House of Commons Hansard #133 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nafta.

Topics

International Boundary Waters Treaty Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I thank the hon. member for her kindness.

International Boundary Waters Treaty Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Angela Vautour Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to discuss Bill C-15 with reference to one of Canada's most precious natural resources, water. Canada owns most of the freshwater resources in the world. Almost 9% of the world's soft water is on Canadian territory and 60% of Canadian water flows into the Arctic Ocean.

The exportation of bulk water is not a new issue. It is actually a major issue that the Conservative government in 1984 was very much concerned with. We believe it is imperative to protect the interests of Canadians with reference to the export of bulk water. It is why we made sure that water was protected under NAFTA.

Bill C-15 introduces amendments to the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act in order to prohibit bulk removal of water from Canadian boundary waters, including the Great Lakes. The prohibition on removals will apply principally to the Great Lakes and other boundary waters.

Apart from prohibition, the amendments will also set in place a licensing regime for boundary waters projects such as dams, obstructions or other works that can affect water levels and flows. The International Boundary Waters Treaty Act was passed in 1911, implementing the Canada-U.S. Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. Its main objective was to establish the International Joint Commission, a binational organization.

Canada's border is the longest in the world, with over 300 lakes or rivers that either form, cross or straddle it. It is the Canadian government's responsibility and duty to protect that border.

NAFTA and the WTO generally prohibit restrictions on the exportation of goods subject to certain exceptions, none of which are likely to be applicable to the present purpose. The difficulty lies with the absence of a legal definition of goods. Obviously water in its natural state is not considered a good. Subject to trade agreements, bottled water is.

The purpose of Bill C-15 is to protect water which in its natural state would not then be subject to international obligations concerning trade in goods. From this perspective any possible precedent from a water export project would be limited to the province involved and would arise from the particular legislation that permitted removal for export and not from trade agreements.

If one province's legislation permitted removal of water and a project were to be approved, other provinces could still have legislation that prohibited removal of water. The point is to illustrate that water, in its natural state, is not a good and therefore not subject to international trade agreements.

Water is an integral part of Canada's boundaries. This most precious resource has to be protected and managed in the best interest of Canadians. I can assure the House that the bill will be supported by us.

I want to speak about the importance of communities having good, safe drinking water. That is why I asked the minister today about the safety of water and talked about the federal government's role of ensuring that in this great country, where we have so much water, we are doing everything to make sure Canadians in all parts of the country can drink water safely. We do not want another Walkerton.

Even in my riding every month or two a small community has a boiling order. Do we have an infrastructure problem? Is enough money going to the communities and municipalities to make sure we have the facilities so that our children, seniors and all of us do not get sick from drinking water?

We cannot take it for granted any more. We did that in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent before getting that pig factory installed. We asked for an environmental impact assessment. The federal government had both the responsibility and the obligation to do an environmental impact assessment. It had the obligation. The Liberals lured Metz Farms to Sainte-Marie-de-Kent. It is clear the Liberals in Ottawa were told an environmental impact assessment was not wanted, and that is what happened.

What is happening today? We have communities and families not speaking with each other. On top of that we have a federal government that has realized that maybe we have water problems. Maybe we have communities with health risks. Maybe the drinking water is not safe any more and tests should be done.

We have 30,000 pigs being processed over there. That could have been prevented. Metz Farms invested a lot of money to install this. It was told it could. The federal government said it did not need to do an assessment, that Metz could go ahead and set up. It would not intervene. It would not use what was available to make sure the people of Sainte-Marie would not be at risk.

Definitely the department is on autopilot. It is not even in neutral but going in reverse. We did not have the technology in the past to identify why there were contaminations. We have it now, but we have a federal government that continues to close its eyes to it. This is not acceptable.

The federal government said last week it would do some water testing in Sainte-Marie. The government is now recognizing that it should have done an environmental impact assessment. I say the government should do what the manager of Metz Farms said to do: buy it out.

