Mr. Speaker, I think I should say a few words about why we moved this motion today. We feel that there has not been enough opportunity to debate the things which the foreign affairs committee report addressed. This is certainly one way of creating that opportunity.
The report deals not only with nuclear weapons but with the ongoing role of NATO and the need for NATO to review its strategic concept which includes a great many things. We have not had the opportunity in this parliament, when it comes to policies adopted by NATO, to have the kind of debate we ought to have in this place with respect to the review of the strategic concept. Presumably this will be done this weekend at the NATO summit.
Yet has parliament had an opportunity to debate this and express ourselves about the very survival of the planet and whether NATO which contains a majority of the nuclear powers on the face of the earth is actually going to take some bold step to review its strategy, in particular its first use strategy or not? Surely that is something this parliament should have had an opportunity to address itself to. This is what we are trying to do here this morning, however briefly, depending on what the government's response is to this, whether it wants to continue the debate or whether it wants to snuff out the debate by moving to go to orders of the day.
We were concerned, as I think we ought to have been, that there was no debate in the House about the enlargement of NATO. It was a major decision that was debated in every other parliament of every other NATO country. This is embarrassing. Are we a banana republic run by order in council and executive committee? Even in the U.K., where it was not required that they do so, they had a debate in parliament about the enlargement of NATO. In every other country it was a requirement that their congress or their parliament address this issue. Yet here in Canada we just read about it in the Gazette .
The same thing is happening with respect to a number of issues on this. The same thing is happening now with respect to the strategic concept, and whatever it is the government proposes to contribute to the debate at the summit about review of the strategic concept, about out of area operations on the part of NATO which we are seeing precedents set for in Kosovo, without there having been a debate in this parliament about the principle of out of area operations by NATO, and what grounds and what criterion would be used or whether or not it is a good idea at all to transform NATO from a defensive alliance into an alliance that sees itself as policemen of the world or at least policemen of Europe in this case. We have never had that kind of debate.
One of the things that the committee addressed itself to primarily was the whole question of strategic concept. In that there is the key question of the first use of nuclear weapons, which has been and continues to be one of the primary objections of the New Democratic Party to the way in which NATO understands itself, the way in which it conducts itself and one of the primary reasons why we have had a policy over the years of withdrawal from NATO. We think that a policy of first use of nuclear weapons, and let us call it what it is, is terrorism writ large. In the name of whatever interest it is that NATO might think of itself as defending, we would be willing, if not to destroy the planet and the environment, to destroy civilian populations in ways that make Hiroshima and the bombing of Dresden and other calamities seem insignificant.
Is this the moral high ground of the 20th century that our strategic concept rests upon waging war against civilians in a way unknown in human history and waging war against the environment, therefore not just against our own generation but against all the generations to come?
This is a question of intergenerational morality in the final analysis. This is fine enough or stupid enough or criminal enough if we wanted to destroy ourselves, but to destroy the environment for future generations and perhaps even to destroy the human prospect is, as has been rightly called on many occasions, a blasphemy to set ourselves up as God and say “We will decide the future of the planet. We will decide whether the human prospect continues”.
It is in this deep rooted objection to nuclear weapons themselves, but also to a doctrine of first use of nuclear weapons, that the NDP raises this motion today. We think nothing could be more important than for parliament to address itself to this particular issue.
What about the question of MOX? The Minister of Foreign Affairs holds this up as one of the ways that Canada could contribute to the elimination of nuclear weapons. We could do a lot more to contribute to the elimination of nuclear weapons if we used what influence we have within NATO and at the United Nations to work for the abolition of nuclear weapons, not just some fine tuning of NATO strategic concept, and that may not happen in any significant way, but to work for the abolition of nuclear weapons. That is the way in which we could contribute to this process, rather than becoming a nuclear waste dump for the United States and perhaps for other countries as well, all in a way that is open to the charge that this is just a way of trying to keep the failing nuclear industry in this country alive by giving it some raison d'être or justification that is slipping away from it.
There is a lot to be debated here. I would hope that the government will seize this opportunity. It says we have an opportunity to do this because we have take note debates about various things that happen, particularly with respect to NATO and peacekeeping. However, that is not enough. We do not get to vote. We could vote on concurrence in this committee report. The House could express itself as to whether or not it agreed with the committee or with the government on these matters. If it comes to a decision with respect to the deployment of ground troops, we could have a vote in the House about that. Surely parliament should vote on the important things and not just on what it suits the government to have parliament express itself on.
That is not playing into the hands of Mr. Milosevic or whatever silly thing the Prime Minister said. How could the genuine, authentic exercise of democracy play into the hands of someone who is anti-democratic? Every time we confront a difficult situation do we put our democratic values aside? This reminds me of of what we did at APEC. Instead of showcasing democracy to the visiting totalitarian leaders by showing how we allow protesters and demonstrators to be seen by the people who they are protesting and demonstrating against, we hide them away. We become more like the people who we are allegedly trying to convert to our values.
Now we get the argument from the Prime Minister, “Oh, no, we don't want a vote in parliament. That might show division.” It might, but we do not know yet. I do not think the Prime Minister should presume upon the judgment of the House. However, even if it did, what would be wrong with that? What would be wrong with showing that we are a country in which people hold a variety of views and that those views are expressed in the parliament of that country. I do not understand the government's reluctance when it comes to involving parliament in this.
I was struck by the irony the other night when President Clinton, responding to the massacre, the terrible tragedy in Littleton, Colorado at the Columbine High School said “We have to teach our children that we need to solve our problems with words and not weapons”.
This is what we are urging upon our own government with respect to Kosovo, that it go to NATO and say that the strategy that it employed and which we approved in the beginning under circumstances that have now changed and under criteria that have now been abandoned, has failed. That it seek to solve this problem with diplomacy because obviously what it set about to do in a military context has not worked. It is time to review that concept, not just NATO's strategic concept, but to review this very significant approach that was being taken by NATO in Kosovo and get back to the table, consider some of the things that have been put forward by Mr. Pearson's son, Geoffrey Pearson and others, and see if we cannot find a way out of this mess that does not bring back the threat of cold war and an arms race escalation.
The other day I got a letter from the Physicians for Global Survival saying that one of the things that NATO and others should be considering is de-alerting all the nuclear forces on the planet for the year 2000 because of the Y2K concern. This is one of the biggest concerns that Canadians have with respect to Y2K, not whether their lights will be off for two days but whether they will have nuclear bombs raining down on them by accident. This is something it should be considering at the NATO summit as well.
NATO could show leadership here and say it will de-alert and take all its bombs off alert until it is absolutely certain that the problem is settled. Better that it took them off and kept them off but at the very least it could do that. I would hope that would be something the government would take to that meeting in Washington this weekend.