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.


Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Francis Leblanc Liberal Cape Breton Highlands—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour of presenting to this House, in both official languages, the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association's report on the annual meeting of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, or CSCE, at its parliamentary assembly held in Helsinki, Finland, from July 6 to 9, 1993.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements And Federal Post-Secondary Education And Health Contributions ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario


Herb Gray Liberalfor the Minister of Finance

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-3, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements and Federal Post-Secondary Education and Health Contributions Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements And Federal Post-Secondary Education And Health Contributions ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to introduce a bill that would prohibit the export of water by interbasin transfers.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements And Federal Post-Secondary Education And Health Contributions ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

The Speaker

Order. I presume the hon. member has had consultations and will need unanimous consent. Is there unanimous consent to introduce this private member's bill?

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements And Federal Post-Secondary Education And Health Contributions ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Some hon. members


Canada Water Export Prohibition ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-202, an act to prohibit the export of water by interbasin transfers.

Mr. Speaker, I have a very short explanation.

During the discussions regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement questions were asked whether the passage of that legislation would not facilitate the sale of water from Canada to the United States and Mexico through interbasin transfers. While there may be some concerns in people's minds, this bill will put those to rest because it would simply prohibit the export of water by interbasin transfers from Canada to either the U.S. or Mexico.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Standing OrdersRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, with the unanimous consent of the House I move, seconded by the hon. member for Laurier-Sainte-Marie:

I. That Standing Order 104 be amended as follows:

  1. In Section (1) thereof by striking out the words "House Management" and substituting therefor the words "Procedure and House Affairs".

  2. By striking out sections (2), (3) and (4) thereof and substituting the following therefor:

(2) The standing committees which shall consist of not less than seven and not more than fifteen members, and for which lists of members are to be prepared, except as provided in section (1) of the Standing Order, shall be on:

(a) Agriculture and Agri-Food (b) Canadian Heritage (c) Citizenship and Immigration (d) Environment and Sustainable Development (e) Finance (f) Fisheries and Oceans (g) Foreign Affairs and International Trade (h) Government Operations (i) Health (j) Human Resources Development (k) Human Rights and the Status of the Disabled (l) Indian Affairs and Northern Development (m) Industry (n) Justice and Legal Affairs (o) National Defence and Veterans Affairs (p) Natural Resources (q) Procedure and House Affairs (r) Public Accounts (s) Transport

(3) The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs shall also prepare and report lists of members to act for the House on the standing joint committees on:

(a) the Library of Parliament (b) Official Languages (c) Scrutiny of Regulations;

Provided that a sufficient number of members shall be appointed so as to keep the same proportion therein as between the memberships of both Houses.

(4) The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs shall also prepare lists of associate members for each standing committee and standing joint committee referred to in this Standing Order, who shall be deemed to be members of that committee for the purposes of Standing Orders 108(1)(b) and 114(2)(a) and who shall be eligible to act as substitutes on that committee pursuant to provisions of Standing Order 114(2)(b).

II. That Standing Order 108 be amended as follows:

  1. By deleting sub-section (1)(b) thereof and substituting the following:

"(b) Standing Committees shall be empowered to create sub-committees of which the membership may be drawn from among both the list of members and the list of associate members provided for in Standing Order 104, who shall be deemed to be members of that committee for the purposes of this Standing Order".

  1. By deleting in section (2) thereof the words "(3)(b)" and by substituting therefor the words "(3)(c)" and by deleting the words "(3)(e)".

  2. In section (3)(a) thereof:

(a) by deleting the words "House Management" and by substituting therefor the words "Procedure and House Affairs"; and

(b) by adding in paragraph (ii) immediately after the words "two Houses", the words "except with regard to the Library of Parliament;".

  1. By deleting sections (3)(b), (3)(c) and (3)(d) thereof and by substituting the following therefor:

"(b) Canadian Heritage shall include, among other matters, the monitoring of the implementation of the principles of the federal multiculturalism policy throughout the Government of Canada in order

-to encourage the departments and agencies of the federal government to reflect the multicultural diversity of the nation; and

-to examine existing and new programs and policies of federal departments and agencies to encourage sensitivity to multicultural concerns and to preserve and enhance the multicultural reality of Canada;

(c) Human Rights and the Status of Disabled Persons shall include, among other matters:

-the review of and report on reports of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which shall be deemed permanently referred to the Committee immediately after they are laid upon the Table; and

-the proposing, promoting, monitoring and assessing of initiatives aimed at the integration and equality of disabled persons in all sectors of Canadian society;".

  1. By renumbering section (3)(e) thereof as section (3)(d).

  2. By deleting section (4) thereof and substituting the following therefor:

"(4) So far as this House is concerned, the mandates of the Standing Joint Committee on

(a) the Library of Parliament shall include the review of the effectiveness, management and operation of the Library of Parliament;

(b) Official Languages shall include, among other matters, the review of and report on official languages policies and programs including Reports of the Commissioner of Official Languages, which shall be deemed permanently referred to the Committee immediately after they are laid upon the Table;

(c) Scrutiny of Regulations shall include, among other matters, the review and scrutiny of statutory instruments which are permanently referred to the Committee pursuant to section 19 of the Statutory Instruments Act;

Provided that both Houses may, from time to time, refer any other matter to any of the aforementioned Standing Joint Committees".

III. That Standing Order 112 be amended:

(a) by deleting the words "for each envelope except the management envelope"; and

(b) by deleting the word "six" and by substituting therefor the word "twelve".

(c) by deleting the words "Each group of" and substituting therefor the word, "The".

(d) by deleting the words, "belonging to each respective envelope".

IV. That Standing Order 113(2) be amended by deleting the word "appropriate".

V. That Standing Order 114 be amended:

  1. In subsection (2)(a) thereof, by deleting the word "seven" and by substituting therefor the word "fourteen" and by deleting the words "in the envelope to which that committee has been assigned" and by deleting all of the words after the words "permanent members of the committee".

  2. In subsection (2)(c) thereof, after the words "listed as", by deleting the words "members at large in the envelope" and substituting therefor "associate members of the committee".

  3. In section (4) thereof, by deleting the words "which involve the appointment to a committee of a member not already a member of a committee in the same envelope".

VI. That Standing Order 115 be amended in section (2) thereof, by deleting all of the words after the words "meetings of" and substituting the words "committees considering legislation or Estimates over meetings of committees considering other matters".

VII. That Standing Orders 91, 92(1), 106(1), 107(2), 113(1), 114(1), 114(2)(a), 114(2)(d), 114(4), 115(4), 119(1)(2), 132, 133(2), 133(3), 133(4), 135(1), 140, 141(4) be amended by deleting the words "House Management" and substituting therefor "Procedure and House Affairs".

VIII. That Standing Order 73 be amended:

  1. By deleting sections (2) and (3) and substituting therefor the following:

"(2) Unless otherwise ordered, in giving a bill second reading, the same shall be referred to a standing, special or legislative committee".

  1. By renumbering sections (4) and (5) thereof respectively as sections (3) and (4).

IX. That the Clerk of the House be authorized, whenever appropriate, to redirect, after consultation, any references to any committees that have already been made at the time of the adoption of this Order.

X. That a Message be sent to the Senate to invite them to join with this House in the creation of the aforementioned Standing Joint Committees.

