House of Commons Hansard #148 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

Comments by Member for Winnipeg South Centre
Privilege

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment to respond to the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake on Thursday, May 3. The member for Selkirk—Interlake alleges that just prior to the vote on Wednesday, May 2, I crossed the floor and made threatening comments to him and that he felt intimidated.

First, I acknowledge crossing the floor on the said day and approaching the hon. member in order to voice my displeasure with respect to what appeared in a ten percenter sent to my riding. Yes, I was angry, and yes, I was upset. However, I in no way intended to threaten the hon. member and I am sorry to hear that he felt intimidated by my comments.

My demeanour is not usually interpreted as intimidating, but if the hon. member felt that I was either threatening or intimidating I apologize to him, as it was certainly not my intention to do either.

Once again, I apologize to the member. It was not my intention to make him feel overcome with fear. I am sorry if he felt threatened and I am sorry if he felt intimidated.

Comments by Member for Winnipeg South Centre
Privilege

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for her important intervention in this matter. I will look at the two interventions now and come back to the House, if necessary, with a decision in respect of this.

Pearson Peacekeeping Centre
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault West Nova, NS

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should fully fund the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre to assure that it continues to operate in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House to speak on a issue that is extremely important not only for Canada, but for Canada's international reputation, for our allies—the people who work with us on peacekeeping missions abroad—and for the people who work for the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in Nova Scotia, Ottawa and Montreal. The centre, which has been in existence since 1994, is doing an outstanding job and continuing to evolve. However, staff never know from one year to the next where the centre's funding will come from or how it will keep on providing good services.

My motion asks the government to provide ongoing funding for the Pearson Centre so that it has the financial stability necessary to reassure everyone we work with in this area that the centre will continue to operate in Canada and abroad in the coming years. The motion also aims to guarantee to the people of Nova Scotia and the Kespuwick Industrial Park that the Pearson Centre will continue to be there, providing jobs and services. The centre is in dire straits at present. Not only is the government refusing to provide ongoing funding, limiting its commitment to the next three years and indicating that they will be the final years of funding, but it is also refusing to honour past funding agreements for operations in Nova Scotia.

Often, the government refuses to support regional operations, and officials find all sorts of reasons why it is very hard to operate in the regions and preferable to do so in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver—and they even find reasons not to operate in Vancouver. The government prefers to operate in the major cities in central Canada. I encourage the government and invite the members of this House to look at this issue and consider what the role of the Government of Canada is, if it is not to promote regional development.

The situation we now find ourselves in with the Pearson centre is troubling. It is very troubling for our allies, but is also troubling for all the Canadians working in peacekeeping operations and especially the people working In Kespuwick Park in Cornwallis or in Deep Brook, Nova Scotia.

The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre was established in 1994. At that time, we saw the closure of CFB Cornwallis, the major employer in that area. There was some restructuring within the military. There were some cutbacks at the federal level because we had a huge deficit at the time. For my part of the country, the loss of 700 jobs in that area was very difficult.

A group of volunteers and civic leaders got together and formed the Cornwallis Park Development Agency. They received some funding from the federal government through various departments, a lot of it through ACOA but a lot through DND and the external affairs department, to see how we could turn the negative story of a base closure into a positive economic story for western Nova Scotia. It has been a tremendous success because a lot of players have come together. One of the things the federal government did was create the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre and establish its operations out of the former CFB Greenwood.

Ken Ozmon, president of St. Mary's University at the time, was chairman of the board. A lot of good people went to work there. They offered courses internationally. They brought together people from the military, non-governmental organizations, policing outfits and the Red Cross and things like that and trained them in peacekeeping operations. Nationals from many countries were brought there and they looked at how to apply the three Ds principle of peacekeeping and peacemaking: defence, diplomacy and development.

Also, extramural activities were started by the staff of Pearson, with organized training sessions in other countries, in over 30 countries and in three languages. Those courses were offered out of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre where training sessions were held.

The first level of funding was supposed to be for five years. Then it was to be self-supporting from the sale of services. That did not quite happen, so we had to come in again with some new funding, which we did. We refunded the project and the Pearson centre made some changes. It moved the marketing officers at the beginning in Montreal and Ottawa and established a presence on the campus of Carleton University.

Then, in the dying days of the last government, we came to an agreement in working with the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre, which was established on the base. Its purpose was to use the hospitality facilities on the base to create a conference centre whereby it could sell rooms to and organize conference training sessions for the general Canadian public and internationals alongside what the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre was doing.

