Madam Speaker, I am proud to speak on behalf of the Reform Party in supporting Bill C-22. This bill is an example of what the House can do when members co-operate on an issue which is important to Canadians. It is something which we stand for as a nation. It goes to the very root of being Canadian. Canada is a country for peace, it is a country for fairness and it is a country which looks to building a better world for all people.
Bill C-22 is an example of what this House can do in the future. Reform has supported this process from the word “go”. I hope this bill will be an example of what the government and the House can do in the future with respect to foreign policy as land mines are but a small part of the larger picture of conflict and conflict prevention in the late 20th century.
I know that the minister and members of the Department of Foreign Affairs are interested in moving beyond this bill in developing foreign policy which deals not with the management of conflict but with the prevention of conflict. We are approaching an era in foreign policy when Canada can use its moral suasive power to lead other like-minded nations in developing a more peaceful world.
These are not just words. Rooted in them are pragmatic solutions which we can apply in the area of foreign policy.
I would like to reflect on when I joined this process. I was working in southern Africa on the Mozambique border in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. At that time Mozambique was one of the worst countries in the world. It was a nation racked by civil war and it was heavily mined.
The hospital was 20 kilometres from the border. Fifty thousand refugees had crossed the border looking for a better life. They were looking for a safe haven. Tragically, some of them had their legs blown off.
My last experience was in 1992 when I went to visit my old boss in the hospital. I was there on a social visit. After being there for 15 minutes the call went out that someone had stepped on a land mine. We rushed to the emergency department and then went directly to the operating room. I remember this very vividly.
As we went through the operating room there, wide awake, sitting up, was a young 18 year old Mozambiquan lad. He was looking toward the lower half of his body. His leg was torn to pieces. His foot was turned the other way around. Most of the muscle, tissue and sinew had been torn off his lower leg. He had shrapnel injuries in his groin and lower abdomen. He was very conscious of what was going on.
He was leaving Mozambique for South Africa for a better future for a safe future. He wanted to get a job and live in peace. Instead, that day he stepped and heard a click that would change his life forever.
That young man is but an example of over 30,000 individuals from around the world who silently step on these devices and are blown to pieces. Some die but many actually survive and they go on to live a life of poverty, a life of insecurity and a life that is only a shadow of what it could have been.
To give an indication of what this young man's life will be like, the leg was blown off. We took three hours to amputate his leg above the knee. He will probably require other surgeries in the future because he will be faced with infection, further revisions of his amputation. He was lucky that the injury did not go further up or that the anti-personnel mine was not larger. Many people have their legs blown off at the hip.
As the minister mentioned, some of these devices, if you can imagine, are actually designed like toys. Some are designed like butterflies. The children would pick them up naturally as they would and have their arms blown off; not to kill but to maim.
The perverse logic behind these devices is not that they are meant to kill, because that would be too simple. They are meant to maim. They are meant to maim because the person who is maimed is a constant reminder in that society of what mines can do and what the opposition, their enemy, can do to them.
They are a constant economic drain to society. They are a constant reminder, a constant example of fear that exists within the community to the people there. These people are not belligerents. They are not warriors. They are not soldiers. They are generally the public. Land mines are not designed to affect soldiers primarily, contrary to popular belief. Land mines are primarily designed to address and terrorize innocent civilians. They are a weapon of terror. They are not, generally speaking, a weapon used by military.
When I was in Mozambique, to give an indication of what they were used for, mines were used to put around people's fields. They were used to place around people's watering holes. They were used to put around people's fields so that those individuals would have to pay money or allegiance to the opposing belligerents. Otherwise they would be blown up and they could not feed themselves.
Mines also were used by guerrillas. When areas such as dams were mined, guerrillas would go in, pick up the mines and use those mines to blow up the dam or the watering area. They do not have an appropriate military use in the 1990s, contrary to popular belief.
The international committee of the Red Cross demonstrated this very conclusively and we are indebted to the hard work it did to give us the information, to diffuse the comments that land mines were actually a useful tool in war in the late 20th century. They are not. That was the primary argument that was used against this process, that mines are useful. They are supposed to be used for military purposes. They are not. They are a weapon of terror, a weapon against the public, and that is why this bill is being put forward, to ban.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the very important contribution that was made by members of the public from Canada, members of the international community and especially Mines Action Canada who have done an outstanding job of pursuing and pushing this agenda for the last four years.