There is a problem here. Communities are not happy with this. We have our farms. Nobody is against farms. Our leader spoke on farms this week. Our critic spoke on farms and on how the federal government is abandoning our farmers. We do not mind farms, be it cow, pig or sheep. We are not talking about farms here; we are talking about factories. There is a difference.

The difference is that before we had Metz Farms in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent both the farmers and the non-farmers would actually eat together in the morning. They would have coffee together. They liked each other. They would help each other. What do we have because of this factory? We now have family divisions. There is no more harmony. That is what bothers me. No one is against farmers.

Where was agriculture in the mini-budget to make sure our farmers would survive? They do not survive. They are eaten up by the big factories. That is what the Liberal government is pushing for now, the megafactories. They did it with fishing as well. We have to protect our farmers. We have to help our farmers. Our farmers are saying they need what Metz is giving them because that way they get free fertilizer for their lands. That means our farmers are in difficulty. They might need financial help. What does the government do for our farms be they small, medium or big but still not factories?

A farm is not 30,000 pigs. I lived next to a farm that had pigs and one that had a milk dairy. They were great people. It was nice to hear the cowbells in the morning. My fence was electric, so I had no problem buying a home among farms. I like farms. A factory, it has been proven, is an environmental disaster.

Can hon. members imagine that we have actually put a pig factory in the middle of a region where we have invested millions and millions in tourism, aquaculture and fisheries? Let us try to mix the two together. There was a smell over the summer from the piggery. It was not supposed to smell during tourist season, but the pigs could not figure out how to hold it back during the summer months. What happened? We had a bad smell during tourist season.

What about the health risks? Today I was on a call-in show. There were calls from Carmelle, Maria, Lisa, Rhéal, Richard, Raymond, Edmond and more. They called because they were very concerned, and with good reason: they were not consulted. Nobody knew about it. It was a secret deal. Nobody knew this factory would be set up. That is not right. Let us allow communities to talk to about it.

There is legislation in place. I know farmers are worried that if we put forth too much legislation it would hurt the farmers. I believe we have the legislation in place now. We had a minister of DFO who could have requested an environmental impact assessment to make sure that what we are seeing now would not have happened. The mechanism is in place. We do not have to add any extra burden to our regular farmers. This is not what we are talking about. We are talking about a pig megafactory that has tremendous potential impact in terms of health, economics and the environment.

Even this week the Liberal government announced $19.5 million in tourism for Atlantic Canada. That is nice, and we will take it, but how do we balance it off with developments like the pig factory?

It could have been put somewhere else. It was a terrible location. There are other areas. The two just cannot be mixed together. At some point there will have to be a decision made on whether the government will keep investing millions in tourism and aquaculture or keep investing in pig factories. I do not think they blend.

Right now people are saying we cannot risk thousands of jobs in the fishing and tourism industries for a few jobs in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent. We cannot gamble that.

I believe we needed both an environmental impact assessment and a socioeconomic assessment. We needed to have this studied before it happened, but no, it looked as though it just went through. All of us in government have to sit together right now and fix this.

The people of Sainte-Marie-de-Kent, Saint-Paul, Saint-Lazare, Sainte-Anne, Fond-de-la-Baie, Bouctouche, Saint-Antoine and Saint-Joseph deserve better. All levels of government need to sit down and look at the situation. People deserve it.

I believe the solution is to compensate Metz. Metz has told me that if it gets the money it will close its doors. Let us compensate. For the few millions it will cost to close Metz we will save millions in the fishing and tourism industries. That is not counting the health bill. The health of the people of that region is at risk.

The government has to look at that option. People from the communities are telling me they want it closed. People working in Metz are telling me as an MP to find the money and it will close its doors. At the end of the day that will be the only option.

It was wrong from day one. The government does not know where it started or when it started. We know all of this started several years back. As was said on the radio talk show today, it really does not matter who brought it. We are stuck with the problem. We are stuck with a health problem, an environmental problem and an economic problem. This has to be addressed.

I do not agree that communities have to take it upon their shoulders the way they are doing. They have no choice. One politician alone cannot solve this problem because one politician alone did not bring it there. To be honest, it was two.

