House of Commons Hansard #134 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nato.


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9:35 p.m.


Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca for his positive contribution to the debate and his usual insightful observations about the situation we have to talk about tonight.

I have been listening to the debate tonight and, if I may say, I have been impressed with the change in the attitude of the Reform Party. In earlier debates we had on Bosnia and other issues there was a great deal of reticence about the engagement of Canada. I now notice that the party of which the member is a prominent member is much more active in recognizing the engagement of Canada in the world and our necessity to participate.

I listened carefully to the words of the member of parliament for Red Deer who represents the member's party as its foreign affairs spokesman. I noticed perhaps a slight nuance between the member who just spoke and the member for Red Deer.

I felt that the member for Red Deer was saying that if we act without the sanction of the United Nations Security Council, which as the foreign minister clearly indicated is probably unlikely because of the position both of Russia and possibly of China, that will cause a great deal of problems for us and for the United Nations in the long run. The member himself was much more aggressive in saying that we must act and we must act now if we are to answer to the humanitarian requirements of this terrible situation.

Can he help us with his view as to how he believes this will impact on the relationship between Canada and the United Nations and other countries in the region if NATO moves in a somewhat more ambiguous area than one that would be given the comfort of a cover of a firm security council resolution?

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9:40 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague and friend from the government, the talented chairman of the House standing committee on foreign affairs. His question is an excellent one.

He points to the first thing that I think we all desire, which is support from the United Nations. We have a larger commitment here and a larger rationale for involvement: the humanitarian reasons that many members in the House articulated earlier today.

We would like to have the UN involved, but if it is not involved, NATO certainly has the power and the ability to do that. The justification comes within the confines of international law which supports intervention in environments where gross human rights abuses are clearly taking place and in this case where genocide is occurring.

I think NATO has a responsibility. Although as the hon. member mentioned it is slightly out of its purview, NATO is largely responsible for a good segment of the security of Europe. If the situation in Kosovo expands, the expanding conflict would involve Montenegro, Greece, Russia and other nation states in the surrounding area. All those nation states could be involved in the larger conflagration. If that happened, the world simply could not turn a blind eye.

In the larger scheme of things, in an effort to prevent more bloodshed and in an effort to save more lives, while NATO would like to have the UN's tacit involvement, it should go ahead regardless because I think a larger principle is involved. It would add a lot more credibility to the United Nations in its ability to act early to intervene.

With respect to Bosnia, we were far too late in intervening. As a result, 250,000 people were killed and the countryside was laid to waste for generations to come.

If there is any lesson to be learned from recent history, we should look at Bosnia and see the abysmal failure of NATO. If it moves a little further along within the confines of international law to act where it is appropriate, then I think it will be justified in the long term not only within the nation states that participate but also history will take a favourable view to the intervention.

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9:40 p.m.


Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this important debate this evening.

It is important to recognize the tremendous unanimity of views in the House tonight, faced as we are and watching as we do the tremendous destruction and the devastation of the livelihood of innocent people who live in Kosovo. We have now been watching this for more than a year.

The humanitarian situation in Kosovo is disastrous with hundreds of thousands of displaced people and refugees, some of whom lack basic shelter and basic necessity.

What is the most shocking is that many of the problems are the direct result of the due actions of the Yugoslav government which itself is charged with the basic responsibility of its own people, its own citizens in that area. It is clear we are watching the war of a government on its own citizens, determined to drive them into the country, determined to drive them into the ground.

The situation of violence and oppression is creating a humanitarian situation of enormous proportions. Some 290,000 people have been displaced as a result of the conflict in Kosovo. I come from a city of 3.5 million people. If we had 300,000 people displaced in the city of Toronto, imagine how we would cope with that tremendous problem. We are having problems coping with homelessness, with disease and with other issues within our own communities now. How would we cope with the enormity of that disaster?

For those who go back to the Quebec ice storm, think of what it would be in terms of humanitarian tragedy if the people the ice storm struck had nowhere to go, nowhere to return, and were going back to bombed houses, totally destroyed places. This is the type of life that the people in Kosovo are living at the behest of their own government. This is the terrifying aspect. Winter approaches. Some 50,000 people, children and elderly, are without shelter and afraid to return to the remains of their homes.

We watch the situation on television. We read about it in the newspapers but we have little firsthand experience. This evening in the House we heard from the Reform member for Red Deer. He spoke of when he travelled to Bosnia. I can echo that. We have some experience with it, as does the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence. We travelled to Bosnia. We have been there. We have seen devastation in those areas. The same is now taking place in Kosovo.

There is a difference between what is taking place in Kosovo today and what is taking place in Bosnia today. That difference is the fact that in Bosnia some years ago NATO chose to act. We acted with efficiency. We finally were pushed into the situation where we had to do something. We did it. Today, while we have to live with the tremendous situation the member for Red Deer described, to some extent we are seeing a situation where peace, security and civil society are returning. Farmers can till their fields. Children can play. Birds can sing again. There is a chance for life, which does not exist in Kosovo.

Why is there that difference? The difference is, as the minister pointed out in his opening statement, the Yugoslav authorities have a plan to terrorize their own population. That plan is succeeding for one reason and one reason only. It is that there is no credible threat from the international community that will stop them.

Stopping them with resolutions was proven in the Bosnia situation not to be successful. Words are good in parliaments. They are a part of our work. However words will not deal with Slobodan Milosevic. We learned that in Bosnia. He will only be stopped by actions. That was our experience. There is no reason it would not apply here as it applied in Bosnia.

The need to act is clear. All members in the House that I heard speak tonight have echoed that. How to act, however, is less clear. There will be debate and there will be reasonable discussions about how we should act. We know, as the member from Esquimalt and many others have pointed out, that NATO has the capacity to act. The question we must ask ourselves is a reasonable one. What is the legal authority by which NATO will act? If we act without legal authority that is an issue.

I had the privilege of attending the debates of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, in Copenhagen this summer. We debated a resolution on Kosovo. A strong debate took place between those of us who wanted to ensure there would be a capacity to act and those who were more determined that whatever action would be taken would be taken under legal authority.

Eventually the OSCE adopted a resolution which provided that military measures should be taken in Kosovo with the explicit endorsement of a relevant UN security council resolution.

