Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure and an honour to speak today on Bill C-87.
It is a very poignant moment to do so, given the fact that a little more than a week ago we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day all across the world.
Today we are moving toward enacting a bill to implement the convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. The saying goes that all is fair in love and war, but there are conventions which dictate to us as human beings a minimum level of behaviour even in the horrors of war.
This basic level of human behaviour is an obligation of those who engage in war. The use of chemical weapons contravenes that in a most heinous fashion. Terrible acts have been committed on fellow human beings. Chemical weapons are one example of what has happened.
Chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction. The chemical weapons convention was signed by over 130 countries in January 1993. It is the first multilateral agreement that abhors an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. The act enables an organization to look at chemical weapons production facilities to ensure that they will be destroyed and that the chemical weapons stockpiled by countries will also be destroyed.
All government and industrial facilities will be monitored and the act will be implemented by the countries. It is a powerful act but it is necessary. It is important to realize that it does not impinge on industries to engage in legitimate industrial production of chemicals. It comes down on industries and countries manufacturing chemical weapons for aggressive and warlike purposes.
I reassure industry in Canada that the purpose of the act is not to come down on it but to form a broad framework to be applied not only in this country but in other countries for the collective security of all. I also reassure the industry that its stocks will not be destroyed in any way, shape or form.
There are three categories of schedules in the act. Schedule 1 includes such chemicals we are aware of such as sarin, tabun, soman, and the mustards that were used with widespread and tragic effectiveness in World War I. There are some legitimate uses for these chemicals in pharmaceuticals and in cancer research. Some of the precursors are used. Therefore one would have to obtain permission or a licence in order to use them, and that applies to all 130 signatories.
Schedule 2 includes such chemicals as amiton, which are key precursors for schedule 1 chemical weapons. The individuals and companies that make them will be subjected to scrutiny if they make over a certain amount.
Schedule 3 is the least powerful, the least destructive of all, as they are often used in industry but can in large enough quantities
be used as chemical weapons. We have such chemical weapons as hydrogen cyanide and phosgene that have been used before. Companies that manufacture these chemicals will be eligible for occasional checks and balances as time goes on.
In the act is the establishment of national authorities responsible for collecting information that they will give to an organization that has been set up called the Organization for the Prohibition of Conventional Weapons or the OPCW.
All signatories are essentially responsible for checking within their countries all the industries that will be manufacturing any of the chemicals in the three schedules I mentioned.
The information will then be given to the OPCW which will then decide if it is necessary to take further action. The national authorities in conjunction with the OPCW will facilitate the inspection. They will also control the export and import of chemicals where necessary. The country of origin is responsible for enacting Criminal Code legislation that will provide penalties, fines and imprisonment if individuals or companies are engaging in the production of chemicals for aggressive warlike use in the future. Again, we must make the distinction that the convention is not to be used against companies engaging in the production of chemicals for medicinal or industrial purposes.
I caution the government that the cost should not be excessive. We must do this within our fiscal constraints. We want to ensure that the agency that will be set up will not be onerous or develop a morass of bureaucracy in the future. We do not have the money to do that, as we all know.
Some may argue why this convention is necessary; did chemical weapons not go out with the first world war? The reality is unfortunately they did not. We have seen more recently in Japan the release of chemical weapons that had tragic effects. Sarin was released on a civilian population, killing hundreds of individuals. Stockpiles have been found in Japan. More recently the Iraqis have used chemical weapons for aggressive purposes to commit genocide within their own country against Kurdish individuals. That is a hot spot which will affect us in the future.
The convention was designed to keep good countries in check and to come down hard on those countries that would seek to use these weapons from Hades in a fashion that is aggressive and would cause destabilizing effects.
