House of Commons Hansard #108 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was norad.

Topics

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1:25 p.m.

Beauséjour—Petitcodiac
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, like the member for Yukon, I find the interventions of the member for Lac-Saint-Louis interesting and reflective. I appreciate a lot of his comments.

I am wondering if he might offer some views on one issue which certainly is of concern to many of us in this caucus. It is the issue of the weaponization of space.

I was very happy that the minister in his comments reiterated the longstanding Canadian position that we do not support the weaponization of space. The minister indicated that was one of the three important reasons to engage in a discussion, so that we have a forum to advance that perspective and to support those in the United States who share our view that this would be unwise.

I am wondering if the member agrees that the longstanding Canadian position in opposition to the weaponization of space is worthy and should stand. How would he suggest the government could advance that in these discussions?

I had the chance to see Mr. Axworthy's presentation this morning. He was very eloquent on that very issue as well.

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1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, especially because he is close to the scene, and not having heard the Minister of National Defence, it would be really unfair of me to characterize the speech of the Minister of National Defence.

I am very glad about the position he has announced. Canada has always taken the stand that weaponization of space is against our fundamental interests. I am glad we are reinforcing it through the speech of the Minister of National Defence and that this would be our position.

If discussions take place, I hope that one of the fundamental priorities that we put forward will be that we cannot join in any system where there is even a little possibility that it will lead to weaponization of space.

As to former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy, he is an eminent spokesperson on that issue because of his previous experience, especially his tremendous experience as a peacemaker. He is the person who inspired the land mines treaty and the international criminal court. We should listen to his words very carefully.

Finally, in regard to the comments of the parliamentary secretary, what scares me is that the Canadian Alliance motion cleverly refers to any system. Any system means any system that would weaponize space and I would be totally against that.

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1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, sovereignty is about the capacity to make one's own decisions. Too many members of our government believe that cooperation with our allies undermines our sovereignty. When we cooperate with trusted allies to protect our vital national interests, we are exercising our sovereignty; we are making a responsible and intelligent choice.

I want to use this motion as an occasion to make some observations about our very special relationship with our American friends. Our trading relationship with the U.S. is seriously being undermined. Lumber, grain and now beef cattle are the objects of problems in obtaining access to the American market. Too many of my government friends assume that we have a God given right or a constitutional right to gain access to the American market.

There is nothing in the American constitution that I know of that gives Canada a special right or access to that market. Access to that market is a privilege which we should cherish and value. We should not take it for granted and assume it is some sort of right that we have. This is a seriously flawed assumption on the government's part. NAFTA and world trade rules and so on are only partial solutions to that sort of problem.

Our access and our economic and social well-being as a nation really depend on identifying shared common values and interests we have with the Americans and working closely with them. This is nothing against our sovereignty. It is common sense. It is good policy. Our nation depends very much on a healthy, friendly relationship with our American friends. It is in our national interest to maintain that friendly, healthy relationship.

The government, especially in recent years, has poorly managed that relationship right down the line. Besides the trade situation, we are seeing signs of a deteriorating situation in terms of the investment climate. DaimlerChrysler announced recently that it is not going ahead with a $1.7 billion investment in Windsor. Honda Motor Company has stated on a number of occasions that it is concerned about long term investments in Canada because of potentially deteriorating economic circumstances with the United States. There are signs that the investment climate is working against this nation because of government policies and actions toward the Americans.

Another sign of the deteriorating relationship is that this country is increasingly being left out of the loop. I recall post September 11 when George Bush addressed the house of representatives. Who was in attendance that day? Tony Blair. George Bush read off the names of the countries of the world that he sees as American allies and friends. There were many countries on that list but one country that he did not mention was Canada. At that level it is something that is not overlooked or forgotten. We have to assume it is deliberate.

The Prime Minister has not been invited to the President's ranch. Just about anyone who counts for anything in the world has visited the President's ranch in Texas but the Prime Minister has not been there. The President's announced visit to Canada was cancelled. That again is a sign that things are not good on this front. This is disturbing.

Not long ago a poll in the United States asked American citizens whether they saw Canadians as friends and allies. A substantially large number of Americans do not see Canadians as their friends or allies any more. That is serious.

I am pleased that today the minister of defence announced that the government has embarked upon negotiations with the Americans on this missile defence system. It is a step in the right direction. There have been so many backward steps on the American-Canadian relationship file, it is causing a lot of damage to this country and our future as a nation. This is a step in the right direction. On the other hand, we do not have an agreement concluded with the Americans on the missile system. That is a whole different story. At least we have indicated that we are going to embark upon that area and hopefully it will work out.

I sincerely hope that our government will make a decision that will put Canadian security and national defence first and foremost. I hope it will set aside the temptation to pander for political purposes to the left-wing anti-American element that exists in this country and in the government, and some days I get the impression it is the majority of the government.

