House of Commons Hansard #105 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was taiwan.

Topics

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12:45 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague for his speech. I received a letter this morning from Taiwan's official representative, congratulating me for having recommended that Taiwan be admitted as an observer to the WHO. I think that this SARS crisis is a perfect example of the relevance of having all interested parties truly present when a situation such as this comes up.

Does this not show that when it comes to assessing the world health situation, it makes sense for all groups to be represented, even if they are not officially recognized as a country by all health organizations? Can we afford to pay the price of using political arguments that could have a detrimental effect on the health of large numbers of people and perhaps even on the entire world, because of international air travel? In light of this, should we not all support the motion moved by the member?

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12:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, again I thank my colleague for his comments. Indeed, this is a nation of 23 million people. We could divert and get into a discussion about whether they are a nation or whether they are a state. There are many of us in the House who happen to believe that, but that is irrelevant to this argument. That is irrelevant to this debate.

What is relevant to this debate is that it is an independent health entity with its own budget. Taiwan has its own budget and its own health ministry. I have recited all of the achievements that it has in the world of health. It truly is an independent world health entity. The difficulty we are having at this particular point is that the politics of Canada's one China policy and the politics of the PRC holding it up are getting in the way of effectively dealing with this communicable disease. We are talking about lives. This is desperately important and should far supersede anything to do with politics, be they domestic or international.

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12:45 p.m.

Elgin—Middlesex—London
Ontario

Liberal

Gar Knutson Secretary of State (Central and Eastern Europe and Middle East)

Madam Speaker, before I begin I would like to advise the House that I will be splitting my time with my esteemed colleague, the member for Scarborough East.

It is an honour for me to speak in the House. Canada's one China policy is long established. In 1970 Canada decided to recognize the government of the People's Republic of China in Beijing as the sole government of China. The recognition communiqué, issued jointly by Canada and China in October 1970, stated that: “the Chinese government reaffirms that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of the People's Republic of China. The Canadian government takes note of this position of the Chinese government”.

However, within the one China policy there is considerable flexibility for non-official contacts to promote economic, cultural and people-to-people linkages between Canada and Taiwan. These ties are well demonstrated by the activities of our business and cultural communities, from the sale of aircraft and high tech equipment to the tour of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Economically, Taiwan is one of Canada's top trading partners and is our fourteenth largest export market worldwide.

Canada's relationship with Taiwan is an unofficial one, but unofficial relations have not prevented Canada from developing close, mutually beneficial ties with Taiwan. On the contrary, Canadians and the Taiwanese enjoy a rich partnership in many fields. Canada's approach to this relationship today is, simply put, one based on action, not words, and on substance, not symbol.

Canada has always supported Taiwan's access to many World Health Organization health protection and health promotion programs available to it under current circumstances and continues to encourage the Taiwanese authorities to profit from the opportunities that already exist for cooperation within the WHO framework.

The World Health Organization is a United Nations specialized agency. The World Health Organization constitution provides for membership and associate membership and does not provide for an observer status. Article 3 of the World Health Organization constitution defines membership as being open to states. To be considered a state for the purpose of WHO membership, one must be recognized as a sovereign state by the United Nations credentials committee.

There are, as has been mentioned by the hon. members who spoke, WHO members who are not members of the United Nations, namely Cook Islands and Niue. Both of these are independent nations in free association with New Zealand, and both Cook Islands and Niue are recognized by the UN credentials committee as sovereign states. Cook Islands and Niue therefore meet the WHO constitutional requirements for membership.

Article 8 of the WHO constitution allows for associate members, which are defined as territories or groups of territories that are not responsible for the conduct of their international relations. Application for admittance to the WHO as an associate member must be made on behalf of the territories or groups of territories by the member or other authority having responsibility for their international relations. According to the rules and procedures of the WHO and the United Nations, an application to admit Taiwan as an associate member would have to be made by China.

While some non-state entities and some international health organizations have been invited as observers to the World Health Assembly, the invitation of these entities to observe the annual World Health Assembly meetings was not contested and received broad support of all WHO members. These observers have no status under WHO constitutional rules and procedures. Their role is purely one of observer, akin to a spectator, not exercising any of the voting privileges extended to members and associate members.

Canada would support a formula for Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization as long as this formula is in accordance with the WHO constitutional rules and procedures and has received broad based approval of WHO members.

