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House of Commons Hansard #84 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was war.

Topics

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4 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Or support. The hon. Deputy Prime Minister said this morning that Canada was not directly engaged in this conflict because we stood apart and believed that it was the Security Council of the United Nations that ought to have taken the responsibility for authorizing the use of force in international conflict. He added that this was consistent with decades of Canadian foreign policy and it was consistent with the charter of the United Nations. He concluded by saying that it was consistent with past practice, as long ago as the Korean war and as recent as the first gulf war.

The government speaks with one voice, it is that of the Prime Minister and leader of the Government of Canada.

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4:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, the member stated that economic consequences are possible. First, that is not a reason to support or not to support. If we are going to support our troops we must do it for a principled reason. I want to correct the member when he said that economic consequences are possible. They are not only possible and probable; they are happening now. He needs to face the music on that one.

My second point relates to what the members said about wanting to disassociate himself from the member who made some pretty outrageous comments. Silence is consent. When we see an apology, and then joke about it on the Mike Bullard show; when we see the leader not even responding or dealing with these kind of comments; his silence is consent. It means that he accepts those comments. I would like the member to think about that.

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4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I have responded clearly and concisely on the member's point.

I would like to conclude my remarks by quoting Canada's Nobel peace prize winner, the right hon. Lester B. Pearson, who said: “Our principle of the relationship with the United States is that we should exhibit a sympathetic understanding of the heavy burden of international responsibility born by the United States, not of our own imperial choosing but caused by part in an unavoidable withdrawal of other states from certain of these responsibilities”.

The United States is the most powerful country in the world and countries all around the world look to it for leadership. They respect the role and heavy burden it has. Our relationship with the most powerful country in the world is strong. We are united and our trade continues to grow, and it will continue to grow.

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4:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the opposition motion put forward by the Canadian Alliance which I would like to cite once again into the record because it speaks clearly for itself. The motion reads:

That the House of Commons express its regret and apologize for offensive and inappropriate statements made against the United States of America by certain Members of this House; that it reaffirm the United States to be Canada's closest friend and ally and hope that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power; and that the House urge the Government of Canada to assist the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq.

I cannot conceive any reasonable member of this place opposing any one of the five propositions in this motion. I understand that for reasons, both good and bad, well and poorly informed members on all sides may have different views about the means by which the world has arrived at war in Iraq today. I can understand that many here may continue to have objections to the use of judicious military force by the coalition countries to enforce international security and implement 17 UN Security Council resolutions. I further understand those who may be motivated by pacifist sentiments or who effectively never see the moral or political circumstances under which the use of military force can be justified.

However the motion does not seek an endorsement of the war per say. It does five things very simply.

First, it expresses our regret and apologizes for inappropriate remarks made in this place and by members of this place regarding our closest friend and best ally. This ought not to be a contentious matter.

Second, it reaffirms our friendship and alliance with the United States which has existed since the end of the war of 1812.

Third, it hopes that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful and that Saddam's regime is removed from power. Surely there is not a single member of this place who would say that he or she hopes that Saddam Hussein is not removed from power at this point. If there are members in this place who hope that the coalition is unsuccessful and is militarily defeated in Iraq and the butcher of Baghdad remains in power to terrorize his people and threaten world peace, let them say so today in this debate. This is their opportunity to do so. I am certain, but I do stand to be contradicted, that there would be no such sentiment expressed in a responsible, democratic chamber such as this.

Fifth, the motion also urges the Government of Canada to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq led by the coalition forces that are already doing so in the provision of humanitarian aid.

Already in the debate today, many members have rehearsed and discussed the stream of remarks made by members here and others associated with the government which have undermined our historic relationship with the United States. Unfortunately, those remarks were not limited to members of the House or indeed senators, but other members of the government. We know about the unfortunate remarks made by the former director of communications of the Prime Minister, the remarks of the member for Mississauga Centre, the member from Burnaby, who is now the Minister of Natural Resources, and many others of their ilk.

We also know that these unfortunate, undiplomatic and sometimes hateful remarks have been taken note of by many of our friends in the United States. We know that this has eroded this country's political capital in the United States which is essential to maintaining our national interests in what is the world's largest bilateral trading relationship in history, a relationship which entails over $1 million of goods and services exchanged every minute of every day.

What we have not heard is an adequate disavowal of these remarks and the sentiment which they betray by the top leadership of the government. We have not to this day heard the Prime Minister condemn or demand a retraction of the words by the Minister of Natural Resources for attacking the President of the United States. We have not yet heard the Prime Minister explicitly rebuke his member from Mississauga and other of his colleagues for these sorts of statements. This is a good faith opportunity for all members from all parties to go on the record to express their view that these kinds of sentiments are unacceptable.

When political leaders with the platform that they have, the bully pulpit, the perceived authority which they hold, make statements of this nature, it colours and poisons the public debate. Need we look any further than France whose leaders have engaged in an orgy of anti-American posturing over the past several weeks? Is there any doubt that there is a correlation between the position and the sentiments expressed by political figures in France and the nasty, hateful manifestations of bigotry in the streets of France?

Is there any doubt that were it not for the kind of toleration given anti-American sentiments by political leaders in that country, that we would have arrived at a situation where an anti-war protester, as they call themselves, in this case a purveyor of hatred, would walk into a Commonwealth war cemetery last week wherein lie the remains of 1,100 brave Canadians who died for the liberation of France and spray paint on the memorial there “death to the Yankees, Saddam will conquer you and spill your blood” and similar odious sentiments expressed.

Every day in these protests on this Hill and elsewhere, where the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom are referred to as butchers, baby killers and Nazis, there is a continuum between the kind of sentiments expressed by political leaders here and the odious bigotry expressed by those who parrot their sentiments on the street. That is why we must put an end to this. The Prime Minister claims he has done so in his caucus. Clearly it has not been effective and for that reason we must do so collectively as a House.

Let me emphasize in my closing couple of minutes my hope that the government will, in particular, support the third provision in this motion, that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam's regime from power.

The formal position of the Prime Minister to date has been that he is against regime change. Apparently that is still his position. This is a bizarre contradiction. On the one hand, he claims that he respects the right of the United States to enter into this conflict. He has said earlier that resolution 1441 and the precedent resolutions to it, including 687 and 678, are ample legal grounds upon which to base the use of force to disarm Iraq in which the removal of the regime is a necessary precursor. Now he opposes that as far as Canada is concerned.

His Minister of Foreign Affairs has said that Canada hopes the allies are successful and that Saddam is removed. Then the next day the Prime Minister contradicts him and the foreign affairs minister flip-flops. Two days later in this place, the government finally gave consent to a motion that I have had on the floor for several years to recognize that Saddam and his regime were guilty of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide and that they ought to be brought to justice through an appropriately formed international tribunal.

If all that is the case, how can the government possibly take the position that Saddam and his thugs are responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity but ought at the same time to stay in power to continue prosecuting acts of genocide and crimes against humanity? That would appear to be the formal position of the government.

In the motion today the opposition has given the government an opportunity to clarify its position and to express our solidarity with our allies. While we may not formally be engaged in the war in a military sense, although that is itself debatable, we at least in the opposition believe that this tyrant, who is responsible for the deaths of over a million people, should be removed from power and to do so is both just, legal and morally obligatory on responsible democracies.

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4:15 p.m.

York South—Weston Ontario

Liberal

Alan Tonks LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Madam Speaker, the hon. member has referred to the third part of the motion, which I will quote, “hope that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power”. He has indicated that it would be a bizarre contradiction for the government not to support this motion inasmuch as we are all opposed to dictatorship and we are opposed to the despotic regime that Saddam Hussein leads.

Could the member though look at this in a little different way? Our opposition with respect to the attack against Iraq is within the context of our belief that there should have been a United Nations multilateral force that would have done the job for the reasons that the opposition has given: the removal of a dictatorial and despotic regime, in fact the liberation of Iraq. Does he not see a problem with that kind of logic?

If we applied the same kind of logic, that it is a bizarre contradiction to support the attack but outside of the UN, I ask him this question. Not too long ago we were on the cusp of a conflict between Pakistan and India, both nuclear powers. At this time there is a problem with respect to the nuclear capability of North Korea which needs to be resolved. We have seen the Chechnyan situation with respect to Russia, and Russia's desire to deal with those problems. We have seen the deterioration of relations around the whole support of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Could the member respond to the government's position that these are the kinds of issues that cannot be addressed through pre-emptive action because in fact pre-emptive actions will lead to major confrontations and could lead to nuclear war if there is no United Nations policy, which is the policy of the government and has been driving this position?

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4:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, I could restate the member's question and the government's position by quoting from an article by Andrew Coyne this week in the National Post where he says:

[The government's position is] as clear as day. Regime change is not authorized by the United Nations. We do not support regime change in Iraq: After all, if we're going to go knocking off every genocidal dictator with a taste for weapons of mass destruction who has invaded two of his neighbours and defied 17 UN resolutions over a dozen years since a ceasefire that was never honoured in a previous war duly authorized by the Security Council, well, where do you stop?

