Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I will take it under advisement.
I will look into it, as it concerns provincial jurisdiction, and I will get back to him.
House of Commons Hansard #216 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nato.
Canada Pension PlanOral Question Period
Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I will take it under advisement.
I will look into it, as it concerns provincial jurisdiction, and I will get back to him.
DevcoOral Question Period
Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS
Mr. Speaker, closing the Devco Mines is putting 1,700 miners out of work in Cape Breton and only 337 of these miners qualify for full retirement pensions.
There will also be remedial work to clean up the mines, work that Devco miners need.
What plans does the Minister of Natural Resources have in place to help the miners earn the pension points needed for full pension?
DevcoOral Question Period
Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board
Mr. Speaker, the numbers with respect to those who may qualify for a pension are in the order of 340 in terms of the new proposal that we have on the table. That is in addition to about 137 under existing old pension provisions, and 650 will qualify for severance arrangements that work out to about $70,000 per person on average.
In addition, there may be some future job opportunities with respect to environmental remediation and we would obviously look at that as an important economic diversification opportunity for Cape Breton.
Points Of OrderOral Question Period
April 27th, 1999 / 3 p.m.
Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC
Mr. Speaker, during the course of question period I asked the Minister of National Defence about the rules of engagement. He referred to guidelines that had been established by NATO.
I wonder if the minister would table those guidelines for the House this afternoon.
Points Of OrderOral Question Period
Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member opposite knows that is not the rule. He knows the rule is that when a minister, not anyone else, reads from a public document, that is, a government document, he or she must table it in the House.
This has nothing to do with the fact that the minister may have referred to something else. That is an entirely different story and this criteria does not apply.
Points Of OrderOral Question Period
I did not see the hon. minister reading or referring to any document, so I would rule this is out of order.
Points Of OrderOral Question Period
Randy White Reform Langley—Abbotsford, BC
Mr. Speaker, I understood that the question of privilege which was raised yesterday would be responded to.
Points Of OrderOral Question Period
The question of privilege will be responded to when the hon. member for Provencher is here. I would like to hear what he has to say too. Whenever he is here, that is when we will hear it.
The House resumed consideration of the motion and the amendment.
Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC
Mr. Speaker, I will use this question and comment period to congratulate the member for Joliette on his speech. He has stressed how important it was for NATO and Canada to take a very firm position in order to bring the situation in Yugoslavia back to normal, while being very active on the diplomatic front.
I would like to ask him the following question. Students at La Pruchière school, in my riding, sent me more than one hundred messages they have written to children in Kosovo to give them hope, hope that the war will end soon and they will be able to live like normal children again.
Could the member for Joliette tell me whether a vote by the House on Canada's position on this crisis and the deployment of troops would not help the diplomatic efforts undertaken by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada and all those involved in this conflict bring about a peaceful settlement as soon as possible, thereby responding to the call from the students in my riding?
René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for letting us know about the whishes of children in his riding.
This shows that we in Quebec live by the democratic spirit of institutional governance. We want to live peacefully, this is a concern children have very early on. For them to convey this to children in Kosovo shows that Canadians and Quebeckers in particular are a peace-loving people who, even when they have to take this kind of measures, are still seeking international peace and stability.
In a situation like this one, a vote is a must. We just gave a mandate to our troops. We are sending from 600 to 800 soldiers supposedly to keep the peace, but we never know when the conflict might escalate.
As I mentioned before, the paper Le Monde was reporting today that the 12,000 NATO troops already deployed had stones thrown at them; two weeks ago a jeep was set on fire; and already there are signs of impatience. These people are not in Kosovo, they are in Macedonia.
Will the soldiers we are sending in come under attack? Will they be the target of violence? Do they have the mandate and authority to defend themselves? If so, they seem to, according to what the minister said this morning. But if they have a mandate to defend themselves against attack by the extremists over there, what assurance do we have that there will be no escalation, that things will not degenerate? What assurance do we have that they will not be forced to attack in order to defend themselves? Where is the line drawn between legitimate self-defence, attack and combat?
This means that the troops are perhaps right on the verge of engaging in a combat that will lead who knows where. It would therefore be important for this House to send a message, through a precise and clear vote in this House, a heavy majority vote, to these people who are headed off to defend freedom, to defend democracy, telling them “You have the support of all Canadians and all Quebeckers. The people are behind you. They support you because they know you are going to defend the freedom and the spirit of democracy they hold so dear”.
What more do we need? The Prime Minister tells us that, if there were any changes in the situation, he would come back to the House for a debate. At the end of a debate, a mere 15 or 20 minutes are needed for the House to be heard through a vote.
Is it that the Prime Minister's daily agenda is 15 or 20 minutes too short, or is it because the issue is not on the cabinet's agenda?
The House has spent hours upon hours, sometimes until 3, 4, 5 and even 8 in the morning, debating such issues. Since we can talk for hours on end, what prevents us from taking an additional 15 minutes to vote on these issues?
The Prime Minister spoke of the need for flexibility, for being able to react quickly in extreme situations. But would 15 minutes prevent him from taking quick action? France stated its position through its prime minister.
Today, Lionel Jospin assured French parliamentarians that the possibility of a military involvement on the ground would not be considered without submitting the matter to them. “In such a case, you would be consulted in a formal fashion to authorize or not, through a vote, such an intervention”.
If France can do it, so can Canada. This is what respect for democracy is all about.
Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House to debate with you the motion by the New Democratic Party, which reads as follows:
That this House call on the government to intensify and accelerate efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Kosovo through the involvement of Russia and the United Nations, and to urge NATO not to take actions that expand the conflict and stand in the way of a diplomatic solution.
First off, I would like to inform this House and my NDP colleagues that we will support this motion.
We support this motion because it is very similar to the position the Bloc Quebecois has upheld and encouraged before and during the conflict in Kosovo, namely, a diplomatic solution that would involve the United Nations, Russia and, why not add China. We must not forget China. It is still a member of the UN security council and has a veto. China alone could paralyze all the actions of the UN.
