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


Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

7:55 p.m.


Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise for the first time in this new session of Parliament to debate the role of Canada in Haiti. We all recall that an emergency debate on our peacekeepers was among the first topics discussed in the first session of this Parliament. It was also my maiden speech in Parliament. Since then the government has consulted, as promised, this House on several occasions because it believes in hearing the opinions of its members as representatives of all Canadians.

Today, once again, the Liberal government is turning to us for our views on the subject of Haiti where Canada has played a fundamental role in helping to restore peace and democracy. More than ever, Canada continues to be asked to assist in such missions as the one we are debating today. The reason for this, as the Prime Minister said in his speech this afternoon, is because they see Canada as a model for hope for the future and they aspire to achieve what we have in our country.

I feel it is our duty as well as our responsibility to help these nations, which I will call also our brothers and our sisters in need. After all, we live on this planet earth together and we are all a global family.

Haitians see us as a partner and a strong ally who has never let them down. As for the UN, it sees us as an active participant in a multilateral system, and also as a country with a deep respect for peacekeeping. Today, both of them are showing the great confidence they have in our country and its citizens.

I want to focus on two themes that, I think, justify our participation in that mission: to help strengthen the civilian authorities in Haiti, and to ensure the safety of individuals.

On February 7, our new colleague, the Minister for International Co-operation and Minister for Francophonie, went to Port-au-Prince to represent our country at the swearing-in ceremony of the new President of Haiti, René Préval.

This was the minister's first trip, which is an indication of the importance given to the Haitian situation by our government. The minister was able to see first hand the rebuilding going on, as well as the magnitude of the job that awaits Canada and other donor countries willing to help Haiti meet the basic needs of its population.

Canada has played, and continues to play, a major role in the march of the Haitian people towards democracy. Our immediate concern is to maintain a stable and safe environment in Haiti. In order to do that, the UN peacekeeping mission must remain in Haiti. Canada will continue to support the development of the rule of law in Haiti and help strengthen the civilian authorities in that country.

In the long term, this will not only mean helping Haiti reorganize its courts, but also train its judges and help reform its whole legal system. The Canadian International Development Agency is currently developing a program that will help Haiti train judges as well as court officers. That program will also help the Haitian government reorganize trial courts and develop its own training capabilities. Technical assistance is currently being provided to the Haitian justice department through that program.

As a Montrealer, I am pleased to know that over 245 police officers from Montreal's urban community volunteered to spend three to six months in Haiti, where they will join the 15 or so officers who are already there, to help train their new Haitian colleagues. This type of exchange shows the value and the strength of international co-operation.

This program will not only help the new Haitian police force, but will certainly work to bring together the SPCUM and the cultural communities of Montreal. This shows what co-operation can do. This is a fine example of what international co-operation can bring to all of us in Canada.

We need to help Haitians not only to overall their justice system, but also to discover and protect their rights. With its Human Right Education and Promotion Program, CIDA is teaching the Haitian people, at the community level, how to exercise and protect their rights. This program will promote a sense of civic duty and try to make the Haitian people more responsible, while the lack of such a sense of civic duty has only led to violence and fear in Haiti.

We will help Haiti to further develop this sense of civic duty by revitalizing its co-operative movement. The Haitian people will gain a better understanding of the true value of participatory democracy. The co-operative movement has been in existence in Canada for a long time. Whether it is in Quebec with its caisses populaires or in Western Canada with its wheat pools, we know the many benefits this movement can bring to the community. The co-operative movement helps to create and protect jobs and to distribute wealth, but also teaches its members about democracy and gets them involved in society. This is why CIDA implemented a five-year program to promote the co-operative system as the key to economic growth and to the social and financial security of its members.

Strengthening democracy in Haiti will lead to social development. The Haitian people had the courage to take the first steps in what will be a long and difficult march. Haitians have let go of their painful and violent past and are working hard to build a peaceful society where all their fellow citizens will share the benefits of development and progress.

They can be proud of what they have accomplished in such a short period of time. We agree with President Préval, when he said in his inaugural speech that, in the end, it will be up to the Haitian people to take responsibility for their future.

Even if they have taken their future into their own hands, we must continue to stand beside them and to give them a hand. We cannot let the gap between aspirations and reality get any wider in Haiti. The longer people have to wait for real change, the greater the potential for violence and instability. For this reason, Canada's two priorities in Haiti are to seek and maintain a stable and peaceful environment, and to reduce poverty and foster economic growth.

Canada is convinced that Haiti must have sustainable development. If there is to be any chance of that development fostering any hope, it absolutely must integrate all of the environmental, social, economic and cultural challenges that face Haiti. This holistic approach is the key to reducing Haitian poverty. Too often poverty, coupled with inequality, injustice and systematic abuses, leads to violence. We must break that vicious circle, and this we can do if we create the necessary conditions for growth and for job creation.

If we contribute to maintaining the current atmosphere of stability in Haiti, and if we can consolidate it still further, national and international investors will be more inclined to make investments there. In the meantime, Canada has concentrated its efforts on small labour intensive infrastructure projects throughout Haiti, such as rebuilding schools and nursing stations, repairing roads and improving irrigation and drainage ditches.

In addition to supplying technical assistance in various forms, since 1994 Canada has provided more than 300,000 tools such as hoes and shovels-simple, but in scarce supply-to allow these projects to take shape. So we have a grasp on the magnitude of the task Haiti has before it.

In conclusion, Canada is aware that the Haitian people have great confidence in us. On behalf of myself, and of all Canadians I believe, I wish to thank them for their confidence and to assure them that we intend to show ourselves worthy of it. We and our ministers will work hand in hand with them, while respecting their differences, at fulfilling their aspirations for peace and development.

I wish once again to applaud the efforts the Liberal government and our ministers have made in helping to restore democracy in Haiti. It is important for us to continue to do all we can to strengthen our commitment to our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

8:05 p.m.


Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt to speak to the motion of the House, this take note debate have before us tonight, on Canada's current and future international peacekeeping commitments in Haiti, with particular reference to the United Nations aspect for Canada to take military command of the United Nations mission in Haiti.

To me and other members of the House this take note debate is purely smoke and mirrors. Although we would like to see pure consultation with members of the House of Commons, we recognize there will be no vote with respect to the information that comes out of this debate tonight. The Reform Party deplores the hypocritical attitude the Liberal government has toward the Canadian people in this regard.

For several weeks now the media has been reporting that the government has decided to commit troops to Haiti. The chief of defence staff advised the cabinet that we have the capability to participate, and military preparations have been underway for some time now.

The Liberal government even referred to this mission in yesterday's throne speech. Despite the hypocrisy of the government, the Reform Party supports in principal taking command of the UN mission to Haiti. Canadians recognize the importance of stability in Haiti, the poorest country in our hemisphere, and Canadians support the principle of democratic reform.

