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

12:05 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario


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

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe you would find unanimous consent for the order that, after second reading, Bill C-22 will be referred to a committee of the whole, that the House shall be permitted to consider all stages of the bill in this sitting and that, if the bill has not been disposed of at the ordinary time of adjournment, it shall continue to sit until it does dispose of the bill. There is also agreement that if the House does sit after 6.30 p.m., no quorum calls or dilatory motions shall be received.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members


Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

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

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba


Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

moved that 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, be read the second time and, by unanimous consent, referred to committee of the whole.

Madam Speaker, I am very happy this morning to join with members of Parliament in commenting on the second reading of a law which would put in place the convention banning the use of anti-personnel land mines.

First of all, I wish to thank all members of the House for co-operating in the speedy passage of this bill. I would like to emphasize that all political parties are prepared to work together to pass this bill today.

This, to me, says much about the Parliament of Canada. Each day, our views on taxes, the environment, the Constitution and so forth may differ widely, but when it comes to debating a bill to save children and help innocent victims, we can work together. This is an important message to Canadians and an appeal to parliamentarians the world over to move swiftly to eliminate anti-personnel mines.

The debate today is a very important one, as we understand it, that unites all parties and through uniting all parties brings the country together in a very important statement to people around the world that we are prepared to take action which will work quite literally, without exception, save the lives of thousands of people on an annual basis.

Over the last several years members on both sides have expressed themselves very eloquently and very forcefully on the matter. I see in the Chamber today a number of members who have personally taken on the cause and have worked actively to pursue it.

It is important that we act together as a parliament to demonstrate that we are in a good position when countries come to Ottawa next week to sign the treaty. The Prime Minister can be the first to turn over to the UN secretary general a ratification and begin the second part of the process. It will not just be the signature but the actual ratification. Within a matter of a few short months a basic minimum of 40 countries will have ratified the treaty, at which point it will become a binding international law requiring signatory countries to live up to its conditions.

This movement has an interesting history. It began with the enormous expression of will among thousands of individuals around the world. It is a prime example of the new face and fact of international politics. It is no longer just governments that make decisions. It is what I have called the global commons, the new democracy of the international arena where NGOs, civil organizations and individuals are united together through the power of the new systems of telecommunications and information banded together over the years to draw to the attention of governments what a scourge this weapon is and how malicious it is in its application.

I have seen nothing in my personal experience that more aptly demonstrates the evil that works in the minds of men than what I saw in Lebanon a week ago. I visited young children in a hospital in southern Lebanon who had been maimed and handicapped by mines that were shaped in the form of toys. The mines were not designed for military purposes but clearly to entice young children to pick them up. The mere heat of their hands would detonate them and they would lose a limb such as an arm.

We are in a position today to take a stand against that kind of human malevolence. We called together for a meeting 13 months ago in Ottawa like-minded countries and NGOs to see what we could do to take advantage of the mobilization of public opinion around the world and to take advantage of the extraordinary effort of NGOs.

It became clear the conventional pathways would not work. The normal corridors of disarmament discussion were becoming cul-de-sacs. They were closed off to any meaningful approval. At that point we challenged the countries of the world to come to Ottawa a year later to sign a treaty. In the first instance, if one had gauged the reaction, it was more scepticism and sometimes outright scoffing that any such thing could happen. It was just not the way things were done.

The proof is that next week we expect over 100 countries to be in Ottawa to sign the treaty. It shows a new sense of public participation in developing significant initiative in the international arena. It is now one of the most powerful, important and significant developments of our time.

It is a great commentary and tribute to members of Parliament and their work in various parliamentary associations around the world. I recall resolutions being passed by groups like the IPU, the NATO assembly, and others. Members have also played their own part in mobilizing that effort. In some cases the onus has clearly moved on to parliamentary systems around the world. It is now clearly within parliaments that ratification must take place.

It is important to point out that what was dubbed the Ottawa process is not simply a signature on a piece of paper. It is not simply the fact of the treaty. It is the fact that countries will be coming here not only to indicate their adherence to the new convention but to become actively involved in discussing how we can make it work. What we can now call the Ottawa process II is designed to bring countries together, to mobilize resources for de-mining and to use the effort that went into placing mines to now removing them.

There are 110 million land mines around the world, 600 to 800 casualties a month, and 80% of the victims are civilian, children and other innocents.

Again, if I can just use a personal moment of when I was in the Golan Heights last week. Our own peacekeepers, Canadians, along with Austrians and Japanese were required to undertake their duties in an unmarked area land mass so that each step was a potential disaster.

Only about a week before I arrived, a young Austrian soldier lost his leg. Here was a prime example of how the weapons themselves are not just a threat to fire up lands but in fact pose a danger to our own Canadian peacekeepers around the world.

This is why our own army and our armed forces have taken such an active role in places like Cambodia and Bosnia to try to eliminate the land mines.

I think members of the foreign affairs committee who have just returned from Bosnia can speak for the fact themselves that that country, as real as it is with land mines, its ability to redevelop, to recreate some economic life and substance is substantially hindered because of the threat and fear that the next step may be one's last. Who will go and plant a new crop when the plough may hit a land mine and end forever the life or certainly maim the individual?

The two purposes of the Ottawa meeting are to bring countries to sign the treaty and also to mobilize money, skill, commitment and engagement so that around the world they can engage in the massive test of taking mines out of the ground, of helping to rehabilitate the victims, not just to replace their limbs but also to help them restore a healthier view of life.

Nothing can be more traumatic for a young child who has been maimed by a land mine, to restore a sense of some confidence that the world is still a humane place and that the adult world still believes in them, and also to help the countries which have been marred and scarred by land mines to begin the slow process of redevelopment. That will not happen overnight.

That will take years but we can use the meetings in Ottawa next week to be the catalyst, to start that process and to begin to engage the commitment and the resources of countries around the world to begin the massive task of taking out land mines.

Some have said, and there are always comments and critics, that the land mine treaty does not include some of the big players, the United States, China, India, but it is important to note that it is already having its impact.

China has declared a moratorium on exports as has the United States. The Prime Minister, in his talks with President Yeltsin in Russia, confirmed that they would continue to provide a moratorium and may be prepared to come to sign.

It is interesting that even countries that are still in some ways in a state of conflict, Syria and Israel, have committed to come to the conference itself to begin exploring how they can become part of the broad movement to eliminate the world from land mines.

I am not expecting miracles. I do not expect conversions on the road to Damascus, but they will be here. They will be part of the conversation. They will be part of the discussions.

Again, I would encourage colleagues in the House who will have opportunities to meet with these delegates and talk to them, to begin to look and to explore how we can work together with many of these countries to undertake projects in which we can help de-mine the Golan Heights or to eliminate the sources of conflict in Cyprus or wherever the case may be, where the mines themselves have become part of the problem.

It is also true to say that a lot of work will have to be done in the area of developing more effective technologies to get rid of land mines. Nothing is more primitive to me than watching a de-mining activity where trained people are literally out on the fields with a steel rod probing the ground in the hope that that prod will not hit the trigger and detonate the mine and then have to go through the painstaking exercise of slowly clearing the mines.

I do believe that there is, in the sense of our own technical excellence in countries around the world, the capacity and the will to develop new needs by which we can begin to eliminate these mines and to begin to help the countries affected by them.

I will give one example that struck me as absolutely astounding. I think it is probably a well known fact that there is a new book out called Aftermath that talks about the consequences of war and what happens to it.