That is the position of the government, that this would be a dangerous precedent. I do think these are all different situations strategically, legally, and politically. We cannot apply the same remedies in every instance. Yes, there are other rogue regimes which are in danger of becoming proliferators of weapons of mass destruction but none of them to my knowledge are guilty of having demonstrated hostility by invading their neighbours. None of them to my knowledge actually have used weapons of mass destruction on their own citizens in a mass context or on their neighbours. None of them are guilty of violating 17 UN Security Council resolutions. None of them are in violation of a solemn ceasefire obligation to disarm and destroy the weapons of mass destruction within 15 days of the conclusion of hostilities in a war authorized by the United Nations. Further, none of them, not even North Korea as nasty as that Stalinist dictatorship is, are guilty of nearly as many abuses of human rights and acts of genocide as that in Iraq.

Finally, while that is the case, Iraq is a separate and particular situation. I believe the use of preventive force ought to have an extraordinarily high threshold and I believe Iraq meets that threshold. I believe that the just and legal use of force there will be a cautionary lesson to other rogue regimes that would be tempted to violate the will of the international community not to develop weapons and programs of this nature and to proliferate. This is an important precedent and a high threshold which the situation in Iraq clearly has met.

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4:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to speak in favour of this motion which calls on Parliament to fundamentally express itself in a morally responsible way. Our motion is made up of four parts: it is an apology; it is an affirmation; it is an expression of solidarity; and it is a commitment to a better future.

Let me begin with the apology, specifically an apology to the United States of America for the comments made by some Liberal members. Liberal insiders and politicians have referred to the Americans as “morons” and “bastards”. The Minister of Natural Resources recently indicated that President Bush was “not a statesman”. There are many other examples. Not one of these individuals has been rebuked by the Prime Minister.

I am sickened and personally offended that a member of this House would have the gall to refer to our closest friends and allies as bastards. My wife is an American. Those comments are insulting and improper. One member asked why we would repeat it. It is because silence is consent and the only apology we have seen is a mockery, a joke made on the Mike Bullard show. That is why we are repeating it, because we have not seen a sincere apology and until we do it is important that Canadians know how Liberals feel.

I will not spend any more time on this issue. Frankly, if the members opposite cannot see the insult they are causing south of the border, I am surely not going to make them see it in the next 10 minutes.

I applaud the few members who have had the courage to defy this vindictiveness and have shown our American friends that most Canadians care for their welfare and value their friendship. Their comments are a welcome attempt to prevent any further damage to the relationship between our countries.

The second part of the motion is the affirmation. It is more than an apology, it is an affirmation that Canada and the United States are not only friends but also allies in peace and war. It is easy to be friends in times of peace.

I note the government has introduced a counter motion. It includes pleasant words regarding our friends to the south. Given its actions however, I suggest they are empty words. True friends are there when things are darkest.

An expression of solidarity is more than an affirmation of that friendship, it is an expression of solidarity. It shows a willingness to stand beside our allies in support of the liberation of Iraq. May their victory be swift and with minimum casualties on all sides.

I believe in peace. I stood in this place on February 6 and said as much. I made an appeal to justice and to due process. I called for leadership from the government. I stated that we needed to demonstrate that our western allies support the rule of law. I also said that we need to send Saddam Hussein a strong message that we are willing to defend these principles when dictators like him attempt to flaunt them. We have not.

I listened earlier to the Deputy Prime Minister talk about the need for international consensus. Well, there are 40 countries in the coalition of the willing, including Australia, Spain, Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands. There is an international consensus. It is a consensus despite the competing national interests that have recently frozen the debate at the United Nations.

What about the United Nations? The Deputy Prime Minister called on multilateral agencies to be strong and proactive. Well, the United Nations Security Council has cited the Iraqi regime for over 30 violations of the 1991 ceasefire agreement. The United Nations passed resolution 1441 which clearly stated that Iraq must completely comply with its previous ceasefire commitments or face serious consequences.

The problem with the government is it thinks it can make an expression of solidarity without making any commitments.

Like many Canadians, I have given this issue considerable thought. It is not pleasant to go to war, but I support bringing democracy to the people of Iraq. I support removing the threat to regional and world stability that Hussein represents. If the government supported this, it would do something about it. If it supports the efforts of the coalition, it should stand up and say so. If it does not support the war in Iraq, then stand up and say that. It cannot say both.

Finally, on this side of the House we are committed to making Iraq a better place for its people. More important, we are committed to making Iraq a place where its people can choose their own government without fear of torture or persecution. When this war is over, the commitment in Iraq will not be over. Our motion recognizes this fact and calls for the government to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq.

At the end of the second world war, the allies did not take joy in the destruction of their fallen opponents. Instead, from 1945 to 1953 the United States pumped $13 billion into western Europe, including Germany and Italy. Japan was also rebuilt with a functioning democracy that exists to this day.

As a result, our opponents in 1945 are now democracies and friends. Those who say that peace can never come from conflict would do well to remember the example we were taught in the second world war.

If we are to have any lasting impact in Iraq, we need to employ the same value system. Canada can assist by providing political and economic assistance in the rebuilding of Iraq. Despite years of degradation under the rule of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi people have much in their favour. They have a strong history, educational system and resources that will allow them the wealth they need to be a prosperous and dynamic participant in the world community. We need to welcome them into that community.

What was impossible under Saddam's regime will be possible when he is gone. We can prove to the Middle East that our motives are sincere by empowering the Iraqi people themselves and by helping them build an infrastructure that will allow them to grow into a functioning and pluralistic democracy.

Twenty years from now we should be able to say that we prevented a new generation of terrorists and instead discovered a new generation of friends. Will it be easy? Certainly not. There are entrenched interests in Iraq that will not so willingly give up their special privileges.

For Canada to be a useful participant in this process, we will have to rediscover some of the Canadian spirit we have lost since 1945. This spirit led coalitions of the willing in 1914, in 1939, in 1950 and again in 1991. It did not hide behind the skirts of countries like Guinea, Syria and Angola. To rebuild a nation, one needs to have a vision of what is good in a nation. This means recognizing that the United States and Syria are not moral equals.

Our motion today is about recognizing this fact and moving forward so Canada can be a positive force in the world. We can regain some of the direction we have lost in our country under the present administration's persistent quest for a legacy of irrelevance.

For the people of Canada, Iraq and the world, I hope all members will do the right thing and put principle first.

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4:30 p.m.

Chicoutimi—Le Fjord Québec

Liberal

André Harvey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to take part in this debate. I will share my time with my hon. colleague from Mount-Royal.

We live in a time where the world has really become a global village. As a member state of the United Nations, with a sterling international reputation, it is in our interest to do everything we can to restore the credibility of the United Nations and its Security Council.

Therefore, when we have to consider proposals like the one before the House today, which is a general proposal with some positive aspects and some not so positive aspects, we wonder if the opposition is not hoping for the worst. I do not want to be partisan but I have to say that the wisest statement I have heard in the last few days came from our Prime Minister.

On March 26, a week ago, he said, and I quote:

Mr. Speaker, when we listen to the opposition members, they seem to have a desire that there be bad relations between us and the United States. They desire that.

Yesterday, the ambassador said that the relations between Canada and the United States were so important for both of us that we had to keep the relations we have had, even if we have a disagreement. It is not the first time, but this country, in a situation like that, has the right to make the decision we made, like they have the right to make the decision they made. Among friends, sometimes we can disagree.

When we look at what some opposition members are doing, not all of them, but some of them, we have to wonder if the ultimate goal is not to sour our relations. We have an extremely constructive relationship with the United States: $1.2 billion in trade every day and two million jobs created on both sides of the border.

Canadians are not asking Americans for charity. We have an extremely constructive trade relationship because of the proximity of our borders, because of the common interests that we pursue and because of the economic niches that we have developed respectively and that complement the economic structure of both our great countries. I believe that we have a common interest in maintaining these extremely constructive trade relations.

I think that Canada's role is not always to rush to agree with its neighbours' version. At a time when international challenges are increasingly important, when the gap between the rich and the poor is growing ever wider, a fact made increasingly visible by the media, Canada's role, a role of which I am proud, is to restore the credibility of an organization called the United Nations. We cannot continue to play around with the United Nations when it suits us and let them down when it does not.

Tonight, 800 million people are in dire straits; 9,000 children are dying of hunger every day. Canada has taken on the role of ensuring that international organizations such as the United Nations can help all countries of good will in the world meet this huge challenge.

I believe that the next war that must be fought is the war against poverty. My dream is to one day see all donor countries in the world working together to feed all the young children struggling to survive. This is the goal that we must pursue.

Canada has said from the outset, through the voice of its Prime Minister, that it would get involved, but under the umbrella of the United Nations. The UN is an international moral guarantor that, in our opinion, can absolutely not be ignored. The United Nations will increasingly be called on to play a major role, not only to wage war, but also to face huge challenges, including that of famine.

One billion human beings do not have enough to survive. This is a major challenge. The Prime Minister told us that UN agencies are important. The World Food Programme, Care Canada and UNICEF are organizations that our country must support. Currently, we are not directly involved in the war. But we are already taking action. Indeed, while the war is raging in Iraq, we are involved in a number of programs.

What saddens us is that over a period of 20 years a country like Iraq has experienced three wars. This is incredibly devastating.

I am proud of the initiative that is being taken and of the actions that we have begun in cooperation with the United Nations. We are relying on UN agencies to try to make the military operation somewhat less painful.

