meeting our full TAC requirement on various species.

 

. 1040 + -

Why is that happening? Will he not admit that the observer reports were offered to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in camera and that the fisheries committee including members opposite denied that request? Obviously they just wanted to play games.

Mr. John Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I too have much respect for the parliamentary secretary for fisheries. We sat on the committee together last year.

I could never be accused of co-operating with the government. I can co-operate with some government members but, lo and behold, if anyone catches me co-operating with this government please let me know and take me away in handcuffs or something.

The member bounced all over the place, but I mentioned in my speech that we were offered those observer reports in camera. I also explained why it was such a bad idea for the committee to accept that offer.

We are not doing a disfavour to fishermen in terms of trying to expand Canada's influence to include all its continental shelf. Quite the contrary.

We have a lot of living examples. The more we comprise management by trying to cater to other interests, the more problems there will be. The west coast complexity of creating an aboriginal fishery on the Fraser River, a destination bound fishery, compromised all the up coast fishery and the mandate of the department. It is no different on the east coast with what is inside and outside the 200 mile but on the continental shelf. We have the same kind of compromise. No, I am not doing this to curry favour with my own party. I am driven on this issue.

Ms. Marlene Catterall: Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and I understand, if you seek unanimous consent, that you will find it for the following: that a vote on this motion be deemed to have been put, a recorded division requested and the vote deferred until 5.30 this evening. Therefore a vote would take place later in the day and the House could now proceed to orders of the day.

The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent that the question be deemed put, the division deemed demanded and the vote on this motion deferred until 5.30 p.m. this day?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

The Deputy Speaker: There is no unanimous consent.

Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in this debate. I move:  

    That the House do now proceed to the orders of the day.

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.

Some hon. members: No.

The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Some hon. members: Yea.

The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.

Some hon. members: Nay.

The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

The Deputy Speaker: Call in the members.

 

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[Translation]

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 234

YEAS

Members

Adams Anderson Assad Assadourian
Augustine Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) Bakopanos Barnes
Beaumier Bélair Bélanger Bellemare
Bertrand Blondin - Andrew Bonwick Boudria
Bradshaw Brown Bulte Caccia
Calder Cannis Caplan Carroll
Catterall Cauchon Chan Charbonneau
Chrétien (Saint - Maurice) Clouthier Coderre Cohen
Collenette Copps Cullen DeVillers
Dhaliwal Dion Drouin Easter
Eggleton Finestone Finlay Fontana
Fry Gagliano Godfrey Goodale
Graham Grose Guarnieri Harb
Harvard Hubbard Iftody Jackson
Karetak - Lindell Keyes Kilger (Stormont – Dundas) Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast)
Knutson Kraft Sloan Lastewka Lavigne
Lee Lincoln Longfield MacAulay
Mahoney Malhi Maloney Manley
Marleau Martin (LaSalle – Émard) Massé McCormick
McGuire McLellan (Edmonton West) McWhinney Mills (Broadview – Greenwood)
Minna Mitchell Myers Nault
O'Reilly Pagtakhan Paradis Patry
Peric Pettigrew Phinney Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex)
Pratt Proud Provenzano Reed
Robillard Rock Scott (Fredericton) Sekora
Serré Shepherd Speller St. Denis
Stewart (Brant) Stewart (Northumberland) St - Julien Telegdi
Thibeault Torsney Ur Valeri
Vanclief Whelan Wilfert Wood – 116


NAYS

Members

Ablonczy Alarie Anders Axworthy (Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar)
Bachand (Saint - Jean) Bailey Bellehumeur Benoit
Bergeron Bernier (Bonaventure – Gaspé – Îles - de - la - Madeleine – Pabok) Bernier (Tobique – Mactaquac) Bigras
Borotsik Breitkreuz (Yorkton – Melville) Cadman Cardin
Casey Casson Chatters Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic)
Cummins Dalphond - Guiral Davies de Savoye
Debien Desjarlais Dubé (Lévis - et - Chutes - de - la - Chaudière) Duceppe
Dumas Duncan Earle Elley
Gagnon Gauthier Girard - Bujold Grewal
Grey (Edmonton North) Guimond Hart Harvey
Herron Hill (Macleod) Hill (Prince George – Peace River) Hilstrom
Hoeppner Jaffer Johnston Keddy (South Shore)
Laliberte Lalonde Laurin Lebel
Lefebvre Lill Loubier Lowther
Lunn MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough) Mancini Mark
Matthews Mayfield McDonough McNally
Mercier Meredith Mills (Red Deer) Morrison
Muise Pankiw Penson Picard (Drummond)
Plamondon Price Proctor Ritz
Robinson Rocheleau Schmidt Solberg
Solomon Stoffer Strahl Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tremblay (Rimouski – Mitis) Turp Venne Wasylycia - Leis
Wayne White (Langley – Abbotsford) Williams – 91


PAIRED

Members

Bennett Bevilacqua Canuel Desrochers
Discepola Folco Fournier Gallaway
Godin (Châteauguay) Guay Leung Marceau
Marchand McKay (Scarborough East) Normand Perron
Peterson Pillitteri Redman Sauvageau
St - Hilaire Tremblay (Lac - Saint - Jean)


 

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[English]

COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR TEST-BAN TREATY IMPLEMENTATION ACT

 

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.) moved that Bill C-52, an act to implement the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

He said: Mr. Speaker, in introducing second reading on the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, I think it is very important to remind members of the House of a very important decision that was taken by our predecessors well over 50 years ago. At that time Canada, who had participated in the Manhattan project, had the full capacity, knowledge and resources to become a nuclear power state if it had so desired. Our predecessors, our government of the day and parliament made a decision against that. We were the first country to acknowledge and decide to become a non-nuclear state.

Today we are here to add to that legacy, to make a further commitment in that very historic decision. We are here to continue the work committed to by so many Canadians over the last five decades in dealing with the nuclear threat to the world.

 

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[Translation]

We have done a lot since then to persuade the other countries that nuclear arms are a problem and not a solution to world security. For example, we put a lot of energy into creating a plan to free the world of nuclear arms sooner rather than later, while permitting peaceful uses of nuclear arms to continue.

It is also true that Canada has paid a political and economic price for sticking to its convictions, but its positions have never changed. We have on a number of occasions chosen not to sell our nuclear technology. We have always encouraged countries without nuclear arms and those with them to honour their international obligations.

These difficult achievements are now threatened. The credibility of the non-proliferation regime is being sorely tested.

[English]

We all recognize since the spring of this year that once again the nuclear genie has been unleashed in the world. We are faced with a new argument for nuclear realpolitik. The tendency argued now by people in authority in Pakistan and India and with their supporters is that somehow the possession of nuclear weapons should endow one with a new status, a new credibility, that somehow the possession of this nefarious weapon gives one a new position in the world.

This once again puts into play the fact that nuclear weapons are simply becoming a currency in the power play of international politics. This puts at serious risk the progress we have made to turn back the nuclear clock.

Today as we debate this very important piece of legislation, we must rededicate ourselves to the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons. They still constitute one of the great threats to all humankind.

The nuclear tests by India and Pakistan put in harsh perspective the ongoing threat of proliferation. They diminished rather than improved regional security for those nations themselves. In fact increasing instability developed in the region. This was recognized and acknowledged at the regional meetings of the ASEAN and ASEAN Regional Forum which I attended this summer. All the countries of that region, with the exception of the perpetrators, took a strong stand in denouncing this because of the threat to security in the region itself.

It may have set an example perhaps more serious to those other countries which are tempted to be proliferators. One of the sad facts of life is that the resource, the technology of developing nuclear weapons, is becoming cheaper and easier. With the breakdown of nuclear arsenals in some of the former states, the transfer of knowledge and scientific expertise becomes even more dangerous. In the absence of international censure, recognition of nuclear weapon state status really puts pressure to the expansion of a nuclear club.

I come to this House today in that through our discussions we can alert more Canadians to that threat. This subject cannot be taken lightly. It is not a subject for playing partisan politics. It comes down to the basic fundamental question of the survival of humankind faced with this awesome weapon we have had to live with for over half a century. I know that members of the House will treat this situation with the seriousness and commitment it deserves.

 

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That is why Canada took a stand of strongly condemning these actions. The Prime Minister at the G-8 meetings led the charge. We have rejected justifications and have taken steps to ensure that there will be no rewards given for those who want to acquire the weapons. Proliferation needs to be stopped dead in its tracks.

I look forward to the report that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs is working on in its examination of Canadian interests in a nuclear policy. I understand it could be ready as early as this fall. The committee canvassed Canadian views on this matter. It will be an opportunity for us to once again address this issue and provide a strong Canadian voice in this most crucial of all matters.

I want to make it very clear to the House that it is not simply a matter of stopping those who decide to test and proliferate. It is equally important that we continue the pressure, the argument and the persuasion for those who possess nuclear weapons to maintain and enhance their commitments to nuclear disarmament. That is the other part of the equation. It is not simply enough to stop the spread, we must continue to work toward the reduction. That is also part of the commitment we have to make.

I want to say very clearly that not all nuclear weapon states are living up to their obligations under the non-proliferation treaty. The START II treaty still is stalled. Other commitments being made are discounted. I hope this House can speak with a unified voice on the need not only to arrest proliferation but to pursue an active commitment for the ongoing reduction of nuclear weapons and the dismantling, disjunction and delinking of those weapons so they do not constitute an ongoing threat.

We must as a parliament and as a country stand very firm against the new realpolitik that is being expressed around the world, and we are in a position to do so. Oftentimes in the tough neighbourhood we live in internationally, questions are not always as clear cut as we would like them to be. If 50 years ago our predecessors in this House and the government had the courage to say no to nuclear weapons, we should have that same conviction today and make it clear in terms of what we do in this legislature.

It is important to pay tribute and remind ourselves of how much effort we have put into these initiatives.

In 1995 there was an indefinite extension of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty with the Canadian motion to have it reviewed in a consistent fashion to make sure that the obligations were met. Just a year ago in 1997, we had the entry into force of the chemical weapons convention, another weapon of mass destruction we are trying to put a fence around and trying to control.

Agreement has begun in Geneva to start talks on the production of nuclear materials, fissile materials for nuclear weapons. These are being chaired by one of our distinguished Canadian foreign service representatives. We are also strongly working on and encouraging nuclear weapon states to agree to the Canadian proposal for discussions on nuclear disarmament issues at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. Further, we are actively pursuing negotiations on the convention on banned weapons in space. It is important that we bring all these things together in a seamless web, in a context that each part builds a whole.

 

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In this case the legislation before the House today on the comprehensive test ban treaty is an indispensable part of a non-proliferation regime. It is one of the key elements in which international consensus has been developed.

It is clear that nuclear testing undermines the basic goal of non-proliferation. The comprehensive test ban treaty objective is to end all nuclear test explosions in all environments. That is the commitment that has been made.

The CTBT is a strong deterrent to the development of nuclear weapons. It is probably stronger than virtually all other disarmament treaties because it will help constrain the development of new nuclear weapons and any attempt to provide improvements, refinements and more sophistication.

It therefore contains within it the message that nuclear weapons must be reduced and constrained. They cannot be the weapons of choice by an expanding number of countries.

Clandestine testing under this treaty will be virtually impossible to do. States will need to think long and hard about any secret efforts. One of the reasons we took as strong a stand as we did a few months ago on the question of the inspections in Iraq was for that very reason. We cannot allow any state in a clandestine way to perpetrate the growth and expansion of weapons of mass destruction of any kind. That is why we have to be consistent in our approach to this issue.

The CTBT also puts a very important international monitoring system in place, perhaps one of the most detailed networks around the world, to detect nuclear explosions wherever and whenever they may occur. We will participate by having 15 monitoring stations in Canada alone which the Department of Natural Resources will be responsible for. This will make sure that we contribute in a very substantial way with the resources of Canadians to the overall international network to provide that kind of monitoring, warning verification system.

It also establishes a very clear global norm against nuclear testing by all nations. While there are 150 signatories, there are still countries outside. However, as has been made clearly evident in the case of the land mines treaty which is now becoming a treaty into force, once it is there it begins to establish a broad standard that even non-signatories feel obliged to obey.

For the information of members of the House, during the visit last week of the Chinese foreign minister, he announced that while China was not ready to sign the treaty, it was making a financial commitment to the United Nations for de-mining activities. Anyone who says the land mines treaty has not had an impact should have been with me last week when the Chinese foreign minister committed to a major conference and made a major financial commitment for de-mining purposes. This shows that global norms can work.

The conclusion of the comprehensive test ban treaty fulfils one of the longstanding goals we have been pursuing. We took an active role in the negotiations and if we wish to remain leaders, our actions now must match our words. It is in the power of this chamber to give life and meaning to the commitment we made during those negotiations. Therefore, I want to make the case that the earliest possible ratification of this treaty by this House would be a very strong and powerful message around the world.

The legislation before the House contains all the necessary elements to allow us to fulfil our obligations under the test ban treaty. Once passed, it will criminalize any nuclear test explosion or any other nuclear explosion undertaken in Canada for the purpose of developing or improving nuclear weapons. It is a tough but necessary position in order to make our message clear. It also mandates the respective functions of the Departments of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, Natural Resources Canada and Health Canada into a comprehensive test ban treaty national authority which will administer Canada's obligations.

 

. 1145 + -

It will obligate Canadian industry to report to the national authority chemical explosions of a magnitude of 300 tonnes or greater or TNT equivalent, as these explosions could be confused with nuclear explosions.

It is not an onerous demand on our industry and in our consultations they are certainly more than willing to comply because they recognize that it is in their interest and the interest of the broad international community that we be full participants in this area.

It is not the central aim but it is also important to recognize it provides very important benefits for Canadian technology because much of the verification, monitoring, equipment and facilities are Canadian made and Canadian developed. Therefore we will be able to provide that kind of extension and also have it in place for recognition and use in other forms of verification systems as we pursue our disarmament goals.

Adopting the legislation will allow us to be among the first to ratify and will lend legitimacy to the efforts of this country as we pursue the crucial issue of combating the new conventional wisdom of nuclear realpolitik. It basically says that Canada has not changed its position for 50 years. We stand against proliferation and that by having the treaty in hand and being one of the early ratifiers we will be able to say that our efforts are backed up by the people of Canada through their elected representatives.

I believe Canadians want us to do that. As we touch the mainstream of feeling in the country no issue comes more to the surface than the expectation that through parliament and our government we will use all our energies possible to advance a level of humanitarian law, disarmament activities to provide a safer and secure world for the men, women and children throughout the globe. That is the expectation of Canadians. We have an opportunity to fulfil that today.

There is no better demonstration of Canada's resolve to safeguard non-proliferation to advance the issue of human security and no better reflection of the will of the Canadian public than to support unanimous rapid passage.

I close with a statement by George Washington, the first U.S. president. It is one I have often been reminded of in the work I do. In speaking to his last session of Congress he said: “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair”. We have that opportunity to raise that standard to which all the wise and honest around the world can repair.

Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is certainly my pleasure to speak to Bill C-52, the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.

Certainly I agree with many of the sentiments expressed by the minister, and I think most Canadians would also agree. As the minister pointed out, we are looking at banning nuclear testing in this country and most Canadians would agree with that.

Our party agrees there should be serious penalties for anyone who considers this sort of action, and obviously this is part of the bill.

We agree that Canadian companies should report tests of 300 tonnes of TNT or its equivalent, as these could be mistakenly looked on as nuclear testing. Our party agrees and supports the overall principle of the bill.

 

. 1150 + -

I believe that is what Canadians want. That is what our party stands for. I believe we are going in the right direction.

However, I must address some of the issues I believe should be talked about when we look at the whole nuclear question. It is important that this be brought to the House and that we have the opportunity to debate such an important issue. I look back on some of the other issues that should have been brought to the House and that should have been debated. Most obviously, the international court comes to mind. We met with that group. We found out that it had a Canadian position. It was going to head off this summer to Rome to negotiate on behalf of all Canadians and sign something that Canadians had not looked at, had not talked about or for the most part had no input into. We met with those people five days before they left for Rome. They could not tell any of us what their position was. That is an example of where that should have been brought to the House. Canadians should have had a chance to comment on it.

The Kyoto agreement is another one. It is going to affect every Canadian. Yet it was not brought to the House. It was not debated. The facts were not put out. Canadians did not have the necessary input. Most of the provinces, now that they are getting some of the details, do not agree with it.

We could talk about UN conferences. We could talk about the conference in Beijing. It talked about the issues of women which most Canadians and this House did not have input into. We could talk about Cairo and population. The position put by Canada is probably contrary to a great many positions that Canadians would hold. We can go on and on.

At least we have a chance in the House to talk about this nuclear treaty. That goes a long way in why we might support the government's position on this because we have a chance to express our point of view and our concerns.

When we look at this we can find some of the good points which the minister pointed out. We can talk about the advanced technology which now allows us to detect nuclear testing around the globe. It is interesting, however, that the CIA was severely reprimanded for not advising the U.S. Congress about the potential test in India. It is interesting that somehow that fell through the cracks. Heads rolled because of it. It does make us a little uncertain when this treaty says we can detect nuclear testing around the world and yet we have an example this past year where something went wrong.

We were told about the monitoring systems. I had the opportunity to look at some of those monitoring systems. We have satellites in place. We have nuclear waste being weighed and measured. We have detectors that will detect if a slight bit of waste product has been taken out of the container. A satellite will immediately alert us to that.

This trust in technology is good. I still wonder if it is totally foolproof. We have to ask that question. We have to ask our technical people to be sure that these are failsafe systems and that nothing can go wrong.

The American way at looking at things for the most part has been to take the James Bonds and the Maxwell Smarts out of the equation and go strictly to satellites and technology. I am concerned that we may be putting too much trust in that technology.

Canadian industries are the very much the leaders in remote sensing techniques. We have a great deal of industry that will benefit from treaties like this as we sell our technology around the world. We can certainly benefit from a business standpoint.

It is important that this government make it very clear that we should be part of any international on site inspections. We are technically able to do that. We have the equipment, we have the know how. It is important that we be part of that examination. I can talk about why Canada should do that, being equipped to do that better than most countries. I will save that for another time.

 

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We have reservations about this test ban treaty and I think it is important for the record that we help the government to look at what these reservations might be and hopefully as it implements this it will take these recommendations into consideration.

First there is the cost. The bureaucracy that is going to be created by this government in order to impose this test ban treaty is quite extensive. If we look at the added bureaucracy we will find that not only do we have a disarmament ambassador but we have the pyramid of infrastructure and of bureaucracy that goes with that.

Canada has created a national authority for the CTBT implementation. In other countries, for instance Britain, they have put it under the minister of defence and have said handle that under the existing bureaucracy. We have set up a whole new bureaucracy, a whole new building of bureaucrats examining the implementation of this treaty.

We have been here long enough now to see what happens as these pyramid builders, these bureaucracy builders, take over. Certainly we would advise the government when it says it is going to spend $8.5 million this year on this initial implementation committee, do not let that grow any bigger, do not let that thing balloon out to become this huge bureaucratic nightmare we have in this place.

I guess a bigger concern we have is that while we agree with the expressions of the minister and we agree with what he had to say, we have this terrible feeling that the minister is possibly leading us into a path of folly, that this minister is in this idealistic world, one which many of us passed through in the 1960s. We got over it and we now know about the realities of the 1990s and the realities of the 21st century.

We have a minister who is a political dreamer, who believes that because you talk about it and you say it, it will be so. I want to expand considerably on what the reality is out there in the real world when it comes to nuclear energy and nuclear weapons and what the real world is.

We are now in 1998 entering the 21st century and I believe it is vital that we warn Canadians as the minister said about some of the difficulties which we face. I have to look at some of the quotes the minister has.

In the question and answer section on this which we were provided with, there is a quote which I think fits the minister very well is: “Canada's long term goal is to ensure that the treaty enters into force, continues to be an effective non-proliferation instrument and contributes to the ultimate elimination of all nuclear weapons”.

That is motherhood. We would all like to not have any nuclear weapons. The problem is that is so far from reality that we wonder where the reality in the minister's mind really is.

I could list other quotes where he says that the United Nations is where everything happens and as long as we are represented in the United Nations we can trust that everything will be fine and we will not have to worry about these nuclear problems.

I am afraid again that is not a world I could be that comfortable with, trusting the United Nations talk shop to solve all the problems of the world today. I do not have that level of confidence and I think many countries would follow in that line as well. Let us talk about the reality that I believe the minister has missed when he talks the way he just did in this House.

There are 36 countries that have the capability to develop nuclear weapons. That includes Canada. We have the START II agreement between Russia and the U.S. to get rid of nuclear weapons which is not being enforced but which was supposed to be enforced a good two years ago.

 

. 1200 + -

START III is totally stalled and is not going anywhere.

If we examine the Russian situation, it is pretty easy to understand what is happening. The Russians are in economic free fall. They have lost their conventional means of defence. Russia is not a world player by any sense of the imagination, except that they have nuclear weapons. The only thing that makes Russia a world player and a G-8 member is the fact that they have a huge nuclear arsenal.

How are we going to convince a nationalist Russian politician, or any Russian politician, that Russia should not be a world player, that they should get rid of their nuclear weapons just because it would be very nice if they did that? It is not realistic to think that could happen in the foreseeable future. Would we like it to happen? There is no question. Everybody would like it to happen, but it is not reality.

We have to worry about the countries that are not going to sign this treaty. It is great that Canada signed it on September 24, 1996, but we are not a threat to the world. The fact that we signed it is not what is significant. The significant factor is the fact that the other guys, who I want to talk about, did not sign it.

Let us consider the example of India and Pakistan. The minister referred to India and Pakistan a number of times. India has close to a billion people. It is a huge country. India has wanted to be a superpower for a long time. India feels it should be a world player because of its numbers and its growing economy. India is jealous that China is taking the focus position of the west. India feels unhappy that there are only five permanent members of the UN security council. India wants to be one of those members. They have clearly said that.

India is saying that Russia is on the inside and it is asking why Russia is on the inside. Russia is on the inside because it has nuclear weapons. China is on the inside because it has nuclear weapons. So India says that it will be on the inside too if it has nuclear weapons.

That is flawed thinking. The minister said that and I agree with him, but that is the reality of India's thinking. We were there in July and August and we got that message from the people at the top of the Government of India, from the foreign affairs committee and from the foreign affairs minister. They clearly stated that.

India backed Russia during the cold war, which was sort of getting on the wrong horse, but that is history. India has the fourth largest military in the world, with one and three-quarter million troops trained, armed and ready to go to war. They have a huge population and poverty problem. It is a country of contrasts and diversity. They have a new government with the BJP, a coalition of 19 parties. They are raising their popularity through nationalism. Having nuclear weapons is popular because that makes them more powerful and they will certainly get attention.

It is interesting that intelligence has said that India would be able to produce or have between 25 and 65 nuclear weapons. However, we are being told today that India possesses 455 nuclear weapons. It is a real problem if we think India has 25 and they have 455. That is a huge problem and a huge threat to mankind, as the minister said.

Let us go on to Pakistan, a country of 120 million people. They have 600,000 troops. Fifty-two per cent of their budget is spent on military. Twenty-seven per cent is spent on debt servicing. That leaves 21% for everything else. That is a huge economic problem. Pakistanis have their backs against the wall.

 

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During the cold war they backed the west. They helped the west in Afghanistan to defeat the Russians. They helped the west in counterbalancing in terms of Iran and many other issues. Pakistan today feels marginalized and ignored, but they have nuclear weapons.

Let us look at the nuclear issue to see its significance. India tested five nuclear weapons in the spring of this year. The Indian politicians made statements “We are about to end the existence of Pakistan. We will attack them in Kashmir and take Kashmir back and then we will disrupt and destroy the Pakistani nation”.

That is a pretty serious charge. Obviously Pakistani politicians were listening to that pretty carefully. They have been in three wars since 1949. The most recent was in 1971 when Bangladesh was taken away from them by an Indian victory. It was then, of course, set up as a separate state.

Imagine the emotion on the day when Mrs. Bhutto took the bangles off her arm and threw them at the prime minister, saying “You are weak. You are as weak as you could be. You must counter what India has done”.

The Pakistan government sent envoys to all countries. They sent all of their members of parliament off to visit countries to find out what the other countries thought the week after the Indian tests. They went to the G-8 and said “What are you going to do to guarantee us our security? We think, and here are the reasons, that India is about to attack us”.

Of course the west offered very little. The G-8 came out with a weak-kneed, wishy-washy statement. So the Pakistanis said “We must test our nuclear weapons because that puts us on an equal footing”. This is how this sort of thing happens. Is it right? No, it is wrong. But that is how these kinds of situations arise.

Today we have the issue of Kashmir, an area 100 miles by 150 miles. There are 600,000 Indian troops there. It has been reported that 50,000 people have been killed. Shellings are occurring every day. There are some peacekeepers, but they are not allowed to patrol most of the areas. It is a hot spot. It is a real hot spot.

We talked to members of the foreign affairs committee in Islamabad. We looked at the issue, just as we had done in India, and we asked the same questions. The chairman of the foreign affairs committee said very clearly “We are like a cornered animal. But we have the political will. We have the people behind us. We have religion behind us. And we have nuclear weapons. We will use them and in 90 seconds 80 million people will be dead”. In 90 seconds 80 million people will be dead. That is what we are talking about. That is the reality.

While we are signing a treaty and talking about a piece of paper, the reality is that there is a crisis. What should we do? In this case Canada is perfectly positioned to do something. Remember, we do not have baggage. We have a reputation. We are members of the G-7. We are friends with Japan, China, India, Pakistan, France, Britain and Germany. We are friends with all of the countries involved and we can negotiate.

 

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Instead of counting on this old-time politics of signing things, we should be there. We should be at that hot spot and we should be saying “Look guys, here are 10 issues”, 20 issues, however many issues you want to put on the table, “and we are going to talk about these issues”. Of course, at some point it would be hoped that Kashmir could be one of them.

Canada is positioned to do that. Russia was involved with India, so it is out. The U.S. was involved with Pakistan, so it is out. China is too busy economically, so it is out. Besides, China would not be accepted by Japan. Japan is interested, but it has an economic crisis. The U.S. is busy. Monica is keeping them busy. No one is as perfectly positioned as Canada to do something. This government should not just talk about it and condemn it and impose sanctions. That is not the way to do it.

The foreign affairs minister's office called me the day before we were leaving for India and Pakistan and said “Don't go. We are not allowing our ministers to talk about Pakistan and India. We are not allowing them to meet with Pakistan and India and you are sending the wrong message by going there”.

We were sending the right message by going there. We are the diplomats who could do something. We could do something about this issue. Instead of just standing around talking, we could be there to solve the problem. That is action. This government should be setting an example by doing that.

Canada has a role. We have a moral role that we could play in this situation. We could talk about power. Pakistan has all kinds of hydro power that could easily be traded with India. India needs it.

There are natural transportation routes. There are relatives on both sides of the border who want to meet with each other. There are 100 million people who could trade with each other. There are all kinds of things that would cause India and Pakistan to solve their problems if somebody were just there to do it.

Instead of slapping on sanctions, screaming and shouting and condemning them, let us help them. Let us help both sides to solve this issue.

I will not take time to go into as much detail on some of the others, but I will refer to them. Let us talk about Iraq.

Iraq had UN inspections, but again it is challenging the world. It is challenging the world that is so involved with all these other issues that it is determined that nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry will be developed in that country.

Who suffers? The people of Iraq. If we really care about the 21 million people of Iraq, then we should be doing something to solve this problem, and not just with a slap on the wrist. That is not the kind of action that works any more. It might have worked in the days of the cold war, but it sure does not work today.

North Korea constantly threatens that it will again start its nuclear program. It has acute famine. The only thing it has going for it is the nationalistic concept which the minister spoke about of this nuclear proliferation and development that makes it more powerful. That creates serious instability in the world.

Sudan is a country of 31 million. Well over two million of them are starving to death. It was 15 years at war, destroying crops and destabilizing its neighbours. There are all kinds of problems for the Canadian businesses which are trying to do business there. I point these things out because this is the reality of where it is really at.

Today we have 100,000 troops on the Iranian-Afghanistan border. We have the Shiite muslims who make up 89% of Iran faced off against the Taliban, the Sunni muslims who make up 84% of Afghanistan. They are within days or weeks of a major outbreak, a major conflict, occurring in that region.

 

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There are all kinds of reasons Iran can say that it can develop whatever arsenal it takes to quell these sorts of problems. Obviously there is drug money involved. Huge amounts of drugs are being brought from Afghanistan into Pakistan. All kinds of instability is being created in that region.

Signing that piece of paper does not deal with Iran, with Afghanistan, with Iraq or with North Korea. We just do not deal with them by signing this piece of paper.

We could talk about Israel and Palestine. We could talk about Taiwan and China. We could talk about Turkey and Syria. Turkey's troops today are massing on the Syrian border. There are all kinds of such areas.

Another interesting piece of information is the improvement of missiles by various countries. The bragging rights are as follows: Saudi Arabia can now reach a range of 2,800 kilometres; Israel, 1,500 kilometres; Iran, 1,300 kilometres; Libya, 550 kilometres; and so the list goes on of bragging rights about what they can do to each other.

The real world that we are not talking about in the House is threatened by those kinds of states. That is where it is at. It is not signing a UN document and hoping all the good guys will not proliferate nuclear weapons. That is not where it is at. Where it is at is: What will all these guys do who could care less about this sort of treaty?

To hold out the treaty and say it is the answer, the be all and end all as we heard the minister say, is leading Canadians down the wrong path. Canadians should not feel pious and great because we are signing a nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

It would be wonderful, in the wonderful world of 1960 of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, if that would end everything. The white picket fence, the little dog and the wife in her apron are 30 years or so out of date. It is just not the real world. The real world is not all that friendly and we had better realize that.