France, one of the most sophisticated, civilized countries in the world, 75 years after the first world war, is still engaged in an active campaign of de-mining 16 million hectares of some of the most fertile land in France that is still polluted by the munitions left over after the first world war.

Lives are lost every year in de-mining activities 75 years later. Think of what it must mean if that is the problem that France has. What does it mean in Angola or Cambodia or Nicaragua where there are not nearly the resources or the capacity to make that kind of effort? We have an opportunity at the meetings that will take place in Ottawa next week to remind countries that a treaty is really the first step. The next step is to make the treaty come to life, to give it meaning, to give it the tools and the resources needed to make it work.

The bill before members today is a way of ensuring that under the laws of Canada we are in a position to fully implement the treaty. Bill C-22 does several important things.

First, it bans the production, use, storage and transfer of anti-personnel mines in Canada. It requires the destruction of all anti-personnel mines, except for training purposes. It outlines provisions for the verification measures that the convention provides to ensure compliance with the provisions of the convention.

Bill C-22 also criminalizes in Canadian law activities prohibited under the convention. We have appended a text of the convention to the bill. It demonstrates the integral relationship between Bill C-22 and the treaty that we are sponsoring next week in Ottawa.

The legislation proposed was prepared in a short timeframe. In reviewing it further we thought it important to address some charter concerns. In this context, we will be introducing an amendment to subsection 11.2 which provides charter safeguards to persons who are requested to provide information to the government concerning the acquisition or possession of land mines.

In this respect, the bill addresses potential charter concerns where appropriate warrants must be secured if fact finding missions wish to gain access to private facilities or residences. That way, once again we can use the protection of our courts as prescribed under our Criminal Code to ensure that there will be no abuse under the human rights provision.

The bill and the convention differ slightly in some respects. The definition of mine and anti-personnel mine have been altered to make it more precise under Canadian law, not in any way to weaken it, but in fact to strengthen it so that any interpretation by the courts would be more clear and more effective. In fact, these definitions are even stronger than those that are contained in the convention itself.

The bill also includes provisions exempting properly de-activated mines that might used, for example, museum displays or kept as souvenirs. It also exempts Canadian force members or peace officers, or appropriate officials who may need to temporarily possess anti-personnel mines in the context of their duties, for example, when delivering them for destruction.

At home the legislation gives us the legal basis for ensuring that Canada can remain mine free for all time. By legislating this bill into law, we formalize our commitment to stay out of the anti-personnel mine business forever. It means that we can send a message to all other countries of the same kind. We can set a real example by being the first to ratify. This will speed the process of getting the other 39 countries that are needed to bring the convention into binding force.

The clock can start counting down today as we pass the bill which sets a measure and standard for all other countries to follow.

The process can begin here in this Chamber. I do not use the words lightly, but I do think this is a defining moment for this country, for the House of Commons and for the Parliament of Canada that we can once again take a major step of leadership. We have an opportunity to demonstrate our dedication to peace and to the elimination of suffering and to the welfare of children in mine affected countries.

I call on all members of the House to join me in supporting Bill C-22, as they have in the past, as all members of Parliament of all parties have given their co-operation, involvement and in many cases their passion and engagement.

It is interesting that the most effective and eloquent way of explaining the purpose and what we are doing comes not from long experienced parliamentarians, but oftentimes from the mouths of children. In Toronto on Thursday I participated in a UNICEF event where a number of young children from Ancaster school had come together to launch a new videotape that is being sent to schools across Canada and, in fact, to schools in Cambodia to talk about the problems of land mines.

These young grade four students of their own volition undertook to write their own treaty. I thought a fitting end to my opening speech would be just to recount to the members of the treaty what they had to say as they presented this treaty to me. This is a bill of rights for children who live in countries where there are land mines. These are the words they used:

children have the right to know what land mines look like, and to learn about them

children have the right to know where land mines are located

children have the right to be in a land mine free area

children have the right not to be teased when they are hurt by land mines

children have the right to have the best possible medical treatment at no cost to the family

children have the right to be supervised

children have the right to have fun and respect, even when they are hurt

children have the right to play and not get hurt

c. Children have the right to go to school, even if they are hurt

The children of Ancaster asked me to bring this children's treaty on land mines to the House of Commons to share it with my colleagues. It demonstrates that this generation believes that Canada can make a difference.

I recommend Bill C-22 to members of the House. I ask members to make speedy passage possible and to say to the rest of the world that Canada will continue to take the lead to ensure that the world is land mine free for the children who wrote this treaty and who speak for children around the world.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, I am proud to speak on behalf of the Reform Party in supporting Bill C-22. This bill is an example of what the House can do when members co-operate on an issue which is important to Canadians. It is something which we stand for as a nation. It goes to the very root of being Canadian. Canada is a country for peace, it is a country for fairness and it is a country which looks to building a better world for all people.

Bill C-22 is an example of what this House can do in the future. Reform has supported this process from the word “go”. I hope this bill will be an example of what the government and the House can do in the future with respect to foreign policy as land mines are but a small part of the larger picture of conflict and conflict prevention in the late 20th century.

I know that the minister and members of the Department of Foreign Affairs are interested in moving beyond this bill in developing foreign policy which deals not with the management of conflict but with the prevention of conflict. We are approaching an era in foreign policy when Canada can use its moral suasive power to lead other like-minded nations in developing a more peaceful world.

These are not just words. Rooted in them are pragmatic solutions which we can apply in the area of foreign policy.

I would like to reflect on when I joined this process. I was working in southern Africa on the Mozambique border in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. At that time Mozambique was one of the worst countries in the world. It was a nation racked by civil war and it was heavily mined.

The hospital was 20 kilometres from the border. Fifty thousand refugees had crossed the border looking for a better life. They were looking for a safe haven. Tragically, some of them had their legs blown off.

My last experience was in 1992 when I went to visit my old boss in the hospital. I was there on a social visit. After being there for 15 minutes the call went out that someone had stepped on a land mine. We rushed to the emergency department and then went directly to the operating room. I remember this very vividly.

As we went through the operating room there, wide awake, sitting up, was a young 18 year old Mozambiquan lad. He was looking toward the lower half of his body. His leg was torn to pieces. His foot was turned the other way around. Most of the muscle, tissue and sinew had been torn off his lower leg. He had shrapnel injuries in his groin and lower abdomen. He was very conscious of what was going on.

He was leaving Mozambique for South Africa for a better future for a safe future. He wanted to get a job and live in peace. Instead, that day he stepped and heard a click that would change his life forever.

That young man is but an example of over 30,000 individuals from around the world who silently step on these devices and are blown to pieces. Some die but many actually survive and they go on to live a life of poverty, a life of insecurity and a life that is only a shadow of what it could have been.

To give an indication of what this young man's life will be like, the leg was blown off. We took three hours to amputate his leg above the knee. He will probably require other surgeries in the future because he will be faced with infection, further revisions of his amputation. He was lucky that the injury did not go further up or that the anti-personnel mine was not larger. Many people have their legs blown off at the hip.

As the minister mentioned, some of these devices, if you can imagine, are actually designed like toys. Some are designed like butterflies. The children would pick them up naturally as they would and have their arms blown off; not to kill but to maim.

The perverse logic behind these devices is not that they are meant to kill, because that would be too simple. They are meant to maim. They are meant to maim because the person who is maimed is a constant reminder in that society of what mines can do and what the opposition, their enemy, can do to them.

They are a constant economic drain to society. They are a constant reminder, a constant example of fear that exists within the community to the people there. These people are not belligerents. They are not warriors. They are not soldiers. They are generally the public. Land mines are not designed to affect soldiers primarily, contrary to popular belief. Land mines are primarily designed to address and terrorize innocent civilians. They are a weapon of terror. They are not, generally speaking, a weapon used by military.

