House of Commons Hansard #36 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was treaty.


Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Motion carried.

Earlier this day I informed the House of proceedings on the adjournment motion to be held this evening. It is with profound regret that I advise the House that those proceedings have been cancelled. Accordingly, we will continue with the debate before the House.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.


Michelle Dockrill NDP Bras D'Or, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to stand on behalf of the New Democratic Party to speak in support of our country's initiative to ban land mines.

This treaty is a testament to the power that people can have when they act together and to the positive power that governments can have when they put their minds to it.

Just one year ago most nations of the world decided that even though the economic costs were large and the military implications larger, this issue is a moral one. Anti-personnel land mines are an evil which has no place in the arsenal of modern democracy.

In Canada we are blessed with thousands of kilometres of open space. It is difficult for me to imagine living in a country where you risk crossing a unseen border with every step, the border between your life today and a life without a leg or a life without your child; where the field you and your family have tilled for generations is now a dangerous and foreign land full of hazards that could in an instant destroy lives and ruin futures; where your children cannot play in the streets or in the woods; where there is no freedom from fear.

Perhaps I feel strongly about this treaty because I am the mother of a young daughter. I read about the scores of children like her who are killed or maimed every day by mines. I read about mines made with brightly coloured plastic or cloth designed to attract children, designed to kill children. Designs like these have no place in the world I want for my daughter.

In Canada and other first world countries we spend a lot of time talking about rights and duties and codes of acceptable behaviour. At the same time we have allowed our governments to manufacture and export land mines, weapons whose only purpose is to cripple and to maim. That is the worst sort of hypocrisy.

Since 1868 and the St. Petersburg declaration which outlawed weapons which uselessly aggravate suffering, through to the Geneva convention which banned the use of terror against non-combatants, governments have worked long and hard to make sure that human lives are spared the painful excesses of modern military technology. But they have worked simultaneously to advance that technology, to make it possible to develop devices like the gravel mine I talked about a minute ago, a mine that includes the following line in its owners manual: “They are especially effective against inquisitive children. They make life difficult for rural communities without endangering troops and armoured vehicles”.

How about the wide area anti-personnel mine. These are dropped from aircraft and throw out eight fine threads which then act as trip wires. Anyone who steps on any of the trip wires sets off the mines and lethal pellets scatter over an area of 60 metres. Mines have been filled with flechettes, small and irregularly shaped scraps that embed themselves deep in the victim's flesh. Some are made of plastic, not because it is cheaper but because the plastic will not show up on X-rays. A surgeon has to gouge blindly inside the patient's body. A recent innovation has been to tip the pellets with depleted uranium so victims will also suffer from radiation poisoning.

This is what the governments of the world have been working on in their labs while the leaders preach peace and compassion.

This treaty is a huge step forward, a step on to safer ground. We are not free from danger yet. Until the superpowers have the courage to sign this treaty and the United States has the courage to accept the ban wholeheartedly, we know that every day for decades to come more lives will be shattered by mines.

Every year in Europe a few mines left over from the second world war explode, killing yet more people. That war ended over 50 years ago. Since then more mines have been laid than ever. Countries like Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Angola and Bosnia are carpeted with bombs that will take decades to clear. During those decades more families were broken. This is a fact and one we cannot escape, but we can reflect on it and do our best to make sure the cycle of violence and death is broken.

The United Nations has done excellent work co-ordinating mine clearing projects around the world but that work is useless unless we, members of the governments of the world, promise to ourselves and our children that we will stop adding to the stockpile. Making that promise means more than speeches in the House of Commons. It means applying the full moral weight of our nation to those countries that still insist land mines are a vital part of their defences.

It is ironic that today the leaders of the APEC nations are gathered in Vancouver hosted by our Prime Minister. The leaders of China and the United States both have refused to sign this treaty. Yesterday U.S. President Bill Clinton at least had the courage to congratulate Canada and urged us to move forward with the treaty. Meanwhile the Chinese government, which is responsible for a large percentage of the global manufacture and export of mines, has refused to sign the treaty and even to discuss signing the treaty.

It is truly a positive step for this Liberal government to have initiated this treaty. I want to extend sincere thanks from the NDP caucus to our Minister of Foreign Affairs for his diligent work to make this treaty a reality. It shows what governments can do when they decide to make a positive difference. My only regret is that it often seems the minister is a lone voice in this administration pushing for a more moral and humane approach to foreign affairs. While he pressures the Chinese and tries to take them to task for their refusal to meet the standards of international decency, other government leaders are wining and dining the Chinese president in Vancouver.

I am just one person whose voice has joined the global chorus calling for the abolition of land mines. There are tens of thousands of others, including the winners of this year's Nobel peace prize and many other individuals, groups and governments. I would also like to mention the efforts made by the British Labour government and Prime Minister Tony Blair who have shown what a moral government with the courage to use its authority can do. For them banning land mines is part of the moral philosophy of social democracy just as it is for us in the NDP caucus. It is part and parcel of our belief in human dignity and international co-operation.

This issue has to be put in a larger context. Land mines are an obvious and unquestionably evil expression of man's inhumanity to man, but there are others just as evil that receive little or no attention from the world's leaders. To be brutal, why ban land mines if there are no hospitals to treat children with measles? Why replace death from shrapnel wounds with death from malaria, with death from cold or hunger?

This treaty must be a first step, but the fact that I can rise in this House to discuss the issue that our government has been the author of a civilized page in the global book of laws remains a credit to this government. We are creating a new law for the civilized countries of the world and that is a worthy thing. On behalf of the people of my riding, of my party and for myself and my daughter Kayla, I thank all the people who made this treaty a reality.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I remind the hon. member that there were others involved in the land mines process. Mines Action Canada, a conglomeration of non-governmental organizations, has done an outstanding job of bringing this issue forward. Other members of Parliament in this House have brought the issue forward. Members of the public have been bringing the issue forward for the past four years. It was not just the government that worked on this. I just wanted to correct the member.

I also wanted to correct the member on another point. Not only England was involved in this process and only after Princess Diana pushed the government to pursue this course, but other countries around the world including Norway and Canada were also involved. Belgium was one of the first countries in the world to take the initiative of unilaterally destroying its mines. It banned mines before the issue ever came to the forefront.

I would like to set the record straight on that point. If the member wants to correct her speech to that effect, I am sure she is free to do so.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.


Michelle Dockrill NDP Bras D'Or, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his comments. As we all know, our time for speaking is very limited. I could have continued on a lot longer to mention the things which he just talked about.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, my comments will be brief today but extraordinarily meaningful. I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead.

These are challenging times for a middle power. In a post cold war environment there has been a sharp decline in the role of the nation state in terms of its ability to meaningfully impact foreign policy and international policy. There has been a commensurate increase in the power and strength of NGOs, multinational corporations and in fact in individuals.

This treaty is an example of how government can recognize the changing times and harness the new power of NGOs to create meaningful foreign policy amidst the challenges of a new environment.

Another trend in a post cold war environment is the entrance of a new phrase, a new term, and that is human security. Human security is being used increasingly in place of national security in a growing foreign policy circle. Human security recognizes that since the end of the cold war most conflicts have been interstate conflicts. The majority of those interstate conflicts have been between governments and their own people.

It is in that environment we must recognize we need to protect the security and the safety of individuals. Hence human security is increasingly becoming as important as national security. This land mine treaty recognizes this trend as well and serves to strengthen human security for all citizens of the world.

Canada must continue to play a vigilant role in utilizing all levers at our disposal, including the World Bank and the IMF, to pressure non-signatories to come on board and support this treaty. We must also ensure that the financial resources are made available to assist countries in complying with the conditions of this treaty.

Canada's leadership role in the Ottawa process stands as an example of what we can achieve. It also stands as an example of what we must continue to do, which is that we must continue to play a strong role as a middle power in a post cold war environment. We can and must continue in the tradition of Lester Pearson and in the tradition of Joe Clark to play a pivotal role in foreign policy, in foreign affairs, and to protect the rights, security and safety of all peoples.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

David Price Progressive Conservative Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will also be very brief. I have a couple of comments to make with respect to the speeches which have been made by hon. members today.

