House of Commons Hansard #86 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was petitions.


The House resumed from April 6 consideration of the motion that Bill C-19, an act respecting genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and to implement the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Crimes Against Humanity ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Madam Speaker, this second reading of Bill C-19 is an opportunity to say how long it took this bill to appear. It is not that Canada was long in the preparation of it, but this bill is of a very particular nature, because it is the translation into law of an international agreement to create an international criminal court for global concerns.

I will take the liberty of reading a text by Philippe Weckel, a professor at the University of Nice-Sofia-Antipolis, which summarizes well, it seems to me, the realization of the Rome statute in Bill C-19.

The Rome conference opened on June 15 and closed July 18 following the adoption of a treaty on the statutes of the first international criminal jurisdiction of a permanent and universal nature.

An old utopian idea is achieved paradoxically with the help of realism. This success, uncertain to the last minute, will not enthuse those who wanted to proceed much more quickly and go further.

However, the balanced compromise finally reached, after the laborious negotiations of the night of July 16-17, gives the new institution a chance to survive—

I repeat “gives the new institution a chance to survive”.

—and to progressively develop its activities and authority. In other words, this historic moment signals an achievement, causes certain frustrations but gives rise to cautious optimism.

This introduction expresses both the hope raised by the Rome Treaty creating, once the signing and international ratification conditions have been met, an international criminal court, and the difficulties connected with it.

The famous conference of July 17 and 18 ended, it must be said, in confusion. On July 18, 23 states, including France, signed a document that had been hastily put together and not reread. Two months later, the true and authentic instrument of the Rome Treaty was still an unknown quantity.

As the bill tells us, this treaty was adopted on July 17, or the morning of July 18, corrected by the protocols of November 10, 1998 and July 12, 1999. This speaks to all the difficulties surrounding the birth of something on which thinkers had focused a half-century of efforts.

The term “international criminal court” is an unusual one in itself. Any viewer who has not yet given up on such a complicated subject, knows what a court is, and there is nothing new and different about the words international and criminal either.

The truly revolutionary aspect of it is the combination of the three. Until this treaty, a criminal court was an instrument, within a state, which judged individuals who had committed offences of a criminal or other nature. The international court was in place to judge conflicts between states or between groups and a state.

For the first time, a court will be called the “international criminal court” to ensure—this is the objective—that certain categories of extremely serious crimes will no longer go unpunished, as has been the case until now. This is our hope and objective.

What crimes will the international criminal court deal with? There are four different types. There is the genocide, which is defined as follows:

—acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such—

Crimes against humanity are also included. A crime against humanity is defined as follows:

—acts...committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack—

War crimes are defined as:

(a) grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949—

Such breaches include attacks against civilian populations, deportation, hostage takings, the intentional destruction or the pillaging of civilian property, including towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives, and employing poison or poisoned weapons.

Finally, there is the crime of aggression, which could not be specifically defined in the Rome Statute. The court will have authority over the crime of aggression only when this crime has been properly defined under a new treaty.

As members can see, and also our viewers, the future international criminal court will have a huge responsibility.

Throughout history, and until the creation and operation of that court, these crimes were often not defined or named as such, but they were recognized in foreign policy and in history as actions taken by certain states in their quest for power. We know that, over the centuries, that quest for power has been a quest by one country to dominate another. It can also be domination over groups or confrontation with other nations. All manner of horrors were perpetrated.

This was how political tyrants and dictators behaved, but their actions were not judged. People might be revolted by the ensuing millions of deaths, but there was no other way to judge, and worse, no other way to try them.

How did this idea of an international court arise therefore? Several individuals must have had the same idea over the years, centuries even, but it was actually in the aftermath of World War II and specifically the crimes against the Jews that the Nuremberg tribunal was set up. In fact, it was the first international criminal justice organization.

It is clear when we look back on these events that this tribunal caused many problems, particularly from a legal perspective. Right up to the beginning of the trial, genocide was not considered a crime. At Nuremberg, victims were only witnesses, not complainants or civil parties. It was the states that judged.