I come from a province that has been dominated by left wing socialist thinking. I know what it has done to that province. I become concerned that what we really have here in Canada is an informal socialist left-wing government which will do the same thing to the nation as what was slowly done to my province of Saskatchewan. What it did was drive people to the United States, to Alberta and to other parts of the country. In the government's case it would be driving them out of the country, which is already happening in some cases.

Let me make some comments about the proposed North American missile defence system. In a historical sense, we have a new paradigm. The cold war is over. The Prime Minister does not seem to understand that. He seems to be talking as if it were the 1950s, 1960s, or 1970s. The world has changed. We are not looking at superpower versus superpower any more. That is over with. Nazism is gone.

Most enlightened countries realize that socialism and communism do not work and have since rejected them. Some people still cling to it and try to maintain it. Some people travel to France and talk to their friends over there, trying to perpetuate this myth and keep it going. However they are really wasting their time and selling out the interests of the country.

In today's paradigm there are rogue nations in the world run by people who have absolutely no respect for human rights, no respect for our values of freedom, liberty and democracy and wealth creation and so on. They are evil people who are motivated by hate. If they had the means to strike at the heart of our system and cause mass destruction, they would do it tomorrow.

That is something my friend across the way ignored in his speech. He ignored history. Freedom-loving people who do not understand this reality will sooner or later be attacked by evil people. Hearing a man like that speak reminds me of the peacemaker Neville Chamberlain who did not like war, but sometimes war is necessary. I am sure the six million deceased Jewish people would have said that sometimes war is necessary.

We cannot let evil knock down our door, walk in and take over our country. If our neighbour is being attacked, we do not sit back and say it is not our problem because our door will be knocked down sooner or later and we need a defence system against that.

That is not the end of this paradigm. The other part of this paradigm is that we have international terrorism today in this world and in my view it is motivated by religious fanatics and zealots who do not respect anything we stand for. I do not mean just the values of the United States. They do not respect anything we stand for as Canadians. If they had their way, they would destroy and annihilate everything we stand for. They would eliminate it tomorrow. They have no toleration for it. They are motivated by hate and they are out to destroy us. If we were to sit idly by and say it is an American problem or somebody else's problem and we are peace loving country and these people will not bother us, we would be very naive. We are ignoring a clear and present danger to the civilized world as we know it.

My government friends say that it is an American problem and not our problem, but it is our problem. When the border closes down in the United States or the American economy slows down or we cannot sell beef, lumber, Bombardier jets or Nortel optical technology in the United States, guess what happens? People get laid off, our economy goes in the tank, and the first thing we know the government does not have the revenue to start paying for social programs, and unemployment rates start going up and so on. We have to look at some realities in this country and respect the people we should be respecting.

A national government that ignores these realities is putting the national security and the health of this nation at risk. I really think it is putting the future identity and the strength of our nation at risk too. A country that cannot understand these basic simple realities will not last that long.

I believe it is incumbent on us to fully participate in a North American missile defence system. I think we have to participate, not just negotiate. We have to do our part to make sure that this system is up and running and that we are protected as well, because this new paradigm does not distinguish between New York or Chicago or Toronto and Canadians or Americans. We have been declared enemies as well, so let us make this clear.

I want to make some comments about this system. First, this is not a weapons system. It is designed to intercept weapons heading toward North America which, if they were to reach their destination, would cause unbelievable harm to people's lives, our environment and our future. It is not a weapon. Let us get that clear. If we put a lock on our door to keep criminals from breaking into our house, that is not a weapon. Let us be clear what we are talking about when we use this language in the House. We are not talking about weapons.

Also, there is some confusion about star wars or escalation of weapons into space. Again let us be clear. This is a ground to air system. It is not a space system. I do not know why people keep on coming up with this idea. It is not part of the scenario. It is a ground to air system.

My learned friend has gone again, but would he be saying that if the Americans had had advance notice about the jets flying into the twin towers he would not have sent up some F-16s or something to take down those planes before they hit their destination? That is ground to air. It did not come down from the stars or the moon or something. I really do not know where this argument is coming from, unless there are some people who just do not want to deal with the truth and the facts.

I just bring that matter to your attention, Mr. Speaker, because I know you would really like to understand that point and I am sure you could probably help other colleagues understand it too.

There are all these harmful decisions that have been made which have hurt our relationship with our American friends, so this is a really good opportunity to start rebuilding this relationship. It is in pretty bad shape right now. We had better do something to send a signal to our American friends that we are on side with them and that we have ceased pandering to all these left wing, socialistic types of people who seem to have had the favour of the government over the last two or three years when it comes to foreign policy.

There is another area I want to deal with. I have run into a fair number of people on the government side, and their supporters, who say that Canada does not need a defence system. They say the world has changed, we are a peace loving nation and we do not need a defence system.