Now to a key point: As a member of the international community, Taiwan is able freely to access health information from the World Health Organization. The World Health Organization has indicated that there is no practical impediment to the exchange of information and cooperation between the WHO and Taiwan which might threaten the health of Taiwanese in some manner, nor has Taiwan been barred from humanitarian assistance from the WHO in the event of a medical emergency.

In this regard, the WHO cooperates with the Taiwanese authorities in measures to control the spread of disease and has over the years dispatched teams from its collaboration centres to Taiwan to assist in dealing with specific health issues. The WHO relies on its WHO collaboration centres, which are national institutions that form part of an international collaborative network carrying out activities in support of the WHO's mandate for international health work and program priorities.

The WHO's most important collaborative partner is the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The WHO has always provided health care and emergency assistance to Taiwan through its collaboration centres, usually through the CDC. Through its close cooperation with the United States Centers for Disease Control, the CDC, which acts as a WHO collaboration centre, Taiwan has had access to the same information as others, including Canada, to deal with the SARS outbreak. This has in no way affected Taiwan's ability to deal with this outbreak nor has it adversely affected the health and safety of the Taiwanese.

The executive director of the WHO's Department of Communicable Diseases' surveillance and response, Dr. David Heymann, recently publicly stated that although the current situation in Taiwan was not good, Taiwan had professional monitoring and tracking systems that should enable it to confine the SARS outbreak. He insists that Taiwan's lack of WHO membership has not damaged the island in the WHO's global cooperation efforts against SARS, nor has Taiwan suffered in the process of its battle against SARS due to not being a member of the WHO.

Taiwan has not been denied access to medical information and assistance it requires to deal with the SARS outbreak. Indeed, Taiwan has received assistance both from the WHO collaboration centre at the CDC and directly from the World Health Organization. On March 16, 2003, the CDC dispatched two officials to Taiwan to assess the SARS cases. The CDC continues to this day to have a team in Taiwan providing assistance with the SARS outbreak. The WHO also sent a team of two experts to Taiwan to work with the CDC in evaluating the SARS situation.

Canada has also maintained open communication with Taiwan on SARS issues. We have taken steps to ensure that Taiwanese authorities were always well briefed on the SARS situation in Canada.

As part of our continued measures to support the global fight against SARS, Health Canada convened the first major international meeting in North America on SARS, in Toronto, to discuss a proactive approach to halting the spread of SARS. A representative from the Taipei economic and cultural office in Ottawa was also invited and participated in the meeting. Dr. James Young, Ontario's Commissioner of Public Safety and a key leader in Toronto's battle with SARS, personally briefed Taiwanese representatives in Toronto on the SARS situation. Dr. Young has also recently travelled to Taiwan with a team of experts from Ontario to share Toronto's and Canada's experience in fighting SARS.

This issue transcends the words of the motion themselves. There is a larger complexity to this issue, which is reflected in Canada's relationship with Taiwan and China. The government agrees that health care issues transcend borders and I have clearly laid out that through our actions and those of the WHO Taiwan is receiving timely and equivalent access to appropriate information and assistance.

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12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, while I have a very high regard for the member as an individual I must say that some of his words have made me feel very angry, angry because in fact they do not represent the facts as we know them, and angry because there are people who are going to die as a result of inaction and the difficulties that are created.

I wonder if the member could explain to me why it took seven full weeks before two people from the WHO finally appeared in Taiwan. Why did it take seven full weeks? I will give him the answer, but perhaps he will have a different interpretation. The answer is that Beijing simply was not being cooperative and was not going to permit people to go into Taiwan. Taiwan wanted the people to go in there. Second, when they did go in, they did not even contact the health minister of Taiwan, who was wrestling with this particular issue.

I do not understand where those comments are coming from when, as I recited in my own presentation, the fact of the matter is that the PRC has not spent one thin dime in Taiwan. It has absolutely no control and absolutely no jurisdiction over the health matters of Taiwan and yet it can stop WHO people from being able to go in there. I wonder if he can explain that because, quite frankly, those facts I have just recited do not relate at all well to the ones he has just presented.

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1 p.m.

Liberal

Gar Knutson Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Madam Speaker, I am not familiar with the actual case of why or if the WHO authorities were prevented from going. My understanding is that anyone can travel to Taiwan based on the Taiwanese rules. I have travelled to Taiwan. I did not require a visa when I came out of communist China.