The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre reached a deal, financed by the federal government through ACOA and DND, and I believe there was some funding from the external affairs department, whereby the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre purchased the facilities of the Pearson centre and upgraded them and then was to sell the services to the Pearson centre. It is a marvellous deal. The facilities would be operated more efficiently and used for more purposes, such as international schools and all sorts of things.

Then what the federal government did to ensure the success of the story was guarantee the purchase of services and the purchase of seats from the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. Everybody wins in this story. The Annapolis Basin Conference Centre becomes self-financing and has better facilities, while the Pearson centre concentrates on what it does best, which is programming, and we keep those valuable jobs in the area, jobs that can support other things. That base also has the Acadia cadet camp, Camp Acadia, which we financed for the long term, and these same people sell services, so it was a very good deal.

Now we learn that the government has withdrawn from that. My motion intends to re-establish that relationship.

I want to take the House back to Kespuwick Park and what CF Cornwallis Base became. What were the other things that we were able to establish there? They include the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre, which I mentioned, Camp Acadia, which I mentioned, and also the military museum. I was at the museum on the weekend for the Battle of the Atlantic ceremonies and the rededication of the stained glass windows honouring the 24 Canadian vessels lost in the Battle of the Atlantic.

We also have, of course, the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, and Discovery Toys, with 80 jobs, manufacturing out of homes and selling internationally. There is also Acadian Seaplants, a local company but international in perspective, doing high end research and development, funded from its own resources but participating in the Atlantic investment partnership program. There is a fibreglass business doing very complex structures and shapes and providing many jobs.

There was also Shaw Wood, which unfortunately had to close after I believe five years of operation selling solely to the Ikea market, leaving behind a very good facility for which we hope we can find an entrepreneur to take over where Shaw Wood left off. There is the Convergys Call Centre. I should have checked on the number of jobs there, but I believe it is over 600, and it is still looking for employees. There also are quite a few smaller businesses and public institutions.

The success story is quite good for that park. There are more jobs in that park now than there were when the military was operating. Also, all the residential facilities have been turned into retirement homes and summer residences, thus adding to the economy.

As well, the federal government, through ACOA, participated in funding the LIFEPLEX Wellness Centre that is operating there now. It has very good health facilities, with a swimming pool, running track, weight rooms, exercise rooms and physio facilities. It is a very good project. We funded phase one of it. However, the president of its board thought he was smarter than the federal government and thought he should do both phases before he had the full funding, so the municipality had to step in and take over the debt left behind by the president of that organization.

Luckily, the municipality did that and the population now has access to it, but it was a huge debt. However, this is not unknown to that gentleman. He was minister of finance for Nova Scotia where I believe he left behind an $8.5 million debt. He will be running for the Conservatives in the next federal election and trying to continue his great tradition.

Thus, that part has been a very good success story, and an anchorstone within that park is Pearson. As I mentioned, there is the relationship with the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre. When we look at the synergy created there, we see that it means over 100 jobs for rural Canada, for western Nova Scotia.

Bureaucrats will tell us that they would prefer to be doing that training in Ottawa because people find it difficult to get to the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. Let me tell members something. The people we are training there are going to be serving in Afghanistan. They are going to be serving in Haiti. They are going to be serving in Darfur. They are going to be serving in hot spots all over the world, so I have difficulty in understanding why they cannot take a one and one-half hour flight and a two and one-half hour ride in an air conditioned van to get to the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. That concept escapes me, but I am not a highly educated civil servant.

I believe the role of government is to ensure that we give potential to the regions. When we look at what the volunteers have done there and at what the personnel of Pearson Peacekeeping Centre have built there over the last 13 years, we can see that it is very regrettable that the federal government now would withdraw from it. It is not acceptable. I certainly hope that I will have support from all parties for this motion to reinstitute full funding for Pearson, including its activities in western Nova Scotia.

Let us look at what the current government has been doing to rural Canada and to Nova Scotia in particular. I do not have to remind anybody of the Atlantic accord. I think we see seven editorials a day calling the government pure and outright liars in having failed Nova Scotians on the accord.

The withdrawal of the Coast Guard is not unrelated. Right after the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans got in trouble in his home province because of the Atlantic accord due to the fact that the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador agreement was broken just like the Canada-Nova Scotia agreement, two icebreaking vessels were moved from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland.

The argument is that this is more economical, more efficient and a better business plan. It so happens that the icebreakers were sent to two different ports and, lo and behold, the two ports are represented by two Conservative members. Coincidence or economics? I would say politics. My belief is that the Coast Guard is out there to protect mariners, not save seats for ministers.