The Bloc Quebecois has always hoped that the current conflict in the Balkans could be resolved under the aegis of the United Nations, as was Iraq's aggression against Kuwait, in 1991. Unfortunately, the close historical ties between Russia and Serbia, like the special relationship Yugoslavia maintains with China, has made the diplomatic route increasingly difficult.
The conflict we are currently witnessing in Kosovo is the product of many years of instability in the Balkans, fomented primarily by a single man, or should I say dictator, Slobodan Milosevic.
For more than ten years, Milosevic has played with the nerves of the people of Kosovo and the international community. Patience has its limits. Before this conflict began, members will agree, a number of diplomatic attempts were made. The diplomatic impasse has lasted for over a year.
Over and over again, the international community tried to come up with a diplomatic solution to end the war and repression in Kosovo.
There were UN resolutions 1199 and 1203, as well as the October 1998 accords between the OSCE, NATO and the former Yugoslavia, which were never enforced. We could also include the Rambouillet agreement, but the refusal of Yugoslavian authorities to sign this agreement was at the root of NATO's offensive against Milosevic and his war machine.
After all the foot-dragging, discussions and negotiations, the situation in Kosovo became unbearable. In fact, we now know that Milosevic's strategy was to play for time in order to complete his ethnic cleansing of Kosovo.
For all these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois supported NATO's military intervention in Kosovo and in Yugoslavia so as not to let the situation in Kosovo worsen further, and the present situation there shows that we were right.
UNHCR estimates that close to 585,000 Kosovar Albanians have taken refuge in neighbouring countries. Seventy thousand of them had already fled to these countries between March 1998 and the first NATO air strikes on March 24.
There are over 120,000 refugees in non-neighbouring countries, mainly throughout Europe, which, according to UNHCR estimates, brings to over 700,0000 the total number of refugees who fled Kosovo since 1998. Not to mention the rapes, physical atrocities and mental anguish a whole people has had to endure.
In the light of these atrocities, it was appropriate for the Bloc Quebecois to support an intervention by NATO. This did not mean diplomatic efforts had to stop. There is always room for diplomacy.
It is in times of crisis that the strengths and weaknesses of an organization become apparent. In this respect, Canada's foreign policy has showed its weaknesses through its lack of vision and direction and, as a result, its lack of credibility.
Canada has been a member of the UN security council since January 1. How then can we explain that Canada, through a lack of initiative, did not intensify its efforts to give the UN its rightful place in this conflict? Once again, Canada's international relations policy has been dictated by the United States and countries in the alliance.
Not to mention some mind-boggling improvization. Last Friday, the Prime Minister said that a UN negotiated solution to the conflict in Kosovo was not foreseeable in the near future. However, three days later, he now hopes the UN will participate in an international force to be deployed in Kosovo when the war is over.
Could it be that the Prime Minister just remembered Canada is a member of the UN security council, and that it is about time it used this influential position to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict? After 34 days of conflict, Canada has finally woken up.
It is Canada's duty to use every means possible to try to provide the security council with a draft agreement reflecting the main thrust of Rambouillet. Or yet again, the Minister of Foreign Affairs could take advantage of his visit to Russia on Friday to push the German peace plan.
As the saying goes, it is best to strike while the iron is hot. With the new open-mindedness that seems to be developing in the Yugoslav government, whose deputy prime minister has said that his government was prepared to accept a peace plan which called for deployment of a UN force to Kosovo, is the Canadian government going to have the presence of mind to pass this proposal on to NATO as well as to the UN security council?
A breach seems to be developing on the diplomatic front. Canada therefore has a duty to intensify its diplomatic discussions in order to restore the UN to its rightful place in this conflict.
What is more, with the massive exodus of refugees into the various humanitarian aid camps, where there was such chaos initially, coupled with the fact that Albanian gangsters were diverting donated food supplies, the difficult political situation in Macedonia and Montenegro, and the logistical complications in Albania, is the Canadian government going to carry out a thorough examination of roles and responsibilities, and of how the work of the humanitarian organizations and the military ought to be co-ordinated in future?
According to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, there seems to be a blurring of roles between what is humanitarian and what is military, since the army is administering the refugee camps.
Naturally, we must tip our hat and express our gratitude for the vital help the military has provided in the various refugee camps.
Military logistics were essential in setting up the various refugee camps. However, as Jacky Mamou, president of Médecins du monde, has stated, the organization considers military forces turned humanitarian unhealthy.
Mr. Mamou is concerned as well about practical organization, and I quote:
Will there be a NATO co-ordinator? Will they put themselves at the disposal of the HCR? Whose role it is to protect refugees? That is the real problem.
And the European commissioner for humanitarian aid, Emma Bonino, agrees. Here is what she has to say:
The military can help us in an emergency, but we have very different roles, the management and co-ordination of humanitarian aid activities must be left to humanitarian agencies.
She too referred to a certain cultural clash between the employees of humanitarian agencies and the NATO soldiers.
Will Canada, as a member of the United Nations security council, take the initiative and propose thorough consideration at the UN and in NATO of the distribution of roles and the co-ordination of humanitarian aid activities in the event of another conflict of this size? We must learn from our mistakes and make sure this confusion does not recur in the future.
Canada could, if it wanted, be a leader in humanitarian aid. Up to now, in the conflict in Kosovo, Canada has been content to simply provide troops and aircraft.
Let us hope that the meetings the Minister of Foreign Affairs has on Thursday and Friday this week with the UN secretary general and his Russian counterpart will turn Canada into a credible player on the world diplomatic stage.
John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure once again to speak on this topic. I will be splitting my time with the member for Durham. The last time I spoke on this subject was at one o'clock in the morning. This is a far more civilized hour and I hope I am a little more coherent at this point.
