House of Commons Hansard #108 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was norad.

Topics

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is somewhat of an historic day here. I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. We have reduced an estimate.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Comuzzi Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee on Transport has considered the estimates for 2003-04 and has the honour to present its third report.

Pursuant to the orders of the House dated Wednesday, February 26 for the consideration of estimates 2003-04 on votes 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60, your committee has considered vote 25 under transport, VIA Rail Canada Inc., for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004, and has reduced vote 25 from $266,201,000 to $257,201,000, which is equivalent to a 2.95% reduction, amounting to $9 million.

A copy of the relevant minutes of the proceedings of Meeting No. 30 is hereby tabled.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

The House has just been presented with the report of the Standing Committee on Transport. This committee reported the estimates this morning, which were referred by the House of Commons. So, the committee's decision is the result of an order from the House, meaning that the House mandated the committee to make such a decision.

The committee, therefore, made certain decisions and reported them to the House; this is an official report. This is the ultimate responsibility of parliamentary committees in terms of reports and decisions.

That said, I draw the Chair's attention to Marleau and Montpetit's House of Commons Procedure and Practice , pages 244 and 245. Under “Committee Rooms”, it says:

Committees may meet anywhere in the parliamentary precinct provided the requirements for—

This is a condition.

—interpretation—

This is the first requirement.

—and recording—

That is it.

—are met.

This was not, in my opinion, observed this morning.

Referring to Marleau and Montpetit page 835 respecting committees:

Meetings of committees usually take place in specially equipped rooms in the Parliament Buildings, but committees may hold meetings elsewhere in Canada. The meeting rooms are usually arranged in an open-rectangle configuration.

There is discussion of the equipment in the room, the staff assigned to committee members, where everyone sits and it is then stated that:

Committee meetings are ordinarily open to the public—

So, the decisions reached on matters referred by this House, particularly formal decisions, are made in rooms “open to the public and the media”. The reference continues as follows:

Simultaneous interpretation services are offered to committee members, witnesses and members of the public at all committee meetings.

The public has a right to be present, and simultaneous interpretation is available. As I have already said, recording must also be possible.

I would invite the Chair to look into this. Before the report is accepted, I would ask you to defer your ruling until later today, if you would so desire. Firstly, this ruling will determine whether these rules, and the respect of Canada's official languages, were observed when the decisions were reached at this morning's meeting, as well as the public aspect. There were no witnesses to be heard, and I know that certain employees of Parliament were denied access to the room. The ruling will also address the matter of recording and, thirdly, the strict observation of our rules relating to official languages as far as simultaneous interpretation is concerned.

I am certain that the Chair will have no option but to reach the conclusion that these rules were not duly observed and that this report, as presented to us this morning, is not indeed such and is therefore found to be out of order by the Chair.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would hope the government side is not citing a technical rule for a perverse purpose, because its real argument is the issue of the substance of what the committee reported and it is only using a technical argument.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Comuzzi Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to what the House leader had to say. He referred to some references in the parliamentary procedure. I would like to report as an aside that perhaps if we had proceeded and had some control over the process that has been happening in the House of Commons over the last little while we could have avoided the problem we found ourselves in last evening.

We started our meeting yesterday afternoon at 3:30. There was much debate over the estimates. We concluded the meeting last night after a continuous hearing from 3:30 in the afternoon to 9:30 last evening. We did not adjourn the meeting last night. We suspended the meeting at that point in time in as much as we did not have a quorum present at 9:30. We attempted and the clerk attempted to get a quorum.

When the meeting was suspended last evening and because there was no other place in the House to conduct that meeting we decided to use a room in the parliamentary dining room. At 8 o'clock this morning the suspended meeting of last evening was commenced again. We did have interpretation and recording. An interpreter from the interpreter's department was present at the table to offer interpretation.

Therefore we did in fact provide the proper interpretation services. We had the recording, the clerk was present and we had a quorum. We debated until five minutes to ten because the estimates had to be presented today or else they would go on as approved.

I am really disappointed in the actions that our House leader has taken this morning with reference to a legal technicality. I think we have obliged every rule of jurisprudence in the House. I want to compliment the members of the transport committee for having the diligence and perseverance to go through the work that we have had to go through for the last several weeks in order to get these estimates through.

I take what the House leader has said as an affront to the work of the committee, and I stand by the recommendations that I presented.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is important to put on the record, as this could be setting a terrible precedent, that committees are masters of their own proceedings. I also want to point out that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs often allows its striking committee to meet without a quorum and without interpretation but their reports are always accepted.

I think it is very important to put that on the record when you, Mr. Speaker, are considering this matter, and to say that it is no different in this case.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I attended the meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport, this morning. The committee's chair told this House that, yes, there was no quorum yesterday evening. Obviously, the opposition members were in attendance, but some members from the government side were missing. The committee adjourned this morning.

I must advise the Chair that I had made sure to obtain the services of an interpreter; so, I had an interpreter with me. I presumed, however, that the committee had met all the requirements, including for transcription services, among others. This is important, obviously, since we had to produce a report.

I hope there was transcription; I am picturing the room and trying to see how it would have been possible to transcribe everything that was said. If the committee's deliberations were not transcribed, then I agree with the government House leader: if the committee did not follow the procedure, then, your good judgment is required, Mr. Speaker; you must render a decision today.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the government House leader's concern is understandable. I sit on the Standing Committee on Official Languages and I want both languages to be respected; that has always been my position, as a member of Parliament and as a member of that committee.

It would be to the Liberal government's credit to respect Canada's official languages, as this House has been asked to do this morning.

If I talk about the technical aspect of the situation, I may end up saying the opposite of what I usually say about official languages. Sometimes the issue of official languages is used simply because the Liberals do not like a bill, and I think that is wrong. I am having a hard time finding the right words and I believe the Speaker is signalling to me that I am out of order.

We can look at the Dion report and all that is happening in Canada in terms of respecting the official languages. I would not want to see a bill rejected because of that; we had both francophone and anglophone members on the committee and they were all comfortable. A ruling must be made. We always say that committees are their own masters, but at the same time, there are rules we must follow.

I hope that this will not happen again in the future. I would not want to see a bill fail just because of technicalities, using the official languages issue however they see fit, when the government is not able to respect them every day across the country.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us get the facts straight. I was informed last night that when the committee adjourned at 9:30 p.m., the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel went to the interpreter's booth on his own initiative to ask one of the interpreters to accompany him this morning at breakfast at 8:00 a.m. in the parliamentary restaurant. That is the first thing we need to clear up.

Moreover, when we as francophones try to follow a conversation using an elbow interpreter, we feel that we are at a disadvantage. Let me be clear, I am not disparaging the Hill interpreters. They do tremendous work. That is not the issue. However, since the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel was accompanied by an elbow interpreter, he could not have appreciated the full scope of the discussions in committee.

That covers the first point. We agree with what the government leader read in the House earlier.

As for the second point, there is something I do not understand. In the dining rooms of the parliamentary restaurant, room 601 or 606—I do not remember which it is—how can recording services be provided? How can the deliberations be recorded? When a committee meets outside the House at a hotel—I went with the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North to the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay—the necessary equipment is provided to electronically record everything that is said. With all due respect, this was not possible in the parliamentary restaurant dining room. When the Chair of the Transport Committee and member for Thunder Bay—Superior North says that the discussions were recorded, I find this hard to believe.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The hon. government House leader may speak on the condition that his comments remain factual and do not provoke a debate.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I fully respect your decision. I forgot to raise a specific point that I wanted to add. It was about the notice that must be given for committee meetings.

A meeting was held this morning and we have been told that there was no notice that it would take place. Apparently, no notice was given because last night, they did not have quorum at the meeting. Therefore, the meeting ended and resumed this morning. We were told that the committee did not adjourn, but that the meeting was suspended and that it was not necessary to give notice because the suspension that began yesterday continued until today.

I feel that this contravenes the rules. When we do not have quorum in the House, the sitting is adjourned, not suspended. If there is no quorum, then we adjourn. We have to sign the register and we come back the next day. Procedure is clear on this. It is not suspended.

The House can suspend its sittings. You have had to do this in the past. Obviously, you and your colleagues in the Chair have done so from time to time. However, I do not believe that we can describe a lack of quorum as a suspension. And if it is not a suspension, there must be a notice of a meeting in order for it to be held according to the rules.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Gouk Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, first, I do not believe standing orders require notice except for an inaugural meeting. Second, I would contradict what the House leader of the Liberal Party has to say, because this place does suspend the sitting when there is a quorum call. Quorum is called. There is a procedure later. Quorum was not called; the meeting was suspended because there was not a quorum and it was a choice of the chair concurred in by those present.

The other point I would like to make is that last night at committee the minister appeared before the Standing Committee on Transport and the minister himself specifically asked for the recording to be turned off. It was a choice of the minister. I do not think the minister figures that he was not at that meeting because he asked for the recording to be turned off. The House leader makes the point that the meeting this morning was not valid because it was not recorded and yet his own minister last night asked at a meeting for the recording to be turned off.

Now, either the minister was asking us to act contrary to allowable procedures or the procedure followed this morning was in order.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Comuzzi Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that you are going to have to take this decision under advisement. Let me just say that there was no objection this morning in the resumption of the meeting. I thought the member of the Bloc was satisfied that he had at his side a member from the translation services. If there had been an objection at the time, it would have been listened to.

I think we complied with the essence and the meaning of the act, with the intention of whatever the regulatory control is, in holding a meeting this morning in order to oblige the rules of the House that unless estimates were presented today they would be considered passed.

I again want to compliment the members of the Standing Committee on Transport for the hard work they did throughout this whole estimates process. I think we complied with every rule and every intention of the House. There was no mischief involved.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that you give the results of this meeting and the report that is tabled today your favourable interpretation.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I think that all points of view have now been heard.

The hon. chief government whip.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. I would like to contribute before you commence your consideration of this issue.

I too want to compliment the transport committee on reporting on the estimates and considering them carefully. I think it is commendable, because many committees do not.

However, I want to intervene as the only anglophone who will have spoken this morning in defence of our policy of having all meetings in this place available equally in both official languages. This is not something that is of interest simply to francophones. It protects my right to have a meeting that I can hear and in which I can participate in English. I regard it as the sacred trust of this place that the business of the House, in the House or in committees, gets done at all times fully in both official languages.

I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to take that into consideration in your deliberations.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

On the same point of order, I hope the hon. member for Kootenay--Boundary--Okanagan has something new, something factual, to add to this debate.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Gouk Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am responding directly to the comments made by the Liberal whip. Simultaneous translation was available to every member present. Everything that was said by the member of the Bloc Québécois was translated into English for all around the table. Everything that was said in English was translated for that hon. member, plus a Liberal member who was sitting there as well, who is obviously fluent but still had the right to get and consequently got that interpretation. So it was there. It was available.

The point has been made that the meeting was opened, no one objected to it being opened under the conditions that were there, the meeting was carried out and the meeting adjourned. There was no objection raised. Had there been, we could have addressed it, but it was not raised.

One cannot accept the conditions that are there and then after, because something did not go one's way, decide on some kind of technicality that one is going to object to something that one could have objected to and did not.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that this morning I assumed that all the rules of the House had been respected. What we are told today is that there was no recording of the proceedings. I did not check before speaking to find out whether or not there was a recording. What we do know, however, is that it is likely that there was none. If that is a condition, one of the conditions listed by the government House leader, I hope that you are going to look into it.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I shall stick to the facts. In making your ruling, you should, I suggest, look at the notice of meeting for meeting No. 30 of the Standing Committee on Transport; in it we see that the committee was to meet on Wednesday, May 28, 2003, from 3:30 to 9:00 p.m. In fact, the meeting was suspended at 9:30 p.m., for lack of a quorum.

For your further understanding, I refer you to the notice of meeting for meeting No. 31 of the Standing Committee on Transport which reads as follows:

The meeting scheduled for Thursday, May 29, 2003 at 9:00 a.m. in Room 209, West Block is cancelled.

This morning's meeting was an informal one. We cannot fault the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel for requesting an interpreter. Contrary to what the Chair of the Standing Committee on Transport was saying, the fact that the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel asked if he could be accompanied by an interpreter was not tacit consent: he wanted to be accompanied by an interpreter for this informal meeting that took place at 8:30 this morning because the meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. had been cancelled.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I think that is enough. There are different interpretations of the events of last evening and this morning. We shall verify all the facts concerning the room, the interpretation, the recording and the production of the report. A ruling will be made on this matter later this afternoon.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the thirty-first report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission for Alberta.

Pursuant to section 22(1) of the Act, the committee recommends that the 30-day period for consideration of objections to this report be extended by five days. If the House gives its consent, I intend to propose that the thirty-first report be adopted later today.

Employment Insurance ActRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-440, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (pregnancy benefit).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this bill this morning.

This enactment prevents a claimant’s entitlement to benefit for pregnancy or caring for a new born or adoptee being reduced on account of the claimant receiving or having received a benefit for illness or injury.

It also prevents a claimant losing illness or injury benefit because the illness or injury has arisen during a pregnancy or caring period.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

DNA Identification ActRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-441, An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to introduce my private member's bill which would amend the DNA Identification Act to include DNA samples from missing persons.

My bill is inspired by one of my constituents, Judy Peterson, and her quest for answers in what happened to her 14 year old daughter, Lindsey Nicholls, who disappeared in Courtenay in 1993.

For 10 years this case, like so many, has gone unsolved. DNA identification could help change that. There are currently over 6,000 unidentified DNA samples that have been taken from crime scenes. There are a further 125 unidentified bodies in British Columbia morgues alone. Right now there is no way to link these samples to missing persons.

Under this bill, samples would be collected on a voluntary basis only, in order to ensure that there are no privacy issues associated with them.

This is a measure that I know is supported by members in all parties. This is not a money issue. This is not a political issue. It is an issue of justice. I urge all members to support this measure.

In closing, I would like to dedicate the bill in the name of Lindsey Nicholls. I had hoped to name it Lindsey's law. For technical reasons I did not do that, but again I would like to dedicate it in her name and to the work of her mother.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to present a petition on behalf of the rural route mail couriers in Canada.

The private sector workers who deliver the mail in rural areas have collective bargaining rights, as do public sector workers who deliver mail for Canada Post urban areas. However the rural route couriers are denied basic rights and help through Canada Post, keeping the wages and working conditions of RRMCs at an unfair level and discriminating against the rural workers.

Therefore the petitioners call upon Parliament to repeal subsection 13(5) of the Canada Post Corporation Act. today.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I am very pleased to present a number of petitioners from northern Saskatchewan and into Manitoba. The point of the petition is simply that under Bill C-250, the petitioners feel the rights of certain categories of people could be suppressed while elevating the rights of others. They pray that Parliament does not pass Bill C-250 into law.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by hundreds of Canadians concerned about the state of health care in Canada today. The petitioners express shock and concern that their government would establish a royal commission to study the future of health care in Canada, that it would name a commissioner, Roy Romanow, and then fail to implement the recommendations of that royal commission.

The petitioners call upon the government to consider the recommendations of Roy Romanow as a blueprint for the future of health care, to move toward a system that does not ensure investor-owned for profit systems of delivery and that it adopt the royal commission's recommendations pertaining to home care, pharmacare and fundamental reforms in the area of primary care.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, Question No. 221 will be answered today.

Question No. 221Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Since the Firearms Act came into force on December 1, 1998, what is the total number of firearms licence applicants who have been refused licences including: ( a ) the number of refusals resulting from incomplete information on the application; ( b ) the number of refusals resulting from departmental errors in processing; ( c ) the number of refusals resulting from repeat attempts by previously denied applicants; ( d ) the number of refusals due to confusing an applicant with another, unrelated person; ( e ) the number of refusals where an applicant has subsequently been issued a license; and ( f ) the number of denied individuals that have been prosecuted for making false statements on their applications?

Question No. 221Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

As of May 5, 2003, 9,519 applications were processed resulting in the revocation of an existing licence or a refusal.

With respect to a) to d) there are no statistics available for this type of situation.

With respect to e) there are 522 refusal cases where an applicant has subsequently been issued a licence.

In reply to f) the Canadian Firearms Centre does not have any available statistics on false declaration.

The CFC is in the process of reviewing its statistical and other information requirements. This is part of our ongoing efforts to report on program achievements and effectiveness.

Question No. 221Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all other questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 221Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is that agreed?

Question No. 221Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Comuzzi Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate this morning that the House leader of our party and ourselves have a difference of opinion on the interpretation of the rules. I thought that among all party members in the House, in following the rules, we treat each other in a gentlemanly way. Basically what happened was I got a call from the whip's office this morning at 7:45. He knew this meeting was in progress. He chose not to advise us but rather to come into the House and make that intervention, citing some previous ruling. I used to practise law. This is what we call trial by ambush.

In any event, what I want to do is state what I did not state this morning. This morning's meeting was a continuation of last night's meeting and it was in camera. That is a very important point. I am sorry that I failed to make that point when I was caught off guard this morning, and I wish you would consider it when you are deliberating this.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order, I obviously have not spoken to the House leader in relation to what my hon. colleague has just stated, but I want to note that he has not indicated that the House leader was aware of the circumstances regarding translation prior to the meeting taking place.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Gouk Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the intervention that was just made suggested that the House leader did not know, or the whip did not know, that there was not simultaneous translation available. Where did he think that was coming from when the meeting clearly said that it was in the parliamentary dining room?

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Unless hon. members want to add something new, we are sword swinging here. I do not think I will allow that.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

moved:

That this House affirm its strong support for NORAD as a viable defence organisation to counter threats to North America, including the threat of ballistic missile attack; and support giving NORAD responsibility for the command of any system developed to defend North America against ballistic missiles.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great honour to rise today and lead off this debate about national missile defence. However, before I go into detail about what ballistic missile defence, the BMD, program is all about, I believe it is useful to quote my leader, who is the only future prime minister who cares for this country.

It is taken from the forward to “The New North--Strong and Free”. It is the nationally acclaimed Canadian Alliance defence policy paper. That defence policy paper is recognized as having the only fresh thinking for the first time in over 10 years in the defence policy of our nation.

This primer on national defence policy should be required reading for all Canadians who wish to receive a truthful analysis on just how bad the current government has allowed the Canadian armed forces to deteriorate.

To quote the leader of the official opposition:

In a time of growing international instability, Canada’s military is inadequatelyequipped, under funded and short of personnel. A crisis in defence exists. Canadians are proud of the men and women who serve in the Canadian ArmedForces, but are increasingly uneasy, or even embarrassed, by the government’scontinued neglect and politicization of our national defence capabilities.

The indecision toward ballistic missile defence is part of that policy of neglect. History tells us that when military preparedness is overly underestimated, which no one can doubt is happening in Canada today, tragic results occur.

Canadians realize that the EH-101 helicopter contract was cancelled for political reasons. The Liberal Party has made a political football out of the need to replace the 40 year old Sea King helicopters.

We remember Major Bob Henderson, a father of three, and Major Wally Sweetman, who died at the controls of their Sea King helicopters. He was burned alive after making an emergency landing that saved the lives of two crewmen who managed to scramble to safety before they too were engulfed in flames from the burning helicopter.

I quote from the retired Canadian Forces fighter pilot who wrote this to the Prime Minister about the tragedy:

I hope for their sake that your legacy will not be blood-stained by the loss of loyal air crews in the Sea King, during the years they should have been serving us in their new aircraft.

The legacy is also blood-stained with the deaths of Captain Colin Sonoski, who the people in my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke remember during the time he was stationed at CFB Petawawa, and Captain Juli-Ann Mackenzie who both died piloting a CH-146 Griffon helicopter. They died on the evening of July 18, 2002 during a search and rescue mission they should have never been called out to do.

The Griffon helicopter is basically a commercial helicopter painted green. There are currently 98 Griffons in use in the Canadian armed forces and of that number, 9 are being used in search and rescue, primarily as combat assistance.

In the case of the 444 combat support squadron, it was to support the allied training program. The two young pilots, Captain Sonoski and Captain Mackenzie were called out because proper search and rescue helicopters were not available.

These are only a few examples of the policy of neglect that has characterized the Liberals mistreatment of our military and the incredible burden that it is placing on the men and women who serve in our military, and the tragic results that occur when one is unprepared.

Citizens who are proud Canadians have every right to be offended by the surrender of sovereignty explicit in a Liberal defence policy that expects the United States to assume the defence of Canada should we ever face a military threat.

Even small technically neutral nations, like Switzerland and Sweden, have always understood that their independence depends upon having a credible military. Canada's military, neglected for the past decade, has been sliding this country down the long slope of disarming our nation, resulting, in the words of the Conference of Defence Associations, military bankruptcy. In international circles Canadians are known as defence free loaders.

It would seem that only the Liberal Party does not understand that future military performance depends on investments made today. Just as the Liberal cuts to health care in the early and mid-nineties put our health care system in the crisis of today, today's underfunding crisis in our military challenges the ability of Canada to continue as a sovereign nation in the future.

As the official opposition critic for science, research and development, a particular concern of mine, on behalf of Canadians, is that Canadian indecision on ballistic missile defence and the virulent anti-American dogma that articulates that position has undermined Canada's role in the joint Canada-U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command, Norad, to the point that Canada will no longer enjoy the benefits of that relationship, including privileged access to the United States space command.

More specifically, it would appear that the government is totally unprepared for the consequence of its wait and see position toward ballistic missile defence, and that will result in Canada being removed from the ballistic missile defence planning and end Canada's much coveted by other countries access to American space assets.

As a member of the generation of Canadians who dreamed along with our American neighbours about space exploration and shared with them their sense of pride and accomplishment when America put the first man on the moon, for Canadians the dream of space is coming to an end.

I know it was with a great sense of Canadian pride, which I felt with my fellow Canadians, when in April 1984 we watched Marc Garneau become the first Canadian in space aboard the space shuttle Challenger. It would be truly unfortunate if the dream dies with Julie Payette as the last Canadian in space in the present generation.

The Canadian space program has evolved around a niche strategy that heavily relies upon the United States. In fact Canada has chosen to make no investment in a national launcher program or a domestic satellite navigation system. Canada relies on the United States based on the reality that this country at most might spend $250 million U.S. annually in public sector space activities as opposed to the United States that spends more than $28 billion U.S. annually. The most significant aspects of the Canadian space program have been jeopardized by the current government's policy of criticizing our American allies on the one hand, while freeloading on American capabilities on the other.

The 1994 white paper on defence proposed a policy of consultation between Canada and the United States on ballistic missile defence on account of the fact that from a military point of view, with the end of the cold war, the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction favoured ballistic missile defence. Despite the end of the cold war standoff and the need by the United States to terminate the anti-ballistic missile treaty in order to pursue the ballistic missile defence, by Canada not declaring a position in regard to ballistic missile defence, the U.S. has proceeded to move ahead on missile defence unilaterally and without the use of Canadian territory. The Canadian government has known since 1994 and more recently since December 31, 2001, when the United States announced that it was withdrawing from the ABM treaty, that a Canadian position on national missile defence and on ballistic missile defence had to be made known.

On December 27, 2002, changes in the way the Americans structured North American defence resulted in the creation of a new regional command, the United States northern command, also known as U.S. Northcom, with a command realignment. The United States space command, also known as Spacecom, was merged with strategic command, Stratcom. Previously, combatant commander Spacecom was also combatant commander of Norad. Linking the two commands made sense to the Americans. Canada's decision not to participate in ballistic missile defence, and the severing of Spacecom from Norad, has short and long term repercussions to the Canadian space program. For Canada, the Spacecom-Stratcom unification spells the end to joint Canada-U.S. outer space development.

When Spacecom was at Norad, Canada enjoyed special access to American space technology and initiatives. Years of chronic under-funding of our national defence budget means that we no longer have the finances to fund any type of space capability. In the end, Canada will be totally dependent on the United States for whatever critical space technologies it may or may not decide to share with us, while at the same time losing our nearness to Spacecom.

Considering the fact that the federal government's own declaration in its space policy framework that the maintenance of Canada's sovereignty in the new world economic order depends on using the space program to assist in our transition to a knowledge-based economy, the Liberal government's indecision on ballistic missile defence is a threat to national security. Canada is being shut out by not participating in the missile defence system. Only time will tell whether or not that damage is irreversible. Most important, a lack of our own missile defence system puts the security and safety of Canadians at risk.

This is just another symptom of the government's overall abandonment of responsibility for the safety and security of Canadian citizens and it ranks right up there with the closing of Canada's Emergency Preparedness College in Arnprior. It has total, utter disregard for the safety and security of its citizens. It is also indicative of the lack of responsibility in having a fast response to SARS.

Our American friends and allies, and largest trading partner have been footing the entire bill, not just for missile threats to their own citizens, but for all of North America. Then we have the Prime Minister disgracing Canadians on the international scene by gloating over the deficit situation in which the Bush administration now finds itself.

Unlike the government the Americans do whatever it takes to keep their fellow countrymen safe. They are still reeling from the loss of the airlines crashing into the World Trade Centre and our Prime Minister is slamming them for spending money to protect their own citizens.

Another result of delaying to make a decision on NMD is that companies like Bubble Technology Industries in Chalk River, for example, which have technologies to offer, may be left out of the bidding process because Canada is choosing not to participate or is delaying its decision. It has valuable technology to offer toward the protection of North America, but it is contingent on Canada supporting the NMD. Classified information is involved in assembling the technologies. Neither our scientists nor manufacturers will have access or even be in the bidding because we are not on side.

I would like to dispel the misinformation about the national missile defence. This is not star wars. The overall ballistic missile defence system is a layered system of elements which, when working together, can defend against all classes of ballistic missiles in all flight phases. There is the boost phase, the mid-course phase, and then the terminal phase. Canada is being asked to support a ground based mid-course anti-ballistic missile defence system with a range of approximately 1,000 kilometres. It has interceptors and sensors situated in such a way to best detect missiles launched toward North America. Only after a missile has been fired upon North America will projectiles from our side be sent out to destroy the enemy missile headed toward us.

Right now, in a couple of rooms down the hall, Lloyd Axworthy, from the Liu Institute for Global Issues which is funded by our tax dollars and his cohort, Dr. Polanyi, are out there fearmongering and calling it the star wars program. This is just another example of how our government uses our money to brainwash citizens into the position it takes. The Liberals say that throwing more money at dictators will solve the conflicts of the world, but we see with Kim Jong-il over in North Korea that throwing money has just brought more of a global threat upon us.

In closing, on behalf of Canadians at home and abroad, including Canadians in the United States, I demand that the Minister of National Defence stand in the House today and make a statement that he will commence discussions with the United States on how we can participate in national missile defence.

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11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, today we are talking about missiles. I recall some instructive history in the House. Diefenbaker failed on his ambivalent stance on Bomarc missiles. By his failure he plunged the whole country into a sad course of history that brought uncontrolled spending of Pearson programs and the national strains of Trudeau, a less than optimal record for our country, and all done over a prime minister's mistake over a missile.

Are we at the same point again today? Will the Liberal government non-thinkers over on the other side who are in charge take Canada down the same sad road all because of a missile? What would we rather do? What signal could the present government send to forestall this looming diplomatic and security disaster for our country?

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11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, to begin with our Prime Minister can stop insulting the president of the United States and the American citizens and he can instruct his caucus and cabinet ministers to do the same thing.

The reason we have come to this point is that since September 11 the need to have such a defence system was underscored because we now know that there are unprecedented threats that we face, far worse than during the cold war. Hostile states, including those that sponsor terrorism, are investing large amounts of money in acquiring ballistic missiles. Countries are also sponsoring terrorist groups that could be used against the United States, Canada and all of North America. For this reason, we must start discussions on how we can cooperate with the Americans on national missile defence.

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11 a.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the motion before us today, particularly as it deals with such an important issue: the security of North America and its people.

Let me begin by saying that the government concurs with this motion, first, because it asks us to reaffirm our strong support for the North American Aerospace Defence Command or Norad and, second, because it acknowledges the role that this binational organization could play in a ballistic missile defence system. Today I am pleased to announce that the government has decided to enter into discussions with the United States on Canada's participation in ballistic missile defence.

The government has decided to begin talks with the United States on Canadian participation in a missile defence system.

The goal of these discussions is to reach an agreement on our possible participation in BMD, an agreement that meets our goal of protecting Canadians and preserving the central role of Norad in North American defence and security. No final decision will be taken before returning to cabinet after these discussions.

Let me be clear. While we believe that missile defence has the potential to benefit Canada, our participation is not unconditional. It is our responsibility to ensure that any arrangement protects our national interests. This will be at the forefront of our discussions.

In elaborating why the government has made this decision to enter into discussions, let me focus on three elements: first, the protection of Canadian lives; second, continuity and change in the joint defence of North America; and third, the Canadian position which rests fully intact regarding opposition to weaponization of space.

On the first point, the protection of Canadian lives, I can think of no responsibility for a government more fundamental than the protection of the lives of its citizens. The Government of Canada would be better placed to protect the lives of Canadians if we were inside this tent rather outside this tent. It is the responsibility of government to do its due diligence to ensure that the system is set up and that the system will operate in such a way as to afford Canadians equal protection from such a threat as the protection that is afforded to Americans.

If such an event should occur, the system will have only minutes to respond and computer algorithms will be very important in determining this response. It is the responsibility of a sovereign government to do its due diligence to ensure that Canadian lives are well protected by that system and by the computer algorithms which will be an important determinant of how that system works.

Indeed, I would say that a sovereign government would not wash its hands of the protection of the lives of its own citizens and leave it up to another government to do as it wishes. A sovereign government, and that is the government's belief, has the duty and responsibility to do its own due diligence to ensure maximum protection of the lives of its citizens. That is the first reason the government has decided to enter into these discussions.

The second reason has to do with the continuity and change in the joint defence of North America. At least since 1940 Canada has entered into a solemn covenant with the United States to jointly defend our shared continent. The enemies, the risks and the threats have changed in the more than 60 years since 1940. That is the element of change. But there is a fundamental continuity in that for more than half a century we have worked with the United States to co-defend this continent of ours and at the same time to ensure to our American friends that their northern flank, the Canada-U.S. border, will not pose a security risk for the people of the United States.

Canada and the United States over the decades have disagreed many times on many matters. We have disagreed on Vietnam and on Iraq. We have disagreed on softwood lumber, on the Kyoto accord, on many, many issues. But never have we disagreed, never have we parted company with the United States on this agreement of more than 50 years, that we are in this together in co-defending our continent. We are not about to do that today.

Let me provide a brief history of this 60-plus years of co-defence of the continent. I will make the argument that the possibility of our joining the ballistic missile defence system is in that continuity of joint defence of the continent while at the same time respecting the changes that have occurred over the decades.

I would date the beginning of this co-defence to 1940. Historians may find an earlier date, but certainly in 1940 the Ogdensburg agreement was entered into by then Prime Minister Mackenzie King and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It referred to the joint defence of the continent at the time of World War II. It was a time in which German submarines were in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the United States constructed a military base in Newfoundland.

That was the beginning of the joint defence of North America. Then we flash forward to the cold war and a new and totally different enemy, but there is the same principle of jointly defending the continent. Norad was established in 1958 for the joint defence of North American aerospace and the joint defence of the continent against the then threat from the Soviet Union.

Even within Norad there was an element of change within the cold war because the nature of the threat from the Soviet Union changed over time as the cold war evolved. In the earlier years the threat principally consisted of bombers that could drop nuclear bombs on North America. Then it evolved into the principal threat being intercontinental ballistic missiles and later on there were cruise missiles launched either from the air or from submarines.

The nature of the response to these evolving threats shifted over time, but the core objective was to defend the continent, to defend Canada and the United States from what was then a very real perceived threat from the Soviet Union.

At the same time, peacetime functions for Norad evolved, such as defence of the continent from airborne drug smuggling. Then the cold war ended, but Norad did not end. New threats, new risks and new problems emerged, notably in the aftermath of September 11. The enemy was no longer communism, the enemy was now terrorism, but at the same time there was continuity in the joint defence of North America by our two counties.

In this post-September 11 world, Norad and our activities with the United States have evolved to reflect these new realities. One of those evolutions was the development of the agreement which we arrived at in December of last year to set up the Canada-U.S. joint military planning group, which is now being set up in Norad in Colorado Springs under the direction of the deputy chief of Norad who indeed is a Canadian.

The purpose of the planning group is for Canadians and Americans to pool their resources and share intelligence in order to achieve two objectives. The first objective is to minimize the risk of a terrorist attack. The second objective is that in the event such attacks occur, to work together to minimize the loss of life and property. This is one element in the joint defence of North America, continuity in that basic objective, suited however to the post-September 11 world.

The government believes that if the discussions with the United States lead to an agreement that Norad represents the logical place in which to lodge ballistic missile defence, this would be the second element of the post-September 11 Canadian involvement in the joint defence of the continent. The first stage would be the planning group, which I have already mentioned and the second stage would be the incorporation of ballistic missile defence into Norad.

