House of Commons Hansard #221 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

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The House resumed from June 13 consideration of the motion that Bill C-295, an act to provide for the control of Canadian peacekeeping activities by Parliament and to amend the National Defence Act in consequence thereof, as amended, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

June 19th, 1995 / 11 a.m.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am resuming remarks interrupted by other House business on another day and we now return to the motion of the hon. member for Fraser Valley East.

To recapitulate what I said earlier on this bill, one respects the intention and the purpose behind it. In the interim I have had the privilege of sitting as a substitute member on the all party committee on national defence. The experience reinforces the comment I made earlier. This is one of the very strong committees of the House. I was very impressed with the degree of knowledge of the members and the degree of co-operation across both sides of the table from all parties. In other words, there is a great deal of awareness in the committee of the gravity of the problem and the search for proper remedies.

That brings me back to the main point that the failure in Bosnia is a failure in foreign policy and not in the military sphere of the operation. The failure goes back to a basic criticism many contemporary historians have made that this is one of the low periods in foreign policy in the world community.

If we look at the confidence, the reaction to the events of the emerging cold war in the late forties and fifties, the very creative period in American foreign policy, in European foreign policy with Adenauer, Schuman and De Gasperi creating the European community, we are now in one of those periods in which foreign ministers simply seem unable to cope with the problems.

Returning to Bosnia, the failure was in lacking a vision of what to do with Yugoslavia once it broke up, as inevitably it was to break up. Everyone predicted this when Tito should die and Tito's regime should pass into history. We find there are alternative plans. Greater Serbia has been spoken of but there is a greater Bulgaria concept, a greater Greece concept, conflicting ambitions of Balkan powers restrained by the facts of life of the cold war and bipolarity but broke out with the breakdown of the cold war system of world public order and the new pluralism which dangerously at times comes close to anarchy.

In this area Canada has played a constructive and useful role. We were not in at the beginning on the decisions on Yugoslavia and post-communist Yugoslavia. We were not part of the contact group. To be frank, I see no point in our trying to join the contact group now. We would in effect be trying to correct errors made by European foreign ministers who should have known better.

We have to search for solutions using other arenas like CSCE, NATO, forum available to make our point. In terms of military operations, the Canadian forces have behaved with intelligence, good judgment and restraint. We have recognized that United Nations peacekeeping as devised by Prime Minister Pearson absolutely prohibits a political role. What is now talked about in contemporary international relations activities as crossing the Mogadishu line is something Canadian military men above all have always observed with proper self-restraint. We have to face the reality that our peacekeeping forces have not been developed with a view to imposing political solutions by military means. There is nothing in the training of our staff colleges that lends itself to this.

I have had the privilege of lecturing to our national defence college and the military college at various stages in my pre-parliamentary life. They are very well trained but they cannot cover the whole world. If we are to send them to Somalia to impose a political solution or to former Yugoslavia to impose a political solution the training is not there. We have behaved properly and correctly.

Counting this we have had three debates in the House on the future of peacekeeping. What emerges on the future of peacekeeping is a large interparty consensus which crosses the House that we wish to maintain the classical conception of peacekeeping. That is something we developed and which we do very well. If it is a matter of moving into peacemaking, imposing political

solutions, we have to recognize the limits of our special competence.

In countries that have connections with the former British empire, the Commonwealth and la francophonie there are special ties of culture and experience that give us perhaps the ability to make political judgments if that is what is called for. Elsewhere, it is entering unchartered seas. Therefore, the clear conclusion emerging from our debates is that we maintain peacekeeping as our function for the United Nations, that we do not get into peacemaking and that we do not cross the Mogadishu line.

In relation to the bill presented by the hon. member for Fraser Valley East, I respect the intention here but I wonder about the attempt to legislate what sensibly can be left to executive administrative judgment. In article 5(2) the Canadian forces shall not participate in any action designed to force the governor of state to leave office or to install a government other than by facilitating a democratic process in accordance with the laws of the state or a resolution of the United Nations general assembly or the United Nations security council.

We are bound by international law. Because it is one of the currently contested points before the International Court and elsewhere, it is arguable whether a United Nations general assembly or security council resolution can go beyond international law. Where it does go beyond that it is arguable it is unconstitutional in United Nations terms.

I wonder why one should try to legislate this. We are bound by common sense. The one thing emerging from the debates in the House and which any foreign minister would take note of is that Canadians do not want us to get into political ventures in the Balkans or areas where we have no special historical ties and no background of historical experience to aid our judgment. In other words, we have done very well with General MacKenzie and the people we have had there. The all party consensus is there and the defence committee reflects this. There is no need to legislate this. Good sense prevails.