This is a dangerous mission and Canadians should be fully aware of that fact. It is dangerous and this is not a traditional peacekeeping mission. We will not be monitoring opposing armies but playing a role in maintaining political stability in Haiti. Canadians recognize that our armed forces are ready and capable of success in this mission because we have a trained, combat capable, professional armed forces to do the job.

However, the Reform Party is concerned about the government's handling of Canada's defence policy. One of the most important tasks of any national government is to support the existence of sufficient combat capable armed forces to match the nation's defence policy. This is not something that is just desirable, this is a responsibility and a requirement of any sound national government. It would be an abdication of the government to fail in this regard.

In 1994 the special joint committee on Canada's defence policy, after careful consideration, identified that we must maintain at least 66,700 military personnel. Yet the minister in his white paper stated that he intended to reduce the size of the armed forces to some 60,000, almost 7,000 fewer than identified during the eight months the special joint committee was working on this very issue.

The commitment capability gap does not stop there. In the white paper the Minister of National Defence also announced the government intends to cut the primary reserves to 23,000 from 29,000 personnel. This is strategically and fiscally irresponsible for this minister. The militia provided more than 20 per cent of the UNPROFOR mission to the former Yugoslavia. The militia cost the Canadian taxpayers only 4 per cent of the entire armed forces budget. The militia is a very cost effective way of having a national defence plan.

If the Liberal government accepts the recommendation of the 1995 Dickson commission report on the restructuring of the reserves, 50 per cent of Canada's militia units will be disbanded across the country.

Only two weeks ago the Liberal government changed 50 years of Canadian defence policy by saying that Canada does not have nor does it need to maintain combat capable land forces. On February 13 the new chief of the defence staff told Canadians that land forces are unfit to fight in a serious war: "If the government asked me to go into a high intensity theatre with the equipment I have today, I would have to say I can't do it".

The Minister of National Defence, contradicting his own white paper, said that General Boyle's comments were pretty fair. He added that General Boyle's comments reflect the 1994 white paper on defence. Then the Minister of Foreign Affairs went even further in reversing the defence policy of the government, stating: "A lot of defence purchases have been geared toward the peacekeeping effort because that is the changing nature of the world. The notion

that we might re-engage in a major conflict like the second world war does not seem to be there".

These statements, in a matter of a 10-second news clip, by the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs destroyed the work of the special joint committee, destroyed the work of the Minister of National Defence's own white paper on defence.

In Gaza in 1956 Canadian General Burns said you can always turn down a fire hose to water a garden but you can never turn up a garden hose to put out a blazing fire. General Burns was telling Canadians the Canadian Armed Forces must be able to tackle a variety of challenges in the dangerous and unpredictable world we live in today. Our armed forces personnel must be first and foremost combat capable professionals which then and only then enables them to be the finest peacekeepers in the world.

The Minister of National Defence should take heed of General Burns' illustration. If the minister would listen tonight I would say stabilize the size of the Canadian Armed Forces and make sure the resources go toward making it first and foremost combat capable. He should live up to the combat capability which he committed an entire chapter to in the white paper.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs also must consider the illustration of General Burns. It is fine and dandy for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to commit our armed forces to Liberal government foreign policy objectives. However, they must not be trained only for peacekeeping; they must remain combat capable professionals, as they are today.

The Reform Party supports in principle taking command of the United Nations mission in Haiti. Canadians are confident in the ability of our armed forces. However, Canadians are not as confident in the Liberal government. Canadians call on the government to stop abdicating its responsibility. We have reached the critical mass where further cuts and reductions to our armed forces will make them an impotent marching band.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

8:15 p.m.

Don Valley West Ontario


John Godfrey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I am quite pleased to rise in this House today to support the government's motion for increased Canadian involvement in the UN mission in Haiti.

But first of all, let me stress the fact that this motion is moved in the context of the government's willingness to consult Canadians and parliamentarians on broad foreign policy issues.

This House has been given the opportunity to discuss the government's new foreign policy and, on several occasions, the involvement of our troops in UN missions in Bosnia and elsewhere.

As the minister said, this debate is something of a last minute proposition. I know some members would have liked to have more time to prepare for this debate. I want to say to hon. members that the government will make every effort to give more notice of future debates such as this one, whenever possible.

The government's foreign policy review has indicated that Canadians want to be more involved in the making of our foreign policy. For the first time, the government has asked Canadians to express their views through Internet on Canadian participation in the UN mission in Haiti. I am pleased to report that, out of about a hundred responses, 75 were in favour. We got many relevant comments and useful suggestions.

I am pleased to see that today's debate gives us once again the opportunity to talk about Canada's participation in a mission led by the United Nations. We have the chance not only to reaffirm the unique role our country plays within the United Nations system, but also to review the special contribution Canada has made these last few years to help the Haitian people on its way towards democracy.

In 1990, the Haitian people took a first big step towards democracy when they elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The 1991 coup led by the Haitian army served to show how fragile the movement towards democracy was. The determination of the world community, of the United Nations, of the friends of Haiti and of the president in exile showed however that that was the only way the Haitian people could go.

The Canadian population and the Canadian government never wavered in their support for the Haitian people and for its fight for democracy and freedom.

Besides helping to organize presidential elections in 1990, we worked for the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, we were there to welcome him back to his country, we helped Haiti to hold legislative and presidential elections last year and we were there, a few weeks ago, to assist for the first ever handing of power from one democratically elected president to another.

Our new colleague, the Minister for International Cooperation and the Minister responsible for Francophonie, Mr. Pierre Pettigrew, went to Haiti to attend this event. It was his first official trip, which goes to show how important the Haitian issue is to the government.

And now that a new president has been elected and that Haiti is on the way toward building its civilian society, Canada will still be supporting the Haitian people.

We can be proud of what the international community and Canada have accomplished in Haiti in such a short time after President Aristide's return. We have quickly identified the most urgent needs of the Haitian people and coordinated the activities of all donor nations to provide adequate assistance.

Canada has helped to restore power supply in Port-au-Prince not only by fixing the actual power stations but also by providing back-up stations. As well as providing emergency food aid, we have helped the Haitian people to build schools and health care units.

The sad episode of the de facto government served to show the harsh reality: democracy is fragile in Haiti. It is still threatening for certain interests. That is why we must try to consolidate it so that it can put deep roots in the Haitian society. It must allow all groups in the Haitian society to express themselves and get involved.

To this end, we must continue to favour the onset of a secure environment, to rebuild the judicial infrastructure of the country and to help Haiti embark upon the economic transition it needs to ensure its future and its stability.

As the government stated yesterday in its speech from the throne, the future of our societies depends on the safety of their citizens. This sums up Canada's action in Haiti as well as in other developing countries.

