House of Commons Hansard #110 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was countries.


Canada Endangered Species Protection ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.


Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the House would be disposed that the Speaker might see the clock as being 1.30 p.m. I see that the member under whose name private members' hour stands is in the Chamber and we might proceed to private members' hour at this time.

Canada Endangered Species Protection ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have permission to put his suggestion?

Canada Endangered Species Protection ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members


Canada Endangered Species Protection ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the suggestion. Is it agreed that we should proceed at this time to Private Members' Business?

Canada Endangered Species Protection ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members


Canada Endangered Species Protection ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Speaker

It being 1.00 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

12:55 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

moved that Bill C-252, an act to amend the Criminal Code (mines), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure today to speak on my private member's bill, Bill C-252, an act to amend the Criminal Code relating to mines.

This bill deals with an epidemic that we have in our midst which is affecting over 60 countries in the world. It is an epidemic which kills over 25,000 people every year. It is an epidemic which harms over three times that many people. It is an epidemic primarily designed to kill and maim innocent civilians, often children. The epidemic I am talking about is the epidemic of anti-personnel land mines.

This scourge affects many countries and often the poorest countries of the world. It is often spoken of on the same level as biological and chemical weapons. These heinous devices, these heinous silent killers which lay underneath the ground beside trees, on walking paths, beside watering holes and in fields are devices which violate virtually every single tenet of humanitarian law. They are in effect by their very nature, by the way in which they are used and by whom they affect, illegal. Yet there are in the world today countries which still use them, countries which produce them and countries which sell them.

The purpose of this bill is to give Canada a leadership role in banning anti-personnel land mines. To the credit of the government, it has placed a moratorium on land mines. It has also destroyed two-thirds of its stockpile. That is a move in the right direction. If we are calling for an international ban on anti-personnel mines which we have been doing, we must first take a leadership role in banning them domestically. It is disingenuous for us to call for a ban of these mines internationally on the one hand and on the other not do the same within Canada. It is a shame

because these weapons are not necessary, from a military or any other perspective. I will get to that later on in my speech.

There are two different kinds of these mines. There are blast mines which when stepped on blow up. There are fragmentation mines which contain pieces of shrapnel and metal one of which elevates itself above the ground to rip out a core and affect people perhaps in a 50 or 60 yard radius from where the mine has blown up.

The fragmentation mines shoot out projectiles at rapid speed which can tear into a person's bowels, legs, groin, chest, eyes and face. The blast mines can take off a limb. Perversely, these devices are not meant to kill but are actually meant to maim. The perverted logic behind this is that a person who is injured is a greater problem to society at large than somebody who is killed and removed from society.

Most of these mines are laid in battlefields. Most of them are laid in the poorest nations of the world. The mines are also used for a number of other different purposes. They are used to terrorize. They are used as blackmail. They are used to starve people. The Khmer Rouge used them very effectively in Cambodia. They would lay mines around the fields and say to the people that they could only get back into their fields if they paid them money. The Iraqis used them very effectively to starve the Kurds.

These mines, as I have said before, affect the poorest nations of the world. When a war is over and people want to go back into the fields they cannot do so because of the mines. This continues the cycle of starvation and destitution within these nations.

The mines are also used in a number of other heinous ways which is well known to the people here. Over 40 countries in the world manufacture mines and the list of companies that make them reads like the Who's Who of Fortune 500 . In fact if we look at the nations that make them, we find sadly that those who claim to be the leaders in peace at the United Nations Security Council are those who are the greatest producers of land mines in the world. It is important to know that. The list includes companies such as Daimler-Benz, Daiwa and many others that can be found in Fortune 500 .

Many of these devices are often designed to look like little toys. The reason they are designed to look like toys is that children will pick them up and their arms will be blown off.

My personal experience with land mines occurred when I was working on the Mozambique border in southern Africa during the war in Mozambique. It was usually young people, adolescents, children, youth, who had their limbs blown off. If you have ever looked into the eyes of somebody who is sitting on a hospital bed with one of their limbs torn to pieces and fragmentations embedded in various parts of their body, knowing full well that that the person is going to die or at best live a life of utter poverty and destitution, then you cannot arrive at any other conclusion but that these devices must be banned.

In fact looking at the current conventional wisdom, the Pentagon has called for a ban of these devices. Twenty-two top military brass in the United States have called for a ban. Canadians have called for a ban. The international community has called for a ban, yet we do not have a ban. Furthermore our country has not called for a ban.

