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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was peace.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Papineau—Saint-Michel (Québec)

Won his last election, in 1993, with 52% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Foreign Affairs January 25th, 1994


That this House take note of the political, humanitarian and military dimensionsof Canada's peacekeeping role, including in the former Yugoslavia, and of possible future direction in Canadian peacekeeping policy and operations.

During his visit to Europe, the Prime Minister was asked whether the government would be maintaining Canadian troops in the former Yugoslavia in the spring. The Prime Minister replied that no decision would be made until the matter could be debated in this House. You will remember that when the previous government decided to send troops to the former Yugoslavia, there was no debate, Parliament was not consulted and at the time our party strongly opposed the fact that a decision as important as this could be made without consulting Parliament.

Today, the motion being tabled before the House and inviting all members to express their views on the issue is, as the Prime Minister pointed out, in line with our party's commitment to consult with members of Parliament before making any serious and momentous decisions.

Our decision, whatever it may be, will have a heavy impact on our future role in peacekeeping, our foreign policy and our defence policy.

We must also bear in mind that the position we take will affect our relations with countries that are friends or allies, or with countries that are very deeply involved in or affected by the conflict raging in the former Yugoslavia.

The government's position on the broad question of the place of peacekeeping in Canada's foreign and defence policies is well known. We are on record as stating that was intend to strengthen Canada's leadership role in international peacekeeping.

In the upcoming foreign and defence policy reviews, we will be examining a variety of ways in which this can be done, many of which we elaborated in the red book. I know that all of you have had an opportunity to read it, you are all familiar with it, but all the same I would like, if you permit, Mr. Speaker, to cite a few examples for the record.

We feel it is important, first of all, to re-examine the notion of stand-by forces for peacekeeping. Second, we think it is important to look at the training of peacekeepers; and third, we think it is important to review our procurement policies.

In any debate on peacekeeping, I feel we have to start by placing the issue in the context of Canada's historical contribution to peacekeeping, and go on to discuss the tremendous upheavals that affect the very nature of peacekeeping operations.

Ever since the initiative taken in 1956 by former Prime Minister and then External Affairs Minister Lester B. Pearson, Canada has been closely associated in the minds of Canadians and of other countries with leadership and expertise in peacekeeping. For years we have participated in the overwhelming majority of peacekeeping operations mandated by the Security Council.

We continue today to contribute to most of the missions, including, I would like to say, the most difficult ones. As you know, the government has clearly stated its conviction that peacekeeping is a very important component of Canada's contribution to the multilateral system and the preservation of peace in the world.

Canadians have always believed in the value of promoting multilateral mechanisms for security and crisis management. Peacekeeping is one of the most important of these mechanisms. Our approach to peacekeeping is rooted in a wider view, which seeks to promote the prevention of conflicts before they begin, and the peaceful resolution of conflicts already under way.

Over the years, Canada has developed guidelines governing its participation in peacekeeping operations. Let me summarize them.

There must be a clear, achievable mandate from a competent political authority, such as the Security Council.

Then, the parties to the conflict must undertake to respect a ceasefire and, of course, must accept the presence of Canadian troops.

In addition, the peacekeeping operation must be in support of a process aimed at achieving a political settlement.

Finally, the number of troops and the international composition of the operation must be suited to the mandate. The operation must be adequately funded, and have a satisfactory logistical structure.

These are the broad guidelines that Canada has traditionally used to make its decisions on its participation in a peace mission. If we review each of these points, we will see that in some ways the previous government did not follow these criteria in deciding whether to commit itself, as was the case with the former Yugoslavia.

In the past, it would seem that the amount of risk incurred by our soldiers was rarely a problem. This is no longer the case; the risk factor has become an essential element in our decision-making.

I would invite hon. members to take this aspect, this new dimension, into consideration in their remarks today.

While these guidelines are still valid, the international setting in which peacekeeping operations occur has changed radically since 1989, and will in my opinion continue to evolve. I would therefore welcome the views of the House in this regard.

Traditionally, let me repeat, peacekeeping operations have been launched when the parties to a conflict concluded that their purposes would no longer be served by the continuation of an armed conflict but by a settlement negotiated with the aid of a third party. Peacekeepers were thus deployed to monitor a ceasefire or the withdrawal of troops from disputed zones.

