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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was international.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as NDP MP for Burnaby—Douglas (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2006, with 28.67% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Natural Resources March 11th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources.

The panel appointed to review the lifting of the moratorium on oil and gas exploration off the west coast includes Roland Priddle, director of an oil and gas company doing offshore exploration overseas, and Don Scott, a former mayor who actively lobbied to lift the moratorium.

Last May the B.C. director general of Environment Canada warned that this panel would be seen as biased toward industry interests.

Why has the minister not fired this panel that is seen by British Columbians as totally biased and stacked in favour of lifting the moratorium and threatening our pristine B.C. waters?

Haiti March 10th, 2004

Mr. Chair, what has happened in Haiti is a tragedy. It is a tragedy for democracy, for the Haitian people and for President Aristide. What has taken place is a coup d'état, the 33rd in the tragic history of that country, the poorest country in our hemisphere.

The elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has stepped down. He was forced out by France and the United States in an absolutely undemocratic, unjust and illegal manner. The CARICOM countries, the Caribbean countries, have demanded an independent international investigation into all of the circumstances surrounding the abduction of President Aristide. We in the NDP wholly support CARICOM in this.

What has happened in Haiti is an outrage. The trampling of democracy, ignoring international law, ignoring the pleas of CARICOM, the OAS and indeed President Aristide himself for assistance in resisting the brutal overthrow of his regime by those who had been trying since he was first elected in 1991 to overthrow that regime, the remnants of the Tonton Macoute, the thugs in the paramilitary, the drug dealers and others.

Instead of Canada responding to that call for assistance from the democratically elected President Aristide, we stood by, silent, complicit in the overthrow of his government.

Let it be clearly understood that CARICOM and the OAS put to President Aristide and to the rebels a plan that would have involved power sharing some days before the presidents overthrow. That plan was accepted by President Aristide, but it was rejected out of hand by the rebels. What happened then is shameful. Effectively the Americans, the French, hung President Aristide out to dry.

Therefore, we want to know what was Canada's position in those days leading up to the overthrow of President Aristide. Just as important, what was Canada's position some time before that?

For example, in late January 2003 the then Secretary of State for Latin American and Africa hosted a summit in Ottawa of la francophonie. It included France, representatives of the European Union and the United States to consider the Haitian crisis. Haiti was not even invited to that summit.

We subsequently learned through selected leaks by the minister that consideration was given then to regime change, to the overthrow of President Aristide, one year before it actually took place.

I am calling today for the tabling in the foreign affairs committee the minutes of that summit to let Canadians know exactly what role was played by our government at that summit and to what extent we were even then laying the groundwork, along with the United States and France, for the overthrow of President Aristide.

As well, let it be clearly understood that the opposition to the democratically elected president was funded to a significant extent by the United States. Certainly a number of American congress people have made that point very clearly, as have human rights groups such as MADRE and others.

Perhaps most significant in terms of the desperate poverty of the Haitian people is the fact that since 2002 CARICOM was pleading with the United States to release economic aid and previously approved loans to Haiti. In fact CARICOM foreign ministers made it very clear that unless those funds were released, Haiti faced catastrophe. They stated in 2002 that the actions taken by President Aristide at that time were in the right direction and that the release of funds would assist. They said that not doing this could lead to a deteriorating situation. The United States refused. It kept that devastating economic embargo which had such a destructive impact on the poverty of the people of Haiti, on the poorest of the poor, just as of course it has maintained an illegal embargo, an inhumane embargo on the people of Cuba.

This is a very important point because certainly Canada has stated that we support “a political resolution along the lines of the CARICOM-OAS action plan”. However, do we now support the call by CARICOM for an independent international inquiry into all the circumstances that led to the removal of President Aristide from office? What is Canada's position on that? I asked a question of a former Liberal minister, the member of Parliament from Edmonton. He said that he supported the call. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister for Canada-U.S. said that he did not support the call.

What is the position of the Liberal government with respect to the call for an independent international inquiry into the circumstances that led to the removal of President Aristide?