Jody Williams was mentioned several times. I attended a breakfast for her a couple of weeks ago, as did many hon. members. When she was questioned on what she would be doing for her next project, she was quite clear that she had nowhere near finished her project on land mines. She said that she would be continuing with that project.

Right now we have the opportunity to take this issue one step further, which is the type of thing she would like to do. The Asia-Pacific economic co-operation meeting is taking place in Vancouver. I understand that the APEC meeting will not address human rights concerns, that it will only address economies. That is not the right thing to do. I know that many Canadians and the minister feel that this is not the right thing to do.

The human rights records of our trading partners should be mentioned and not just in passing. Similarly, APEC provides an excellent opportunity to discuss security matters. The Pacific Rim is becoming more volatile as communist China grows stronger and North Korea becomes more and more unpredictable. In the future APEC will address international security concerns in the region. It will soon not be able to ignore the issue. It would be a wonderful start to set an important precedent if Canada led this initiative.

It is my suggestion that Canada bring up the issue of the land mines treaty fully and publicly and not just in bilateral meetings. If the government is really serious about ridding the world of land mines, the APEC summit would be a timely opportunity to challenge countries to join.

Again, I want to congratulate the government and particularly the Minister of Foreign Affairs for his efforts.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.


David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Burlington.

I am very pleased to be able to speak on this legislation before the House today. It will enable Canada to fulfil its obligations under the international convention banning land mines.

As members of this House know, over 100 countries will come to Ottawa on December 3 to participate at the Treaty Signing Conference and Mine Action Forum. This event will bring to a close the Ottawa process which was initiated last year by the Minister of Foreign Affairs after the United Nations sponsored conference on disarmament talks in Geneva bogged down.

This legislation, which is entitled the anti-personnel mines convention implementation act, is of course necessary in order to give the full force of law to Canada's political and diplomatic obligations as a signatory to the convention. I certainly hope that other signatories to the treaty act with the same speed and resolve that we in this Parliament have demonstrated in ratifying this treaty.

On behalf of the residents of my riding of Nepean—Carleton, I would also like to once again offer my personal congratulations to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the tremendous personal effort he put into this initiative. He has made all of Canada proud. His efforts are very much in keeping with the finest traditions of Canadian diplomacy.

When Canadians think of our diplomatic achievements, they think about Lester Pearson, the Suez crisis and peacekeeping. We can add to that list the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the land mines treaty. Great credit is of course also due to the hundreds of NGOs, international organizations led by American activist Jody Williams and supported by others like the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Together a very important humanitarian goal has been achieved.

We have all heard about the statistics on land mines. There are an estimated 100 million mines in the ground in 70 countries around the globe. Every 20 minutes a person is maimed or killed by an anti-personnel mine. For every mine taken out of the ground, 20 new mines are planted. Fully 80% of the casualties are innocent civilians, a large portion are children and women. They live in countries like Afghanistan, Cambodia, Mozambique, Somalia and Vietnam. Long after the wars for which the land mines have been sown have ended, the legacy of the land mine lives on with random and indiscriminate violence causing death and serious injury.

On the North American continent we are very fortunate indeed not to have to live with the constant threat of land mines as we go about our daily lives. Others are not so lucky.

Seven years ago I travelled to Zimbabwe in southern Africa as part of a CIDA sponsored delegation. One aspect of our visit involved a trip to a refugee camp on the Mozambique border called Tongagora. What I saw there in three and a half hours left me with an unforgettable image of what life is like for many people less fortunate than we are.

For over 40,000 refugees from the war in Mozambique, many attempting to overcome the effects of malnutrition, malaria and diarrhoea and other diseases, this camp was their home. Over half the population of the camp were children. Many showed the physical scars of war, including amputated limbs as well as other disfiguring wounds.

The sight of one child in particular seared an image on my brain which I will never forget. Like all the children in the camp, this young fellow was clothed in rags. He was probably about 11 or 12 years old and walked with a makeshift crutch to support himself because one of his legs was amputated at the knee. One-half of his jaw on the right side looked as if it had been blown away. When I looked at that child from a comfortable seat on a bus as we were leaving the camp, the only thing I could think of was the fact that he would never enjoy the life that so many of us in this country are blessed with.

Starting life as a refugee is bad enough but having to cope with amputated limbs and serious disfigurement takes an extremely bad situation and makes it dramatically worse. Whether he suffered his injuries from a land mine is something I will never know, but it is clear that the land mines were responsible for many of the amputated limbs at that camp. Every time I see that young boy's face in my mind's eye, I think of the land mines and the incalculable damage done to innocents. As unfortunate as that boy was, many land mine victims in Mozambique never made it to a refugee camp. Some simply could not make the long journey to safety and others bled to death at or close to the land mine that they had detonated.

The effect of land mines goes beyond the physical damage that is done. Also of concern is the profound psychological damage that accompanies living with land mines. A series of letters which appeared in last Saturday's Globe and Mail from young Bosnians about the menace of land mines speaks eloquently of their effect on young minds.

One young man, Admir Mujkic, a grade 12 student in east Tuzla wrote “Spring will come soon. Warm nights full of temptation to go out for a walk. We have had enough of smoke filled cafes, but where to go. Mines are all around us. Our fields, meadows, forests are probably covered with mines. That could probably ruin my life or somebody else's life, youth, beliefs, love. I want to run through flowery fields with my girlfriend. I want to pick the first violet for her, to climb the trees and forests. I want to lie in the grass and watch the sky for hours. I want to dream”.

Another student, Melisa Dzanovica, in grade 7 and also from Tuzla, wrote “My friend, do not look at the sky, do not count the stars, do not look at the yellow moon because in a split second it can become bloody. It takes only one wrong step. So lower your head, my friend. Your enemy is in the earth. It has surrounded you with a thick wire. Remember there is something worse than a war. Survive, my friend, the peace”.

There are a number of challenges we face in connection with this treaty. One is to ensure that ratification by the signatories proceeds quickly so that this treaty can become part of international law that stems the manufacture, possession, use and export of land mines. As parliamentarians we must work with our counterparts in other countries to ensure that this happens quickly.

Another challenge is to bring those who will not be signing the treaty, in particular our friends to the south, on as signatories. This would be a major step forward.

It is indeed unfortunate that the United States has decided not to become a signatory to the treaty at this time. As we know, it has cited its defensive situation in South Korea as its rationale for not signing, even though at least one of its own generals, General Norman Schwarzkopf, has said that the United States does not need land mines to defend itself or its allies.

To give credit where credit is due, however, the U.S. has destroyed 1.5 million land mines and has promised to destroy another 1.5 million in the short term. It has also vowed to increase its already sizeable budget for de-mining operations by 25% next year.

This brings me to perhaps the most important challenge that we now face as a global community; that is to move beyond the treaty signing and ratification to the next phase which should be a concerted international effort to get these mines out of the ground. This next phase will make the Ottawa process seem easy by comparison. It will require political will, significant resources as well as up to date technology to ensure that more lives are not lost and more injuries sustained in the de-mining effort.

As Canada has led the Ottawa process and the anti-personnel land mines treaty, so should we lead the process of ridding the world of these horrible weapons. We have some of the best trained personnel in land mine removal among the members of our armed forces and we have some of the most up to date technology.

In the first statement I made in this House I drew attention to two companies in my riding that I am proud to say are working on state of the art land mine removal technologies, Computing Devices of Canada as well as Thomson-CSF.

In the case of Computing Devices of Canada, they are working on a system which combines a variety of land mine detection technologies in one package. Their particular technology will have a system to detect even small amounts of metal. With ground penetrating radar their system will detect the presence of foreign objects in the soil. With an infrared camera it will detect heat flow disturbances in the soil associated with buried land mines. Yet another sensor is capable of detecting nitrogen, a key component of explosives.

The Thomson-CSF technology involves a very sophisticated robotic system with the capability of digging up, removing and disposing of land mines.

I mention this to indicate that the task of ridding the world of over 100 million land mines is a tremendously difficult but not an impossible task.

Great strides are being made with technology which will significantly reduce injuries and deaths related to de-mining activities.