But in 1989 and 1990 far more extensive peacekeeping operations were introduced, designed to assist the parties involved to implement a negotiated settlement to a conflict. In Cambodia, for example, the United Nations had a mandate to disarm the factions, establish security throughout the country, repatriate refugees, ensure respect for human rights, supervise the key departments of the national government and organize provisional elections. Thus a very important civilian component was added to the traditional military presence.

A new concept, that of humanitarian intervention, was introduced in Bosnia and Somalia. Our soldiers were not sent there to enforce a ceasefire or preserve a peace that obviously did not exist and still does not exist. Their mandate was to help humanitarian convoys get through. The example of Somalia in particular shows that this type of intervention can have very positive results, for despite the problems we hear about, most of them centred on Mogadishu, the humanitarian crisis in the rest of the country has been largely surmounted.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations has acknowledged this process of evolution in the declaration he called his agenda for peace, which is based on the principle that conflict management requires a whole range of tools, one of which is peacekeeping. The international community's objectives have thus become much more ambitious: to prevent conflicts, to consolidate or restore peace by diplomatic means such as mediation or good offices, to keep the peace and even to undertake the political and social reconstruction of ruined societies.

Some operations contain a mixture of these elements. The term "peacekeeping" has taken on a character I would qualify as rather elastic, often extending beyond the concept of forces of intervention, as seen in Cyprus, for example.

It is important to note the international context that has made this process of evolution possible. The end of the confrontation between the two superpowers has opened the way-at least so far-for an unprecedented degree of consensus on the Security Council. Traditionally, the members of the Security Council used their right of veto to prevent intervention on a number of occasions.

More recently, thanks to this new consensus, the Security Council has been able in the last few years to exercise an authority that is indeed recognized by the United Nations charter but that has until now existed only on paper.

It must be recognized that this process flies in the face of our preconceived notions about the nature of peacekeeping and how the international community should respond. Without wishing to launch into a terminological discourse, let me point out that the new concepts used by the Secretary-General in the agenda for peace each have a specific meaning. The term "peacemaking" refers to essentially diplomatic activities pursued to resolve a conflict, while "peace enforcement" is a situation where the international community uses force against a member state, as in the gulf war.

As you will see, Mr. Speaker, what complicates things a great deal is that an element of force is increasingly being introduced in the Security Council resolutions mandating peacekeeping operations and, in a way, changing them into peace enforcement operations. This is obviously the case with Somalia and also with Bosnia.

The effects of these changes on the United Nations are obvious. The UN suddenly finds itself in a position where it must manage operations involving over 68,000 soldiers worldwide. This increase has had a profound impact on the cost of peacekeeping. Canada's assessed peacekeeping contributions, for example, have remained at a steady 3.11 per cent of the total UN peacekeeping budget in the past five years. In absolute terms, however, Canada's contributions have risen from $10 million to $12 million in 1991-92 to some $130 million today. That is a substantial contribution, which requires us to think and very closely review the commitments we must make in this field; we shall pay very close attention to any suggestions parliamentarians make to us in this House during this debate. Clearly, the UN does not have the human, financial or technical resources for this task.

To make up this shortfall, the UN is relying more and more on regional organizations such as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organization of American States, and the Organization for African Unity. This co-operation between the UN and regional organizations was foreseen in the charter of the UN,

but its extent in practice is new. Here again, I would like the House to inform us of its views on the implications of this trend.

The sharp rise in the number of peace missions has brought many challenges with it. First of all, there are political challenges, as the international community is increasingly taking on responsibility for situations that, just a short time ago, were confined to the internal affairs of the states involved. Then there are military challenges, as we see a demand-which is growing constantly, and at an exponential rate-for soldiers adequately trained and equipped for missions as dangerous as they are complex. I will not hide the fact that, because our Canadian soldiers are very competent and very well trained, they are in demand worldwide. As soon as there is a request at the UN for a new peace force, people spontaneously think of Canadians and ask them to participate in these peace efforts. I am talking about challenges: political challenges and military challenges; but I am also talking about the financial challenges created by operations with personnel numbering in the tens of thousands, rather than the few thousands of yesteryear.