As I said, the real information being transferred between various officials is from the disease centres in the United States and Canada. I am not sure that simply because WHO authorities may have been prevented, and I am acknowledging that may be the case, if that has made any difference on the ground. The fact of the matter is the medical people have been able to exchange information as they should have. If that is not the case, then we should fix that.

I am not sure having Taiwanese membership in the WHO, albeit as an observer, is necessary to fix that. The doctors and the medical people should be exchanging information so that no additional damage is done through this disease, and let us stay focussed on that problem and not get caught up on the large political issue of WHO observer status.

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1 p.m.

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford
Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, in that regard, would the minister care to comment on the earlier comments of the hon. member across that the motion and issue of Taiwan obtaining observer status at the WHO has nothing whatsoever to do with the ambitions on the part of the Taiwanese government for sovereignty or nation state?

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1 p.m.

Liberal

Gar Knutson Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Madam Speaker, I do not want to get into a debate of imputing motive. Unfortunately, the Taiwanese situation is complicated by the position of communist China. At the end of the day where Taiwan ranks, whether it is an independent state or whether it is a full member of communist China, with a normal part of its territory like any other part of its territory, is really up to the people themselves to sort out. It is up to the Taiwanese to sort out with the people in mainland China. Right now it is in sort of a situation of limbo.

That is a bigger issue than observer status in the WHO. It is complicated. It is complicated by the inability of the two stakeholders to sort this out, and we should not let that complication have a negative impact on people's health. We should not let that complication have a negative impact on the exchange of information. If we have to fix some procedures at the WHO to achieve that, then the Government of Canada would lend its support to fixing those procedures.

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1 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough East, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank again the hon. member for bringing this motion forward. This is a timely motion and I want to congratulate him for his initiative.

I am speaking in two capacities: one in my capacity as the member for Scarborough East and also in my capacity as chair of the Canada-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group.

As recent public health issues have disclosed, health knows no political boundaries. It is therefore quite foolish to leave certain jurisdictions out in the cold while arguing about status. Taiwan occupies a bit of ethereal status in the world. We all know it exists but we just cannot mention it out loud.

For most purposes, this works. Taiwan is part of the WTO but it has kind of a special trading entity status. It is part of APEC and is recognized as an economic entity. Therefore for the purposes of money and trade we seem to be able to find where Taiwan exists but for the purposes of health it has no status.

The only link therefore appears to be economic. Therefore I would like to suggest that really it is in Canada's best interest economically to recognize Taiwan for its desire to enter into this status of observer at the World Health Organization, and indeed it is in the world's economic interest.

In Toronto we have recently had a graphic lesson of the economics of health. The SARS scare has literally shaved off millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, off the GDP of the greater Toronto area and probably will in turn shave percentage points off the GDP of our nation.

The equation is rather simple. If we do not have health, we will not have any money. People do not shop, they do not travel when they are afraid of getting sick. Therefore, no shopping, no money, no GDP, no economy.

I do not know what the impact of SARS will be on Taiwan, but it will be an order of magnitude several times greater than that of Canada. The impact has been far deeper and far harder in relative and absolute terms than the impact on Canada. Even today's newspapers detail new deaths and fresh cases both in Taiwan and in Toronto. That is all the more reason Taiwan should be included in the WHO instead of being treated as an international non-person.

We appear to be only too happy to trade with Taiwan, for example, take its money, but when it comes to recognition even if it is to our benefit, then we have a curious case of blindness.

How did we get to this contradictory state? I suggest it all goes back to Prime Minister Trudeau's recognition of the People's Republic of China as the rightful representative of the Chinese people. During the negotiations, the prime minister was pressed to recognize China's claim to Taiwan. The prime minister, very cleverly I would suggest, would only go so far as to take note of the Chinese claim. I make the distinction that there is a great of daylight between taking note of somebody's position and actually accepting someone's position.

The take note policy formulation was acceptable to the PRC at the time and many other countries, including the United States of America. This in turn paved the way for President Nixon's historical visit to China.

Taiwan in a monumental blunder withdrew itself from the United Nations in protest, which in turn paved the way for the PRC to flex its diplomatic muscles as and when it needed on other countries and force countries to start to backtrack on this take note position. That has resulted in some evolutions and distortions of the one China policy, which really has come to mean we do not do anything with respect to Taiwan without checking with the PRC first. We then calibrate the cost and decide on how much we want to irritate the PRC.

