That this House take note and welcome the recent Dayton peace agreement and the international community's continued efforts to bring enduring peace and security to the Balkans, and Canadian support of these efforts by participation in a multinational military implementation force (IFOR) under NATO command.
Mr. Speaker, the announcement on November 21 that the leaders of Bosnia, Hercegovina, Serbia and Croatia had reached a formal agreement on peace has provided a glimmer of hope not seen in the Balkans for a long time.
After four years of bitter fighting, internecine strife and degradation, we have seen the parties come together to try to effect a peace settlement. It is now time for all of them to step out of the shadow of war. They are not there yet. A lot of work has to be done. Although we have an agreement on paper, the challenge is to ensure that the agreement is properly enforced.
A NATO led peace implementation force authorized by the United Nations will be the key to the next stage of the peace process. Its most important job will be to ensure compliance among the warring parties on the ground with the military aspects of the agreement. Without this force, the agreement runs a serious risk of collapsing.
Our task today is not to debate a possible Canadian involvement in the Balkan peace implementation force. Our task today is to debate the nature and the form of that commitment. Canada is by no means legally bound to send any troops to assist NATO in a given mission. Nothing in the NATO treaty legally binds us to such a contribution. However, we have a moral obligation to participate in this newly expanded NATO operation and this new operation will demonstrate the relevance of NATO in the post cold war era.
In the white paper published last spring following the consultations of the joint parliamentary committee on national defence and the foreign affairs committee, we made a commitment to continue our involvement in NATO. We believe that we have an obligation when all of our allies in NATO are agreeing to participate in this force to be there with them, shoulder to shoulder. The question is to what degree. Those are the views we would like to have from members today.
This is another example of how the government, led by the Prime Minister, has reverted to an earlier tradition of allowing Parliament to participate in the whole decision making process on how troops are deployed and how our foreign policy obligations are engaged.
We have had a number of debates in the last little while and I believe today's debate will be most significant.
Over the last four years, Canada has played a significant role in the international community's efforts to deal with the war in the former Yugoslavia. These efforts have been carried out primarily through the United Nations and NATO.
Canadian military personnel have helped prevent the conflict from spreading to other parts of the region and from becoming
even more brutal. They have also helped save countless lives by assisting in the delivery of humanitarian relief supplies and by preventing more massive assaults on civilian populations.
As always, our personnel have served with courage, dedication and professionalism.
Canada has a dedicated, professional and devoted armed forces. All Canadians know that and respect and appreciate them.
With the peace process now moving into a new phase, we believe that Canada should be there. The Canadian forces, contrary to the remarks of some of our critics, are ready to serve in that implementation force.
I need hardly remind members of the expertise and the experience of Canada worldwide in peacekeeping missions since 1947. We have an impressive record by anyone's standards.
Today I have two particular functions in the debate. The first is to briefly remind members of the great contribution Canada has made to peace operations in Yugoslavia in the last few years. That is what leads us to continue the march toward peace by becoming involved in the implementation force.
Second, I believe I am obliged to provide members with some information on the proposed implementation force.
Canada has taken a leading role in efforts to bring about a peaceful end to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and to provide relief to its victims.
In September 1991, Canada led the call for the UN Security Council to deal with these issues.
Canada also responded favourably to UN requests for Canadian Forces personnel to be deployed as part of a peace operation in the region.
Our military contribution was a mix of many elements of our land, sea and air combat capability.
On land, our contribution came to include a battalion group in Croatia, a battalion group in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a logistics battalion on the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia, as well as military observers and personnel for various headquarters positions.
Canada has contributed to NATO operations in the air, on the ground and on the sea in the no-fly area over Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Our ships have been off the Adriatic coast. Canadians have been in the various headquarters of the United Nations and have been involved with some NATO forces that have been deployed.
The mandate has evolved over the last four year. I will leave it to some of my colleagues to fill in the details of the great contribution that Canada has made in trying to stabilize the situation in Bosnia.
Canadian troops opened up the Sarajevo airport in 1992. Canadian troops were among the first to participate in the protection of humanitarian convoys in the fall of 1992. Canadians were the first to deploy in the former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia in what has been the only example of a successful preventive deployment by the UN. Canadians were there when they were asked to become involved.
Who could forget what Canadians did in the spring of 1993? Troops were sent to the tiny enclave of Srebrenica which was besieged by Bosnian Serb artillery and troops. They held out for months and months. They were followed by our Dutch friends in NATO before that terrible event occurred this summer which precipitated the outcry of people in the world and the international community that forced a change of tactics, a change of strategy, to become more robust in dealing with the flagrant disregard for international order. It spawned a very important initiative by the British Prime Minister in July in London and subsequently led to the American organized peace effort which has resulted in the peace implementation of today.
