House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was bosnia.


Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.


Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I said during my remarks there are no easy solutions to the dilemma that we are in. I recognize what

the member says and I believe that he is correct that we are in danger if we extract our forces of allowing the fighting there to intensify.

However, if we stay involved we are also staying to observe constant carnage, killing, maiming and bombardment. I do not think there is any completely satisfactory solution to the dilemma. That is why I propose that perhaps firm action would make the difference.

With regard to the percentage, as I mentioned a few moments ago, the Muslims in Bosnia and Croatia comprise over 40 per cent of the population. It is my understanding that they are getting weapons both from the Serbs and the Croats and are in a position to at least defend themselves.

With regard to the second question on our troops in Croatia, there is sufficient interplay between the peoples in the region that demands should be made to everybody in the region and our threats should be to everyone in the region: "If you do not somehow influence a peaceful resolution of this situation we are going to withdraw our forces".

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

January 25th, 1994 / 11:50 a.m.


Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to give my maiden speech. I never thought I would be doing it on such an important subject as this one which certainly affects us now and for a long time in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate you and all other members. I want to particularly thank the people of my constituency of central Alberta. Certainly I will claim to have the most beautiful constituency with the greatest people who we possibly could have.

I want to congratulate the Prime Minister and his ministers for making this day possible. This is an example of the sort of open Parliament that Canadians want. We have to go further with more free votes and constituent assemblies and as the hon. minister mentioned with tours around the country to find out what Canadians really think on such important matters.

Peacekeeping is a very difficult subject along with what we should do and the decision we should make today. In getting this information there are a number of points that we have to consider. Certainly we have to realize that past wars and the history of places like Bosnia make it an ignition point and one that certainly could explode into a much more serious situation as has been described.

I think we also have to recognize that there is really no will to settle this conflict and there will not be a will in many of the situations our peacekeepers get into. I think the escalation point we should look at is of course the great power of the Muslim world and what it could put behind a conflict like this.

We should also look at Russia and its changing political scene, almost as we sit here. Certainly its defence of the Slavic races is a consideration. There is Greece and Macedonia. There is France and its position in the EC. There is Italy, Germany and Albania and their interests in this area as well. All of the recent history we must consider in making our decision on Bosnia.

Something we must also consider is the presence and importance of television in any decision we make. Around every corner is CNN, BBC and of course Newsworld. They show the atrocities and the terrible parts of all of these conflicts right on the screen in your home. We cannot underestimate the power of this sort of influence.

We must realize of course that we have no good guys or bad guys. We do not have anybody wearing a white hat or a black hat which is what we North Americans would like to see. There are atrocities occurring on all sides and we must be aware of that.

We must also be aware that the killing will not stop. It will not stop whether we stay or whether we leave. This is going on. We must recognize the humanitarian successes that have been taking place and we certainly must commend our forces for what they have been doing.

There are a lot of choices but what really should Canada do about peacekeeping? I have tried to put myself in the position of my constituents. I have tried to think about the people of the province of Alberta where we have a great many people in the military. I have tried to think of myself as a Canadian as to what I should really say.

Initially I thought we should just pull the troops out and let the Serbs and Bosnians fight it out themselves. It is a civil war and we should not be part of it. I must admit, however, upon getting into further detail that there is a lot more to it than just that. There is the humanitarian aspect of it, the war crimes and the innocent civilians. Every time we turn on the television we hear about these things. We have to think about that in any decision that we make.

We of course must realize the risk that we are putting our troops under. As things escalate, as there are threats of an increased escalation this spring, how many troops are we prepared as Canadians to bring home in body bags? We have to ask that question and we have to take this as a very serious part of our decision.

We have to look at ourselves as leaders in the area of peacekeeping. Certainly a pull out would be an abrogation of some of those responsibilities. We have to ask what that does to us as Canadians and how we feel because of that. The cost of

course has been mentioned and our debt and deficit are part of any decision when we come to spending money.

The decision then is not easy. We have all these factors to consider. I tried to see if there was anything positive to this whole situation. Can peacekeeping have a positive part to it?

The conclusion I came to was a feeling of nationalism that is part of peacekeeping. What makes Canadians feel good? Next month we are going to look at our athletes at the Olympics and we are going to feel good. When we hear that national anthem play we are going to feel good because they have just done something that made them stand out in the world.

We are going to make Canadians feel good today because this is good government. This is an opportunity for all sides, it does not matter what one's politics are, to really have a say. Thus we will feel good.

What about peacekeeping and making us feel good? We certainly have a reputation. All across the world we know that Canadians are the best trained, have the best political background and the best psychology, if you want, of taking care of peace in this world. We already have that and that is something we should build on and should be part of our national pride.

We of course should emphasize a leadership role. We do not have to take a second seat to anybody when it comes to peacekeeping and the settling of world disputes.

In terms of training, we should build on this. We should provide training for sale. What better thing could we do with the bases we are thinking of closing down than turn them into international academies for the training of peacekeepers?

Let us go further than just peacekeeping. Let us talk about the settling of all kinds of disputes. Let us talk about supervising elections and a better understanding of the cultural elements that are behind peacekeeping efforts. Let us provide conflict management, human rights monitoring, civil administration and emergency measures. One cannot help but think that that could be useful internally as well if we had something like an earthquake such as that which we have just witnessed in Los Angeles.

In conclusion, I think we should always maintain our role in peacekeeping and build on it. We should become world leaders. That is really where it is at. The building of that nationalism within us, that pride of being Canadian, I believe will even go so far as to make Quebecers feel that they want to stay a part of Canada.

