Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was rights.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Cape Breton Highlands—Canso (Nova Scotia)

Lost his last election, in 1997, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

An Act To Revoke The Conviction Of Louis David Riel November 22nd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House today to speak to Bill C-297, an act to revoke the conviction of Louis David Riel, the main purpose of which is to revoke the conviction of Louis David Riel for high treason. More specifically, it is a revocation of the guilty verdict and not simply a posthumous pardon.

Everybody in this House knows that Canadian history, especially the development of the western part of the country and the relations in the first years of existence of our country, cannot be understood without a good understanding of the events surrounding the work of Louis Riel and the Métis people in Manitoba and in western Canada in general.

This subject is studied in all history courses in our country, even in high school. Louis Riel's place in Canadian history is truly essential.

Louis Riel played a key role in Canadian history in the 19th century. Indeed, he was an important contributor to Confederation. Riel was educated in theology and the law. He was fluent in English, French, Greek and Latin. He was an eloquent and polished statesman who directed the negotiations with the Government of Canada on the entry of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories into the Dominion of Canada.

Louis Riel was a man who worked tirelessly for the Métis people and indeed others who settled in the areas of what have now become the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Under the leadership of Louis Riel the Métis of the Red River adopted a list of rights in 1870.

That list of rights served as a base for negotiations between Louis Riel and the Canadian government for the entry of Rupert's Land and the Northwest Territories in the Dominion of Canada.

That list essentially constituted the terms of the union and was included in the Manitoba Act, 1870.

After that province joined Confederation, voters in the riding of Provencher, Manitoba, elected Louis Riel as their member of the House of Commons three times by acclamation. However, the circumstances did not allow Riel to occupy his seat.

Not only did Riel help Manitoba become the fifth province to join the Dominion of Canada, he also helped people in western Manitoba to present their claims to the government.

When the Métis people asked Riel to help them defend their civil rights in the Northwest Territories, in an area that is now part of the province of Saskatchewan, he answered their call.

We now recognize that the government of the day was slow in responding to the requests of the residents of the region, even if these requests were reasonable requests. What were these requests? Let me review the principal requests for the record.

The residents wanted appropriate surveys of their settlements made. They asked for improved transportation so they could move products and materials to and from the markets. They wanted other usual services, those services normally provided by governments to its citizens and nothing more.

The Métis, both the English speaking and French speaking Métis, along with settlers of many nationalities sent numerous petitions and delegations to Ottawa to ask the government to carry out its responsibilities. After what these residents viewed as many years of neglect and without recourse against the encroachment of others, they asked Riel to help them. The combination of frustrated citizens and the appearance of a military expedition led to an unfortunate turn of events and the loss of life.

These unfortunate events must not make us forget that Louis Riel devoted his life to the interests of the Métis people. He understood their concerns. He had a vision of the proper place of Métis people and other westerners within Confederation.

The government intends to seek to recognize his positive achievements. Over the years governments have recognized Louis Riel's contribution to this country in a number of ways.

Hon. members may remember that the government has issued postage stamps commemorating Riel. To honour Riel's memory cultural performances have been funded over the years, including the very successful Batoche days, an event that has taken place for the past 25 years. On March 10, 1992 the House of Commons recognized by special resolution the unique and historic role of Louis Riel as founder of Manitoba and as a significant contributor to the building of Confederation.

On May 16, 1996 this government made possible through the provision of significant funding the unveiling of a new statue to Louis Riel on the grounds of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. This statue depicts Riel as the statesman he was.

Many things have already been done and many more positive things can be done. We must encourage the government to keep the lines of communication open with Metis leaders and the family of Louis Riel to ensure they agree with any proposed measures.

There is already a process for discussions with the Metis leadership. This includes a bilateral process with the Metis National Council and the tripartite self-government negotiations with the Metis organizations at the provincial level. Discussions with the Metis leadership should continue through the existing processes.

There is a recognition among all Canadians of the proper place of Louis Riel in Canadian history. There is a recognition among Canadians that if Louis Riel were alive today and the circumstances he was involved in were debated in light of today's Canadian values, most likely events would have taken a much different turn. Let us hope we have learned through the course of history how to deal with the circumstances which brought forth Louis Riel's expression of concern on behalf of his people.