I opposed that aspect of the resolution when it came up in the OSCE assembly. I would oppose the same approach we are taking tonight. The foreign minister addressed the reason in his remarks. If we depend upon a clear security council resolution with Russian and Chinese approval, there is a serious chance it just will not happen.

The member for Red Deer put that in context tonight. We have to look at that as members of parliament who believe in a world society which is governed more and more by the rule of law. The very humanitarian principles we seek to apply tonight are those that create the sense of the world law to which we want to adhere if we are to have a rule of law we can all live within. It would be similar to the rule of law those of us in the House adhere to, wish to adhere to, and wish to build in a world community in the same way we have in our wonderful Canadian society. We must be aware of that.

While the security council resolution is important and may put the UN authority in jeopardy if we act without it, we have to face the fact that if we allow the UN security council issue to prevent us from acting the UN will lose its authority in the world. It will be eroded to such a point that it will become irrelevant for all of us.

I believe my view echoes that of most members who have spoken tonight. We must prepare to act. It must be a preparation that is credible and determined. It is only this credible and determined action and the ability to deliver it that will provide the Yugoslav authorities with a reason to back down. Only that will bring them to the table. Only that will force them to act. If not, we will see this situation drag on. We will see problems develop in the region that will be worse than those if we do not act.

I met with the Macedonian ambassador today. He told me not to be hasty in this matter. He said that they would be ineffective if precipitous NATO action was taken. I asked him what would happen if this situation were to drag on for another year, what would happen to the communities and societies living on the border of this untenable situation.

That is what the situation will be. It will drag on for years. We will not see 200,000 refugees; we will see 400,000 refugees. Inevitably people will be dragged into the situation. If we do not act now, the worst thing that will happen is that we will have to act a year from now when thousands of lives will have been lost and the situation will be much worse. It is always that way. We are forced to act.

We must deal with Russia's reaction, with Turkey and with Greece. All of this is true. The risk of not acting is worse than the threat of acting. We must act if we are to preserve the moral authority of our situation in a world where we must preserve humanitarian rights in the face of the determination of states to deny rights to their own citizens.

I read a little history as I prepared for my speech tonight. Count Bismarck who subsequently became Prince Bismarck, the chancellor of the German Empire as it was then, said in 1890 “If there is another war in Europe it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans”. This is not a damned silly thing we are talking about tonight. This is a human tragedy. We are on the threshold of the 21st century and nothing has changed.

We owe it to ourselves to act as parliamentarians and as citizens of the world to make a change. Let us pledge in the House tonight that we will act together to make a change. Let us pledge that we will keep the spirit of the House tonight in which all members are saying that we must act. Let us encourage our government to be positive, to act and to end the humanitarian tragedy that we are facing. If we do not act today we will act in the future and it will be worse.

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9:55 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, I value the comments of the hon. member for Toronto Centre—Rosedale. They are always highly intelligent and highly constructive. I would like to pose a few questions and some challenges to him as chairman of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs because he wields significant power on the other side in the area of foreign affairs.

As he correctly and eloquently said, the problem has been inaction. Since 1890 until now we have seen inaction in the face of gross human rights abuses. There are solutions. The solutions require changing the way in which we think of conflict and changing the way in which we deal with conflict. Essentially it boils down to conflict prevention and how we identify the precursors to conflict and the actions necessary to deal with those conflicts. I suggest we start out with non-military intervention, particularly economic intervention.

Will the hon. member, in his capacity as chairman of the committee of foreign affairs, submit to the Minister of Foreign Affairs the following?

First, we should convene like-minded nations in Ottawa to develop a concerted, united effort to deal with conflict prevention in whichever forum we happen to be in, be it the United Nations, OSCE, OAU, OAS or whatever.

Will he work behind the scenes to support the private member's motion I put forth on that idea and Motion No. 477 that I put forth today to have our country present to the United Nations a proposal to indict Slobodan Milosevic for crimes against humanity and to ensure that refugees in the region around Kosovo will have free access to representatives of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and other humanitarian NGOs?

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9:55 p.m.


Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Madam Speaker, as usual, the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca has a way of being able to put the challenge right on the table. I cannot pick up that challenge in every respect, but I can certainly say that I will take the issues he has referred to, to the steering committee of the foreign affairs committee, particularly a recommendation for the indictment of Mr. Milosevic. His party is represented excellently by the member for Red Deer and the member himself is an associate member of our committee.

I had the opportunity on the weekend to meet with Madam Arbour, our representative in Brussels. She is doing a wonderful job as a Canadian representative on the War Crimes Tribunal. We will raise that issue with her. We have seen Canadians rally together around such issues. We saw the tremendous support for Canada from other nations on the land mines issue. There is an opportunity to bring like-minded countries together.

I believe the member will give credit to the foreign affairs minister who has been very active on these files. Our foreign affairs minister is not a quiet person. He is an activist as we know from the land mines debate. I can be confident that he is doing everything to deal with the situation and to bring like-minded states together.

The parliamentary secretary is in the House tonight and will be speaking to the motion. He is also active on this file and is trying to deal with like-minded nations. I am sure that he will be able to speak to this issue when he rises shortly.

In our committee we will do our best to respond to all the suggestions of the member, largely because this is an issue which is bringing us together. We can work together in an all party way to try to resolve a humanitarian issue. Canadians can bring a special quality to bear on this debate on the world stage. I thank the member for his questions.

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9:55 p.m.

Halton Ontario


Julian Reed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, in listening to the exchanges that have taken place tonight, it is an honour to be part of this debate. Sometimes when we face crises and are able to put aside the partisan differences in the House it rises to a new level. It is a privilege to participate in this brief time.

Many of the things I will say will perhaps be a repetition of what has already been said tonight, but I believe they are worth saying and emphasizing. Since March of this year the security forces of the federal republic of Yugoslavia have been waging a brutal campaign of violence and repetition against the civilian population of Kosovo.

While the Yugoslav government has argued consistently that its actions have been directed solely against the armed Albanian separatists of Kosovo, the security forces have undertaken a consistent strategy of destroying villages, burning and looting homes and directly targeting innocent civilians. Numerous reports, including those made by the Canadian team working in the Kosovo diplomatic observer mission, have documented the abuses of the security forces. It is obvious that grave breaches of international humanitarian law, human rights standards and the law of armed conflict have taken place. While the world recognizes a sovereign state's right to defend itself against armed insurrection, the actions of the Yugoslav government in Kosovo have clearly gone far beyond the pale of acceptable behaviour.

