House of Commons Hansard #150 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was afghanistan.


Canada's military mission in AfghanistanGovernment Orders

11:25 p.m.


Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Chair, I am glad that the Conservative foreign affairs critic has brought up this vexing and challenging foreign policy problem. It is one of the major challenges the world faces today, but I want to take some of his comments out piece by piece.

In Kosovo we were part of NATO. NATO decided to prevent a larger conflagration as to what happened in the other parts of the former Yugoslavia and in particular in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Croatia. To prevent that we joined the NATO force and we did bomb. Our pilots did an extraordinary job.

With respect to the African Union in Sudan, the member is quite right. This is a massive problem. We have said to the African Union that we will give them what they want and need to not only prevent what is going on in Darfur but also to increase security in the south. One of our senators did an extraordinary job in working with other countries to secure and terminate an 18 year conflict in the south that killed two million people and created four million displaced persons. Canada was directly involved in brokering that peace accord.

We have not succeeded in Darfur. As the Conservative critic said, people are still being murdered. Rapes are still occurring. It is the government in Khartoum that is directly responsible for instigating that problem.

We have offered Grizzlies and military expertise to the African Union. Some of our troops are there right now. We will offer more, but the African Union has to say yes because we want to work with them. It is their responsibility to sort this out, but we will help them. We have said very clearly that we will be there, that we want to be there to help them save lives on the ground in that country that has suffered so much.

On the issue of Iraq, the member knows full well that his party wanted to go into Iraq and wanted to send our troops into Iraq. That is well known. He knows that and I know that. That was his party's decision. We know now that marching into Iraq would have been a disaster because it is a disaster right now. Our party, the government, would not have done that. We would have continued to support the United Nations' sequestering of Saddam Hussein and to move along with a continued investigation and search for weapons of mass destruction that we know do not exist.

Lastly, on the responsibility to protect, it was this government and the Prime Minister who forced the responsibility to protect doctrine at the United Nations this year. Through our diplomats at foreign affairs and our entire service at the United Nations, including our ambassador, Mr. Rock, we forced on the table the responsibility to protect. Is that enough? No, because the RTP must be something more. There must not only be a responsibility to protect but there must be an obligation to act.

It was Canada that put on the board the responsibility to protect in the United Nations and which is now a pillar of foreign policy in that organization that needs so much reform. It needs change. It needs to adapt and it needs to become effective. I think the hon. member would agree that the next step we must take is we must add to the responsibility to protect an obligation to act, a rules based mechanism to prevent and save lives in the face of genocide.

From Raphaël Lemkin until today one of the greatest failings of the international community has been not to stand up, take action and save lives in the face of a genocide.From World War II to Cambodia, Rwanda, the Congo, the Sudan, Sierra Leone and on and on it goes, the world has failed to act to save lives in the face of despots and their cronies who are willing to kill and murder people.

We have taken a strong step forward in trying to put the focus of the international community on saving lives and preventing conflict. That is the future. That is where our foreign policy is going. That is our challenge not only as Canadians but as Canada is a member of the international community.

Canada's military mission in AfghanistanGovernment Orders

11:30 p.m.


Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Chair, the issue before us immediately is one of consistency of foreign policy. Foreign policy, as I stated earlier, is what should guide national defence and armed forces policy.

I heard comments from a junior minister of the crown. It sounded like a new policy. I posed some questions about the inconsistency of foreign policy and why we said yes in Kosovo, which we supported. Our troops did an admirable feat there. Our pilots flew incredible missions. They flew those missions with substandard communications in their aircraft. Pilots have told me that in those years, and I hope they are moving to upgrade, they would have better contact capabilities in their cellphones than with the substandard communications devices in their aircraft.

However, it was the policy of the government to intervene in a military action in Kosovo, to bomb people and kill them to stop a genocide that was taking place, and we supported that. Yet the government would not take action in Rwanda. When I put the question as to why have we not been equally robust in terms of wanting to do something to stop the horrific events that are taking place in Sudan, I heard from the junior minister of defence that we would only go in there if the African Union agreed.

That sounds like a new policy to me. I will ask the minister to defend that, not just today, but tomorrow also. This is a new policy. This is the first I have heard this articulation that we will not go into Sudan unless the African Union agrees. What does that mean, that the slaughter can just continue? That the African Union now has more precedent than possibly the United Nations or NATO? This is the first time I have heard that. It is a striking new policy and we will be asking questions on it.

