Mr. Speaker, in 1992 I was a member of the Standing Committee on External Affairs and Trade which issued a report on ways to improve Canada's control of the export of military goods and ways to diversify the defence industries and promote greater conservation toward civilian production. It was a good report and my colleagues on the committee worked hard to come up with realistic recommendations that would help move government policy forward in imaginative ways.
As the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I can say that a number of those recommendations are now being implemented. Not all of them, of course, in part because the international circumstances have changed; in part because there are limits to what any one country can do on its own.
I cite the work of the standing committee to underline a crucial point: this House has a real and irreplaceable role to play in the formulation of foreign policy. Parliament is able to consult with Canadians and draw together diverse views in a way that no other national institution can. It has an honourable tradition of public involvement and consciousness on leading issues, and has demonstrated an acute sense of how to promote, even provoke, new ideas.
I want to turn to Parliament once again. I want to present on the occasion of the tabling of the annual report on military exports the main features of our security policy. I encourage the Parliament to make new recommendations.
First I want to describe briefly the international context in which we operate, and give a sense of what Canada is now doing in the security field.
Canada has long put international security at the centre of foreign policy. In the years immediately following the second world war, General Andrew McNaughton led the movement to place atomic power under multilateral control, and to assure that atoms would be used for peaceful purposes.
In the 1960s, Tommy Burns was an inspiring force behind the drive to establish the international machinery for arms control and disarmament negotiations. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Pierre Trudeau led the call for nuclear sanity, including a proposal for a strategy of suffocation to halt the risk of nuclear proliferation.
In recent years, however, the focus has been changing, and changing in ways that enables Canadians to play to our unique national traditions, strengths and aspirations.
At the end of the cold war, the prospects of interstate conflict are diminishing rapidly. Instead, we are more concerned about conflict within states, that wreak havoc on domestic populations and occasionally threaten to spill over into neighbouring countries.
If internal conflict does erupt, as we have seen in Cambodia, Bosnia, Haiti and elsewhere, it can prove even more vicious and murderous than wars between states, and can have enormous destabilizing effects on global security.
When internal conflict finally does end, we still face enormous challenges of building the peace. A ceasefire between states is much easier to monitor and enforce than a cessation of hostilities within states. There is no clear border to separate belligerents, no clear difference between populations.
We must also deal with the new emerging security threats such as crimes of narco-trafficking, with environmental degradation and displaced populations. A recent round of UN conferences on habitat, social development, women's rights, etc., demonstrate that security of the individual is now a key element of any foreign policy.
New instruments are being developed requiring new forms of international co-operation. Last year, for example, Canada chaired a meeting of G-7 ministers to improve our efforts to combat terrorism. Our police forces are working more and more closely with our counterparts throughout the world to address the serious problem of ruthless criminal organizations.
Similarly, we know that democracy, responsible government and respect for human rights are fundamental building blocks of durable stability and security. But our support for these principles should not take the form of hectoring from the sidelines.
Therefore, we are working with countries-with their governments, their non-governmental organizations, their citizens-to build vital, civil institutions that promote human rights and democracy.
The Dayton accords reflect this approach. Canada played an active role in supporting the human rights elements of these accords and is strongly committed to continue providing resources to this end.
Prevention of conflict is always the preferred option, but sometimes there is no stopping the slide into war. What do we do then? Peacekeeping has been a major achievement of the last 40 years, but in more and more cases the traditional forms of peacekeeping do not apply. International military units have been used in recent years to help deliver humanitarian aid in the middle of war. They are being used to enforce the peace, as NATO is doing in Bosnia.
Canada is responding to new forms of conflict in new and, we hope, more effective ways. For example, we believe that the early and rapid deployment of well-trained UN forces can help smother emerging conflict before it flames out of control. We have established a training centre at Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. Our soldiers are training their counterparts in Asia, Latin America, eastern Europe and elsewhere in the techniques of peacekeeping and we have seen in the last few years that these new peacekeepers are increasingly making a major difference.
We also prepared a major study involving experts from Canada and around the world on how to improve the UN's capacity to get peacekeepers in the field much more rapidly. We have a series of practical, affordable recommendations which we are now developing at the United Nations.
