House of Commons Hansard #106 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was election.


Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

moved that Bill C-300, an act respecting the establishment and award of a Canadian volunteer service medal and clasp for United Nations peacekeeping to Canadians serving with a United Nations peacekeeping force, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I know you are always well prepared and orderly, but I would just like to point out that one month from today will be Christmas, in case you had forgotten, sir.

I speak to this bill with a fair amount of trepidation because I know the track record of private members' bills in the House of Commons. All members become very enthusiastic and tied up with their bills but I feel very strongly that this bill is well worthy of consideration and hopefully of passing this House and the other place.

Bill C-300 is an act respecting the establishment and award of a Canadian volunteer service medal and clasp for UN peacekeeping to Canadians having served with a United Nations peacekeeping force. The Canadian volunteer service medal for peacekeeping will be awarded to any Canadian, whether they be military, Royal Canadian Mounted Police or civilian, who qualifies as a result of United Nations peacekeeping activity. A clasp, to be worn on the medal ribbon, awarded to those who served prior to September 1988, will represent the honour they brought to Canada as recipients of the Nobel peace prize awarded to Canadian peacekeepers at that time.

Most of us think of peacekeeping in respect of Canadians starting with the Suez United Nations emergency force mission in 1956. However, Canadian peacekeeping actually started in 1949 with UNMOGIP, the United Nations military observer group in India and Pakistan which operated until 1979. In fact our first peacekeeping casualty was Brigadier H.H. Angle, DSO ED, of UNMOGIP who was killed on July 17, 1950.

The next Canadian peacekeeping commitment was UNCMAC, the United Nations command military armistice commission for Korea, which commenced in 1953 and is still in being today. Between 1953 and 1956, 43 Canadians lost their lives with UNCMAC.

In 1954 Canadian peacekeepers were committed to UNTSO, the United Nations truce supervision organization for Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria which is still operating today. This mission has suffered two killed, the first in 1958 and the second in 1985.

Also in 1954 Canadians became involved in the ICSC, the international commission for supervision and control in Indo-China until 1974. This mission cost five Canadian lives between 1954 and 1965. Three of those lives lost were foreign service officers from the Department of External Affairs. The remaining two were Canadian forces servicemen.

Then in 1956 came the Suez crisis and UNEF, the United Nations emergency force which operated from 1956 until 1967 and cost 31 Canadian lives.

I do not intend to take members through each of the peacekeeping missions we have participated in, but from the Congo to Cyprus, the Middle East, Bosnia, Haiti and now Rwanda-Zaire, they did and do go on and on.

In all, to date 150 Canadians have died as a result of peacekeeping missions. If there is discrepancy in this number from the 102 officially recognized by the Canadian government, my figure comes from the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association which includes those peacekeepers who were committed with UNCMAC, the United Nations military command armistice commission for Korea, and those who have committed suicide while on a mission or following a mission. Thus this figure represents the people who died either as a result of the mission or on the mission.

The only specific further example I want to give is that of the nine Canadians who died when their aircraft was shot down in the Middle East. On August 9, 1974 Canadian Armed Forces Buffalo aircraft No. 115461 on a routine flight to Damascus had left Beirut and climbed eastward over the Lebanese highlands. It was being

tracked by Syrian radar. As it neared the village of Diemas, someone in the surface to air missile site there decided to terminate its progress. Several surface to air missiles were launched, at least one being on target.

The Buffalo, commanded by Captain Gary Foster, was blown out of the sky. Nine Canadians lost their lives in this bizarre incident. Although it was investigated by the United Nations, the Canadian forces and the Syrians, no satisfactory public explanation of the tragedy was ever released. The Syrians claimed that it had been accident, that the Buffalo had shown up as an Israeli aircraft on an attack mission in the area and had been mistakenly identified as an enemy fighter. The outcome was nine Canadians were killed.

Because August 9 was the day on which the largest number of peacekeepers have been killed, the Canadian Peacekeepers Veterans Association has designated that day as Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Day. This is officially recognized by British Columbia. In 1995 it was also proclaimed by Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta.

Peacekeepers voluntarily place themselves in danger. They endure uncomfortable conditions and long repeated separations from family and loved ones. They are exposed to horrors of human atrocities, degradation, inhumanity and suffering. They accept tremendous stress and live with the lasting impact these memories cannot help but impose. In so doing they have brought and continue to bring great honour to Canada.

And how does Canada recognize them? The United Nations medals, which are awarded to qualified participants in UN peacekeeping activities, at some time after they are awarded are accepted into the Canadian honours system. The second recognition they have is the dramatic and effective peacekeeping memorial on Sussex Drive which was unveiled on October 8, 1992.