The United States has to be congratulated for the role it has taken in bringing the parties together, in overcoming so many differences and in getting us to the point where we can at last see a long term peace which is not too far ahead of us, provided we do the right things.
Canada has been in a number of operations. I will continue to refresh the memory of members. The Canadian Hercules aircraft were the lifeline into Sarajevo, Operation Air Bridge. I was in the cockpit of one of those planes when suddenly enemy radar fixed on us. As a civilian I was really scared that day, but the Canadian pilots in that plane said: "Don't worry, they are just testing our mettle. They won't dare shoot us down".
Every day for months Canadian air crews participated in bringing in needed supplies. It was the only flight into Sarajevo. It was ships of the Royal Canadian Navy that enforced the embargo, enforced the sanctions off the Adriatic coast. I had the opportunity to be on HMCS Iroquois , one of our destroyers in that area, to see the kind of work they did in successfully capping the flow of arms and other strategic goods into that country.
Finally, Canada also has been involved in reconnaissance work with Aurora patrol aircraft. Canadian crews have been on the NATO AWACS providing information and Canadians have been involved in Operation Deny Flight.
Canadians have been there. They know the terrain. They know the circumstances. They know the people. They know the culture. That is why it is logical for Canadians to be part of the international effort led by NATO to try to bring some order to this very difficult situation, to enforce a peace, to make sure that peace plan is implemented properly.
That agreement is very impressive. It has three elements to it which cover constitutional, territorial and military issues.
Constitutionally, Bosnia will remain a single state, whose boundaries will be those already recognized by the international community. It will be made up of two entities: the Muslim-Croat federation and the Bosnian Serb republic.
It will be a loosely structured union, whose presidency will alternate. The central government will be responsible for foreign policy, trade, customs, monetary policy and so on. The agreement is generally in keeping with the land division agreed to by the parties, that is to say 51/49 per cent in favour of the federation.
As far as Sarajevo is concerned, Bosnian Serbs are to transfer to the Bosnian government the suburbs currently under their control north and west of the city, thereby joining the city to the area controlled by the federation. A corridor 8 to 15 kilometres wide will link the safe area of Gorazde and Sarajevo.
On the military side, all foreign forces except UN troops are to withdraw within 30 days of the formal signing of the agreement, which will be in Paris later this month. This is a provision requested by the Bosnian government and it does include Croatian government forces. The agreement also calls for the withdrawal of all heavy weapons to barracks behind a four-kilometre zone of separation within 120 days.
Although the Bosnian-Serb leadership was not involved directly in the Serb negotiations, it was reported that the terms of agreement had been accepted. We see some nuances to that acceptance now playing out, but a deal is a deal and this deal will be enforced by the NATO led troops that will be sent.
This is an historic agreement, but future conflict cannot be ruled out. Let us not fool Canadians. This is a dangerous place. There are ambiguities in the peace accord and old antagonisms will not disappear overnight.
We believe that the NATO led peace implementation force is critical to the peace process. I would like to share with my colleagues a few details about the force.
NATO has already agreed and started to deploy the advance parties to its force, with the agreement of all parties concerned. By deploying these troops now, NATO will be in a position to start deploying its main forces very soon after the UN security council passes a resolution authorizing NATO to proceed with the implementation of the military aspects of the peace plan. I should state, to clear up any ambiguity which may arise in press reports, that there are 11 Canadians among the advance troops. These Canadians are among the hundreds which are seconded to NATO and, therefore, are obliged to be part of NATO operations.
There will be some Canadians on the ground, if not at this moment then very shortly, but within the context of the NATO commitment which is ongoing and to which we are a signatory under the NATO treaty. I emphasize that it is not the implementation force contribution that we are debating today.
The plans for the force have been debated. They have been provisionally approved by the North Atlantic Council and they will be given final approval after the security council resolution has been passed. This plan calls for 60,000 people to be part of the forces. It will be divided into three main divisions: the British, French and American command areas.
It is very crucial that we understand the objectives of the force. They are to ensure compliance with the military aspects of the peace agreement. In particular, the withdrawal of forces to the respective territories is set out in the agreement and the establishment of agreed lines of separation of those forces.
Second, UN forces currently deployed must be withdrawn. Third, other non-military tasks arising from the peace accord must be carried out. The UN, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe will join in carrying out civilians tasks.