We can do so much with this whole peacekeeping situation. If we in this 35th Parliament succeed in building this national pride then I think we have gone a long way in succeeding in why many of us are here.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders



Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, in congratulating the hon. member for Red Deer for his candid analysis I would like to ask him if it would be fair to conclude that he favours Canadian troops remaining in Bosnia? If that is so, does his view represent the position of his party or is the position of his party the one articulated earlier by the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands?

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders



Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think the wonderful part of this day is that we can express our points of view taking into consideration all of our constituents and all of our fellow MPs.

I would say that withdrawal is something that is done when the safety of our forces cannot be guaranteed. That position is one that would be decided by the people in the field. I think the counterbalances, the humanitarian efforts that we are providing, offset whether we should leave or not.

Initially, I said that we had to get out. It is a civil war and we should be out of there the sooner the better. However, for the reasons I have given I would now say I have modified that position to say that it is only a last ditch thing to pull out. I think it is good that within our caucus we have this range. Through the rest of the day we will hear that range being developed. The main thing this leads to is that we must develop an overall policy for Canada both short term and of course very long term. The minister alluded to that earlier. I believe that is really what we are trying to accomplish today.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders



Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Red Deer for his comments.

I would like to ask the member for his views with respect to the concern that has been raised about the tremendous gap between a series of resolutions by the United Nations on the one hand and the reality on the ground on the other, particularly in Bosnia. We heard about children in Mostar who were recently slaughtered in the snow. We heard about children in Sarajevo just a few days similarly out sledding and playing. These six children were brutally murdered. It does not take a great deal of courage to lob artillery from 30 kilometres away.

I want to ask the member for Red Deer what his position is with respect to the plea by a number of respected United Nations commanding officers. God knows there have been a whole series of them that have made those pleas, most recently General Francis Briquemont who replaced General Morillon in Bosnia. He said: "There's a fantastic gap between the resolutions of the Security Council, the will to execute those resolutions and the means available to commanders".

When we have a situation in which the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic has said, and this was just last week: "Sarajevans will not be counting the dead. They will be counting the living".

Does the member for Red Deer have any position with respect to the suggestion that has been made that we strengthen the mandate of the United Nations? Certainly a plea that I heard from a number of the soldiers on the ground in Croatia is that we strengthen the mandate of the United Nations to ensure that they have the ability not only to protect the safe havens, which are far from safe now, but end the artillery bombing which is taking place as well.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.


Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have to agree with an awful of what has been said. Of course one of the matters that has made this problem so difficult is that the United Nations does not seem to have shouldered the leadership role the way they should have.

We went through probably seven or eight briefings in preparation for today. One of the things we heard over and over again, particularly from the military, was the great difficulty in not having someone really in charge. Other difficulties were having different troops, different training.

I suppose that is where my international academy for peacekeepers comes in. With the United Nations having input in that, it might help solve some of those problems and at least the troops would be trained the same. If we could get the leadership the same, it would make the United Nations stronger.

In defence of the United Nations, it has had great difficulty getting people to participate, getting other countries to provide troops and so on. It is a two-way street and we must solve that problem.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario


David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be able to participate in the debate today on the motion on Canada's peacekeeping role.

First I would like to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition for his sensible speech-

-and the two members of the Reform Party to my right, the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands and the member for Red Deer for their most informed speeches.

The debate we will hear today and tomorrow, first on peacekeeping and then on cruise, is a debate that will allow individual members to express his or her own views. There is no whip on this side. We are on record as being supportive of peacekeeping. That is in our red book and I would be very surprised if any of the Liberal members would disagree with our continuation in peacekeeping.

However with respect to the specific mission that we are talking about today in the former republics of Yugoslavia or tomorrow, which is the deployment of further testing of cruise missiles under the Test and Evaluation Agreement members, on both sides of the House, and certainly in our party, are free to express their views and the government will take those views into account.

It is only appropriate that I join with the other members opposite in beginning my remarks by paying tribute to the men and women of the Canadian forces who, as we speak are working to bring some peace to the world's trouble spots. I know that members share my admiration and appreciation for the very difficult job they are doing, whether they are in Srebrenica in the Balkans, in the Far East, on the African continent, or off the southwest coast of Haiti. On behalf of all Canadians, merci beaucoup, thank you very much.

Today, Parliament has an opportunity to consider the activities of our peacekeepers, the various aspects of Canada's contribution to peacekeeping and the future direction of our commitment in this respect.

Canadians are justly proud of this country's exceptional contribution to UN peacekeeping efforts. For 47 years, Canada has made a generous and sustained contribution to peacekeeping missions. The total number of Canadians who have served as peacekeepers over the years is now over 100,000.

Canada's high level of participation is particularly impressive when we consider that our country has only one-half of 1 per cent of the world's population.

No other country has a peacekeeping record that compares with Canada's. No other country knows the military operations aspect of peacekeeping as well as we do, and no other country has our expertise. This may explain why Canada is the only country in the world to have erected a national monument to peacekeeping.

Some say that Canada invented the peacekeeping concept. Most observers agree it was the UN emergency force, designed by former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1956, which demonstrated the value and potential of an international UN force.

During the sixties and in fact until the eighties, Canada increased its efforts and enhanced its reputation in the peacekeeping area. We were one of the few countries that were accepted as a neutral force to separate two belligerent parties. The international community has repeatedly called on Canada to take part in missions of many kinds throughout the world.

It was back in 1949 that Canada's first peacekeepers were deployed. They went to Kashmir with what was soon to become known as the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan under the acronym UNMOGIP.

Regrettably it was during the first mission that Canada suffered its first peacekeeping casualty. Since that time almost 100 Canadians have lost their lives while on peacekeeping duty.

Peacekeeping has never been without risks. The Minister of Foreign Affairs talked about it today. Members on the other side have talked about it. It has always been dangerous but our forces are keenly aware of the danger when they enlist to serve their country overseas.