This bill is taking us into an American style constitutional solution but it is unnecessary in our context. Even in the case of the United States, all the legislation in the world and the American constitution have not prevented the president of the United States making those errors of political judgment and getting involved in political military ventures overseas that go beyond the letter and, some would argue, the spirit of the constitution.

These debates on peacekeeping have been an educational experience. In many respects there have been inspiring contributions by members. The consensus is very clear that no foreign minister will take us on a creeping course into foreign military involvement. All reports of the summit meeting suggested we have exercised prudent self-restraint. Within the limits of our powers we have spoken to other foreign ministers, presidents and heads of states and have said as far as we are concerned we are peacekeepers, we cannot ourselves get involved in political-military ventures.

That is the spirit of the House. I do not think it is necessary to legislate it. However, I commend the member for Fraser Valley East for giving us yet another occasion to reaffirm a striking consensus.

Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Jean-Marc Jacob Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, on several occasions already we have had a chance to speak in the House on subjects concerning the peace missions. As did the member from the Liberal Party and my colleague from Foreign Affairs, we thanked the member for Fraser Valley East for having given us, by means of this bill, an opportunity to discuss the peace missions.

During the review of Canada's defence policy, the question of peacekeeping missions came up in the discussions of the national defence committee, of which I am a member.

When you look at Bill C-295, as the previous speaker remarked, you realize that there is an all-party consensus on the principle of peacekeeping missions and the humanitarian way. I would like to add that the people of Quebec and of Canada accept the fact that Canada participates in peacekeeping missions.

However, I am far from sure that this bill will remedy the shortcomings that have been noted during recent peacekeeping missions, whether in Rwanda or more recently still in the former Yugoslavia.

In my opinion, the bill-and we support it in principle, as I said-contains certain restrictions that are not spelled out as the Bloc Quebecois has requested on a number of occasions. As well, in the report on the review of Canada's defence policy, the member for Shefford and I asked on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois that criteria for peacekeeping missions be defined. Nowhere, either in the bill or in a statement by the government, is there set out what Canada thinks should be the basis for a clear definition of criteria governing participation by our military personnel in other or possible future peacekeeping missions. And yet Canada is supposed to be a leader in peacekeeping missions.

The government or some of its spokesmen have expressed reservations about the bill, saying that the fact that a peacekeeping mission agreement would have to be discussed in the House would slow down the effectiveness and speed of a decision and that this could be prejudicial to certain categories of mission.

Looking at the current mission, I think that argument does not hold a great deal of water, because ever since the conflict in the former Yugoslavia started, the Canadian government has been havering and wavering and sometimes even flip-flopping. When the Minister of Foreign Affairs told the UN last summer that Canada would be encouraging the UN to set up a permanent contingent and that Canada would participate, the Department of National Defence retorted that Canadian military personnel could not serve under an operational command that was not Canadian, and the whole issue is still up in the air.

In my opinion, with respect to peacekeeping in general and the current conflict in the former Yugoslavia in particular, the views of the citizens who pay for the humanitarian mission with their taxes are not given much attention.

Almost 1,800 of the peacekeepers in Bosnia come from CFB Valcartier, which is in my riding, and I can tell you that the people there are extremely interested in any discussion in this House of peacekeeping missions and also in statements from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister, or the Minister of National Defence. Some of them would like to know how it happened that in April 1992 Canada recognized Bosnia-Hercegovina as a sovereign state and called attention to Serb aggression, when throughout the conflict there seems to have been a certain slackness on the UN's part, recognized on all sides.

I have already reminded this House once that General Dallaire said that more than 200 UN resolutions had never been implemented and that with the amount of dithering going on it seemed possible the Serbs would end up laughing at the UN and the international organization.

The Minister of Defence was also reported recently to have said he was beginning to believe that the Serbs were playing cat and mouse.

I would like to add, because the bill does address the peace missions, that when soldiers return from missions, we hear some strange things. We also hear them from European parliamentarians who say that, since the UN has taken a great deal of time to act and change course-Indeed, several persons have requested either a change in the Security Council or a change in the way its resolutions are actually implemented; some persons are trying to say that at present the peace missions are no longer peace missions but no more than buffers between warring parties. They are even going so far as to say that UN peacekeepers, sometimes against their will, or because of the laxity of the UN, will practically be maintaining the conflict or making it drag on.