These atrocious actions have ramifications which are being felt far beyond Kosovo in a region which has been torn by war and fractured by leaders who have shamelessly played on people's fears. In inciting conflict the actions of the Yugoslav government are again victimizing the weak and moving the Balkans away from advancement and integration.

The displacement of Kosovo Albanian civilians and the polarization of communities which has resulted from the conflict has direct implications not only for Serbia and Montenegro but for the neighbouring countries of Albania, the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia and Bosnia as well.

The consequences of this conflict are reverberating through southern Europe. The international community is simply not prepared to stand by and allow the government of Milosevic to carry out this campaign of violence and oppression which is rapidly leading to a humanitarian crises of terrible proportions.

As winter fast approaches some 50,000 people including children and the elderly are either without shelter or are afraid to return to what remains of their homes. Unless the Yugoslav government completely withdraws its security forces from their field deployments and begins at once substantive dialogue on broad autonomy for Kosovo these people will begin to perish and what is now a humanitarian crisis will quickly become a catastrophe. Despite numerous warnings and several opportunities to cease the campaign of violence, President Milosevic continues to defy the will of the international community.

The claims that his security forces have ceased their operations in Kosovo are too little and they are much too late. The military and police forces which have been responsible for the intentional deaths of civilians, the destruction of homes and property and the deliberate creation of a humanitarian crisis have for the most part yet to leave Kosovo and remain capable of returning to their destructive tasks at almost a moment's notice.

Rather than respecting international humanitarian law and human rights agreements by withdrawing the security forces which have been used to repress civilians, President Milosevic has instead allowed his forces to conclude their offensive and displace thousands of people before offering any sign of compliance with the demands of the international community.

Yet again President Milosevic has done the bare minimum in an effort to forestall the action against him.

President Milosevic and the Yugoslav government have had ample opportunity to end and to prevent this conflict, or at the very least to attenuate its effects. Instead, a policy of heavy handed tactics has been pursued which has served only to aggravate the humanitarian situation and to further polarize the communities in Kosovo, making a settlement all the more difficult to achieve. As a result of this deliberate decision to shun accommodation and pursue violence, President Milosevic must now shoulder the blame for the situation which confronts the world in Kosovo.

Since the outbreak of hostilities NATO has been fully engaged in support of the international community's efforts to bring an end to this terrible conflict. The alliance has consistently demonstrated to the Yugoslav government and to president Milosevic that it is prepared to act in a decisive way. As an important guarantor of stability in Europe, NATO cannot stand by and allow this humanitarian crisis to unfold.

The international community is in clear agreement that the Yugoslav government must not be allowed to continue its policy of intentionally creating a humanitarian crisis among its own people. NATO is ready to act to support the will of the international community by assuring that this policy stops.

Canada has played an important role in the Balkans in recent years. After several years of peacekeeping, as part of United Nations forces in Bosnia, we continue now as an alliance member of the NATO led stabilization force. To make significant contribution to peace there, the international community recognizes that NATO has proven vital not only in bringing about peace in Bosnia but in helping to preserve that peace and moving the country closer to stability and normality.

Several months have passed since the fighting began in Kosovo. President Milosevic has made and subsequently broken numerous promises to stop fighting and begin serious negotiations. The time for inaction and wringing of hands has run out. NATO must now act. It must act to bring an end to the violence, to demonstrate that a peaceful negotiated settlement must be found and to ensure that the thousands of displaced persons can be accessed by humanitarian organizations and eventually return to their homes. Canada stands ready to play its role in these important efforts.

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10:05 p.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether the parliamentary secretary could give us the benefit of his views as to the role of the security council, following the rather cogent and learned intervention by the member for Rosedale who seemed to place great importance on the security council's playing a role in Kosovo and overcoming the difficulties it faces internally with respect to the possibility that Russia would impose a veto on any resolution.

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10:05 p.m.


Julian Reed Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for that question.

As members know, Canada has always preferred that the security council pass the resolution that would determine what the world would do with the situation in Kosovo.

We are deeply disappointed that if such a resolution were attempted to be passed Russia would object and possibly China would object. Therefore we find ourselves in a situation where our preferred situation is not going to work. The humanitarian crisis is there nonetheless.

Winter is setting in and things are get worse actually by the hour in Kosovo. Therefore Canada stands ready to act with NATO.

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10:10 p.m.


Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow that up with the parliamentary secretary.

I recall when the minister was speaking the parliamentary secretary was here as well. He pointed out that the secretary general's report in respect of the situation in Kosovo had clearly indicated that the conditions which security council mandated for an improvement in the situation in Kosovo have not been lived up to.

Would the parliamentary secretary agree with me that if perhaps there is not a formal resolution at least it is clear that within the United Nations situation itself there is a clear opportunity for NATO and Canada to say we must take advantage of this situation and deal with it and that the secretary-general, by his findings, has indicated that the situation for an imperative intervention is there? Would that be a fair way of putting it?

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10:10 p.m.


Julian Reed Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the report of the secretary-general actually shows that the world is appalled by this situation. When he came back to report that Mr. Milosevic had not undertaken to comply with the security council resolution it stands to reason that while NATO may be the one that has to take action, essentially the whole world will be in support of this action.

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10:10 p.m.


Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, the United Nations secretary-general has released a report in which he lays the lion's share of the blame for the current humanitarian crisis in the province of Kosovo squarely on the shoulders of the Yugoslav authorities.

The humanitarian situation in Kosovo is disastrous, with hundreds of thousands of displaced people and refugees, some of whom lack shelter and basic necessities. What is most shocking is that many of these problems are due to the actions of the Yugoslav government against its own citizens.

In particular, the report points to a clear policy of the Yugoslav authorities intentionally driving civilians from their own homes and in many cases from their own countries.

We call on Yugoslavia and on President Milosevic as head of state with the ability to act with decisive authority to meet their obligations under international law and to lead the way toward a just solution.