Canada has a long association as well with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, UNTSO. This mission, which is the UN's oldest, monitors ceasefire agreements in the Middle East and today 13 Canadian-UN military observers are with UNTSO, a commitment we began in 1954.

Canadians have served over the years in Indochina, Lebanon, Congo, West New Guinea, Yemen, the Middle East, Cyprus, Afghanistan, Namibia, Angola, Cambodia and Central America. That is a pretty impressive record for a country with a population of only 27 million.

In recent years, a new chapter was started in the history of UN peacekeeping operations. At the end of the eighties, when the confrontation between east and west ceased to exist, the UN was able to start operating more or less as its founders had planned in 1945.

Since 1988, the UN has created more peacekeeping missions than it did during the four previous decades.

I have already mentioned our contribution to UNMOGIP in Kashmir and UNTSO in the Middle East. As well Canada provides a total of 10 staff and military police to the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus; over 200 personnel assigned to a supply, transport and communications duties with the United Nations disengagement observer force on the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria. We will be hearing more of them as the weeks unfold in the quest to finally solve the Middle East dilemma. Twenty-seven Canadian forces personnel are in various staff, air traffic control and administrative support positions in Egypt at the headquarters for the multinational force, a non-UN mission which adheres to the 1979 Camp David accord. We have five military observers to the United Nations in the Iraq-Kuwait observation mission.

We have two officers including the force commander for the United Nations mission in Rwanda. We have 30 military observers, officers and staff to the United Nations mission for the referendum in the West Sahara known by its French acronym as MINURSO.

Turning to Haiti, Canada remains prepared to provide approximately 110 military personnel to the United Nations mission there. The majority of these Canadians will participate in construction of engineering projects among other tasks.

Canada also continues to be a participant in the UN observation mission in El Salvador, which supervised a ceasefire, disarmament and the human rights situation in that country.

We shall continue to support the UN operation in Somalia through the presence of a small number of staff officers. At one time there were more than 1,000 Canadians in Somalia as part of the UN multinational force responsible for the security of humanitarian aid operations.

I should say that despite some unfortunate incidents which are now being adjudicated, our people in Somalia made a real difference in bringing order to the country and in helping to rebuild the infrastructure of this very poor nation.

Finally, Canada is a participant in the UN mission in Mozambique which has a mandate to supervise the ceasefire and the elections in that country.

The United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission in Korea has also seen the participation of Canadians. This is the agreement which supervises the implementation of the 1953 armistice accord.

We have also been involved in the United Nations special commission charged with the inspection and destruction of Iraq's ballistic missiles as well as its chemical, nuclear and biological facilities.

We have men and women on the ships enforcing the embargo against Serbia in Montenegro as well as on our ships off the coast of Haiti. Finally, there are Canadian forces personnel working to locate and diffuse land mines in Cambodia with the United Nations development programs mine technical advisory group.

I mention all of these because even though we are focusing today on the current conflict, which is a very nasty one, we should not forget the hundreds of other Canadians serving with the United Nations forces around the world in the engagements I have mentioned.

Let us take a look at the Balkans. This is a tragedy that has unfolded for the last 15 years since the death of former president Marshal Tito. While I am sure the members of the government in no way supported the kind of government that Mr. Tito gave to Yugoslavia, one thing that he did leave behind was a will and a determination to unite many disparate factions, religious and ethnic, into one nation.

There is a lesson in Yugoslavia. It is that multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-racial states can only be kept together in today's world by a codification of individual rights and by their protection with strong national institutions. Those national institutions and that constitutional protection has eroded in Yugoslavia and it has forced the rest of the world through the United Nations to try to salvage some dignity, some peace and some sense of humanitarian obligation to the people living in the former republics of Yugoslavia.

As the conflict in the Balkans escalated, the UN gradually extended its mandate beyond the borders of Croatia. For instance, the mission was asked to open the airport in Sarajevo.

I must say a few words about the President of France, François Mitterrand, who showed great courage when he visited Sarajevo two years ago.

The president of France demonstrated great courage in drawing the world's attention to the conflict in Yugoslavia. I would also join with my colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in congratulating the people and government of France together with the British government for having supplied along with Canada the largest contingents of forces in Yugoslavia.

Today we have about 2,000 personnel in Bosnia and Croatia and that is one of the focuses, perhaps the principal focus for this particular debate. We care about them. These are our people. They are doing our bidding.

Canadians have played their part in two world wars and the Korean war. I do not think we want to be part of any other larger wars in the latter part of the century or as we go into the 21st century. It is the lessons that have been learned from our actions in those wars that lead Canadians to use their military expertise, their technical know-how and their understanding of conflicts to try to help the United Nations in bringing peace to some of the hot spots that we see today.

Mr. Speaker, I had the honour of visiting our troops very briefly for a few days in December of last year. I was first in Croatia then in Sarajevo and Visoko and then with our ship HMCS Iroquois in the Adriatic which is enforcing the sanctions with other members of NATO and the United Nations.

I was struck by the uniformity of purpose and the unity with which our men and women view our role in Croatia and Bosnia. I did not hear from them one word about whether or not they had any doubts about the utility of being in that very difficult spot. At night when we slept in the camp at Visoko and shots rang out and as we travelled to Sarajevo with shots all around us in our convoy, not one of those people exhibited any fear of the danger.

I can say that I had some fears. However, these men and women live with this every single day. They are prepared to follow the instructions of the Canadian people as expressed in Parliament and by the government. If we want them to come home then they will come home. If we want them to stay then they will stay. There is, however, no dissension on the part of our troops.