One of the flash points is the WHO. Our position is hypocritical. At least we are joined in our hypocrisy by quite a number of other nations. There does seem to be hope however as the United States has recently come out firmly in favour of Taiwan's admission and the EU seems to be leaning that way.

However if we play this right, we can successfully irritate everybody instead of doing the right thing and recognize Taiwan for what it is, a fully functioning state with legitimate aspirations to join multinational organizations which are designed to help the world function in a better way.

Why should we care if in fact this little island has a big problem with its enormous neighbour? The problem is that all of our inconsistencies will come home to roost one day.

The politics of the PRC-Taiwan are getting to be too serious for the health of the rest of the world. Reluctantly, the PRC has acknowledged to the rest of the world that it has been a little less than forthcoming about its SARS problem. Clearly it understated the problem by several orders of magnitude. Given the PRC's tendencies, in the words of the Wall Street Journal , to cover-up and deceive, we will probably never really know the magnitude of the problem until the crisis passes.

I remind members that this is a world health problem, not merely a Chinese problem or a Taiwanese problem. What happens there directly affects us and our constituents. I put it to members, visit any hospital in Toronto and see the results.

The source of much of the SARS outbreak in that part of the world and its understatement of the magnitude of the problem is, as one doctor put it, a little like having unprotected sex while knowing that one is HIV positive. The deceitful decision of the PRC to suppress information has a direct impact on the health of all of us and is literally costing us billions of dollars.

However it gets worse. Taiwan immediately and accurately reported its SARS outbreak to the WHO, which did not get reported initially because of pressure from the PRC, and then only later as a province of China. The WHO refused to send its health experts to Taiwan or to allow Taiwanese health experts to participate in developing their knowledge about the outbreak, therefore imperilling the health of the Taiwanese, the Chinese, the world at large and Canada in particular. This has to stop.

It is one thing for the PRC to imperil the health of its own citizens. However it is quite another thing to imperil the health of citizens of other nations. The world is too small for this kind of petty politics. It is particularly galling to have a cooperative state like Taiwan shut out by the political muscle of China, a less than cooperative state. This is not the first time.

In 1999 Taiwan had a devastating earthquake, killing 2,400, injuring 10,000 people and leaving over 100,000 people homeless. Taiwan needed the WHO. Time is crucial in a matter like that, and the WHO spent useless hours and days working out ways to deliver unofficial and indirect assistance to Taiwan.

Parliament must speak on this issue. We say that we value democracy and the rule of law. Taiwan is an economic tiger but it is also a democratic miracle. It has emerged from the gloom of a brutal repressive dictatorship into the sunlight of a vigorous multi-party democracy. Yet when Taiwan requests a legitimate form of recognition, we turn our back on her. We do not walk the walk; we only want to talk the talk.

I urge my colleagues to support this resolution as it would get Canada a little closer to walking the talk.

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1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for speaking in clear terms that can be understood, and should be understood, not only in the House but in the United Nations and around the world.

We in Canada sit by, as in this recent example with SARS, and let a world organization not move as it should because of the political power of mainland China. In doing so, we are putting politics way ahead of people. We did the same thing with the earthquake in Taiwan. We had to argue for months before help went in.

We, as Canadians, should sit very carefully and think about what the hon. member has just said, and the clearness of it, and put ourselves in the same position and ask, if we could act, would we ignore the people in Taiwan today because we feared something about their political identity? I do not think Canadians would but the United Nations has.

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1:10 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough East, ON

Madam Speaker, WHO's interpretation of what constitutes a state seems to be somewhat flexible. The argument is that it can only recognize a country that is a member state of the UN. Obviously Taiwan is not a member state of the UN. It rather foolishly quit.

Several generations of leadership later and it is saying it was a bad idea. We have a bizarre situation where the WHO for certain purposes will recognize Palestine, which is really the PLO; Malta; Niue; Cook Islands; and other entities as health entities for the purposes of the WHO, but for admission to the WHO the island of 23 million is simply a black hole in the WHO scheme of world events.

That seems to be more than passingly bizarre since 23 million people constitute a population that is in excess of 75%, more than most states that actually are members of the WHO and the UN. At this point I do not think we can afford to play the game any longer. There is enough blame to go around between the Taiwanese and the PRC in terms of their politics. We could spend the rest of the day talking about that but the truth is that they are starting to cost me and my constituents their health and money. I say, enough.

We now have an opportunity to encourage Taiwan's admission and I think it is time we did it. We have terrific examples in the WTO and APEC and I cannot imagine why we cannot extend that example on to the WHO.