We hold President Milosevic and all Yugoslav authorities fully accountable for the actions of their security forces and urge them to co-operate with the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in this regard.

The actions of the security forces are exactly what fuels extremism and violence in the Albanian Kosovor population. The Yugoslav government should instead show leadership by creating the conditions for meaningful dialogue on a political solution and by fully addressing the humanitarian crisis.

This can be achieved only by calling an immediate end to the offensive and repressive activities of the police as well as the military and by offering gestures of good faith to the Albanians of Kosovo such as a commitment to offer real, meaningful autonomy for Kosovo.

At the same time, we strongly urge the Albanian Kosovars to return to their earlier policy of peaceful engagement, to pursue their legitimate goals within the borders of the federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

While Canadians understand the frustration and anger the Kosovars feel, especially in light of the scant regard the Yugoslavian authorities have paid to legitimate Kosovar grievances, violence is not the means to a viable solution to the problems Kosovo and the rest of the region face.

Canada has long supported the diplomatic efforts being pursued to bring about a peaceful resolution to this region. The Organization for Security and Co-operation has been trying to play a constructive role in Yugoslavia but has been continually rebuffed.

United States Ambassador Hill is continuing his efforts to broker an autonomy agreement. The international community is working very hard to find a solution, but we need the co-operation of the combatants to do so.

Problems in Kosovo have recently developed into a major humanitarian crisis in which civilians are the main victims. But this crisis has not occurred in a void. Its current phase is intimately linked to the factors and to the individuals which created the conditions for the violent dissolution of the former socialist federal Republic of Yugoslavia and war in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina, with thousands of lives being lost.

Irresponsible politicians in the Balkans have for years set neighbour against neighbour with one key goal, the maintenance of power at any cost, and that cost is borne by their people. The suffering of their citizens, whether ethnic Albanians, Serbs or others, is rarely uppermost in these leaders' minds. Ethnic ties are betrayed at a whim when it serves the interests of such politicians. But they find playing off people's fears to be the most convenient and effective tactic. It is a tactic to which they frequently resort.

Canadians find such behaviour reprehensible. One's ethnicity makes little difference if one is hungry, cold, terrified and in extreme physical danger. Innocent victims are innocent victims, regardless of religion, language or ethnicity. Simply put, there is no such thing as collective guilt where individuals are held responsible for the crimes, real or perceived, of their ethnic kin. Recognizing this is key to any lasting solutions.

Canada has played a constructive role in all the countries of the former Yugoslavia since we first sent peacekeepers there at the beginning of this decade. We have paid high costs, most notably in terms of the 16 soldiers who lost their lives in the region. Other Canadians have tried through non-governmental organizations or international agencies to help the people of the western Balkans find their own peaceful, sustainable answers to these many challenges.

Canadian taxpayers have been generous in helping the peace process bring tangible benefits to ordinary people. We, in turn, have benefited enormously through immigration from the former Yugoslavia which provides a bridge between our countries.

We have no agenda to damage anyone's legitimate interests in that region. But we do have an obligation to make our voices heard when we see tens of thousands of suffering people whose human rights have been callously disregarded and who have in many cases lost all that they hold dear.

When international humanitarian law and international human rights standards are cast aside in the name of fighting and armed insurgency in a manner opposed to the letter and spirit of international law we must not be oblivious to the implications this has for all of us.

Members of this House must therefore condemn in the strongest terms the philosophy which lies behind the actions of all the combatants who commit atrocities against civilians in Kosovo.

Regardless of who commits such actions, the Serbian forces or the Kosovar insurgents, such actions will never lead to a just and peaceful resolution for the inhabitants of Kosovo.

We are all deeply concerned with the plight of the displaced persons within Kosovo and of Kosovo refugees fleeing into Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Hercegovina. Canada has contributed to the efforts of the UN, the UN children's fund and the Red Cross, and Canada will continue to do its part.

A stable solution reflecting the best interests of all ethnic groups in Kosovo is what is needed. There is only one source for justice, reconciliation and a lasting peace. While Canada and our partners in the international community do not seek to impose our own solutions, we cannot be neutral to the suffering being experienced and to the threat to international peace and security that is posed by this current crisis.

Through the United Nations and through NATO we must act to help end the suffering and bring about a lasting answer to these very complex problems. Time is running out.

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10:20 p.m.


Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford for her very thoughtful and sensitive appreciation of the situation.

I think she has introduced into the debate tonight an element that we really have not heard from a lot of other members, which is the need for reconciliation, because, as we know, violence begets violence.

While it is clear that the United Nations has indicated that the majority of responsibility lies with the Yugoslav government since it has the force of power, there is another party in that conflict, the Kosovo Liberation Army.

The KLA, while in no way bearing the same level of responsibility, has a responsibility, which is to return to the bargaining table and ensure that civil peace is restored.

When one seeks to destroy a state or a society violence comes with it. It is a lesson in this country that we have to bear in mind ourselves. This is a lesson for all societies and I think the member brought that to our attention.

Does the member feel there is some way that Canadians can help the Kosovo Liberation Army and Kosovars themselves to understand the way in which they could live in an autonomous region within a federal state, the way we have managed to achieve in our own society, where we deal with these problems in a peaceful, civil way? Is there something we should be urging our government to do, whether it is through CIDA or another organization, to take to these countries a lesson from Canada, a lesson from our own federal experience which will enable them to do exactly what the member suggested? A peaceful reconciliation is ultimately required on both sides if we are going to achieve a resolution of this terrible humanitarian problem.

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10:20 p.m.


Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the insight shared by the hon. member for Toronto Centre—Rosedale. Indeed, he underlines very well the dilemma.

Canadians have moved beyond their history in some regards. We have not carried the baggage of some of the European countries and, as such, we have been freer to take risks and, by so doing, have created a federalism that is indeed one of tolerance and one that grows and overcomes the dilemmas which we face.

Canada has a reputation internationally. At one time we referred to it as a middle power, and former Prime Minister Pearson exemplified greatly what roles a middle power could play.

I think today we still have enormous credibility in the international community. We must be peace brokers. We must exemplify tolerance in our own history when we attempt to hold it out as an example to as troubled a region of the world as the Balkans.