In fact, the deputy UN commander, General John MacInnis, is a Canadian and he has made some very courageous statements. There was one in the newspapers the other week about Srebrenica: "It is not for the Serbs or any of these factions to dictate what battalions or groups of soldiers can relieve others. We are not here to be dictated to by these factions. We will determine whether or not there will be Ukrainians or whether there will be Dutch or whether there will be Nordics or Malaysians that will replace our troops".

General MacInnis has the full support of the people under his command and I salute him and the work that he is doing. There is also the work of Colonel David Moore. Many in this House have heard him speak on radio and television. This is the gentleman in charge of our forces in Visoko, right in the centre of Bosnia. This is the gentleman who has to worry day and night about the safety of his people but more about the safety of the people in the surrounding areas.

Who can forget those graphic portrayals of our good work and our duty in keeping those hospitals open in Fojnica and Dakovica? When the civilians had to leave for fear of retaliation and death it was Canadian troops that kept those hospitals alive, whether it was washing laundry or whether it was bringing food. This was the real humanitarian side of the peacekeeping that our forces are doing in Bosnia.

I find it a little odd. I do not want to be critical of the news media or of Canadians in general or some commentators but it seems that a lot of people have only just become aware of the heightened danger that our troops face on a daily basis when the New York Times says there was danger. Maybe that says something about Canadians when we have to look at the New York Times to say whether or not something is dangerous. We have all known on this side that it has been dangerous. Our troops have known it is dangerous.

We cannot be intimidated by some of the actions that are going on on the ground every single day. There were two incidents last Sunday which we made public.

The troops there are working hard. They are devoted and they will continue to be there and work as hard as they can as long as we want them there. Therefore the views that are expressed today should not be taken lightly. I am not suggesting that

members will take it lightly because it is very important that we underscore our commitment for them and the aims of the United Nations and peacekeeping in general.

In Canada this support for peacekeeping I believe is still there. We have heard about opinion polls that say Canadians want our people to withdraw. After hearing some of the comments from the other side and hopefully some from this side today, I think they will realize there is more to it than simple withdrawal and some of those concerns have already been expressed.

It is up to us as elected representatives to make the hard decisions about what Canada, and by extension our Canadian forces, should do. Peacekeeping continues to dominate our operational activities and this poses special challenges for the Canadian forces who must balance their peacekeeping commitments with their other national and international commitments.

Achieving this balance is not going to be easy. Our current peacekeeping and related missions are considerable in terms of both the sheer geographic reach of the Canadian forces and the different types of operation and commitment involved.

At the same time as the complexity and the cost of peacekeeping missions increase, here at home we are faced with the hard realities of declining budgets and reductions in the regular force. I made statements on that earlier and members will be hearing more about that as the weeks go on.

Let us face the truth. The more we cut back in our defence budget the more we restrict our ability to perform these essential peacekeeping tasks along with our other military obligations.

If Canadians wish to continue to be leaders in the field of peacekeeping and continue to make this important contribution to stability in troubled regions then Canadian forces must be adequately trained and appropriately equipped. In other words, they must be combat capable forces.

Finally, Canadians must accept the risk involved in sending our troops abroad to areas of recent or ongoing conflict.

We have seen where UN peacekeeping has been. While we cannot predict where it will go in the future it seems likely there will be a continuing need for UN involvement in the world's hot spots at least for the next few years. This will pose many challenges for us on the government side and for all Canadians. I invite members to think very carefully before they advocate a hasty withdrawal from the former Yugoslavia and perhaps reflect upon the continuation of our peacekeeping in general.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Benoît Tremblay Bloc Rosemont, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are very happy to take part in this debate on Bosnia, but the minister of defence will agree that the financial aspects will be dealt with in a few weeks, maybe as early as next week, when the budget comes down. For the time being we have to limit ourselves to our commitment to peace in the world, and especially in Bosnia.

Does the minister not think that considering a unilateral withdrawal of our troops, like the Prime Minister did, when those same troops under the United Nations mandate were responsible for disarming the Bosnian people, is rather unrealistic? Can we honestly say, after having disarmed the Bosnians, that we are seriously considering a unilateral withdrawal?

I understand how difficult the situation is and how difficult it is to find a solution. Nevertheless, we already acted in a certain way, particularly toward the Bosnian people, and the minister will admit that it is rather difficult, indeed impossible, to withdraw now and leave the Bosnian people at the mercy of the Serbs.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


David Collenette Liberal Don Valley East, ON

I would say, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member answered his own question. He underlined a very important point, and I hope other members will also give me their opinion on that point.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I said a few minutes ago, when I went to Croatia, I met our troops in the southern part of the country where problems abound. The commanding officer over there, Colonel Marc Lessard, gave me a briefing on the situation. Once again I would like to pay tribute to the courage of the soldiers working in that region and in the other parts of Croatia and Bosnia. Colonel Lessard mentioned some problems which I hope the minister will look at closely in order to find a solution. We talked about three main problems: first, the insufficient number of soldiers at BATCAN I. According to Colonel Lessard, they need more people, 49 additional peacekeepers for example, to increase our infantry sections from 9 to 10 persons. Second, they need mechanics, cooks and other people if they are to do their work properly. Third, there seems to be a problem with the vehicle pool and with supplies.

Having given the minister the details I ask him to promise he will seriously consider Colonel Lessard's requests concerning the resources our military in Croatia need to accomplish their important task.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


David Collenette Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member functioning as a go between with our members on the ground in

Croatia and the command here, but these are comments that not only I have heard but have been expressed throughout the command structure in the armed forces and we are trying to deal with them.

The problem is that some of these supply routes are very difficult especially in winter conditions not unlike some of the conditions we see outside the Parliament Buildings. They do not, however, have snowploughs, salt trucks and sand trucks which makes it very dangerous. In fact two of our members from le 2e Régiment de Valcartier died a few weeks ago just before Christmas because of traffic accidents.