How do other nations recognize their peacekeepers? Belgium, The Netherlands, Ireland, Ghana, Poland and the United States not only accept the UN medals but also award a national medal. Sweden and Finland are at this time in the process of establishing a national peacekeeping medal and Australia and New Zealand are considering likewise.

In 1942 Canadian commander General Guy Simmons wrote to his commander saying: "The final criterion of a good or bad award is the reaction of the troops. If the troops feel it is a good award, it is a good award. If awards are criticized by the troops, they are bad awards. Before forwarding any recommendation, at each level the commander should ask himself the question: Would the frontline soldier, if he knew the facts, consider this well deserved?"

I did not dream this bill up on my own. It results from a tremendous amount of input from present and former peacekeepers as well as other Canadians from across our country. Bill C-300 has been formally endorsed by the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association, by the Canadian Association of Veterans in UN Peacekeeping and by the Air Force Association of Canada.

The Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association has received letters of support from: the municipality of Annapolis County, Nova Scotia; the city of Kingston; British Columbia Premier Glen Clark; former member of Parliament and Prince Edward Island Premier Catherine Callbeck; our Speaker; the Deputy Prime Minister; the chief government whip; the Minister of Public Works and Government Services; the member for Hamilton West; the member for Regina-Qu'Appelle; the member for Ottawa Centre; the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce; the member for Winnipeg Transcona; the member for Shefford; the member for Hillsborough; and many more.

In the 34th parliament two members proposed similar bills but unfortunately they were not lucky in the draw. Therefore those bills never came to the floor of the House of Commons. In 1993 the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs recommended the award of a Canadian volunteer service medal for peacekeeping but unfortunately Parliament was dissolved before that could be acted on and put into place. In addition, I personally have presented petitions from thousands of people from across Canada in support of a Canadian volunteer service medal for peacekeeping.

It is the perception of these people that the present Canadian recognition of peacekeepers is inadequate. I support that perception.

Our chancellery and the Canadian honours system accept United Nations peacekeeping medals as Canadian. They claim that only one honour can be won for any specific act or service, that new honours cannot duplicate existing honours.

Canadians want to maintain respect for our medals. We do not want to denigrate them or have medals considered as bobbles that are issued on a whim. It is vitally important that people recognize they are awarded only for true merit and good service.

Many of Canada's military traditions originate with the United Kingdom, and the British are often seen as the military example for Canada's forces to follow. But the British are far more generous with their medals and awards than are Canadians. For example, the Royal Air Force Red Arrows aerobatic team leaders quite regularly receive an air force cross at the completion of each successful tour of duty.

On the other hand, only one air force cross has been awarded to a Canadian since the second world war. This occurred for a young Sabre pilot on a low level mission when he was in collision with a hawk. The hawk struck the aircraft at the juncture of the windscreen and the canopy. It took out the entire left side of the canopy. As a result, the plexiglas from the canopy hit the pilot in the face. It blinded him in his left eye and caused severe contusions which led to a lot of blood. In order to see from his good right eye he had

to turn his head sideways to the left so the blood would be blown away from that eye.

Fortunately his number two was able to lead him back to the base at Baden-Soellingen. His landing was so good that the fire truck and ambulance drivers who had been sent to receive him thought there was no problem and they started to withdraw. At the end of the runway on his rollout he collapsed from loss of blood. The emergency vehicles were quickly recalled and he was extracted from the aircraft. No one would argue that flying officer Burrows deserved the air force cross which he was awarded in this instance.

On the other hand, there is an additional precedent to override the government concept that was set when the Canadian volunteer service medal for Korea was initiated by parliamentarians, approved in June 1991, and granted royal assent on July 10, 1991.

There is yet another precedent for additional Korean honours. A United Nations medal for peacekeeping had been awarded although it could not really be considered a peacekeeping mission. It was called a police action but was in fact a full blown war. Another Canadian medal, which shared a common ribbon with our Commonwealth partners of Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, was also awarded. There were in total three medals awarded for the Korean action.

While Government House can no longer claim that only one honour can be awarded for an action, it has thus far been unwilling to consider submissions that recommend a Canadian volunteer service medal for peacekeeping and the clasp which would recognize the honour brought to Canada with the award of the Nobel peace prize to our peacekeepers in that year.

Moreover, I contend that in any case this is not a duplicate honour. A Canadian volunteer service medal for peacekeeping and the clasp to represent the Nobel peace prize award would represent the first and only Canadian recognition of the death, danger, horror, deprivation, extended and repeated separation from family and loved ones that our peacekeepers endure.

I will compare the service of our peacekeeping forces in the former Yugoslavia with those of the second world war. As the House is aware, the D-Day invasion took place on June 6, 1944. Victory in Europe was declared on May 8, 1945. The invasion of Sicily was on August 10, 1943 and our troops in Italy continued to fight throughout the war. Our people served for 11 months during the European invasions on the mainlands of Germany and France before victory was declared. For the Italian campaigners it was about 19 months.

