House of Commons Hansard #101 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mission.

Topics

Great Lakes Region Of Africa
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Charlesbourg for his remarks.

A debate like this is a time when all members of the House of Commons can express our feelings about a very serious situation regardless of our party affiliations, whether we are on the government or the opposition benches.

In reviewing the situation this past week I would like to draw the government's attention to the possibility that the Hutu refugees who are arriving on the Rwandan borders, hundreds of thousands right now, may be part of something that has been instigated by the Hutu militias themselves.

I am afraid of this. Two years ago in 1994 during the genocide in Rwanda, the Hutus fled. When they fled they left their homes and villages empty. In the intervening two years a great number of exiled Tutsis have returned to those villages in Rwanda. There is a situation in Rwanda right now where hundreds of thousands of Hutus are returning to their homeland and there are Tutsis occupying many of those villages.

I suggest this is the classic formula for additional conflict, for additional fighting among the local populations. I noticed that the Minister of National Defence made it very clear that in committing troops to Rwanda and Zaire they are being given the robust rules of engagement. That means they can defend themselves with deadly force or defend aid workers with deadly force. While one regrets that very possibility I still applaud the minister of defence for giving the troops that authorization.

However, we must remember another spectre will present itself to our soldiers over there, or there is a very good chance of it. The Minister of National Defence also made it very clear that Canadian troops were not to intervene in local or factional fighting. And so we in this House, Canadians and possibly the world have to be prepared for the possibility that we will have troops and aid workers on the ground, that we will see surrounding them a resumption of the mindless killing we saw two years ago.

I bring to the attention of the House and to all Canadians that while we do engage in a humanitarian effort which is absolutely vital, and I am very proud of Canada and my Prime Minister for initiating this, we as Canadians must be prepared to see on television in the days to come some very appalling scenes. We have to understand that we are faced with a very difficult situation, a very difficult matter of choices. I am afraid that we have to steel ourselves as Canadians and citizens of the world for the scenes we are going to see in the days to come.

I would be very interested in the remarks of the member for Charlesbourg on this.

Great Lakes Region Of Africa
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Marc Jacob Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the comments of my hon. colleague. Certainly no one can have anything against pride. It is easy for the government to decide that Canada will take part in a particular mission.

What I wanted to point out was the number of servicemen in the army. While, as I mentioned, few servicemen in the air force and the navy take part in these activities, there are some 12,000 to 15,000 servicemen in the army involved. Over the past eight or ten years, Canada has regularly been asked to be part of various humanitarian missions, and, as I said, there has often been little planning and even a certain amount of improvisation.

We in Parliament do not give much thought to those who make up these resources. We say we are proud to send them, but we must have some feeling for those who take on the role and those who pay to send them. Everyone is agreed on taking part, but we do have to have a clearer policy, that is all.

Great Lakes Region Of Africa
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the government, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of National Defence for providing us with this opportunity to speak on this very important issue.

This is the third or fourth debate we have had on such an important issue since the beginning of this Parliament almost three years ago. I also have to mention that this is probably the only Parliament in western civilization which provides an opportunity for its members of Parliament, the backbenchers and the critics from the opposition parties to speak individually on such issues of importance as this one.

Over the past 30 or 40 years we have engaged in peacekeeping in maybe 2,000 locations. Each one has different characteristics, a different perspective and each one calls for a different mission. With respect to this mission the situation is changing every hour. The situation was different last week from the situation we are now in and the situation tomorrow will probably be a different one again. Nobody knows. There is a massive migration of population

from one country to another. We cannot stop it but we can be there to help them out to achieve that goal.

On April 23, a few months ago, the House passed a motion recognizing the tragedy which fell upon the Armenian people in 1915. At that time we adopted a motion that each year, April 22 to 27 would be a week of remembrance regarding the inhumanity of people toward one another. This is a perfect occasion to use that motion to promote a common understanding among mankind and to make sure that what happened in the past does not repeat itself. We can do our best to prevent that situation and this is one such situation.

The whole western civilization responded positively to the Prime Minister's message to help the people in Rwanda and Zaire to make sure they get back to their communities and villages so that they can start to live in peace and prosperity as they did many many years before.

This morning, foreign affairs, CIDA and national defence provided us with a very important briefing at which members of the opposition party were also present. The Reform and the Bloc Quebecois representatives were there. In that briefing they discussed three situations: NGO aid to the people in the central African nation; the military operations that are taking place now to prepare for a continuation of the mission; and our own foreign aid to the region so we can help build the communities so people can live in peace and harmony.