There is no question that better equipment and better provisions will obviously help our troops. I think the comments the hon. member is making are in a sense a wish list of improvements that any commander on the ground would like to see. I do not think it is any evidence of a lack of being properly prepared to take on the very onerous duties that they are undertaking.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister might comment on just the priority that the defence department itself feels should be assigned to international peacekeeping. As we look at the military we really see that it is being asked to perform four functions on about $12 billion: the protection of Canadian sovereignty; the participation in European security through NATO; international peacekeeping; and of course the backing up of the civil authority in cases like Oka.

I wonder if the minister could comment on just where he sees international peacekeeping and peace enforcement in that list of priorities. It looks like we are asking the military to do a lot of things.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


David Collenette Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the hon. member for Calgary Southwest and leader of the Reform Party raised his question. As was mentioned by my colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, earlier in the debate, there will be defence and foreign policy reviews. These long range questions should really be addressed within that context. I hope that today's specific debates, because of the urgency of the peacekeeping and because of our urgency in dealing with the question of cruise missile tests, do not undermine those particular reviews that will take the balance of the year to complete.

The questions that he posed are very valid. Hopefully the committee will give us in government ideas on where we should be emphasizing our money and personnel in the years to come.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Jean-Marc Jacob Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege for me to speak on this matter which I consider to be of great importance, as no doubt do all of my colleagues in this House.

Representatives of the various political parties have thus far expressed at times similar, at times opposing, views. Technical explanations have also been provided about different things, whether it be with respect to monetary issues, to equipment or to adjustments in the strength of our troops abroad.

It is my fervent wish to help this House come to an enlightened decision on international policy as regards UN missions.

In an effort to understand this contentious mission, I, like each one of you I trust, reviewed the history of the former Yugoslavia which, over the months and years, has splintered into several independent nations, namely Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Macedonia, as mentioned several times by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of National Defence.

How did a federation that had survived for more than 40 years come to this end? National division was undoubtedly emphasized by political ideals, territory and culture. What explanation can there be, however, for the slaughter involving more often than not innocent civilians? The answer is not simple as each warring faction believes it has the legitimate right to reclaim land which it feels is rightfully its own.

The warring factions believe so strongly in their legitimate right to act that they sometimes feel the UN has no right to intervene or, at the very least, they occasionally challenge the UN's presence by refusing to cease hostilities.

The nations of the world have seen on television and read in the press the number of casualties and rapes, to the point where no one can remain indifferent to this situation. And therein lies the problem. What steps should the United Nations and, by the same token Canada, take in their quest for a better, more humane world in order to put an end to this shameful situation?

Following World War II, the United Nations were established as an organization founded on the principles of international peacekeeping and security. This organization is taking collective, effective steps to prevent threats to peace and to counter any act of aggression through peaceful means, in accordance with the principles of international law and justice.

The United Nations supports the forging of friendly relations based on respect for the principle of equal rights among peoples and their right to self-determination.

Canada must continue in its traditional role of peacekeeper. Canada's role is to maintain peace, not enforce it, as this would be a major shift away from Canada's historic role.

The peacekeepers should remain in Bosnia in order to continue protecting humanitarian relief convoys and we should recognize, despite media reports, the excellent work they are doing in helping to save Bosnian lives. We must also acknowledge the contributions of our soldiers.

Our troops have re-opened two hospitals and kept them running. They have installed pumps to provide safe drinking water for residents. And, of course, they have escorted many convoys bringing relief, food and clothing to the besieged, helpless population.

However, while the presence of UN forces has helped to avert total disaster, there is no question that a great deal more needs to be done. The safety of the peacekeepers must be enhanced.

Negotiations must continue and at an accelerated pace because the Canadian public is beginning to get upset about the cost of peacekeeping operations and the majority of our constituents are growing tired of seeing our peacekeepers trying to keep the peace where there is no peace to keep. Some feel that we should impose peace. However, most are of the opinion that governments lack the political will to authorize a military strike and that because of this, our peacekeepers should withdraw and leave these peoples to decide their own fate. And this is precisely what the United Nations and Canada must not do.

My colleague from Rosemont mentioned earlier that the United Nations had effectively disarmed the Bosnians, but it had also been agreed that the peacekeepers would stay on to protect them. That is one more reason for not withdrawing our peacekeeping forces.

The loss of confidence by the Canadian people certainly reflects the mood, the public opinion in other UN nations. That is why, given Canada's leadership in peacekeeping, if we withdrew our forces, that could trigger a similar move on the part of other UN nations, which would be unfair and fatal for the civilian populations concerned.

However, it would appear that recently peacekeeping has taken precedence at times over the real interests of the Canadian people, with Canada allocating military resources to several peacekeeping operations without seeing the need to get a clear and firm mandate. With regard to this peacekeeping race, Canada has also reduced its defence expenditures envelope, forcing our troops to play this role while providing them with less and jeopardizing their security.

Canada will have to look over its latest missions and learn from them. The United Nations will have to reconsider the peacekeeping process, as telling figures clearly show that the situation has changed considerably and that UN interventions are not conducted in the same spirit or under the same circumstances as they used to be. UN statistics show that over a 40-year period from 1948 to 1988, there were 754 casualties among UN peacekeepers, as compared to 197 killed in Somalia and Bosnia in 1993 alone. This huge difference clearly demonstrates that unfortunately the peacekeeping scene has changed radically and that a clear and unequivocal stand will have to be taken before any new operation can go ahead. As a matter of fact, nearly all press statements by generals from the United Nations protection force, UNPROFOR, conveyed frustration and a sense of helplessness in the face of explosive situations they could do nothing about.

