Mr. Speaker, I was in Montreal tonight but I wanted to come back even at this late hour—and excuse me for keeping you here so late—to add my voice to the debate on this motion that is so important from a humanitarian standpoint, a motion that unites us all in this House and makes us set all partisan considerations aside.
Few of us, if any, have experienced racial and ethnic conflicts, armed conflicts where a majority uses instruments of war to torture, mutilate, kill and drive from their homes members of a minority whose only fault is to belong to a different ethnic group or to have different religious beliefs.
For us who have the very special privilege of living in a peaceful country, it is extremely difficult to understand how a majority can use such barbarity to impose its views on an innocent minority. We cannot understand how racial, ethnic and religious conflicts can plunge humanity into such darkness.
It is extremely hard for us to understand how human beings can use all their powers, whatever these be, to destroy other human beings in the name of race, colour or creed.
We would have thought that the lessons of World War II which are still fresh in our minds would have taught us that six million people and more lived the most terrible atrocities, the most degrading and inhuman treatment, including death by the most violent means, just because one majority decided that one minority was not worthy of living in its midst.
Yet in spite of the lessons of World War II, in spite of the lessons of the Holocaust, one ethnic conflict today seems to give way to another, killing in its wake tens of thousands of people all over the world. Lives are lost in the name of racial or religious purity or racial or religious superiority.
Yesterday it was Northern Ireland. Yesterday it was Bosnia. Yesterday it was Somalia. Yesterday it was Afghanistan. Yesterday it was Chechnya. Today it is Kosovo. Tomorrow, so help the Lord, it may not be.
How can we justify that one and three quarter million of the two million people of Kosovo should be evicted from their homes, should be killed, should be brutalized at the hands of Yugoslavia and its president Slobodan Milosevic because they are of different racial origins?
President Milosevic would use arms and death and eviction from their homes of the ethnic Albanians who are yearning for self-rule to impose his dictatorship just as he did in Bosnia, disregarding their human right to live, their fundamental freedom as human beings to exist as we all do with a quality of life, with a right not only to live but certainly with the essential right to survive as human beings.
I hope we do not make this into a partisan issue. I heard some talk about lack of leadership being exercised and I think it is important to underline what our foreign minister has done. He is a man of peace. He is a man who has fought extremely hard against armaments and for the installation of peace in the world.
It is worth mentioning what has been done. Canada lobbied in New York and in the capitals of the security council members this summer for decisive council action. The foreign minister wrote to then Russian foreign minister Primakov in August, reminding him that as permanent member of the council and as a privileged partner of the Belgrade government Russia had a special role to play in putting effective pressure on President Milosevic.
He repeated this message to Foreign Minister Ivanov just before he travelled to Belgrade over the past weekend. This week we sent an envoy to underline to the leadership in Belgrade and Kosovo to stop the violence, to negotiate a solution and facilitate humanitarian relief for innocent victims.
Canada's actions have actually reflected other efforts taken by the international community. In March and September the UN security council adopted resolutions that demanded that first of all Yugoslav forces cease attacking civilians and withdraw their forces that are used to oppress civilians, and that they begin meaningful negotiation with Kosovar political leaders with a view to achieving a political settlement that would lead to a significant measure of autonomy for Kosovo within the Yugoslav federation.
When the Prime Minister took part in the G-8 meeting in Birmingham, he impressed on the other leaders, including President Yeltsin, the need for concerted action in Kosovo. In June Russia with its special influence the Belgrade regime brought in President Milosevic to Moscow where President Yeltsin repeated the profound concerns of the international community.
However, it seems as though President Milosevic has decided to act on his own regardless of world opinion, regardless of the human lives he sacrifices willy-nilly whenever he wants to impose his will by force of arms.
We are now faced with the terrible dilemma of having to use planes and instruments of warfare to instil peace. It is the irony of our world today. But if it must be, it must be because the plan eventually is to bring President Milosevic to the negotiation table so we can negotiate and instil peace. The people in Kosovo deserve to live as we deserve to live. They deserve to live not only in the condition they are in today but to live in peace. They deserve to live in their homes, to create their own homeland if this is their wish as a majority. This right must be fundamentally recognized as it has been recognized in the UN declaration of human rights.
That is why all of us from the five political parties on every side of this House have united to support this motion. I support the work of our foreign minister for effective action that will bring peace and hope to the people of Kosovo and also to the other people of the world who are suffering. For those in central Africa or anywhere else in the world, let peace begin. We need it so badly. We need peace because first of all we are all human beings regardless of race, colour or creed.