With all due respect, that shows an ignorance of history. Countries that do not prepare to defend themselves against people who have no respect for other people's rights, and that applies to nations, will pay a very heavy price for it. They will pay a very heavy price for it. We all want peace, but some people in the world are bound and determined to cause war and to cause problems and we have to be prepared for that.

Saying that Canada does not need a defence system is also based on the assumption that all problems can be solved through diplomatic channels and peacekeeping methods. History shows us that is not the case. In 1919-20 the world created the League of Nations, an organization that would ensure there would never be a war again. We would collectively prevent war from happening again. What happened in the 1930s? The Nazi movement and Hitler arose and we had the beginning of the second world war, with Mussolini in Italy and the Japanese in Manchuria and China and so on. Millions of people were slaughtered. What did the League of Nations do with its diplomacy and peacekeeping? Nothing. It did not stop it. What really stopped it was war.

I do not like war, but the alternative was to surrender to Hitler. Is that an alternative? Sometimes we have to fight in this world. That is a problem I see with this government. It is so focused on diplomacy and peacekeeping it does not understand that sometimes this does not work and conflict is necessary, whether we like it or not. It is the same as wishing we did not have criminals. Maybe the Liberals could pass a law banning criminals and they would disappear and be gone, but we all know there are people who are not going to abide by the laws and they are not going to disappear just because a law is passed.

I do understand what William Shakespeare was thinking when he said the road to hell is paved with good intentions. There are a lot of good intentions in the House, but I am not exactly sure if the road is all that smooth. If it is smooth, it is going the wrong way.

The third point I want to raise is that some people say we do not really need a defence system because if there is a problem the Americans will defend us. These are the people who are arguing sovereignty on the other side of the House. The Americans will protect us. I am not a freeloader. I believe that in this world we all have to pull our own weight. I am not counting on somebody else to defend my home or my nation. That is our responsibility. That is the responsibility of our federal government. It has neglected that file. Implicitly what their unofficial defence policy in this nation has been--and they are not looking up at me right now--and what the Liberals are really saying is that the Americans will protect us if this happens, that we cannot protect ourselves but we will have the Americans to do it for us.

I wanted to make a few comments about some of the statements made in the last couple of years that have really undermined our relationship with the Americans, but I understand I am out of time, Mr. Speaker.

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1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy the member's interventions.

I have a simple question. The Canadian Alliance has a number of spending priorities, including more money for agriculture, more money for the Coast Guard, more money for ships, planes, and boats, more money for tax reductions and more money to pay off the debt. I am wondering which of these priorities the member would reduce in order to pay for this new investment in missile control.

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1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, some ministers of the Crown come to mind right off the bat. I could go back over the Minister of Industry's portfolio. How much is the firearms registry? It is $1 billion. In fact, I think someone counted $3 billion or $4 billion for that alone. What was what it called for the Minister of Human Resources Development a few years back?

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1:50 p.m.

An hon. member

The billion dollar boondoggle.

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1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

The billion dollar boondoggle.

Of course we have the Minister of Canadian Heritage and everybody in this House knows that when the minister of heritage spends money, we always get great value for that money. There is no waste in that department.

There are a lot of these ministries in the government. The Auditor General can certainly give me a lot of support on that and I wish she had more people in her department so we could find out the full extent of this. If we had our priorities right and the government was doing the things it should be doing in this country rather than squandering and wasting money on useless programs such as the firearms registry and other such programs, we would have no problem financing our way in areas that are really important to Canadians.

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1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on his presentation. He talked about the missile defence system being an opportunity for Canada to now repair some of the damage done over the last year or more by some of the comments that have come from the Liberal government.

Many in the House have been working day and night to try to resolve an issue that is affecting the economy of Canada in a big way. With regard to the cattle industry in the country, we have tried everything we can. We have been pushing the government and we have been trying to open up relations with the United States. Then again this morning we see headlines in the newspapers that our Prime Minister has degraded or denigrated the President of the United States. This is doing us absolutely no good. It is causing us more harm than we can possibly imagine.

When the member states that this is an opportunity for Canada to start mending those fences, I believe that is true. This might be a little on the fringe of the missile defence system, but I would like to hear his comments on that.

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1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with the sentiment of the question. I think if members opposite do not understand that there is a connection between our deteriorating relationship with the United States and the way we carry out foreign policy, we are missing an awful lot.

I have a short list to add to this. On the anniversary of September 11, if I understood our Prime Minister correctly, one interpretation of his comments, and it is hard sometimes to interpret what he saying, was that the United States, through its policies, was really getting back what they had cost. I find that totally unacceptable.