I would like, at this point, to try to outline on what basis the decision should be made in Canada to participate in UN missions or not.

It is clear that Canada can no longer afford to participate in all missions.

The Canadian government will have to think twice before taking action. This action will have to meet universal criteria such as humanitarian, political and unfortunately economic considerations. Having assessed these, it will then have to set a deadline by which the goals specified in the assessments have to be reached always keeping in mind financial implications.

As with all Canadian activities, it will be necessary to give up the myth of a rich and prosperous Canada and face reality.

Our troops are proud to take part in these missions but we must clarify what the framework should be and what equipment is required and appropriate. Can we still afford this? Does the public still support such endeavours?

I think that within the context of joint action within the United Nations as well as NATO, a system should be established by which each participating nation would contribute in a specific area.

Joint action should be discussed in the UN, where a decision on the mandate of the peacekeepers from the United Nations protection force in Bosnia must be made by the end of April.

This mission should never be viewed as a total failure, because the situation in Croatia has indeed been stabilized and, furthermore, the escalation of the conflict in Macedonia and Kosovo has effectively been halted.

In conclusion, the withdrawal of the peacekeepers from Bosnia is not a desirable option in the present context, as the consequences would be disastrous for the civilian population and for the Bosnians, who have been almost completely disarmed by the UN forces protecting them.

Obviously, a military strike would make the peacekeepers' job less frustrating but perhaps more dangerous. As I was saying earlier, we must press for further negotiations in the hope that an agreement can be reached before the end of the mandate next April and even consider tightening the embargo against the Bosnian Serbs.

On the other hand, it would be unthinkable to try to clarify Canada's future role without undertaking a global review of our national defence policy.

I take this opportunity to point out to the hon. minister of defence that our defence policy must be reviewed as soon as possible, that patience is running out among Canadians concerned about military spending and soldiers who need specific mandates in order to do a good job.

In closing, I want to tell all Canadian peacekeepers how much we respect and admire the work they do in a difficult and often hostile environment.

I especially want to salute the officers and troops from Valcartier, who account for over 80 per cent of the peacekeeping force in Bosnia. I am personally concerned as that base is located partly in my riding of Charlesbourg and partly in that of my colleague from Portneuf.

Through their commitment and their work, those soldiers have helped preserve Canada's tradition of excellence in peacekeeping.

As I said before, they can count on all the understanding and support that my party and myself can offer them.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.


Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I request the unanimous consent of the House to continue sitting between one and two p.m.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Hon. members heard the request. Is there unanimous consent?

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador


Fred Mifflin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, if there is unanimous consent the government side is quite happy to sit through lunch.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is there unanimous consent?

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Some hon. members


Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

We will now go on to the period of questions and comments following the intervention of the hon. member for Charlesbourg.

There not being any we will resume debate with the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Jesse Flis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate you on your appointment as a deputy speaker since this is the first opportunity I have had to do so.

I would also like to thank and congratulate the right hon. Prime Minister for allowing the House to have this debate on peacekeeping and defence issues so early in the 35th Parliament. We see a big difference between the 34th Parliament and the 35th Parliament. We had requested many such debates in the 34th Parliament and such debates never happened.

I hope all members of all parties will take to heart the words of the right hon. Prime Minister when he said: "We want to hear your individual views". I know someone from the New Democratic Party just arrived from that region. It would be very important to hear what he has to say. This is an opportunity to put on our creative hats, not to have to worry about party discipline, and to express what we know from our constituents and what we know from our experience.

I also take this opportunity to congratulate the constituents of Parkdale-High Park, especially the Canadians of Croatian, Serbian and Muslim descent. I must say that in my 10 years of representing the area and having so many Canadians of those backgrounds in my riding we have never had any conflicts, any squabbles, any fights, et cetera. The Canadians of Muslim, Serbian, Croatian descent are showing that these three peoples can live together in peace and harmony. I congratulate them through this forum and all Canadians across this land who are showing the example that we want peace and not the kind of thing that is ongoing in Bosnia.

The Leader of the Official Opposition rightly took us through the happenings at the end of the cold war and immediately after the cold war, how Solidarnosc started the movement and then the Baltic states and other countries. However the world has become a more not a less complicated place since the end of the cold war.

As the minister mentioned in his statement the key body in the international system, the United Nations, is straining to keep up with the increasing demands being placed on it. Canada is working to alleviate the pressure on the UN. Our approach is a broad scope. It ranges from strengthening and reforming the UN system itself, including providing staff to key areas such as the peacekeeping unit, to promoting the concept of co-operative security in which strengthened regional institutions and arrangements can play a larger role in contributing to international peace and security, thus relieving some of the burden placed on the UN system.

In this brief intervention I would like to focus on the efforts of Canada to encourage and position regional organizations to play a more active role in support of the UN. If we put the emphasis on regional institutions getting into potential conflict areas this will alleviate the pressures of the UN and then it can do a more effective job in crises such as the one in the former Yugoslavia.

In January 1992 the UN Secretary General launched his agenda for peace. As the minister mentioned in this document the Secretary General spoke about conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy. In this regard he highlighted the increasingly important role that regional organizations could take to

prevent and resolve crises so that they need not come to the attention of the UN every time.

As the House knows Canada strongly supports the agenda for peace and is working to implement many of the Secretary General's recommendations. I was pleased that our parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade in the 34th Parliament submitted its recommendations and views on the agenda for peace. I was pleased that our Senate committee on foreign affairs also responded to the agenda for peace.

We have taken to heart the Secretary General's challenge to regional organizations to pull their weight more effectively on the global scene. Let me be more specific. I would like to speak about three key areas in which Canadians can show leadership, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America, as well as say a brief word about the new initiatives in the Commonwealth and the Francophonie.