But indeed both sides must come forward through CIDA and through international organizations, through our parliamentary associations and the opportunity which they provide for us to stand witness to exactly what we believe and what we act on every day. I think we can reach out. I do not mean in any way to sound naive. The history is long. The hatreds appear to be even longer, but I think they can be remedied by what we bring to the table. But we must be willing to go to the table as well and to take the risks.

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10:20 p.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have had a debate this evening that addresses a very serious international problem recognized by our government, by the United Nations, by NATO and, doubtless, by many other countries around the world. We have heard tonight ample evidence of the brutality and suffering in the province of Kosovo. We have heard that there are some 200,000 to 300,000 people who are homeless and being brutalized by a campaign of terror initiated by Serb forces in that province. The terror is intended to bring about the submission of the people, in response to an insurgency or an alleged insurgency, calculated to bring about independence.

That poses, potentially, a dilemma for many countries. We do not in this country condone armed insurgencies. We continually and constantly commend to the rest of the world peaceful ways of governance and evolution of governance. While we regret the appearance of arms in Kosovo, the greater evil now is not the original appearance of the armed attempt to produce independence, but the reign of terror now brought by the police response. That reign of terror includes murder. It is not just murder, it is murder with a message.

We have seen this message before. We have debated this type of murder before. It is murder which leaves a message. It includes the mutilation of the victims and it is intended to bring about so much fear that it will numb the will, the initiative, of the victims and the victim group. We have seen this in months gone by in Bosnia and in Croatia.

For those of us who had an opportunity to be in the Balkans after the break-up of the former Yugoslav Republic, we have seen the villages utterly destroyed and burned. What were apparently happy settlements are settlements no more. The people are gone. Some are dead. They have certainly dispersed. It is a very sad situation.

I need only mention Rwanda as another reference point for all of us, where regrettably the world was not able to act soon enough. I do not think any of us wants to let that type of scenario happen again when we have the ability to respond.

Tonight it would appear that most members of parliament who have spoken have supported an international effort to respond to the evils that have been outlined. It appears that all of the parties support an international action to respond to these evils and our government appears ready to act internationally in an attempt to end the evils described and to bring about an improved situation for the victims and hopefully an improved political solution for the future.

One of the areas that has puzzled me as a layman looking at international relations for some time now is this business of gamesmanship theory. When we sit down with an opponent to negotiate we must in the beginning decide whether or not the opponent is telling the truth or is lying.

It seems to me that all of our international organizations have operated without any gamesmanship theory. They have simply assumed that the party on the other side of the table is telling the truth. We have seen a number of occasions on which it is painfully obvious that the party on the other side of the table is not telling the truth.

If one were to simply operate one's life in gamesmanship theory without any reference to morality, without any reference to life and death, I could hypothetically here say why not lie on the international scene, why not cheat, why not kill. The objective is to reach our goal, to attain our goal. As long as we get there, it does not matter how. I have seen this and as a legislator I do not have a solution.

It is very frustrating to see our international institutions victimized by countries, interest groups that simply play gamesman theory with more than one tactic. I think we are getting better at dealing with deceit. It is sometimes difficult to call our opponent deceitful when negotiating with them. With the inability of our institutions and people who in good faith operate to be able to do this, we lose innocent lives in the process. We lose valuable time and that is a great tragedy.

I do not have a solution. In the matter of Kosovo, because we have previous experience going back not too many months with the parties involved here, we are more able to tell it like it is.

I hope we get better at telling it like it is, calling a liar a liar and I hope we get quicker at doing it. The quicker we can reach these conclusions, the better we can respond.

The United Nations is a large, sometimes unwieldy body but sometimes it is all we have on this planet bringing us together. If there is a veto gridlock there which has been referred to here tonight, it is quite possible that the UN may not be in a position to authorize a specific response to the Kosovo situation. We are then fortunate in having NATO. NATO is prepared with indirect authority from the United Nations to do it and Canada is a player in NATO.

Last Sunday I was at an exhibition of Islamic arts and science in the Scarborough area of Toronto. A man came up to me quite unannounced. I did not even get his name. He said please do something about Kosovo, you must do something. He was a man who obviously had some personal experience in connection with the Balkans. That was my read on the situation. I do not doubt his sincerity in his exhortation to me. He was a new Canadian but a real Canadian and I do not doubt the need for our Canadian government to act.

I will not, as a member of parliament, let him or the rest of my constituents down. I will not turn my back on the victimized people of Kosovo and I support the initiative of this country to intervene, to cause the Serb government to cease its evil and inhumane operations in Kosovo and to allow humanitarian aid to get to the homeless in Kosovo. I hope this initiative will happen within hours.

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10:30 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a question pertaining to the statement presented by Trent Lott, the United States Senate majority leader, when Clinton's administration briefed Congress on what the Americans were going to do.

He basically said that he was shaken by the presentation made by Clinton's administration, that there was no real plan and that there was no plan B. I wonder if the member for Scarborough—Rouge River would be concerned about that statement given that we are supporting the Americans and on the other side of the coin we are bit players in the whole scheme of things. If there is no plan on that side, where does Canada fit into the big scheme of things?

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10:35 p.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the question is a good one. On a hearsay basis it suggests there may not be a plan B in the event that the likely operation to cause the Serbian forces to take note and to withdraw is not successful. As I understand from our minister and from my reading on the subject, in this case the purpose of the initiative is to exact a toll, a cost, a price from the military forces doing their evil deeds in Kosovo and to continue to exact a cost from those military and police forces until they are prepared to negotiate in good faith without deceit.

I cannot imagine that any of the military operations intended here or contemplated would proceed without a backup and a contingency plan for whatever operation was contemplated. The initial phases would probably involve hardware and low risk to military personnel on the operational side. However, we are dealing with a complex international situation. I have not been briefed. There may be members of this House who will be briefed before Canadian forces are operational. My experience in watching these things is that our forces are very professional, the NATO forces are very professional and neither the Canadians nor the British nor the Americans nor the French nor any of the other participating countries are going to place their forces in a situation where there is not appropriate backup.

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10:35 p.m.


Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will comment and conclude with a question to my colleague regarding the willingness to take a risk and to act even when all the results cannot be within our control. Many of us have concerns, as I mentioned on Monday in an S. O. 31, about the attendant risks of a military intervention.