When I was in Mozambique, to give an indication of what they were used for, mines were used to put around people's fields. They were used to place around people's watering holes. They were used to put around people's fields so that those individuals would have to pay money or allegiance to the opposing belligerents. Otherwise they would be blown up and they could not feed themselves.

Mines also were used by guerrillas. When areas such as dams were mined, guerrillas would go in, pick up the mines and use those mines to blow up the dam or the watering area. They do not have an appropriate military use in the 1990s, contrary to popular belief.

The international committee of the Red Cross demonstrated this very conclusively and we are indebted to the hard work it did to give us the information, to diffuse the comments that land mines were actually a useful tool in war in the late 20th century. They are not. That was the primary argument that was used against this process, that mines are useful. They are supposed to be used for military purposes. They are not. They are a weapon of terror, a weapon against the public, and that is why this bill is being put forward, to ban.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the very important contribution that was made by members of the public from Canada, members of the international community and especially Mines Action Canada who have done an outstanding job of pursuing and pushing this agenda for the last four years.

Reform has been on it right from the beginning, because we put forward private members' bills starting at the beginning of 1995 and when Mr. Ouellet came on board to support it, we were very happy, and when the Minister of Foreign Affairs came on board to support it and start the Ottawa process, we were also happy to support that initiative.

Members from the Department of Foreign Affairs such Jill Sinclair, Bob Lawson, Ralph Lysyshyn have done an outstanding job in pushing this issue within the department and also internationally. I might also say that their work in Oslo was something Canadians can be proud of.

The Americans tried to water this treaty down. They tried to water it down so there were huge loopholes through it that would have made it not worth the paper it was written on. Instead, a charge was led by Canadian members of the Department of Foreign Affairs who were there who managed to mobilize support from other countries to ensure that the bill that was constructed in Oslo was going to be a bill we were proud of, a bill with teeth, a bill that would actually be effective for once in trying to ban these land mines. That is something that we as Canadians can be very proud of.

I would like for a few minutes to illustrate the scope of the problem of land mines. There are over 30,000 seeded all over the world. They inflict damages in various countries that are absolutely horrendous. In Angola 1 in 270 people is a mine victim and a similar number in Cambodia.

It goes beyond that. Land mines sit in the ground for over 50 years. As the minister mentioned, France has land mines that are blowing up people today. The most land mined country in the world is Egypt. Those land mines were seeded in the second world war and continue to blow up people every day. Land mines also continue to sit in the soil and cause huge economic devastation to countries that do not need this.

Let us not forget that most of these land mines are seeded in countries among the poorest of the world. The land mines sitting there for over 50 years prevent countries from economically getting on their feet. It has become such a serious problem in countries such as Angola and Mozambique that innocent civilians are prepared to go into mined areas to plough their fields to feed themselves. It now becomes a choice, chancing getting blown up or starving to death. Those are the cold hard realities, the cold hard choices that some of the poorest people in the world have to make every day. We should be ashamed that these devices were ever constructed and allowed to be tossed out in the manner which they have done for the last 80 plus years.

Those costs are enormous. In Croatia over thousands and thousands of hectares are mined, costing over a quarter of a billion dollars each year in lost productivity. Countries from Angola to Cambodia to Chechnya are so mined that they cannot get on their feet economically for decades.

The overall cost of demining is estimated at over $50 billion per year. These devices cost as little as $7 to $30 to make, yet each mine costs between $300 and $1,000 to remove. This cost will not be borne by the countries that are mined. It will be borne by the international community. We as nations do not have the money to do this. That is why this bill is so important. That this bill went through in such a rapid motion is something that Canadians can be proud of.

The process started four years ago and by international standards took place at light speed. There a few interesting things we can learn from this. First, we were not prepared as a nation to settle for a treaty that was going to be merely one which was developed by consensus. Usually when you push forth a treaty by consensus we get a piece of paper that is pabulum. We get a treaty that is not worth the paper it is written on because there as so many loopholes it becomes unworkable and unmanageable.

Instead we did not settle for second best. We settled for a situation that we knew the majority of the countries of the world would support. We went by a process of majority. Therefore we have a treaty which has teeth for a change. We also set a deadline. The minister set a deadline a year ago that this December would be the month we would settle on a treaty. It is something that we as Reformers can heartily support.

We are sick and tired of treaties taking decades to push forward when we know the majority of the international community will support them. While we dither on many of these issues lives are lost, countries are laid to waste, economies are destroyed and in fact we domestically pay a penalty.

When wars take place half a world away they do come to roost with us. Wars create refugees. Because we signed the convention on refugees we are obligated to bring refugees on to our soil. These tragic souls who would prefer to live in their own nations come to us looking for reprieve. It costs Canadians $75,000 per refugee to integrate them, a cost which is put on our already burdened social programs. Our defence budgets also incur great costs.

As a result we also put our soldiers in harm's way. Land mines have racked an enormous toll not only on people far away but on our own military. Peacekeepers fear land mines more than they fear the sniper's bullet. If we look at the casualties that we have incurred of our peacekeepers the majority are as a result of land mines.

In fact, we have the tragic case of a peacekeeper whose parents live on the northern part of Vancouver Island. Their son was tragically blown up in the former Yugoslavia by a land mine. They have worked very hard to bring this issue to the forefront. This is a cost that we all bear.

Further, when countries are trying to get back on their feet our aid and development budgets come into play in trying to demine and reconstruct societies and economies that have been laid to waste by war, and land mines contribute to this continual destruction within their economies.

The Ottawa process is important because it heralds a new co-operation between NGOs, non-governmental organizations, and government. We must not let this process die. For within this process lies hope to use and apply these lessons learned into other foreign policy initiatives in the future.

From 1945 to 1985 the international community has lurched from one conflict to another. We have watched the precursors to conflict exist right in front of our eyes. From Rwanda to the former Soviet Union, Cambodia, Burma, Central America wars have littered this globe and internecine conflicts have destroyed many economies and cost millions of lives.

We live in a world where rules are based on what was created after 1945. That world has changed. Between 1945 and 1985 the United Nations put forth six peacekeeping operations which cost roughly $3 billion. Between 1985 and now we have had over 26 peacekeeping operations.

The post-cold war era has set forth a new era, a new set of rules and a new set of challenges. We have not met those challenges. In fact, we have failed abysmally.

Rather than trying to prevent conflict, we have tried to manage it with all the costs that are incurred in that. We have watched in front of our eyes as nations have imploded, millions of people killed, economies destroyed and the seeds of ethnic hatred and discontent laid to bear and sewn for generations to come.

This is a penalty we will all pay. It is high time that we started to recognize that conflict management is not acceptable in foreign policy any more. We have to look ahead at preventing conflict and move our foreign policies from conflict management to conflict prevention.

This is where the Ottawa process can come into play. The NGO community is usually the first group in the trenches witnessing the precursors to conflict and the rapid inappropriate militarization, the human rights abuses, the collapse of governmental and judicial structures. All these things are witnessed by NGOs. They often communicate their wishes to governmental structures but it hits the usual inertia that exists within government and within international governments in particular.

As a result of this inertia, as a result of this inaction, we have paid the price. Those who live far away have paid a far greater price. We have to change this thinking.