During the service in Yugoslavia some of our peacekeepers did three or four six-month tours. I understand one soldier did five tours there. That would mean that they were at least as long in a combat theatre as those who served during the second world war. It seems to me this fact should be recognized. Thus I think the Canadian volunteer service medal for peacekeeping would be the first and only recognition of the honour and esteem our peacekeepers have gained for Canada.

What we are talking about here are a couple of pieces of metal and some cloth. It is the significance of these pieces of metal and that cloth that really matters. What it says to those to whom they are awarded is that Canada recognizes the honour they have brought to our country and that Canadians recognize that our peacekeepers have voluntarily placed themselves in danger and have accepted uncomfortable and sometimes horrid conditions, along with repeated, extended separations from their families and loved ones.

This medal, this ribbon and this clasp will say that what our peacekeepers are and what they have done is respected and appreciated by Canada and their fellow citizens. It will say: "Thank you. We are proud of you and you have every right to be proud of yourself".

The peacekeeping memorial on Sussex Drive here in Ottawa is dramatic, effective and very much appreciated by our peacekeepers. However, many Canadians, indeed many peacekeepers, will never visit Ottawa and thus will never see it. Besides that, the memorial does not provide the individual recognition to be worn personally by those who won that honour.

I hope that the members of the 35th Parliament will take advantage of this opportunity to award this long overdue recognition to our Canadian peacekeepers.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Bernie Collins Liberal Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise this morning to speak to Bill C-300, standing in the name of the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands. The bill before us is being presented for the most laudable of reasons, to recognize the men and women of our country who have served with distinction in many peacekeeping missions.

I am glad to have this opportunity to pay tribute to the thousands of Canadians who have served wherever their country has sent them. The medals they have received represent our small attempt to tell them how much their service has meant to all of us. Without them we would be much diminished.

It is impossible to determine exactly how many Canadians have received medals. In the first world war over 427,000 Canadian military personnel were eligible for one or more medals. During the second world war some 700,000 were eligible to receive one or more medals. More than 25,000 Canadians served during the Korean war. To date, almost 100,000 Canadians have earned UN or other international medals.

In addition to the military, almost 500 UN medals were earned by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other Canadian police assigned to these UN missions. As well, the UN has authorized and Canada has approved the issue of numerals on UN medals to note subsequent tours in a mission for which a medal has already been earned.

At the present time the UN has awarded service medals to personnel who served with some 30 UN missions. These medals are accepted for wear by Canada.

It is somewhat unfortunate, and likely only an oversight, that the bill before us refers only to UN veterans. There have also been five non-UN missions where Canadian peacekeepers played a significant role. I am sure the hon. member would not wish to exclude these worthy Canadians. It is in the interests of improving the discussion that I raise the issue here.

These five missions, two in Indo-China, one in the Sinai and two in the former Yugoslavia, each had a specific medal associated with it. These medals, like those of the UN, were also accepted for wear by Canada, and over 5,500 of these medals were earned by Canadians, including 52 members of the then department of external affairs who participated in the second mission in Indo-China.

A special medal was struck and issued for those Canadian personnel who took part in the gulf war in 1991. Just under 4,500 were awarded.

For those missions which were not recognized by a specific medal, the Canadian special service medal with peace-paix bar is available to anyone who has served on such a mission for 180 days or more. This medal, authorized in 1984, issued for the first time in 1990, is never issued without a bar.

Almost 65,000 Canadian military personnel, retired and serving, have been awarded this medal for one or more bars for special service with NATO, Alert, Pakistan and for humanitarian issues.

The peace-paix bar has been awarded to just over 1,000 personnel where the U.N. has not issued a specific medal for a mission. I am sure the Chair will recall the debate that took place in this Chamber some two and a half years ago around the motion of the member for Winnipeg-Transcona concerning his proposal for a medal for the veterans of the Dieppe raid.

While the original motion was amended, some interesting thoughts were developed during the debate and I can recommend it to my hon. colleagues for their information.

There was much goodwill displayed on the part of many during the debate and many participants went away, I believe, with a new determination to seek a solution. One was found, one which I know was welcomed by the valiant men who were a part of that historic battle and by their survivors.

On July 14, 1994 the Secretary of State for Veterans announced on behalf of the Government of Canada the awarding of a distinctive decoration for Canadians who participated in the August 19, 1942 raid on Dieppe, France. The silver bar to be attached to the ribbon of the Canadian volunteer service medal was designed featuring the word Dieppe in raised letters on a pebbled background. Above this the bar bears an anchor surmounted by an eagle and a Thompson sub-machine gun.