The International Committee of the Red Cross put forth a very eloquent document which looked at the use of land mines purely from a military perspective. It was done by 12 top military brass including General Itani, a Canadian. The outcome was they said that there was no legitimate military use for anti-personnel land mines in the 1990s and there would not be in the future. They strongly recommended that these devices be banned.

Within 24 hours that document was supported by another 24 top military brass. Within 48 hours, 72 top military brass supported it, including General Norman Schwarzkopf and our own General Lewis MacKenzie.

The primary reason for keeping land mines within our arsenal comes from the military, from a very archaic view of the use of mines. Unfortunately that is the view that is being held sway within our country today and that needs to change.

I am greatly disappointed that this bill which in effect has been supported by members across this House and in fact in the Senate was not made votable. There have been dozens and dozens of interventions by members from the government, the Bloc, the Conservative Party, the NDP and Reform Party to ban anti-personnel land mines in Canada. There are even senators from all party lines who desperately want this to occur. There is no reason this bill should not have been made votable so that the House and the people of this country could vote on this very important humanitarian issue.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:10 p.m.

An hon. member

The government should bring forward a bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:10 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

That is right. The government should forthwith bring forward a bill calling for a ban. I am sure we could get speedy passage of that bill through this House and the Senate to make sure that Canada is playing a leadership role.

We are not the only country to have addressed this. Many countries have done so. For example, Belgium which had a vast stockpile of anti-personnel mines has made a ban. Sixteen countries across the world have taken leadership and it is high time that we as a nation did too.

Apart from the military aspect of land mines, there is also the issue under humanitarian law. There are rules which talk about the proportional or discriminate use of weapons. Land mines violate international humanitarian law on at least four or five tenets. They

are disproportionate, they affect civilians, they are not addressed necessarily to combatants, they continue to affect people long after a war is finished and they are inhumane by any stretch of the imagination.

If we are in agreement with international law, with the tenets that we have signed with the United Nations, then we have to arrive at no other conclusion but the fact that anti-personnel land mines are illegal and must be banned. There are no two ways about it.

If we want to speak in purely selfish terms, there are over two million land mines seeded around the world. Every year we take out 85,000. The cost to make a land mine is between $3 and $10, yet the cost to remove one can be anywhere between $300 and $1,000. We are losing the battle. We cannot keep up with the scourge if we are only removing that many and indiscriminately dumping over two million of them a year. And indiscriminate it is. Mines are tossed out of helicopters and from the backs of trucks. There are machines made in Great Britain, France and the United States which toss literally hundreds of them around.

In the gulf war a staggering 400,000 anti-personnel land mines were laid every single day. What is the cost to remove them? The worldwide cost is over $35 billion. Who can afford that? Not the countries that have them because they are some of the poorest countries in the world. Not the international community because we are all labouring under huge debts and deficits which we simply do not have the money to pay for.

What happens in the poorest countries of the world with the mines? It prevents these countries from getting back on their feet. Mozambique, Angola, El Salvador, Somalia; the list is endless. These countries will never become self-sufficient, will never be able to stand on their own two feet unless these issues are dealt with forthwith.

Some of my colleagues will speak today about the people who are affected by mines and what happens to them if they are lucky enough to survive the blast. Some of them may be lucky enough to go to a hospital where they will receive proper medical treatment and possible amputation. They then will suffer months if not years of future surgeries. Because the mine fragments are embedded deeply they often get septic. The people become sick and require antibiotics which are not often available. They might need revision surgeries if it is available to them or they die a very painful and horrible death.

We talk about prosthetics. Prosthesis for these people are not readily available. When one is making $15 U.S. a month and the cost for prosthesis is over $125 U.S., and children will use over 20 of these in their life, one can see that is simply not available.

Those of us who have travelled in the third world, as many members have, know that these people who are affected by mines and are amputation victims live a life in the lowest possible social strata in their society. They are in effect outcasts in a world of poverty. They often crawl on the ground using the remnants of rubber tires on their knees and beg. The families cannot take care of them and they can hardly take care of themselves. It is clearly inhumane.

Therefore, it completely violates any of the tenets of humanitarian law under which we are supposed to live.

Canada has a great opportunity. We have taken a leadership role in many other areas in the past. During the times of Pearsonian diplomacy we demonstrated that we can take a leadership role to strive for peace and understanding among people. We have demonstrated a leadership role in humanitarian aspects. We have Louise Arbour who is the head of the war crimes tribunals in the Hague. Canada has a pre-eminent role in diplomacy and in foreign policy.