It is always very difficult for us as legislators to attempt to judge the past based on today's determination of justice and values. We hope that as history progresses we will improve and enlarge the scope of understanding through which we pursue matters of justice such as those which led to Mr. Riel's execution in 19th century Canada.

Other examples have been debated in this House where members of Parliament with the very best intentions have wanted to rewrite history to right the wrongs which legislators today accept were wrong. For many reasons these wrongs have not been brought forward in those ways. And we hope to learn from the mistakes of the past so as not to repeat them.

It is interesting that this debate is taking place on the day after the release of the report of the royal commission on aboriginal peoples. One of the commission's strong messages is that the treatment of aboriginal peoples has been fundamentally flawed throughout the long history, from the beginning when Europeans came and settled in this country.

The authors of that report are asking Canadians to lay a new foundation for the relationship. But we cannot reverse what has taken place in 300 years of history. We have to learn from that history and if necessary start again. That is my message in this debate.

Export Of Arms November 20th, 1996

Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to participate in the debate on the motion of the member for Winnipeg-Transcona.

We share his concern for the need to reduce global arms and the need to prevent as much as possible arms from entering the hands of people in countries that systematically abuse human rights and which use the arms to terrorize populations, and to proceed on the whole scale of the arms reduction agenda. However, the proposal of my hon. colleague would make major alterations to Canada's export control system. I remind the House that Canada's export control system is already one of the strictest in the world.

Also our government is constantly reviewing regulatory restrictions such as export controls and making adjustments when needed to ensure that we maintain the strictest possible system. I would like to explain to the House what makes our system of military export controls the strictest in the world.

Canada was one of the first countries to set precise criteria for arms export permits. It remains one of the few countries to include the respect of human rights among its criteria. We played a lead role in this, setting an example for other countries.

Our criteria enable us to: protect the national security of Canada and its allies; abide by all UN economic sanctions; avoid situations

involving hostilities or threat of hostilities; and take into consideration the human rights conditions of the recipient country, including the possibility of goods proposed for export being involved in cases of human rights abuse.

Last June 18 the Minister of Foreign Affairs addressed the House on this very issue. He reaffirmed his commitment to strict, tough controls. In fact he told the House that he had further tightened the implementation of export permitting to ensure that Canada's policies were fully met.

The new measures put in place in 1996 include more rigorous analyses of security issues and threats of hostilities, fully considering (a) the regional stability and security relationships; (b) relations between neighbouring states; and (c) internal conflicts such as civil wars. Also included is a stricter interpretation of human rights criteria, including increased requirements of end use assurances to minimize the risk that Canadian equipment would fall into the hands of those who might use it to abuse human rights. They also include even stricter controls where firearms are concerned, including examining the gun control laws and practices in recipient countries to satisfy ourselves that Canadian firearms would not slip into the illegal arms trade or fuel local lawlessness or violence.

Canada's export control system includes one other aspect which makes it one of the world's best. I refer to its transparency. Every year we issue a detailed report of our military exports to countries other than the United States, and have done so since 1990. This report shows the value of our military exports in 21 separate categories of goods for each country except the U.S.

Canada was one of the first to be in favour of such detailed reports and played a significant role in creating the U.N. Register of Conventional Arms in 1992. Today, we are taking further steps toward ensuring better compliance with reporting requirements by all countries, as well as the exchange of more detailed information in this area.

In its level of detail, Canada's annual report on military exports goes far beyond the public reporting done by even our closest friends and allies internationally.

Most Canadian made military goods go to the U.S. under defence production sharing agreements which date back to the second world war. Of the rest, over 87 per cent support close allies in NATO and those with whom we have defence research, production and security arrangements, such as those on the so-called automatic firearm country control list.

It seems to me that Canada, however modest its role, is already highly successful in supporting its allies where security is concerned, while severely curtailing its exports in situations which might give rise to strategic concerns of one kind or another. In addition, by declaring our exports, both large and small, we are demonstrating more transparency than any other country.

Our government has worked tirelessly for peace, international security, and to support social development. We will continue to do so.

I would like the House to note the following Canadian initiatives: to bring about a worldwide ban of antipersonnel land mines, which is currently gathering very good momentum internationally; to gain world recognition of the problem of excessive military spending in some less developed countries that might leave little public funding for education, health and other social needs.