I apologize for having to read such a lengthy motion, but I think there is unanimous consent for its adoption today.

Standing OrdersRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Perhaps in future if the hon. member has motions such as these and if there is unanimous consent on all sides, we could agree to dispense. I am only saying that for some future consideration.

I was thinking while the hon. member was going through it, what would have happened if he had had to repeat the whole thing again. That would have been something else.

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Standing OrdersRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, certainly I support the thrust of the motion.

There is one amendment I would like to suggest that I hope would meet with the consent of the House. It relates to the proposed committee in paragraph (2)(k), the committee on human rights and the status of the disabled.

The previous committee that existed that looked at this subject matter was a committee known as the committee on human rights and the status of disabled persons.

Certainly as a member of that former committee I recall that people with disabilities felt very strongly that they did not wish to be labelled as "the disabled".

I note that, in French, the committee's name refers to disabled persons.

I would also note that under subparagraph 4(c) in the mandate of the committee it refers to: "the proposing, promoting, monitoring and assessing of initiatives aimed at the integration and equality of disabled persons in all sectors of Canadian society".

We are talking about people fundamentally. I would hope that it would meet with the agreement of the House that we maintain the previous name of this committee which was human rights and the status of disabled persons.

I would so move if that meets with the consent of the House.

(Amendment agreed to.)

(Motion, as amended, agreed to.)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.


Ovid Jackson Liberal Bruce—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition on behalf of Delores and Edward Howey of Owen Sound with regard to the Young Offenders Act.

Their daughter Karen Howey Black was brutally murdered in British Columbia on February 15, 1993. They are asking that the act be amended to include young offenders who commit these heinous crimes.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.


Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House to present a petition from the undersigned residents of Kootenay West-Revelstoke in British Columbia who would like their grievance known to this House.

This grievance has to do with a new game to be introduced in Canada called the serial killer board game. They humbly request that the House ban the sale of the serial killer board game and prevent other such material being made available in Canada in order to protect children.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Speaker

Shall all questions stand?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members


Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

January 25th, 1994 / 10:20 a.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec


Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to set today's debate in context.

Today is the first of many debates to come. In recent years, governments have regarded Parliament as an afterthought in policy development or have neglected it completely.

I made a promise to the Canadian people during the last federal election that I would restore respect and relevance to the House of Commons. That is why today we are debating the role of Canadian peacekeeping and tomorrow, cruise missile testing.

Also, I would like to announce today that next week for the first time in Canadian history this Chamber will be used as a forum for pre-budget consultations with members of Parliament. This will be the first time members of Parliament will be able to discuss important budgetary issues before the budget is prepared.

Mr. Speaker, today's debate concerns the Bosnian issue. Tomorrow, we will be looking into cruise missile testing, into whether we should authorize Americans to test their missiles over Canadian soil. Next week, we will be discussing the budget.

As I was saying in this House, yesterday, we are trying out an entirely new political process. In the past, members were always asked to comment after the fact which meant, for someone in the opposition, to oppose a decision, once it was already too late to have a real influence on the government's decision. This procedure is without precedent. I hope members will try their very best to make it efficient in order to allow the expression of views, after which the government will decide. It has been said, by some, that no vote will be taking place in this kind of debate. Since its purpose is to make views known to government before a decision is taken, it is quite naturally so.

If opposition members or even members of my own party disagree with the decision taken, they can always, in the traditional way, make a motion of non-confidence against the government. I hope members will have, through this new

procedure, better opportunity to express their views and that debates will be more dispassionate and less partisan.

I take advantage of this opportunity to congratulate all members of the House. The press will have noted, and Canadians as well, I hope, that the atmosphere is much better than it used to be. All this evidently depends both on the opposition and, very much so, on the government. I have asked my ministers to restrain themselves since it is so easy, when one is the last to speak, to make that one last satisfying stab which is so upsetting to the members opposite.

The new discipline demonstrated by this House is therefore welcome, and I wish to congratulate all members on their attitude. I would invite them to express their views in all candor during the three coming debates concerning Canada's peacekeeping role, the cruise missile testing and, next week, the preliminary debate on the budget which is to be tabled in this House before the end of February.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.


Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the Prime Minister's point of order. I would like to thank the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs for making possible this debate and making it possible before the government arrives at a policy decision.

I would like to make one further suggestion in the spirit of what the Prime Minister said and that is to suggest that in future we depart from the custom of having party leaders necessarily lead off debates. It seems to me we could make a better contribution by simply sitting and listening to what other members are saying. If we participate, we could perhaps participate toward the end of the debate and attempt to define the common ground that has been defined by members and provide a basis for the government's policy. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.


Audrey McLaughlin NDP Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to add my congratulations to the Prime Minister for undertaking these debates in the House of Commons. I think they are very important. The Prime Minister has said these are a test and something that is being tried. I would suggest the real test is when the government listens to a variety of points of view. I appreciate that the Prime Minister has undertaken this.

As we are debating Bosnia today, I would like to say very briefly that I am sure that everyone in Canada shares the view of our party, that we appreciate the great work that the RCMP and the peacekeepers are doing in Bosnia.

Again I want to thank the Prime Minister for this opportunity and I hope the government will listen to what I think will be a real range of constructive debate in the interests of the country. We will all have our partisan points of view but I think that all of us have the interest of the country at heart both in our international and national roles. I look forward to these debates.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Charest Progressive Conservative Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to join my colleague from Yukon, the Leader of the Reform Party and the Prime Minister in saying what an excellent idea it is to allow such debates in Parliament, so much the better if they contribute to more constructive exchanges in this House. For that matter, this purpose coincides well with the sentiments expressed by the government in the Throne Speech.

This being said, while we are on the subject of the way this Parliament operates, I would like to add a comment.


Since we are reflecting on how this Parliament works I do want to say that we welcome this opportunity to participate in debate and will participate actively and open up the House of Commons.

I do, though, want to take this opportunity on the issue of the workings of this Parliament to restate our concern that even though the independent members in this place are considered independent by the Chair and number only 12, we represent 25 per cent of the vote that was cast in the general election.

There is still an outstanding concern that I raised with you on a question of privilege that really deals with two issues. One is what place will be left to these members of Parliament to speak in this House.

It is a very fundamental issue because the Prime Minister and I think a lot of members who have joined with him have said that in this place we want to offer all members an opportunity to participate in a different type of debate.

For that to happen it requires that members be able to first participate. If that is the spirit of this new House I welcome it. But I must voice some concern.

I will leave you with one last note. On the element of the matter just dealt with by the House with unanimous consent, there was no consultation. I did not object because I do not want to be in this chair objecting constantly to what is coming forth but for me that is an example of things that do come forth that in more normal circumstances would require, if this is a new House and a new way to operate, some consultation.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, I simply want to thank the Prime Minister for this initiative. It is a new initiative that I believe the previous government did not use at all in terms of providing an opportunity for parliamentarians to have a role in policy making.

The Prime Minister has indicated in the House on a number of occasions that this will provide an opportunity for all members who are interested in the issue to state their views on behalf of their constituents.

I assume that on debate today if necessary we will not see the clock in order that all members who wish to participate will have an opportunity if more time is required.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec


André Ouellet LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs


That this House take note of the political, humanitarian and military dimensionsof Canada's peacekeeping role, including in the former Yugoslavia, and of possible future direction in Canadian peacekeeping policy and operations.