This is what we will be proposing to the Americans in the course of these discussions, which my colleague the Minister of Foreign Affairs and I will be launching. Until today Canada had not expressed an interest in participating in ballistic missile defence. Therefore, the Americans were going along without us, not in Norad, because Norad is binational, but rather in northern command. However, as of today, when we are announcing our interest to enter into discussions with the possibility of participation, we will be suggesting that ballistic missile defence be lodged in Norad.

I believe very firmly that this would be in Canada's interest. This represents the continuity since 1940 that I have described, the constancy of our joint defence of the continent, the constancy of our binational efforts with the Americans to defend our joint land space. As well it represents the evolution of the nature of that threat, the evolution of technology and hence, the evolution of the detailed appropriate response.

The evolution has been from the time of Nazi Germany through the cold war to the post-September 11 world where terrorism and other threats have become our main preoccupation. From the defence against bombers and missiles and cruise missiles, to the planning group, to ballistic missile defence is the logical sequence given the evolution of the security environment and of technology at Norad.

As such, I believe that if our discussions with the Americans are successful this will give new life, new relevance and a renewed future to Norad, which has served Canada extremely well over all these decades.

Those are my first two reasons, the core responsibility of the government to protect Canadian lives and the continuity and change in the defence of North America. The third and final element in my comments has to do with Canada's continuing opposition to the weaponization of space.

I feel it is important to note that despite the many changes in the international strategic environment since the end of the cold war, one thing remains constant and that is Canada's opposition to the weaponization of space.

We have proven our commitment to a peaceful use of space since 1972 when we were the first country to put a national communications satellite in geostationary orbit. Canada will continue to work with its friends and allies in developing a tight legal framework to keep space weapon-free.

There is uncertainty in the United States as to whether the United States will or will not at some point proceed with the weaponization of space. There are proposals on the table still unfunded for research to begin on that topic in some four years. I understand that congress is divided and no decision has been made, so the American position is unclear.

The Canadian opposition is very clear. I put it to the House that if we are not inside the tent our ability to influence the U.S. decisions in these areas is likely to be precisely zero. If we are a part of ballistic missile defence, then at least we will be inside the tent and be able to make our views known in an attempt to influence the outcome of this U.S. decision.

It is not as if Canada will be alone in confronting a monolithic United States on the subject of weaponization of space because, as I just said, within the United States itself opinions are varied on this topic. Therefore, working within the system, were we to come to an agreement with the United States, I think Canada will be able to exert some influence along with like-minded Americans on this topic.

One thing is sure, if we are not a part of this we will have no influence. If we are a part of this we will be better placed to exert influence on this important policy question.

Let me conclude by repeating that the government has today decided to enter into discussions with the United States on the possibility of joining the missile defence program. No decision will be made until the results of these discussions are reviewed by cabinet but I think we are on solid ground in proceeding with these exploratory discussions, first, because it is the duty of a sovereign government to protect to the very best of its abilities the lives of its citizens. I think we would be failing in these responsibilities were we simply to wash our hands of this issue and leave all those decisions to a third a country.

Second, this proposal that Canada's participation in ballistic missile defence be lodged within Norad represents a continuity of more than 60 years where we in this country have played a meaningful role in the joint defence of the continent. It has served Canada well. Norad has served the United States well. Both countries are happy with that. MPs from all sides of the political divide who have visited Norad in Colorado Springs to my knowledge have come back impressed.

Norad has worked. Norad has been going for 60 years with the core responsibility of the joint defence of the continent against a number of different threats and enemies depending on the time and using technologies that have also changed through time. I think it is a logical extension of that continuity of more than 60 years that we explore with the Americans the possibility of our participation in missile defence and the lodging of that system within Norad.

Finally, this in no way detracts from the government's longstanding opposition to the principle of weaponization in space. Indeed, as I have just said, we will be better placed to advance those arguments within the system than we would be were we to stay out.

As I said at the beginning, this is not a fait accompli. The discussions have not yet begun. We will engage in these discussions. We will come back to cabinet and the government will take a decision.

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11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think there are some holes in the minister's little lesson on recent history that he gave us today but at least he talked about something to the effect of in the tent rather than out. At least there is a flicker of hope over there.

The minister talked about due diligence. However the first thing we must understand is that the first due diligence is not to misbehave, not to insult our best friends. It undermines our ability to debate policy refinements and details with the Americans.

Although the minister talked about the northern flank, or at least some of the concept, why then did he go out of his way, as did the government, to worry our friends south of that undefended border, the northern flank for the Americans?

Does the minister's discomfort and need to extensively ruminate have more to do with the idea and conceptual gaps within the Liberal ranks? Are his manoeuvres more for internal party concerns and local political consideration than administering wisely on behalf of Canadian security interests? Can he separate his hollow Liberalism from the basic security needs of the country?

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11:20 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think I have made my position very clear. I do not see any meaningful question in the rhetoric coming from the hon. member.

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11:20 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I feel truly shocked listening to the comments by Minister of National Defence today in the House and his announcement that Canada is about to enter into negotiations with the U.S. on the missile defence system.

I am even more outraged that he does it on the rationale that somehow we are defending our continued opposition to the weaponization of space. If we know anything about the missile defence or star wars, surely it is an understanding that this is the first step to military control of space by the U.S. and the weaponization and militarization of space.

I am really shocked to hear that Canada is repudiating decades and decades of policy on arms control and is now about to get into bed with the Americans on this issue.

Who does the minister think will be in that tent? As far as I can see it will be the U.S. and Canada alone. I think the international community has been very concerned about the missile defence program. Why would Canada not take that view in terms of stopping the militarization of space instead of now getting into negotiations to take us down that path?

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11:20 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to hear that I caused shock in the hon. member but I think her comments reflect a certain fallacy on the part of the NDP.

It seems to be her mindset that either we do the joint defence of the continent or we pursue our traditional multilateral path but that we cannot do both. That does not make any sense because we have been doing both for more than 60 years.

We pursue the joint defence of North America with our American friends because we live on the same continent and, at the same time, through the years of Pearson and many others, we have been extremely active multilaterally in the United Nations and elsewhere. Absolutely nothing is stopping us from continuing to do both. We are capable of walking and chewing gum at the same.

As I explained to her, first, we have made no decision on ballistic missile defence. We are entering into discussions. Second, we are preserving our opposition to the weaponization of space. Third, we do not know whether we will be able to prevent the Americans from doing that. We do not know whether they will want to do that.

However the one thing we do know is that we will have a better chance making our voice heard on the subject when we are inside the tent in discussions with the U.S. than if we were to remain outside.

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11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was unable to hear the minister's full speech because I was at the Standing Committee on Defence—from which the Liberals were conspicuously absent, or at any rate those who support your position—to hear Lloyd Axworthy and John Polanyi on this missile defence business.

I have several questions, but this is the first. Since Britain has shown that being in the tent does not mean there is any ability to influence the Americans, how can the minister say that being in the tent, without first demanding the guarantee he refers to, would make it possible for him to ensure the Americans did not get involved in the militarization of space?

Second, how can the minister claim that, by sanctioning the missile defence program, he will be helping American citizens and politicians opposed to this project, the main defect of which is that it will start up the arms race again at a time when there is an urgent need to use the money elsewhere against terrorism?

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11:25 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is right. There are no guarantees. In fact there are not many guarantees in this life. The point I was making, however, was that if we are part of the group, we will have more opportunities to persuade our American friends than if we were not in the tent. We will have allies in the United States. There are many American politicians who are opposed to the idea of the weaponization of space and we will be able to work with them.

As for the money the Americans will spend on this project, it is theirs to spend. It is not for us to decide. It is decision the U.S. has already reached. I would remind the hon. member the U.S. Senate voted 97 to 3 in favour of the missile defence program in 1999, so this was not solely a Republican project. There was support from both parties in that country.

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11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister could tell us what kind of weapons we are talking about. Is there a nuclear component or is there potential to switch to a nuclear component? Will there be weapons in space or is there potential to have weapons in space? Will he want to know the answers to these questions before he makes a final decision?

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11:25 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, my understanding of the situation is that the most rapid progress that could occur regarding weapons in space would be unfunded research beginning in 2008 and continuing until 2012. That might or might not happen. If it were to happen, a later decision would have to be made to deploy. We are talking many years into the future. Canada remains absolutely committed in its opposition to the weaponization of space.

If it were to happen, in the worst case scenario it would probably not be for a decade or so, in which case I suppose the government of the day would have to make a decision 10 years from now. In the meantime, we retain our opposition to the weaponization of space and we are firmly of the view that opposition will be better heard if we are a part of the system than if we remain outside of it.

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11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to deal with the innovation as an outgrowth of this sort of decision.

A lot of Canadian contractors are involved in the defence industry. I have been following the Iraq situation. Bechtel has been given a big contract to rebuild Iraq. I certainly will be watching to see how many Canadian subcontractors will be involved in rebuilding in Iraq. Whether we like it or not, a lot of the innovation and technology that we have in this world is an outgrowth of the defence industry. All we have to do is look at the aerospace industry.

Will the defence minister be putting a lot of emphasis on our defence industry and its participation in this whole process when these negotiations are pursued and not be left out, although we probably will be because of our Iraq decision?

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11:30 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did not even mention the issue of industrial benefits because that is not the reason the government is taking this decision to pursue the discussions. Our reasons are twofold: to protect Canadian lives and to continue our 60-plus year old tradition of the co-defence of North America.

In response to the direct question from the hon. member, if we were to be a part of the missile defence program it is likely there would be some benefits for Canadian companies.

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11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois will oppose this motion. It is not because it does not entirely agree with having Norad as a defence organization, but it opposes the motion, which would make Norad:

—a viable defence organization to counter threats to North America, including the threat of ballistic missile attack—

The motion continues:

—support giving Norad responsibility for the command of any system developed to defend North America against ballistic missiles.

The Bloc Quebecois cannot approve the U.S. administration's missile defence plan, particularly since this motion is very broad.

The Bloc Quebecois supported the decision not to take part in the war in Iraq, even if Canada found ways to soften the impact of its refusal on the United States by participating in other ways.

Now that Canada has shown the courage of its convictions, it should continue to do so and state that peace requires greater multilateralism, instead of signing up for something based on the use of force to ensure security.

That is, in fact, what we are talking about. The main problem with the missile defence plan, now that the 1972 treaty signed with Russia is no longer in effect, is that it wil renew the arms race at a time when funds available to the U.S. government, Americans and people around the world are needed to fight terrorism. There are breeding grounds where extremist groups promote hate and threaten security in many countries.

I first want to say that we do not believe that refusing to take part in the missile defence plan undermines Norad.

Why would the United States deprive itself of information from the 47 radar systems in the north, for instance, on Canadian soil? Far from diminishing the importance of Norad's air capabilities, it increases them. There have been ten thousand joint air missions since September 11, 2001. In 2001-02, Norad detected 2.5 million planes and intercepted 70 of these, 11 of which were suspected of transporting drugs. Suddenly, because Canada had refused to be part of the missile defence plan, Washington would decide to put an end to all that? We refuse to believe this.

In fact, since September 11, 2001, as foreign affairs critic, I have been concerned with peace and security issues.

I thought to myself, “The whole world, Americans in particular, saw 19 men with exacto knives take control of large American aircraft, point them at New York's twin towers—we do not really know if they were also targeting the Pentagon in Washington—and hit another target in Washington, without any outside help”.

After that happened, I thought, “Clearly this whole missile defence plan is going to be scrapped; they will be focusing on a threat that is no longer theoretical, but one that has been carried out suddenly and unexpectedly, provoking incredible shock everywhere, including in Montreal and here and around the world, killing some 3,000 people”. The exact number is not known, but 3,000 is a staggering figure. It was a great shock.

So by what trick of magic are we all of a sudden faced with this very real threat, the root cause of which we now know is fed by various sources, and bred for the most part in countries that are poor, rife with unresolved conflicts, humiliation and underdevelopment? Of course, the relationship is not as simple as that.

The World Bank just released a remarkable study that we should look at, which demonstrates that unprevented civil wars are causing dramatic damage everywhere. We need only look at the situation across most of Africa, unfortunately.

Let us look at what is happening in Iraq. The war itself caused significant damage, but what about the damage resulting from a society in disarray? There was all kinds of military planning involved, but clearly, the coalition was not prepared to re-establish the social fabric. The damage is not yet known, nor will it be for some time. However, we know that it will be felt in health, social services, security, education, culture and so on. And there will be a great many dead. There are the children, for example, who do not have access to drinking water and who will die of dysentery. There is talk of cholera in southern Iraq.

So as we can see, there are real threats, and here we have considerable financial resources being put toward this missile defence plan by the U.S. administration.

I would like to underscore that the missile defence plan, far from guaranteeing the security of the United States, Canada or the world, is a surefire way to threaten security, because it will renew the arms race and because it will militarize space with nuclear weapons, based on what we know.

First, we see that this technology is still unreliable, a fact that was just confirmed by a prominent scientist, who for the past 40 years has seen a succession of missile and missile defence technologies.

This scientist, Mr. Polanyi, has seen repeated scientific defence projects such as Sentinel and so on, that, after being praised by the defence community, are later thrown out. There have been many such projects in the past 40 years.

At this time, even the U.S. administration admits that fundamental elements of the first phase of the missile defence plan—which is supposed to be land and sea-based—are not ready. Not only are they not ready, the U.S. says they are not even ready to be tested.

We are talking about technology that has been confirmed to be unreliable. A look at the statistics from the past three years—approximately—shows that three out of eight tests failed even though the exact location, the time of liftoff, the trajectory and the final destination were known. All this cost more than $60 billion, U.S. of course.

By definition, a missile defence plan cannot know in advance where the threat might come from. I use might, because we are going to address potential threats shortly. So, on this level alone, we must admit that the technology is still dubious. Professor Polanyi went on to say that, judging by what he had seen, it is not even particularly promising. We will let him speak. We will hear from the scientists later.

I did not hear the minister speak, but I have heard enough of the arguments in favour of the plan to know that new threats from the rogue states, or failed states as they are sometimes known, and from terrorists have been used as a justification.

What can we say about this? It must be kept in mind that Iraq seemed to be the major world menace before the war. Now, two months after the fact, there is no trace of weapons of massive destruction to be found. After the war in Iraq—in which no trace of weapons of massive destruction were found—I said to myself, “Well, there you are, the missile defence plan will be dropped and energies will be focused on truly addressing terrorism and those that support it”.

In that context, we cannot help but be extremely disappointed that Canada is sanctioning it by committing to a series of discussions on which even our colleagues across the floor are far from unanimous, while realizing that this will discourage those in the U.S who are opposed to the project, not merely to the militarization of space.

How can anyone think of putting all these resources, all this energy, into waiting until North Korea, for example—which is far from having that capability—attains it? Will we leave North Korea alone and not do anything? Why do we not use the strongest weapon for peace, which is multilateralism?

On reflection, it seems to me that everyone ought to say that the inspectors were very effective in Iraq. Why do we not apply international pressure to force those states which have begun and undoubtedly will step up arms production to stop doing so, to disarm?

When I ask this question, I know full well that if Canada gets on the missile defence system bandwagon, it will confirm that there is only one thing for states to do, and that is to arm themselves. I can only remind the House that when there were two great powers, for many years their resources were used to prevent possible attack and to make themselves stronger before such an attack. They finally realized that this balance of terror was eating up an extraordinary amount of energy and money. They decided to sign a treaty to end all that and reduce defences.

The problem is that today we are faced with the American administration's initiative, as influenced by the powerful think-tanks which have invaded vast sectors of American society. At present, the pendulum has swung back to settling problems by force.

Even in Iraq, we have seen that Saddam is, in fact, gone. But when will that society, having already suffered greatly, again be able to take hold of its destiny, find its own leaders, and become democratic? It may be that when it does do so, it will elect the kind of leaders the Iranians elected. What will the American administration do then?

It is urgent to keep the need for multilateral action—including prevention—in the spotlight. We should heed the advice of the World Bank and prevent conflicts. The necessary funding has to be put into international development and the fight against AIDS. There are millions of people dying. Kofi Annan asked for $10 million to fight AIDS, which is pandemic in Africa. All he could get was $2 million.

We are in favour of Norad, but against the Alliance's motion. We will continue to speak out so that instead of restarting the arms race, the world will begin a multilateral race for peace.

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11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles-A. Perron Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am not speaking as the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, but rather as one grandfather to a grandmother, my hon. colleague from Mercier.

Fellow grandparents, in order to analyze, discuss and debate this matter, should we not try to imagine what the world will be like for our grandchildren in 30, 40 or 50 years. We will, unfortunately or fortunately, no longer be around.

I am extremely concerned about the missile defence plan. It almost makes me want to say, as a grandparent, that I can already picture star wars. Since this means allowing one nation to control space, enemies of that country will find weapons to decommission its satellite surveillance from above.

We are headed for star wars. This will be as terrible as nuclear war, world wars one and two and all the other wars we have had. We are headed straight in that direction.

I would like to have the hon. grandmother's comments in response to my concerns.

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11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member is right to remind us that what we are talking about here is the future of the world. I am also very sensitive to this and that is why I have taken this position.

I would like to tell my colleague something I did not have time to include in my speech. What is feeding this missile defence shield frenzy is something that Eisenhower himself warned against: the existence of a powerful military industrial complex. After 1990, at the end of the cold war, this complex was forced to research civilian uses for all of its military capabilities.

It seems that the war in Iraq may have simply been a testing ground for new weapons. The war was an excellent opportunity to deploy new weapons; I myself heard someone from the industry explain this to the NATO Parliamentary Association. He explained to us that what we would see in the future would be a combination of all weapons, including weapons in space, with very powerful sensors to detect danger.

Yes, there is a powerful military industrial complex and it constitutes a very real danger. However, there is another danger, one that lies in the mind, according to which conflict resolution is accomplished by the use of force. Real prevention does not involve preemptive strikes, but the prevention of conflict, the signing of treaties, reducing the arms buildup. While this type of talk may have fallen out of fashion these days, when we think of our grandchildren, this is what we need to work toward and hope for.

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11:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, a short while ago the Prime Minister said “We do not know exactly what will be the requirement. Perhaps the wise thing to do is to try to find out what they are asking of us, if they ask anything. Let us wait to know if they are asking something, or nothing”. That was said on April 30, 2003, a little less than a month ago. I understand that the minister is practically set to announce we will be participating in such a program.

I wonder if my colleague could tell me if she thinks we are not rushing the issue. Should Canadians generally and the members of this House not know a lot more about what we are getting into here, whether it is right or wrong, whether we support it or not? Should we not know a lot more? According to the Prime Minister, he knew very little a month ago and I doubt if he has learned very much since. Does she not think we should slow it down and find out what we are getting into before we get into it?

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11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question, and I thank my colleague for it. In fact, if there is one area where we need to make haste slowly, this is it.

If the minister has new information, his first responsibility is to share it with the House and allow us to debate it. This is a very important issue that affects the future, much more important than the war in Iraq, in the end.

It makes no sense for the government to move ahead like this without sharing the information that it has so far. We need to have some guarantees first. Otherwise, this commitment will look like consent to go further.

So, yes, we must take our time and ask questions before doing anything.

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11:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Progressive Conservative Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about today is a very complex issue. What we have heard in the House time and again is that Canada seems to depend on another country to defend us. We have talked about cutbacks in defence and that our military is not strong enough because we are not putting the tools in place to make sure we can defend our own country.

Many questions need to be asked about the missile defence system. It appears again that the government really does not know where it is going and, as the hon. member just stated, the minister is not sure where the government is headed.

We need an open forum across the country to get input from Canadians of all political stripes and from people who know whether it is good or bad. We need to listen to the groups. It is not for the Liberal government to bring it in and say that this is what it will be. If we are going to be involved we need to be involved on the ground floor. If we are not going to be involved the government should say so and then we can get on with the business of the country and of the world.

I will throw out some questions to show the things about which people have concerns. Will there actually be weapons in space? No one seems to know. What type of weapons will be determined? Who will manufacture these weapons? Are there plans to have nuclear weapons? No one seems to know. We have to move forward to try to get all these questions answered so that we are well-informed and we understand because it is, as I said before, a very complex issue.

In August 2001 the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada convened a policy round table to hear from experts and to discuss the merits of the missile defence system. I do not know if people remember that but it was done. Before I get into some comments I will just read some of the items.

If Canada becomes involved, Norad is expected to play a significant role in command and control. If Canada does not become involved, Norad may be marginalized as the U.S. gives the role to northern command. We have had ministers say that Canada remains firmly opposed to placing weapons in space. That was in the Globe and Mail on May 2, 2003.

The U.S. has been co-operating with the U.K. and Denmark in upgrading radar sites for the program. Australia has also been very supportive. Both Japan and Israel have their own joint missile defence programs. That was May 8, 2003.

I want to mention a few other items, such as the Prime Minister not knowing where the system will go. We have prime minster wannabes and leaders of parties taking the stand that they do not agree with a missile defence system. The Prime Minister has said that it will be debated in cabinet and that cabinet will make the decision, which it should. However we should be fully aware of what is being discussed so that we are not kept in the dark.

This is a very serious matter and if politicians of all political stripes are not totally involved in making a firm, realistic and an informed decision, then we will fail Canadians and we will fail the world.

During the policy round table in August 2001 some people argued that the deployment of a limited national missile defence system was merely a responsible response to a strategic environment of the post-cold war era. Others believed such a move would bring about another arms race, dragging in other countries.

We must be careful because we do not want to start a major war again. However, with the way wars are being fought today people are afraid that troops will no longer be able to fight a war the way they used to. It may be nuclear weapons.

The ballistic missile defence system falls into two main categories: the TMD, which is the theatre missile defence, and NMD, which is the national missile defence. The first one is designed to intercept short range missiles, while the latter is geared to the interception of long range missiles. Both systems have similar technologies: satellite based in-flare centres that detect and track missile launches; radar that follows incoming threats and guides interceptors to them; and the interceptor missiles themselves. In the future both may be a part of what we call the new era of technology in space.

I will go through some of the comments made during the round table discussions held on August 7 in Ottawa. Many people were afraid of the technology because no one really knew what people were talking about. There seemed to be very little middle ground between the opposing sides of the debate. Proponents dismissed opponents who were afraid of the technology, while the latter dismissed their adversaries as those who had not recovered from the cold war.

We need to make sure we fully understand what is happening. I believe many of us in the House do not understand what will be expected of Canada as a country in the world or what Canada is even thinking.

The overall debate basically was confusing because people were often talking about different things. Three aspects need to be kept distinct: the theatre missile defence is geared to local threats; the national missile defence is designed to defend the U.S.; and the SDI-2 is a worldwide protection system and one that the U.S. could offer to its allies and others.

Therefore we need to be part of a system as a united front for not only Canada but for the world. If we are going to be involved we need to say so and then get in there with the Americans and other countries for the protection of the whole country and democracy.

I am taking some excerpts from the conference. One of the primary concerns for the Americans was their national interest. Another possible driving force of course was identified by the defence research industry. Americans are very patriotic. They protect their own, no matter what the cost. We heard the Prime Minister taking a smack at the president. If we are to defend our country and defend it in the right manner we sometimes have to spend money.

Sometimes we can sit around and say that it is good to have a balanced budget, that it is good to slash and slash but there is a price to pay if we do not defend our country and there is a price to pay for protecting our country. The United States is very patriotic about that. As a result of that I think it is time for Canada to become more patriotic and do what is right for Canadians and what is right for the protection of our country.

Finally, in one section of the debate there were questions concerning what this would mean for Canada. What would be the implications of Canada's refusal to participate? What would be our role in Norad if we refused to participate? Would the U.S. quietly retaliate in areas such as trade? If we agree, how extensive would the benefits be?

We have seen the pain it has cost our country because we did not support the Americans, our closest neighbour and on whom we depend so much for trade, in the war with Iraq. We have seen the pain it has cost our business people and consumers. We have seen the consequences and we will probably feel the consequences for many years to come.

Again I say that if we are to be involved we need to have all the facts and the information so we can make an informed decision on what is in the best interests of Canada.

If we join with the United States and other countries, we should join at the ground level rather than wait until it is too late. We saw that during the Iraqi war. We waited until the last minute to make a decision and then it was too late.

From what I heard at the conference, the U.S. is motivated by three basic factors, which is probably what Canada should be looking at. First, there is a historic reluctance on the part of the Americans to take on a global role. They have always been in the forefront. It is time for someone else to play that role. It is probably time for Canada to come up to the bat. The Americans have been striking home runs for many years, so it is time for Canada to move on.

Second, the U.S. is fascinated with technology and will continue to do so.

Finally, there is a desire to keep military losses to a minimum.

Those three factors together will shape the Americans' approach to the national missile defence system and other arms control negotiations, and this is what it is all about. If we take some lessons from the Americans we probably will be better off as a country. There are some things where the Americans can take lessons from Canada and they will probably be better off. However as a unit we will work together.

What would we call an appropriate Canadian response? That question came up at the conference. People argued that if Canada is to have a say on the national missile defence issue, then we cannot simply stay on the sidelines. We should engage the Americans and find some appropriate way to participate. As I said earlier, we should not jump in when it is almost over. We need to get in on the ground floor so we can have a say on where it is going.

It was also suggested that it was very important for Canada to use its good offices to move the Americans toward adopting a multilateral approach. Canadians did not have much interest in engaging in debate. They were already being inundated with too much information that they could not analyze. The need is there for our political leaders to get the facts straight and make the right decisions.

It is also very important for us to meet with groups across the country and ask their opinions. It would be good for the defence committee to ask experts to give the pros and cons of it all. We must listen to both sides of the issue. To just listen to the side that is very important for one side of the House or the other side, then we do an injustice to Canada and to the citizens we represent because they depend on us to make the right decisions for the betterment of the country.

It is time for us to get the facts and to get as much information as we can so that we know where we are going.

As I said earlier, I am sure many members in the House do not have a clue as to what this is all about. I am also sure some people are well informed about this whole situation. It is a learning process. We, as parliamentarians, have to depend on the people who are for it and who are against it to put the facts, the figures and the information before us so we can have a clear understanding of where we are going or not going.

We should not get involved because the U.S. says that we should get involved. We get involved because it is the right thing for the country. If it is not the right thing for Canada and its people, then we do not get involved and we state why. However we do not hang back as we did during the Iraqi war. We do not put out the hook and as it gets closer to making a decision we haul in the line and all of a sudden the fish comes off as we did with the war in Iraq.

If we are going to make a decision we need to have all the facts and figures and all the pros and cons on the issue so we all have a general understanding of what it is all about.

We all know that Canada does not have a military constituency as it does in the U.S. Canada has no pro-military constituency, which is the biggest problem. We depend on someone else to do our work. If we are going to defend our country as the U.S. takes care of its people, then we have a decision to make. Are we a country of peace or are we a country that will defend our nation from any type of threat? If we are going to protect our country we have to spend money. If we are not going to protect our country and depend on the United States to do it, then let us say so and get on with it.

Also it was noted that the Americans will not wait for us to make up our minds. We need to give them a sign if we are going to be involved or we are not. It is no good to go to the United States, sit around the table and negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. The key is that Canada needs to say either we are in or we are out. In any type of negotiation, as people in this House know, if people are going to negotiate, people are going to negotiate. There are things people are going to like and things people are not going to like, but if we are going to be in this, we should say so. Right now no one in the House knows if we are going to be in or out, because the Prime Minister has even said that he does not know where it is going.

We will know soon enough, but sometimes it is too late when we do know. The problem is that the government makes a decision, we are the last to know, and then all of a sudden we are fighting with the government and telling it what it did wrong. Let us all get involved together. This is so important.

It also was stated as well that “it is important for us to determine whether or not [national missile defence] will in fact bring more stability than we now have”. We also need “to determine whether we can better accomplish our goals through multilateral diplomacy”. It was also concluded that “we already know that on major international issues we have no real influence. It is therefore time for Canada to speak in terms of a national interest” and be firm about what we are going to do.

There can be little doubt that the debate over national missile defence will be with us for some time. This reality will prove an expensive one for all participants. Whether we use the new-found technologies and capabilities for positive or negative purposes will depend in large part on the debate we have in the House of Commons, the debate we have across Canada and the decisions we make for our country and nation.

I will go back to questions that people are very concerned about, but before I do I want to talk about an article in the Star-Phoenix on April 29 about a person who is looking to be prime minister and leader of the Liberal Party and who stated, “To support this Star Wars scenario runs counter to everything the Liberal party has ever stood for”.

Then of course the Prime Minister said, like always, “We don't know exactly what will be the requirement. Perhaps the wise thing to do is to try to find out what they are asking of us--if they ask anything. Let's wait to know if they are asking something, or nothing”. That was in the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal on April 30.

That is the problem we have as well: We are waiting for them to come to us. It is time for Canada to say to the United States either “we are in and give us some information” or “we are out”. It is very simple: in or out. It is no big deal. But if we are going to make the decision to jump in, let us jump in on the ground floor.

I will end by saying that all sides of the House do not have all the information. We do not know from one day to the next what the government is going to do. I do not understand the situation clearly. I have managed to get some information together today and I can say that it is really interesting. I am hoping to get more information so that when I have to make an decision I will make an informed decision on the facts, on the pros and cons, and I will make a decision in this House based on what I believe is best for Canada and best for the protection of our country.

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12:15 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will begin my participation in this debate today by saying that I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I was listening to the hon. member for Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke from the Canadian Alliance who started the debate.

One would expect this sort of motion from the Canadian Alliance, but when I heard the member say this motion was about fresh thinking and when she talked about the nationally acclaimed defence policy of the Canadian Alliance, I really actually cracked up and started to laugh. It seems to me that the defence policy of the Canadian Alliance has been thoroughly discredited right across the country. This idea of fresh thinking in the motion before us today in that somehow we are going to kick-start Norad into star wars is not fresh thinking; it is being trapped in the cold war. That is the kind of mentality that was prevalent during the cold war. Apparently the Canadian Alliance is still back there several decades ago, so that sort of sent me off chuckling.

Then, when I heard the minister of defence make his remarks on behalf of the government, I was actually truly alarmed and shocked. On the one hand, this motion is clearly setting the stage for star wars. That is what this motion from the Alliance is about and its members have been very clear about that. Then we had the Liberals walking right in, taking centre stage and saying, “We want to be in that tent too. We want to be with the U.S. in that tent”. I truly was horrified to hear the minister of defence say that Canada is now going to enter into discussions with the U.S. government on the missile defence system, or what is commonly known as star wars. What a disastrous decision.

How was that decision made? What kind of input was there? In fact, what role has Parliament played? We have not played any kind of role in such a major policy change from the Canadian government, and certainly the Canadian people have not been involved in any way.

As other members have pointed out today, for months and months we have been quizzing the federal government, the Prime Minister, the provisional government in waiting and the former finance minister to find out where the Liberal government stands on this issue. Even as recently as last month we heard the Prime Minister saying that he really did not know, that the U.S. had not asked anything and we could not respond to anything. But all of a sudden here we are today with an announcement by the defence minister that we are now ready to enter into negotiations.

This is a very bad day for Canada historically, because in my own opinion and in the opinion of the NDP and I think that of many Canadians, this decision by the government today is nothing more than a repudiation of decades of policy in terms of the international community around arms control and around international treaties that have actually sought to keep us out of the militarization of space and out of weaponization. The government has given a clear signal today that it is willing to set all of that aside and now embark on a totally insane, disastrous course being charted by George W. Bush.

It is ironic to note that as the debate was taking place in the House today, at the very same time in the foreign affairs committee two witnesses, Dr. John Polyani and Lloyd Axworthy, the former foreign affairs minister and still, I hope, a very well respected member among Liberal colleagues, were at committee speaking on this very issue of national missile defence.

Our member for Halifax, the former leader of the NDP, who is our representative on that committee, said she was really outraged because at that committee this morning no Liberal members were present for a whole period of time. In fact, when one or two Liberal members did wander in, they were so disdainful and so arrogant in terms of what was being said that they went to the back of the room and had various little conversations. There were two superb witnesses who were spelling out and laying out the dangers of what it would mean if we engage in this course of action and there were no Liberal members present to hear that debate. I find that truly arrogant and completely unparliamentary in terms of what our committee system is meant to be about.

We should be very clear about what is taking place here with this motion from the Alliance, which is just a knee-jerk reaction to what George W. Bush wants. All the American government has to do is say jump and the Alliance says how high and how fast do you want us to do it? Let us be very clear. What the U.S. is really doing here is seeking the political legitimization of the national missile defence program. This has been very well spelled out by Senator Douglas Roche, who has done a lot of research and has been very outspoken on this issue.