There is the initiative to help found a new export control regime. The Wassenaar arrangement is dedicated to increasing responsibility and transparency in conventional arms, an organization that for the first time embraces former cold war adversaries and new industrial economies in Asia and Latin America.

Another initiative is to direct large proportions of our development assistance expenditure to building institutions that promote human rights and democratic development, including a free media and civil policing.

This government has taken an extremely active role internationally in peace building, in conventional arms control and in ensuring that Canadian military trade is conducted at the highest level of responsibility and transparency, a model for the rest of the world. We will continue to expand these efforts and will keep looking at ways to update and enhance our export control systems to ensure they fully adhere to Canadian values of international peace and security.

Fisheries Act November 5th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I never said that under the old act the government did not have responsibility over the fishery. In fact, the minister of fisheries has always retained ultimate responsibility for the management of the fishery.

What I meant to say was that in the old philosophy of management, the government was the sole entity that accepted responsibility for the fishery. Very often, the stakeholders in the industry deferred to the government to make the final decisions on the quotas.

We saw examples of this on the east coast with overfishing, with high grading, with improper mesh size. Nobody was willing to be accountable for the fact that those things were taking place. The government was unable to enforce the sanctions in the act because there was not a shared responsibility for managing the resource.

That is the new change in philosophy the government is introducing with this fishery. Fishermen have to be responsible for the conservation of the resource. They have to share ownership of that responsibility with the government. That is the philosophy that we are trying to put forward.

I believe that fishermen are happy to accept the responsibility provided they are fully involved in the partnership we are trying to create. That will be the challenge the minister of fisheries will have in implementing these new provisions.

Fisheries Act November 5th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to this legislation. I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Davenport.

This legislation, an act respecting fisheries, is of great importance to the fishers throughout this country. I can speak in particular for the fishers and the organizations that they represent and the organizations that they have formed in the areas of my constituency of Cape Breton Highlands-Canso.

Over the last several years that I have represented this area I have worked directly with the fishers of Atlantic Canada. I have discovered the depth of their commitment to the management and the proper stewardship of this resource. They have learned through interaction with the government, some good, some bad, that if the resource is to be properly managed, if the resource is to be properly conserved, the stakeholders, those who are directly involved in drawing their livelihood from the resource, have to be intimately involved as partners in the stewardship and in the management of this resource. That is what I understand to be the fundamental principle behind this legislation.

I also welcome the fact that Bill C-62 has gone through such extensive consultation under the new fisheries minister since it was introduced in the previous Parliament as Bill C-115. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has undertaken extensive consultations both through his officials and through the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans during the course of the passage of this legislation. That is vitally important.

If this approach to fisheries management, which is the correct and modern one, is to work, if it is to ensure the protection and survival of the species and the ecosystem on which the livelihoods of so many Canadians depend, then those people who are going to be involved as partners with the government need to have a comfort level, need to have their questions answered and need to understand that they are truly partners in the management of this resource.

This legislation signals a major shift in the philosophy by which the federal government manages the fisheries in Canada. Canada's fishing industry has indicated the need to get government out of the day to day management of the fishery. There is a need to redesign our past approach, which has been viewed as paternalistic in

nature. This has resulted, for the most part, in exclusive government decision making in the way the fishery is managed.

These amendments represent a major shift in the fisheries management activities of fisheries and oceans. The department will shift away from the business of managing fishers to managing fish. The department will take a more focused approach to the management of the fisheries resource, concentrating on conservation and sustainable utilization.

The legislation will support this shift in several ways. The aspect that I would particularly like to emphasize is that of allowing commercial fishers, aboriginal groups and other stakeholders to participate in the shared management, shared discussions and shared results of the fishery, and also to participate in the cost sharing of services such as data collection and licence administration.

The legislation will allow for new legally binding agreements between the federal government and fisher groups. It will provide harvesters with a greater role and responsibility in managing the fishery.

The government wants to work with stakeholders to develop the type of partnering agreements that will benefit all parties concerned and enhance the conservation of fisheries resources. However, the minister will retain, as he must, responsibility for conservation and protection of the resource at all times.

New powers in the Fisheries Act will allow the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to share decision making and develop more efficient management strategies with groups within the fishery and to do so through long term partnering agreements.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and any representative organization could enter into such agreements on several aspects of fisheries management. A typical partnering agreement would clearly set out the harvesting limits and other conservation management measures for a fishery, the number of licences to be issued, the fees payable for licence issuance and licence administration, the obligations and responsibilities of each party, the funding arrangements with respect to the management of the fishery, and conservation and management programs for the fishery.

