Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise this evening to raise again a question which I originally raised with the Minister of Foreign Affairs respecting the role of our election supervisors or election observers in Bosnia.
At that time I asked the minister if he would be good enough to respond to the concerns which Canadians had as to what the role of our observers actually was in an election of that nature and the response was given by the Secretary of State for Latin America and Africa. She pointed out the important role that our observers have played in that particular community.
In following this up tonight I think it is worth reminding members of the House and members of the public of the very important role that our observers play in local elections. I have not had an opportunity to do this, but as chairman of the foreign affairs committee I get regular reports on this form of activity and have often had the opportunity to observe the role that Canadian parliamentarians and others have played not only in Bosnia but in Nicaragua, in Palestine and in many other countries where there are really serious concerns about the credibility of the election process.
It is appropriate that my opportunity to follow up on this issue comes this evening on the heels of the debate which has taken place on peacekeeping. In many ways the role that our observers play in this type of activity is very similar to the role that our troops play in peacekeeping. They are there to ensure the credibility of the democratic process. They are there to ensure that peace will be maintained in the region because there will be elections which will replace the need for violence.
This is an extraordinarily important process and it is important for us to be assured by the ministry that our observers are actually performing the role which they are called upon to do and are able to do it.
I ask the parliamentary secretary for the minister if he would be good enough to elaborate on the role that our observers play. I would like him to tell us what the prospects are for peace, particularly in Bosnia, in the former Yugoslavia, now that these elections have been held. What can we see from the fruits of all the labours of our observers and peacekeepers? What can the parliamentary secretary tell us about the present prospects?
In particular, I would ask him if he is able to comment on a recent suggestion by the president of the war crimes tribunal, which is seeking to bring to justice potential war criminals in the former Yugoslavia. The president of that tribunal has actually gone so far as to say that he is considering resigning from his post. He is concerned about the integrity of the process of that tribunal because of its failure to actually bring before the tribunal many of the accused. Some 74 persons have been accused and only seven people have been arraigned before the tribunal because many of the accused are still in the former Yugoslavia, still unassailable, still inaccessible and cannot be brought to justice.
I would like to take this opportunity to invite the parliamentary secretary to elaborate some more on the answer which was given before and assure the House that the role of our observers is an important one, that they have achieved success in the former Yugoslavia and that there is now ongoing opportunity for peace in that region, including justice to be served by the international tribunal.