The design was created in consultation with Dieppe veterans and the Prisoners of War Association and was produced by the Royal Canadian Mint. Members will know the decoration was a long awaited, special recognition for a very special group of veterans who had waited 50 years for this honour.

I hasten to add that I do not raise the Dieppe decoration as a reason not to award a special recognition to those who have served us with distinction in many peacekeeping missions since then. I do raise it to suggest that there are alternatives to the separate medals proposed by the member opposite.

As I understand it, approximately 80,000 to 90,000 Canadians would be eligible for a medal such as that proposed by the private member's bill. I realize that the number is significantly higher than that mentioned by my colleague opposite and I can only say that we need to get our experts together so that we can give a very definitive answer.

This number is a very important reason to consider such a bill favourable and equally a very important reason why we have to be sure that it is right the first time.

I also want to take a moment to comment on the announcement on November 13 by the Minister of National Defence that the Government of Canada will seek approval from Her Majesty the Queen for a medal for service in Somalia.

In December 1992, almost 1,400 Canadian forces drawn from both the regular and reserve forces were deployed to Somalia under United Nations resolution 794.

As a chapter 7 mission, it is appropriate that a separate Canadian medal be awarded. During this mission Canadian forces members restored order, ensured that convoys of badly needed food and medical supplies reached people in desperate need and assisted in rebuilding war ravaged communities in Somalia. Now that the government has given its approval to proceed with the Somalia medal, an order in council must be established for this new honour. Once the order in council is signed, the Queen's approval will be sought through letters patent.

While we can wish that all was speedier and the process faster, it may take between six to twelve months before Canadian forces' members actually receive their medal. Much attention has been paid in recent years to certain tragic events that occurred in that theatre. The government is saying by proceeding with this medal that it wants to acknowledge the vast majority of courageous and self-sacrificing individuals who represented us all with pride and honour. I believe that Canadians have wanted us to take this action, to speak for them in recognizing those who served.

May I say in conclusion that I will listen very carefully to the debate on this bill and for the moment urge all members only to give it their earnest consideration. Perhaps when next we return to this debate we will find we have come a long way toward finding a common understanding of how we can achieve this objective.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have a chance to speak to Bill C-300, the initiative of a Reform Party member, which is an act respecting the establishment and award of a Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp for United Nations Peacekeeping to Canadians serving with a United Nations peacekeeping force.

Of course, more and more Canadian soldiers are taking part in peacekeeping missions, given the number of major regional conflicts throughout the world, particularly in certain areas. Given the growing role of the United Nations as well, there are more and more interventions of a military or humanitarian nature, aimed at securing a lasting peace in regions emerging from a conflict.

At this time, nearly 2,000 Canadian peacekeepers-the number depending, of course, on how many are sent on the African great lakes operation-are located in various parts of the world, or may be by the end of this year.

This is a substantial figure, representing a substantial contribution by Canada to various missions. As well, we have to accept that the armed forces, particularly in a country like Canada, now play a dual role. In addition to providing civil assistance within the country, they participate in these peacekeeping missions carried out by the United Nations, or in others which may, while under the auspices of the United Nations, be commanded by a specific country.

I must make it clear immediately that we are in agreement with the bill proposed by the hon. Reform member. It might, however, be worthwhile to broaden the first point in clause 4 to indicate that it is a mission authorized by the United Nations, not necessarily an operation under the command of the United Nations.

This would cover such cases as the operation in Zaire and Rwanda, not in its present form, but as it was initially going to be. So in this case, it is not necessarily a mission initiated by the UN but rather a mission authorized by the UN under Canadian command.

So these cases as well should be included if we want to extend the scope of this bill, whose purpose is to recognize by means of a distinctive medal the contribution of soldiers from Quebec and Canada who were involved in this type of mission and, who knows, may be in the future as well.

There are also people who are not parliamentarians who support this bill, one example being the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association.

In 1993, the creation of a similar medal was suggested in a report by, I believe, the national defence committee or the foreign affairs committee. I would like to read part of this report, which was tabled shortly before the election in 1993. Because of the election, there was no follow-up.

The report said that the government should establish a medal for volunteer service in peacekeeping operations, to be awarded to members of the military and non-military employees-I will get back to this-who are on UN peacekeeping missions. This was in a report by the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, dated June 1993.

The bill also recognizes the contribution of those who take part in these missions without necessarily being members of the military. In certain cases, these people are sent on peacekeeping missions. They would also be entitled to the medal. So it would be more than just recognizing the contribution of the military.

At the present time, there is a UN medal, but none offered by the Canadian government. Other countries do have their own awards. The bill makes it possible for the Canadian authorities to give special recognition to those who volunteer for such service, whether they are members of the military or other people involved in these operations who served on peacekeeping missions. There have been many instances of members of police forces or the RCMP who were sent on such missions. Some people may be involved in the delivery of medical assistance and other services. There are also others who make a significant contribution.