They need help and support. They need to know that the government will recognize that it failed big time when it could have intervened, when it could have requested an environmental impact assessment because of the possible impact on our fish habitat. It could have, but it closed its eyes to it.

That is not right. The government recognized it this week by requesting testing. What will it do if it finds the water is contaminated? What will the minister do? Will he close it then?

The assessment would have proven that the water would eventually be contaminated and would affect the fish habitat and all the money we have invested in aquaculture, in our fishing communities. We have communities that are practically totally dependent on the fishing industry and tourism.

At one end we have a government that says it will cut EI and people have to be working all the time. At the same time it is bringing in facilities going against what we are trying to do, which is work as much as we can. As usual there is no plan.

We need a regional development plan. We need environment ministers to agree to it and abide by it. Communities need to be consulted. No longer can we have facilities like this one. There are 30,000 pigs being processed per year in a community.

The one thing we do not talk about, and maybe one of the least important things for a lot of people, is the value of the homes. What about the value of the family? Many families have told me about being outside for barbecues and all of a sudden smelling it. They have to get into the house, close their windows and shut everything tight. That is not right. What about the value of their homes?

Sainte-Marie-de-Kent is a place where everybody would like to live. I remember going for drives there all the time and saying to my husband, “My God, it's nice in Sainte-Marie”. Unfortunately, a lot of people are not saying that any more. It is not because we do not have nice people. We have great people in Sainte-Marie.

Sainte-Marie is not the only place that has the smell. I live in Buctouche and the smell is there too. How about the golf course? How many millions does it take to build a golf course? We did not even look at the impact on the golf course but we are putting money in there too into pays de la Sagouine. It just goes on and on. It is a decision I will never understand.

I will never understand provincial politicians apparently lobbying to have this factory set up there, the same politicians who invested money in both tourism and the fishery. I will never understand why they believed that bringing in this factory would benefit our region. I hope someday that they will participate in the call-in, such as the one we did this morning where they refused to comment. I believe it was because they could not explain it or did not want to. However, I would like to see the day when they will explain that decision. It was a terrible decision. I have to say I do support the community and I do understand their frustration.

They talk of communities working very hard to develop their region, but not of the private sector. How many people have invested their own money, in a campground or in cottages, in starting up a fish plant or in many other things? Did anyone consult these entrepreneurs and ask them “Is this going to hurt your business?” No. No one consulted them. Everyone has to be consulted. The government cannot go on making decisions for communities at the expense of the people living there.

I had a call from a man who had to leave his work to go and care for his children because the spreader had gone by his house. It makes no sense for this man to leave his work for such a reason. This week, a truck was taken off the road. But were the people who did the inspection not within their rights? The truck was taken off the road. It was not allowed on the road because it failed to meet the requirements of the Department of Transport. How many other things are not right? I congratulate the committee. I congratulate the pool patrol for all their work.

It is true that all the communities, with our help, and all levels of government must sit down together and reach a solution. I hope that other people will insist that the government compensate Metz Farms, and close it down to save jobs in the tourism sector and to protect the health of our families, children, seniors and young children, who often have asthma, as Maria said when she called me.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you. It has been a pleasure for me to sit here these past three years, five months and few weeks. I know you will not be coming back to the House, and I want to wish you not only good luck, but success in your future endeavours. Thank you again for your patience, knowing that those of us who had arrived recently needed a little advice. I look forward to our next meeting.

International Boundary Waters Treaty Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the speech of the hon. member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac was so full of inherent contradictions that I felt I had to stand up and ask for some clarification. The most noticeable contradiction was a glaring omission. She failed to mention the fact that, even though she was a member of the NDP caucus and should know better, it was the NDP that moved the opposition day motion back in February of 1999 which called for the government to do something to ban the bulk sale of water and the interbasin transfer of water and to protect that precious natural resource. I am wondering if that was a deliberate omission, because, frankly, it could be taken as being rude to fail to at least acknowledge that in a lengthy speech.