It is important that we use the NGO community, use the conglomeration of NGOs part of this Ottawa process, as an early warning system that can identify countries that are ready to implode, identify the precursors to conflict and funnel this information directly to a central organization, an early warning system. Perhaps the most logical choice would be the UN crisis centre in New York. For all that can be said about the United Nations with all of its inefficiencies, it is perhaps the only choice we have today. Even if the United Nations were to be removed or were to fall apart, we would have to create something to take its place. Therein lies another challenge which I might get to later on in my speech, the restructuring and revamping of the United Nations.

The UN crisis centre could take all the information that is presented to it as an early warning organization and feed it directly into the United Nations. We must then have an existing group of responses by the international community to respond to these precursors. Such responses could be diplomatic initiatives, peace building initiatives and the introduction of positive information to dispel propaganda that is often used at the start of a conflict.

If we look at conflicts from Rwanda to the former Yugoslavia, one of the favoured tools that is used by a small number of individuals is to put forth negative propaganda to demonize another group. As Michael Ignatieff said in one of his articles, often these groups are very similar but they exist on the narcissism of their differences. They exist on demonizing the small differences that exist between different ethnic groups. In doing this, they polarize the ethnic groups which enables them to create an engendered fear, hatred, loathing and ultimately war.

That cycle must be broken. It can be broken. Once the precursors are identified, positive propaganda can be put in there. In fact the United Nations already has the power to do that through shortwave radio and existing communications tools that it has. It is exceedingly important that the UN get involved through diplomatic initiatives and positive propaganda.

Furthermore a tool that is not being used often is the tool of economics. Many of these countries rely on international financial institutions in order to survive. They also spend moneys given to them by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other IFIs on inappropriate militarization and to cause conflict. Wars need money. You cannot run a war without money. Therefore, if this is occurring, choke off the money supply.

The IFIs can be used not only as a stick but also as a carrot. As a stick we can withhold further loans, withhold their ability to renegotiate loans, moneys and grants and call back loans if necessary. We can also use them to freeze the assets of rulers who are patently engaging in activities that are going to compromise their people.

We could freeze the assets of rulers such as the late Mobutu Sese Seko who was one of the richest men in the world. There are the assets of Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya, when he engages in efforts to try to kill different ethnic groups within his country, when he tries to pit Kalenjin against Masai or Masai against Kikuyu. These kinds of activities can be stopped by directly addressing the people responsible who are often a small cadre of individuals within a nation.

The IFIs could also be used as a carrot. By lending money to provide peacemaking initiatives between different groups, by supporting peace building initiatives, by supporting activities that bring both of the groups together, by micro credit for minority groups so that they can get on their feet economically, by rewarding efforts to build structures of good governance and peace within a country, we can help to diffuse the precursors to war.

This is a big task. Again it is going to require organizations such as NGOs and governments to do this. When it comes to nation states taking a role in this, I believe that no other nation would be better at it than Canada, not alone but as an organizer.

In the late 20th century going into the 21st century there exists a void in foreign policy. The bipolar world created a world where two superpowers glared at each other at the end of a nuclear arsenal and under the absurd notion of mutual destruction. The world has changed. As that bipolar world collapsed, the shackles that held ethnic groups apart and kept ethnic hatreds simmering were removed and conflicts existed.

Countries such as the United States and many members of the security council cannot be the nation states that will bring other countries together. They are either perceived, rightly or wrongly, as having imperialistic tendencies or they have their own colonial baggage.

The world is looking for a new group of individuals to bring nation states together. I believe that responsibility will fall on the middle powers such as Austria, Australia, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Norway and Canada. Many of these nations are working in isolation on peace building initiatives. It is more efficient for these nations to work together in a multilateral fashion but no one is assuming the leadership role that would bring these countries together.

Canada can be that country. We have proven through the land mines issue that we have the moral suasive power to do this. We have proven through our Nobel peace prize for our peacekeeping efforts that we can develop international consensus for peace building. We have the diplomatic skills. We have the personnel in the Department of Foreign Affairs and we have an international reputation that is virtually unrivalled. We also have the security aspect and are involved with people from the Pacific Rim to Europe and to points south. We are in an enviable position to do that.

As we end the 20th century and enter the 21st century, I can only ask the minister to work with his colleagues in countries such as those I have mentioned. He could ask them to come to Canada to attend a small summit, a summit of the middle powers. He could bring these countries together, put the cards on the table and determine what everyone is working on in peace building.

I was in Norway at the Oslo treaty signing on land mines. I spoke to members of other countries, such as the Norwegians. I was interested to learn about their work. I found it remarkable that their work is very similar to our work. It is unfortunate that we are working in isolation. Our power to move international foreign policy forward can come about more expeditiously if we work together. There will be a lot of co-operation and like-mindedness if we pursue that.

I ask the foreign minister, the government and other members in this House to come together to pursue this course. Only if we do this can we get the required changes to stop the international bureaucratic inertia in international foreign policy. We could then address the security issues that affect us all. By security challenges and issues I refer not only to military security challenges but also to environmental security issues. Environmental issues range from our problems at the north pole to nuclear issues and to issues of the environment. All will require international co-operation.

By working with six to ten countries we can develop that nucleus. With that nucleus we can all sing from the same songbook and bring other countries together much as we did in the Ottawa process. The Ottawa process did not start with 100 countries all wanting to ban land mines. It started with a handful of countries, with the leadership of the NGO community and with the leadership of Canada and a few other nations. We can apply that same principle to pursue larger security issues and larger security challenges in the future.

I hope that we as a nation and as a Parliament can look forward to a future of addressing these larger security challenges. If we continue to lurch from conflict to conflict and do not try to prevent conflict, then we will be set with an unsustainable situation in the near future. We can no longer afford to see the implosion of nation states across this globe. We can no longer afford to see the proliferation of this destruction. If we want to speak pragmatically and domestically, these issues that occur half a world away will sooner or later come to roost in our own backyard. It is imperative that we deal with it now.

It has often been said in the medical profession that prevention is worth much more than dealing with the person's medical problem after the fact. I hope we can apply that principle to foreign policy.

When I spoke to Jody Williams, the Nobel peace prize winner about this, she said that those were nice words. I did not remind her that when we were pursuing the course of banning land mines four years ago, people said that it was a utopian dream and that those were nice words. Well these are more than nice words. There are pragmatic solutions.

If we do not seek to dream and look to the future, to building a new stronger, better world by using our expertise, by using pragmatic tools and solutions, by using the leadership that we as a nation can put forward, then we have nothing. We can and must use our moral suasive power, use the tools that are at our fingertips to build a better, more peaceful world for all people.

I will close by saying once again that this is an issue of which all Canadians can be proud. Reform is very proud to be part of the process because we have been pursuing peacekeeping initiatives for many, many years and we will continue to do so. We look forward to working with the government in pursuing pragmatic, effective peacekeeping and peacemaking solutions in the future. We hope that we will be able to do this in a way that will make Canadians proud. We can build on our history of Pearson diplomacy now with the land mines process, and live up to our heritage as Canadians and as peacemakers and pursue a course that will build a stronger, safer future for nation states around the world.

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12:55 p.m.


Daniel Turp Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Madam Speaker, when Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, decided to establish the prizes that would make his name a household word, he said that the main dividends of his invention should be used to promote peace in the world.

In 1997, the dividends went to the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines and its co-ordinator, Jody Williams, in recognition of more than six years of intense efforts by more than a thousand non-governmental organizations in over 60 countries. Thanks to this campaign, described by the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, as the most important and effective exercise in civilian society since World War II, several countries banned the export of anti-personnel mines, destroyed or began to destroy their stocks of mines, banned or halted their use, or announced that they were ceasing production of them.