I would also like to mention something our constituents often ask us, and it is whether this kind of assistance, these operations in which Canada is involved are not too costly. Considering our relative wealth, we have a duty to contribute to restoring peace. We have everything to gain by bringing a more lasting peace to all parts of the world, a world that is rapidly shrinking as a result of the

extraordinary development of communications. I think working towards a more lasting peace is everybody's business.

The United Nations can intervene, co-operate and bring a more lasting peace to an area through the presence of peacekeepers. Such co-operation is particularly significant when it makes it possible to introduce democratic government. I am sure those taking part have powerful memories, some of which are no doubt distressing, others happy ones.

The people in the armed forces have done extraordinary humanitarian things. Some operations, particularly in recent years, have not been huge successes. The Somalia inquiry has revealed an operation that failed on many counts. That said, there is no need to exaggerate or generalize the fact that some people may have lacked judgment in certain operations.

Generally, the behaviour of the vast majority of peacekeepers brings honour to us all. Our international reputation, which is very important in some respects, enviable even, in certain instances, is often thanks to those who represent us abroad. These people are from families we know, sometimes from our own family. Here in Parliament, there are people who have served in the armed forces. All have contributed to a positive image of us as Quebecers and Canadians.

This then is an act intended to honour people who often make significant personal sacrifices during peacekeeping missions. Generally these missions last six months. During these six months, they live far from their families in conditions that are not always easy.

They must be extremely careful at all times, because they are in zones that most of the time have been in conflict, and so their work is extremely delicate. They carry out their mission brilliantly. It is indeed a very good idea to want to honour them with a special award, and I see no reason why Parliament would not support such a bill.

The bill also contains provision for a retroactive award in order to honour participants in earlier peacekeeping missions. Tracing these people may be a lengthy process, but it should be done where possible.

The bill's aim as regards future missions is certainly readily achievable. I have no doubt that it may be done without costing a whole lot. It is fair compensation for what these people give and the contribution they make.

I conclude by saying that initiatives such as this are easy to support. I would like to congratulate the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands, for his initiative. He has my support and that of my colleagues.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Stephen Harper Reform Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure and honour to debate Bill C-300, an act respecting the establishment and award of the Canadian volunteer service medal and clasp for United Nations peacekeeping to Canadians serving with the United Nations peacekeeping force. The award as envisaged by the promoter of the bill does not restrict itself merely to those who serve in traditional armed forces capacities but also would include people involved in peacekeeping areas such as policing, local administration, the delivery of aid, medical assistance or even election assistance.

I want to speak to this bill because I strongly support it. The bill is a well thought out initiative that recognizes the realities of the future. We know that the world is changing. We know we are entering a new era. Increasingly we see signs that peacekeeping in the wider sense, not just the traditional sense, will become a more and more important function of our armed forces and many other armed forces in the world.

We have traditionally focused our recognition and awards on traditional combat roles and traditional war theatres. It is time to update some of the recognition and awards. Domestically we are prepared to have medals and recognition that are more appropriate to the future roles that is seen for our armed forces.

In speaking in favour of this bill I would like to pay tribute to the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands very briefly. He has brought this bill forward and is one of my colleagues who is retiring at the end of this Parliament. I want to pay tribute to him for bringing this bill forward. He was a distinguished member of the armed forces who has been a great help to us. It has been a pleasure for all of us on both sides of the House to have him here. He is closing out his career by participating in the ultimate phoney war back and forth across the House of Commons and has been willing to act as our deputy whip, perhaps also to engage in his last peacekeeping assignment.

The bill has an interesting history, as other members have pointed out. For some time voices have been calling for this kind of award.

In the last Parliament this initiative was supported through the introduction of two private members' bills. The House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs called for the establishment of a Canadian volunteer service medal for United Nations peacekeeping. That committee was made up of the Liberal Party, now the present government, the Progressive Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party. Those were commitments which those parties made in a unanimous report. Endorsement for this has come from the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association and the Canadian Association of the United Nations Peacekeeping Chapter.

Other countries already have similar awards: Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Ghana and, of course, the United States.

I could go on to mention the various groups that have pressed for this award: many members of the government, all parties, past and present, municipalities and petitioners. I will not dwell too much on that because I have a limited amount of time and I want to speak about other issues.

Mr. Speaker, I have a base in my riding which is being gradually relocated to your city. I am sure that is a coincidence on your part. However, the base is being relocated. During my time as a member of Parliament, having the military in my riding has given me a chance to deal with military personnel on a wide range of issues, including their experiences with peacekeeping assignments.

In my dealings with the military I have always been impressed with their commitment to their various engagements, including their peacekeeping engagements. In that context I want to express my concern about the previous failure to approve this bill. I hope that this time the government will approve it.