This issue of political legitimization is something that we now can see the Liberal government has just walked right into. Any person in their right mind would know that this kind of expenditure on a national missile defence system, which will lead us to the militarization and the weaponization of space, is going to cost at least a trillion dollars.

Most of us, and in fact all of us, cannot even visualize what that expenditure means in terms of the resources it will take up. Most people understand the insanity of that kind of approach. I think probably Mr. Bush himself understands that, and his job has been to somehow provide the political rationale for engaging in this kind of absolutely idiotic restart of an arms race. People are seeking to do that by the political legitimization of star wars. We are seeing all the measures and the stage being set in terms of the whole stage that was set around the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, when really, at the end of the day, did they find any? They did not exist and then it became a regime change and on and on this story goes.

Now we are looking at this rationale of protecting ourselves. We hear the member for LaSalle—Émard, the former finance minister, talk about protecting Canadian sovereignty from these ballistic missiles. What ballistic missiles? What threat are we speaking of? Are we prepared to spend a trillion dollars for a threat that has never been identified? Are we prepared to allow our universe, our space, to be used for militarization and for weaponization? That is what is being suggested here.

I would say that the former finance minister, the person who hopes he will become prime minister of Canada, is really playing a very dangerous game. When we look at the interviews, the quotes and the comments that have been made, it seems to me that the concern, the issue that is really being expressed by the Canadian government, whether it is by the defence minister today or whether it is by the former finance minister, is really about appeasing the American government.

We heard the defence minister today saying that if we are not in the tent our influence will be nil. What does that actually mean? What does it mean to be in that tent? What kind of influence is he speaking about? Does he actually believe that Canada would have some kind of influence by just putting up our hands and saying, “Me too, me too, we are in your tent”? There is nobody else in that tent.

I really find it very disturbing that significant public policy, foreign policy, is being dictated by this rationale of political legitimization in terms of our relations with the U.S., as opposed to a critical analysis of whether or not the missile defence system and star wars and using Norad as the cover is actually a course of action that will send the globe into a very dangerous area. Those of us in the NDP are deeply concerned about the announcement by the defence minister today, and I know there are members of the Liberal caucus as well who are probably expressing a lot of concern about where the government is going.

I can say that within the NDP--where we have done our homework and looked at the issue--there is no other conclusion but to come to the fact that the missile defence system and the use of Norad to promote a missile defence system is an utter waste of important public resources that are badly needed in terms of developing stability for human security. It is a fundamental threat to multilateralism and a set of international laws that have been developed over decades, that have tried to move the world away from a new arms race.

We have seen the U.S. unilaterally abandon the anti-ballistic missile treaty that was adopted in 1972. President Bush did that in December 2001. We have seen the Americans with their ridiculous nuclear posture review. We have seen the statements and the plans they have made for a first strike policy.

All of these things that have been unfolding in the last couple of years should be of enormous concern to Canada. We should not get into the tent and say that is where we will have a bit of influence. We should be part of an international community that will stand up to that kind of insane public policy. We should be working within international law and strengthening these international treaties, and bringing back the anti-ballistic missile treaty. We should be seeking to implement the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and working with what is called the new agenda which is a number of smaller countries that have tried to play a progressive and critically independent role in promoting that kind of agenda.

Why is the Canadian government not putting its political capital and resources into legitimizing that agenda because it is the right kind of agenda that we should be moving toward?

The NDP is so concerned about star wars that it has actually been conducting campaigns with its members. We have a petition on our website, ndp.ca, and we are encouraging Canadians, even more so today given the news we heard from the defence minister, to sign our petition and to make it absolutely clear to the government that the policy that it is enunciating has had no debate in the House. It has been behind closed doors, presumably in the cabinet room. I do not even know if there has been a debate in the Liberal caucus about this or whether there was any resolution about this.

However, the issue is so important that we must call upon Canadians to stand up and make this very clear, just as they did in opposing the war on Iraq. We have to stand up and say to our federal government that this is really a completely mistaken path to take. It is a path that will lead us to the weaponization of space and greater inequalities in our world.

I was just speaking with one of our members earlier and thinking about the situation in Africa where millions of people every day die of AIDS or are living with AIDS, and probably will die because they cannot gain access to the kinds of medicines that are available to us in the west. They cannot gain access to that because of the restrictions around drug patent laws. That is a shocking contrast because on the one hand we see the U.S. developing its agenda with a possible expenditure of one trillion dollars and on the other hand we see a continent where millions of people are suffering needlessly because of a lack of political will. The resources that are needed there, often a few dollars a day on a per capita basis, would alleviate the great suffering that takes place on that continent but also in many other places around the world.

It is that sense of outrage from people, not just in Canada, but globally as well, that has made people feel cynical about the political process. When people read about the tragedies that take place, whether it is Congo, AIDS on the African continent, Rwanda, the sanctions in Iraq or what happened after the war, is it any wonder that they feel this horrible sense of cynicism about politicians and about the political process? They see what the real priorities are on our planet in terms of protecting the environment and meeting human security needs in a basic fundamental way through fresh water, housing and protection from diseases like AIDS.

Yet, our Canadian government has apparently made the decision to get in the tent. I cannot even imagine what that tent is like and what kind of discussions go on. However I do know that if the minister believes that by being in the tent he and the Canadian government have some kind of influence, I would say he is seriously fooling himself.

We must look at the reality of the political relations and dynamics that are taking place. I was reading an interesting report recently from the Polaris Institute written by Stephen Staples. In a chapter looking at the drivers of military spending, he states:

In a remarkable admission on September 4, 2002, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Paul Cellucci, revealed that when he was appointed ambassador his only instruction from the Bush Administration was to work on increasing Canada’s military spending.

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12:30 p.m.

An hon. member

Shame.

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12:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Exactly, shame.

Everything we have heard come out of his mouth, acting as though he were a politician himself and not an ambassador, has been peddling this kind of line about pressuring Canada to adopt closer relations and harmonization with the U.S. foreign and military policy.

It has been heartening to see some of the resistance come from the Prime Minister over the war on Iraq, for example. We were all hugely relieved to see that decision made. Canadians were relieved to see that decision made, even though the former finance minister was out there champing at the bit while his provisional government waited to get in there. He made it clear that he certainly did not adopt that line.

It was announced today that we will get into the missile defence program. I am deeply disappointed and concerned about where this will take us. What should Canada do? First, we should clearly be saying no to star wars. We must be involved in a principled and vigorous way to hold up international treaties like the non-nuclear proliferation treaty and the anti-ballistic missile treaty to eliminate weapons. We should be working with countries on the new agenda. We should be working to uphold international law, not chart a course of unilateralism and this “me too” policy aligning ourselves with the U.S. Norad should not be part of any star wars program.

Finally, we should be focusing on the real priority that we have, which is basic human security that comes from food, shelter, education, a clean environment, housing, and the basic things that are required to truly bring global security to our planet.

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12:35 p.m.

Beauséjour—Petitcodiac New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by the member for Vancouver East, a member for whom I have considerable respect. I had the privilege of working with her on a special committee of the House on the non-medical use of drugs. Her commitment to many issues is well known. I certainly learned a lot from working with her.

By way of a comment I wish to correct the record. In her opening remarks she referred to the testimony of a former member of the House, the hon. Lloyd Axworthy, a distinguished former minister, and Dr. John Polanyi . She made the assertion that there were no Liberal members at that committee. Obviously the chair, the distinguished member for Nepean--Carleton, is a Liberal. I was at the committee when it was called to order and stayed for the duration. I was accompanied at the table at all times by at least two other colleagues. I am not even sure that we could have a quorum and call the committee to order if her assertion were true, but I am not an expert on parliamentary procedure.

I attended the committee this morning and enjoyed Mr. Axworthy's presentation immensely. It was nice to see him back in this building. At the time that I was at the committee I did not see the member for Vancouver East. I thought it was important to correct the record.

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12:35 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments. I did say in my remarks earlier that before this debate I spoke to our representative on the committee, the member for Halifax, and she was very distressed. Obviously the chair was in the room, but other members of the committee, Liberal members, were not at the table. They were wandering around at various points and she felt that it was very disrespectful to the important witnesses who were there.

The member says he was there. I take his word for that, but there was a clear indication that there was no interest in participating in the questioning or what was taking place at that committee. It may be because Liberal members there already knew what the defence minister was going to say and they were already on board. Perhaps they decided that the foreign affairs committee was not the place where the debate was going to take place and did not particularly want to hear what those witnesses had to say, particularly the one who was a former foreign affairs minister.

I have not seen the blues yet, but in speaking with our member for Halifax she relayed to me that his comments were very critical of star wars. Mr. Axworthy strongly believed that Canada should not be participating in star wars. In fact, he likened it to a conveyor belt. Once we get on and away we go, it is very hard to turn it off, particularly when the switch is controlled by George W. Bush.

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12:40 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the member for Vancouver East, for her excellent speech and to ask her to elaborate on the new developments before us today. I would like her to comment on the spectacle of a government that has indicated its apparent support today for the U.S. missile defence program, at the same time claiming that it is against the weaponization of space.

As the member has pointed out and others have said, the connection is clear. A commitment to missile defence is a commitment to the weaponization of space and a commitment to the weaponization of space contradicts Canada's long held policy and values. That point has been made by others. I want to reference the article by Jeffrey Simpson in The Globe and Mail on May 7. He wrote:

Just as the conquest of Iraq was not fundamentally about weapons of mass destruction, so the U.S. anti-ballistic missile system is not about protecting the United States from missiles. It's about placing weapons in space. If Canada joins the U.S. system--which it might do for economic reasons or because the [Liberal] government feels we have no choice--it will be approving what it has always opposed

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has said that for missile defence to be effective there must be flights in space. It has indicated that there will be weapons systems including space-based lasers and that the space-based laser system will be composed of a constellation of high energy laser platforms operating from space. Given all of that documentation, could the member comment further on the announcement today by the Minister of National Defence?

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12:40 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Winnipeg North Centre because has hit the nail right on the head.

I am a big fan of George Orwell. I really enjoy reading his books. Even today they have a sense of reality about what takes place in our society. I was thinking that had George Orwell been in this chamber today and heard the Minister of National Defence say that on the one hand we are going to enter into discussions with the U.S. to get into star wars but we are doing this under the rationale that we are still opposed to the weaponization of space, he would have been nodding his head and saying “See, I told you so. That is a really good example of doublespeak”. The comments from my hon. colleague really outline this.

A fundamental contradiction is being put forward on the rationale of somehow protecting Canada's sovereignty. I really feel that this is just a horrible joke because the threat is not from ballistic missiles. To develop a trillion dollar system that allegedly is going to protect us from this, is a complete illusion.

The member has pointed out that it has more to do with economic issues in the U.S. and Canada's apparent desire to appear to be willing. Maybe because of what took place in Iraq there is now a rush to appease the American government and Mr. Bush and say that we have to kind of go along with this.

If that does happen, we are the ones who will receive the fallout. If things are shot down, it will be on Canadian soil that this plays out. We have to be hugely concerned about Norad's involvement in this. That is the best reason to turn down this motion today and say that in no way should Norad be engaging in an exercise around star wars and the missile defence system. That is not what its purpose is. This is just about a strategy to somehow kickstart Norad. It is a very dangerous policy and we should have no part of it.

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12:45 p.m.

Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey Ontario

Liberal

Murray Calder LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been consultations with all parties in this House and I believe that you will find consent for the following order. I move:

That at the conclusion of the present debate on the opposition motion, all questions necessary to dispose of this motion be deemed put, and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Tuesday, June 3 at 3 p.m.

(Motion agreed to)

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12:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the House give its consent?

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12:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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12:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will respond to one comment. The member said regarding potential ground based missiles interfering or stopping missiles flying over our country that if we ever got into a horrible situation or scenario like that, one way or the other Canada would be involved. It sounded as if the logic was that we will not have any defensive sensors or missiles or anything on our ground so that any potential missiles will just fly over Canada and then explode in the United States. Her option is to sacrifice American lives for her socialist principle.

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12:45 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is so ridiculous. I do not want to see any of these missiles flying around over any country. I do not want to see any lives lost, military or civilian. To suggest that somehow we are saying that Canada should be set aside and that missiles should be sent to the U.S. and that people should be killed as a result of that is absolutely absurd.

The point here is to work for international treaties that will prevent these missiles from even being developed. We should be eliminating nuclear missiles, ballistic weapons, all weapons of mass destruction.

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12:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central to participate in the debate on the Canadian Alliance motion which reads:

That this House affirm its strong support for Norad as a viable defence organization to counter threats to North America, including the threat of ballistic missile attack; and support giving Norad responsibility for the command of any system developed to defend North America against ballistic missiles.

Seven years into the U.S. missile defence program the Liberal government until quite recently had no position on the issue. The Prime Minister and the foreign affairs minister have opposed the plan in the past. Then they simply dismissed it, saying that Canada had not been asked to participate.

Now the Liberal leadership contenders, cabinet ministers and the caucus members seem divided on the issue. The frontrunner for the Liberal leadership race, the member for LaSalle—Émard, soon to have his coronation as the next prime minister of Canada, has been waffling on this issue, as usual, as he has in the case of Kyoto, the Iraq war, SARS, mad cow disease and so on.

The U.S. ambassador and a top Canadian general have warned that Norad could be at risk if Canada does not cooperate on this issue.

Throughout the cold war Canada played an important role in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, commonly called NATO, and in the North American Aerospace Defense Command, called Norad. In particular, Canada has been a close partner of the United States in defending North America's and western Europe's airspace from Soviet aggression.

At various times during the cold war, the U.S. considered building an anti-ballistic missile system, called ABM, to defend against Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles. In 1972 the anti-ballistic missile treaty was signed by the U.S.S.R. and the United States banning ABM systems, with the exception of one site to protect the capitals or ICBM field.

Russia currently maintains an ABM site around Moscow. In the mid-1970s the U.S. dismantled its ABM sites in Grand Forks, North Dakota because it was believed the system would not be entirely effective.

In the early 1980s President Ronald Reagan appealed to the American people for support to build a space based ICBM interceptor system using high intensity lasers and particle beams, called the strategic defence initiative, SDI. The system seemed far-fetched, but billions of dollars were poured into the program and some significant technological advances were achieved.

Although Reagan's idea never materialized, there continued to be billions of dollars allocated to missile defence each year within the U.S. defence budget. Even as the cold war wound down and the Soviet Union collapsed, money earmarked for missile defence was reduced but not eliminated. President Bush Sr. and President Clinton also continued to provide funding for missile defence.

The result of the research and investment in the last 20 years will soon materialize into a missile defence system for the United States and perhaps the allies of the United States.

The Bush administration plans on having an anti-missile system up and running by the end of September 2004. Construction is already underway in Alaska. Construction crews are busy at work at a former military base a mere 400 kilometres from Dawson City, Yukon. They are carving holes 25 metres deep for missile silos and erecting about a dozen state of the art military command and support facilities. It will be the home of a vanguard force of rocket propelled interceptors for defending the United States against ballistic missile attack.

If Canada chooses not to go along with the U.S. on BMD, it will likely mean the end of Norad, or at least the effective Norad currently in place. Norad has been a longstanding component of Canada's aerospace defence and a key area of U.S.-Canada defence cooperation. While Norad's role has changed since the end of the cold war, its importance for Canada has remained.

The deputy commander of Norad has always been a Canadian, allowing significant influence and expertise within the realm of air defence for North America. The former deputy commander, Lieutenant General George Macdonald, believes that the proliferation of nuclear and missile technology will present a threat to Canadian security in the coming years. He has asked some important questions that have a direct bearing on whether or not Canada should join the BMD effort. He has asked, can the world's remaining superpower risk the possibility of being held hostage to a ballistic missile threat, and more important, can Canada disassociate itself from this possibility?

As it currently stands, Norad can only provide limited defences against threats coming through North American airspace. Norad can only defend against air breathing or jet powered threats. The United States and some Canadians would like to incorporate BMD through Norad because it possesses a great deal of the infrastructure that would be needed to track and monitor threats.

The problem for Canada is that if it refuses to participate in BMD, it will likely mean the end of Norad. The U.S. already has a backup system to Norad called U.S. Spacecom. If Norad were to end, Canadian military personnel would lose access to information that would be virtually impossible for Canada to obtain without it.

One of Norad's key functions is integrated tactical warning attack assessment, ITWAA. If Canada was not a partner in BMD, Canadian personnel at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs could not participate in ITWAA, which they currently do. There would also be ripple effects that would be felt throughout the U.S.-Canadian cooperation on defence.

An American general has warned that if Canada does not participate in BMD, then it should not anticipate being protected under BMD either. That seems to be fair. However, due to the close proximity of most major Canadian cities to the United States, it is likely that many populated parts of Canada would be protected regardless of Canada's participation.

Free riding on American investment and expense would not help diplomatic or military relations between the two countries. We know the downside of the diplomatic relationship between Canada and the United States.

Norad's dissolution would cause Canada's standing in the western alliance to be damaged as well. Canada has participated in security matters in Europe and elsewhere frequently with the United States. The United States, along with the British, often assists Canada in lift and supply capabilities.

As the Canadian military is stretched thinner and thinner, the United States may be somewhat less enthusiastic about helping Canada participate in interventions or peacekeeping missions around the world. Indeed, despite what the government might say, Canada has been far more active in NATO missions than in the UN missions.

Although the United States may not retaliate against Canada overtly for not participating in BMD, as Joel Sokolsky points out, “Americans would no longer go out of their way to include Canada” in some aspects of defence.

The costs to Canada for participating in Norad are low in respect of the benefits in intelligence and interoperability that are gained by joining Norad.

If Canada were to go along with BMD, Canada's defence spending would most likely have to increase, but there is a possibility that the United States would fund 100% of the program. The most likely scenario would involve Canada shouldering 10% of the cost. This would be a relatively small price over a number of years when considering the technological and intelligence payoff that would result.

Canadian policy makers struggle with this question. Who would ever target Canada with a nuclear weapon? From our experience in the cold war, we know that the Soviet Union definitely targeted Canada and the Russian Federation still does, although probably far less than what the USSR probably did.

There is also the possibility that nuclear weapons could be used against Canada as a warning to Americans, our neighbours, to show the capability to strike North America exists.

For states that have just developed ballistic capabilities, like North Korea, it is extremely likely that their missiles are very inaccurate. Thus, the possibility of a warhead going astray and impacting British Columbia or Alberta is quite possible.

Similarly, many question the accuracy of Chinese ICBMs. Despite the technology that was allegedly stolen from the United States, some people still doubt that the Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles are accurate. It is also quite possible that Chinese missiles are targeted at western Canada as well because it is the closest ally of the United States.

If a Russian missile were accidentally launched or launched without authorization, there is also the possibility of the warhead falling short of the United States and detonating over Canada. The trajectory of Russian missiles is directly over Canada because it is the shortest route, similar to the way American missiles would be launched at Russia in case that happens.

Do not forget that British Columbia and Yukon is between Alaska and mainland United States of America.

Even if no missiles were targeted at Canada, or even if the threat to Canada were non-existent, a nuclear explosion on the mainland of the United States would have profound impacts in Canada, environmentally, economically, politically, as well as militarily. The cost of losing a city and thousands of lives would likely far outweigh the cost of building any missile defence system.

National missile defence is a limited system, designed to deal with small numbers of incoming ballistic missiles. While missile tests have not been completely successful, there have been a number of successful results showing substantial progress in the reliability of the system.

NMD is not a solitary system. It involves space based interceptors using exo-atmospheric kill vehicles . Theatre missiled defence through THAAD, Theatre High Altitude Air Defence, Boost Phase Interceptors, BPIs, and more local systems such as Patriot missile batteries like the new PAC-3 were amazingly successful in the recent war against Iraq.

A new arms race will not result. First, in economic terms, no other state can afford to engage in an arms race with the United States. Second, Russia has accepted the United States withdrawal from the ABM treaty and still desires to go ahead with the START treaties.

Other allies such as Japan, Britain, South Korea and others have expressed support for national missile defence. It is incumbent upon us to take it seriously.

Should Canada not sign on to NMD, we risk losing Norad, as I said. Although American military planners have expressed the desire to run NMD from Norad headquarters, the system could also be deployed through the U.S. space command. The U.S. does not need Canada but it does want Canada on board.

Canada gains nothing by not signing on to NMD. However we risk losing military contracts and military ties to the United States through Norad, an important bilateral defence institution that has survived the end of the cold war, even September 11 and a number of other strategic changes in world affairs.

Not participating in NMD would further deepen the rift in Canada-U.S. relations which has been complicated by softwood lumber, the Iraq war issue, wheat tariffs, anti-Americanism from Liberal MPs and the protectionist tendencies of some U.S. congressmen.

We have to give it serious thought. The loss of Norad would have a severe impact on Canada's military capabilities and intelligence gathering capabilities. The United States could easily go ahead with BMD without Canada and without Norad. In such a scenario Canada would gain nothing economically, diplomatically or politically except perhaps for a thanks from Moscow and China that would continue in fact with motivation to aim their missiles at Canadian targets.

At the end of World War II Canada had the fourth most powerful military in the world. Under successive Liberal governments, Canada's military strength has deteriorated to the point where today we have surrendered the country's defence to the United States. While this has brought about significant cost savings, freeing up money for the $1 billion gun registry and the like, there are two important consequences.

First, Canada's lack of military weight renders it a peripheral player in international affairs. Unlike in the 1950s or early 1960s, we are now no longer a player on the world stage.

Second, our dependence on the United States of America for Canada's military defence must be taken into consideration when making diplomatic calculations. This is the price we must pay for scrimping on our military budget.

A recent SES/Sun media poll found that 61% of Canadians supported Canada playing a role in the ballistic missile defence system. Certainly all Canadians will be thankful if the capabilities that are developing today successfully avert an attack tomorrow.

For tomorrow's safety, the government has to act today. The Canadian Alliance's thoughtful motion is just that time reaction

I would like to acknowledge the contribution of a Torontonian law student studying at Michigan State University who is an intern in my office and who has contributed in this research. His name is Jonathan, and he has done a good job in researching this topic. I would like to encourage this youth who has been participating in voluntary work in our Parliament.

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1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I find it utterly inexplicable that the official opposition would try to link Norad and the missile defence system.

The issue of Canada's participation in Norad—a longstanding, reasonable, fair and justified involvement—does not mean that because we agree with Norad, we have to automatically accept a missile defence system, as proposed by the U.S.

I find this completely illogical. The official opposition is trying to corner us. They are going to say that if we vote against the resolution, we are voting against Canada's participation in Norad, which is not at all true.

We are certainly in favour of participating in Norad, but we certainly also have the right, as a sovereign country, to decide for ourselves, upon review of all the issues involved, whether or not we support a missile defence system as proposed by the U.S.

These are two entirely different matters that they are trying to link in order to trap us. If we vote against the resolution—which we will, I hope—they will be able to say that the Liberal government is against participating in Norad, which is completely illogical.

If tomorrow morning the United States, as a major player in Norad, decided to launch a weapons system that was even more repugnant than the missile defence system, by introducing more nuclear weapons for instance, would we automatically agree, or would we take our own decisions after reviewing all the facts?

Many knowledgeable people who base their opinions on all the statements made at the most senior levels of the Pentagon or the U.S. administration, say that the missile defence system means launching weapons into space.

It is interesting to see reference in the resolution by the Canadian Alliance to any system against ballistic missiles. Does that include weapons in space? It will be interesting to hear from Alliance members whether they officially and clearly back the inclusion of weaponry in space. By putting their motion forward the way it is phrased and referring to any system, if we voted for the motion, it means we would have to accept any system, including weapons in space.

Alliance members will probably say in reply that of course they are not talking about weapons in space and that the Americans have only proposed a ground based anti-missile system. Yet the pressures and the numerous statements coming from the highest level at the Pentagon, within the administration itself, by Rumsfeld and others and sometimes by the President himself, give us very good grounds for believing that in the end the anti-missile system proposed by the United States must include weapons in space.

I would like to read from an article, which I think is a cogent, profound article by Jeffrey Simpson, in the Globe and Mail of May 7, 2003. He puts this question:

What link exists between missile defence and weaponizing space? A missile defence system must depend on satellites for surveillance and communications. Any threat to these capabilities would weaken the anti-missile system. Therefore, the logic of an anti-missile system must drive the designers to protect it. This means producing weapons in space that can protect satellites and attack any threat to them.

He goes on to say:

Anti-missile defence without weaponizing space is like being half-pregnant. Joining the missile defence scheme without understanding where it must lead is to misunderstand the stakes.

He is not the only one to have given us a warning that joining the anti-missile defence system is a path toward weaponry in space.

It is interesting to hear our friends from the Alliance tell us about all these missiles that will rain on us if we do not protect ourselves, that the Americans will suffer enough to defend us and that they will rain on Vancouver, Seattle and Montreal. At the height of the cold war with the Soviet Union, if any country had the power to have ballistic missiles that could travel across the ocean, we did not have an anti-missile ballistic defence system. Who are these countries now? From where is this threat coming?

The axis of evil was Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Already Iraq is completely disabled and it has been proven that the so-called weapons of mass destruction and all the famous armaments it used to have in secret have not been found still, months after the end of the war. Today there was another article saying that they could not find a threat anywhere. It leaves Iran and North Korea.

Who in a sane mind could believe that Iran or North Korea or another so-called rogue state, which has not been identified, could rain missiles on the United States or Canada, for that matter? It is almost a farce because if they even attempted, surely the intelligence of the world community would signal before hand that Iran or North Korea was ready to rain missiles on us. However even if they did by surprise, does anyone think they would take a chance with the power and might of the United States and the world at large? They would be annihilated in just a matter of days. They would never risk it, even if they had the power to do so, which most informed observers say they do not.

So where is the need for this?

The irony of it is that terrorism today has been conducted by people who have used unsuspected means such as suicide bombers mostly, using low tech technology and not high tech technology. It happened in the 9/11 tragedy, again in Saudi Arabia, the other day in Morocco and it is always the same pattern, suicide bombers using low tech technology.

It really is scary, this new way or talk of militarism and more and more weaponry when we have so much of an arsenal already at our disposal.

I read an article from the San Francisco Chronicle dated May 20. It said:

As Congress moves closer to a vote on repealing a ban against developing smaller, more usable nuclear warheads, a group of prominent scientists issued a letter Monday urging that the prohibition be kept in place.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has already voted in favour of a total repeal of the prohibition, passed 10 years ago as a means of preventing the use or proliferation of nuclear weapons. But the House Armed Services Committee voted on a compromise version that would permit design work but stop short of production of low-yield warheads.

The Bush administration and many Republicans in Congress have said the law should be repealed because, in a world of dangerous new threats, the U.S. needs a new generation of low-yield weapons for pinpoint strikes...

They do not have enough. The scientists wrote this:

“It is counter to U.S. interests for the United States to pursue new nuclear weapons at a time when the highest U.S. priority is preventing other countries or groups from obtaining them”, the authors said. “The perception that the United States is pursuing these weapons and considering their use would give legitimacy to the development of similar weapons by other countries.

They added, “The United States should be seeking to increase the barriers to using nuclear weapons, not decreasing them”.

The article goes on to say:

A low-yield weapon refers to a warhead with a force of five kilotons or less, about a third of the force of the warhead that killed 140,000 people when dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

Where do we stop with this weaponry? Where does the United States stop? It already has so much in the way of armaments that it can annihilate any country in the world just in a matter of days if it wants. It has nuclear warheads in profusion, ballistic missiles, ships and warships of all kinds, technology of the latest as we saw in the Iraq war but that is not enough. Now we need low-yield nuclear weapons and we need the star wars deal which will lead to weaponry in space.

Meanwhile, credible observers like Lloyd Axworthy, our ex-foreign affairs minister, with a reputation for peace, peacemaking and peacekeeping, and Nobel Laureate John Polyani have warned us that star wars is a slippery slope. What does the world really need? Does it need star wars? Does it need more nuclear weapons, low-yield or otherwise? Does it need more ballistic missiles or anti-ballistic missile missiles?

What it needs really is more concern for the areas of the world that are totally neglected. Three million people are dying in the Congo right now as we speak and I think a few troops are there. To help this small United Nations force would be really a far greater service to the world than spending billions and maybe trillions on a star wars defence system. What we need is to really check our conscience.

Malaria, AIDS and TB are devastating millions and millions of people in Africa. They say that just AIDS alone devastates something like 27 million people in Africa. We really need to change course, to abandon weaponry in space and to say to ourselves, yes, we can be participants in Norad but, no, to any system that would lead to star wars.

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1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member is talking about weapons in space as an emotional hot point, but we must talk about the global positioning system that we have around the world now. It is a military device, created by the military. It is now of course used by boaters, recreational people, hikers, and it is even at my golf course to tell me how far I am from the hole, but it is a military satellite system. We must also remember that we have had satellite recognizance for military purposes for years. It was used in war, the last one of course.

Let us just think of the great case when the satellite information was given to the British by the Americans to sink the Argentinian ship, the General Belgrano . That was using the satellite system specifically for direct offensive action. Secret military launches into space have been going on since the 1960s.

What is his definition when he talks about so-called weapons in space? If he is going to make the political point to create some kind of emotion on the issue for political purposes, he has to be very precise on what he is talking about when he says weapons in space. That is my first point.

Second, I want to ask him this very clearly. Is he contradicting the Minister of National Defence, who came into the House and made a statement today? I want him to clearly state his view about what the minister said in the House just an hour or so ago. In general, the minister said that Canada will be in the tent for discussions.

I would like a comment on both of those questions.

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1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, we all know there are spy satellites in space and that space is being used for spying by countries, by giving observations to armies to act. I will not contradict the facts that are brought up by my colleague.

At the same time, the question to be asked is whether this is not enough already. Is it not too much already? Should we weaponize space even more, as Rumsfeld and all the others are predicting they will? There have been several statements. I do not have the time now but I am sure my colleague will refer to them because he has a whole slew of statements from people at the Pentagon, from people in the administration who say that the anti-missile defence system will lead to more weaponry in space.

We do not need an organized system of weaponry in space because if the United States starts to arm in space, certainly another nation will do it tomorrow, whether it is China or Russia or somebody else. What we need are less armaments, not more armaments on the pretext that we are defending against terrorism in rogue states.

As to what the Minister of National Defence said, I did not hear his speech. However we happen to be in a democratic party on this side of the House. It may be funny for them to talk about democracy and laugh. I do not laugh. This is why I am able, as a member of the Liberal Party, to state my case because this question is still open. The government has not made a final decision as to whether it will. Until it does, we on this side will say our piece. Those of us who are for our joining the anti-missile defence system will say so. I just happen to disagree.

If the defence minister says today that his position is we should join it to find out what it is, that is his position. I have a different position, and until a decision is made, I will continue to hold that position because we just happen to be a party that is not cheap. Thank the Lord.

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1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I always appreciate the hon. member's talks. They are always very thoughtful and I am very interested in hearing them. I wonder if he could comment on two things.

I did not hear the minister's speech either but my understanding is he basically said that he was only going to enter into discussions to find more information. Does the member have any comments on that?

Second, could the member give us some of the details of Mr. Axworthy's presentation, at which most of us were not present?

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1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I did not hear Mr. Axworthy speak. I wish I could have been there, but I read his article in the Globe and Mail and I know his feelings about this issue. He wrote an extensive article in the Globe and Mail some time ago. I endorse his views 100%.

He is warning us that we are falling more and more in the orbit of the United States in military defence and that we should be most careful, especially in regard to this new star wars. People do not want to call it star wars because that evokes weapons in space and they want to avoid that, but he and John Polanyi and many other observers are saying that is really what it means.

In regard to the Minister of National Defence, I did not hear his speech. If it is a matter of just discussing with the United States without any precondition and leaving the options open to us in Parliament to vote yea or nay, then there should be discussions certainly. Why not? Before doing that however, we should be sensitive to the point of view of many of us who do not want the discussions just to be a forerunner to a decision. We want the chance to debate this issue as it is a fundamental issue for our country. I hope that this is the spirit in which the Minister of National Defence has spoken and I am sure it is.

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1:25 p.m.

Beauséjour—Petitcodiac New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, like the member for Yukon, I find the interventions of the member for Lac-Saint-Louis interesting and reflective. I appreciate a lot of his comments.

I am wondering if he might offer some views on one issue which certainly is of concern to many of us in this caucus. It is the issue of the weaponization of space.

I was very happy that the minister in his comments reiterated the longstanding Canadian position that we do not support the weaponization of space. The minister indicated that was one of the three important reasons to engage in a discussion, so that we have a forum to advance that perspective and to support those in the United States who share our view that this would be unwise.

I am wondering if the member agrees that the longstanding Canadian position in opposition to the weaponization of space is worthy and should stand. How would he suggest the government could advance that in these discussions?