Mr. Speaker, you are not unaware-you have certainly heard-that when humanitarian convoys travel in the former Yugoslavia, Bosnia, or the self-proclaimed pseudo-Serb republic inside Bosnian territory, they are stopped at the checkpoints and, often enough, equipment, trucks and even food supplies are seized; Serbian soldiers or sometimes Bosnian soldiers then use the goods-ostensibly requisitioned for checkpoint purposes-to line their own pockets by selling them.

I think that the bill on the peace missions is certainly of value, and we agree with it in principle. I would go farther in that direction and say that it is high time the government made a decision once and for all, some aspects of which would certainly be referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs or the Defence Committee. It is high time to specify some basic criteria, before sending off our peacekeepers as part of peace missions without previously defining how far they are to go, how long they are to endure being slapped on one cheek and turning the other, and how long they are to be given equipment; I say "given" ironically, because very often that equipment is seized. Unfortunately-or perhaps fortunately-those things are known.

When soldiers return from missions, they mention the damning facts I have mentioned to you. At that point, the public, which, through its taxes, does send our peacekeepers on humanitarian missions, finds it hard to accept that Canada, the leader in peace missions, does not take the lead at the UN once and for all and make a really valid proposal for change that, I am sure, would be accepted by the parties in this House.

There is far too much hesitation and procrastination. I believe we have reached a point where we must-without necessarily pounding the table and becoming belligerent, something Canada has never been-at least manage to define a clear policy. For some eight or 10 months, since the first debates in this House on the peace missions, the Bloc Quebecois has in fact requested that specific criteria be established regarding the role our peacekeepers are called upon to carry out and also regarding a definition of our participation-military or humanitarian-that can be targeted, not only within a budget, but also within the limits of what is acceptable.

After all, we must not delude ourselves and begin to react energetically when we see hostages taken by the Serbs. People saw that on television screens all over the world. I think that chaining up a soldier as a human shield alone runs counter to every principle of the Geneva Convention governing countries at war. Unfortunately, both Canada and the other UN member countries took that incident lightly and hardly reacted to acts that can only be described as barbaric.

In conclusion, I believe that this bill is essentially a good idea, but it needs elaboration, and I would suggest to the government that it initiate a discussion process, both at Foreign Affairs and in the defence committee, with very precise criteria.

Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Harry Verran South West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, the bill we are addressing today, Bill C-295, proposes to shift control of the Canadian peacekeeping activities from the crown to Parliament as a whole and to amend the National Defence Act to reflect this wider decision making responsibility. Rather than offering an improvement to the system now in place, such legislation may well substitute rigidity for flexibility and inaction for responsiveness.

The bill before us was created out of concern for the Canadian forces' personnel serving on peacekeeping missions and the desire to ensure the government follows a sound decision making process; of that I am certain. However having examined the bill I am equally certain that it confuses more than it clarifies and that it will impede decision making rather than assist it.

In short, the bill will worsen rather than improve the system now in place. It will add time to matters that demand urgent responses and it will dilute responsibility for decisions that demand clear, unequivocal leadership. For these reasons I must oppose Bill C-295.

Bill C-295 would restrict the prerogative, speed and discretion of the crown to decide Canada's contribution to UN or regional peace operations. Peacekeeping like other military operations is carried out under the authority of the Minister of National Defence. Section 4 of the National Defence Act identifies the minister as the representative of the crown responsible for the management and direction of Canadian forces and for all matters relating to national defence.

However, the proposed bill would remove the responsibility and direction not only of the minister but of all the government respecting military operations. As a result, the bill would slow down the government's response to UN requests for assistance in peace operations and compromise its ability to respond to changes in the peacekeeping mandate in a timely manner.

It has been said that lost time is never found again. That certainly is the consensus of many former Canadian UN commanders who have identified as a major problem the length of time it takes for the international community to respond to a crisis.

Major-General Roméo Dallaire has spoken publicly of the importance of speed in responding to emergencies. He has estimated that tens of thousands of lives would have been saved in Rwanda if his urgent request for troops had been met with action.

I do not think Bill C-295 would improve the situation for a commander who found himself in a position similar to that of Major-General Dallaire. With another layer added to the decision making process it would require even longer for Canada to become involved and provide help. If a situation is deemed an emergency it should be treated like one.

