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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was international.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as NDP MP for Burnaby—Douglas (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 32% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I believe there is still time remaining in the period for questions and comments. I would like a very brief supplementary question to the member.

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his speech and I would like to point out first of all that while I welcome this parliamentary debate, I think that certainly what the member for Winnipeg South Centre promised one year ago and committed the Liberal Party to and called on the Conservative Party to implement was in fact public hearings to enable members of the public to be heard, whether it was peace groups, aboriginal peoples or northerners, on this important issue. While it is important that politicians be heard, I would have hoped that the Liberal government would have given an opportunity to ordinary Canadians to be heard.

There is a more fundamental issue here and I want to put the question directly to the member for Vancouver Quadra. It is a question about political integrity and political honesty.

I have a document which was sent out by the Liberal Party of Canada dated September 15, 1993. It is a document which is in response to a questionnaire from End the Arms Race. In this document is this question: "Canada is allowing the United States to test its nuclear capable cruise missiles in Alberta as well as low level flight training by NATO in Labrador. Will your party cancel further testing of the cruise missile and low level flight training in Canada?" The answer of the Liberal Party of Canada, presumably including the member for Vancouver Quadra, was as follows: "Liberals have opposed further testing of the cruise missile since 1987. We will bring this testing program to an end".

I want to ask the member for Vancouver Quadra what happened to that promise?

We know very well that the Bloc Quebecois is in favour of cruise missile testing.

What happened to that promise of the Liberal Party of Canada to bring an end to these tests and what happened to the integrity and the honesty of the Liberal Party of Canada in making that commitment to the people of Canada?

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, since it is very clear that, in the opposition, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois is in favour of cruise missile testing and so is the Reform Party, I hope that the NDP will be heard early in the debate, otherwise we will hear only from those who say yes to the Americans and yes to cruise missile testing.

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Question and comment, Mr. Speaker.

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the hon. minister would be willing to accept a very brief question on this issue.

Foreign Affairs January 25th, 1994

Madam Speaker, it is important that we recognize that pursuant to the existing mandate-God knows there have been many UN resolutions-in June of last year, UN resolution 836 mandated United Nations peacekeepers in that area to participate in the delivery of humanitarian relief. It authorized UNPROFOR in carrying out the mandate defined in this resolution to take the necessary measures, including the use of force, in reply to bombardments against the safe areas by any of the parties or to armed incursion into them or in the event of any deliberate obstruction in humanitarian aid to take all necessary steps including the use of air power.

That is the mandate which now exists. I think what we are hearing from the generals on the ground is that the mandate has to be strengthened to clarify the ability of the United Nations to clearly respond. The shelling of safe havens means that, in fact, they are not safe. How can one talk of safe havens which are being shelled from the hills.

As General Briquemont said, there is a fantastic gap between all of these Security Council resolutions, the will to execute those resolutions and the means available to commanders in the field.

What we have to do, in response to the hon. member's question, is to listen to that plea and to strengthen the resources which are available on the ground. Air power and air strikes alone are not the answer, as we have heard very clearly from all of those in the field.

Certainly in the absence of a very clear ability to do that the humanitarian mission of the United Nations is jeopardized. In the longer term, particularly in Croatia, the United Nations must not be seen as a power which effectively freezes the status quo. We have to be very clear that internationally recognized borders of Croatia must be recognized and that Croatians who were ethnically cleansed from their homes must be permitted to return. The United Nations must be supportive of that.

Foreign Affairs January 25th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I would like to join in congratulating you on your appointment to the chair. I know that you will bring the dignity and wisdom to the chair that you have brought to the other deliberations of this House.

I also want to thank the Prime Minister.

I would like to thank the Prime Minister for giving all members of this House a chance to discuss this very important issue, and I hope this will create a precedent for future important decisions. I also hope the government will take members' recommendations seriously.

I believe the previous speaker suggested that the former Secretary of State for External Affairs in a recent article stated that we must accept the status quo in the former Yugoslavia.

If there has been one cry, if there has been one consensus that I have been able to determine in the debate today it is surely that the status quo is not acceptable. Where we differ, as members of Parliament and even within parties, is how we respond to this tragedy and what the most appropriate response is as Canadians and as citizens of the world through the United Nations.