This is nothing new. Our involvement in Iraq goes back to 1990. It goes back 12 years. Through CIDA, we have provided to Iraqis in need, to displaced persons and to Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries, about $35 million in humanitarian aid. This aid is in the form of food, medical supplies, landmine awareness programs and initiatives conducted through UN agencies, the Red Cross and NGOs.

Recently, Canada supported the preparations for delivering humanitarian aid to Iraq by providing $5.6 million. In response to the call put out by the UN, these funds were allocated to a number of organizations to support their work. The UN is not a clandestine organization. It represents us all. Therefore, we must use it and do everything to further develop it.

The UN High Commission for Refugees received $2.9 million to organize non-food aid and to prepare refugee camps so as to help these people and those who seek asylum in neighbouring countries.

UNICEF, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, received $1.6 million to provide medical supplies, water and sanitary facilities in Iraq and in neighbouring countries.

We have put $1 million into the World Food Program—which enjoys great international recognition and with which Canada has daily contact in order to help the most disadvantaged—in order to deliver food aid to the neighbouring countries and to help establish joint logistical and communications systems for the United Nations.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has also received assistance from CIDA. We recently announced $100 million in direct aid to Iraq. A portion of this was reserved for UN organizations in order to respond to the urgent appeal issued last Friday.

This contribution is a manifestation of our commitment to the most disadvantaged inhabitants of this planet, particularly with a view to enhancing the credibility of the United Nations still further. The first installment of $20 million is in response to the UN's appeal of last Friday, as well as to provide support for the activities of the Red Cross and Care Canada.

I believe Canada has taken on the role of a builder of peace. There is a very close connection between the war against poverty, in which Canada is actively involved, and the war against international terrorism, to which we are strongly committed along with our allies.

I am pleased to again express my pride in the role Canada plays internationally in continuing to enhance its constructive position in favour of peace and in favour of the most destitute inhabitants of this planet.

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4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Madam Speaker, I would first like to thank my hon. colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord for his speech. I heard him say, citing a previous remark, that opposition members would make it their pleasure and duty to worsen relations between Canada and the United States.

I respectfully submit to the attention of this House that it was not opposition members who made rather derogatory remarks, to say the least, about our American allies. It was not opposition members who made flatly insulting remarks about our American allies. Those remarks were made by Liberal members and even a minister of the Liberal government.

I think that the government does not need any help from the opposition to make relations between Canada and the United States worse. It was not the opposition parties that announced—without informing the Americans—that Canada would not be participating in the coalition. It was the Prime Minister himself who made that announcement, without warning the Americans.

Not that I question or that I am not happy with the decision of the Prime Minister to inform the House before he informed our American allies, quite the opposite, but I do believe that, because of the very confusing messages Canada was sending the world as to whether it would or would not join the coalition, whether or not a resolution was passed by the United Nations Security Council, the U.S. was not expecting such an about-face by Canada on the day the Prime Minister announced in this House that Canada would not take part in the operations of the coalition.

Does my hon. colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord not recognize that relations between Canada and the United States are deteriorating because of all this bungling by government members and that they keep deteriorating because the government's position on our participation in the coalition's operations continues, even today, to be confusing?

The United States expect much more clarity and honesty from Canada. Some members of the coalition are not sending any troops over there. Canada who is not officially part of the coalition has troops on site. We have troops in the area. The Americans expect much more honesty from Canada and a much clearer message.

Finally, I have another question for my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. He said that we should declare another war. That took me by surprise, but after hearing what he had to say, I was quite pleased. He was talking about a new war on poverty. I think he is right. That war should be fought all over the world, here, in Canada and in Quebec, and also in Irak, after the war.

Does the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord agree that, in order to have the resources needed to wage war on poverty, we should drop fewer bombs on Baghdad, given what they cost, because then we might have more money to fight poverty, hunger and the destruction caused by the bombs being dropped every day on Baghdad?

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4:45 p.m.

Liberal

André Harvey Liberal Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. Indeed we live in a free country and obviously people from every party may express their views. They are not always very constructive. If there has been any confusion, it certainly has not come from the government, least of all from the Prime Minister. From the very beginning he has been saying that should there be an intervention, it had to be led by the United Nations.

Regarding another contributing factor in the confusion, we exchange military personnel with our allies. We could call them operational exchanges. We cannot send soldiers one day and call them back the next. They are involved in operational exchanges.

There is no confusion on the part of the government. Our only goal is to further bolster the United Nations' credibility, further strengthen the organization, as well as every agency that comes under its responsibility , be it the World Food Program, CARE Canada, Oxfam or UNICEF, so that one day we are serious and well equipped to wage war against poverty.

I believe that this is the next step and that we are on the verge of what could be called the golden age of international cooperation. I am proud to work in this area.

For the past two years, with the millennium statement and the Kananaskis summit where the Prime Minister of Canada said that the foremost priority must be the war against poverty, especially on the African continent, I have been very optimistic that Canada's role will continue to be extremely constructive and even more so.

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4:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt, Aboriginal Affairs.

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4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Madam Speaker, what I found particularly revealing in reviewing Ambassador Paul Cellucci's speech of last week was not so much his expression of “disappointment” and “upset” with Canada's decision not to join the war on Iraq, but his reference to Canada as “family”.

For a country like Canada that had felt ignored in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 when U.S. President George Bush did not appear to number Canada among U.S. friends, more oversight than advertence, the reference to Canada as family ought normally to have been encouraging in its characterization.

What Ambassador Cellucci's statement appears to reveal is a deep sense of psychological hurt on the part of the United States, and one grounded more in the harmful, if not hurtful, statements made by some Canadian MPs than in the actual decision or policy of the Canadian government.

For the essential truth is that we are family, that the ties that bind are many and meaningful on multiple levels, on levels of family itself, security, community, culture, environment, economy and the like.

It is no less true that despite the ties that bind, we may often differ domestically speaking, as the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra put it, in our attitudes to health care, gun control, capital punishment, social policy and the like, just as we have differed internationally on a variety of matters, including treaties respecting children's rights, landmines, climate change, the ICC and, now most recently, on the timing and conditions precedent for action to disarm Iraq.

Simply put, we differed, in my view, with our American counterparts not on principle, such as the imperative of disarming Iraq or the evil represented by Saddam Hussein or the imperative of bringing Saddam Hussein to justice, but we differed on the means to achieve this.

The difference, then, was one of judgment, on our belief that all remedies short of war had not been exhausted, that the requisite international support had not yet been assembled, that the case for war, which might have in any case ended up being inevitable, had not yet ripened. I use that term in its juridical as well as a factual sense.

And so we sought, through a bridging proposal, to identify clear disarmament benchmarks, to set a deadline of March 28 for compliance, and to include a provision for automaticity, an automatic trigger for the use of force if the disarmament benchmarks were not complied with by the deadline, a notion of automaticity which the U.S. acknowledged at the time was not present in UN Security Council resolution 1441.

The United States' judgment on timing, conditions and context, including imminence of threat, was different, but it is important we appreciate that there is a shared judgment on matters of principle as reflected in the motion before the House.

It is important again, as my colleague the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra put it, that we avoid simplistic notions of for and against, of all right or all wrong and once and for all, that we avoid these types of characterization on matters which do not lend themselves to oversimplified characterization and partake of a shifting context and set of conditions.

Accordingly, I would like to share some perspectives, if not principles, of partnership that may underpin our approach not only to the war in Iraq and beyond, but to our ongoing relationship with our neighbour.

First, we need to understand, to show understanding of, the impact of 9/11 on the American psyche and politics, for 9/11, and I sense this on each occasion on which I visit with colleagues in the United States, had a transformative impact in America. For America the world was changed. The post-9/11 configuration of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and rogue states not only dramatized for the United States the changed threat environment, but also transformed for it the United States national security doctrine that needed to result from it.

Second, we need to reassert, indeed reaffirm, our commitment to the struggle against terrorism, which is as much, in this sense of recommitment, of symbolic as well as substantive value and which speaks to the post-9/11 prism that underlies the American security doctrine.

I am not saying that we should take the same approach as the United States does to the struggle on terrorism. I know we have different appreciations, both domestically in our approach to an international criminal justice optic to that of the United States in its more national security oriented optic, and internationally it has an armed conflict model resulting from 9/11 that is not yet part of our doctrine.

What has to be appreciated is that the war against terrorism is an organizing idiom of American public policy, both domestic and international, and finds institutional expression in the initiation and organization of the department of homeland security, almost the most radical transformation of American governmental organization in years.

We need to appreciate, therefore, the American mindset, not that we have to agree with it, and give expression at the same time to what is indigenous to our own approach to the struggle against terrorism. I am referring to our juridical commitment to the struggle against terrorism which has characterized our approach, which includes as well the appreciation that what underlines everything here has to be the promotion and protection of human security, of the security of democracies and the protection of the most fundamental rights of inhabitants of that democracy: the right to life, liberty and security to a person.

Third, we need to engage with the United States and Britain in the reform of the United Nations, lest the UN become yet another casualty of the war on Iraq. This would include the rethinking of international law in a post-9/11 universe, in terms of the rethinking, for example, of the doctrine of self-defence; of hosting a conference on international humanitarian law; of addressing and redressing situations where the United Nations system becomes hijacked by rogue states; of the consideration of the formation of a democratic caucus; and more.