I would ask that the government look at this issue and bring in a bill that will have a domestic ban on anti-personnel land mines. If we can have a domestic bill on these devices then clearly we can go to the international community and talk with a great deal of personal conviction and credibility. We can tell other countries that it is in the best interest of the poorest countries and the poorest people of the world, indeed all of us, to ban these devices. They must be put on the same level as chemical weapons, biological weapons and lasers that are designed to blind people. All of these weapons have absolutely no place in warfare in the 20th century.

So-called military experts will say that there are rules that govern mines. They have mapped them out and they know where they are. However, the facts of the matter are that is completely not true. Although we may try to do that, guerrillas can go in and move the mines around. Weather patterns shift the mines around. We do not know where they are. Guerrillas can take mines as they go through a mine field and use those mines to damage and destroy that which they are supposed to protect. They can also be used against the parties that they are supposed to protect. There is no use for these devices now and they must be banned.

Strangely, although the military is the primary objector to calling for a ban on these devices, the primary use is by non-military combatants, non-conventional combatants or guerrillas. They are the ones who use these discriminately and they are the ones who do not adhere to common practices of war. We all know there are really no rules in war.

Some people have said that if we call for a ban on these devices not everybody is going to adhere to it. That is very true, but by banning these substances we will be able to arrest the epidemic of the distribution of these devices so we can at least lower the numbers that are being laid. As I mentioned before, if one is laying

two million mines a year and taking 85,000 out we have a losing proposition and they must be removed.

These mines are not used for military purposes. They are primarily used in a inhumane fashion to terrorize the civilian population. Many are designed to target a civilian population by putting them along the pathways to watering holes. The military do not do that. They know how to deal with mines. This practice is meant to terrorize the civilians.

I would like to congratulate a number of groups in Canada which have worked extraordinarily hard on this issue. Mines Action Canada, the International Committee of the Red Cross, just to name a few, along with many Canadians from coast to coast have tried to bring the issue to the forefront of international consciousness.

I would ask that the government follow the desires and wishes of the majority of Canadians and ban a device which is so heinous it is beyond our comprehension unless we have dealt with or heaven forbid, been affected by land mines or anti-personnel devices.

I will stop there. Based on what I have said today, I would like to seek the unanimous consent of the House to make my private member's bill votable.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Finlay)

Is there agreement that the bill should be made votable?

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members


Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:20 p.m.


Carolyn Parrish Liberal Mississauga West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of private member's Bill C-252, calling for a domestic ban of anti-personnel land mines.

I have a particular interest in this issue, since last week at a conference of the North Atlantic Assembly I was elected Special Rapporteur to the Science and Technology Committee to report to the assembly on anti-personnel land mines with the objective of banning them. In the coming months I will be studying this issue very closely.

In recent years, due in part to the efforts of numerous international non-governmental organizations, as mentioned by the previous speaker, the issue of anti-personnel land mines has been brought to the forefront of international relations. We are becoming increasingly informed and aware of the destruction and havoc caused by such weapons all over the world.

These efforts have led to an international campaign to ban anti-personnel land mines, a movement in which I am proud to state Canada has taken a lead role.

In October of this year, the Minister of Foreign Affairs held an international strategy conference toward a global ban on anti-personnel land mines where representatives of 70 governments, non-governmental organizations, multilateral agencies and private citizens attended. The Ottawa conference concluded with the adoption of the Ottawa declaration calling for an international ban on anti-personnel land mines.

The problem is enormous. It is estimated there are 119 million uncleared active land mines around the world in more than 64 countries. Currently, as the previous speaker mentioned, only 100,000 are being cleared and disarmed yearly at great expense.

The United Nations has projected that if no further land mines were laid, it would still take 1,000 years and $33 billion to clear the land mines that are already in place. However, each year two million to five million new mines are put in the ground. We cannot sit idly by and allow the situation to continue unchecked.

These horrible weapons currently claim more than 2,000 victims a month and over the last 50 years have probably inflicted more death and injuries than nuclear and chemical weapons combined.

While the use of land mines began as a counter to tanks, the use of anti-personnel land mines have become increasingly popular. They have become the weapon of choice for parties involved in guerrilla type operations and international conflicts as they are cheap, as little a $3 a piece, easy to lay and highly effective in killing and maiming human beings, particularly women and children. They are used in some cases to deny access to farm lands, irrigation channels and power plants. The effect of these usages is devastating in a country recovering from war.

Once land mines are laid, they are indiscriminate in their actions since they do not have to be aimed or fired. They are nameless and faceless weapons. Unless they are cleared they go on killing long after the end of any conflict. In fact, the United Nations has estimated that land mines are at least ten times more likely to kill or injure a civilian after a conflict than a combatant during hostility.