These efforts by civilian society, which thus forced all governments the world over to react to the scourge of anti-personnel mines, would probably never have resulted in the convention to ban these mines, but for the initiative and determination of Canada's current Minister of Foreign Affairs.

By bringing together representatives of governments, international organizations and NGOs in the federal capital in October 1996, and by initiating the Ottawa process, the minister assumed a leadership role that will culminate in the signing, on December 3 and 4, of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction.

The Ottawa process was marked not only by unprecedented co-operation on the part of government and non-government actors in the international community, but particularly by its speed of execution.

Whether in Vienna, Bonn or Brussels, these numerous players always kept in mind the deadline proposed by the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, in October 1996. Less than a year after the challenge issued by the minister, on September 18, in Oslo, they approved the text of a convention to totally prohibit anti-personnel mines. Bill C-22 seeks to implement this convention, and the House is being asked to give speedy approval to it today, both at second and third readings.

I am pleased to say that the Bloc Quebecois will support Bill C-22, subject to a number of amendments being considered, so as to improve this implementing legislation. Support for the bill is first and foremost support for a convention to work together to maintain international peace and security, as stated in the preamble to the UN charter, to which Canada is a signatory, and which a sovereign Quebec will fully support when it joins the other nations of the world.

It is an instrument which primarily seeks to eliminate deadly weapons, namely anti-personnel mines, by prohibiting their use, stockpiling, production, conservation and transfer. Hopefully, the general obligations assumed by the states will put an end to the use of anti-personnel mines, which is still a serious problem, given that for every mine removed, 20 new ones are installed.

This convention will contribute to the destruction of the 110 million mines distributed throughout more than 70 countries in the world, which mutilate in excess of 25,000 people yearly, 80% of them civilians. Anti-personnel mines claim 70 new victims every day, or one person every 20 minutes. During the time I am speaking here today, one more person will be killed, or if lucky only maimed by this little instrument of death. This victim is likely to be a child, probably a child in Afghanistan, Cambodia or Somalia, since many of the deaths and injuries caused by land mines in those countries involve children.

This convention will also encourage the destruction of anti-personnel mines in mined areas and will oblige signatory states to ensure that mines are destroyed within ten years of the effective date of the convention, at the very latest. These will be onerous obligations, very much so, for states such as Bosnia-Hercegovina, which alone has more than one million mines hidden in its territory as I learned during a recent parliamentary mission. But they will also be onerous for developing countries such as Angola, Croatia, Eritrea, Iraq, Mozambique, the Sudan and Vietnam.

Farm lands remain unworked and large grazing areas unused, and will remain so as long as the land remains riddled with anti-personnel mines and burden these countries with deaths and injuries, and the costs related to victim assistance.

In this connection, the convention rightly promises international co-operation and assistance, without which the objectives of the convention cannot be met. The convention gives each state party the right to seek and to obtain assistance from other signatory states, if possible and insofar as possible. The state parties that are in a position to do so commit, moreover, to provide assistance for the care of mine victims, as well as assistance in mine removal.

In article 9 of the convention, the state parties also commit to “all appropriate legal, administrative and other measures, including the imposition of penal sanctions, to prevent and suppress any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention undertaken by persons or on territory under its jurisdiction or control”.

Bill C-22 seems to be the primary legislative means of assuming this obligation, and seeks to give legal effect in Canada to the Convention as a whole.

I have examined the text of Bill C-22 closely and it seems to me to contain the necessary provisions for performance in good faith of the anti-personnel mines convention, as required by the pacta sunt servanda rule set out in article 26 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. There are, however, certain amendments that could improve this implementing legislation and I will have an opportunity shortly, in committee at report stage, to present and explain the amendments the Bloc Quebecois would like to see made to Bill C-22.

As with other foreign affairs issues, the Bloc Quebecois is motivated by the values and convictions common to the government party and to other parties in the House. In this instance, the values of international peace and security are involved, as are the values associated with promoting and protecting rights and freedoms, particularly the most basic right, the right to life.

That is why the Bloc Quebecois is prepared to support Bill C-22 and the convention it is intended to implement, as they are both the reflection of such values. In a few moments, the Bloc Quebecois will submit to the House suggested amendments to improve the bill and to make more democratic the process by which possible amendments to it would be passed in future.

The passage of Bill C-22 by the House of Commons, its subsequent approval by the Senate, and assent will enable the Government of Canada to complete phase 1 of the Ottawa process. And although phase 1 of the process will have been effective, phase 2, which will focus on international assistance and co-operation, must succeed if we want to see the objectives of the anti-personnel mines convention achieved. Other measures will have to be implemented, and the Bloc Quebecois will continue to support those that will help attain the convention's objectives.

In another moment of insight, and wisdom it should be added, the Swede Alfred Nobel said, and I quote:

<“My factories may make an end of war sooner than your congresses. The day when two army corps can annihilate each other in one second, all civilized nations, it is to be hoped, will recoil from war and discharge their troops”.

Parliaments the world over must go on repeating the wishes expressed by Alfred Nobel. They must join forces with civilian society and international organizations in promoting peace and protecting humankind from the scourge of war so that humanity can triumph.

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1:05 p.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this historic debate today on behalf of the New Democratic Party and my colleagues in the federal NDP caucus.

I want to extend congratulations to the minister on what I am sure must be one of the happier days of his ministry at foreign affairs. From having worked with the minister before when we were both lowly opposition foreign affairs critics, I know his time in office is not always replete with the ability to do some of the things he called for.

I know today must be a special day for him, being able to live up to the expectations that he has and that we share with him for Canada as a country that shows leadership in the building of an international regime which leads toward the prevention of war and the elimination of the kind of violence that land mines stand for.

It was interesting listening to the hon. member from Vancouver Island. One got a sense of the revulsion that in this case medical personnel who have worked with the consequences of land mines bring to this debate. I also had an image of an earlier revulsion that people had coming out of the first world war with respect to the effect of chemical weapons and the effort that was made after that to ensure they would not be used again as a matter of course in the exercise of war.

It is too bad I suppose that we did not learn the lesson about land mines 80 years ago. It was mentioned that France is still suffering from the effects of the first world war and I recall that when I was part of a parliamentary delegation to Vimy in 1992 it was reported to me that some 26 farmers in the previous year had been killed by land mines still embedded in the earth in France, this in the 1990s.

We see that land mines are in some ways a symbol of what has happened in the 20th century. Civilians as much or more in many respects than military personnel have come to be the objects of military technology.

The point I want to emphasize in today's debate is I hope that today might be the beginning by example of what I regard to be an equally and perhaps ultimately in the planetary sense a more important effort and that is to ban another kind of weapon which has as its primary target civilians and not military personnel. Of course what I am speaking about are nuclear weapons.

I am sure the minister shares this hope and I would urge him to build on the example of the anti-mine campaign that it would be wonderful in the greatest and most full sense of being wonderful if we could have a similar campaign with respect to the abolition of nuclear weapons.

There are a lot of people of course around the world who are working on this but they are a minority. They need to become a majority in government circles and in international circles. The example we need to take from this is not just the successful way in which governments, in particular in this case the Canadian government, led the way, but governments, international agencies, NGOs, interested individuals, political parties and non-partisan co-operation. We also need to take the example that this was done by Canada without insisting on what we sometimes, it seems to me too often, insist on and that is that we have to have the United States on board before something can be signed, before there can be a consensus.