Fourth, we need to appreciate the importance of combating the financing of international terrorism, the soft underbelly of the terrorist threat environment, which makes possible the recruitment, training, harbouring and launching of acts of terror.

I am pleased that we did ratify the international convention on the suppression of the financing of terrorism and that we enacted domestic legislation for the purposes of implementing that international commitment. We have to keep a watching brief so that we are sure that we put the best application, such as in Fintrac and otherwise, which has been excellent in its performance and application in this struggle.

Fifth, we need to take the lead, and we are well positioned by our commitment to international justice to do so, to establish an international criminal tribunal for Iraq, the same way we did with respect to an international criminal tribunal for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, so that we can bring Saddam Hussein and his co-conspirators to justice. Indeed, it is a tragedy that we did not do so in the early 1990s at the same time as we established the international criminal tribunal for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

Just as the international criminal tribunal for former Yugoslavia led in its juridical expression, I believe, to the delegitimatization of Milosevic, to regime change, so might we have achieved a regime change in Iraq by juridical means. At the same time, I believe we would have been able to pre-empt, if I can use that term, to prevent the continuing criminality of Saddam Hussein.

The very fact that in the aftermath of the Iraqi genocidal Anfal campaign in 1988 and in the aftermath of the genocidal campaign against the Marsh Arabs in the south of Iraq at the end of the first gulf war, we still could not bring ourselves to set up an international criminal tribunal for Iraq which allowed Saddam Hussein to interpret from our inaction, if not indifference, that he could continue with his Nuremberg criminality.

The fact that some states, such as Russia and France, continued to trade and invest in Iraq while this Nuremberg criminality was going on, was a mockery of international law and a mockery of international morality.

Six, we need to participate in the provision of emergency humanitarian relief. I am pleased that we have allocated $100 million for that purpose.

Seven, we need to assume our rightful responsibility in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq, the rehabilitation of its citizenry and the re-establishment of the rule of law that is our best guarantee for the promotion and protection of the human security of the Iraqi people.

Eight, we need not equivocate or appear ambiguous about the prior and continuing anti-terror and military presence we have in the Persian Gulf as we have also in Afghanistan. We need not apologize for our role in the AWACS system, in our military exchange agreements or for our ships in the gulf area. To withdraw that now would be to take sides, and on the wrong side. To refuse to acknowledge this presence is to appear diffident or indifferent to the presence and fate of those sent there at our direction.

Nine, we need to emphasize the importance of border security, not just in trade terms but in security terms. This is, after all, not just a matter of economics but of human security.

Ten, we need to eschew and reject any notions of moral equivalences between the U.S. and Iraq and eschew any indifference about the outcome of this war, which we trust will conclude with a minimum of civilian harm, the averting of humanitarian catastrophe, the prevention of regional instability and the protection against hate and incitement. The objective in this war is the disarmament of the Saddam Hussein regime, not the armament of the constituencies of hate and terror.

Eleven, we should intensify parliamentary track II diplomacy, not abandon foreign policy to the executive level. We should enhance our parliamentary contacts with the U.S. and use our good offices in the multilateral parliamentary arena for post-war diplomacy.

Finally, we should internalize the Hippocratic oath of “Do no harm” in our discourse with our neighbours. We should guard against harmful and hurtful language, and neither indulge nor acquiesce in any such gratuitous expression. This is not to say that we will not disagree with our neighbours, and this is not to say that we should refrain from any critique of any policy of our neighbours with which we disagree and where we consider it warranted, but it must be done on the merits and not ad hominem.

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4:55 p.m.

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, as always, listening to the hon. member in a debate is mind-blowing, and this one met the bar completely. I thank him for the wisdom he shares with the House.

I cannot comment on all the 11 items that he articulated but I do have two things to ask him.

First, had we been able to deflect the negativism of Russia and France, vis-à-vis continued relations with Iraq and therefore been able to set up a tribunal similar to Rwanda, does the hon. member think that the sheer logistics of that might not still have been daunting?

Second, I would ask him to comment on his thesis for reform of the Security Council and the United Nations with which I concur. I was utterly dismayed when on a recent visit we met with the committee responsible for looking into the reform of the Security Council. The committee had been about its task for eight years, and I found that rather discouraging.

Perhaps he could share a few more enlightening comments with the House.

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5 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs who has herself graced the House with her own expertise and eloquence.

On the first matter, as to whether we might have been able, had we succeeded in deflecting the opposition of Russia and France, to set up an international criminal tribunal for Iraq, might the logistics not have been daunting? They may have been difficult but I do not believe they would have been more daunting than that which occurred in the matter of setting it up for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Indeed, I do not know what could have been more daunting than what had to be set up for Rwanda in the aftermath of the horrific and preventable genocide in Rwanda.

I would have hoped that had we set it up for Iraq at the time in the early 1990s, we would have at least deterred the subsequent and continuing criminality of Saddam Hussein and his regime. We would have at least deterred other countries that might have sought to trade and invest in Iraq. We might have given encouragement to the Iraqi people that we take our commitments seriously, not as they were abandoned in the immediate aftermath of the uprising that they were invited to undertake at the end of the first gulf war. The very establishment of the international criminal tribunal for Iraq would have sent a message to the Iraqi people of showing solidarity with them. That might have encouraged them in the kind of impetus for regime change that we abandoned them in with respect to their revolt.

On the matter of the United Nations and the Security Council and the difficulties of reform, I am not unmindful of those difficulties. Therefore I specified certain specific approaches that we could take. I do believe that we need to rethink, in the light of a post-9/11 universe, some of the foundational doctrines of international law on the use of force.

It is not that I share the American approach with respect to the doctrine of the pre-emptive use of force, I have written elsewhere about it, but I do think we have to rethink the notion of the two exceptions to the use of force, namely, the right of self-defence in response to an armed attack and the necessary authorization by the UN Security Council. Each of those two may have to be revisited. I do not think we can any longer say in a post-9/11 universe that a state has to await an armed attack, because that will in fact convert the United Nations charter into a suicide pact. We need to decide what the nature is of the degree of imminence and clear and present danger that is necessary for purposes of authorizing the use of the right of self-defence.

Similarly, we have to rethink the notion of a UN Security Council authorization. Let me give one example. In the Kosovo principle and precedent it had been mentioned earlier that the resolution was vetoed or not passed, but it was deemed to have legitimacy because the preponderance of members of the Security Council did in fact support it. It did not pass only because of the Russian veto, so we may have to rethink our notions of legitimacy.

We certainly have to re-address norms of international humanitarian law because we are now in the age of super technology in the matter of the exercise of warfare, but the collateral damage that is thought to be prevented still occurs and can still be serious and sustained. We have to address notions of international humanitarian law, how we can give expression and protection to the cardinal principle of the protection of civilian immunity, the prohibition on the indiscriminate use of force and the prohibition on the targeting of mixed civilian-military targets where we cannot distinguished between them and the like.

Finally, on the matter of the UN commission on human rights, I think we can establish criteria that will be such that it will not give exculpatory immunity to the violators but will protect those democracies that are singled out for differential and discriminatory treatment.

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5 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Canadian Alliance Vancouver Island North, BC

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time.

I also would like to say how much I enjoyed listening to the member for Mount Royal both in the House today and in committee this morning. He is always worth a careful listen. He always has more to say than the time allows. The two things are not necessarily compatible but we do have some flexibility in this place.

For the viewers I would like to read quickly the Canadian Alliance motion:

That the House of Commons express its regret and apologize for offensive and inappropriate statements made against the United Stares of America by certain Members of this House; that it reaffirm the United States to be Canada's closest friend and ally and hope that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power; and that the House urge the Government of Canada to assist the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq.

There are three main elements to the motion: an apology for inappropriate statements made against the U.S. by certain members of the House; hope for the U.S.-led coalition success for regime change in Iraq; and that Canada help the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq. This is a no nonsense, straightforward, unambiguous motion unlike the position of the government and unlike the undisciplined and ill-considered remarks of some government members, including members of the cabinet.

Members of Parliament should be responsible for their actions. The motion demands accountability for these actions. The motion also calls on the government to take a principled unambiguous position. This is very unlike the unprincipled and ambiguous position of the Government of Canada to date. This was well described by Andrew Coyne in the National Post on March 31. I will quote a small part of his satirical column in trying to describe Canada's position on Iraq. It states:

Do we make ourselves clear? We are not contributing ground troops to this war. That is to say, we are, but they are not in Iraq. That is to say, they are, but they are not in combat. That is to say, they are. But we do not support them being there.

Let us be clear. We are in favour of UN resolutions but against their enforcement; against the use of force but in favour of threat of it; against fighting the war, but in favour of winning it. This is part of Canada's unique national identity. Other countries may support the war without participating in it. Only Canada is participating without supporting it.

I called it satire. The unfortunate part is that the satire is true, which is why so many Canadians who have been closely following the government's actions on Iraq are so embarrassed.

Let us talk about the first part of today's motion with respect to the offensive and inappropriate statements of members of the House.