The UN will be the ultimate body that will receive information from the OPCW. That brings a larger question, which we ought to examine, which is the ability of the United Nations to act quickly and effectively in the face of threats to regional and international security. We have seen Rwanda, Burundi, the former Yugoslavia, Angola, Sierra Leone, and the list goes on. In fact there were over 40 major conflicts in the world last year. That number is not decreasing; rather, it is increasing. In the future we will see countries such as Nigeria, the Sudan, possibly Kenya, Kashmir, and a host of other countries blowing up-not to belittle those already on the front pages of newspapers, showing on a daily basis the tragedies civilians are enduring in places like Bosnia, Croatia, Burundi, Rwanda, East Timor. The list goes on and on. We have learned nothing in over 50 years. We ought to remember that.
The OPCW is an example of what is considered to be conflict prevention. Even though this is a small but very important act, there are many lessons that can be learned as conflicts loom ahead. In fact there are many things we can do to prevent future conflicts. The United Nations must set in place a list of transgressions that are completely unacceptable to the international community. It must set a list of transgressions down that are threats to regional and international security, behaviours that are considered to be patently unacceptable such as genocide and gross human rights abuses.
I also mention countries engaging in self-destructive behaviours. I bring to the attention of the House the expenditures occurring in military hardware. Many people believe that in the post-cold war era we live in a safer place. We are far from it. The world as we know it now is a much more dangerous place.
While there was a decrease in global arms spending from 1987 to 1990 of some $240 billion, military spending in many parts of the world has actually increased. It is interesting to note which countries are increasing their expenditures. Curiously enough, it is particularly in the poorest areas of the world. Sub-Saharan Africa and east Asia did not have a decline in their military expenditures; rather, they were increased.
In general when we see violent conflicts occurring the military expenditures are increasing also, which means that they are taking away from the expenditures necessary in providing basic human needs.
According to the UNDP, in 1990-91 all developing countries spent the equivalent of 60 per cent of their combined expenditures for education and health on military expenditure, compared with 33 per cent in industrialized countries.
Let us take a look at who spends the most on military hardware. It is very telling. In 1990-91: Somalia, 200 per cent military spending compared with health and education spending; Ethiopia, 190 per cent; Angola, 208 per cent; Yemen, 197 per cent; Pakistan, 125 per cent; India, 138 per cent; Myanmar, 222 per cent; Iraq, 271 per cent; Sri Lanka, 107 per cent; Syria, 373 per cent of its spending for education and health was spent
on military expenditures. Clearly these countries are not among the richest of the world; rather, they are among the poorest.
Along with this list of transgressions we also need to draw up a list of responses from the international community. For example, early diplomatic initiatives can be employed, along with positive propaganda. The former Yugoslavia and Rwanda are interesting examples. When the conflicts were first beginning, the people who started to stir up and fan the flames of ethnic discontent were in part using negative, hateful propaganda. The people who were on the ground, NGOs and representatives from other countries, saw this and were helpless to do anything about it.
A lot could be done if a system were set in place by the United Nations to immediately put positive propaganda into the theatre when negative and hateful propaganda is being spewed forth by individuals who are trying to fuel the flames of ethnic discontent and trying to stimulate conflict. I think it would do a lot to dampen down the hatred and ethnic conflict as it starts. It is an interesting area for us to try to convince the United Nations to engage in.
Another aspect, which is particularly appropriate given the fact that the G-7 summit is occurring in Halifax in June, is the use of the international financial institutions as non-military and inexpensive levers on countries that are engaging in these transgressions I mentioned before. It has not really been looked at very carefully.
We were in Washington not too long ago and I spoke to Mr. Fauver, Mr. Clinton's sherpa for the G-7 summit. I asked him if we could use the international financial institutions to exert pressure on countries or groups who were trying to stimulate a conflict by trying to pit one person against the other. He said it could be done but that it was difficult. I think this might be an inexpensive but effective and eloquent way of trying to defuse conflicts before they occur.
Something that could be done is not renegotiating the loans of countries. They need money to fight a war; if they do not have the money then they cannot fight a war. We can decrease non-humanitarian aid to countries that are engaging in this behaviour. The removal of preferential trade status is another example of what can be done. These countries should be penalized and brought to task. The international community should let these countries or groups know that their behaviour is completely unacceptable for this to occur.