We must give the Haitian people the time it needs to bring about these changes. The more the months to come will be stable and the more the democratic institutions will have the time to develop and to consolidate, the stronger the economy will be.

Haiti is facing huge challenges. And yet, I am sure it will be able to rise to them. Just think about it. Only two years ago, Haiti fell prey to political violence. Haitians were afraid to walk in the streets and rightly so. It is estimated that 4,000 to 5,000 Haitians were killed during the Cédras regime.

Today, there is almost no more political violence. Arbitrary action is a thing of the past. A year ago, setting up a professional police force in Haiti seemed an impossible dream. Let us consider the challenge taken up by the Haitian government more than 12 months ago: abolishing the army, and training and deploying 5,000 police officers, with the help of Canada, among others, before the end of the UNMIH, which is scheduled for tomorrow. Nonetheless, a few days ago, the lastest graduates of the Haiti police academy were deployed throughout the country.

During the next few months, Canadian police officers will continue to help the new Haitian police force learn community police techniques and field methods. At the same time, they will continue to train the new recruits.

I know Canadians will be happy to learn that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, of which we are all proud in this country, has agreed to play an even more active role in Haiti. There is still much to be done, including providing adequate training to senior officers to ensure that the police can face with all kinds of situations in a professional and disciplined manner.

Canada's participation in the multinational police force in Haiti is a good example of what Canadians from all regions of the country can accomplish when they work together. More than 100 police officers from the RCMP and several municipal police forces across the country worked together to train their new Haitian colleagues.

I was impressed to learn that more than 245 police officers of the Communauté urbaine de Montréal applied to serve in Haiti. For me, that enthusiasm shows that the officers of the SPCUM see that exchange as an excellent opportunity to share their knowledge with their new Haitians colleagues, but also, to learn first hand about the harsh reality in Haiti to better understand and interact with the Haitian community in Montreal.

This illustrates perfectly well how international co-operation is not for the sole benefit of others. It must also allow us to learn from others.

A few months ago, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. I believe that what the UN is doing in Haiti is nothing short of remarkable. The United Nations never undertook such a complex mission. It is not the kind of traditional peacekeeping mission Canadians got used to long ago. It is much more than that: it goes from ensuring a stable environment to establishing a new police force, from the reform of the Haitian justice system to the organization and supervision of two elections in less than one year, from meeting basic human needs to establishing the foundation of a civilian and democratic society.

But we must admit that the mission will not be an easy one. There are risks involved. Democratic and social development in Haiti will continue well after the UN have left. Stability in Haiti remains fragile.

However, our successes in the last two years are encouraging for the future, not only of Haiti, but of the UN itself. Canada is eager to play a greater role for the United Nations in Haiti and to help that country to reach its full potential.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.


Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about Haiti, I am always reminded of the hundreds of priests, nuns, missionaries and young volunteers who have gone there at some point in their life to try and give these people a little more happiness in this world.

I am also reminded of my former colleague, the late Gaston Péloquin, a member of the Bloc Quebecois, who spent two years in Haiti and who adopted a young Haitian child who now lives in

Quebec. Pascal must be 18 now. I am also reminded of all these Haitians who have come to live in Quebec and elsewhere, mainly in Montreal, and who may be watching us tonight on television. I take this opportunity to say hello to them.

The Bloc supports and salutes the government for its present and future international commitments with regard to the peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

Because of our concern for Haiti and of our peacekeeping policy, Canada is now called upon by the United Nations to take military command of the UN mission in Haiti.

I am also very happy with the foreign affairs minister's decision to consult his parliamentary colleagues about Canada's participation in this mission. We, members of the Bloc, believe that it is very important.

This consulting of Parliament is very much in line with the recommendations made by the Bloc Quebecois in its dissenting report on Canada's foreign policy in November 1994.

In this report, on page 4, under chapter 1.2, the Bloc Quebecois insists that the government should, and I quote: "submit any decision to participate in peacekeeping missions to a vote in the House of Commons, as rapidly as possible, where time allows".

I think it is important to note that fact because it clearly demonstrates that, as the official opposition, the Bloc Quebecois is doing its job conscientiously, adhering to highly democratic values.

As the Minister of Foreign Affairs is demonstrating today, members of the Bloc often make recommendations which are very practical and reflect current events.

As a matter of fact, I believe that one of the main roles of Canadian forces on the international scene must be to support peacekeeping operations by taking part in them. Such participation is undeniably an asset for Canada and one of its major international accomplishments.

Canada must learn from previous operations. The case of Haïti reminds us that our interventions must absolutely be based on the legitimate democratic system that is gradually emerging in that country.

As my colleagues on this side of the House and myself have already said, the development of democratic institutions in Eastern Europe and closer to us in the Americas is crucial to the preservation of social peace and to economic development in the world.

I believe that reinforcement of democratic institutions and respect of human rights are necessary pillars to the security of the new international environment.

This is a major foreign policy concern that must be shared by stable democratic societies likes ours.

When something like the United Nations mission in Haïti takes leading to joint action, that concern yields results.

The end of dictatorship and restoration of democracy in Haïti are largely the result of the tenacity of the international community, which put its democratic ideals above everything else.

We, as members of this House, must take good note of this fact but we must above all make sure that Canada will give it a leading role in its foreign policy and also in its domestic policy. We ought to be able to practice at home what we want to implement elsewhere.

I understand that cabinet has already agreed in principle to the deployment of 750 peacekeepers from Valcartier, which means an additional 250 troops and a six-month extension of Canadian participation in the United Nations mission in Haïti.

This means Canada will take over command of the mission from the United States.

As I see it, the presence of UN troops under Canadian supervision for a limited time will undoubtedly be very helpful to a country formerly known as the Pearl of the Antilles.

The new responsibilities taken on by Canada may also help to restore a credibility that was damaged by the events in Somalia. However, we can allow no recurrence of what happened in Somalia. That would be unacceptable and an outrage in the eyes of all those who put their trust in these missions and who send people over there.

Our participation will help to rebuild democratic and economic institutions in that country.

Our support for the newly-elected President of Haiti, René Préval, and his brand new Prime Minister, Rony Smarth, is a continuation of our support for the democratic process triggered by none other than Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

In his quest for democracy, Mr. Aristide managed to give back to the Haitian people their dignity and independent institutions which are a guarantee of a lasting peace.

According to the Bloc Quebecois, the mandate of Canadian troops should consist mainly in co-ordinating reconstruction efforts and supporting the current process of democratic growth so that there will be a viable system by the end of that mandate.

Since this transitional mission will be smaller in size, it should concentrate on training the new Haitian police and on supporting civilian institutions. The military aspects of the mandate should be substantially reduced.