The largest bilateral trade dispute in the world is the softwood lumber dispute between Canada and the U.S. As trade critic, I am not happy with the performance of the government, the trade minister or the U.S. department of commerce in settling this dispute, but my severest criticism is reserved for the senior cabinet minister from British Columbia who is also the natural resources energy minister. The minister let his mouth run loose. He said, “The world expects someone who is the president of a superpower to be a statesman. I think he has let not only Americans but the whole world down by not being a statesman”.

He said this after the Prime Minister earlier the same day warned his caucus not to talk that way. The minister is in a leadership role and his comments have hurt Canadians and his prime constituency, British Columbians. Rather than apologize or retract, he stayed silent and tried to obfuscate. Canadians deserve better from senior elected officials.

Does the government support removal of the Saddam Hussein regime? It depends which minister is speaking and what day of the week it is. That is the reason we included this in our opposition motion. We want to get the government on record.

The international community has had a long run with Saddam Hussein. There is a lot of history just in this House of Commons. The invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein preceded coalition action in the 1991 gulf war. Here is what our current Prime Minister said on January 12, 1991, “Mulroney has committed our troops there because he likes to be friends with George Bush. I don't want to be friends with George Bush”.

On January 15, 1991 the now Prime Minister said, “We say that this is not the time for war and that there are other means such as sanctions, embargos and diplomacy”. However on January 23, just over a week later, the dove turned into a hawk. He said, “In order to get Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, you have to crush him”. Later, in 1998 when there was renewed tension in the gulf, the hawk turned into an eagle. On December 17, 1998 he said, “We support the bombing. Saddam Hussein got what he should have expected to get”.

Earlier this year at the end of January there was a take note debate in the House on Iraq. There was an opposition motion on February 6 and an emergency debate on March 17 and yet again another opposition motion on April 3. Why are there all these requests for House time on Iraq? Quite simply, it is because trying to pin down the government on its position on Iraq has been virtually impossible. Through February and March we did not know if the government would participate in the coalition only if the UN Security Council approved action or if the government would participate in concert with our allies, the U.S., the U.K., Australia and what is now some 40 other nations.

What did the government do finally? It said no because France said it could veto any Security Council resolution. Therefore, no new UN resolution was forthcoming. Canada did not express a sovereign decision. The Prime Minister allowed France to determine our position. What an unprivileged sellout.

I am personally embarrassed by the Government of Canada's abandonment of its friends, neighbours, allies, tradition and history. The Prime Minister has guaranteed his legacy and it is not a pretty picture.

The Prime Minister is on record as saying he did not want to be friends with George Bush, Sr. We know there is no friendship between the Prime Minister and George Bush, Jr. We are left with the terrible possibility that the Prime Minister wants to be friends with none other than Saddam Hussein.

Everything the Prime Minister has uttered about Iraq is illogical when placed in chronological order with previous and subsequent statements. Liberal ministers are left without a clear mandate or terms of reference and have to make it up as they go along.

Therefore, the Minister of National Defence is saying that the Canadian officers in Iraq with the U.S., U.K. and Aussie forces are non-combatants. It just so happens that the other side does not know this in the field and they are in harm's way. The government seems to think because we cannot shoot back that everything is okay, but of course we know this is not true either. The lack of clarity and support for our troops from the government is inexcusable.

I spoke on the weekend in Seattle at the Asia Pacific round table. I talked to Americans, naturalized Asian Americans and Asians. It was not just U.S. residents who were bewildered and puzzled by the Canadian position on Iraq, but also the Asian participants.

There is a lot more at stake here than Canada's relationship with the U.S. Also at stake is the signal we send to the rest of world: are we a reliable ally or not? The message the government has been sending since September 11, 2001 has been contrary to the Canadian national interest.

In conclusion, it is time to clear the slate. It is time for all members of the House to clearly support this unambiguous and necessary motion by the Canadian Alliance.

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5:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech with great interest. I could not agree more with the hon. member when he said that it is time we ended this nonsense and showed our friends to the south exactly where we stand on many issues.

I say this because throughout our history, outside the brief time in 1812 when we had a conflict with the Americans, we have been their allies and they have been our allies. They have come to our aid many times as we have to theirs, sometimes maybe not as fast as we would have liked, such as in regard to the second world war, but they came. Not only that but a lot of people tend to forget that the Americans supplied munitions and food during the time when they were not involved directly in the conflict.

I find it terribly frustrating that this friendship is at stake not because of what the Canadian people have done but because of what the government has done. I was wondering if the member could tell us in his own words what has to be done in regard to extending our hand to the Americans.

Whether we like it or not, we need that neighbour to the south. We only stand here today in great part due to having that neighbour to the south.

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5:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Canadian Alliance Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, a lot of Canadians who are embarrassed by the Canadian position on this issue are asking themselves, what can we do to turn this thing around? That is why we saw some very spontaneous rallies in Canada this past weekend and why there are more planned. This is an important question also for members of Parliament.

I went to the U.S. this past weekend for an engagement I had committed to long ago. For the first time ever I was actually embarrassed to display my Canadian identity publicly. It was the first time I had crossed the border into the U.S. and felt anything but proud. That is a great difficulty.

We are family, as the U.S. ambassador described. The Americans would be the first ones to come to our aid. There needs to be a very strong signal, a way at least to engage Canadians in recognizing our relationship. I go back to what I was promoting some time ago, and that is to recognize that on September 11, 2001, a lot more than the U.S. was attacked. Canada and all western nations were attacked.

I have asked for and received very short responses from the government. I have asked for a Canadian memorial to be built for the 26 Canadian victims. There is only one government memorial in this country. It was done by the province of Manitoba. Last September 11 I went to that memorial because it is the only one we have. Canadians who are not from Manitoba should not have to travel that far. We should have one national monument.

That is the start of the process from my perspective. There are obviously dozens of other things including a top-down revamp of the foreign policy posture of the government.

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5:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to the motion today. It has already been read into the record so I will not repeat it.

It is enough to say that this is not our first effort to try to get the government to do the right thing in the House regarding our relationship with our American friends and our position on the Iraqi war. I hope the Liberals will support the motion in the long run and I hope that the logic of it will be forced upon them by next Tuesday when the vote will be taken.

I would like to deal with the first part of the motion last.

First, reaffirming our position as the closest friend and ally of the United States is surely the simplest part of the motion. What person here does not understand the idea that we share not only the longest undefended border with our American friends, but we also share common ideals, principles and values that make their nation great and ours as well. We have a commitment to democracy, the rule of law, property rights, their's may be stronger than ours. We have a commitment to due process and to do what is right even when it costs us sometimes.

Those kind of values are something that we share with our American friends and is something that we like to export around the world, even in our trading with other people in our business relationships. That is why we put free trade agreements in place and why we adhere to WTO rules and so on. We want other nations to understand that this is the way Canadians do business. We respect their ability to run their country and to do things differently but there are rules that we all play by. The Americans respect them.

They are our best friends, our best allies and our best partners economically, militarily and friendship wise and we have more ties in every way with the Americans. This part of the motion is easy to support and I cannot imagine anyone who will not support that wholeheartedly.

Second, the hope that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power, I think again is easy to support.

It is difficult to understand what the Liberal position is on this. On the one hand the Liberals say they are not in favour of regime change. On the other hand the Prime Minister says that of course he would like Saddam Hussein removed from power but he does not want it done by force. He would just as soon they had a general election to remove Saddam Hussein. It is just incredible.

Saddam Hussein has been terrorizing his own people for a dozen years. He invaded two other countries. He has used weapons of mass destruction against his own people and against neighbouring countries. He has cared not a wit about environmental degradation, about human rights abuses, about the opinions of world leaders or the status of his own people. He needs to be replaced. Resolutions and hand-wringing will not get it done. The coalition will go in there and remove Saddam Hussein from power. Our party thinks that we should at least wish the U.S. success.

It is interesting that this motion does not even say that the government has to get in there, muck it out with them and do the heavy lifting. It only says that we wish them success.

Interestingly this morning the Deputy Prime Minister said that he preferred another motion. He had another idea. Part of the motion states, “our hope that the U.S. led coalition accomplishes its mission as quickly as possible with the fewest casualties”. I agree with that part of the motion as well.

However what is the U.S. mission? The U.S. mission is regime change. The Deputy Prime Minister supports the mission of the U.S.-led coalition and hopes that it accomplishes as quickly as possible but the Liberals do not support regime change.

The Liberal position, again, is incomprehensible. It is embarrassing for Canadians to try to read the tea leaves on a daily basis of are we in the war or are we not and do we have troops there or not. We have naval vessels but they cannot intercept Iraqis but they can intercept terrorists. It is as if they have to examine the bombs on the boat. If the bombs say that they are made for terrorist purposes only, then I guess they can intercept it. It is just ridiculous and the position is untenable and illogical. That is why this is an effort at least to say that we wish them success.

The final part of the motion is that we urge the government to assist the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq. The government says in its motion that it would like to commit Canada to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq. There is something appalling to the government about assisting the coalition. Members will not say those words. It is like the words cannot come out of their mouths, that it is a mental block when we say “assist the coalition”. They are poisonous words to the Liberals but they should not be and they are not to Iraqis who are looking for help and assistance.

