Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the minister's statement. As it was very extensive and as I have received it only recently, I will not comment on everything but I will focus on a few of the most important issues dealt with in the statement.
I share the minister's opinion that conflict within states constitutes the major security threat in the coming decade. Our recent experience in Bosnia, Rwanda and Haiti bear this out.
Unfortunately the UN has been woefully inadequate in dealing with such conflicts and an increasing burden has been placed on countries like Canada to intervene on their own to save the day. This is not acceptable.
The UN must undergo a fundamental restructuring and reform from top to bottom over the next few years, not decades, if this trend is to be reversed. As it stands now there is little political support for the UN on many occasions and even less financial support.
It could easily be argued the UN is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. This will continue if countries like Canada do not lay down the law at the UN and bring about a fundamental reform.
We can be leaders in the area of fulfilling this role. I firmly believe the security of the entire world depends on our creating that reform within the UN or a similar agency. It is necessary. We need a leader and I think Canada could fill that role very well.
There is more to the problems of international conflict resolution than the UN. It can be traced to this Parliament. We all acknowledge peacekeeping is one of Canada's great contributions to building world peace, but look at how Parliament deals with the peacekeeping issue.
We have in the past held sham debates with inadequate information about the mission and no votes. How can the minister argue he really cares about the opinion of Parliament when mission after mission this continues to happen?
It happened repeatedly with the Bosnia mission where there was a totally inadequate mandate and no long term plan. Now it appears it could be happening with Haiti.
The minister well knows the mandate for the Haiti mission expires at the end of the June, but we still have no long term plan. Canada has not established clear criteria or conditions under which we are prepared to continue with this mission. Once again the minister is getting ready to sign a blank cheque to continue the Haiti mission.
Does the minister really think this kind of nonsense is acceptable? Helping Haiti is a worthy cause but there has to be a plan. There has to be broad based international support including financial support. There have to be clear criteria for Canadian participation and there has to be a reasonable chance of success in an acceptable timeframe.
Yet Parliament has heard nothing about these things. There has been no information. The UN is still floundering around in typical fashion and I do not think this bodes well for the future of the mission, regardless of the good intentions of Canada and the very commendable work of our soldiers and RCMP and other police forces and the hardships they have had to endure in Haiti.
Moving on to another topic, I would like to talk about combating terrorism. Reform fully supports the government in this effort and we encourage the minister to take bold steps to cut off any terrorist funding flowing from Canada. In addition, we want to see quick progress in international co-operation to punish terrorists who use borders as shields against justice.
On human rights and democratic development, I agree that isolation and hectoring, to quote the minister, is not productive. We must assist in the building of institutions which support human rights and democratic development throughout the world. This is in our interests and this is what Canadians would want us to do.
With respect to the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, Reform agrees this is an urgent problem. That is why we firmly supported the government in its efforts to indefinitely extend the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. That is also why we have repeatedly urged the government to take all steps to ensure the comprehensive test ban treaty is signed as quickly as possible. We particularly refer to China which we hope will very soon become a signatory.
The minister's statement also mentioned anti-personnel land mines which should be banned worldwide. He stated how on January 17 of this year the government announced a moratorium on the production, export and operational use of these weapons. I guess the minister forgot to mention that it was Reform that first proposed this long before the government ever got around to doing it.
I congratulate the Reform member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca who has worked diligently on this topic and who introduced a private member's bill to deal with this issue last year.
On the minister's proposal for tightening conventional arms control, Reform broadly supports this concept. However, we wish to examine the details of the plan before we would comment further.
There are many areas of security policy on which I believe there is a broad consensus between parties. However, we need action, not just endless words.
On the issue of handing over blank cheques to the UN and blindly supporting peacekeeping missions, the government needs to rethink its approach. Reform has frequently commented on these issues and I know the minister privately agrees with much of what we have to say.
It is up to him to assume responsibility for correcting these problems and he should do so without delay.