Shortly after speaking in the previous take note debate I was asked by a reporter what I thought of the debates. I said to him at the time that I thought parliament was struck with a severe case of me-tooism. I was not only out of touch with my party's view on this matter but I was out of touch with other members of parliament. I thought that the Prime Minister's position had been vindicated and that he had a working consensus with the Parliament of Canada to prosecute this war.
However, we do live in a democracy and I will take this opportunity to pursue my line of dissent in order to push the edges of the debate.
The essential question here is whether the war in Kosovo can ever be considered just. I bring the attention of the House to an article by Marcus Gee in the Globe and Mail who articulates five essential questions: Is the cause righteous? Are the intentions good? Was the war declared under proper authority? Is there a reasonable chance of victory? Are the means proportionate to the end?
For the purposes of the debate, I am perfectly prepared to concede that the cause is righteous. Clearly the stated aim of the prosecution of this war is the protection of Kosovo Albanians. That is in and of itself a righteous cause.
The second question is, are the intentions are good? It is pretty obvious that this is not a war of conquest, that this is not a war of revenge. We do not appear to have any strategic goals. There is no obvious benefit to any of the NATO members other than an attempt to bring harmony to this very troubled part of southeastern Europe. It may even be argued that NATO has been unselfish in its attempt to bring resolution to ancient conflicts which have existed in this area of the world for years and years and which certainly precipitated World War I and arguably also may have precipitated World War II. I am prepared to be equally generous in the question that the intentions were good.
The third question is, was the war declared under a proper authority? The obvious answer is no. Canada and indeed no other NATO nation has yet to declare war on the sovereign state of Yugoslavia. We are bombing a sovereign nation without ever making a formal declaration of war. It is the first time we have actually engaged in offensive actions against a sovereign territory in over 50 years and we have done that without actually ever having declared war.
We also have not bothered with the niceties of a UN resolution. I appreciate it may be difficult to obtain a UN resolution either at the security council or at the general membership level. However, having said that, it seems to me that we want to work both sides of the fence. We want to say for some purposes that we respect the views of the United Nations and we support and commit ourselves to the United Nations; however, when those views as expressed through the security council are not to our liking, then we do our own independent thing.
This is a very significant issue for Canada, in part because we are such avid UN supporters. Unlike our U.S. ally who considers the UN to be an irritating irrelevancy, we have been UN boosters. We have paid our dues on time. We have always signed up for any peacekeeping initiatives. We articulate our views to the world through the United Nations.
In ignoring the obtaining of the UN resolution, in large measure we also ignore the rule of international law. That will have implications which we have yet to contemplate for us as a nation and for other nations. It also undermines our commitment to other international institutions, such as the International Criminal Court, which we have so assiduously pursued. It appears that when it works for us, we use it, but when it does not, we ignore it.
The next question is, is there a reasonable chance of victory? I suppose we could have been persuaded that the first few days of bombing would bring Mr. Milosevic to his knees. I would submit that either that was a gross miscalculation of the resolve of the citizens of Yugoslavia, or it is a gross miscalculation of Mr. Milosevic's military muscle, or it is a gross misreading of the ethnic hatred that literally has been in that country for hundreds and hundreds of years, or we have been fed a line of propaganda which changes over time.
Air bombing will not do it. We have control of the air, in fact we have control of the sea, but the only place where it counts is on the ground. Interestingly, prior to the Washington summit the talk was whether we were going to commit ground troops. After the summit, the talk clearly shifted. It was that we were going to impose an embargo and that we would occupy the airspace of other countries.
An embargo certainly has not worked all that well in Iraq. It has hardly brought Iraq to its knees. As to occupying other countries' airspace and land, we already use it anyway whether we have their consent or not.
The final question is, are the means proportionate to the ends? Some people who have spoken on this issue have talked about the greatest oxymorons of the 20th century: bombing for peace, humanitarian hawks, killing to save lives. To state the phrases is to point out their logical absurdity.
I suggest we look at the victims to date. Prior to the initiation of the bombing there were about 2,000 dead on both sides of the conflict, I would say disproportionately skewed to the Albanians, but there were certainly some dead Serbs as well. After a month of bombing we certainly have a lot more than 2,000 dead. Indeed, I suppose we have at least 2,000 dead Serbians. We certainly have a lot more than 2,000 dead Albanians. We have displaced about 1.5 million out of the 1.8 million Kosovar Albanians.
Certainly, as the war drags on, the toll will exceed 2,000. The real question is how many people have to die before this madness ends? How many victims will have to cry out before sanity prevails?
Our other speaker and I attended the national prayer breakfast last week. The speaker at the national prayer breakfast was Kim Phuc. Ms. Phuc was the subject of that classic photograph in the Vietnam war. She was the naked little nine year old girl running toward the photographer, fleeing the napalm bombing. The napalm was burning her clothes and the skin off her body.
Ms. Phuc told her story. There was not a dry eye in the house as she told about her pain and her suffering and her life since that time.
She is in some respects the quintessential victim of the 20th century, of an era we consider modern warfare. Now Ms. Phuc is a Canadian citizen, living in Ajax, a community just east of my riding.
As I speak to the House I cannot get the image of Kim Phuc out of my mind. I cannot rationalize this war and have that image in my mind at the same time.
I have to ask myself if this a just war and if it is based on good intentions. Is it under proper authority? Does it have a reasonable chance of success? Are the means we are using proportionate?
Can members of the House answer these five questions. If in fact they can answer them then I suppose we should prosecute this war. If in fact they are troubled by those five questions then I think we need to address the Kim Phucs of the world.
Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague's presentation this afternoon. Obviously he put a lot of thought, energy and effort into his speech on this issue of such importance.
I am reminded of our present situation with the no compromise position, as it was called during Oral Question Period today, that NATO has taken with regard to the present conflict in the Balkans. I am reminded of another hard line taken by the allies in the second world war when they coined the phrase unconditional surrender.