We should also realize what the Canadian role is. Our role is a leadership role internationally. Over 80% of Canadians say that is what they want Canada to do. We will not be a superpower. We will not use weapons but we can use the weapon of diplomacy. That could be our strongest ace in the hole and could be the thing that could lead us into the position of diplomatic superpower in the world.

To sit on our laurels and think UN treaties and UN arrangements are all we need is totally wrong. The soft diplomacy that we have been following is not getting us very far and we are falling behind. Our position in the world is definitely declining, and I believe we as Canadians should turn that around.

To summarize, we certainly have a problem with all that bureaucracy. We have a problem with the foreign affairs position and a minister who is living in the past. I know this is not the time to ask a question, but we heard we were one of the first to sign and to move forward in this regard. I cannot help but ask a question. We signed on September 24, 1996. Why has taken it so confounded long to come through in legislation to the House? How is it possible to take two years to do something that will be supported by everyone in Canada and by all parties in the House? How can it be so slow? I guess we get used to that question but it borders on incompetence. That is something we should ask as well.

 

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My fourth concern is about all the rogue states. I have only talked about a few of them. I do not want to say that these guys are bad, that I have included all the bad ones. I have not. Not all of them are as bad as others. However there are problems that we are not facing up to.

In conclusion, we support the signing of this treaty. Let us get on with it. Above all, let us not make Bill C-52 something by which to say we are wonderful and great for signing this treaty. My goodness, it should have been ratified a month after we signed it and we should have moved on. What should we move on? That is the problem. I have not seen a game plan of the government to move on in areas that Canada can do its job.

We can do our job in Kashmir, with Palestine and Israel, in North Korea and in Sudan. We have a position that allows us to get on both sides to deal with the issues and to become diplomatic leaders in the world. Then we could hold ourselves up and say that as Canadians we are proud we have really done something.

That is the position the government should take instead of simply glorifying itself as it is so prone to do with the Canada accord and all kinds of things.

Mr. Julian Reed: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I just wish to convey to the House the minister's apology for not being present for this debate. He has been seconded to other more pressing issues of the moment.

Of course all the debate will be placed before him for his consideration, and I thank the hon. members.

[Translation]

Mr. Daniel Turp (Beauharnois—Salaberry, BQ): Mr. Speaker, while the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs is undertaking its review of a report on nuclear non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament, this House is being asked to implement one of the instruments resulting from the international community's efforts to take “effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”. I am quoting part of article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty was adopted on September 24, 1996 and has already been ratified by 21 states, as the Reform Party member must know—Canada is not among the first ones, since there are already 21 contracting parties. That treaty is one of the instruments created following the negotiations. The states that adhered to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons continue to negotiate in good faith and will hopefully achieve an ambitious objective that some feel is impossible to reach, namely the interdiction and even elimination of nuclear weapons.

The ratification of this treaty by Canada, and by other members of the international community, will be another step in that direction. Hopefully, the number of ratifications will multiply, so that we will reach the magic figure of 44 before having to convene a special session, under paragraph 14(2) of the treaty, to review the measures that could be taken under international law to speed up the ratification process and facilitate the coming into effect of the treaty at an early date.

 

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The ratification of a treaty which seeks to continue the process begun with the Limited Test Ban Treaty—adopted on August 5, 1963, and to which Canada became a signatory on January 28, 1964—will be a major step in the quest for a planet that is at least exempt from nuclear testing if still not free of nuclear weapons .

A treaty such as the one that is the subject of the bill we are going to debate seems all the more necessary today—as the minister and the Reform Party member have reminded us—with countries such as India and Pakistan conducting nuclear tests that other nuclear power states have agreed from now on to abandon. These states include France and the United Kingdom, who made their commitment very clear by signing the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, as well as China, the United States and Russia, who also suggested they would no longer be conducting nuclear tests.

It is therefore appropriate, in the context of the present debate, to again appeal to India and Pakistan, as well as to Israel and South Korea, two other nuclear power states whose plans are still cause for concern, to heed the countless appeals already made to them and signal their intention to no longer conduct nuclear tests by adding their names to the list of nations that have already signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.

Like the other signatories, these states would better serve the cause of international peace and security they have espoused by becoming members of the United Nations, and in respect of which they are bound to act under article 2 of the UN charter, by signing this treaty, which recognizes that the cessation of all kinds of nuclear explosions will help halt the development of improvements in nuclear weapons and end the development of new types of nuclear weapons.

By participating in the treaty's international monitoring system, which will provide a means of detecting, pinpointing and categorizing nuclear explosions, and which will also authorize on-site inspections for the purpose of determining whether suspicious events are in fact nuclear explosions, countries will help move humanity one step forward along the road towards nuclear disarmament. They will be helping to resolve a problem that originated with the use of energy in a manner contrary to humanity's interests, the misuse of a resource whose use for peaceful ends could and still can contribute to humanity's well-being and do us proud.

I am pleased to announce that the Bloc Quebecois will support Bill C-52, subject to consideration of certain amendments to improve the implementing legislation. This bill to implement the treaty in accordance with section 3, appears to be essentially consistent with the treaty and its schedule as well as the related protocol. It is designed to give effect to the treaty within the Canadian legal system and it seems to us that it contains the necessary provisions to ensure obligations will be fulfilled in good faith, as required under the pacta sunt servanda rule set out in section 26 of the Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties dealing with the comprehensive nuclear test ban.

Amendments might, however, improve this implementation legislation, and I will have the opportunity a little later at committee and report stage to justify the Bloc Quebecois' proposed changes to Bill C-52.

 

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The Bloc Quebecois will propose amendments to improve the wording of the bill in French, to make the amendment process more democratic in the future and to ensure that the person designated to act as national authority is accountable to the minister and, through him, to this House, for his or her participation in the implementation of the treaty. This bill is similar to the law to which his or her Australian counterpart will be subject under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Act, 1998, which we have examined and which requires the Australian director to report to the minister and the minister to report to parliament.

As with other matters relating to foreign affairs, the Bloc Quebecois shares the values and convictions of the government party and the other parties here in this House. The values of peace and international security are at stake here, as well as the objective of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, which is to take the necessary steps to attain nuclear disarmament, That treaty, we will recall, was indefinitely extended in 1995.

The people of Quebec, whom our party represents here in the House of Commons, agree with this objective, and it is our duty to waste no time whatsoever in stating our agreement with any legislation relating to it.

I can also state before this House that the sovereign Quebec so fervently desired by my party will have absolutely no hesitation in continuing this international treaty and in ensuring its implementation, as Canada intends to do today, both internally and internationally.

While the government is today inviting us to be involved in an important milestone in the history of nuclear disarmament, we in the Bloc Quebecois are anxious to know if it will dare proceed further, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs led us to believe in the House this morning. Will it seek to take any innovative steps? Will it resist the temptation to stick with the nuclear status quo, or will it instead opt for taking a risk in connection with the nuclear challenge facing it, the international community and all of humankind?

The debate on non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament, which the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade will begin on Thursday, will give us some insight into the real policies of Canada, a middle power, a sometimes ambitious player. The Minister of Foreign Affairs demonstrated this in the crusade for the elimination of land mines, which he is pursuing with remarkable vigour, at a time when the Vancouver incidents are casting their shadow over a foreign policy which seems to have allowed truly questionable goals to take precedence over the basic freedoms of Canadians, of the students in Vancouver.

In addition to shedding some light on the government's attitude, the standing committee's proceedings will provide an opportunity for my party, the Bloc Quebecois, to demonstrate its desire to build an international community that, sooner or later, will be free of nuclear weapons, free of the balance of terror and of the terror that balance brings, “a world slightly less dangerous”, as Jennie Rosenberg, a doctor in Godmanchester, a lovely little spot in my riding of Beauharnois—Salaberry, put it in a letter she wrote me on September 16.

 

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Ms. Rosenberg, like so many other people in Quebec, in Canada and elsewhere in the world, wants to live in a world where, as provided in article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the fiftieth anniversary of which we will be celebrating in just a few weeks, everyone is entitled to an international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the declaration can be fully realized, an order in which the quest for peace, a fragile commodity at any moment, will win out over the threat of nuclear war, an order in which intelligence, not arrogance, will carry the day.

[English]

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party to support this important piece of legislation.

By implementing the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty Canada will be furthering in an important way the goal of nuclear disarmament. It will constrain the development of advanced new types of nuclear weapons, constituting an effective measure of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in all its aspects.

Two weeks ago this House welcomed a true hero, the president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. Mandela had just returned from New York where he spoke eloquently before the United Nations general assembly for the last time as president of South Africa. In that speech he strongly supported nuclear disarmament and he spoke against the alarming acceleration of poverty worldwide.

President Mandela noted that the nuclear weapons states have not yet made a clear commitment to eliminate the bomb. He added that his country, South Africa, and Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia and Sweden would be submitting a resolution to the assembly to this effect. At the United Nations he called on all members of the UN to seriously consider this important resolution and to give it their support.

While we welcome this legislation, I want to appeal to our government to heed the eloquent cry of Nelson Mandela and to join in this new agenda coalition seeking the elimination of these weapons of mass destruction.

It was on June 8 of this year that the foreign ministers of those eight countries President Mandela referred to issued a joint declaration. In that declaration they note that they considered the continued threat to humanity represented by the perspective of the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons by the nuclear weapon states, as well as by those three nuclear weapons capable states that have not yet acceded to the non-proliferation treaty, and the attendant possibility of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapon. They went on to note the seriousness of the recent nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan.

These countries said as well we can no longer remain complacent at the reluctance of the nuclear weapons states and the three nuclear weapons capable states to take that fundamental and requisite step, namely a clear commitment to the speedy, final and total elimination of their nuclear weapons and their nuclear weapons capability. We urge them to take that step now. They as well noted the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice in its 1996 advisory opinion that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control. That was the call of the foreign ministers of those eight countries, the so-called new agenda coalition.

It is clear that the Canadian people support Canada's playing a far more active role in this area as well.

 

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An Angus Reid poll conducted in February this year revealed that 93% of Canadians support Canadian involvement in global negotiations to abolish nuclear weapons and a full 76% support a leadership role for Canada in such negotiations.

Canadians have been deeply troubled by a number of recent tests over the course of the last two or three years such as the resumption by the French government of nuclear testing in the South Pacific. Earlier this year my New Democrat and I voiced our deep concern at the resumption by India and Pakistan of the detonation of nuclear devices.

After those tests I would note that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the so-called doomsday clock five minutes closer to midnight. It now stands at nine minutes to midnight.

While we condemn those tests by India and Pakistan we welcome some of the recent statements made by their governments suggesting that they are prepared to consider signing this important comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty provided that the nuclear weapon states finally live up to their commitments as well to work toward the abolition of nuclear weapons.

While of course it is essential that we rid the world of any further nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons testing there is still a lot of work to be done. The costs of this have been incredible. It has been estimated that $8 trillion has been spent on nuclear weapons since 1945 while a large percentage of the world's population has gone without the most basic human needs being met, adequate food, shelter, health care and education. I note the most recent report of the United Nations development program which shows the gap between rich and poor still increasing.

The world's stockpile of nuclear weapons, estimated at 36,000 warheads, represents over 700 times the explosive power used in all the three major wars of this century which killed 44 million people.

It has been since the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that the world has had to live with nuclear weapons. We survived the past 50 years fortunately without any further nuclear weapons exploding on innocent civilians. But the threat of nuclear annihilation lives on. Indeed there have been a number of studies indicating that the risk of some sort of accidental detonation is still far too great.

I mentioned the five nuclear weapons states, Russia, the U.S., France, China and the United Kingdom, and the three near nuclear states, Israel, India and Pakistan. I want to say a word in the context of Israel. I again appeal to our government to speak out against the shameful continued imprisonment of Mordechai Vanunu in Israel. Vanunu has been in jail for many years, most of that time in solitary confinement solely for courageously exposing the Israeli nuclear project at Dimona. I plead with our government to recognize that this is a profound injustice, that Vanunu should be freed and that our government should be speaking out and ending its silence on that.

At its peak in 1986, the total number of nuclear weapons in the world was about 70,000. Today it is about half that. South Africa has shown other nuclear weapons states that it is possible to have actually possessed these weapons and then to eliminate their arsenal.

There are currently five major international nuclear weapons free zones, including all the countries in the southern hemisphere. The non-proliferation treaty, first signed in 1968, has been an important step forward and I acknowledge that Canada played a leadership role in the 1995 extension of this treaty.

In that treaty the nuclear weapons states in article VI have made it very clear. They have signed on to this commitment. They said each of the parties to the treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

That is the commitment nuclear weapons states have made but that is not the commitment they have honoured, and it is long overdue for this hypocrisy to end.

 

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I think many of us understand the point that both India and Pakistan have made in saying to the five nuclear weapon states “Don't lecture us about our testing when you yourselves possess these weapons and you are not prepared to honour the treaty in establishing timetables and goals for the elimination of your own weapons”.

I and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party today again call on the nuclear weapon states to honour that commitment in article VI, to make an unequivocal commitment to the elimination of their respective nuclear weapons and without delay to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations that will lead to the elimination of these weapons.

My colleagues who spoke before me mentioned the work of the foreign affairs committee in looking at the important issue of the abolition of nuclear weapons. I am pleased to be a member of that committee and to work with my colleagues on that. We in that committee have heard from a broad cross-section of interested individuals and organizations.

I want to acknowledge some of the many individuals and groups who have been working with dedication for many years on this important issue: Ernie Regher and Bill Robinson of Project Ploughshares; the newly appointed senator from Alberta, Doug Roche, a veritable one man disarmament machine who has done an extraordinary job in this area; a broad cross-section of Canadian churches; Peter Coombes, Gillian Skeet and many others of End the Arms Race in British Columbia; the many organizations of the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons; Debbie Grisdale of the Physicians for Global Survival; Veterans Against Nuclear Arms; Trina Booth of the Canadian Peace Alliance; the United Nations Association in Canada; the World Federalists of Canada; Pugwash; the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout; and Irene and Norm Abbey of the Nanoose Conversion Campaign. These are some of the many people and organizations that have been working with such dedication and conviction over the years.

There are many individuals. In the early sixties my mother was a member of the Voice of Women. They were signing petitions and demonstrating outside shopping centres for an end to Strontium 90 in our milk. These are the people who have laid the groundwork for where we are today.

I mention in particular the Canadian church leaders' statement. Its representatives appeared before the foreign affairs committee earlier this year. They spoke very eloquently and very powerfully about the extraordinary affront to humanity for nuclear weapon states and their allies, including Canada, to persist in claiming that nuclear weapons are required for their security. The church leaders said “The spiritual, human and ecological holocaust of a nuclear attack can be prevented only by the abolition of nuclear weapons. It is our common duty to pursue that goal as an urgent and top priority”. We in the New Democratic Party join our voices with those church leaders in appealing to our government and all governments to honour that commitment.

Although Canada does not have nuclear weapons and officially opposes nuclear proliferation and supports disarmament, our hands are not entirely clean on this issue. We provide airspace and low level flight ranges for nuclear bomber training. We host visits by nuclear powered and potentially nuclear armed submarines. Politically and diplomatically, the Liberal government supports U.S. and NATO nuclear policies which shamefully include the option of the first use of nuclear weapons.

We as New Democrats believe that Canada can and must do much more to further the nuclear disarmament agenda. I will suggest some of the things we could be doing.

Canada could join the new agenda coalition of middle power states as they call on nuclear weapon states to make an unequivocal commitment to enter into and conclude negotiations leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Canada must support immediate steps to de-alert the nuclear arsenals of all nuclear states, including the elimination of hair trigger nuclear postures and the removal of warheads from their delivery systems.

Canada must push within NATO for a comprehensive and long overdue review of NATO's nuclear doctrine, for NATO to adopt a no first use policy, and to support the elimination of forward deployed nuclear weapons. We should not be a member of a military alliance that contemplates the use of these terrible weapons.

 

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These changes I have spoken of should be reflected in NATO's strategic concept document which is due in April next year.

Canada should vote at the United Nations in favour of multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention. This fall a resolution will once again be before the general assembly. Last year Canada voted against that resolution. I want to appeal to our government to reconsider and support that resolution this year when it comes before the general assembly and indeed show some leadership and co-sponsor that important resolution.

We should stop Candu reactor sales to countries with poor human rights records, like China and Turkey, and phase out the nuclear power industry in Canada generally. We should become a nuclear free zone. The Liberal government should certainly give notice of termination of the agreement between Canada and the United States allowing a torpedo testing range at Nanoose Bay in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia.

We should not be involved in any way in importing MOX fuel for conversion at Canadian facilities.

Our government has shown leadership on land mines. We could show the same kind of leadership working with civil society to mobilize public opinion on this issue.

Before closing I want to make a couple of additional points. I want to note the outstanding work of my colleagues on this issue.

My colleague the member for Vancouver East has participated in a couple of citizens weapons inspection teams, the American nuclear submarine test facilities in Bangor, Washington, as well as the Electric Boat Corporations, one of areas that manufactures the Trident in Groton, Connecticut. She has been drawing to the attention of the global community the complicity of the United States in continuing to manufacture weapons of mass destruction.

My colleague the member for Winnipeg—Transcona has made many powerful speeches over the years on the scourge of nuclear weapons and the need to abolish them.

Nuclear weapons have been with us since the 1940s. However, as we enter the new millennium it is time to end this nuclear madness and set a new course toward the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. We owe it to future generations, to our children and to our children's children to abolish all nuclear weapons from this earth.

The children of today are concerned. When I speak in elementary schools, one of the favourite books I like to read from is Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. It is the tragic story of a young Japanese girl who was a victim of radiation sickness and who died as a result of that.

The children I speak to ask me why we allow this madness to occur and what are we doing to make sure it will never happen again. And they are right. That is the political leadership we are calling for now.

I would like to refer to a letter the foreign affairs committee received from retired United States General Lee Butler. He was one of those who were in the very leadership of the United States military role in nuclear weapons. This is what he said in his letter to the foreign affairs committee:

    It is truly a sad commentary on the human condition that we are incapable of letting go the most bizarre and terrifying security construct ever conceived by the mind of man.

    The most difficult truth I had to confront in my own reassessment of nuclear weapons was that for most of my career I had failed to grasp the moral context of these hideously destructive devices. It came crashing home the day I assumed responsibility for the U.S. nuclear war plan and confronted the consequences of targeting over 10,000 weapons on the Soviet Union. That is when I came to fully appreciate the brutal honesty of Joseph Stalin's comment on the modern age: “The death of a single individual is a tragedy; the death of millions is a statistic”.

He closed by saying:

    My country is badly in need of a new moral compass on this issue. We have committed the fatal sin in public policy making of becoming cynical and arrogant with respect to decisions affecting the lives of hundreds of millions of people. We have trivialized the likelihood that deterrence might fail, thus providing easy moral cover for ignoring the consequences. We have learned to live with a weapon that numbs our conscience and diminishes our humanity. We need to hear voices of reason, urging us to a higher standard of rectitude and global leadership. We await your call.

Canada, our government, must respond to that call by doing everything in our power to rid the world of the scourge of nuclear weapons.

 

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Mr. David Price (Compton—Stanstead, PC): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to stand today in the House and speak to such an important issue, nuclear weapons testing.

Successive Canadian governments have advocated the need for a truly comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty for many years. The Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests in May of this year truly brought home to all of us that the proliferation of nuclear arms is still an issue for the international community.

We as Conservatives encourage and support any effort that will help make the world a safer place to live in. That is why we support the implementation of Bill C-52 which, once ratified by parliament, will allow Canada to ratify the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty that the government signed on September 24, 1996.

The test ban treaty will make it a crime to test nuclear weapons in the countries that have signed. It will also require industries to report large chemical explosions which could be confused with a nuclear explosion also in the countries that have signed.

Bill C-52 also helps define the roles of different departments, such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Natural Resources Canada and Health Canada, which will jointly administer the implementation of the test ban treaty in Canada. There are a couple of questions to go along with this.

Why is the test ban treaty a good thing? The nuclear powers, the U.S., France, Britain, Russia and China, will not expand their arsenals, at least we should not say all because China seems to be expanding a bit. But it does give the smaller countries a little less incentive to build nuclear weapons. It maintains the status quo.

Why is the status quo a good thing? Since World War II the big five have influenced the world and maintained relative stability and stability is a good thing. It allows economies to grow without worrying about these threats. We all know what has happened to the economies of countries that have gotten into these serious threats.

On the other hand, why would it be risky to maintain the status quo? As we know there are some countries which do not like the status quo. They think there is some benefit to being part of a nuclear club. India and Pakistan tested in May. They want to be part of this new status quo. Iraq, Iran and North Korea all want to test nuclear weapons. We must go further to discourage them and to rid them of these notions.

This makes security an issue. The foreign affairs committee is preparing a report which calls for the rid of all nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are not land mines. They are a deterrent weapon that won the cold war. Let us not kid ourselves. Asking the defence communities to get rid of nukes is like asking society to get rid of cars. We have relied on them for too long.

This bill does not even mention the Department of National Defence. I am speaking because I am the defence critic. The Department of National Defence must be involved because the defence of a nation is not just the job of our hippie foreign minister.

Although India, Pakistan and North Korea have yet to sign on to the treaty, it remains a positive measure toward better nuclear arms control in the world. By ratifying the test ban treaty, Canada will be part of implementing an international monitoring system to detect nuclear explosions throughout the world, thus creating deterrents to clandestine development of nuclear weapons.

The implementation of the test ban treaty will also provide the opportunity for the international community to quickly conduct an inspection where there are doubts about the credibility of a member state.

There are a few more things I would like to point out. Canada suspended nuclear co-operation with India following its first nuclear test in 1974. Canada also ended bilateral nuclear co-operation with India and Pakistan in 1976 when neither country would agree to the requirements of Canada's nuclear non-proliferation policy.

 

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As we negotiate other Candu sales do I have to remind the Liberal government what happened after Canada sold its Candu reactors to Indian and Pakistan? The Liberals would like us to believe that Canada has nothing to do with helping India and Pakistan to develop nuclear weapons. Of course they were in power when those sales were made. They gave them the technology for peaceful purposes. They built clones. We know the rest of the story.

What we are seeing today is a Liberal government which at the same time it is revising the Canadian nuclear policy to prop up its image is negotiating sales of Candu reactors to countries that might just end up doing what India and Pakistan did with their Candu reactors. In May 1998 the world saw what we mean when we talk about incompetence.

I remind our foreign minister, who still likes to call himself a hippie, that nuclear weapons are a serious threat to Canadian security. Love and flowers will not stop that threat. Saying otherwise only demonstrates little understanding and knowledge of what really goes on in the world. Canadians might have been led to believe that the world is a safer place. The reality is that it is not.

Last week I watched the United States Senate arms service committee talk about the military problems in the States. It was quite interesting. They parallel a lot to our problems, what we have been dealing with for the last little while: quality of life and lack of money. They are the same types of issues.

At the end of the day when they look at the more serious problems they are worried about as to how they are going to keep up their equipment and still be stuck in one of their major points, the main thing they will be looking at is their strategic defence initiative, the famous star wars project. That is major money.

We are looking down the road with a lot of time ahead. Yet they are still considering this project. It is a very strong item in their defence budget. That means a ring of missiles completely around the States. They are certainly not putting that in because they think the nukes are going to go away. Unfortunately, if they start firing these missiles, they will more than likely be firing them over the top of Canada. Nukes will be dropping in on us.

This issue is a lot more complicated and volatile than the Minister of Foreign Affairs would like us to believe. I am not implying that as a country we should not work toward nuclear disarmament. On the contrary I am saying that we have to do it in a credible way. We have to take into account the context of current world events and security issues. When 76% of Canadians support a leadership role for Canada in the world negotiations on nuclear weapons non-proliferation, they want their government to look credible, not gullible.

Canada is a longstanding and respected member of NATO and a well respected member of the world community. We have a longstanding partnership with countries such as the U.S., France and Britain with which we have forged a good relationship and developed mutual understanding on issues such as nuclear arms control and nuclear disarmament.

To the Minister of Foreign Affairs I only have this to say: be very careful; nuclear weapons are not land mines. The minister asked for the full support of the House on the committee report. I am sorry he raised the committee report today because in my party's opinion the test ban treaty is a worthwhile endeavour. However my party should be forthright. Nuclear weapons are not land mines. Indeed my party supported the minister's efforts in the land mine treaty and congratulate him on his success.

Certainly we are in favour of stopping proliferation. Certainly we are in favour of arms control. The world has been, is currently and will be a dangerous place. Ridding our security system—and let me be clear—and calling for the U.S. to rid itself of its weapons in Europe is gutting our security system and will make the globe more dangerous, not safer.

The minister talks about 50 years ago. Perhaps he should talk about 50 years from now. Nuclear weapons have been the steadfast cornerstone of western security policy since the creation of NATO in 1949. Unless the minister can outline in the House with detail all the security risks the globe will encounter in the next 50 years, my party cannot support the idea of total nuclear disarmament.

While it is certainly an idealistic view, it is not based on reality. The reality is the Russian parliament will not implement START II any time soon. To delude ourselves that the Russians are is very dangerous. The reality is the Chinese are developing more nuclear weapons, not less. To delude ourselves that they are not is also very dangerous.

 

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My party is in favour of making the world safer, not making it more dangerous.

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I must say I was troubled by the statement of the representative of the Conservative Party. He believes the presence of nuclear weapons in some way contributes to a safer planet when in fact all the evidence indicates exactly the opposite.

Even though he says he is not prepared to agree to working toward total abolition of nuclear weapons, I want to ask him whether at the very least he agrees with the suggestion made by many countries that there should be steps taken to de-alert the nuclear arsenals of all nuclear states, including the elimination of the hair trigger nuclear postures and the removal of warheads from their delivery systems.

Does he at least agree that we should be taking that kind of step to reduce the risk of nuclear catastrophe on the planet?

Mr. David Price: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question. Actually I could go a lot further than that and say the long term goal is total elimination of nuclear armaments of any kind.

In the meantime—and this is not in the short term—we are still stuck with the dangers out there, with the rogue countries that will develop nuclear arms. If they are sitting there with nuclear arms we need a deterrent. As I mentioned, the Americans are still looking at their star wars project right now because they know they have to protect themselves. They need an alternative.

The long term view is that we would be very happy to see them completely gone, but in the short term that will not happen so we still have to keep them as a deterrent. Hopefully over a period of time we will eliminate them.

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his very pointed and interesting speech.

I am very interested in one aspect, though, that perhaps we have not touched upon. It is one of the greatest threats when it comes to the potential for a nuclear disaster taking place in the future. I am referring to the trafficking of small amounts of fissile material, which in my view is one of the most serious threats to international security that exists today, particularly in view of the fact that the former U.S.S.R. nations including Russia are economically impoverished and have a significant amount of nuclear material, in the order of up to 30,000 nuclear weapons, and the fissile material that goes with it.

Would my colleague and his party be interested in working with members across the House to develop a common strategy to present to the international community to deal with the accounting, monitoring and ultimate destruction of fissile nuclear material?

Mr. David Price: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member very much for the question. That is one thing I did not actually raise in my speech.

The Russians have 30,000 weapons. With the economic situation in Russia that creates the desire for them, instead of scrapping weapons, to probably try to sell them off. There will definitely be a market. We would be happy to do anything we could to get together with a group to try to find a solution to this problem.

Unfortunately, as I have said, the Russians will not scrap them. They will try to sell them. The people they will be selling them to obviously are not the major nuclear forces. They will be as I said before the rogues. That is where the danger lies. Again, I would be very happy to work on any project like that.

Mr. Svend J. Robinson: Mr. Speaker, I have a very brief question. Perhaps the member for Compton—Stanstead did not hear my initial question. I want to repeat it and ask for an answer.

 

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Does the Progressive Conservative Party support the suggestion that Canada should be taking a lead in urging the immediate de-alerting of the nuclear arsenals of all nuclear states?

Mr. David Price: Mr. Speaker, to the member for Burnaby—Douglas, the very simple answer is yes. I will leave it at that.

Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I followed carefully the speech given by the hon. member. I have a question for him.

Last year or the year before when we started working on a land mine ban it was obvious for most of us that the U.S., Russia and China would not go along with it. Despite that we went ahead and had the treaty signed by over 40 countries. It is now international law.

The hon. member should express in the House if he agrees with the principle of banning rather than just the banning of weapons now. If he does not accept that principle, how can we work toward it? How can we put pressure on governments to give up nuclear weapons?

A few months ago when India and Pakistan exploded weapons the international community was very concerned. Two weeks ago both countries expressed that they were prepared to sign on to the nuclear test ban treaty. That is a step forward and we should encourage it.

The only country not to comply or to express concern and sign the treaty is Israel. We have to work together to put pressure on all countries to comply with the intent of the ban so we can go forward into the next century with hopefully more peace of mind for everybody.

Mr. David Price: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I am not clear what exactly he was asking. It was more a statement than a question.

There is no question that if we knew what would happen in the next 15 years it would be very easy to sign on and agree solidly with something. We can look very clearly down the road to see what is coming in the immediate future. We see that a threat is still there. It will not go away tomorrow.

The problem is not the countries that have signed the treaty; it is the countries that have not signed the treaty. An arms sale is still going on in the background. We cannot eliminate ours if they are going to be out there. The threat is still there.

We lived through all the years of the cold war. There were no nuclear explosions because one counteracted the other. We are still in that position. We are not in a cold war situation. We might say it is a bit hotter war right now.

Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: Mr. Speaker, did the hon. member say that if more nations have nuclear weapons the world would be a safer place? If 100 rather than 10 countries had nuclear weapons, would the world be a safer place? Is that the assertion the hon. member is putting forward?

Mr. David Price: Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member is reading between the lines.

For sure the world is not a safer place because we have more nuclear weapons. We have to reduce nuclear weapons and they will be reduced over a period of time. It will not happen overnight.

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-52. It is great for Canada, Canadians and the world that we are taking a leadership role in trying to ratify the test ban treaty signed by 150 countries in 1950.

In the cold war era the nuclear weapons threat loomed very large in all our lives. A threat existed not only between the countries of the former Soviet bloc states and Canada. Other nations were beginning to develop nuclear programs. In the post cold war era this threat has changed. Sometimes we may believe the threat is less than in the cold war era.

 

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In reality the threat today is even greater than what it was 15 years ago. The reasons are many. We will get to them in the future but it is for the reason that we have a much greater threat today with respect to nuclear weapons that we are in a position to ratify this treaty and bring it into law. This brings into force the reasons and the rationale and the purpose of the test ban treaty signed in September 1996.

I am a little disappointed that it took us two years after we signed this treaty to the time we came to this House to ratify it and to bring it into force. That is far too long. It should take much less time.

Also the government should keep in mind that it would be useful for parliament to take a look at treaties before these treaties are signed. Constructive ideas exist across party lines to be able to contribute to the nature and essence of these treaties to make them stronger and more relevant to the Canadian public. I think the government would do well to emulate that.

This test ban treaty is only the beginning. As I mentioned, we have a much more dangerous situation in the world and the reason why we have a much more dangerous situation is that nuclear material right now has become far more disbursed, getting into the hands of people who should never have it. In fact, the controls that existed in the cold war era are to some extent gone.

It is absolutely imperative for those controls to be exerted on the fissile material across the world. We do not know the people who have it and we do not know where much of this fissile material is.

The following are some constructive suggestions that the government would perhaps consider in its international talks with respect to nuclear disarmament.

I do not believe, as my colleague from the Conservative Party mentioned, that a comprehensive ban of all nuclear weapons around the world is actually going to take place.

The government has to approve and go after the START III talks, the strategic arms reduction talks. It has to work with other countries to pursue those.

The government should pursue with other countries the banning of multiple independent re-entry vehicle techniques which are multiple independent nuclear warheads that can be dispersed. We also need to pursue a ban on independent and medium range ballistic missiles which could be a significant threat in the Middle East and in South Asia.

The government should take a very strong view with working with other countries to deal with the trafficking of fissile materials.

After 1991 and the collapse of the former U.S.S.R. there were 30,000 nuclear weapons that existed in those countries. Much of that material has gone into Russia but in the collapse of Russia that is taking place right now, no one knows where this material is or who controls it.

There has to be for the independent and collective security of the countries of the world an accounting system regarding where this fissile material is, who has it and to ensure that proper controls and safety measures are there.

There has to be a downsizing of fissile materials. These fissile materials have to go into situations where they cannot be used for the production of nuclear weapons. This is exceedingly important.

The Canberra commission of 1996 put together some very important documents with respect to that. There has to also be a vigorous accounting of these fissile materials which simply does not exist right now.

If we look around the world and see the primary threat with respect to nuclear weapons, it is in the dispersement, the sale and the black market of not only fissile materials but the triggering mechanisms that would enable somebody to produce a nuclear bomb.

It is not very complex science to produce a nuclear bomb and in the wrong hands one could be made. We need not look any further than what Saddam Hussein was saying in Iraq and the intelligence that we have recently regarding how close he was to developing a nuclear weapons potential that could have seriously threatened any kind of peace in the Middle East and caused an environmental disaster.

 

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Speaking of environmental disasters, one thing we are not taking into consideration which is a serious problem is what is taking place with nuclear waste. I understand that Russia has dumped nuclear waste over large segments of Siberia. These fissile materials, these nuclear materials, are highly radioactive, carcinogenic, teratogenic and toxic. Some of them have half lives of hundreds of years. They get into the biosystem and multiply as they go up the food chain.

People eat animals at the top of the food chain and they manage to acquire large amounts of radioactive materials in their systems. One need not look any further than what is happening with aboriginal people in the Arctic to see the high amounts of the substances that exist within their biomass. They have large amounts of these carcinogenic and toxic materials in their tissues. Large amounts of this material have come from Siberia to the Arctic.

It is for this reason that Canadians and this parliament need to be very concerned, aware and interested in what happens to this biological material. It is a serious threat to the health and welfare of not only people but flora and fauna.

Of the 193 countries in September 1996, only 150 countries signed this treaty; 43 did not. We can use our diplomatic initiatives, our embassies, our respect around the world and our diplomatic ability to convince these 43 non-signatories to come on board and sign it. It will not be possible for some of these countries to sign at this moment. But it does not mean we cannot try to get these countries to come on board.

Potential hot spots that need our acute intervention and acute interests involve South Asia between India and Pakistan, and the situation in the Middle East with respect to Iraq and Israel. As mentioned, the situation between Russia and the United States needs to be dealt with. One hidden faction in all this which we do not take into consideration enough is the situation with China. We like to say the United States is the only super power that exists. In my view that is utterly false. China is a super power, has been a super power for some time and has the weapons capability of a super power, both conventional and non-conventional.

I compliment members from across party lines for pursuing the rapid support of this bill and also supporting the ban on nuclear weapons. I do not think it will be feasible for us to ban them outright but we must do whatever we can to pursue the downloading of existing nuclear weapons in the world. We should do our best to remove them and destroy them and to deal with the fissile materials that are out there and to put an urgent dampening control on those nuclear weapon materials. This is not only for our individual security but for our collective security.

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join in this debate today to talk about the test ban treaty and the necessity to have such a treaty in the world. I will detail some of the things the government I hope pursues with vigour over the next months and years as it tries to make this test ban treaty more than just a symbolic measure that is easy to agree with and is easy to endorse; a comprehensive agreement that will cover not only the ones that have signed to date but the problem states, the rogue states, that as of now have refused to do it for a variety of reasons.

 

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I will read into the record again what this bill does. It does implement the test ban treaty that Canada has been in favour of and has endorsed for some time since its inception. It is an attempt to ban the testing of nuclear weapons by limiting nuclear explosions. It spells out severe penalties for Canadians and others if they are involved in the detonation of a nuclear device in Canada. It makes it a crime to aid and abet such an action. It obliges Canadian companies to report any chemical blasts that could be mistaken for nuclear explosions, in other words large scale chemical explosions, in order to monitor the whole process of who is testing what and where.

As the official opposition we generally support this piece of legislation. I would like to bring up a few problems or reservations I have on not so much the legislation but the process we have followed so far.

First, there is in this legislation and in the test ban treaty a mechanism to monitor worldwide any explosions that may be taking place, the magnitude, what was involved, who did it and when and so on. That is a good thing. Canada is certainly doing its part. We have a series of seismic and other tests that will ensure that this monitoring continues and we will do our part.

As in all international agreements, I urge the government to make sure this does not become an excuse for a large scale bureaucracy. I hope it will not but there is always the danger that when there is a multinational organization and an agreement is in place no one watches the bottom line. Certainly there is no bottom line on peace but there is a bottom line on how much this testing should cost and I urge the government just to keep an eye on that. I hope it will and certainly we will be doing that from our side.

I think it has been brought up today in the speeches, but I want to reiterate that we want to make sure there are no illusions on the part of people watching this debate or by the Minister of Foreign Affairs that this is the be all and end all that will somehow bring us the nirvana of perpetual peace on earth.

This is really a small step in securing the idea that nuclear weapons are not desirable and that we should work toward their elimination. That of course is easy to agree with. Again, it is not nirvana, it is not the answer to all this especially given the states the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca has already listed. Look at states like North Korea, India, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, some Middle East countries and so on that are unwilling at this stage to sign the document.

There are reasons they have I suppose or they try to justify for not signing but whatever the reason they are the very states that I think need to be brought into this process. To engage these non-signatories should be the primary goal on the nuclear issue by the foreign affairs minister at this stage.

Whatever pressure or influence Canada can bring over the next while, months and years to come, that should be part of all their discussions with these countries particularly. It is not enough to sit back, put the flowers in the end of the rifle barrel and say all we are saying is give peace a chance. That is not good enough. We need to make sure this test ban treaty is just a start of a vigorous and ongoing campaign to make all countries of the world realize that it is in their best interests to pursue this non-proliferation treaty.

The hard reality is that unruly, unreliable regimes run by unruly and unreliable leaders, and I will pick Saddam Hussein as an example here, show the necessity of future pressure to make these kinds of countries and individuals sign this treaty and to verify that they are following through.

We have to pursue those two things. I do not think anybody thinks Canada is going to whip up atomic bombs and start packing them around in a suitcase. But there is a serious problem with some of these countries.

 

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We need to use our connections, not only with countries that we are not so friendly with, but even with countries that we have longstanding traditional relationships with. In particular, we need to look at India and Pakistan. We have a lot of close ties with those countries. Many people from those countries have immigrated to Canada and are now a part of our Canadian culture.

Pakistan and India are in serious difficulties. They should know that we are willing to talk to them and recognize them as perhaps not a big superpower like the Americans or the Chinese, but certainly a very powerful entity in themselves. We must tell them that we respect their sovereignty. We must encourage them to get on board and do what is best, not just for their own country but for the world, by signing this treaty. Particularly with Pakistan and India we must emphasize that.

I want to emphasize that it is important to me and to the Reform Party that mechanisms be found to encourage the government to bring treaties like this more often to the House of Commons for debate. It is interesting that the committee on foreign affairs has been studying the nuclear issue for some months now and just as it is drafting its report, which will deal with issues like this, the government brings in legislation which says “This is the way we are going to do it”. To tell the members of parliament in the foreign affairs committee “I am interested in seeing your report, but it does not really matter, we are going to proceed as follows” is discouraging.

A better process for international treaties would be to bring the concept either to a committee or to a debate in the House. That would allow members of parliament to at least be a part of the process and to be apprised of where we are. It would allow opposition members to have some input on errors and omissions in the treaty before the government actually signed on the dotted line. We should have that debate and discussion among members of parliament so they feel they have been involved on behalf of the people of Canada.

The government listens carefully to many non-government organizations, to pressure groups, to other countries and to a lot of good debate. I do not deny that it is all worthwhile. But it seems like the last people in the loop are members of parliament. If the government is interested in encouraging knowledge and debate on international relations between Canada and other countries it has to give the House an important role to play in the treaty making process. Because it does not do that it dooms the process to cynicism. That is unfortunate.

This is a good debate today on a good bill. Unfortunately the cart is far ahead of the horse and that is too bad.

It is the position of the official opposition to support this nuclear non-proliferation treaty. We accept the spirit of Bill C-52. As I have said, I hope that the government in the future will use the opportunity not just to educate MPs, but to actually let us feel that we have had an impact on the government's decision making process. If the government would do that it would probably find lots of support for its position. MPs would feel that they had been brought in at the start of the process instead of at the very end.

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Fraser Valley for once again giving an eloquent speech on foreign affairs.

He illustrated the central problem that we have in parliament, wherein parliament is often undemocratized. He articulated the problem by illustrating the example of what has gone on in the foreign affairs committee, an otherwise very good committee made up of good members. The committee has been diligently working on the nuclear issue. It is going to present its findings on this after the bill has been presented to the House of Commons. This shows once again that ministers and the cabal of individuals on top have an utter disregard for members of this House, and in doing so they show an utter disregard for the people they represent; namely, the Canadian people.

 

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It would be far better for this House to work to ensure that members from across party lines are able to work and represent their constituents effectively by bringing their good ideas to committee in a timely and reasonable fashion.

My question for the member deals with leadership. He illustrated the problem of the lack of accountability on fissile materials around the world. Would my hon. colleague support an international meeting to deal with the disclosure of information on fissionable materials? Countries from around the world could come to one place to discuss and debate, to put forth a process whereby all countries would disclose what fissionable materials they have and the condition of those fissionable materials. Then a system of accounting could be put in place so we would all know where this weapons grade nuclear material is located.

Mr. Chuck Strahl: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for both his comment and his question.

His comment is well taken. Because of the importance of the bill, in my own way I was smacking the government's hand a little. However, he spelled out pretty clearly and bluntly that the government faces the danger of making committee work just busy work. That is, as soon as we start to get into the nitty-gritty our work is either trumped by the government or discarded.

We have seen some moves in committees over the last week or so where chairmen who have confronted and challenged the government have been moved aside. It is very unfortunate and very de-motivating for people who come here thinking that their opinion is going to count to find out that instead they should just take a number and wait to be told what to do.

Time and again this has happened with our peacekeeping efforts. We often read about a situation in the papers on the weekend. Then we come here on Monday and hear the minister ask parliament to endorse the position he has already taken, which is to send troops overseas, into harm's way. Those of us on this side of the House, and I think many on the government side too, might have liked to have a debate before the minister signed on the dotted line. I might have liked to have expressed my views. I would have listened to the arguments. We should have true debates instead of set speeches that basically spell out what is going to be done anyway and tough toenails.

That would democratize foreign policy especially. Foreign policy deals not just with Canadians, but with our international relations. We have a right to enter that debate and we have an obligation to our constituents to show that we have an interest. Those members of parliament who say they are only interested in what happens in their own constituencies could be shown for the parochial bunch they are. Let us flush them out. Let us make them treat foreign affairs with the importance it should have.

The second issue concerns whether there should be an international protocol of some sort to track fissionable material. The member pointed out a very huge problem. We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in Canada alone trying to figure out what to do with our own nuclear waste and we still do not know what we are supposed to do with it. We still do not have a plan. We still keep it in the swimming pool and hope that nobody dives in the deep end. Even in Canada, which has some of the highest standards, we do not have a protocol. We can certainly track it, but we do not know what to do with it.

Take that and expand it to other countries in the world that do not have the resources to even handle it properly. We need a method to track it and to help those countries that cannot deal with it to deal with it in some way that best mitigates the problem. I certainly support that initiative.

[Translation]

Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in the 20 minutes available to me, there are a few points I will be trying to make.

[English]

A number of points can be made in connection with this bill. I will try to touch upon them very briefly in order to finish before question period.

 

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It is obviously an important policy that we are discussing today which has a very fine historical record. We are debating today what was initiated by Mr. Pearson, even before he became the Prime Minister of Canada, and that policy was continued by successive prime ministers, particularly Prime Minister Trudeau, in order to establish the fact that Canada was one of the few nations in the world which voluntarily renounced the use of nuclear power for military purposes.

In other words, there is a tradition of which all parliamentarians can be proud because we have been in the forefront of this policy making process and we continue to be.

It has been established in so many ways and in so many debates, in widespread forums and throughout public opinion, that no nuclear nation has the right nor the justification to use nuclear weapons. The pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are very clear in the memories not only of those who lived through that experience, but also of subsequent generations.

There is definitely a will to ensure—and I suppose this is at the root of this treaty—that any measure of that kind will never be adopted again and cause such terrible agony and atrocities on human beings, no matter who is involved.

In connection with this treaty, it must also be said that whenever major nations have conducted nuclear tests they have turned out to be public relations disasters. I can only refresh everyone's memory to the last test conducted by France in the Pacific which clearly provoked and generated a very intensive counter-complaint on the part of public opinion, not only in Europe but in every continent, aimed at dissuading the Government of France of the day from conducting such a test. The same can be said of China, a country that is still conducting tests and which should be discouraged from doing so.

Public opinion certainly does not look kindly on conducting tests of a nuclear nature.

Whenever attempts are made by nations to justify the use of nuclear weapons, their rationale has the weight of zero. There is no rationale and no justification in the light of the evolution of the human culture and of mankind to justify the utilization of nuclear weapons any longer. I am sure it is the intent of this treaty and the hope of the totality of public opinion the world over to consider that any form of nuclear weapon use has come to a conclusion and that there will never again be any attempt to use them.

In that sense, we are glad to have the opportunity in this parliament to endorse Canada's signing and ratifying of this treaty because it gives us an opportunity to express these sentiments.

The next point that one would inevitably like to make is to call on the non-signatories—and there are 43 of those nations—and urge them to do so. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe there are some minor and middle powers that have not yet seen fit to do so.

 

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I am referring to the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bhutan, Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cuba, Dominica, Eritrea, Gambia, Guatemala, Guyana, India, Iraq, Kiribati, North Korea, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Macedonia, Mauritius, Nauru, Nigeria, Niue, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Zimbabwe and Yugoslavia.

Most of these nations are represented here in Ottawa by embassies or high commissions. Their representatives ought to be called upon by the Government of Canada and urged to do their duty to sign this nuclear test ban treaty without delay. Make the pressure of public opinion felt by them in their desire to be civilized members of the world community.

The next point has to do with the issue of nuclear liability. Our country is due to revisit this issue and to debate the nuclear liability limits we have. We have to determine new thresholds and establish a new approach. This is an overdue piece of legislation which requires parliamentary attention in the interests of the Canadian public.

The next point has to do with the question of Canadian industry notification which is outlined in a briefing note I have here. The legislation we intend to pass will request Canadian industry to report large chemical explosions which could be confused with nuclear explosions. There is a qualifier in this request, namely if possible, prior notification.

I would suggest that prior notification if possible be deleted and notification be made mandatory because if there is good will, there is a way of getting notification without any qualifier to that particular process. It is a good measure and I am sure Canadian industry will want to collaborate. I am referring to those instances when 300 tonnes or more of TNT equivalent material will be used. This idea of prior notification is highly desirable.

The issue of nuclear waste has been raised and we are all painfully aware of the issue. It is one that has been posing a major problem not only to Canada but also to the United States and other jurisdictions where the disposition of nuclear waste is still an unresolved issue. In other words we do not know where to safely put the waste that is generated through nuclear material utilization.

This very important environmental issue also has economic implications. This issue has to be examined whenever we intend to amplify the future use of nuclear power for non-military purposes because the question of waste management and waste disposal has not yet been resolved. It is one that is being tackled at least in low level radiation waste material in southern Ontario by an initiative of the current Minister of the Environment for which we congratulate her. This needs to be expanded of course to other material as well.

 

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I hope that this quick review of items relating to this treaty is helpful. I congratulate the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the government for this very fine initiative.

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his speech and for his longstanding personal commitment in this area.

I would like to ask the member a specific question with respect to the upcoming vote before the United Nations General Assembly on a resolution which will be proposing multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention.

The member will recall that South African President Nelson Mandela in his very eloquent speech before the general assembly last month urged that all nations, including Canada, join with the new agenda coalition in supporting this resolution. Last year Canada voted against this resolution.

I want to ask the member whether he does not agree that it is important that Canada send out a strong signal of its support for the new agenda coalition by voting for and indeed by co-sponsoring this important resolution at this session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Hon. Charles Caccia: Mr. Speaker, whether Canada would co-sponsor this resolution is a moot question and probably it is too late for that. I imagine that the resolution has travelled sufficiently ahead to not require Canada's involvement. However, it is certainly a measure which I am sure the Minister of Foreign Affairs looks at favourably and that we should be moving on. Maybe there is a certain hesitance for reasons I do not know, but in principle it seems to me to be a very desirable initiative and worthy of support.

Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I first of all wish to commend the member for Davenport for his eloquent speech. I also commend him for the hard work he has done as chair of the environment committee and his long commitment to the environment.

My question is a historical one. In the last parliament the Liberal government changed the environmental laws to allow China to purchase nuclear reactors. Canada gave China $1.5 billion in loans to do that. Just recently we have made some agreements with Turkey. It is quite obvious that the Government of Canada historically and today has a very poor track record when it comes to nuclear conversations of any kind.

Does the member for Davenport agree with the government's decision to circumvent or change environment laws in order to pursue its nuclear policies?

Hon. Charles Caccia: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows very well my views on this subject and I do not see the necessity of repeating them in this chamber.

Mr. David Price (Compton—Stanstead, PC): Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member for Davenport, but while on my feet I would like to reply to the question of the member for Burnaby—Douglas on de-alerting. I probably represented my party's views rather authoritatively since we are still considering this component.

My question for the member for Davenport is if we could list in detail what will face us within the next 50 years, what would his reaction be to total disarmament rather than just arms control, which is what we are really doing now?

Hon. Charles Caccia: Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the hon. member is asking a hypothetical question. Therefore it is one which we have to treat as such.

Of course the ideal of total disarmament is one we all would want to strive for. But we also know that this is not a reality in the context of present day relations and conflicts in many areas around the globe.

 

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I would imagine that 50 years from now we will be talking of security more in environmental terms than in military terms. I would imagine that in 50 years the concept of security will be quite different from the one of today. I would imagine that the emphasis on arms will decline and perhaps there will be much more emphasis on access to drinking water for instance.

I would imagine that with the doubling of the global population from the present five billion possibly to ten billion, the pressure on worldwide natural resources, and by that I mean fisheries, forestry, water and the like, will be enormous. We will have a completely different security agenda from what we have today.

Until then, I think we have to be realistic and know also that we have a role to play in peacekeeping as it is shaping up in the Balkans and in other parts of the world. For some time to come, arms will be needed sometimes in order to make peace.

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I too would like to ask the member for Davenport a question. I would first preface my remarks like a great many others with a tribute to the work he has done over the years on the environment, although I must say I have found him to be a bit ambiguous on the nuclear question from time to time.

With respect to the goal he just mentioned, the complete abolition of nuclear weapons, or total disarmament as he referred to it, does he not think the time has come for Canada as a member of NATO to show leadership in that body? That is where we find a great many members of the existing nuclear club, but not all of them.

Does he not think there is a role there for Canada to say to those in the nuclear club that they can no longer expect to maintain their monopoly as it were on nuclear weapons and at the same time ask the rest of the world to desist from the production and deployment of nuclear weapons? Is there a role here for NATO and the nuclear club in showing some leadership and is Canada uniquely positioned to show leadership in that way?

Hon. Charles Caccia: Mr. Speaker, regarding the question of being ambiguous, the advantage of being a Liberal over being an NDPer is that instead of looking at the world in black and white, we can also detect a number of shades of grey. Therefore sometimes our message is more complex and less simplistic than the message from the NDP.

That is the reason we convince more Canadians to elect us to conduct the business of government than the NDP has so far. There is something about ambiguity that can be attributed to the capacity of seeing more shades of colours than just black and white.

On the second point, NATO, this is a subject of continuous discussion and debate. I do not feel qualified enough to give an adequate reply.

The Speaker: I note that there are still a couple of minutes left in the questions and comments. As we are approaching 2 p.m., I wonder if I might let that go until after question period and we will go to Statements by Members now.



STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[English]

EARL GOFORTH

Mr. Bryon Wilfert (Oak Ridges, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in the House today to salute Mr. Earl Goforth, a volunteer in the Whitchurch-Stouffville Museum in my riding.

Mr. Goforth received the Ontario Heritage Foundation's Heritage Community Recognition certificate in recognition of his service. For over 18 years, he has shared his knowledge of tools and agricultural implements with visitors to the museum. The museum itself opened in 1971 in the Bogarttown School which was built in 1857.

Mr. Goforth's involvement and service in the museum has enhanced its educational and entertainment value not only for visitors, but also for the staff and volunteers.

I was pleased to honour someone who helps us understand our local history, Mr. Goforth.

*  *  *

GOVERNMENT SPENDING

Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House today to express my disgust over this government's continued mismanagement of Canadian tax dollars.

While ministers of this government spend their time on vendetta politics, Canadians are left to suffer. This government has wasted $500 million cancelling the EH-101 helicopters that are obviously desperately needed. There was $260 million wasted on Pearson airport and $3.4 million wasted on Airbus. And just this summer $20 million was wasted on compensating Ethyl Corporation for banning MMT without just cause or sound evidence. This waste alone totals $765.4 million. If the government had stopped playing politics it could have used this revenue to compensate every hepatitis C victim.

 

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I demand the government to show Canadians the same courtesy given to Ethyl, apologize to Canadians for mishandling these events and stop wasting taxpayer dollars.

*  *  *

MARY ANN SHADD

Mr. Jerry Pickard (Chatham—Kent Essex, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, October 1998 marks the seventh year that Canada will celebrate Women's History Month in recognition of women who have played vital roles in our heritage.

I wish to recognize the life achievements of the late Mary Ann Shadd who at one time resided in Chatham—Kent in my riding. Mary Ann Shadd, a noted author, educator, journalist, publisher and lawyer, was truly a pioneer in her time. After emigrating to Canada in 1851 she earned the distinction of being the first black female newspaper editor in North America. In an era where few women were politically aware, Mrs. Shadd was an advocate for abolitionists and a voice for equal rights.

Mary Ann Shadd serves as a role model for women young and old across the country. Her legacy instils a sense of pride in our history and in our origins. It is with honour that I rise to celebrate with Canadians the difference women have made, are making today and will make in the future.

*  *  *

FIRE PREVENTION WEEK

Mrs. Brenda Chamberlain (Guelph—Wellington, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am speaking today about Fire Prevention Week which this year runs from October 4 to October 10.

This year's theme “fire drills, the great escape” will emphasize the importance to individuals and institutions of having a fire escape plan for the home and the workplace.

Too many of us do not have any such plan in place, or if we have we have not actually practised it to see if it works. It remains a sad fact of life that each year hundreds of Canadians die needlessly in fires and thousands are injured. Much of this could be prevented by taking precautionary measures such as developing fire escape routes.

I urge all Canadians to take the message of Fire Prevention Week to heart. A good start would be to participate in the activities that will be held in communities all across Canada and to know and to practise fire drills at home and at work. The lives they save may be their own.

*  *  *

[Translation]

FLU AWARENESS MONTH

Mr. Raymond Lavigne (Verdun—Saint-Henri, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to call the attention of the House and of Canadians to the fact that October is Flu Awareness Month.

The combination of flu and pneumonia is one of the primary causes of death among seniors. It can cause illness, weaken individuals suffering from it, make them vulnerable to infection and even cause their death.

I encourage all Canadians at risk to protect themselves and others against the flu. An annual flu shot will prevent those at risk from getting the flu and may even save lives.

Please join with me in wishing success to the Canadian Lung Association and its partners and in encouraging Canadians to protect themselves against the flu.

*  *  *

[English]

AGRICULTURE

Mr. Jake E. Hoeppner (Portage—Lisgar, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, recent blockades of Canadian farm products by certain U.S. states have interfered with the movement of Canadian grain and livestock.

The Liberals are wrong when they claim that these border skirmishes are just grandstanding U.S. politicians. The disputes go much deeper. In fact the allegations of dumping grain by Canada into the U.S. market and the concern over subsidies on Canadian feed grains in the livestock industry have been major sources of these disputes for years.

U.S. documents suggest the Canadian Wheat Board has undersold farmers grain into the U.S. market in direct violation of NAFTA. There is also concern that grain companies are dumping surplus off board wheat and barley into the U.S. market.

If these border disputes are to be eliminated both Canadian and U.S. politicians must become receptive to the issues and problems of farmers. Only then can we hope to provide a fair and level playing field.

*  *  *

[Translation]

EDUCATION SAVINGS PLAN

Mr. Claude Drouin (Beauce, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on August 26, we learned that the Government of Canada had changed its policy on access to grants for education savings so that more families would become eligible for the new Canadian grant under the program.

 

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From now on, contributions to an education savings plan for young people aged 16 and 17 will mean entitlement to the 20% grant announced in February's budget, if these contributions total at least $2,000 instead of $4,000 before the year of the individual's birthday.

The 20% grant will also be given when the child reaches a total of $100 a year instead of $300 over four years, regardless of which ones, before his 16th birthday.

This announcement made on August 16 by the Minister of Finance enables more lower income families to benefit from the Canada education savings grant.

*  *  *

LABRADOR HELICOPTER CRASH

Mr. René Laurin (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on Friday, a Labrador type helicopter returning from a medical evacuation mission in the Sept-Îles region crashed in Marsoui, on the Gaspé Peninsula, killing six military personnel.

The cause of the crash remains unknown, but this tragedy might have been avoided. We are asking the Minister of National Defence to do everything within his power to ensure the equipment used by our armed forces is reliable.

The Bloc offers its sincere condolences to the families of the victims.

*  *  *

[English]

VICTIMS OF GENOCIDE

Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, October 4, 1998, members of the Canadian Armenia assembled with their fellow Canadians for the historic dedication of the monument erected by the city of Montreal commemorating victims of genocide.

The memorial stands as a symbol of healing for the Armenian community and will be a lasting tribute to all victims of ethnic hatred, including the Armenian genocide of 1915 at the hands of the Turkish government, the first genocide of the century but not the last as tragically ethnic massacres continue to take place every day.

May the memorial serve to remind Canadians of the horror of ethnic hatred and serve as a symbol of our diligence to oppose genocide as the worse example of man's inhumanity to mankind.

*  *  *

FOREST INDUSTRY

Mr. Reed Elley (Nanaimo—Cowichan, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, last week six Reform MPs and I visited the central coast of B.C. as guests of IWA union executives and the forest industry. It reinforced what many British Columbians know that the forest industry, the largest producer of jobs in the country, is in serious crisis.

We were concerned on this tour about the impact on our European market of the boycott by Greenpeacers. Never mind that this industry has suffered in B.C. from the collapse of the Japanese housing market. Never mind that the NDP government in Victoria has tripled the taxes it levies on this industry in the last five years. Now it also suffers from the silence of the Liberal government that has done nothing to correct the untruths in Europe that Greenpeace is spreading.

The government does not get it. If it sits idly by and does nothing for British Columbians, the extreme preservationists in Greenpeace will next take on the forest industry in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. No part of this industry is safe. Jobs are being lost, mills are shutting down and marriages are being torn apart.