I returned earlier this month from a visit to that troubled region of Croatia. While there I met with a number of people. I met with the foreign minister of Croatia, with senior members of parliament, including the chair of the foreign affairs committee and the human rights committee. I have met as well in my own community with representatives of the Serbian community.

I also had the privilege of meeting with General John MacInnis, the deputy force commander of UN forces in the former Yugoslavia and the commander of Canadian forces. I met with General Jack Vance, the colonel commandant of the infantry, a very highly respected soldier who was there to provide support to the men and women on the ground in Croatia.

I flew down to sector south on an UNPROFOR helicopter.

There I met Colonel Marc Lessard, commanding officer of our troops in the Royal 22nd Regiment.

I received an excellent comprehensive briefing on the fine work that is being done by our Canadian men and women in sector south and indeed elsewhere.

I was taken to a number of observation posts, met many of the soldiers that have been working on the ground and saw the tremendous work and dedication that they have brought to their commitment in that region.

I am sure all members of the House would agree with me that we are tremendously proud of the men and women that are serving not just Canada but that are serving the United Nations in that troubled part of the world. These men and women often serve at great personal risk. While two Canadians have died in the field we know of many others who have been fired at, who have been harassed and intimidated. Certainly this is unacceptable and it is happening in both Croatia and Bosnia.

We take this opportunity as well to recognize that our troops are also involved not only in Operation Harmony in Croatia but also in Operation Cavalier a second battle group that is assigned to UNPROFOR in Bosnia. At the present time it is the 12th regiment, le 12e Régiment blindé du Canada.

We participated in the European Community monitor mission which is a non-UN mission in the region. We are participating in the naval force as well that is enforcing sanctions, Operation Short Guard. We are involved in the NATO airborne warning and control system.

One of our most significant and important accomplishments is our involvement with the Hercules aircraft which are based in Ancona, Italy. They have transported over 1,000 mercy missions bringing in desperately needed food and medicines to the people of Bosnia.

This is tremendously important work and I would be deeply troubled at any suggestion that we would abandon that important work. I would note as well that we were some of the first people in to Sarajevo. In fact in June 1992 we opened the airport at Sarajevo. We were involved in a preventive mission in Macedonia and elsewhere.

In deciding on the fundamental question facing this House and facing the government as to whether or not to renew the United Nations mandate and to recommit our troops when that mandate expires on March 31, I think it is very important that we have a clear understanding of what exactly that mandate is.

In Croatia the mandate is to restore civil authority, to assist in the return of displaced persons to their homes and to assist in the demilitarization of the UN protected areas, the so-called UNPAs.

Our troops on the ground are doing that and are doing good work to the extent that they are allowed to do that. I know that many Croatians in Canada and indeed in Croatia feel a tremendous sense of frustration because they are living in occupied territory. One quarter of their country Croatia has been occupied. That is unacceptable and it is unacceptable that the people of Croatia who have been displaced, who have been cleansed from their homes, should not be in a position to return.

What are some of the concrete actions that we are taking on the ground in sector south in Croatia? Just as one example are the humanitarian programs that we are involved in. We are providing security and infrastructure during body personnel or prisoner exchange at the Miranje Crossing. We are distributing winter clothing to children in sector south. We are assisting in the protection of the Croatian minority in the bi-ethnic villages of Rodalice and D. Bruska. We are assisting other UN organizations like the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in the form of providing fuel within programs in that area. This mandate is tremendously important.

In Bosnia of course there is no peace to keep, but we have three fundamental objectives. We are providing military assistance to the UNHCR and to other accredited agencies responsible for providing humanitarian aid and restoring infrastructure in Bosnia-Hercegovina. We are assisting in the evacuation of the injured, the protection and security of the population and we are helping to maintain the status of some of the safe havens. In particular I would note Srebrenica. We are keeping the lifeline between Sarajevo and central Bosnia open.

In fact just this past week as an example of what we have done in Bosnia, look at our accomplishment, at what Canadian troops did last week. They escorted six humanitarian convoys carrying 540 tonnes of aid and 14,000 litres of fuel. They repaired an alternate route to move refugees to a Swedish shelter without exposing them to Bosnian-Serb fire. They acted and continue to act as human shields in Srebrenica where, if they were not there, 45,000 Muslims risk slaughter. They have continued to protect psychiatric hospitals in Fojnica and Dakovica. These are all tremendously important humanitarian efforts which would be destroyed if we were to pull out. There are many similar examples.