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1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, I empathize with a number of points the member made. I will probably make them in my own discourse but just to play the devil's advocate I will talk a bit about the other side of the issue.

I assume the member would agree that this is not a discussion on Taiwan's independence. Of course that would be a very interesting debate and we could have it some time, but this is simply related to its admission as observer status in a world organization and what the benefits would be of joining or not joining.

Perhaps the member could elaborate a bit more on the positions of those who are opposed but my understanding is that their position is that Taiwan now has full access, through its contact in the United States and through the WHO that has co-operated with it, to any information it needs. Therefore what actually would be the benefit of creating an international incident on this particular membership?

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1:15 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough East, ON

Madam Speaker, I think consistency is the big thing. The hon. member mentioned going to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which has basically been Taiwan's window into international health issues.

We had an interesting example in Toronto where we had exactly the same outbreak. The facts were there and they were very clear and cogent. Professionals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came up from Atlanta to Toronto and said that Toronto was handling it as well as could be expected and that there was very little on which they would criticize.

The WHO, on the other hand, put us on a travel advisory. Therefore there was inconsistency between the two organizations. By giving Taiwan access to the WHO, at least there would be consistency. We might not be happy with it but we would at least have consistency in terms of a world health approach. I think that is what has to be achieved.

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1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak on this motion introduced by our hon. colleague from Kootenay—Columbia, and I want to congratulate him for this initiative. I must inform you that I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Lotbinière—L'Érable.

It is important to recognize that there was cause to be concerned that this motion might be defeated in this House, given the position expressed moments ago by the secretary of state. However, not so long ago, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade had passed a motion in support of the Taiwan's application for observer status at the World Health Organization.

So, it seems reasonable to fear the possible defeat of this motion. Since this is an opposition day, it is highly likely that the government will turn this into an issue of confidence. Given the government position expressed a few moments ago, there is reason to fear that the government will ask its members to vote against this motion. If so, if this motion is defeated here in the House, this would, for all practical purposes, nullify the motion adopted by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. This would be a terrible shame, since this committee had made a non-partisan statement, unlike what we are seeing here today.

I think, therefore, that the results of the vote in committee were much more representative of the position of parliamentarians than the potential result at the end of today's debate. It would be preferable for the House of Commons to add its voice to those of the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress and admit the truth, which is that Taiwan must necessarily be granted observer status at the World Health Organization.

I shall begin with a brief outline of my view of the situation. The secretary of state was telling us that political considerations must not have a negative effect on the health of the Taiwanese population. All very well, but that is exactly what the politics are doing now. The politics are holding the health of Taiwan's population hostage. Moreover, the health of the whole region of which Taiwan is a part is being held hostage, and so, by extension, is the whole world, because disease, like poverty, does not respect borders. Diseases ignore borders.

In this era of rapid communication and frequent travel across the world, that is truer than ever. Disease knows no borders and takes no sides in political disputes. Even though the People's Republic of China has decided to act as if Taiwan were one of its provinces and, as a consequence, refuses to allow it observer status in various international bodies, this does not mean that the situation in Taiwan is not serious.

The Canadian government, for political reasons once again, is going along with this hostage-taking, affecting the health of the Taiwanese people and the health of the people in surrounding counties and all over the world. All of that because it wants to spare the feelings of the government of the People's Republic of China, which is not a very honourable way for a country to behave when it has such a well-established international reputation as Canada has.

My former colleague from Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, Antoine Dubé, asked a question of the Minister of Foreign Affairs a few weeks ago, about the potential admission of Taiwan as an observer at the World Health Organization.

The minister replied, somewhat offhandedly, that the problem with Taiwan is that it is not a member of the United Nations and that the WTO is a UN organization. How insincere. How glib.

It is important to remember that, until 1971, Taiwan was a member of the United Nations. If Taiwan is no longer a member, it is because it chose to withdraw, which paved the way for the People's Republic of China's admission to the UN. At one time, the international community considered Taiwan to be a full fledged member. This still holds true today, since Taiwan received special status, but status nonetheless, at the World Trade Organization.

So, if other international bodies can give Taiwan this status, given its international importance—Taiwan has a population of 23 million; it is the world's sixteenth economic power and its third largest foreign exchange reserve—why can the same not be done at the World Health Organization?

