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House of Commons Hansard #210 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was war.

Topics

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, I would ask my colleague to check his information. A debate was indeed held in Germany, the country that put forward the peace plan. In the U.S. too there was a debate. The American government has been keeping its citizens better informed on these matters than we have here.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

They are not on top of the situation.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

It is obvious that Canada is not comfortable with its response. As I recall, since the last world war, Canada took part in military interventions on three occasions only—

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I am sorry but the hon. member's time has expired. The hon. member for Mercier.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Madam Speaker, I think it is extremely important to speak to the motion today, and I will take a few moments to read it again:

That this House demand that the government submit to a debate and a vote in the House the sending of Canadian soldiers to the Balkans who may be involved in military or peacekeeping operations on the ground in Kosovo and the Balkan region.

The Bloc Quebecois has been calling from the start for a vote in this House on the possible deployment of Canadian troops to take part in a peacekeeping mission, and even more so if they are to take part in a ground war which would certainly be a dirty war. The Bloc Quebecois has not said that it is against such a deployment, but it wants to have all the information. It wants this issue to be debated by the representatives of the people.

We hear a lot in the news about what is going on in Kosovo. However, in the House we do not debate the issue with the benefit of all the information available to the government. We had evidence of that on several occasions.

Even though we did not hear about the conflict in Kosovo until some time ago, it is not a recent one. Last year as representative of the Bloc Quebecois at a meeting of the Council of Europe—where colleagues from other parties were also present—I attended debates on the crisis in Kosovo on two occasions. These debates were between parliamentarians from all European countries.

Those were disturbing and harrowing debates. Over there, there are many parties. Parliamentarians are divided in five blocs that have existed since the foundation of the Council of Europe in 1949. Europe has experience in this matter. The debates were disturbing and harrowing, because everybody wanted a peaceful outcome.

Calls for a peaceful settlement, for good will, for the intervention of observers, for third party negotiations were heard ad nauseam. However, what was mostly heard is that Milosevic could not have care less and was deaf to the pleas by the rest of Europe, which has had more than its fair share of wars.

I will quote only a few sentences, but I heard people like Lord Russell-Johnston, who is now the president of the Council of Europe, speak in the name of the liberal group and express his profound sadness and pessimism. This was on April 22, last year.

He said:

The Barsony report is a good report—

This report dealt with what was going on.

—but there should not be any preconditions to the negotiations between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Kosovo. As long as both parties do not move in this direction, the situation will not change and violence will continue. In Northern Ireland also, problems were complex and the situation was serious, but external mediation proved to be useful. Nothing should be excluded from the talks. The Council of Europe does not have to choose between Albanian Kosovars and Serbs. Its only wish is that all citizens live in peace and tolerance. A Liberal is not a priori in favour of an ethnic state, but when the will of a people is so clear—

He was referring to the Kosovars.

—they are entitled to express it. This international principle is recognized in the Charter of the United Nations. Human rights affect everyone. Serbs should recognize the rights of those who have been living in Kosovo for centuries now. They do not have the right to impose anything on anyone.

Mr. Solé Tura, who spent many years in prison under Franco, said:

What is happening in Kosovo is definitely not a Yugoslav domestic problem. Nothing that affects human rights can be reduced to a mere domestic issue.

And I could go on and on. This was a year ago.

I took part in the other debate held in September. A lot was learned from that debate. The Council of Europe was concerned about the hundreds of thousands of Kosovars who had already been displaced and were bracing themselves for a harsh winter in the woods without enough support. Everyone was calling for pressures to be exerted so that peace agreements could be reached. It did not happen.

Finally, there were the Rambouillet talks, where NATO threatened air strikes, which many were already calling and wishing for. Many argued that NATO had to get involved. What did Milosevic do regarding Rambouillet? From what we were told, he massed 40,000 troops at the border.

We are now 26 days into the air campaign. Yesterday, we learned that 150,000 soldiers were fighting under Milosevic.

NATO got involved without waiting for the support of the United Nations for humanitarian reasons. We do not know what will come of this situation, but one thing is sure, we are far from a resolution, far from peace.

If, for the sake a consistency with our first campaign, which has been waged without a UN resolution—which is a first since the creation of the UN—and with our initial intent, which was to prevent the expulsion of the Kosovar people from its land, NATO should decide that ground troops are needed, hopefully with the involvement of the UN, we must hold a debate in the House, because this will not be a walk in the park. Other European countries have not yet decided to get involved. Only 19 countries are NATO members.

We do not know who would be ready to get involved. We need to know all the facts and have all the information. We need to know what the particulars would be. And the UN should be involved.

It seems that some pressure is being put on Russia. We should keep the pressure on. We know that Russia is in a very precarious situation.

Sending ground troops into Kosovo would not be business as usual. We certainly would not know ahead of time how long this operation would take. And there definitely would be some danger.

Our colleagues opposite should be in complete agreement with us on our motion that there be a debate in the House. If there is one important issue in this parliament, in the previous one and even in others before that, it is bound to be this one.

I have expressed my views with some feeling, but it is impossible to look at this issue objectively and not get emotionally involved. Soldiers are human beings, and when they go, there is no guarantee they will return. I am not saying we should not go, but the House should debate this issue as if it were the most important one to be put before us.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

We will continue with questions and comments after Oral Question Period.

It being almost 2 p.m., the House will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Arthur MeighenStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Richardson Liberal Perth—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to announce that on June 16, 1999 the city of St. Mary's will be commemorating the gravesite of the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen, 125 years after his birth.

Arthur Meighen's political career began as a member of parliament for Portage La Prairie, Manitoba in 1908 culminating with his becoming leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. He went on to become Prime Minister in the years 1920-21 and again in 1926. He is best remembered in the House as one of its most brilliant orators.

Other major achievements include the participation and the creation of the Canadian National Railway, prominence in ending the Winnipeg general strike and passage of the Armistice Day Act.

He was a good Manitoban.

His legacy on Parliament Hill lives on through his grandson, Senator Michael Meighen.

Forest IndustryStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, Reform has been calling on the government to oppose the U.S. attempts to restrict the import of specialty wood products. My office has received over 400 letters from constituents who are afraid of losing their jobs as Nanaimo—Alberni is one of Canada's largest suppliers of cedar products.

My riding has already been hit hard by the mismanagement of the fisheries and we must not suffer further by the loss of jobs in the forest industry. If the U.S. restriction succeeds, Vancouver Island will be the hardest hit and stands to lose thousands of forest related jobs. If mill closures occur, many ancillary services such as truckers, machinery operators, engineers, accommodations, small companies and independent subcontractors will also be affected.

Canada must fight any negative reclassification by the U.S. at every step along the way. This government must not back down. It must fight to protect our forest sector jobs.

Earth DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is not much to celebrate on Earth Day in the Province of Ontario. Why? It is because the Ontario government has gutted its environment ministry, laying off over 700 employees. It has stopped enforcing environmental laws, thus allowing Ontario to become North America's third worst polluter.

It has failed to put into place a fair and effective car emission control program. It has allowed pollution from plants burning dirty coal to go up by 60%. It has cut spending on public transit causing the current TTC strike putting more cars on the road and generating more pollution.

In Ontario, Earth Day, rather than a celebration is a call to action as urged by the Ontario Medical Association which points to air pollution as the cause of 1,800 premature deaths every year in that province.

Wayne GretzkyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Carmen Provenzano Liberal Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, Wayne Gretzky's retirement leads many Canadians to recall with fondness No. 99's glory days with the Oilers.

However, for people in Sault Ste. Marie the wonderful memories go back even further, to the year when Gretzky dominated the Ontario Hockey League and gave us the first glimpses of his greatness.

Drafted third overall by the Sault Greyhounds in the 1977 Ontario Hockey League draft, 16 year old Wayne Gretzky went on to have a phenomenal 1977-78 season. He dazzled fans with 70 goals and 112 assists in only 64 games. Regretfully, Saultites watched him move on the following year to the World Hockey Association.

To honour Gretzky's outstanding contribution to the Greyhounds and to the OHL, the great one's No. 99 hangs in the rafters of the Sault's Memorial Gardens.

Only now do we realize how lucky we as Saultites were to have seen Gretzky's magic develop before our eyes. Sault Ste. Marie will be eternally grateful for that one unforgettable season that started our love affair with Canada's most famous son.

VaisakhiStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, today a special stamp honouring the 100th anniversary of the Sikh community in Canada will be unveiled by the Prime Minister.

The stamp is in honour of the achievements of Sikh Canadians who have made their community such a valuable part of Canada's rich social fabric. As successful professionals, business people and political leaders, their contribution to Canada is an example to all of us.

I am pleased that Canada Post has chosen to honour them in this way in the year that also marks the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Sikh faith. On April 13 Sikhs in Canada and around the world celebrated Vaisakhi which commemorates the most central event in the Sikh faith.

Today, April 19, Canadian Sikhs can celebrate again as they receive this much deserved honour from Canada Post.

Canadian Wheat BoardStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Howard Hilstrom Reform Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, finally the Canadian Wheat Board has agreed to an audit of its books by the auditor general.

The Reform Party member for Portage—Lisgar has been calling for an open audit of the Canadian Wheat Board since 1993.

Farmers have a right to know how effectively the Canadian Wheat Board is marketing their grain. The audit will provide an independent and public opinion on the performance of the board.

In addition to examining the primary mandate of the Canadian Wheat Board, which is orderly marketing, the auditor general must also determine if the board is maximizing returns for wheat and barley farmers.

This audit must not be used simply to build a defence of state trading enterprises like the Canadian Wheat Board for the next round of World Trade Organization negotiations.

The Auditor General of Canada must be given the authority to audit the board on a regular basis. The Reform Party will continue to pressure for legislation that will allow this to happen.

Rashpal DhillonStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce Mr. Rashpal Dhillon to the House.

Mr. Dhillon is a resident of Richmond, British Columbia. He was born in 1938 in the Punjab, India and came to Canada in the 1950s. He has a wife, Surinder, three children and three grandchildren.

Mr. Dhillon has a long and distinguished history in law enforcement, initially as the first Indo-Canadian peace officer in Canada. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stationed in the B.C. interior. He went on to become a prison guard at Oakalla Penitentiary and then a deputy sheriff in Vancouver.

Mr. Dhillon is now the owner of several agri-food companies and a golf centre on the lower mainland. He also serves the community on many boards of directors, including the Farm Credit Corporation and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. It is for his work as a pioneer and a philanthropist that we honour him today.

On behalf of all members, on the day the Government of Canada officially commemorates the first 100 years of Sikhs in Canada and 300 years of the Khalsa, I would like to recognize Mr. Paul Dhillon as an outstanding member of the Indo-Canadian community.

National Textiles WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week marks National Textiles Week in Canada, which is organized by the Textiles Human Resources Council, to focus and acknowledge the innovation and excellence within the Canadian textile industry.

In my riding of Ahuntsic, there are two dozen textile manufacturing firms, including Silver Textiles, Doubletex and Montreal Fast Print, to name but a few.

Since 1988, exports have tripled, capital investments have reached unprecedented levels and, in the past five years, the number of jobs has increased steadily, from 53,000 in 1993 to 56,000 in 1997.

The programs established by Human Resources Development Canada such as the Canada jobs fund and programs aimed at youth as well as Industry Canada's initiatives focusing on science and technology and the federal guidelines defining professional standards are but another example of the way the government helps the Canadian industrial sector to compete on an international scale.

I would like to congratulate the Canadian textile manufacturers, especially those in my riding, for their important contribution—

National Textiles WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.

VolunteersStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the occasion of national volunteer week, I want to pay tribute to all those who generously give some of their time for the well-being of our society.

While we acknowledge their contribution during this week, our volunteers do not make a contribution for a day or a week, but throughout the year. In an august 1998 study, Statistics Canada indicated that 16.7 million Canadians, or seven people out of ten, are engaged in volunteer work.

These volunteers are involved in every possible area, including health, education, co-ops, the poor, culture, sports, unions and even politics.

This year's theme in Quebec, “Building tomorrow together”, accurately reflects what volunteer work means, and it is also fitting, as we are about to enter a new millennium.

On behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, I thank all the Quebec and Canadian volunteers for their invaluable contribution.

Wayne GretzkyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Rahim Jaffer Reform Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, like most Canadians, it is with mixed feeling that I pay tribute to Wayne Gretzky today.

Now that he has retired from our national game, it is time to celebrate an amazing talent, an incredible ambassador of hockey and a great Canadian.

Wayne Gretzky rewrote the hockey record book and literally changed the way the game is played. His Canada Cup achievements produced some thrilling moments. His 894 regular season goals and his 1,963 assists will never be touched.

A statue of Wayne Gretzky with the Stanley Cup hoisted proudly above his head adorns the city of Edmonton, which I proudly represent. It serves as a monument of Wayne's contribution to our city, our history and our eternal bragging rights of hockey supremacy in Alberta.

Wayne is retiring the same way he played: with class, humility and appreciation. Today, Canadians across the country are proud to see one of their own get world recognition.

Good luck Wayne, and thank you for the memories.

Persons CaseStatements By Members

April 19th, 1999 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, 83 years ago today the Alberta Liberal government granted women the right to vote, joining Saskatchewan and my own province of Manitoba, which earlier that same year had that right of suffrage extended to women.

Much of the credit for ensuring that Canada led the world in women's suffrage must go to Nellie McClung, who headed the campaign. She, along with Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby and Henrietta Edwards, known as the Famous Five, won legal equality for all Canadian women in the Persons Case of 1929.

May we in this House join today's generation of Canadians in saluting these early activists for their life-long determination to end discrimination in whatever form it takes.

What these visionary activists secured for Canadian women, they secured for democracy; indeed an historic legacy.

Judy CookStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, in December last year, Manitoba lost a great person. Judy Cook died while awaiting a heart transplant. She had dedicated her life to social justice and to improving the lives of others.

In December a steelworker from Leaf Rapids was given a new lease on life when a friend from Leaf Rapids donated one of her kidneys.

It is well established that the organ donation situation in Canada is serious with our organ donor rate among the lowest in the western world. Currently, there are more than 3,000 Canadians waiting for solid organ transplants, yet less than half of these will get an organ they need before the year's end. Lives are being lost and the costs related to waiting are increasing, and federal regulations are at the heart of the problem.

The need to increase the organ donation rate in Canada is an urgent priority. It will not happen by focusing only on public education and improved hospital systems. It requires innovative and proactive approaches starting with a national registry of organ donors to increase the pool of potential donors and a clear simple mechanism for expressing wishes.

It is important to give Canadians the opportunity to say, “Yes, I want to donate”.

Bloc QuebecoisStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, at its latest convention, the Bloc Quebecois tried to redefine what a true Quebecker is.

What a discovery it made this past weekend: a Quebecker is a person who lives in Quebec; an Ontarian is someone who lives in Ontario; an Italian is someone who lives in Italy; a Spaniard is someone who lives in Spain.

So, once again the Bloc Quebecois continues with its notion of exclusion.

Fine—vive le Canada.

Bloc QuebecoisStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois did indeed hold a general assembly this past weekend in Rivière-du-Loup, one which will mark a milestone in the history of our young party.

I wish to draw attention to the open-mindedness and vision of our leader, and to congratulate him for launching this exercise of direction-seeking and debate on the future of Quebec. I also congratulate the members of our four focus groups for the extremely high quality of their work.

The members of the Bloc Quebecois will be involved in this vast undertaking of reflection in the months to come. I also invite all Quebeckers, and all Canadians as well who may wish to look into the matter of partnership, to peruse the documents we released this past weekend, for I am sure they will find in them valuable potential solutions for the political problems being faced by Quebec and Canada.

One thing is becoming increasingly clear in Quebec: the sovereignists are discussing fundamental issues that affect our future: partnership, globalization, citizenship, democratic practices—

Bloc QuebecoisStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough.

Wayne GretzkyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Wayne Gretzky retired from the National Hockey League marking the end of an amazing era. While redefining the game using his skills to reach new heights, he brought teammates, fans and a nation closer together.

True to his roots, he represented his country in international play and made Canadians proud each time he donned the Maple Leaf. The Great One improved Canada's hockey image and shaped the game's style.

As an ambassador for hockey and for Canada, his class leadership defined a remarkable career.

There is an element of humility to Wayne Gretzky's stardom which sets him apart. His love for the game and commitment to excellence made him a true role model, a responsibility he never shunned. To the end, Gretzky downplayed his endless personal accomplishments and records.

Our hockey cards, the No. 99 and tucked in sweaters provide wonderful warm memories. Our parents had heroes like Joe DiMaggio. We had Wayne Gretzky.

In his last NHL game, the scoresheet will show one final assist, fitting, for he always emphasized team first.

In a complicated world he allowed us to escape for many precious moments.

The hall of fame and new challenges await you. We wish you and your family a lifetime of happiness. Thank you, Wayne Gretzky, for all you have given our country and our game.

VolunteersStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to report that the Prix Hommage bénévolat-Québec was awarded to the Société de l'autisme et des troubles envahissants du dévéloppement, T.E.D., de Laval as part of the National Volunteer Week.

The Société de l'autisme et des T.E.D. de Laval is a non profit organization for families of people with autism or severe developmental problems.

Thanks to the unstinting work of its volunteers, the Société provides a camp, “Le Chat botté”, known for its programs of early, intensive and systematic intervention. “Le Chat botté” helps people with pervasive development problems improve their living conditions, often very dramatically. The devotion of the Société de l'autisme et des T.E.D. de Laval speaks of the best in every Canadian.

Congratulations and a vote of thanks to the volunteers.

Wayne GretzkyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Before beginning our question period today, I wonder if I might, in the name of hon. members and in the name of parliament, send our respects, our congratulations and our thanks to one of our outstanding citizens. I refer of course to Mr. Gretzky.

[Editor's Note: All hon. members rose and applauded]