There are research vessels, DFO and the port of Digby. It is the same story. The member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley made accusations, serious allegations, and he had a right to do that because we all have concerns about how the money was being used by the organization that removed the port of Digby. Everybody had serious concerns. Everybody made some enquiries that ended up at arbitration.

The arbitrator reported during the last election that while the Maritime Harbour Society had not done anything counter to the agreement, had not done anything illegal, the agreement itself was very weak. It was terrible. It had a loophole so big that we could drive a truck through it, to paraphrase the report. That agreement was written by Transport Canada.

For 16 months now Transport Canada has had that report. The Conservatives, when they were in opposition, were saying how we should come to the assistance of Digby, and I agreed with them then and I agree with them now. But 16 months later the port of Digby has not been remediated, the government has not taken ownership. It is not under DFO as it should be and the facilities are not being repaired. That is not acceptable.

We could look at small craft harbours generally and the reduction of funding. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans who was on the fisheries committee as an opposition member spoke of increasing funding and is now presiding over the reduction of funding. For the port of Digby this is serious. It is like Pearson and I want this government to act.

We had people last week, in the storm, leaning over a wharf, untrained for that type of thing, having to strap the bumpers so that they would not fall on their vessel. The minister must act. This motion speaks to Cornwallis and to the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. I ask for the support of all members in this House.

Pearson Peacekeeping Centre
Private Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. member for bringing this motion before the House today and I am very anxious to have a chance to speak on it briefly as well.

The member represents the area in which this very important institution, originally called the Pearson Peacekeeping training centre, now reduced to Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, was established. I wonder if he could give us just a thumbnail sketch around the trend of the funding for that centre.

He already referred to the fact that what was bled off initially was the marketing part of the program to Montreal and then further parts of the program to Carleton and so on. However, I wonder if he could give us a picture about the federal government's support for the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre from its earlier inception to the present because it seems to be a process of erosion that has happened.

I know that the member has focused on the economic impacts of this for the community, which are extremely important. However, there is also the fundamentally important aspect of this twinning of the economic needs and the tremendous need in the world for meaningful commitment to peacekeeping training both here in Canada for our own troops and for others, as many as 30 different countries, who avail themselves of those training programs. I wonder if he could just outline what that trend line has looked like.

Pearson Peacekeeping Centre
Private Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, the governance of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre and its relationship to government is a fundamental question that has yet to be outlined and answered properly, and established in the right way.

It was established as a non-profit organization, selling its services to the Government of Canada. That causes a lot of trouble because three departmental clients fund its operations. A lot of the contracts it needs are sole-sourced type contracts to DND or to External Affairs through CIDA. Because it is not a related government department this creates problems. The government has had no problems with the defence industries.

The board of directors is made up of bureaucrats. The decision that should be taken by government in consultation with Pearson is whether or not it should be a stand-alone body or whether it should be part of either CIDA, National Defence or DFAIT. There would be arguments raised that it should be integrated within the government.

As for the financing, the original financing was for five years. Since that original financing on the operational side, the previous government has always maintained or increased the funding and created partnerships with the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre and other government departments that would buy services from the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre to ensure that it would be viable in the future.

This is the first time where we see such a drastic cut and even a terminator clause within the contract. They are saying that the funding is for three years only for part of its operations and then it will be done.

Pearson Peacekeeping Centre
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his motion and for standing up for his community.

He mentioned the Coast Guard situation. He is a former Minister of Fisheries responsible for the Coast Guard. I noted with interest that the strategic business plan for the next number of years for the Coast Guard, dated April 1, had no mention of the move of icebreakers from Dartmouth to Newfoundland. Does the member have any thoughts as to why that might not have been in the business plan?

Pearson Peacekeeping Centre
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, there is only one reason why one would not find that type of an activity or a major restructuring in the business plan: it is because it is not business as usual. It is purely political in order to save the electoral future of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and maybe two members from Newfoundland. It makes no business sense whatsoever, so it would have no place of course in any business plan.

Pearson Peacekeeping Centre
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand today in the House and speak about a Canadian organization which has developed a domestic and international reputation as the centre of excellence in international affairs, the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre.

I listened to the member for West Nova, but I am not quite sure what he was speaking about. I think it was partially about the things that he participated in and now, as a member of the official opposition, wished he had not participated in. I am talking about allowing the ferry from St. John's to Digby to be divested to a private organization. I am talking about the wharf in Digby being divested to a private organization. I am talking about a continual lessening of funding dollars for the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre under the previous government.