It has not been possible to rid this tribunal of its image as a court of victors. Very often, as we know, history is written by the victors, and much time must pass before it can be rewritten, I might add, since my background is in history.

The idea of an international court arose at the same time as the Nuremberg tribunal was created. This idea first came up at the UN over 50 years ago. On December 9, 1948, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, with its article 6 providing for the possibility of the future establishment of an international criminal court, was adopted by the UN National Assembly.

Article 6 provided that persons charged with genocide would be tried by a competent tribunal of the state in the territory of which the crime had been committed or by such international penal tribunal as might have jurisdiction.

How is it then that the treaty launching the process of adoption was not signed until July 1998? Because even though this idea was adopted by the UN, it ran into tremendous difficulties, the first being that the sovereign states could not agree to the creation of a court whose jurisdiction exceeded their own and which could try actions committed by the powers in control of a state at some point in their history.

The project was the result of certain events, it must be said. The international law commission was making no progress. The work was resumed in 1989, but what really hastened progress was the events in Bosnia and later Rwanda, and the Security Council's decision to use its powers to create the international criminal tribunal to judge the crimes committed in Bosnia and Rwanda to which we have referred.

The mere mention of these two courts shows how difficult it is to have a true international court. After everything that has been done, we know that 65 individuals have been charged, 35 are presently imprisoned, and 14 have been sentenced. This shows how lengthy proceedings are, that it takes a long time to ensure justice and the appearance of justice. No one, however, would say it was not worthwhile.

Unlike the international criminal tribunal created for Bosnia and Rwanda, the international criminal court will have two main elements. There will be a permanent court with nine justices, in the Hague. States ratifying the Rome Statute will be required to work in collaboration with this court. How? Mainly by delivering up the accused and the witnesses, or evidence in their possession.

The court will operate along the same lines as the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. As well, the international criminal court will be able to delegate its powers to national judicial systems, which is what interests us even more in Canada.

Courts in countries that have ratified the statute could judge accused persons themselves, in accordance with the rules of law recognized by the court. This latter mechanism is what is termed application of—and this is a term that will come up a great deal—“universal jurisdiction”, which confers upon national courts in countries such as Canada jurisdiction over serious crimes committed outside their territory and not involving any of their nationals.

It is important to keep these two conditions in mind. They are rather surprising as principal conditions, because—I would need to go into detail on amendments to Canadian statutes here—a Canadian court could have been empowered to judge in Canada criminals who were not Canadians or had committed crimes against persons who were not Canadians.

The minister of the time did not consider it appropriate to enforce the law of Canada, so that the jurisprudence is such that, without the passage of Bill C-19, no court in Canada can judge criminals who are not Canadian or who did not allegedly commit crimes against Canadian nationals.

The fact of being able to delegate to other national courts the attributes of the permanent court at The Hague—this is the hope—will take a load off this international court, and lighten its operations and its costs, two sources of criticism against the international court of justice and against the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, whose mandate was expanded to include Rwanda.

I have spoken of the long history behind this Rome Statute, but I have not yet said why many base their hopes for world peace on the creation of such a court. The first reason given is to ensure justice for all.

I will quote Kofi Annan:

For nearly half a century—almost as long as the United Nations has been in existence—the General Assembly has recognized the need to establish such a court to prosecute and punish persons responsible for crimes such as genocide. Many thought, no doubt, that the horrors of the Second World War—the camps, the cruelty, the exterminations, the Holocaust—could never happen again. And yet they have. In Cambodia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Rwanda. Our time—this decade even—has shown us that man's capacity for evil knows no limits. now a word of our time, too, a heinous reality that calls for a historic response.

As a corollary, we can add that this court aims at putting an end to impunity. Justice for all means the end of impunity.

Jose Lasso, the former UN commissioner for human rights said, and we should bear this in mind:

We run a greater risk of being brought to justice and sentenced for the killing of one man than for the killing of 100,000.

That is what impunity is all about.

That impunity has resulted in a rapid increase in the number of conflicts in several regions of the world. Perhaps we get that impression of a rapid increase because we are immediately aware of these conflicts, through our modern media. In any case, we are aware of an increasing number of conflicts and of the fact that many of those who committed terrible crimes escape justice through power, wealth and honours. There is nothing that we can do against these people.