While I believe very strongly as a student of history that it was quite appropriate at that time to have a demand of unconditional surrender by the Axis forces during the second world war, the very hard line approach being taken by NATO at the present time is not very conducive to negotiating a peace settlement.
In light of the comments made by the hon. member across the way, would he care to elaborate on his speech and on what his thoughts are about perhaps NATO backing away from its hard line approach in the hope of achieving a peaceful settlement in the near future?
John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON
Mr. Speaker, like all members of the House, I presume on a certain level of thoughtfulness and presume on a certain level of concern about this issue which yields no ready answers.
I thought at the end of the weekend that in some respects NATO had stepped back one or two steps from pursuing its goal on a kind of unconditional basis or on a no compromise position and that the diplomatic initiatives and the engaging of Russia were put into a higher level of engagement. I was somewhat comforted by that process.
I can still see the wagons circling. There is obviously a military agenda in terms of circling Yugoslavia and not only bombing it but bringing the embargo into play. I was somewhat comforted by that.
I am not there. I cannot actually know what is going on, but I take some comfort in the fact that our Minister of Foreign Affairs flies off to Russia this week to engage the Russians, who many people argue are the key to the resolution of this conflict.
Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON
Mr. Speaker, I want to share something with my colleague and ask for his comments. An e-mail came to me today and was addressed to the scientific community. It read:
I have to inform you that the threat for the VINCA Institute of Nuclear Sciences in Belgrade is going to be bombed is now realistic. As our attitudes and understanding of situations are different from the ones that politicians have, I am warning the scientific community of the disaster that would occur if the VINCA facility (two nuclear reactors, accelerator installation and ammonia cooling system, isotope production etc.) are hit.
I am sure that you will consider this information very seriously and I am appealing to you to do as much as you can to prevent that from happening.
Hoping that soon you will be able to continue your collaboration, I am sending you my best regards,
VINCA Institute of Nuclear Sciences.
This is a nuclear facility in Belgrade. Does my hon. colleague, who is very close to my riding and shares a lot of my concerns, have any comments to make in this regard?
John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON
Mr. Speaker, the essential presenting proposition of all NATO nations is that this is a humanitarian intervention into a situation in another sovereign state to prevent an ethnic disaster or a genocide, the new world order.
The converse of the new world order is that modern warfare can visit on populations and on environments disasters that people in World War I, World War II, the Korean war and even the Vietnam war could only vaguely understand. We have the ability to create a situation in Yugoslavia which will literally last for thousands of years.
My friend points to one possible area where if the facility were bombed it would last literally thousands of years as the damage spread over the area.
Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON
Mr. Speaker, I am always pleased to follow my colleague from Scarborough East. He was speaking about the meeting, which I think was last week. Kim Phuc was there. I agree with his sentiments about the people who listened to her.
Just to refresh our memories, she is the girl in the classic picture of a little girl running down the road naked, having just been struck with napalm in the Vietnam war. I know as she told her story that all of us were very cognizant of the fact that we were engaged directly in a campaign of dropping bombs and other so-called military hardware in the area of Serbia.
I do not think we can ever forget about the realities of war. It is very nice to be able to sit home and look at it on our television sets as if it were a strategic, very clean process. I do not think our television sets tell us about the horror and suffering of whatever side it is, whether Kosovars or Serbians or others are involved in this tragic affair.
It is with great reluctance that we deal with the whole issue of aggression, whether we are aggressive or whether we are trying to defend a group of people from further aggression among their own people.
I just came back from Brussels where I attended the interparliamentary union. This is a group of parliamentarians from 130 nations around the world. It meets on a biannual basis. The discussion there was basically about Kosovo.
It was a great opportunity for me. I know the Reform Party does not like to participate in these things, thinking they are a waste of time and money, but for me it was a great opportunity to talk to parliamentarians from that area of the world. The Yugoslavs were there. The Russian federation was represented, as were Bulgaria and most of the countries that surround the former Yugoslavia.
It was interesting to talk to these people about some of the history of these conquests. I had the opportunity before that to look at an art museum. I went in and looked at the various pictures. There was a very tragic picture of a murder, of somebody stabbing somebody with a knife.
I looked at the bottom of the painting where it read “The War in Kosovo, 1825”. It tells something about this conflict which seems to have been going on almost indefinitely. I believe it started with the penetration of the Ottoman empire into Europe and the gradual withdrawal and downfall of the Ottoman empire. As this happened different ethnicities mixed within Europe, specifically in the areas of the Balkans. The Kosovar people are basically Muslim while the Serbian population is Christian. This seems to be the nucleus of the conflict.
Those of us in Canada think this as kind of absurd. The object of the exercise is that we can all live together in spite of our cultural differences and religious beliefs, but apparently that is not so in that part of the world.
Another element that is very much a part of the process is the whole issue of sovereignty as has been mentioned a few times today and in other debates. What is the limitation of sovereignty? The member who spoke before said that he did not think we had attacked a sovereign country since the second world war. That is probably the case.
The world population is now changing to the point that it recognizes there is such a thing as human rights. Human rights to a certain basic fundamentalist supersede the rights of sovereign countries and how sovereign countries deal with the people within those borders.
A Canadian jurist heads up the World Court. It is very unfortunate that the World Court is not as strong as it should be. We need to support the World Court process a lot more. If people like Slobodan Milosevic thought they were involved in this war, that bombs were going to land on them, or more important that there was a higher court, a world court that would actually try Slobodan Milosevic for some of his atrocities, this conflict could have possibly been nipped in the bud before it got totally out of control.
We in Canada and our international partners have to be more judicious in bringing a form of justice throughout the world. We have to temper our views about sovereignty to the point where we will not tolerate its entrenchment or overriding of the basic fundamental human rights we believe in.