Bill C-258 was a non-votable bill when it was introduced by the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands in the last session. As a non-votable bill the official representatives of the ministry spoke against it for what I consider to be the flimsiest of reasons. Basically the excuse was that Government House has a process for this and that process should be followed, that there is a decorations committee which has a process and that the United Nations has a process and we are partly involved in that process. They were all excuses based on these processes.

It amazes me how fast the government is to send people into conflict and how slow it is to recognize their contributions, whether it is in wartime or in peacekeeping missions. Reading over the debates from this session and from the last session when we debated Bill C-258, one is really struck by the glacial speed at which governments make decisions to recognize the contributions of our military.

Dieppe, Hong Kong, the merchant marine: we are talking about coming to terms with the full recognition of some of these activities a full 45 to 50 years after the events. In the case of Somalia, we have dragged our heels both in recognizing the contributions our peacekeepers made and also in finding out exactly what happened during the unfortunate incidents which occurred there. Of course, in that process the reputation of everyone who served has been tainted.

We are tremendously slow in dealing with the real contributions that military people make, yet not only are we quick to send them, we are quick to mobilize the resources of the state to make sure that the contributions of a handful of people are always recognized. The Prime Minister is recognized when he is at the United Nations or when he calls the President of the United States. He is getting the best publicity for his contribution. Our diplomats are being fully recognized. We have had some outstanding generals who have played particular roles in these missions. We make sure that they receive their full recognition and honour here in the House or at Government House or wherever else. However, we have been consistently slow in recognizing the real contribution of our military people. These people go into these situations, often risking their lives. In many cases they are dangerously under-equipped, assuming not just the risk of the mission but additional risks imposed on them by the general mismanagement of our armed forces over the past 20 years.

I have always been impressed by the fact that whenever one of these missions is called or conceived-somebody's brainchild somewhere-at how quickly the military people are to get their bags packed, to come out saying publicly from the general right on down to the private that they are ready to do, they feel confident and they are looking forward to the challenge.

Everyone who deals with the military knows that most of the time these people know that there are no clear rules of engagement. Half the time there is not a clear objective. Almost all the time they are grossly under-equipped, grossly undermanned and in great danger. Privately they will tell you about these concerns and they are always bothered by the fact that these concerns are not taken seriously, but they are good soldiers.

Good soldiers do not complain publicly, they just do it and this should be recognized. It is about time we started to recognize these things. I must admit I am very tired of this attitude, this tendency to praise people at certain levels and then to not recognize fully the people who do the work.

We are coming out of an era finally where it seems to be a noble thing for Liberal politicians to spend other people's money so they could get credit for presumably fixing problems. I am glad we are finally starting to come out of that era and to recognize that money cannot fix everything and furthermore it is not necessarily the government's money to start with.

I see this attitude still with us in military operations and military policy. Somehow it is noble for the Prime Minister or for the government or for others to be willing to put other people's lives at risk in order to solve or deal with military and humanitarian situations around the world. Let us not forget whose lives are at risk and who are making the contributions. It is the men and women on the ground and their leaders and commanders. That is on what this bill is focused.

Let me conclude by saying that rather than hear once again in this debate all about the processes and all about the impediments to getting this approved, the protocol and the fact that Government House should be first, let us just get on with doing on the basis of recognition what we do not hesitate to do whenever the telephone rings from New York or from the United Nations. Let us recognize our peacekeepers.

It about time that the government and the ministry got off their duffs and passed this legislation.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.


Ted McWhinney LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I compliment the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands on his initiative. The member is well known to us on this side of the House. He has had a very distinguished career as a jet fighter pilot in the Canadian Armed Forces. It is a reminder, because of age and other factors, of the very few members of Parliament who have served in the armed forces and the special contribution that they make. He is, I think, for this reason appreciated on matters that go to the core of our armed forces.

All of us on both sides of the House are concerned about the reputation of our armed forces. We have great reason to be proud of their contributions in two world wars and their contributions to UN operations. It should not be forgotten of course that Canada devised UN peacekeeping. It was the idea whose time was right, of our then foreign minister, Lester Pearson. He recognized, at a certain point in history that when you have combatants who fought themselves to a stand still that sometimes a third party, offering grace under fire and interposing themselves can allow both sides to retreat without intolerable loss of political face.

That was the genius of Mr. Pearson's suggestion for the original UN peacekeeping force, for which he won a Nobel prize. It is also the result of the characteristics that Canadians represent-I speak of our whole country-decency and tolerance of others and moderation in action. We are always sought by the United Nations' secretary-general when it is a matter of a peacekeeping operation.