To conclude, I want to say that all Canadians should be proud of this tremendous diplomatic achievement by the minister and the many others who are responsible for having this treaty moved forward.

We have come a long way in the space of one year toward solving a problem that afflicts a large portion of humanity. We must remember that the really tough job lies ahead.

I am confident that with the political determination, the financial resources and the latest technologies Canada can once again take the lead in one of the most important humanitarian issues of our time.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.


Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I too am pleased and honoured to be able to rise today in support of Bill C-22. I am particularly pleased but not at all surprised that this bill has received support from all parties in this House.

We do not agree often, but on this issue we do because we stand first as Canadians and stand for peace in the world. I was honoured along with my colleagues from Brossard—LaPrairie and from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca to participate with the minister at the Oslo conference in Norway this September as the treaty was being negotiated and at the forum for the non-governmental organizations with the people who have been driving this issue for years and years.

The Canadian delegation performed admirably. Their action, their commitment, their perseverance in Oslo was second to none and as a result, countries from around the world look to Canada for leadership on this issue.

In fact, with the passing of this bill, we will be in a position to be the first country to ratify the treaty to ban land mines. This, coupled with our recent destruction of our last operational land mine, signifies the level of our commitment to ensuring that land mines are destroyed and lives will be saved.

During this debate we heard the member for Nepean—Carleton talk a great deal about the impact of active land mines and what he has witnessed and the important role Canada has played in bringing this issue to its present place.

We all have a vested interest in this House and across the nation in ensuring that the world is de-mined. I thought I would focus my comments, therefore, on why Canadians are working so hard and at such a speed to impose this world-wide ban. What are the next steps?

This is a bill about peace and international security. It is a bill about taking steps to protect people's land, allowing people to provide safely for their families. For too long people in a number of countries have starved while their rice paddies and fields lay empty for fear of the consequences of entering those areas.

Most important, this bill is about people. It is about saving lives. It is about preventing senseless deaths and it is about restoring hope to communities.

It is frightening to think that even with the tremendous co-operation in this House, in the amount of time that we have taken to debate this bill, hundreds of people, civilians, women, children and farmers will be maimed or killed by anti-personnel land mines, one person every 20 seconds.

During this presentation and that of my last colleague, 30 people were hurt by land mines. Some will die immediately. Others will take weeks to die. Physically, we have already heard it is a tremendous injury on the individuals and medical care is not always accessible.

I heard stories in Oslo of having to take six days to reach emergency help and even then sometimes it not being adequate, of getting help for their immediate injuries and then suffering gangrene later, of being fitted with 30-odd prostheses through their lives if it is a child who is injured, the cost of that alone, the inability for people after being injured to provide for their families because in a lot of countries jobs are very scarce.

They can no longer manoeuvre in the rice paddies, go out and work on the farms. The effect for young women on their marriageability is rather drastic. If they should be so fortunate to get married, often there are later complications in childbirth.

There are many obstacles along that road. Of course, as the member for Nepean—Carleton has mentioned already, emotionally it has a devastating impact on children and adults who are injured.

The social reintegration of the individuals is absolutely important. These are innocent victims. They are women working in their fields supporting their families, children playing freely or gathering firewood.

On December 4 when delegates return to their respective countries and heads of state leave with their official copy of the treaty, our work will just be beginning.

Colleagues, we must really focus on our work at that point and we must work in earnest. The signing of this treaty is only the first step. We must sustain political and public attention on the issue. We must continue to encourage non-signatory countries to sign, otherwise there will still be countries that can buy land mines, transfer land mines, stockpile land mines and they will wreak havoc on our world.

We have the momentum. There is a lot we can do with this energy. We must encourage all countries to move forward. We must universalize the treaty.

This treaty is a fantastic example of diplomacy, of what can be achieved when governments listen to the people and then act, and of what can be attained when individuals and groups work together relentlessly and of what our country, Canada, as a middle power, as a peaceful nation, is capable of advancing in this century and in the next.

I would like to add my congratulations to those of all members of the House of Commons to the individuals who have been involved in this historic treaty, especially to the member for Brant for her initiative and for helping to focus me several years ago on this issue, and to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for his insight, perseverance, commitment and energy. He took a risk last year and has followed through and worked doggedly on this. I congratulate the Prime Minister for using his political pressure to bring people into the fold. It was critical.

On December 2, 3 and 4, the world will be watching as we take this important humanitarian step and lead the world into a new phase of disarmament. There are more issues that we can tackle in this progressive new way to deal with things.

On December 4, evil will be defeated, good will triumph and people around the world can be joyous that we will finally be on the progressive side of dealing with this deadly, indiscriminate weapon. They will know that finally one day we will see that end, we will see when mines are removed from our land. My colleague has identified opportunities for Canadians to participate in that process. We can know that without mines being used in such a terrible fashion that our peacekeepers, who are trying to help in various nations around the world, will have a better chance and will be a little safer.

This has been a terrific debate and I am proud to have been a part of it.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.


Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I shall be sharing my time with the hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain.

The good people of Surrey Central are very happy to have me speak on their behalf in support of this legislation to implement the convention on the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and their destruction.

My constituents and I would like to salute and pay special tribute to my Reform Party colleague, the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, who not only attended the convention at Oslo, but who has many years experience working as a medical doctor in the mine infested area of Mozambique. In fact, in 1995 and 1996 he was the Reform member of Parliament who introduced a private members' bill calling for an international ban on anti-personnel mines, but the government refused to make the bill votable.

If that bill had been declared votable, the treaty could have been signed much earlier, perhaps over two years earlier, and we could have saved many lives around the world.

On this rare occasion the Liberal Minister of Foreign Affairs said he would support the private members' motion. A Liberal minister actually stating his support of an opposition member's private members' bill was important because it boosted the spirit of the activists and non-government organizations who were already concerned and fighting to have these destructive weapons eliminated.

The new Liberal Minister of Foreign Affairs also supported the anti-personnel land mines initiative. Canada began pursuing the matter with other countries in the world, hoping to get a consensus on an international ban.

In October 1996 at the International Strategy Conference, Canada challenged the international community to sign a treaty to ban the production, use, stockpile and export of land mines, and so began the Ottawa process.

The international non-government organization community has always argued that a ban on land mines is necessary because the mines actually violate international human rights and international law by killing or maiming over 20,000 civilians per year.

A draft treaty was produced in Oslo, Norway, in September 1997. Included in this treaty was the banning of the use, production, stockpiling and trade of anti-personnel mines, but it also included assistance for de-mining and for the victims. So far over 120 countries have indicated that they will sign the Oslo treaty. Other nations are seriously considering signing the Oslo treaty. Next month there will be a formal signing ceremony in Ottawa.

The treaty is supported by the Canadian Armed Forces. In fact there is ample military evidence to support the ban of anti-personnel mines.

The Oslo treaty is intended to be a collective international disarmament treaty. The bill we are debating today is the product of the Oslo draft treaty. Bill C-22 has many significant humanitarian elements that will not only ban countries from producing land mines but will ban countries from using and trading them.

Canada's exemptions to this treaty will allow us to import, export and possess land mines only for military training, mine clearing and destruction. Peace officers and RCMP officers will also have the authority to possess and transport land mines in the course of their duties to diffuse them.

In the event a country falls under the suspicion of violating the treaty, fact finders will be sent by the international community and will have powers to search and seize with or without a warrant. Private homes can be inspected with a warrant. Warrants are not required to search military bases and/or warehousing facilities.

The bill has 14 sections. I would briefly like to describe a few of the sections which are important.

There are prohibitions as we know. Under the bill it is illegal to place a mine under, on or near the ground or any surface area. It is also illegal to develop, to produce or to stockpile mines directly or indirectly except for training purposes, to dismantle, or for display in museums. It is also illegal to import or export anti-personnel mines.

There is a destruction of mines section. Individuals who are in possession of anti-personnel mines must deliver them to specific locations for immediate destruction with the exception of the military, RCMP or those authorized by the minister to render the mines useless.