When will the government speak out loud and clear to correct this desperate situation?

*  *  *

HUMAN RIGHTS

Ms. Shaughnessy Cohen (Windsor—St. Clair, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahater wants to play in the big leagues internationally but he is ignoring the rule of law.

Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and opposition MP Lim Guan Eng are in jail for disagreeing with him. Security forces are suppressing peaceful protests.

I call on all members of the House to speak out against these violations of human democratic rights. I call on all members to demand that the Malaysian government free Anwar Ibrahim and Lim Guan Eng.

*  *  *

EDUCATION

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I rise today in solidarity with thousands of Canadian students who are about to launch a week of protest in cities and towns from Vancouver to Halifax.

The Canadian Federation of Students is leading this charge to show slash and burn governments that students will not stand still for full scale demolition of post-secondary education.

Students also are not standing still for a completely unfounded and discriminatory law that the Liberals forced through in the last budget. That law extended the bankruptcy waiting period for students from two years to a decade.

The government should be ashamed of the hypocrisy of its actions, hypocrisy ground in the fact that 93% of students pay back their loans. Compare this to the corporations that received loans from Industry Canada between 1982 and 1997. Only 15% of those corporate deadbeats made good on their loans.

I ask the government: Who is the better investment? I am introducing a bill tomorrow that will repeal this discriminatory law. What will the government do?

*  *  *

 

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[Translation]

BREAST CANCER

Mrs. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every day, some 50 women learn they have breast cancer, for a total of about 17,000 women annually. Over 5,400 of them will not survive the disease. That means today alone 15 will die.

A number of groups and associations are vigorously looking for a way to treat this disease, whose causes remain essentially unknown. While progress has been made, through prevention and screening, current treatment is often ineffective. Biopsies are still extremely painful, and other forms of treatment are still at the development stage.

The fight is far from over, and I call on all my colleagues, men and women, to contribute generously to the pink ribbon campaign.

*  *  *

[English]

HOM-ENET-MAN

Ms. Eleni Bakopanos (Ahuntsic, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today in parliament members of the House are invited to a reception in 200 West Block to commemorate the 80th international anniversary of Hom-enet-man, the largest benevolent sports and scouts organization in the Armenian Diaspora.

[Translation]

This non-profit organization's mission is to invest in young people and to develop their devotion and will. In addition, it encourages them to become good Canadians and law-abiding citizens. It provides them with a good physical and moral education, encourages them to think and helps them develop a team spirit.

I congratulate the Armenian community and the Hom-enet-man organization on its 80th anniversary. Organizations such as this one have a mandate to inspire young people and to strengthen such basic principles of life as courage, discipline, honour and perseverance. Their involvement with young people clearly shows their devotion to the community—

The Speaker: The hon. member for West Nova.

*  *  *

[English]

LOBSTER FISHERY

Mr. Mark Muise (West Nova, PC): Mr. Speaker, for months now native and non-native fishers have been illegally poaching lobster from the lucrative lobster fishing grounds off southwestern Nova Scotia, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of registered commercial lobster fishers. Each day thousands of pounds of illegal lobsters are landed and sold on the black market.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has done very little to curb this illegal activity. Law-abiding fishers are now threatening to take the law into their own hands if something is not done immediately to protect their industry.

Fishers in my riding are living in fear. They recognize that the government is doing very little to protect their industry. Some fishers have risked their own personal safety to notify DFO of illegal activity, only to have their pleas for help ignored.

The issue will not go away simply by ignoring it. I call on the Minister of National Revenue, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Solicitor General of Canada to join with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to devise a strategy that will effectively put an end to this illegal fishery before the situation turns to violence.

*  *  *

[Translation]

THE LATE PIERRE SAVARD

Mr. Mauril Bélanger (Ottawa—Vanier, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is with regret that I note the passing of Pierre Savard, a great Canadian historian, who died on October 4. Born in Quebec City in 1936, Pierre Savard, a professor of history at the University of Ottawa, dedicated his life to the study and teaching of history.

Although he began his teaching career at Université Laval, it was here in Ottawa that he left his mark. He will be remembered as the director of the University of Ottawa's centre for research into French Canadian civilization, a position he held from 1972 to 1985, and as a full professor in the history department of that university, but especially as a proud French Canadian who was deeply involved and well respected in his community.

That community mourns as well, as is clear from the editorial in today's Le Droit, lamenting the premature death of Pierre Savard. On behalf of my colleagues, I extend our deepest condolences to his wife Suzanne, his children Marie, François and Michel, and to the rest of his family.

*  *  *

[English]

ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, Canada is the best country in the world in which to live. This is the case for most people living in Canada unless we ask the native population who is living in squalor on our nation's reserves. Many of our reserves endure third world conditions which Canadians generally believe are rich and privileged.

How are they to think any differently when audits from the Stoney reserve reveal that the chiefs and council receive salaries, honorariums and travel expenses totalling $1.5 million per year while most cannot put food on their table.

Scarce financial resources are not being directed to those most in need. For example, the Stoney nation claims to have a shortage of housing yet at least a dozen houses are vacant and some are being used by non-band members and unqualified people for some political reason remain in key financial management positions.

The reality is the government can no longer excuse these inequities. It can no longer deflect responsibility for fiscal abuse. It can no longer pump billions into the Indian system and not adequately account for every cent.

The aboriginal people of Canada deserve better and so do the taxpayers.



ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

 

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[English]

APEC SUMMIT

Mr. Preston Manning (Leader of the Opposition, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday when the solicitor general was questioned about his conversation on an airplane concerning the APEC affair, he could not seem to recall anything at all that he said. However, today, after counselling no doubt from the spin doctors, he categorically denies that he said anything inappropriate.

How is it that the solicitor general could not recall any of that conversation yesterday but today has total recall of that same conversation?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I said this morning in the House, I categorically deny the allegations as I did yesterday.

We have established that the comments of the hon. member, I believe, were titbits of words that were floating around in a noisy aircraft and are unworthy of this place.

Mr. Preston Manning (Leader of the Opposition, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the solicitor general said he could not even remember who sat next to him. He did not know whether they were animal, mineral or vegetable. Today the minister admits that his seatmate was a friend, a lawyer and a Liberal Party supporter to boot.

How is it that yesterday the solicitor general could not even remember the gender of his seatmate and yet today recalls that it was a Liberal friend? How did that happen?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have flown back and forth from Ottawa to Fredericton 300 times in the last five years. I know most of the people on that aircraft and I do not recall in each and every case whom it is that I sat with.

I inquired and I found out. That is the truth. That is the answer. He will have to live with it.

Mr. Preston Manning (Leader of the Opposition, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, this minister by his indiscretions has called into question the impartiality of the whole public complaints commission inquiry into the APEC affair. Now he has made matters worse by trying to cover up his own indiscretions with this cock and bull story.

Where is the minister's honesty? Where is his integrity? And where is—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: Colleagues, I ask all of you to be very cautious in the words you are using. The honesty of members is not questioned in this Chamber and I would remind hon. members of that fact. Please choose your words very carefully.

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I had a conversation with the gentleman who sat on the plane. He substantiated my story and I will not dignify that question with an answer.

Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general in a few short hours has gone from “he was someone I don't know” to “actually we have been good friends for some time”.

He has gone from “I don't know who this person is. I don't know them by name” to “it is Frederick Toole from Saint John”. Great scott, we have gone from “I can't recall” to total recall and now to a rebuttal. When will we go to the resignation?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has at least three inaccuracies in that question and I will not respond.

Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, this story is getting more outrageous by the minute every time he opens his mouth.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

 

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The Speaker: The hon. member for Edmonton North.

Miss Deborah Grey: Mr. Speaker, as I said, this story is getting more outrageous every time the minister opens his mouth. The commission is now saying that it is worried about public trust in this whole instance. I am sure the Solicitor General is the only person in the country who happens to believe his own story.

The commission is in doubt. The damage has been done. The gig is up. When will he resign?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this process needs to work and it cannot be sabotaged by the innuendo of members opposite.

[Translation]

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the solicitor general could not remember who he talked with on the flight between Ottawa and Fredericton or what they spoke about. He could not even remember whether the person was a man or a woman.

But this morning, miracle of miracles, he remembered everything. He was speaking to a longtime Liberal friend.

How can the Prime Minister put his trust in a solicitor whose memory is so weak and whose integrity is based solely on the vague testimony of a Liberal partisan?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Solicitor General made a statement to the House this morning. He tabled a letter from the person on the trip with him. I think that it fully explains the situation.

The facts speak for themselves. I am surprised. Members will have to be careful, because tomorrow there will be people eavesdropping behind every door.

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, every time a scandal looms, the Prime Minister uses the same scenario. Here again, he is doing so with the APEC story.

First, the Prime Minister denies the evidence. Second, he finds a political official, sometimes the Minister of Canadian Heritage, or the former Minister of National Defence. Third, he orders an investigation to clear himself.

My question is simply this: When will he produce a letter of good behaviour from the ethics commissioner? That is all that is lacking in the habitual scenario.

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is nothing the government wants more than for the commission of inquiry to do its job as quickly as possible.

A complaint was lodged about police behaviour, and we want to find out the truth. Once the truth is known, we will act objectively.

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general is clearly in a very difficult situation, with not just his credibility, but also his job, at stake.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Will he admit that not only is the solicitor general in a very difficult situation, but that so is he, because his credibility and his job are hanging by a thread, and that thread is the testimony of a Liberal Party member and a friend of the minister?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, one year and four months ago, we were elected to office. Our mandate is very clear.

The thread is a pretty hefty one; we hold more seats than any of the opposition parties.

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, does the Prime Minister not think he is asking Frederick D. Toole to shoulder quite a load, when Mr. Toole, good Liberal that he is, realizes that his testimony alone could make or break the government?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois does not have much of a point.

We are merely saying that we want the commission to be able to begin its work. In fact, it did so yesterday, and we hope that the testimony will be heard.

 

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All those asked to testify went and volunteered to be present. I personally am not in the least worried, because I know very well that everything is done to respect international conventions, which require that the safety—

The Speaker: I am sorry to have to interrupt the Right Hon. Prime Minister but the leader of the New Democratic Party now has the floor.

[English]

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my question is also to the Prime Minister. The solicitor general clearly failed to maintain the impartiality required of him when he stated: “Four to five Mounties overreacted for five minutes. I think it was excessive”.

Canadians recognize the solicitor general's remarks as prejudicial and inappropriate. When will the Prime Minister do the same and demand the resignation of the solicitor general?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the leader of the NDP first claimed in this House that Gail Sparrow saw me giving orders, yet she failed to apologize when Mrs. Sparrow later admitted she could not hear what I was saying. Then the leader of the NDP charged that one of my staff said that he had shredded documents, yet she failed to apologize when the commission counsel refuted that claim. Then she said that one of my special advisers phoned UBC president Martha Piper to intervene in a matter related to security, yet the leader of the NDP—

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

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, even the solicitor general in this morning's carefully worded statement did not deny that he had made these prejudicial comments. In fact his failure to recognize that his inappropriate remarks are prejudicial, that they are prejudicing the inquiry, is further evidence that he cannot do his job. The Prime Minister has no choice but to demand his resignation. Why will the Prime Minister not do that?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to do so because I am watching the leader of the NDP once again raising baseless allegations, based on selective eavesdropping by one of her members, for which she should once again apologize. I thought the leader of the NDP had greater ambition than to become the Linda Tripp of Canada.

Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC): Mr. Speaker, this government has a record of firing people who are competent and who do their jobs with independence and integrity. It had the chief actuary of the Canada pension plan fired because he refused to manipulate information on the CPP. It fired the chair of the fisheries committee because his committee told the truth. The chair of the foreign affairs committee was next.

The solicitor general proved his incompetence when he shared his observations about the outcome of an ongoing investigation into the APEC affair. Surely the Prime Minister must for once fire the—

The Speaker: The hon. solicitor general.

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I said this morning, I said nothing that would interfere with the process of the PCC or with the outcome. That was substantiated by the person with whom I was having a private conversation on the plane.

Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC): Mr. Speaker, is it not odd that the Solicitor General can remember what he said yesterday when yesterday he could not remember what he said the day before?

The solicitor general was overheard prejudging the outcome of the APEC investigation. He denied such prejudgment when asked in this House. Then outside the House yesterday he claimed that he could not remember anything. Today the Solicitor General admits that he had a conversation about APEC with a personal friend which he should not have had. How can the Prime Minister allow the Solicitor General to remain in his position and still ensure the integrity of the APEC investigation?

 

. 1430 + -

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if we want to have an inquiry we should let the inquiry be conducted by the people. The inquiry started yesterday. Let them do their work.

If it is the only thing the member wants to talk about, then we have no objections because we know the government has done nothing wrong. The police discharged its responsibilities as it was its duty to do. If there was something wrong the commission will find out.

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, this morning the chairman of the Public Complaints Commission said that comments attributed to the Solicitor General have hurt the public trust in the Public Complaints Commission.

My question is to the Prime Minister. His own Solicitor General said on September 21 “We have to protect the integrity of that investigation to get to the truth”.

With the feeling in the Public Complaints Commission that their trust has been affected, will the Prime Minister ask the Solicitor General to resign until this matter is over?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the minister has denied, and it was confirmed by the lawyer who was travelling with him, that they discussed anything that interfered with the work of the commission. I am satisfied with the word of the minister and the word of the lawyer—

The Speaker: Colleagues, surely we should let the person answer the question. Like many of you, I am having difficulty hearing the questions and the answers.

The Right Hon. Prime Minister had the floor. I am sorry I intervened.

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien: Mr. Speaker, I will just say that we want this commission to do its work as quickly as possible so that we will know all the facts. That is what this House should wish and it is what the commission should do. The country will be happy if we let them do their work.

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday at 3.30 the Solicitor General was out in the lobby denying he ever said what he said. By 5.30 last night there is a letter in Ottawa saying he did—

The Speaker: No props.

Mr. John Reynolds: Mr. Speaker, there is a letter that was discussed this morning by the minister. On September 21 the minister rose in this House saying that it would be completely inappropriate to discuss any details around this investigation. The minister obviously discussed this with a friend on the airplane, which he did not remember last night but did a couple of hours later.

My question is to the Prime Minister. The minister did discuss it. He said in this House he should not. Should he not resign until this commission is over?

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

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, clearly the Solicitor General would not have remained in his position had a friend of the Liberal Party not qualified his remarks in the plane.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Is a lawyer like Mr. Toole, whose firm contributed $10,000 to the victory of the Liberal Party in the last election, capable of qualifying the remarks he heard to save the skin of the Solicitor General?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the lawyer in question, a prominent citizen of New Brunswick, sent a letter, which is now a public document. If the hon. member is saying that the lawyer is lying, let him say so outside the House of Commons, and the lawyer can take the appropriate action.

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the fact is that this is where the event is occurring and it is here we want to know whether the Solicitor General should remain in his position.

My question is as follows: As the Solicitor General, the minister for public security in a way, is supposed to be above all suspicion, can he say that he remains so in order to keep his position? We do not think so.

[English]

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very aware of my role as Solicitor General. I would not compromise it and I did not compromise it. That is what I said yesterday. That is what I said today. That is what has been substantiated by the person who sat with me on the plane.

 

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Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, this is incredible. First the minister cannot remember who he spoke to, what their gender was, what the person said, and then, like in a soap opera, the 24-hour amnesia passes and all of a sudden he discovers that the mystery passenger was his good friend.

That does not even pass the laugh test. Why does the minister not quit the charade and just resign?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, because the story as recounted is absolutely accurate. I never remembered on Monday who was on the plane the Thursday night before. I have taken this plane 300 times in the last five years with many of the same people. It is a small community.

I found out last night who it was. I had the conversation necessary to remind myself of all the details and they were very consistent with what I said in the House yesterday and what I said again today.

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister mentions Linda Tripp. In the U.S. they have DNA tests. Here we will have to start administering IQ tests. Mr. Speaker, in case—

The Speaker: I would ask the hon. member to withdraw those last remarks about IQ tests.

Mr. Monte Solberg: Mr. Speaker, I withdraw them.

In case the minister does not remember, he is the Solicitor General. In case he does not remember, he is in the House of Commons. In case he does not remember, he does have some responsibilities, like telling Canadians exactly what happened on that plane. Why does he not quit fooling around, quit with the fairy tales and just resign?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have told the hon. member what happened in great detail and I stand by it.

*  *  *

[Translation]

EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, this morning the four opposition parties joined with the main central labour bodies in Quebec and Canada in calling for the government to establish an independent employment insurance commission so as to block the government's attempts to divert the employment insurance fund surplus.>

Does the Minister of Human Resources Development plan to heed this common front for the creation of an independent employment insurance commission?

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I must say that I find it most interesting that there are so many people offering to administer employment insurance now it is in a surplus situation. There were precious few of them when there was a $6 billion deficit.

Moreover, there already is a commission made up of worker and employer representatives, and we have worked together extremely well over the years.

Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, lined up on the one side we have a certain number of big businessmen, friends of the government, who share its opinions. On the other, we have all the labour unions, all the workers, all the unemployed, all the opposition parties and a large number of employers as well.

Why would the minister heed the minority, who are in favour of diverting the employment insurance fund, rather than the majority, who are calling for an independent commission to ensure the integrity of EI?

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we already have an employment insurance commission, which works very well. Our responsibility is to the workers.

We have always respected the law, and I object to the insinuations in the very wording of the hon. member's question that we have not respected the law.

This government is committed to working on behalf of Canadians, those who are working and those who are not, and we will continue to work to help get people back into the work force, before anything else.

*  *  *

[English]

APEC SUMMIT

Mr. Randy White (Langley—Abbotsford, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I have listened with great regret and concern about what has happened in this House and what we have heard in here today. I have heard denials in the face of the facts.

 

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Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

Mr. Randy White: Mr. Speaker, we have heard denials in the face of the facts. We have heard contradictions by the solicitor general. We have heard excuses and not apologies. The solicitor general of our country is simply not believable.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: I ask the member to go directly to his question.

Mr. Randy White: Mr. Speaker, I ask the Prime Minister very simply, will he stand in the House right now and ask for the solicitor general's resignation?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, certainly not. At 10 o'clock this morning the solicitor general made a statement from his seat in the House. He confirmed his statement with a letter from the lawyer who was travelling with him on the plane.

I am satisfied with the explanation of the solicitor general. I wish the House of Commons would let the commission do its work.

Mr. Randy White (Langley—Abbotsford, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is a little difficult to do the work when we are faced with what we are faced with today. This is about compromising a public inquiry. This is about covering up for the Prime Minister's office.

The only reason the solicitor general should be on his feet today is to stand up with his resignation.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister once again, if he cannot get a resignation, will he fire the solicitor general?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member just said he wanted to know what happened in the office of the Prime Minister. Without being requested, my chief of staff and the other person who has been mentioned have offered to testify. They did not wait for a subpoena, they have offered to testify. I am very anxious to know what they will say, because I know what I have discussed with them and I have nothing to fear.

*  *  *

[Translation]

EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Mrs. Christiane Gagnon (Québec, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

There are enough exceptions that the Liberal government should understand that what it should be contemplating right now is improving the system, not using the EI surplus to lower the taxes of the rich.

Does the minister think it is right that, within one region, one person needs 420 hours to qualify for EI, while a woman going on maternity leave needs 700 hours to be eligible? I would like an explanation from him.

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am delighted that, by cramming three or four questions into one, the hon. member of the Bloc Quebecois is letting me take my pick.

No decision has been taken with respect to the EI fund. We are holding discussions as part of the current pre-budgetary discussions and my priority, as Minister of Human Resources Development, and I made this very clear to the House, is to continue to serve the workers of this country effectively and help them get back into the job market.

*  *  *

[English]

HEALTH

Mr. John Finlay (Oxford, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

Concerns have been raised about the approval process for the bovine growth hormone known as rBST which is used to increase milk production in cows. Will the minister please tell the House what is happening with the rBST approval process in Canada?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first things first, rBST has not been approved for sale in Canada. Health Canada will not approve rBST for sale in this country unless and until Health Canada is satisfied that it is safe for humans, that it is safe for use in animals and that it is appropriate as a product for sale in this country.

Some suggest in error that Health Canada has been the subject of some pressure to approve BST quickly. I can tell them as I tell the House that BST has been under review at Health Canada for nine years. If someone is exerting pressure, they are not very effective in that fashion. We will not approve it unless it is safe.

*  *  *

 

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APEC SUMMIT

Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, on Monday the solicitor general had a particular story to tell in the scrum outside of here. On Tuesday he came up with a completely different story. First he did not know him and now he knows him. There have been all kinds of details back and forth. Between story number one and story number two, I would like to ask the solicitor general, which story is the truth?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I was asked questions in the House yesterday and I answered them honestly and to the best of my recollection. Last night I explored further what happened last Thursday and consequently I remembered more parts of the story. This is human nature. This is exactly what happened. It is the absolute truth and I stand by it.

Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general is digging himself into a deeper and deeper hole. The solicitor general is one of the two law officers of the crown in this House. If anybody ought to be interested in protecting the integrity of this inquiry, it is he.

In that he has reflected badly on the inquiry, why does he not do the responsible and honourable thing and stand in this House and offer his resignation?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I sat here for two weeks defending the inquiry. When allegations were made that I said something that would prejudice the exercise or the outcome of the inquiry, I denied it immediately. I denied it this morning and I deny it now.

Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP): Mr. Speaker, now that his memory bank has kicked back in and the solicitor general recalls the name of his seatmate on flight 8876 last Thursday night and that he said to Fred D. Toole “It will come out in the inquiry that four to five Mounties overreacted for five minutes. No one knows this. I think it was excessive”, will the solicitor general not agree that those were precisely the words that he used? Will he admit it here in his place this afternoon?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): No, Mr. Speaker, those are not the words that I used.

Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I would suggest from now on that perhaps the solicitor general could get the keys for the Challenger from the minister responsible for heritage because he should be taking that flight.

My supplementary question is for the Prime Minister. The solicitor general said last week that he—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

 

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The Speaker: My colleagues, we will hear the question. The hon. member for Palliser.

Mr. Dick Proctor: Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general said very clearly last Thursday night that he really wanted to go to the baseball play-offs and the World Series but he could not because he was covering for the Prime Minister.

I think the Prime Minister should do the honourable thing, allow this man to go to the World Series—and the play-offs are tonight at eight o'clock and there is still time for him to get there—relieve him of his portfolio and let him go.

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first we will have to check that the member is not renting the seat behind him so he can listen to the comments. This used to be a House where there were some rules that applied among members that seem not to exist in the mind of this reporter for the National Enquirer.

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, the very process which the solicitor general has so vigorously defended has now been compromised by his own irresponsibility. His feeble defence of tabling a letter from Frederick Toole is proof that he discussed APEC publicly. This is contrary to the previous statements that he could say nothing on APEC and is the equivalent of President Clinton's famous line “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: I ask the hon. member to go directly to his question.

Mr. Peter MacKay: Mr. Speaker, in light of this controversy, will the solicitor general now show some integrity, take responsibility for his actions and resign immediately?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I took responsibility for my actions. I looked into the allegations. They were false. I said that here this morning. It is the case. There is no necessity and I want to protect this process.

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, do Canadians have to wait for the solicitor general's next flight home for straight answers on this issue?

The Prime Minister has spent weeks hiding from Canadians on APEC. He hid behind his spin doctors who attacked APEC witnesses. He hid behind the solicitor general who will not talk about this issue in the House, but loves to talk about it on Air Canada. Now the Prime Minister's human shield, the solicitor general, is a human sieve.

Will the Prime Minister himself answer questions on this issue and demand the solicitor general's resignation?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have an inquiry going on. Evidently they are not interested to know what happened. They just want to have something to attack the government on. They might be suffering the problem of scandal envy because there has not been a big problem in this government for the last five years.

I am telling the House that we want to know exactly what happened between the students and the police. We are very anxious for the commission to find out and tell everyone what happened on that afternoon.

*  *  *

TRADE

Mr. John Maloney (Erie—Lincoln, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the U.S. congress has delayed new restrictions on border crossings until October 15. The new rules could strangle movement and cripple international trade and tourism.

Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell Canadians what they might expect crossing the Canada-U.S. border later this month?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that we have made significant progress on delaying the implementation of the bill on the immigration service so that they will not implement after October 1. More important, the senate and house leaders in the United States congress have agreed to a 30 month delay in any implementation. I am very confident we will get a permanent delay in the implementation of the bill.

*  *  *

APEC SUMMIT

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general has tried to explain away his actions, saying that he has a letter from a friend that makes it all okay. Mr. Speaker, you will excuse us if we do not think that explains anything away.

 

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The public complaints commissioner this morning said that the actions of the solicitor general have broken the trust Canadians have in this commission. Does the solicitor general not see that he should resign until such time as the commission has done its work? Can he not see that?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if I can correct the hon. member, the chair was referring to the allegations which I have denied and I stand here and deny them once again.

*  *  *

[Translation]

EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Human Resources Development said the following about the millions of young people who pay into EI and are not entitled to draw benefits: “The ones without employment insurance coverage were perhaps people who ought not to have been covered from the start”.

Is this what the Minister of Human Resources Development's youth employment strategy is all about, telling young people they are not entitled to receive benefits but are required, on the other hand, to make contributions starting with the very first hour they work? That is my question.

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what I have been trying to get across to the Bloc Quebecois from the word go is that one is doing young people a disservice if one makes the employment insurance system readily accessible to them. If it is too easy to get employment insurance, this is an invitation to drop out of school.

What our government wants to do is to encourage young people to stay in school. When they want to make the transition to the work force, we have a youth employment strategy to help them to do so. That is what we want, not youth unemployment.

*  *  *

[English]

APEC SUMMIT

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the solicitor general to test his deep commitment to the RCMP Public Complaints Commission.

Yesterday the commission agreed to once again strongly urge the federal government to provide legal funds for the student complainants at the APEC hearings. At the same time the federal government has hired yet another high-priced lawyer, David Scott, to its team.

In view of the minister's constant urging to let the commission do its work, will he now listen to the commissioners, to the federal court, to his own Liberal colleague from the UBC area and extend full legal funding to the student complainants at the APEC hearing?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I await the letter and I would advise the member that we increased the amount of money available to the PCC for this inquiry by $650,000.

*  *  *

FISHERIES

Mr. Mark Muise (West Nova, PC): Mr. Speaker, for months now I have been sending a steady stream of letters to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans outlining the seriousness of the illegal lobster fishery particularly in St. Mary's Bay. Thousands of pounds of illegal lobster are caught daily, threatening the livelihood of registered commercial fisherman.

Can the minister explain why his department has not committed greater resources toward putting an end to this illegal practice? Are his hands tied by the lack of existing legislation to address the native food fishery? If so, when can we expect such legislation to be introduced?

Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

In fact on September 17 the Halifax Chronicle Herald reported that an operation with 45 officers and one dog seized 1,000 pounds of lobster, $10,000, arrested seven people and seized five vehicles. We are continuing with that type of enforcement throughout.

I should add for his information that we are hiring 48 new enforcement officers this year, another 48 next year and we are beefing up enforcement of fisheries infractions in his own area.

*  *  *

HOUSING

Mr. Janko Peric (Cambridge, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Constituents in my riding continue to express grave concerns about the downloading of federal housing programs to the government of Mike Harris. What assurances can the minister give that federally administered co-ops will be maintained by CMHC in Ontario?

Hon. Alfonso Gagliano (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first of all I am pleased to announce that five provinces and two territories have already signed agreements to transfer the administration of social housing.

This new agreement contains a specific clause that protects the existing agreement. Therefore all the existing agreements will be protected in this agreement.

The hon. member knows that 50% of the co-op housing in Ontario is administered and financed by the province. Therefore it is a system that needs to be discussed in order to avoid duplication.

*  *  *

APEC SUMMIT

Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, here is what we have heard today. We have heard the solicitor general tell two different stories. We have heard about his friend who admits he has known him for 15 years, and the solicitor general says he did not know who he was.

 

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It is clear that no matter what he intended through this letter the impression given by what has happened is that he has compromised the integrity of the PCC. In summary, I ask when this will minister resign.

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I feel very strongly about the issue of civilian oversight. I have said that for the last few weeks. I will defend that process here and I will defend it against the hearsay that is coming from across the floor.

*  *  *

THE LATE LEONARD JONES

Mrs. Claudette Bradshaw (Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it looks like a very long time to me now, but in June this summer I began my career with the Boys and Girls Club. Len Jones at the time was the mayor of Moncton. I have known Mr. Jones for a long time. He was a member of the board of directors of the East End Boys' Club when I was working for the Moncton Boys and Girls Club.

After working in the Boys and Girls Club for six years I started the head start program. In those days a lot of politicians said to me that I would not get the support of the community for the children because they were two to five years of age. They were too young. They were not breaking windows and the community would not support me if I started such a program. I went to different agencies and they said the same.

However, two politicians said to me “Claudette, go for it”. Len Jones was one of them. When we started we were in a small house. We did not have any money. Never did I do anything with the head start program without Len Jones being there.

Another thing that shows who Len Jones was was when his daughter Helen went out west. As a community we were shocked that Len Jones would leave the city of Moncton. We said that he would never leave because he had given his life to the city as mayor and as a member of parliament.

I remember my discussion with him. He said “You know, Claudette, I am a family man. I have always believed in what you have done for children. My daughter is going out west and she would like us to move with her”. He and his wife moved out west to be with their daughter.

 

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Len Jones was there for children. He also believed that every child in the school system should learn to speak French from grade 1 up to grade 12. He advocated that.

He was always there for me with the head start program. He always believed in prevention. I would like to say to his family that being in the House of Commons I often think of Len Jones. He had hard battles to win sometimes. Running as an independent was not easy for him, but he stood for what he believed in. If I were to say one thing about Len Jones, it is that he was a man of character.