It is interesting to me that while the Americans and the coalition are putting together their armed forces and the military force to depose the tyrant, Saddam Hussein, alongside are supply ships full of medications and medicines, food, basic supplies, water purification, everything to help the Iraqi people. They are side by side with the military force. As soon as it was safe to go into Basra, they were there. They are trying their best to deliver that aid as quickly as possible.

We are saying let us assist the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq. I do not think there is much doubt about who will win this confrontation. I am sure the American-led coalition will win. I would say to the Liberals, can we not at least say that we will assist the coalition in the reconstruction? Can we not say that there are 40-some other countries there helping the Americans, that wish them well and will help with the reconstruction? Can we not at least say that we will help the coalition reconstruct Iraq for the benefit of the people of Iraq? For some reason, it is poison in the water on the Liberal side. They will not say it.

Finally, we have said that the House should express its regret and apologize for offensive and inappropriate statements made against the United States of America by certain members of this House. There is not much doubt about the seriousness of this part of the motion. We have not condemned the government in here. I personally hold the government more responsible than this motion does. All we say is that the House of Commons expresses regret. We do not blame the government. We are not holding any particular member responsible. We are not naming a prime minister for example. We are not saying that the foreign affairs minister is the man to blame.

All we are saying is that we express regret to our American friends. We are sorry about some of the remarks made. We could go through the list again. We are sorry for calling people names and calling the American President scandalous names, and right in the middle of the war they are fighting on behalf of freedom loving people everywhere. We just say that we should express our regrets that we are sorry it happened. Let us put it behind us and let us move on. That should be easy to support as well.

One of the principles that I have learned from this is in a crucible of a crisis the real content of our character comes out. The real content of the character of the Liberals has manifested itself in the way they have attacked our American friends, and that is a shame. In the crucible of a crisis we do not develop our character or principles, it is manifested and it manifested itself in a very negative way. This motion should be passed to try to correct that.

Second, Canadians expect leadership when important complex issues face the country. Why did Prime Minister Blair consistently make the case for intervening in Iraq? Because he wanted to lead his people. He did not just read the polls, he led the people. Why has his support for the intervention in Iraq gone from 10% to 60% in three weeks? Because Prime Minister Blair led his country. We expected something similar from this government and we have been sadly disappointed.

Third, it is not my original comment but injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere and injustice to anyone is an injustice to everyone. The Prime Minister has said who is next if we depose Saddam Hussein and maybe we would have to depose the president of Zimbabwe or something. Maybe we should talk about that. Maybe we should start saying why has this government not stood four-square behind the people of Zimbabwe and kicked the ambassador of Zimbabwe out of this country? Why did we not say that kind of tyrant was not welcome in our country and the representation was not welcome? We are starting to send messages, not armed intervention but some kind of a message that this kind of action is not tolerated.

Last, we cannot deter tyrants simply by having an international court. Tyrants are deterred by threatening to put them in front of a court for judgment.

Having a court by itself is not enough to deter tyrants from tyrannical action. They have to fear that one day they will be in front of that court facing the supreme punishment. Just to say that we hope the courts do the job is not enough. Tyrants need to know that they are one step away from judgment and when that happens, then the world will be a safer place and tyrants will be looking over their shoulders instead of committing ongoing acts of atrocity.

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5:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 5:30 p.m. it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings. Pursuant to order made earlier today all questions on the motion are deemed put and the recorded division deemed demanded and deferred until Tuesday, April 8, at 3 p.m.

Message from the SenateGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed certain bills, to which the concurrence of this House is desired.

Message from the SenateRoyal Assent

5:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

April 3, 2003

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 3rd day of April, 2003 at 4:35 p.m.

Yours sincerely

Barbara Uteck

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule says that royal assent was given to Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act, Chapter 5; and Bill C-227, An Act respecting a national day of remembrance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Chapter 6.

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Free Trade AgreementsPrivate Members' Business

April 3rd, 2003 / 5:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

moved:

Motion M-391

That, in the opinion of this House, any free trade agreement entered into by Canada, whether bilateral or multilateral, must include rules for the protection of foreign investments which do not violate the ability of parliamentary and government institutions to act, particularly on behalf of the common good, and must exclude any investor-state redress provisions and consequently, the Canadian government must enter into negotiations with its American and Mexican partners with a view to bringing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in line with the aforementioned principles.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to move Motion No. 391, which calls on the Government of Canada to no longer negotiate a certain number of things in free trade agreements, whether bilateral, that is between Canada and another country, or multilateral, for example, within the current negotiation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas or the World Trade Organization.

This motion calls on the Government of Canada to no longer negotiate rules for the protection of foreign investments that would violate the ability of parliamentary and government institutions to act on behalf of the common good and in the public interest.

I will read it so that everyone can understand what this debate is about:

That, in the opinion of this House, any free trade agreement entered into by Canada, whether bilateral or multilateral, must include rules for the protection of foreign investments which do not violate the ability of parliamentary and government institutions to act, particularly on behalf of the common good, and must exclude any investor-state redress provisions and consequently, the Canadian government must enter into negotiations with its American and Mexican partners with a view to bringing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in line with the aforementioned principles.

As I was saying, not only do we want, through this motion, to urge the Canadian government in the future to not negotiate provisions that violate public interest or the ability of parliamentaryand government institutions to act, particularly on behalf of this public interest and the common good, but we also want the Canadian government to ban agreements including investor-state redressprovisions. I will have the opportunity to come back to this point during my presentation.

Finally, further to the opinion provided to the government by the House, we consider it appropriate for the Canadian government toenter into negotiations with its American and Mexican partnerswith a view to bringing the North American Free TradeAgreement into line with the aforementionedprinciples, particularly in Chapter 11, which provides for the protection of foreign investments. For Canada, this would obviously involve investments by Mexico and the United States. For the United States, it would involve foreign investments by the other two partners, and so on for Mexico.

I remind the House that direct foreign investments have become the biggest challenge of current negotiations, with respect to both the FTAA and the WTO.

Each year, nearly $4,000 billion US is directly invested abroad by the various countries. Of course, the vast majority of these investments come from Northern or developed countries, around the world.

As for Canada, every year, $430 billion are directly invested abroad by Canadian companies and individuals.

The negotiation of rules for the protection of foreign investments has become a major issue. Let us take, for instance, the last meeting of the Ministers for International Trade held in Doha. Nobody, including our own international trade minister, expected specific discussions over the issue of investments. Before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the minister told us that, in terms of investments, he did not expect anything to come out of the meeting in Doha.

Suprisingly, the Ministers for International Trade agreed to begin discussions about the provisions for the protection of investments that could be included in the World Trade Organization agreement.

Therefore, we have to be very clear on the issue of protecting investments. We have a problem with the model currently included in the North American Free Trade Agreement. The House should make it clear that it is against using the current NAFTA model in the upcoming negotiations on the protection of investments.

There are at least three issues that need to be raised about chapter 11 of NAFTA. The first is the notion of expropriation, which is much too broad and would now include direct expropriation, meaning that if a firm has assets abroad that a level of government needs to expropriate for some reason, compensation will be granted, which is only normal.

Not only does direct expropriation now give rise to compensation, but if memory serves, with section 1110 of chapter 11, the concept of expropriation now extends to loss of profits, which are referred to as indirect expropriations.

For example, during a temporary Canadian government moratorium, the American company SD Myers, which was supposed to receive PCBs from Canada for destruction by burning, claimed it had been dispossessed of an economic activity and thus deprived of profits. It went before a special NAFTA chapter 11 tribunal and was awarded $6 million in compensation. This was not for activities carried out, but for activities it could have carried out, had it not been for the Canadian regulations.

In our opinion, this concept of indirect expropriation is abusive and we should revert to the concept of expropriation of actual assets.

The second problematical element in NAFTA's chapter 11 is the expanded concept of investment. Lending agencies are now also considered investors under the provisions of NAFTA and those relating to the protection of investments.

We might find ourselves in a very strange situation where a bank could loan money to a Canadian, an American or a Mexican company. While that company might not feel that it has been harmed in any way following the enforcement of this new legislation or of new regulations, the bank that has loaned the money could, under chapter 11, challenge the government decision and seek some compensation under the agreement.

Finally, the third problem is with the investor-state redress provisions that allow foreign companies recourse not available to domestic companies. These foreign companies can bring the governments before the special courts--as I have mentioned in the case of SD Myers--something a first nations company cannot do. I think it is totally unfair to put the public and private interests on the same footing. Which is why I think we should eliminate the investor-state redress provisions.

Also, the special courts set up under NAFTA are not transparent enough, as was recognized by the Minister for International Trade.

So far, there have been just over 20 suits filed by companies, either in Canada, the United States or Mexico. I think it is important to mention that almost half of these suits have involved environmental issues.

Since we have just signed the Kyoto protocol, we will soon be looking at the implementation phase. Well, chapter 11 of NAFTA could very well become, in the hands, for instance, of American companies--need I remind the House that the United States has not signed the Kyoto protocol--a weapon against any new initiative the Canadian government or the provinces might want to take.

As I said earlier, these provisions would not prevent governments from taking any action, but they would allow companies to seek compensation. Therefore, Canada and Quebec would have to pay to be able to uphold their international commitments under the Kyoto protocol.