If the government wants the Official Opposition to support its decision, it should make it clear that this particular mission will be carefully planned, that its objectives will be realistic and clearly identified, and finally, that adequate means will be provided to achieve those objectives.

In concluding, I want to say again that when Canada and Quebec, because as you know we are still part of Canada, when we send Canadian troops as UN peacekeepers, I think it is important, and everyone in this House will understand, that these people are well prepared and above reproach. After all, they represent us, and as long as they do that well, we are proud of them. If they break the rules, we all bear the blame.

And finally, I want to say that our young people, our young soldiers who are over there, our young policemen who are over there and who are helping a country that is discovering again what democracy means, this is fine, we support and encourage them, and we support the government's motion.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

8:35 p.m.

Northumberland Ontario


Christine Stewart LiberalSecretary of State (Latin America and Africa)

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the debate this evening. The government has asked Parliament to convene to discuss how Canada should participate in the extension of the United Nations Mission in Haiti, UNMIH.

The government is requesting that Parliament support Canada's participation in the extension of UNMIH with a leading role. Haiti has requested this UN mission be extended. The Secretary-General of the United Nations also has asked that the mission be extended. In fact he has asked that Canada head that extended mission. As I have said, I am very pleased the government has suggested that Canada participate, and we wait this very evening for the security council to finish its deliberations on the resolution before it.

I have some personal attachment to the debate tonight, having served in my pre-political years in a capacity where I assisted in some of the development programs that Canada supported in Haiti. I am certainly very aware of the chronic oppression and poverty that so many thousands and thousands of people in Haiti have suffered for far too long.

Now that progress is being made as a result of the United Nations' participation in the process of the development of democracy in Haiti, it would be a sad day if Canada were to come away from this mission at this time.

As we all know, Canada has had a long history of participation in UN peacekeeping missions. We have been the one nation in the world with the record of participating in all of the UN peacekeeping missions around the world. We do so in reflection as well on our new foreign affairs policy which states that two of our objectives are to protect security here in Canada, security in the world and also to project our values.

It seems extremely logical that with those two key objectives in mind we would look to Haiti as a very important place for Canada to play a continuing role, to make sure those objectives are attained, that we are doing our part. Because we feel so strongly about Haiti now that we have joined the OAS and are fully integrated members of regional hemispheric organizations we place a special emphasis on Haiti. This has also been reflected by the visit of the Hon. Pierre Pettigrew, Minister for International Co-operation, to the inauguration of President Préval shortly after his installation in cabinet.

It is also logical to participate in this mission because Canada has a long tradition of supporting multilateralism in the world. We do not believe, especially in a fast changing world, that Canada or any other nation can achieve important objectives alone. Therefore we support multilateralism.

We have in Haiti proof that a multilateral system can work, that we can learn from past successes and failures, that the United Nations can be efficient and creative. The UN mission in Haiti has done an excellent job and the security of the people of Haiti has greatly improved in recent months. Elections were held in a calm atmosphere and democracy is starting to take root.

A new pluralistic civilian regime is beginning to emerge, based increasingly on law and on respect of the individual, and this is happening because of the courage of the Haitian people and the assistance of Haiti's friends, such as Canada and the UN.

Haiti offers proof to the whole world-the USA in particular, who made a constructive contribution to the multilateral efforts there-that multilateralism works if countries are committed to making it work. Canada wants that success to be ongoing.

There are several other reasons Haiti holds particular importance for Canada. By working with the Haitian population to make the development of democracy a durable and solid phenomenon, we are demonstrating the importance Canada attaches to a broader role in Latin America and the Caribbean. This is a region which has made remarkable advances in the areas of economics and democracy, and one which has provided Canada with immigrants who make up an increasing large part of the Canadian social fabric; it offers us new outlets for pursuing Canada's objectives.

As well, our assistance to Haiti also demonstrates our commitment to partnerships between francophone countries. Canada and France in particular, two of the key French spraking nations, are working together in Haiti to ensure the establishment of a

democratic and peaceful civilian society, one which can continue to develop once the peacekeeping operation is over.

Canada would not go into this peacekeeping operation or suggest that this operation be extended if the government did not feel that it was important, if it did not believe that the troops were qualified, adequately equipped and safe. We cannot always guarantee the safety of our troops but the government can guarantee that it is doing its best to assure that every precaution is taken. With my colleagues around the House I can share as well my great support for the remarkable work and the courage of our troops in the field.

I could go on about how Canada has been involved in not only the training of police in Haiti, involved in the peacekeeping mission in Haiti but how we have helped to restore energy services to that country, how we are helping to rehabilitate lower court buildings so that the rule of law can be provided. We have helped to provide the basic human needs in that country.

The foreign minister referred to the fact that given Parliament was not in session when this topic was much within the public realm, we provided the facility for Canadians to provide the government with their comments about our involvement in Haiti via the Internet.

I thought it would be appropriate, rather than to go on from our own point of view about what Canada was doing, to share some comments from a Canadian NGO, non-government organization, that Canada has been supporting in its important work.

The following statement appeared on the Internet from CARE Canada:

CARE Canada supports the proposal that Canadian Peacekeeping forces play a continued and expanded role in the United Nations mission in Haiti.

Canada should accept this leading role and exercise the knowledge gained through its many international Peacekeeping efforts in general and build on its specific recent history in Haiti. As a close neighbour, with intimate links to the Caribbean, Canada has an unquestionable role to play in the security and peaceful development of Haiti.

The establishment of democratic institutions is essential for the health and growth of a nation. Such activities support and mirror the efforts of aid agencies like CARE which are working with Haitians to improve economic self-sufficiency and social services.

With support valued at $3 million Canadian from the Canadian International Development Agency, CARE is managing the monetization of Canadian food commodities which will be sold to private merchants in Haiti. The revenue from the sale of the food will be used for an integrated development programme in Departement du Sud. The programme will include activities in primary health care, water and sanitation and agriculture and natural resources.

Development projects alone cannot ensure a secure social environment. In situations like Haiti, emerging from years of turmoil and conflict, the efforts of all partners of good will are required to develop a peaceful and secure environment.

Canada must continue to play a leading role. CARE Canada hopes that the government of Canada will accept the UN's request to take the lead in the next phase of its very successful mission.

In the course of this debate my colleague from across the floor asked a question about the role of the OAS. Last week I had the opportunity to speak with the secretary general of the OAS in Washington. We talked in general about security issues in the hemisphere. Again, Canada supports the multilateral approach. We encouraged the secretary general of the OAS in his efforts in security. In fact he told me he had just returned from New York where he had met and talked with the UN Security Council about the situation in Haiti because he believes as we believe that the OAS has an important role to play in the follow up to a peacekeeping mission which we hope will come to a successful end some day.