Stakeholders will assume responsibility in choosing programs and services which will best meet their business needs.

As I emphasized earlier, the responsibility and the legal authority for conservation and protection of the resource will remain with the minister. Specifically, the setting of allowable harvesting levels, the ability to close fisheries and to ensure conservation and protection is not compromised and enforcement of the responsibilities and legal authorities will all remain with the minister.

I will introduce a short example of what this legislation will make possible and what it has already started. In my constituency in the Gulf of St. Lawrence a number of groups representing fishermen have worked out over the last two years new ways of engaging in partnerships to jointly manage and share the resource of the snow crab fishery in the gulf. This is quite a lucrative fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and has caused a great deal of tension in that part of Atlantic Canada. With the collapse of many of the groundfish stocks in the gulf, many fishermen have looked with some envy at those fortunate fishers who were able to draw substantial incomes from limited access to the snow crab fishery.

Through a process of sometimes difficult negotiation we are starting to work out proper partnering agreements that will not only ensure the snow crab resource is properly managed but also that the groups of fishermen who are stakeholders and form companies that harvest the resource will share that resource for the benefit of all those in their communities.

I commend the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and his predecessor for showing the flexibility of movement that has allowed for a better sharing of that resource. That is an example in concrete terms of what the notion of partnering and of moving forward by involving the fishermen and other stakeholders in the management of this resource is all about.

I will not be able to deal with all the aspects of this legislation, but if we allow the fishermen to take responsibility for the resource, for harvesting it in the appropriate way or assuming more of a share in the responsibility for the benefits that flow from that resource, we will find their good sense will prevail and will be demonstrated in a more sound fishery.

One of the problems we have had in the past, tragedies in some areas, that has led to the virtual collapse of many fisheries is that nobody took real responsibility for the fishery. The fishermen had no real responsibility because the government took it all. In the end when mistakes were made in calculating harvest levels nobody was there to take the responsibility and as a result we had tragic overfishing.

We have to stop this and I think the direction the government is taking with this legislation is the right one.

Veterans November 4th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the events that marked World War I are quickly receding into the past. On Remembrance Day, it will be 78 years since the armistice was signed. Yet, there are still Canadian veterans who clearly remember these events. They are very lucid, and they still have the energy and the strength to tell us what they went through.

However, as the years pass, there are fewer and fewer World War I veterans who can tell younger generations about their experience as citizens of a young country who left to fight in Europe.

World War I was a defining moment in the evolution of our country. Our story is that of an inexperienced country engaging in a war, a country that still relied on the British Empire to guide it. At the end of that war, Canada was a still a young country but it had gained confidence and was able to take its place at international negotiating tables.

During Veterans Week, from November 3 to 11, I invite Canadians to make a special effort to listen to veterans.

Peacekeeping October 23rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to respond on behalf of the Minister of Transport to what was said by the hon. member for Lévis.

The decision by CN to close the Joffre Shop, which is responsible for track maintenance equipment repair and overhaul is a business decision and is not related to safety. Transport Canada cannot examine every business decision made by a private company.

The relocation of the shop in Charny will have no impact on safety. The shop was responsible for the overhaul of track maintenance equipment. Equipment overhaul schedules have been modified to provide for more frequent light maintenance during operations instead of a complete overhaul. The location of the shop responsible for general overhaul has no impact on track maintenance itself. CN has announced that the shop will close on November 30, 1996.

For 1996, the cumulative statistics as of September 30, the most recent figures on main line accidents produced by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, show a drop in the total number of accidents in Quebec and New Brunswick.

This fact is corroborated by the figures of Canadian National, according to which the Champlain district, which covers Quebec and the Maritimes, is the only district where the ratio of main line accidents has dropped between 1995 and 1996. Track maintenance, which is essential to safe operations, will continue with equipment that is always in good condition. Transport Canada works together with the railways in order to provide Canadians with the highest possible level of railway safety.

Transport Canada railway safety officers monitor railway and track maintenance operations, equipment and level crossings to guarantee the safety of our railways. The Railway Safety Act authorizes them to restrict railway operations if they discover unsafe conditions and to impose fines on companies in case of violations.