In terms of Iraq, I do not want to keep on with a he said, she said situation, but I would challenge the minister to show any document or any statement where the Conservative government said that we must go into Iraq. We supported the liberation of the people of Iraq, as did many countries that were not militarily involved. We wanted to make sure that we had logistical requirements from the navy in the Persian Gulf in case our soldiers who were in Iraq needed support. The government denied they were in there, but it finally admitted that our soldiers, with Americans, were fighting in Iraq, even though the government never agreed to send them in. We simply said that if anything, they needed to have support, some backup in the Persian Gulf. I will ask that minister to table documents that say anywhere in any of our policy documents that we should have troops in Iraq, because we never did say that.

The question still comes back to him. He said the reason the government decided not to go into Iraq was that there were no weapons of mass destruction. We have a new policy again. This is very interesting. If a country does not have weapons of mass destruction, then it should be left alone. Is that why we did not get involved in Rwanda? There were no weapons of mass destruction there. We got involved in Kosovo. There were no weapons of mass destruction, although Milosevic, it could be suggested, was in and of himself a weapon of mass destruction.

Is it now the policy that if a country has weapons of mass destruction it could be a target of Canadian military force? North Korea has weapons of mass destruction, yet there is no Canadian intervention there, thankfully, because we do not have the fire power to do it. Is this the new criteria now? If a country has weapons of mass destruction, it will be a target. If it does not, we will let it off.

The African Union says do not go into a country where genocide is being poured out upon the people. If the African Union says no, we do not go. Is that the new policy?

I do not expect the member opposite to have all these answers tonight. As a matter of fact, the amassed brain trust of his government does not have the answers, but I also would caution him about articulating new policy, as he has done tonight.

We will find out perhaps tomorrow or in ensuing days if other members of cabinet agree with this new policy. We do not help out in a military way in an African country if the African Union says no. It is inconsistent. That is the only point I am raising here. We could belabour it well into the midnight hour. I am not sure what the rules are, but perhaps we could go beyond that if there is unanimous consent of members present. I am just pointing out these serious inconsistencies.

I would ask the member opposite to consult with his cabinet colleagues and come forward with a consistent policy so that, as I have said before, Canadians will know what can be expected in certain contingencies, our allies will know where we are going to be on certain issues, and certainly our enemies will know when we are going to respond and when we are not going to respond.

Canada's military mission in AfghanistanGovernment Orders

11:35 p.m.

The Deputy Chair

Prior to going to questions and comments, I just want to note that the motion that was adopted for tonight's debate clearly states that no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent be received by the Speaker. I have a suspicion that this was done to protect the Speaker.

Canada's military mission in AfghanistanGovernment Orders

11:35 p.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca B.C.


Keith Martin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Chair, I welcome the comments from the Conservative foreign affairs critic on the issue of Sudan. He has not provided any solutions to the terrible conflicts affecting its people, but I want to reiterate for him what Canada is doing in trying to resolve this issue.

We have taken three major courses of action. First, we have used our diplomatic tools. Our diplomats have tried to resolve this issue at every venue possible. We have engaged the United Nations. We have engaged the African Union. We are trying to support the African Union, which morphed out of the Organization of African Unity, its extremely ineffective predecessor. At the end of the day, Africa and other countries must get together to solve the problems in their own backyards. That is what they want to do. Canadians and this government are very supportive of that.

We have supplied diplomatic tools for the Sudan. We have put pressure on every venue to try to end this problem, including the government in Khartoum. We have provided considerable aid and development moneys to the Sudan, not only to the country at large but also in the south. The government has also provided military assistance in terms of troops, equipment and training.

If the member is somehow suggesting that Canada should march into Sudan, the second largest country on the African continent, and put our troops in that particular environment, I have to tell him that we would be making an absolutely disastrous mistake. Our troops would suffer terrible casualties. We would be walking into a military catastrophe. We would be making things not better but worse all around.

We are committed to trying to resolve this issue through every way possible. The group that has been tasked to try to resolve this is the African Union. The member should understand that this organization wants to take this issue on. It is trying to take it on. Canada and our military are supporting the African Union and has offered any support it requires. We will continue to work with it.

Does the member not acknowledge the fact that Canada is doing all of these things? Is he suggesting that Canada send a contingent of peacemaking troops into the Sudan? If so, how many people would he suggest we send?