During his visit to Europe, the Prime Minister was asked whether the government would be maintaining Canadian troops in the former Yugoslavia in the spring. The Prime Minister replied that no decision would be made until the matter could be debated in this House. You will remember that when the previous government decided to send troops to the former Yugoslavia, there was no debate, Parliament was not consulted and at the time our party strongly opposed the fact that a decision as important as this could be made without consulting Parliament.

Today, the motion being tabled before the House and inviting all members to express their views on the issue is, as the Prime Minister pointed out, in line with our party's commitment to consult with members of Parliament before making any serious and momentous decisions.

Our decision, whatever it may be, will have a heavy impact on our future role in peacekeeping, our foreign policy and our defence policy.

We must also bear in mind that the position we take will affect our relations with countries that are friends or allies, or with countries that are very deeply involved in or affected by the conflict raging in the former Yugoslavia.

The government's position on the broad question of the place of peacekeeping in Canada's foreign and defence policies is well known. We are on record as stating that was intend to strengthen Canada's leadership role in international peacekeeping.

In the upcoming foreign and defence policy reviews, we will be examining a variety of ways in which this can be done, many of which we elaborated in the red book. I know that all of you have had an opportunity to read it, you are all familiar with it, but all the same I would like, if you permit, Mr. Speaker, to cite a few examples for the record.

We feel it is important, first of all, to re-examine the notion of stand-by forces for peacekeeping. Second, we think it is important to look at the training of peacekeepers; and third, we think it is important to review our procurement policies.

In any debate on peacekeeping, I feel we have to start by placing the issue in the context of Canada's historical contribution to peacekeeping, and go on to discuss the tremendous upheavals that affect the very nature of peacekeeping operations.

Ever since the initiative taken in 1956 by former Prime Minister and then External Affairs Minister Lester B. Pearson, Canada has been closely associated in the minds of Canadians and of other countries with leadership and expertise in peacekeeping. For years we have participated in the overwhelming majority of peacekeeping operations mandated by the Security Council.

We continue today to contribute to most of the missions, including, I would like to say, the most difficult ones. As you know, the government has clearly stated its conviction that peacekeeping is a very important component of Canada's contribution to the multilateral system and the preservation of peace in the world.

Canadians have always believed in the value of promoting multilateral mechanisms for security and crisis management. Peacekeeping is one of the most important of these mechanisms. Our approach to peacekeeping is rooted in a wider view, which seeks to promote the prevention of conflicts before they begin, and the peaceful resolution of conflicts already under way.

Over the years, Canada has developed guidelines governing its participation in peacekeeping operations. Let me summarize them.

There must be a clear, achievable mandate from a competent political authority, such as the Security Council.

Then, the parties to the conflict must undertake to respect a ceasefire and, of course, must accept the presence of Canadian troops.

In addition, the peacekeeping operation must be in support of a process aimed at achieving a political settlement.

Finally, the number of troops and the international composition of the operation must be suited to the mandate. The operation must be adequately funded, and have a satisfactory logistical structure.

These are the broad guidelines that Canada has traditionally used to make its decisions on its participation in a peace mission. If we review each of these points, we will see that in some ways the previous government did not follow these criteria in deciding whether to commit itself, as was the case with the former Yugoslavia.

In the past, it would seem that the amount of risk incurred by our soldiers was rarely a problem. This is no longer the case; the risk factor has become an essential element in our decision-making.

I would invite hon. members to take this aspect, this new dimension, into consideration in their remarks today.

While these guidelines are still valid, the international setting in which peacekeeping operations occur has changed radically since 1989, and will in my opinion continue to evolve. I would therefore welcome the views of the House in this regard.

Traditionally, let me repeat, peacekeeping operations have been launched when the parties to a conflict concluded that their purposes would no longer be served by the continuation of an armed conflict but by a settlement negotiated with the aid of a third party. Peacekeepers were thus deployed to monitor a ceasefire or the withdrawal of troops from disputed zones.

But in 1989 and 1990 far more extensive peacekeeping operations were introduced, designed to assist the parties involved to implement a negotiated settlement to a conflict. In Cambodia, for example, the United Nations had a mandate to disarm the factions, establish security throughout the country, repatriate refugees, ensure respect for human rights, supervise the key departments of the national government and organize provisional elections. Thus a very important civilian component was added to the traditional military presence.

A new concept, that of humanitarian intervention, was introduced in Bosnia and Somalia. Our soldiers were not sent there to enforce a ceasefire or preserve a peace that obviously did not exist and still does not exist. Their mandate was to help humanitarian convoys get through. The example of Somalia in particular shows that this type of intervention can have very positive results, for despite the problems we hear about, most of them centred on Mogadishu, the humanitarian crisis in the rest of the country has been largely surmounted.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations has acknowledged this process of evolution in the declaration he called his agenda for peace, which is based on the principle that conflict management requires a whole range of tools, one of which is peacekeeping. The international community's objectives have thus become much more ambitious: to prevent conflicts, to consolidate or restore peace by diplomatic means such as mediation or good offices, to keep the peace and even to undertake the political and social reconstruction of ruined societies.

Some operations contain a mixture of these elements. The term "peacekeeping" has taken on a character I would qualify as rather elastic, often extending beyond the concept of forces of intervention, as seen in Cyprus, for example.

It is important to note the international context that has made this process of evolution possible. The end of the confrontation between the two superpowers has opened the way-at least so far-for an unprecedented degree of consensus on the Security Council. Traditionally, the members of the Security Council used their right of veto to prevent intervention on a number of occasions.

More recently, thanks to this new consensus, the Security Council has been able in the last few years to exercise an authority that is indeed recognized by the United Nations charter but that has until now existed only on paper.

It must be recognized that this process flies in the face of our preconceived notions about the nature of peacekeeping and how the international community should respond. Without wishing to launch into a terminological discourse, let me point out that the new concepts used by the Secretary-General in the agenda for peace each have a specific meaning. The term "peacemaking" refers to essentially diplomatic activities pursued to resolve a conflict, while "peace enforcement" is a situation where the international community uses force against a member state, as in the gulf war.

As you will see, Mr. Speaker, what complicates things a great deal is that an element of force is increasingly being introduced in the Security Council resolutions mandating peacekeeping operations and, in a way, changing them into peace enforcement operations. This is obviously the case with Somalia and also with Bosnia.

The effects of these changes on the United Nations are obvious. The UN suddenly finds itself in a position where it must manage operations involving over 68,000 soldiers worldwide. This increase has had a profound impact on the cost of peacekeeping. Canada's assessed peacekeeping contributions, for example, have remained at a steady 3.11 per cent of the total UN peacekeeping budget in the past five years. In absolute terms, however, Canada's contributions have risen from $10 million to $12 million in 1991-92 to some $130 million today. That is a substantial contribution, which requires us to think and very closely review the commitments we must make in this field; we shall pay very close attention to any suggestions parliamentarians make to us in this House during this debate. Clearly, the UN does not have the human, financial or technical resources for this task.

To make up this shortfall, the UN is relying more and more on regional organizations such as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organization of American States, and the Organization for African Unity. This co-operation between the UN and regional organizations was foreseen in the charter of the UN,

but its extent in practice is new. Here again, I would like the House to inform us of its views on the implications of this trend.