I had the chance to see Mr. Axworthy's presentation this morning. He was very eloquent on that very issue as well.

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1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, especially because he is close to the scene, and not having heard the Minister of National Defence, it would be really unfair of me to characterize the speech of the Minister of National Defence.

I am very glad about the position he has announced. Canada has always taken the stand that weaponization of space is against our fundamental interests. I am glad we are reinforcing it through the speech of the Minister of National Defence and that this would be our position.

If discussions take place, I hope that one of the fundamental priorities that we put forward will be that we cannot join in any system where there is even a little possibility that it will lead to weaponization of space.

As to former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy, he is an eminent spokesperson on that issue because of his previous experience, especially his tremendous experience as a peacemaker. He is the person who inspired the land mines treaty and the international criminal court. We should listen to his words very carefully.

Finally, in regard to the comments of the parliamentary secretary, what scares me is that the Canadian Alliance motion cleverly refers to any system. Any system means any system that would weaponize space and I would be totally against that.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, sovereignty is about the capacity to make one's own decisions. Too many members of our government believe that cooperation with our allies undermines our sovereignty. When we cooperate with trusted allies to protect our vital national interests, we are exercising our sovereignty; we are making a responsible and intelligent choice.

I want to use this motion as an occasion to make some observations about our very special relationship with our American friends. Our trading relationship with the U.S. is seriously being undermined. Lumber, grain and now beef cattle are the objects of problems in obtaining access to the American market. Too many of my government friends assume that we have a God given right or a constitutional right to gain access to the American market.

There is nothing in the American constitution that I know of that gives Canada a special right or access to that market. Access to that market is a privilege which we should cherish and value. We should not take it for granted and assume it is some sort of right that we have. This is a seriously flawed assumption on the government's part. NAFTA and world trade rules and so on are only partial solutions to that sort of problem.

Our access and our economic and social well-being as a nation really depend on identifying shared common values and interests we have with the Americans and working closely with them. This is nothing against our sovereignty. It is common sense. It is good policy. Our nation depends very much on a healthy, friendly relationship with our American friends. It is in our national interest to maintain that friendly, healthy relationship.

The government, especially in recent years, has poorly managed that relationship right down the line. Besides the trade situation, we are seeing signs of a deteriorating situation in terms of the investment climate. DaimlerChrysler announced recently that it is not going ahead with a $1.7 billion investment in Windsor. Honda Motor Company has stated on a number of occasions that it is concerned about long term investments in Canada because of potentially deteriorating economic circumstances with the United States. There are signs that the investment climate is working against this nation because of government policies and actions toward the Americans.

Another sign of the deteriorating relationship is that this country is increasingly being left out of the loop. I recall post September 11 when George Bush addressed the house of representatives. Who was in attendance that day? Tony Blair. George Bush read off the names of the countries of the world that he sees as American allies and friends. There were many countries on that list but one country that he did not mention was Canada. At that level it is something that is not overlooked or forgotten. We have to assume it is deliberate.

The Prime Minister has not been invited to the President's ranch. Just about anyone who counts for anything in the world has visited the President's ranch in Texas but the Prime Minister has not been there. The President's announced visit to Canada was cancelled. That again is a sign that things are not good on this front. This is disturbing.

Not long ago a poll in the United States asked American citizens whether they saw Canadians as friends and allies. A substantially large number of Americans do not see Canadians as their friends or allies any more. That is serious.

I am pleased that today the minister of defence announced that the government has embarked upon negotiations with the Americans on this missile defence system. It is a step in the right direction. There have been so many backward steps on the American-Canadian relationship file, it is causing a lot of damage to this country and our future as a nation. This is a step in the right direction. On the other hand, we do not have an agreement concluded with the Americans on the missile system. That is a whole different story. At least we have indicated that we are going to embark upon that area and hopefully it will work out.

I sincerely hope that our government will make a decision that will put Canadian security and national defence first and foremost. I hope it will set aside the temptation to pander for political purposes to the left-wing anti-American element that exists in this country and in the government, and some days I get the impression it is the majority of the government.

I come from a province that has been dominated by left wing socialist thinking. I know what it has done to that province. I become concerned that what we really have here in Canada is an informal socialist left-wing government which will do the same thing to the nation as what was slowly done to my province of Saskatchewan. What it did was drive people to the United States, to Alberta and to other parts of the country. In the government's case it would be driving them out of the country, which is already happening in some cases.

Let me make some comments about the proposed North American missile defence system. In a historical sense, we have a new paradigm. The cold war is over. The Prime Minister does not seem to understand that. He seems to be talking as if it were the 1950s, 1960s, or 1970s. The world has changed. We are not looking at superpower versus superpower any more. That is over with. Nazism is gone.

Most enlightened countries realize that socialism and communism do not work and have since rejected them. Some people still cling to it and try to maintain it. Some people travel to France and talk to their friends over there, trying to perpetuate this myth and keep it going. However they are really wasting their time and selling out the interests of the country.

In today's paradigm there are rogue nations in the world run by people who have absolutely no respect for human rights, no respect for our values of freedom, liberty and democracy and wealth creation and so on. They are evil people who are motivated by hate. If they had the means to strike at the heart of our system and cause mass destruction, they would do it tomorrow.

That is something my friend across the way ignored in his speech. He ignored history. Freedom-loving people who do not understand this reality will sooner or later be attacked by evil people. Hearing a man like that speak reminds me of the peacemaker Neville Chamberlain who did not like war, but sometimes war is necessary. I am sure the six million deceased Jewish people would have said that sometimes war is necessary.

We cannot let evil knock down our door, walk in and take over our country. If our neighbour is being attacked, we do not sit back and say it is not our problem because our door will be knocked down sooner or later and we need a defence system against that.

That is not the end of this paradigm. The other part of this paradigm is that we have international terrorism today in this world and in my view it is motivated by religious fanatics and zealots who do not respect anything we stand for. I do not mean just the values of the United States. They do not respect anything we stand for as Canadians. If they had their way, they would destroy and annihilate everything we stand for. They would eliminate it tomorrow. They have no toleration for it. They are motivated by hate and they are out to destroy us. If we were to sit idly by and say it is an American problem or somebody else's problem and we are peace loving country and these people will not bother us, we would be very naive. We are ignoring a clear and present danger to the civilized world as we know it.

My government friends say that it is an American problem and not our problem, but it is our problem. When the border closes down in the United States or the American economy slows down or we cannot sell beef, lumber, Bombardier jets or Nortel optical technology in the United States, guess what happens? People get laid off, our economy goes in the tank, and the first thing we know the government does not have the revenue to start paying for social programs, and unemployment rates start going up and so on. We have to look at some realities in this country and respect the people we should be respecting.

A national government that ignores these realities is putting the national security and the health of this nation at risk. I really think it is putting the future identity and the strength of our nation at risk too. A country that cannot understand these basic simple realities will not last that long.

I believe it is incumbent on us to fully participate in a North American missile defence system. I think we have to participate, not just negotiate. We have to do our part to make sure that this system is up and running and that we are protected as well, because this new paradigm does not distinguish between New York or Chicago or Toronto and Canadians or Americans. We have been declared enemies as well, so let us make this clear.

I want to make some comments about this system. First, this is not a weapons system. It is designed to intercept weapons heading toward North America which, if they were to reach their destination, would cause unbelievable harm to people's lives, our environment and our future. It is not a weapon. Let us get that clear. If we put a lock on our door to keep criminals from breaking into our house, that is not a weapon. Let us be clear what we are talking about when we use this language in the House. We are not talking about weapons.

Also, there is some confusion about star wars or escalation of weapons into space. Again let us be clear. This is a ground to air system. It is not a space system. I do not know why people keep on coming up with this idea. It is not part of the scenario. It is a ground to air system.

My learned friend has gone again, but would he be saying that if the Americans had had advance notice about the jets flying into the twin towers he would not have sent up some F-16s or something to take down those planes before they hit their destination? That is ground to air. It did not come down from the stars or the moon or something. I really do not know where this argument is coming from, unless there are some people who just do not want to deal with the truth and the facts.

I just bring that matter to your attention, Mr. Speaker, because I know you would really like to understand that point and I am sure you could probably help other colleagues understand it too.

There are all these harmful decisions that have been made which have hurt our relationship with our American friends, so this is a really good opportunity to start rebuilding this relationship. It is in pretty bad shape right now. We had better do something to send a signal to our American friends that we are on side with them and that we have ceased pandering to all these left wing, socialistic types of people who seem to have had the favour of the government over the last two or three years when it comes to foreign policy.

There is another area I want to deal with. I have run into a fair number of people on the government side, and their supporters, who say that Canada does not need a defence system. They say the world has changed, we are a peace loving nation and we do not need a defence system.

With all due respect, that shows an ignorance of history. Countries that do not prepare to defend themselves against people who have no respect for other people's rights, and that applies to nations, will pay a very heavy price for it. They will pay a very heavy price for it. We all want peace, but some people in the world are bound and determined to cause war and to cause problems and we have to be prepared for that.

Saying that Canada does not need a defence system is also based on the assumption that all problems can be solved through diplomatic channels and peacekeeping methods. History shows us that is not the case. In 1919-20 the world created the League of Nations, an organization that would ensure there would never be a war again. We would collectively prevent war from happening again. What happened in the 1930s? The Nazi movement and Hitler arose and we had the beginning of the second world war, with Mussolini in Italy and the Japanese in Manchuria and China and so on. Millions of people were slaughtered. What did the League of Nations do with its diplomacy and peacekeeping? Nothing. It did not stop it. What really stopped it was war.

I do not like war, but the alternative was to surrender to Hitler. Is that an alternative? Sometimes we have to fight in this world. That is a problem I see with this government. It is so focused on diplomacy and peacekeeping it does not understand that sometimes this does not work and conflict is necessary, whether we like it or not. It is the same as wishing we did not have criminals. Maybe the Liberals could pass a law banning criminals and they would disappear and be gone, but we all know there are people who are not going to abide by the laws and they are not going to disappear just because a law is passed.

I do understand what William Shakespeare was thinking when he said the road to hell is paved with good intentions. There are a lot of good intentions in the House, but I am not exactly sure if the road is all that smooth. If it is smooth, it is going the wrong way.

The third point I want to raise is that some people say we do not really need a defence system because if there is a problem the Americans will defend us. These are the people who are arguing sovereignty on the other side of the House. The Americans will protect us. I am not a freeloader. I believe that in this world we all have to pull our own weight. I am not counting on somebody else to defend my home or my nation. That is our responsibility. That is the responsibility of our federal government. It has neglected that file. Implicitly what their unofficial defence policy in this nation has been--and they are not looking up at me right now--and what the Liberals are really saying is that the Americans will protect us if this happens, that we cannot protect ourselves but we will have the Americans to do it for us.

I wanted to make a few comments about some of the statements made in the last couple of years that have really undermined our relationship with the Americans, but I understand I am out of time, Mr. Speaker.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy the member's interventions.

I have a simple question. The Canadian Alliance has a number of spending priorities, including more money for agriculture, more money for the Coast Guard, more money for ships, planes, and boats, more money for tax reductions and more money to pay off the debt. I am wondering which of these priorities the member would reduce in order to pay for this new investment in missile control.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, some ministers of the Crown come to mind right off the bat. I could go back over the Minister of Industry's portfolio. How much is the firearms registry? It is $1 billion. In fact, I think someone counted $3 billion or $4 billion for that alone. What was what it called for the Minister of Human Resources Development a few years back?

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

An hon. member

The billion dollar boondoggle.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

The billion dollar boondoggle.

Of course we have the Minister of Canadian Heritage and everybody in this House knows that when the minister of heritage spends money, we always get great value for that money. There is no waste in that department.

There are a lot of these ministries in the government. The Auditor General can certainly give me a lot of support on that and I wish she had more people in her department so we could find out the full extent of this. If we had our priorities right and the government was doing the things it should be doing in this country rather than squandering and wasting money on useless programs such as the firearms registry and other such programs, we would have no problem financing our way in areas that are really important to Canadians.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on his presentation. He talked about the missile defence system being an opportunity for Canada to now repair some of the damage done over the last year or more by some of the comments that have come from the Liberal government.

Many in the House have been working day and night to try to resolve an issue that is affecting the economy of Canada in a big way. With regard to the cattle industry in the country, we have tried everything we can. We have been pushing the government and we have been trying to open up relations with the United States. Then again this morning we see headlines in the newspapers that our Prime Minister has degraded or denigrated the President of the United States. This is doing us absolutely no good. It is causing us more harm than we can possibly imagine.

When the member states that this is an opportunity for Canada to start mending those fences, I believe that is true. This might be a little on the fringe of the missile defence system, but I would like to hear his comments on that.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with the sentiment of the question. I think if members opposite do not understand that there is a connection between our deteriorating relationship with the United States and the way we carry out foreign policy, we are missing an awful lot.

I have a short list to add to this. On the anniversary of September 11, if I understood our Prime Minister correctly, one interpretation of his comments, and it is hard sometimes to interpret what he saying, was that the United States, through its policies, was really getting back what they had cost. I find that totally unacceptable.

There is a whole list of others. On that same anniversary, a member of the Liberal government in the House said that September 11 was a minor inconvenience. I wonder what she was doing on September 11. Did she not have her TV on? Another minister in that context said it was too bad the Soviet Union collapsed because it was a good counterbalance to the United States. Josef Stalin and Lenin and the misery they brought on this world is something we should be wanting to preserve? I cannot believe that.

Then there was the comment, “I hate those bastards”. As well, a chief adviser called Bush a “moron”. During the American election the comment was that Gore would be better than Bush for Canada. Another minister said that Bush is not a statesman.

Then we have the latest tirade, where the Prime Minister did what he did not want the ambassador of the United States to do, which was to interfere with our domestic relations, and started running down the United States for being right wing southern conservative, saying it is running up deficits and saying we know how to do things here. The United States has 5% of the world's population and 40% of the world's GDP. It has nothing to be embarrassed about. And if we did not have access to that market, our standard of living would be substantially lower. I find this whole response of these Liberal MPs, cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister insulting to my American friends.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to expand on the most recent comment by my colleague. One of the comments that came from the Prime Minister was criticizing the U.S. for its deficit.

The U.S. is a country that went to war against a tyrant to free his people, a war in which our government chose not to get involved, and our Prime Minister has the audacity to criticize that country for running up a deficit. I would like to hear the member's comments on that.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, we have 50,000 people in our armed forces and we really do not have any military capacity at all. I said that we have a freeloader capacity.

The Americans had to go to Afghanistan and they carried the ball there. We put some money into it, but let us be honest, the Americans put billions of dollars into that, into Iraq and then into homeland security.

Homeland security, post-September 11 is a real shock. It has affected our economy big time. We are trying to recover from it too. For the Prime Minister to attack the President of the United States for reacting to extraordinary circumstances is beyond amazement.

Canadian Forces DayStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, this Sunday is Canadian Forces Day and I rise to salute the courage and the dedication of our men and women in uniform.

Whether guarding our borders here at home or taking part in peace support operations abroad, our military personnel are making a concrete difference to countless lives around the world.

For years members of the Canadian Forces have been proud ambassadors of Canadian principles and tireless protectors of our values. They have contributed to building our national identity while promoting the cause of global peace and security.

Protecting Canada, its people and interests is a great responsibility, especially in this new security environment. However the members of the Canadian Forces have always been up to the challenge and they can take pride, as we do, in their good work.

I encourage Canadians to take the opportunity of Canadian Forces Day to thank our men and women in uniform for their commitment to duty, to recognize the many sacrifices they and their families make for our sake, and to celebrate their accomplishments.

Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of RegulationsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Canadian Alliance Delta—South Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, again today the Liberal majority on the committee for the scrutiny of regulations rejected a Canadian Alliance motion to disallow sections of the aboriginal fishing regulations which the committee has found to be illegal since 1997.

In order to derail the committee's effort at disallowance, the minister served notice this week that he intends to amend the Fisheries Act, but as of yet the amendments are in draft form only.

The Liberals rejected the motion in spite of the fact that the minister had failed to fulfill his commitment to meet with the committee before introducing the amendments in this House.

In failing to hold the minister to his word, the committee agreed to allow the government to continue arresting fishermen protesting the government's illegal action and to seize their boats and gear.

It defies reason that Liberal members would so scandalously support the breaking of the law by the government.

In rejecting the Canadian Alliance motion, Liberal members indicated their support of the government's use of police powers to harass and intimidate fishermen protesting the government's outrageous and illegal behaviour.

Teaching Excellence AwardStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to recognize Mrs. Jennifer Beauregard, a grade two French immersion teacher at Dorset Drive Public School in my riding of Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale.

Mrs. Beauregard has been selected by the Prime Minister to receive a 2003 teaching excellence certificate of achievement. The award honours outstanding teachers from across Canada who have best prepared their students to meet the challenges of our changing society.

Mrs. Beauregard used her training in art and music to create a stimulating environment in the classroom. She involves parents in children's learning and reports regularly about the children's progress.

I would like to thank her for her commitment and dedication to our youth.

A. Lacroix et Fils Granit LtéeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Gérard Binet Liberal Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak about a family business founded in 1962 in Saint-Sébastien, which all started in a home garage. A. Lacroix et Fils Granit Ltée, a stone manufacturing and cutting business, now has over 130 employees and has been serving its clients for three generations.

The business managed by Claude Lacroix and his two sons, Simon and Frédéric, has been awarded 25% of the New England Stone Industries contract to supply granite blocks for the World War II Memorial in Washington, a project of the American Battle Monument Commission.

This industry leader has outstanding expertise in custom orders, and its reputation for excellence is widely appreciated by contractors, project managers, stone setters and architects across North America. This leading supplier of natural stone has been involved in a number of remarkable achievements and can be proud of its reputation. I want to congratulate this company for its entrepreneurship. It is another fine example of international visibility—

A. Lacroix et Fils Granit LtéeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway.

Croatia DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Sophia Leung Liberal Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I recently attended the annual celebration of Croatia Day hosted by the Canadian Croatian Congress of British Columbia. Every year the local Croatian community hosts this event to foster a better understanding of Croatian history and cultural tradition in our community.

The Croatian community of B.C. is a fine example of the success of Canada's immigration and multicultural policies, that people from wartorn areas of the world can come to Canada and build a better life.

It was my pleasure to attend Croatia Day. I would like to thank the organizers of the event, Mr. Ivan Curman and Mr. Pave Cikes, for their continuing commitment to fostering cultural understanding of Croatia here in Canada.

Haitian FlagStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 18, the Haitians of Montreal, and particularly those in my riding of Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, gathered to celebrate the 200th anniversary of their national flag.

After a parade featuring many cars proudly flying the “Bicolore”, several hundred people assembled at La Perle cultural centre to raise their nation's emblem of freedom.

This flag consists of two horizontal bands of equal dimensions, the upper one blue and the lower red, with the arms of the Republic on a white square in the centre. These arms consist of a palmetto or cabbage palm surmounted by a liberty cap, and in the shade of the palms a trophy with the legend: In Union there is Strength.

Wherever Haitians have migrated, this flag always expresses their pride. Congratulations.

JusticeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, just the other day a 34 year old Surrey man was charged with two counts for the unusual offence of sexual assault by fraud. It is alleged that he obtained consent for sexual relations from two boys, age 14 and 15 respectively, by lying to them that he was 19 years old. The crown therefore alleges that it was not informed consent.

Published reports indicate that this former minor hockey referee-in-chief and scout leader lied about his age while attending events for gay youths over at least the last four years. He also visited Internet chat rooms.

This could be a precedent setting case and I will be watching it closely.

Meanwhile., the Liberal government, by its stubborn refusal to raise the age of sexual consent to 16 years, condones the adult exploitation of 14 year olds for sex.

On April 23, 2002, Liberal members voted to defeat a Canadian Alliance motion to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16, a move that would help to protect kids from these sexual predators. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Holland CollegeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, eight culinary arts students from Holland College, Charlottetown, P.E.I., will be on their way to represent Canada at the 2004 Culinary Olympics in Germany thanks to Rebecca Hutchings and Kreg Graham, along with their coaches, chefs Hans Anderegg and Richard Braunauer, and their win at the CFCC Knorr national student competition in February.

Six graduates will be joining them. I am pleased to say that Nunavut will be represented by Kelly Clark of Rankin Inlet on this prestigious national team. The others are Tommy Archibald, Gillian Gilfoy, Natalie Fortier, Mark Sheehy, Gerald Sharpe and the team manager, chef Craig Youdale.

I congratulate them all on this honour of representing our country. I know they will be good ambassadors. We thank all their supporters, especially in the preparations for the competition. I wish them all good luck.

VolleyballStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, after winning the fourth annual Festival interprovincial de volleyball benjamin, held last April in Joliette, the Libellules team from Thérèse-Martin high school in Joliette, won the Canadian 14 & Under Volleyball Championship in Calgary, May 17 and 18.

Under the leadership of Yvon Turgeon, Mario Blouin, Luce Tessier and Francine Duval, the team finished their perfect nine-game winning streak without losing a single match.

I raise my hat to these Quebec and Canadian champions from Lanaudière: Catherine Laurin, Christine Bourgeois, Emmanuelle Bourgeois, Mélissa Lachapelle, Caroline Mailhot, Jeanne Liard, Sarah Godin Blouin, Christine Champagne, Alexandra Bisson Desrochers, Patricia Champagne, Claudia Bourgeois, Gabrielle Duval Brûlé and Marie-Ève Pelletier-Marion.

I congratulate all of them on their determination and talent.

House of CommonsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is nice, in these times of frequent bad news, to be able to find a reason to celebrate.

In last Tuesday's sixth annual soccer challenge between pages and MPs, I am pleased to report that MPs prevailed by a score of 5 to 3. As in previous years, the spirit was keen and competitive but also most friendly.

I want to salute and congratulate, in particular, the pages for their enthusiasm and their terrific sportsmanship, which was greatly appreciated.

I send a very special thanks to the member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, the creator and inspirational anchor of this annual event.

Bob HopeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to an individual who has been honoured and befriended by presidents of the United States since Roosevelt. He has been hailed as America's most prized ambassador of goodwill throughout the world and was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal from President Kennedy.

He received an honourary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth in 1998 in recognition of his contribution to the entertainment of the troops. He has received more than 2,000 awards and citations for humanitarian and professional efforts, including 54 honourary doctorates. His unwavering commitment to the morale of servicemen and women is legendary in modern history.

As our world becomes a more dangerous place with a full out war on terrorism and our servicemen increasingly in harm's way, I think back to simpler times when this individual brought a bit of happiness and a slice of home to servicemen all around the world.

On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to wish Mr. Bob Hope a happy 100th birthday and “thanks for the memories”.

Michael NurseStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow Mr. Michael Nurse retires from the federal public service with a career that has spanned five decades. He joined the public service in 1968 as an administrative trainee at Transport Canada and retires as associate deputy minister of Public Works and Government Services. So much for the formal part of the c.v.

I chose to speak about this exemplary gentleman because he embodies what is best about a public service. Canadians want a public service that is efficient, creative, innovative, cost effective, accountable, transparent, flexible, decisive and autonomous. In Mike Nurse, we had all of that. What is more, we had a public servant who remained true to himself, to his employer, and to his oath of office. Mike Nurse always provided the best advice he could, even when those receiving this advice did not want to hear it.

I wish to salute Mr. Nurse, and wish him and his family many wonderful years, but he should not go too far because we may be calling on him again.

Member for Calgary CentreStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus to acknowledge the contributions the right hon. member for Calgary Centre has made to the House and Canadians since being elected leader in 1998.

Canadians recognize the member's dedication to our country and that his commitment to our party has seen us through the many highs and lows of the last five years. His perseverance has held the government accountable. Clearly he is the best statesman the House has seen in the past decade.

It is with some sadness that we see him pass the torch. The torch, however, is being passed to one of several potential bright young Tories with a burning desire to lead a viable alternative to the current incompetent Liberal government. There is wind in our sails as we head to Toronto this weekend to elect a new leader. Our party is running on momentum from our recent byelection victories in Gander—Grand Falls and Perth—Middlesex. The P.C. Party is without a doubt the alternative that Canadians are so desperately seeking.

A new day is dawning for the Progressive Conservative Party as we welcome a new leader with enthusiasm and optimism.

MuseumsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Monday we learned that the federal government found $90 million to invest in the Canada History Centre while, according to the president of the Canadian Museums Association, museums need more money to maintain their collections and infrastructures.

It is hard to imagine how the centre will present some of the major events in Canadian history, events that affected peoples and Quebec as a whole. Think about the forced patriation of the Constitution, or the deportation of the Acadians.

Creating this centre without consulting the museum community is all the more cause for concern given that museums are largely underfunded.

Is showcasing chapters of our history that some of us would sooner forget the legacy the Prime Minister intends to leave behind?

Softwood LumberStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Minister for International Trade in his concessionary talks with the United States on softwood lumber is having devastating effects on forestry communities and their workers throughout this country.

We in the NDP agree with Brian Payne of the CEP Union who said that now is the time to involve labour and forest communities throughout the country in the new talks with America when it comes to softwood lumber.

We also, as representatives from Atlantic Canada, support the Maritime Lumber Bureau in maintaining the softwood lumber exemption that we have had since 1986. Laurie Ledwidge of Ledwidge Lumber in Nova Scotia said very clearly:

The maritimes should in no way be tied to any deal the rest of Canada might agree to and if we do not get a separate agreement there is going to be mill closures and loss of jobs in Atlantic Canada.

We cannot tolerate that and we will not stand by if indeed that happens.

Habitat for HumanityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate the Women Build Habitat for Humanity Brant project.

This past weekend amazing women from Brant and the surrounding communities gathered to work on the only Habitat for Humanity house to be designed and built by women in Canada, and the fifth Habitat for Humanity house built in Brant.

Local women had the opportunity to learn new skills while they worked to provide an affordable safe home for a local family. Three hundred women volunteers have been involved in this project, as well as 25 men who acted as skills coaches in building workshops.

I know all colleagues in the House celebrate and support the work of Habitat for Humanity and join me in congratulating these incredible volunteers for their initiative to learn new skills, their ability to improve and their support. Our congratulations go out to Habitat Brant.

JusticeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the people in Sherwood Park, a major residential area in my riding, are extremely upset these days. In the last several months two violent sexual predators have been released into their community. This causes great concern because these individuals have demonstrated no remorse for their violent crimes against women and have shown no desire or intention to not repeat these offences.

I spoke to one lady who lives near one of the offenders and she told me that she is so afraid that she goes out with her husband whenever he leaves the house. She cannot stay alone in her own home in this previously peaceful community. Others tell me that they are now in constant fear for the safety of their children. They must now escort them as they walk to and from school, and cannot leave them out of sight when they are playing outdoors.

I call on the government to change the rules. Offenders who choose not to participate in rehabilitative treatment while incarcerated, and who are judged dangerous and likely to reoffend, must be kept in custody until we are certain that they will not again attack our women and children.

Government of CanadaOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the acting Prime Minister, and there seems to be a different acting Prime Minister every day, said the government was in the midst of a transition that was seriously affecting its ability to deal with issues like SARS and mad cow.

We have additional serious crises in forestry, agriculture, tourism, and in all kinds of trade relations with the United States. The Prime Minister's contribution is to go around making ill-advised and ill-timed comments that he has been criticized for even by members of his own party and yet he will not back down. We cannot stand nine more months of this lame duck damage.

My question is very simple. Will the Prime Minister consider leaving office early so we can get this transition over with?

Government of CanadaOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said very clearly that he was concerned with the world not falling back into the situation we faced in the early nineties where we had huge deficits, high unemployment, raging inflation, and indeed, economic stagnation.

The Prime Minister is discussing with other world leaders how the world economy can proceed further. It is only sensible that he discusses the successes of Canada in this global economy.

Tourist IndustryOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's comments are not isolated and not restricted to any one subject, but since the Prime Minister is apparently so interested in Canada's problems, let me ask about the serious problems in Toronto's tourism industry.

We hear today that the famous production of The Lion King is being cancelled because of the tourism downturn in Toronto. Yet, because of the Prime Minister's comments, we have a spokesman for the President saying on U.S. national television that Canada just does not get the U.S. experience on 9/11.

What steps is the Prime Minister taking to correct the bad impressions his comments have made on our American neighbours?

Tourist IndustryOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has taken a number of steps, as has the government as a whole, to deal with the SARS issue. The essential issue is of course restoring confidence.

I would like to congratulate the Minister of Health, the minister of Health for Ontario, as well as all the health workers in Ontario, for the work that they did to ensure this matter was handled so well.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the government cannot even implement a questionnaire at Toronto's airport three months after the crisis started.

We have a huge beef industry that is on the verge of collapse if we do not get some cooperation from the Americans. Again, the Prime Minister has not helped. He spoke to the President and could not even remember if he had raised the subject with him.

While he is over in Europe has he yet had a chance to discuss this issue with the President? Can the government report to the House on whether there is any possibility of the U.S. administration lifting its ban on Canadian beef?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, this is strange advice coming from a member who goes on Fox TV to embarrass Canada and has referred to Canada publicly as a second rate country.

The party's former leader did the infamous chicken little tour of the world in which he warned that the Canadian economy was in collapse. This is the party that consistently underrates Canada and its ability to surmount difficulties, and consistently downgrades Canada when it should be bragging about its successes.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

This party thinks that our Prime Minister is the underrated one.

Here is another thing the Prime Minister said overseas. He insisted that the SARS outbreak was under control. He is wrong. If we were to use the World Health Organization definition of SARS, then probable cases in Canada would rise.

Why did the health minister choose a definition for SARS that is good for public relations but no good for public health?

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe what the hon. member who is a health professional is saying. In fact, Health Canada had a definition of probable cases of SARS reached in discussion, consultation, and agreement with chief medical officers from all provinces and territories.

That definition was in place before the WHO had finalized its definition. We have not changed that definition. However, because of recent discussions with the WHO, it is very likely that we will move to its definition of probable cases.

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I might say that is a positive step. Let us now talk about the WHO's other recommendation. It recommended a departing interview with a couple of questions and a transfer to a health worker if those questions were positive.

Why will this minister not admit she was wrong, bring in that interview and prevent another travel advisory?

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I resent the fact that the hon. member suggests the travel advisory by the WHO was put in place because of exportation. The travel advisory was put in place because of three factors, the most important of which was community spread. That is beside the point. That would be factual, and the opposition does not appear to be much interested in that.

Let me reassure the hon. member that we have ramped up our procedures over the course of the SARS outbreak for outbound passengers. At Pearson and Vancouver airports those departing have to respond to a series of questions at the check-in counter.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the public, the House of Commons, even the Liberals themselves, are divided on the U.S. missile defence plan, and yet we have the Minister of Defence announcing that the government will be negotiating Canada's participation in a defence system about which we know virtually nothing.

How can the government justify the negotiations that are beginning with the United States on the missile defence plan, when it has received no mandate in this connection, either from the House or from the public?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the government has held many discussions on this. There have been two parliamentary committees, committees in the Liberal caucus, three discussions in cabinet, two debates in the House of Commons. So, there have been plenty of discussions.

Now discussions are starting with the United States on this question, and there are good reasons for it. The government's decision to do so was a very good one.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, he ought to have listened better in committee, because the committee did not agree with the decision reached, far from it.

The United States will not be negotiating just for the fun of it. It is all very well for the government to say that no final decision will be reached without cabinet approval, but that argument does not hold up. Once these negotiations on Canadian participation in the missile defence plan are under way, this will mean that a decision has already been reached, and all that is left to do is set the terms. That is the real situation. A vote would have to be held here in this House before cabinet—

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. The Minister of National Defence.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, Canada is going to start holding discussions with the United States on this. No decision will be made until cabinet has discussed the situation.

As I said this morning, however, there are good reasons to initiate discussions in order to protect the security of Canadians—and this is extremely important—and to continue to work together to defend our continent, as we have for the past 60 years.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois has been calling for a public debate on the consequences of the missile defence plan for months now. Right now it is impossible to get the information needed for an informed debate among Canadians and here in the House.

How can the government announce today that it is starting negotiations with the United States when we know that this project will restart the arms race and lead to the militarization of space?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as far as discussions are concerned, there is a debate today on this in the House of Commons. This is the second debate on this matter held recently in the House.

I have said very clearly that the government remains opposed to the weaponization of space. That is clear. That will not change. That is the government's position.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister can make all the pronouncements he wants about the United States and the current U.S. administration.

How does he expect us to believe that he can preserve his government's independence vis-à-vis the Bush administration when he is entering into discussions on a project that raises serious concerns, without enough information, and one he will have a hard time backing out of, even if the House and Canadians ask him to do so?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I do not have much to add on this. As I said, we are entering into discussions. The process will take a few months. We remain opposed to the weaponization of space. There are good reasons to pursue this project, but we have not yet made any final decision. That is the situation as it stands.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, some weeks ago the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans closed down a lot of the groundfishery in parts of Atlantic Canada. At the same time, the minister responsible for ACOA announced that programs would be put in place to address the fall out.