Moreover, floods, landslides, moving sand dunes and natural erosion can shift their positions long after they have been laid and marked. In Namibia 88 per cent of post-1980 land mine casualties were civilian. The same situation is reflected in many other countries where land mines are numerous.

The effects of land mines are gruesome and abhorrent. One person is killed or maimed by a mine every 20 minutes and nearly a third of the survivors have at least one limb amputated. On a current election monitoring trip to Bosnia I was shocked to note that about one in every ten adults and children walking along the street in a town called Gorazde had either a hand, an arm or a leg missing.

By comparison, in the U.S. there is one amputee per 22,000 inhabitants. In Cambodia, one of the countries most affected by mines, there is one amputee per 384 inhabitants. A study in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cambodia and Mozambique found that the number of mine incidents in these four countries more than doubled between the early 1980s and the early 1990s.

Land mines cause havoc in a society and severely hamper post-war reconstruction. Most mines strike those who are poor and must go into debt to pay for their medical bills if they can afford medical treatment at all. Gorazde has 20,000 people and two doctors from Doctors without Borders.

The day before I arrived in Gorazde a little boy picked up a red lunch pail and blew his arm off at the shoulder. All the doctors could do is cauterize it and send him to Sarajevo. No one knew what happened to him after that.

Mines also prevent the use of land for agricultural production in many parts of affected countries, severely limiting economic recovery. For example, in Libya only 27 per cent of arable land is usable because it has been covered by mine fields since World War II. Mines make reconstruction of rail and road networks, power lines and waterways slow, dangerous and costly.

When I was in Bosnia they only had power for two out of 24 hours. It was erratic. It could not be repaired. Sometimes the electricity came on from two until four in the morning, the time when most people do not have much use for it.

Not only do anti-personnel land mines prevent the use of resources, they also place a strain on the budgets of countries affected, especially since those countries are likely among the poorest in the world.

In addition, land mines prevent the settlement and resettlement of refugees which is essential to the success of the peace process. Peacekeepers are also at risk in these circumstances and we have many Canadian peacekeepers in Bosnia right now, over 1,000.

A total of 203 UN peacekeepers have been injured by mines and 60 have been killed to date. A further 39 UN civilian personnel have been injured and 7 have been killed by mines. One of the most important briefings I got repeatedly before I went to Bosnia as a civilian election monitor was all the rules and regulations on how to avoid getting maimed or killed by a land mine. I was in one of the most beautiful countries in the world yet I could not step off the sidewalk or the road on to the grass anywhere.

For all of these reasons, land mines make it difficult, if not impossible, for countries to make the transition from conflict to peace through economic recovery, which is what those countries desperately need in order to reduce the chances of future armed conflicts.

Land mines are not a significant source of revenue for most countries. About 100 companies in some 55 countries produce approximately five million land mines a year comprised of about 360 different types of anti-personnel land mines. Few countries profit significantly from the sale of conventional anti-personnel land mines, most of which sell from $3 to $30 each.

Not only are clearance costs between $300 and $1,000 per mine, the human costs are overwhelming. Each victim will incur lifetime expenses and each country will incur serious human and economic costs from those injuries. We can be very proud. Canada has one of the best trained forces in the world in disarming these mines.

The review conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons adopted on May 3 a revised version of the convention's protocol II regulating the use of "mines, booby traps and other devices". Some of the revisions include an extension of the protocol to apply in both international and non-international armed conflicts, a clear assignment of responsibility for mine clearance to those who lay the mines, and a requirement that all mines be mapped and recorded. Of course that requirement is useless in many countries. As soon as the weather changes the mines shift and it is impossible to find them. Self-destructing mines may be used without any specific restriction but they are few and far between.

While I am pleased that such efforts are being attempted it is not enough. The provisions will be phased in over nine years. In addition to this delay, many of the provisions are costly, difficult to ensure and unlikely to be followed, particularly in the midst of war.

Even if states comply with the recording and mapping rule these techniques are only marginally effective when land mines shift easily over unstable ground. Self-destructing mines can be delivered in huge quantities and are extremely difficult to map. Their use could lead to an even greater increase in civilian mine casualties.

The limited military usefulness of land mines must be overridden by humanitarian priorities. I have had the opportunity to witness firsthand, as I have mentioned repeatedly, the destruction caused by anti-personnel land mines.