Obviously when it comes to nuclear weapons, if we do not have the people with nuclear weapons on board, we do not have much of a treaty or an accomplishment. But there are other things that can be done with respect to the testing of nuclear weapons technology and the trading of nuclear related products and so on. There are a number of ways in which we could begin to build an international consensus against those things which contribute to the continued existence of nuclear weapons. We should take this action on mines as an example of what we can do when we are prepared to act without the consent or approval of the United States or for that matter other major powers.

We do not feel we are doing anything less important today because the United States has not agreed. If the United States had agreed and if Russia and other larger countries had joined, in a practical sense we would feel much more was being accomplished. That does not take away from what is being accomplished at the lesser practical level but also at the moral and political levels.

As the minister I am sure hopes and as all of us here hope, it may be that the other countries which have not yet done so will some day sign on to this treaty.

A couple of years ago I participated in one of the earlier round table discussions on this topic. It was held at the National Conference Centre. It was stressed that we should do whatever we could to successfully abolish anti-personnel mines. At that time we were still dreaming of what is now unfolding.

I will repeat the point I made that day. I said that this would become a prototype for what we could do with respect to other problems which needed to be addressed, in particular that of nuclear weapons. We need to abolish them while we have this window of opportunity after the cold war and before another situation occurs between the nuclear powers which would make the abolition of nuclear weapons very remote once again.

The NDP has been supportive of the initiative from the beginning. We have presented a number of private members' motions on it over the years, as have other parties. We are very glad to see it come to fruition.

We extend our congratulations to the NGOs that have been involved and organizations such as Mines Action Canada, the Red Cross, UNICEF and all others that laid the groundwork for public support for a ban on land mines. A very important thing is happening out there which the minister has acknowledged.

A tremendous critical mass that developed at the political, the NGO, the bureaucratic and the parliamentary levels has made this kind of thing possible and has given it the kind of momentum that made it irresistible to many other countries. At a certain point people want to become part of a good thing that is happening. We need to make other good things happen that people will want to become part of.

We also want to commemorate the tremendous role Princess Diana played in raising awareness of the daunting task of banning land mines. We also want to extend our congratulations to Jodie Williams, the American activist who spearheaded the international campaign to ban land mines, and all the NGOs involved in that campaign around the world.

This is an example of how Canadian diplomacy can succeed if effort and energy are focused on items other than trade promotion. It seems to me that one unfortunate aspect of Canadian foreign policy over the last several years has been the almost exclusive focus on trade promotion. It has taken away from our efforts in other areas. I say almost exclusive because obviously it was not exclusive. There were other things going on like this.

Our argument today is that the government could do a lot more if it freed up some of its energy, mental, fiscal and political; if it spent less time on trade promotion and team Canada, and if it spent more time trying to develop team world when it comes to banning land mines and nuclear weapons and developing a way to deal with other global problems of such urgency.

The federal government has to be very careful to back up the treaty with the financial support it will need. When it does so we want to make clear that it will have the support of members from this corner of the House. It will not be cheap in a worldwide sense or in any sense to support the kind of de-mining that needs to go on and to rehabilitate victims. We urge the minister to find the resources necessary. We hope that will be one way in which the government can make an ongoing commitment to the values and the policies to which we are committing ourselves today in this debate.

This is a good day for parliament and a good day for Canada. I hope 20 years from now we will be able to look back on this day, look back on the Ottawa process and say this became a model, a prototype, a paradigm for how we deal with other pressing disarmament issues. In particular I hope we will look back on it and say it became a model for eventually bringing the world to the point where we were able to abolish, not just land mines and small gun trade but nuclear weapons and the threat to creation and to the human prospect that continued existence of these weapons poses for all humankind.

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1:20 p.m.


Sheila Finestone Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Madam Speaker, I have listened to the debate today in the House. It has really been a pleasure to hear honest and concerned parliamentarians address issues found in a civil society that are very disturbing and detrimental to the well-being and health of ordinary children, farmers and our peacekeepers. We see land mines of all shapes and forms.

I had the distinct privilege to go with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. His manner is profoundly founded in a belief of the importance of ridding the world of land mines. It is not only a matter of de-mining but also a matter of education and sensitization. First and foremost it is a matter of having the world agree that unacceptable mines which destroy the lives and the limbs of young children and others in society do not reflect the best interests of anybody.

I listened to what my hon. colleague had to say. What role does he think each and every one of us could play internationally as well as nationally? In our ridings we have a right and responsibility to indicate to people how devilish these instruments are as we do to colleagues we have had the privilege of meeting around the world through the international associations with which we are affiliated.

We should encourage our members to be in touch with members in other countries to enable legislation, this treaty or this declaration, to be put forward in a way that would be expeditious and constructive and to ensure the financing is behind it in each of country of the world, even countries which at the moment are not prepared to sign but have the means to rehabilitate, educate and train those who have been affected and those who could be affected.

How would the hon. member look at that issue?

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1:25 p.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question.

We all have a responsibility to use every opportunity that presents itself and not to be afraid to be intense about it when we are in contact with members of Parliament, legislators and political people from all parts of the world. We have plenty of those opportunities as individual members of Parliament in the various parliamentary associations we belong to and the various international fora we participate in as members of a Canadian delegation.

At these meetings and in life generally there is a tendency for people to back off when somebody is intense about something, trying to be persuasive and trying to make the case that this is something we should do. It is sort of not cool to be like that. We put certain things on the record. They are there and we can always say that we said them.

We need to go beyond that whenever we have the chance to buttonhole people over dinner, in the corridors or through concerted pressure to make sure these items are on the agenda, that they are discussed and that decisions are taken. People should be put on the spot and made to think about it. These are the kinds of things Canadians can do in various international gatherings.

In the past we have attended many gatherings where we have met all kinds of people. In this case we could be corresponding with legislators in countries that have not signed on and trying to make the case that their countries should sign on, or at least put a little pressure on them to put a little pressure on their executive to get with it and follow the Canadian example.

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1:25 p.m.


Sheila Finestone Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a supplementary question for the hon. member. I am pleased he mentioned emotion.

Exhibits are being planned for either the railway room or the reading room. I hope the member will invite people he knows to come here. He should even welcome to Canada those parliamentarians he does not know. He should be a host in the name of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The exhibits will make us heartsick. We will see dreadful little mines in the form toys that attract children so that they will pick them up to have them explode in their hands.

We saw children with lost hands, lost legs and damaged limbs. It is very easy to speak with the emotion the member referred to. I am happy he raised it.

We have a truly international cause. I believe Canada could do an excellent job, certainly our parliamentarians and our international parliamentary organizations. One day I hope the Reform Party decides to join to find out what is going on outside the boundaries of Canada and to learn about the world.

I thank the member for that observation. Would he care to respond about the Reform Party in particular?

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1:25 p.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I do not care to respond because I do not want to spoil what I think is a co-operative non-partisan effort going on here today. There will be other opportunities to reflect on the differences that exist between the parties with respect to participation in some parliamentary associations and not others.

I just want to say that when we think about the mines that are constructed to appear to be toys so that children will pick them up, it makes us kind of ashamed to be human beings when we think that these weapons were devised by the human mind and constructed by human hands.

It is hard to conceive of a world in which this would be possible but this is the world we are confronted with and against which we set ourselves today as a country alongside so many other countries.

From a theological and biblical point of view, it reminds us of what a sinful world we live in. However, we look to the words of Isaiah. We want to finally beat swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks. By finally getting rid of land mines in many countries, as the member from the Reform Party said, we actually want to create a world that is safe for ploughshares. So many people cannot plough and grow food and cannot economically develop because of land mines.

