Madam Speaker, I want to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Ottawa West.
I want to speak in favour of the mission to Rwanda, Zaire and the rest of central Africa. The world is watching the situation on the African continent. In the last number of days over 400,000 refugees have crossed back into Rwanda in the Goma area. In the next few days over 150,000 will return to Rwanda.
Fighting, starvation, dehydration and disease are running rampant. The situation must be addressed. Canada has taken the position that it must step forward to help in a humanitarian fashion. Our history in peacekeeping puts us in a good position to be the leader, with the world showing its confidence in Canada to lead the way.
We must remember what this mission encompasses. As the Prime Minister indicated earlier, the enemies are suffering, pain, disease and hunger. We need to offer aid.
The sub-Saharan region is in great need of help on a long term basis. There are some non-government agencies in my riding of Victoria-Haliburton similar to a small group of Christians who run HAVE, which stands for Help A Village Effort, that operate out of the county of Haliburton.
This group sends money and people every year to help people to obtain clean water by drilling wells. They supply clean drinking water and all that goes with it: sanitation, hygiene, nutrition and a different way of life. They teach how to treat sickness and how to avoid disease. They teach people to read the instructions on a simple water pump. This is a major problem in an area with little or no educational system. These people will continue to try to help in the sub-Sahara region.
I had the honour to attend a conference in 1996 in Washington. It was called "A 2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment". The major sponsor was the National Geographic Society. This conference, ironically enough, pinpointed the exact problem we are dealing with today.
The most successful missions to the sub-Sahara are small and include, first, a banking system that lends small amounts to farmers in Africa. The majority are women by the way. They have a huge success rate, with a 99 per cent payback record.
Second is a seed program for farmers, with training by the Canadian agricultural community, to help the African communities obtain knowledge in modern agricultural techniques.
Third is programs in education on basic reading for instructions in order to read labels and symbols, or language training for sanitation and attending to basic human needs.
We must take this opportunity to step in and lead the way. The world is not only watching with hope, it is counting on Canada to show the United Nations' countries that our intervention is for the long term building of a self-sustaining country in Africa.
There are many reasons to send aid to the sub-Sahara. There is only one, fear of the unknown, that holds other people back. Some countries, because of their colonial history, are unable to help. Canada is able to help.
In conclusion, I wish to offer my support to this mission and hope it is the first step in helping the sub-Sahara and all of Africa to become self-sustaining.