Bill C-295 would also compromise a structure in place to manage international Canadian forces' operations. Every potential operation is evaluated against guidelines that include the broad political and foreign policy context, the overall mission requirements as well as our own military capability. These guidelines have been refined for more than 40 years of practical experience. They also reflect in a prudent but pragmatic manner the new thinking that has emerged since the end of the cold war. This new thinking was articulated in a 1994 defence white paper which contains a list of key principles that underlie the design of all peace missions.

I should like to remind the House the Minister of National Defence consulted widely before formulating this policy. The overriding principle determining each peacekeeping mission is that it addresses genuine threats to international peace and security, such as the worsening situation in the former Yugoslavia, where there are emerging human catastrophes such as we have seen in Somalia and Rwanda.

I have explained why and how Bill C-295 would slow down Canada's ability to respond and contribute to international peacekeeping. Now I would like to talk about how the bill confuses the issues that underlie our current system. The confusion represents many more impediments in what must be a rapid and flexible decision making process.

First, Bill C-295 as it is currently written contains restrictions that would prevent the government from carrying out its obligations under the UN charter. Chapter VII of the charter provides for action by the security council with respect to threats to peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression. Under various articles of the charter UN member states are required to carry out the security council decisions aimed at maintaining international peace and security.

Although as worded the bill appears to cover the UN chapter VII operations, most of its provisions contradict chapter VII requirments. I question whether Canada would have contributed to the gulf war if Bill C-295 were in effect a few years ago.

What troubles me more however is the provision of Bill C-295 that gives up Canadian sovereign command of Canada forces elements. I believe strongly that this would lead to an unworkable command and control relationship. The intent of the bill seems to be taking us back in time to the first and second world wars when Canadian troops came under allied rather than national command. This indeed appears to be a regressive step and one that I doubt the bill's proponents meant it to take.

Canadian forces personnel serving on peace operations today are always commanded by a Canadian. Canadian units and personnel can only be placed under the operational control and not the operational command of the UN or other multinational commanders for specific tasks. Under operational control, changes to the tasks assigned to Canadian peacekeepers or to their area of operations must receive Canadian national approval. Under operational command, Canadian troops could be reassigned and moved without such approval.

Under current legislation a non-Canadian commander who only has operational control cannot separately assign components of a Canadian unit. A company of infantry soldiers, for example, cannot be removed from its battalion to serve with another unit unless the deployment is approved by Canada. Once again, under the non-Canadian operational command this could happen.

Currently commanders of Canadian contingents are directly responsible to the Chief of the Defence Staff for the success of their operations. However under Bill C-295 Canadian commanding officers would be placed under UN or other international command. To my mind this would mean less national control, not more.

To sum up, I cannot support a bill that appears to provide for greater control by the government over peacekeeping operations when in fact it reduces government control, compromises national authority over troops abroad and confuses several key components and concepts. Moreover, at a time when flexibility of response is critical to meeting the demands of rapid change, the bill proposes significant restrictions on the government's ability to manoeuvre.

The government has demonstrated its commitment to consultation. We have listened to the views of parliamentarians and ordinary Canadians alike in formulating defence policy and we will continue to do so in the future.

Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak in support of Bill C-295 presented by my colleague from Fraser Valley East.

The bill has several important features that commend it. The first is that it is a peacekeeping bill. I believe it is important that all Canadians, including their representatives in the House, understand the difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking. This is little understood.

The situation in the former Yugoslavia gives us a good example. If I understand it properly, there is a real peacekeeping operation going on in Croatia. This is so because the warring factions there agreed that they wanted peace and agreed to the UN going in to keep it, which the United Nations did under chapter VI, the peacekeeping chapter of the UN charter.

In Bosnia, on the other hand, we do not have a peacekeeping operation there because there was no prior agreement among the Serbs, the Muslims and the Croats to have peace. Therefore, as is very evident, there is no peace to keep. What is going on there is humanitarian assistance under chapter VI of the UN charter. What is needed in Bosnia-Hercegovina is an agreement between the warring factions that there be peace, or we need a declaration with follow up actions by the United Nations that peacemaking is required under chapter VII of the charter. We need one or the other to happen there and we have neither.

Canada's help to Rwanda, if we take another example, was one of humanitarian aid: the provision of medical assistance, food, water and communications under chapter VI, which is the peacekeeping chapter.

Let us look at our activity in Somalia. This came under both chapters VII and VI of the UN charter. From January to June of 1993 members may remember seeing pictures of Somalian warlords roaring around the country in vehicles that had machine guns mounted on them. What was required there was a military operation to bring the bandits under control. Canada during that first six months was in Somalia as a peacemaker under chapter VII of the UN charter. Once the situation was under control and some agreement had been reached with the warlords, Canada moved into operating under chapter VI, which is the peacekeeping chapter of the UN charter.