It is an oddity that the nations which are the strongest critics of NATO's actions invariably are countries with their own human rights problems. It is an odd case where the NATO forces have got together and basically said it is time to draw a line in the sand concerning just how far we think a nation can go in ethnic cleansing, or whatever the case may be, to show that we are not willing to tolerate it any more.
A regrettable crossing of the line has occurred here. It is appropriate that we take this kind of action. It is regrettable because I do not think anybody wins in a war. Nobody wins by the destruction of assets. Nobody wins by the expenditure of large amounts of money on military hardware and other things. Everybody is a basic loser. It is unfortunate that the international community has let this situation get to the point where we have to take this action.
On the good intentions of my NDP colleagues who want to address the need for a diplomatic solution, I do not think there is any question that Canada, its NATO partners and others in the United Nations have tried to arrive at a diplomatic solution to the issue through the former Yugoslavia, from Bosnia to Croatia and so forth. It does not seem to be in the cards. I do not know why we do not seem to be able to curb the desire of Mr. Milosevic to cleanse that country. I know his policy is Serbs for the Serbians and the way to do that is simply to remove that element within his population that is not homogeneous.
That is why we cannot let Mr. Milosevic be successful. The fifth point of this is the one that is bothering everybody, which is the continuation of some kind of force after the conflict has been resolved. It is clear we must resettle these people in their homelands. It will be very expensive because their homes have been destroyed. Their businesses are gone. It will take significant amounts of capital. It will not simply be expending money on the military or peacekeeping forces within the former Yugoslavia. It will also require capital assets to rebuild businesses and so forth. It has to be done because there is a fundamental human point here. We cannot allow ethnic cleansing to be successful.
When I was in eastern Europe I was surprised when I talked to people, for instance in Poland. Poland before the war was a multi-ethnic society. Today it is homogeneous. Mr. Hitler's policy was successful in Poland. It is a homogeneous ethnic group. We must not let this be successful in the eyes of the world.
Furthermore, having the Russians on board is a good idea. When I got to the conference, the Russians moved a motion condemning Canada and the NATO forces for their aggression. Mr. Speaker, you would be surprised to know that none of the countries, in spite of the fact that they dislike the military conflict going on, not one country bordering on Yugoslavia supported the motion, other than Russia itself.
It is regrettable we have had to come this far. We are trying to find a diplomatic solution to the problem. The Russians are not nearly as significant a force as some people would like to believe. Remember that Russia is likely to declare bankruptcy as a nation this year. It has defaulted on significant amounts of its government debt. I question how much of an asset it would be to resolving this matter for us. It is always nice to have friends on side.
Canada has never said that only a NATO force can occupy the area but we have to have a force. It has to be armed so that we ensure this conflict does not start up again and a long term peacekeeping solution can take place.
To resolve these conflicts will take at least a generation. A lot of the skills that our armed forces have in the area of peacekeeping will be very much in demand in that part of the world. I am happy to be part of a country and part of a government that supports this humanitarian effort. I can only hope it ends in success shortly.
Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague talk about the Ottoman empire, the ethnic cleansing that is happening today and the ethnic cleansing that has happened over the years.
I am sure he realizes and supports my view that this ethnic cleansing is not something that is just happening today. It has happened for the last 700 to 800 years, since the Ottoman empire was formed and resettlement back and forth of Christians and Muslims has taken place.
Does my hon. colleague agree with me that we should recognize that the ethnic cleansing is not only occurring today but it occurred back in the early 1900s when the Ottoman empire was falling apart and was disengaging? There was ethnic cleansing at that time with genocide of the Armenians, the Pontians and so forth.
Will my hon. colleague support unanimous consent in the House that we realize that ethnic cleansing did not just take place today but it occurred in 1914 to 1922 with the Pontians and Armenians?
Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON
Mr. Speaker, I will not answer the specifics of that, but the issue of ethnic cleansing, whether it has been holy wars or whatever the case, has been with humanity as far back as history books were written. The point is that we have to move beyond that.
We are approaching the 21st century. Surely we have developed at least a degree of a civil society that would say this is ridiculous and it has to to stop and we will not allow people like Slobodan Milosevic to be successful. He will have to learn to live with ethnic diversity, just as we do every day in the House and in our country. It is something we have to promote.
We must resettle the Kosovars to their original homeland. As far as I am concerned, every single one of them has to be put back. We have to set that up as an example for the world and say that it cannot happen any more.
Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to participate in debate and dialogue on the war in Kosovo. Unfortunately I did not have that opportunity during the take note debate on April 12 because the time available was not sufficient to ensure that every member of parliament who was interested in having a dialogue on the issue was able to participate.
Some would question why we need another debate. What is the purpose of today's debate? I can only say to all those individuals that this is an issue that is consuming Canadians everywhere across this country. It is an issue that deserves our utmost attention. It is an issue around which we have to be consumed and giving of our time and energy.
We are here today with this motion because we know we have to find a solution, a peaceful solution, a diplomatic solution, a political solution to a crisis that has gone on far too long. We are here today because it is day 35. It is now 35 days since NATO began its air strikes over Yugoslavia. It is 35 days of seeing images of bombing, of death, of destruction every time we turn on the TV or open a newspaper.
These images are not just being seen by all of us in this chamber. Canadians everywhere are experiencing those images and asking questions. Why? Was there any other way? How long? Where will it go? What does it mean?
We started grappling with this issue shortly after the bombing began, when we knew there was no immediate resolution and quick expedition of an end to this crisis as we were promised and as was suggested by the government. Shortly after that we all had to start asking those questions. We had to hold ourselves accountable to constituents and Canadians everywhere about what it meant.
Many Canadians at that point were starting to ask if this was possibly another Vietnam. The news media started commenting on the possibilities of World War III. Originally I thought that I was being paranoid, that this cannot be, that it is not reality. But as the days have progressed, those thoughts have come to dominate the dialogue in this country.