There are inspection rules. In the event that a country is accused of violating this treaty, the foreign minister of that country must provide to members of the United Nations fact finding team a certificate that will allow members of the mission to inspect areas where there is suspicion of mines, that is military bases or industrial warehouses. This power is only extended to commercial dwellings. They cannot enter into private dwellings unless the owner allows them.

Finally there is an enforcement section. This allows the opportunity for enforcement officers to determine fines and convictions. Summary convictions range from a fine of $5,000, jail time of up to 18 months, or both. Convictions on indictment range from a fine of $500,000 or imprisonment for a term no longer than five years, or both.

The United States and China have refused to be signatories to this treaty. However they have both implemented many significant aspects of the treaty such as the destruction of their stockpiles of mines. Also they have not exported mines for some years. We hope that in times to come China and the United States will sign the treaty.

The U.S.A. has done more than any other country in terms of committing more money to de-mining. It has made sure that the anti-tank weapons are not anti-personnel any more. It has destroyed a record number of mines already. The U.S. was the first nation to ask the United Nations to call for a ban on anti-personnel mines. The U.S. expects to lead in the role of peacekeeper in many parts of the world and expects to be accommodated, but in Oslo the nations did not agree. We know that last week the U.S. lost a plane and its crew off the coast of Africa while en route to de-mining activities in Africa.

Countries in war zones such as Bosnia, Turkey, middle eastern countries, India and Pakistan have not signed on either. Even though these nations have not become signatories, the fact that a treaty with teeth has been produced is more successful than a treaty that is agreed to by everyone but has enough loopholes to make it worthless.

With respect to the bill in its current form one of the issues that causes concern is the lack of specifics concerning who will be assigned by the minister to be the watch dog over the destruction of any mines and the enforcement of the law within Canada.

Another issue is the request for assistance. A commitment for assistance with no fixed moneys is stated in the treaty. This is assistance that can be given where appropriate and affordable. The government should ensure that whatever aid is given through assistance is done in the most cost effective fashion. This is a serious issue. It is important for the bill to be passed by parliament as soon as possible.

Let us imagine the civilian human aspect for a moment. History shows that mines do not stop armies but stop people's lives completely. In certain villages mines are all around in the fields, meadows and forests. The schools are covered with posters asking kids to think mines. The vocabulary of those school children includes war, mines, danger, fear, kill, blood and similar words. They ask children not to touch the mines because they are toys of war.

They are being told not to look at the beautiful sky or the yellow moon or count stars because in a split second it can become bloody. It takes only one wrong step, so they should lower their heads because their enemy is in the earth.

There is something worse than a war. They have to survive the peace. Families are familiar with crisis and lack of money. Even the children have to work to support the families in those countries. The forgotten mines take away their young dreams in a split second. The war is still in their hearts, souls and memory. There are people out there with one leg of their trousers hanging empty. There is no more hissing sound of shells or sirens but a sudden sound of detonation. Nobody knows how to handle them. To conclude—

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I regret to inform the hon. member he has gone well beyond his time. I know he is splitting time with the hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain. I think he would want to ensure the other hon. member has his 10 minutes.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his brilliant and erudite intervention.

What do his constituents think about the issue?

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.


Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, my constituents and I are proud to support the passage of the bill by the House. It was an honour to have the opportunity to speak in support of it.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:55 p.m.


Roy H. Bailey Reform Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, on an evening like this one it is difficult for someone to stand and try to say something that has not already been said. I am pleased to support the bill. I am also pleased to know that the support in my constituency, which is a large one, would be unanimous.

When we close the House tonight and go home we do not expect to hear the blast of a gun. We do not expect to hear an explosion of a land mine. We live in relative peace and quiet. However, as we pass the bill, and it will be unanimous, there are people in Canada tonight who are not as easy as we are about weapons that are being concealed within our country. People know about them but apparently there is no legal way or legal effort to stop it.

A mine is one of the easiest things to conceal and bring into the country. Nothing could be easier to hide and bring into the country than a small plastic mine. We know from fact that many illegal guns are being smuggled into Canada every day.

I was on the plane with a chap from the city of Cornwall who mentioned the illegal smuggling that takes place there. He talked about it being the smuggling capital of Canada. I asked if there were any chance that mines were being smuggled into Canada? He answered: “Why not? They are bringing guns in. Why wouldn't they be bring mines in?”

When the bill passes I would like the House of Commons to take a moment to think about the build-up of weapons, the arsenal being built up in Canada. Having spoken to police officers in Saskatchewan and the man I met on the plane from Cornwall, maybe we have a land mine that is ready to explode.

I am pleased by the great work that has been done in the House by the minister and my colleagues. I am pleased to support the motion. I hope all Canadians will look around them to ensure these weapons of destruction and those who possess them will be dealt with expediently and that we in Canada do not relive anything that has been experienced by many parts of the world.

On behalf of my constituents I am pleased to say that I most assuredly will support the bill.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:55 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to address Bill C-22.

Indeed, the Bloc Quebecois fully supports Bill C-22. On my own behalf and on behalf of my fellow Bloc members, I want to congratulate all the NGOs involved in this issue and the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the successful conclusion of the Ottawa treaty.

Everyone is aware of the ravages caused by anti-personnel mines. The Bloc Quebecois, which is always at the forefront when it comes to world issues, warned the Liberal government a number of times in recent years regarding the atrocities caused by anti-personnel mines.

As early as December 1995, the hon. member for Laval East rose in this House to urge Canada to eliminate these weapons of suffering, as she called them. In May 1996, the hon. member for Repentigny strongly condemned the agreement reached at the international conference on anti-personnel mines, then held in Geneva, where the Canadian government signed that treaty. It will be recalled that the agreement did not fully prohibit the use of mines. On the contrary, it stated that future mines had to be detectible or self-destructible. The hon. member for Repentigny called the agreement “absurd” and he was absolutely right.

But it is never too late to do the right thing. Everybody must be delighted with this convention banning anti-personnel mines. And the figures speak for themselves.

At $3 a piece, land mines are a cheap way of terrorizing one's enemies. That is why, among other reasons, there are about 110 million land mines scattered over more than 70 countries in the world. Five million more are sold each year. Land mines create fear in countries such as Angola, Cambodia, Mozambique, Somalia, Vietnam and many more.

In these developing countries where mines are often forgotten, they prevent people from functioning normally. Because of mines, large tracts of land become unusable and unworkable. Food supply and development assistance are often a perilous enterprise for NGOs working in these generally poor countries, which has the direct effect of making entire communities even poorer. And this poverty becomes even more appalling considering the inability of these countries to pay for wheelchairs or even prostheses for the victims.

And what about children? The most precious gift that life has given me is my two very healthy children. It is unthinkable but nonetheless true that one quarter of the people treated for land mine injuries in Red Cross centres in Afghanistan and Cambodia are children. What is more normal for a child than to go to school? In Mozambique, every day, at least one child is injured or killed by a land mine on his way to school. This slaughter has to stop and fortunately we are on the right track.

Since I became critic for international cooperation, I have been better able to see and appreciate the remarkable work done by non-governmental organizations. It is crucial to give credit to the work done in this area by Jody Williams, the ICBL coordinator. Originally made up of a handful of well-intentioned activists and led by a very determined woman, it has become a coalition of a thousand members. The work done by Mrs. Williams and her associates was even recognized by the Nobel Prize Committee, who presented her with the Nobel Peace Prize.

The campaign against land mines was launched at the end of 1991. It brought together 11 organizations representing more than a 1,000 NGOs from over 60 countries. These organizations shared a common purpose: to ban anti-personnel mines.

Considered a utopian goal at first, the idea of a ban on anti-personnel mines gained ground. With the support of hundreds of NGOs, the ICBL was able to change the world agenda and to bring many governments on side.

Following all these successful endeavours, the United Nations General Assembly passed in 1996 a resolution asking its members to actively pursue a ban on anti-personnel mines as soon as possible.

In October 1996, Canada took it upon itself to call all the countries in favour of the ban to a strategic conference, under the theme “Towards a Global Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines”, in which 350 delegates from 75 countries took part. As of January 1997, 50 countries had banned the use of anti-personnel land mines; 15 countries had destroyed or started to destroy their stockpiles; 30 countries had banned mines or at least suspended their use; and 20 countries had announced they had stopped producing them.