Finally, we hope to be able to show that our country, Canada, can make a difference in the world and that not only the government, but all Canadians can make this a reality. Tonight's debate, our use of the Internet to get Canadians' comments on this question and our other consultations indicate that the government is committed to involving Canadians in major foreign policy decisions. In Haiti, Canadian personnel, peacekeeping troops, non governmental organizations and ordinary Canadians are putting this principle into effect through their hard work and their devotion.

With the guidance of our government, our commitment in Haiti will, I am sure, show that Canadians are still capable of doing great things internationally when they work together.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

8:45 p.m.


Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, as one who is somewhat pedantic about the use of language, I look around this vast almost empty Chamber and I wonder why what we are doing here tonight is called a debate.

I would call it a series of monologues, commentaries on decisions previously made by the government. I suspect that even as we speak there are similar discussions going on in several bars in Ottawa that would be equally productive and have equal effect on the decisions that this government may ultimately make.

Haiti was the second nation in this hemisphere after the U.S.A. to gain its independence. Unfortunately from that point onward nothing seemed to go right. That was their last success. It has been an unremitting history of bloodshed, brutality, poverty and misery for almost two centuries. The only prolonged period of peace and

stability was during the occupation by the U.S. marines during the 1920s and 1930s.

Even when I was working in Haiti, which was only about 15 years ago, the infrastructure that we had was almost entirely the legacy of the U.S. occupation and any that was left had been built by foreign aid within very recent times.

It is a sad commentary but those are the magnitudes of the problems which Canada or other countries will be facing trying to pull Haiti perhaps kicking and screaming into the 20th century and trying to build a democratic state there.

As Canadians, we do have a vested interest in maintaining political and economic stability in the Caribbean. We do have a vested interest in creating a democratic state in Haiti. There are two very important reasons why we have this vested interest. One is that we have trade and investment links in this area not so much with Haiti itself but with its neighbours and most particularly with the Dominican Republic which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Therefore, if Haiti blows it up, it will have a direct influence on our well-being in this country.

The second big interest we have and one we share with almost every country in the hemisphere is the question of refugees. If Haiti again does not succeed and everything turns upside down there will be another great flood of Haitians trying to get out of the place in unseaworthy boats going willy-nilly to whatever shore they may find. These people, by the thousands or the tens of thousands, will then become a burden on the recipient countries.

How much better to send some aid and a few people into Haiti to try to straighten out the situation there than to end up with another disaster equivalent to the one we had about four years ago? I do support Canadian intervention. I do support our sending additional troops there to take command now that the Americans have decided it is time for them to leave.

Besides being in our national interest, there is a certain moral imperative for our continued presence in that unhappy country to preserve life and also to provide or assist in the provision of humanitarian assistance.

Finally, unlike the situation in Bosnia, this is an assignment that is well within the capability of our poorly equipped military. There are no heavy weapons to contend with and no well organized opposition. Although, like in any military operation there is always a risk, that risk will not be high unless we do not have adequate rules of engagement. If the rules of engagement are adequate and clearly defined and if our troops will not be unduly restrained from defending themselves, then we should be there. If they are going to be unduly restrained then they should not go. We do not send our people overseas as human sacrifices. That is my primary consideration. The only caveat I would add to my support for this project is that if our military are there they must be able to defend themselves. I have that small reservation.

I will at this time lend my support to the ministers in whatever they have decided to do, whether they are going to send 500 or 750. I know the decision has been made but we will give it our blessing.

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8:55 p.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my thanks to the minister and to the government for providing me with an opportunity to participate in this debate.

I will begin by sending my congratulations to the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre. I had the opportunity to work with the new Minister of Foreign Affairs when he was the foreign affairs critic for the official opposition in a previous Parliament and I was as I am now the foreign affairs critic for the NDP.

We had the opportunity to work together on the Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade. We also worked together as members of a much smaller committee, the Special Committee on the Central America Peace Process, which was created around the time of the peace process in 1988.

The special committee made recommendations for Canadian participation in Central America with respect to the training of police and to create in countries where the police have not always had it, the political neutrality one would expect from police. Canada had a role in training police forces in that part of the world.

By way of extending that conclusion we came to with respect to Central America, I have no problem listening to the minister's arguments being offered tonight about the need to consolidate and to amplify what progress has already been made in Haiti with respect to the training of police with a view to creating further stability in that country.

It is a very new democracy which exists in Haiti in spite of the fact that it has been independent for almost 200 years as a member just mentioned. That new democracy when it first came into being with the election of former President Aristide did not last very long. One of the reasons it did not last very long was that the political culture and civil infrastructure and all the things that are necessary to support the democratic experiment were not there. It was not long before the military, who were used to running the country, decided that they did not like this experiment. The next thing was that the new president was in exile.

I am convinced that President Aristide was in exile a lot longer than he had to be. The Americans were not in any hurry to have President Aristide back in power in Haiti because of his ideological leanings. They took their sweet time knowing that the constitution in Haiti prevented President Aristide from running for re-election. The longer they took, the less time President Aristide would have when he actually returned to Haiti.

I feel it was only in the final analysis that the Americans were embarrassed into doing something about Haiti. As a result we have had a new election in Haiti and we have a successor to President Aristide, a man who I understand has served as President Aristide's prime minister.

In a way the will of the people of Haiti, which was expressed in that first election but which was overthrown first by the military and then by the delay in doing anything to get President Aristide back has been expressed again. We hope this time around it can be expressed not only in terms of the election but also in terms of giving that government the opportunity to implement policies consistent with what the people thought they were voting for in this most recent presidential election.

We therefore support in principle the government's apparent decision to respond to the call of the UN to take over command of the UN operation in Haiti. Like others who have spoken here tonight, we wish we had more details in front of us, some cost estimates, rules of engagement. We wish we had specific numbers as to what troops will be sent and how many in addition to the people already there, all those kinds of things.

We understand it might have been difficult for the government to come up with this information by now, although one wonders about that. We do understand this matter has been in dispute at the United Nations and therefore the government might not want to second guess the outcome of the debate at the United Nations or at least it might not want to second guess it until necessary. In effect we are doing that tonight.

The government was in some difficulty with respect to the timing which is why we were willing to co-operate with the minister in order to permit this debate tonight. In spite of the fact that member for Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia thinks more productive discussions might be going on in bars somewhere in Ottawa, this is nevertheless the beginning of a good tradition that whenever Canadian troops are deployed there is an opportunity to discuss it in Parliament.

We are discussing the issue in the sense that there is no real proposal to debate and there are no real details to debate. There is no motion to vote on. Nevertheless this is a worthy procedure that perhaps if improved could be something we do with more detail, in a more timely fashion and that we do not just do as a gesture to parliamentary accountability. Rather, we should have something more substantive in nature.