The sharp rise in the number of peace missions has brought many challenges with it. First of all, there are political challenges, as the international community is increasingly taking on responsibility for situations that, just a short time ago, were confined to the internal affairs of the states involved. Then there are military challenges, as we see a demand-which is growing constantly, and at an exponential rate-for soldiers adequately trained and equipped for missions as dangerous as they are complex. I will not hide the fact that, because our Canadian soldiers are very competent and very well trained, they are in demand worldwide. As soon as there is a request at the UN for a new peace force, people spontaneously think of Canadians and ask them to participate in these peace efforts. I am talking about challenges: political challenges and military challenges; but I am also talking about the financial challenges created by operations with personnel numbering in the tens of thousands, rather than the few thousands of yesteryear.

To meet these new challenges, the UN and its member countries will have to thoroughly review the way peacekeeping operations are managed.

At the national level, we will have to be ever more critical about the commitments we make, and especially about how we determine to make such commitments.

At the international level, it is urgent that the UN's capacity to respond quickly and professionally to crises be reinforced.

Canada responds generously to requests for experts by the United Nations and regional organizations. The Secretary-General's military advisor is a Canadian, General Baril, and many other Canadians have been made available to the United Nations and the CSCE. We pay our financial contributions in full and on time and have submitted to the Secretary-General recommendations on making the UN structure more effective.

We are determined to increase this effort and to exercise the leadership that other countries expect from us in this field.

I would say that the Canadian men and women serving under the United Nations banner are saving lives and relieving misery. None of us will forget the poignant images of the soldiers who aided the helpless victims in a hospital in Bosnia. It is also clear their living conditions are increasingly dangerous. Here another picture comes to mind, that of the 11 Canadian soldiers threatened by Serbian troops near Sarajevo last month.

Events in Bosnia are thus very much in the public eye. The powerful images of the suffering of the Bosnian people and the challenge facing our troops have became an integral part of the evening news. However we must look beyond these images to the larger questions which Bosnia poses.

These questions, I submit, fall into two categories: the future of our commitment to the UN effort in Bosnia itself and the implications of this episode for our peacekeeping policy generally. These are the questions with which the government is now wrestling. The views of the House and of the public generally are of critical importance to our deliberations.

In discussing events in Bosnia we must bear in mind certain factors that have guided our actions to date. To begin with, we must recognize that there are two relatively distinct operations taking place in the former Yugoslavia. Though both are taking place under the banner of one UN operation, the United Nations protection force, they are quite different in terms of the activities under way and the dangers they face.

First, in Croatia our peacekeepers are engaged in a relatively traditional UN operation. There are two distinct sides and they have agreed to respect a stable ceasefire line while they are negotiating over a permanent settlement to their differences. While these negotiations are in progress the two sides have asked the UN to provide an international force to monitor the ceasefire and patrol the line. The situation is relatively stable though that stability is highly dependent upon events in Bosnia. I could say-and I am sure the Minister of Defence will expand on this-our troops there are not at high risk. This is peacekeeping as we understand it and have practised it for several decades.

Second, in Bosnia however the situation is radically different. There is no ceasefire and there are certainly no lines. Even the desire to negotiate seems to be lacking. In these circumstances the UN Security Council has mandated our forces to engage in assisting in the provision of humanitarian relief to the civilians caught in the middle of the conflict and in providing protection through a small military presence in Srebrenica, a UN designated safe area.

Our actions in Srebrenica are a perfect example of the evolution of peacekeeping to which I referred earlier. It remains an environment in which the peacekeepers require the permission of the parties to the conflict to go about their duties.

The task in Bosnia is an infinitely more difficult and dangerous one than that which our peacekeepers have traditionally faced. In addition to the dangers of simply operating in a war zone, we must face the fact that some of the factions do not always want the humanitarian aid to get through.

For all of these dangers it has been argued however that the UN force is making a critical contribution. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Red Cross have confirmed that aid is getting through. People who would otherwise be dead

are alive today. Canadian troops have played a vital role in this effort and continue to do so.

Beyond this humanitarian effort it is often pointed out that Canada's presence in Bosnia has served to demonstrate our continuing commitment to act with our NATO allies in the promotion of European security. It also demonstrates to the world that Canada is a nation which is prepared to carry out its international obligations under difficult circumstances, while others are merely willing to offer advice from the sidelines.

At the same time serious questions must be asked as we debate our continuing participation in these UN forces. Is there a reasonable prospect of any progress in the peace process in the foreseeable future? Will sufficient humanitarian aid continue to get through? At what point will the dangers to our troops outweigh the benefits of our presence there?

Concerning the first question, I am in constant communication with my colleagues who also have many troops in the region. I have spoken today with the French minister of foreign affairs about the situation and I intend in the coming days to speak with Secretary Hurd who has just returned from Bosnia and who will give us a personal evaluation of the situation on the ground. France, Great Britain and Canada are the three countries that have contributed the most troops in the region. It is clear that we will want to co-ordinate our efforts.

We think that the only solution is a negotiated solution. We think it is essential that we pressure the factions to come to a negotiated solution. We will increase our diplomatic efforts in order to put pressure on those who are the natural friends of the factions so that those who are in a better position than others can speak to the Serbs, the Croats, the Muslims, can convince them that the only solution is a negotiated peace, not prolonging the war.

And I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that beyond the military operations involved in peacekeeping or in escorting humanitarian convoys, we will strive unceasingly through diplomatic channels to find a solution to this conflict.

I would like to refer briefly to the recent NATO summit where the question of the dangers faced by our troops was the subject of much debate. In particular the topic of air strikes as a means of relieving the pressures on our troops was prominent in major reports of the summit.

Because some confusion seems to exist in the public mind I would like to take advantage of this timely opportunity to clarify the government position on the subject of air strikes and our understanding of the procedures in place for their authorization. I hope these clarifications will be helpful not only to members of Parliament and the public at large but will also be beneficial to the press that have made some comments in this regard which I felt were sometimes out of context.

Essentially there are two distinct scenarios for air strikes. The first envisages the case where UN troops are directly under attack. In this specific case NATO agreed in June that the commander of the UNPROFOR could call on the UN Secretary- General to authorize an air strike to assist UN troops where they are under attack.

The fact that the UN Secretary-General would be the ultimate authority for an air strike under these conditions was insisted upon by Canada in view of the highly charged political considerations which would surround such decisions. There would be no debate within NATO before the strike was carried out as time would be of the essence.

We agree with this procedure. We think it is appropriate that if our troops are under attack we should be able to respond. An air strike under these circumstances might be necessary and we are fully in agreement with this.

The second type of air strike would be intended to remove an obstacle to UNPROFOR's performance of its duties in circumstances where there was no direct threat to UNPROFOR troops. The proposed air strike would thus be less time urgent. Under these circumstances the commander of UNPROFOR would submit a request for such an air strike to the Secretary-General of the United Nations who must give his authorization as in the first case. The request would also be discussed in the North Atlantic Council of NATO. The North Atlantic Council must agree to support the request.

The North Atlantic Council operates by means of consensus. Therefore no decision to launch an air strike under these circumstances could be made unless all allies agreed to it. Canada's position on this question is well known and would guide our representative to the North Atlantic Council in such debate.