Our presence in Bosnia and Croatia has made a profound difference in humanitarian terms. The military people I spoke to on the ground there, whether they were our own Canadian troops or others, including the Belgians, were unanimous on the

tremendous importance of maintaining that presence. They pointed out that it would be a disaster if we pulled out and that it would result in an appalling bloodshed.

An example of the impact of our troops can, I think, be given by looking at an area in which Canadians and indeed the UN have been denied access. I am speaking of the area in the northwest part of Bosnia, known as Banja Luka.

I would commend to all members of this House an incredibly eloquent and moving letter which was sent to the editor of the New York Times about a week ago by a Canadian diplomat, Louis Gentile, who is on leave to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He is working at great personal risk in Banja Luka. I want to just quote briefly from his letter. He states: I wonder how many of your readers have seen Steven Speilberg'sSchindler's List'' and how many have heard of Banja Luka-Bosnia in the heart of Europe''. I know there was a showing just last week for parliamentarians of ``Schindler's List''.

Banja Luka is the second largest city in Bosnia. Canadian troops tried to get in there. They were at the border but the Bosnian-Serbs would not let them through. The mayor of Banja Luka took a bribe of about $49,000, but flatly refused to allow any UN troops in.

Well what has happened in the absence of a United Nations presence there? Massacre, rape and concentration camps; Omarska, Manjaca, Turnpolje, tens of thousands of Muslims and Croats who could not escape the region. They have been stripped of all of their civil rights. They have been forced out of their homes and dismissed from work.

The writer talks of the terror of attacks by armed men at night, rape and murder, children unable to sleep, huddling in fear behind boarded up doors and windows. Fifty per cent of all of the Roman Catholic churches and diocese have been destroyed. Two of the most magnificent mosques in all of Europe and elsewhere have been burned down or blown up, including the 16th century Ferhad Pasha mosque.

That is the reality in an area in which the United Nations has not been present. That is a reality elsewhere as well, but at least we have been able to save some lives and bring some peace, some food and some medication.

That is genocide. Of course there is a convention that was signed after World War II, a convention on genocide whereby the nations of the world committed themselves to never again allow these atrocities that we have seen before in this century.

We saw it in Armenia in 1915. We saw it in the holocaust in World War II and we said collectively: "Never again". Yet in the very heart of Europe it is recurring. We cannot say we do not know about it. We see the horrors every day on our television sets. We cannot deny the reality of mass rape, of torture, of execution, of concentration camps, of murder, of massive refugee movements, of ethnic cleansing.

I met with a representative of UNICEF, a Canadian. Canadians are doing such fine work in that region. This representative had prepared two reports for UNICEF on children and women in Bosnia-Hercegovina and children and women in the republic of Croatia. What is happening there is a horror story, an absolute horror story.

Other speakers have referred to the numbers from Sarajevo and we heard about the bombing of six Bosnian children by artillery shells. Such courage. Lobbing artillery from 30 kilometres away in the hills outside Sarajevo takes great courage, does it not? Killing innocent children there, innocent Croatian children in Mostar. The siege goes on.

I witnessed firsthand the horrors of this war in eastern Croatia. I travelled to Vukovar, a city which has been destroyed, a formerly beautiful city on the banks of the Danube reduced to rubble, almost everything destroyed, markets, homes. I visited a Catholic church and walked through the rubble. I saw the photographs of children. I saw the broken down statue of the Virgin Mary, the crosses, totally destroyed.

From there I went to a mass grave site in a little village just outside Vukovar. In a garbage dump over 200 bodies were buried. The United Nations War Crimes Tribunal has been trying to investigate but the Bosnian Serbs have told them they cannot do that. It is appalling.

The question we must address and that I will address in the few minutes remaining is in response to these horrors, to this human tragedy, what should Canada do and what should the United Nations do.

Clearly the most desirable solution is a diplomatic solution. God knows we have tried that so many times. We have gotten so close, gotten to the point where Karadzic, on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs has said that yes, they would accept the solution, that it would be taken back to the Bosnian-Serb parliament. What do they do? They say to forget it. "We have 70 per cent of the territory even though we are only about a third of the population and we want to keep that territory and we will use force if we have to".

I am not hopeful about the possibility of a diplomatic solution in the absence of stronger and more effective United Nations action. We have seen the ethnic cleansing. We have heard the many threats that have been made. There can be nothing worse than bluffing.