I am not sure if the member said anything of relevance about the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, but he did say a number of things about a lot of other issues that he was directly involved in, such as the icebreakers that were scheduled under a previous Liberal government in 1999 being moved to Newfoundland in 2008-09 also alluded to by the member from Dartmouth. I really question how he can rewrite history because the member represented that area when the cuts were made. Now all of a sudden he takes history out of context. It is really mind boggling.

Let me get back to the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. Created in 1994, the centre has built a global reputation in research, training and capacity building for peacekeeping. The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre was born in the tumultuous period in the wake of the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War. The war in the Balkans was raging and increasing demands were being made on peacekeepers. The increasing demands were not just in the numbers of peacekeeping troops required, but also in the complexity of the peacekeeping challenge.

Peacekeeping was no longer a matter of observing a ceasefire across no man's land. It now required the involvement of soldiers, police officers, and an array of civilian officials such as diplomats, corrections officers, judges and lawyers, and human rights and elections monitors to stabilize and reconstruct war-torn societies. Modern conflict resolution also now involves addressing humanitarian issues and failed civil societies through the intervention of international and non-governmental organizations.

The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre led the way in developing the now internationally accepted integrated multi-disciplinary approach to conflict resolution and post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction.

Let me give the House a sample of the impressive international reach and scope of the work of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. NATO is a huge player in international peace operations. It contributes troops and expertise to the peace operations in Bosnia and Kosovo, as well as to the international security assistance force in Afghanistan where Canada is significantly involved. NATO gets its peace operations training from the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre.

The Pearson exercise training unit in Nova Scotia regularly trains two NATO rapid deployment corps headquarters, the German-Netherlands corps and the NATO rapid deployment corps-Turkey. These are big, well resourced organizations and it a testament to the professionalism of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre team that they source their peace operations training from this Canadian organization.

The European Union is playing an increasingly important role in contributing to peace operations, for example, in the Balkans and in Africa. The EU has contracted the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre to conduct the certification exercise for the deployment of the EU battle group headquarters, which is on standby for deployment to Darfur.

In July the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre has been contracted to conduct validation exercises for the doctrine supporting an initiative to eliminate child soldiers. This event will be conducted in Ghana, Africa, a continent where children have been the tragic victims of armed conflict due to child recruiting.

In February, the Pearson Centre, with federal government assistant, conducted a conference in Brasilia on developing an integrated approach to the critical Haiti peace operation called MINUSTAH. Brazil was a major contributor of troops to MINUSTAH and Canada has some 80 to 100 Canadian police officers serving, as well as corrections officers to bring stability to that troubled country.

The Pearson Centre took the initiative to partner with Brazil and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs to bring together government ministers and officials, UN headquarters officers and MINUSTAH officials.

All concerned expressed their satisfaction with the outcomes. Most noteworthy was the statement by the Haitian minister that in his experience it was a useful opportunity for the Haitian government to interact with MINUSTAH officials and other stakeholders to discuss the country's future.

I also want to say a word about the scope of the impact that the Pearson Centre has within Canada, something in which the hon. member for West Nova might actually be interested.

It is of note that as we speak the Pearson Centre is conducting a round table on United Nations peacekeeping doctrine, which is drawing to Ottawa UN officials, peacekeeping petitioners, government officials from foreign affairs, national defence, CIDA and other departments, as well as academics and eminent Canadians in the peacekeeping world. Doctrine development is an important dimension of UN peacekeeping reform.

In March of this year, at the Canadian War Museum, and again with federal government assistance, the Pearson Centre conducted a model mission of a typical UN peace operation. The event served to introduce some 130 university students from across Canada to the complexities of the processes and the diversity of the players in modern UN peace operations.

Eminent Canadian peacekeeper, General Lewis MacKenzie, was the lead participant. The event was highly successful and the centre is considering repeating the event to reach even more students.

I trust that in the last few minutes I have been able to give members some idea of why I am honoured to speak on the subject of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. It is an exciting and innovative Canadian institution that is doing important work and is directly relevant to Canada's foreign policy priorities. Its work resonates with Canadians who are interested in Canada's place in the world.

Pearson Peacekeeping Centre
Private Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my turn to speak proudly about this motion that our colleague defended proudly, of course, although he had less to say about some of this centre's benefits, which I will address.

The Pearson centre was created at a time when the world was changing. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, or after the collapse of the Soviet empire, there was a need to train not only soldiers, but also all the people who could work on what we called peacekeeping missions. This need grew.

So the needs of the community affected by the closing of the Cornwallis base, along with the needs of Canadian foreign policy, led to the creation of the Canadian Pearson Centre at that time. In Cornwallis, there was a military base, some parts of which had to be rebuilt, renovated and transformed because they were most certainly no longer adequate for receiving soldiers, officers and people from all over the world, from the 55 countries with which Canada has international agreements.

