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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11:15 p.m.


Jean Augustine Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I stood I did not stand as an accountant, not as someone who is looking at the bottom line. I spoke because, as most Canadians, we are moved by the slaughter of human beings.

I think Canada has a responsibility to stand and be counted, not in terms of dollars, not in terms of what it will cost us economically. I think there is a moral situation here. That decision has to be one whereby we join with others. We use whatever resources we have.

When the minister of defence spoke earlier I think I heard him say the number of aircraft we have, the men and women we have in that part of the world at this point and our capability at this point. I do not think Canada will be marching off on its own but that Canada will be playing a role, supportive and otherwise, to ensure a quick resolution.

It is not an accounting job here. It is not looking for the bottom line but it is looking at human beings who are caught in a very horrendous situation.

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11:15 p.m.


Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

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.

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11:25 p.m.


Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has mentioned some other situations in the past that have been similar to the situation of today in Kosovo. He mentioned Chechnya, Bosnia, Haiti, Rwanda, Iraq and so on. All members in this House who participated in this debate have shown their support of our allies on the Kosovo issue in terms of military support.

Does the member or his government have any long term plan for dealing with issues like this? Do we simply have a take note emergency debate and then decide that because it is a humanitarian issue we have to show support? What plan does the government have to prevent this type of conflict in the world? What role is his government willing to play to show some leadership so that we can know how to handle such a situation in the future in a better, more efficient manner?

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11:25 p.m.


Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada is one country among many in the world today. We are certainly not the most powerful country of all. Thank goodness we have established a role which is some sort of leadership role as peacemakers or peace brokers. That goes back to the time of Prime Minister Pearson. This tradition has been maintained all along.

This government and previous governments of all stripes have tried to work closely within the framework of the United Nations to bring peace around the world. I remind the member that in all areas where conflict has arisen, Canada has played a leading role. The other day I heard the president of the Irish republic tell us what a huge role Canada has played and what a huge role General de Chastelain played as co-chairman of the peace agreement. He is today in charge of the commission in Northern Ireland and is playing a vital role.

How has Canada helped? The other day President Mandela told us how Canada has been instrumental in changing the state of things in South Africa. Perhaps Canada was helping in its own way to avoid racial conflict and bloodshed there.

Today what we are trying to do is bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Tomorrow there will be a vote in the United Nations. We have proposed several solutions to reform the security council so there will be more interaction between the five permanent members and the other members of the security council, of which we hope to be one again, so that we can exercise direct influence on matters of peace. We have participated in peacekeeping all over the world, as recently as the terrible Bosnian war, where again we played a significant role in bringing about peace.

What we are trying to do today is to work in co-operation with the United Nations and with the NATO membership. If we must bear force of arms to put pressure on president Milosevic to come to the table and negotiate, our foreign minister, our Prime Minister and our government will again play a crucial role as peacemakers. We have credibility in the world and we will continue to exercise our influence.

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11:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

There being no further members rising, this debate is concluded.

Pursuant to order made earlier this day, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 11.31 p.m.)