We have said and we repeat that in the second case we do not believe that an air strike would be conducive to solving current situations. In fact we have said on numerous occasions that air strikes should be the last resort. We believe the use of an air strike could jeopardize the humanitarian aid process and put our soldiers in great danger.

We want it abundantly clear that obviously this is a decision that would have to be discussed and agreed to within NATO by unanimous consent, including obviously the acceptance by Canada.

We have said that the only reason we would agree to such use of air strikes would be if our military people were telling us that it was okay to go ahead with it. It would be done only with the acceptance and recommendation of our military officers.

With respect to the second broad issue before us, the implications of Bosnia for our peacekeeping policy generally, it would seem that events in Bosnia provide a clear example of what I have been saying about the way in which peacekeeping is developing.

We must recognize the decisions we make regarding the continuation of our commitment to UN operations in Bosnia must be taken in the context of our considerations of Canada's willingness to remain involved in the broadening range of peacekeeping activities.

My remarks have been intended to raise several questions, questions about the future of peacekeeping generally and questions about the related subject of our future in Bosnia. In the immediate terms, the government must make a decision about the future of our commitment in Bosnia. We want to hear the views of this House on that subject.

As for the longer term issue of Canada's peacekeeping policy generally, we intend to consult with individual Canadians as part of the ongoing review of our foreign and defence policies. The parliamentary committee on foreign affairs will be asked to make suggestions and recommendations on our foreign policies.

I understand that the minister of defence will ask the parliamentary committee on defence and security to do a similar study. I suspect that these two parliamentary committees will hear witnesses, will travel throughout the country and will seek advice and opinions from Canadians on the evolution and revisions of our foreign policy and our defence policy. Therefore I am sure that the parliamentary committees in the general context of peacekeeping operations will certainly want to pursue debate and discussion and give advice to the government.

On the more immediate question of whether or not in March we should stay in Bosnia or leave is one on which we would ask parliamentarians to express their views today because this is a decision the government will have to make in the coming weeks. We will want to make this decision having assessed all the aspects as I indicated in my earlier remarks. We will obviously make a decision after having consulted with our allies. It is important to realize that Canada is playing a very important role through the UN and a very important role through NATO and such a decision cannot be taken in isolation.

I am pleased to move this motion today, seconded by my colleague, the Minister of National Defence, calling for a debate on peacekeeping. In particular, the government seeks the view of this House in two general areas: Canada's future in peacekeeping and our future commitment to Bosnia.

Although we are very much interested in knowing the views of members about Canada's future in peacekeeping, there will be other occasions to talk about it at a later date, but it might be the last occasion to express their views on our future commitment to Bosnia before a decision is made by the government. Therefore I invite members to express openly, candidly and in a very constructive way their advice and suggestions in this regard. We are open to advice. It is a difficult decision and we welcome their input in this debate.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec


Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all the members of the Official Opposition I would like to thank the government for deciding to hold this debate in the House. It will I am convinced be a non-partisan debate, enabling us to clarify our own and everyone else's thinking, so that we can make a decision that is in accord with our most fundamental interests.

I think debates like this one should be repeated from time to time, when the subject lends itself to such an approach. I would like to say that for our part we have thought very seriously about the matter. We do not claim to have the answer, we have approached it modestly. Our remarks today will reflect our awareness for the hard reality, the complexity, of an issue that demands a very difficult decision.

To the extent that we can assist the government in making a decision that accords with our fundamental interests, we will do it in all sincerity. We are therefore delighted to have this opportunity to participate in the debate.

The government, we feel, would like the whole Canadian policy on peacekeeping to be debated, not just the current intervention in the former Yugoslavia, even though the latter is expressly referred to in the wording.

But no one can be ignorant of the fact that it is the questions raised by the Bosnian intervention that have led to today's debate. In a way, it was inevitable that the concerns provoked by such a challenging mission would result in questions about Canada's peacekeeping role.

So there we have the framework for the rethinking process in which we are called upon to participate: on the one hand we must tackle a thorny question of immediate and urgent concern, and on the other we must define attitudes for the future. Although the two matters are connected, it does not follow that future Canadian policy must be based solely on our experience in Yugoslavia.

This is not Canada's first involvement in peacekeeping operations, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs has reminded us. We pioneered this type of mission. We have acquired experience

and expertise in the field that are respected by the whole world. But what is happening in Yugoslavia is without any real precedent. The apparent futility of our efforts, the risks our soldiers are running, the astronomical figures that have circulated about the costs of the operation and the daunting complexity of the political and military situation there have shaken the support that public opinion has traditionally given this type of commitment.

So we must take into account the difficulties faced by our mission in Bosnia especially, at the side of the other members of the peacekeepers. But if our decision is to be broadly and solidly based, we cannot lose our general perspective on the peacekeeping role Canada has assumed. This perspective is much more extensive in time and space than the one episode in the former Yugoslavia.

I would like here to pay heart-felt tribute to the courage and dignity with which our soldiers are carrying out the difficult duties entrusted to them overseas. They deserve our admiration and our complete support. And let us spare a thought for those who here in Canada are enduring trying times because of their anxiety for loved ones far away.

We must bear in mind that before they started being perceived as a thorn in the flesh of our diplomacy and our foreign commitments, as they are today, Canada's peace missions were, like CIDA, a great source of pride for Canadians and Quebecers. The disinterested and humanitarian nature of our international interventions was hailed again and again. And did not the architect of Canada's peacekeeping role win the Nobel prize?

Indeed, more than anyone, Lester B. Pearson symbolized this acceptance of one's moral obligations, which is one of the duties of a democratic country. That is an aspect we must bear in mind when deciding, for example, whether we must stay on in Bosnia-Hercegovina, or withdraw and then establish criteria to govern any future participation.

Another aspect of peace missions we must not ignore is their great diversity. What exactly do we mean when we talk about international missions carried out by Canadian soldiers under UN mandates? We must avoid simplifications: in fact, this involves a whole range of varied, and indeed disparate, actions and interventions.

For 30 years, from 1949 to 1979, Canada maintained 27 soldiers in order to monitor the ceasefire in Kashmir. Canada committed 9,000 soldiers to go to war in Korea from 1951 to 1954; since that time it has kept only one on the spot to monitor the armistice agreements. Canada assigned 248 soldiers to monitor the demilitarized zone during the Vietnam war. Canada sent an observer mission under UN auspices to monitor the election that, on December 16, 1990, brought to power President Aristide, who visited us yesterday. In 1991, Canada sent 55 soldiers to monitor disarmament and human rights observance in El Salvador. In 1991-92, Canada sent 103 soldiers to help clear mines in Cambodia. Then Canada doubled the personnel assisting the UN to disarm factions that had been at war for years. Most recently, Canada sent a contingent to co-ordinate the delivery of food in Somalia, last year.

Canada has participated in 44 of the operations the United Nations has organized since the end of World War II. It has been said that we have played the role of boy scouts; this is a picturesque term, but I feel that it casts a pejorative light on a remarkable effort by Canada on the international scene, an effort that must not be minimized.

During those 44 operations, 98 Canadian lives were lost, including the eight deaths occurring in the former Yugoslavia. Canada lost 25 soldiers during the 30 years it was present on Cyprus. But the place in which Canada lost the most soldiers was the Middle East: 46 in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Syria.