Could the minister tell us when we can expect the announcement because up until now the fishermen, the plant workers and the communities generally have heard nothing and they certainly are suffering through this crisis.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Gerry Byrne LiberalMinister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for highlighting how seriously this side of the House has been taking this matter.

We have been working on this issue for quite some time and have a number of proposals on the table. Hard work has been done by caucus members on this side of the House. We will have specific information, in addition to the information that was provided on April 24, which we will be able to provide to that hon. member and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, Atlantic Canada and Quebec, very soon.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, if that hon. gentleman and his caucus and the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador would stop fighting with each other and start working on the problems, we would have them solved.

Could the minister responsible for human resources development tell us if, in her plans to address this, she will come up with some innovative ideas instead of just planning to extend EI and coming up with some JCP programs, which is not the answer to this situation.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member can count on is that we are always responsive. We look at the circumstances that face the labour market and respond to them as effectively as possible.

I take this opportunity to remind the House how effectively the employment insurance system does work, how responsive it is, how it changes with increasing or decreasing levels of employment, how it is financed and how it is there to respond to the needs of Canadians when they need it.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the last star wars test missed its target by hundreds of miles but clearly the defence minister has missed the mark altogether. Canada should have no part of star wars, period. It is destabilizing, it is expensive and it does not work.

Very simply, I would like to ask the minister if it is now Liberal policy that if a country wants a new weapons system, it is okay to tear up an arms control treaty? Is that okay by him?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I always had a suspicion that the NDP lived in the past. The hon. member is talking about star wars which went out with the Ronald Reagan period some 20 or more years ago. We are not talking about star wars. This is a land-based system. We are discussing it with the Americans because it may be in Canada's interest to protect Canadian lives and to preserve a meaningful role for Canada in the joint defence of this continent.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about star wars because that is exactly to what this system is going to lead. It really is too bad the emperor is away today and we get Yoda instead.

The minister knows very well that George Bush has already blown $90 billion on star wars with hundreds of billions of dollars more to come.

Could the minister tell hotel workers laid off by SARS, or nurses who now want danger pay as a result of SARS, or meat workers laid off by mad cow why star wars gets billions of dollars and those workers get nothing?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague the Solicitor General pointed out, I assure the hon. member that the force is with us.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Canadian Alliance Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I think the word is farce, not force.

The Minister of Agriculture announced today that he anticipates the American border will remain closed to beef exports for at least another week. The original cow has been slaughtered, the renderings have been trapped and removed from the system, the original birthplace herd has been depopulated and is being tested, cows from the trace out have been destroyed and feed mills have been cleared.

What else must occur before the U.S. will be satisfied that the disease has been contained and eradicated?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, the only comment I have made about opening the U.S. border is that I hope it opens soon. I have not said when that soon will be because all of the science is not proven.

The Premier of Alberta said this morning that lobbying is not what it takes, it takes science. The science is not yet completed. The trace outs are happening and the tests are taking place. The DNA samples in some situations are not back yet because they take some days to do. That work will continue. The only way we will be able to demonstrate that this is an isolated incident is by completing the science, and that is what we will do.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Canadian Alliance Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, last week the cattle industry was losing $11 million per day. This week it is losing $30 million per day. After next week, losses will be catastrophic, feedlots will be completely plugged and cow-calf operators will be running out of operating money.

Has the government established a target date for having the border reopened and if not, what contingency plan does the minister have in place to deal with such a catastrophe?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I answered the hon. member's question about opening the border. We want to open the U.S. border and other borders as quickly as we possibly can. It will take science to do that.

He should appreciate the fact that Canada has the best system in the world to do the tracking and tracing and conducting that science. The best compensation is opening the border and that is where we are concentrating our efforts.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the softwood lumber crisis began, the Minister for International Trade has been talking about the return to total free trade as the ultimate objective.

Given this, how does he explain the fact that he presented the Americans with a plan that, essentially, contains conditions similar to those adopted in 1996? What we want to know, after so many sacrifices, is why the government wants to return to square one?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey Ontario

Liberal

Murray Calder LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I want to make it adamantly clear that we have had, and always will have, a two-pronged strategy with the softwood lumber.

Prong number one, which is at the WTO and NAFTA, is working very well for us. Prong number two is that we have been in consultation with the producers, with the industry and with the provinces to get the best deal that we possibly can with this.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, how can anyone explain that, suddenly, the government is changing its strategy when it has the upper hand and all that is needed is an assistance package for businesses and workers so they can make it through the process and still survive.

Why is the government changing its strategy when all that is required is phase 2 of its plan, which it has yet to deliver?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey Ontario

Liberal

Murray Calder LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has been very sensitive to the impact on the industry right across the country. The federal government has already announced over $300 million in assistance. The Minister of Industry, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister for International Trade have been very active on this file.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, this week a man was arrested in connection with a brutal home invasion. A check of the man's status on the Canadian police intelligence computer showed, to quote one officer, “This guy is flagged everywhere for crime”. Yet that same man has just been granted Canadian citizenship.

Why would the minister welcome a violent criminal into our society as a citizen?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brampton Centre Ontario

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, we take the security of our nation very seriously. Every step is taken along the way to ensure that every potential immigrant passes the security check. We follow this procedure because, as I said, security is paramount for our nation.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the man in question was charged for home invasion. He beat the owner so badly that 30 staples were needed to close head wounds. He tortured the homeowner for information about valuables. However when arrested, he laughed at police and bragged about his new status as a Canadian citizen.

Why has the minister failed yet again to protect our citizenship process from abuse by a dangerous repeat criminal?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brampton Centre Ontario

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, we take the security of our nation very seriously. This man will be found guilty, I am sure. She will have the check the facts. This person will serve his sentence fully to the maximum allowed by the law.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Gaudet Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, in talking with the heads of companies such as Tembec, Bowater and Abitibi-Consol, we are learning that they are experiencing difficulties and, consequently, must slow down production and lay off hundreds of employees.

How can the Minister of Natural Resources tell the House that everything is fine when hundreds of jobs are being lost in the forestry industry and there is more and more bad news every day?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we are very conscious of the problems in the industry. In fact, that is why we were ahead of the game. That is why we introduced $350 million to support the industry. We will continue to monitor the industry. As I have said before, if we need to do more, we will be looking at options that can provide that.

In the meantime, our effort is to make sure that we deal with the countervail duties. The Minister for International Trade has done a tremendous job to make sure that we resolve this issue so that we have free trade in softwood lumber. That is where our efforts are.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Gaudet Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, 450 jobs were affected in Chibougamau, 300 in Béarn, Témiscamingue, and hundreds of others throughout the entire industry.

How can the minister say he is satisfied with the measures implemented by his government to date, when this industry needs loan guarantees, and employment insurance needs to be relaxed by eliminating the two-week waiting period, as was recently done in Toronto?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Liberal

Claude Drouin LiberalSecretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, as my hon. colleague mentioned, $350 million was announced; $110 million of which will go specifically to help communities. Of the 80 projects proposed, 17 have already been approved for the region, for $1.2 million; this brings our investments to $5 million.

We will continue to work with the industry, the provinces and municipalities to support the communities.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister once again defended personally strong-arming the head of the Business Development Bank for cash for friends on two separate occasions. What he defended yesterday would actually contravene his own ethics package if it had happened today.

How can the Prime Minister say that he was just doing his job as a good MP in 1997 when the same behaviour today would be a firing offence for any of his ministers?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, what the member overlooks is that this very kind of case was before the ethics counsellor in November 2000, who reported in writing that such a call did not violate any principle or standard which was relevant to the ethics counsellor's work.

Will the member take that into account and recognize we are dealing with exactly the same issue?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister knows very well that is completely beside the point. The question is, was it ethical?

According to the Prime Minister's own ethics guidelines, as of today, that kind of offence that the Prime Minister engaged in would be a firing offence. He would not be in cabinet if those rules applied to him.

My question is, will the minister admit that under the new ethics package that kind of behaviour would get him fired from his own cabinet?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I fail to understand why the member will not acknowledge that in November 2000 the ethics counsellor ruled on just such a phone call and said it violated no principle or ethical standard which was relevant to his work.

If that case was the same in November 2000, surely the same principle applies. I fail to see the distinction.

HealthOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, my question is as follows.

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day. We all know that many thousands of Canadians die from smoking tobacco and that we must encourage them to break this habit. We must also prevent Canadians, especially our youth, from starting in the first place.

As we prepare to mark World No Tobacco Day, I would like to ask the Minister of Health about her efforts to reduce tobacco use in Canada. In particular, what are she and her department doing to respond to the message that encourages Canadians to take up smoking?

HealthOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, it goes without saying that the government takes the fight against tobacco very seriously.

This morning I had the opportunity to spend time with about 400 young people from the Ottawa area, involved in a project called Exposé which is funded in part by my department. Exposé is an opportunity for young people to deliver an anti-smoking message in a very powerful way that reaches young people and makes sense for them.

I also had the opportunity to announce an additional $2 million in funding that is going to be focused on the campaign against second--

HealthOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Brandon—Souris.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, recently the Prime Minister said about national missile defence “Ministers always support a government decision or some of them will no longer be ministers”. Yet the Minister of Canadian Heritage is opposed to the decision to move forward on missile defence and states that it “runs counter to everything the Liberal Party has ever stood for”.

Would the Minister of National Defence tell me if he has the full unqualified support of the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Natural Resources to proceed with the missile defence plan?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I announced that today the government had decided to proceed with discussions on this matter with the United States.

Fisheries and OceansOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Progressive Conservative Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, river guardians in Newfoundland and Labrador have been further reduced by one week this year. I hope the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans understands that if we are going to protect our rivers we must have enough manpower to do the job.

I ask the minister, will he put more financial help into the protection of our rivers by allowing river guardians to have longer periods of employment so that they can do the job that is required?

Fisheries and OceansOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

West Nova Nova Scotia

Liberal

Robert Thibault LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, we have been working very carefully within our budget and framework to ensure that we give the same period of coverage with the same amount of people. Everybody will work one week less but we will cover the same rivers for the exact same time.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, the federal government is trying to force genetically modified food on farmers and consumers both here and abroad. Yesterday, Canada's eccentric uncle, the Prime Minister, was in Europe aiding and abetting the American multinationals while here at home his government has been assisting Monsanto in test plots for adapting genetically modified wheat to the Prairies.

The list of groups wanting nothing to do with GM includes farmers, the Wheat Board, the milling industry, international customers and most important, our own consumers. When will the government stop jamming genetically modified food down our throats and accept that what is good for GM is not good for Canada?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows very well that we have a process here in Canada that is the envy of the rest of the world. The assessment is made based on science and the safety of any genetically modified product to humans, animals and to the environment. Even with that, it does not mean that the product goes to market. If it passes, the opportunity is there. There have been a number of cases. For example, a number of years ago there was a genetically modified flax product that did pass and the industry decided not to take it to market.

Political Party FinancingOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been boasting for months that, this year, he is going to put an end to the perception that money influences politics. But while the cat is away in Europe, the Liberal mice are at play, because they are addicted to corporate money.

Will the government House leader commit to having the political financing bill in place before January 1, 2004—or is he going to give in to the demands of the provisional government from LaSalle—Émard for more corporate money?

Political Party FinancingOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I deduce from the hon. member's question that he completely supports Bill C-24. I commend him, because a few days ago, we felt his party was not very forthcoming.

But this new show of support for the bill pleases me enormously and also pleases all the hon. members on this side of the House. We hope to pass Bill C-24 quickly, now we have his support, and of course, the support of all the other hon. members.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, both the House of Commons and the Senate have adopted motions calling for the return of the Parthenon marbles to Greece before the 2004 Olympics that will be held in Athens.

Yesterday the Prime Minister was ignorant of those motions. The foreign affairs minister was also ignorant of those motions and he said it did not make any difference anyway because the government would not do anything about it.

Why will the government not follow the dictate, the motion of the House, and get the marbles returned from Britain to Greece? Why will it not stand in favour of the Canadian Greek community?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Canada's longstanding position on issues such as this is to leave the matter between the two countries involved, both of whom are good allies of Canada, and to leave it as well within the ambit of the United Nations, UNESCO, and their ability to provide alternate dispute resolution.

The marbles are indeed an integral part of the heritage of humanity but as I said, it is traditionally our position to remain neutral and to remain respectful of the negotiations that are taking place.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, speaking of respectful, the only thing that is bigger than the ignorance of the Prime Minister and the foreign affairs minister about this issue is the arrogance of the government.

The House of Commons and the other place moved motions that gave instructions to the government about what to do on the issue and she says there has to be respect.

I am asking the Liberals to simply respect the direction of the members of the House of Commons.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the government always takes into very serious regard the views of the House and the views of the Senate. That said, it also takes into serious consideration our position of neutrality on matters that are currently under dispute and on matters that really involve two allies of this country.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister witnessed Canadian GMOs being denied access to the European market. Yet for five years we have been warning the government about the risk of not regulating GMOs.

How many markets must we be banned from before the government takes its responsibilities and regulates all GMOs?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, we do regulate GMOs. We regulate GMOs better than any other country in the world. I just gave an answer on how we go about doing it.

We recognize that there have to be concerns about the marketing of that product. I gave an example of how that has been handled in the past. We will continue basing those decisions on science.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week the Canadian Wheat Board asked Monsanto to withdraw its request to have genetically modified wheat certified.

Will the Minister of Agriculture admit that if approved, Monsanto's request would make the Canadian situation even worse and close even more doors on international markets? Does the minister intend to say no to Monsanto, as requested by the Canadian Wheat Board?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, again I gave an example of a product that passed the tests of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Ministry of Health a few years ago. The developer of that product recognized a concern that had been raised by the Canadian Wheat Board and it was not put on the market. The system can work. That is a good example of the situation and how it can work.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' marijuana bill sends the wrong message. We are certain to see not a decrease but an increase in marijuana grow ops. There are about 4,500 marijuana grow ops in the city of Surrey. The police are frustrated by lax sentencing. Growers can be charged seven times without seeing the inside of a jail cell. Any changes to maximum sentencing is meaningless because courts do not hand out maximum sentences.

When will the government introduce tough mandatory sentencing to provide a serious deterrent to marijuana grow ops?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, indeed this week we tabled a policy regarding the question of cannabis reform and at the same time renewing the national drug strategy. In doing that, the government wants to make sure that it sends a strong message to the effect that the use of cannabis in Canada and any other drugs is strictly illegal. Cultivation as well is criminal. If the member would read the bill he would realize that at the same time we doubled the sentence for marijuana grow operations.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, no one buys that. Organized crime is running the marijuana grow ops in our neighbourhoods. They are not just mom and pop grow ops. These criminals also deal in drugs, prostitution, money laundering and illegal weapons. These criminals are responsible for the violence that plagues our streets. B.C. police estimate one in eight murders is connected to marijuana grow ops.

When will the government get tough on organized crime?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, that is part of what the bill and the national drug strategy is all about, getting tough on organized crime.

If the member would read the background documents, he would see any aggravating factors related to marijuana grow ops. We are suggesting to the courts that they follow the intent of the law and that they impose greater penalties. Not only will we have greater enforcement, we are expecting greater penalties to come into the court system to deal with the marijuana grow ops in the country and to shut them down.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Liberal Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, the drug treatment program is an innovative court program within the legal system that emphasizes treating rather than incarcerating addicts. Today the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Health announced a $23 million commitment for drug treatment courts over the next five years as part of Canada's drug strategy.

Could the Minister of Justice tell the House what impacts these courts will have on Canadian society?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I said, at the beginning of week we renewed the national drug strategy. We will be investing $245 million over the next five years. Having said that, we will be doing research and investing in better enforcement.

This morning we were able to expand the national drug treatment court that we have in place. We actually have two pilot projects in place, one in Toronto and one in Vancouver. At the end of the process we will have five drug treatment courts. That will be a huge benefit to our society.

HealthOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, in 2001 the government made a long overdue commitment of $20 million to the Canadian Council for Transplantation and Donation to increase the safe donation of organs.

However, in discussions with the council we were told that its actions were not public knowledge. Furthermore, the provinces want to know where this money has gone and they do not know where it has gone because they have not been told.

My question to the Minister of Health is simple. Could she tell the House how this $20 million has improved organ donation in Canada and why this publicly funded group is not making--

HealthOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. Minister of Health.

HealthOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, my predecessor, with great foresight, created a secretariat in relation to organ and tissue transplantation in the city of Edmonton in the province of Alberta. In fact the council is hard at work.

I know the council has worked hard to develop a business plan. That business plan has been submitted to deputy ministers and I believe it is still under consideration.

If the hon. member wants further detail in relation to the work that has been done, the contracts that have been let and the future activities of--

HealthOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Let us see what the next question brings and maybe she can complete the answer.

The hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.

HealthOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is the point. We have been trying to get that from the council but it has refused to give that to us.

We have 3,700 people on waiting lists. More than 160 people on those waiting lists are dying every year, and those numbers are going up, as the minister knows.

Will the minister tell us how this $20 million investment has saved lives and reduced the number of people on waiting lists?

HealthOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member does, quite rightly, identify a real challenge for us. It is a challenge other countries face as well, which is why my predecessor put in place a secretariat to deal with organ and tissue transplantation and to create a council.

This is a federal-provincial-territorial endeavour. Some provinces are making more progress than others. However I think it is fair to say that this is an important step forward in bringing together some of the key clinicians, researchers and others in this area.

Yes, in the medium to long term we certainly hope to see a more coordinated approach that will lead to more organ--

HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Drummond.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the current mad cow disease episode has many repercussions. It has caused problems not only for cattle farmers and slaughterhouses, but also for laboratories that specialize in bovine semen and embryos, which are now banned by several countries. The news was confirmed by the Canadian embassy in Beijing and by the Canadian Livestock Genetics Association.

How could the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food tell us in committee that there was no ban when there has been one since May 21 that represents $20 million—

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I believe in the committee I asked the hon. member to give me the specifics on that. She may have sent that to my office. However I can say that if there is a country blocking embryos and semen because of BSE it is against the Office International des Epizooties. If she would bring the specific case to my attention we will address it.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Progressive Conservative Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, the mayor of the town of Gander presented me with a 15,000 name petition, which will be presented in the House next week, with relationship to the downsizing of the weather forecasting station in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador.

The people in Newfoundland and Labrador are very concerned about this move by the federal government.

Will the Minister of the Environment listen to the voices of the people and do what is right for Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada by maintaining a public and marine forecasting service in Gander?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of increasing the expenditure by some $75 million over the next five years for the Meteorological Service of Canada and the rationalization of services was to improve the service to Canadians in rural and in urban Canada.

We have succeeded in doing that with better forecasting and more frequent forecasting. This has led of course to changes in the personnel in various communities, including Gander. We have attempted to do our very best to make sure that the professional personnel in Gander remain there and handle a major marine section for both west and east coast.

HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, for over two years the health minister has had a very clear mandate from Parliament to require labels on alcohol warning of fetal alcohol syndrome. It has been two years and there is still nothing.

Now the Alberta Medical Association has written the minister and said bluntly that it is “very disappointed in the government's inaction to date” and that it believes “prevention through warning labels are yet another tool worth investing in”.

Why is the minister ignoring AMA's advice and the wishes of everyone but the alcohol industry?

HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we are not ignoring the advice and recommendations of the AMA and others. They are very much a part of our ongoing consideration of what is the most effective use of our resources.

We all know that FAS/FAE is a challenge in our society. What we want to do is make sure that we have a plan in place and labelling might very well be a part of that plan.

However at this point our research continues in relation to this. I would hope the hon. member is not suggesting that we should move forward with things without knowing whether they will actually help us deal with this terrible problem.

InfrastructureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, highway tolls are rising, roads on the prairies are falling apart, the link to the Vancouver airport is struggling to be financed, there is still a toll on the TransCanada Highway in Nova Scotia, and traffic in the city of Calgary has doubled in the past four years.

We have all kinds of transportation problems but they cannot be solved because of the $4.7 billion in gas taxes that are collected by the government it is only reinvesting 2.5% into roads.

With all these problems, do Canadian taxpayers and travellers not deserve better than 2.5% of their gas tax dollars going into roads?

InfrastructureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Oak Ridges Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, the government has worked in a collaborative form both with the provinces and municipal governments when it comes to transportation issues.

In fact, it is rather ironic that his friends in Ontario have not come up to the plate yet for the $435 million that we put forth in the GTA for transportation improvements. They have been waiting for an election in Ontario and I guess they want to do it then. However the needs are now and we would like them to move on it now.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, retired General Romeo Dallaire, who knows what he is talking about, said yesterday that the similarities between the Congo and Rwanda are striking. Without some quick decisions, he said, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is heading for disaster.

However, last week Canada announced a minimal participation in the intervention force being organized by the UN.

Having heard the alarm sounded by General Dallaire, does Canada plan on getting seriously involved and making a significant contribution, and doing so right away?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Canada has been involved for some time in the situation at hand. We consider it a grave one. We have had a special envoy involved with international partners with regard the Congolese situation. We are supportive of assisting where we can. We are watching carefully the movement of the Security Council resolution in this regard and will be offering assistance commensurate with our resources.

Public ServiceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, the vast majority of Canadians oppose discriminatory race based hiring schemes. However an access to information request shows that to meet a quota the RCMP pass mark for target group recruits was set 21 points lower than the non-target group, and postings for federal public service jobs routinely exclude 86% of Canadians from applying because they are the wrong skin colour.

Racism and discrimination are not Canadian values, so why is the government refusing to scrap racist hiring quotas in the federal government?

Public ServiceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the public service is committed first and foremost to the merit principle. However, we also want to respect the principle of employment equity.

I think that it is unacceptable that certain groups in our society are under-represented in the public service. It is time for the public service to represent the Canada of today, a multicultural society.

Presence in GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Dr. Mulatu Teshome, Speaker of the House of the Federation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Presence in GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the government House leader if the plans for the government from now until June 20 are the same as he outlined at the House leaders' meeting earlier in the week, and do we plan to have any late night sittings so that we can meet the government's objective to complete all those bills between now and June 20?

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

May 29th, 2003 / 3 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, to answer the last question first, as to whether we need to have late night sittings, I suppose it depends on the co-operation on the part of the opposition, which is usually quite good, I must say.

Going to the substance for the next few days, we will continue this afternoon with the opposition day motion. The House does not sit tomorrow because of the Conservative leadership convention.

We are now entering June, the month when we try to wrap up the year's work and we will be consulting other House leaders on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, in order to determine the precise order of bills. However for the next few days we will be dealing mostly with report stages, third readings and consideration of Senate amendments to bills we have already passed.

The bills that will be considered next week will be, and I will start with the one on Monday, although we intend to have a minor conversation about another minor issue later, but generally speaking they will be as follows. We will start with Bill C-25, the public service bill. We will then move on to Bill C-31 respecting certain pensions for veterans and the RCMP. When that bill is completed I would hope to start Bill C-7 respecting first nations governance; and because they are all government days next week we are going to take them probably in roughly that sequence, Bill C-17 public safety; then Bill C-13, the reproductive technologies bill which is presently at third reading.

It would be my intention to then call Bill C-32, the Criminal Code amendments. When the bill is reported to the House, which hopefully will be one day next week, we could then commence Bill C-24, the political financing bill. We also have the amendments from the Senate which I understand might happen on Bill C-15, the lobbyist bill, and Bill C-10B, cruelty to animals.

At some point, we would also like to debate the second reading of Bill S-13, respecting the census, and Bill C-27, the airport bill.

As a matter of courtesy, I wish to indicate to colleagues that it is my intention to call the final supply day on or after June 12. This is not, of course, an official designation of that day at this point but that is why I say on or after, but at least to try and give an indication to colleagues in the event that they will not take other commitments at or about that particular time in order for them to be able to plan their agenda.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise to debate this issue, an issue which already has been before the House and an issue which I expect will be before the House again.

I would like to advise the Chair that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie.

I want to speak in favour of the motion before us today. In doing so, I would like to reiterate a few of the points already made by the Minister of National Defence earlier today.

First, I would like to try to put this issue in some context in terms of our relationship with the United States. We all know that we have been working with the United States on continental security for some time and that clearly the United States is our best friend and best ally.

This relationship goes back to the 1940 Ogdensburg agreement between Canada and the U.S., which represented a concrete acknowledgement of the indivisibility of our security interests and committed us to assist one another in the case of hostilities. That agreement led to the creation of a high level, bilateral forum, the Permanent Joint Board on Defence, whose two chairs report directly to the Prime Minister and to the U.S. president.

I should add by way of introduction to my colleague that the hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie is our representative on the PJBD and I must say that based on what I have seen thus far the hon. member has done a very admirable job in that capacity.

Today, the Canada-U.S. defence relationship is an extensive one. It is a complex one. It is governed by something in the order of 80 treaties and 250 memoranda of understanding. There are as well approximately 145 bilateral fora in which our two countries discuss defence matters.

One of the most important institutions or agencies developed over the years in terms of this defence relationship is certainly Norad, the North American Aerospace Defense Command. For 45 years Norad has been the cornerstone of this very close defence relationship. The fact that this military command serves both Canadian and American military and security interests has very much helped build a harmonious Canada-U.S. relationship in the field of air and aerospace defence.

I should say as well that a number of years ago I had the great pleasure and honour of visiting the troops, both Canadian and American, at Cheyenne mountain. I cannot express how impressed I was at the level of bilateral cooperation exhibited and on display at Cheyenne mountain between Canada and the United States.

Norad obviously has a binational command structure. The deputy commander is a Canadian officer. This structure ensures that Canada has a voice in planning and in operations for the aerospace defence of North America, as the commander is responsible to both countries.

I have talked a little about the history of the defence relationship with the United States, particularly with respect to Norad. There are obviously many other dimensions to that relationship, not the least of which is the defence production sharing agreement along with other agreements we have with the United States. But clearly our relationship with the United States and our shared approach to continental defence have been affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I think it is safe to say they have changed. Certainly the security perspective that exists within North America has, and I would venture to say that these attacks have changed the entire strategic environment in which we operate today.

Since September 11, 2001, the government has shown that we are committed to protecting Canadians from emerging threats and that we are equally committed to continuing to work with the United States to address our shared security needs. The government has clearly recognized the fundamental importance of continental security and the benefits of working closely with our American allies to protect lives on both sides of the border.

That is why, last December, the Canadian and American governments established a binational planning group. This group is co-located at Norad headquarters in Colorado Springs and is led by a Canadian, Lieutenant-General Ken Pennie. Furthermore, some positions on this planning group may be filled by “double hatting” personnel already assigned to Norad. The establishment of this group marked yet another critical step in furthering the already strong defence relations that exist between Canada and the United States.

By coordinating surveillance and intelligence sharing, the planning group may play a role in deterring further terrorist attacks in North America, while in the event of a crisis the planning group's arrangements may well save lives as well. This group represents a very important addition to our bilateral defence relationship.

I would now like to turn to the issue of ballistic missile defence. The announcement made earlier today by the Minister of National Defence to proceed with discussions on ballistic missile defence is an important step in our efforts to have the command of ballistic missile defence assigned to Norad, where we can have a say in the development and operation of the system. We have already seen for ourselves that Norad can adapt to the new security environment. We saw it react quickly and effectively after September 11, taking steps to greatly improve its internal airspace surveillance.

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, I would bring to your attention the fact that it was a Canadian who was in the chair as the acting commander on September 11 when those jets hit the World Trade Center. I think it is an expression of the level of trust that has existed between Canada and the United States that a Canadian would be in the chair giving the commands to Norad in connection with air defence at that critical time in American history.

The organization that is Norad has certainly proved to be flexible, flexible enough to successfully accommodate and make a contribution to a new missile defence mission. Such a mission would in fact be a natural extension, certainly in my view, of Norad's current responsibilities. As things currently stand, the North American missile defence mission has been assigned to the U.S.-only northern command. Reassignment of the North American missile defence mission to Norad would make Canada well placed to influence the development and functioning of this new missile defence system.

I want to clarify that these issues remain hypothetical, as the government has not yet made a decision concerning ballistic missile defence. We are, as I stated and emphasize once again, only engaging in discussions at this point. Moreover, any decision to negotiate would not be about saving Norad. It would be about building on it.

During question period we heard talk about this new missile defence system. A lot of red herrings have been brought up, not the least of which is the whole issue of SDI, or star wars, as it has been called. That is not what we are talking about in connection with missile defence today. It is a ground based, sea based interceptor system that is intended to protect against small numbers of missiles entering North American airspace. It is no more and no less than that. To suggest for a second that this is automatically going to lead to some huge star wars based system is misleading the Canadian public, I think, and doing a disservice as far as the public debate on this issue is concerned.

I see that my time is winding up, so let me say that the motion before us deals with a very important issue. It is a motion that concerns bilateral relations with our closest ally and the future role and possible contributions of the critical organization that is Norad. It is an issue of Canadian security.

I am in favour of the motion because it speaks to the importance of Norad and the importance of working with our allies to ensure the best possible defence of our shared continent.

I am in favour of the motion also because this government is committed to examining any issues that involve the protection of our continent and our citizens. In that regard, ballistic missile defence is no exception.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have just heard it said that the government changed its tactics on September 11, 2001, changed its policies and from that time on started thinking about a missile defence plan. If I understood the previous speaker correctly, I would like him to explain to me how a missile defence plan could have prevented the terrorist attacks on September 11.

I think that, if we want to prevent terrorist attacks throughout the world, if we really want to solve this problem, what we need to do is attack inequality, and seek to ensure that there is greater justice everywhere.

I would like the hon. member to explain to me how arming ourselves more heavily and creating a missile defence system can prevent terrorist attacks.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to explain. I think what the hon. member is missing in the context of this entire debate is that the security environment changed dramatically on September 11.

Yes, the people who were involved were using box cutters to hijack aircraft and to fly them into populated office towers. That in and of itself constituted, in my view, a weapon of mass destruction. It was a weapon of mass destruction that killed thousands of people. We know that. There is no debate on that.

What we are talking about here is the strategic environment, the use of cell-based terrorism to acquire weapons of mass destruction. As well, we are talking about the situation that currently exists, again within the strategic environment we are operating in, of rogue nations acquiring the technology involved in ballistic missile delivery systems.

The world has changed very dramatically in the last number of years. We have seen rogue states in action. We have seen North Korea in action, for instance. There is no direct connection between North Korea and al-Qaeda, obviously, but some of the thinking on the other side of the House, and specifically within the Bloc and the NDP, involves a kind of cold war approach to the world that does not exist anymore. These were some of the same people who were telling us, when the U.S. cancelled the ABM treaty, that the non-proliferation efforts of the international community were about to collapse. They did not collapse, and they did not collapse because the ABM treaty was a relic of the cold war. It had effectively died back in 1976 when the Americans decommissioned their own missiles at Grand Forks, South Dakota.

What has to be understood here is that we are dealing with an entirely new strategic environment with new challenges that we are going to have to address in new ways. Ballistic missile technology has been around since the Germans launched V-2 rockets on London in July, 1944. Since then, governments have been looking to protect their populations.

At this point in the course of human history, what we see is that Russia is not a threat anymore. China certainly does not appear to be a threat anymore. The Europeans are not going to launch missiles at us. So where are they going to come from? Typically they will come from states that we now categorize as rogue states. Or we may have developments that overthrow governments and replace them with rogue states that are a threat to our security. They are a threat anytime anyone can use weapons of mass destruction to blackmail us as well, as we have seen in terms of some of the attempts that have occurred with North Korea, for example, in using its weapons systems to try to extort food from the international community in order to feed starving populations. We cannot allow that to happen. We cannot allow ourselves to be blackmailed. We must have the defence capabilities in place.

This is not a debate that is occurring just exclusively in the United States. It is a debate that is taking place in Europe as well. They are talking about theatre missile defence, but effectively what we are talking about is a missile defence system which will protect civilian populations in a way that I think all governments have a responsibility to do.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

We have a motion before us today which I would like to read:

That this House affirm its strong support for NORAD as aviable defence organization to counter threats to North America, including the threat of ballistic missile attack; and support giving NORAD responsibility for the command of any system developed to defend North America against ballistic missiles.

Before setting out my reasons for supporting this motion, I would like to revisit a fundamental principle for Canada-U.S. defence cooperation as set out in the 1994 White Paper:

The United States is Canada's most important ally and the two countries maintain a relationship that is as close, complex, and extensive as any in the world. Canada and the US are partners in the world's largest bilateral trading relationship. The undefended border between them is evidence of the common political, economic, social and cultural values Canada and the US share as advanced industrial democracies. Geography, history, trust and shared beliefs have also made the two countries partners in the defence of North America.