I thank the House for the chance to speak about Mr. Jones. Like I said, he was always there for children in the Moncton area.

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Reform Party of Canada and Her Majesty's Official Opposition I rise to pay tribute to Mr. Leonard Jones.

Mr. Jones, a World War II veteran, lawyer and former mayor of Moncton, served as Canada's first elected independent member of parliament from 1974 to 1979. He will always be remembered as a man who stood by his convictions and who never shied away from confrontation. He was another Canadian who bravely battled cancer.

I have learned that his great passions were law and politics. He was a formidable opponent in the courtroom. Mr. Jones was Moncton's longest serving mayor. He was first elected as a councillor in 1957 and only lost one election in his political career that spanned more than two decades. Mr. Jones supported Moncton's head start program for children. He is survived by his wife and long time law partner, his daughter and his sister.

On behalf of all Reform Party members of parliament I extend Mr. Jones' family our very sincere condolences. Mr. Jones will be missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him.

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleagues I too would like to rise in my place to honour the memory of Mr. Leonard Jones who served in the Chamber.

Leonard Jones was known to those of us who did not know him personally as a somewhat controversial figure. The member who first spoke showed us a little something about politics that Canadians often miss: often members of parliament or other public persons who come to be associated with particular controversies suffer from having their full humanity hidden in the caricature that sometimes comes from the controversies.

It moved me to hear that Mr. Jones was involved in the Boys and Girls Club and that he had a reputation for being very concerned about the young people of Moncton. That just goes to show us that we ought not to allow our memories and our perceptions of people to be clouded by particular controversies.

I join with others in honouring the work that Mr. Jones did in Moncton, his service to his country in time of war, his commitment to his principles, and his long service in many respects to Canada.

Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Mr. Speaker, I note the words of the member for Moncton. As the House marks the passing of Leonard Jones, we in the Progressive Conservative caucus send our condolences to the Jones family.

It is perhaps appropriate to note that political differences are left behind when one faces the ultimate mysteries of mortality. In this place, which has seen radical differences and dramatic reconciliation over the years, we mark the passing of one who fought for what he believed.

*  *  *

 

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THE LATE DONALD MUNRO

Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today I rise in the House to pay tribute to a former member who died recently at the age of 82.

Mr. Donald Munro was a very distinguished Canadian who served his country both in the diplomatic service and in the House. I knew Don well as he was the candidate who was successful in the election which followed my resignation from my seat in Esquimalt—Saanich back in 1972 when I took on the leadership of the provincial Liberal Party.

Born in Regina, Don was always a very proud westerner. He moved to Vancouver to finish his education and became a teacher before he was granted a scholarship to the Sorbonne in Paris by the French government.

As was common for young men of the day, he quickly signed up with the armed forces at the outbreak of war, joining the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940 and serving as a navigator and later as an instructor.

After the war he finished his education by completing his masters in political science at the University of Toronto before joining the external affairs department in 1946.

His postings included Paris, Ankara, Dublin, Brussels and Beirut. His postings were as numerous as his interests. He served as head of the Canadian delegation in Vientiane, Laos. Following a year with the National Defence College in Kingston, Don was named ambassador to Costa Rica in 1967. He was responsible for the neighbouring countries of Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Panama. He served with distinguishment, retiring from diplomatic service in 1972.

Never one to sidestep a challenge, Don sought and won the Progressive Conservative candidacy in the Esquimalt—Saanich riding and won in the election of 1972 by a wide margin. The voters of that constituency obviously thought highly of him and regarded him as an effective representative because he was elected three more times in 1974, 1979 and 1980 before retiring from politics in 1984.

Don Munro was an outstanding Canadian who always acted as a great spokesman for the people he represented. We extend our condolences to his wife Lynn and his two stepchildren.

Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester, PC): Mr. Speaker, in rising to mark the passing of Donald Munro I first want to express the sympathy of the members of the Progressive Conservative caucus to Mrs. Munro and her family on their loss.

Donald was elected to represent the Vancouver Island constituency of Esquimalt—Saanich as a Progressive Conservative MP in the general election of 1972 and was successfully re-elected until his retirement in 1984.

His service to the people of Canada in the House of Commons was but another chapter in the life of public service. During World War II he served as an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Following the war he joined the Department of External Affairs and served Canada in a number of diplomatic posts, including Laos and a number of countries in Central America.

All that was but a prelude to his membership in the House of Commons where he applied his lifetime of professional experience and put forward his views with skill and candour.

In commemorating the passing of Donald Munro, we recognize not only one who shared with us the elections of the House but a man who gave his entire adult life to the service of his country and his fellow Canadians. He was an example to remember, and I thank the House for the opportunity to commend him.

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Reform Party I would like to commemorate the passing of Donald Munro, a former Canadian ambassador and member of parliament for the then riding of Esquimalt—Saanich, in his home at the age of 82 this past summer.

Mr. Munro was elected in 1972 under the Tory banner and re-elected in 1974, 1979 and 1980. Born in Regina, he went to school in Vancouver, graduating in 1939. As the war broke out he, being a man of with a strong sense of duty and conviction, decided to enrol in the RCAF and finished the war as a flight lieutenant.

 

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In 1946 he joined the external affairs department and was posted to Paris, Ankara, Dublin, Brussels, Beirut and Laos. In 1967 he was made ambassador to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Panama. He then became the diplomat in residence at Dalhousie University. Don Munro, a man with a strong sense of conviction and duty, served his country.

He then went to parliament to do the right thing and on numerous occasions took up positions that were perhaps politically incorrect at the time but were positions which he felt his constituents supported. A man of courage and principles, Don Munro fought for the people, he fought to do the right thing and he fought to make sure the people of the west were represented well here in Ottawa.

I first met Don in 1991 after making some speeches on foreign affairs in Victoria. Although he was retired at the time, he asked some pointed and constructive questions on international relations. He was still very much involved and very interested in the larger world around him, as well as his community. Throughout his career Mr. Munro fought hard for those constituents and he fought for Canada. Testimony to this is the fact that he was re-elected three times to the riding of Esquimalt—Saanich.

Mr. Munro leaves his wife Lynn and their two stepchildren, the people of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca and Saanich. All the people of Victoria owe a huge debt of gratitude to Donald Munro and his family for the many years of service he gave not only to the people of British Columbia but also to Canadians at large. The likes of him do not come this way very often. On behalf of the Reform Party I extend our deepest condolences to his family.

[Translation]

Mr. Pierre de Savoye (Portneuf, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois would like to join other parties in paying tribute to the former member for Esquimalt—Saanich, Donald Munro, who died in July at the age of 82.

First elected in 1972, Mr. Munro was a member of the House of Commons for 12 years. He began his career in 1939 as a teacher. During World War II he served as a navigator and instructor in the Canadian Air Force. After studying political science at university, he was hired by the Department of External Affairs in 1946, where he enjoyed a busy diplomatic career, as my colleagues in the House pointed out a few minutes ago.

I did not have the pleasure of knowing Mr. Munro, but what I have read tells me that he was an MP whose goal was to serve his constituents to the best of his ability.

On behalf of my Bloc Quebecois colleagues, I offer our respectful condolences to Mr. Munro's friends and family.

[English]

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the NDP caucus to pay tribute to the memory of Mr. Donald Munro.

I remember Don Munro personally. He was in the House of Commons in 1979 when I was first elected. We sat together in this Chamber for five years. I remember him as an older member of parliament at that time, as I was one of the younger members. I remember the courtesy he extended to new members, in particular to younger members.

He was a person of strong views and strong convictions. At the time he was one of the few Tory backbenchers from western Canada who was bilingual. Because of his diplomatic career and his education he was able to communicate in both official languages in this House.

I remember him as someone who we would all do well to honour at this time for his service during the war and for his outstanding public career. On behalf of the NDP I extend our sincere condolences to his family.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Translation]

COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR TEST-BAN TREATY IMPLEMENTATION ACT

 

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-52. an act to implement the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, be read for the second time and referred to a committee.

Mrs. Maud Debien (Laval East, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan this spring reminded us that the nuclear arms issue was not resolved, although the cold war was over.

 

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For more than half a century, in fact, humanity has been living in constant fear of another holocaust, and we are still sitting on the powder keg of heavy nuclear armament.

Since this is now a threat from all sides, all possible steps must be taken to curb proliferation. This is why we are today debating the act to implement the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.

Over the years, Canada has played a vital role in the implementation of various practices to ensure the security of the human race. Most recently, it has been involved in developing the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Arms Treaty, and played a pioneer role in having land mines banned.

Canadian and Quebec public opinion is behind all of the Canadian government's efforts, and Canada's anti-nuclear action is supported by a sizeable portion of the population.

An Angus Reid poll released last spring gives us some very clear indications on this. When respondents were asked whether nuclear weapons made the world more or less dangerous, three times as many Canadians and Quebeckers opted for “more dangerous”. No doubt about it, Canadians and Quebeckers approve of all initiatives toward nuclear disarmament, including the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty we have before us today.

By voting in favour of the implementation of the comprehensive test-ban treaty, the Bloc Quebecois feels we are taking another important step along the path to disarmament. Furthermore, in recent weeks, two new international instruments have reached the point of ratification needed for their implementation and have joined the panoply of agreements that are bringing us closer to a sustainable peace. I refer to the anti-personnel mines treaty we have already mentioned and the treaty banning the use of anti-aircraft weapons.

Once this new treaty is ratified, we must continue to work for disarmament by ensuring progress in three other areas: the ban on the production of fissionable material for nuclear arms, the non-military use of atomic energy and the non-proliferation of light weapons.

A few weeks ago, Canada's permanent ambassador to the UN for disarmament was appointed chair of the committee negotiating an international agreement on the production of fissionable material.

Within the context of the conference on disarmament, 60 countries are prepared to begin discussions. As we know, the conference on disarmament is where the chemical weapons convention and the comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty, which we are discussing today, were negotiated. If the conference manages to ban fissionable materials for nuclear weapons, we will have taken another step toward nuclear disarmament.

I also want to raise a problem frequently raised in this House, which an agreement on the banning of fissionable materials for nuclear weapons would never resolve. It is the use by the military of technology developed for civilian purposes. Canada's behaviour is not entirely blameless in this matter, and while it denies it, our hands are not totally clean.

Although Canada never intended to become involved in nuclear proliferation, its atomic energy program has unfortunately been used to create bombs. According to information from the Canadian Nuclear Association, India apparently has enough plutonium to build 455 atomic bombs, if all the plutonium available to it is added up, whether it comes from Canadian reactors or was acquired specifically to build bombs.

Given that 8 of the 10 Indian nuclear reactors are Candu reactors, we should take a look at our role as exporter of nuclear technology.

 

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The only nuclear reactor in Pakistan is a Candu and, according to some new data, Pakistan may have the capacity to manufacture 100 nuclear bombs.

If that is the case, should Canada not take action and look further into this to prevent our nuclear energy program from being used for military purposes? I shall not get into the whole issue of transporting and stocking radioactive waste here in Canada, which is another problem Canada will have to address very soon.

Finally, the signatories will also have to put an end to the conventional arms race, which makes for a growing trade in developing countries, at the expense of economic, social and cultural development.

Let us bear in mind that, in the 1980s, export of light and heavy weaponry to the third world represented 70% of the industrialized nations' total foreign trade. The international community clearly has a responsibility toward the have not nations that have grown poorer so that industrialized nations and arms lobbies could get even richer.

In the 1990s, in spite of a substantial drop in the export of heavy weaponry to developing countries, light weapons have been proliferating at an alarming rate. One analysis shows the following:

    From 1980 to 1995, 10 African states with a total population of 150 million were torn by civil war. The death toll was between 3.8 and 6.9 million, almost all victims of light weapons—Western leaders are apparently more concerned by arms stockpiling in third-world hot spots, where they are asked to send peacekeeping forces. On the one hand, rich countries try to put an end to conflicts while, on the other hand, they continue to supply weapons to the belligerents.

Time has come for this contradiction to stop.

Again, however, action is required and there are solutions. The ratification of the land mines treaty is one example that gives us hope that a multilateral small arms agreement will be signed.

This summer, one of the concerns the Minister of Foreign Affairs voiced about the security of humankind had to do with the small arms threat. I urge the minister not just to work with NGOs, but to put pressure on the countries that import and export small arms in order to prevent their proliferation.

Humanity wants to be solidly on the road to peace. It is with conviction and great hope that I support Bill C-52, an act to implement the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.

If Canada becomes a member of the UN Security Council this week, the Bloc Quebecois hopes it will keep its guard up. It would be unfortunate if Canada were to be content to point to its track record as a defender of peace and human rights. Furthermore, current events provide us with frequent examples of the dangers of resting on one's laurels.

In this year marking the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, much attention has been given to the role of a Canadian, John. P. Humphrey, in writing it. But a recent article by jurist William Schabas reminds us that Canada very nearly abstained from voting in favour of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. Canada's good reputation must be earned anew every day.

Canada must actively demonstrate its commitment to peace and human rights. The Bloc Quebecois sees the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty as another step on the road to the security of humanity and lasting world peace. But it is not the last, as we have seen.

 

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I would go even further and say that Canada must use all the means and tribunals at its disposal in order to banish nuclear weapons from the face of the earth, before life itself is extinguished on this planet, accidentally or otherwise.

Here, as in many other areas, Canada must never stop demonstrating its courage, will and conviction if it is to continue to live up to its reputation. Canadians and Quebeckers expect nothing less.

[English]

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to support Bill C-52, an act to implement the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.

The debate on this bill and the fact that Canada is supporting the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty is a very positive step we are taking as a nation. I have to say as someone who has been involved in the peace movement for a long time like many other citizens in Canada, any small step we take toward disarmament and nuclear disarmament is a sign of hope and optimism for the future of our world.

Unfortunately the reality is that we still face a very desperate situation. We now have eight nations in the world and maybe more which contain nuclear weapons and nuclear capability. We know these nations: Russia, the United States, France, China, the United Kingdom, Israel, India and Pakistan. Even today after the cold war and unfortunately when many people think that the threat of nuclear weapons has been abolished, we still have in existence on our planet 34,000 nuclear weapons. The threat is something which is still very present and very grave.

These unquestionably are weapons of mass destruction. They are weapons of mass destruction not only in terms of our environment. We know the destruction caused by a nuclear accident on a Trident submarine or any other accident would be catastrophic to our environment. More than that, we also know that these weapons pose the greatest danger to civilian populations and to our planet as a whole. We have to be aware of and realize that this danger is still very present.

We also know that the cost of maintaining this vast military industrial complex that has produced these weapons of mass destruction is something that is literally eating away the earth's resources.

I just came back from a mission to Southeast Asia with the Canadian Council for International Co-operation. I witnessed firsthand the devastation of the impact of the economic crisis in Indonesia and Thailand. I could not help but think that on this planet Earth we have the resources, we have the capability, we have the strength if we have the political will to ensure that there is not unemployment, that there is not hunger and that there are not children on the streets.

In Indonesia 100 million people are living below the poverty line. If we had our priorities straight and if they were aimed and directed toward funding and meeting human needs instead of the stockpiling, storage and activation of nuclear weapons, then children would not be dying, children would not be desperate and going without education and health care. Families would have adequate housing and people would have jobs.

 

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The reality is that although this is a very good step and the nuclear test ban treaty is a very positive sign, unfortunately progress has been very slow. In 1968 the non-proliferation treaty was signed but the reality is that we have just gone through the last year where we have seen India and Pakistan conduct nuclear tests. There was outrage and condemnation around the world.

Article VI of the 1968 non-proliferation treaty states:

    Each of the parties to the treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

The nuclear weapon states have not lived up to their end of the bargain. This aspect of the treaty which passed in 1968 has not come to fruition. The United States and other countries have not shown the leadership which is necessary to ensure that article VI is actually implemented.

One of the things we want today in this House is that we want the Canadian government to show leadership instead of just adopting its me too status, as we have seen so often. We want the Canadian government to speak out at the United Nations and other international forums and call on nuclear weapon states to abide by and to fulfil article VI of the non-proliferation treaty.

If that happens, the dynamic in the international situation would change. Nations such as India and Pakistan would have some faith and respect that the nuclear weapon states are actually committed to taking real steps toward nuclear disarmament.

One of the issues that needs to be debated today is not just the passage of this bill and the fact that all members of the House are supporting this bill but we must also look at what else Canada could do to ensure that there is a general and complete nuclear disarmament.

Unfortunately Canada still provides airspace and low level flight ranges for nuclear bomber training. Unfortunately we still host nuclear powered and potentially nuclear armed submarines in Canadian waters.

Of course, as it is the subject of many debates in this House, we know politically and diplomatically that Canada has consistently supported U.S. and NATO nuclear policies, including, if we can believe it in 1998, a policy that is still on the books which is the option of the first use of nuclear weapons.

That is really something which is quite horrific, and the Canadian people have stated that over and over again. In fact, a recent Angus Reid poll showed the commitment and the strength of the Canadian people. They want to see the abolition of nuclear weapons.

When it comes to Canada's complicity in the arms trade in not fulfilling article VI of the non-proliferation treaty, we can see that although this is a good step today, we still have a long, long way to go. That is what we are calling on the Canadian government to do here today.

Canada should stop its Candu reactor sales, for example, to countries with poor human rights records such as China and Turkey. Canada could become a nuclear weapons free zone.

During the 1980s at the height of the peace movement in Canada, many citizens groups across the country worked very hard to convince municipal authorities and local jurisdictions to adopt nuclear weapons free zones in Canada. This is something that could be done on a national basis.

Another leadership position Canada could take is it could give notice to terminate the agreement between Canada and the U.S. in establishing the torpedo testing range at Nanoose Bay in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia. This is something that is very close to me and my involvement in the peace movement in B.C. The citizens of that area have worked long and hard to put pressure on the Canadian government to terminate that agreement so that we are not using our waters and our facilities for the testing of those submarines.

 

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Something else that is important is that at the UN, Canada must vote in favour of multilateral negotiations that would lead to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention. It is simply not good enough to say that we have a comprehensive test ban treaty and the non-proliferation treaty. We need to see on the international stage that Canada is taking the lead at the United Nations and is not blindly following the position of the United States.

It would be a wonderful thing if Canada would join the new agenda coalition of middle power states that are calling on the nuclear weapon states to make an unequivocal commitment to enter and to conclude negotiations leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons. This new agenda coalition is a very significant development that has taken place in the last few months. It is something Canada should be part of. We should not be opposing it. We should be an active participant in the new agenda coalition.

Canadians have a sense of what it is that we can do when we have the political will to do it. We only have to look at the leadership Canada showed on land mines to know that as a middle power we can generate the momentum, we can generate the solidarity of the NGO community as well as various nations to work together to produce a land mines convention. The same can be done to abolish nuclear weapons. This is what the NDP believes Canada's role should be. We believe that very firmly.

I want to speak about the role of citizens in the peace movement and in their work for disarmament. Governments take actions but often they are as a result of the work at the grassroots level, the pressure that has come from local communities at a provincial level and at a national level. A saying often used in the peace movement is that if the people lead, eventually their leaders will follow.

One of the things I want to do today is pay tribute to the peace groups in Canada that have tirelessly committed themselves and their very limited resources to a campaign and a movement for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Canada is very involved in the campaign Abolition 2000 through the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. That organization has been instrumental in galvanizing community support and keeping this issue alive, keeping it before the Canadian government and elected representatives.

Recently it had a postcard campaign and distributed 10,000 postcards. It called on the Prime Minister to immediately call an emergency meeting of all states and negotiate a treaty to abolish all nuclear weapons. The organization points out in its postcard campaign that in 1996 the World Court ruled that the use of nuclear weapons is illegal. It also points out the recent Angus Reid poll that indicated that more than 90% of Canadians support nuclear disarmament.

That is the work of the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. It has worked very hard in an international campaign to bring about the sustained pressure not just on our government but on other governments to fulfil the obligations of article VI of the non-proliferation treaty.

The July 1996 ruling from the World Court gave momentum to the movement. The World Court ruled that the use of nuclear weapons violates international and humanitarian law. It was a very significant ruling.

There is another thing I would like to draw attention to in terms of citizen involvement. In the past year in my province of British Columbia our local peace coalition, an organization of more than 200 from labour, churches, peace groups, communities and women's organizations, called End the Arms Race, organized a citizens weapons inspection team.

 

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In February of this year I was very proud to be part of a delegation that went down to Bangor, Washington, just south of Vancouver and south of Seattle in the state of Washington where a very large U.S. naval base is located and where the Trident submarines are located.

While there we conducted a citizens weapons inspection during the midst of yet another escalating crisis in the Persian Gulf where our Canadian government was prepared to follow the American military intervention. I remember the debate in the House in February when my colleagues in the NDP spoke out strongly. We called on the Canadian government to take an independent course and to seek a diplomatic resolution instead of military intervention and military threat in a region that has suffered so badly already.

By organizing the citizens weapons inspection team we wanted to draw attention to the fact that the most significant weapons of mass destruction on the globe are actually located to the south in the United States. We visited Bangor, Washington, and attempted to gain access to the site to do a citizens inspection and to point out to the commander of the base that stockpiling and storage of these weapons on the base was in violation of international law.

I flew over the huge site in a small airplane and did a visual inspection of the vast bunkers and silos that contain weapons of mass destruction. It was a very eerie feeling to fly over the base and to see the immense power and resources contained at Bangor, Washington. These resources were ready to be unleashed at a moment's notice because the U.S. still has a policy of first option in the use of nuclear weapons.

In August 1998 I travelled with a group of citizens to Groton, Connecticut, which is the home of the Electric Boat Company, a U.S. corporation that produces the delivery system for weapons of mass destruction. It produces the Trident submarine. We wanted to draw attention to the fact that these weapons of mass destruction were located very close to us and were in convention of international law.

When we went to Groton, Connecticut, we were also very fortunate to visit the United Nations and to meet with the under secretary general of disarmament. We had a very positive meeting with him and discussed the necessity for ordinary people to be involved in the process.

It is the united voice of people from across Canada and around the globe that has pressured the United Nations and their own domestic governments into adopting the various conventions we now see as a small sign of the progress being made. I was very proud to be part of those delegations that included Peter Coombe, president of End the Arms Race; Murray Dobbin of the Council of Canadians; Edward Schmitt and Phyllis Creighton of the Anglican Church of Canada; and David Morgan, a very well know peace activist who is president of Veterans Against Nuclear Arms.

It is a testament to the work of these organization that we can stand in the House today and feel a sense of optimism and hope in the implementation of Bill C-52 respecting the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty that Canada will have taken at least another small step toward the abolition of nuclear weapons. We need to do much more and Canada's record has not been great in this area.

As my colleague from Burnaby and other members of the NDP have done, I call on the Canadian government to show the leadership that it did on the land mines, to show the commitment to abide by article 6 of the non-proliferation treaty, and to live up to the court ruling of the World Court for all to say once and for all that we can rid the world of nuclear weapons. We can divert the billions of dollars expended on infrastructure for nuclear weapons and refocus those funds that are desperately needed to meet our human needs, not just here in Canada but around the world.

 

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[Translation]

Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to speak on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-ban Treaty Implementation Act. Part of my great enthusiasm harks back to my youth, for when I was 18 or 19 I was very much involved in the peace movement.

From those years I have always retained my conviction that, if we must participate in international life—and heaven knows we must—we need to set ourselves the objective of using our powers of persuasion within major multilateral forums to convince others through the strength of our convictions, the strength of our arguments.

What does a bill like this one tell us? That we will not accept nuclear power as one of the means to maintain international order.

Rising above all partisan differences, it must be said that these ideas have support in Quebec, and in English Canada as well, we must acknowledge. The hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry has reminded us in caucus on a number of occasions that Canada was a very early signatory of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, as well as the Limited Test Ban Treaty of the early sixties. All this to indicate to you that these ideas are part of our political community, for which we should rejoice.

But where will an act and a treaty such as these lead us? We will have an opportunity to offer a bit of an explanation on the mechanisms. The act and the treaty are valuable as a model, for we are well aware that some states still have nuclear weapons today, and others are being tempted, spontaneously—or so one might think, anyway—and if there were no pressure from the international community, would conclude that there is some security in having nuclear arms, in continuing to do research and to increase the sophistication of prototypes. This is a threat to international peace, directly and indirectly.

One cannot, of course, avoid thinking of India, a place I have had the pleasure of visiting. One does not need to be long in India to realize that many other needs need to be addressed and other resources developed, rather than investing in nuclear weapons production or related technologies. Then, of course, there is Pakistan, and some other countries such as North Korea.

By becoming a party to this international treaty, Canada is making a commitment to contribute financially to its implementation, but also to assume three specific responsibilities which I want to mention, even though I am not as knowledgeable as the members of the parliamentary committee, who worked really hard on this issue. We should explain to those who are listening to us today that the signing of this treaty by Canada, as one of the 44 countries expected to sign it, means of course that we pledge to criminalize nuclear testing in Canada.

We also have an obligation to report any chemical explosion greater than 300 tonnes TNT-equivalent. Any breach of this obligation will be considered to be an indictable offence. Of course, anyone who causes a nuclear explosion, as well as that person's associates, will face a jail sentence.

It is interesting to see that this treaty will also provide us with more sophisticated means to detect what could be called a nuclear potential.

 

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Canada will take part in a vast international monitoring system that will rely on a number of networks and on countries that will allocate resources to make it possible to not only monitor but also detect, locate and measure nuclear explosions.

One can see the preventive nature of this international monitoring system, which will use 321 monitoring stations. Canada will do its share, since about 15 of these stations will operate on its territory.

This is interesting, because an idea is turning into reality. This is cause for celebration for those of us who are involved in the peace movement. This bears repeating. Quebec has traditionally been very strongly in favour of denuclearization, in favour of making sure no one in the international community can use the nuclear threat for coercive purposes.

I remember being in Montreal—in my early twenties, which is in sharp contrast with members whose names I shall withhold—when the city was declared a nuclear free zone. I am very pleased with the fact that Montreal was one of the first cities in the world to make this kind of commitment, and I think we have every reason to be proud of that.

We are debating nuclear weapons today, but this is an opportunity to make connections with the whole military industry. As I recall, and my colleagues will also recall this, one of the first actions taken by the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, who is now the Premier of Quebec and will be for a long time—this is our strong belief, and I can see my colleague nodding in agreement, he being one of the finest minds of his generation, I might say without fear of exaggerating, and above all an extremely wise statesman—was to appoint me, the young member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, a dashing idealist, happy to be here while not losing sight of the need to defend the interests of Quebec, as the critic for conversion of the military industry to civilian uses.

It all hangs together. Today, 44 designated governments are being asked by the international community to ratify a treaty that will ban nuclear testing.

In broader terms, we must strive to ensure that the defence industry, which has great influence in certain governments, will quietly convert to the use of civilian technologies.

I have worked very hard, and not alone because you know how ineffectual we are on our own, but the Bloc Quebecois as a whole quickly understood that in one very modest way, aware of the more international stakes, we could change things in our own communities by putting pressure on nuclear arms and defence technology producers to convert.

It is important for us as members of parliament to make this a concern, because we know very well that in countries where governments could effect the sort of conversion I am talking about, it is not done without government help. For example, the United States is resolutely following this route, with the help of the government.

When you produce gunpowder, munitions or other items related to military technology, you need public support to effect such a conversion, to scout out new markets, to change production systems and to come up with a better use for civilian purposes.

 

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It all hangs together. The issue of nuclear bans and control and the nuclear test ban are an extension of the campaign we in the Bloc Quebecois have waged in order to reduce the use of defence technologies.

I was saying three obligations would ensue from Canada's ratification of the comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty. I think it also has to be said that Canada, like Quebec, has a responsibility to encourage the designated countries to make a commitment quickly in their national parliaments to ratify this treaty, which must soon take effect.

It is not insignificant that some 20 states have already ratified this treaty.

An hon. member: Twenty-one.

Mr. Réal Ménard: The hon. member tells me it is 21. Is that right?

It is that very quest for accuracy that means she always has the latest information available. What a wonderful team we are.

Let me hasten to add that 21 states have ratified the treaty. A number of these are developing countries. Others are so-called developed countries. I will list them quickly, so that members will know what we are talking about. They are: Jordan, Germany, Grenada—no pun intended, Spain, Brazil, Australia, France, the United Kingdom, Austria, Slovakia, Peru, Mongolia, Japan, Ecuador and the Fiji Islands.

We must speak plainly today for the benefit of those listening. This is truly an international movement. It is quite different from the situation in 1963 when the first partial test-ban treaty was signed, although that was important in its own way, make no mistake. Looking back, however, there is no denying that the 1963 treaty, with its much shorter list of signatories, was much more limited in scope than the treaty we are discussing might be. The same is true of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Today, as parliamentarians, we can be part of a movement that will be echoed in several other parliaments, in press releases and in communities, and that will send the clear message that we will not accept the use of nuclear arms as a means to express one's ideas or to participate in international politics. This is an extremely important step.

Mr. Speaker, as a person who has a great deal of experience and a wealth of knowledge—as confirmed by your grey hair—you will remember that about 30 years ago, when I was a university student—it was not that long ago, as I am barely into my 30s—as are our young pages, we talked about the balance of terror. That was a reality.

There were various schools of thought concerning the international situation, including the notion of flexible response and that of the balance of terror. At the time, this was a preconceived notion in the international community.

The Minister of Public Works will remember that. It was a preconceived notion about the possibility, for certain states, to own nuclear weapons and, ultimately, to use them. What pacifists like the hon. member for Laval East and myself feared was of course that these states would not spend so much money merely to stockpile nuclear weapons, without thinking of using them some day.