At the conclusion of what came to be known as the Ottawa process, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs concluded the conference with an invitation to governments to come to Ottawa in December 1997 to sign a treaty to ban anti-personnel mines. That is where we are now.

Needless to say, Canada has played a significant role in bringing about the treaty banning the use of land mines. As we have seen, the aim of the Ottawa process is to have an international treaty banning the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of anti-personnel mines negotiated and signed by December 1997 at the latest.

Without the initiative of the ICLM and Canada, this convention might have been delayed by a few more years, thereby taking a further and unacceptable toll in terms of human suffering and lives.

Canada has been an international leader in this area. But it must be watchful.

So, while the Ottawa process phase 1 is concluding, we must now think of the Ottawa process phase 2. The convention's signing in December does not mark the end of the process, quite the contrary. “Ottawa Round 2” will need to look at the on-site implementation of the convention. Canada will need to ensure that the convention becomes implemented universally as soon as possible, and that new massive mine removal and victim assistance programs are adopted. With “Ottawa Round 1” we were involved in theory, but “Round 2” will be putting the theory into practice.

The most important work for Canada and the international community will start on December 5, as soon as the convention has been signed on December 2 through 4. Then the serious nature of the convention will become evident.

There is a shadow over the event, however. Certain countries, such as China, Russia and the USA, do not intend to sign the Convention. It is not my intention here to pass judgment on these non-signatories. However, reports like the one by Human Rights Watch entitled “In its own Words”, based on archival documents from the Pentagon, and the one by Demilitarization for Democracy entitled “Exploding the Landmines Myth in Korea” argue convincingly against the marginal and often unproductive usefulness of land mines.

These reports even indicate that American land mines were one of the main causes of American losses in the Vietnam war. Such arguments, however, failed to convince the President of the United States to change his mind.

It seems fairly clear to me that, under pressure from the military lobby, the president decided not to sign the treaty. Furthermore, he said he would not sign out of a concern for protecting American troops stationed in the Korean peninsula. Like everyone else, I watched the televised reports of the armed conflict with Iraq in 1991. In view of the high tech arsenal the United States have at their disposal, how can the U.S. president claim that they need weapons as primitive as land mines to defend American troops?

I believe the countries that have not signed the convention simply lack the political will to do so. This is very regrettable. But I think that international popular pressure will eventually bring these countries around.

To conclude, I would like to remind the House that we may have won a battle, but the war is far from over. We must remain vigilant et join forces to make this world a better place, free from the scourge of anti-personnel mines.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.


Jacques Saada Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I will share my time with the hon. parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister.

Every 22 minutes a person is killed or injured by a mine that goes off. In very concrete terms, this means that since this morning—I took my seat in this House at 11 a.m. and it is now approximately 7.10 p.m.—while I was taking part in this debate in this House some 25 people, mostly civilians and children, were killed or injured by mines. Some mines are even specifically designed to attract children. Take butterfly mines for instance.

Many of my colleagues mentioned the social and environmental costs of these mines. It is important to note that, in the final analysis, there is no proof that the use of mines has ever made a difference in any conflict. No conflict has ever been won through the use of mines.

I would like to read from a paper written by former US Foreign Secretary Cyrus Vance. He wrote this:

“With international attention focused on negotiations to destroy nuclear weapons and prevent a new nuclear arms race on the Korean peninsula and in south Asia, some may think that land mines, those tiny weapons that can fit in the palm of the hand, are hardly a threat to world peace. In fact, while reducing the threat of nuclear war must remain the first priority of international arms control efforts, it is small weapons that are killing and wounding far more people every day. The U.S. Department of State has noted that land mines may be the most toxic and widespread pollution facing mankind.

“We are convinced that nothing less than a total ban on the production, possession, transfer and use of anti-personnel land mines will move us closer to the goal of completely eliminating this scourge. We believe the United States should take the lead to achieve this goal”.

The United States did not take the lead, but Canada did and we must be very proud of that. I would like to take a few moments to mention in particular the efforts made by the Prime Minister, by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, André Ouellet, by the current Minister of the Environment, and by the current Minister of Foreign Affairs who, as we all know, strove to pursue the great Canadian tradition of maintaining and promoting peace.

I would like to tell you briefly about my experience in Oslo. I was there when the treaty was negotiated. I was accompanied by the hon. member for Burlington and the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca. The Canadian negotiators enjoyed a high level of credibility over there. These senior public servants from Foreign Affairs and National Defence were a credit to Canada. All too often public servants are criticized. But everyone should know how well they represented our country in Oslo.

As the treaty was being negotiated, NGOs held a conference. I visited the exhibition set up by these NGOs, across from where the negotiations were taking place. I was accompanied by a public servant. He introduced me to someone from the Red Cross as a Canadian parliamentarian. I do not know where she came from, but a young Cambodian woman appeared in a wheelchair. She had lost her legs when she stepped on a mine. She looked at me and said: “Well done, Canada”. That is an experience I am not about to forget. It is an experience that makes one extraordinarily proud of this country.

On September 9, the Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke before the conference of NGOs. I can tell you that the emotion in that room when he finished speaking was absolutely remarkable.

What I would like to say to all Canadians is this: Be truly proud of your political leaders. Be proud of this House, which is going to unanimously support one of the greatest humanitarian causes in recent decades.

As has been strongly emphasized, the Ottawa process is a large alliance of civilian groups, NGOs, Jody Williams, whom I congratulate, of course, and the organization she represents, as well as the Red Cross.

I would like to wrap up, if I may—it will take just a few seconds—by launching an important appeal to Canadian youth. When I took up politics, I was criticized for being idealistic. I would like the young people of Canada to know that, scarcely one year ago, everyone was sceptical about the Canadian initiative. In a few days, over 100 countries will be here in Ottawa, either to sign or to indicate their moral support for this treaty to prohibit anti-personnel mines.

What I want to tell young people is that there is room for idealism in politics. Today is proof of that. And yes, as members of parliament, we can make a difference, but only if we understand that a society is made up of elected officials, of NGOs, of an entire population deciding to join forces. That is the embodiment of what we are doing this evening.

I know that much remains to be done to bring peace to the world, but I am immensely proud today to be taking a large step in the right direction, in the company of all my colleagues and, in fact, of the entire country.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

7:15 p.m.

Winnipeg North—St. Paul Manitoba


Rey D. Pagtakhan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, first I thank my colleague from Brossard—LaPrairie for sharing the time with me.

I rise in the House in support of Bill C-22, an act to implement the convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and on their destruction.

The member for Winnipeg North—St. Paul is assured this House will rise to the challenge. Indeed this bill also known as the anti-personnel mines convention implementation act is a defining moment for the Canadian Parliament and therefore for the Canadian people.

The bill when enacted will implement Canada's obligations under the convention. It will put in place not only domestic laws necessary to fulfil our convention obligations but also charter of rights safeguards. It will provide Canadian courts with greater ease of interpretation to facilitate prosecution of any alleged violation.

May I at this juncture salute the government for this historic initiative and in particular, the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs for his perseverance and persuasive prowess.

The minister of course has the full support of the government caucus. In fact, the Prime Minister himself has pursued the issue with great will and determination as well. May I remind the House that the Prime Minister brought the subject matter to the attention of leaders of eastern and western Europe in his recent trip there a couple of weeks ago. Just a few days ago on the occasion of the APEC forum in Vancouver, he again brought the issue to the ears of President Clinton of the United States.

This government's commitment is resolute. Its determination to succeed is unwavering and the government sees full success on the horizon.

Already we see China which has agreed to extend a moratorium on exports and will attend in December as an observer, marking China's first ever attendance at a land mines conference. We see the United States which has extended its moratorium, actively seeking ways to replace the mines it now uses and has announced new action on demining and victim assistance. We see Russia which has committed to signing at the earliest possible date. These are very laudable developments.

In two short weeks, Canada by hosting the Treaty Signing Conference and Mine Action Forum, dubbed the Ottawa Process 1, will show to the world Canada's diligent stance on seeing the insanity of anti-personnel land mines is ended.