Post cold war Europe is a place of both enormous opportunities and challenges. As mentioned by the minister, Canada is placing considerable emphasis on strenghthening the ability of our key pan-European and transatlantic security forum, the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, to prevent and resolve conflicts.

Thanks largely to Canada's efforts over the past few years the CSCE has the most extensive framework for conflict management of any regional organization. We are now working to fine tune these mechanisms and to enhance the CSCE's ability to take action to prevent conflict. The key to conflict prevention is to deal with the root causes of tension and conflict, many of which are to be found in the areas of human rights, especially minority rights. For that reason Canada is strongly supporting CSCE instruments such as the CSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, whose task is to serve as an early warning mechanism by providing a Canadian expert to the high commissioner's investigative team in Slovakia and Hungary.

The CSCE also has conflict management missions in places such as Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, Moldova, Skopje and Tajikistan. Canada has participated actively in these missions. We have headed the mission to Moldova and have personnel in the former Yugoslavia as well as on shorter term missions to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Nagorno-Karabakh and Bosnia-Hercegovina. These missions undertake fact finding and conciliation, investigate human rights problems, and generally assist these countries in making the transition to democracy.

Canada is continuing to refine the framework for CSCE peacekeeping, a Canadian initiative. This mechanism adopted at the 1992 Helsinki summit makes the CSCE the only regional organization with the ability to mandate a peaceful operation. It permits the CSCE to call upon the UN's expertise and assistance as well as that of other regional organizations, notably NATO. While this mechanism has not yet been used it is in place should CSCE states ever need to call upon it. Let us hope it does not, but if it does the mechanism is in place.

As the Minister of Foreign Affairs stated to his colleagues at the December meeting of CSCE foreign ministers in Rome, Canada will promote innovative approaches to conflict management in the CSCE region. He underlined this government's commitment to the CSCE and Canada's readiness to play a leadership role within the organization. He also committed Canada to working on a comprehensive assessment of the CSCE's conflict management efforts to date and to make specific practical recommendations that will help the CSCE deal more effectively with future challenges.

This organization has its failures too. I have to be very honest in the House. Again this is my own personal opinion. I attended some of the CSCE meetings and the process is decision by consensus. Members know what it is like in their own caucuses, how difficult it is to come to a consensus sometimes.

While the politicians and the diplomats are working on wording that is acceptable to everyone, we see reports such as we saw on the CTV last night where six youngsters were killed last weekend, where a young lad was getting shrapnel pulled out of his side, and where a child was walking with only one leg. We heard the report about shell-shocked children, the psychological effects of just being injured or witnessing what is happening there. It talked about the Sarajevo syndrome. Children need tranquillizers to sleep. The same report talked about the high suicide rate and passive suicide. People actually walk into the streets to get killed. They cannot take what is going on in the region any more so they walk out hoping that a bullet will kill them and end it all.

While the death toll reaches hundreds of thousands and with all that is happening daily, CSCE argues about wording acceptable to all member countries. Although I am placing a lot of emphasis on CSCE, having attended its important conference in Madrid 12 years ago I do have my criticism of it. I appeal to the international community to make the CSCE, with the help of Canada, more effective.

As the House is aware Canada joined the Organization of American States or OAS in 1990. I stood in the House on the other side to criticize the government not for joining the OAS but for how it got Canada to join. Canada joined the OAS without any consultation with the Canadian people, without any debate in the House as we are having now, and without even asking the standing committee on foreign affairs to look into the implications of joining OAS. We were very critical not of the

OAS membership but how the former Prime Minister made the decision without any consultation or debate.

Since joining, Canada has made one of its priorities enhancing the role of the OAS in promoting regional security and stability. In its short time as an OAS member Canada has succeeded in putting these issues firmly on the OAS agenda.

The OAS now has a permanent committee on hemispheric security. Canada is focusing the committee's work on security questions such as conflict prevention and management, confidence building measures, CBMs, conventional arms and transfers in non-proliferation. Canada is also stressing the importance of strengthening co-operation between the OAS and the UN in conflict prevention and management.

In March a Canadian promoted OAS meeting on confidence building measures will take place in Argentina. As a former principal of Argentina Public School in my riding of Parkdale-High Park and as a current member of the Argentine-Canadian Friendship Institute, I am pleased this meeting will be taking place in that part of the world. The reason I was principal of Argentina Public School was because we were twinned with Canada's school in Buenos Aires.

When we are talking about peace I think we should begin with the children, with the future citizens of this planet, because our attitudes are difficult to change. When we started with children being twinned with other countries it is amazing how children as young as age five were learning about the language, the culture and the peoples of a country as far away as Argentina.

Unfortunately because of the Falkland war the Toronto Board of Education decided to remove the name and it is back to Garden Avenue. What a sad commentary, blaming the children for the Falkland war. One recommendation I would toss out so that all members could take it to their constituents is for them to be on the lookout. Maybe there is a school in a riding that can be twinned with a school in a faraway country. We will all be richer for it.

This June at the OAS general assembly Canada will be bringing forward new proposals to strengthen the OAS role in dealing with regional security challenges.

A word on our efforts within the Commonwealth and the Francophonie organizations which bridge traditional north-south and east-west divisions in the world. Neither of these organizations have well developed approaches to conflict management. For this reason Canada submitted proposals for the development of conflict management mechanisms at both the Commonwealth and Francophonie summits this past summer. These ideas are very new to both organizations. Canada will continue to work to make these proposals a reality.

I have outlined a wide range of initiatives which Canada is undertaking within regional organizations. I do not have time to go into the ASEAN group and other regional organizations that could help address conflicts arising in that part of the world.