Canada's military mission in AfghanistanGovernment Orders

11:40 p.m.


Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Chair, as averse as I am to redundancy and repetition, I will simply restate the dilemma. The government has not answered the question of inconsistent policy in these situations.

I will say it again. We went into Kosovo, bombing and killing, to stop a genocide. We would not go into Rwanda. There was no African Union at that time saying that we could not. For all the reasons articulated, we have stayed out of Sudan.

We are not the government. We are saying to the government that there are some areas where the government is saying, “Let us get in there and bomb and kill and invade”. In other areas, the genocide is even more horrific, as it is in Sudan. More people are dying in Sudan. The Islamic Janjaweed warriors are killing more people than Milosevic ever did and we did not wait for permission from a few surrounding neighbours in that Balkan contest. I am simply asking the question: where is the policy?

The Prime Minister talked about the responsibility to protect. We have to admit that we are not protecting the people in Sudan. We are not protecting the people in Darfur. Depending on whose estimate one goes with, they are still being killed at a rate of anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 people a week. That does not even count the massive population displacement as people flee, running for their lives.

That is the dilemma we have. We have a situation in which the government is not able to explain to us a coherent, consistent policy related to when we go in to help or when we go in with military action. The government made a decision to go into Afghanistan and we support that, but where is the consistency in policy? Why yes to Afghanistan and no to Rwanda? Why yes to Kosovo and no to the people in Sudan and Darfur?

There is no cogent explanation coming forward. As I said before, I do not expect the minister to be able to articulate policy which in fact has not even been developed. It is a dilemma and it needs to be settled. It is something that a Conservative government would put before the people of Canada in open debate in Parliament before a decision would be made. There would be a consistent and coherent policy so that Canadians would know what to expect, our allies would know what to expect and our enemies would know what to expect.

We can do a to and fro on this all night. I am simply saying that it is a dilemma. I am not blaming the minister for the dilemma. I am saying that it exists and that no coherent, consistent policy has been articulated.

Canada's military mission in AfghanistanGovernment Orders

11:45 p.m.


Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Chair, I would like to address my colleague on a couple of points that he made about consistency in policy. Our policy of combined defence, development, trade and foreign policy is encompassed in our international policy statement, which anyone can read on the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Department of National Defence websites. The international policy statement clearly articulates what Canada's overarching policies are, be they in defence or foreign affairs.

I understand the issue that he has brought forward in regard to why some countries are dealt with in certain ways and others are not, but I think I can best articulate it if I summarize what we as a government try to do when countries are in need. We try to do what we can where we can. Is he suggesting that somehow we need to have a more robust involvement in the Sudan, a country, I might add, that by any stretch of the imagination we are not neglecting? We have our diplomats involved. We have our international development arm involved. We have our military involved.

If the member is suggesting that we march troops into the Sudan to end the conflict there, let me put that into perspective. In Iraq, I think the U.S. now has slightly over 100,000 troops. It is a country much smaller than Sudan. As for the actual estimates on the part of generals who advised President Bush when he was deciding to go into Iraq, he was warned that he would need more than three times the amount of those troops in order to stabilize Iraq, a much smaller country. Let us do the math. The United States needed more than 300,000 troops to stabilize Iraq, not 100,000 troops, and it is a country that is much smaller than Sudan.

Obviously we as a country cannot put that kind of troop involvement in there, but what I am saying to the hon. member is that we are trying to use every tool in our box to bring stability to that country and prevent the killings, which the member quite rightly mentioned are occurring today. We would like the international community and particularly the African Union and those countries that are part of that to make the commitments, get involved and put the pressure on Khartoum or, quite frankly, take the actions that are required to stop the killings and the mass rapes.

They need to do that in other countries. For example, there is Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe is committing awful atrocities. Why is South Africa not getting involved in stopping Robert Mugabe when it could do that in a few days by simply turning off the energy tap? Why does it not choke off his supply of resources and prevent that thug from murdering his people in a country that was once very beautiful and stable? He has destroyed a country.

On the continent of Africa, we need African countries and African leaders to say goodbye to the past and hello to the future and engage some of their leaders on the continent who are engaging in such behaviour. I will add the government of Khartoum to this collection of cabals of thugs, murderers and pathological liars who are murdering their citizens for their own gain. The African Union has to get involved.

In closing, let me say that we will support them in trying to build stability on the continent. I want to emphasize for the hon. member that we have put in a significant doubling of aid to Africa.