So we agree that the centre was created at a time and for a purpose that was and that is extremely important.

It has been said repeatedly here today that peacekeeping missions are no longer the same, that the preparation of our soldiers must be more rigorous, or in any case, must prepare them to play a part in more dangerous situations. We can acknowledge this fact, but it does not mean that peacekeeping missions are not essential. I think the opposite is true, since they are in a process of transformation. People from the centre who have acquired experience and helped train many soldiers, officers and other personnel in various capacities know this. They have contributed to this transformation or can contribute to it.

The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre therefore fits perfectly into this desire to maintain peace, as we are doing at this time in many countries around the world that truly need it. As we all know, there is also a need in many other countries.

When the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre was established in Cornwallis, and when it later expanded with two more offices in Montreal and Ottawa, the Bloc Québécois was thrilled and gave its support.

I would remind the House that the centre has always had funding problems and that, originally, it was supposed to become self-financing. We looked for centres of that nature, centres that are self-financing, but found none.

I would like to point out that, just two years after the centre was established, the Auditor General told the government of the day that it should give some thought to the centre's ability to self-finance. Indeed, the tremendous constraints imposed on the centre must be considered, as well as the fact that the preparation of officers and soldiers for peacekeeping missions in many countries around the world can be very costly and can require more funding than initially anticipated. This is why it is so difficult to plan the budgets, which can be sizeable.

The Bloc Québécois was pleased last March when the Conservative government—to the relief of many—decided to allocate $13.8 million over three years, from March 2007 to March 2010, to the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre.

This amount is for basic infrastructure: salaries, leases, hydro, etc. However, it is not for funding programs. In other words, if the Department of National Defence, for example, does not award the contract of some $2 million budgeted for officer training, the Pearson Centre will not be able to provide this training, even though it is fully equipped to do so. There is a good chance it would have to close its doors.

Some officials, some people in the military think that these sessions could be given in the Ottawa area instead. I understand the hon. member for West Nova when he says he does not understand why we could not continue to send to this centre, which is rather exceptional for its concentration and its simulation facilities, everyone—officers, soldiers or others—who needs training. Why not continue to send them to Cornwallis? I have not been there, but I am told it is quite nice.

We have to realize what is at stake. The basic infrastructure of the Pearson Centre is not at stake, but the programs are. It seems they are at stake not just for Cornwallis, but also for Montreal and possibly for Ottawa. It is extremely important for us and for all those, like the Bloc Québécois, who believe in the need for this centre, to know whether this withdrawal from program funding will occur elsewhere as well. This would be the beginning of a slow death for the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. We do not want to let the Cornwallis base die in its new capacity. Nor do we want this highly important, Montreal-based expertise to disappear. Furthermore, a number of professors from Montreal and elsewhere have contributed to training sessions in Africa. They are the ones who go to the foreign countries. This training and these programs are also extremely important.

I want to thank the hon. member for presenting this motion in this House. The members from the Bloc Québécois want to assure him of our support.

Pearson Peacekeeping Centre
Private Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to comment further on the motion introduced by my colleague, the member for West Nova.

The previous speaker really hit the nail on the head in recognizing that the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre at Cornwallis in Deep Brook was a very important institution in the first instance.

There is a major concern which is widely shared not just by Canadians but by others who used to respect Canada as a meaningful peacekeeper and peace builder in the world as to whether Canada is seriously committed to that role any more. It is not a pretty picture what people draw about Canada in many parts of the world today. Those who watch closely see some of the contradictions in Canada's position, in that we bow to the peace altar, but what we actually do is a contradiction to what really needs to be done.

As this debate goes on in this place, the NPT PrepCom meetings are happening this week in Vienna. Canada will take part, as it has done again and again, in discussions about how we are going to prevent the world from annihilation through nuclear proliferation. Canada will say it is very much in support of the NPT. As a signator of the non-proliferation treaty, it commits us to serious abolition of nuclear weapons. However, at the same time Canada will be there waving the flag of NATO.

NATO and many countries in NATO are serious violators of the provisions of the NPT. By association and by being part of the NATO family, we become partners, and hypocrites really, in the exercise of saying we are serious about maintaining peace and literally the survival of the human race, but we are also signators to the many violations taking place among our partners in NATO.