We should pay tribute to the service given by the Canadian Armed Forces as part of various UN missions. It is right to remind us, of course, as my hon. colleague from my party said earlier, that there have been other UN operations to which Canadian forces have contributed and which are not covered by the term UN peacekeeping. Therefore, it would be within the spirit if not the actual wording of the bill as proposed by the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands that any new decoration would be extended to cover them too.

UN peacekeeping, as we know, is limited to operations under chapter VI of the United Nations charter. Other operations before that time, before Mr. Pearson's suggestion adopted in 1956 for the Suez war and also subsequent operations should also be covered.

Part of the difficulty that our armed forces have been meeting is due to the confusion, or better still, the blurring of the line of demarcation between a chapter VI and a chapter VII operation under the charter. People start off with a mandate and a specific function but then, operationally, other exigencies emerge and they are asked to move from one role to another. It is not really fair for the people taking part because peacekeepers, as such, are trained for this mission which is 50 per cent to 60 per cent diplomatic and perhaps only 30 per cent to 40 per cent military in operation with the peacekeepers involved interposing themselves without weapons and without the ability to use armed force between combatants who have privately agreed to separate if somebody will allow them to do so without loss of face.

Chapter VII operations involve a totally different style of military engagement and they require special troops. I would add the further category which some countries have developed, the sort of SWAT team operation which sometimes is entrusted to civilian police and sometimes to the military. I suppose its apogée was in the German venture in Mogadishu a number of years ago which liberated hostages held by terrorists in a civilian passenger aircraft and achieved it with minimal loss of life or casualties.

However, it is unfair to the troops to blur these distinctions even if for high reasons of policy it may be necessary to ask them to move from one role to the other. A good deal of the problems of perception of the operation of our Canadian Armed Forces, encountered in recent months, stems from this fact. I think we have placed on record our great pride in the achievement of our armed forces and a great pride in what they have done in UN peacekeeping. Therefore, the suggestion for a medal to recognize this is something we all endorse and agree with. It is something we can all support.

There are some matters and I would simply take the liberty of suggesting them to the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands because I do not think they are opposed to the spirit of what he is suggesting. It is perhaps an error to get too many specifics in a bill of this nature: the coloration, the arrangement one might say of a medal. These are issues of design which on the whole have been handled very well by the Canadian and Commonwealth military. I suppose most of the medals we have are from that. I think that is probably best left to them.

There could have been more deference given to the role of the governor general in the awards. It may not be a function that any governor general has sought, but the source of the medals historically is from the sovereign, from the king, and the governor general vestigially holds this office. In the formulation or concretization of

these proposals the role of the governor general and established committees could be recognized.

On the main principle, this is a timely gesture. It is something Canadians would certainly endorse. I believe medals awarded by the UN properly qualify as Canadian medals. Although I do not know the exact ruling made by our order of precedence it seems they would be entitled to precedence in medal ribbon rows ahead of any foreign or other decorations that might be integrated into the Canadian system.

There may be an issue of duplication of awards should a UN medal and a Canadian medal for a UN operation be held simultaneously. It is understood that Canadian medals are viewed as area medals. With the specific location I do not see any problem with duplication.

My compliments to the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands for a measure that clearly stemmed from the heart in his case. It reflects the great pride that all members of the House take in the achievements of our armed forces, in the special contributions the forces have made since 1956 when Mr. Pearson's idea was adopted of UN peacekeeping operations.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business



Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to talk to the bill. I was a little taken aback by the time allocation. How much time would I have?

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business


The Deputy Speaker

The member's question is a good one. Private Members' Business ends at 11.04 a.m., in about three minutes.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

November 25th, 1996 / noon


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will see what I can slip in during the allotted time.

My basic point concerns what the medal is all about. Why should there be any medal? We can get down to real basics by asking such questions as what training do members of the Canadian Armed Forces go through and what does a medal represent in their ethos.

The training the members of our military get prepares them to give their lives for their country or their unit. This is instilled in them throughout their training so that when the time comes they will be prepared. A medal is simply recognition of that among other things. A medal can be a campaign medal that tells all who want to look on its bearer that the individual has had service in a foreign land.

At the same time it tells those who look at that medal or the medal ribbon, its representation, that individual has put it all on the line during his training and has said: "I am prepared to give my life for my country or my unit, and all I expect in return is the loyalty of my fellows in the field and of my country toward me, the representation of which is this medal".

I will say more at a later date. This is a very worthwhile bill for this House as an entity to support.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business


The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member will have approximately seven minutes when the debate resumes next time if he wishes to use it.

The hour provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

I have notice of a point of order from the hon. member for St. Albert before I recognize anyone on the government side.

Point Of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.