We can then go ahead and do the traditional form of diplomatic initiatives. Something the government has put forth, which I think is a very good move, is the construction of a rapid deployment force. We are not talking about a standing army but rather a force that would be comprised of individual countries that would contribute arms, equipment, or people to go in on short notice to areas of conflict in order to dampen down a conflict or prevent a conflict from happening. This might be another issue that could be brought up at the G-7 summit in Halifax. We are not talking about an army that would stay at one place at one time; they would stay in their countries of origin.
Another useful aspect is that these groups could come together on a periodic basis and train. One of the problems the United Nations has always found is that when they get soldiers and put them into a conflict the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. They do not know the equipment, they do not know the commanders, and they do now know how things work. This would obviate that, by bringing them together every year or so to go through manoeuvres and the motions so that they will understand how to engage in a conflict such as this.
We also have to combine the increased monitoring capability of the United Nations. In the UN there exists a crisis monitoring group, but to date it has been very ineffective in actually informing the United Nations in a timely fashion about conflicts that are occurring. Much can be done in this area also. We need to incorporate NGOs and groups on the ground to form a network of military intelligence that could feed information in an expeditious fashion to the UN crisis group, who could then process it and give it to the United Nations.
What is the rationale for all of this? People will ask why we are getting involved in the affairs of other countries. The rationale is very clear. Contrary to what has happened in the past when armies were killing each other, most casualties that occur in conflicts these days are not army personnel but are innocent civilians. We saw this in Bosnia and in Rwanda time and time again.
In 1993 there were over 40 million displaced people in the world. The United Nations high commission for refugees recognized this as a great tragedy. Where do these refugees go? They move within their own countries but they also emigrate to other parts of the world. No border is completely intact; borders are in fact porous. What happens half a world away will come back to affect us. The United Nations also estimates that while there are presently 40 million refugees, the number is likely to increase to over 100 million by the year 2000.
When conflicts do occur, we see the massive and widespread destruction of a country. All the aid, development, and hard work of decades are washed away in the course of a month or two of conflict. It will take decades to rebuild that. Furthermore, the seeds of hatred are planted, not only in the people subjected to the war but also in the unborn children, because they will be subjected to the same hatred and prejudices their families were
subjected to. This is a cancer that starts very early and grows. It takes generations to go away, if at all.
Also, within our own country when conflicts erupt we are forced to engage in peacekeeping, peacemaking, defence initiatives, aid and development at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Is it not better to put in a few dollars now and save hundreds of millions in the future, rather than wait until everything blows up?
There is no need to discuss the humanitarian aspects of those who are involved in the conflicts because they are evident. For those of you who have seen war situations, as I have, it is not a pretty sight. These individuals want nothing more than to live in peace and harmony but are forced to engage in activities or have heinous crimes meted out to them, which they are powerless to deal with.
One mistake made in foreign policy is in the global community we do not have the backbone to deal with individuals who for their own self-interests are stimulating ethnic hatred. When we negotiate with these people it is important to realize they are not necessarily speaking for their entire populace. They may be only be speaking for a very small number of people. Their motivations should be questioned at every turn.
Few countries in the world have the international recognition and capability to form a system to address the pressures and conflict we will have in the coming new world order. Fortunately, Canada is one of the few that can do this. We must persuade our colleagues in the international community to set up a framework and a system of responses from the international community and identify early on the precursors to conflict. In short, we must do what we can, where we can, and when we can, given the fiscal constraints that are put upon us.
The action we have taken with the conventional weapons ban is truly admirable and is a shining example of what Canada can do. People may not understand that Canada is one of the leaders in putting forth this ban. It is something we as a country ought to be very proud of.
While we have managed to put forth a convention on the ban of mines, I suggest Canada take a leadership role in putting forth a convention on banning the production, stockpiling and sale of land mines and anti-personnel devices because their primary target again is civilian.
Once a conflict is over these land mines and anti-personnel devices stay for decades and I will give some examples. It is also important to realize that these weapons are not meant to kill; many of them are meant purely to maim and they maim children.