As Canadians we have reason to be proud that our country has taken a leadership role in an issue that has climaxed to international heights because it is an issue that touches the soul of humanity.

I am proud to inform the House that in my province of Manitoba, NGOs such as the Council for Canadians with Disabilities, the Centre for Disability Studies and Disabled People's International have assisted other disabled people's organizations in countries around the world in acquiring the advocacy skills needed to press governments and communities for support of the issue. The efforts of a global movement have been made possible as NGOs, experts and officials come together to address the vast dimensions of the problem.

Truly we cannot forget the real tragedy of land mine victims, the incomprehensible loss of innocent children and youth, the victims for whom we are to speak. It is the young people of today who will continue the anti-land mine legacy of our present generation if they are to see a future without deadly armaments of war that inflict harm and kill more civilians than military targets, that killed more than lives claimed by nuclear and chemical weapons combined.

Addressing the Canadian Conference on Humanitarian Demining and Landmine Victim Assistance held in Winnipeg on January 31 this year, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said: “We are making a difference. We must continue to work together, taking full advantage of the momentum we have generated in Canada to help the world rid itself of these intolerable weapons”.

We in Parliament and through us, our constituents can be part of that difference. As the Prime Minister said recently: “We have worked with others of like-minded beliefs and showed doubters that Canada can make a real difference as a force for good in the world—. The job has been well started, but it will not end until we persuade even more countries to sign on. And we will keep working until the last moment and then beyond”.

Beyond the Ottawa Process 1 so we can gather the necessary minimum number of ratifications, 40, that will allow the full force of the convention binding in international law. Beyond, so that we can help ensure a future if not totally free of war, at least free of the unnecessary loss of civilian lives, free of amputated limbs, blind eyes, scarred bodies, emotional shock, and preventable human sufferings due to anti-personnel land mines.

In conclusion, this bill is a historic one and calls on all of us to play a historic role. I am pleased that we in Parliament on behalf of all Canadians can rise to the call with resolute confidence.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

7:20 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario


Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to speak on this very special day on a special bill which will produce an act to implement the convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and on their destruction.

The bill relates to the implementation of Canada's obligations under the international treaty on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and on their destruction. This binds Canada to co-operate in a number of ways so as to facilitate the implementation of the treaty and to ensure that persons refrain from engaging in activities prohibited under the treaty.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to split my time with the hon. member for Kitchener—Waterloo.

Each nation under the treaty undertakes to destroy or ensure the destruction of all stockpiled anti-personnel mines it owns or possesses or that are under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible but no later than four years after entry into force of the treaty.

This is the act which is a necessary step to allow us to lead the world in signing a treaty which will ban land mines worldwide.

Once again in the tradition of Mike Pearson in this House, Canada is leading the world in true peacekeeping. It has been a long road to get to this point and there is still a way to go. But today I must confess I am much more optimistic than I was only a couple of years ago. I am not a pessimistic person by nature. I know there is a more or less effective world ban on chemical and biological weapons but my hopes for a land mines ban were not high only a couple of years ago.

As recently as April 1996 as a part of Canada's delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union which was led by Senator Peter Bosa, we were unable to have this issue accepted as the principal agenda item, although we were able to speak to it and move it up for future agendas of IPU meetings.

In that same year I recall a meeting on Parliament Hill sponsored by Mines Action Canada, the Canadian Red Cross and Bruce Coburn, under the auspices of the member for Brant, now Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. Despite Bruce Coburn's presence, attendance was sparse. In my pessimism I underestimated the influence of the grassroots here in Canada and around the world.

Ever since I was elected, I have received a steady flow of calls and letters about land mines. Whenever I visit schools, high schools or elementary, I get questions about land mines. Various groups in Peterborough have taken a continuing interest in this matter. Only yesterday in church, people were discussing the massive task of demining which is still ahead of us. For example, one person suggested planting trees as areas are cleared of mines. The grassroots interest has been there and is still there.

This groundswell of interest was Peterborough's share of what our Minister of Foreign Affairs described in his speech in the conference in Oslo. He described the worldwide interest among ordinary people as “a coalition of civil society and committed governments coalescing around the movement to ban anti-personnel land mines, a coalition that has had the power to change the dynamics and direction of the international agenda”.

In that same speech our Minister of Foreign Affairs paid special attention to the role of non-governmental organizations, NGOs, in the process. I have mentioned Mines Action Canada and our own Red Cross. He mentioned as examples the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines and the international committee of the Red Cross. He went on to say, and again I quote from the speech in Oslo: “Clearly, now no one can relegate NGOs back to a simple advisory or advocacy role in this process. They are now part of the way decisions have to be made. They have been the voice saying that governments belong to the people and must respond to the people's hopes, demands and ideals”.

This is a change in itself, a recognition of the proper relationship between people and their governments. The role of the people and their NGOs is an ongoing one in this land mines ban. It does not stop here. Again, I quote the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Oslo: “There is a question of the watch dog role for civil society”—that is to say the grassroots—“in evaluating the compliance of states to the obligations they have signed. Canada, the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines, and the international committee of the Red Cross and several of our core partners have consistently argued that a humanitarian treaty without traditional forms of arms control verification can be an effective response to the anti-personnel mines crisis. This implies that civil society”—the grassroots—“can and will play an effective role in deterring and detecting wilful non-compliance”.

This change in people to government relationships goes even beyond this important anti-mines treaty. In my view, it gives us hope for moving the nations of the world toward lasting peace.

My last quotation from the speech of our Minister of Foreign Affairs in Oslo is that we need to ask ourselves whether we can maintain and build upon the close and constructive working relationship that has developed between governments and civil society through the Ottawa process, this process of producing this treaty which we are proud to call the Ottawa process.

He goes on and asks whether we can maintain and build upon the incredible sense of political momentum that this unique relationship helped to create, offering hope to millions that an integrated and effective international response to the global land mines crisis is years and not decades away.

Can we demonstrate that the Ottawa process offers an effective lasting model as a response to the changing nature of international conflict?

I would say that the only answer to all of those questions is yes, we can and must build on this wonderful example of grassroots action.

In conclusion, like my colleagues and all members of the House, I congratulate and sincerely thank all those who have brought us to this day. I pledge my support for this bill, for the treaty and for all the follow-up activity that is required.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

7:30 p.m.


Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, every once in a while an event transpires in this House that galvanizes all the parties and all the members to move in one direction. It is one of those days today.

On this issue, we have been united. The issue is land mines, banning land mines, dismantling land mines and trying to make our world a bit more sane. I am very proud to be a member of Parliament, to be part of this Chamber at this time. I think all Canadians should be proud for the role that we are playing.

Forty years ago on February 28, my family and myself left Hungary and went to the Austrian frontier. As we went across the border at night, we were conscious of the fact that we were going through land mines.

I say this because the reality of having to deal with the evil of land mines affects many people on this planet. There are many people who are Canadians who have experience with this. I can say that walking through a field which should not be an extraordinary exercise can be a very terrifying one.

At the time I was 10 years old, my brother was 12 and my sister was three. My parents were in their mid-thirties. Land mines were used to keep people out but so often land mines were used in Iron Curtain countries to keep people in.

The terror of that night is something that has never left me. It was a year ago this past September that I had the experience of being an observer for the elections in Bosnia-Hercegovina. In an area that had a population of four million people, they had six million land mines.

When I was in Mostar, I was on a bridge over the Neretva River which divides East Mostar from West Mostar. On one side we have Muslims and on the other side we have Croatians. This is a very beautiful river. After seeing it, one wants to walk down to it. If you had your fishing rod you would want to try fishing. It is a very beautiful and scenic site. The reality was that you could not walk down to that river because any place you walked in Bosnia-Hercegovina you had to be always mindful that there were six million unmarked land mines.

We have to ask what kind of experience we have in terms of an individual who has to live in those kinds of conditions where the simplest pleasure of walking in the woods can be a tragic and terrifying event.

I reflect back to all the graveyards that had those fresh flowers from people who were victims of that terrible war and to know there were six million land mines waiting to go off long after the conflict was over, perhaps blowing somebody up as they were trying to rebuild their war-torn home or killing a farmer who is working in the fields or maybe killing a child playing in the fields.