This is an operation that will conduct its duties under chapter VII of the UN charter, which allows for the use of all necessary means to fulfil the mission, in other words, robust rules of engagement. I assure the House that the Canadian government will have the final say on all rules of engagement being used by Canadian forces.
Canada has contributed a lot in the last seven days to the development of these rules of engagement. In particular, I pay tribute to our military staff, led by the Chief of Defence Staff John de Chastelain, who last week with his NATO colleagues in Brussels hammered out the rules of conduct and the rules of engagement which reflect Canada's concerns.
I do not have to paint a graphic picture here. We have had considerable experience in difficult situations in the last few years. We have learned about the application of force, when it should be used, to whom and in what circumstances. I am pleased to say that those experiences were taken into account in the development of the rules of engagement for this protective force.
About 40,000 of the 60,000 troops will be provided by the United States, Great Britain and France. The Russians are also making a significant contribution. It is not just all the major powers. Middle powers like Canada will also be playing a role. Every one of our allies, except Iceland, which has no armed forces, will be participating.
Among the non-NATO nations, as I have indicated, Russia will be there. A Russian brigade will operate in the American sector under a Russian commander, who will report directly to the supreme allied commander of Europe, General Joulwan, an American, rather than through the NATO chain of command. Russia has also offered an engineering and mine clearing brigade, which will operate outside the NATO led implementation force.
Who could have imagined about six or seven years ago, certainly not ten years ago, that we would have Russian troops deployed in Europe serving in the cause of peace under an American commander? The world is certainly moving in the right direction. Our friends in Russia should be congratulated for putting aside any concerns they have and being committed to peace and involved in such a way in this effort.
I would add that the implementation force will serve to test NATO's ability to head new types of missions requiring co-operation between its own forces and other forces, such as Russian and eastern and central European forces, that are not under it. This co-operation will be an invaluable first step in establishing an effective European security system for the post cold war era.
Like all peacekeeping operations, this one contains an element of risk, which will depend on the parties' desire to comply with the peace accord. The rigours of winter and the poor state of the roads in the region represent other dangers.
I know the critics will ask what this will cost. It will not be cheap. It will cost $10 billion Canadian for this entire operation to be put in place. Funding arrangements have yet to be settled, but it seems likely that participants will cover their own deployment and maintenance costs. Common funding will be reserved for common facilities such as the force headquarters, which will amount to about $200 million American.
Canada will be required to cover its share of the common funding cost even where it is not to participate in the force. At a
minimum, this will come to about $20 million. The cost of participation will depend on the nature and size of the forces. That is why we are anxious to hear about the feelings of members of Parliament who are in touch with their constituents and know the degree to which they want Canada involved in this operation.
We are currently considering options that would cost in the range of $20 million to $50 million. However, do not believe anyone who says this is a done deal. The fact is that we want to get the feeling from Parliament before cabinet decides on Wednesday as to the actual number of people we will deploy in this particular force.
At the moment the plan calls for the replacement of the NATO implementation force with non-NATO forces after 12 months.
A senior officer will be appointed to co-ordinate the civilian aspects of the peace plan, which will include economic recovery, humanitarian assistance, refugees, elections, human rights, arms control and disarmament.
If asked to, force commanders may assist the United Nations and humanitarian organizations in such activities as maintaining public order, clearing mines and transporting rations. However, their prime responsibility will be the military aspects of the accord.
In the very limited time available, I have tried to provide the House some information on the force as it is presently being constituted. We obviously look forward to the views of individual members of the House before we make the decision.
From a philosophical point of view, the government thinks Canadians understand that our interests and values as a nation depend on world stability, on a stable international order. That is why we have made such a firm commitment over the years to promote international peace and security. The foreign policy and defence reviews conducted in 1994 confirm this commitment. This commitment is shared by all parties in the House. Indeed all parties were generally in agreement with the direction of Canadian foreign and defence policies in those two reviews in 1994.
We cannot shut our eyes to parts of the world where instability and conflict have taken root. Even if we are not directly affected by events taking place far from us, we will, over the longer term, feel less safe if we ignore them. This is a lesson history has shown us a number of times this century.
Hence Canada's passionate defence of multilateral institutions, such as the UN, and its active participation in peacekeeping operations. We know the importance of working with our allies and with countries sharing our ideas to promote international peace and stability, in Europe or other areas of the world.
We have a well deserved reputation for being there when it counts. Just look at our peacekeeping record. If Canada is to continue to play an effective role on the world stage, it is critical that we maintain that reputation, which means contributing to international efforts aimed at enhancing global security.