Last week I was in Germany with colleagues from the Bloc Quebecois and Reform. I discussed this issue with my Reform Party friend from Red Deer. He agrees basically with everybody else that this mission has to take place. He agrees also that we have to make sure we do our bit to help civilization overcome this difficulty.

What we do not agree upon, and I respect his point view, is that we have to get ready, to prepare ourselves. How long do these people have to wait for Canada, for the United States, for Germany and for France to get ready? If they have to wait for us to get ready, there will be a long wait. I am sure my colleague agrees with me it would be a long and difficult wait. By then probably half the people would be dead and we would not be able to help them.

Remember that in April 1995 we saw bodies floating in the river and the lake. We had to do something then. The mission was not complete. I am sorry it did not come to a satisfactory end.

This is the opportunity for us to do the best we can. I am sure at the end of the day the Reform Party and the Bloc Quebecois will agree that this mission must go forward. It may not be perfect but nothing and nobody is perfect. However, we cannot afford to wait any longer.

Again I thank all members and especially the government for giving us the opportunity to speak on this issue. I hope that at the end of the day we are much wiser when we go forward with this mission to protect innocent human lives so they can build their lives in peace and harmony.

Great Lakes Region Of Africa
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning my colleague mentioned the briefing we had with the three departments. It was a very interesting briefing.

I believe it was Mr. Buckley from foreign affairs who mentioned that Canada has spent close to $50 million in help so far in that area of the African continent. Does my colleague think the $50 million was well spent? Does he think we should increase or decrease this amount? Where should this money go?

Great Lakes Region Of Africa
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to hear during the briefing that after 1994 we saw on TV the Government of Canada responded generously with a $50 million contribution to the situation there. Of that, $27 million has already been spent mostly on NGOs and humanitarian institutions like the Red Cross, Canadian or international.

We also spent quite a bit of money to provide them with a legal system so that those who commit genocide and crimes against humanity can be prosecuted. That is important. Those who commit crimes should know there are consequences to it. They cannot have a free lunch if they commit genocide or other crimes. That is a very important point and it is money very well spent. I am happy the government spent that kind of money for this purpose so we can prevent this from happening again in the future.

Great Lakes Region Of Africa
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member made some reference to the fact that this is an emergency and that it is suddenly urgent that foreign troops be sent into central Africa. There have been massacres of great magnitude in that area since 1959. There was one in 1959, another one in 1972, another one in 1994 and the world essentially yawned and closed its eyes. Suddenly, it becomes urgent.

Why is the current situation of greater importance to the hon. member than the previous massacres?

Great Lakes Region Of Africa
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is a very interesting question.

I am sure the hon. member knows that the world ignored many genocides before, including the 1915 genocide of Armenians which I just mentioned. Just because we did not react then or in 1959, 1965 or 1975, two wrongs do not make a right. It is time we took a stand.

At that time of course the hon. member was not a member of Parliament and could not speak up. I was not a member of Parliament and could not speak up. It is good that both of us are here today so we can react to this situation and make sure that what happened in the past as a wrong does not occur again.

My best message to the hon. member is that two wrongs do not make a right.

Great Lakes Region Of Africa
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to give my fullest support to the decision made by the government to alleviate human suffering in the great lakes region of central Africa.

It is right to do all we can to help fight disease, death and cruelty whenever we can. We owe it to ourselves and to our neighbours to recognize that our responsibilities extend beyond Canada's boundaries. As a CBC commentator suggested last week, referring to this issue: "It is a noble deed to transcend our own personal concerns".

Canada has a longstanding commitment to the rest of the world. We have fought tyranny in both world wars. Canada was a founding member of the League of Nations and the United Nations, and since the end of the second world war, we have participated in many international ventures from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to the Francophonie.

We Canadians have such strong immigration, economic, cultural and personal ties with the international community that we instinctively realize that we must know the people out there in order to know ourselves.

Forty years ago almost to the day, a Canadian was in the forefront of another global effort to restore stability to an apparently faraway region. The Suez crisis had erupted and the Middle East was in flames. Foreign affairs minister Lester Pearson, horrified by a conflict that threatened international peace and split even Canada's friends, hurried to New York and immediately set to work with his colleagues from the Department of External Affairs to find the solution.

The answer lay in an innovative application of a relatively new concept, United Nations peacekeeping, an expedient which had been used since the end of the second world war to concoct small observer forces in the Middle East and on the India-Pakistan border.

Mr. Pearson's cool and flexible diplomacy in 1956 led to the establishment against all odds of the United Nations emergency force in the Middle East, a large multinational UN team whose role was to police a ceasefire and interpose itself between the combatants. The idea was a simple but powerful one, to create a breathing space so that there was a real opportunity for peace to be grasped if the parties wanted it sufficiently.