If such a situation is generally accepted in this day and age, it will undermine the moral order. Some think that the Rome Statute, which parliament will ask Canada to ratify, will help put an end to conflicts. How can they say that? There can be no peace without justice, no justice without laws, no laws worthy of that name without a court responsible for ruling on what is fair and legal under specific circumstances, including in situations of ethnic conflicts.

It is clear that not everyone shares the same hopes regarding this treaty until it becomes law.

The international criminal court will try to remedy the inadequacies of special tribunals and will take over when national institutions, in the area of criminal justice, do not have the will or the ability to act. I should point out that those who have already signed this treaty, or who will sign it, are committed to do everything in their power- but, as we will see, this power does not have enough teeth—to ensure that country leaders who do not ratify the statutes and may have committed crimes against humanity can be prosecuted. If these people leave their territory, they could be extradited and tried in another country.

Some claim that the Rome Statute could deter future war criminals. Perhaps, but, as far as I am concerned, that argument is not any more valid than another one that we reject, namely that imposing capital punishment in a country has a deterrent effect on criminals. I believe this is why Canada decided to abolish the death penalty.

Many hopes are pinned on this international criminal court, but let us be clear. Before we get to the stage where this universal jurisdiction can be exercised, 60 countries must ratify the Rome treaty. What progress has been made to date? Eight countries have made the move.

Naturally a number of countries whose leaders might be targeted by this court will not be rushing to add their signature.

As William Chabase said in a presentation to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, those countries which are in the position of disapproving of the actions of leaders of other countries will rush to sign the accords and the Rome convention.

Which countries have ratified this treaty? Belgium, the Fiji Islands, Ghana, Italy, Norway, San Marino, Senegal, and Trinidad and Tobago.

There is a long road ahead before the Rome treaty is fully implemented. It should be emphasized that the United States has serious reservations about this international criminal court. Other countries, such as France, may also drag their heels because of the influence of the military and their assessment of the impact of the international criminal court. I mention these two countries because they are important, but there are undoubtedly many others.

Earlier I said that there has been criticism, even from experts and politicians who are in favour of the international criminal court, but who fear that it will not be able to completely meet our expectations, and in certain cases not be able to meet them at all.

I wish to cite Lise Bissonnette, an editor who has now moved on to other equally noble functions. On July 20, two days after the treaty was adopted, she wrote the following:

The new international criminal court is a very incomplete step in the fight against impunity.

She poses a number of questions. These are very certainly the same questions we will be asking ourselves when we begin our deliberations in committee.

She goes on to say:

Beyond the classic definition of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, must these offences be broadened to include enslavement, sexual offences, the use of chemical or biological weapons? Will the court have automatic and universal jurisdiction and could it pursue nationals of a state that had refused to sign the treaty? Where would the jurisdiction of national courts end and that of the international court begin?

Some responses have been forthcoming since the writing of this editorial, but other questions remain unanswered.

Again quoting Lise Bissonnette:

The zeal focussed by numerous countries, which eventually led to the creation of the international criminal court, paradoxically shows how readily the international community could prevent war crimes, genocide and aggression. As history has shown, from Latin America to Africa, only the democratization of nations put an end to abuse, to reprisals against civilian populations, to political murders, to the violent crushing of minorities and dissidents. The most scandalous of impunities is not, therefore, that allowed to dictators and their underlings when they are allowed to get off scot-free because there is no international tribunal before which they can be judged—

I will raise my voice here and repeat what Lise Bissonnette said “—the most scandalous of impunities is that guaranteed to them at the very moment they are leading their reign of terror”.

The most sordid recent example—

It dates back to 1998.

—was that of Indonesia and of former President Suharto, whom the international community has just let off for economic rather than moral reasons, he who had on his conscience the proven genocide of one third of the population of East Timor. This was perpetrated before the very eyes of the country's trading partners, and with their full knowledge, for over twenty years.