I believe the conflict in the Balkans represents the gravest threat to international security in that area since the second world war. We have spoken of the dangers of this conflict being allowed to engulf Europe. Without the United Nations presence in Bosnia and Croatia and in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, it is not inconceivable that hundreds of thousands of more people would have died, that atrocities would have been committed in a greater number than those already committed, that Europe would have been inflamed from the Aegean to the Alps. That would be a precursor to a large European war, a war that would inevitably have dragged in other nations around the world for their own interests.
As we are at the dawning of the 21st century, no civilized nation can allow that kind of conflict to continue in one of the most civilized parts of the world. It is bitter irony that 50 years after the conclusion of the second world war the Canadian Parliament is having yet another debate, as it did 60 some years ago, about participating in a major European operation.
We have been there while the war in effect has raged all around us. Now we have a peace accord, which has its weaknesses, but it is the only peace accord we have. We have to make it work.
It is fine for us as Canadians to pound our chests and yell from the hilltops about world peace, world stability and world security, but unless we are prepared to do something about it as Canadians and put our money where our mouth is, to commit our own resources and commit our own people, then I think our cries ring somewhat hollow. As a founding member of NATO and a major contributor to the alliance over the years, Canada is expected to participate in this historic mission.
I note our friends in the Reform Party are saying we should not go. They are somewhat reticent about this involvement. This party supported our continuation in the NATO alliance. When we make a deal with people, when we have a friendly alliance, we do not walk out on them when times get tough. We do not renege on our commitments. I do not believe Canadians want the government to renege on our commitments, to turn our back on 50 years of co-operation, 50 years of success in building an organization that contributed over that period to peace and stability in Europe.
Any contribution Canada will make will be modest. I have talked about a price tag of maybe $20 million, $50 million or $60 million, depending on how we decide on the actual figures for deployment. We believe Canadians are prepared to pay that price. We will be involved in the British sector with Pakistan. I believe Holland is in there. The Czech republic will be there. In fact the British government has asked Canada to provide the headquarters.
What better compliment for Canadian involvement than that one of our major allies, who will be providing the overwhelming number of troops in that sector, has such respect for the Canadian men and women in our armed forces that they want Canadians to head up the brigade headquarters. That is a great compliment and it is something the government will certainly consider. I would like to hear the views of the members in the House about that involvement.
We have options of supplying an infantry battalion. We have options for a signal squadron. We have options for artillery. All those kinds of deployments can be made. We want to hear the views of the members of the House to see if we are in accord, as we think we are, with the views of Canadians and we are willing to make this commitment.
At a time when the public, the media and others are closely examining the Canadian military, we must recall that it is an indispensable national institution. It is a reflection of this country.
It is a reflection of Canadian culture and its tradition of two official languages.
The military is also an instrument through which the country can achieve its objectives both at home and abroad. We saw that this weekend when we saw the crew of HMCS Calgary come to the aid of a distressed ship off our Atlantic coast and the heroics of a member of the helicopter crew. I hate to inform my friends in the House that it was a Sea King helicopter. They actually do work. That master corporal went back time and time again on the end of a rope in storming seas to a listing ship with desperate people. He pulled them up one by one and took them to a waiting ship. Those are the heroics of the men and women who serve in Canada's armed forces.
We heard about that this weekend because it is a significant contribution, but every day men and women of the armed forces serve proudly both in Canada and outside Canada. What do we hear? We hear the negative complaints. We hear the petty criticism of administrative lapses, which occur in any large organization. We hear talk about terrible morale. I would say the morale of all Canadians has been affected in the last few years, because we are having to deal with a difficult financial situation, a difficult global competitive situation, getting our own house in order, and we are also having to deal with a national unity issue that once again is preoccupying us.
Canadians are somewhat introspective. They are perhaps not having morale problems but are somewhat concerned. That also goes in the armed forces. Any organization that has had a salary freeze for the last couple of years, whose catch-up to the normal public service increment was also caught in that freeze and is something we are trying to deal with, obviously will be affected.
Perhaps more than anything else that contributes to any morale problems we have in the armed forces is the incessant criticism day in and day out by armchair critics, many of them in the House of Commons and most of them in the Reform Party, who are attacking the men and women in the armed forces and the job they do. That is unconscionable.
We have one of the best armed forces in the world. We have men and women who put their lives on the line. They will put their lives on the line for anybody. They do not care whether those people hold separatist beliefs or whether those people hold Neanderthal philosophical beliefs like those of the Reform Party. They will put their lives on the line for a free and democratic society. That is what we have in the Canadian Armed Forces. Those men and women, I assure the House, will be ready, willing and able to serve in this force.