The peacekeepers could not make peace. They had-

Great Lakes Region Of Africa
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I know that the hon. member has just started his speech but I propose at this time to proceed with Statements by Members. I am sure the whips are going to sort everything out before we get too much farther down the road. I leave it in the hands of our very able whips. I am sure they are going to decide your fate quite well.

We will now move on to statements by members.

Volunteers
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour two constituents who through their actions have enriched the lives of many others both in Canada and abroad.

The first is Ms. Julie Huish, who was awarded a Canada Volunteer Award Certificate of Merit. Julie has been a volunteer physiotherapist with the Manitoba Riding for the Disabled Association for the past eight years.

The second is Mr. Tony Wagemaker, who has been recognized by CESO, Canadian Executive Services Overseas, for his volunteer efforts working with the Government of Thailand at its health system research institute. He has brought many delegates from Thailand to study hospitals and the health care system here in Canada as they attempt to model their health care system on our very excellent one.

Congratulations to both of them. They are enriching the lives of many people through their volunteer efforts.

Ordre Des Infirmières Et Des Infirmiers Du Québec
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Ordre des infirmières et des infirmiers du Québec held its annual convention in Montreal on November 4 and 5. Under the theme "Daring to Provide Care in a Uncaring Society", more than 1,200 nurses from across Quebec gathered to discuss the future of their profession.

On behalf of my colleagues of the official opposition, I want to acknowledge the work and dedication of these women and men whose working conditions are becoming increasingly difficult.

While skill and expertise is required from these health professionals to rapidly adjust to the move toward ambulatory care, we recognize that they play a unique role in maintaining values that our society cherishes as regards the health and well-being of Quebecers.

Ethics
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, exciting news-exciting news. We have found the 10 most important ethical guidelines for the Liberal government.

No. 10. When in doubt call Paul Desmarais.

No. 9. Little white fibs do not count.

No. 8. Whatever you do, do not get caught.

No. 7. You can fool some of the people some of the time, and all of the people some of the time. And remember, you should certainly try to fool all of the people all of the time.

No. 6. Remember, there is a sucker born every minute.

No. 5. For ethical advice after office hours call JoJo.

No. 4. If JoJo does not answer, call the Prime Minister's imaginary friend.

No. 3. When asked to produce or follow an actual set of guidelines, look either stunned or puzzled or act offended and indignant.

No. 2. Government credit cards, don't leave home without them.

The most important ethical guideline of the entire Liberal Government, No. 1. Remember, when dealing with Liberal contributors or family members, there are no rules.

Employment Insurance
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Independent

Gilles Bernier Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, the new employment insurance legislation requires 26 weeks of insurable employment in the case of workers who did not claim benefits in the past two years. This is unfair.

The construction industry, among others, has experienced particularly difficult years, and workers who were not able to qualify last year because they had not worked long enough will be even less able to do so this year, since they will be deemed to have been out of the workforce for two years. In other words, they will need 26 weeks of insurable employment in the past year.

Their only option is to go on welfare. The situation is urgent. A solution must be found to avoid penalizing even more an industry which, in Quebec, has had more than its share of problems in recent years.

Marjorie Lavallee
Statements By Members

November 18th, 1996 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Bernie Collins Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mrs. Marjorie Lavallee, my constituent, an astounding volunteer who recently travelled to Bolivia on an assignment with the Canadian Executive Services Organization.

CESO volunteer advisers are professionally skilled men and women, usually retired, who willingly share their years of experience with needy businesses and organizations in developing nations.

Mrs. Lavallee's job was to assess the Bolivian government's indigenous peoples education review program. She used her own experience as an active participant in reforming Canada's aboriginal educational system.

I am proud to have a constituent who takes an active part in Canada's efforts to stimulate development in disadvantaged economies.

Justice
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Bethel Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, there is great value to community action at a national level. In Edmonton East we developed an effective partnership between residents, students, agencies, police and yes, even our justice minister. By working together we have made great gains in creating safer streets and safer neighbourhoods.

There is cause for celebration, taking and sharing credit. Our powerful partnership has eliminated the legal use of a deadly weapon intended for use by violent, aggressive youth against others. This weapon, marketed as a comb, is 8 1/2 inches long and splits open in the middle. Once opened, the handle has an attached 4-inch steel knife blade.

Thanks to Partners for Youth, for working together, to staff and students at Eastglen High School, to Constables Rick Cooper and Aaron Nichols for identifying the weapon and bringing it to our attention. And of course, to the Minister of Justice for his efforts in making changes to section 84 of the Criminal Code.

Because this dangerous weapon is now out of the hands of youth, we are preventing crime and violence.