Peacekeeping October 23rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Rosedale for his interest in this issue.

Indeed Canada can be proud of its key contribution to the technical organization to the elections that were held in Bosnia on September 14. Voting took place in a positive, non-violent fashion, free of systematic obstruction. The elections constituted an essential and reasonably democratic first step toward institution building and democratization in Bosnia.

Twenty-two Canadian electoral experts were seconded to the OSCE mission in Bosnia, many in senior positions. Canada also contributed to the larger international effort to supervise and observe the elections in Bosnia. We provided to the OSCE 15

election supervisors and 30 election observers. Another 32 Canadians engaged with the UN also helped supervise the elections.

Mr. Izatbegovic has been confirmed as the chair of the new three-person presidency of Bosnia. We congratulate all three members of the new presidency and encourage them to move quickly once the other election results are confirmed to put in place the common institutions established by the Dayton peace agreement and to implement all aspects of the agreement.

Canada is committed to helping the parties face the enormous challenge of this post-election consolidation period. We will do so through our engagement in the peace implementation process, our IFOR contribution and through our reconstruction program in the former Yugoslavia.

Canada participates fully in international efforts to ensure a lasting peace to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and to provide relief to its victims. Since the signing of the peace agreement for Bosnia and Hercegovina and the agreement on the peaceful reintegration of Serb controlled territory in Croatia, Canada has focused its efforts on promoting security as well as social and economic rehabilitation.

Since January 1996 Canada has maintained about 1,000 troops in Bosnia and Hercegovina as part of the NATO led peace implementation force, IFOR.

Canada's humanitarian assistance to the victims of the conflicts amounted to over $65 million between 1991 and 1995. These funds purchased and delivered food, medical supplies, clothing and shelter. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister for International Co-operation announced in April 1996 that Canadian reconstruction assistance would total up to $40 million this year.

Finally, on the issue of war crimes, Canada has consistently led and supported efforts to investigate and prosecute cases involving war crimes in the former Yugoslavia.

Peacekeeping October 23rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs but also as a member of foreign affairs and international trade committee who has participated with the hon. member for Red Deer and others in debate on the question of Canada's peacekeeping missions, notably the most recent one in Haiti.

I want to begin by challenging the premise of the motion which is that unless there is a free vote in this House as is specified by the motion, Canada's role in peacekeeping missions is not debated by parliamentarians, that no debate has taken place.

That is manifestly not the case. With the committee of which the member is a part, we have been in the process of attempting to find a realistic way of obtaining the views of parliamentarians who are interested in the question of peacekeeping to provide good, timely and sound advice to the government on the question of renewal of peacekeeping missions and on the question of new peacekeeping missions.

In addition to that, we have been attempting to say that somehow because the debate occurs near the end of a given mission on the question of renewing that mission there has been no work done to bring the issue to the stage at which it is brought for debate is again a false presumption.

As the member knows, in dealing with issues that give rise to peacekeeping missions the international environment is changing all the time. At some point, with the facts at our disposal it is appropriate to have a discussion to get reasonable advice from members of Parliament on all sides of the House. That is what this government has been attempting to do, particularly the Minister of Foreign Affairs, using the resources of Parliament.

This continues to be the policy of this government and it will continue to be the policy of this government. Whenever possible and necessary, the House's opinion will be sought prior to Canadian troops being sent overseas.

In the international context, however, the Government of Canada must be able to act. More important, the government must be able to act quickly. This requires flexibility. Canada has been at the forefront of international peacekeeping policy for the past 40 years.

At the 50th United Nations general assembly in 1995, the previous minister of foreign affairs, the hon. Andre Ouellet, presented the Canadian study toward a rapid reaction capability for the United Nations.

It recognized that a faster response by the United Nations in times of crisis was required in today's world. The UN cannot act without the support of leading peacekeeping nations such as Canada.

This motion establishes a rigid process and risks tying the hands of the Government of Canada when the international community seeks our assistance. It does not recognize that each peacekeeping mission is distinct and must be treated as such.

It does not recognize the importance that Canadians and the international community place in our peacekeepers. Because of that, the motion does not receive the support of this government.

In normal circumstances, when a peacekeeping mission is being launched, reviewed or renewed, debate is encouraged, and the House is asked to support the initiative. However, there may be exceptional cases in the future in which time is of the essence. It may be necessary to react quickly in order to avert a disaster.

In these conditions, the government cannot be slowed down by a bill requiring a vote in the House before Canadian troops can be deployed. The government must be able to quickly send Canadian troops where they are needed. A requirement to hold a vote in the House would prevent the government from doing its duty. This could take time we do not have in these situations.

The face of peacekeeping and peace operations in general is changing. The world community does not always wait for a stable environment before intervening.

The United Nations and other international bodies now act to prevent conflicts from starting and to keep them from spreading. They deploy troops while fighting continues when there is no peace to keep. The focus is now on action rather than reaction. In order to fulfil its role as a pre-eminent peacekeeper, Canada must be able to act quickly and decisively when asked to do so. A conflict can escalate in a matter of weeks if not days. A ceasefire can

deteriorate or a town can be destroyed. The intervention of peacekeeping troops can help to prevent a situation from disintegrating into a tragedy.

We hope the world learned valuable lessons from peacekeeping operations like the one in Rwanda. It is no longer possible to stand back and do nothing. We must step in to avert a tragedy before the situation gets out of hand. Waiting for order to be restored in an area is no longer a viable solution.

Peacekeepers must sometimes be deployed somewhere on very short notice. If the situation is dangerous, they are asked to stop violence while it is occurring or before it starts and not after the harm has been done. We must respond to the horror of ethnic massacres with vigorous measures. Canada must play its part in helping to maintain the safety and security we as a people value so much.

This motion would prevent Canada from taking action. Our peacekeepers are considered to be among the best in the world. That is why the international community relies on Canada to participate in almost every UN mission. The word "Canadian" has become synonymous with peacekeeper. One of our Prime Ministers, the Right Hon. Lester B. Pearson, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for coming up with the concept of peacekeeping. In 1988, the peacekeepers themselves received a medal in recognition of their services.

If we cannot respond to UN calls for help, other countries will start questioning Canada's commitment to this organization, and therefore its relevance as a peacekeeping tool.

If we chose to ignore the United Nations' demands, then many other countries will question the confidence they have put in this organization. We must not let this happen. When the UN and the international community call, we must answer. We must be able to react on very short notice, if required.

Peacekeepers have taken on more aggressive roles in peace enforcement but they have also accepted the hat of humanitarian relief workers. Not only do United Nations soldiers separate warring parties, now they must also feed, shelter and protect the civilian populations.

A prime example of this is the new Disaster Assistance Response Team, DART. It is designed to begin the deployment of its 180 members to a humanitarian disaster within 48 hours. The team will provide the infrastructure necessary for UN organizations or non-governmental organizations to follow in the coming weeks. In the interim, DART will provide medical and structural support for the surrounding community.

This could not happen if there was a postponement due to a required debate within the House. A situation could decay just as rapidly in a humanitarian emergency as it can in times of armed conflict. The delay could cost the lives of hundreds of innocent people. It could even make deploying the force impossible.

If they had arrived according to schedule, then the force may avert further disaster. Canada must be in a position to stop a tragedy from developing. If we are capable of doing this let us not be entangled by unnecessary legislative requirements when people are dying. Let us not create reasons why we cannot help those who need our assistance in order to survive. Let us not antagonize and shame the Canadian people.

Canada would lose its status as a leader among countries providing peacekeeping troops if it could not react when the help of Canadian men and women is requested. Last year, Canada released a study entitled "Towards a Rapid Reaction Capability for the United Nations".

We have seen in the past that reacting quickly is a must in a crisis situation. With this report, Canada is now providing a model for the future.

I realize that my speaking time is up. I will therefore wrap up quickly. The government agrees that a debate on our commitments should be held either in this House or before the Parliament of Canada.

It is quite another story to ask that there be a vote before Canada can make any commitment, every time Canada makes a commitment, for the reasons I stated in my remarks.

Land Mines October 4th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the conference was to bring together like minded countries from around the world to work toward the goal of a global ban on the heinous weapons which are anti-personnel mines.

The conference has already had a demonstrable effect. The number of countries that have committed themselves to such a ban increased from some 14 a year ago to over 47 today in time to participate in this conference. We hope that more countries will join this accelerating bandwagon in time to have a really strong resolution on these weapons at the UN this fall.

In addition, the conference brought together not only governments but also parliamentarians and NGOs active in this area to develop an action plan to lead to the global elimination of these weapons.

Return To Canada Of Karim Noah October 1st, 1996

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the member for Rosemont for moving this motion and this debate on the abduction of the son of Mrs. Micheline Tremblay. I would like to begin by saying that the government shares the member's frustration, as well as the distress of Mrs. Tremblay, who has been trying for so long to see her son again.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has been unrelenting in its efforts since February 4, 1993 when Madame Tremblay advised us of the abduction of her son. Karim Noah is the son of Madame Micheline Tremblay and Mr. Moustafa Nouh. He was abducted by his father to Egypt in early 1993. At the time, Madame Tremblay and Mr. Nouh were separated from their common law relationship and had agreed to joint custody of their son who was born on June 14, 1989. Following the abduction, a Canada-wide and then an international arrest warrant was issued for Mr. Nouh.

After her son was abducted, Mrs. Tremblay made the first of many trips to Egypt, and instituted legal proceedings to have her right to custody recognized by the Egyptian courts. Throughout this undertaking, she was assisted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and staff of the Canadian embassy in Cairo.

She was unfortunately unsuccessful in having her right to custody recognized by the Egyptian courts, but finally obtained visiting rights, already a considerable achievement. Thanks to the many efforts of the Canadian embassy in Cairo, and the co-operation of Egyptian authorities, the child's location was finally confirmed and Mrs. Tremblay was able to visit her son last June 18.

Interpol Egypt, moved by this mother's plight, spared no effort to find Karim and co-operated closely with embassy staff so that Mrs. Tremblay could visit her son in complete safety.

The government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Canadian embassy in Cairo have been directly involved in assisting Madame Tremblay in her efforts to have her son returned. We are committed to continuing with our support and assistance.

Over the years of this matter we have made numerous representations to the Egyptian authorities. Our embassy in Cairo follows every possible aspect of Karim's well-being. It is always available to the father and holds ongoing meetings with both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Interpol Egypt with a view to reaching a solution.

There are a number of tragic cases similar to the abduction of Karim Noah by his father, cases where a child born in Canada is abducted and then taken abroad in contravention of Canadian laws and without the agreement of one of the custodial parents. This is an important international problem, which adds to the suffering caused by the breakdown of the family and the separation. It affects numerous countries.

Canada is a leading country in the search for a solution. it saddens me that our efforts and the efforts of all the other interested countries have not resulted in a satisfactory solution. The government is determined to pursue its efforts, not only to support Mrs. Tremblay, but also to put in place a mechanism that will help us to settle all the other similar cases.

The international community has provided a partial answer. For some abducted children that answer can be found in the provisions of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This treaty was negotiated in the early 1980s and was based on a proposal by Canada. Since then it has been ratified by more than 40 countries, including Canada.

The treaty in essence provides for the prompt return of a child who has been wrongfully removed or retained from his country of habitual residence in breach of rights of custody. It has proven an excellent vehicle for many parents who have faced situations like those faced by Madame Tremblay.

The success of the Hague convention is limited by the fact that only about 42 countries have ratified it. Canada along with other countries regularly seeks to encourage other countries to sign but progress has been slow. This is mainly due to the fact that many countries have difficulty in accepting and implementing the basic

requirements of the treaty due to cultural, religious and legal differences.

Egypt is not a signatory and therefore the treaty is not available to assist in child abductions such as that of Karim Noah. The former Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as the current minister have been well aware of the problem with the treaty in respect of Egypt as well as the personal tragedy of Madame Tremblay.

I am happy to report that the Egyptian authorities shared our view that it is a matter requiring urgent action. It was subsequently agreed to enter into discussions to see if an arrangement could be established to deal with cases such as that of Karim Noah as well as other consular problems.

A Canadian delegation visited Cairo in March 1996. We are hopeful that an arrangement can be finalized in the near future.

The government is determined to conclude effective co-operation agreements that will make it possible to settle cases of international child abduction. I must add that it is an issue with complex legal, social and religious overtones.

Mrs. Tremblay has remained steadfast in her efforts to have her right to the custody of her child recognized by the Egyptian authorities. We are all sorry that this has not been possible. I can assure the members, particularly the member for Rosemont, that we are still determined to assist and support Mrs. Tremblay. I can only hope that our efforts will bear fruit.