As far as the warm, and self-serving friendship Canadian Prime Minister Chrétien had for this murderer (a minimum of 200,000 people killed during his regime and on his orders) is concerned, the fact that our Minister of Foreign Affairs was at the same time agitating for the creation of an international criminal court makes our diplomacy look pretty calculating and cynical.

This is a harsh judgment, but one that is worthwhile. The example of the relative effectiveness of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia justifies such questions, which need to be asked today, as the committee begins its deliberations.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs' global position on human security is an important component of this international criminal court to ensure the protection of children and civilian populations, but are we not, at the moment, in international terms, agreeing that the only role of the international community is to ensure order within existing borders?

We are giving ourselves the means to punish the heads of states once we catch them. Madam Justice Arbour's charge against Milosevic, who remains the President of the Yugoslav Federation, served as a signal, but at the moment, and I will point this out in committee, almost all the peacekeeping measures we refer to, the ones we invest in, are means of repression, when we must accept that the vast majority of current conflicts are conflicts within countries and due to various causes.

These causes, which may be the unrecognized but disputed self-determination of peoples, may underlie the huge problems we see and, in this area, the international community is much less active.

There is a whole side to this activity by the international community that must be raised during committee debates.

As my speaking time is drawing to a close, I can say that at second reading, the Bloc Quebecois supports this bill, but we have some concerns, including the fact that the treaty was signed without prior debate in parliament, as we have been calling for prior to the implementation stage, when we cannot change much.

I point out that my colleague from Beauharnois—Salaberry has a private member's bill calling for international treaties to be put before parliament prior to the ratification stage and not when an enacting bill is under consideration, such as this one.

The subject is a difficult one for ordinary citizens, but the House of Commons must be the place to explain difficult issues, the place for instruction on democracy and on international democracy vital to future peace.

Crimes Against Humanity ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased today to be able to speak to Bill C-19, an act respecting genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and to implement the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

The Progressive Conservative Party supports and applauds this excellent initiative by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The purpose of Bill C-19 is to implement Canada's obligations under the Rome Statute, which was adopted on July 17, 1998 by the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court.

As has been previously mentioned, this piece of legislation forces us to examine some very disturbing matters throughout the world and oftentimes within our own borders.

Once the ICC has been set up it will be the first permanent international court empowered to investigate the most serious of crimes under international law. These include genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. We can all be assured that although Canada is showing great leadership by making sure that war criminals will be prosecuted and punished for their awful crimes against humanity during a war, there is more that we can and must do. The legislation lays the groundwork to empower those officials within our borders to do just that.

Too many lives have been taken. It is time for the international community to work together to ensure that something is done to provoke positive change in this area to bring about greater accountability and to bring to justice those individuals who have performed and partaken in these atrocities.

Canada's leadership throughout the century has been one for which we can all be proud. With Bill C-19 we have an opportunity to do more. Canada is one of many countries taking steps to implement statutes within a framework of national and international systems of law.

Although six states have already ratified the statute, Fiji, Italy, San Marino, Senegal, Trinidad and Tobago, in light of the legislative initiatives brought forward by the federal government last December 10, the Conservative Party is glad to say that Canada is one of the first countries to take overall comprehensive legislative steps to implement the Statute of Rome.

I again congratulate the minister for his efforts and his leadership in pursuit of justice for war criminals, and certainly on behalf of victims.

According to justice department statistics, there are presently 400 people living within the boundaries of Canada who have allegedly been involved in the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide. It is simply unacceptable that many war criminals are able to live out their quiet lives here as if nothing had happened, as if nothing they had done was wrong and escape prosecution for terrible atrocities.

Most of these individuals in question hail from the Balkans, Africa and Central or South America. Canada must not ever become or be seen to be a safe haven for war criminals. In response to this problem, Bill C-19 is a great achievement.

Sadly Canadians and the world will have to wait until the international community gets together to implement a permanent institution that can have genuine and necessary judicial capacity to fulfill the mission to address the problem.

In the meantime we have witnessed the carnage in Kosovo, in Rwanda and in other countries around the world, which makes this legislation all the more important and all the more timely.