I mentioned that there were some 20 suits. As for Canada, I can point out a few. In the case of Ethyl Corporation, there was an out of court settlement that cost Canadian taxpayers $13 million; SD Myers—I mentioned it earlier—cost $6 million; there was Pope & Talbot, which challenged an agreement that Canada had signed with the United States and which provided for quotas. It felt it had been penalized by this agreement. Indeed, the Americans forced us to sign it because they were challenging, as they are doing now, our forestry management in the case of the softwood lumber industry.

UPS is currently suing the Canadian government. Last December, the Canadian government lost the first level of appeal because it claimed that the grievance filed by UPS did not come under chapter 11, but under another chapter of NAFTA. However, the court decided that it had jurisdiction.

There are also Sun Belt Water and Crompton Corporation which are suing or want to sue the Canadian government under chapter 11. There are other cases in the United States. There are also some in Mexico.

Thus, on the whole, the existence of this chapter 11 in NAFTA and in other bilateral agreements signed by Canada raises a problem of governance and democracy.

When democratic bodies, elected representatives, be it Parliament or the government, make decisions, it seems to me that these decisions must have precedence over private interests. However, NAFTA, specially chapter 11, gives equal importance to private interests and the public interest, the common good, the common interest.

Even if in general the best interest of multinationals or foreign firms operating in a country coincides with the common good and the public interest, it is not necessarily true all the time. This is why we believe we must have foreign investment protection clauses that give precedence to the public interest.

The second matter at issue, after this matter of governance and democracy, has to do with other NAFTA provisions. Some in particular, under chapter 12, which deals with trade and services, are putting pressure on our public services in Canada and Quebec.

I mentioned UPS a moment ago. This shows that private businesses and multinationals can use NAFTA provisions to challenge, for instance, Canada Post's monopoly, claiming unfair competition with regard to courier services. That is what UPS has done.

As for health care, it is clear that the current agreements are protecting our health care system as it stands now, but are preventing its expansion. In this regard, it is worth noting that several studies done for the Romanow Commission showed the dangers posed by chapter 11 of NAFTA in particular.

I am referring to, for instance, study No. 32, conducted by Richard Ouellet, of Laval University, entitled “The Effects of International Trade Agreements on Canadian Health Measures: Options for Canada with a View to the Upcoming Trade Negotiations”. Mr. Ouellet talked about potential major risks for our health care system.

Another study entitled “How will International Trade Agreements Affect Canadian Health Care?” was conducted by Mr. Jon R. Johnson. It is study No. 22. It is even more clear.

I will quote a short paragraph from page 29.

The single provision in all the trade liberalizing agreements that has the most negative potential impact on Canada's public health care is NAFTA Article 1110. If this provision and the accompanying investor/state dispute settlement procedures had existed in the 1960s, the public health care system in its present form would never have come into existence.

This is the article on expropriation and compensation that I was talking about earlier.

This is extremely worrisome, and it seems to us that this House should tell the government that the whole chapter 11 should be reviewed and that, in the future, we should not include similar provisions in the agreements that we sign.

Unfortunately, I notice that Canada has signed 18 agreements with southern countries that include chapters on the protection of investments that are similar to NAFTA's model.

So, as I mentioned, we must reject this approach and redirect it with our partners. Currently, when there is a dispute at the World Trade Organization, it is dealt with between states. It is not Bombardier or EMBRAER that sues the Brazilian government or the Canadian government. It is the Canadian government and the Brazilian government that represent the interests of their respective companies.

In the FTA, which preceded NAFTA, chapter 19 included a state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism. As for the FTAA and the WTO, the Minister for International Trade has always told us that it was out of the question to have an investment protection model similar to the one found in chapter 11.

In the proposals that it just tabled as part of the WTO negotiations, the European Union announced that it categorically rejects the investor-state dispute settlement procedure. Finally, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs also rejected it last spring.

For all these reasons, we must go back to a foreign investment protection mechanism that gives priority to the common good, that tightens up the definitions of expropriation and investment, and that prohibits the investor-state dispute settlement procedure and goes back to a state-to-state mechanism.

For all these reasons, I am convinced that the vast majority of members in this House will support motion M-391.

Free Trade AgreementsPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey Ontario

Liberal

Murray Calder LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, at the outset I would like to say right off the bat that the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Minister for International Trade do not support Motion No. 391.

One of the key objectives of the Government of Canada is the promotion of prosperity. From trade and foreign policy perspectives, there are two key elements required to meet this objective.

First, we need to foster the expansion of Canada's international and economic interests abroad. This is achieved by gaining and maintaining market access for Canadian goods and services and by supporting and protecting Canadian investment interests in foreign markets.

Second, the government policy needs to support a secure and predictable business environment. This is critical if we are to successfully attract foreign investment into Canada and create a competitive environment where the import of ideas, goods, services and capital can be combined with Canada's resources.

How can Canada benefit from investment flows? Capital flows worldwide have grown rapidly in recent years, far faster than trade over the past two decades, and have contributed to global economic integration. Canada is an active player in this global economy. For example, Canadian direct investment abroad more than quadrupled from $98 billion in 1990 to $432 billion in 2002. Over the same period, direct investment in Canada more than doubled, from $131 billion to $349 billion in 2002. It is interesting to note that since 1996 Canadian direct investment abroad has surpassed foreign direct investment in Canada.

These dramatic figures underline the fact that Canadian businesses know that if they are to prosper they must compete internationally. Many Canadian companies not only export their goods and services but have also established production facilities abroad through international investment or established a commercial presence in foreign markets in order to supply their services. Other companies have significant minority ownership in companies in foreign markets. International investment is thus becoming a central element for success in today's global economy. As such, the Canadian business community has established high standard and internationally agreed upon rules that ensure a level and transparent playing field and include recourse for impartial dispute settlements, which is critical for companies who invest abroad.

Outward investment plays an important role in promoting Canada's interests. Outward foreign direct investment creates jobs abroad and at home as it strengthens the commercial links between countries by establishing a presence in foreign markets and by sharing Canadian expertise. It also increases the export of our goods and services.

This positive link between outward investment and jobs at home was highlighted in a 1999 OECD study of 14 countries, which estimated that each dollar of outward investment generated $2 of additional exports. This is good for us as an exporting country.

On the flip side, foreign investment in Canada is a major source of economic growth and an important contributor to the creation of jobs here at home, often higher paying and more highly skilled ones. In addition, research shows that inward foreign investment spurs innovation by bringing new ideas and technologies to our companies, providing much needed additional capital, and contributing to exports. Such investment makes our country economically stronger and contributes to a higher quality of life for all Canadians.

Why does Canada need investment agreements? Given the important contribution made by international investment to the economy of all countries, it is not surprising that governments are increasingly establishing the frameworks necessary to create an attractive investment environment. For many countries, this has meant simplification or abolition of investment screening mechanisms, the easing of sectoral investment restrictions, and the opening of entire sectors to foreign investment.

Frequently, these domestic efforts to improve the investment climate have been augmented by the international agreements, which provide rules at the international level to promote and protect investments.

The desire of government to facilitate freer flows of international investment through international rule-making is reflected in the dramatic increase of the number of bilateral investment treaties, BITs, during the 1990s. These treaties were designed to provide predictability, protection and transparency, and access for investors in specific priority and emerging economies. There are now in the range of 2,000 BITs worldwide, compared to less than 400 at the beginning of the 1990s.

At the regional and multilateral level, groups of countries have begun to pursue investment rule-making. Arrangements as diverse as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, and the Southern Cone Common Market have all made commitments to the development of rules reflecting and liberalizing investment policies.

Typically, these agreements focus on improving the conditions under which investments are made and include key principles such as: transparency, by providing open reporting and publishing of national investment rules and relevancy regulation changes so that investors can have a clear understanding of the rules of the game; non-discrimination, by undertaking obligations not to discriminate against investors on the basis of their nationality; protection, by ensuring fair and equitable treatment in accordance with the customary international law standards for the treatment of aliens, compensation in the event of expropriation, and free cross-border transfer of funds; and finally, the impartial dispute settlement mechanism, which we have used many times, by providing binding dispute settlement procedures to settle disputes arising from alleged breaches of the obligations taken by the parties.

A medium-sized and open economy such as Canada has supported these principles in the international trade and investment area. This is what Canada has promoted in numerous international negotiations, including the NAFTA and our bilateral Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements, FIPAs. The rules within the NAFTA and the FIPAs provide a framework of disciplines to encourage efficient resolution of disputes and greater consistency in legal and policy regimes. These rules are often for a greater measure of security for Canadian investors through assurances that national policies would not be changed unduly or applied in a discriminatory manner.

Canada has numerous agreements which contain investment protection rules and provide recourse for impartial investment state dispute settlement. These rules ensure that business investors would be treated even-handedly and in accordance with international law by setting out dispute resolution procedures to resolve disputes between the investor and the host government.

I believe that Motion No. 391 is redundant because we already have the rules in place.

Free Trade AgreementsPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Canadian Alliance Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 391 brought forward by the member for Joliette. It reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, any free trade agreement entered into by Canada, whether bilateral or multilateral, must include rules for the protection of foreign investments which do not violate the ability of parliamentary and government institutions to act, particularly on behalf of the common good, and must exclude any investor-state redress provisions and consequently, the Canadian government must enter into negotiations with its American and Mexican partners with a view to bringing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in line with the aforementioned principles.