And what about the costs? Theoretically, our share should be 3.1 per cent of expenditures; that is a percentage based on the GDP, population and, lastly, a complex weighting of factors. But, in fact, there are no set standards, because mandates change with situations and with the nature of agreements. On Cyprus, Canada alone paid the price; in the former Yugoslavia, theoretically-and I stress the word theoretically; we are well aware that this is unlikely to happen in the near future-the UN will reimburse Canada for a portion of the costs. Incidentally, many far-fetched figures on the costs of the operation in Bosnia have been bandied about. In particular, the figure of $1 billion has been mentioned. I feel that that is a rather irresponsible, I would even say a very irresponsible, way of providing information, since the true figure is nowhere near that sum. It is still a sizeable sum, of course, but we should be talking about less than $200 million in additional expenditures incurred there specifically, because the soldiers would have been paid and the equipment used here in any case. So if we are talking about a specific direct cost of our presence there, we should be talking about a figure closer to $160 million.

Thus, although our commitment in the former Yugoslavia was part of a continuing program, it very quickly gave signs of being radically different from previous commitments. The operation in Slovenia and Croatia really is a peacekeeping operation, since our troops are responsible for ensuring that peace agreements already reached are observed. But Bosnia clearly differs from the traditional model. There, we are right in a combat zone, stuck between belligerents. How can we ensure that peace reigns in a land where peace does not exist and where all ceasefires have been violated? That is where things have deteriorated; in particular, the whole world has witnessed, through the unbear-

able images broadcast on television, atrocities that we thought were no longer possible at the end of the 20th century.

The perceived justification of our mission there has been very much influenced by the world situation.

It is horror-stricken that we have witnessed and are still witnessing children much like our own dying in the streets, injured left to die in hospitals without care and without necessities. The world had come to hope for a new order which would not lead us to expect atrocities such as those we have seen once again in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

The fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989 provoked a euphoria as sudden as it was unexpected. On December 31, 1989, von Karajan went to what, for 42 years, was known as East Berlin to conduct Beethoven's Ninth. It was like living in a dream: Vaclav Havel had just crowned the velvet revolution in Prague, "solidarnosc" was on its way to power in Warsaw and Hungary was once again free. The Warsaw pact had just crumbled like a pack of cards, after more than 40 years of dullness and dictatorship. All this happened at the end of 1989; it happened, and this cannot be over-emphasized, without bloodshed, without a single gun being fired.

As everyone else, I felt I was a witness to historic events, I felt a certain amount of pride at seeing some ideals such as liberty and democracy make giant leaps. Eighteen months later, Boris Yelstin was waving a three coloured Russian flag on top of a tank. The USSR had just collapsed.

As soon as the cold war ended, we started thinking about creating new institutions to take over, to mark out what was soon called the new world order. In particular, all the European countries, the United States and Canada formed the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe designed, in the words of the then Secretary of State James Baker, as a new forum to ensure peace and dialogue from Vancouver to Vladivostok.

What remains today of this burning hope for a new world? Of course, the Czech republic, Poland and Hungary seem on the right track. However, Russia seems to be failing. Then on our TV screens, we witnessed the tragic war in the former Yugoslavia, which has been going on for the last two years.

In this new world order, one expected international law to be enforced. The relations between states would not be governed exclusively by the mere balance of power. The strong would no longer be able to bring the weak to their knees. The new order became reality once, in the winter of 1991, when Kuwait was defended against Iraqi invasion. Cynics have said there was something underground in Kuwait that seemed to be as valuable as the people living on the surface, and perhaps more valuable.

In Bosnia-Hercegovina there are three communities: the Muslims, the Serbs and the Croats. The first are the descendants of Slavs who converted to Islam after the Ottoman conquest, some 500 years ago. So these are three very ancient communities, with equally deep roots in the same soil. Demographically the Muslims are the largest segment of the population with 1.9 million inhabitants or 44 per cent, followed by the Serbs at 31 per cent and the Croats at 17 per cent. But unlike the other two groups-and this is no small detail-the Muslims cannot count on a sizeable community of fellows in a neighbouring republic.

After Slovenia and Croatia became independent, neither the Muslims nor the Croats in Bosnia wanted to stay in a reduced Yugoslavia where Serb predominance would be still greater. They called for the independence of Bosnia-Hercegovina in late February 1992. The Bosnian Serbs refused to be part of this new state.

If the Serbs had been content to fortify their position and mark out a territory for themselves where they formed a majority, we would have seen a political impasse that would probably have led to long and laborious negotiations. But unfortunately that was not what happened. The Bosnian Serbs were quickly able, with the assistance of the Yugoslav army, a relatively well-equipped force dominated by Serbs, to take control of 70 per cent of the territory in Bosnia-Hercegovina, including territories where they were only a tiny minority, to expel the non-Serbs systematically, especially the Muslims, and even to execute a certain number of them.

We can all recall the internment-camp stories that held the headlines in the summer of 1992. A number of these camps still exist today. Moreover, cultural and religious symbols have been systematically blown up, including 16th century mosques that were part of the world's shared heritage, and houses often burned to the ground.

In reaction, and this is the spiral, the same treatment has been inflicted by the Muslims on the Serbs and the Croats and by the Croats on the Serbs, obviously on a smaller scale.

A journalist from the Paris daily Le Monde , Yves Heller, summed up the situation nicely on October 1 last, and I quote: The Muslims, who are the victims of anethnic cleansing'' of unspeakable savagery, have lost very large territories in western Bosnia which the Serbs have conquered with extreme brutality-''

We know today that "cleansing" was discussed in the corridors of power in Belgrade, capital of Serbia, at the end of the eighties.

Judging by the history of the last century, each of the three communities nurtures historic grievances against the two others. It is not for us to allocate blame. But there is no denying that in 1992 and 1993 a concerted strategy was methodically implemented which reminds us in many ways-I say this with great sadness because, like the majority of people in the west, I thought we would never again witness such barbarity-which reminds us of what other peoples, including the Serbs themselves, suffered at the hands of Hitler's troops.

And all this occurred in a region only a few hours away from Venice by car.

We must remember this today and remember also that this is the judgment of the whole international community. The Europeans recognized Bosnia-Hercegovina's independence on April 6, 1992; the United States followed suit the day after and Bosnia was admitted to the United Nations on May 22, 1992. The majority in a legitimate country was attacked by a national minority receiving substantial help from a neighbouring country. This majority should have enjoyed the protection of the United Nations charter, but such was not the case.

The recognized representatives of Bosnia have asked repeatedly for international help, but to no avail. What is the difference between Iraq annexing Kuwait and the Bosnian Serbs annexing a substantial portion of a recognized country?

The United Nations did not vigorously come to Bosnia's aid, but it did name the aggressor. On May 30, 1992, the Security Council imposed a commercial, oil and air embargo on Serbia and Montenegro. On October 9, the Security Council excluded Serbian aircraft from Bosnia's air space, and on December 1, the Human Rights Commission in Geneva used for the first time the term "genocide" and condemned the policy of ethnic cleansing applied by the Serbian leaders in Bosnia and Croatia. That is as clear as one can get.