There is another contradiction that exists. Now that the member is in fact a member of the Progressive Conservative Party and a sitting member of the Tory caucus, she did not mention anything about the real nature of the Tories' attitude toward the bulk sale of water and the interbasin transfer of water. I use two examples because I only have a few minutes. I could mention many more, but these are two glaring examples. One is the right wing Tory premier, Wacky Bennett. They did not call him wacky for nothing because his big plan was to flood the Skagit Valley, divert the great northern rivers of British Columbia and sell the water to Washington State.

As if that was not crazy enough, other Tory premiers came along with similar ideas, like Gary Filmon, the former premier of Manitoba, who wrote his engineering thesis in school with a plan to use nuclear blasts to blast a trench from Lake Winnipeg into North Dakota, then divert the water further into the Columbia River system and into the United States.

All throughout history right wing Tories have had this plan to commercialize Canada's water and turn it into a marketable commodity. When they went into the NAFTA deal we begged and pleaded—the opinion of the NDP is that we should not have entered that deal at all—“Make sure that water is off the table. Do not commercialize our water. Do not make it subject to these liberalized trade agreements”. It was the Tories who put the future of our freshwater supply at risk by doing that very thing.

It is Tory prime ministers and premiers who have said “Water is the oil of the next decade”. Can we believe anyone who would view a substance that is so essential for life itself as something that should be subject to the profit motive?

I guess I am asking the hon. member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac when she was lying. Were you lying when you were a member of our caucus or are you lying now that you are a member of the Tory caucus?

International Boundary Waters Treaty Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre knows full well that to put such a question in such a way is unparliamentary and will not be permitted. The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre will have one opportunity to retract with no other words, one opportunity and one opportunity only.

International Boundary Waters Treaty Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

I apologize for the comment and I retract any statement to do with lying. I was taken up in the heat of the moment.

International Boundary Waters Treaty Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

We will go on to the next question or comment. We are not going to have a response.

International Boundary Waters Treaty Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak for a few minutes to this very important topic. We all know the importance of water. I suppose some of the occurrences in the province of Ontario in the last couple of months have really underlined that for us.

I remember that when my son was in Africa he reported to us that one of the greatest problems and challenges in the continent of Africa is to provide a plentiful and a safe water supply to the people on that continent. There is nothing that is more important than an adequate supply of water that is safe, free from contamination and free from anything that would harm us.

We are also aware of the fact that water is a renewable resource. I often marvel at the different engineering cycles that have been designed into our planet. One of the most amazing ones when we stop to think about it is the design of the water cycle, which goes up into the clouds. We fly through it with some bumps when we are on an airplane. The water precipitates, comes down and is so necessary.

I remember when I was a farm kid in Saskatchewan that if we did not get rain we did not get food because the very plants required that water. That was all part of the big cycle. That water of course would then eventually evaporate. Some of it found its way into creeks and rivers, some of it into the South Saskatchewan River near where I live, and some of it found its way over to the Hudson Bay and into the ocean. Once again, the sun evaporated it and it came back in clouds. It is a large cycle. We need to recognize the fact that a lot of this is really quite beyond the control of people and, specifically, it is beyond the control of governments.

Therefore, it is very important for us to make sure that the water supply and the basins that we have in Canada are protected from exploitation and from harm. We need to make sure that our water supplies are kept intact and not subject to being drained so that our own people suddenly no longer have an adequate water supply.

In principle, I agree with this particular bill before us today. It is regrettable that when NAFTA was being negotiated there was not a specific reference made to the total exclusion of water from any trade considerations. The wording in the NAFTA agreement unfortunately is ambiguous. It says that NAFTA creates no rights to the natural water resources of any party to the agreement.

As Canadians, we sit here with our water supply and wonder if this means that neither the United States nor Mexico, nor any other country, has any rights to our natural water resources. Or does it mean that we as Canadians, since we are also a party to this agreement, do not have the rights to our own natural water resources? It is regrettable that the people who signed NAFTA did not pick up on that and correct it before it got into its final form. Hence, we now have this dilemma.