We know and understand, and I am sure all members in this House understand, that it is absolutely imperative for us to keep searching for a peaceful diplomatic resolution of this crisis.
All of us in one way or another are forced to answer the questions of young children who see the images on TV and wonder what it means and where it is going. It is getting harder and harder to answer those questions. It is getting harder and harder to offer assurances to young children about the hope and prospect of a peaceful world.
Many today have talked about what we have been hearing and feeling over the last number of days and weeks. Some have talked about the images of hundreds of thousands of refugees living in squalid conditions without any hope of returning to their homeland.
We have heard others talk about the images of people left stranded, starving and without hope within Kosovo. We have seen and heard about the impact of the bombing and all of its devastation in terms of the economy, the environment and people's very lives. Over and over again we are taking in this news, trying to digest it and to figure out what we can do.
The member for Durham suggested that we have tried peaceful solutions, that there are no peaceful solutions, that we have to live with what we have got. We are here to say, as we have said clearly every day since parliament returned on April 12, that there has to be a peaceful, political and diplomatic solution.
Today there were signs and we received some news that there is a little bit of progress. The Prime Minister announced today that Canada would be sending in 800 troops to be part of a peacekeeping effort in the region.
Mr. Speaker, before I continue, I want to indicate that I am dividing my time with the member for Sydney—Victoria.
Today there was a little news that we could take some comfort in. However, at the same time that an announcement was made about Canada participating in a peacekeeping force in the region, we heard that the government was as determined as ever to participate in accelerated and expanded military actions and activities in the region.
We heard the Prime Minister say today absolutely and unequivocally that the oil embargo will happen. He said that notwithstanding the possibility of accelerating the conflict because of the situation involving Russia. We heard no suggestion by the Minister of National Defence or anyone else in the government that they will put a hold on sending more CF-18s into the region.
At the same time the government talks about putting in peacekeeping troops and searching for diplomatic solutions, there is no sign that the government is showing the kind of leadership on the diplomatic front which is absolutely required. This motion is here today to say stop accelerating military action and start accelerating diplomatic alternatives.
There has to be an option. Thirty-five days of death and destruction and the possibility of the aggression spreading and of this war continuing for any length of time are enough to make all of us say that we have to find that diplomatic peaceful solution. The government has to keep trying to find that peaceful alternative.
We said as early as March 31 that there had to be reinvigorated efforts on the part of the government to call for a suspension in military operations at the same time as calling for Milosevic to stop the atrocities on the ground. We stood in the House and called for the government to stand up and show leadership around the uniting for peace alternative. We are here today to urge the government to show that leadership at this critical time in this long and drawn-out conflict.
I want to reflect a concern of my constituents and Canadians about the future. While we grapple with this situation, while we are searching, pleading, urging and working toward peaceful diplomatic solutions to the crisis in Kosovo, we also know it is not too soon to begin thinking about the future and ensuring that this never happens again.
I want to mention a quote from Marcus Gee, as did the Liberal member for Scarborough East. This is in the context of the kind of dual role the United Nations is expected to fulfil and the obligation it imposes on all of us as we go down the path to the future.
Those two roles combine the old idea involving the integrity of nations with the newer idea involving the integrity of the individual. Based on that idea, it shows that the UN holds responsibility for promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all. It is in the fulfilment of those dual objectives that we must learn lessons from the Kosovo crisis.
As a parliament, as a country and as a member of the international community, we must now seek solutions of a diplomatic, peaceful nature that will ensure that we are able to address any atrocities against human beings anywhere.
I am faced with questions daily from constituents who say, “Do we as a country have a double standard? Does NATO have a double standard? How did we respond as a nation, as an international community to the Kurds in Turkey? How do we respond to the situation in East Timor? What is our record on Guatemala?” Those questions keep coming back to us.
It is imperative that we end that double standard and put all of our energy and resources into finding a mechanism at the international level for combining our dual responsibility around the integrity of nations and the integrity of the individual.
Peter Mancini NDP Sydney—Victoria, NS
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to follow my hon. colleague after her well chosen remarks on this particularly sensitive, important and, in some ways, dark debate that we have to have in the House today.
It is important for us to understand and review the history a bit. In these kinds of debates and in these critical times, we sometimes forget where we came from.
A month ago in the House, the government, as a partner with NATO, recognized that there were atrocities being committed or about to be committed in Kosovo. The government and the country, as a partner in NATO, felt that we had an obligation as the peace talks in France fell apart to do what we could to protect the ethnic Albanians in Yugoslavia.
There was no question that there was mounting evidence that those people were in a dangerous situation. We know the history of the Balkans and we know that there is an unsettled political situation there. We also know that there is, as in many parts of the world tragically, ancient grudges and ancient hatreds.
To that end, with all party support, the government through NATO participated in a bombing campaign. No one, I submit, believed a month ago that we would still be bombing Serbia today. That is not to be critical of anyone. I do not think the parties in the House who supported the government in its resolution believed that 30 days from that date we would still be bombing those cities.
No one thought that NATO would move outside the selected bombing targets which we thought, and I think everyone concurred, would be military targets. No one thought that 31 days after the bombing began, instead of bombing military targets we would be bombing the president's home, rightly or wrongly. No one believed we would be bombing television stations. No one believed we would bomb every single bridge across the Danube River. No one thought that we would collectively wreak the kind of destruction that has happened in the last 31 days. No one in any of the NATO countries—so as not to be overly critical here—and I think no one in the House foresaw the immense tragedy that would result in the movement of the ethnic Albanians across the border in such mass numbers, or the slaughter that would take place in their communities.
The evidence of that is in the simple fact that the international community was unprepared to help the refugees. It is a testament to the United Nations Refugee Commissioner that we have since been able to contain some of the tragedy.
However, for the first week across this country and across the world people were asking “What are we going to do about the refugees crossing the border”. I think there is evidence that no participating member of NATO, including Canada and the members of the House, foresaw the kind of long term campaign that has been ongoing.
