House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was native.

Topics

Asia Pacific Foundation Of Canada
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Richmond
B.C.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table today, in both official languages, the joint report to Parliament of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Milliken Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages and pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), the government's response to two petitions.

China
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Richmond
B.C.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific)

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend I had the honour of participating in the events to mark the 50th anniversary of D-Day.

Standing next to some of the Canadians who sacrificed so much for our freedom I could not help but feel overwhelmed with pride. Because of them and thousands more like them, many of whom sacrificed their lives, our country is a living example to the world of how diversity, tolerance and generosity can build a peaceful, prosperous society. These are the values Canadians fought for in two world wars and these are the values we continue to uphold.

The weekend before last I also took part in an event organized by Canadians to commemorate a group of people who, while not Canadians, nonetheless sacrificed their lives in the hope of achieving the values we in Canada hold so dear. I took part in ceremonies commemorating the fifth anniversary of the tragic events of Tiananmen Square.

I was honoured to have been asked to lay flowers at the monument at the University of British Columbia which was erected by the Alma Mater Society of UBC, the Chinese Student and Scholar Association of UBC, and the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement to commemorate the tragic events in Tiananmen. Respect for human rights was one of the principal reasons I became active in Canadian politics and it is with this philosophy that I am proud to stand as a member of this government.

As the Minister of Foreign Affairs outlined in a speech last week, this government has a very clear framework when it comes to the conduct of our bilateral relations with China. This framework is based on four pillars: economic partnership; sustainable development; peace and security; and human rights and the rule of law. We do not sacrifice one at the expense of the other. Indeed they are mutually reinforcing. Today I would like to focus on the human rights pillar.

Respect for human rights is an essential part of Canadian foreign policy. Our relationship with China cannot be reduced or simplified to trade versus human rights arguments. We believe systematic and wide ranging contact will lead to calls within Chinese society for greater openness and freedom.

Surely there is evidence that increased political flexibility is a byproduct of economic liberalization, and governments that have opened their markets to international trade are more sensitive to the views and reactions of other countries.

An inward looking society that depends little on trade and international investment is less likely to respond to concerns raised by foreigners. Trade reduces isolationism. Trade also expands the scope of international law and generates the economic growth required to sustain social change and development. Economic liberalization also leads to the pluralization and the empowering of interest groups in society.

Nevertheless it is imperative that we as a government continue to raise the matter of human rights with those countries we believe to be in violation thereof at every opportunity.

While we respect time honoured traditions and cultures our position has always been that the best guarantee for stability and prosperity is a government that is responsive to its people.

As a matter of policy this government will continue to work with other countries to ensure that China respects its obligations under the United Nations declaration of human rights. This was affirmed in the resolution voted on three weeks ago in my party's policy convention.

On a bilateral basis we have also expressed our concerns on human rights to the Chinese leadership. Indeed, during the visit of Vice Premier Zou Jiahua to Canada I personally voiced my concern about human rights in China and I raised specific cases with the vice premier. This was also done by the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in the meetings with Mr. Zou.

At the same time we intend to engage in constructive projects and dialogues with the Chinese government on this question. It is for this reason that our government will be funding joint research projects like the one between the University of Ottawa's human rights centre and Beijing University.

I believe this kind of dialogue and co-operation will help to bring about greater understanding and will be of assistance to the Chinese government in its efforts to reform its legal and judicial structures.

CIDA's China program has contributed to China's economic reforms and gradual opening mainly by creating links between people and institutions, transferring skills, knowledge and technology, and exposing thousands of Chinese to Canada, its values and government.

Canadians expect their elected representatives to abide by the democratic principles on which our society is built. The Liberal Party has always taken an innovative and effective approach to its dealings with China.

It was a Liberal government in 1970 that took the bold and imaginative step of recognizing the People's Republic of China. I believe this helped to create the conditions for China to embark on a process of economic reform and opening to the outside world, a development which has had a tremendous positive impact on millions of ordinary Chinese citizens.

As one who has been actively involved in the democratic movement, I want to assure this House and all Canadians concerned about human rights that dialogue and engagement will best serve Canada's interests and those of the Chinese people. This is the policy of this government and I believe it is the right one.

China
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Nic Leblanc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this morning and to mark on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois the sad anniversary of the massacres in Tiananmen Square. Thousands were killed there when the repressive Chinese regime crushed the student democracy movement.

In spite of the hopes that had been raised by this vast movement, democracy is still no closer to being a reality five years later. In Shanghai, the 5th anniversary was marked by the arrest of dissident Bao Ge after he had filed papers with the city to register a human rights organization.

Mr. Bao Ge, who had been under permanent police surveillance, was one of the few human rights activists who had not been detained or forced to leave the big cities.

In Beijing where particularly repressive security measures have been put in place, the police, terrified by the idea of public demonstrations, ringed the square where the tragedy occurred.

Memories of the crushing defeat of the democracy movement during the night of June 3 and 4, 1989, are still vivid. According to dissidents and foreign observers, thousands were massacred.

The first image that automatically springs to mind is that of the student facing down the tanks which literally crushed the uprising. One would think that here in Canada, the federal government would have decided to mark this event by making radical changes to its human rights policy, a policy which the secretary of state is defending this morning with great conviction.

Indeed, a great deal of courage and conviction is required to defend this government's 180 degree turn. From now on, human rights will apparently take a back seat to this government's commercial interests.

As the Leader of the Opposition stated in a question to the Prime Minister: "Canada is relinquishing its historic responsibility, since the Prime Minister knows perfectly well that polite comments behind closed doors will have no impact on foreign leaders who systematically violate human rights". Would you care to hear the Prime Minister's answer, Mr. Speaker? He answered to the effect that China would laugh in his face if he adopted a hard-line position.