John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to the notice of time allocation for Bill C-63 given on Friday, November 22, 1996, pursuant to Standing Order 78(3)(a). This standing order states:

A Minister of the Crown who from his or her place in the House, at the previous sitting, has stated that an agreement could not reached under the provisions of sections (1) or (2) of this Standing Order-

It continues. I checked Hansard , and on page 6628 of Friday, November 22, 1996 the minister said:

Mr. Speaker, while there are continuing discussions on a number of issues, out of an abundance of caution I wish to inform the House that an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the report stage and the third reading stage of Bill C-63, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act.

Mr. Speaker, if you review Hansard you will note that I immediately stood on a point of order and objected because the deputy House leader for the government and I were sitting talking about that particular issue at that very time. To emphasize my point, the government has resumed negotiations on its own initiative this very morning.

On Wednesday, November 20, 1996, I rose on a point of order to complain that documents regarding the royal commission on aboriginal affairs were not going to be made available to members. The government whip stood up and challenged my point of order, claiming it was "speculation at this time".

The Deputy Speaker agreed and this point was well taken and applies to this situation as well. One cannot give notice of a hypothetical fact based on speculation. Procedurally, pursuant to Standing Order 78, there is either an agreement or there is not. If the intent of the standing order was to allow for a condition, it would say "in the event of no agreement". But that would be another matter.

There was a similar challenge to time allocation notice in August 1988 by the member for Windsor West. The Speaker ruled on August 16, 1988, page 18381 of Hansard :

Standing Order 117 provides for a minister to act if there is no agreement and, as I stated on June 6, 1988, the Chair must take a minister's declaration at face value.

The minister's declaration in 1988 was simple: "An agreement could not be reached". The minister's declaration from Friday, November 22, 1996 does not meet that standard because the minister stated on record that he has given notice just in case he cannot reach an agreement.

The standing orders do not allow for a conditional notice. The proper procedure for notice for the purpose of being cautious is a procedure set out in Standing Order 57 regarding closure. Standing Order 57 is not concerned with consultation nor is it concerned with agreement that might be made, can be made or should be made.

The minister cannot cut corners and take shortcuts by giving an ambiguous notice under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3). If we allow this notice to stand, then a minister could give notice for every bill based on an anticipated or hypothetical situation. No longer will consultation be necessary because notice would be allowed to be given before consultation or any effort to make an agreement. The notice given on Friday, November 22, 1996 by the Minister of Industry is out of order because the provisions of Standing Order 78(3)(a) were not met.

Point Of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick


Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, with regard to this point of order, I think it is important for the Chair to note that at the time the minister gave the notice there was no agreement on time allocation. In fact, it is accurate to say there is no agreement now on time allocation. The discussions taking place were in relation to the substance and not to the time allocation.

I would respectfully submit to the Chair that the notice that was given is perfectly in order. The notice is related to the fact that there could not be agreement. There is not an agreement now. The discussions that have been ongoing, which I acknowledge I have been part of, are related to the substance but we still have not reached an agreement. There is no agreement.

While I accept what my hon. colleague is trying to put forward, there is just no agreement. The discussion is on the substance of this matter, not on time.

Point Of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:10 p.m.


John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to rebut the comments by the deputy House leader of the government.

While the negotiations were concerning a substantive amendment to the bill, they were in order for us to grant concurrence and agreement with the time allocation proposed by the government, thus the substantive negotiations. We were quite prepared to accept the offer of time allocation by the government provided we had agreement on these issues. Therefore they were very much part of an ongoing process that still continues at this very moment regarding us and the government.

Point Of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I thank the hon. member for St. Albert and the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.

The member for St. Albert quoted from Speaker Fraser's ruling, page 18381 in Hansard of August 1988. I would add to his quote the second part of that paragraph:

-the Chair must take a Minister's declaration at face value and cannot judge the quality of negotiations or of any proposals that may have been made. In this case I was not even asked to judge on the quality of the negotiations because there is a document that indicates the arrangement at least had been entered into with two of the parties in the House, albeit, not that of the government.

The Speaker, as the member for St. Albert will remember, ruled that the notice was in order.

There are other judgments which appear to go the same direction on the same basis. Speaker Fraser on March 29, 1990-

Point Of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:10 p.m.


John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

On a point of order.

Point Of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

No, there are no further points of order.

The Speaker ruled, at page 9917, that he accepts the minister's motion as being in order.

The Chair regrets that I do not have time to consider the precedents and so on and come back with a coherent and hopefully cogently worded decision, but on the basis of what I have heard today from the member for St. Albert and the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, I am satisfied that the notice was proper and that the negotiations have not completed and if the minister takes the view that it has not been possible to reach an agreement, then the notice is acceptable.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick


Fernand Robichaud LiberalSecretary of State (Agriculture and Agri-Food


That in relation to Bill C-63, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage of the bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill and, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government business on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage and second reading and on the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required, for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)