There is a whole list of others. On that same anniversary, a member of the Liberal government in the House said that September 11 was a minor inconvenience. I wonder what she was doing on September 11. Did she not have her TV on? Another minister in that context said it was too bad the Soviet Union collapsed because it was a good counterbalance to the United States. Josef Stalin and Lenin and the misery they brought on this world is something we should be wanting to preserve? I cannot believe that.

Then there was the comment, “I hate those bastards”. As well, a chief adviser called Bush a “moron”. During the American election the comment was that Gore would be better than Bush for Canada. Another minister said that Bush is not a statesman.

Then we have the latest tirade, where the Prime Minister did what he did not want the ambassador of the United States to do, which was to interfere with our domestic relations, and started running down the United States for being right wing southern conservative, saying it is running up deficits and saying we know how to do things here. The United States has 5% of the world's population and 40% of the world's GDP. It has nothing to be embarrassed about. And if we did not have access to that market, our standard of living would be substantially lower. I find this whole response of these Liberal MPs, cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister insulting to my American friends.

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1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to expand on the most recent comment by my colleague. One of the comments that came from the Prime Minister was criticizing the U.S. for its deficit.

The U.S. is a country that went to war against a tyrant to free his people, a war in which our government chose not to get involved, and our Prime Minister has the audacity to criticize that country for running up a deficit. I would like to hear the member's comments on that.

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1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, we have 50,000 people in our armed forces and we really do not have any military capacity at all. I said that we have a freeloader capacity.

The Americans had to go to Afghanistan and they carried the ball there. We put some money into it, but let us be honest, the Americans put billions of dollars into that, into Iraq and then into homeland security.

Homeland security, post-September 11 is a real shock. It has affected our economy big time. We are trying to recover from it too. For the Prime Minister to attack the President of the United States for reacting to extraordinary circumstances is beyond amazement.

Canadian Forces Day
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, this Sunday is Canadian Forces Day and I rise to salute the courage and the dedication of our men and women in uniform.

Whether guarding our borders here at home or taking part in peace support operations abroad, our military personnel are making a concrete difference to countless lives around the world.

For years members of the Canadian Forces have been proud ambassadors of Canadian principles and tireless protectors of our values. They have contributed to building our national identity while promoting the cause of global peace and security.

Protecting Canada, its people and interests is a great responsibility, especially in this new security environment. However the members of the Canadian Forces have always been up to the challenge and they can take pride, as we do, in their good work.

I encourage Canadians to take the opportunity of Canadian Forces Day to thank our men and women in uniform for their commitment to duty, to recognize the many sacrifices they and their families make for our sake, and to celebrate their accomplishments.

Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Delta—South Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, again today the Liberal majority on the committee for the scrutiny of regulations rejected a Canadian Alliance motion to disallow sections of the aboriginal fishing regulations which the committee has found to be illegal since 1997.

In order to derail the committee's effort at disallowance, the minister served notice this week that he intends to amend the Fisheries Act, but as of yet the amendments are in draft form only.

The Liberals rejected the motion in spite of the fact that the minister had failed to fulfill his commitment to meet with the committee before introducing the amendments in this House.

In failing to hold the minister to his word, the committee agreed to allow the government to continue arresting fishermen protesting the government's illegal action and to seize their boats and gear.

It defies reason that Liberal members would so scandalously support the breaking of the law by the government.

In rejecting the Canadian Alliance motion, Liberal members indicated their support of the government's use of police powers to harass and intimidate fishermen protesting the government's outrageous and illegal behaviour.

Teaching Excellence Award
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to recognize Mrs. Jennifer Beauregard, a grade two French immersion teacher at Dorset Drive Public School in my riding of Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale.

Mrs. Beauregard has been selected by the Prime Minister to receive a 2003 teaching excellence certificate of achievement. The award honours outstanding teachers from across Canada who have best prepared their students to meet the challenges of our changing society.

Mrs. Beauregard used her training in art and music to create a stimulating environment in the classroom. She involves parents in children's learning and reports regularly about the children's progress.

I would like to thank her for her commitment and dedication to our youth.

A. Lacroix et Fils Granit Ltée
Statements By Members

May 29th, 2003 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Gérard Binet Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak about a family business founded in 1962 in Saint-Sébastien, which all started in a home garage. A. Lacroix et Fils Granit Ltée, a stone manufacturing and cutting business, now has over 130 employees and has been serving its clients for three generations.

The business managed by Claude Lacroix and his two sons, Simon and Frédéric, has been awarded 25% of the New England Stone Industries contract to supply granite blocks for the World War II Memorial in Washington, a project of the American Battle Monument Commission.

This industry leader has outstanding expertise in custom orders, and its reputation for excellence is widely appreciated by contractors, project managers, stone setters and architects across North America. This leading supplier of natural stone has been involved in a number of remarkable achievements and can be proud of its reputation. I want to congratulate this company for its entrepreneurship. It is another fine example of international visibility—