It is sad but true that the previous Liberal government and now the current Conservative government have been quite prepared for the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre to be on life support since its inception. It was a brilliant, creative response to the closure of the Cornwallis base in the first instance to understand the desperate need for leadership in peacekeeping and peace building in the world today. We must recognize that the wiping out of 700 jobs is devastating to that economy. It was seen as a partnership and a coming together of interlocking needs to put forward this proposal.

I have to commend the original authors of that, who, in collaboration with the community, joined community needs with the government's responsibilities to put this forward. Erika Simpson and Peter Langille were very instrumental in this in the first instance.

What is sad is that the Auditor General within a year or two had already commented that the centre's long term viability was going to be very much in question. This was from a pure economic point of view. The previous Liberal government moved further and further away from taking any real responsibility not just for the economic viability of that centre, but for the integrity and the comprehensiveness of the peacekeeping and peace building mission that drove the vision in the first place.

Part of the backdrop that has unfolded has been sort of a Greek tragedy in a way for Canada and the world. Canada has been a major contributor to peacekeeping in the world. Canada used to be in the top 10 year after year, but Canada has now so eroded our commitment as participants in peacekeeping that we are now, I think, 57th among nations contributing to peacekeeping in the world.

Some people may say they have already heard the messages from Rick Hillier, from the finance minister and, I think by implication, from the Prime Minister that peacekeeping is not that important in the world anymore. Both of the previous speakers quite correctly pointed out that the original notion of peacekeeping as just maintaining a truce between two parties to an agreement has very much expanded into a broader notion of peace building in all of its complexity. The world has never been more desperate for leadership in this area.

It is a source of pride to Canadians, and if I may say so, particularly Canadian women, that the new head of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission is a Canadian woman. She has had a distinguished career in public service with CIDA, with United Nations development programs, and ultimately in a tremendous demonstration and example of a meaningful, complex peace building process in Burundi.

We know there is more and more need for this. Why? Because most conflicts today cannot be solved by military means. There is a desperate need for a security element in peace building. What is absolutely clear, and we have heard it from our own Prime Minister, our own defence minister, and from Rick Hillier, the chief of the defence staff, is that in Afghanistan it is acknowledged that there is no military solution. What is needed is a comprehensive peace building process.

The reality is that the world is desperate for this kind of leadership. What did the previous Liberal government do? It started dismembering it, like a slow process of amputation. Fortunately the human body can sometimes survive amputations. We bring massive medical know-how to bear and the human body sometimes is able to respond to this kind of trauma. But the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in Nova Scotia has not been surviving the systematic dismembering that has been happening, and the withdrawal of government support on anything but a commercial basis, and now the withdrawal of the needed economic support to have assured its long term viability.

I hope, at the very least in this minority government that maybe we could see some leadership. I hope that all parties could come together to say that we have to recommit to peacekeeping and to complex, comprehensive peace building in a serious way. There will be no solution to Afghanistan until we do that.

If I may, I would like to make a challenge to my colleagues from Nova Scotia, several of whom are in the House for this debate. At the very least I would hope across party lines that we could recognize that Nova Scotia could continue to be a leader in terms of peacekeeping and peace building, but it is going to require pulling together to make that happen.

In conclusion, it is a commentary on Canada's hypocrisy in the world today that we say on the one hand that we are really committed to the NPT, and on the other hand we say that we can be partners in NATO which is violating member countries' obligations left, right and centre.

Let us tackle this as a comprehensive issue, one of the great questions of our time. Let us do it perhaps by looking at some creative partnerships between the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre and the Pugwash Peace Exchange, which is now celebrating its 50th anniversary. The synergy between those two could put us on the map as meaning what we say about Canada being committed to peace building and peacekeeping in today's world.

Pearson Peacekeeping Centre
Private Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the motion presented by my colleague from West Nova. As we all know, he is a very dedicated member of Parliament committed to his region and is a valuable member of the Liberal caucus. He is respected by all members. He was also an excellent minister for ACOA and the fisheries in the previous Liberal government.

It is unfortunate that he has had to present this motion today. As other speakers have indicated, at a time when peacekeeping and international diplomacy are so necessary, the government seems to be in the process of phasing out the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia.

The Lester B. Pearson Canadian International Peacekeeping Training Centre, the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, was established in 1994 with a goal to be a world leader in peacekeeping. It is appropriately named after Prime Minister Pearson. Among Lester Pearson's many achievements were the introduction of student loans, universal health care in Canada, the Canadian pension fund and the Canadian flag. His efforts in defusing the Suez Canal crisis stand out as a crowning achievement and earned him the Nobel Prize.

He placed Canada on the map as an important middle power, a power that sought peaceful solutions to difficult and complex issues in the world. In subsequent years, Canada became known as a nation of peacekeepers, a distinction that is reflective of Canadian values.