I am incredibly proud to be in this Chamber. It was back in 1956-57 when Canadians under Lester B. Pearson invented peacekeeping in order to deal with the problem of Suez. We certainly are continuing in that tradition with the initiative before us today.

In lending support to what the previous speaker from Peterborough said to a grassroots movement, we are recognizing that the insanity of land mines and the insanity of war that maims hundreds of thousands, indeed millions of people, is something that we must stop and work against.

When we reflect upon the demographics in Canada and why we are the way we are as a nation, peacekeepers striving to make this planet a better place and, in many cases, representing a beacon of hope in a troubled world where we can bring people together from all corners of the world, we have one-sixth of the people in Canada who were not born in Canada, but it helps us to understand why we as Canadians so very much want to play a role to make this world a better place. It does not matter where there is a conflict on this planet, we have Canadians who came from that part of the world with relatives and friends in their homeland who are hurting and suffering.

Yes, I am incredibly proud as I think we all should be at what is taking place here today and the role that we have played in making the banning of land mines a reality in the not too distant future.

I can only commend all my colleagues for the kind of unity they have shown on this issue.

I would certainly single out the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister for pushing with such great vigour in the political arena on the international front the whole cause of banning and ridding this planet of land mines.

It is only proper that the Nobel Prize recipient, Jody Williams, was someone who spearheaded the non governmental organizations in the battle against land mines. I also reflect back to my home community where so many people have worked on this issue, particularly the Mennonite Central Committee.

As we push this ahead, we know that we have Canadians with us. I think we can indeed be proud of the mission which we have undertaken and the difference we are going to make.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, before I start to speak on Bill C-22 I want to thank the Chair, the Table Officers, the staff and the pages for staying so late today on this important debate. All of us as members greatly appreciate your efforts.

This is the perhaps the last speech tonight. I want to say what an honour it has been to spend the day in the House listening to all the interventions by members from all party lines and showing a degree of co-operation we rarely ever see in this House.

We have by-passed the usual entrenched inefficiency of the House of Commons for once and managed to co-operate on an issue that one would find very difficult to disagree with. Once again I would like to add my name to the work that has been done by so many members of the Canadian public, the international community, the non governmental organizations and members of Parliament who sat in this House in the years gone by, and who sit in this House today. I would particularly like to thank members of the Reform Party for supporting this initiative as eloquently as they have and as all members from the House have.

It is a shame that it took such an issue to bring us all together. I hope that in the future we will able to perceive collectively other foreign policy initiatives which will be for the betterment of all people in this country and around the world.

Bill C-22 will save lives. As has been mentioned before, over 30,000 people are maimed by land mines, most of whom are innocent men, women and children. In my experience in dealing with land mine victims, you only have to look in the eyes of somebody who is on the operating room table, a young person who tried to seek out and find a better place to live. Look into their eyes and watch the fear they have as they peer down to see the lower part of their body blown away.

As we amputated the legs of individuals who have stepped on land mines, I could not help but reflect on the tragic circumstances those persons now face, a life which is so different from what they had before. They went in a brief second, in the click and the blink of an eye, from being a productive, healthy member of society to one that will occupy the lowest socioeconomic rung in countries racked by civil war.

These devices do not affect rich countries like ours. They affect the poorest nations of the world from Angola to Cambodia, from Somalia to Egypt, from Rwanda to the former Yugoslavia. These land mines create a terrible toll, not only in human terms but also in economies laid to waste. This bill will go a long way to preventing that carnage from occurring.

Let us look beyond land mines. Let us look to life beyond land mines and see what the future holds for us. There is life after land mines. What we can do now is reflect on the Ottawa process and use and redirect that unusual co-operation between members of the non governmental organizations and governance working together for a common goal. This cannot be left to wither away. It must be acted upon, nurtured, and redirected to address other security issues facing us all.

As we look to the 21st century and the challenges facing us as a nation as well as other nations around the world, we cannot help but reflect on the fact that we have failed in our foreign policy.

The biggest challenge is conflict. Land mines are an important part of conflict, but in the big picture they are a small part. We must look at conflict in a broader context and search for more constructive solutions.

We can reflect on the Bosnian conflict. The signs were continually there. We were continually told that the former Yugoslavia would tear apart and explode in a level of bloodshed that Europe had not seen since World War II. We the nations of the world sat on our hands and wept. We engaged at best in diplomatic initiatives and at worst in hand-wringing inefficiency when we did nothing at all.

The result was the deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians, the rapes of thousands of innocent women and the deaths of thousands of children. It was potentially an avoidable tragedy. Certainly many of those lives could have been saved.

We were repeatedly told for months on end that a massive slaughter was imminent in the great lakes region of Africa. Major-General Roméo Dallaire repeatedly warned right to the end that thousands of people would be slaughtered. What did we do? Virtually nothing. Today genocide will raise its ugly head once again in the great lakes region and again we are doing nothing.

We have it within our power to use the Ottawa process to address these significant problems. Canada is a nation state uniquely poised to change foreign policy from an era of conflict management to an era of conflict prevention.

Here are some constructive solutions. There are a number of nation states of medium power which are neutral, relatively affluent, have extraordinary diplomatic power and, above all else, have international respect. Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, South Africa and Canada are some of these nations. The world is looking for a leader to bring these nation states together to form a nucleus upon which we can start to bring other countries together to change international foreign policy. We have to rethink the way we deal with each other as nation states.

The big powers, the security council members such as the United States, France, Germany, England, Russia and China, cannot do this because they have their own political baggage and are not as widely respected as the middle powers. We then can play an unusual role in working with the NGO community to address the problem.

First, we must set up an early warning monitoring system to address conflict. That early warning system could be the NGO community that would form part of the nucleus of the Ottawa process. NGOs are often the first to witness the precursors to conflict, to witness the breakdown of judicial and governmental structures, and to witness the persecution of minorities and the trampling of basic human rights.

Their input into a central region, for example the UN crisis centre in New York, would be a logical place for this information to be gathered. It could then be dealt with by the United Nations as a whole.

We are now dealing with UN reform, which involves revamping the security council and removing veto powers from its members. Again that is something with which we as a nation and the international community will have to deal.

The solutions involve the setting up of a monitoring system and the setting up of an area to receive information, the UN crisis centre. A series of responses could be put forth, responses such as diplomatic initiatives, peace building initiatives, the introduction of positive propaganda into areas that are breaking apart to bring belligerents together, the introduction of more punitive measures such as sanctions, where appropriate, and the use of international financial institutions as economic tools and levers to try to take away the fuel of war, which is money. Money drives wars. The international financial institutions give a great deal of money to a number of countries of the world, some of which are in conflict.

It is exceedingly important to pursue this issue. These are not just words. If we fail to address it we will see an explosion of ethnic conflict.

Between 1945 and 1985 there were roughly six UN peacekeeping missions that cost about $2.3 billion or 23% of the UN budget. Since 1985 to now the UN spends 77% of its budget on peacekeeping initiatives. That is more than twice as much as it spends on everything else added together. It has driven the United Nations into bankruptcy. This then is not a situation that can be sustained.

Why should Canadians be interested in this issue at all? It is for the simple reason that what happens half a world away comes home to roost sooner or later. When conflict occurs and countries explode into an orgy of bloodshed and economies are laid to waste, the responsibility for setting that up and dealing with that goes to the international community.

We incur costs in our defence budgets, our peacekeeping budgets, our aid budgets and economic reconstruction, and our social programs domestically when refugees, tragic souls, fleeing their homelands come to other countries looking for a haven. They come to our country looking for safe haven and because we signed the UN charter on refugees we are obliged to take them in, which we do. It costs us roughly $75,000 per refugee to integrate them into Canadian society. This is a lot of money. It contributes to the already weakened system we have in our social programs.

I am not blaming refugees by any stretch of the imagination but merely illustrating that in these days of economic hardship and of governments not having any money we cannot afford having increased costs placed upon us, not to mention the danger our peacekeepers and our aid workers incur when they go abroad.

A number of peacekeepers have been killed or maimed by land mines and working abroad in danger zones. Does it not make more sense for us to prevent these situations from occurring rather than pick up the pieces later on?