To meet these new challenges, the UN and its member countries will have to thoroughly review the way peacekeeping operations are managed.

At the national level, we will have to be ever more critical about the commitments we make, and especially about how we determine to make such commitments.

At the international level, it is urgent that the UN's capacity to respond quickly and professionally to crises be reinforced.

Canada responds generously to requests for experts by the United Nations and regional organizations. The Secretary-General's military advisor is a Canadian, General Baril, and many other Canadians have been made available to the United Nations and the CSCE. We pay our financial contributions in full and on time and have submitted to the Secretary-General recommendations on making the UN structure more effective.

We are determined to increase this effort and to exercise the leadership that other countries expect from us in this field.

I would say that the Canadian men and women serving under the United Nations banner are saving lives and relieving misery. None of us will forget the poignant images of the soldiers who aided the helpless victims in a hospital in Bosnia. It is also clear their living conditions are increasingly dangerous. Here another picture comes to mind, that of the 11 Canadian soldiers threatened by Serbian troops near Sarajevo last month.

Events in Bosnia are thus very much in the public eye. The powerful images of the suffering of the Bosnian people and the challenge facing our troops have became an integral part of the evening news. However we must look beyond these images to the larger questions which Bosnia poses.

These questions, I submit, fall into two categories: the future of our commitment to the UN effort in Bosnia itself and the implications of this episode for our peacekeeping policy generally. These are the questions with which the government is now wrestling. The views of the House and of the public generally are of critical importance to our deliberations.

In discussing events in Bosnia we must bear in mind certain factors that have guided our actions to date. To begin with, we must recognize that there are two relatively distinct operations taking place in the former Yugoslavia. Though both are taking place under the banner of one UN operation, the United Nations protection force, they are quite different in terms of the activities under way and the dangers they face.

First, in Croatia our peacekeepers are engaged in a relatively traditional UN operation. There are two distinct sides and they have agreed to respect a stable ceasefire line while they are negotiating over a permanent settlement to their differences. While these negotiations are in progress the two sides have asked the UN to provide an international force to monitor the ceasefire and patrol the line. The situation is relatively stable though that stability is highly dependent upon events in Bosnia. I could say-and I am sure the Minister of Defence will expand on this-our troops there are not at high risk. This is peacekeeping as we understand it and have practised it for several decades.

Second, in Bosnia however the situation is radically different. There is no ceasefire and there are certainly no lines. Even the desire to negotiate seems to be lacking. In these circumstances the UN Security Council has mandated our forces to engage in assisting in the provision of humanitarian relief to the civilians caught in the middle of the conflict and in providing protection through a small military presence in Srebrenica, a UN designated safe area.

Our actions in Srebrenica are a perfect example of the evolution of peacekeeping to which I referred earlier. It remains an environment in which the peacekeepers require the permission of the parties to the conflict to go about their duties.

The task in Bosnia is an infinitely more difficult and dangerous one than that which our peacekeepers have traditionally faced. In addition to the dangers of simply operating in a war zone, we must face the fact that some of the factions do not always want the humanitarian aid to get through.

For all of these dangers it has been argued however that the UN force is making a critical contribution. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Red Cross have confirmed that aid is getting through. People who would otherwise be dead

are alive today. Canadian troops have played a vital role in this effort and continue to do so.

Beyond this humanitarian effort it is often pointed out that Canada's presence in Bosnia has served to demonstrate our continuing commitment to act with our NATO allies in the promotion of European security. It also demonstrates to the world that Canada is a nation which is prepared to carry out its international obligations under difficult circumstances, while others are merely willing to offer advice from the sidelines.

At the same time serious questions must be asked as we debate our continuing participation in these UN forces. Is there a reasonable prospect of any progress in the peace process in the foreseeable future? Will sufficient humanitarian aid continue to get through? At what point will the dangers to our troops outweigh the benefits of our presence there?

Concerning the first question, I am in constant communication with my colleagues who also have many troops in the region. I have spoken today with the French minister of foreign affairs about the situation and I intend in the coming days to speak with Secretary Hurd who has just returned from Bosnia and who will give us a personal evaluation of the situation on the ground. France, Great Britain and Canada are the three countries that have contributed the most troops in the region. It is clear that we will want to co-ordinate our efforts.