Reform has been on it right from the beginning, because we put forward private members' bills starting at the beginning of 1995 and when Mr. Ouellet came on board to support it, we were very happy, and when the Minister of Foreign Affairs came on board to support it and start the Ottawa process, we were also happy to support that initiative.
Members from the Department of Foreign Affairs such Jill Sinclair, Bob Lawson, Ralph Lysyshyn have done an outstanding job in pushing this issue within the department and also internationally. I might also say that their work in Oslo was something Canadians can be proud of.
The Americans tried to water this treaty down. They tried to water it down so there were huge loopholes through it that would have made it not worth the paper it was written on. Instead, a charge was led by Canadian members of the Department of Foreign Affairs who were there who managed to mobilize support from other countries to ensure that the bill that was constructed in Oslo was going to be a bill we were proud of, a bill with teeth, a bill that would actually be effective for once in trying to ban these land mines. That is something that we as Canadians can be very proud of.
I would like for a few minutes to illustrate the scope of the problem of land mines. There are over 30,000 seeded all over the world. They inflict damages in various countries that are absolutely horrendous. In Angola 1 in 270 people is a mine victim and a similar number in Cambodia.
It goes beyond that. Land mines sit in the ground for over 50 years. As the minister mentioned, France has land mines that are blowing up people today. The most land mined country in the world is Egypt. Those land mines were seeded in the second world war and continue to blow up people every day. Land mines also continue to sit in the soil and cause huge economic devastation to countries that do not need this.
Let us not forget that most of these land mines are seeded in countries among the poorest of the world. The land mines sitting there for over 50 years prevent countries from economically getting on their feet. It has become such a serious problem in countries such as Angola and Mozambique that innocent civilians are prepared to go into mined areas to plough their fields to feed themselves. It now becomes a choice, chancing getting blown up or starving to death. Those are the cold hard realities, the cold hard choices that some of the poorest people in the world have to make every day. We should be ashamed that these devices were ever constructed and allowed to be tossed out in the manner which they have done for the last 80 plus years.
Those costs are enormous. In Croatia over thousands and thousands of hectares are mined, costing over a quarter of a billion dollars each year in lost productivity. Countries from Angola to Cambodia to Chechnya are so mined that they cannot get on their feet economically for decades.
The overall cost of demining is estimated at over $50 billion per year. These devices cost as little as $7 to $30 to make, yet each mine costs between $300 and $1,000 to remove. This cost will not be borne by the countries that are mined. It will be borne by the international community. We as nations do not have the money to do this. That is why this bill is so important. That this bill went through in such a rapid motion is something that Canadians can be proud of.
The process started four years ago and by international standards took place at light speed. There a few interesting things we can learn from this. First, we were not prepared as a nation to settle for a treaty that was going to be merely one which was developed by consensus. Usually when you push forth a treaty by consensus we get a piece of paper that is pabulum. We get a treaty that is not worth the paper it is written on because there as so many loopholes it becomes unworkable and unmanageable.
Instead we did not settle for second best. We settled for a situation that we knew the majority of the countries of the world would support. We went by a process of majority. Therefore we have a treaty which has teeth for a change. We also set a deadline. The minister set a deadline a year ago that this December would be the month we would settle on a treaty. It is something that we as Reformers can heartily support.
We are sick and tired of treaties taking decades to push forward when we know the majority of the international community will support them. While we dither on many of these issues lives are lost, countries are laid to waste, economies are destroyed and in fact we domestically pay a penalty.
When wars take place half a world away they do come to roost with us. Wars create refugees. Because we signed the convention on refugees we are obligated to bring refugees on to our soil. These tragic souls who would prefer to live in their own nations come to us looking for reprieve. It costs Canadians $75,000 per refugee to integrate them, a cost which is put on our already burdened social programs. Our defence budgets also incur great costs.
As a result we also put our soldiers in harm's way. Land mines have racked an enormous toll not only on people far away but on our own military. Peacekeepers fear land mines more than they fear the sniper's bullet. If we look at the casualties that we have incurred of our peacekeepers the majority are as a result of land mines.
In fact, we have the tragic case of a peacekeeper whose parents live on the northern part of Vancouver Island. Their son was tragically blown up in the former Yugoslavia by a land mine. They have worked very hard to bring this issue to the forefront. This is a cost that we all bear.
Further, when countries are trying to get back on their feet our aid and development budgets come into play in trying to demine and reconstruct societies and economies that have been laid to waste by war, and land mines contribute to this continual destruction within their economies.