Time began to change things a little bit and positions began to change. I am proud to say that in this party when Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, laid down what he thought would be five conditions that might bring the parties back to the table, this party urged the government to respect the historic position of Canada as a peacemaker, as a peace invoker and as a diplomat in the world.
We urged the government to go further than that and to say “Look, perhaps we can even drop those demands. Perhaps we can even weaken those a little bit to bring Milosevic to the table. Perhaps if we say, stop the atrocities that are taking place on the ground and come to the negotiating table, then perhaps NATO could stop bombing”. We pressured the government in that direction, all the while maintaining our support because it is important for this sovereign nation to work with the support of the House. The Prime Minister alluded to that today.
However, I think we have to measure the changes in the international climate against a tone that I get uncomfortable with in the House. Sometimes when I hear us talking, I think of us as siblings in the family of man saying we have a problem with another of our siblings. Today, there is a paternalistic tone entering the debate where we say that we will ensure that things happen in Kosovo, that we will ensure that our rules, our demands and our five conditions are met. That is not the historic role of this country. The historic role has been to brokerage between peoples and nations who have those paternalistic attitudes.
We have to stop and examine the history regularly in the debates in the House to ensure that we are proceeding on a direct course to where we wanted to go in the first place, which was to ensure that the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo was met. Whether that meant assisting in the creation of an independent Kosovar state, whether it meant peacekeeping forces as a buffer, whatever it was, that was our goal. It was not to bring Milosevic to his knees. It was not to wreck the Serbian economy. It was to ensure that the Kosovars, the ethnic Albanians, could live in some peace in their homeland.
Rigorously and every day, we in this party have fulfilled our obligation under the Constitution of Canada. Under our parliamentary obligation and responsibility, we have suggested alternative measures to the government. We pursued vigorously in question period, in debate and in all-night debates in the House various other options that the government might pursue. Those included ensuring that the United Nations play a significant role in the peace negotiations in this international crisis.
It is not now and has never been the role of NATO to usurp the United Nations as a governing world body. We must be clear on that. Granted, NATO had to act in this situation because the UN was in some ways paralyzed and we could not afford to turn a blind eye and say that because of bureaucratic situations we simply could not act. Let us be clear when we talk about peacekeeping forces. Let us be clear as we move toward the negotiating table that it is the United Nations and not NATO that is the international force that all countries respect. This party pushed and encouraged the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister to bring that message to the NATO table.
I am pleased to say that over the weekend we have seen, I hope, some significant results because of that kind of pressure. Canada should be proud that it has been singled out in NATO as the country to try and talk to the Russians, who play a crucial role in this debate.
Canada is now pursuing two aspects. We are still fully participating with NATO, but we are aggressively pursuing a diplomatic effort.
We introduced this motion today because we are now caught in a strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Canada has a kind of potion that we drink. On the one hand, we are telling Russia that we are the country that can help bring peace, and on the other hand, we are laying down conditions that can impede that very progress by saying that we will support an embargo, which Russia has adamantly refused to recognize. We are saying that we want to bring peace to Serbia, but at the same time we are saying we will supply more planes if we have to, to continue bombing the very people we want to come to the negotiating table.
In the last minute that I have, I want to review the resolution that my party has proudly brought into the House of Commons, and that is that we call on the government to intensify and accelerate efforts to find a diplomatic solution. That is our history and that is who we are.
There are nations that are very good at making war. We are not one of them. There are nations that are very good at bringing about peace. We are one of those.
We urge the government to accelerate and find a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Kosovo through the involvement of Russia, which everyone recognizes has to be a key player in this, and the United Nations, the governing world body. As signatories to the convention on Human rights, we have a role to play. Surely we cannot ignore the very body that we look to, to enforce that.
We are asking the government to ensure the involvement of Russia and the United Nations to urge NATO not to impose a naval blockade or take any other actions that expand the conflict and stand in the way of a diplomatic resolution. That is our motion. That is our role as a nation.
Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON
Mr. Speaker, I have listened to my colleague from the New Democratic Party with great interest. He made some interesting comments.
I was just wondering if he could make something clear to me. Is he asking that NATO stops bombing or is he asking that NATO continues bombing? Does the motion that his party brought forward today support stopping the bombing of Yugoslavia?
Peter Mancini NDP Sydney—Victoria, NS
Mr. Speaker, we are saying that at this point we stand by our support of the government in its initial phase, and we understand that includes bombing.
However, we are very hesitant to support any further acceleration of military activity. I think the hon. member knows what I mean by that. That is why it is included in the resolution. We have very real concerns about the imposition of a naval blockade that can only accelerate hostilities among the very people that we are trying to bring to the table.
We have very real concerns about bringing in more Canadian troops. The Prime Minister talked about 800 troops today being ready to go to Kosovo. We assume that is in a peacekeeping role, but we view that with very grave concern.
I know that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister and the hon. member who asked the question, do not take the support of the other parties in the House for granted, but that support is always contingent upon the absolute diligent pursuit of diplomatic efforts. Movements that will accelerate hostilities will not help bring about the diplomatic solution that Canada so desperately wants.
We are saying at this point that we will continue to support the government and our initial commitment to NATO. We also understand that means bombing today, but it does not mean increasing planes and setting up blockades that will lead to further hostilities.
John Bryden Liberal Wentworth—Burlington, ON
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Mississauga West.
Earlier in this debate, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle recounted how he visited Biafra during the Biafran war in the late 1960s. He told of the horrors of seeing the people starving and the people suffering in Biafra, and just generally the horrors of war.
There is another side to that equation because at the time of the Biafran conflict I was in Britain at Leeds university doing post-graduate work. I chummed around with two other young men of my age, in their mid-twenties. One was a Jewish fellow from London and the other was a fellow by the name of Bennett Okuwosa. When I first met Bennett he was a Nigerian. When I last met him at the end of my two year term he was a Biafran.