Many of the anti-personnel devices are showered from helicopters or planes. They are made of plastic and look like little toys. Children pick them up and get their arms or their legs blown off. I have seen this in Mozambique. Teenagers found these things and had body parts blown off. Believe me, it is not fun to spend four hours in a hospital operating room debriding somebody's leg after taking off the other leg.
Worldwide there are over 100 million land mines that have been set. It not only affects what we know about Cambodia but in Afghanistan 400,000 people have been wounded. The UN is now engaging in activities to remove land mines. About 85 hectares a year are done. It will take 4,300 years to clear Afghanistan of mines.
In Croatia over 330,000 hectares are completely uninhabitable and totally useless for industry. It costs Croatia over $230 million a year purely because the area is seeded with land mines.
Chechnya is another example where hundreds of thousands of land mines were sown in a very short period of time. Many areas of Chechnya will not be able to become economically self-sufficient for a long time because of that. When the civilian population tries to plant their fields or go to work, they will continue to be subjected to periodic incidents of having their limbs blown off or of being maimed.
Many of the land mines are plastic, some are metal and many are invisible. They cost between $3 and $30 to manufacture and up to $1000 to get rid of. Every year there are two million land mines seeded and about 85,000 being removed.
There is a land mine called the black widow or the PMW, a 10 centimetre plastic mine with 240 grams of TNT that can rip off a leg at the hip. There are about 20 million of these land mines deployed all over the world. China and the former Soviet Union make them.
There is the Valmara 69, also known as the bouncing betty. This one leaps up one metre and explodes, showering metal fragments for 20 metres. It is made in Italy. It is shocking to see the countries that actually make these, from the United States to many countries in Europe to China and the former Soviet Union.
This is something we need to address and Canada can take a leadership role in this. There is no military use whatsoever for this weapon which again is primarily used to maim civilians. Usually those who are maimed the most are the children and the men and women who work in the fields. We must take a leadership role on this as we have done on chemical weapons.
While we have had the convention on chemical weapons, we also need to consider the aspect of conventional non-nuclear weapons. The proliferation of non-nuclear conventional weapons, particularly small arms, is something that is having a huge destabilizing effect on the world stage.
When I worked on the Mozambique border there were hundreds of thousands of AK-47 assault rifles pouring into South Africa from Mozambique. An AK-47 can be bought for $5 to $20. When you have an AK-47, you have a lot of power. These people are desperately poor. They have no food and are starving and all they can do is sell these weapons. These weapons are ubiquitous in the developing world and there is a huge destabilizing force in that. It also enables people to engage in violent criminal acts which also impedes a country's ability to get on its feet economically.
Whether we are looking at west Africa, southern Africa or east Asia, crime is one of the largest problems confronting the developing world. It is something we need to address.
The G-7 summit is coming up. Over 90 per cent of conventional weapons are made by G-7 nations. It is hypocritical for us to say we are helping countries on the one hand with our aid and development, but on the other hand we are selling them the arms either through private dealers or by government to government sale. We are cutting off our nose to spite our face because in the long run conflicts brew. These are not things to be taken in isolation. They are to be taken collectively in the name of collective security.
Bill C-87 shows that Canada can, as it has in the past, show leadership in foreign policy. One person not so long ago in the celebrations of V-E Day said a poignant and kind thing about the people of this country: "If the Canadian people could look at Canadians the way the people in Holland look at Canadians, then indeed they would learn a lot and indeed they would be proud".
I ask the government to remember that. I ask the Canadian people to remember that in the hope that we can use that esteem and respect we have on the international stage to become more aggressive in addressing these threats to international security, not only for the people who are involved, but also for the people in this country.
Although we may be far away from areas of conflict and think we are immune to it, we are not. People will leave areas of conflict, the have not areas to areas that have. Canada is a have country. It will put stresses on this country that we are not prepared to deal with. It will cost us money that we do not have. Above all else, we should do it for humanitarian reasons. Although we may be different peoples, we are in fact one people on one earth.