Basically Bill C-19 would implement the Rome Statute and replace the current provisions in the criminal code with respect to war crimes. It creates two kinds of offences: offences within Canada and offences outside our borders. Offences within Canada are encompassed in clause 4 of the bill. Pursuant to clause 4, every person is guilty of an indictable offence who commits, in Canada, genocide, a crime against humanity or war crimes.

These definitions provided for the three offences are based on those found in sections 6, 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute. This is in addition to the criminal code where a person, if convicted of one of these offences, shall be sentenced to life imprisonment if the crime was committed intentionally. Obviously there is the burden of proof on the crown. In any other case, a person is liable to life imprisonment, a very serious and appropriate response.

These provisions would apply to conduct committed in Canada and permit Canada to either prosecute these offences or extradite individuals to the country where the atrocities occurred and face prosecution in those lands.

This is a great addition since it was extremely difficult for the justice department in the past to prosecute war criminals who had taken refuge here as a result of the supreme court ruling, the now very infamous and famous ruling of R v Finta. In that decision, many will recall that Imre Finta, who was legally trained as a captain in the Royal Hungarian Gendarmerie was in command of an investigative unit at Szeged during the second world war.

It is documented that during that time over 8,000 Jewish people were detained in a brickyard, forcibly stripped of their valuables and deported to horrendous, dreadful conditions in a concentration camp as part of the Nazi final solution. This order for execution, the final solution, was on the gendarmerie and certain police forces to carry out.

After the war Mr. Finta fled to Canada. In the early 1990s the Canadian courts challenged the respondent under the Canadian Criminal Code war crime provisions with unlawful confinement, robbery, kidnapping and manslaughter of the victims at that horrible death camp.

In his client's defence, Mr. Finta's lawyer argued correctly that the defence of obedience to superior orders and the peace officer's defence were available under the criminal code, which was the case for members of the military or police forces in prosecutions for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

These defences are weighed by the courts, subject to the manifest illegality test. This test basically refers to defences that are not available when the orders in question are manifestly unlawful. The burden of proof here relies very much on the qualification of the unlawful act.

Crimes Against Humanity ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member will have 12 minutes remaining after question period.

National Day Of MourningStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Rick Limoges Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, April 28 is a National Day of Mourning, a day to commemorate those who have been injured or who have died in the workplace.

I rise to remind all Canadians of the importance of preventing work related injuries and death. Work related accidents cause more than 800 deaths and some 800,000 injuries every year. I encourage all Canadians to help prevent workplace accidents so that all workers can enjoy safe and healthy work environments.

On April 28 the Canadian flag will be flown at half-mast on Parliament Hill to mark the National Day of Mourning. I encourage all Canadians to please set aside some time to remember the workers who lost their lives or who have been injured on the job. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends.

AgricultureStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Howard Hilstrom Reform Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, the current grain handling and transportation system in western Canada is rigid, unaccountable and does not efficiently serve the needs of farmers.

The Prairie Farm Commodity Coalition estimates that reforms to the system could save farmers over $300 million annually. The savings from reform would give the average farmer an extra $15,000 per year. This is $4,000 more than the government's failed AIDA program.

In two separate reports the government's own experts have recommended that the Liberals eliminate the Canadian Wheat Board's stranglehold over farmers, grain companies and the railways. The presidents of Canada's five major grain companies have joined the call for grain transportation reform. However, this government appears to be deaf. The Liberals still refuse to act.

Preserving the control of the Canadian Wheat Board is far more important to these Liberals than preserving farm families. This government is denying farmers millions of dollars by letting the Canadian Wheat Board dictate national transportation policy.

Joseph DekortStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a community leader and constituent, Joseph DeKort, who died suddenly two weeks ago. Joe served five terms as a councillor in the former City of Scarborough. Throughout his career in public life, he put the interests of his constituents first and helped guide Scarborough through the transformation of the neighbourhoods of Agincourt and Malvern from the mid 1950s to full-fledged cities in the mid eighties.

He was a man whose abilities allowed him to serve in capacities going beyond those of a councillor. After a bid to become mayor of Scarborough, Joe easily assumed new roles of leadership in our local community, living up to his election motto: Let's build a better community together.