My question for the member is quite simple. He criticizes us for our policies, which are articulated in the IPS. Since we are going into an election very soon, what is the Conservative Party's policy toward Sudan? What specifically would he do as the current foreign affairs critic? What would he and his Conservative Party do to stop the killing in Sudan if they were in government? I would like to hear specifics from the hon. Conservative foreign affairs critic. What specific solutions would he provide tomorrow as the Conservative foreign affairs minister?

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11:50 p.m.


Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Chair, a number of things, one of which would be to take a leadership role, as Canada did related to Kosovo. We would talk with other countries and determine at what point should we enact this policy, which was correctly brought into the United Nations in terms of responsibility to protect.

The Prime Minister is not doing that. He is not taking leadership, meeting with other world leaders and saying, ”Something has to be done. We're willing to take some kind of action. Who else is going to join in?” He flew over there some months ago, wheels touched down literally long enough for some photo ops and he took off again without securing a commitment from the Khartoum regime to allow the military vehicles we were offering to go into that area. We would be showing leadership.

When I was at the United Nations as an opposition member several months ago, I approached the representative of the Khartoum regime. I asked him what he was doing about the crisis in Sudan. His response was, ”What crisis?” The Khartoum regime is in total denial that there is even a crisis. Thousands of people are being killed monthly.

We would be showing leadership. We would not be satisfied with a photo op in Khartoum and then lift the wheels and take off again. The government fails to show leadership.

He talked about the international policy statement. It is filled with inconsistencies. He talked about trade issues and other things that were talk about in the international policy statement. Nowhere in that international policy statement does it suggest what should be done in Sudan. Certainly nowhere does it suggest that we will stay out of Sudan as long as the African Union says we cannot go in. This is a new policy that has been articulated tonight.

We are bouncing around back and forth here, playing the proverbial game of parliamentary ping-pong. There cannot be any clear winner because he and I are alone in the debate at this point.

I still will maintain that there is no consistent policy. I have gone through the international policy statement from cover to cover and read it carefully. There is nothing that says at what point shall we enter Sudan.

The minister said that the government had diplomats there and that they were intervening. With all due respect to our diplomats, they are not standing in front of the machine guns and the helicopter gun ships that raid through the areas of the south and into Darfur, slaughtering and panicking entire villages. They are not standing in front of the riders on horseback of the Janjaweed warriors who come screaming into villages and small towns, literally raping and pillaging like the barbaric madmen they are.

Our diplomats, quite rightly, cannot stand in front of that, but Canada could be taking a stand, with other nations at the United Nations, in a vigorous way and saying that there must be some action we can take here, that there must be something we can do.

When the other African nations are suggesting that they do not want any involvement, that they want to let the slaughter continue, what is our response? Our response for instance with Ethiopia was to continue to send them money by the millions. When that country right now teeters on disaster and on crisis, $100 million is sent into that country with warnings from the NGO groups. They have said not to send it the regime.

In terms of foreign policy, which then is a guide to defence policy, this year we are giving more money government to government, more money to regimes proportionately and less to the NGOs. The NGOs are the non-government organizations on the ground in these countries where the suffering is. They know that if we let that money flow through the filter of the regimes precious little, if any, will get to the people most in need. The international policy statement does not address that. There are huge inconsistencies there.

Ours would be a coherent policy. I can say without any hesitation that when it comes to aid, and the member talked about aid going to people and countries in need, we would look very seriously at the amount of money that is going government to government and the amount of money that is going to regimes instead of the NGOs. There is nothing in the international policy statement that gives a reason or any kind of rationalization why proportionately this year less money in aid is going to the NGOs and more money is going government to government.

If we want to talk about military concerns, there is nothing in the international policy statement that explains why we continue to give dollars in aid to communist China. China has been one of the single largest recipients of foreign aid over the last 10 years. China has a huge, rapidly expanding economy. It is the third largest and most powerful military in the world. It has a space program. It just completed a $100 billion oil and gas deal with Iran. Iran has made a commitment to wipe Israel off the map and to kill all Jews. China, this huge economic force, this giant military force, lines up its 400 missiles along the straits of Taiwan because Taiwan is debating an issue about its future.

Over the last 10 years we have given China over $1 billion. I am using that example and the inconsistency related to intervention. Could the member explain giving $1 billion to China, one of the strongest nations in the world and one of the most aggressive, military nations?