I hope that the Bloc Quebecois will support this call for an international investigation into all the circumstances surrounding the illegal kidnapping in Haiti of President Aristide. I have not yet heard the Bloc position on this very important matter.

What is very clear, however, is his insistence that he did not step down voluntarily. President Aristide was forced to relinquish power by France and the United States.

We also, as New Democrats, condemn the position that is taken by the United States with respect to the repatriation of refugees, which is clearly in violation of the 1952 convention on refugees. What has happened in Haiti is a tragedy. It is also illegal, and we know the United States participated in similar actions in Venezuela in the past.

In conclusion, the NDP calls for the American forces to be replaced by a peacekeeping mission under UN auspices; as soon as feasible, the deployment of an international force mandated to disarm the paramilitaries and destroy the numerous arms caches; a long term solution that would be viable politically and economically for the problems in Haiti, this to include reparations. Noam Chomsky has written eloquently on the matter of reparations and their importance, particularly reparations by France.

We also call for Canadian support and participation in transparent and honest elections in Haiti; a return to full and complete democracy, which would be followed immediately by release of the $650 million in economic and medical aid to the Haitian government the United States continues to block; long term Canadian and international aid on the financial level in the form of training for a professional Haitian police force, and the international investigation I have already referred to into the circumstances surrounding the forced resignation of Mr. Aristide.

This coup d'état must be condemned by Canadians, by the Canadian government, and we want to know exactly what the role of the Canadian government was in this illegal coup.

Haiti March 10th, 2004

Mr. Chair, we heard the same argument about stability, of course, when Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende of Chile and we are hearing similar arguments with respect to Venezuela now, which is very dangerous.

I have a brief question for my hon. colleague. He has talked about the importance of assisting the poor, and particularly children, in Haiti. Yet since 2002 CARICOM has been pleading with the United States to stop its devastating economic embargo on Haiti. The United States was systematically blocking previously approved loans to Haiti and CARICOM foreign ministers were urging the United States to release those funds. To quote from their plea: “They stressed that the prompt release of such funds was critical if a catastrophe were to be avoided in that country”.

Where was the hon. member? Where was his party in calling for the release of those desperately needed resources to assist the people of Haiti, resources which were being blocked by the United States, even though CARICOM, in the region, was urging that they be released? That contributed more to poverty and more to injustice, affecting children and others in Haiti, than anything else that has happened in that country for many, many years.

Haiti March 10th, 2004

Mr. Chair, it is interesting to see that both the governing Liberal Party and the Conservative Party agree on getting at the truth through an independent international inquiry.

I found it extraordinary that the Conservative member of Parliament would now be saying that he agrees that it was absolutely essential that Aristide be overthrown in order to bring stability to Haiti. So much for democracy.

The fact of the matter is that President Aristide was elected with the support of well over 80% of the people of Haiti in 2000. When did the United States, France, and indeed Canada take unto themselves the power to decide which democratically elected leader should be overthrown? What are the criteria? Is the criterion respect for fundamental human rights? Is Canada then suggesting we should be overthrowing the repressive regimes in countries such as Colombia in this hemisphere, or Turkey?

What gives the United States the power to decide that President Aristide was expendable and should be removed from office? Is it in fact the member's position that it was entirely appropriate for France, the United States, and presumably Canada to ensure the overthrow of a democratically elected president of Haiti?

Haiti March 10th, 2004

Mr. Chair, I have a question for the hon. member which is similar to the one I put to the member for Kings—Hants.

Given the grave concerns that have been raised about the circumstances which led to the removal of President Aristide from Haiti, does the hon. member agree with the call by Caricom, including the chair of CARICOM, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson of Jamaica, for an international independent inquiry into the circumstances that led to the removal of President Aristide?

Haiti March 10th, 2004

Mr. Chair, the question that was asked was does he or does not support an independent international inquiry into the circumstances that forced President Aristide to leave Haiti?