On the trip to Bosnia the most nervous part of the whole trip was not fear that I would be shot at or fear that there would be conflict between the people we were there to observe, it was the fear for my own person. I thought to myself there are many people, young people, who do not have work, 85 per cent unemployed, and they have the added fear that if they step anywhere that they should not, off a road, off a sidewalk, they can be maimed for life.

I can only imagine the dangers the average citizen faced on a day to day basis there. Fighting had technically ceased. Just because the

act of war was over did not mean the citizens were out of danger. Rather, they faced a whole new set of problems, not the least among them was trying to rebuild a country with so many obstacles in place.

Canada must take a lead role in achieving a global ban on anti-personnel land mines. Bill C-252 is non-partisan. It has been presented by a member of the Reform Party but I wholeheartedly endorse it in a non-partisan fashion. It draws our attention to this very important subject and provokes serious debate and consideration of the issues involved.

I strongly urge thoughtful consideration of this bill because ongoing dialogue is essential to any future progress.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-252. Although it is a very rare occurrence, this bill has elicited an air of peace and a desire to resolve a situation that causes terrible problems and suffering throughout the world.

We must recall the Government of Canada's position on anti-personnel mines. There is an international agreement. Canada has destroyed two thirds of its mines, and I think this bill today contributes an important additional element. It would completely close the door on any trade in anti-personnel mines. It would prevent there being any more international military transactions in Canada relating to mines. I think this should be incorporated in the Canadian government's international policy.

I would like to remind the House of statements made in this regard on December 12, 1995 by the hon. member for Laval East and on May 8, 1996 by the member for Terrebonne expressing the official opposition's desire for a strong, definite and clear policy on the part of the Canadian government prohibiting mines so that in the 21st century there would be no mines on earth and so that they could not cause the horrible injuries we often see in reports on the civil wars still raging unfortunately in a number of countries in the world.

This is why the bill introduced by the hon. member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca is interesting. We cannot overlook the possibility of arms dealers becoming increasingly greedy for gain and, despite the will to destroy these types of mines, of individuals from other countries, manufacturers for instance, or dealers using a country like Canada as a contact point within North America or even the whole world, or maybe as a place to set up business.

I think we had better find a way to follow up on this legislation. The purpose of this bill is to prohibit the offer for sale, purchase, possession, giving, barter, manufacture, assembly, import or export of a mine or an apparently harmless device, which is another definition for a mine.

Overall, this piece of legislation would prohibit the trade of this type of weapon in Canada.

It has been clearly demonstrated that these anti-personnel mines are left-overs from more barbaric times. Just like international conventions were signed to deal with gas warfare, it is important to try to solve this problem once and for all before the end of the century.

Unfortunately, mines are used in what could be called conventional wars raging in several continents, wars between neighbouring countries and even factions within a country who can only afford cheap weapons and mines, which makes this type of weapon interesting for a warring group. Victims are either maimed for life or are beyond recognition.

The most horrible aspect of antipersonnel mines is that they make no distinction between a child, a woman, an adult or an elderly person and soldiers engaged in combat. It is very important that the Canadian government's message to the rest of the world be quite clear.

We have a firm policy, and we have destroyed two thirds of the mines. Is two thirds enough? Should we not have destroyed 80, 85 or 90 per cent? Good question. We already have at least one element of the debate on the destruction of two thirds of Canadian mines. But there is one element missing from Canada's policy and that is to ensure there are no sales on Canadian soil. I think the contribution made by the hon. member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca is important in this respect.

In a speech the Minister for International Co-operation and Minister responsible for Francophonie gave on October 3, 1996 at the international conference on strategies for a complete ban on antipersonnel mines, the minister said that the continued presence of 110 million antipersonnel mines in developing countries, mainly in rural areas, actually means that these countries are still a war zone. Because antipersonnel mines are cheap, easy to obtain and easy to lay, they are the weapon of choice among belligerents in the poorest countries.

However, we must not forget that in many cases, the trade in these weapons which are used by belligerents in wars in the poorest countries is often in the hands of people in wealthy Western countries. We must ensure that Canada is not in any way involved in this international arms trade. That is why the bill before the House today can be useful.

The minister also said in his speech that together we must put pressure on governments to prohibit the manufacture, sale and use

of land mines. So I fail to understand why the government majority refused to let this bill be a votable item. I do not see why just now the majority refused to let this bill come to a vote.

If we look at the bill itself, it does not contain much that is controversial. In fact, it consists of only two sections: the first one defines what a mine is, which I mentioned earlier, and says that every person commits an offence who purchases, possesses, manufactures, assembles or imports a mine or an object or device referred to in the second definition.