 

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That is why we said it did not make sense not to have international controls, moratoriums and inspection systems.

The international inspection system is not the only major feature of the treaty that we, as parliamentarians, will help promote. There will be some 300 sites throughout the world that can detect, analyze and process all sophisticated systems and movements that may be linked to nuclear weapons.

Not only is this system going to exist—and I am told it will cost $6 to $7 million for Canada's 15 or so stations—but as well there will be the possibility, if one of the signatory countries commits a violation, for pressure to be brought to bear, so that other signatories can call for a system of inspection. If there is a refusal to co-operate, the case can be taken as far as the security council.

It is more or less in keeping with Montesquieu's principle of equilibrium that the international community will have the ability to pressure recalcitrant states and those who refuse to honour their signature.

Let us remember, and let us take pride in this and promote it: this is a treaty to prevent the use of nuclear testing as a provocative symbol of a nation's power. That is nothing to be sneezed at.

Now, we must be clear, this is not something that happens automatically. There are a number of mechanisms that must be adhered to for enforcement of the treaty. What we are discussing here is a multilateral approach involving a number of states. The treaty will come into effect 180 days after ratification by a certain number of states.

First, there is a reference to 44 designated states. It must be pointed out that Canada is one of these. It has been said already that 21 have signed, to be exact, with more to come. Canada and Quebec must play a persuasive and promotional role, and make their voices heard so as to encourage countries like Vietnam, the Ukraine, Turkey and Switzerland to follow suit.

Switzerland has long been a model of a peaceful country active in international relations. It had a hands-off policy while being present anywhere major events were taking place. Many in this place have much to learn from this. South Africa and many other countries also provided learning experiences.

This was the train of events. There are five nuclear powers and a number of nations that decided on their own, probably with a little pressure from the international community, not to join the nuclear club. France is a case in point. The French are our neighbours across the Atlantic; they are like-minded people. However, we must not forget that, until recently, France was involved in nuclear testing. It is refreshing, interesting and comforting to think that France, along with four other nuclear powers, has now agreed to sign the treaty.

I am thrilled to see that, as parliamentarians, we can contribute to a better world. This debate today is about the future, not the past. We can help build a better world knowing that, in a democracy, the best way to support or defeat an idea is to put forward a better one. This can only be done in a constitutional state, and through persuasion. Persuasion is this capacity to debate and exchange ideas in parliament and any other elected forum, where the power of words is what gives rise to policies.

 

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The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Tobique-Mactaquac, Royal Canadian Mint; the hon. member for Frontenac—Mégantic, BC Mine in Black Lake.

[English]

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be able to participate in this debate. It is not often we get to talk about the question of nuclear testing or the whole issue of nuclear weapons. I welcome the opportunity to do so. We certainly do not intend to obstruct the passage of this particular bill. I think all parties in the House are agreed that it should pass with dispatch.

Nevertheless, it does provide an opportunity to comment on a very pressing and urgent matter and that is the future of the planet. If current conditions are allowed to persist a false sense of safety which a lot of people acquired as a result of the end of the cold war may come to a horrible end when we realize that we actually live in a world that is arguably much more dangerous than the world that we rightly perceived as dangerous during the cold war.

As a member of my particular generation I have perhaps been more sensitive to this issue than some others. I am a baby boomer. I am part of the post-Hiroshima generation. I was born in the fifties and was exposed as a child in western Canada to all the fallout from American testing in the northwestern United States, the consequences of which we are still learning about through studies that come forward. Most recently a study came forward with respect to this particular issue.

I remember very well being a grade 6 student at Westview Elementary in Transcona in 1962 when the Cuban missile crisis was upon us. I remember going to school that afternoon, after having been home for lunch, knowing that sometime in the early afternoon the Russian ships would meet the American blockade. It was uncertain whether that would be the end of the world. At least that was the way it was seen, that it would be the beginning of a nuclear conflagration which would destroy the human race. It is something that has always stuck with me.

As children we experienced terror. We practised bombing exercises where we would hide under our desks. We learned how to peel bananas because that was the only kind of food we would be able to eat, as everything else would be radioactive.

I say all this by way of being very grateful in many respects that my own children have not had to experience the nearness and the proximity of nuclear weapons and nuclear war in that way. But having said that, the fact remains that their future and the future of the human prospect is every bit as much in peril today as it was then. It is just that we have convinced ourselves that this is no longer the case.

There are many more nuclear weapons and many more powerful nuclear weapons in the world today than there were when I was that grade 6 child worrying about the destruction of the human race. There is much less control over the nuclear weapons that exist in the world today than there was in 1962 when I was having my first experience with nuclear terror.

What we need to do today is say yes. Let us ratify the comprehensive test ban treaty, but let us realize that the real task for the human race and for the planet is to abolish nuclear weapons entirely, once and for all, and seize the moment which is now before us after the end of the cold war to do so. If we do not do it soon we will live in a world in which nuclear weapons will have proliferated all across the world.

 

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It will not only be India and Pakistan. It will be country after country after country acquiring nuclear weapons capability as a way of saying they have status in the world, as a way of saying they want to be powerful players in the world. This kind of nuclear technology is more and more available as a result of the end of the cold war and the way it ended, which is to say as a result of the rather chaotic disintegration of the Soviet Union and the way in which nuclear technology, technicians and equipment have become available on the black market and officially.

We live in a very dangerous world. I believe the Canadian government should be showing a lot more leadership than it is in trying to get members of the nuclear club to face up to their responsibilities in this critical historical moment.

We belong to NATO and in NATO we have Britain, France and the United States, three of the more powerful members of the nuclear club. We also have Russia which is affiliated with NATO in the NATO-Russia Council. We have a context in which real moral pressure, and ultimately more moral than political pressure, could be put on these members of the nuclear club to do what is right now for all time and for all human beings that will come into existence in the future and whose potential existence is threatened at this time by inaction.

There was a great deal of self-righteousness in the House and across the land when India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons. To some extent that outrage was justified. However in another way it was not. In another way it was a form of hypocrisy in the sense that the NATO countries and anyone else who as part of the nuclear club pointed the finger at India and Pakistan were acting in a hypocritical way if they were not willing to entertain the notion of total nuclear disarmament, of the abolition of nuclear weapons.

In the absence of a commitment by the existing nuclear club to do so, it seems to me that India, Pakistan and other countries to follow will have an argument which I feel they should be deprived of. They can only be deprived of that argument if the members of the nuclear club act appropriately.

Canada is part of that club. We make a big deal about how we do not have nuclear weapons. However, we have been part of this thing from the beginning, from the Manhattan project on. We have also been part of it through our own nuclear industry, the export of reactors, and our general commitment to nuclear technology even though we always say it is for peaceful purposes.

We have some repenting and rethinking to do on this. We have an opportunity to show some leadership. I would certainly hope we would do so and do so soon for the sake of the people to follow us.

Nuclear weapons are just a form of warfare that we deplore when we see it in microcosm. When we see civilians in Kosovo or anywhere else being tortured, killed, having their houses burned and their homes destroyed, we think that is terrible, despicable and evil. We want something to be done about that and something should be.

However, what is nuclear war except a massive hostage taking of the civilian populations of other countries, basically saying that we would do on a scale which is unimaginable what we find contemptible and disgusting on a small scale? How have we managed to do this to ourselves in our imagination that we can counsel as realpolitik, as good strategic thinking, the wholesale destruction of the planet and entire civilian populations when we reject this on a much smaller scale? Somehow it does not strike us the same way in both cases, and that is unacceptable.

 

. 1620 + -

I would close by recalling the words of George F. Kennan, a distinguished American diplomat, a cold war diplomat, who said—and I am paraphrasing because I do not have the quote with me—something to the effect that the intention of the west, or for that matter anyone else, to destroy creation, to put at risk the future of planet earth, the human prospect and the lives of all the non-human creatures that also exist on this planet, is nothing more than the ultimate blasphemy offered up to God, saying we reject your creation; we reject our role as creatures; and we are going to set ourselves up not as gods but in this case as demons.

Who would even think, for the sake of a particular civilization, for the sake of a particular economic system or for the sake of a particular strategic stance, of destroying the human prospect? It is a blasphemy and something I hope the human race will very soon erase from its midst.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is the House ready for the question?

Some hon. members: Question.

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find unanimous consent to deal with the bill in committee of the whole now.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is it agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and, by unanimous consent, the House went into committee thereon, Mr. McClelland in the chair)

The Deputy Chairman: Order, please. House in committee of the whole on Bill C-52, an act to implement the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.

Shall Clause 2 carry?

 

. 1625 + -

(On clause 2)

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Chairman, I have a question for the minister. This clause includes a reference to the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty signed in New York in September 1996.

The minister will know that one of the provisions of that treaty is a commitment in article 6 by nuclear weapons states to move toward complete prohibition of nuclear weapons.

The minister will also know that later this fall a resolution is coming before the United Nations General Assembly from the new agenda coalition including South Africa, Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia and Sweden. That resolution will be urging the nuclear weapons states to proceed to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention.

Last year Canada chose not to support this resolution. Will Canada show leadership this year and respond to the appeal by South African President Nelson Mandela to Canada and other countries, and will indeed support this very important resolution?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Chairman, when the minister of foreign affairs from Ireland was in Canada in the last two days we had the opportunity to discuss this matter with him.

We indicated that we had to see the exact wording. They have not finalized the exact wording of the resolution. Once that is finalized, we will have further discussions with the group of eight.

(Clause 2 agreed to)

(Clauses 3 to 6 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 7)

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Chairman, the minister spoke eloquently earlier today about the importance of Canada's leadership in this area, particularly about accelerating the movement of nuclear weapons states to make a commitment to get rid of nuclear weapons.

What action is the minister prepared to undertake to the House to encourage NATO as part of its strategic concept review, which I believe is due in April 1999, to show more leadership and more vision in this area and particularly to encourage NATO to revisit the issue of the first use policy of nuclear weapons?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Chairman, as the hon. member will know, about a year ago we addressed a reference to the standing committee on foreign affairs to look at the question of nuclear weapons policy. Part of that reference included the consideration of how it would apply within our NATO obligations.

We are very much looking forward to the assessment the committee has made after quite extensive consultation with Canadians. I think it would be premature for me to make a judgment till I have had the opportunity to hear from the committee, which I cherish and treasure in terms of its findings and recommendations.

(Clause 7 agreed to)

(Clauses 8 and 9 agreed to)

[Translation]

(Clause 10)

Mr. Daniel Turp (Beauharnois—Salaberry, BQ) moved:  

    That Bill C-52, in Clause 10, be amended by replacing, in the French version, line 26 on page 6 with the following:

      “rapport sur l'exécution du Traité par le”

He said: Mr. Chairman, the Bloc Quebecois proposed this amendment, which would make a very minor change in the French version of the bill by replacing the word “observation” with the word “exécution”, which is more appropriate in French.

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Winnipeg-Centre-Sud, Lib): We agree with the amendment.

 

. 1630 + -

Mr. Daniel Turp: Mr. Chairman, I simply wish to remind the House that the purpose of the amendment is to improve the French version of the provision.

The minister seems to be in agreement. This brings the French more into line with all the other provisions.

[English]

The Deputy Chairman: Shall the amendment carry?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Amendment agreed to)

[Translation]

Mr. Daniel Turp: Mr. Chairman, before adopting the clause, I would like to put a question to the minister about the national authority.

This morning, while the Reform Party member was addressing this issue, he claimed that the costs of implementing the treaty and creating this national authority would be exorbitant. He mentioned that over $8 million would have to be set aside for implementation.

I would like the minister to tell us whether that is the case and if he considers this amount reasonable.

[English]

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy: Mr. Chairman, I thank the member for the question.

We do not envision that any new staff would be drawn into the authority. Staff would come from existing departments in those areas. There could be some cost in terms of international obligations but there would be no additional new staff. The question of some kind of burgeoning bureaucracy simply does not apply.

Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.): Mr. Chairman, Britain decided to do it under national defence rather than have a separate authority. Could the minister tell us why he has chosen to set up a separate authority rather than put it under another department?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy: Mr. Chairman, there are really three departments with an interest and an obligation under the act, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Health. We felt it would be better to provide a consortium of activities that would provide a certain unified approach as opposed to simply having one department and then having to borrow. It would not require additional person years. They would be assigned from the departments themselves to work in the authority.

The Deputy Chairman: Shall clause 10 as amended carry?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clause 10, as amended, agreed to)

[Translation]

(Clause 11 agreed to)

[English]

(On clause 12)

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Chairman, I have a question for the minister. This article refers to the Minister of Health. My question is about an issue that has a profound impact on the environment and the health of Canadians, particularly those of us in British Columbia. It concerns the continued testing of nuclear arms and nuclear powered submarines at the Nanoose testing range in British Columbia.

Does the minister not recognize the very serious concerns of British Columbians about the continued use of the testing base at Nanoose Bay? Will he not give serious consideration to giving notice, as permitted under the provisions of the agreement between Canada and the United States, to terminate that agreement as a concrete manifestation of this government's concern about the potential impact of nuclear powered submarines and potentially nuclear armed submarines in Canadian waters?

 

. 1635 + -

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Chairman, to my knowledge there is no evidence of any nuclear spillage coming from the test range at Nanoose.

Submarines in that area are self-contained and highly monitored in terms of whatever radioactivity may emit from the area. There is no evidence from anything that I have been able to gather that suggested there is an environmental pollution problem.

Regarding what may happen eventually in terms of Nanoose Bay, we have a reciprocal agreement with the United States on testing facilities in these areas. At this point in time the agreement is under operation and I see no reason for changing that.

Mr. Svend J. Robinson: Mr. Chairman, I have a brief supplementary to the minister on the same issue.

The minister has referred to the environmental consequences of the Nanoose testing range. I want to ask the minister whether he is prepared to table with the foreign affairs committee any environmental assessments that have been done on the impact of this testing.

I know one of the concerns that the Nanoose conversion campaign has and many British Columbians who have looked at this range have is precisely that it seems difficult to get at any comprehensive environmental assessment of the impact of the range.

Will the minister undertake to make available to the foreign affairs committee and through that committee to British Columbians the results of any environmental assessments that have been done of the range?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy: Mr. Chairman, that would normally fall under the purview of my colleague, the Minister of National Defence. I will enquire with the Minister of National Defence to see what kind of studies they might have and see if they are publicly available.

The Deputy Chairman: Shall clause 12 carry?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clause 12 agreed to)

(Clauses 13 to 23 inclusive agreed to)

(On Clause 24:)

Mr. Daniel Turp (Beauharnois—Salaberry, BQ): Mr. Chairman, I move:  

    That Bill C-52, in clause 24, be amended by replacing lines 6 to 9 on page 12 with the following:

    Amendment to Schedule

    24. The minister shall cause any amendment to the Treaty to be laid before each House of Parliament not later than fifteen days after it has been adopted by the Amendment Conference. The instrument of acceptance of the amendment by Canada shall not be tabled until the amendment has been approved by the House of Commons. Following the tabling of the instrument of acceptance by Canada, the minister shall, by order, amend the schedule accordingly and shall cause the order to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the order is made.

[Translation]

Mr. Chairman, we proposed a second amendment to this bill, which would require the minister to table the amendment in both Houses so that Parliament could pass it before the treaty was signed.

[English]

Mr. Julian Reed (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Chairman, I would like to quickly suggest that this amendment, because it creates a very distinct departure in the way treaties come about at the present time and that it is a precedent of course for treaties in the future, is really and truly beyond the scope of this bill. I would submit that as such it is out of order.

 

. 1640 + -

The Deputy Chairman: The amendment as presented is in order to be presented. If it is the pleasure of the committee to vote the amendment down, so be it, but the amendment is in order to be received.

[Translation]

Mr. Daniel Turp: Mr. Chairman, in November of last year, when the House was debating the bill to implement the land mines treaty, I moved a similar amendment, and we debated it with the minister and a number of members. I would not agree that it is out of order and I would like this to be debated today.

The minister will recall that last year, when we were debating the bill to implement the land mines treaty, we introduced a similar amendment. Although we recognize that this amendment would change the way treaties are concluded, we still think it would be useful to raise this point today, as a second bill is being introduced in the current session of Parliament.

We in the Bloc Quebecois think it important to democratize the process Canada follows in concluding its treaties by calling upon the House of Commons to debate treaties, including amending treaties, like the one we are being asked to implement through the legislative process today, before Canada signs them and agrees to be bound by them.

Treaties today are of such importance they must now be examined and discussed by the House of Commons and by Parliament. I would like to point out to the minister and my colleagues here that the practice in most of the governments of the Commonwealth, which share the parliamentary tradition of this House, is gradually evolving, be it in Australia, New Zealand or, more recently still, in the United Kingdom itself, where Parliament is much more closely involved than the House of Commons here in Canada.

We are proposing this amendment to initiate a practice that should be applied not only to amending treaties, but to all bilateral or multilateral treaties signed by Canada.

In our opinion, it is not sufficient that ministers—including the Minister for International Trade, and more so than the Minister of Foreign Affairs—involve the foreign affairs committee in the debate on certain treaties, as was done in the past with the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, or now with a treaty that Canada intends to sign with the European Free Trade Association.

 

. 1645 + -

It was barely a few days ago that the parliamentary secretary to the Minister for International Trade asked the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs to take part in the debate that is beginning on that treaty.

It is not enough to consult Parliament. Parliament should approve treaties before the government signs and ratifies them. Such is the purpose of the amendment. It seeks to change a practice, but that practice must be changed. It must be changed, so that what we experienced with the Multilateral Agreement on Investment—and which we may experience again if the government tries to prevent Parliament from debating such important treaties—will not happen again.

So, this is why are proposing an amendment which is minor but which would indeed make the government more accountable to this House when it signs treaties, including amending treaties.

[English]

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Chairman, the hon. member was accurate when he said that we had this debate when we brought in the anti-personnel land mines treaty.

The same basic question remains. This is not a slight modification or amendment. It is a major constitutional change. What it recommends is that we begin moving toward a republican form of government, the cabinet style of government where parliament holds executives accountable, and the executive has to negotiate and deal with treaties. That would change in a very fundamental way.

I am not sure members at this stage, at the clause by clause discussion of the bill on comprehensive treaties, are prepared to undertake the significance and weight of making a major constitutional change. In a very practical way it would substantially alter the capacity of Canada to negotiate and deal with treaties.

It would cause the same kind of problems that the United States is now finding itself in, where it can sign treaties but never have them ratified. Unfortunately, that country has a long inventory of treaties which it is unable to ratify because of the requirement of the Senate to give its approval.

In cases where there is a disagreement between the executive branch and the legislative branch, it is simply not ratifying them. It is not even close to ratifying this treaty, as well as many other treaties that have similar kinds of context.

Fortunately in our system we have that capacity. The parliamentary system, in my humble view, is superior from that point of view. When the government makes a commitment internationally and it has a majority, it has the capacity to hold the pleasure of the House in making that kind of change.

I say to the hon. member, as experience has proven, we go out of our way to ensure that parliament is consulted. We have fundamentally changed the rules by which we work in the House in terms of any international action that we are going to take. We have debates in parliament. If parliament is not sitting or if it is not convenient, we go to the committees. In the case of these treaties, when they require legislative changes, we bring them in for full debate, such as we are having today.

At this point in time it would be very unwise to sneak in the back door, by way of amendment to this particular bill, something that would change the Constitution. If the hon. member wants to change the Constitution, there are other ways of doing it rather than doing it through this kind of format.

I would ask the indulgence of the House to say that the object of this bill is to have a comprehensive test ban treaty, to which Canada is a signatory, and not to change the Constitution.

Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.): Mr. Chairman, the minister has stated a couple of things that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

I heard that the government can go off and sign international bills because it has a majority. Thirty-eight per cent of the people in this country voted for this government. That is not a majority. Sixty-two per cent did not. The arrogance of saying that we can sign whatever we want because of that is a little bit hard to take.

 

. 1650 + -

I also find it hard to take that we have gone off with the international court and with Kyoto. We have signed agreements and have not consulted the premiers or this parliament and we have not listened to Canadians. We say this is right and that this is democracy.

Mr. Chairman, that is not democracy. Canadians are starting to demand that we have a democratic system where we have transparency and openness, and where responsible decisions are made by members of the House. To say that we fairly and democratically debate in the House or in committee is a long stretch of the imagination.

This amendment is relatively simple and straightforward. It simply asks for some accountability from the Department of Foreign Affairs before international treaties are put forward and signed and that we would go to our colleagues in the House to ask their opinion. It is rather offensive to think that we would not listen to the people in a case like this.

[Translation]

Mr. Svend J. Robinson: Mr. Chairman, I will be very brief in saying that, on behalf of my colleagues from the New Democratic Party, I support the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.

I listened carefully to the minister's reply but, frankly, I think this amendment would give a little more power to members of Parliament from all parties. Should the amendment be rejected, I hope the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs will take an in-depth look at the issue raised by the hon. member.

I hope the House will adopt the motion. I realize this is a situation where we do not have the numbers required. But if the amendment is rejected here, I hope the committee can conduct a thorough review of this issue. This is an important proposal and we support it.

Mr. Daniel Turp: Mr. Chairman, with all due respect to the minister, I do not think it can be claimed that an amendment such as this would change the form of the government. It would not take on the republican form he claims it would, because similar states such as Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have changed their conventional practices for the signing of treaties. But this does not mean that either Australia or New Zealand, much less the United Kingdom, have turned into republics.

Quite simply, all that is involved is changing a practice relating to the government's constitutional jurisdiction over the signing of treaties. At present, because of royal prerogative, the source of the federal government's jurisdiction in this area, parliament is not involved. This means that neither the House of Commons nor the Senate are involved in this process, which is now so very important. It is important because so many treaties impact on daily life, for instance the multilateral investment agreement or any other agreement that impacts greatly on the legislation we enact or on what people do.

Now, this is not a constitutional debate or a constitutional amendment, but rather a proposal for changing a practice that is totally undemocratic. It is not true that, under a presidential and parliamentary system like the one in the US, the government would be deprived of its means of negotiating treaties. In a system like ours, the government has the majority in the House anyway, or at the very least, in exception cases, it has to form a coalition with other parties to secure a voting majority.

 

. 1655 + -

So, the proposal to give Parliament a role in the signing of treaties would not in any way deprive the government of its power to negotiate international treaties with its partners or as a member of organisations or a participant at international conferences.

That is why I think that there must be a debate each time an implementation act is introduced and that is why I propose such a debate today. I am very glad to say that my colleagues from the NDP and those from the Reform agree with the Bloc Quebecois on that.

I will conclude by asking the Minister of Foreign Affairs to respond positively to the request made by the hon. member from the New Democratic Party and to formally ask the foreign affairs committee to examine the practice concerning the signing of treaties. This could lead to changes similar to those implemented in other countries like Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, which are far ahead of Canada, a fact that can only be explained by than the refusal of the government to involve members of parliament and parliament itself in the signing of treaties, which are so important as this century is coming to a close and certainly be important in the next.

Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Chairman, I want to start by putting again to the minister the question my hon. colleague just asked, which is would the minister agree to the suggestion made by the NDP member and refer the issue to the foreign affairs committee to ensure that in the future we have a more reality-based approach to managing this kind of initiative, since we know that parliaments based on the British tradition, such as Australia, New-Zealand, the United Kingdom, do so.

Would it not be better for all involved if this discussion could help avoid similar debates in the future and lead to some kind of compromise?

I also want to raise another point in favour of our amendment. Even though it were to be an exception, would it not be appropriate in the case of the act to implement the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, to pass this amendment? These are major issues that concern the very future of our society and deal with very important elements.

I just want to remind the House that, under this legislation, signatories make a commitment not to carry out nuclear weapon test blasts. This is serious business, very important stuff. These are major issues that relate to our responsibilities as parliamentarians.

For this specific bill, would it not be better to pass the amendment so that the legislation can be considered, even if it means that it would then be referred to the foreign affairs committee, as was suggested by the NDP member?

[English]

The Deputy Chairman: Shall the amendment carry?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

The Deputy Chairman: All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Some hon. members: Yea.

The Deputy Chairman: All those opposed will please say nay.

Some hon. members: Nay.

The Deputy Chairman: In my opinion the nays have it.

An hon. member: On division.

(Amendment negatived)

(Clauses 24 to 26 agreed to)

 

. 1700 + -

[Translation]

(On clause 27)

Mr. Daniel Turp: Mr. Chairman, I seek your guidance to move an amendment. This is a new amendment, a new clause 27.1.

Should I move this amendment now?

The Deputy Chairman: No. It must be done after clause 29.

(Clauses 27 to 29 agreed to)

(On new clause)

Mr. Daniel Turp (Beauharnois—Salaberry, BQ): Mr. Chairman, again for the sake of transparency, of involving parliament in the implementation of a treaty such as this one, that a new clause 27.1 be added.

Accordingly, I move:  

    That Bill C-52 be amended by adding after line 37 on page 12 the following new clause:

    Annual Report “27.1 (1) The person designated as the National Authority shall prepare and transmit to the Minister of Foreign Affairs an annual report with respect to the implementation of this Act. (2) The Minister of Foreign Affairs shall cause a copy of the report to be laid before the House of Commons on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the Minister receives the report.”

This clause provides that the minister will table in parliament an annual report on the implementation of the treaty. This is an amendment that we also want to see debated in committee of the whole.

[English]

The Deputy Chairman: The additional clause is in order.

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we can accept the amendment to the bill.

[Translation]

Mr. Daniel Turp: Mr. Chairman, I have a very technical point. The word “étrangères” is missing in the French version of clause (2), which should read “Le ministre des Affaires étrangères fait déposer un exemplaire”. There is a small error here.

I am very pleased that the minister gives his agreement. By doing so, he would only confirm that he accepts, as Australia has done, because in its Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation Act, the Australian parliament agreed to a totally similar provision, and consequently, that parliament will examine the report that the person designated as the national authority will prepare and transmit to the minister.

This is a step in the right direction, but I must tell the minister that it will not be enough, because we will constantly revert to this whole issue. I would like to have the minister's opinion on this. I think it would be useful for our foreign affairs committee to debate this practice.

 

. 1705 + -

I would like to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs if he would agree to ask, as he has for other issues, the committee to examine the practice of the signing of treaties, to bring it in line it with the practice in other Commonwealth countries, which is a much more democratic practice.

[English]

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy: Mr. Speaker, I am very grateful to the hon. member for having added the word “étrangère” to the bill. I think having a minister designated for affairs in today's climate would not be such a good idea. I certainly think that is an appropriate inclusion in the bill.

As to the other matter, the committee itself is master or mistress of its own affairs. If it wants to discuss the possibility of looking into this matter we will co-operate. I would certainly welcome any will of the committee that would be expressed.

(Amendment agreed to)

The Deputy Chairman: Does the new clause, as amended, carry?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(New clause, as amended, agreed to)

(Schedule agreed to)

(Clause 1 agreed to)

(Title agreed to)

(Bill reported, concurred in and, by unanimous consent, read the third time and passed)

*  *  *

CANADA SMALL BUSINESS FINANCING ACT

 

The House resumed from October 2 consideration of the motion that Bill C-53, an act to increase the availability of financing for the establishment, expansion, modernization and improvement of small businesses, be read the second time and referred to a committee; and of the motion that the question be now put.

 

. 1710 + -

Ms. Jean Augustine (Etobicoke—Lakeshore, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to Bill C-53, an act to increase the availability of financing for the establishment, expansion, modernization and improvement of small businesses.

The small business financing act is an extension of the Small Business Loans Act which was passed in 1961. It builds on the government's commitment to provide small businesses with better access to financing by guaranteeing loans made by lenders to small and medium size businesses across Canada. Small businesses play an important role in Canada's economy. Canada has more than 2.5 million small businesses. In 1996-97 small businesses created 81% of new jobs in the economy.

In my riding of Etobicoke—Lakeshore there are over 3,600 small and medium size enterprises. They are an integral part of the economic infrastructure of Etobicoke—Lakeshore. The operation of these businesses cuts across the manufacturing and service sectors of the economy. They are the main engines of employment in my riding and elsewhere in Canada. Maintaining a strong and vibrant economy is vital to the economic success of our country.

As parliamentarians we must support measures that would facilitate economic growth in Canada. I support the small business financing act because I know that providing opportunities to companies through financing or technology will give the Canadian economy the energy it needs to grow. This sector of the Canadian economy has proven to benefit many Canadians. It is necessary to take the steps that would enable it to become healthier, to expand and to become more profitable.

Bill C-53 will ensure that small businesses will continue to be of benefit to all communities across Canada. Through successive prebudget consultations and town hall meetings with small business owners on job strategy and economic growth I heard from my constituents about the difficulties faced by small businesses in obtaining financing for start-up capital from banks and other lending institutions. The small business financing act, as the Small Business Loans Act, will continue to address this problem.

Since 1961 the Small Business Loans Act has provided over $22 billion worth of debt financing through lending institutions. As many as 30,000 lending firms serve clients that are small and young businesses with an average loan size of $68,000.

It is not an understatement to say that small companies need financial assistance from the government. Despite the availability of capital and increases in lending, access to credit continues to be identified by entrepreneurs as a major obstacle to the growth of small businesses. I am pleased to see that the government will continue its commitment to providing finances to small and medium size business communities through the small business financing act.

In times of economic downturn we know small businesses are the most vulnerable. In my riding during the recession of the late 1980s and early 1990s many small businesses folded as a result of the cyclical downturn in the economy. Many companies did not have the financial resources to wait or to ride out the recession.