It would not be fair to say that the United Nations have been totally indifferent. They have managed to take control of the airport at Sarajevo in order to use it for transporting humanitarian aid. The 30,000 or so peacekeepers have deployed throughout Bosnia manage, despite being harassed by the different factions, in transporting part of the aid destined for Muslim or Croat towns besieged by the Serbs and in some cases by the Muslims, thereby affording them a partial but indispensable relief. And six Muslim enclaves are under the protection of the United Nations. Thus, in Srebrenica, 150 Canadian peacekeepers stand between the 45,000 people who are crammed into the town and the hostile Serbian environment.

But the United Nations protection forces have spoken out. They say they are incapable of carrying out the missions they are assigned for lack of sufficient means. On the other hand, negotiations between the warring factions are bogged down; peace seems more remote than ever. Therefore, should we stay?

The easy thing would be to throw our hands up, pack up our bags and leave but this is not the way Canada earned its well deserved reputation abroad as a steady peacemaker willing to walk the extra mile in the name of peace.

Admittedly we are testing uncharted waters but we are in a new world. We rejoiced at the end of the cold war. The world is now in a state of flux and it would be unseemly of us to give up at this juncture.

France in Bosnia has shouldered a heavier burden than Canada and has paid the price with 18 dead men and 269 wounded. France seems willing to stay. It is going too far to say that there is no peacemaking whatsoever in Bosnia. There are six protected Muslim enclaves surrounded by Serbs with nothing standing between them and the Serbs but peacemakers. The peace is kept even if it is a peculiar kind of peace.

There have been 150 Canadians who have preserved 45,000 Muslims in Srebrenica from the ghastly treatment meted out to so many Muslims.

Now what will happen? This is the question we have to ask. What would happen if all peacekeepers left Bosnia? We should never forget to answer this question. First, the enclaves would be submerged in a very short time with the exception probably of Sarajevo. Second, the Serbs would be targeting more strategic towns and villages in the hope of breaking the backbone of the Bosnia resistance. Third, the Croats in central Bosnia would have to run for their lives. In short it would be all out war and all out ethnic cleansing.

The men in the peacekeepers act also as our eyes and our ears on the field. They justify and complete the other measures which have been carried out by the international community. Suppose they all leave at the end of their present mandate which expires at the end of March. We would have to suspend the arms embargo against Bosnia. Not doing so would be cold blooded cruelty. However, then how could we justify keeping operation Deny Flight which forbids Bosnian skies to the Serb air force?

It would really be all out war with the very real possibility of sucking in, in a much deeper fashion, allies from both camps such as Russia and Turkey who are already in the backstage. Then the Balkans would then really live up to their history.

In fact all these measures have been enacted to scale down the level of Serb aggression. As far as they go they are intended to protect the Bosnian Muslims. To turn our back on one of these measures, namely the UN forces on the ground, is to begin the unravelling of the whole patchwork. It is not an idea that is well thought out.

However, can things continue as they are now? Can we tolerate the harassment and the kidnapping of peacekeepers? No, we should not. We should give them clear engagement rules and not timid ones. We should give them the military means to do their job. If the United Nations wants to play a meaningful role in that part of the world then it must get its act together.

The biggest morale booster for the UN forces would be the knowledge that they are not bogged down in some indefinite stalemate. There must be movement at the negotiating table. This is not for us but really for the parties involved to decide.

The truth is that the Prime Minister was imprudent, to say the least, when, as he was leaving Brussels at the beginning of the month, he mentioned the possibility of a unilateral withdrawal of Canada's peace mission to Bosnia. Whatever we decide, we must act in concert with our allies. Canada must not breach the solidarity pact that it has wisely, generously and courageously built over the years with our partners and friends of the North Atlantic council.

Second, to let down a civilian population whose survival, until now, has been secured largely through our presence and our aid, and to let it fend for itself in utter deprivation and insecurity, would go against our interpretation of our humanitarian obligations.

Third, we ourselves could not tolerate the sight of the massacres that would almost certainly befall the Bosnian people, as our retreat would likely start a chain reaction. Public opinion among our allies and friends would draw serious conclusions from such a decision. After setting an example of commitment and compassion, we would then set an example of disengagement and indifference. It is to be feared that others would follow in our footsteps in this second option as they did in the first one.

Finally, the maintenance of the peacekeeping forces in the former Yugoslavia affords us our only guarantee that the conflict will be contained inside the territory where it is already raging. If the peacekeeping forces were withdrawn, the hostilities could then spread unabated to Macedonia and Greece and eventually ignite the Balkan powder keg. But if we decide to stay, we must take steps to see to the safety of our troops, which means increasing our defence and intervention capabilities.

The peacekeepers must stay, as must Canada, even more so, if we wish to see the Bosnian conflict end around the negotiation table rather than on the battlefield, with violence and massacres. It is up to us really to decide if this tragedy will be resolved through force or through reason.

It is imperative then for the future that we set the guidelines that will dictate our actions. Once in position, it is usually too late to consider a withdrawal. Those guidelines must be defined with the help of military, diplomatic and other experts. I hope the government in its upcoming white paper on defence will set forth an analytical plan that we can study thoroughly. But for the moment, the main thing to do is to keep in mind that we must continue, insofar as our capabilities allow it, to fulfil our fair share of the obligations that result from our allegiance to the values of democracy, peace and justice, values which, given their universality, deserve our efforts to further them abroad.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.


Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise you that in this debate Reform speakers will be dividing their time into 10 minutes segments, allowing five minutes for questions and comments.

To begin I would like to join my colleagues in congratulating the Speaker on his election, you on your appointment as Deputy Speaker and assure both of you of my full co-operation in this House in the days to come.

In this my maiden speech I want to speak briefly of my constituency, Saanich-Gulf Islands, in beautiful British Columbia. Our southern border takes in a substantial portion Victoria, the garden city of Canada. Moving northward up the Saanich peninsula we encounter a delightful mix of farms and seaside towns and villages; urban convenience in an idyllic rural environment.

Finally, it includes the southern Gulf Islands often referred to as the jewels in the crown of Canada's west coast. Here one will find some of the best fishing and sailing in the world.

In August this year the eyes of the world will be focused on the 15th Commonwealth Games activities, many of which will take place within our boundaries.

During the election the returning officer informed me that in respect to population, Saanich-Gulf Islands is the second largest constituency in British Columbia and the 10th largest in Canada. During the interval between the 1988 and the 1993 elections the number of eligible voters grew from 77,000 to over 93,000 representing 125,000 constituents. In fact, I believe I am now the proud representative of a goodly number of Canadians who were previously resident in the constituencies of many of the other members of this House.

Perhaps because of the variety of their origins I have found my constituents to be intelligent, well-informed and patriotic Canadians, very much representative of our whole country. I thank them for entrusting their representation to me and pledge my best efforts in fulfilling that very serious obligation.

Moving to this debate on Bosnia, I want to acknowledge the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, both of whom made members of their departments available to brief us on the situation in and around Bosnia. I

thank them for responding so quickly and co-operatively to our request.

Furthermore we agree with the government's stated position on air strikes. In our view, as soon as an air strike takes place the peacekeepers and helmets of the UN take on the same colour as the helmet of the pilot who delivered the ordinance. They will be deemed to have taken sides, to have become antagonists and thus appropriate targets. Air strikes should only be authorized if UN forces are under or in direct danger of attack.

Our thanks also go to Major General Lewis MacKenzie, former Canadian commander in the area who took time to come and give us his firsthand impressions and viewpoint of the situation in Bosnia.

