Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak tonight in this important debate on the entire issue of the World Health Organization.
A few moments ago, my hon. colleague from Verchères—Les-Patriotes referred to the questions asked in 2002 by Antoine Dubé, the former member for Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière. At that time, in 2002, we were not facing the current situation, namely, confronting this disease that has now struck all over the world. Even the people of Toronto got bad news on the weekend.
I would like to say that this debate is not about economics or politics. It is about health. When we talk about health issues, politics and economics must take a back seat.
I have heard the representatives of the Liberal government start in with petty politics. Just now, I heard the secretary of state lecture us about the constitution, an amazing history lesson that had nothing to do with the motion put forward today by the Canadian Alliance. When that same secretary of state said he was in favour of Taiwan being granted status with the WHO as long as it was China that sponsored Taiwan for membership, I found it hard to believe how little these people read.
I have here a recent news story, written by a Globe & Mail journalist on May 20, 2003, saying that at the annual assembly of the World Health Organization last week in Geneva, the lobby from totalitarian China was adamant that Taiwan should not have observer status at the WHO.
The Liberal government and the current Prime Minister pride themselves on being open, democratic and attuned to all the world's problems. Today, when the Canadian Alliance puts forward a reasonable motion, we have to sit here and listen to a rehash of an old constitutional argument focussing on politics and economics, with nothing said about the essence of this motion, which is health.
I would like to say—and I direct my message especially to the Liberals over there—that incredible efforts have already been made, particularly in the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, where, despite dissent, we obtained a victory. We recommended strongly that Taiwan have observer status at the World Health Organization.
I also have a letter here signed by Thomas Chen, representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. He informs us that, currently, 161 members of this House—including the vast majority of Bloc Quebecois members, I am proud to say, and the vast majority of the Alliance too, I believe—signed this petition demanding that Taiwan be given observer status at the WHO.
The chair of the Canada–Taiwan ParliamentaryFriendship Group, the hon. member for Scarborough East, said the same thing. He was able to make the distinction between an economic debate, a political debate and a debate on health. I think he was one of the 161 signatories. I strongly urge him to find out which members of his party signed this petition so that when the question is put, the House can confirm the work already done by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. At that moment, it would be clear that, in this Parliament, there is consistency in action, meaning consistency with regard to the actions of a committee and those of the House of Commons itself.
I think that, now, given the crisis that the world, China, Taiwan and, once again, Toronto are facing, foreign observers are looking at what the House of Commons is doing; they are hoping that the Canadian government will show openness and understanding. They are not hoping solely for an economic and political debate devoid of humanism and compassion, given what Asia, particularly China and Taiwan, is currently experiencing.
When I see that the Liberal government is once again using “mainland China”, as they say in English, as a model, I find it very difficult to trust this government, which has already been taken to task about transparency and the free flow of information. It is clear that, over there, the State controls almost all the information to the media. But, it is impossible not to be concerned here, when we see the statistics China is releasing. No one can go to China to check and tell us otherwise.
It is likely that the crisis in China at the present time is far more significant that it seems; no one really knows. In order to protect Taiwan and other countries, then, it is important for Taiwan to have WHO observer status. This is a highly technical matter, a matter of organization. When individuals or countries are part of an organization, even if not able to speak, they listen, they know what is going on, instead of just having the facts reported to them. As a result, when they come out of a meeting, they are in a position to give an opinion and to act.
What the LIberal government is doing at this time is trying to push Taiwan aside. But when it is a matter of economics, of policy, of money, there is no problem. Taiwan even has status within the World Trade Organization. Yet what in this world is more important than health?
This then is the message I am sending once again to the Liberal government: when the Liberal members have to vote on the Canadian Alliance motion on the importance of Taiwan having observer status at the World Health Organization, I trust that they will be guided by concerns of health, humanity, compassion and open-mindedness and will say, “Yes, Taiwan”.