I recall as a young child in 1958 watching the tanks roll into Budapest and asking my father if we were going to help. I do not remember his answer because I do not think he had one. As a graduate student in 1968 I watched again as the tanks went into Prague and Dubcek. So many hopes and aspirations were stopped.

I fear the inertia that is a component of all that and perhaps the inertia in Europe today. In discussions with some of our colleagues from Europe I was told it was complicated. Indeed it is and there are risks when we take action but I fear having to watch on television the same scenes in Kosovo that we saw in 1958 and 1968. I believe my colleague would agree with me and I ask him if it is a risk we must take at this time.

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10:35 p.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree that we have to take the risk. If we are going to engage ourselves militarily we have to be prepared to make sure there is containment militarily. There is a reasonable prospect that objective can be met. In terms of other risks on the ground after the intervention, the people we are dealing with appear to operate exclusively on military gamesmanship theories.

I am not saying they are a one trick pony but we have not seen any other tactical rationale. If we have a NATO operation intended to address specifically the one trick pony this is how we do it, psychology. The hope, notwithstanding that there is risk as the hon. member points out, is that will be sufficient to bring about an end game on the Serb military operations simply because that is the mode they are dealing with which is military might. Hopefully the Serbian military is not capable of going much beyond where it is now when faced with sufficient military force.

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10:40 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me rise tonight to be part of this very important debate. I lend my qualified support for the international action to end the suffering in this region of Kosovo.

Canada has a very undeniable obligation to its allies, NATO allies in particular. We also have a proud history of international engagement and involvement in supporting our allies as well as those who may be in regions of severe conflict and suffering.

If the alliance decides to take military action I do not believe Canada can step aside. We certainly have a moral obligation to take action against ethnic cleansing. There has unfortunately been quite a history in that region of such terrifying conflict and Canada has always played a role, sometimes a minor role but we have been there. We have that moral obligation to take action against the systematic murder and torture of innocent civilians.

There is no doubt that the international community must not stand idly by while Serbian forces commit flagrant human rights atrocities against Kosovars. Ultimately we must support our allies. Canada cannot shirk its responsibility in this regard.

Nevertheless, quite frankly there are some serious questions concerning possible military action which give us cause for serious concern. We have a duty to ask these questions because we have an obligation to the Canadian troops whose lives will be put on the line.

These are the questions. Have all diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis failed? What are the dangers and possible implications of military action? Is there true multinational support for this mission? Is there a workable plan for military action? What precisely is Canada's role to be? Is the role realistic in terms of Canada's military capability? Who will command the Canadian troops?

I will now go through these questions and maybe put a little of meat to them. Have diplomatic efforts failed? We will see but the answer to date appears to be yes, they have. The Serbs have dragged their feet in agreeing to all the terms of UN security council resolution 1199 passed on September 23. History has certainly shown that the threat of massive military action has frequently been the very thing that brings aggressors to the bargaining table. I think we can all hope this will be a similar case.

However, at the same time, we cannot be certain the Serbs will comply. Serbia has a deep historic attachment, however misguided it may be, to the Kosovo territory. It was in Kosovo that the Serbs lost their independence to the Turks in 1389. Given their attachment to Kosovo, the Serbs may not roll over if they just face a few pinprick air strikes. The sobering fact is that they may well be in for a long and possibly difficult struggle.

With regard to the second question, there are obviously deep concerns that fighting in Kosovo could escalate into the neighbouring countries. Kosovo is a pivotal territory and it has always been seen as a linchpin for both stability and instability in the Balkans. NATO must make every effort to ensure that war does not spread beyond the borders of Yugoslavia to engulf neighbouring states.

We must be prepared for the fact that the Serbs may make an effort to escalate the war. In other words, we should be looking at the worst case scenario. Perhaps they will attack NATO troops, including Canadians serving in Bosnia. NATO has to be prepared for that eventuality.

The answer to the third question appears to be clear. The very fact that this will be a NATO sanctioned operation implies that it will have multinational support. Nevertheless, on October 5 the European Union's Council of Ministers failed to agree to use rapid force in Kosovo. Obviously some concerns remain among the European members of the alliance.

Is there a workable plan for military action? I believe that this is absolutely the most fundamental question which remains largely unanswered and the reason I put the question to the government side, specifically to the member for Scarborough—Rouge River. Granted, the member may not have been briefed on that. Maybe there is a plan, but Canadians should know. We are possibly sending Canadian troops into an area of conflict. Why should Canadians not know exactly what is going to happen?

United States senate majority leader Trent Lott stated that he was shaken after the Clinton administration briefed Congress on its plans last week. He said “There is no real plan on how to carry this out” and “There is no plan B if that should go wrong”.

Does the plan, if any, entail only air strikes or does it include ground troops? If ground troops are required, then we had better brace ourselves for a much larger number of casualties. Would ground troops be necessary as part of a subsequent peace enforcement operation? How long would they be there? Will the UN Security Council approve the action?

If the six to ten Canadian CF-18s already stationed at Aviano are to be involved, are they the same aircraft which were recently upgraded to carry precision guided munitions, or are they a mixture of upgraded and non-upgraded aircraft? Are they compatible with the system that is in force right now under the Americans and the British? Our planes are moving back and forth. Are all of them upgraded to the point where they can fit into the program that is already there?

A myriad of questions remain unanswered. Does the government know the answer to any of these questions? I have not heard much debate in that regard. The debate has been more philosophical.

Preparation is essential. Has the government asked NATO what will be required? It is impossible to address the question of whether or not our military has the capability of doing this job given that we do not know the job they are going to be doing. If ground troops are sent in, how will they get there? How many ground troops can we send? The Canadian army is already stretched to the limit.

Despite the claim made in the government's 1994 white paper on defence, we cannot send a combat capable brigade overseas. All we can send is a smaller battalion group force. Even that would be a severe strain on our capabilities given the present task. What equipment do they have? I could give a list of what equipment we do not have, but what equipment do we have to send over there that will support our troops?

A number of questions remain unanswered, but in conclusion we must ultimately support the alliance and support our troops once committed. We must however be clear and realistic about Canada's role. That should be spelled out in the House and spelled out to the people of Canada.

We must not send our troops anywhere without reflecting on the practical implications of the mission. We must support our allies, but we must also support our troops.