The bill even provides that the Government of Canada or of a province, or a corporation, might possess mines for the purpose of gaining experience in mine clearing or acquiring information about mines. Therefore, the exemption allowing the government to undertake meaningful action regarding those mines that are still active, one third of the all remaining mines, is already provided for in the bill.

It also provides for penalties which I find appropriate and which would be substantial in the case of someone committing an offence under this bill. A first offence could result in up to 10 years in prison; for a second offence the maximum penalty would still be 10 years in prison, but there would be a minimum of one year in jail and, subsequently, for each additional offence the maximum penalty would be 10 years with a minimum of two years less a day.

The only reason I believe this bill is not votable is because it does not come from a member of the majority.

This is rather upsetting, because private members' business is part of the parliamentary agenda. Its very purpose is to allow members who have developed an awareness of certain issues to propose corrective measures when government policies are flawed, and to have these measures properly debated.

In conclusion, I personally believe a consensus can be reached on this bill in Canada. After adopting a national policy to destroy two thirds of the mines, we ought to be able to reach the same consensus to prevent the sale of mines in our country.

I hope the government, which refused earlier to give unanimous consent to make this bill a votable item, will find a way to integrate this policy. The hon. member who introduced this bill deserves credit for doing so, because it is important to state that mines are prohibited throughout Canada.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:40 p.m.


Herb Dhaliwal Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have had some very good interventions here today.

I want to congratulate the member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca for bringing this forward. I know the work he has done on this issue. I know that the personal experiences he has obviously help him to understand the issue better.

This is a very important issue for me as well in that the deployment of anti-personnel mines is a massive human tragedy. It not only maims but it takes life and a lot of the time it affects women and children.

One of the opportunities I had on this issue was with a delegation at the Interparliamentary Union led by Senator Bosa. I was given the duty on behalf of the Canadian delegation to have this issue of banning anti-personnel land mines on the agenda. The Interparliamentary Union is made up of 133 countries. This is an international issue. It is up to members of Parliament from around the world to build a consensus and come to an agreement on having a total ban on anti-personnel land mines.

At the Interparliamentary Union it was our task to get this issue on the agenda. However, just to get issues on the agenda of an international organization is a tremendous task. There had been a number of attempts before by Belgium to have this issue put on the agenda and they had failed.

There was a real effort by all of our delegation. We had written to many of the ambassadors of other countries to inform them that we wanted to have this on the agenda. One of the ways that happens is there is a vote at the IPU on the first day. We were able to convince members of Parliament from around the world to come together and vote on this issue. We were very successful in convincing them to put it on the agenda.

Once the issue was on the agenda a drafting committee was struck. I had the privilege to be on that drafting committee. The Canadian text was adopted as the working document. This was the document that was accepted. It would have been a great asset to have other members, like the hon. member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, with us when the work was done there. Unfortunately his party does not want to go to some of these international forums.

These international forums are very valuable to put international issues on the agenda. We are working with members from around the world and Canada has taken a leadership role in the world. Too often as Canadians we undersell our influence around the world.

This is a good example where the Canadian delegation was able to get this issue on the agenda and have the Canadian text as the working text for the committee. What happens in these international organizations is that it goes to the working committee. The working committee debates some of these issues and comes up with a consensus.

As Canadians we ask why would some countries not want to support the banning of anti-personnel land mines. It seems very logical. There were some countries that were not interested in doing that. One of those countries is China. It produces more anti-personnel land mines than any other country. When the text was being examines, the Chinese were not interested in a very

strong text. I said to my other colleagues, most of whom were very supportive, that in the public mind these international organizations often water down what is necessary.

This resolution should not be watered down. It is very strong and asks for a total ban on anti-personnel land mines. It would stop their production, their transportation and their use.

The Canadian delegation, along with other countries, was able to adopt a very strong resolution at the IPU. The final paragraph asked the IPU to work with other international organizations like the United Nations so that the international community could come together to formalize a convention for the total ban of anti-personnel land mines.

Many of my colleagues here today have articulated the tragedies which land mines have caused. I also want to inform the House and the Canadians watching this debate of the tragedies which anti-personnel land mines have caused.

The October issue of Equinox has an excellent article. One of the stories was about a mother and her four-year old daughter who were out working on the farm. The mother had the daughter strapped to her back when she stepped on an anti-personnel land mine which costs no more than $3 or $4 to produce. It went off with 12 pounds of pressure. The mother was killed. She lost her limbs and died right there. The four-year-old child who was on her back lay there with one of her legs blown off for three days before someone found her. That four-year-old child will have to spend the rest of her life with one leg. Imagine the tragedy. That tragedy happens 500 times every week. It happens in those countries which are least able to deal with it.

