House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreement.

Topics

Haiti
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean
Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the government's efforts to bring about a peaceful solution in Haiti are not without merit, but we must remember that what is happening there today is not very peaceful and that in some situations, we must know how to act effectively with the means at our disposal.

I want to ask the minister why he still believes that reinforcing trade sanctions could bring about a peaceful solution to the Haitian question, since so far, strengthening trading sanctions has had no effect at all on the military junta.

Haiti
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

André Ouellet Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Leader of the Opposition for supporting the government's action which is aimed at convincing the military that it is in the interests of the Haitian people and in their own interests to yield to president Aristide and to do so as soon as possible.

I am encouraged by the energetic action taken by the Organization for American States which unanimously embraced the position proposed by the personal representative of the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Caputo. Second, I am also encouraged by the decision of the authorities of the Dominican Republic to establish a more secure and effective system to control the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

On that basis, I believe that the total embargo will be effective and will convince the military to yield.

Haiti
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean
Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, one can decide on a strategy and hope it will succeed, but one must also realize the strategy may fail and plan accordingly.

In this case, the military junta has not budged so far. In fact, it has hardened its position and become out and out arrogant, witness the recent inauguration of a puppet president to head a puppet government.

I want to ask the minister whether all this hesitation on his part merely means that he will probably wait until the Haitian president's term is up and then realize that nothing more can be done and that all these measures were strictly dilatory measures.

Haiti
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

André Ouellet Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Canada has supported unequivocally President Aristide. We are working with other countries, particularly the four friends of Haiti, in order to bring about as quickly as possible the return of President Aristide. I think the Leader of the Opposition knows this very well. Whatever the implications are, they are unfounded.

It is quite clear that in co-operation with others, particularly France, the United States and Venezuela, we are hoping to achieve total sanctions, a policy that will bring about the departure of the military forces and the return of President Aristide.

Rail Transportation
Oral Question Period

June 14th, 1994 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transport is proclaiming the end of the great Canadian national dream. His intent is clear. Rather than make our national rail system more efficient, the Minister has decided to pull out of the rail transportation sector, arguing that it is more important for Canadians and Quebecers to keep their social programs.

Can the Minister of Transport confirm if the planned abandonment of rail lines is part of his own department's expenditure reduction plan and will he concede that his desire to rationalize the rail system is fundamentally tied to his goal of eliminating nearly 15,000 jobs at Transport Canada?

Rail Transportation
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the future of Canada's rail system depends primarily on the public's use of this mode of transportation.

My hon. colleague knows full well how important it is to maintain an adequate level of service for all modes of transportation, including passenger rail service. However, the cost of these operations cannot be ignored and we are currently con-

ducting a review of Canada's entire transportation system, including VIA Rail.

I want to assure my colleague that any decisions that will be taken will be in the best interests of all Canadians.

Rail Transportation
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

Mr. Speaker, the frequency and quality of services obviously influences passenger traffic.

Are we to understand that the government is preparing to abandon major railway lines in several regions without directly consulting the people affected or involving them in the decision-making process and without consulting the Standing Committee on Transport?

Rail Transportation
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, there is a very well established process for the abandonment of rail lines or passenger services. On the question of CN and CP, it is through the National Transportation Agency. With respect to VIA rail there is a system in place where abandonment can only be achieved through order in council.

There is no imminent decision with respect to the closure of any services that are currently being offered by VIA Rail because as VIA Rail officials are waiting for the results of their negotiations with their employees, so is the Government of Canada. Any rationalization of services with respect to VIA in Canada will only be decided upon after we have seen what the result of these current labour negotiations are.

Peacekeeping
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by welcoming the Prime Minister back home and thanking him for his moving representation of Canada at the D-Day ceremonies.

Peacekeeping
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Peacekeeping
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

And now down to business. On his trip the Prime Minister visited Bosnia. He expressed dissatisfaction with the situation there and threatened to remove Canadian troops. This comes at a time when American proposals to lift sanctions against Bosnian Muslims have caused the Russian foreign minister to threaten that such action might bring the world back to the cold war.

My question to the Prime Minister is what criteria will determine whether or not Canadian peacekeeping troops remain in Bosnia?

Peacekeeping
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Reform Party for his kind words.

I was in Bosnia and found the situation there terrible. I think that everybody there wants peace. I had occasion to meet with the soldiers, who are doing a fantastic job. By the way, they are a regiment from Calgary. I talked with them. In talking with the citizens there, I found that everybody wants peace.

If we were at this time to lift the arms embargo, the war would start again. We believe that we have to be there to maintain peace. I said to the Prime Minister that they have to sit down and negotiate an honourable peace for everybody. Lifting the arms embargo would be conducive to more war.

We have troops there, as do the French and the English. It is easy for the United States Congress to lift the embargo. They do not have soldiers in the field. We do.

I want to make it very clear that we are there to maintain peace, but if the war starts again, we will have to review the decision. We have had two votes on this issue here in this House of Commons and I am grateful that the members sustained the position of the government.

After consultation with my colleagues the President of France, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and others during my visit to England and France, I came to the conclusion that lifting the embargo was the wrong decision. We want peace. The best way to keep peace is not to arm the people but to foster a situation where there will be real disarmament and to have a negotiated settlement between the people who live there and who want to live peacefully.

Peacekeeping
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary question.

Many Canadians are concerned that Canadian foreign policy in regard to UN peacekeeping operations is either adrift or is being made up on a peace by peace basis. They would like the government to be more precise on the criteria and guiding principles which determine whether Canada supports UN sanctions or peacekeeping operations in particular situations.

The next hot spot in which Canada could find itself enmeshed is Korea. Northern Korea has said it would consider any imposition of UN sanctions as a declaration of war.

Could the Prime Minister tell us what criteria the government is applying to determine what role Canada should be playing to ensure a peaceful and positive outcome on the Korean peninsula?

Peacekeeping
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the criteria are very simple. We come to the House and ask the

views of members of Parliament. The basic approach is common sense. We look at the situation and we decide if it makes sense to carry on.

We are there as peacekeepers. We have to make sure we are there under the umbrella of the United Nations. When the United Nations proposes rules that should apply against some nations we respect them. These are the criteria we respect. It is very simple. The basic criteria is what makes sense. I do not think to carry on with the war in Bosnia makes any sense.

Peacekeeping
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am sure it is important for the government to know it has public support for whatever criteria it uses to determine Canada's role in supporting UN sanctions or peacekeeping operations.

Recently Switzerland in its democratic decision making tradition conducted a national referendum on whether or not to play a more active role in United Nations sponsored peacekeeping.

What plans does the government have for securing public understanding and public endorsation of its criteria for determining how Canada will respond to future United Nations peacekeeping requests?