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10:50 p.m.


Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the knowledgeable intervention of the member for Calgary Northeast as the defence critic for the Reform Party.

We have had the opportunity of travelling together in Bosnia and looking at these issues. He is very knowledgeable but perhaps he will permit me if I say to him that it looks to me as if he is trying to have the best of both worlds in this debate.

He says that he lends qualified support to the action of participating, but then sets out a series of conditions which enables him to say if there is a problem “See, I told you so. Yes, let us do it but here are the problems and if it does not work out the way we would like it to, we will be able to stand up and say we told you so”.

I think the member has more depth to him than that. I have watched him and I would like his answer to my question. I appreciate all the questions he raised are appropriate questions for us to ask, particularly concerning escalation in neighbouring regions, the true nature of what we will have and Canada's facilities.

We have looked at what we have at the base at Aviano. We all recognize that our facilities are stretched to the limit.

We have asked a great deal of our troops. Some of us have had an opportunity to see the professional qualities that they have developed in Bosnia and the tremendous professionalism they exhibit in the way in which they operate around the world. Whether it is in Haiti or Bosnia or the many other jurisdictions, we know what wonderful performers they are. We cannot ask too much of them. All of that is true.

The member knows that NATO has been looking at this situation for over six months. He knows how NATO operates. He knows that NATO has some of the most professional people, Americans, British, French, the top people in the world. They have been looking at this for six months. Does he not believe that the NATO planners are looking at the questions that he is asking in the House tonight? Does he not believe that the NATO planners have the capacity to resolve those issues?

Does he not believe that what we need in the House tonight is a commitment to act and act forcefully if we are going to resolve the questions in the area. At the same time does he not believe that we need to have confidence that the NATO planners, our NATO colleagues and our own troops are able to address the logistical questions which he asked in the House tonight?

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10:50 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member poses a good question but there is a political side as well as a practical side to the issue.

The practical side is whether we are in a position to go into an area of possible conflict with our troops protected with the best equipment available and under the best command. Are we also able to rotate the troops over time if that conflict rolls on and on.

On the political side there is a hesitancy on the part of the European Community which has already hesitated about rapid force strikes into Kosovo. Why? Does it not want to get into the fray? The American public is getting very tired of having that expense and American troops in the Balkan area. There is no question that debate is raging on in a very substantive way.

On the political side it is not very clear exactly what is going to happen. Certainly we can debate the issue philosophically but we must also consider the practical side and not blindly jump into something without going in a very specific direction and knowing what our limitations are.

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10:55 p.m.


Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think Canadians are great people. They have the kindest hearts on this planet, despite the fact that they are paying high taxes which is not their fault. Unfortunately from time to time, they have been getting some ineffective governments ruling this country.

The government has the habit of not appropriately addressing various issues, whether it be taxes, the economy, a justice issue, unity, and so on. The government has done it again today. The hon. member for Calgary North has given some examples of how we are jumping without knowing where we are jumping to.

This take note debate is not an appropriate way of dealing with the important and the sad situation in Kosovo, but this is the only option given by the Liberal government to members of parliament.

The issue at hand is very important. It is a non-partisan issue. The crisis in Kosovo is at a climax. I hope the Liberal government will show some leadership. The government will probably come up with a strong, elaborate strategy to deal with the peace initiatives. We will be dealing with these peace initiatives in the future as well, unfortunately. We expect that the government will come up with some strategy to educate Canadians, to let them know what we are doing, why we are doing it and where we are going.

Kosovo has a population of about 2.2 million. Ninety-three per cent of the population is ethnic Albanian. Most of the others are ethnic Serbs. During the communist rule in Yugoslavia, Kosovo had the status of an autonomous province within the Republic of Serbia. This status was abolished by Mr. Milosevic in 1989.

The Kosovo region has a historical significance to Serbia. The Serbs lost a battle to the Turks in Kosovo in 1389, losing their national independence. In 1989 Serb President Milosevic launched his national campaign while celebrating the 600th anniversary of this defeat.

Since last spring Serb forces of the Yugoslav army have constantly attacked and terrorized the ethnic Albanian population. The Kosovo Liberation Army has fought against the repression and lost ground over the summer.

The civilian population in Kosovo is in a desperate situation. A quarter of a million Kosovo Albanians have been forced from their homes and their homes have been raided and burned by Yugoslavian government troops. Fifty thousand people are without adequate shelter and are unlikely to survive the upcoming winter.

The official opposition foreign affairs critic, the hon. member for Red Deer, visited Kosovo. He talked to terrorized children in various schools. He listened to their horror stories.

The farms, the fields and the residential areas are infested with mines. Some mines are very cleverly designed to specifically kill children. Some mines look like attractive toys and pop cans.

The Serb armed presence remains a significant force in that area. The disproportionate use of force is designed to terrorize and subjugate the population. A collective punishment is given to teach them that the price of supporting Kosovo Albanian paramilitary units is too high. We must respond to this terror.

We are debating a motion to co-operate with NATO forces in the military action they intend to take.

There could be two plans. Plan A should be a diplomatic initiative. I wanted to ask a question of the member opposite earlier as to whether he could highlight the diplomatic initiatives the government has taken to address the situation. The government should have been aggressively pursuing initiatives long ago at least when we saw signs of this problem.

Now that we know plan A has failed, even though the government did not pursue it aggressively, we can go to plan B and plan B is military action. I understand why we have to do that. There are people who say we should; there are people who say that we should not take military action.

Perhaps I can tell a story about a donkey that was sick. The farmer who owned the donkey was giving it medicine that was very bitter. The farmer's son was helping him by holding the donkey by the ears. They were forcing the medicine into the donkey's nostrils because they wanted to cure it, but the donkey thought that they were pulling his ears.

We have to do that; we have to pull the ears. When diplomacy fails we have to take military action. This bitter medicine is the only medicine that will work in this situation. Before we prescribe this bitter medicine, my constituents, and all Canadians for that matter, need answers to the many questions they are asking.

They are asking why we are choosing a military situation over a diplomatic situation. What are the actions the government has taken? What other possible solutions could we pursue? What are the possibilities of finding a long term solution? How are we dealing with the hatred in the minds of ethnic people? How much involvement are we asking from the European Community or the other affected and related countries to deal with this issue in their backyard?