Aside from understanding the difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking, the important point to be made is that it has got to be clear in everyone's mind before we get involved in any military operation what kind of an operation it is. Is it clearly peacekeeping or is it not? This lack of clarity has led us to the situation we now have in Bosnia.

It is also important to know what the terms of reference are or what the mandate is before we get involved. Canada has a good example and a bad example of each in our experience in Indochina, in Vietnam. Canada, as part of the International Commission for Supervision and Control, spent nearly 20 years in Indochina along with India and Poland. The problem was that we were ineffective there because the rules governing the ICSC did not allow Canada to tell the world what was going on. We could not unilaterally bring the world's attention to the violations of peace agreements.

After nearly 20 frustrating years we finally learned our lesson in 1973. In that year we responded to the U.S. desire to extricate itself from Vietnam and get its prisoners of war out of North Vietnam. Canada agreed to be one of the four nations that formed the International Commission for Control and Supervision. There was a juxtaposition of the initials ICCS as opposed to the former ICSC.

We went into that commission with what we called an open mouth policy which allowed Canada to make public all violations to the peace, which were for the most part by the Viet Cong. I have described this operation before in this House and do so again because it illustrates a certain amount of savvy on Canada's part. We went into Vietnam, did our job, got the American prisoners of war out and then left the commission within six months without getting bogged down as we did in the previous ICSC or as we did in Cyprus for 29 years.

What Bill C-295 does is bring Canadian peacekeeping missions before Parliament. It is important that we do this. The debate and review that would take place would diminish the chances of our going into a military operation with inadequate terms of reference and without knowing what we are getting into and for how long.

Bill C-295 would not tie the hands of cabinet or the Department of National Defence in reacting swiftly where military intervention was required. It would simply ensure that things were properly considered and that the Canadian people were involved in the decision making process through their parliamentary representatives here assembled.

Several weeks ago I was in Hungary and I discovered in that rather new democracy that they are very interested in civilian control over the military. What I found is that their Parliament has more control today over their troops than Canada has over its own. Even one Hungarian soldier may not cross the frontiers of that country without parliamentary approval. That is not so in good old democratic Canada.

Canadians take pride in the fact that we have been leaders in the international community in peacekeeping operations and particularly in the United Nations sponsored ones. We take pride in the professionalism and compassion shown by our troops. This applies to Somalia as much as it does anywhere else. We have heard the negative stories out of Somalia and there is no excusing those transgressions but there has been precious little publicity given to the good works of the men of the airborne regiment in that unfortunate land.

Our men in uniform are a cross section of the population of Canada. They act humanely and compassionately. We have heard far too little about the help our troops gave to the Somalians from restoring order to medical assistance, food, shelter, schooling and so on. I really do wish the news media would bring out this aspect of the airborne regiment's performance. Perhaps the Somalia commission of inquiry under Justice Létourneau, which continues hearings today, will be instrumental in telling the story about what went right as well as what went wrong.

In any event, our experience over the years, good and bad, in peacekeeping and peacemaking in Croatia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia, the gulf war, the Sinai, the Golan Heights, Suez, Kashmir, the Congo, Vietnam, Korea and other operations should give us pause as Canadians to think about what we have done in the past and what we will do in the future.

We should not take such pride in our past participation that we join in all such operations without due consideration. I suspect that there was an element of that in our entry into the former Yugoslavia. Bill C-295 would enhance our decision making process and I heartily commend it.

Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

John Richardson Perth—Wellington—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak at third reading of Bill C-295, an act to provide for the control of Canadian peacekeeping activities by Parliament and to amend the National Defence Act in consequence thereof.

Like other members on the government side of the House, I find Bill C-295 to be a flawed, contradictory piece of legislation that would do irreparable damage to Canada's reputation as a skilled peacekeeper. If this bill were to become law our ability to participate effectively in future peacekeeping missions would be put at serious risk. The very lives of our peacekeepers would be put in grave danger.

Before I look at some of the specific details of Bill C-295 I think it is important to understand the nature of Canada's current involvement in peacekeeping activities and the way in which we manage our participation in these operations. Only then will the shortcomings of this legislation be fully appreciated.

Canada has a long and proud tradition of helping the global community to defend peace, freedom and democracy. We remain committed to creating an association with our friends and allies and a stable international environment.