The House should have noticed common themes in what I have said so far. First, support for the UN; second, emphasis on conflict prevention; and, third, development of mechanisms which can be in place and be called on by states to assist in resolving problems before they erupt into conflict and before they require the already overtaxed resources of the United Nations.

As the minister stated this government is committed to supporting the United Nations. This government is also committed to positioning regional organizations to play a more active and effective role in complementing the important global efforts of the United Nations in promoting co-operative security and in building international peace and stability.

I call upon the international community with which I quite often have the pleasure of meeting through the diplomatic corps in Ottawa to do everything in its power to strengthen the various regional organizations and to make them more effective in coping with future emergencies, thus alleviating the pressures on the United Nations and making it more effective in guaranteeing international peace and security.

If we do not follow this course then Lieutenant Colonel Ian Malcolm who served with the Canadian forces for 23 years and was involved in peacekeeping in Egypt, Iraq and Namibia may be correct in a recent document wherein he asks: "Does the blue helmet fit?"

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Richelieu, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to commend the government for this initiative, this emergency debate which it has called non-partisan. Since this morning, we have seen how much all members on both sides of the House have made it a duty to speak in a completely non-partisan way.

I think that this government initiative, which is definitely a credit to it, should be repeated on many other occasions, in keeping with what I think is the desire of all members, especially those like me who are not designated critics or do not have specific duties, be they on the government side or not. This is an opportunity for us to express our views and at the same time to show that different points of view can still lead to consensus, especially as far as major issues such as the ones we are studying today are concerned.

I listened with admiration to the speech of the previous speaker who spoke in his own name and said that he wanted his government to go ahead and maintain troops to keep peace in the world. He spoke eloquently about children. I believe that aspect

cannot be over-emphasized; children are often victims of these wars which benefit only arms dealers or crackpot idealists or people who will use any means to reach their ends.

However, I would like to have some clarification on air raids, which are at the heart of the debate on Bosnia. When we go on peace missions, do we also have to have air raids or should it be the other way around: if we are attacked from the air, should we respond to these attacks after receiving an order from the commander in chief? Consultation can take about an hour. I would like the previous speaker to tell me more about what he thinks of these air raids.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.


Jesse Flis Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments and compliments and for supporting today's process. If the hon. member does not see enough of such debates I hope he will remind us that it is time for another. In debates like this we see the best of every member of Parliament, all 295.

Actually the hon. member's comments and questions coincide with a poll that was reported in the Ottawa Citizen today. The poll suggests that an overwhelming majority of Canadians favour the idea of UN peacekeeping in general, but six in 10 respondents said that Canada's mission in Bosnia is too risky and should be ended in April. I quote from the poll: ``More and more Canadians are saying it is too damned expensive and it is so dangerous, why not have some other countries take on the job?''

The poll also suggests that when the heat is high in Bosnia, meaning the military heat, attitudes toward peacekeeping are cool in Canada but if the shooting stops then Canadians want their soldiers to be there to administer humanitarian aid.

I think when we send our troops there the one thing our mandate should guarantee is the safety of our Canadian forces. It is all right for countries to negotiate air strikes but how can air strikes be negotiated and mandated if the Canadian peacekeepers are in that region? That is where we will not get the support of Canadians if things like that happen.

If one of our soldiers has to come back you know how, I do not think we will get much support from Canadians in future peacekeeping. Yet our troops have the highest reputation in the world.

I had the good fortune of being in Cyprus and was talking to our Canadians forces. I talked with the British commander who begged Canada to please not pull the Canadian forces out because they are such an excellent example for the other countries that have peacekeeping forces.

We had an example in the Bosnia-Hercegovina area when it was time to remove the Canadian soldiers and replace them by soldiers from another country. The Serbs said no. They said they would accept the Canadians but not the troops of another country. The Canadian forces have this ability. They are respected by the Muslims, they are respected by the Croats and they are respected by the Serbs. That is why we can play such an important role. However, if we start dropping bombs on them, our taxpayers will give us the message to bring our troops home.

First, before we make any such move I think we have to ensure the safety of our troops over there.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Richelieu, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member was right when he said that our taxpayers are concerned. There is even mention, in the poll referred to, of a will to withdraw from peacekeeping operations in Bosnia. I wonder if this is not a golden opportunity to analyse our need for military equipment.

As members of the Opposition, we supported the government when it decided to cancel the helicopter contract, but now we know that 800 extremely sophisticated tanks are presently being built in Ontario. We also have various military equipment, such as our F-18 airplanes, for which it costs $1 million just to train the pilot.

Should we not rethink the role of our armed forces in order to reduce all this equipment, to specialize our troops further in those peacekeeping missions, and therefore to reduce expenditures and activities in other military sectors where this material is rarely used, or should we consider leaving some special role to other members of NATO, since Canada has already participated in all the peacekeeping missions since the Second World War? Is that not something to consider?

The total budget could be reduced by eliminating some equipment which may not be necessary, but the money saved would enable us to carry on with our peacekeeping missions without overburdening our taxpayers once again. I would like to hear the hon. member's point of view.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Jesse Flis Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, when the cold war ended everyone was hoping that there would be peace dividends; money that would be saved on defence would be put toward economic renewal, stimulus, reducing poverty on this planet, et cetera. That is why this government is recommending a review of our foreign affairs and defence policy.

As the Prime Minister mentioned and offered, both standing committees will be going to the people of Canada to review our

existing policy. I hope the hon. member will make his interventions on behalf of his constituents again at that time.

I would also recommend to the member that tomorrow there will be another debate. It will be on whether or not we should continue with the cruise missile testing. That would be another excellent forum for the hon. member to raise this.

That is why I think we have come to the stage in the development of our country and the development of our foreign policy to take an in depth look and review by consulting Canadians.