 

. 1715 + -

The Canada small business financing act is about creating stability for small and medium size businesses. It will put many small and medium size businesses on a sound, stable footing to better cope and manage under financial stress and, in particular, during times of economic downturn.

This bill was put before the House after extensive consultations with public and private stakeholders. The Minister of Industry has also taken into account the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the auditor general.

Under the act the small business financing program will extend loans to lenders for terms of up to 10 years. Lenders must pay a one time 2% fee in addition to an annual registration fee of 1.25%.

There are so many things to say about the benefits that this will ensure to my constituents of Etobicoke—Lakeshore. Suffice it to say that micro and very small businesses will benefit from Bill C-53.

In examining the issue of cost recovery and the key areas of the bill I call on my colleagues on all sides of the House to give support to Bill C-53. It is a very important bill and the issues it covers would do much for the businesses in our various and varying communities.

In closing, Canada's small business loans program is one of the best programs of all the OECD countries. It is a very crucial segment of our economy and Canadians have come to depend on it for their economic livelihood. I encourage all of my colleagues, keeping in mind the micro and small businesses in the various and varying constituencies, to give support to the bill.

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I commend the member who just spoke in support of small business. It is very important that we all support small business.

Today we see what is happening with the very large corporations and institutions that are laying off people. In my riding of Halifax West the Volvo assembly plant is being shut down, putting about 250 people out of work. Volvo is moving to places like Mexico where it can profit from cheaper labour.

Many of the people faced with joblessness are going to have to resort to their own ingenuity to operate small businesses and to become self-employed to earn a living. Therefore, everything that can be done to assist small business is important.

When we see the large banks in our society trying to become even larger, we ask ourselves what the impact will be on small business people.

We are in support of the measures being taken to assist small business and on behalf of my constituents I will support the legislation. I commend the member opposite for her remarks.

Ms. Jean Augustine: Mr. Speaker, I always appreciate support when it is given from the other side of the floor and, therefore, do not have to shout recall.

The Canada small business financing act will do a number of things that are very important. It will guarantee lending on April 1, 1999 and continue to facilitate asset based debt financing to small and medium companies with annual sales of up to $5 million. Those are the small businesses in his riding and in my riding.

The government will continue to share the risks of loans to businesses by paying 85% of the loss incurred by lenders. These are measures that will be appreciated.

The government will pay claims on 90% of the first $250,000 of loans in a lender's account, 50% on the next $250,000 and 10% on the remaining loans.

 

. 1720 + -

These measures will be beneficial to those medium size enterprises.

The percentage of the cost of eligible capital assets accepted for financing would be 90%. This again will include so many of our businesses.

Interest ceilings remain at 3% above prime lending rates for variable rate loans or 3% above residential mortgage rates for fixed rate loans. These measures will benefit all of our constituents. Therefore it is essential that we support this bill and give our small and medium size businesses a break.

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I join the support for small business. We know that it is the backbone of the nation. I am always pleased to speak up for small business.

But there is one thing that bothers me about this tax and grab government. Small businesses all across this country are saying loud and clear that the guys in Ottawa have to get off their backs. More than that, they are saying that the government needs to get out of their pockets because they are being killed by taxes.

We are talking about lending money and getting into debt to support small business, but we never hear anything coming from that side of the House about how we need to make it more feasible for these people to operate by lowering the taxes which are killing small businesses and jobs.

One particular business in my riding is run by a man and his wife. They have said to me “If we could only get the taxes cut back to some degree we could hire some additional help, rather than both of us having to be here from nine to seven every day. We work hard. We have to in order to pay all the taxes that this government keeps grabbing”.

Could the member suggest to small business that it would be a good idea to pursue decreasing taxes? That would help them even more than lending them more money.

Ms. Jean Augustine: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question because I know that he is concerned about the small businesses in his riding.

Sometimes it is very difficult for members opposite to take good news and to carry the good news back to where it should be carried. I want to tell the member to look on the side of the positive aspects of this bill.

The issue of taxes, of course, is a concern to all small businesses. But when we look at our position in the G-7, our small businesses and business people, in comparison to other places in the world, are definitely not in last place.

Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I would ask the hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore if we can take back the good news that her government will give back to small businesses the EI overcharge it is taking from them.

Can we take that good news back to our constituents?

Ms. Jean Augustine: Mr. Speaker, we are debating the topic of small business in Bill C-53 and we are asking if there is support for the bill. The member has introduced EI. Of course, any good news is good news that we will take forward.

When that discussion does come up, the good news will certainly be hers to take forward.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is the House ready for the question?

Some hon. members: Question.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Some hon. members: Yea.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): All those opposed will please say nay.

Some hon. members: Nay.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Call in the members.

 

. 1725 + -

And the bells having rung:

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The deputy government whip has requested that the vote be deferred until 5.30 p.m.  

Ms. Marlene Catterall: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. If you ask, you might find that there is unanimous consent to call it 5.30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The deputy government whip has requested the unanimous consent of the House to see the clock as being 5.30 p.m. Is there consent?

Some hon. members: Agreed.



PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[English]

CRIMINAL RECORDS ACT

 

The House resumed from September 29 consideration of the motion that Bill C-284, an act to amend the Criminal Records Act and the Canadian Human Rights Act (offences against children), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Pursuant to order made on Tuesday, September 29, 1998, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading of Bill C-284.

Call in the members.

 

. 1750 + -

Before the taking of the vote:

The Speaker: This is a private member's bill. As is the practice, the division will be taken row by row, starting with the mover who is on my left and then proceeding with those in favour of the motion sitting on the same side of the House as the mover. We will go row by row. Each member will stand and his or her name will be called. Then those in favour of the motion sitting on the other side will do the same thing. Then we will go through those opposed.

 

. 1800 + -

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 235

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy Anders Assad Asselin
Axworthy (Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar) Bachand (Saint - Jean) Bailey Beaumier
Bélair Bellehumeur Bellemare Benoit
Bergeron Bernier (Tobique – Mactaquac) Bigras Blaikie
Bonwick Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) Breitkreuz (Yorkton – Melville) Brien
Cadman Calder Cardin Casey
Casson Chatters Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic) Comuzzi
Crête Cummins Dalphond - Guiral Davies
de Savoye Debien Desjarlais Doyle
Dubé (Lévis - et - Chutes - de - la - Chaudière) Dubé (Madawaska – Restigouche) Duceppe Duncan
Earle Elley Finestone Gagnon
Gauthier Gilmour Girard - Bujold Godin (Acadie – Bathurst)
Gouk Grewal Grey (Edmonton North) Grose
Guimond Hart Harvey Herron
Hill (Macleod) Hill (Prince George – Peace River) Hoeppner Hubbard
Ianno Jaffer Johnston Keddy (South Shore)
Keyes Konrad Laliberte Lalonde
Laurin Lebel Lee Lefebvre
Longfield Lowther Lunn MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough)
Mancini Mark Martin (Esquimalt – Juan de Fuca) Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Matthews Mayfield McDonough McNally
McTeague McWhinney Ménard Mercier
Meredith Mills (Red Deer) Morrison Muise
Nunziata Nystrom O'Brien (London – Fanshawe) O'Reilly
Pankiw Paradis Penson Peric
Picard (Drummond) Plamondon Price Proctor
Ramsay Reynolds Ritz Rocheleau
Serré Solberg St - Julien Stoffer
Strahl Szabo Telegdi Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tremblay (Rimouski – Mitis) Turp Ur Vautour
Venne Wappel Wasylycia - Leis Wayne
White (Langley – Abbotsford) White (North Vancouver) Williams – 127


NAYS

Members

Adams Anderson Assadourian Augustine
Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) Baker Bakopanos Barnes
Bélanger Bertrand Blondin - Andrew Bonin
Boudria Bradshaw Brown Bryden
Bulte Byrne Caccia Cannis
Caplan Carroll Catterall Cauchon
Chamberlain Chan Charbonneau Clouthier
Coderre Cohen Collenette Cullen
DeVillers Dhaliwal Dion Dromisky
Drouin Duhamel Easter Eggleton
Finlay Fontana Fry Gagliano
Godfrey Graham Gray (Windsor West) Harb
Harvard Jackson Jennings Jordan
Karetak - Lindell Karygiannis Kilger (Stormont – Dundas) Knutson
Kraft Sloan Lastewka Lavigne Lincoln
MacAulay Mahoney Malhi Maloney
Manley Marleau Martin (LaSalle – Émard) Massé
McCormick McGuire McLellan (Edmonton West) Mills (Broadview – Greenwood)
Minna Mitchell Murray Myers
Nault O'Brien (Labrador) Pagtakhan Parrish
Patry Pettigrew Phinney Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex)
Pratt Proud Provenzano Reed
Robillard Rock Scott (Fredericton) Sekora
Speller St. Denis Stewart (Brant) Stewart (Northumberland)
Thibeault Torsney Valeri Volpe
Whelan Wilfert Wood – 103


PAIRED

Members

Bennett Bevilacqua Canuel Desrochers
Discepola Dumas Folco Fournier
Gallaway Godin (Châteauguay) Guay Leung
Loubier Marceau Marchand Marchi
McKay (Scarborough East) Normand Perron Peterson
Pillitteri Redman Sauvageau St - Hilaire
Tremblay (Lac - Saint - Jean) Vanclief


The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[English]

CANADA SMALL BUSINESS FINANCING ACT

 

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-53, an act to increase the availability of financing for the establishment, expansion, modernization and improvement of small businesses, be read the second time and referred to a committee; and of the motion that the question be now put.

The Speaker: The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred division on Bill C-53. The question is on the motion that the question be now put.

 

. 1810 + -

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 236

YEAS

Members

Adams Anderson Assad Assadourian
Augustine Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) Baker Bakopanos
Barnes Beaumier Bélair Bélanger
Bellemare Bertrand Blondin - Andrew Bonin
Bonwick Boudria Bradshaw Brown
Bryden Bulte Byrne Caccia
Calder Cannis Caplan Carroll
Catterall Cauchon Chamberlain Chan
Charbonneau Clouthier Coderre Cohen
Collenette Comuzzi Cullen DeVillers
Dhaliwal Dion Dromisky Drouin
Duhamel Easter Eggleton Finestone
Finlay Fontana Fry Gagliano
Godfrey Graham Gray (Windsor West) Grose
Harb Harvard Hubbard Ianno
Iftody Jackson Jennings Jordan
Karetak - Lindell Karygiannis Keyes Kilger (Stormont – Dundas)
Knutson Kraft Sloan Lastewka Lavigne
Lee Lincoln Longfield MacAulay
Mahoney Malhi Maloney Manley
Marleau Martin (LaSalle – Émard) Massé McCormick
McGuire McLellan (Edmonton West) McTeague McWhinney
Mills (Broadview – Greenwood) Minna Mitchell Murray
Myers Nault O'Brien (Labrador) O'Brien (London – Fanshawe)
O'Reilly Pagtakhan Paradis Parrish
Patry Peric Pettigrew Phinney
Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex) Pratt Proud Provenzano
Reed Robillard Rock Scott (Fredericton)
Sekora Serré Speller St. Denis
Stewart (Brant) Stewart (Northumberland) St - Julien Szabo
Telegdi Thibeault Torsney Ur
Valeri Volpe Wappel Whelan
Wilfert Wood – 130


NAYS

Members

Ablonczy Anders Asselin Axworthy (Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar)
Bachand (Saint - Jean) Bailey Bellehumeur Benoit
Bergeron Bernier (Tobique – Mactaquac) Bigras Blaikie
Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) Breitkreuz (Yorkton – Melville) Brien Cadman
Cardin Casey Casson Chatters
Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic) Crête Cummins Dalphond - Guiral
Davies de Savoye Debien Desjarlais
Doyle Dubé (Lévis - et - Chutes - de - la - Chaudière) Dubé (Madawaska – Restigouche) Duceppe
Earle Elley Gagnon Gauthier
Gilmour Girard - Bujold Godin (Acadie – Bathurst) Gouk
Grewal Grey (Edmonton North) Guimond Hart
Harvey Herron Hill (Macleod) Hill (Prince George – Peace River)
Hoeppner Jaffer Johnston Keddy (South Shore)
Konrad Laliberte Lalonde Laurin
Lebel Lefebvre Lowther Lunn
MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough) Mancini Mark Martin (Esquimalt – Juan de Fuca)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre) Matthews Mayfield McDonough
McNally Ménard Mercier Meredith
Mills (Red Deer) Morrison Muise Nunziata
Nystrom Pankiw Penson Picard (Drummond)
Plamondon Price Proctor Ramsay
Reynolds Ritz Robinson Rocheleau
Solberg Stoffer Strahl Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tremblay (Rimouski – Mitis) Turp Vautour Venne
Wasylycia - Leis Wayne White (Langley – Abbotsford) White (North Vancouver)
Williams – 101


PAIRED

Members

Bennett Bevilacqua Canuel Desrochers
Discepola Dumas Folco Fournier
Gallaway Godin (Châteauguay) Guay Leung
Loubier Marceau Marchand Marchi
McKay (Scarborough East) Normand Perron Peterson
Pillitteri Redman Sauvageau St - Hilaire
Tremblay (Lac - Saint - Jean) Vanclief


 

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried. The next question is on the main motion.

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. If the House would agree, I would propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting yea.

The Speaker: Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

Mr. Chuck Strahl: Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present vote no on this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, members of the Bloc Quebecois are in favour of this motion.

[English]

Mr. Bill Blaikie: Mr. Speaker, New Democratic members present vote yes.

[Translation]

Mr. André Harvey: Mr. Speaker, members of the Progressive Conservative Party will vote yes on this motion.

[English]

Mr. John Nunziata: Mr. Speaker, I would vote in favour of this motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 237

YEAS

Members

Adams Anderson Assad Assadourian
Asselin Augustine Axworthy (Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar) Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre)
Bachand (Saint - Jean) Baker Bakopanos Barnes
Beaumier Bélair Bélanger Bellehumeur
Bellemare Bergeron Bernier (Tobique – Mactaquac) Bertrand
Bigras Blaikie Blondin - Andrew Bonin
Bonwick Boudria Bradshaw Brien
Brown Bryden Bulte Byrne
Caccia Calder Cannis Caplan
Cardin Carroll Casey Catterall
Cauchon Chamberlain Chan Charbonneau
Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic) Clouthier Coderre Cohen
Collenette Comuzzi Crête Cullen
Dalphond - Guiral Davies de Savoye Debien
Desjarlais DeVillers Dhaliwal Dion
Doyle Dromisky Drouin Dubé (Lévis - et - Chutes - de - la - Chaudière)
Dubé (Madawaska – Restigouche) Duceppe Duhamel Earle
Easter Eggleton Finestone Finlay
Fontana Fry Gagliano Gagnon
Gauthier Girard - Bujold Godfrey Godin (Acadie – Bathurst)
Graham Gray (Windsor West) Grose Guimond
Harb Harvard Harvey Herron
Hubbard Ianno Iftody Jackson
Jennings Jordan Karetak - Lindell Karygiannis
Keddy (South Shore) Keyes Kilger (Stormont – Dundas) Knutson
Kraft Sloan Laliberte Lalonde Lastewka
Laurin Lavigne Lebel Lee
Lefebvre Lincoln Longfield MacAulay
MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough) Mahoney Malhi Maloney
Mancini Manley Marleau Martin (LaSalle – Émard)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre) Massé Matthews McCormick
McDonough McGuire McLellan (Edmonton West) McTeague
McWhinney Ménard Mercier Mills (Broadview – Greenwood)
Minna Mitchell Muise Murray
Myers Nault Nunziata Nystrom
O'Brien (Labrador) O'Brien (London – Fanshawe) O'Reilly Pagtakhan
Paradis Parrish Patry Peric
Pettigrew Phinney Picard (Drummond) Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex)
Plamondon Pratt Price Proctor
Proud Provenzano Reed Robillard
Robinson Rocheleau Rock Scott (Fredericton)
Sekora Serré Speller St. Denis
Stewart (Brant) Stewart (Northumberland) St - Julien Stoffer
Szabo Telegdi Thibeault Torsney
Tremblay (Rimouski – Mitis) Turp Ur Valeri
Vautour Venne Volpe Wappel
Wasylycia - Leis Wayne Whelan Wilfert
Wood – 189


NAYS

Members

Ablonczy Anders Bailey Benoit
Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) Breitkreuz (Yorkton – Melville) Cadman Casson
Chatters Cummins Elley Gilmour
Gouk Grewal Grey (Edmonton North) Hart
Hill (Macleod) Hill (Prince George – Peace River) Hoeppner Jaffer
Johnston Konrad Lowther Lunn
Mark Martin (Esquimalt – Juan de Fuca) Mayfield McNally
Meredith Mills (Red Deer) Morrison Pankiw
Penson Ramsay Reynolds Ritz
Solberg Strahl Thompson (Wild Rose) White (Langley – Abbotsford)
White (North Vancouver) Williams – 42


PAIRED

Members

Bennett Bevilacqua Canuel Desrochers
Discepola Dumas Folco Fournier
Gallaway Godin (Châteauguay) Guay Leung
Loubier Marceau Marchand Marchi
McKay (Scarborough East) Normand Perron Peterson
Pillitteri Redman Sauvageau St - Hilaire
Tremblay (Lac - Saint - Jean) Vanclief


 

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The Speaker: It being 6.13 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.



PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[English]

MARRIAGE ACT, 1997

 

Mr. Tom Wappel (Scarborough Southwest, Lib.) moved that Bill C-225, an act to amend the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act and the Interpretation Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

He said: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to ensure that a marriage is void unless it is a marriage between one unmarried man and one unmarried woman.

 

. 1815 + -

There has been considerable interest in the bill by many Canadians. Thousands of them have signed petitions which have been presented in the House. Many are watching now and they will read the debates as they are reported in Hansard. However, they may not understand the procedure and what is going on. I propose to talk for a few minutes about the procedure.

This is Private Members' Business and my bill has not been deemed votable. Therefore it is entitled to up to one hour of debate tonight, after which it will be dropped from the Order Paper without a vote. I am permitted a 15-minute speech and a five minute wrap up. Other members are entitled to speak for no more than 10 minutes each, up to a maximum of 40 minutes.

I wish to use my initial 15 minutes to briefly outline some of the intricacies of Private Members' Business as I am sure most Canadians are not familiar with this aspect of our rules. I wish to discuss my bill and why I believe it is needed now. In my wrap up I shall try to deal with some of the points made by other hon. members.

Like many other members, I have drafted bills and motions. Our names are put into a drum. Once in a while a draw is held. My name was picked and I chose to put forward Bill C-225.

The rules try to ensure that there are about 15 public bills and 15 motions on the Order Paper at all times. A subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs known as the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business meets to select five motions and five bills to deem as votable. This procedure continues as bills and motions are dealt with in the House.

In my case there was room for only one bill to be chosen votable as there are still four votable bills on the Order Paper. A number of bills were vying for this one slot, including mine.

The subcommittee consists of six members of parliament: two Liberals, one Reform, one Bloc Quebecois, one NDP and one PC. The committee listened to the submissions of the MPs and chose another bill as votable. No reasons were given and none are required to be given under our rules. Only one-third of the committee is members of the governing Liberal Party.

This bill which I consider so important gets one hour of debate and then disappears.

That is a thumbnail sketch of how we got here tonight.

Turning to the substance of the bill, section 1 reads:

    A marriage is void unless it is a legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife and neither the man nor the woman was married immediately prior to that union.

There is nothing startling there. It is the definition that we have always known in Canada. I presume most people would think that it is already in the law of Canada. It is not. The purpose of my bill is to enshrine in statute that a marriage is valid only when it is a marriage between one unmarried man and one unmarried woman. In other words, neither multiple parties nor parties of the same sex may get married.

I asked both the previous justice minister and the present justice minister to support the bill. You will hear from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice or some other designated member of parliament as to why the justice minister does not support the bill, but I will tell you now what those reasons are.

One of the things that has been stated in a letter by both the previous and present justice ministers is the following:

    The definition of marriage in federal law is not in a statute passed by Parliament, but is found in what is called the federal common law, dating from an 1866 British case of Hyde and Hyde v Woodmansee. This case has been applied consistently in Canada and states that no marriage can exist between two persons of the same sex, or between multiple wives or husbands. Thus, the definition of marriage is already clear in law in Canada as the union of two persons of the opposite sex.

That is what the justice ministers have said in writing.

What is important to note in this statement is that the definition of marriage is to be found in federal common law. Common law is, plain and simple, judge made law. Therefore, it can be changed at any time by judges. There is no statute to guide or restrain judges.

 

. 1820 + -

The Department of Justice has indicated in writing reasons why it does not support the bill. According to the Department of Justice one of the reasons is that it is clear in federal law what a marriage is. That is not an accurate statement of the law. Why do I say this? Because there are numerous continuing challenges in our courts to this definition, both by those who wish same sex unions to be recognized as marriages and those whose religious beliefs permit multiple wives or husbands.

One case will illustrate this point. The case is Layland and Beaulne v Ontario Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, Attorney General of Canada, et al. In this case decided by three judges of Ontario in the divisional court, two male homosexuals sued to force the province of Ontario to issue them a licence to marry. If as the justice department states the definition of marriage is already clear in law, we would have expected a unanimous decision against the applicants. In fact, the decision was two to one. I will read some brief excerpts from the dissenting judgment:

    I am of the view that restricting marriages to heterosexual couples infringes and violates the applicants' section 15(1) charter rights and that such violation cannot be justified under section 1 of the charter. I also agree with the position of the church that there is no common law prohibition against same sex marriages in Canada.

In this case the church was the Metropolitan Community Church of Ottawa. She goes on: “In the opening paragraph of these reasons, I have noted that the common law must grow to meet society's expanding needs.... To say that the state must preserve only traditional heterosexual families is discriminatory and contrary to the equal benefits and guarantees they”—that is, homosexuals—“are entitled to at law.... A rule with a discriminatory purpose may not be justified under section 1”—of the charter. “Further, I agree with counsel for the applicants that there is no rational connection between supporting heterosexual families and denying homosexuals the right to marry. It is illogical and has no beneficial impact on the goal. To deny them the right to marry is a complete denial of their relationship and a denial of their constitutional rights”.

If the law is clear as the justice minister and the justice department state that it is, then this judge should never have made these statements in a dissenting judgment. The fact is that in the next such application, the dissenting judge could find an ally and the decision could be two to one in the opposite direction. This is entirely possible and predictable since the current law is judge made common law.

If the law is to be clear as the justice ministers would have us believe, it must be confirmed in statutory form so that a judge cannot draw the conclusions drawn by the dissenting judge in Leyland.

The justice department is just plain wrong to say the bill is unnecessary. They say that the usual legislative principle is to legislate only to cure a legal problem or advance a legal issue. Bill C-225 cures a legal problem, namely the incorrect thinking of the dissenting judge and allies she may have in the judiciary, and it advances a legal issue, namely that only single people of the opposite sex are permitted to marry.

The Department of Justice contends that the same concept of marriage is present throughout the world. This also is not accurate. A very large part of the world condones multiple marriage partners, something foreign to our society. Indeed, Queen Elizabeth recently visited the Sultan of Brunei who together with his two wives hosted a state dinner for the Queen. Bill C-225 would confirm that marriage in Canada does not include multiple spouses.

Is there a move to legitimize bigamy or polygamy? Let me quote from an October 1, 1998 article by Stephanie Nolen in the Globe and Mail, a newspaper that has been pushing for the legitimization of same sex relationships for years. Members will not believe it. Talk about current. The editor's note reads:

    No need to waste it, so a growing number of couples think. They have embraced an alternative to the married-couple-for-life scenario, a style of relationship called “polyamory” where primary partners branch out to other partners, but in committed relationships too. But in an age when the traditional idea of marriage is taking it on the chin, polyamory makes some sense. Read on.

 

. 1825 + -

To quote from the article:

    Polyamory (loving more than one) means maintaining intimate relationships with several people.

    “There are greater numbers and greater acceptance for polyamory” says Brett Hill, co-editor of Loving More. “It's definitely changed since we started publishing 15 years ago”.

    Poly relationships range from the couple in a long-term union who each see other people casually, to the committed threesome, to the polyfidelitous groups living a “married” life in multi-adult households.

    Even child raising is better when you are poly, the proponents say.

Boy, talk about poly. The next step is the legitimization of polyamory and trying to get a marriage licence for three, four or five partners.

The justice department's considered legal opinion as the chief adviser to the chief law officer of the crown is “this bill risks opening further debate”. Oh my goodness. Debate. The legal advice of this department is that it risks opening further debate.

The Government of Canada needs a new law firm because that is not legal advice. That is political advice. This is the place for society's policies to be debated and decided, not in the policy cubicles of the Department of Justice and not by judge made law.

My colleague from Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, an avowed homosexual, in debate on Monday, June 8 made the following comments with which I wholeheartedly agree: “It is true that we would like the members of this House to make known their views on recognition of same sex spouses. To be sure, a debate must take place. Reformers are right when they say it is unacceptable in a democracy to leave it to judges to make the decisions. My colleague is right saying that this debate should be held in the House. We must vote on an important matter such as this”. He was talking about same sex benefits.

In conclusion, Bill C-225 is the vehicle to have this debate. The concept of marriage as it has always been in Canada is under attack. It continues to take it on the chin, as the Globe article put it.

It is time that the definition of marriage as the union of a single male and a single female was taken out of the hands of judges and judge made law and judge changed common law and put into a statute of the Parliament of Canada expressing the will of the people of Canada. Since the definition in Bill C-225 is argued by the justice department and the justice minister to be clear and since the justice minister has written “counsel from my department have successfully defended and will continue to defend this concept of marriage in court”, there can be no logical reason not to enshrine the principle in statute law.

The only real reason for not supporting this bill is fear of debate. That is not only shameful but it is truly lamentable.

I ask the House to support this bill.

Mr. Eric Lowther (Calgary Centre, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, today we are debating a bill that would formalize in law that a marriage is between a man and a woman. It is clear legislative recognition that it is the union of a man and a woman intentionally for life.

Sometimes when I am back in my riding of Calgary Centre, constituents will eagerly with hope in their eyes want to know some of the details of the affairs of the nation. I can anticipate some confused looks, perhaps some perplexity and frustration when I advise them that the state of the nation and the time of this great House and hon. members and of course your valuable time, Mr. Speaker, and all at the taxpayers' expense has been to debate what a marriage is.

My office did some research on the history and current laws surrounding marriage in Canada. I studied it and began building my presentation for today.

I could quote from 130-plus years of history, from 1886 to 1995, of case law in this country that powerfully enshrines marriage as a voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, or the many legal statements that profoundly point out that marriage is an institution upon which the family is built.

 

. 1830 + -

I could have detailed the respective roles of the federal government and the provincial governments concerning marriage and have shown through a detailed analysis that the federal government establishes the legal framework and capacity for marriage. However, it is the provinces that enact the laws which provide for the solemnization and the formal marriage ceremony. Or, I could have gone outside Canada and examined marriage down through the ages. It is easy to demonstrate that a one man-one woman for life definition of marriage has been the norm in most stable cultures from the beginning of recorded history.

I began down each of these tracks but something was missing. It seemed I was just repeating the obvious. Men and women get married. It is recognized by law. Marriage is a quality institution that has been around since the beginning of recorded history. However this was not touching the heart of the issue we have before us today. It seems to me there is something deeper that needs to be addressed.

In the storm of ideas in today's life it seems we have forgotten some of the basics. We have been intimidated by accusations of discrimination when we point out that there are differences. We have been barraged with the call for equality. Then it is implied that when things are equal they become the same. We know it is not true. Some things are different, just as some relationships are different from others.

Why marriage? How does it work? Perhaps by considering these questions we will be more clear on what is best, no matter what we call it.

Marriage as it is currently understood is an inclusive arrangement, I would argue. Does it not include both genders? Neither one is excluded. Is it not inclusive? The equality of the sexes must not be confused with the sameness of the sexes.

In marriage a man in relationship with a woman gains insights, sensitivities and strengths that she brings to the relationship, and vice versa for the woman with the man. This intimate relationship between a man and a woman involves giving time to understand the other person's perspectives on the challenges that life brings.

A lifelong committed union of a man and a woman in marriage creates a unit that is stronger than the sum of the individuals because the differences complement one another.

In a prominent Canadian court case the ruling read:

    Marriage has many other characteristics of which companionship and mutual support is an important one.

The court also stated:

    Marriage is the institution on which the family is built and with the capacity for natural heterosexual intercourse as an essential element.

What about children? The children of a marriage should be considered. Teachers, and my wife is one, have a saying. They say that more is caught than taught. Intimate, committed marriage provides the best possible learning ground for the socialization and character development of children. Boys who have a lifelong example of a father who is patient with his wife, kind, polite to her, calm, forgives, is truthful, is trusted and is protective toward his wife are more likely to be that way themselves. More is caught than taught.

The same concept applies for daughters. Both genders learn from myriad subtle character messages that children pick up from different gender parents. These models help them to decide and to relate to their own life mate.

This kind of positive character modelling within and across genders does not stay confined to the home but continues with the children outside the home and adds to the stabilizing and strengthening component of society as a whole.

Recent Statistics Canada studies record that children in home relationships with both parents have far fewer behavioural problems and a significantly higher percentage complete high school.

In addition, we celebrate anniversaries in this land. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you have sent out congratulatory comments to those who celebrate anniversaries. When we talk to these people, happily married men and women, about marriage they talk about it in terms of entering into a marriage covenant, not a contract. A contract states that I will participate as long as the other party delivers, but a covenant states that I am committed to a person for life without performance demands. For these people divorce is not even an option. This makes the proper selection of a life mate all the more critical and the need to go beyond physical attraction is apparent.