When we talk about Norad, we are talking about the fundamental principle of partnership in the defence of North America.

What is Norad? First, Norad is the cornerstone of North American security. Norad was created in 1958 to protect the airspace over North America. The remarkable thing is that this protection is ensured in complete respect for Canadian sovereignty. I repeat, because it is important and it is fundamental: in complete respect of Canadian sovereignty.

Naturally, the motion before us reaffirms our commitment to the North American Air Defence Command, or Norad, and recognizes the role that organization could play in ballistic missile defence.

Missile defence is a normal extension of Norad's role. It is not a novelty; it is not something coming in from left field. It is a step along the evolutionary path we have been following for several decades.

What is remarkable is that the bi-national Planning Group will also be located within Norad. This group will coordinate the planning of emergency measures to react to natural disasters or man-made crises. Everything to do with the conception, coordination and planning of joint security takes place there.

A few days ago, here in this House, we had an opportunity to debate the issue of missile defence. If you will permit, I will repeat a few sentences I used at that time, because they seem very relevant to today's debate as well. I said:

—the state has the duty to ensure the security of its citizens. I do not necessarily share the American assessment that Canada would be a potential target for hostile action by someone, somewhere on this planet.

Not being a target does not necessarily mean not becoming a victim. If an attack were launched using nuclear warheads—or bacteriological or chemical warheads—targeting Chicago, New York or Seattle, the fallout on Canada would be nearly automatic. Are we going to leave it up to others to protect us?

Of course, the issue here is the fundamental principle of our government's responsibility, the exercise of Canadian sovereignty. In terms of decision-making, the missile defence system is a fait accompli for our American friends. It presupposes studying a host of scenarios, planning countermeasures that must begin within 20 minutes at most of the launch of a hostile missile.

The question is as follows: Would we be better able to ensure the protection of Canadians if we participated in examining these scenarios, or if we were absent? Would Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver be better protected if our neighbours were left to assessing needs on their own, or if our government took part in these plans to protect us? For me, the answer is obvious. Canada's participation, incidentally, would be fully in line with our commitment to contributing to the defence of North America.

Norad, which has existed since 1958, protects North American air space and is a perfect example—I want to say this again, as it is so fundamental, so important—of military cooperation under bi-national command that fully respects the sovereignty of our two nations.

In the interests of Canadians and our collective security, we must support maintaining Norad. We must do better than this: we must support Norad's expansion. That is why I am very pleased to support the motion before the House today.

I forgot to say when I started that my hon. colleague from Nepean began by paying tribute to my work as chair of the Canada-United States Permanent Joint Board on Defence, and he was extremely complimentary. I thank him, in the hope that I will live up to these expectations and respond in a manner that is fitting and professional.

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3:25 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise to take part in this debate. I will be sharing my time with the member for York North.

As I read the motion that is before us, I find much that I like, particularly when it comes to Norad, and I will be speaking about that. Unfortunately, the motion contains a huge and fatal flaw. It is one word. The word is any, which means that I must oppose this motion. First, let me begin with the part I like:

That this House affirm its strong support for NORAD as a viable defence organization to counter threats to North America, including the threat of ballistic missile attack;--

I like that part because I was in Colorado Springs last week for three days to visit Norad headquarters and saw the amazing complex in Cheyenne Mountain. I came back hugely impressed by the skill, talent and dedication of the Canadian men and women of the armed forces who serve in the joint Norad command. I support Norad and those people.

After my discussions with them, I am of the view that Norad has an increasingly important role to play in the defence of North America after September 11, 2001. In the first place, as we discovered, the aerospace defence of North America is no longer about the perimeter, about armed bombers coming from some other continent, or from inter-ballistic missiles only. The defence of the continent is now about hijacked civilian airliners and the fact that Norad is speaking with our own Canadian civil aviation authority, Nav Canada, and with the American FAA, to ensure the internal defence of North America is an important strong and vital step. Of course, it is logical because we share this airspace with the United States.

Second, there is a very important activity going on right now in Norad called the binational planning group, which is looking at a variety of other threats to the security of North America based on our new understanding of the way in which international terrorists operate. That binational planning group is asking itself whether there are things we can do together which are not simply about aerospace, but are about land based threats because we share a common land base with the United States separated only by a frontier. There is also the issue of sea based threats because ships may move in and out of Canadian or American water, and they may constitute a serious threat to the security of North America.

I give the example of some kind of tramp steamer off the coast of the eastern seaboard within 100 kilometres of a major American city that has a fairly low tech cruise missile. Currently, the whole question of it being a ship means that it is under a maritime operation and surveillance, but the moment a cruise missile leaves that freighter and heads toward North America it becomes a Norad task. The only problem is that with about a seven minute period of time to react there is no way we can counteract a cruise missile under the current divided structure between maritime surveillance and air surveillance. Therefore, we may see ourselves, quite apart from national missile defence, with these clear and present dangers, with a Norad which deals with air, land and sea so that we can have an integrated and more pre-emptive approach to the defence of the continent. I think that is an important and useful direction for Norad to evolve.

The problem is, of course, what happens when we get to national missile defence? Where does that fit in to our catalogue of risks to the continent? Let me begin by speaking of the ways in which I agree with the Minister of National Defence in his statement this morning.

Though I have much to criticize in the whole concept of national missile defence in terms of the geopolitical questions it raises, I agree with the minister that it is important that Canadians take charge of the defence of their own space in North America and that they share in a sensible way that duty with the United States; hence the importance of Norad.

I agree with him about the importance of improving our ability to detect incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles from whatever source, whether that is from Russia, China, North Korea, or any other rogue state.

I agree with the minister on the importance of insisting, in our discussions with the Americans, that we will not participate in any scheme which involves the weaponization of space. In saying so, of course, the minister was reiterating what the Minister of Foreign Affairs had said in the House before that.

Finally, it is possible and appropriate that we should proceed with discussions with the Americans on that basis, understanding the limitations of the discussions and the possibility that we may not come to agreement. That is where I agree with the Minister of National Defence.

I, however, disagree with this particular motion. I indicated at the beginning of my speech that my disagreement focuses on one word, that we would support giving Norad responsibility for the command of any system developed to defend North America against ballistic missiles, any system. Unfortunately, this is a blank cheque motion. It says in effect, as long as a new weapons system is under Norad control it does not matter whether it involves the weaponization of space or not. It opens the barn door. It opens a huge possibility and therefore, I cannot support it.

The weaponization of space is a great deal closer than people have given it credit. Last week President Bush released a confidential national security presidential directive which had been signed in 2002 in which the national missile defence was described. It said:

We are pursuing an evolutionary approach to the development and deployment of missile defenses to improve our defenses over time. The United States will not have a final, fixed missile defense architecture. Rather, we will deploy an initial set of capabilities that will evolve to meet the changing threat and to take advantage of technological developments. The composition of missile defenses, to include the number and location of systems deployed, will change over time.

Then the President listed some of the things that were being looked at and ends with:

Enhanced sensor capabilities; anddevelopment and testing of space-based defenses.

Space based defences is the weaponization of space. How likely is this? Let me turn to the hearing of the senate armed services committee in Washington held on March 18, 2003, and an exchange between Senator Bill Nelson and Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish, Director, Missile Defense Agency.

Sen. Nelson: All right, General Kadish, your budget documents show that you are going down parallel paths to acquire the ground-based boost phase and a space-based phase.

Gen. Kadish: It is our intent, as far as at least my internal discussions, that that test bed that we would space-base would serve two functions. One is to demonstrate intercepts from interceptors that would be on orbit, so we'd actually do an intercept, and to work out all the difficulties involved with having a constellation of that size potentially on orbit.

Then there is more discussion and Senator Bill Nelson asks:

Well, let me--let me ask a policy question to the secretary over there. That would be the first time that we would be weaponizing space, and there has been a policy up to this point that we are not going to weaponize space. Tell me about your thinking with regard to that change of that policy.

General Kadish does not answer that question. It is answered by Pete Aldridge who says:

Now, once you've accomplished that, then you look at various ways to do boost phase, and we are looking at airborne lasers, we are looking at ground-based interceptors, and we are looking at space-based.

And then he says whether they do any of these things depends on whether there is any money or not. We might say if they do not have any money they will not go there.

I happen to have the Missile Defense Agency 2004-05 fiscal year biennial budget estimates. Under space based tests, the Missile Defense Agency will begin developing a space based kinetic energy interceptor test bed in fiscal year 2004, one year from now. Initial on-orbit tests will commence in block 2008 with three to five satellites. The test best capability will be expanded in two year blocks.

The money will be in next year's budget, fiscal year 2004. Money set aside for these interceptors is initially $14 million, and for fiscal year 2005, $119 million with the first satellite launch in 2008 and the first flight test in 2009.

Here is the problem. Weaponization of space is real. We are moving in that direction. It would be naive to think that when we are having these discussions that might not end up being the killer, the end of the discussion, because that is where the United States is going.

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3:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member across the way mentioned that he has problems with the word “any”. In the motion it refers to Norad being in command of any system developed to defend North America against ballistic missiles.

If Norad is not going to be in charge, Canada playing a role in the command of the anti-ballistic missile system, then who would he suggest? Would he suggest that Canada not be a part of this altogether? It could go ahead whether we agree or not. Does he not agree that we are in a stronger position to be a part of the discussion rather than already setting lines?

Talking about the weaponization of space, interceptors in space do not constitute the weaponization of space. The member across is far overreaching what the capabilities are or are seen to be within the next couple of decades.

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3:35 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have to re-emphasize that the focus is not on Norad control. I do not have a problem with Norad control for the improved surveillance of North America. What I have a problem with is the idea that as long as we are part of Norad control we will allow any system to develop when we have just clearly said that we will not endorse a system which involves the weaponization of space. The whole point of an interceptor based in space is to knock down other satellites, and that is the weaponization of space.

The issue is not the control but rather what kind of a system will the United States put up there. It does not make it any better that we have a hand in a system we have denounced as the weaponization of space. It just means that we are writing a blank cheque and saying that wherever this leads to, any system the United States comes up with we will be there for it. We cannot accept that.

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3:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Canadian Alliance Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member what type of plan North American should adopt to defend a missile strike against our continent that would enable us to deter or destroy any incoming missiles before they reached our continent. Does he have a suggestion of an alternative? Is he hoping that if we ask all potential aggressors against our continent to please not fire anything at us, they will not? Is that good enough for him and the government?

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3:40 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, for 50 years Canada and the other major nations of the world have pursued dual track policy with regard to defending ourselves against inner-ballistic missiles. The first was the principle of mutually assured destruction, which basically said that there was enough rationality on the part of others that they would see it is not in their interests to be wiped off the face of the planet.

The other part of that is we have also worked to restrict the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the proliferation of all of these systems. It was hard and dirty work but it was generally pretty successful.

The problem I have with investing all of this money and energy into national missile defence is that it detracts from the real work of disarmament and anti-proliferation. It means that people have given up on the idea of trying to stop these states from acquiring these weapons, whether it is through diplomacy or some kind of negotiation which has worked for 50 years, in favour of a technology which is incredibly dubious. It is only based on these missiles coming in being extremely primitive. It does not deal with a missile with any degree of sophistication which would have decoys on it, for example.

That is the problem. We need to pursue the old doctrine of first, we crush them if they attack us, and second, we will try to negotiate with them so they do not feel they have to.

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3:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I understand there has been some discussions with regard to the rotation of this debate. I will recognize the member for York North afterward if in fact I have misinterpreted what I consider to be possibly a rearrangement of the rotation. The Chair would recognize the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands and afterward would then return to the member for York North for her intervention, followed by the hon. member for Medicine Hat. Would that be correct?

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3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I understand that is correct. How much time do I have in my intervention then?

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3:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for York North would have what she originally was allocated which, as I understand, would be the 10 minutes for her intervention followed by possibly five minutes for questions or comments.

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3:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I also would like to thank the member for York North for helping us out in this matter.

On May 6, the Prime Minister stood in this place and made the following comments regarding continental air defence:

Through Norad we are involved, Mr. Speaker. The question is, should we be involved in the next step, which is the missile element of the defence, but we have been involved in Norad for 50 years and Norad is working very well.

Yes, Norad is working quite well. The Prime Minister failed to point out that Norad works well because for 45 years the governments of Canada and the United States have cooperated to make it work well. However under this administration, Canada's relationship with our friends to the south has deteriorated.

Most recently the Prime Minister bragged that he talked baseball with President Bush, yet barely 24 hours later he again was insulting the U.S. administration, this time to reporters on a flight to attend the G-8 summit.

Those who think these actions do not have consequences are fooling themselves. Last October the U.S. government created the Northern Command, or Northcom, to coordinate North American defence. Canada is on the outside looking in on the structure of Northcom.

Canada was once a leader in agencies like Norad and NATO. Lester Pearson helped negotiate the creation of NATO, an accomplishment that was a factor in his receiving a Nobel Peace Prize in 1960. Now our commitments do not even meet the barest requirements of the NATO in terms of spending.

We have dragged our feet on missile defence for seven years. Our actions have increasingly made our membership in Norad and Norad itself irrelevant. The United States has made it very clear that if we do not proceed with it on missile defence, it will proceed without us. The truth is, with our large territory and reduced military, we need Norad far more than our southern allies.

The Minister of National Defence in his speech this morning, reversing the government's damaging position over the past seven years, announced that Canada would be joining the U.S. discussions on the missile defence systems under the umbrella of Norad. However he did leave some question as to its role. He basically stated that he had set out some parameters. We got the sense that it would be far better off on the inside opposing than on the outside opposing. Hopefully, we will go into these discussions with a very open, genuine mind and be sincere participants.

I am pleased the Liberals have finally heeded the words of my colleagues in the Canadian Alliance this time at least. We will be watching very carefully to ensure there are no reversals of this position.

It is important, now that Canada is finally going to participate, that we talk about what exactly missile defence is and what it is not and what its opponents paint it to be.

It is not the 1980 star wars program envisioned by the Reagan administration. It will not employ any weapons in space. The program calls for a limited ground and sea based system employing six interceptors in 2004 building up to 40 interceptors in 2005. The interceptors do not create a danger in themselves. They do not have warheads. Their job is to intercept incoming missiles and destroy them before they reach their target. The risk of debris landing on Canada is very small. Most missiles would be intercepted prior to crossing over land. The risk is certainly outweighed by the security they would offer from a possible threat.

The program is not opposed by Russia and it has not sparked an arms race. Russia is in fact cooperating with the United States on the missile defence shield. It has proposed incorporating its own medium range missiles into part of the European defence shield. It further has suggested cooperation on a broader shield with the United States.

Yesterday the Danish parliament voted to enter into talks with the U.S. to use an air base in Greenland as a key part of the ballistic missile defence system. Frankly, until today, European countries and former adversaries have been more cooperative than Canada under the present administration.

Assessing the threat is a very difficult thing to do. Military spending and preparation are an insurance policy. There is no way to know what threats will develop in the long term. In the early 1920s Britain put a freeze on capital projects. The prevailing wisdom was that the great war had put an end to the large conflict and this spending could instead realize a peace dividend.

By the time Hitler rose to prominence in the early 1930s, Britain was woefully unprepared. The lack of response to this threat was as much military reality as it was the failed policy of appeasement.

Canada is in a similar position. We cannot continue to cripple our military capabilities. We cannot continue to neglect our international defence pacts.

One thing is certain. September 11, 2001, has awakened North America to a new reality. We are now keenly aware that our citizens are at risk, even though we are thousands of miles from areas of conflict. No amount of missile defence could have prevented the planes being hijacked on 9/11. That is true. However there are other threats.

First, there are rogue states, nations that are aggressively pursuing military technology that will allow them to strike far beyond their own borders. Nations like Syria, Iran and North Korea are all nations pursuing advanced weapons technology with a history of unpredictability and a well-established dislike for the west.

Syria has been pursuing a ballistic missile program since the 1970s. It already has many medium range ballistic missiles.

Iran has an aggressive program, both in nuclear and ballistic missile technology. In fact in late 1992 Iran signed an agreement with North Korea, worth $500 million jointly, to develop nuclear weapons and to improve missile systems with long range capability.

Of all these countries, North Korea has been the most active. North Korea has an estimated 600 to 750 ballistic missiles, with a 175 to 200 of these being medium range. Medium range missiles can launch upwards of 1,000 kilometres. North Korea is well into the development of delivery systems that could strike up to 4,000 kilometres away. North Korea does not just develop weaponry for domestic security. In 2001 the government of Kim Jong Il exported approximately $585 million worth of ballistic missiles to the Middle East alone.

I have chosen to talk about three states of particular concern. However countless other non-democratic states are pursing similar programs with varying results.

A BBC report in February cited the state department as saying that $852 billion was spent on arms in 1999. In the same year developing countries spent record high amounts on weapons. During the 1990s, developing countries increased military spending by 18% over the previous decade. India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea all have nuclear capability. Despite efforts to the contrary, it is likely, as time goes on, this number will grow.

Nuclear technology and intercontinental missile technology are like any other technology. It is impossible to put the cat back in the bag. We need to face this reality.

Even more dangerous than certain states, is the increasing threat of terrorist attack. Syria, Iran and a number of other nations are known to sponsor and fund terrorism. Until the U.S. coalition ended it, so did Iraq. The deteriorating state of the former Soviet Union has caused a number of near misses for terrorists trying to obtain nuclear material as well.

Terrorists will not be deterred by the threat of retaliation. In fact it is often difficult to retaliate against terrorism in a conventional manner. We have had to focus on states that sponsor terror. Despite this, terrorists will continue to slip through our fingers. This is an unavoidable fact.

As I stated earlier, a missile defence shield will not protect us from attacks like those of 9/11. It will not protect us from a smuggled nuclear device into one of our cities. However it could protect us against a sea launched missile attack. It could protect us against a future day when terrorists do have the capability to fire ICBMs.

There is a need for alternative measures. We need to support the possible threat of both rogue states and desperate individuals.

It is also important to point out that missile defence cannot be our only response to global security issues. We should be encouraging democratic reforms in these countries. Targeted foreign aid can assist in this regard. I have long argued that foreign aid should be targeted to assist in reducing corruption and strengthening democracy and an independent judiciary.

Fighting terrorism and preserving Canadian security is more than just attacking terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda. Although the war on terror is a critical component, we must also do what we can to alleviate poor conditions around the globe.

When nations are shown that we are better allies than enemies, we take away threats before they ever develop. We also deny terrorists countries in which they can seek refuge. We need to do more by ensuring that countries with less corrupt regimes receive proportionately more funding. Unfortunately, aid agencies like CIDA do not recognize corruption as a principal trait in determining aid priority.

History has shown that corrupt governments provide a breeding ground for violent political organizations. While we fight terrorism in conventional military ways, we could also be removing the conditions that create terrorism.

In conclusion, these alternative measures will not be enough. Members in the House who pretend they will be are doing Canadians a disservice. Nor would it be prudent to suggest that the missile defence system alone would guarantee our safety in a changing world. However, we would clearly not be as secure without it.

The United States has very patiently waited for our interest for over seven years. If we wait much longer, we risk being left out all together. Distancing ourselves from the United States will not grant us immunity from the actions of rogue states and terrorists. The very idea that we would want to appease countries like Syria and North Korea and spurn our own allies is impossible for me to understand.

There are countries in the world that wish to harm us. There are terrorist groups that want to harm our citizens. Nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile technology is not going anywhere. Countries and terrorists alike are trying to obtain this technology and improve on it. These are the facts.

Currently no rogue state could launch a nuclear equipped ICBM at North America with any likelihood of success. However, national defence is not just about addressing current threats. It is about anticipating future areas of concern.

Canada under the present government has done next to nothing to keep our country secure into the future. We act as though World War I has just ended and there will be peace on the earth forevermore. Frankly, that kind of sentimentality is 80 years out of date.

Putting faith in Norad is something we have done for many decades with good results so far. Let us have a voice in the design of the missile defence system. Let us demonstrate that Norad is still a vibrant organization and the right place for any such system to be located. Let us stop relying on the dreamy-eyed moral relativism of the political left. Let us have some control over our own destiny.

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3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I noted with some interest that the member opposite talked about some of the root causes of terrorism and the way to deal with those things.

The member and I were in Europe last fall. We visited the European Union and heard about the creation of the European Union and its very roots. One of the reasons behind that was to do away with future conflicts. The way they that was to fuse the war-creating industries into one common market. In this way when they became trading partners, they would no longer want to take up arms against each other.

The member opposite noted in his speech that when we make allies out of some of those individuals they stop being our enemies. Unfortunately when we look at the huge amount of money that is going to be put into this project, we are talking about billions and billions of dollars. A huge sucking sound is going to be heard in our collective treasuries as we try to fund it.

As the huge sucking of all that money out of our national treasuries goes on, it is hard to understand how we are going to increase money to CIDA, to increase money for overseas development assistance, to increase opportunities for economic linkages and turn enemies into allies through trading and other means so that we do not get into future conflicts. Could the member opposite tell us how we would deal with that huge sucking noise as all of those resources are drawn out of our national treasuries?

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3:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the sucking noise, I think the member is referring to the actual cost that is going to be put on revenues. Actually, the amount we spend on defence in this country has dramatically decreased since the government came to power some 10 years ago.

I made it quite clear in my speech that we do not want to put all of our eggs in one basket. It is important when we look at giving out foreign aid and CIDA money that we base it on making sure that the places that are getting it do not have corrupt governments. We must base it on countries that are willing to change to become more democratic, as we have just seen in Iraq. Hopefully that will develop into a very democratic country and can become a strong ally and a strong economic trading partner.

I am also saying that we cannot be naive. There are rogue states that are developing this technology. They are developing the capability of long range nuclear warheads. We would be naive not to prepare for that, especially a country as large as Canada is.

When a country like the United States is inviting us to participate in a North American missile defence system, it would be a very irresponsible thing for us not to be a player at the table. We could voice our concerns and make sure we are at the table. It is important that we develop these strategies the member talked about as far as trading, but we cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend that these other threats do not exist, because they do. We cannot just wait for them to happen; it is something on which we have to be ahead of the curve.

I think it would be very wrong for us not to participate in the missile defence system at this time.

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4 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to put to the member the voices of those on the other side of the issue, those who oppose the resolution that the Alliance has presented to us today, those who are opposed to sabre rattling and gunboat diplomacy. I want to put on the record for the member the words of Peter Peters from Winnipeg, who said:

Why should Canadians buy into the insecurity the Bush administration wants to foist on us? Our future lies in cultivating strong trusting relationships with family of nations. We do not need the bullying of certain officials to the south of us.

I want to put on record the words of Val Werier, a well-known columnist with the Winnipeg Free Press , who said:

A macho image won't win us applause. For half a century Canada has been a symbol of fairness and reason without the might of a military machine.

I want to reference the words of Douglas Roche, former Conservative MP, who said:

I am outraged that Canada is apparently going to give its approval to join the U.S. system.

There are the words of Stephen Lewis, currently the UN special envoy for HIV-AIDS, who calls this ballistic missile defence a “spurious” program and one that is bereft of morality.

Ernie Regehr, the director of Project Ploughshares, said:

The American strategy now says we are not going to disarm any time soon. In fact, we are finding new uses for nuclear weapons.

Ernie Regehr, Val Werier and others have gone on to say that Canadian support for Washington's missile defence system will put Canada into active support of its doctrine of pre-emption.

My question for the member is very simple. On what basis should Canada disregard its history and its tradition in a peacekeeping role, our devotion to the rule of international law and our reputation for integrity?

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4 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's letters that she read into the record. It is disturbing that a lot of them have such an anti-American underlying tone. I find that very troubling, and of course we have heard it from members across. It has been very damaging to the Canadian relationship with the United States.

What is the first country that the world calls upon when they need the peacekeepers? What is the country that comes to the rescue of many other countries? What is the country that has gone into Afghanistan and liberated a country where women were not allowed to get an education and did not have the same rights, and where there is now hope for them? What is the country that went in and liberated the people in Iraq? It is the United States that gets called upon in these very difficult circumstances around the globe, yet we hear so much of the anti-American rhetoric.

That is a tragedy in itself. That is so wrong. The United States is our best friend, our closest ally, our closest neighbour. We should be honoured to participate in this, not just because it is the U.S. but because it is the right thing to do. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend that we are living in a glass bowl and that we are safe from all of these potential threats in the rogue states.

Supporting the missile defence system is the right thing to do, as well as pursuing relationships with other countries, countries that are not democratic, trying to push them into becoming more democratic. At the end of the day I hope that all members of the House would support the United States in getting involved in the missile defence system.

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4 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, an important part of the member's argument rests on the way in which we deal with rogue states. Here is the problem I have with the way in which this argument is presented.

On the one hand it is argued that these rogue states are so irrational that the traditional method of deterrence, that is to say, wiping them off the face of the planet by sending back intercontinental ballistic missiles, will not do. That is not good enough. They will not listen to that because they are irrational. On the other hand it is argued that once we develop a national missile defence system, it will serve as some kind of deterrence, that they will then become all rational all of a sudden and they will not feel that they have to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles.

I would like to ask the hon. member, are they so irrational that they consider it a worse fate to have their missiles shot down than to have their country wiped off the planet?

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4:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I just want to bring the member back to some very straightforward facts that all members know. There are absolutely irrational people in this world and we have seen it many times over. We have seen the consequences of some terrible wars where tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of people have been murdered by people in their own country. We saw it in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. There are people that we cannot predict what they are going to do. It is absolutely impossible, but we do know for a fact that they are developing these technologies for long range nuclear missiles, and yes, I think it would be prudent to develop defences against these, very much so.

That does not mean that we should not also pursue the other track, trying to force these countries into becoming more democratic and trying to push the people of these countries into becoming more democratic, but we cannot pretend that we would be isolated, that the people of Canada are somehow insulated from a potential attack, not at all.

It is prudent for us to participate. We are part of the continent of North America. This is a North American missile defence system. We have a very large country and it would be very wrong for us not to participate in this. History speaks for itself. We just have to look at the history books to see what has happened over this last decade.

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4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York North, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed unfortunate to hear people in the House and outside the House, particularly in the media, suggest that when one is standing up for the sovereignty of Canada and speaking out against an acceleration of the arms race one is somehow un-American. I wanted to make that point in this House.

Today's motion concerns giving Norad responsibility for the command of any system developed to defend North America against ballistic missiles. Like the member for Don Valley West, I too support Norad. I give strong support to Norad, its history, its development and the current role it plays in the protection of North America.

However, I cannot support this motion. Before any decision is made to go along with this new ballistic missile defence project, there are many questions that need to be answered and issues that need to be addressed.

A fundamental concern is that today's global situation is very different from the one that brought about the birth of Norad. George W. Bush himself stated two years ago during a speech to the National Defense University's students and faculty:

I want us to think back some thirty years ago to a far different time in a far different world. The United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a hostile rivalry...Our deep differences were expressed in a dangerous military confrontation that resulted in thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at each other on hair-trigger alert. Security of both the United States and the Soviet Union was based on a grim premise: that neither side would fire nuclear weapons at each other, because doing so would mean the end of both nations...Today, the sun comes up on a vastly different world. The Wall is gone and so is the Soviet Union. Today's Russia is not yesterday's Soviet Union.

The guiding principle of the cold war, mutually assured destruction, was to deter the use of nuclear weapons by either side. However, the enemies the United States identifies today as rogue states or states of concern, like North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya, et cetera, do not currently possess missiles capable of hitting the United States or Canada.

While Norad was conceived to deal with the strategic bomber threat of the cold war, today's missile defence project puts the United States in a position to initiate a nuclear strike without fear of devastating retaliation. Does missile defence then become a plan that can be perceived by the world as a front for a first strike winnable nuclear war?

There is another question we must address before engaging in such a project. Will missile defence work? Thomas Christie, the Pentagon's top evaluator of weapons, reported that the anti-missile system “has yet to demonstrate significant operational capability”.

Furthermore, it has long been recognized that it is relatively easy to fool an anti-ballistic missile system simply by using decoys that accompany a bomb. Even if the missile were able to hit its intended target, when a bomb loaded with numerous sub-munitions of chemical or biological weapons is destroyed in the atmosphere during its boost phase up to 100 pounds of carcinogenic plutonium rains down upon the population, causing long term havoc and mayhem. There is also the very realistic danger that intercepted nuclear weapons could accidentally explode when intercepted.

I think we can all agree that even if some of the technical problems of the missile defence system were remedied, it will never be perfect, and any success rate against nuclear attack that is not 100% perfect could mean countless deaths.

There is yet another question. How much will this program cost?

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the potential cost of a three-site system of missile defence could be between $158 billion and $238 billion. However, a report compiled by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and the Economists Allied for Arms Reduction finds that the likely cumulative costs of a “layered” missile defence system would be between $800 billion and $1.2 trillion. One of the authors of this report is economist and Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow.

When resources of such an unfathomable amount are directed toward a technically questionable method of defence, what does that mean for the ability of governments to provide essential services to citizens? I hear a great sucking sound in the treasury of our nation. It also seems that the billions of dollars forecast to be spent on this system may be more effectively applied to other means of preventing terrorism.

Some have suggested that Canada will be a partner in this project without having to pay its share. It is disingenuous to suggest that those nations that fall under the umbrella of the missile defence system will not be asked to contribute their share.

Clearly the weaponization of space is the next step in the U.S. plan for missile defence and one which Canada and most of the world are fundamentally opposed to. There is a strong movement within the U.S. military establishment to expand the military use of space to include war fighting capabilities.

General Joseph Ashy, former commander in chief of the U.S. space command, made the following comment about the weaponization of space. He stated:

It's politically sensitive but it's going to happen. Some people don't want to hear this, and it sure isn't in vogue, but--absolutely--we're going to fight in space. We're going to fight from space and we're going to fight into space. That's why the U.S. has developed programs in directed energy and hit-to-kill mechanisms. We will engage terrestrial targets someday--ships, airplanes, land targets--from space. We will engage targets in space, from space.

Keith Hall, the air force assistant secretary for space and director of the National Reconnaissance Office, had this to say: “With regard to space dominance, we have it, we like it, and we're going to keep it”.

I have several questions about the potential weaponization of space. For instance, what will happen if America proceeds with its plan to militarize space? How will anti-satellite warfare, space based killer lasers or nuclear explosions affect our daily lives? Does any country have the right to invade space for its own nationalistic purposes?

Another concern is the potential threat to the multilateralism of the International Space Station. The ISS goals include finding solutions to crucial problems in medicine, ecology and other scientific areas and fostering peace through high profile, long term international cooperation in space. Will unilateral exploitation and control of space by a single nation not reverse many years of international cooperation?

There is a great deal of international concern about the armament of space. In November 1999, 138 nations voted at the United Nations for a resolution titled “Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space”, which recognized “the common interest of all mankind in the exploration and uses of outer space for peaceful purposes”. Only the United States and Israel refused to support the resolution.

In closing, I would like to share a quote by M.W. Guzy that I believe sums up the issue of missile defence very well:

We enter the 21st century locked in a mortal arms race with ourselves. Though the needs for more advanced weaponry are at best unclear, we proceed on the premise that “if we build it they will come”.

As a sovereign country, Canada must continue to act in the best interests of Canadians and the world by promoting multilateral agreements and persevering with unwavering support for disarmament.

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4:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Canadian Alliance Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, of course nations that value the freedom and safety of their citizens are going to always continue to achieve a peaceful world through negotiations and through multilateral talks with other countries, in particular those countries perceived to pose a threat to peace in our world.

It is one thing to be in denial of the dangers that exist in our world today from nations that obviously do not think the way we do or appreciate the freedoms we do. It is quite another situation to be sort of Pollyannaish about it and believe that everything is right with the world if we just smile and think good things about it.

This missile defence system is not to replace mechanisms already in place, such as our relationships with other countries and the ongoing diplomacy. This is to augment anything we are currently doing in the event that something we are currently doing fails.

When the member talks about going back to another time when the only defence we had was to threaten annihilation of any aggressor, and this still exists, this method alone means that if someone has a nuclear aggression against us we may very well annihilate that country, but at the expense of the tens of millions of lives in our country lost because their missiles got through. I personally would like to try to save some of those tens of millions of lives. While we do not have the technology perhaps exactly right today, there was a time when we did not know how to make a microwave work. The technology, the research, is in progress to make an accurate missile system work.

Incidentally, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that members in the House do not appreciate some of the anti-American rhetoric present in that last member's statement.

I just want to ask the member, as I asked the previous member, does she really believe that by just being nice to people who are by nature not nice we can preserve peace forever in this country or in this world?

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4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am trying to understand who is not nice here.

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4:15 p.m.

An hon. member

The same thing as evil.

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4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York North, ON

Or evil. There are lists; show me the lists. The problem here is that we are witnessing a ratcheting up of fear.