The old metaphor about swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks seems to be doubly applicable here. It is not just a question of beating swords into ploughshares. It is a case of creating a world in which ploughshares can be employed without danger to life and limb.

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1:30 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

I just want to mention that the member for Mount Royal is deliberately misleading this House when she mentions—

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1:30 p.m.

An hon. member

A point of order.

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1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

The whip.

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1:30 p.m.


Bob Kilger Liberal Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, I do not think that is a point of order. It is possibly a matter of debate but I certainly do not think we should take the House down this path on a day where such an issue is being debated.

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1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Would the hon. member care to rephrase his comments?

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1:30 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Yes, Madam Speaker. The member for Mount Royal, perhaps unwittingly, misled this House by saying that the Reform Party did not understand what was going on outside of its borders. I did not want to bring this up during this debate but I will have her know that it was the Reform Party that in this House in 1994 started the process on land mines by presenting a private member's bill in this House calling for a ban on land mines. It was the government that refused—

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1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I am afraid you are going into debate right now. We will resume debate with the hon. member for Kings—Hants.

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1:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, Canadians should feel a great deal of pride in this significant accomplishment today. Canada has regained for a brief moment its traditional role as a middle power and has relinked human rights and foreign policy which many Canadians have been concerned about since 1993.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has demonstrated leadership in championing the ban on anti-personnel mines and it has paid off. On behalf of my party, I congratulate the minister on this accomplishment. I would also like to take the time to congratulate Jody Williams as well as all the NGOs and individuals, including Princess Diana, who provided an international focus and a popular focus on this very important issue at a time when it needed that critical mass of support internationally.

Every year more than 20,000 people are injured by land mines. These people are not all soldiers trying to take a hill. Most of these people are not even soldiers trying to clear land mines.

The people that are most vulnerable to these land mines are civilians. Two weeks ago I travelled to Bosnia as part of a delegation of MPs from the Defence and Foreign Affairs committees. In Bosnia I witnessed first hand the devastation and suffering caused by land mines. Canadian peacekeepers provide mine awareness programs in elementary schools.

I was surprised and, in fact, disturbed by the level of familiarity that children already have with land mines. Children have nicknames for land mines. Some are called Skoal mines because they are shaped like a tobacco can. Some mines similarly are called camera mines because they resemble a camera. Some are called pineapple mines because of the fact that they resemble pineapples.

It seems to me that the innocence of childhood cannot coexist with an intimate knowledge of and familiarity with land mines. In Bosnia, mines are being redeployed around houses to prevent the return of refugees and displaced people to their homes. Mines are being redeployed around farmers' fields to prevent theft. In some cases, farmers' fields have been rendered useless by land mines.

SFOR's mandate does not include clearing farmers' fields. In order for their fields to be cleared by SFOR, some farmers have become resourceful and are actually placing mines or relocating mines to the sides of roads near their fields to try to draw attention to and create a sense of priority with regard to the clearing of land mines from their own fields. Six million mines were deployed in Bosnia during the war and to date the UN estimates there are still 3 million mines left in Bosnia.

The problem for the peacekeepers is that millions of mines are unaccounted for across the country. Several weeks ago a tractor trailer overturned near Banka Luka and the trailer rolled over a land mine, causing an explosion. This was an area that had previously been de-mined and thus had been re-mined. Mines had been redeployed to this area.

As Canadians, it is sometimes difficult to imagine the constant fear of living in an area that is plagued by the scourge of land mines. For me on a personal level, in Canada something I enjoy doing every morning is my morning run. We were warned when we were in Bosnia in the Velika Kladusa area, as well as in other areas, not to run in the mornings. You cannot go off the pavement. If you go off the pavement on to the shoulder of the road, you may hit a land mine.

I grew up in rural Nova Scotia. Having returned from Bosnia, I no longer take for granted the peacefulness and the tranquility and safety of the surroundings that I took for granted as a child. As a child I was able to run through and play in fields with no risk and no fear of being maimed or killed by a land mine.

Farmers, mothers, fathers, children, innocent people, these are the people paying for these wars that were fought and, to a considerable extent, are now over. Land mines do not require sophisticated technology to manufacture and this is part of the problem. Sometimes the least stable states are producing land mines now and people are producing land mines in their basements because of the availability of the resources and the tools necessary to make land mines.

It is a difficult problem to control and to contain. As with any major humanitarian effort, this ban will require a great deal of expertise and resources. The Minister of Foreign Affairs earlier referred to the need for investments in sophisticated technology and equipment in the removal of land mines. This is critical as well. It will take a long time before all the land mines are cleared from countries like Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Angola, Afghanistan, Egypt, just to name a few.

Canadians have a very important role to play in this effort. Our peacekeepers are among the best in the world. That is something I would like to mention. Upon returning from Bosnia, I came back with a tremendous pride in our peacekeepers and also the recognition that one of the things that is unique to Canadians is our peacekeeping prowess, which is internationally recognized.

I would also remind my colleagues from the Bloc that one of the first casualties of a divided Canada would be our ability to participate fully and meaningfully in international peacekeeping and in other types of international fora. Not only do Canadians need a strong united Canada but the world needs a strong united Canada.

We have contributed over $11 million to the humanitarian efforts to clear land mines. As the minister mentioned, we must continue to invest in technology and perhaps create opportunities for Canadian companies like Bombardier which may have the ability to develop new technologies for this very important task at hand.

It can take 10 peacekeepers up to a full day to manually clear a minefield the size of a gymnasium. Mine removal requires significant and sustained resources that are very costly. Over the past few years two million to five million more land mines have been deployed. This number, combined with the number already in the ground means that at current de-mining rates it could take decades to rid the world of the current mines in the ground. During that time span, thousands more will be injured or killed, even with the signing of this agreement.

That is why after this week we cannot forget the need for continued vigilance in ensuring that the necessary resources are provided to ensure that the task that is beginning with the signing of this land mine treaty will continue over the next several years as part of our international participation in this effort. Conditionality must be used and can be used with IMF funding to ensure the full co-operation of resources of countries that seek IMF funding. By passing this bill Canadians will be demonstrating to other countries the need to quickly and decisively act in ratifying the treaty.

I have a further note on my trip to Bosnia. In one of our briefings we were alerted to the fact that an anti-tank mine can be converted into an anti-personnel mine. This can be done with a band saw in some cases. The TMA-3, which looks like a film reel, can be cut into thirds by an ordinary band saw. This converts it to three anti-personnel mines.

The definition of an anti-personnel mine is found on the first page of the bill. It states:

—“anti-personnel mine” means a mine that is designed, altered or intended to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person—. Mines that are designed, altered or intended to be detonated by the presence, proximity or contact of a vehicle as opposed to a person—are not considered to be anti-personnel mines—

We must be vigilant in ensuring that the TMA-3 anti-tank mine cannot slip through a loophole in this bill. Canadian companies could conceivably still manufacture a TMA-3 model anti-tank mine and sell it to another country with the proper export permit. Within the other country that mine could be turned into three anti-personnel mines. Nothing can stop the buyer from the other country from altering the mine if that country is not a signatory to this treaty. Once the mine leaves Canada, the responsibility is out of our hands. Therefore, during this debate I am seeking clarification from the government on how the definition will be applied to avoid that type of situation.

It is a great accomplishment to have 100 countries sign the treaty. However, the major countries that have not signed, with the exception of the U.S., are the countries where the greatest military uncertainty lies. We must continue to use every lever we have as a middle power through international fora to ensure these other countries do sign.