Having said we support this in principle, we enter the caveat that we reserve the right to be critical of the government in future if we come across ways this is being implemented that we find to be inadequate.

The minister said he was thinking about having the committee act as a sort of monitoring agency for this Canadian operation and perhaps for others. I welcome that gesture on the part of the minister. I am not exactly sure what he has in mind for the committee, but certainly the idea of there being some kind of parliamentary oversight on this kind of thing is worth exploring.

I regret to say that as much as I think it is a good idea, since New Democrats are not allowed to be full members of committees, we might not be able to participate in this to the extent we would like, perhaps not at all. That is a shame. A number of us have had a lot of experience in the House, in foreign affairs, on that particular committee, and on special committees struck to deal with external affairs issues. Yet we find ourselves frozen out of the process. That is regrettable.

As we commit these Canadians to this task in Haiti for six months, presumably-although it is not clear exactly how long because these things have a tendency to grow or to be extended-we need to commit ourselves to a way of understanding the situation in Haiti and in other countries that realizes the limits of electoral democracy. It is not just enough to have elections.

The government has recognized that to some degree by saying we need a police force trained in ways of policing that are not politically motivated. Too often police forces and the military in that part of the world are an extension of the political agenda of the government of the day. To some degree the limits of elections in and by themselves have been recognized by the government.

I also hope the government would be working not just with respect to Haiti but with respect to a number of other countries in that area of the world, particularly Central America, to do what it can to put pressure on those governments which have been legitimately or democratically elected but which continue to permit, to encourage, to turn a blind eye to or however we describe it, which would vary from country to country, human rights violations in spite of the fact that elections have now been held and the presidents of various countries are democratically elected.

I am thinking of Guatemala. Hardly a day goes by in my office that I do not get a letter from some Canadian concerned about what is happening to Guatemalan refugees returning to Guatemala. There is a great deal of concern about some of the things that have

happened recently in El Salvador and in Nicaragua. These are all countries which became democratic in the 1980s.

I hope the attention of the minister could be turned to what the Canadian government could be doing in that respect as well. In the meantime, what we are committing ourselves to in Haiti seems to be something we all must collectively hope works out for the best for the people of Haiti and for the future of democracy in that region.

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9:05 p.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have followed this debate with great attention and I care about this issue, because I come from Latin America, which is very close to Haiti. That country has been through some very difficult times. All Latin-American countries have had difficult years, especially Haiti, which fought for years to get rid of the Duvalier dictatorship.

Second, I am the member for Bourassa, including Montreal North, which has the highest number of Haitians per riding in Canada. This vibrant community is very well organized and makes a great contribution to the city of Montreal North, to Quebec and to Canada, despite a few problems that we have noticed, especially in the area of immigration. It is currently difficult for Haitians in my riding or in Montreal, in Quebec, to bring their families over. Many problems arise at the Canadian embassy in Haiti, which requires all kinds of medical exams to prove that the people are related. These blood tests are very expensive. Many improvements are needed to help Haitians immigrate to this country.

The Haitians in my riding and in Quebec in general remain very attached to their homeland. They pay frequent visits whenever they can afford it. It is close to Quebec, and they experience the events in Haiti as though they were there. I remember that when Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected President of Haiti, people in Montreal North and Montreal were overjoyed because he had been elected by a vast majority of the population and also enjoyed the support of the Haitian diaspora in Quebec and Canada.

As you know, the armed forces were not happy with this very democratic president who cared about the majority of poor people. Haiti is the poorest country in Latin American, in the Caribbean. There was a military coup and President Aristide had to go into exile. He came to Montreal, where I had the opportunity of meeting him. He also visited Ottawa.

Luckily for the Organization of American States, they did a good job and actively restored democracy in Haiti, as did the United Nations, Canada-it must be said-the U.S. as well as certain Latin American countries. Many Latin American countries were instrumental in restoring democracy to Haiti. I will only mention Argentina and Chile today. While facing economic difficulties of its own, Chile set up a special assistance program for the people of Haiti.

I should also point out the outstanding help Quebec has provided the people of Haiti. A person was named to oversee Quebec's aid to Haiti because Quebec has close relations with that country, and it is not only because they are both French speaking nations, but also because there is a strong solidarity and an unfailing generosity in Quebec toward the poorest nations of the world.

I was also very happy when President Aristide decided to dismantle the Haitian army, a dictatorial army that did not respect the regime in place, that did not respect the Constitution. We, in Quebec, particularly myself, have also worked hard to get rid of the army in Haiti. It was not necessary to have an army there, and we followed the example of two other democratic countries that do not have an army, particularly Costa Rica. That country has not had an army for decades and it is the most democratic country in Latin America. It has also been the case with Panama for a number of years and I do hope that other developing countries will follow the same path and do away with armed forces which have no justification in the present context.

I must support the motion of the government. I agree to a six month extension of the UN's mandate in Haiti. As my colleagues of the Bloc have already said, I believe it is important to define precisely the mandate of our troops in Haiti, the duration of their mission and its costs.

I believe Canada and Quebec have an obligation to contribute to the construction of a democratic society in Haiti, a society respectful of human rights, a society where everyone, including the poorest, have opportunities and decent living conditions.

For all those reasons, I agree with this motion and I support an extension of at least six months of the UN's mandate in Haiti.

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9:15 p.m.


Len Hopkins Liberal Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this very important debate on Canada's role with the United Nations in Haiti. Haiti has had a very tumultuous past.

Canada has an immense national interest in the Caribbean area. That is why it is very important for Canada to be associated with the United Nations in the very important task of helping to establish a permanent democracy in Haiti. The national interests of Canada are served by what the Canadian Armed Forces are doing in that region because we have a tremendous relationship with the countries throughout the Caribbean and in South America.

I want to give an example of the respect with which Canada is held in the eyes of countries in the Caribbean. I remember a number of years ago when Lincoln Alexander, a former member of this House and former Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, and I went to the Caribbean to a meeting as Canadian observers.

There were about 64 delegates from around the Caribbean at that meeting. At the beginning, one of the Prime Ministers who was chairing the meeting said that he wanted Canadians to know that not only were they welcome, but even though they were observers, he wanted them to feel free to participate in the discussions at any time they wished to do so.

The Prime Minister of one of the countries went on to say that it was because Canada was its greatest friend in the world. Britain came second and after that, he did not even enumerate them.

It is very important that Canada look after her interests in the Caribbean. As we know, Canada is really synonymous with peacekeeping excellence. Over the past 50 years, our peacekeepers have served throughout the world and their experience and expertise remain unsurpassed.

The Canadian forces are always combat ready. They are peacekeeping ready. They are also diplomats when they go abroad because they do so much good work while there on a volunteer basis. They are well trained. They get along well with the people wherever they are. They help those people out.