The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre located in Cornwallis seeks to continue his legacy. The centre teaches and trains those who serve in conflict zones around the world. They bring together military, civilian and police personnel for the purpose of learning to resolve conflict through peace and security.

For the people of Cornwallis the establishment of this centre followed a painful closure of CFB Cornwallis in the early 1990s. I am familiar with that from the closure of Shearwater, which is very near Dartmouth and closed at around the same time. It took some innovation and creativity for local people to spur the economic activity that followed those difficult times.

Now we have the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre. We have Acadian Seaplants, a huge international success story, operated by Louis Deveau and now his son J.P. Deveau, with an office and plant in Cornwallis, plants around rural Nova Scotia and an office in my own constituency of Dartmouth. They have leveraged Canadian knowledge in a previously underexploited resource and are doing very well. We also have the Lifeplex.

At this point in time when we have a successful entity, why is this happening? It is not a financial crisis. Is the government in deficit? No. The Liberals solved the $42 billion financial crisis left by the last Conservative government. Why in an era of surpluses does the government continue to cut back on important areas like the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre? Unfortunately, it is a pattern with the government and it is a pattern that is not good for the province of Nova Scotia. Would this centre be closed if it were named after Preston Manning, one wonders. I doubt it.

The lack of support for the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre is another assault on Nova Scotia. I do not want to go through the Atlantic accords. My colleague mentioned them and has been through them, but there are changing stories on the Atlantic accords. First, we were told not to worry, that the accords were still there, and then no, they are not there, but it is actually a better deal. Then we were told it is not really a better deal but we would get a choice of two deals. Now the government is negotiating to save face in some way.

There are lots of things needed in Nova Scotia. The Atlantic gateway is very important. Again it should not be a choice of that or the Atlantic accord. They should both be judged on their merits. One should not be penalized for the other.

Most recently there was the moving of two Coast Guard vessels, two icebreakers, from Dartmouth in my riding to Newfoundland. Conveniently, one ship straddles one riding held by two Conservative members and the other ship has gone to another constituency held by a Conservative. My colleague from South Shore—St. Margaret's said that this had been in the planning since 1997 and asked who was upset about it. A number of people are.

In fact, Mr. Stewart Klebert went public. He happens to be the commanding officer of one of the icebreakers. In a letter to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, he said among other things:

The recent announcement that both the CCGS Terry Fox and the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent will be transferred to Newfoundland Region has hit this region like a ton of bricks. It was completely unexpected and the justification for this move is supported by extremely weak rationale. I would venture to say that there has been no impact study for the vessel, the people or the region--

Another letter that showed up in The Chronicle Herald is from David Marsh, a retired superintendent of the Coast Guard, who said among other things:

This move would not show any enhancement in coast guard operations....when operating icebreakers, the fuel saving is minimal when considering transit in open waters as compared to icebreaking activities.

He closed by saying:

I would ask the minister to reconsider his decision to redeploy [the icebreakers]...considering the “facts” are flawed and the damage is...irreparable.

Somebody else was caught by surprise, too. Although the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's said everybody was surprised, the following week he said, “When I first heard that the boats were going I had some concerns”. He did not know about it either, and he is the chair of the fisheries committee. However, he is not the only one who did not know. The workers and the union did not know. Even regional management of the Coast Guard was not considered.

On April 1, a draft business plan for the next three years for the Coast Guard was put forward. There was no mention of the redeployment. Even today, when I was coming here this morning, I noticed in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald a letter from an L.G. Meisner, captain Coast Guard, retired, Lunenburg. He says, among other things:

This move is a disaster on a purely operational basis and only the next federal polls will determine if it was an acceptable political one.

It is a pattern. Nova Scotia has not done well under the government. Is Nova Scotia being penalized? I do not know.

The member for South Shore—St. Margaret's is a good enough guy. The member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley is a great guy, but he is a little out of step with the government. I do not think they have even been considered. The federal minister responsible should be standing up for Nova Scotia on the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre as well as the Coast Guard and the abject betrayal of the Atlantic accord.

The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, in the riding of the very hon. member for West Nova, provides a valuable service to Canadian peacekeepers at a time in our history when we need to enhance and ensure that our image as peacekeepers is real and maintained around the world. When we are doing work that could be enhanced by the work of people who could be trained in Cornwallis, it is a shame, it is unconscionable and it is unacceptable. I urge all members of the House to support my colleague and this motion today.