Canadians want to know whether we are creating more victims by bombing that area. They want to know how far we will go, how much is the cost, who is paying the costs, and what share we will pay.

Did the government assess the degree of risk before committing the men and women of the Canadian defence forces? Do they have enough equipment and facilities? What strategy do we have to deal with the regional security situation? I will be looking forward to those answers.

Repeatedly there have been serious situations in the world like in Rwanda, Nigeria, Bosnia, Haiti, Iraq, and the list goes on. Unfortunately this situation will happen again. I am sorry for the inability of the United Nations to respond in a timely fashion. We have to show leadership.

Britain, France, Russia and the United States of America, which is kept busy by Monica, cannot do that. We are in a strong position as a nation to be mediators in the world. We belong to NATO. We belong to the security council. We are a member of the G-8 countries. We have sent many peacekeeping missions around the world. I ask the foreign minister to look into the possibilities of peacemaking missions, rather than peacekeeping missions in the long run.

Let me give an analogy. When a domestic pressure cooker is heated, steam is produced. To contain that stream we put weight on the pressure cooker. We try to put military pressure to contain the steam, but have we ever taken an action to remove the heat from under the pressure cooker? Have we ever involved an issue by solving the problem before it happens? Unfortunately the government has not has taken any action. The government lacks a pro-active role. It is just reactive. It does very little to prevent conflicts in the world. The government needs to have a broader agenda for peacekeeping and peacemaking issues. The humanitarian crisis is the consequence of what is fundamentally a political problem. We try to resolve the political problem by our foreign aid and by various other issues like military solutions.

I support our allies in this action at this time for Kosovo and for the sake of the suffering of the innocent people in Kosovo. I look forward to the government showing—

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11:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The hon. member's time has expired.

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11:05 p.m.


Jean Augustine Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness that I join in this debate. It is also with sadness that I have watched over the last while the images on our television screens depicting what is happening in Kosovo.

Why should we as Canadians be involved? I think tonight many speakers addressed that question. I heard many say that it was time for us to act, that it was our duty to offer support and that it was our duty to avert further misery and bloodshed. We need the resources available to participate in whatever action.

I have heard other speakers refer to the fact that we have been and we are in a state of readiness where we can act. We have the CF-18 aircraft in Aviano right now. We need to work with speed because winter is approaching. We cannot allow more innocent civilians to suffer the atrocities we see nightly on our television screen.

There are a few comments I want to add because I know many of my constituents in Etobicoke—Lakeshore come from that part of the world. Many of them are watching nightly what they seem to think is the inertia and the inability of the international community to respond. They are saddened and want us as Canadians and as the Canadian government to act swiftly, to act with care to make sure our resources are not barred so that we can get humanitarian help directly to the people who need it.

These barbarous actions have ramifications that are felt beyond Kosovo. The displacement of Kosovar and Albanian civilians and the polarization of communities which has resulted from this conflict have direct implications not only for Serbia and Montenegro but for the neighbouring countries of Albania, the former Yugoslav, the republic of Macedonia and Bosnia. The consequences of this conflict are reverberating throughout southern Europe. My constituents who come from that part of the world know what happens to families and individuals when that reverberation throughout Europe is felt.

The campaign of violence and oppression that is ongoing right now, that humanitarian crisis that is before us, calls for our assistance. What can we do as Canadians? Are we to just stand here and speak in this debate? Is this doing something? Is this really my effort to ensure that there is some alleviation of the pain and suffering? I think it is.

It is important that the federal republic of Yugoslavia, and in particular President Milosevic as head of the state with the ability to act with decisive authority, know that I and others are standing here tonight calling on him to meet his obligations under international law and to lead the way to a just solution to the conflict.

To use disproportionate force against civilians will ultimately prove counterproductive in resisting armed separatist forces. The actions of the security forces are exactly what fuels extremism and violence among the population.

We have other places in the world where we have seen the results of such action. The Yugoslav government must know that we have said tonight that it must create the conditions necessary for a dialogue to a political solution and must fully address this crisis. It must know that we have said here tonight that we are calling for an immediate end to the offensive and repressive activities of the police and the military, and that we have also said here tonight that withdrawing its forces is the thing that should be done immediately.

President Milosevic and all Yugoslav authorities are responsible for the actions of their security forces. They must know that the international community stands in horror at the events that are taking place right now in their country, under their command.

It is also crucial that they allow human rights managers in Kosovo to continue their important work. We have to commend those individuals who would want to go in, those individuals who have been on diplomatic missions over these past months, including the work that we are doing as Canadians. The individuals who are part of those diplomatic missions, who are part of the human rights missions, must be allowed to do their work and inform the international community of what is happening there.

It is important for stability in Europe that this human rights mission be allowed to continue.

The United Nations and the international community has expressed concern and outrage. It seems to me that is not enough. Two UN security council resolutions have been adopted calling for this conflict to end and for the flight of the displaced to be addressed. Who is listening? It is certainly not those with the arms who are using force against the people.

Canada has used every means at its disposal to bring about a peaceful resolution of the conflict through diplomatic means. In various international fora and in several places we have, with numerous friends and allies, tried to resolve the crisis. Despite numerous appeals, despite talks, despite the plight of individuals being put before those in power, the situation continues to worsen. We see it daily.

We are on the verge of a new century. There was a time when there was a glimmer and a window of hope that there would be peace in this world. There was a time when we saw a tunnel where we thought there was some light, that there would be peace and that leaders and the people who were in the positions of making decisions would make the kind of decisions for their people that would see this world at peace.

Whatever needs to be done at this point in time, I am urging that Canada stand with the rest of the international community, with NATO and with others, to ensure that we do what is necessary to bring the horrible and horrendous daily slaughtering of people that we see on our screens to an end.

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11:15 p.m.


Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member very carefully. We are talking about a humanitarian issue here.

It is a very important issue but there is another issue attached to this, that if we are planning to take any military action or if we are committing our military support to NATO, that means we are committing men and women of the Canadian forces.

The question arises here of whether we are well equipped. Are our brave men and women well equipped with the materials they need?

I would also like to know from the member how much it will cost us. For how long are we going to commit our military forces? What are the long term plans? Can the member throw some light on that?