As we debate this issue, let us remember that every time a peacekeeper goes abroad on duty there is a family back home. I want to pay tribute tonight to the families that remain at home and the challenges they face while a spouse, a father or mother, is abroad with a peacekeeping force. Let us remember them as well in this debate.

It comes as no surprise to any of us that the international community is looking to Canada to assume a significant role in the ongoing work in Haiti. Our peacekeepers have already shown that they are well suited for this mission. They may now have an opportunity to go a step further in assisting Haiti and its people during a difficult period of transition.

My purpose today is to review Canada's peacekeeping record and remind members of the superb qualifications that Canadian forces personnel bring to this job. They have the skills necessary to meet the demands of modern operations.

Peacekeeping began modestly for Canada. In the late 1940s the UN began deploying unarmed military personnel to observe peace agreements in some of the world's conflict ridden regions. Canada's participation in two of these early missions continues to this day. I am referring to the UN truce supervision organization in the Middle East and the UN military observer group in India and Pakistan.

Peacekeeping moved beyond observing and took on a more demanding role with the Suez crisis of 1956. Lester B. Pearson, Canada's Secretary of State for External Affairs at the time, recommended placing a UN force between the warring parties once a ceasefire had been signed. The multinational force would then police the ceasefire, setting the stage for a negotiated settlement. Mr. Pearson argued his case with skill and determination, overcoming the scepticism of some of the UN members. The United Nations Emergency Force was thus born and Mr. Pearson was awarded the Nobel peace prize.

The first commander of the United Nations emergency force was a Canadian, Lieutenant-General E. L. M. Burns. General Burns, operating in unfamiliar territory, was often forced to chart his own course as he carried out the difficult job of keeping the peace between Arab and Israeli. In the end he excelled in this delicate task. Why? Because he was well trained for the job in the Canadian military community.

Suez was an important precedent for the United Nations. Over the next three decades most peacekeeping missions rested on the principles established by the United Nations Emergency Force.

Peacekeeping forces were expected to be lightly armed and impartial, and enjoy the consent of the warring parties. During this period Canada established herself as a leader in the peacekeeping field. We participated in virtually every UN mission and some outside the UN as well.

By the end of the cold war more than 80,000 Canadian forces' personnel had served in peacekeeping operations: from the Congo and West New Guinea to Cyprus and the Golan Heights. Canada's peacekeeping excellence did not disappear with the end of the cold war. Indeed, in recent years our expertise has been more in demand than ever.

Since 1989 the United Nations has become a much more active and interventionist organization. It has become more involved in interstate disputes and it has tackled human rights and humanitarian issues on a greater scale than ever before. As well, it has played a larger role in helping states embrace democracy and recover from the ravages of war.

Our soldiers, while serving on UN duty, quite often on a volunteer basis build bridges, roads, schools, homes. They teach people trades and occupations. They teach people how to farm, how to grow their food. This is all done on a voluntary basis. These are the things for which our forces very seldom get credit in the public media.

As a result, the number of UN peacekeeping missions has increased dramatically because of all the ravages of war in the hot spots that exist around the world in recent times. What is more,

these missions have become more complex and even more demanding.

Modern peace support operations, as they might more accurately be labelled, include preventive deployment, the delivery of humanitarian assistance, peace enforcement and peace building in addition to traditional peacekeeping.

These operations are multi-functional and multi-disciplinary, encompassing both military and civilian activities. Whether it is police officers, election observers, humanitarian workers or engineers, civilians are playing an increasing role in peace support operations. They are part of the new peacekeeping partnership.

Canada and in particular the Pearson International Peacekeeping Training Centre at Cornwallis are helping pave the way for greater co-operation between military and civilians working together in support of peace.

Canada has taken other steps to help improve peace support operations. Our study looking into ways to enhance the UN's capability to respond rapidly to a crisis stands out. But our greatest contribution remains our people in the field.

Modern peace support operations demand a full range of military capabilities on the ground, in the air and at sea. Canada, with its combat capable, multi-purpose forces, has been able to respond to this demand and play an important role in many of these new missions whether in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia or Central America.

In the former Yugoslavia, for example, Canadian ground troops performed a wide range of humanitarian tasks while the conflict raged. Currently we have nearly 1,000 troops in Bosnia, many of whom come from Petawawa, my home community. They are serving there with the NATO-led peace implementation force.

In Cambodia we have personnel serving with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre which is responsible for mine clearance operations.

At sea, Canadian naval forces have participated in operations off the coast of the former Yugoslavia, enforcing economic sanctions and arms embargoes.

We also have had Canadian personnel involved in naval peacekeeping operations in Cambodia, the Middle East and Central America. In the air we have had personnel serving aboard NATO airborne warning and control system aircraft, AWACS, enforcing the no-fly zone in the former Yugoslavia.

At present there are about 2,000 Canadian forces personnel participating in peace support operations worldwide. They continue to carry out a broad range of activities.

In all these operations, Canadians carry out their tasks with skill and professionalism, proving once again that fully trained soldiers are the best peacekeepers. Combined with specialized instruction in such areas as cultural sensitivity, combat training gives Canadian forces all the tools required to meet new challenges.

Given this impressive record, there should be no doubt that Canada can make a significant contribution to a mission in Haiti operating under a new mandate. We have been an active participant in attempts to restore Haitian democracy since 1991. Canadian ships helped enforce economic sanctions in an effort to convince Haiti's illegal regime to step down and Canadian forces personnel have been participating in the United Nations Mission in Haiti since March 1995.

Canada's participation in the United Nations Mission in Haiti currently includes about 500 Canadian forces personnel with helicopter transport and engineering support, and almost 100 civilian police to help establish a professional Haitian police force.

Canadians know the country, they know the people, they know the challenges that must be faced. Canada is also no stranger to commanding multilateral military forces. Finally, Canadians know a great deal about being a civil, democratic society.

We could play a critical role as part of the international community in helping maintain a secure and stable environment and pave the way for the full restoration of democracy in Haiti.

Since 1947, more than 100,000 Canadians have participated in over 30 peacekeeping and related missions, a contribution which remains unmatched.

Over 100 Canadians have lost their lives in the line of duty and many more have been wounded. Canada, in short, understands peacekeeping like few other countries. We understand its effectiveness in promoting international peace and security. We understand its ability to help lay the groundwork for democracy. Perhaps most important of all, we understand how it works.

The world has always looked to Canada for peacekeeping experience and know how. In the case of Haiti it is doing so again. We can help Haiti build a better future and in doing so continue a long and proud peacekeeping tradition.

Tonight as this debate goes on, Canada's name has been carried around the world in much of the good work that has been done by the Canadian Armed Forces. Whatever the decision is we wish its members well with the United Nations. I know they will do a good job for Canada.