I leave the House with the words of the former secretary general of the UN, Boutros Boutros-Ghali: “No nation alone can prevent the killing fields full of land mines. No nation alone can prevent inhumane weapons from being deployed, but all nations united with a single purpose can make this world more secure for generations to come”.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my friend from Kings—Hants for a wonderful and eloquent speech on this important day and on this important issue. Once again he has demonstrated his commitment to foreign policy which he has done since he came to this Parliament, and he continues to do so in a very eloquent manner.

I wanted to bring to his attention, although he probably already knows, that in the maritimes there exist a number of groups very active in the processes of demining and have been working all across the world as Canadians and as maritimers to pursue demining and have done Canadians proud.

By their actions they have saved many lives and are continuing to further the important issue of how we get these hundreds of millions of land mines out of the ground.

I hope the hon. member will work with these groups and give them the help they require for the betterment of Canadians and for the betterment of people abroad.

Just to refer to the comments by the member for Mount Royal, a point of clarification, we as the Reform Party are happy to engage in international initiatives but we want to make sure that when we go on international trips these trips are work trips, that these trips are meant so that we actually gain some experience and expertise and that they are a productive use of taxpayer money.

We have not and are not interested in pursuing any course that will take us abroad where we will deal with international trips that are going to be a waste of taxpayer money, a waste of our time.

In these times of difficult financial strain placed on so many Canadians and on our budgets, we in the Reform Party are very sensitive to this and that is why we continue to assess each trip abroad with the potential benefits and merits of that trip. We will only go on these trips where there is a demonstrable need and where we are going to gain and have some effective input into these trips.

I would like to again congratulate the member for Kings—Hants and ask if he can tell us if he has any ideas on any opportunities that he can present to this House or any ideas that he has on how Canada can continue to engage in the important process of demining.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 1997 / 1:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's mention of the many maritimers who are involved as peacekeepers. I met some of them in the SFOR mission. There are organizations in the maritimes and some individuals in my riding who have been adamant and constant in their support of this type of initiative.

I guess it is part of being a maritimer, humble and self-deprecating individuals, that we do not like to toot our horn too much. We appreciate it when we do get this type of support from the west.

We are proud of all Canadians who have been participating in this effort. It is a gain. I do consider this a national unity issue because I think, frankly, if we do more to inform Canadians of the importance of this leadership and do more to inform Canadians of the prowess of our peacekeepers internationally, we give Canadians more reasons to be proud and more reasons to maintain a strong and united Canada.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

David Price Progressive Conservative Compton—Stanstead, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very happy to speak today on the bill to ban land mines.

It is not often that I find a reason to congratulate the government, especially in the area of foreign affairs, but today I salute the minister's efforts. Canadians should be proud that it was Canada who played a leading role in the negotiation of the land mines treaty. It is in keeping with Canada's proud history of making the world a safer place.

This will be most widely felt in countries such as Cambodia and Angola and Mozambique, where it is civilians earning a living in the fields and children playing who suffer as a result of land mines.

My colleague from Kings-Hants recently travelled to Bosnia where he met farmers who could not plough their fields because they were fearful that they would blow themselves up with land mines. Others use mines to protect their crops.

This treaty addresses this problem, and I am sure that all members in this House and all Canadians are proud that this initiative was led by Canada. So again, I offer my warmest congratulations to the government.

I do have some concerns, however, and my concerns are both domestic and international in nature. It seems to me that there are companies in Canada that manufacture devices that could be found in land mines. I am told that these mines do not require complicated technology to work. There are a lot of pieces required, however.

My concern is the following: What will happen in the years and months ahead, when it is discovered that the triggering device or a spring or any part of a land mine being used somewhere else was in fact manufactured in Canada?

We have in this country many major electronics companies that manufacture all sorts of little odds and ends that make up components in computer, radios, televisions and telephones. It would prove most embarrassing if it turned out that a product from a major Canadian form was inadvertently used as a trigger in a land mine. Are there any measures to prevent this from happening?

My concerns that deal with international affairs are perhaps not as traightforward. My first concern has to do with the United States. It is my impression that the American gouvernement did what it could to be a part of this treaty but in the end, when international security considerations were discussed, the United States could not take part.

What I am about to say is very important and cannot be orverlooked. There is a big difference between land mines in a field in Angola, which prevent farmers from earning a living, and land mines. used to protect the rights and freedoms of South Koreans against their dangerous Communist neighbours to the North. While the land mines this treaty seeks to ban will harm people, the land mines laid by our friends and allies, the Americans, are there to protect people.

I cannot emphasize this enough, so I will say it again: This treaty is useful in that it is an effort to rid the world of land mines form wars gone by. When a conflict is over and soldiers have returned home, there has to be an opportunity to return to normalisation. Part of this process means that fields should be deared of mines so innocent men, women and children can work and play, build and prosper, without fear.

This is not the situation on the 38th parallel, the border between South Korea and North Korea. The situation is much different. This is not a case of war gone by. This is a clear case of a conflict that still exists. The 37,000 U.S. troops are there to protect our Pacific ally from invasion. The zone where American land mines have been laid is a zone of conflict. It is monitored by the South Koreans as well as by the Americans.

We must not forget that, on November 11, Canadians stop to pay Tribute to our veterans who served in World War I and World War II and also our veterans who fought for the freedom of South Korea during the Korean War.

That freedom is still in jeopardy because of the military threat of North Korea. This is not an area where farmers would otherwise be tilling the soil. This is not a playground for children. This is a military zone. The United States is Canada's close friend and ally. It has not signed this treaty. The American government studied the matter and concluded that to do so would jeopardize its position in Korea and thus jeapardize the lives of its 37,000 soldiers and the lives of South Koreans and the freedoms that exist there and that have been fought for.

On Friday, it was announced that in December North Korea will enter into peace talks with South Korea, that will include China and the United States. We will wait and see, hoping that real progress is made.

There are other things that should be widely known about the American effort as we approach the day when this treaty is signed. The United States is trying to find a replacement for the anti-personnel land mines currently being used in the Korean peninsula. The United States has said eager to help rid the world of land mines by the year 2010 and plans to contribute over $100 million to the global de-mining effort in the next year.

The list of countries that signed this treaty is long. It is, however, missing some very important players. Especially Russia, China, North Korea, South Korea, India and Pakistan.

I encourage the government to continue to put pressure on these countries.

In fact, two countries where land mines have been most harmful to civilians in recent years are Afghanistan and Cambodia. These mines are left over from the Communist regime.

I have been told that there are mines left over from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that were made deliberately to look like toys. It was a deliberate attempt to kill children and to terrorize the Afghans into submission.

It is important that Canada lead the way not only to rid the world of these lands mines, but to take every opportunity to tell Canadians that the countries I just mentioned did not sign this treaty for reasons that are quite different from the reasons for which Americans did not sign. When the world does become a safer place, American protection of our weaker allies will become less and less necessary.

My other concern that involves international consideration is APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation meeting that is taking place in Vancouver as we speak. I understand that the APEC meeting wil not address human rights concerns, but only economic issues. That is not right, and I know that many Canadians feel the same way.

I suggest that Canada should bring up the issue of the land mines fully and publicly and not just at bilateral meetings. If the governement is really serious about ridding the world of land mines, the APEC summit would be a timely opportunity to challenge countries to join.

Also, I want to congratulate the government, and in particular, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for his efforts. I sincerely hope that the government will take my comments seriously, and take them into consideration.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

My dear colleague, we still have time for comments and questions, but as it is nearly 2 o'clock, you will have the floor again following Oral Question Period. Right now, however, we will proceed with Statements by Members beginning with the hon. member for Egmont.