This is the question, and I think it is time to consider that the future admission of Taiwan to the WHO would have significant advantages not only for Taiwan, as I was saying earlier, but also for the rest of the world. If Taiwan can benefit from the support of the WHO to deal with crises like those we are seeing today, such as SARS, then obviously, the Taiwanese people will benefit in turn and, by extension, as I said earlier, so too will the people of neighbouring countries and the rest of the world. Just consider the effect of travel by people and the business sector on the economy; it is quite clear that, given Taiwan's economic strength, we simply cannot think that there will be no travel to and from Taiwan. Consequently, there are people travelling to and from Taiwan.

It is important to note that a number of young Canadians go to Taiwan to teach. In other words, a significant number of people are travelling between Taiwan and Canada. The Department of Foreign Affairs has a publication that outlines what young Canadians need to do if they want to teach English. It goes even further. On the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade web site, Taiwan is referred to as a country.

Why this doublespeak? First, Taiwan is treated as a country; then, it is treated as though it is not part of the international community. I think that Canada would do well to be consistent in its dealings with Taiwan and also in the principles it upholds on the international scene.

I will read a few excerpts from the World Health Organization's Constitution. The preamble states that:

The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, political belief—

I said that illness knows no political boundary.

The text also adds:

—economic or social condition.

The health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security and is dependent upon the fullest co-operation of individuals and States.

The achievement of any State in the promotion and protection of health is of value to all.

Unequal development in different countries in the promotion of health and control of disease, especially communicable disease—

Such as SARS, for instance.

—is a common danger.

The extension to all peoples—

Note that it says “all peoples”.

—of the benefits of medical, psychological and related knowledge is essential to the fullest attainment of health.

I think it is time to face reality. There is a historical analogy I could raise, but unfortunately my time is up. I will therefore close by simply stating that it is time to face reality and to recognize that admitting Taiwan to WHO observer status would not be contrary to the policy of the Peoples' Republic of China and would have considerable advantages for the health of the people of Taiwan and for world health.

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1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Anders Calgary West, AB

Madam Speaker, I was very heartened to hear my colleague from the Bloc talk in such favourable terms with regard to the observer status. I think that makes a great deal of sense. I was wondering if he might be able to give us some depth of his feelings or thoughts with regard to the decision by the then prime minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, with regard to the one China policy he established in 1970. Could he give us some sense of his feelings toward that subject, whether or not he thinks that was a wise move for the country, and what he thinks of those policies?

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1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Madam Speaker, I think this is a fascinating question from my colleague from Calgary West and I thank him for it.

A fascinating question quite simply because this problematic issue of a single China is connected to Chinese internal policy. Until quite recently, and I believe until the present time, the one-China policy has been defended by the governments of both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China. The Republic of China, of course has a new government which may, eventually, perhaps want to change that policy. For the moment, however, until we hear otherwise, I believe it is still the policy that is defended by the Republic of China.

As a result, the international community has adopted this same one-China policy, since there were two governments claiming authority and sovereignty over the entire territory of China. The Canadian government merely responded to this state of affairs by deciding to also adopt a one-China policy. Is that one-China policy still the appropriate policy for the year 2003?

I think that this is another issue that could be related to the subject at hand. However, I believe, like the secretary of state, that politics must not influence public health issues. Therefore, Taiwan should be granted observer status at the World Health Organization, regardless of political considerations, whether in the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China or the international community, including Canada.

I was saying earlier that we need to be able to face up to reality. I was referring to the historic precedent of Germany. After the second world war, several months after the Federal Republic of Germany was created, the Soviet occupied zone responded in turn by creating the German Democratic Republic.

The Federal Republic of Germany reacted to the artificial creation, according to them, of the German Democratic Republic with the Hallstein doctrine, by which the Federal Republic of Germany broke off relations with any country that established diplomatic relations with the German Democratic Republic. The Federal Republic of Germany instantly broke off foreign relations with any country that established diplomatic relations with the German Democratic Republic.

After the Cuban missile crisis and Detente, this policy turned out to be simply outdated. This artificial policy to isolate the German Democratic Republic would not solve the problem of German unity. The Federal Republic of Germany then established a policy of openness toward the east, which allowed a number of countries in the international community to pursue diplomatic relations with the German Democratic Republic.

None of which prevented the whole issue of German reunification from being resolved some years later. This just proves that such artificial policies that are established to reach a goal often do not allow this goal to be reached. At some point, simply recognizing reality can allow these goals to be reached.