He worked tirelessly on many election campaigns at all levels. We all knew we could count on his good advice and election expertise, especially in the sign campaigns. Joe also worked for both the Scarborough General Hospital and the March of Dimes.

To his wife Mary Jane and his children, my constituents and I extend our condolences on their loss.

Charlton HestonStatements By Members

11 a.m.


John Harvard Liberal Charleswood—Assiniboine, MB

Mr. Speaker, National Rifle Association president Charlton Heston came to Canada yesterday and demonstrated his ignorance of Canada and Canadian values. Heston told Canadians “We are North Americans by birth on either side of the line. The rest is just survey stakes and politics”. He could not be more wrong.

Canadians are not Americans. Our west was opened with treaties, not wars. Our health care system responds to the depth of an illness, not a wallet. Our gun laws keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people.

Heston says “We share a border that's more a myth than a fact”. Canadians see the effect of American gun violence on television every day.

We joined with the world in sorrow after Columbine, Jonesboro and too many other tragedies to mention.

Charlton Heston may think that our shared border is a myth. Canadians do not. We do not want the American gun culture crossing that line.

Via RailStatements By Members

11 a.m.


David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week the transport minister announced a funding package of $400 million to improve and modernize VIA Rail's infrastructure and rolling stock. This is great news for rail passenger service in Canada. Indeed, I hope that it will lead to new infrastructure to make riding the rails more convenient and more attractive to those in the southwest part of the national capital region.

For at least a decade the idea of constructing a combined VIA Rail and local Ottawa-Carleton transitway station in south Nepean has been around. Unfortunately, every time the regional municipality went to talk to VIA Rail in the past, the railway was always pleading poverty, that it had no capital funds. This is no longer the case.

It is my hope that VIA Rail will give very serious consideration to this combined use facility. It could be a wonderful showcase of a multimodal transportation facility combining bus, automobile, heavy rail and eventually light rail facilities.

Foreign AffairsStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, today is day five of the Shawinigan shenanigans in the Middle East. The tired and bruised Prime Minister is in Jordan, apologizing for missing the late King Hussein's funeral. His Gaza gaffes are headlines all over the world. His spin doctors are panicking and working overtime. They cannot keep up with the Prime Minister's lack of preparation and the remarks he bleeds into the Middle East media every day.

The Prime Minister does not understand what he is talking about. After four days of saying what he was not supposed to say, now he says “Listen. I do not have to discuss the situation between those two countries”. Which countries? For him, any two countries in the region.

Why has he not been saying that since the beginning when he realized he could not be helpful to the peace process and he could not be a statesman?

Canadians are ashamed of the damage he has done to three different sets of sensitive negotiations that have forced him with his tail between his legs to ask if he was still welcome in Syria.

National Volunteer WeekStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday night, as part of National Volunteer Week, Centraide Outaouais handed out its Bénévolat 2000 award, honouring the commitment and devotion of a volunteer in one of its member organizations.

I would like to congratulate this year's winner, Michel Guimond, a volunteer with Grands-Frères et Grandes-Soeurs de l'Outaouais.

Mr. Guimond has been a Big Brother to Nicholas for eight years, and also headed the organization's board from 1995 to 1998.

Despite heavy job pressures, he has also been a provincial and national board member of Big Brothers and Sisters, as well as a volunteer member of the campaign board for Centraide Outaouais.

May I take this opportunity to salute the commitment, not only of Michel Guimond, but also of all the volunteers who make a contribution to improving the quality of life in the Outaouais.

Highway InfrastructuresStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday, the hon. member for Chicoutimi criticized the Government of Quebec for not investing sufficiently in the development of highway infrastructures in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and Quebec City regions.

I would like to remind the hon. member that the Government of Quebec invests close to 72% of its fuel tax revenue in highway infrastructures, unlike the federal government, which collects over $6 billion yearly in excise tax but invests only 17.4% of it. The rest of that revenue goes to swell the already over-inflated budget surplus.

The hon. member for Chicoutimi will agree with me that the level of government responsible for our poor road conditions is none other than the federal. With its surpluses, it could renew strategic agreements for highway improvements with the provinces.