The member opposite mentioned Zimbabwe. China has very close relations with Zimbabwe, which has a regime that is destroying its own country. It is ruining the economy and devastating the agriculture sector. China is drawing close linkages with it, which is its right to do, but we are helping it, maybe in a minor way. We are financing $1 billion. The member cannot give me an answer to that.

There is another $50 million in another program that was just announced two weeks ago, giving more money to China. I also would ask the member to explain that inconsistency.

Canada's military mission in AfghanistanGovernment Orders

11:55 p.m.


Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Chair, I want to clear something up because it is almost midnight. I have to address this to the Conservative foreign affairs critic who I asked a very simple question of at the end of his speech. The question was what would the Conservative foreign affairs critic and a Conservative government do with respect to the Sudan. He said that they would talk to other countries. They would bring this up at UN.

We have done all of that. We have also employed CIDA to provide development moneys on the ground. We have provided 100 armoured vehicles for which the African Union has asked, plus another 5 transport vehicles, or 105 vehicles in total. We have provided moneys for training of African Union troops. We have told them to let us know what they require and we will do our best to fulfill those needs. That is all that the African Union has asked of us. That is what we would do along with our diplomatic initiatives.

We have fulfilled what is in the international policy statement. What we have not heard are any coherent solutions whatsoever from the Conservative Party. That is quite frightening given the fact that we will be going to into an election in the next couple of weeks. If by some chance the member became the foreign affairs minister of Canada, with respect to the Sudan, he would talk to other countries and he would bring this up at the UN.

The Government of Canada has done that and much more, and I will not repeat it. However, the Canadian public should know that we have a plan. We are enacting that plan. It is a living, breathing plan on which we will continue to work. We will work with the African Union to try to resolve the issue in Sudan and save the lives of the people. People are being murdered there right now.

The Conservative Party does not have a plan whatsoever other than to talk to other countries.

It is a complex situation in the Sudan. It not only involves Darfur but also southern Sudan and the eastern part of the Sudan, which is ready to blow up. That does not excuse inaction by anyone, but we are doing all we can right now at the United Nations, at the African Union and mobilizing European countries to get involved and to put pressure in every which way to try to save lives in that country.

I hope that within my lifetime we will see a day when we will truly be able to prevent genocides and conflict before they happen and save lives.

Canada's military mission in AfghanistanGovernment Orders



Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Chair, I do not know how much clearer I can make it. The inconsistencies to which I have alluded have not been addressed here tonight, why we said no to Rwanda and let millions die; why we said yes to Kosovo when 8,000 had died; and why we say no to Sudan when people are dying at the rate of at least 1,000 a week. There are no answers to that inconsistency.

I ask a pointed question in terms of foreign aid. With China's regrettable human rights record, where Christians are being persecuted, Falun Gong followers are being persecuted, and journalists who speak out against the government are being persecuted, why do we continue to give Communist China foreign aid dollars when other countries are so desperately in need? There is no answer from the government on why we continue to do that.

The Conservative policy would be to take a leadership role in enjoining other nations to approach the African Union in a cohesive way and use all our persuasive abilities to bring a constant spotlight on the problem in Sudan and Darfur. Then the African Union could not back away from the issue. It would be under a world spotlight. We know from past performance that when organizations are under the spotlight or under global pressure that they do eventually come around.

The member has suggested that if the African Union says no that we just back off. That is not a policy I can support. Clearly, that would not be Conservative Party policy.

The federal Liberals have not shown leadership on this issue. Perhaps they are afraid of offending China. China continues to veto any kind of intervention. It does not have to be a military assault, but only a presence of military resources protecting the villages that are being assaulted.

Mr. Chair, you and your team have been patient tonight, as have members. Regardless of the contentious nature of these issues, I think debate has been relatively respectful.

I would respectfully submit that the question of inconsistency has not been settled tonight. We would work to settle that and provide consistent, coherent and cogent policy for Canadians.

Canada's military mission in AfghanistanGovernment Orders

12:05 a.m.

The Deputy Chair

It being 12:05 a.m., pursuant to order made Monday, November 14, 2005, under the provisions of Standing Order 53(1), the committee will rise and I will leave the chair.

(Government Business No. 21 reported)

Canada's military mission in AfghanistanGovernment Orders

12:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

This House stands adjourned until later this day at 2 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 12:05 a.m.)