I hold to the original principle of Norad and why Norad was created in the first place. If I may, I will reiterate that it was the situation of mutually assured destruction, a situation in the world where there are two forces, and if one pulls the trigger, the other will pull the trigger and it will be over. As a result, there is some rationality in the system.

With a hyperpower, we are now in a position where there is a lot of finger pointing as to who the enemy is and I am trying to understand that. As I said in my speech, North Korea and these other countries do not have missiles capable of landing in North America.

I want to point out for the members opposite that Amnesty International has come out with a report saying that human rights protection has been badly set back by measures taken in the name of global security. Yes, it is important to ensure that people in our countries are safe and secure, but the reality is that there are situations which have been pointed out in developing countries where security concerns are used as an excuse by governments to crack down on opposition politicians, journalists and religious and racial minorities.

The member opposite was talking about how to go forward on world peace. This report talks about the fact that what has been happening has deepened divisions among people of different faiths and origins--

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4:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order. I regret, but time has elapsed. I know that a number of people still want to speak on this issue before the end of the proceedings. The hon. member for Medicine Hat.

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4:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this issue. It is a very important issue which has not received its due yet. The question of whether or not Canada should participate in a missile defence with the United States through Norad has been on the burner for a long time. We have not taken the opportunity to discuss it and debate it in Canada in the way that we should. That is regrettable because it is obviously very important to Canada's future security. It is also very important how we approach this issue and our relations with the United States. We should take more opportunities to debate these sorts of issues.

I have observed today that there has been a real shift in the attitude of the government toward this issue. I am grateful for that because at one point there was no question that the government would even consider talking about this. Now it is saying that maybe it will listen. I would say that it has been mugged by reality a little, but it has a long way to go before it understands that the world is a dangerous place, that there are threats out there, and that it is not helpful when people are reflexively anti-American when we talk about these things because what we are talking about is the security of our country.

When we talk about this, we need to put this into perspective. This is not an issue of Canada's sovereignty. If neighbours agree to look after each other's houses, keep an eye on them, and ensure that nobody is breaking into each others house and that kind of thing, that is a practical way to ensure the security of both neighbours. It does not mean that a person has given up control of his or her house to the neighbour. It just means that neighbours are looking after each other, and that is a practical way of dealing with crime in the neighbourhood.

In like manner, working together with the United States on the issue of securing our borders against attack by ballistic missile is a practical way of ensuring our mutual security. People should look at it that way instead of immediately jumping to the conclusion that somehow we are yielding our sovereignty.

Very often when people reach those conclusions, they do so out of insecurity. A lot of times Canadians who are paranoid about the United States are completely insecure and do not have enough faith in their country. They do not have enough faith in the people of Canada and frankly they show little faith in the good will of the people of the United States.

As my friend who spoke a few minutes ago pointed out, the Americans are frequently called upon to participate and lead the way around the world. Obviously people do not always agree with them, but I would rather stake my future with the United States far more so than 99% of the other countries in the world. I am grateful that they are our neighbours and I appreciate very much what they do in this world to preserve freedom and the security of peace-loving people everywhere.

I want to talk about some of the threats that exist. After 9/11, no one labours under the illusion anymore that the world is a safe place, even though for a long time members across the way, the Liberal Party and the NDP in particular, had this naive view of just how safe the world was. That is gone forever. After the twin towers collapsed, after the attack on the Pentagon, and the plane going down in a field in Pennsylvania, the world woke up to the reality that it was a dangerous place.

If we had this debate before 9/11, there would have been a lot of people on the other side who would have argued that the threat was being exaggerated, that we did not have to worry about these things, and that we did not have to worry about some extremist Islamic agenda.

A lot of people would have said that we did not have to worry about that. That it was a myth. Some people would even have said that we were racist if we suggested that. Rather obviously there are people who have a demented view of Islam. They have made it their own faith and have used it to justify incredible attacks on the United States and other countries around the world. It is our obligation now, after having gone through that, to not fall into the same type of thinking when we come to consider something as important as missile defence.

There were colleagues from the Liberal side who spoke not long ago and in a way downplayed the significance of these rogue states. I would argue that they are extraordinarily dangerous. Kim Jong-il in North Korea is a dangerous man. When former United States President Clinton sent Jimmy Carter to negotiate with the North Koreans, what was he doing? He sent Jimmy Carter there to negotiate a non-proliferation type of agreement. He wanted to ensure that the North Koreans did not build nuclear weapons. Jimmy Carter came back and told us we had a deal.

In fact, he even won the Nobel peace prize for his work. Then we find out that the North Koreans were building a nuclear weapon the whole time. We would be extraordinarily naive to think that Kim Jong-il is not prepared to use it. This is a man who starved millions of his own people. Clearly he has absolutely no regard for human life. As legislators, we have an obligation to take that threat seriously. Of course we can all disagree on the magnitude of the threat, but there is a threat there. I would urge people not to downplay that threat. I think most people would agree that there is at least some threat there.

One member said a minute ago that the missile system that the North Koreans have developed will not reach North America. There is disagreement on that. We know that they started to develop some sophisticated missiles that will reach hundreds of miles. Many people believe that they will in fact reach the continental United States. If that is the case and they have also developed a nuclear bomb or perhaps several, we should be concerned about that. We would not be doing our job and we would be irresponsible if we did not take that seriously. I completely disagree with the member for Don Valley West, who spoke earlier, and the member who spoke just a few minutes ago, and their suggestion that we should not take these threats seriously. They are very serious.

I want to address some of the arguments I heard from the member who spoke just a couple of minutes ago with respect to whether or not missile defence is workable. One of the arguments was that if we had a missile defence system which could knock down a missile over the country from which it was launched, that would cause some plutonium to rain down in that country and cause people to be ill. I acknowledge there is a threat of that kind of thing happening.

However, I cannot believe the member did not completely think that through, because if we let the missile take off, land in the country at which it is aimed and there is a nuclear explosion, rather obviously we will have far greater problems caused by that than the problems that would occur if we knocked a nuclear missile down as it was leaving the launch pad. Obviously the member had not thought things through when she made that argument.

The member for Don Valley West argued that we should not be concerned about rogue states. I will set aside North Korea for a moment here. Let us talk about countries like Iran, Syria, Libya and Sudan. Essentially what he was arguing was that these countries would never fire a nuclear weapon or any kind of a weapon of mass destruction from their country toward, for instance, the United States knowing that they would face immediate retaliation.

I take that point. It would be difficult for a rational mind to understand why they would do that. I will not necessarily concede that some of these people are not rational. However, setting that aside for a moment, it is entirely possible that these rogue states could work with groups like al-Qaeda. We know from what we have uncovered in Iraq now that al-Qaeda was in contact with Iraq. It is entirely possible that these organizations could work together, to have ships off the coast of the United States or off the coast of Canada with weapons aimed at our country and in some cases with nuclear technology.

We know that Iran is working right now on nuclear technology. Why is it doing that? Is it doing it because it needs the electricity that comes from a nuclear reactor? Hardly. It sits on a sea of oil and gas. It has energy that is the envy of most of the world. The same thing of course was true of Iraq when it was building its reactor and the Israelis went in and blew it up. Even now nuclear materials are still being uncovered in Iraq. Clearly Iraq was not building these facilities to produce electricity. These countries were building them and are building them for the purpose of developing weapons. I do not think there is any question about that.

If these countries work with a terrorist organization and they fire a weapon from a ship, no one is the wiser as to who was involved in this. Therefore it is not automatic that there would be retaliation because we would not know the origin of the weapon and who was working in concert to necessarily fire that weapon.

To me it makes abundant sense that we would have some kind of a weapons system that could knock those types of missiles down. The technology is currently available to these countries both to build nuclear weapons--and again, the Iranians are working on that and North Korea has already developed one or two bombs and others are working on that type of technology--and certainly to launch missiles, especially for short hops of 50 miles or 100 miles with no problem.They can do that. We saw in Iraq that it had the capacity to fire weapons farther than with the old 1950 Scud missiles, so that is not even an issue. That capacity exists already.

The problem with rogue states is that they will provide those types of weapons to terrorist organizations that are doing their bidding. There is no question that it is not only possible but likely. Again, we uncovered evidence of that in Iraq when British and Canadian newspaper reporters actually found documents linking al-Qaeda to the Saddam Hussein regime.

Canadians need to understand how good a deal Canada has in Norad as it currently exists. A number of my colleagues and I have been there. I know government members have been there. Members from all sides of the House have visited Norad. Once we have been there we cannot help but come away impressed because of the technology and how amazing it is that people can sit in one location and have surveillance of the entire continent. That is very impressive. And what is more impressive is the fact that Canada and the United States work seamlessly together on that project. Canadians have a very good deal.

I do not think many people recognize that we have joint command of North American air defence right now. It is because we struck a deal many years ago that allows Canada to pay a small part of the bills for that, but to play a large role, essentially an equal role with the United States in defending North America's shores. I am encouraged that we are starting to look at other ways of participating with the United States in our joint defence. I think that is very important.

However I think we need to aggressively pursue the next step, which is to talk about ballistic missile defence for the entire continent. We need to work with the United States.

Another objection was raised and it had to do with the actual motion, which reads:

That this House affirm its strong support for Norad as a viable defence organization to counter threats to North America, including the threat of ballistic missile attack; and support giving Norad responsibility for the command of any system developed to defend North America against ballistic missiles.

The problem the member had was with the word “any” as in “any system”. He went on to say that the Americans were aggressively pursuing the weaponization of space, which of course is a term that they love to throw around because it scares people.

I want to make a couple of points. First, I would like to ask the member a rhetorical question. If his concern is that the Americans will pursue the weaponization of space, that they will put a defensive system in space to protect their interests, is he under the illusion that if Canada does not participate that will not go ahead? Of course it will go ahead. It will go ahead one way or another.

I am sure the Americans will have a debate about it. I am sure it will be an issue in the elections in the fall and an issue in the next presidential election. If they make a decision to go ahead and do that after they have a big debate, guess what? Our non-participation in Norad will not affect their decision. It will have no impact on that at all.

However if we were to participate in Norad and the Americans went the next step where they had a defensive weapons system in space, we would at least have an influence on it. We could play the role that Canada used to always play when it came to the United States, a privileged friend of the United States, someone who shares a border with the United States and has a long and good history with the United States. We could be there to temper them and make them aware of their obligations in the world because we would have a privileged place at their elbow.

However after the rantings of the Prime Minister and, unfortunately, some members on the government side over the last number of months, we have lost the ability to influence our friends, in fact to the point where I think they are questioning how sincere government officials are when they say we want to work together.

I would argue that if Canada wants to continue to influence the United States and have a positive influence on a country that somebody said was a hyper-power, and maybe that is a pejorative term, but certainly it is the world's only existing super power right now, then let us participate in these bodies with the Americans and have the ability to influence them. We will not influence them if all we do is stick our finger in their eye at every opportunity, insult them, run them down, attack them politically, do all the things that, unfortunately, our Prime Minister has done as recently as yesterday and has done repeatedly over the last number of weeks.

I hope government members see this as an opportunity to use our good reputation in the world to influence the Americans and turn this opportunity into a way to bring about some of the ends that the people of goodwill on the other side really believe in. If they are concerned about the weaponization of space, then we should at least participate with the Americans in Norad and help them understand that point of view. If they are worried about the United States being a lone cowboy in the world, as they might say, then we should work with them and enter into multilateral agreements with them in NATO and a bilateral agreement in Norad and then they are not working alone. We would be there to temper their actions.

I encourage my friends across the way to not be reactionary any time somebody talks about working with the United States. I encourage them not to assume that it means we are giving up our sovereignty. I encourage them to be secure enough about being Canadian that we can use our influence to work with the Americans, as we have done so many times in the past, something I think we forget about. Ultimately, we must remember that this is about protecting Canada's sovereignty from people of ill will around the world. We can do that if we take a responsible, mature approach to this and work with our American friends.

I will simply wrap up by saying that this is a pivotal time in the history of Canada-United States relations. It is the perfect time for the government to send a positive signal about its friendship toward the United States by supporting the motion.

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4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great intent to the member for Medicine Hat.

I would question a number of premises that he put forward in his speech. The member's first premise is that we somehow have to belong to a club to have an opinion on the whole issue of a national missile defence system. In fact, the member stated that if the Americans want to engage in the weaponization of space we have no influence over that, and that the only presumed way we can get influence is to join the club, the club to pursue the weaponization of space.

This all seems very absurd to me. It assumes that there is only a one track system for influencing the United States and that is by joining organizations which it purports to use to pursue its foreign policy.

I believe there are many other fora out there to which Canada belongs where we could influence the United States, rather than joining clubs which purport to support its theory and foreign policy. Indeed, this argument that by joining this missile defence system we would get a seat at the table, seems absurd to me.

The reality is that even if we were to have a seat at the table I do not think we would have very much to say. We are sort of going into it on a premise. In fact, the member stated that we did not have any influence over the United States if it wants to pursue the weaponization of space. What is the purpose of having a seat at the table if that is the orientation? It makes no sense to me.

The member's premise is that the world is a dangerous place. I agree with him. The real question is: Will a national missile defence system make it a less dangerous place or a more dangerous place?

The member went on to talk about North Korea. There is a tremendous parallel here. The United States did not invade North Korea, it invaded Iraq. It invaded Iraq because Iraq did not have nuclear weapons. It will not invade North Korea because it has nuclear weapons.

It would seem to me that there is a certain reward system for those countries that pursue a nuclearization policy. Yes, there has been a failure in curtailing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Yes, we have to work more diligently in these areas.

On the strategic side of this issue, how can the member say that we would be protecting the security of Canadians if a warhead with biological weapons targeted for the United States were shot down over Canadian territory? Could the member tell me how that would improve the security of everyday Canadians?

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4:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, in a sense I think the last question is pretty naive. For instance, we know that terrorist organizations will attack targets of opportunity. They did in Bali, Indonesia. Terrorists do not just wander around looking to necessarily attack the United States everywhere they go. They attack their allies, which is what they did in Indonesia where they killed many Australians. I think we are naive if we think that cannot happen in Canada.

This would also benefit Canada. If someone were to point a weapon at Canada then obviously this system would knock that weapon down. The idea is to knock the weapon down before it gets to Canada.

I am not quite sure what the point was of the second question, the point about North Korea being rewarded because it built a nuclear weapon. I do not know that we could say that it is being rewarded, but the fact is that North Korea has built a nuclear weapon which, of course, is why, and the member is right, the United States was not going to march in and risk a nuclear conflict on the Korean peninsula. That would be ridiculous.

However the very fact that North Korea has that nuclear capacity should make us all nervous. We should be thinking of ways to prevent it from using that weapon. It does not mean that we no longer have diplomacy in the world. It does not mean that we do not use the United Nations to address these sorts of things. Of course we do, but we should not rely on them exclusively. If we place all our faith in those bodies I think we would be completely naive.

We should remember that no body that sits arm's length from a particular country can guarantee that the country will not fire a weapon at somebody else. Of course we would take measures on our own to protect our people. That is common sense.

With respect to the point about the weaponization of space and the point about influencing our friends, I ask my friend across the way to consult his own experience. When we work with people they have an influence on us. If people are opposed to us, if they are a gadfly, an annoyance, we do not really want to hear what they have to say. We ignore what they are saying and in fact sometimes we might do completely the opposite to annoy them back. That is human nature.

I would argue that if we sit and work with people and try to be constructive, we will accomplish things and influence those people. If my friend across the way doubts that, I ask him to consult his own experience and ask himself how it works in his own family. That is precisely how it has worked for 50 years with the United States before we began this period, under this Liberal government, of setting out, it seems like very often, to intentionally annoy our neighbours.

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4:45 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to a good portion of the hon. member's comments and I appreciate where he is coming from with respect to his support for the motion. Frankly, I support the motion as well. However some aspects of the motion are somewhat unclear.

I will be voting for the motion but I think some aspects of it which are unclear could be improved, with perhaps a little bit of doctoring, to the point where a lot more members in the House could support it. I am referring specifically to the wording in the motion where it says “any system developed to defend North America against ballistic missiles”.

That does have some implications. Some people have read space based weapons into this. One could also, I suppose, go back to the 1960's system that we had in the country in terms of dealing with the old bomber threat where we had Bomack missiles that were tipped with nuclear warheads. We would not want to see a nuclear tipped warhead anti-ballistic missile system. I do not think anybody on any side of the House would like to see that sort of thing happen.

Would the hon. member perhaps make a suggestion to the mover of the motion that what we should be looking at in terms of possible changes to the wording would include something to the effect that: --and support giving Norad responsibility for the command of the proposed ground based anti-ballistic missile system developed to defend North America against ballistic missiles, or something along those lines?

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4:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think that is a reasonable criticism of the motion. However I do not think anybody is suggesting or that anyone would believe that it is plausible to argue that if we pass a motion like this that somehow we are bound as a sovereign country to participate in a weapon system, which, I think the member would acknowledge, is not likely to happen, where we would have nuclear tipped missiles that would be used in a defensive way or even when it comes to space based defensive weapons systems, that a sovereign country would be bound to participate in that.

I take the member's point. I think it is a valid concern. I will certainly pass it on to the mover the motion.

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4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Art Eggleton Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Davenport, although I suspect we may have some divergent views on the issue before us.

I do support the ballistic defence missile program that our government has now decided to sit down and discuss with the United States.

However I think the member for Don Valley West, who spoke earlier, had a valid point when he took on the word “any” in this resolution. His concern was that this might open it up to the question of weapons in outer space. I would counsel the member who is the sponsor of the motion and her party to consider an amendment that would say “excluding weaponization of outer space”. That is already the policy not only of the government but it is a treaty we have signed.

Surely we will not abrogate our treaty or create some confusion about that treaty. We are simply, as per that treaty and as per government policy stated on many occasions, against the weaponization of outer space. Getting involved with this program does not, I would suggest lead us to that other program.

There are those who will say that it is a slippery slope. I do not buy that argument. We just decided on the campaign against terrorism to draw a line. We said that we would go to Afghanistan. We said that we would fight terrorism in many different respects. However we did not agree with the position of the Bush administration with respect to Iraq. We made a decision that we felt was right for us.

We know when and where to draw the line. Weaponization of outer space is something that we should continue to oppose and that word “any” will create some confusion, and we could well clear up this confusion with an amendment.

I will get to the main substance of what we are talking about, which is Norad and a ballistic missile defence system that would operate from the ground or from water perhaps, but certainly earth based as opposed to space based.

I believe we should go this route. Why? We are dealing with the safety and security of Canadians. We are expected to do what we can to defend our country and our safety and security.

Is there a threat? Yes, there is a threat. It may not be imminent. It may not be something that is immediately around the corner. These things take time to plan out. They are still testing the system of being able to hit a missile with a missile. We are looking at perhaps a few years down the road where this threat could become very real.

What are the signs that this is the case? The signs are the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. If we look at the statistics, many more countries are possessing these kind of weapons nowadays and with technology advancing as it is, it is possible for this technology to spread around.

There was concern when the Soviet Union broke up that many of the scientists were spreading their capabilities and selling their capabilities in many different parts of the world. We cannot take that lightly. It may not seem like it is around the corner or that it will happen today, but we have to plan these kind of defences out in advance.

Indeed let me point out that it is a defensive system. This is a non-nuclear missile that we are talking about, totally defensive, totally for the purpose of knocking down an incoming weapon that may have a warhead of mass destruction, and doing that quite far out from the atmosphere of the earth so a disintegration of the weapon occurs.

If we can develop such a weapon or be part of the United States developing such a weapon, why would we not? It is an entirely defensive matter. It does not lead to what is called star wars at all. We make a decision based on this project and its merits alone. That is really what is before us at this point in time.

There is more testing that needs to be done. People may question that. However I can state that the technology is feasible. They will get through the testing. They will be able to make this happen.

What is being asked of us in this regard? We are not being asked to contribute any of the capital costs. We are not being asked to contribute land. We are being asked if we would support what the United States is doing. Since it is in our interest, because the Americans are talking about defending the continent, I believe we should be a part of it.

In fact we have a logical bilateral institution that should be taking responsibility for the operations of this system, and that is Norad. Norad already has the responsibility for detecting anything that comes into North American air space, whether it be a missile or a jet fighter, a bomb or whatever it may be. Also, it already has the responsibility to intercept, except the inventory of what it has to use to intercept will not cover every such possible intrusion in future. Jet fighters will not stop an ICBM if one should be coming into our continent.

Even if it is not aimed at our country, there are a lot of border cities that one has to consider could be at risk. If there is an accidental launch or a rogue regime launch, maybe not likely at this point but could happen somewhere down the road, who is to say the accuracy would be so great that we could be sure it would not come into Canadian space?

I believe when it comes to the defence of North America, Norad is an example of where we work in a cooperative way with the United States. The U.S. puts a lot more money into it than we do. We get a bargain for what we put into it, and yet we are right at the table. The deputy commander is a Canadian general and Canadians are in the operations room. I have been there. I have been in Colorado Springs and in Cheyenne Mountain. I have seen the operational systems and Canadians are very much at the centre of that system. In fact, Canadians were in the control seat on September 11 and on many other occasions. There is a very suitable integration in defence of our common continent between our two countries, and that is the logical institution for control and decision-making on the system on an operational basis day in and day out.

If we decide not to become part of the ballistic missile defence system, I believe Norad will be marginalized because we will have decisions being made only by Americans, which could affect us. I do not believe that is right. We are far better off being inside the tent, as is being said, or inside the room at the table. We are far better off knowing what is going on, getting all the information we need and being part of the decision making that flows back to our government as well as the U.S. government. It works that way today and it should continue to work that way with ballistic missile defence.

It does not solve all the problems in terms of the threats. Obviously, ballistic missile defence would not have stopped what happened on September 11, but that should be a warning and it should also be an understanding of the kind of concern our American neighbours have about the threat to them.

Therefore, let us be a part of a system that is in our security interests.

SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Lanark—Carleton, The Budget; the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, Fisheries.

SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the former defence minister for his speech. It displayed his extensive knowledge over this issue.

Could he tell us whether he believes that participating in this project would improve relations with the United States and what else could we do to deal with the terrorist threat we all face?

I specifically want to address the issue of fissile material in the former Soviet Union of which there is a lack of control. It is a big concern of the Americans and Europeans and it should be a concern of ours. Perhaps he could enlighten the House as to what his government should be doing to help the United States and other countries get control over these fissile materials, to locate, neutralize and destroy these materials.

Also, could he enlighten the House on the important engagement that has to take place with our country, the Americans and the former Soviet Union countries in terms of the policing and intelligence coordination to deal with the real nexus of evil, which is the combination of fissile materials, corruption and organized crime in the former Soviet Union?

SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Art Eggleton Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in answer to the first question, yes I believe this will improve relations with the United States. This is an area that we have seen time and time again in the past through Norad where a very strong cooperation exists and adding to it with this defensive system is positive in that direction.

With respect to fissile materials and the whole question of controls, NATO has taken a considerable interest in that. There is a nuclear committee at NATO. I attended many of its meetings over the years as defence minister, and in more recent years since the end of the cold war, this has been the prime topic of discussion. The United States has put considerable time and effort into trying to bring about better controls of these materials. It has worked with the Russians in that regard. NATO and the NATO countries, including our own, have also been part and parcel of that.

However there is no doubt that some of the people and some of the information has gone out and the threat of proliferation has been added to by that very fact. That is part of the reason why this kind of response is coming from the United States in terms of protection through ballistic missile defence. It is not the only means but it certainly is an area that can help in this regard and it is an area of concern given the breakup of the Soviet Union.

However there are substantial controls, as much as there can be, and efforts are being made through NATO and the United States to control those materials and the information involving nuclear weapons.

SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, some would suggest that NATO is now irrelevant in this year of the great hegemony south of the border. The former minister brought up the interaction between Norad and NATO.

With his experience, what does he feel NATO's role will be in the future in terms relative to our protection and our defence needs and is NATO now irrelevant given the place of the U.S. in the international sphere and also the threats that we face in the future?

SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Art Eggleton Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think NATO still is very relevant. One sign is the fact that many countries have just joined and many countries still want to join because they recognize two things are important for their future prosperity. One is economic prosperity, which they hope to get through membership or affiliation with the European Union. The other, which is basically and fundamentally needed first, is a sense of security, particularly with some of the past conflicts in Europe. The desire to have the sense of security that comes through NATO is very important to them.

NATO is a collective defence organization. I do not think any one of our countries could defend itself against a major onslaught. It would need collective defence mechanisms. We have built up and are continuing to build up an interoperability among the different countries. NATO is itself developing capabilities like the AWACS system or perhaps even a strategic lift that can be used for the member countries on a shared basis. Collective defence is still a very valid thing.

NATO though in future, as the situation in Yugoslavia settles down and becomes much better than it was in the past, could use its rapid reaction forces to help in terms of peace support operations in other parts of the world, either under the UN or some other international banner where it could make a valuable contribution in the future.

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that this motion is ill conceived, out of sync and motivated by threat.

It is historically out of sync because, as everyone knows, the Berlin wall came down in 1989 and Norad, which is the main focus of this motion, was created in order to protect Canada when there were two superpowers. Today there are no longer two superpowers. Canada is no longer sandwiched between the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union. There is no threat coming from the north and therefore, Norad is moribund, if not dead, in its purpose. Therefore, I am saying that this motion is out of sync with history.

Second, the motion is motivated by fear. I am challenging every member in the House, particularly those in the official opposition, to indicate in this debate who is the enemy of Canada. Tell us, who is the enemy of this country? Whom are we to be afraid of? Then this motion will have a minimum of relevance and significance.

Canada has no enemy in the world. The official opposition is creating an atmosphere of fear and an unfounded sense of insecurity caused by policies that emanate, as we all know, mostly from the White House, which are bellicose in nature and create a tremendous amount of disequilibrium in the world.

What is fuelling the threats in the world today? Everyone should ask themselves that question. What is fuelling the threats in the world today? It is poverty. It is hunger. It is ignorance. It is a lack of democratic institutions. It is civil strife. It is environmental degradation, a lack of water, desertification. Just name it. It is pandemic diseases and gross economic inequalities. Those issues are causing the tensions in the world today. It is not the existence of rogue states, which is the terminology the official opposition has bought from the White House.

Libya is mentioned. Imagine Libya sending missiles to North America. It is ridiculous. It is absolutely absurd what the official opposition is coming up with in this debate. Those members ought to be ashamed of themselves because they are creating the impression outside the House that there are enemies of Canada. Name them. Where are they? Who are they?

There is this other little notion being put forward by the opposition that we must be under the tent, that we must be at the table with Norad under the illusion that by being at the table we will have a say. Does anyone really think we could have an influence in the determination of a missile defence system if we were to follow it? Does anyone think we would have any weight in Washington? This is not our agenda. We are not going to pay a penny for that system. It is the piper that plays the tune, is it not? Canada will be listened to politely, but we will have no weight. This notion that it is important to be part of the discussions under the tent, at the table is so naive it almost makes one cry.

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York North, ON

It is ludicrous.

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

It is ludicrous, as the member for York North has suggested.

Then we come to another reason that we should be very careful with this kind of business. It is the one that was raised, and quite rightly, by the member for York Centre when he said that we should not be engaged in any activity that would lead to the weaponization of space. That is a very important consideration.

We already had this debate in the House a couple of weeks ago. If the Minister of National Defence were asked whether there was the possibility of a weaponization of space, he in all honesty would not be able to deny that eventually there could be a weaponization of space once we enter a missile system. There will be considerable pressure eventually. This is a possibility that we ought to be taking very seriously, as we all do.

Something I learned about this a couple of days ago has troubled me enormously and I believe it was raised in the debate earlier today. It has to do with a decision made by the senate armed services committee in Washington. There is a decision to repeal a ban against developing smaller, more usable nuclear warheads, and the senate armed services committee already has voted in favour of a total repeal of the prohibition which was passed 10 years ago. The prohibition is gone. We have learned from media reports that the Bush administration and many Republicans in Congress have said that the law should be repealed because in a world of dangerous new threats, the United States needs a new generation of low-yield weapons for pinpoint strikes, et cetera. The language always has to be translated into plain English. Low-yield weapons mean having warheads with a force of five kilotons. That is about a third of the force of the warheads used in bombing Hiroshima in 1945 which caused the deaths of 140,000 civilians.

Someone may wonder what the connection is between that and the missile system. It is possible that these kinds of signals of re-armament, these kinds of initiatives which are coming out of Washington eventually will find their way into the weaponization of space. Once we move in that direction in a general policy sense, there is no limit to how far we will go when under pressure in terms of potential threats.

There is a third reason. The first was that Norad is no longer relevant. The second was that there is no enemy of Canada. The third is that the threats are not threats of weapons by some of these states that are in desperate economic shape, including North Korea, but the threats come from other sources. I have indicated many and the ones that I think are particularly important are the gross economic inequalities, the poverty, the hunger and the environmental degradation. To me these are the real threats with which we should be coping.

I was interested in an observation made by my colleague from Medicine Hat, for whom I have a great deal of respect. He said that he was nervous in the knowledge that a certain country has nuclear weapons. I agree with him. We should be nervous about the possession of nuclear weapons by any country. We have to come to grips with deciding who is ethically entitled to be the possessor of weapons of mass destruction. That is a debate which has not even started yet, but the member for Medicine Hat is right to be nervous. We are all nervous but not because it is just one nation in Asia. There are many nations that are in possession of weapons of mass destruction.

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 5:15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings, and pursuant to order made earlier today all questions necessary to dispose of the business of supply are deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Tuesday, June 3, at 3 p.m.

The House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

National Children's Memorial DayPrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence O'Brien Liberal Labrador, NL

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should recognize the second Sunday of December as National Children's Memorial Day.

Mr. Speaker,this is a very special moment for all those people throughout this great country who have lost their children through violence or other reasons and their children are no longer with them.

I would like to make a special plea to the members of the House of Commons to support my motion. The motion speaks well of all and I am asking them to join with other nations to support a national memorial day for children.

Our children are very precious to us and we love them very much. Those of us who are parents certainly know what our children mean to us. It is quite heart-rending when a parent loses a child. The loss of a child is very painful.

The idea for the motion was originally suggested to me by colleagues, friends and constituents of mine from L'Anse-au-Loup, my hometown in Labrador, Betty and Dennis Normore. Betty and Dennis Normore lost a child, Paula, aged 14, two years ago in a very tragic accident. She was riding a snowmobile. The snowmobile did not make the embankment. She slid back down the hill and very unfortunately slid into a waterhole and under the ice. This happened in the month of January. It was tragic indeed. It is my great honour to stand here in this great House to ask that this day be honoured for children like Paula.

Dennis is a teacher and principal at Mountain Field Academy in Forteau, Labrador and has worked with children all of his life. Betty is a health care worker who works with elderly people in a senior citizens home. We are talking about the great bookends of our society, the children on one end and the elders on the other. However, this is about children.

In 2001 the Normores lost their daughter Paula in a very tragic snowmobile accident. Paula was a bright student. A wonderful young woman was lost to us in that very tragic incident. It reminds us of how precious and fragile life is and the lives of our children.

The loss of Paula was felt by the whole community and certainly by many throughout Labrador. Paula's memory is honoured every year by a benefit fundraiser organized by her family and friends and the community. The people she left behind are building something positive out of a tragic loss.

The national children's memorial day is another way in which parents, family and other loved ones are finding their way through the tragedy of losing a child. This concept originated in 1996 in the United States. Through the strength of the Internet it has quickly spread at the grassroots level and has been promoted by many organizations which help parents and families cope with the death of a child.

The Compassionate Friends, an international self-help organization for bereaved parents and siblings, has been instrumental in promoting this event. The Compassionate Friends was founded in 1968 in England. The organization now has chapters in countries around the world, including the United States, Canada, Britain, Belgium, Australia, Russia and New Zealand. It has chapters in 29 countries in all.

The Compassionate Friends is a grassroots organization of and for parents and siblings who are coping with the death of a child of any age from whatever cause. In Canada there are over 50 chapters of the Compassionate Friends providing support to grieving families across the country.

On the second Sunday of December, families come together to remember, to grieve and to celebrate the lives of the children and to help one another. That time of the year is particularly important for bereaved families who have to face the holidays without the child they loved so dearly.

It allows parents and siblings to share their grief, to find comfort, to build strength and to heal, and especially to remember the young life they lost. An especially touching aspect of the day's observation is the “wave of light”. At 7 p.m. local time, in public or in private, in towns and cities around the world, people gather to remember the special children they have lost. They symbolize their lives through the lighting of candles.

This creates a wave of candlelight starting in New Zealand and spreading around the world. Each hour, as the candles burn down in one part of the world, the wave flickers up again in another. The candle flames, like children's lives, are fragile, but by joining with families around the world, every grieving loved one can find strength and healing.