Furthermore once a war breaks out the seeds of ethnic discontent and future conflicts are sewn forever. One need not look any further than at the situation in Bosnia to see that country will not remain as it is in the future. It is artificially maintained right now through force. Unless we are prepared as an international community to stay in Bosnia for the next 75 years, nothing will change. Once we move, if we move before that, the country will break apart in a violent shudder. It is important for us to realize that and to initiate efforts to ensure these situations do not occur again.

Not only can the Ottawa process be applied to international military security issues. It can also be applied to the other problems that affect us from environmental issues to economic issues. We already apply many of the principles to our economic multilateral initiatives through the NAFTA, FTA, WTO and now the MAI. All these things are examples of the international community trying to work together to resolve differences.

In closing, I would like to say how proud I am to be a Reformer today, how proud I am to be a parliamentarian, and how proud I am to be a Canadian. Canadians and Canada have set a new standard of co-operation in the House and internationally to pursue objectives to help those who are most helpless, to save lives and to make our world a better place.

Mr. Speaker, I stand before you and thank the House for its time. I hope that this will not be the end of initiatives that will involve co-operation between members of the House to pursue a better Canadian society for all.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

7:55 p.m.


Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, last September my wife and I joined with my brothers and my sister for a family reunion and holiday in France. We gathered at a farm in Normandy from which we visited the sites and beaches that World War II has made part of world history today.

Two of my brothers served in uniform during the war but the rest of us were in school. Yet the place names, the events of World War II which cast such a huge shadow on the world then, were a vivid part of our consciousness and of our lives as young people. Whether it is through the awesome silence of Utah Beach, Omaha Beach or Juno Beach where our own Canadian troops landed or whether it is the stunning sight of massive concrete bunkers and gun emplacements left by the Germans, the whole historic coastline tells a story of the savagery, the utter futility and the great sadness of war and armaments.

It is difficult for anyone to visit Bayeux, Caen, Ste. Mère L'Église or Arromanches and not be terribly moved by the huge human cost of warfare and armaments. Each corner echoes the screams of human beings fighting in a deadly war. Thousands upon thousands of lives were literally torn apart by weapons of destruction.

Whether it be bullets or mortar shells, whether it be ocean mines or land mines, weapons of war and destruction know no mercy for their only raison d'être is to maim and destroy. As we visited war graves to pay our respects we were terribly struck by the immensity of the sacrifice. Young adults of 20 years or 25 years of age or sometimes still in their teens had been mowed to death because of one man's folly and pride. Millions of people, in fact tens of millions if we count the huge human losses suffered by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, were sacrificed at the altar of war and weapons of destruction.

I can easily imagine a young Canadian—maybe he was from Quebec of from Manitoba, maybe he was from Vancouver or Toronto or Cape Breton —landing on Juno beach under an infernal shower of explosions. What courage one must have to advance when each step may be the last, when each cannonball, each bullet, each mine becomes an instrument of death that is always more lethal and more destructive than the previous one.

Have we learned our lesson about the futility of war and weapons? Have we learned the lesson taught to us by the thousands of people around the world who have made the ultimate sacrifice, we who are so lucky not to have suffered the same fate?

Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands or even millions of innocent victims continue to pay the price of futile wars and weapons of destruction. Whether yesterday in Mozambique or in Angola, whether yesterday in Bosnia, whether today in Lebanon or in Algeria, just to name these countries, how many innocent people, how many hundreds of thousands of innocent people have endured and continue to endure these atrocious wars when all they want is to live in peace and tranquillity with their family and in their community.

I am immensely grateful that our country should be a land of peace and conciliation, shunning war and shunning armaments as means of settling disputes.

I am deeply thankful for my own children and their children that our country should be so deeply ingrained in the tradition of democracy and peace.

I salute our foreign minister and all those who worked so hard on his initiative to achieve a land mine treaty. I thank him for having led our country toward the tangible expression and achievement of peace in a world which too often and too readily turns to hostilities and weapons of destruction to settle disputes.

May this rapid and amazing success which greeted the Canadian initiative open the way for future international disarmament initiatives. May the land mine treaty be such a powerful symbol of the emerging century that it should lead us to a new world order where peaceful resolution of conflicts replaces the futility, the savagery and the immense human cost of war and weapons of destruction.

In closing, I would like to quote from a poem by one of our colleagues, the member for Cochrane—Superior, in a book of poems that he gave me recently called Semences . I think it tells the reason why we are all together on this initiative.

Where the children shriek Between bursts of machine gun fire Mothers protect their bosoms That give the sweet milk of life Soldiers trample under foot A usurped land In the silence of occupation Where the deaf can hear Speak to me of love.

I, a child, Have no revolver, no tank I do not understand I can no longer play war Yet the grownups Play it so nicely.

I am a child Let me weep And I will grow up tough Let me laugh now while I can For I will not have the time for it When I am a grownup.

Indeed, the land mine treaty is a legacy for the children of the world, that they may behave differently from their elders, ourselves, and learn to live in peace, in real and lasting peace and harmony.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

8 p.m.


Jean Augustine Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's sharing his time with me. I know the lateness of the hour but I am really honoured to stand and to speak on behalf of my constituents of Etobicoke—Lakeshore.

Many of them have been watching the debate most of the day and I have had several calls of support and calls of congratulations to the men and women on both sides of this House today who stood unified, who stood together to ensure and to speak to the passage of Bill C-22, the anti-personnel mines convention implementation act, an act to ban the use, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines.

I am also pleased to hear not only the eloquent speeches but also the congratulatory notes and the recognition of the work that has been done by all.

On December 3 and 4 the world will be watching Canada, not only Canada but the 89 or more countries that will be here to sign this anti-personnel mines convention. I too commend the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the United Nations Mine Action Centre and other non-governmental organizations, Jody Williams and those who have received the Nobel prize with her, those who have worked tirelessly in making the signing of the land mines convention in Ottawa on December 3, 1997 a reality.

Canada's efforts in ridding the world of these deadly weapons is a testament to our humanitarianism as a country, as a nation, and of the strong tradition in which Canadian foreign policy is modelled. As a nation we are admired for our deep compassion for others less fortunate than ourselves and this is amplified in this treaty.

I was one of the group from the foreign affairs and defence standing committees who went to the former Yugoslavia, a country that laden with land mines. I saw firsthand the devastation to lives that these weapons can do. It is estimated that there are over 18,000 minefields in Bosnia. It has been predicted that it could take over 70 years to clear the approximately three million land mines, land mines left from the recent conflicts.

Needless to say, an estimated 25,000 civilians, many of them children, are killed worldwide each year by land mines.

This convention is long overdue. I am proud that Canada has taken the lead in the global community to rid this planet of these horrible weapons. Bill C-22 is the beginning to global awareness of land mines. Young and old suffer the emotional fallout of being injured or have suffered the loss of a loved one to land mines.

The signing of the convention is a starting point to bringing greater awareness to this issue.

The Ottawa process provides an opportunity to build a greater awareness. The Ottawa process is to pursue the international community to ban the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines. We cannot forget that once this treaty is signed by co-operating states, Canada's work is not over. Once this convention is signed, Canada and the world must continue to work together with nations that have not yet endorsed the convention to do so.

We know that key countries such as the United States and China have not endorsed the convention. I am disappointed, as I am sure we all are. Their support could go a long way toward the eradication of land mines from the globe. This is why Canada must continue to vehemently work to put pressure on those nations that are not signatories to the Ottawa treaty. It is our obligation as a nation to make this world a safer place where children will be free from the damages caused by these deadly weapons.

I encourage young people in Canada today to look at this tremendous feat with pride and as an example of the strong political will that exists in this House. To all the victims of land mines in the world, you have voiced your opinions about land mines. You who know the hurt and the pain, you who know the tragedy, we have heard you. Canada has heard.

I close by saying that I am very proud that we have demonstrated leadership on this issue. Many thanks to our Minister of Foreign Affairs, our Prime Minister and our NGOs for bringing the treaty on anti-personnel land mines to fruition.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

8:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

8:10 p.m.

Some hon. members