At the start I want to recognize the excellence of the Canadian forces personnel we have committed in the former Yugoslavia. These troops are well trained, well disciplined, well motivated and well able to carry out any reasonable task assigned to them. They have earned and deserve our respect and admiration.

They have also earned and deserve our informed consideration for their future involvement in the convoluted situation to which they are presently committed. In Bosnia we face deeply held differences between Serbs, Croats and Muslims who, although they enjoy a common ethnicity, are now radically and violently divided, in fact opposed. Make no mistake, none of the belligerents have clean hands; all have been involved in atrocities against the others.

Canada has a proud tradition of involvement in peacekeeping operations. It has cost more than 140 lives and many more injuries over the years but in the main I believe most Canadians have supported this commitment. However, the feedback I am now receiving from my constituents reveals their concern with the present Canadian involvement in Bosnia. They worry that Canadian lives are being put at risk in what they perceive to be a questionable cause. They wonder, if the people of Bosnia show no inclination to put aside their differences and find a peaceful resolution of their problems, is Canada helping to end or merely perpetuating this unhappy situation?

Canadians were committed to Bosnia to provide humanitarian aid, and despite the difficulties, dangers and frustrations encountered, by and large they have succeeded in their mission. But let it be well understood, this is not a peacekeeping mission, because there is no peace to keep. Rather our forces are observing and operating in and around a civil war, in the full sense of the word.

Canada presently has more armed forces deployed in theatres of operations than at any time since the Korean war. We are stretching our resources, particularly the infantry, to the limit, to the extent that should another incident such as Oka arise, it could very well be beyond the capacity of our armed forces to adequately respond.

However, the size of the Canadian forces and the tasks assigned them should await the outcome of the forthcoming defence review. On this point, Reformers commend the government on its decision to conduct this study. It is long overdue.

But a decision on Canadian involvement in the former Yugoslavia cannot await finalization of the defence review. The end of our present commitment in Bosnia is rapidly approaching and we must soon take a stand. It seems to me that Canada has only two options: first, to stay and prepare for a long-lasting involvement in the region; or second, to take the initiative by demanding that the belligerents commit to achievable, measurable and enforceable progress toward a peaceful resolution.

In this second instance Canada would further state that failing such commitment Canadian forces will be withdrawn from the theatre.

If our studies and briefings have done nothing else they have clearly shown us there are no easy solutions. By staying involved we are alleviating the suffering of tens of thousands of civilians. At the same time, inescapably, we are supplying the fighting forces and enabling or even assisting them to continue the war. Our presence is diminishing the fighting, but children are still being maimed and killed, women raped, and the general population indiscriminately bombarded. So increased hatred is continually being bred.

Conversely a withdrawal by the UN would unleash the opposing forces, prompting the likelihood of an increase in hostilities and, in some instances, a blood bath. Furthermore, it would enhance the danger that this war could extend beyond its present boundaries. We are damned if we do and damned if we don't. Which way do we go?

It strikes me, and I admit that my background as a fighter pilot may be influencing my reasoning, that some action is better than none. While we do not know what the outcome will be, it may be time for Canada to be hard-nosed, saying to the belligerents: "If you are not willing to make some concessions and compromises toward a peaceful resolution of the war, we are going to withdraw and leave you to it."

If such a declaration were delivered it would be stronger if it came in the name of all UN forces in the theatre. However, considering Canada's reputation as a peacekeeper, a threat of unilateral Canadian withdrawal would unquestionably draw world attention and hopefully impact strongly on Serb, Croat and Muslim leaders.

If this were to be our decision, it must be made absolutely clear that Canada is not withdrawing because the going is rough. Canadians have demonstrated their mettle in two world wars, the Korean war and many peacekeeping actions over the years. They have demonstrated it in Bosnia. Our forces have clearly indicated their willingness to remain involved. Continuing along our present path seems to give little hope of a peaceful settlement. Rather it gives every indication of a commitment to remain and observe the civil war for many years to come.

The belligerents met in Geneva to talk on January 18 and 19, but proceedings collapsed. More talks are scheduled in Geneva on February 10. I submit that it is time for Canada to take the lead by hosting a conference here in Ottawa in early February, before that Geneva meeting, to include all countries with forces currently committed in the former Yugoslavia. At this conference, Canada should urge that the UN issue a clear and unequivocal ultimatum to the belligerents. Either accept moves to achieve and enforceable peaceful solution or accept the withdrawal of UN forces.

Should the conference not agree, Canada should state that unless definite progress toward peace happens in Bosnia prior to then, it is our intention to withdraw our troops in April when our current commitment is completed.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.


Benoît Tremblay Bloc Rosemont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to understand the comments made by my colleague from Saanich-Gulf Islands, particularly when he says that the people involved in this conflict share the same ethnicity, while we know they have followed quite different historical paths over the last 500 years. It is precisely the federal state imposed upon them at some point which has collapsed in the new international context. Their situation has been widely aknowledged by the United Nations which recognized Bosnia's independence; and the search for some form of agreement is at the heart of the peace efforts. Withdrawal at this juncture in the crisis would quite simply result in the virtual elimination of the Bosnians. I cannot understand the member's reasoning. I wish he would try to explain it to me.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.


Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, if we go back far enough in the origins of the area, we find that all the residents are basically Slavs. Over the years, they have been affected by outside influences which have caused them to go in different directions to different religions. When I referred to their common ethnicity, I meant going back a long way. Obviously there are substantial and very violent differences between them at the moment. The fact that Bosnia was recognized has been considered by some to have been a mistake, that in fact the outcome which has happened was inevitable.

It is my understanding the Muslims are acquiring quite a heavy weapon stock so we are soon likely to see an increase in armed activity on their side. While the disparity of the surrounding nations unquestionably bears on the numbers of Serbs around, I think within Bosnia itself the Muslims will be able to make a rather good account of themselves should it come to that. I hope very much that it does not.

Unless the world, and Canada in particular, takes a stance which involves the requirement for these people to accommodate, to concede, to compromise in the Canadian tradition, that nothing will happen and we will see the thing go on forever.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to question the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands with respect to the position that he has taken.

I returned a few days ago from Croatia myself. I met not only with UN commanders there but also with our Canadian troops both in sector south and elsewhere. Our troops are profoundly opposed to the suggestion that Canada would simply give notice that we would pull out after the mandate expires at the end of March.

It is their position that this would result in an incredible increase in the level of bloodshed and violence and that the very important humanitarian work they are doing in helping to bring in and escort NGOs and bringing in food and medicine would be profoundly jeopardized. Many innocent people would die and would starve.

In view of the concerns of our people and NGOs on the ground and the United Nations about this proposal, what exactly is the member suggesting in terms of compromises and concessions? He said that all parties should make compromises and concessions.

The Bosnian Serbs and Radovan Karadzic have been very clear. They control 70 per cent of the territory of Bosnia-Hercegovina. They are about a third of the population. What concessions are they prepared to make now?

If Canada simply gives notice that we are going to pull out and other United Nations troops pull out as well then not only will they consolidate their position but quite clearly it seems to me that the risk of widespread bloodshed, destruction and starvation is far greater.

My second brief question is this. What about Croatia? What is the hon. member suggesting with respect to the role of the UN in Croatia?