I really believe that when it comes to the sale of water we could make pretty good use of that resource. As I said before, if it is taken elsewhere in the world, through the design of our universe, it will come back to us. We could sell the same water over and over again and it could be a very good thing for us economically. However, as soon as we begin to do this it becomes a tradable commodity and subject to NAFTA which means we would, at that stage, lose control of it.

As an interim measure, I think we should pass the bill so that commercialization, sale of bulk water, is not even contemplated. To do so under NAFTA would get us into a real bind.

I will concede now and give the floor to the member for Mercier.

International Boundary Waters Treaty Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know I really do not have much time.

However, I do want to take the last few minutes of this parliament to point out that Bill C-15, despite its good underlying principles, is in sync with all the other legislation the current federal government, which as we all know does not have much time left, has come up with. It is using every opportunity to infringe upon the jurisdiction of the provinces, and especially that of Quebec.

Yes, water is of the utmost importance for life, health and economic development.

The report of the International Joint Commission proposed that, on both sides of the border, the United States and Canada and the American states and the Canadian provinces agree to suspend bulk water exports for a period of six months.

What is important to realize here is that this bill goes much further than the recommendation and authorizes the foreign affairs minister to determine by himself Canada's jurisdiction over Quebec's water resources.

This is totally unacceptable. It explains why we insisted on saying that this is not the way to go. We should trust the provinces to exercise their jurisdiction and let the federal government exercise its own jurisdiction, which is not at all the one the government is trying to set out in Bill C-15.

My final words in this parliament are much the same as my first words.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for all the work you have accomplished. I would like to pay tribute to you. For the members who rise in such a busy House as this one, the mere fact that the Speaker is listening to them, as you have very often listened to us, allows us to be better speakers for the Canadians who watch us, to better explain the various bills and why we oppose them, which is our responsibility as members of the opposition.

For this as well as all your other qualities, I am convinced that my colleagues will join me in thanking you sincerely for the high level of parliamentary work you have done as acting speaker in this House.

International Boundary Waters Treaty Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I thank the hon. member for her kind words.

It being 1.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Canadian Forces Day
Private Members' Business

October 20th, 2000 / 1:30 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Nepean—Carleton, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government, in recognition of the tremendous contribution of the Canadian Forces to the protection of Canadian sovereignty, United Nations peacekeeping missions, the NATO alliance, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and search and rescue operations, should proclaim June 15 “Canadian Forces Day”.

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order which relates to the text of the motion that is before the House. I think if you request it you would find unanimous consent to change the text of the motion very slightly. The motion as it now reads is:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government, in recognition of the tremendous contribution of the Canadian Forces to the protection of Canadian sovereignty, United Nations peacekeeping missions, the NATO alliance, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and search and rescue operations, should proclaim June 15 “Canadian Forces Day”.

The amendment I would like to have considered by unanimous consent would be the following: that the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the Canadian Forces and substituting the following: both at home and abroad, in such areas as humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, search and rescue and UN peacekeeping, should proclaim the first Sunday in June as Canadian Forces Day.

It is a relatively minor amendment, but I think you would find unanimous consent to have the House agree to that.

Canadian Forces Day
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Members have heard the suggested change to the motion standing in the name of the member for Nepean—Carleton. Is there unanimous consent for the hon. member to move the motion?

Canadian Forces Day
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian Forces Day
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canadian Forces Day
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Therefore debate is on the original motion.

Canadian Forces Day
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Nepean—Carleton, ON

I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this motion today. The motion as it appears is to declare June 15 as Canadian forces day. I understand that my colleague, the hon. member for Hillsborough, may be moving an amendment that would reflect my earlier comments in this regard.

I will give members a bit of the history of this motion. It was introduced on March 18, 1998. It is perhaps a testament to the speed with which the wheels of parliament turn that it has taken over two years to have it considered by the House.