The Ottawa process is important because it heralds a new co-operation between NGOs, non-governmental organizations, and government. We must not let this process die. For within this process lies hope to use and apply these lessons learned into other foreign policy initiatives in the future.
From 1945 to 1985 the international community has lurched from one conflict to another. We have watched the precursors to conflict exist right in front of our eyes. From Rwanda to the former Soviet Union, Cambodia, Burma, Central America wars have littered this globe and internecine conflicts have destroyed many economies and cost millions of lives.
We live in a world where rules are based on what was created after 1945. That world has changed. Between 1945 and 1985 the United Nations put forth six peacekeeping operations which cost roughly $3 billion. Between 1985 and now we have had over 26 peacekeeping operations.
The post-cold war era has set forth a new era, a new set of rules and a new set of challenges. We have not met those challenges. In fact, we have failed abysmally.
Rather than trying to prevent conflict, we have tried to manage it with all the costs that are incurred in that. We have watched in front of our eyes as nations have imploded, millions of people killed, economies destroyed and the seeds of ethnic hatred and discontent laid to bear and sewn for generations to come.
This is a penalty we will all pay. It is high time that we started to recognize that conflict management is not acceptable in foreign policy any more. We have to look ahead at preventing conflict and move our foreign policies from conflict management to conflict prevention.
This is where the Ottawa process can come into play. The NGO community is usually the first group in the trenches witnessing the precursors to conflict and the rapid inappropriate militarization, the human rights abuses, the collapse of governmental and judicial structures. All these things are witnessed by NGOs. They often communicate their wishes to governmental structures but it hits the usual inertia that exists within government and within international governments in particular.
As a result of this inertia, as a result of this inaction, we have paid the price. Those who live far away have paid a far greater price. We have to change this thinking.
It is important that we use the NGO community, use the conglomeration of NGOs part of this Ottawa process, as an early warning system that can identify countries that are ready to implode, identify the precursors to conflict and funnel this information directly to a central organization, an early warning system. Perhaps the most logical choice would be the UN crisis centre in New York. For all that can be said about the United Nations with all of its inefficiencies, it is perhaps the only choice we have today. Even if the United Nations were to be removed or were to fall apart, we would have to create something to take its place. Therein lies another challenge which I might get to later on in my speech, the restructuring and revamping of the United Nations.
The UN crisis centre could take all the information that is presented to it as an early warning organization and feed it directly into the United Nations. We must then have an existing group of responses by the international community to respond to these precursors. Such responses could be diplomatic initiatives, peace building initiatives and the introduction of positive information to dispel propaganda that is often used at the start of a conflict.
If we look at conflicts from Rwanda to the former Yugoslavia, one of the favoured tools that is used by a small number of individuals is to put forth negative propaganda to demonize another group. As Michael Ignatieff said in one of his articles, often these groups are very similar but they exist on the narcissism of their differences. They exist on demonizing the small differences that exist between different ethnic groups. In doing this, they polarize the ethnic groups which enables them to create an engendered fear, hatred, loathing and ultimately war.
That cycle must be broken. It can be broken. Once the precursors are identified, positive propaganda can be put in there. In fact the United Nations already has the power to do that through shortwave radio and existing communications tools that it has. It is exceedingly important that the UN get involved through diplomatic initiatives and positive propaganda.
Furthermore a tool that is not being used often is the tool of economics. Many of these countries rely on international financial institutions in order to survive. They also spend moneys given to them by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other IFIs on inappropriate militarization and to cause conflict. Wars need money. You cannot run a war without money. Therefore, if this is occurring, choke off the money supply.
The IFIs can be used not only as a stick but also as a carrot. As a stick we can withhold further loans, withhold their ability to renegotiate loans, moneys and grants and call back loans if necessary. We can also use them to freeze the assets of rulers who are patently engaging in activities that are going to compromise their people.
We could freeze the assets of rulers such as the late Mobutu Sese Seko who was one of the richest men in the world. There are the assets of Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya, when he engages in efforts to try to kill different ethnic groups within his country, when he tries to pit Kalenjin against Masai or Masai against Kikuyu. These kinds of activities can be stopped by directly addressing the people responsible who are often a small cadre of individuals within a nation.
The IFIs could also be used as a carrot. By lending money to provide peacemaking initiatives between different groups, by supporting peace building initiatives, by supporting activities that bring both of the groups together, by micro credit for minority groups so that they can get on their feet economically, by rewarding efforts to build structures of good governance and peace within a country, we can help to diffuse the precursors to war.