Haiti March 10th, 2004

Mr. Chair, I noted the hon. member's suggestion that President Aristide, in his words, voluntarily resigned. In fact President Aristide himself has made it very clear that far from resigning voluntarily, he was driven from office by both France and the United States. In fact his American lawyer, Brian Concannon, said today after meeting with Aristide in exile in the Central African Republic:

The ambassadors of France and the United States told him that he would be killed, his family would be killed and his supporters would be killed if he did not leave right away.

That is not a voluntary departure. That is a coup d'état.

I want to again ask my hon. friend to answer the question that I put to him initially. Does he or does he not support the call by CARICOM for an independent international inquiry into the circumstances that led to the overthrow of President Aristide?

Haiti March 10th, 2004

Mr. Chair, the hon. member for Kings—Hants has spoken of the close collaboration between Canada and the United States on Haiti. Given the fact that what appears to have occurred in Haiti is an American driven, an American led coup d'état, the 33rd coup d'état in Haiti's history, aided, abetted and actively encouraged by France, I think many Canadians are deeply concerned and troubled by the extent to which Canada was in fact collaborating with the United States as the hon. member has indicated.

I want to ask the member a specific question. The member referred to the importance of working closely with CARICOM and our partners in CARICOM. The member will know that a proposal was put together by the OAS and by CARICOM that involved power sharing. That proposal was put together in the days before the overthrow of President Aristide.

President Aristide accepted that proposal. It was rejected by the murderous thugs and the rebels who were determined to overthrow him, even though he had been democratically elected with the support of some 90% of the Haitian people in 2000. They rejected it.

Yet Canada stood by and did nothing whatsoever to support the democratically elected President Aristide and the people of Haiti at that very critical time. The Americans abandoned him and hung him out to dry. They made it clear that they were prepared to see him overthrown. The French, in their desire to please the Americans after taking a distinct position on the war in Iraq, urged the overthrow of President Aristide as well.

Now our partners in CARICOM are asking for an independent international inquiry into the circumstances that led to the illegal removal of President Aristide as the president of Haiti.

I earlier asked the hon. member's colleague, the member from Edmonton, whether he supported that call by CARICOM for an international inquiry into all of the circumstances of the removal of President Aristide. He said yes, he did agree with that.

I put the same question now to the parliamentary secretary with special responsibility for relations between Canada and the United States. Does the parliamentary secretary agree with his colleague and with many Canadians that there must be an independent international inquiry to determine the circumstances that led to the overthrow of President Aristide?

Haiti March 10th, 2004

Mr. Chair, I appreciate that the member was not secretary of state at that time. Nevertheless, in view of the fact that the position no longer exists and he was, I believe, the predecessor in that position, I thought he may have been involved in the conference, but he has indicated that it was not the case.

I want to ask the hon. member about the serious questions that have arisen concerning the circumstances of the removal of President Aristide from Haiti, and the suggestions and serious concern that this may have amounted to a coup d'état. That would make it probably the 33rd coup d'état in Haiti.

In light of the serious questions that have arisen and the statements by President Aristide himself that he was in effect kidnapped and forcibly removed by the United States, would the hon. member agree that it is essential to respond positively to the urgings of CARICOM that there be an independent inquiry into the circumstances of the removal of President Aristide from Haiti?

Haiti March 10th, 2004

Mr. Chair, I have a question for the hon. member from Edmonton.

He will no doubt recall that in late January 2003, the former secretary of state for Latin America and Africa hosted a summit here in Ottawa of la Francophonie. This summit included France, representatives of the European Union, and the United States. The purpose of this summit was to consider the Haitian crisis, as it was termed. Haiti was not invited by Canada to this summit.

It was an in camera summit. After the summit, there was some confidential information that was leaked to L'Actualité . It was indicated that consideration was being given to a kind of Kosovo-style United Nations trusteeship of Haiti.

Is the hon. member aware of this conference? Will he indicate to the House whether at that conference, which Canada hosted, the issue of regime change, in other words, the issue of the removal of President Aristide in Haiti, was discussed one year before it actually took place?