Some members would no doubt say that I should count myself lucky that I got an item on for debate at all. I can assure them that I feel fortunate to be able to have this item considered. Nevertheless, I cannot help but think that there absolutely has to be a better way to deal with private members' business. I very much hope that the next parliament will address this issue in a comprehensive and effective manner. That discussion very clearly is for another day.

On the item before us, I must say that I have been gratified by the amount of support expressed for the particular measure. The motion received a great deal of support from the members of the House. I should remind members that this was one of the items for which there were 100 signatures of members, from both sides of the House.

In circulating the petition on this motion, I received some very supportive comments. Indeed there were some expressions of surprise that the country had not already done something of this nature to honour the men and women who serve in the Canadian forces.

I should say as well that in consultations I had with members of the House and with the Minister and the Department of National Defence, I have revised the motion, as I indicated earlier. Those revisions reflect the changes in terms of the consultations I had with regard to the motion.

The reason for the change is quite simple. If we fix a date on a weekend, it is more likely that Canadians across this great country of ours would be able to more readily participate in community events and ceremonies.

What is the motion all about? Quite simply, the purpose of the motion is to thank all the men and women who serve us while in the uniform of the Canadian forces.

Some might ask why such a measure is necessary today. After all, we have so many people in the country who perform important and dangerous roles to protect people and property.

I would argue, however, that the nature of military service is quite different. As we have heard so often at the defence committee, we have the concept of unlimited liability in military service. What does that mean? It means that the person who signs up with the Canadian forces agrees to obey orders that could put his or her life, as well as those of colleagues, in danger.

In two world wars and the Korean war, the concept of unlimited liability was not an issue that attracted a lot of esoteric debate. It was an issue that was all too real to the people who served and died for this country. It was all too real to the families, to the mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who read telegrams saying that a loved one was wounded, missing or killed in action.

These issues seem so far from us today, 55 years after the end of the second world war, but are they really? For the family of a peacekeeper who was killed in Bosnia or Croatia or, indeed, if we go back a few years, in places like Cyprus or the Golan Heights, the concept of unlimited liability is very real. It is very real for the families of the soldiers who are currently serving in Bosnia and who will be very shortly serving in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

I must admit that I feel a little close to this issue as someone who has served from the beginning of this parliament on the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs. It has been as a result of my service on that committee that I have come to know and appreciate the varied and complex work that is done by our men and women in uniform.

I think back to the committee hearings on quality of life that we held in bases across the country, where the members of our committee got a real taste of what the Canadian forces accomplish. Our committee started its work on a trip to Canadian forces base Yellowknife on a C-130 Hercules in January 1998. I have had a lot of trips on airplanes but I cannot remember one as uncomfortable as that trip. My colleague, the hon. member for Hillsborough, could probably attest to that on some of the rides he has had in the C-130 Hercules.

That was the beginning of an eye opening experience that later took us to Canadian forces base Esquimalt, then off to our search and rescue operations at Pat Bay. From there we went to Canadian forces bases Edmonton, Cold Lake and Moose Jaw. Our travels also took us to Canadian forces bases Borden, Petawawa, Valcartier, Halifax, Gagetown and Goose Bay. We saw soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen who told us about the joys and challenges of their work, along with the frustrations and disappointments.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of serving on the defence committee was being able to visit our troops in peacekeeping and other operations. Our committee travelled to Geilenkirchen, Germany, where we saw Canada's contribution to the NATO AWACS system.

We also travelled to Canada's areas of operations in Bosnia, where we visited places with unusual names like Velika Kladusa, Coralici, Bihac, Zgon and Drvar. In many places we saw the physical damage of war: destroyed homes, burned out farms, burned out businesses and factories, and beautiful green fields that no one would dare to walk on for fear of land mines. Perhaps most disturbing of all were the faces of the men, women and children who have been deeply affected by war.

The conditions of service that our men and women in the Canadian forces face are certainly less than ideal. There is, as we all know, the danger of unexploded land mines and unexploded ordnance. As well, there are weapons everywhere in some of these places. There are dangerous roads and hazardous conditions.