In fact when Karadzic went back to his parliament in May 1993 before they voted he said that either they accept this plan or they can expect fierce attacks by NATO forces. His information minister said no, that they were only bluffing and that they could continue. Too often that has been the history: to bluff.

Do we pull out our forces on March 31? I say no. I say that would not only be a profoundly tragic event because it would deny the humanitarian assistance that we are providing but as well I say that the status quo cannot continue. I say it is time that the United Nations listened to the voices of its commanders, whether it be General Cot, General Morillon and so many others who say that they have to be given the tools to do the job.

The mandate is there on paper. The mandate and resolution 836 of the United Nations is there on paper. They can take the action that is necessary but they do not have the resources. I suggest it is time that we clearly understood, that we have clearly sent a message to the Bosnian Serbs and to others engaged in atrocities that we are serious.

I do not have the time to quote the many statements that have been made by a series of generals but it is time that we said that air strikes in combination with ground troops will be used if the bloodshed, the carnage and the violence does not stop.

We cannot continue to be witnesses of this holocaust any longer. We cannot pull out. Air strikes alone, our military people tell us, will not achieve the objective we are seeking. If we are serious about safe havens in Tuzla, in Sarajevo and in the other four areas that were designated, we must get serious about giving the United Nations troops on the ground the opportunity and the ability to enforce those safe havens.

We must do more to assist the refugees who are fleeing from that area. We must do more to ensure that the war criminals who are responsible for these atrocities are brought to justice and that the resources are made available to that tribunal.

We must ensure that the United Nations' agenda for peace becomes a reality, preventive diplomacy, a United Nations standing army to help to prevent the recurrence of these atrocities in the future.

Finally in closing, I want to return to the words of this courageous Canadian in Banja Luka who said: "Our office has been evacuated three times for threats to our security. We can evacuate a few hundred members of minorities judged to be in the worst danger but cannot protect them all. Their families have lived here for centuries. The United Nations was unable to deploy troops here because Bosnian-Serb authorities refused to allow it. To those who said to themselves after seeing "Schindler's List", `never again', it is happening again".

Finally he says this and I echoed his call: "The so-called leaders of the western world have known what is happening here for the last year and a half. They received play by play reports. They talk of prosecuting war criminals but do nothing to stop the crimes. May God forgive them. May God forgive us all".

The genocide must stop. Canada must continue to play its role. The United Nations must be able to maintain their role. We must do everything we can to stop this genocide.

Foreign Affairs January 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow up on the last question that was asked.

We have heard a number of different perspectives from Reform Party members of Parliament who have spoken. I think that is a healthy thing.

However, I must say it has left me a little confused as to what the position is of the Reform Party or indeed if there is a position of the party as such. I want to ask the leader of the Reform Party to clarify the position.

We heard from the member for Calgary Southeast who said that in her opinion Canadian troops should pull out. The mandate expires on March 31 and Canadian troops should pull out because we are not able to fulfil a humanitarian role is what she said.

I want to ask the leader of the Reform Party very specifically if he agrees with the position taken by his colleague from Calgary Southeast. This position was taken as well as I under-

stand it with certain moderation by his colleague from Saanich-Gulf Islands. Does he rather agree with the position taken by his colleague from Red Deer who suggested for the reasons that some of us have enunciated that there is a very important humanitarian role for the United Nations to play and that Canada should-

Foreign Affairs January 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I simply want to verify something. Considering what the Prime Minister said, I presume that if there are still members willing to participate in the debate at 10 p.m., we will be able to continue the debate. On that basis I will support the proposal.

Foreign Affairs January 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his intervention and for his support for a continuing role for Canadian forces in the former Yugoslavia.

I want to ask the member a specific question with respect to some of the concerns that have been raised about the nature of the mandate and the rules of engagement. The member is well aware as an experienced member in this area of the concerns raised by General Briquemont, General Cot, and others in this regard.

Does the hon. member support a strengthening of the mandate to ensure that when we talk about safe havens and in particular the six safe havens that were identified by the United Nations in resolution 836 in June last year which are clearly not safe when innocent children are slaughtered in cold blood in the snow as they play on their sleds. Does the hon. member agree with the need for a strengthening of the ability of the forces on the ground to respond to that kind of very serious attack?