The relevance of the three of us and my friend being Jewish is that in the two year period that I knew these two young men both the six day war occurred in Israel and the Biafran war broke out in Nigeria. One young man was, shall we say, on the side of the winners and the other young man, my friend Bennett Okuwosa, was on the side of the losers.
Before these tragic events came about we were very much the three musketeers. We used to shoot pool together and drink beer together and go to dances and sometimes we studied and, though we came from very diverse backgrounds, we had as much in common as young men around the world would have in common.
But then my friend, who we used to call Bennett, confronted the problem of the Biafran war. What happened there was another case of ethnic cleansing. The Biafrans had spread out of Biafra, which is a province of Nigeria, into the rest of Nigeria and had taken over many of the positions of responsibility in the Nigerian economy and political society. This created a great deal of resentment among the Muslim population.
Biafra was a classic situation, as so often occurs, where religious strife breaks out which is really only a guise for economic competition and economic resentment. So it was in Nigeria. The Biafrans were expelled from all positions and were basically driven out of all of Nigeria and back into Biafra. In Biafra they decided that they would form a break-away state, which led to the Biafran civil war and all its horrors.
Communications stopped with Biafra basically. My friend Benno had a very large family. He endured the time when his brothers, who had various positions of authority, were picked up by the Nigerian police and disappeared. Of course, throughout the Biafran war he had to endure the knowledge that his people were suffering terribly.
Ironically, his contribution to the war, because he was in the agricultural sciences, was to try to raise rabbits for Biafra because, of course, there was a terrible shortage of protein and terrible starvation in his home country. In the end, I do not think he ever went back. The last I heard of him was a letter from Berlin. I think he settled in Germany in the end and raised his family there.
I will jump from that to events of just a week ago Monday. I held an open town hall meeting in my riding to which I invited everyone to come and express their feelings on Kosovo. My particular riding, Wentworth—Burlington, and the whole area around there has a very high percentage of Serbian Canadians. We had an open meeting and it was a very emotional event because, while one might have expected much anger, in fact there was much anguish, much hurt.
I held the meeting because I wanted to give the opportunity for the Serbian Canadians to come and express their feelings because this is a democratic country. Although there were some remarks on the causes of the war and the fact that the ethnic Albanians had taken over society and Kosovo and all of that kind of thing, and many of them were there illegally, those arguments did not ring with as much weight as the terrible anguish that these Serbian Canadians had, not only for their kinfolk, but for what was happening in Kosovo, in the former Yugoslavia. Or in Yugoslavia, I suppose it is called still.
For instance, one man asked me “What will happen if Canada actually declares war on Serbia? Will it mean that I will be interned?” Another woman worried about her son in the Canadian forces. What is going to happen if he is sent over in a combat contingent and winds up in combat with his kin? One can imagine the situation.
Many people were worried about the young people of military age who had left the country a few months before the actual bombing started. They knew that their children would be called up. Indeed the call is now for anyone of 14 years of age or over to join the military forces in Serbia to combat the invasion. One can imagine the terrible fear.
These were my fellow Canadians suffering. They were hurting and they were hurting because of what was happening in the homeland that they had left. There is no doubt that they are Canadians now, but they still have strong ties to where they come from.
When thought of that way we have to realize that this is not just a matter of stopping the bombing and coming to a diplomatic solution. This is not a matter of partitioning Kosovo or making it independent. This is a matter of making sure that as we lead up to a settlement of this conflict we leave the door open for forgiveness so that Kosovars and Serbians can live together once more.
I think that Canada has an indirect role to play in this because we are the classic example of a country with all kinds of ethnic diversity and of people who come from conflicts in other parts of the world who can live together.
To this end I think it is very important on the part of the government and on the part of all of us to make sure that we are very careful in the distinctions we make when we talk about what is happening in Kosovo. Biafra was a clear case of ethnic cleansing. The Biafrans were driven out of the rest of Nigeria because they were Christians and the others were Muslims, although I say to members that religion was only an excuse. In 1915 in the former Ottoman empire I believe that the Armenians were driven out of Turkey primarily because Turkey was at war. This was another case of ethnic cleansing. But these are not necessarily cases of genocide. Genocide is probably the ultimate horror and the Holocaust was genocide. It was not just a matter of ethnic cleansing but a matter of destroying the very ethnic memory by killing everybody.
Almost every nation in the world has been guilty of ethnic cleansing at one time or another. I will give an example of our own Canadian experience in the 18th century with the Acadians. The British expelled all the young Acadian men from Nova Scotia and distributed them down the shores of the American seacoast. The Boer War began in the 19th century. The British were at war with the Boer farmers in South Africa. Women and children of the farmers were rounded up and put in concentration camps where they died and had terrible experiences. If we want to go back to a case of genocide we can go back to the American west. Here the American authorities systematically destroyed the food supply of the aboriginals, resulting in their death. We could go to the Ukraine between the wars and we will find Stalin who systematically destroyed the food supply of the Ukrainians. This is genocide.
Genocide is a terrible word, but when it comes to civil war, and the expulsion of an ethnic population, almost every nation in the world has been guilty of it to some degree or another. We have to bear in mind that we have to make these distinctions. If we do not make these distinctions, the people I saw at my town hall meeting will feel that they are branded with a guilt, with a stain, which they do not deserve any more than the Americans, the British, the French or anyone else who has been in colonial power who has engaged in some kind of civil war or repression, however terrible. Some kind of repression is involved in the expulsion of an ethnic, religious or racial group. We have to make those distinctions very clear.
We have to think now in terms of how we are going to find a way to bring the Serbian community, the Serbs and the Kosovars back together. I believe this is the country that can lead by example. As long as we as members of parliament, and we as Canadians everywhere are prepared to go out into our communities and listen to one another, no matter what our backgrounds, our religions or our languages, we set an example that hopefully can be followed after this war.