One of the things that also struck me when our committee visited Bosnia was that when I asked some of our peacekeepers what would happen to the society being protected if the peacekeepers were to leave that place, we were told very clearly that it would not take very long, maybe only hours, perhaps days, before people would again be killing one another and damaging and destroying property. They said that it would be a very serious and unfortunate situation.

Members of our committee also had the opportunity to travel to Kosovo earlier this year to the KFOR operation, Camp Maple Leaf in Skopje, Macedonia, to tour the operations there. What we saw was equally disturbing and probably made just as much impact on us as the trip that we took to Bosnia a couple of years earlier. We saw the results of the precision bombing, the mass graves and the property destruction, which was everywhere.

However, members of the Canadian forces do not just serve in the Balkans and in the former Yugoslavia. They are in many other parts of the world, more recently in places like East Timor and in an area that I am certainly more familiar with, Sierra Leone. We have had, for instance, military observers there to monitor the Lomé peace agreement as part of the UNAMSIL force there. We also had a cargo handling unit in Sierra Leone.

I mentioned some of the dangers of our operations for people in places like Bosnia and Kosovo, but in Africa the dangers are in many respects multiplied. Here I am thinking of military observers and the dangers that exist in terms of kidnapping. We saw earlier this year the kidnapping by the rebel forces in Sierra Leone of about 500 members of the Indian peacekeeping force that was part of the UNAMSIL operation. That sort of violence is something that peacekeepers or military observers can be exposed to on a fairly regular basis.

Also, in places like Africa there is the threat of disease. I am thinking again of Sierra Leone, where the danger is constant with regard to diseases like malaria, dysentery, yellow fever, cholera, sleeping sickness and river blindness. These are all diseases that members of our forces can be exposed to in areas like Sierra Leone, Congo and Ethiopia-Eritrea.

Inasmuch as we can be inoculated against certain diseases, the one thing we cannot be inoculated against is post-traumatic stress disorder. That is something we have certainly seen over the last number of years. Many of the members of our forces are facing it. Perhaps the most high profile victim of PTSD, as it is called, has been Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, who served with great distinction in Rwanda.

I had the opportunity to meet General Dallaire on a number of occasions. He certainly has my greatest respect and admiration. I think he embodies the values of the Canadian forces. When I say the values of the Canadian forces, I mean the desire to help people in need, the desire to protect the innocent, to preserve the rule of law, to safeguard human rights and to protect people and property.

General Dallaire is one of many who have experienced probably the worst the world has to offer. Rwanda was certainly a place where the world as a whole failed very miserably. However I think we can be very proud of the fact that a member of the Canadian forces, General Dallaire, tried his very best to prevent this slaughter.

It is to the people like General Dallaire and many of the unsung heroes of the Canadian forces to whom this Canadian forces day would be dedicated.

One of the comments I have heard from members of the forces, which is a source of great frustration to them, is that many people do not really understand what they do. People know we have an army. They know we have an air force. They know we have a navy, but they are not really clear on the sorts of things and the individual tasks that our forces perform.

In this regard, it is important to emphasize that the Canadian forces as whole is a very vital tool of our foreign policy. When all else fails, when the diplomats stop talking and when the guns come out, it is members of the Canadian forces and other allied forces who are sent in to try and straighten out the situation.

I have talked about the challenges and the work of the Canadian forces abroad, but I think it is just as important to stress what they have done domestically.

I cannot help but be drawn to the memories I have of the ice storm that occurred in 1998. It is probably a distant memory for a lot of members in the House and for a lot of Canadians, but half the people in my riding were without power and in some cases for several weeks. This was an experience they do not want to repeat soon.

There were roughly 30,000 to 35,000 people without power during a very difficult winter. Whole towns in my riding, places like Osgoode, Manotick and North Gower, were without power. It was in aid of these small communities that our forces came to the rescue. My constituents were very pleased to see the members of the Canadian forces present and providing a kind of security blanket for the members of the community.

I will conclude my comments here and allow other members to speak on this motion. I would appreciate the opportunity at the conclusion of the debate to make a few more comments.