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9:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I confess to not seeing the clock too rigidly, particularly to the last member who spoke. I admit in great part it was out of respect for his sincere interest and expertise in this area.

I wonder, in the spirit the House has demonstrated all evening, if I might seek your agreement to not see the clock so the member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca could be given the full 10 minutes by the Chair. He will conclude the debate on this issue this evening.

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9:30 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for its consideration. I very much appreciate entering into this debate on Haiti.

The people of Haiti have endured over 150 years of tyranny, bloodshed and destitution under successive dictators and bloody regimes. However, the Haiti we see today on the eve of the U.S. pull-out is not much different from the Haiti of the last 150 years. There is still a desperate population and an economy in ruins.

In this land that teeters between anarchy and hope we have been asked by the United Nations to take over from the United States in managing the peacekeeping force. However, the role the United Nations has completed there is far from complete.

I am very disappointed in the government for bringing this debate to the House in a less than meaningful fashion. If this debate is to be meaningful it has to be votable. The people of Canada through us as their elected representatives must have the right to have these issues debated and voted on so their democratic rights can be exercised. They must know when, if and how their sons, daughters, husbands and wives will be sent to far off lands to potentially lay their lives down in the name of peace.

There is no question in my mind that we should engage in this role for a number of reasons. It is our responsibility with Haiti lying within our sphere of geopolitical influence. The consequences of inaction are huge. As my colleague from Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia mentioned, if we do not act on this and Haiti descends into anarchy and bloodshed, there will be a mass migration of people to other shores, not to mention the basic humanitarian needs of these impoverished individuals for which we as Canadians are known to champion.

Conditional on our involvement is that a few questions must be answered: first, the length of stay; second, we must have parameters in terms of the cost of the involvement; third, we must have a well defined mandate. These three principles should be applied to any subsequent peacekeeping operation we as a country dare to entertain.

I have some suggestions for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. President René Préval cannot govern properly and bring peace to his country if he cannot govern safely. Therefore law and order must be restored to Haiti.

We must engage in training a constabulary in the form of a police force. The United States was engaging in training these individuals not as a police force but as a military force. That is a can of worms that will explode in its face.

There must be a stable judiciary in Haiti, and this is where Canada can involve the United Nations and the World Court in helping to train a fair, equitable and democratic judiciary in Haiti.

We must have a demilitarization of the army and paramilitary groups. As we look at the history of Haiti in the last 150 years, successive paramilitary/military groups have wreaked havoc in that country and have driven it repeatedly into a state of utter destitution and bloodshed.

We need the help of the United States. That is why we should take the request of President Préval and ask the United States to stay on for another six months. We will need it for that and also for a number of other interventions if peace is to take hold in Haiti for the long term.

We have to stop the shipments of arms that are clandestinely taking place into Haiti. This has a huge destabilizing effect on the country. We have to utilize international financial institutions, the World Bank and the IMF, to involve an integrated international approach for restructuring the economy in Haiti. If there is not a viable economy in Haiti, then there is a desperate people. If there is a desperate people, there is anarchy, bloodshed and it ends up exactly where it started.

One may argue this is a heavy handed approach but even with President Aristide before President Préval, moneys given to Haiti for aid and development went into the pockets of corrupt officials and were spent in a completely useless fashion. It will require very much an interventionist approach from the international financial institutions to make sure that economic restructuring and moneys designated for economic restructuring go where they are supposed to.

The restructuring of this land will be complex and will involve the multifactorial approach with the IFIs and the Organization of American States, as the secretary of state mentioned earlier. We need to take a leadership role in this because nobody is actually pushing these groups to take this multifactorial approach. We should be pushing these groups to do that for the long term.

This issue is too large for any one country to deal with, particularly ours. We must do our part because international security, our security, is intimately entwined with the ability of international structures to provide for umbrellas of international and regional security. We cannot provide this on our own.

I recommend again that the government involve the international financial institutions with a co-ordinated plan that involves economic restructuring, internal security and the construction of good governance and democratic institutions in Haiti if it is to get on its feet in the future. If we do not, it will again descend into a bloody mess.

All one has to do to see how unbalanced this situation is is to scratch the veneer on Haiti today and see that democracy is only skin deep.

As an extension of the problem in Haiti, I warn the Minister of Foreign Affairs of an impending problem in the Caribbean, particularly germane with the shooting down last week of the two planes from United States by Cuba. Cuba will be a huge security problem for Canada if we do not act in a preventative fashion. I urge the foreign affairs minister to do all he can to convince Mr. Clinton to defeat the xenophobic rhetoric forth by Jesse Helms and Mr. Burton in the United States.

Their mandate is driven by the rich Cuban expatriate groups in the United States trying to manipulate the situation in a presidential year. It is definitely the wrong thing for the people of Cuba and definitely the wrong thing for Canada. The implications of this bill will have a widespread effect also on our companies trying to operate in Cuba in a constructive way.

The quickest way to end the destitution and the communist structure in Cuba is for Canada along with other countries in a constructive fashion to build up the economy of the middle class in Cuba. If they do not, when Mr. Castro dies there will be a power vacuum left in a country that is economically destitute, which will cause anarchy and bloodshed in exactly the same way as in Haiti.

I put that out as a warning for the minister. Again, I support what the government is doing in Haiti and I hope in future we will have further meaningful debates in the House.

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9:35 p.m.


Bill Graham Liberal Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I noticed that your vision had been obscured by the eloquence of the members of the House in terms of seeing the clock at the end of the Chamber. If I might suggest that hon. members grant the hon. parliamentary secretary to the minister an opportunity to speak to the issue. I know he intends to be very brief. I think it would be appropriate if he followed up on the debate.

I ask the permission of hon. members to enable you, Mr. Speaker, to have the obscured vision you were good enough to have for the last speaker.

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9:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

It seems that my obscured vision is coming into question again even after a long career in hockey refereeing. Is there unanimous consent?

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9:35 p.m.

Some hon. members


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9:35 p.m.

Cape Breton Highlands—Canso Nova Scotia


Francis Leblanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for granting me this short period of time to wrap up the debate.

It is clear there is broad agreement on all sides of the House for Canada to assume a leadership role and continue its work in Haiti with the UN mission and to help restore democracy and security.

We on this side of the House have received some very valuable contributions from the opposition to guide the government in the decisions it will take on this subject. As the foreign affairs minister announced earlier this evening, he will make sure the House is kept informed of the government's progress in Haiti regardless of how this unfolds in the next few hours or days, as the case may be.

I thank all parliamentarians who contributed to the debate tonight for their interest in this very important subject. I assure the House on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs that we will keep Parliament informed of our role in this matter.

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9:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

In the spirit of blurred vision, as it is 9.30 p.m., pursuant to an order made earlier this day, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m.

(The House adjourned at 9.43 p.m.)