It is a non-denominational, multicultural commemoration that unites families and loved ones from around the world, not only in their grief but in their hope.

While the grief over the death of a child is something that surviving family members must live with every day, the national children's memorial day will give families a special day to come together. It will help whole communities, health care professionals and others to raise awareness of the needs of bereaved families. This memorial day will help families continue to build something positive together out of their own personal tragedies.

In the United States, the Senate has recognized national children's memorial day annually since 1999. The day is also marked in countries all around the world through the wave of light and other acts of remembrance.

This private member's motion would, I believe, be the first case where a national children's memorial day is permanently recognized by a national Parliament. This does not create a statutory or public holiday and does not cost Canadians or the Government of Canada anything financially. It does, however, allow us to recognize and show our support for grieving families and build something positive out of such tragic circumstances.

I would like to commend Betty and Dennis Normore for the strength and courage they have shown after the loss of their daughter Paula. They are helping others in similar circumstances cope in their own way with their own loss.

I would also like to thank them for bringing their valuable suggestion to my attention. It is my honour and privilege to bring it before the House today.

I would like to convey to the House my hope that national children's memorial day will find support from all members of all parties and from all regions of the country. I hope we can work together to help bereaved families and all our communities find strength with one another and honour the memories of the precious children they have lost.

National Children's Memorial DayPrivate Members' Business

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great joy that I participate in today's debate on Motion No. 396, put forward by my colleague opposite, the member for Labrador. The motion reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should recognize the second Sunday of December as National Children's Memorial Day.

From the outset, I would like to say that I am in favour of this motion, the purpose of which is to keep a promise that, in my humble opinion, Canada should have honoured a long time ago.

There is already a Universal Children's Day, which is celebrated every year on November 20. In 1954, with resolution 836, the United Nations General Assembly recommended that every year, Universal Children's Day be an international day of fellowship, of understanding among children, with activities to promote the well-being of children throughout the world. In 1954, governments were asked to select their own day to commemorate children.

November 20 is the day the General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. It is odd that Canada has not responded until many years later, considering it was in 1954 that the United Nations General Assembly asked countries, including Canada, to institute such a day. Today, in 2003, almost 40 years later, we are discussing what should have been obvious since 1954.

Several organizations and groups have had the opportunity to celebrate Universal Children's Day in their own way. What is ironic today, and what we must remember, is that if the government and this House agree to recognize a children's day in Canada then this day should not be simply a national children's memorial day. It should also allow us, as a society, to shed light on and measure all of the government's assistance to children.

We have to remember that there is more to this than just instituting a memorial day for children, we must take concrete action to reduce the problems that plague children.

It is important to remember that it was in November 1989 that all of the political parties in the House of Commons voted unanimously to work to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. Parliamentarians as a group said that child poverty was a priority.

But when we look at the results today and when we hear that two million Canadian children live in poverty, despite the fact that the government mentioned the issue in its Speech from the Throne, we have to wonder what happened. It is all well and good to institute a children's memorial day, but that is not what families want from us. We need to come up with concrete proposals and real change.

When we consider that out of 17 other industrialized countries in the world, Canada has the second highest child poverty problem, second only to the United States, that is what a memorial day can do. It can help shed some light on the factors and elements that children fall victim to in order to come up with real solutions. I think that we must expose these problems that are plaguing children.

Compared to 1989, there are now 68% more children living in families who are on social assistance. In 1989, all members of Parliament voted unanimously to fight child poverty. Compared to 1989, there are now 44% more families that have experienced periods of unemployment. Aboriginal children are at greater risk of living in poverty than other children. The annual income of poor families with children is $16,700. These are some of the facts a memorial day could bring to light. It would be an opportunity to show the reality of the situation and better fight this problem.

This day must, however, also allow Canada to fulfill its international commitments as far as children are concerned. Canada has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It has ratified a number of other international conventions. But ratification is not enough, they must be implemented as well.

For example, my motion calling for the United Nations Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction to be respected was passed unanimously by this House. Canada must play a lead role with those countries that have not yet ratified the convention, since it is so vital where child abduction is concerned.

We know children are affected by many things: war, the burgeoning child pornography networks, abduction, increasing child abuse.

We must, in my opinion, take steps to use this special day to bring together civil society and its elected representatives in order to come up with a dynamic plan of action that will enable us to solve a number of the issues I have spoken of today. The member for Labrador's motion concerning this day, which I support, must lead to an annual stocktaking of what civil society and government have accomplished.

It is not necessarily a day of celebration. It must be a day that offers us a forum for looking at issues and what we have accomplished in connection with those issues, to see whether we have managed to reduce child poverty, child abductions, child pornography rings. That is what such a day is all about.

As I have said, it has been a great pleasure for me to take part in this debate. I thank the hon. member for presenting the motion, and I will personally be voting in favour of it. I am convinced that my party will do likewise. There is one thing we must keep in mind, however: the importance of this day lies in the opportunity it offers us to focus on what is the most fundamental in any society: children and the protection of their rights.

What we must do is to ensure that they live in a more balanced society. Very often, they are considered victims. We have a responsibility to provide them with better choices, choices that will allow us to respect their rights but also, and more importantly, to allow them the total freedom to be the best they can be. In my opinion, this is how we will build the society of tomorrow, a balanced society based on the respect of children's rights.

National Children's Memorial DayPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Maurice Vellacott Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be able to speak to this private member's motion, Motion No. 396, introduced by my colleague from Labrador.

As a reminder to those listening, the motion reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should recognize the second Sunday of December as National Children's Memorial Day.

Children and the very special place they hold in our hearts have been used to promote many issues and ideas, some good and some not so good, but this proposal to recognize a national children's memorial day is a very, very good proposal in my view.

Many days are set aside to remember special things. The reason for this is that we recognize the value of those regular times of remembrance, so we have Christmas, Easter, New Year's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Labour Day, Remembrance Day, National Child Day, Literacy Day and so on. The list is really quite long.

A national children's memorial day would be a valuable addition to this tradition of days of remembrance, and since, as I understand it, no expenditure of public funds is necessary to implement this proposal, such concerns should not limit support for this initiative.

Being a memorial day, we know that this proposal is dealing with a memory. It is memorializing something, in this case the death of a child, a very tragic experience. The purpose of a national children's memorial day would be to help people, particularly parents, remember their loss in a special way. It would be a day on which special events could be organized to bring people together who may have nothing else in common except that they have had to deal with the loss of a child and are grieving the death of a child.

It could play a vital role in the grieving process for many families. It would be a way to tell grieving families that society supports their need to remember, even years after the loss of their child. We do not want them to sweep that experience under the rug or out the back door after a few years and forget that tragedy as though it never happened.

Depending on the support system people have, they may receive a lot of comfort in the early days of a loss as people gather around them, but that support can drop off very dramatically long before their own grieving process has worked through and they have stabilized. A national children's memorial day could help remedy that problem.

I think it would be very reasonable to expect that in this place, with our 300-plus members, at least some of us have had our own experiences with the loss of a child. I expect that there would be a lot of personal empathy for a proposal like this.

There are many ways in which we can lose a child. We could have 100 people in a room and they could all have had a different experience. And here we are talking about children, as I understand it, all the way into their teenage years. Just because a child grows up, he or she does not stop being our child. I have a 24 year old son, a 21 year old daughter, a 9 year old and a 3 year old. They are still my sons, my daughter, my children, and will be right through until the day I die.

Some children die in tragic traffic accidents. There is a particular website with respect to this with links on the Internet to where memorials have been set up by parents to remember their children. One tells the story of a boy hit by a car when he was trying to run across the highway. It was a very tragic loss of life. Another memorial was to a girl who, just days before her graduation, died when she fell asleep at the wheel of her car just a few miles from her home.

Other stories involve losses though illness and disease and children who have died from cancer or AIDS or one of many other childhood diseases. One Internet memorial was for a beautiful little girl who died at the age of three. As far as everybody knew, she was born healthy. However, two months after her first birthday, she began to lean to one side when she walked and soon afterwards she was diagnosed with a golf ball-sized malignant brain tumour.

Many parents will carry the pain of these tragedies with them forever, or should I say at least in this lifetime, and it is a real encouragement to them that they do not have to carry this pain alone, that at least once a year we can set aside a special time with others to remember their child. A national children's memorial day could be of real value to those parents as they adjust to that loss and try to cope.

These are not the only childhood tragedies. There are thousands of women and families eagerly anticipating a new baby who have to deal with the tragedy of a miscarriage. As I was going over this, it came to mind real quickly that my sister-in-law, Marilyn, several times had a miscarriage when the little babies were a number of months along the way. My brother Lincoln and his wife Marilyn have had that occur on several occasions. At a point they adopted a special son, Nathaniel, a chosen son, as a tiny baby. Then two other precious children were born to them, Samuel and Tabitha. But it does not completely eliminate that grieving and that great sense of loss they had from the miscarriages of several children.

My wife and I have also had two miscarriages and we are confident that we will meet those two little ones in heaven some day. I think very few people realize how traumatic a miscarriage can be until they experience one of their own. Because of the battle in our society over whether or not an unborn child is truly a child, women dealing with a miscarriage may feel that pain alone. They might feel very alone in that experience and less comfortable in sharing that pain with others believing that they really should not be feeling so much anguish in the first place.

A couple of a weeks ago, I sent a picture to all my colleagues here on the Hill using today's amazing technology. It was an ultrasound of a 56 day old baby, a baby in the first trimester of a pregnancy, not quite two months old. The picture showed how incredibly well defined that baby was, with hands, feet, organs, eyes, facial image and so on at that 56 day stage. I would have to say at this point that in order to legitimize abortion some people still call babies of that age just a blob of tissue, but medical technology has really exposed that deception, that fraudulent claim, when we know it is life. We know it is human. It is a little baby.

Then there is the experience of abortion and the deaths of unborn children. About 100,000 unborn children die in Canada each year by way of abortion. Sadly, the rhetoric and the politics involved in the issue have not allowed people to recognize the emotional trauma women face when it comes to abortion.

For women who do proceed with an abortion, what do they experience afterward? I have had the conversations to know. Many of them feel deep remorse, regret and guilt, but because they are not allowed by society to grieve openly and because of the personal shame so many of them feel over that abortion experience, they turn their pain inward and it demonstrates itself in other destructive and sometimes harmful behaviours. Regardless of what other people tell them and regardless of the circumstances that conspired to bring them to that decision to abort, many of these women know what was destroyed inside of them and know that it was a little baby and they grieve. Many of these women were pushed to that experience by a husband, partner, boyfriend, by a mom, a sister or family member, but they grieve the loss of that little one.

Last week several of my colleagues and I shared the podium at a press conference with some ladies who were talking about their regrets over abortions they had many years ago. One of those ladies, Angelina Steenstra, talked about the destructive lifestyle choices she made in her attempts to deal with an earlier abortion, choices that resulted in a sexually transmitted disease and infertility so that today she can bear no children of her own. Hers is one of thousands of similar stories. These women grieve. Following an abortion, many women grieve their loss. A national children's memorial day could be that valuable time of remembrance for them in their healing process as well.

A number of memorials have been set up in cemeteries across the country and in my province of Saskatchewan, including one in Saskatoon, to remember the deaths of unborn children. I understand that is done across the country and across North America as well. Canadians want to remember the deaths of those unborn children rather than having them dismissed as insignificant and meaningless.

We also need to remember those little ones who are stillborn or those who lose their lives to sudden infant death syndrome. It is a terrible and still poorly understood phenomenon. There is a memorial day in the United States promoted there by groups that assist parents who have lost children through SIDS.

There are children who are murdered. There are children who die in tragic accidents. The cases and examples are endless. What is clear from these many examples is the kind of impact that a national children's memorial day could have on the lives of thousands of people across Canada.

The pain parents experience when their children die is something that cannot be explained in rational terms. The bonds between parents and children involve intangibles that are beyond our understanding.

We need to hope that as members in the House we will recognize this special relationship between children and their parents by establishing in Canada a national children's memorial day. I commend the member for his initiative in this regard.

National Children's Memorial DayPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 396 put forward by the member for Labrador and I commend him for it. His motion reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should recognize the second Sunday of December as National Children's Memorial Day.

I think this is one of the nicest gestures that could be made right now in the House of Commons, considering all the problems we have in Canada that are hardly to our credit. It is truly a nice gesture and the right time to put forward in the House of Commons a motion such as this that recognizes children who passed away at an early age.

I would like to point out that my NDP colleagues and I will support this motion. I would sincerely like to thank the member for Labrador on behalf of my party and on behalf of Canadian fathers and mothers who have had the misfortune of losing a child.

It has already been mentioned that this idea started in the United States. It is a good idea. There may be one problem with this motion and it is something we should look at, that is, whether it should be in the second week of December. Remember that December 8 is the day on which we commemorate the 14 young women killed at the École Polytechnique in Montreal. In addition, December 10 is recognized as United Nations Human Rights Day. In choosing the second Sunday of December, we might have two commemorative events at the same time.

I am sure that the hon. member is aware of that and the House should also be aware and try to make this a unique day, not twinned with another commemoration. Then, parents could devote themselves to the essential, such as a solemn candlelight ceremony or something that would give people an opportunity to remember together as a family. Thus, everyone would have a chance to talk. All of Canada could talk about and recognize this. Because these are sad days for the families; they are not easy days.

Personally, I have been spared such a tragedy; I have not lost any of my children, but it is the last thing in the world I would want, losing a child. For people who have lost a child, it must be something very difficult. For example, one of my brothers lost a daughter at birth. After that, he had six boys. Two of them died in accidents. These are not easy things for parents to face.

However, when a motion such as this seeks to recognize a national day, that occasion deserves this honour. We recognize Labour Day. As other members said, we recognize mothers' day and fathers' day; it is important to recognize such occasions of mourning. How many parents have lost a child, because that child died during the night? This would give us the chance to be a family, be part of a region, a municipality or parish, and we would remember that we must never forget, as the family can never forget. This would remind people who have never experienced such pain what the families are going through. This would bring people together. That is this motion's greatest gift. It helps to unite people who have never experienced such pain with their neighbours, their sisters, their brothers who have. Together, everyone can remember the past. It would be a national day of remembrance for everyone.

Also, we can now address the issue of the number of the children who die from hunger. Today in Canada, the best country in the world, it is sometimes thought that no children die of hunger, but some do. Sometimes the authorities do not release this information. They do not want to publicize this kind of thing. But, sometimes, children die, and perhaps it is due to hunger, as happens in other countries.

Not so long ago, there were reports that there were 1.4 million children going hungry in Canada. Obviously, in some families, some kids might die from illness, but it is perhaps malnutrition that causes fatal illness in young children.

I will not spend more time on this, but I simply want to tell the hon. member for Labrador that the New Democratic Party supports his motion. We sincerely thank him for having introduced it in the House of Commons. We will be voting in favour of his motion.

National Children's Memorial DayPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Madawaska—Restigouche New Brunswick

Liberal

Jeannot Castonguay LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak to this motion before the House inviting the Government of Canada to establish a national children's memorial day.

The idea of establishing a special day to pay tribute to Canadian children is commendable. It illustrates Canada's determination to respect children, to never forget them and to pay tribute to them for all they bring us during our lives.

I am happy to note that this idea of the importance of children already received the support of the House when it passed Bill C-371, the National Child Day Act exactly ten years ago. This act designates November 20 of each year as a day to pay tribute to children. National Child Day has a positive impact on their life, their accomplishments and their role in society.

In the last ten years, National Child Day has become an important mechanism in helping communities and families pay tribute to children, and respect and cherish them in the ways they deem to be the most appropriate.

In the next few minutes, I would like to discuss the progress this country has made vis-à-vis children thanks to National Child Day. This important day has helped us better understand the rights that have been recognized for children and has prompted us to strengthen our collective commitment to provide Canadian children with the opportunities they need to develop their full potential.

National Child Day is observed on November 20 in order to commemorate two historic initiatives of the United Nations: the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, on November 20, 1959 and, even more important, the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on November 20, 1989.

The convention is the most complete international agreement on human rights that has ever been negotiated. It establishes fundamental rights for children around the world, and protects these rights by setting standards for the survival, growth and protection of children.

This convention addresses all aspects of the lives of children from birth to age 18, particularly their basic rights to food, housing, and accessible drinking water. It also deals with health care, recreation, education, protection against exploitation and violence, and the opportunity to be heard in matters that concern them.

It is also important to note that the convention assigns an essential role to parents and the family as far as child-rearing is concerned, and provides a framework focussed on parental rights and responsibilities.

Since the United Nations adopted it in 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child has become the most heavily ratified treaty in the history of human rights.

As a signatory to the convention, the Government of Canada has made a commitment to enforce its provisions within the framework of its own laws, programs and policies. National Child Day is one of the most positive and tangible manifestations of that national commitment.

Since 1994, Health Canada has played a major role in National Child Day by preparing and distributing educational documents on the convention, and supporting special events aimed at raising public awareness of such vital issues as child protection and safety and healthy development.

Just recently National Child Day activities have been combined with another major UN activity, the special session on children held last spring in New York.

In preparation for the session, the Government of Canada took advantage of National Child Day 2001 to invite children and youth to express opinions on issues of concern to them. Their comments were collected in a report called “Your Voice Matters:Young People Speak Out on Issues Related to the UN Special Session on Children”.

One of the salient points of the report was that Canadian children and young people are very anxious to see their environment protected and to be safe from violence.

The opinions of Canadian youth were integrated into the declaration and outcome document of the special session, “A World Fit for Children”.

This action plan supports the principles and goals of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and consists of a program outlining goals, strategies and actions in the following four areas: promoting healthy lives, providing quality education, protecting against abuse, exploitation and violence, and combating HIV/AIDS.

In order to have the program reach every household, the theme of National Child Day 2002 was “A World Fit for Children”.

This theme was the basis for wide-reaching activities, including the production of a CD-ROM for teachers on the rights of the child. It was created in collaboration with NGOs such as Save the Children Canada, UNICEF, and the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children. It was distributed last fall to a representative sampling of schools across the country. This CD-ROM provides information on National Child Day, the UN Special Session on Children and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It also offers creative activities enabling children to learn about their rights, visit educational Web sites and be informed about the Canadian Children's Art Gallery project.

This artistic project led to the creation and distribution of postcards promoting a world fit for children, and to their participation in the activities marking World Child Day in 2002. These postcards were sent all over the country, to schools and RCMP detachments chosen at random.

Among the activities related to National Child Day, November 20, 2002, was an opportunity for Health Canada to reprint a poster for children, explaining the Convention on the Rights of the Child in simple terms.

The department also updated its popular Web site about National Child Day, adding other information on the rights of children and on the United Nations Special Session.

National Child Day in 2002 was also marked by the publication of two important reports on the Government of Canada's progress in helping young children get a good start in life.

The first one, entitled “Report on Early Childhood Development Activities and Expenditures”, sets out the government's progress in supporting young children and their families under the Early Childhood Development Agreement announced by federal, provincial and territorial first ministers in September 2000.

The activities listed included a new folic acid awareness campaign, improved maternity and parental benefits, and projects which were recently subsidized under Heath Canada's Community Action Program for Children.

The second report released on National Child Day 2002, entitled “The Well-Being of Canada's Young Children”, shows that the vast majority of these children are growing up in safe and secure environments. It points out that improvements are required with respect to collecting data on aboriginal children and children with disabilities, two areas the government is currently looking into.

The reports and activities I just mentioned show how important National Child Day is as a yearly reminder of this country's standing commitment to ensuring the health and well-being of its youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

The most important message National Child Day sends to Canadians is to do everything in their power to ensure that our children are surrounded by love, sympathy and understanding as they develop, that they are considered as individuals at the early stage of their development and that they are provided with every opportunity to achieve their full potential as adults.

A decade after the National Child Day Act was passed in this House, it is gratifying to see this national day occupy such a special place in the hearts of families, educational institutions, businesses, day care centres, youth groups and community organizations in every part of the country.

I am delighted that the spirit of this motion is consistent with the initiative already taken by our government. We will gladly support this motion which will ensure that we remember individually and collectively the children we have lost.

National Children's Memorial DayPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence O'Brien Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, I extend thanks to my hon. colleagues. I have tremendous appreciation for their support: the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and my colleagues who spoke on the other side, the NDP and the Canadian Alliance. I want to thank them very much.

This is a very appropriate motion, a very appropriate moment, and I says thanks. I am sure all Canadians, particularly families who have lost children, will be very grateful for the debate that has taken place here today. I am certainly looking forward to the vote on this motion, to having this instituted and having it become a part of Canadian society. I think it is tremendous.

As I was sitting here I was reminiscing, and we all can reminisce. I am very fortunate to have two beautiful children. I heard hon. members talk about their children. My children are university students and graduates. I think about a child like Paula Normore or I think about the children of my friends who have known throughout my life.

I have a good friend who I went to see at Christmastime a few years ago. He had a 16 year old child who was violently killed in a snowmobile accident in Labrador City. I thought about the situations of young people killed in violent air crashes in small planes and so on. Then I thought about this moment and how fabulous it was, a moment of which I am very proud.

I am very proud that my constituents put this thought forward to me. I am very proud of my staff who has helped put this into perspective. I believe there will be full parliamentary support for this vote.

With that, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak. I will look forward to the vote. I know Dennis and Betty Normore, together with all parents throughout Canadian society, will certainly welcome this coming to fruition. It is duly worthy that we have a Canadian national child memorial day.

National Children's Memorial DayPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

National Children's Memorial DayPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

National Children's Memorial DayPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed that we see the clock as being 6:30 p.m.?

National Children's Memorial DayPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

National Children's Memorial DayAdjournment Proceedings

6 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, on February 20, I raised a question in question period expressing my concern with the federal government's unwillingness to respect provincial jurisdiction in its budget, which had been delivered a few days earlier. I noted that while there had been nationwide disappointment with the budget expressed by many provincial governments, opposition to the federal budget had been particularly clearly stated in the Quebec legislature.

The then minister of finance for Quebec, the leader of the ADQ and the finance critic for the Quebec Liberal Party, which was still at that point in opposition, all expressed their complete disapproval of the federal government's interference in provincial jurisdiction. At the time I wanted to know why the minister did not trust the provinces to administer programs for health, families, social housing and education.

The minister responsible for intergovernmental affairs gave a most unsatisfactory response to my question. I am here today to further question the federal government's infringement on the rights of the provinces to deliver social programs such as education.

Let me give a clear example of the kind of insensitivity to educational priorities that has been shown in this budget.

In Bill C-28, the budget implementation act, the federal government plans to retroactively amend the provisions of the Excise Tax Act relating to school bus transportation. This takes place after the federal government lost a test case in Quebec and was ordered by the courts to pay back GST paid by the schools for transportation. Astonishingly, the Liberal government's solution is not to simply pay the money that it owes to school boards, but instead the budget is pushing through a retroactive clause to justify a tax on local school funding that the courts have said is unlawful.

Technically speaking, the federal government may have a legal right to impose retroactive taxes on schools, but it goes without saying that there is no moral justification for this. Money that would have been used to educate our kids will now have to be diverted to the bottomless money pit known as the federal consolidated revenue fund.

This is not just a Quebec issue. In Eastern Ontario, the Upper Canada School Board will be particularly hard hit by this retroactive tax. This school board will be deprived of $2.59 million. That is $2.5 million that could have been used for school repairs, the hiring of more teachers, or for the replacement of infrastructure.

My fellow Ontario Alliance MP, the hon. member for Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke, has raised this issue in the House of Commons, poignantly stating the problem as well as the effects it will have on school districts in her riding. On May 12 she stated, and I quote:

The decision to grant only a partial GST exemption of 68% to school boards for the supply of transportation services has meant that school boards have had to pay millions of dollars in GST payments to the federal government instead of applying the funds to important educational requirements.

That applies to the Upper Canada School Board as well which is in my riding and it applies to school boards in many other parts of the country, particularly in Quebec where this test case took place.

Therefore I ask the parliamentary secretary this. How can she and her minister claim that the federal government is working, as he said in his response to my question in question period, cooperatively with provincial and local authorities when it refuses to even allow them to keep moneys that it owes to them under the law?

National Children's Memorial DayAdjournment Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Shefford Québec

Liberal

Diane St-Jacques LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in this debate requested by the hon. member for Lanark—Carleton who, on February 20, asked the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs about the federal transfer payments to the provinces and funding for various social program.

The member for Lanark—Carleton is suggesting that the current government does not trust the provinces to administer programs in these sectors. He also maintains that additional tax points are, as he puts it, the only way to guarantee stable and long-term funding. On these two points, I beg to differ with my hon. colleague.

First, it is incorrect to say that our government does not trust the provinces to administer their social programs. As the minister himself said on February 20, in each of these areas, our government has, in fact, established excellent cooperation with the provinces. So, it is incorrect to say that the Canadian government does not trust the provincial governments.

My time is limited, and I would have liked to examine this issue more fully, but I want to provide just one example of this spirit of cooperation: the agreement on health signed last February 5.

Under this agreement, the first ministers agreed on a new health plan that would contribute to improving health care in all areas of the country. The Canadian government will contribute $34.8 billion to this plan over five years, to alleviate the current pressure on the health care system, to establish a health reform fund for home care and catastrophic drug coverage, to purchase diagnostic and medical equipment, and to invest in information technologies.

In addition, every year, governments will inform Canadians how the funds will be used to meet the targeted objectives.

Clearly this is not a sign of any mistrust in the ability of the provinces to manage their social programs. I would see it more as a willingness of the two main levels of government to work together for the greater good of the people we are called upon to serve.

I was just talking about health, but there are other social sectors that our government is addressing under the Canada Health and Social Transfer. The government will make $37.8 billion available in 2003-04 for such areas as health care, post-secondary education, social assistance, social services and early childhood development.

Of this amount, almost $17 billion will be in the form of tax points. The formula the member for Lanark—Carleton refers to in one of his questions on February 20 is already used by our government for funding social programs throughout Canada.

I am therefore surprised that the Alliance member would raise this issue in the House today. In my humble opinion, the government can be proud of its record in federal-provincial relations. It is because of its spirit of cooperation that this country has become what it is today and it is in this same vein that we intend to continue making it prosper in the future.

That is why I feel the statements by the member for Lanark—Carleton are unfounded and I wanted to refute them.

National Children's Memorial DayAdjournment Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the question of the unreliability of federal funding to provinces, the federal government has a much larger tax base than the provinces and certainly more than the local authorities, such as school boards and municipal governments.

For that reason there is a perpetual problem with what the government in Quebec refers to as fiscal disequilibrium, what the rest of us might think of as a simple incapacity of the provincial governments, without a reliable, stable and growing source of funding as the population grows and ages, to take care of their vital needs. That includes being able to take care of health care.

Uncertain federal funding has created tremendous problems for provinces in this regard. Very little of the excise tax collected on gasoline is passed on to the provincial governments. When it comes to the question of school buses, we find that in its relations with local governments and school boards, the federal government is unwilling to simply allow them to keep the money to which they are legally entitled. This is a serious problem and I do hope the government will take it seriously.

National Children's Memorial DayAdjournment Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Diane St-Jacques Liberal Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, my Alliance colleague can criticize our government's policy with regard to the provinces if he wants, but the facts belie the alarmist report he seems to take pleasure in giving.

When our country succeeds, in almost all areas of human endeavour, in being one of the top and most enviable performers in the world, it is okay to say, very humbly, that Canada is on the right track.

Quite honestly, I do not think that we have anything to learn about respect, cooperation and, above all, tolerance from the Canadian Alliance in terms of our relationship with our provincial partners.

National Children's Memorial DayAdjournment Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, on May 14, I asked a question of the Minister of Human Resources Development.

As you are well aware, the Atlantic crab fisheries crisis in northeastern New Brunswick and Gaspé has been widely covered by the press all over the country. This was certainly not the way we wanted to make the newspapers. This was certainly not how we wanted to advertise the beauty of our part of the province to people in the rest of Canada and the rest of the world. Unfortunately, though, it has happened.

There have been victims of this crab fisheries crisis, and those victims are the fish plant workers who have not been able to go to work.

Today, in L'Acadie nouvelle, there is a headline that reads, “Caraquet fish plant workers overworked and exhausted”. The article goes on to quote the workers as saying “The crab fisheries were put off, and now the only way to reach the quota in time is to bring in huge catches. We are working like crazy”.

If that is what is happening at the present time, heavy crab catches and fish catches arriving at the plants at the same time, obviously the people will not have time to accumulate the number of weeks they need, even the number of hours required to be eligible for employment insurance. They will not get enough weeks of benefits to take them to the next season.

This is a crisis that is taking place. Once the crab fishery is over, there will be people who do not qualify for employment insurance and who will not have jobs.

I asked the Minister of Human Resources Development very clearly if she was ready to meet with representatives of the workers who are dealing with the crab crisis so that they can explain the situation to her. The minister may not want to listen to the member for Acadie—Bathurst and she may have issues with him, but she could at least meet with the representatives of the workers so that they can explain the problem to her.

Unfortunately, she responded that $90 million had been given to the Government of New Brunswick. I expect that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development will again mention this $90 million. However, this $90 million was already allocated for programs to diversify the region's economy, to provide employment and training for people. This money has already been promised to people who do not have jobs. That is why we needed a special program, and why we still need one.

My only question for the ministthe er is a simple one. Is she prepared to meet with representatives of the workers? We do not want to hear about the $90 million; we have already heard about it 90 million times. That is not what we want to hear. We want to know if the minister is prepared to meet with the representatives. She will say, “Yes, I am ready to meet them”, but she has yet to set a time and place for the meeting. The representatives want to have a meeting with the minister.

National Children's Memorial DayAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Shefford Québec

Liberal

Diane St-Jacques LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, certainly the government is aware of the challenges facing seasonal workers in the crab processing industry, both in Quebec and New Brunswick. We know that seasonal workers contribute to the local economy, and they must also overcome obstacles that other workers do not face.

As the hon. member mentioned, the crab fishers have now gone out and the plant workers have been able to start work, and they are working very hard. But I want to reassure the House that, throughout the boycott by the crab fishers, we kept the door open in case the workers wanted to discuss possible solutions.

As the minister said in this House, I will say again, and I will quote her for the benefit of my hon. colleague:

I never refused to meet with these Canadians, who are important for our country, and I dare hope that the hon. member will see, in light of my record, that I have never hesitated to meet with Canadians no matter where they live.

So, this is proof that the minister is listening.

Moreover, the governments of New Brunswick and Quebec have both announced measures to help those workers affected by the recent boycott. In New Brunswick, training programs were extended so that affected workers qualify for EI. In addition, the Government of Canada pledged to ensure that the EI plan would continue to meet the needs of workers, including seasonal workers.

Recent changes to the Employment Insurance Act, such as the elimination of the intensity rule, were designed to meet the needs of seasonal workers.

But the best way of helping workers in the long run is more jobs, not more employment insurance benefits. That is why we are continuing to help communities diversify their local economy and create new employment opportunities.

Perhaps the hon. member will not appreciate what I am about to tell him, but I will say it anyway. In 2002 and 2003, the Government of Canada transferred nearly $91 million under the labour market development agreement signed with New Brunswick.

Under this agreement between Canada and New Brunswick, the province is responsible for developing and implementing locally employment programs with funding from the EI plan.

Through this partnership, the government can support the development of long term solutions to employment problems specific to seasonal workers in that province.

We are continuing to ensure that our programs meet the needs of Canadians to the greatest extent possible.

National Children's Memorial DayAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the only new thing I have learned is that that $90 million seems to have become $91 million, which is one million dollars more.

It is simple, because the minister said in her reply:

—to ensure that workers have access to jobs and long term opportunities.

No, she has not done so.There has been a crisis in New Brunswick and the Gaspé. We are talking about something out of the ordinary. That is what we are talking about.

The parliamentary secretary says that the minister is prepared to meet any Canadian who wants to talk to her. For the information of the House, two weeks ago, the Association des travailleurs et des travailleuses de la péninsule acadienne sent a request to the minister asking to meet with her; she never answered the request. I personally faxed a letter to the minister last Friday; she still has not answered the request. And the workers want to meet with her. Not next fall. Now.

So, is the minister prepared—yes or no?— to meet with the workers from northwestern New Brunswick and the Gaspé? Yes or no? It is simple.

National Children's Memorial DayAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Diane St-Jacques Liberal Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to confirm the minister's promise to meet with New Brunswick workers. She said:

I have never refused to meet these Canadians, who are important to our country, and I would hope that my record would show the hon. member that I have never hesitated to meet Canadians wherever they may live.

I wish to conclude by saying, as I have said many times, that workers can count on help from our government and we will continue to do what we can for the workers affected by this situation.

National Children's Memorial DayAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until Monday, June 2, at 11 a.m., pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 6.

(The House adjourned at 6:20 p.m.)