When my wife and I toured the refugee camps on the Thailand-Burma border we went to a clinic which is partly funded by the Canadian government. This clinic is in an old barn which has been converted into a hospital. It was not a hospital in the sense of what we are accustomed to. It was just a broken down building which had been put together. Normally it would hold ten patients. There were 100 people in that hospital.

Our memories are very vivid. We met a 21-year-old Burmese student. Due to a land mine both of his arms had been blown off and he had no vision. It made me feel good that as a member of Parliament I was able to, in a very small way, help to bring this issue before the international community. Canada has a very important role to play in this regard. It has taken a leadership role.

A conference was held in Canada. We tried to bring those countries who are like minded together. It is not easy to get the international community to agree to something. One thing that I have learned as a member of Parliament is that Canada is very well respected by the international community. It is well known that Canada will take a leadership role on very important issues. It will be able to get those countries together but we have to do the groundwork. We have to get those countries together and ensure that we do our homework to get this done. There will be countries that will say they do not need it because they will ensure there are regulations so that the mines are not laid indiscriminately and it will be okay to do. However, the reality is that it is not true.

We are losing the battle. If we were to remove every one of the anti-personnel land mines presently on the ground it would take us 2,000 years at today's rate. However, two to five million mines are being laid in the ground each year. It is a real tragedy.

I know my time is limited so I will conclude. It is up to the members not only in this House but around the world to come together and say that as members of Parliament, as people we want to make sure that we correct this problem.

I want to thank the hon. member from Esquimalt for bringing this forward. He can count on my support to continue to work in the international forums. Canada is willing to go along with it but we need all the other countries in the world to come on board. We need to concentrate on the international forums and put this debate forward. When we win the support of all the other politicians around the world then we will be able to deal with this issue. I am sure we can be successful in working together on this issue.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.


Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, sometimes in this House a very special thing happens and that is a feeling of unanimity about a particular issue. This is certainly one of them.

I would like to commend my colleague, the member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca. Within all of our lives there are defining events. Clearly this has happened in the life of my colleague where he has been involved in this issue at a very personal level.

With your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, I would like to read a column he had written that appeared in the Financial Post on Tuesday, May 21, 1996. He writes:

For those who survive, the horror often begins with an ominous click as the detonator is triggered. It is followed by a deafening roar and having your body catapulted through the air. The result is either death, or a life of destitution in a developing country where people who are disabled occupy the lowest social rung in a land of poverty and despair.

In January 1992, Tomas Chiluba was a strong and fit 18-year-old Mozambican fleeing his country, a land wracked by 15 years of civil war. Just before arriving at the South African border and the hope of a new and better life, Tomas heard that fateful click. He was dragged into the hospital 18 hours later. The explosion had torn into his legs, ripping the flesh off his left leg, while shattering the bones and sending mine fragments and bone shards into his right leg. For the next three hours we amputated his left leg above the knee and tried, as best we could, to remove dead tissue, dirt and mine fragments from the good leg in the hope of salvaging it. Thousands of times each year, far from the prying eyes of the world community, this tragic scenario is played out.

The international community convened in Geneva earlier this month-

-that was in May of this year-

-to deal with this silent menace. Sadly, only marginal progress was made with calls for the use of "smart" mines (a real oxymoron) that self-destruct only 90% of the time, and the prohibition of plastic anti-personnel mines. Canada called for an international ban but refused to do the same domestically citing that land mines are essential to our troops in the field. However, this argument has been effectively dispelled by a number of studies, the latest by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The time has now come for our country to take a stand. We have significant moral suasion in the international community and it is time we took a leadership role by banning their production and use in Canada. This will send a clear message for other countries to follow suit.

Land mines have been with us for decades and have become a long lasting and lethal by-product of war. Sixty-nine countries harbour over 100 million of them in their soil, their precise location unknown. Indiscriminately seeded over large areas, they can be active for over 50 years.

Many of the anti-personnel devices are made of plastic and are usually targeted against innocent civilians. Some are even designed to look like toys so children will pick them up, play with them, and have their arms blown off. They are not meant to kill, but to maim, the perverted logic being that a disabled person will be a continuous drain on society and therefore more costly than someone who is dead. The toll in human suffering they have exacted around the world is enormous. In Cambodia, one out of every 260 people are amputees and in Angola it is one in every 470 people.