The Government of Quebec is once again the only one bearing the burden of highway development. I trust that the hon. member for Chicoutimi will have a better idea which direction to take with his steamroller, the next time he takes the floor in this House.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


John Finlay Liberal Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I came to the House as an environmentalist and today I still call myself an environmentalist.

I realize that our world is magnificent and that it is incumbent upon each of us to do all we can to protect the earth and the species that live upon it.

With this in mind, I was delighted to hear the Minister of the Environment introduce the species at risk act earlier this week. The act covers all wildlife species listed as being at risk and their critical habitats. As well, the act recognizes for the first time the Council on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. The minister will have to report annually to parliament on the council's assessment of species at risk in Canada.

This is a strong step forward to protect the biodiversity of our natural environment. I congratulate the minister for his work thus far.

Multiple SclerosisStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Lee Morrison Reform Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, on April 29, Dan Dillon of Medicine Hat, Alberta, will launch his canoe into the Bow River west of Calgary to begin a journey to Lake Winnipeg.

This in itself would not be particularly noteworthy except that Mr. Dillon suffers from multiple sclerosis. He plans to do the trip with minimal assistance and he will, in fact, be doing most of his own portaging. He is doing this not only for personal satisfaction, but to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Donations can be directed to the Multiple Sclerosis River Run in care of Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Royal Bank, 2901-13th Avenue S.E., Medicine Hat, Alberta.

Please join me in a show of appreciation for this gutsy individual.

PeacekeepingStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


John Maloney Liberal Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada has been a leader in forging peace in the Middle East.

Canada's involvement in international affairs to secure peace in the Middle East dates back almost 50 years to when Lester B. Pearson won the Nobel Peace Price for his efforts during the Suez crisis in 1956. Canadian peacekeepers have participated in every UN peacekeeping effort in the region and Canadian troops are currently serving on the Golan Heights.

Canada is playing a pivotal role in the Middle East peace process as the chair of the Refugee Working Group. Contributing toward an effective multilateral track is helping to build confidence and trust among the parties. The efforts of the group have brought tangible improvements to the lives of Palestinian refugees and peace in the Middle East.

Furthermore, since the launch of the Ottawa process in October 1996, Canada has been engaged internationally in building momentum for a global ban on land mines. In the Middle East these activities have resulted in an effort by Canada, Norway, Israel and Jordan to rid the Jordan Valley of land mines.

Canada has a sincere interest and a deep commitment to securing a lasting peace in the Middle East and will continue to take a leadership role.

“The True Names Of Birds”Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, this week in the House New Democrats have read the works of poets from across the country. Today I am honoured to read “The True Names of Birds” by Susan Goyette of Dartmouth, who was nominated for the Governor General's Award in 1999:

There are more ways to abandon a child than to leave them at the mouth of the woods Sometimes, by the time you find them they've made up names for all of the birds and constellations and they've broken their reflections in the lake with sticks With my daughter came promises and vows that unfolded through time like a roadmap and led me to myself as a child, filled with wonder for my father who could make sound from a wide blade of grass and this breath. Here, in the stillness of the forest, the sun columning before me temple-ancient, that wonder is what I regret losing most, that wonder and the true name of birds

It is through poetry and wonder that we make sense of the unknown and find the strength to face it. And it is culture which truly legislates the heart and soul of a nation.

Prime Minister Of CanadaStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, “You may see problems, I do not see any”. Those are the words of our Prime Minister in his travels in the Middle East. “I have not seen a word in the press here, and there has been no negative comment on TV”, he added.

The Prime Minister has certainly not seen the middle eastern press, which is echoing his remarks, and he should not phone home, like the words in the song, to find out what the press reviews are saying here. The headlines are saying “A blunder a day”; “Chaos reigns”; “Prime Minister's gaffes embarrass Ottawa”. Never have we seen the cartoonists having such a heyday.

All is well.

We would laugh, if it were not so pathetic. Quebecers have known for a long time that the Prime Minister has no sense of the delicacy of relations between peoples. The rest of the world can now bear witness to the fact.