A third focus is peacebuilding. We know that it is not enough to simply stop the war. We must also build the peace. What Canada is doing in Haiti is a good example. There, we are working with the local government to build political and civil institutions that can address the needs of the Haitian people. Police from the RCMP and the Sûreté du Québec are training up a new Haitian police force.
We know that hate messages can poison a population and make peace impossible. Therefore Canada recently launched an initiative in Europe to promote free, democratic media as a counter to the kind of distortions that helped trigger the war in the former Yugoslavia. We are beginning to look at broad issues of how the new information technologies and our high level of skills in broadcasting can become an effective role and tool of our foreign policy.
These three strands of conflict prevention, rapid response and reconstruction and peace building are distinct, but they do reinforce each other. They have to be drawn together into an effective approach to conflict. Our resources are finite. Choices have to be made about what we can do best. This is an area where the views of Parliament are most welcome and necessary.
Even as we make these changes we are still faced with a world arms production still standing at almost $200 billion per year. Granted, there has been progress in recent years in reducing nuclear weapons through the START process. The steep cuts to the arsenals of the former Soviet Union and the United States are welcome.
We now face the prospect of growing nuclear and in most cases chemical and biological capacity in other states, particularly the so-called rogue nations which recognize no international norms and rules. This represents a very serious threat to our security. For this reason the extension of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty was crucial. The indefinite extension of the NPT was seen as virtually unachievable a few years ago, yet with determined effort in east-west co-operation we made it happen.
At the extension conference last year Canada played a central role in drafting a Declaration of Principles and Objectives and a Declaration of Enhanced Reviews that broke the logjam and made success possible. The latter is of great significance because it pledges all signatories to review every five years. Preparations for each meeting will take several years and that is the time to get our
ideas into play. Again, I would consider that Parliament has a major role to play.
We need new approaches to those regions where proliferation risks are the highest. Members of Parliament will remember only a few years ago the great anxiety about the future of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. After some initial hesitation the Ukraine government realized that nuclear weapons were an obstacle rather than an entry card into the wide community and today Ukraine is free of nuclear weapons. It is also the beneficiary of considerable financial help. This year under Canadian chairmanship the G-7 concluded an agreement with Ukraine to shut down the Chernobyl reactor.
We have to consolidate the gains of recent years in reducing nuclear weapons. One major problem is what to do with the nuclear weapons grade plutonium which has accumulated from the destruction of existing weapons in the United States and Russia. At the nuclear summit in Moscow our Prime Minister announced that Canada is prepared to consider converting some of this material into nuclear power generation in Canada.
Our offer is contingent of course on whether the program can meet strict security and environmental standards. If we go ahead the program would substantially reduce the stockpile of weapons grade material that can find its way into countries bent on illicit nuclear weapons production.
Equally important for attaining security against non-proliferation is a need to sign a comprehensive test ban treaty by this fall. The Canadian role has been important both in pushing for the treaty at Geneva and in providing the scientific work needed for verification.
Weapons of mass destruction raise the most serious questions about the future of our planet, but we must never forget that conventional weapons are the ones that still do the killing in the conflicts that have raged over the last several years. To limit them is even more complex than in the nuclear, chemical or biological fields. In this area the end of the cold war may only have made matters worse. There is an excessive supply: weapons made redundant by the end of the east-west competition find their way cheaply into third world countries. There is a heightened demand for high tech weapons. Countries that once looked to one or the other superpowers now feel obliged to protect themselves.
There has been some modest progress but the emphasis is on modest. The UN register of conventional weapons is a useful tool. However there are loopholes and real problems of voluntary compliance. We as Canadians are now working to improve it, but progress unfortunately will be slow.
More optimistically, there are promising signs of the emergence of new world co-operation and co-ordination regarding the control of conventional arms and dual-use exports. For decades a NATO led organization called COCOM established tough barriers to cover the flow of weapons. The cold war is over and the Russian federation and former Warsaw pact members in eastern Europe are now just as concerned about the destabilizing weapons programs of rogue states as we are.
