Mr. Speaker, it is very appropriate that we take today, the seventh anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, to remember those who died and to speak out in support of democracy and human rights.
The tragedy in Beijing that day was a black mark on human history. Peaceful protest for greater political freedom and democracy is a right that must transcend all borders and all cultures. That is why Canada must promote these values throughout the world.
The kind of tragedy that occurred in Beijing unfortunately is not isolated to China alone. Therefore, promoting democratic principles throughout the world and reforming developing world legal institutions should be a priority area for Canadian foreign policy. By concentrating on these two areas we can help to increase political freedom and reduce the level of serious human rights abuses.
To achieve this goal we would like to see the government take a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, Canada should support using our aid programs to promote the strengthening of democratic and legal institutions in the developing world. This would include things such as monitoring elections to make sure they are free and fair, providing legal expertise to reform the court systems and providing training for police so that they will serve and protect rather than intimidate and bully their populations. Of course this may not be relevant to our relations with China, but certainly there are countries where we could have real influence. It is our hope that through this type of policy we can help the people in the developing world to establish democratic and legal institutions which ordinary people trust.
The other approach we suggest is to support international NGOs and the private sector in developing countries to build up civil society as a vehicle to improve human rights and democracy. As social and business groups emerge as legitimate political forces in developing countries, they will be able to assert themselves and work against corruption and government abuse.
In the case of China it is vitally important that the Canadian government take a strong and constructive stand in support of human rights and democratic development. While we may be unable to get dramatic changes overnight, it is essential that we build for the future to ensure that the events of Tiananmen may never be repeated.
I urge the government to do everything possible to contribute to the improvement of human rights in China and in the rest of the world, and to maintain open and frank discussions with the Chinese authorities when abuses take place. If we can build a better, more democratic future for China, then we will honour those who died in Tiananmen seven years ago. That should be our goal. We must not fail for the sake of our children.