Community PolicingStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to acknowledge the careers of two police officers who recently retired after more than 20 years of service in 51 division in my riding of Toronto Centre—Rosedale.

Constables Gerrard Jones and Danny Forsyth were pioneers of community policing, making it their priority to know members of our community and work closely with them to address concerns. No issue was too small to merit their attention. At night and on weekends they were there to work with us and to celebrate with us.

The complex social environment of our urban areas requires many innovative approaches to the issues of drugs, crime and troubled youth. In that context, community policing has an important role to play in creating a safe and harmonious environment for us all.

Constables Jones and Forsyth are examples of integrity and selfless service in the bringing of community policing to our neighbourhoods. They have given much to make the neighbourhoods in my riding safer and healthier places in which to live, and for that the community is deeply grateful.

It is an honour and a privilege to acknowledge their service and I wish them every happiness for years to come.

DiabetesStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gilles Bernier Progressive Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, while most Canadians think that diabetes is not a serious disease, diabetes and its complications cost Canada more than $9 billion per year in health care and lost productivity. Therefore, diabetes is a major public health issue.

To raise awareness and educate people about diabetes, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation organizes each year a Shoppers Walk for the Cure fundraiser in cities across Canada.

The purpose of this event is to raise much needed funds to continue essential research programs. So far the Juvenile Diabetes foundation has given more than $49 million to diabetes research in Canada since its beginnings seven years ago.

I encourage all members of parliament to take part in this year's Walk for the Cure.

The Second Battle Of YpresStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, as we recall our achievements at the battle of Vimy Ridge, we must not forget that April 22 and 24 mark the 85th anniversary of the battle of Ypres. In 1915, 6,035 Canadian soldiers—one soldier in three—died in this battle.

These young Canadian soldiers were among the first victims of a new deadly weapon—poison gas.

The most disastrous and horrible battle took place at Saint-Julien. On April 24, as they were trying to end an impasse, the Canadians were hit with a great cloud of mustard gas.

Our courageous Canadian soldiers continued to fight fiercely and to hold their position for two weeks, although their lungs were burning and they could hardly breathe because of the terrible effects of the gas. It was not long after this battle that John McCrae wrote his famous poem “In Flanders Fields”.

Canadians must never forget the sacrifice made by the victims—

The Second Battle Of YpresStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Edmonton East.

Volunteer Week 2000Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.


Peter Goldring Reform Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, congratulations to Edmonton North District Area Council Two. They are celebrating 25 years of volunteer commitment to our communities on Volunteer Week 2000.

I wish to recognize all who have given unselfishly to volunteer and contribute to many worthwhile projects. Contributors permit the soil of aspirations to be cultivated, help breathe life into dreams, nurture mere ideas to fruition and bring the riches of goals to harvest.

Volunteers give freely of their daily lives. Their efforts add to our quality of being and are vital contributors to success, as dreams take wing and rise to lofty heights. All volunteers have my deepest appreciation for outstanding service to their communities. I wish everyone continued success and welcome their community leadership. I extend a sincere thanks to everyone for their good efforts.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.


Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, revelations to the HRDC committee have raised even more startling questions than the infamous audit.

The minister who claimed to know that she knew where every penny went was completely unable to give specifics. The information commissioner blasted the government for a deliberate policy of holding back important documents requested under access to information.

Four opposition parties want to get to the bottom of this for all Canadians. Why will the Liberals not join the move to have an independent inquiry to get complete answers?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario


Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is an independent inquiry under way which is being performed by an officer of this parliament, the auditor general. Not only did he approve of the six point action program of the minister to deal with the problems in the department, he said that he would carry on his own inquiry, the results of which he will make public in October.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.


Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, would this be the same auditor general whose reports have been ignored by the government for years?

Yesterday all opposition parties joined in calling for a public inquiry into the HRDC scandal in which billions of dollars in grants and contributions were handed out with a cavalier disregard for the interests of the taxpayer.

The minister's answer that she knows where every penny went is patently incorrect, as the 19 police investigations clearly show. Why will the minister not set up an independent inquiry so we can fully find out where the billions have gone?