Pearson Peacekeeping Centre
Private Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre is recognized internationally as a leading centre of excellence in its field. Since its beginnings, the PPC has trained over 10,000 foreign military, police and civilians from 140 countries and has delivered courses in 31 countries. Pearson graduates can be found in key posts around the world.

I will focus my comments today on the outstanding work the Pearson Centre is doing in Africa, in support of the Prime Minister's commitment with his G-8 colleagues at St. Petersburg to enhance global capacity for peace operations with a focus on that continent.

The Pearson Centre engagement in Africa began with the CIDA funded Programme de développement des capacités en maintien de la paix et sécurité launched at the Summit of la Francophonie in Moncton in 1999. Through this initiative, programs and curricula were developed that strengthened the capacity of thousands of Francophone African military officers, civilian police and civilians to take part in peace operations.

There is an established and urgent need for well-trained, French speaking personnel to work in major peace missions around the world in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Burundi and Côte d'Ivoire. The Pearson Centre's history of training assistance in Africa, as well as its bilingual ability to provide training assistance in both French and English, enables it to effectively respond to this requirement.

The Pearson Centre is also working to expand the training capacity of regional training institutions in Africa such as the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Ghana as well as at l'École de Maintien de la Paix in Mali that play an important role in building African capacity to manage conflict and face future crises. Within the space of a few years and with the support provided by the Pearson Centre, the Kofi Annan centre has emerged as a state of the art and internationally recognized training facility.

The Pearson Centre is also a key partner of Mali's École de Maintien de la Paix, EMP, where it provides, with federal government assistance, about one-third of the school's instructional program. Since the EMP early beginnings, upwards of 1,400 African officers have been trained with the support of the Pearson Centre. Officers leave the school with a greatly enhanced knowledge of modern multidisciplinary peace operations, thus increasing their ability and those of the forces in which they serve to contribute effectively to peace operations in Africa and elsewhere in the world.

Another area where the Pearson Centre is having a tremendous impact in Africa is in helping to meet the growing demand for civilian police, or CIVPOL, in peace operations.

International police peacekeeping is an essential component of Canada's engagement in building a more secure world through stabilizing failed and fragile states.

Over time, not only the number of UN police has substantially increased, but as with other elements of peacekeeping missions, mission mandates have evolved significantly from simple monitoring activities to active engagement in implementing the rule of law such as executive policing in places like Kosovo and East Timor, to direct participation in assisting post-conflict stabilization, peace building and security sector reform such as in Haiti.

It is estimated by the United Nations that there will be a need for up to 29,610 trained civilian police over the next five years due to the current surge in peacekeeping. The Pearson Centre is making tremendous headway in addressing this challenge.

Through the West African police project, or WAPP, the Pearson Centre is strengthening the capacity of six west African countries, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone as well as the Economic Community of West African States to provide civilian police to peace operations. Since the project began in 2005, CIVPOL deployments from these countries have more than doubled.

Supporting greater integration of women into peace operations is called for by United Nations Security Council resolution 1325. Such results, to Canada's credit, are being noticed internationally. The United Nations and others have called for the expansion of the Pearson Centre programming in Africa.

The Pearson Centre serves Canadian foreign policy interests through its training and capacity building assistance in Africa. It further serves to demonstrate Canada's commitment to integrated multi-disciplinary international peace operations. It is for this reason that successive governments have provided the Pearson Centre with core funding since its creation in 1994, as well as specific program funding assistance ever since.

I will address the remarks of the hon. member for Halifax for just a moment. She and her colleagues of the New Democratic Party will never understand the concept of peace through strength.

I point out for her that the NATO family, which she is so quick to denigrate and so happy to denigrate every chance she gets, was responsible for keeping the nuclear annihilation, of which she fears rightly, at bay throughout world war three, which, as we call it, was the Cold War. We won that war. We won it without firing a shot. We won it by peace through strength. There were a lot of losses suffered, many of whom were friends of mine. We did not fire a shot and it was done by peace through strength.

Despite the prevalence of inhumanity and terrorism, there are still opportunities for Pearsonian style peacekeeping. There are still sacrifices to be made.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge today the loss yesterday of Corporal Benoit Chevalier, the Canadian peacekeeper who was lost in the Sinai, with eight French peacekeepers, in the crash of an aircraft.

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning...We will remember them”.

Pearson Peacekeeping Centre
Private Members' Business

Noon

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

The House resumed from April 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-43, An Act to provide for consultations with electors on their preferences for appointments to the Senate, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Senate Appointment Consultations Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

When we last considered Bill C-43, there were six minutes left for questions and comments to the hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington. I think he is ready to respond to a question from the hon. member for Ottawa Centre.