Over 40 countries manufacture over 300 different types of mines at a cost ranging from $3 to $70. They include such nations as Italy, Sweden, Canada and paradoxically every permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The company names run like a who's who on the Fortune 500 and includes such notables as Daimler-Benz and Motorola. Even in Canada, SNC Industrial Technologies in Quebec makes the C3A2 land mine, dubbed, "little Elsie".

Although mines are cheap to produce, their removal is extremely costly and dangerous. The worldwide bill for demining is a staggering $85 billion. Who will pay for this? Last year, 85,000 mines were removed worldwide at a cost of $70 million. However, at the same time two million mines were widely and indiscriminately seeded. Thus, despite our efforts, we are losing the battle.

Above and beyond the ruined lives and huge demining costs that mines cause is their devastating effect on an economy as they render huge tracts of land unusable for decades. This is particularly sad since those countries that are mined tend to be the poorest, and have been decimated by years of civil conflict. Their starving populations, desperately in need of the land to feed themselves, cannot because of the risk of stepping on a mine. The world community recognizes this silent menace but must now organize itself to do something about it.

For the sake of Thomas Chiluba and thousands of others like him, it is imperative that we eliminate the use of land mines and anti-personnel devices worldwide. To not do so will commit thousands of young people to a life of disability, leaving a lethal legacy in impoverished countries already devastated by war. Banning them is our only option.

Those are the words of my colleague from Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca. He has proposed in Bill C-232 a very small step toward the objective of reducing and finally banning land mines. I think that his bill makes a lot of sense from the perspective that it is not grandiose. It does not say anything about our country as a country. It does not say anything about armed personnel. It does not say anything about armament in bases around the world. But what it does say is that:

Every person commits an offence who sells, offers for sale, gives, barters or exports

(a) a mine; or

(b) an object or device that the person, on reasonable grounds, believes

(i) is designed exclusively for use in the manufacture of or assembly into a mine, or

(ii) will be used in the manufacture of or assembly into a mine.

(2) subject to subsection (3), every person commits an offence who purchases, possesses, manufactures, assembles or imports a mine or an object or device referred to in paragraph 1(b) above.

The bill makes sense in that it talks about putting this into the Criminal Code so that we at least take one small baby step, on whole legs, toward the objectives that we have of seeing land mines banned.

Once again I would ask for unanimous consent of the House that Bill C-252 be sent to committee at this time.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I have a point of order from the hon. solicitor general.

Point Of OrderPrivate Members' Business

November 29th, 1996 / 1:55 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario


Herb Gray LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I want to raise a brief point of order of which I have just given you notice. The point of order is for the purpose of allowing me to make a correction to today's Hansard . I would have raised this earlier but this matter has just been brought to my attention.

During today's question period I answered a question in part as follows: "Mr. Speaker, Olson is not personally in possession of any of the videotapes in question. Second of all, the lawyer in question is in possession of five of them. He has previously undertaken not to make them public, but in any event I am advised that legal action is being undertaken on behalf of the crown to regain possession of the tapes from Olson".

It is clear from the context here that I was referring to Olson's lawyer. As I say, it was just brought to my attention that I ended a sentence with the word Olson, creating an apparent contradiction with what I said at the beginning of my answer. I wish to confirm that I was referring to Olson's lawyer when I said that legal action is being undertaken on behalf of the crown to regain possession of certain tapes.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-252, an act to amend the Criminal Code (mines), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, I have a request that the member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca be given a few seconds to wrap up. I see by the clock there are only a few seconds remaining. Rather than go into a full debate I am going to give the member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca the remaining time to wrap this up.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for your consideration.

I would like to thank my colleagues for Mississauga West, Vancouver South, Kootenay East and Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup for their kind and heartfelt interventions on this enormous humanitarian issue.

In closing, I would just like to say to every member in the House that as has been mentioned passionately by the members here from across party lines, this issue is one of non-partisanship. It is an issue of basic humanitarianism. It is an issue that we as Canadians stand for as part of our soul in being fair and equitable people who want to do the right thing and fight for those who are most dispossessed in the world.

I hope the government will bring forward a bill forthwith on this issue calling for Canada to play a leadership role in banning anti-personnel land mines.

I ask once again that the House make my Bill C-252 votable.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have permission to put the motion to the floor?

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Some hon. members


Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

There is not permission.

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. Accordingly the order is dropped from the Order Paper.

It being 2.05 p.m., the House stands adjourned until 11 a.m. on Monday.

(The House adjourned at 2.03 p.m.)