This is a big task. Again it is going to require organizations such as NGOs and governments to do this. When it comes to nation states taking a role in this, I believe that no other nation would be better at it than Canada, not alone but as an organizer.
In the late 20th century going into the 21st century there exists a void in foreign policy. The bipolar world created a world where two superpowers glared at each other at the end of a nuclear arsenal and under the absurd notion of mutual destruction. The world has changed. As that bipolar world collapsed, the shackles that held ethnic groups apart and kept ethnic hatreds simmering were removed and conflicts existed.
Countries such as the United States and many members of the security council cannot be the nation states that will bring other countries together. They are either perceived, rightly or wrongly, as having imperialistic tendencies or they have their own colonial baggage.
The world is looking for a new group of individuals to bring nation states together. I believe that responsibility will fall on the middle powers such as Austria, Australia, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Norway and Canada. Many of these nations are working in isolation on peace building initiatives. It is more efficient for these nations to work together in a multilateral fashion but no one is assuming the leadership role that would bring these countries together.
Canada can be that country. We have proven through the land mines issue that we have the moral suasive power to do this. We have proven through our Nobel peace prize for our peacekeeping efforts that we can develop international consensus for peace building. We have the diplomatic skills. We have the personnel in the Department of Foreign Affairs and we have an international reputation that is virtually unrivalled. We also have the security aspect and are involved with people from the Pacific Rim to Europe and to points south. We are in an enviable position to do that.
As we end the 20th century and enter the 21st century, I can only ask the minister to work with his colleagues in countries such as those I have mentioned. He could ask them to come to Canada to attend a small summit, a summit of the middle powers. He could bring these countries together, put the cards on the table and determine what everyone is working on in peace building.
I was in Norway at the Oslo treaty signing on land mines. I spoke to members of other countries, such as the Norwegians. I was interested to learn about their work. I found it remarkable that their work is very similar to our work. It is unfortunate that we are working in isolation. Our power to move international foreign policy forward can come about more expeditiously if we work together. There will be a lot of co-operation and like-mindedness if we pursue that.
I ask the foreign minister, the government and other members in this House to come together to pursue this course. Only if we do this can we get the required changes to stop the international bureaucratic inertia in international foreign policy. We could then address the security issues that affect us all. By security challenges and issues I refer not only to military security challenges but also to environmental security issues. Environmental issues range from our problems at the north pole to nuclear issues and to issues of the environment. All will require international co-operation.
By working with six to ten countries we can develop that nucleus. With that nucleus we can all sing from the same songbook and bring other countries together much as we did in the Ottawa process. The Ottawa process did not start with 100 countries all wanting to ban land mines. It started with a handful of countries, with the leadership of the NGO community and with the leadership of Canada and a few other nations. We can apply that same principle to pursue larger security issues and larger security challenges in the future.
I hope that we as a nation and as a Parliament can look forward to a future of addressing these larger security challenges. If we continue to lurch from conflict to conflict and do not try to prevent conflict, then we will be set with an unsustainable situation in the near future. We can no longer afford to see the implosion of nation states across this globe. We can no longer afford to see the proliferation of this destruction. If we want to speak pragmatically and domestically, these issues that occur half a world away will sooner or later come to roost in our own backyard. It is imperative that we deal with it now.
It has often been said in the medical profession that prevention is worth much more than dealing with the person's medical problem after the fact. I hope we can apply that principle to foreign policy.
When I spoke to Jody Williams, the Nobel peace prize winner about this, she said that those were nice words. I did not remind her that when we were pursuing the course of banning land mines four years ago, people said that it was a utopian dream and that those were nice words. Well these are more than nice words. There are pragmatic solutions.
If we do not seek to dream and look to the future, to building a new stronger, better world by using our expertise, by using pragmatic tools and solutions, by using the leadership that we as a nation can put forward, then we have nothing. We can and must use our moral suasive power, use the tools that are at our fingertips to build a better, more peaceful world for all people.
I will close by saying once again that this is an issue of which all Canadians can be proud. Reform is very proud to be part of the process because we have been pursuing peacekeeping initiatives for many, many years and we will continue to do so. We look forward to working with the government in pursuing pragmatic, effective peacekeeping and peacemaking solutions in the future. We hope that we will be able to do this in a way that will make Canadians proud. We can build on our history of Pearson diplomacy now with the land mines process, and live up to our heritage as Canadians and as peacemakers and pursue a course that will build a stronger, safer future for nation states around the world.