I think we are the ones who are being laughed at now. If we want respect, we must have a conscience and that conscience is what has earned Canada the worldwide admiration it currently enjoys.

We have heard the ministers of this government take turns telling us that human rights are no longer tied to trade and market logic.

As my hon. colleague from Hochelaga-Maisonneuve stated before this this House on March 22 last, and I quote: "The Liberals had promised a more 'we'll go it alone' Canadian foreign policy, one more in line with Lester B. Pearson's vision. Let the naive think again! The Liberal government is trashing a long-standing tradition of defending human rights, reducing

Canada to the condition of petty trading nation without any vision, or heart or soul".

This morning, the secretary of state reaffirmed the very clear framework of bilateral relations with China recently described by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. There is clearly a double standard regarding human rights violations, with Canada applying a very harsh policy in the case of poor countries-let us just think of Haiti-but a lenient one, one of turning a blind eye, as far as rich countries are concerned.

I listened carefully as the secretary of state praised the four pillars on which the government has decided to base the conduct of its relations with China.

Allow me to reply to some of his remarks. The secretary of state said, and I quote: "We believe systematic and wide-ranging contact will lead to calls within Chinese society for greater openness and freedom".

The problem is not so much prompting Chinese society to call for more freedom as having the courage to pressure the Chinese government to stop repressive action against all those who do call for this freedom.

The secretary of state also indicated, and I quote: "-during the visit of Vice Premier Zou Jiahua to Canada, I personally voiced concern about human rights in China and I raised specific cases with the Vice Premier".

We believe that the Chinese are expecting much more from Canada than a mere expression of concern. Why not have voiced outrage? Why not have voiced it publicly? Why not have condemned the ongoing repression? God forbid that the government jeopardize its relations with China and prejudice any contract by daring to be insistent in any way!

The secretary of state told us about no specific multilateral action that the government intends to take to make up for its lack of leadership in bilateral relations. I challenge the secretary of state when he tells us that the Liberal Party has always taken an innovative and effective approach in its dealings with China. The Liberal Party is certainly not innovating today; if anything, it is going backwards.

I will remind him that an extremely significant step was taken at the Francophone Summit in Dakar in 1989, when Canada led the 42-country Francophonie in adopting a resolution making protection of human rights a "fundamental objective" of the international community.

It also mentioned that not only Canada but also the other leading nations had to take account of the behaviour of the receiving countries-

China
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. I hope that the hon. member will excuse me, but it is a principle of equality and parity. You do not have more time than the minister.

Is there unanimous consent to allow the hon. member to continue for a few minutes?

China
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

China
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

China
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Perhaps I should make the point again. There is an understanding that if a minister goes, for example, 15 minutes, the spokespeople for the two other parties can go as long as he or she does, but not longer.

China
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to stand in front of the House and honour the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives in Tiananmen Square five years ago.

Like the minister, I often think about the huge square standing in front of the forbidden city, with its overpowering picture of Chairman Mao overlooking what has happened through history in that square.

It was mentioned by one of my colleagues that looking back in history we can often learn some things. Certainly one of the things that might take us back to the thirties was listening to the commentary regarding the rise of the Nazis and what happened in Germany. It only emphasizes the difficult decision we have to make today, whether we isolate or do we get involved.

All of us look forward to the day when China joins other countries that respect freedom and democracy for its people, respect and accept the human rights standards that exist for all countries of the world. In the interests of security in Asia it is vital that we work with these people and that we work from within as the minister has suggested.

We too would agree that the interests of China's people will best be served in the long run by our participation in China. The only real choice the people of China have for more humanitarian and democratic treatment is for us to help them become less economically dependent on the Government of China and with a vision of what is really happening in the world outside.

I cannot help but think of the first time I visited China 15 years ago. It is unbelievable the changes that have occurred within that country in a relatively short time. It stands as some proof of exactly what happens when the western society gets involved. China has made changes and the people have achieved more freedom. It is not perfect but at least they do have a better quality of life.

While we would like to have a perfect world, that just is not possible. All we can hope is that we can have influence and that over time things will change. This is our opportunity to play a leadership role based on our early recognition of China and our continued dealings with China over the years.

We must become more aggressive in our approach to China and be certain that we take every diplomatic opportunity open to us to press for more human rights. We look forward to the day we can stand in the House and truly congratulate the Chinese people on having achieved true and complete democracy.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Gordon Kirkby Prince Albert—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development regarding the conservation of the Porcupine caribou herd.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 the committee requests that the government table a response to this report within 150 days.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in both official languages the first report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on Bill C-31, an act to amend the Canadian Film Development Corporation Act, without amendment.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member on a point of order. The member I think appreciates he will have to have unanimous consent for this.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I believe you will find there is unanimous consent to waive the 48-hour requirement for introduction of this bill.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping Act
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-258, an act respecting the establishment and award of the Canadian volunteer service medal and clasp for United Nations peacekeeping to Canadians serving with a United Nations peacekeeping force.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is introduced to correct an oversight that occurs at the moment. At this time the United Nations issues medals to Canadians who serve on peacekeeping activities. At some time after the issue of that United Nations medal, the Governor General declares that medal to be a Canadian medal. Many of our peacekeepers feel that this is not truly a Canadian recognition and therefore there is a desire among them to be recognized by the issue of a Canadian medal.

Also included in this bill is the clasp which would provide visual recognition of the great honour that was bestowed on Canada by our peacekeepers when they won the Nobel peace award on September 30, 1988. This bill would provide a clasp on the medal which would show those people who had earned that award.

All Canadians are justifiably proud of our contribution to peacekeeping and it is fit and proper that we provide pure Canadian recognition of their contribution to our world esteem.

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