 

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Marriage is an institution that defies those who want to promote the gender war. A loving, caring marriage, and many still exist, is a beautiful reconciliation of a man and woman. It develops good character in both parties. It allows procreation and is the best environment for raising children. They learn by example.

Canadians believe in marriage and they make it work. In 1995, an average year, there were approximately 6.3 million married couples in Canada. That year 98.8% of them decided it was worth it and stayed married. A little over 1% got divorced but 98.8% said it was worth it and stayed married.

It is interesting in a recent Angus Reid poll on the state of the family in Canada that our young people also aspire to having stable marriages and families. Some 93% of the youth in this poll predicted that their families would be the most important in their life and 80% of them believed that marriage was for life.

The Liberal Party's position as of its most recent convention allows marriage to exclude one gender or other from the relationship and allows for two men to marry or two women to marry. This is a contradiction to current Canadian law which repeatedly recognizes marriage as the voluntary union of a man and a woman, which by the way is exactly what the Reform Party membership has in its policy book.

Tragically, rather than bringing its position forward for public debate in the Parliament of Canada and to clarify the law, the justice minister chooses to defer to Liberal appointed judges to make changes independent of the will of the people of Canada. Increasingly judicial activism within the justice system is resulting in court rulings which are taking Canadian law in directions that are contradictory to the representative collective voice of the people.

For this reason it is a prudent step to further define marriage relationships in federal legislation. I support Bill C-225. Let me conclude by saying that for some this is a troubling topic, troubling in the fact that we are even seriously debating it.

The reassuring fact for me is that a man and a woman committed to intimate mutual care and a relationship for life to the exclusion of all others has been and will always be the most rewarding human relationship that they both can have, that the children can have, and for society. This is the truth. No matter how we want to play with the words, it will not change.

[Translation]

Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate, but I am also a bit surprised. First of all, we should not forget that the conditions of a valid marriage are not an issue this Parliament should be dealing with. We should not suggest that the federal Parliament has anything to do with this issue. That is why I do not think the hon. member for Scarborough Southwest is addressing a pressing issue.

The issue we should take a stand on and debate in this House is whether we believe that two men or two women can really love each other and live with a certain set of values I share. Citizens who are taxpayers and concerned members of their communities deserve some recognition on the part of the legislator.

But let us start at the beginning. We should take into consideration the fact that, in the next few weeks and months, various courts of law and administrative tribunals will render their decisions.

A minute ago, I was quite proud to hear the hon. member for Scarborough Southwest quoting from my remarks. He said: “The hon. member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve would like a debate in Parliament.” I agree. This debate should take place in Parliament. However, when I stated that position, I was speaking as the sponsor of a bill on the recognition of same sex couples.

 

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Let anyone give me a reason why two men or two women who freely engage in a consensual union—which is what we are talking about here—and want to spend the rest of their life together could not have some kind of institutional recognition of their union.

For some, this institutional recognition will be marriage. For others, it will be a civil union contract. Throughout the world, dozens of countries allow two men or two women to have their commitment and their mutual obligations and responsibilities legally recognized.

From what I see in the gay community, marriage is certainly not what the majority wants and certainly not the most pressing issue. What I see in the gay community, which is my community, are people, two men or two women, who live together, who support each other and who match perfectly the definition of spouse.

In law, what are the three attributes that define the concept of spouse? I know there are distinguished lawyers in this House. There is one on my left and one on my right. I do not think I am mistaken when I say that, in law, the concept of spouse comprises three elements: cohabitation, common repute and, in certain cases, the presence of children.

If two men or two women not only choose to engage in a union, to support each other and to share their daily existence but also define themselves as such within their community, let anyone give me one good reason why these people should not be recognized as a couple.

Why should they be recognized as a couple? Because if we do not do it, we send two extremely negative messages to the public. First, we lead people to think that this type of commitment between two men or two women is less genuine, less noble, less worthy of respect that a commitment between a man and a woman, and this is not true.

If some people here have doubts about that, why not consider the Nesbit-Egan couple, in British Columbia, who have shared their lives for more than 40 years. They have all the characteristics of a loving couple, active in their community and deserving of their peers' respect.

There is a second reason for recognizing same sex relationships. I remind this House that this is the true issue that we will have to deal with because, in the next few months, courts of law as well as administrative tribunals will be asking legislators to amend legislation.

Two men living together are citizens and taxpayers as well as consumers of services. If, as a member of parliament, I live with someone for two, three or four years and that I die, I would like anyone to give one good reason why my partner should not be entitled to a survivor's pension? Why should my partner not be entitled, when he goes to employment insurance, to a moving allowance? Why should he not be able to benefit from a registered retiring savings plan? Why should my partner be exposed to discrimination in the area of immigration?

There are about 70 federal statutes giving a heterosexist definition of a spouse. I think we have the responsibility, as lawmakers, to ensure that we also have a homosexist view of the issue.

It is rather surprising to hear what the hon. member for Scarborough Southwest had to say. I do not question his good faith. However, I am surprised to hear that he is taking a strictly legalistic point of view.

 

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I urge the hon. member, when he replies, to tell us if, yes or no, he recognizes that two men or two women can live together, be attracted to one another and enter freely into a relationship. Because this is what it is all about. When someone is gay, when someone is a homosexual, no one forces that person to get involved in a relationship. There are, of course, people who do not get involved in such a relationship, who do not fully live up to their true nature, because of social pressure.

Could the hon. member admit that it can be a great thing, a fulfilling and respectable thing for someone to live in a same sex relationship?

A law professor once told me that from a legal point of view, moral standards become outdated faster than anything else. As lawmakers, we cannot take a moral stance and say that something is good or something is wrong, that some people deserve our respect and others do not. As lawmakers, the issue we always have to keep sight of is discrimination.

There is discrimination when lawmakers refuse to grant a category of citizens rights another category of citizens enjoy. And that is what happens when we refuse, as members of parliament, to recognize same sex spouses.

The real issue we will have to debate in the coming weeks will not be marriage but the recognition of same sex spouses. I will personally introduce a private member's bill providing for recognition of same sex spouses.

I heard people say “If we attack the institution of marriage, if we refuse to believe that children must be raised by a man and a woman engaged in a strictly heterosexual relationship, we will undermine the institution of marriage, and not only will we undermine the institution of marriage, but we will, at the same time, undermine society”.

Can we recognize that there are many different kinds of relationships? The speech by the member for Scarborough Southwest was certainly a moving appeal—I am not questioning his good faith—for the traditional family as we know it.

However, the model the member is calling for, that is a man and a woman with children, is no longer the only and dominant model. There are many single parents who raise their children alone and who instil into them extremely respectable values. They are well adjusted and active in society and they deserve our respect as citizens.

I believe that the member for Scarborough Southwest is raising an outdated issue we should not be debating in the House, because marriage falls under provincial jurisdiction. I believe we must put an end to discrimination and, for federal members of Parliament, this means we must recognize same sex spouses.

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve for his hard work on the recognition of the rights of same sex partners.

[English]

We in Canada live in a country in which the highest court of the land, the constitution of our country and the charter of rights have affirmed that gay and lesbian people are to be treated with equality, with equal respect and dignity.

That court has gone on to state that an essential element of that equality is recognition of the relationships of gay and lesbian people, that those relationships too are relationships and should not be treated with any kind of special rights or preference but with equality.

It is for that reason I rise in my place today to oppose the bill which has been put forward by the member for Scarborough Southwest. He set out accurately the legal realities, the fact that there is no federal statute that governs the issue of capacity for marriage. Yes, it is the courts that have ruled to date that two men or two women may not legally marry.

 

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The member made reference to the eloquent dissent of the divisional court in Layland and Beaulne, but that remains a dissenting judgment. He suggested that perhaps people were afraid of the debate. Certainly I welcome the debate. I do not think anyone is shirking this debate. It is long overdue that we look at the nature of our relationships and how as a society we can sustain and affirm those relationships.

Frankly I had not intended to propose a bill on this subject. The member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve is quite right. There is considerable debate even within the gay and lesbian community about the priority which should be attached to the work toward recognition of gay and lesbian marriages. The fundamental issue is recognition of our right to equality across the board.

It seems to me that in acknowledging the importance of this as a choice, which is what it should be recognized as, for those gay and lesbian couples who wish to enter into it I do not believe federal law should deny that option. For that reason I have tabled a bill which would also amend the federal legislation and which would state that a marriage between two persons is not invalid by reason only that they are of the same sex.

In introducing that bill on March 25 of this year I stated that I believed our relationships should be celebrated and affirmed as just as loving, just as committed, just as strong as heterosexual relationships, and that federal statutes should reflect that equality.

The member for Scarborough Southwest suggested that the concept of marriage was under attack. I would question whether the institution of marriage is so fragile and so threatened that allowing gay and lesbian people who seek access to this institution would somehow cause it to come crumbling down. I do not believe that. I do not believe it would destroy it.

We have heard from the Reform member for Calgary Centre that one of the essential elements of marriage is procreation. How does he respond to an article in yesterday's Toronto Sun? It is a story about Karl Thompson, age 92, who slipped a gold band on the finger of Yvon Geoffrey, 84 years old, and said “We never thought it would develop into this”. Loving companionship is what it is. They met during a bingo game six years previously. His granddaughter Michelle said “They are so much in love it is unbelievable. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy”.

God forbid, a 92 year old him and a 84 year old her and no children, no procreation, is not a real marriage. Damn it, that is wrong. What defines a marriage and what should define a marriage is love, caring, compassion and a commitment for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, to one's partner. That is what should define it and that is what federal legislation should allow.

There have been changes in the law. In Holland the new government announced that it intends to move forward. It said that in the interest of strengthening the equal treatment of homosexual and lesbian couples the cabinet would this year introduce a bill to open civil marriage to persons of the same sex.

The Government of South Africa has announced that it intends to take the same step. We heard from this podium President Nelson Mandela speaking of the importance of equality. I am very proud of the fact that Canada is one of the only countries in the world, along with South Africa, that in its constitution recognizes and celebrates the equality of all citizens including those of us who are gay or lesbian.

Sometimes people do not understand the human dimension of our relationships. My colleague from Hochelaga—Maisonneuve spoke about Jim Egan and Jack Nesbit who this year are celebrating 50 years together in a committed and loving relationship. Why on earth should they, or others in their situation who are embarking on that lifelong journey together, be denied the affirmation of marriage if they seek that affirmation?

 

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I could talk at some length about my own relationship. I spoke earlier this year about the extent to which my relationship with my partner, Max, was for me truly life sustaining at a very difficult and painful time after a life threatening accident. I spoke as well about the fact that he sustained me as a caregiver during some very tough and difficult times.

If that relationship is not recognized as just as loving, just as compassionate and for me and my partner just as meaningful and strong, why not? Why should we not be allowed to celebrate that relationship before our families, our friends, our loved ones, in a marriage if we choose to do so? The member for Scarborough Southwest would say no, that option is not one that should be open to us. It threatens the concept of marriage. I do not believe it does any such thing.

Tragically that too many Canadians have only come to fully understand the relationships of gay people during the epidemic of AIDS. Time and time again I have personally witnessed the tremendous love, compassion and caregiving those who are living with a person with HIV or AIDS have experienced. I know members will be able to share these stories. Those are traditional family values that we should celebrate and affirm.

There has been significant progress in the recognition of our relationships. In a number of jurisdictions there has been movement on pensions, on recognition of rights and responsibilities when a relationship breaks down, and on adoption. However much work remains to be done in the areas of immigration and pensions. There is still a lot of work in a number of other areas of federal jurisdiction before there is full equality and justice.

It is important that parliament send a signal to all Canadian citizens that we are not threatened by diversity but that we celebrate diversity and that part of that magnificent diversity in our Canadian society is a recognition of the families and the partnerships of gay and lesbian people. I believe those partnerships should be recognized in marriage if that is the choice of the people involved. I believe federal law should allow that. For that reason I rise in opposition to the bill before the House today.

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, as with all debates in this hallowed place, I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-225, an act to amend the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act and the Interpretation Act, put forward by the hon. member opposite.

As mentioned by numerous previous speakers, the purpose of the legislation is to ensure that marriage is void unless it is between one unmarried man and one unmarried woman. This is a strict legal definition. As with all legal semantics there is a broad range of interpretation. Social mores and marital convention are perhaps even more complex.

I congratulate the hon. member for Scarborough Southwest for bringing forward the legislation. It fosters a healthy debate within the Chamber, one that many feel needs to be pursued actively by Canadians from coast to coast. In my view the legislation crosses traditional party lines, extends beyond the elected representatives in this place, and needs to be examined by society as a whole. By its very nature the bill is personal and leads to as many opinions as the persons prepared to voice them.

While members of parliament may stand today in the House of Commons and loudly and proudly proclaim their parties' positions on what constitutes marriage in the legal sense, I would venture a guess that these opinions are not representative of their entire parties or even of their entire caucuses.

Although the Reform Party has offered the definition of marriage as referred to in Bill C-225 as being that of between a man and a woman, that definition was in relation to proposed fiscal reforms and not in relation to amendments to the Marriage Act.

Perhaps there will come a time in the House in which all members, regardless of political affiliation, will be able to express themselves on a legislative measure similar to the one proposed in Bill C-225. That time however is not here. With a private member's bill there has not been full debate, particularly amongst the Canadian public at large. Before such a debate occurs in public it must occur in society.

 

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We need a larger public venue for as many Canadians and members of parliament as possible to take part in the debate. We need to be circumspect, tolerant and measured when approaching issues of human relations. Perhaps the venue should be through a legislative committee or a royal commission. Having said that, I do not profess to offer the position of the Progressive Conservative Party with respect to this bill.

This bill reflects a moral question. It is one which each and every Canadian needs to reflect upon and ask themselves what they consider to be a married couple. It needs to be fully debated in a forum in which all Canadians may participate and voice their opinions, regardless of political affiliation.

Canadians are demanding less rigid partisanship and I feel this legislation is a prime opportunity for members and the Canadian public as a whole to demonstrate such willingness for change.

Personally I do not see how Bill C-225 would improve the social and economic condition of Canadians. Although Statistics Canada points to the growing number of common law relationships and single parent families, will Bill C-225 change this reality of Canadian life?

I could not agree more that strong parental role models are needed and are crucial to the development of the child. Sadly this is not the case throughout the country. I hasten to add that more often than not good role models are becoming a rare commodity in our communities. If parliament passed a law such as Bill C-225 I would seriously doubt as to whether it would result in increased marriages between men and women.

Bill C-225 operates under the same assumption as the Liberal government's firearms act and the recent amendments; namely, that legislation will automatically result in a change hoped for by its proponents. It is a false hope.

What evidence does the hon. member for Scarborough Southwest or any other member have that would support this contention? How would Canadians benefit from this legislation? It begs the question: What priority should it be given at this time?

Let us talk less about legislation and more about real people and real families. Let us talk about a young couple, recently married, both with huge student loans. The wife is expecting a child and would like to stay home and away from professional life. Yet this couple cannot afford to sacrifice the wife's income so she can remain at home to care for her child.

Another example is of a husband and wife married for 10 or more years with two children. The husband is unemployed and unable to find work. The wife has taken a minimum wage job to support the family, thus taking her away from the family. They are struggling to make ends meet and the entire family will suffer.

Changing the Marriage Act will not impact on those scenarios one iota. It would not improve the conditions for those families. It would not improve the conditions for the couples and it certainly would not improve the conditions for the children. I challenge anyone to state otherwise.

I would like to propose another series of measures which would improve the quality of life for Canadian families, be they in the traditional role espoused by many in society or be they part of the growing trend toward new types of families, such as single parents and common law couples. We need to be talking less about amending federal statutes and more about choices that the federal government is making with respect to Canadian families.

Let us focus our time as parliamentarians on reducing the tax burden for Canadians instead of spending more time on amending the Marriage Act. Let us urge the government to increase the basic income tax exemption from $6,456 to $10,000 a year. This measure would take two million lower income workers off the tax rolls and save money for every single Canadian taxpayer.

Let us urge the government to cut employment insurance premiums to remove the largest single barrier to job creation in Canada today or urge the government to reduce the tax credit of up to 17% interest on student loans. Let us increase annual RRSP contributions which are limited now and change the rules so that low and middle income workers can save more money by purchasing RRSPs, or make the $4,000 registered education savings plan, the RESP contribution, tax deductible and allow part of the current RRSPs to be transferred without a penalty to RESPs. Let us spend our time as parliamentarians identifying cost effective and fiscally responsible ways to index the child tax benefit as proposed by my caucus colleague, the hon. member for Shefford.

 

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Let us spend our time and effort urging the government to devote more resources to early intervention programs to prevent youth crime before it occurs. The Minister of Justice has already admitted that the level of support in her government for early intervention is currently embarrassing.

There is a shocking miscalculation of priorities that emanates from the government side of the House. Let us spend time highlighting the fact that the federal government only covers 30% of the cost of enforcing the Young Offenders Act, yet it will not listen to the provinces when they tell the Minister of Justice that her proposals are currently too weak.

Let us do more than just talk abut the threat of organized crime in this country and talk about how we can improve the peaceful existence of Canadians. Those are tangible, positive initiatives to truly strengthen Canadian families.

The Canadian family needs support. It is under tremendous pressure as to how it reacts as an institution to this pressure and it will determine the course that this country takes in the next generation. Canada's parliament needs to take decisive action to nurture our families.

In no way do I want to detract from the efforts or the motives of the hon. member for Scarborough Southwest, yet I am left to ask the same question repeatedly. What is the government doing to improve the situation for Canadian families as they currently exist? Will more young mothers and fathers be able to choose to stay at home and care for their children because the Marriage Act has been amended? I do not think so. Will there be more economic opportunities or employment opportunities as a result of these amendments? Again I would say no. Will we have fewer divorces or fewer child behavioural problems resulting from the proposed amendments? I do not believe so.

To me the answer comes from my constituents, those families who work hard, get by with less and live a reduced quality of life. They are the backbone of Canadian society. It is truly heartbreaking when an elected official gets visits, telephone calls and letters from constituents who are having trouble because of no fault of their own, trying to raise their family and trying to make ends meet. Not once have I heard someone come forward and ask me to change the Marriage Act. That is not the key to the solutions for the problems facing Canadian families.

As but one of 301 members of this House, I would therefore suggest that we establish a public forum, either a legislative subcommittee or a royal commission, to allow Canadians to express their collective opinion on this subject if it is deemed necessary.

This would be consistent with the approach that was taken by parliament in reviewing the Divorce Act through a special joint committee on child custody and access. Canadians need to hold open, vigorous and energetic debate on the amendments to the Marriage Act before parliament does so.

In the meantime, parliament has a responsibility and an obligation to Canadians to focus its time and resources on issues of priority.

Hon. Sheila Finestone (Mount Royal, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in two minutes I can barely address this subject of great importance. I want to say right from the very outset that I think this is just the beginning of a discussion. I do not agree in any way, shape or form with the proposal put forward by my colleague, although I respect his right to that point of view. I can see that there is a place for religious, spiritual and moral approaches from his perspective, but I see the role and relationship of the state in an entirely different light.

I think the relationship of mutual obligation based on partnership is absolutely fundamental. I think to bring in legislation in terms of lives in modern day society, and never mind 1866, is a contemporary pursuit that is absolutely necessary, where the principle of equality of both parties and the right to the division of assets on an equal basis, the right to benefits on an equal basis, the right to share that companionship and that mutual support and respect has nothing to do with gender politics and gender issues.

From my perspective I can tell members that discrimination based on sexual orientation is wrong. Discrimination where we cannot have a distribution of benefits equally among partners, whether they are two males, two females or a man and a woman, is wrong. I believe we have to have equal distribution of benefits and equal rights. It should apply equally to common law couples and to couples who are looking after each other in a loving relationship.

 

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I would love to have further used the definition of the family by the Vanier Institute. I would have liked to quote the Prime Minister who has a very strong point of view. I would have liked to tell the House what we are doing at the provincial level which will result in very uneven decisions across the land or about what has been said in the supreme courts of the country. I cannot, but they all agree with what I have just said.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The last five minutes goes to the hon. member for Scarborough Southwest in whose name the bill stands.

Mr. Tom Wappel (Scarborough Southwest, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in this brief time we have had an opportunity to see the beginnings of the kind of debate we should be having in the House.

We heard some good speeches. We heard some speeches with different points of view. This should not be the end. This should be the beginning. Unfortunately it will be the end because when I am finished speaking this bill is dead for all intents and purposes.

Some speakers missed some of the points. For example, the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas said that no one is shirking the debate. No one in here is shirking the debate because we are all here debating. However one of the stated reasons of the justice department for opposing the bill is that it risks opening further debate, particularly if referred to committee. The Department of Justice is shirking the debate, not members of parliament in the House of Commons.

Some speakers want to redefine marriage. I remind members that the position of the federal government, the position of the Government of Canada, the position of the minister, is that the law I quoted at the beginning is the law of Canada. The Department of Justice will continue to defend that law.

I am trying to put that in statutory form so that the judges of the country can see that the people of the country, as represented by their members of parliament, have spoken and give them guidance on the position of the government. Marriage is the voluntary union between one man and one woman who are not otherwise married. In fact that is what the majority of people believe a marriage should be. We are not talking about benefits. We are not talking about pensions. We are talking about the concept of marriage.

The member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve says that we cannot take a moral viewpoint in legislation. I could not disagree more. Everything we do in this place has a moral foundation to it, depending on how we were raised and how we look at things.

He talks about my taking a legalistic point of view. What do we do in this place? We pass laws. We control or try to control the lives of people based on the laws we pass in this place. Each and every one of us brings a set of moral guidelines which they consciously or subconsciously apply to every piece of legislation, whether it is gun control, tobacco restriction, tobacco advertising restriction, control of gangs and gang related activity, or the Criminal Code of Canada in which every sentence has a moral aspect. It is a complete code of what one must or must not do.

The member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve also said that the celebration of marriage was a provincial matter. That is completely incorrect in law. We have a federal Divorce Act. The reason for that is that marriage, the capacity to marry, is dealt with federally. It is up to the federal government to decide who can or cannot marry.

My friend asked whether two people could live together freely. Of course they can. Many people live together: brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, lesbian and gay couples, but that does not make them entitled to marry as we have known it.

If we want to allow other types of relationships we will have to open it up to all kinds of relationships, and that is not a debate to take place in a courtroom. That is a debate to take place here because it is up to society to decide what relationships will be recognized as a marriage. It is not up to the courts.

 

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The hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough went on and on about would this bill put a chicken in every pot, would this bill get a car in every garage. Of course it would not. All this bill is trying to do is enshrine in statute that which is currently the government's position, which is that there is no capacity to marry unless there is a male and a female.

In conclusion, as this is Private Members' Business this matter dies in about 10 seconds. I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to deem this bill votable so that we could debate the bill for another two hours and then have a vote.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The hon. member for Scarborough Southwest has asked that this bill be made votable. Is there unanimous consent that this bill be votable?

An hon. member: No.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): There is not unanimous consent.

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



ADJOURNMENT PROCEEDINGS

[English]

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

ROYAL CANADIAN MINT

Mr. Gilles Bernier (Tobique—Mactaquac, PC): Mr. Speaker, the dictionary defines competition as a rivalry between two or more businesses striving for the same customer or market. Accordingly if the Royal Canadian Mint carries through on its threat to borrow $30 million on the taxpayers' good credit rating and begins its risky venture into the coin blank market, it will become a competitor of Westaim Corporation from Alberta.

Westaim is a successful Canadian business with 110 employees in its coin plating division. For 35 years it has supplied coin blanks to the Canadian mint as well as to mints in countries around the world. However, in keeping with the government slogan that no good deed goes unpunished, the Liberals have decided to put this company out of business and its employees out of work.

This is not the first time the Liberals have interfered in a successful Canadian industry. In the 1970s the Liberal government of the day moved into the oil industry by purchasing Petrofina and setting up an intrusive national energy program. That brilliant scheme cost jobs, damaged the oil industry and wasted millions of precious taxpayers' dollars.

Why can this government not butt out and let the private sector take care of itself? Small and medium size businesses are the backbone of our Canadian economy. Throwing away money may be something this government has perfected, but putting companies out of business is going a little too far.

Experts from the South African and Birmingham mints have estimated that there is currently a 30% to 40% oversupply in the world coin blank market. They have predicted a reduction in demand in the near future.

Canadians are using cash and coins less and less. Why? Increasingly we are all using our bank cards, credit cards and in the very near future we will begin using electronic cash cards.

I would not want the government to be getting into the coin blank business now any more than I would have wanted it to get into the horse drawn buggy business in the 1900s. This venture would put the government into a start-up business in a sunset industry when there is already a saturated market.

Only two outcomes are possible, neither of which are desirable. Either the mint will bury Westaim and put its 110 workers on the unemployment lines, or the mint's new business will go down in flames and taxpayers will be on the hook for a minimum of $30 million.

Six months ago the mint started construction on its new coin plating plant, yet the minister does not have the authority of parliament to spend this money. Furthermore, the mint does not have the legal right to use the manufacturing process necessary to make coin blanks. Westaim owns the patent on this softening process and still has an unresolved lawsuit against the Royal Canadian Mint.

 

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As a government owned crown corporation, the mint could have used the patent if it had bought a licence, but it did not. As a result, the mint cannot legally manufacture coin blanks with this process and it is tied up in a lawsuit that might scuttle the entire project.

In conclusion, I have two questions. How can the minister arrogantly risk taxpayers' dollars on a project that might never see the light of day? If this matter is before the courts, why is the minister allowing the construction of the coin plating plant to continue?

Ms. Carolyn Parrish (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the mint's mandate is to supply Canadians with coins that are of high quality, cost effective and delivered on time.

As a commercial entity, the mint generates a financial return to the Government of Canada by successfully marketing its minting services and coinage products worldwide.

In early April the mint began construction of a new coin plating facility in Winnipeg which will fulfil three objectives. It will guarantee a cost effective supply of plated domestic coinage; produce annual savings of approximately $10 million; and generate additional profits of $3 million annually from the production of foreign plated coinage.

The mint obtained the funds to build the plating facility from a private commercial institution, not from the government. The mint does not receive any government subsidies.

Under the current Royal Canadian Mint Act, the mint may borrow up to $50 million from the consolidated revenue fund or any other source. Members may recall that in May the government introduced Bill C-41, an act to amend the Royal Canadian Mint Act and the Currency Act.

One of the amendments proposes increasing the mint's borrowing limit to $75 million. This is not because the mint needs additional money to finance the plating facility. It has already obtained the financing it requires. The proposed increase will allow the mint to maintain a borrowing cushion or margin of safety as growth occurs in the years ahead.

The mint's competition is not with Westaim, not with private industry, but rather with foreign government mints. Some countries will only contract from government mint to government mint.

The mint's investments in its plating plant, its workforce and its new technology will ensure that it is well placed to be a leader in the global market.

I would hope that this clarifies once and for all the mint's mandate, its operations and the financing for its new plating facility.

[Translation]

BC MINE IN BLACK LAKE

Mr. Jean-Guy Chrétien (Frontenac—Mégantic, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on June 26, the Minister of Human Resources Development announced a regular POWA for the former workers of the BC Mine in Black Lake.

Yet a month before, he said in this House that these workers did not want a regular POWA because such a program was in unfair for workers. The minister got the message very clearly on June 26, when he announced the granting of a regular POWA, in Thetford Mines, because the workers made their disappointment clear, in no uncertain terms.

As the elected member for Frontenac—Megantic and representative of the workers of the BC Mine, I am asking two things from the Minister of Human Resources Development. First that he not use the extra $1.6 million that Jean Dupéré contributed to the fund for the calculation of his regular POWA. Second that he accept to sit down with Minister Louise Harel, of the Government of Quebec, and the president of the CSN, André Laliberté, in order to resolve the issue and destandardize his POWA with the $1.6 million from Jean Dupéré.

In conclusion, I want to remind the minister that many of the former workers at the BC mine have used up their employment insurance benefits, that the mine has been closed for almost a year, that older workers have difficulty finding a new job, that many of them are now in dire straits, that he and his government are standing in the way of any agreement that could lead to a satisfactory and quick settlement.

The Minister of Human Resources Development is the only one responsible for delays in the settlement for the workers at the BC mine. These men are anxious to live with security and decency.

I do hope that the Minister of Human Resources Development will soon have good news for the former workers of the BC mine in Black Lake.

 

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[English]

Ms. Bonnie Brown (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada did move quickly to assist the British Canadian mine workers. In total we have granted some $4 million to help those laid off employees.

First in September 1997 we allocated close to $3 million for active measures to help the 300 or so affected workers quickly re-enter the labour market. Our active measures include targeted wage subsidies, self-employment assistance and skills development.

For instance in this case between 60 and 70 workers have found work at one of the other two mines run by Lab Chrysotile, the Bell mine or Lac d'Amiante du Canada. Approximately 60 others are interested in taking courses, 30 of whom are presently enrolled, with the other 30 starting in October. Seventeen have been placed by the Comité d'aide aux travailleurs de la mine B.C. through targeted wage subsidies. Three have started their own businesses, with another three being reviewed for possible funding. That is the first $3 million.

Last June the HRD minister also announced $1 million in funding under the program for older workers adjustment intended to help workers between 55 and 64 years of age. This measure will assist about 100 workers whose employment insurance benefits will soon be running out. But the provincial government has still not agreed to sign the POWA agreement to help these older workers. We hope that the Government of Quebec will respond positively and quickly so that we can begin to put these dollars in the hands of the 100 former miners who qualify.

The Government of Canada has responded responsibly to the British Canadian mine workers. We have put forward $4 million and a variety of programs to assist these Canadians through a difficult time.

[Translation]

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7.27 p.m.)

 

ParlVU