We realize that our security and our prosperity depend on a more stable world order. Because Canada is a responsible member of the international community and one of the world's major trading nations, we know that conflicts must be contained and their expansion prevented. We also want to help reduce or eliminate suffering in cases where outside assistance can make a contribution.

Canada has long viewed peacekeeping as an extremely useful tool in international efforts to manage and resolve conflict. We have excelled at peacekeeping and we like to boast, with some authority I would say, that our experience and skills are unmatched. Our contribution to peacekeeping reflects our belief that a stable international order is essential to Canada's long term peace and security. It is for this reason that we provide well

trained and suitably equipped military personnel for peacekeeping and related operations.

However, although Canada reviews attentively all requests for it to participate in peacekeeping missions, our participation is not automatic. Our participation is second to none, certainly, but it does not follow that we will be part of every mission. There have been UN peacekeeping missions in which Canada has not participated.

Nevertheless the international community turns to Canada almost as a matter of course whenever a new mission is getting off the ground. The world not only understands that peacekeeping is an integral part of our own foreign policy but it also knows that our flexible, multipurpose combat capable forces can do the job.

We have a long tradition of peacekeeping expertise based on professionalism, training and the resources of our personnel. We have a wealth of experience in preparing, deploying, sustaining and repatriating great peacekeeping forces of various sizes. More recently we have been the vanguard of new concepts. Our corporate memory in peacekeeping makes us a natural choice for a wide variety of missions. It has taken years to build this marvellous reputation. We do not want to see it disappear now. This bill I fear would do just that.

Let me look at some of the specific problems of Bill C-295. First, I do not believe the authors of Bill C-295 fully understand the nature of modern peacekeeping. For example the definition of peacekeeping offered is too imprecise and does not specify the types of operations covered. Peacekeeping as we know from our experience in the former Yugoslavia has become a generic term covering a broad range of activities, from traditional Pearsonian peacekeeping and preventive deployment to peace enforcement and peace building. These distinctions are glossed over in the legislation.

Nor is it explained anywhere in the bill why this applies only to the Canadian forces. Civilians are often used in UN peacekeeping missions-elections personnel, for example, and police officers. But there is no mention of civilians anywhere.

Bill C-295 confuses other fundamental concepts. It would amend the National Defence Act so all members of the Canadian forces assigned to a peacekeeping mission would be on active service for all purposes. This proposal is unnecessary. Pursuant to Order in Council P.C. 1989-583 dated April 6, 1989, all regular force members anywhere beyond Canada and all reserve force members beyond Canada are currently on active service. Moreover, all members of the regular force have been on active service continually since 1950.

In other words, there is no legal requirement for individual orders in council placing members on active service for specific peacekeeping missions. Our practice of issuing orders in council is simply a parliamentary convention, although I might add that it reflects the government's commitment to involve Parliament more frequently in defence matters.

With respect to termination of Canadian contributions, let me move on to some of the provisions in the bill which deal specifically with peacekeeping operations.

For example, clause 8 of the bill requires that when the objectives of a mission are reached, all Canadian forces shall be withdrawn. At first sight, this is a very sensible idea. But in reality it will be difficult to determine at what point objectives have been reached, or how much expenditure it will take to reach them. And yet those are the very conditions that the bill would like to see defined in advance.

If a Canadian contingent were withdrawn from a mission too quickly, our participation could prove pointless, and worse still the whole mission could be compromised.

Moreover, the bill states that Canada should set its own peacekeeping objectives. However it is not clear how international and national aims might be reconciled. As it stands if we do not like an operation's objectives we do not contribute. However once we join we understand the operation is multilateral. We take pride in our role as a team player in international missions and we do not want to compromise it now.

The muddled thinking that dominates much of Bill C-295 carries over into the section dealing with rules of engagement. Let me first provide a little context. Rules of engagement are always issued to armed Canadian forces personnel participating in international operations. Our personnel often operate under UN rules of engagement, although these are frequently drafted in conjunction with the Canadian forces staff at national defence headquarters as well as the Canadian contingent commander.

Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. This is the end of the debate on this bill. I would just like to thank all members for contributing to that debate. The bill was drafted in response to the recommendations of the joint Senate-Commons defence committee in its recommendation that Parliament be consulted before future peacekeeping missions.

I thank hon. members for their debate and ask that they support this bill.

Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 11.52 a.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings to put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the second stage reading of the bill before the House.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Peacekeeping Act
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen: