Mr. Speaker, I should inform the House that I will be dividing my time with the hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona.
I have moved concurrence this morning in the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The report was presented to the House on December 10, 1998, which was International Human Rights Day.
The report is profoundly important. It concerns nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and the role of NATO. The report raised a number of profoundly important questions and made a series of serious recommendations.
Moving concurrence in that report today is timely. We are literally on the eve of the 50th anniversary of NATO's founding. There will be a major NATO summit meeting in Washington, D.C. tomorrow.
My New Democratic Party colleagues and I call on the government to use this as an opportunity to put forward visionary and forward thinking proposals. It should show leadership particularly on two fundamental issues, on the issue of the review of NATO's strategic concept and on the response of NATO to the ongoing humanitarian and military tragedy in Kosovo and Serbia.
I should say parenthetically that clearly in the context of a debate around NATO there are obviously broader questions as well. But bearing in mind the admonition of the Chair not to venture onto that turf I will not do that.
My colleagues in the New Democratic Party and I historically have taken the position and continue to take the position that given the dissolution of the Warsaw pact and the growing irrelevance of NATO, Canada could play a far more constructive role working within the framework of the United Nations and other regional security bodies. Canada should withdraw from NATO.
We note as well with sadness the fact that a number of profoundly important issues around NATO, including the fundamental issue of the expansion of NATO, were never addressed in any meaningful way by this parliament. However, that is a debate for another occasion.
With respect to the issue of the recommendations of the parliamentary committee on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as my colleague from Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre stated, Canada has failed to show any serious leadership in this area.
There is no question we welcome the call of Canada for a review at the NATO summit tomorrow of NATO's strategic concept. But on the fundamental key issue that is involved in that strategic concept, NATO's absurd and destructive clinging to a policy of first use of nuclear weapons, what does the Government of Canada have to say? To this day we do not know what the government's position is.
In a background document on the NATO summit prepared and circulated to members of the House, all the government says is that Canada believes that nuclear weapons are far less important to NATO's strategy than in earlier years. It is time we had far more leadership than that and that Canada took to the table a clear policy of no first use of nuclear weapons.
The committee urged the government to move ahead to support the call for conclusion of a nuclear weapons disarmament convention. There again the government has failed to respond positively. The committee made recommendations as well around MOX fuel regarding the total unfeasibility of that as a concept. Here the government has shown contempt for parliament in moving ahead with that.
My colleagues and I are urging the government to show leadership with respect to the issue of the nuclear weapons test range at Nanoose Bay. Just this week four very distinguished Canadians, Dr. David Suzuki, Dr. Michael Wallace, Elizabeth May and David Cadman, urged the Canadian government to seek an advisory opinion from a Canadian court to determine whether the activities at Nanoose Bay are in fact in defiance of international law, and in particular a decision of the International Court of Justice. I urge the government to respond positively to that request.
With respect to the issue of Canada's strategy in Kosovo and Serbia, this weekend at the NATO summit Canada does have an opportunity, and my colleagues and I believe a responsibility, to show leadership. Instead, as the leader of the New Democratic Party pointed out yesterday, Canada is blindly following a consensus instead of showing any leadership whatsoever.
Canadians are asking a growing number of questions about NATO's whole approach to this humanitarian and military disaster. Just what are NATO's objectives in these air strikes?
Initially we were told that it was military targets. We know now that the bombing has expanded far beyond that. We know now that NATO is bombing party headquarters in the heart of Belgrade, Milosevic's home, and a PVC and VCM plant at Pancevo in Yugoslavia which proposes a profound threat to the environment. We know they have expanded far beyond military targets and are bombing many non-military targets. There have been tragic losses of civilian life in convoys in Kosovo, trains in Serbia and elsewhere.
What are the guidelines? What is Canada saying? Has Canada voiced its concern about this very dangerous expansion beyond military targets? We know that the United States, the so-called supreme command, is making the decisions.
Canadians are asking if Canada is speaking out forcefully within NATO. Will we speak out this weekend about the uses of depleted uranium in that conflict? We know that the A-10 helicopters are going to be there and they use depleted uranium. This poses a very grave long term environmental and humanitarian disaster as we have seen in Iraq and elsewhere. What does Canada have to say about that? Absolutely nothing.
What about the refugees within Kosovo? There are some 400,000 desperate people with no food, no water and no shelter. NATO's only strategy appears to be to keep bombing and it could last for months. In the meantime what does Canada have to say? What is Canada's position with respect to this? Are we prepared to talk about getting desperately needed food in? The Greeks have made a proposal which would lead to getting some food on the ground. Where is Canada's leadership? There is silence here as well.
Finally and most important, what concrete diplomatic initiatives is Canada putting forward? At the foreign affairs committee this week we heard from Jim Wright, a director general and spokesperson for the government in this area, that the key to a negotiated settlement is getting Russia on board. Indeed the Russian special envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin, is in Belgrade now. We also know that the key issue for Russia is the composition of the international peacekeeping force. Jim Wright said that that was the only outstanding issue.
Why is it that our government refuses to take to the NATO summit a clear proposal that that international peacekeeping force cannot be a NATO led peacekeeping force. It must be a UN led peacekeeping force. Why is Canada not showing leadership on this front which could mean that we could return to the table? Why is Canada not urging to move forward with the uniting for peace resolution at the United Nations similar to that which Lester Pearson moved forward?
Let me say that Canada has failed abjectly to show leadership here. The United Nations Association in Canada has urged a number of proposals. It has urged NATO to consider a temporary halt in the bombing, urgent consultation with like-minded states, moving ahead within the United Nations.
Canada cannot simply blindly continue to follow. We have an opportunity tomorrow at the NATO summit to show leadership. My colleagues are calling on the government to end its following, to stand up and show leadership on behalf of Canadians.