Last December Canada, its former COCOM partners, as well as its former Warsaw pact adversaries joined forces to announce a new regime, the Wassenaar arrangement, to promote greater transparency and responsibility in global arms and dual-use trade.
Canada is also leading international efforts that could result in a global ban on anti-personnel mines. Justified as legitimate weapons of war a few years ago, we have seen recently how these terrible devices have become instruments of terror against civilians.
On January 17, we announced a moratorium on the production, export and operational use of antipersonnel mines. This provided a dramatic push to international efforts. A year ago we were a mere handful of hopeful countries and now, a large network of countries are thinking along the same lines as Canada.
Along with Canada, 35 countries, including the U.S.A., Germany and South Africa, have now declared their commitment to work for a total ban. Last month, during his visit to Ottawa, Foreign Minister Kinkel of Germany agreed to work closely with Canada on winning international support for a ban. The Mexican Foreign Minister did the same.
We have also the commitment of the Central American presidents. Furthermore, we are working in NATO, in ASEAN and in consultation with our G-7 partners.
This coming fall we will break new ground by hosting an international strategy session in Canada to reinforce work on securing a ban. We are now mobilizing support for a UN resolution at the general assembly.
We accept that countries have the right to self-defence, to maintain militaries and to arm those militaries in a manner consistent with their legitimate defence needs. Aside from the so-called rogue states that have removed themselves from all reasonable international standards of behaviour, there are still others whose weapons procurement appear to go well beyond the limits of actual need. The question is: What is legitimate and what levels of power, sophistication and expense are warranted?
This is particularly worrying in developing countries that divert scarce resources from economic development toward military
build-up. Do aid flows free up money so that governments can spend their domestically generated funds on weapons? Or, if aid funds were held back, would these governments spend their money on weapons anyway?
The relation between aid policy and military in recipient countries is now a matter of priority for Canadians. Canada has taken a leading role internationally in garnering support for further study and concrete action. Canada raises the issue consistently in international fora such as the World Bank and the IMF, and has formed a group of like-minded countries who meet regularly to define innovative ways to target development co-operation efforts in this regard.
At the G-7 summit in Halifax last year, G-7 ministers adopted Canada's proposal to urge multilateral development banks to take account of military spending. Recently we have proposed that the OECD conduct a series of case studies on this subject. Today I tabled a strategy paper and I hope it will be the source of major debate in this Parliament.
To reinforce our commitment on conventional arms control we need to look continuously at our record. Export controls are the most important tool in limiting military exports and most responsible countries have them in one form or another.
Canada's controls are among the toughest in the world, but I intend to tighten them further to ensure as far as possible that our exports do not end up in the wrong hands or end up being used for unacceptable purposes. I have instructed my officials in the following way: to carry out more rigorous analyses of the regional, international and internal security situations in destination countries to forestall the possible destabilizing effects of proposed sales; to apply a stricter interpretation of human rights criteria, including increasing our requirements for end user certificates and other end use assurances to further minimize the risk that Canadian military equipment might be used against civilians; and to exercise the strictest controls over the export of firearms and other potentially lethal weapons to satisfy me that gun control laws and practices in recipient countries are adequate to ensure that Canadian firearms do not find their way into illicit arms trade nor fuel local violence.
Today I have tabled the sixth annual report on Canada's military exports. I am pleased to report that military exports decreased 12 per cent in 1995 and remain low as far as lower income developing countries are concerned.
I want to make Canada an even more responsible player in the global military goods market and I want Canada to continue to play a leadership role in the multilateral Wassenaar arrangement. Again I would invite Parliament to take an active interest in defining this role.
I have talked today about the ways our foreign policy is being refashioned around the new security policy principles and objectives. I am confident we are on the right track but I want to make sure we continue to move ahead, to look to the future by building on our solid foundations.
I mentioned earlier the work of Generals MacNaughton and Burns and of former Prime Minister Trudeau to bring some sanity to the world, to reverse the rush toward greater and more destructive weapons. At that time many mocked their efforts as idealistic dreams or worse. Today their ideas are commonplace, the starting point for current discussions. I hope parliamentarians will join us in this search.