This is all about chapter 11 of NAFTA. Many Canadians have heard about chapter 11 in reference to the bankruptcy rules in the U.S. and that is a large point of confusion. What we are talking about here is chapter 11 of NAFTA, something quite separate and different.

The premise of the member's motion runs contrary to the principle of national treatment which mandates that foreign based companies should be treated the same as domestic ones unless compensated. National treatment investor rules are contained in chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.

If foreign companies believe they will not be discriminated against then more companies will compete to provide goods and services. Competition ensures that Canadians, or our trading partners, receive the highest value for their hard earned money.

The Bloc Québécois, Maude Barlow, the NDP, and environmental activists argue that chapter 11 of NAFTA would destroy the ability of Canada's three levels of government to make individual decisions and that corporations would be able to challenge Canadian sovereignty in areas such as health care, education, labour and environmental standards. They never talk about investor protection for Canadian companies in other countries.

Chapter 11 allows private companies to sue federal governments covered under NAFTA over policies that expropriate their profits. Chapter 11 was designed to help reduce the risk of investing in foreign countries. It embodies the strongest rights and remedies ever granted to foreign investors in an international agreement. The process allows foreign investors to utilize a country's domestic court system or alternatively to use independent arbitrators instead. This is only fair. This gives foreign investors remedies available beyond the domestic courts which may be stacked completely against them.

Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement sets down the rules protecting foreign investors in the three countries bound by NAFTA: Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

There are two sections of the chapter, the first being substantive and the second outlining procedures for dispute resolution. The second section is where the tribunals under the authority of supranational bodies and agreements are set up, namely, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in the World Bank and the United Nations International Convent on International Trade Law.

Despite all of the international agreements that we have seen proliferate in the world, chapter 11 in NAFTA is unique. It is the first comprehensive, international trade treaty to provide to private parties direct access to dispute settlement as a right.

Chapter 11, by all accounts, has been controversial largely because of various high profile environmental organizations that dominated much of the debate. The national treatment and most favoured nation status requirements are modeled on the similar provision in the World Trade Organization where they apply to trade in goods and services. A decision on whether to negotiate similar provisions in the WTO will be taken later this year at the ministerial meetings in Mexico.

There are reservations and exceptions to chapter 11. Various activities are excluded for all parties, including: education, health and welfare, procurement, subsidies, grants and foreign aid. Local government measures are not subject to direct claims, although non-conforming measures of local governments have been seen as indirectly the responsibility of national governments. We can talk about that when we talk about the Metalclad case which is one of the three cases trotted out as being the rationale for saying that chapter 11 should not be in NAFTA.

There are strict rules regarding expropriation and restrictions on the ability of the state to expropriate and a subsequent obligation to compensate. This section was designed primarily to protect investments from Canada and the U.S. from arbitrary government action, such as nationalization in Mexico, where the legal system was much less developed and private property rights less regularly protected.

What purpose does chapter 11 serve? At its most basic level, the theoretical economic and political basis for the provisions of the chapter lie in the principles of the sanctity of private property against random or unaccountable government action, and that of well-regulated market forces being most able to allocate private investment efficiently, thereby increasing productivity and general welfare.

High levels of investment are important for developing productivity and so we do not want to see discrimination between investment on the basis of origin, foreign or domestic, as it is counterproductive. Furthermore, the importance of transparency and codified regulatory frameworks are essential for attracting foreign investment. That is what chapter 11 is all about.

In a sense the chapter actually enhances national sovereignty insofar as measures which respect sovereignty are those which do not mandate unilateral sanctions or justify extraterritorial reach of national measures. I would argue that this chapter is a codified multilateral agreement entered into and maintained freely by sovereign governments who enter into it.

There have been three successful cases that are often talked about. One of the most prominent is the MMT case. In that case the Canadian government was found to have banned MMT without scientific evidence. We ended up paying a $20 million out of court settlement to Ethyl Corporation. I was in the House of Commons when that happened. I can say with certainty that we warned the government not to expropriate MMT's profits by the actions it subsequently took and it ended up paying for them.

In the case of Metalclad, it only had a case because the Mexican government had assured them they had all the necessary permits, environmental and otherwise, to build an industrial waste facility. Then the city of Guadalcazar refused to issue a building permit and the state government subsequently declared the site a nature reserve. This had nothing to do with environmental protection. It had everything to do with protection against unilateral action.

In summary, I oppose the bill.

Free Trade AgreementsPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to briefly make some comments on the motion introduced by the member for Joliette, Motion No. 391. I congratulate the member for bringing the motion before the House. It is an extremely important discussion and one that needs a good deal more public debate and parliamentary debate.

I guess I should not be surprised, but I never cease to be disappointed, that instead of really addressing the substantive issue that has brought forward the motion, what we heard from the government member who spoke was the usual hyperbolic ecstasy about how wonderful and flawless the free trade agreements have been into which the government has entered.

Although I did not manage to hear all of his comments due to another commitment, I did hear enough to know that basically what he was doing was waxing eloquent about how much satisfaction there is among investors with the provisions of this series of free trade agreements into which Canada has entered and would propose to further involve itself.

I have no doubt that it is true that in the main investors are quite pleased with the support of the government to put in place what has been acknowledged to be a unique provision in a trade agreement which is one, we could say, I think if we were to look at it superficially, to just address the question, of being evenhanded and fair in the treatment of investors.

However, I think if we were to look more closely at the concerns that arise from a great many individual citizens, a great many parliamentarians of not just one political stripe but several, and certainly among a good many countries that have had the opportunity to look at this issue from the point of view of whether they would want to see a chapter 11, as currently included in NAFTA, reproduced and further extended to all of North America, there are indeed substantive concerns that underlie the reservations that have been raised.

I think at the very heart is not the idea that any of the critics of chapter 11, any of those who feel that chapter 11 should be eliminated or massively renegotiated, is the concern that in fact what has happened is that the rights of citizens and, in some cases, the rights of communities, have been subjugated to the rights of investors.

I know that some who would critique those concerns would ask whether we were totally unconcerned that investors can face arbitrary measures that might result in unfair expropriation of property. We are not for a moment. There is the need, absolutely, to have a rules based system that governs international trade. Let me say clearly that is why the New Democratic Party has talked in the whole debate about fair trade. We made it clear that we are very much in favour of a rules based trading system.

The question is who will really get to craft, to shape the rules. Who will be the beneficiary and who will be the victim of rules if they are not evenhanded? I think that fundamentally it is the responsibility of governments to ensure that the ability of governments to act in the public interest is not just protected and preserved but in fact enhanced.

If there is one thing that has characterized a number of very alarming decisions that have been reached under this chapter 11 provision, which in our view needs to be overhauled, it is the subjugation of the public interest, the common good.

I could not believe my ears when I heard a member of the official opposition talking enthusiastically about how important it is to have regulations that provide important protections. These were welcome remarks to hear from those who have been so enthusiastic about deregulation on so many fronts embracing the importance of having regulations to govern trade relations as they should every other aspect of our economic and social relationships where there is the potential for the public interest to be overruled by powerful personal or private interests.

If we look at what has been at the heart of the Metalclad case and what has been at the heart of the MMT Ethyl Corporation case, it has been, in both of those cases, a real concern about the inability of citizens and communities to protect the public good. A suggestion was made that in the case of Metalclad the real problem was that Mexican laws were somehow inadequate or underdeveloped and therefore Metalclad had a claim to essentially say that they had interfered with its profits and therefore it had a basis for seeking redress.

Even if people are not familiar with all of the details of those cases, if what they are concerned about is protecting the public from environmental hazards, protecting the public from threats to public health, and it is determined that a municipality, in the case of Mexico, is not free to act on behalf of its citizens, then there is something wrong with the rules or the way in which the rules are being interpreted and enforced.

I do not think it is an accident that many municipal governments across this country have expressed alarm about this and some other provisions of the trade agreements into which the government has so enthusiastically entered or is trying to entice Canadians. The reality is that municipal governments are also there to protect the public interest. They have to be able to do so within a frame of reference and within a regulatory regime that allows them to act on behalf of the communities they were elected to represent.

It is regrettable in the extreme that the government appears to have moved from an earlier position. I heard this expressed again and again by the international trade minister who recognizes the problems with chapter 11. I remember on several occasions when the international trade minister stood in the House and agreed that there were serious problems with chapter 11, that chapter 11 needed to be revised and revamped because it could not be allowed for corporate interests and corporate profits to override, as has happened in several high profile cases; the public interest, the public health and the community health.

I see that my time is up. I hope there can be some further serious engagement around the issues that are at the very heart of Motion No. 391 that has been introduced for debate today.

Perhaps government members could explain how it is that the government went from having a critical analysis of the problems posed by chapter 11, that allow for investor interests and corporate profits to take precedence over individual, community, citizen and public interest, and we could move forward with understanding at least why there has been this kind of retreat from what seemed to be a welcome enlightenment, a welcome progressive insight by the government as to why this needed to be addressed.

I congratulate the member for Joliette for putting the motion before the House and I hope we will have some further constructive debate on the issue.