We think that the only solution is a negotiated solution. We think it is essential that we pressure the factions to come to a negotiated solution. We will increase our diplomatic efforts in order to put pressure on those who are the natural friends of the factions so that those who are in a better position than others can speak to the Serbs, the Croats, the Muslims, can convince them that the only solution is a negotiated peace, not prolonging the war.

And I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that beyond the military operations involved in peacekeeping or in escorting humanitarian convoys, we will strive unceasingly through diplomatic channels to find a solution to this conflict.

I would like to refer briefly to the recent NATO summit where the question of the dangers faced by our troops was the subject of much debate. In particular the topic of air strikes as a means of relieving the pressures on our troops was prominent in major reports of the summit.

Because some confusion seems to exist in the public mind I would like to take advantage of this timely opportunity to clarify the government position on the subject of air strikes and our understanding of the procedures in place for their authorization. I hope these clarifications will be helpful not only to members of Parliament and the public at large but will also be beneficial to the press that have made some comments in this regard which I felt were sometimes out of context.

Essentially there are two distinct scenarios for air strikes. The first envisages the case where UN troops are directly under attack. In this specific case NATO agreed in June that the commander of the UNPROFOR could call on the UN Secretary- General to authorize an air strike to assist UN troops where they are under attack.

The fact that the UN Secretary-General would be the ultimate authority for an air strike under these conditions was insisted upon by Canada in view of the highly charged political considerations which would surround such decisions. There would be no debate within NATO before the strike was carried out as time would be of the essence.

We agree with this procedure. We think it is appropriate that if our troops are under attack we should be able to respond. An air strike under these circumstances might be necessary and we are fully in agreement with this.

The second type of air strike would be intended to remove an obstacle to UNPROFOR's performance of its duties in circumstances where there was no direct threat to UNPROFOR troops. The proposed air strike would thus be less time urgent. Under these circumstances the commander of UNPROFOR would submit a request for such an air strike to the Secretary-General of the United Nations who must give his authorization as in the first case. The request would also be discussed in the North Atlantic Council of NATO. The North Atlantic Council must agree to support the request.

The North Atlantic Council operates by means of consensus. Therefore no decision to launch an air strike under these circumstances could be made unless all allies agreed to it. Canada's position on this question is well known and would guide our representative to the North Atlantic Council in such debate.

We have said and we repeat that in the second case we do not believe that an air strike would be conducive to solving current situations. In fact we have said on numerous occasions that air strikes should be the last resort. We believe the use of an air strike could jeopardize the humanitarian aid process and put our soldiers in great danger.

We want it abundantly clear that obviously this is a decision that would have to be discussed and agreed to within NATO by unanimous consent, including obviously the acceptance by Canada.

We have said that the only reason we would agree to such use of air strikes would be if our military people were telling us that it was okay to go ahead with it. It would be done only with the acceptance and recommendation of our military officers.

With respect to the second broad issue before us, the implications of Bosnia for our peacekeeping policy generally, it would seem that events in Bosnia provide a clear example of what I have been saying about the way in which peacekeeping is developing.

We must recognize the decisions we make regarding the continuation of our commitment to UN operations in Bosnia must be taken in the context of our considerations of Canada's willingness to remain involved in the broadening range of peacekeeping activities.

My remarks have been intended to raise several questions, questions about the future of peacekeeping generally and questions about the related subject of our future in Bosnia. In the immediate terms, the government must make a decision about the future of our commitment in Bosnia. We want to hear the views of this House on that subject.

As for the longer term issue of Canada's peacekeeping policy generally, we intend to consult with individual Canadians as part of the ongoing review of our foreign and defence policies. The parliamentary committee on foreign affairs will be asked to make suggestions and recommendations on our foreign policies.

I understand that the minister of defence will ask the parliamentary committee on defence and security to do a similar study. I suspect that these two parliamentary committees will hear witnesses, will travel throughout the country and will seek advice and opinions from Canadians on the evolution and revisions of our foreign policy and our defence policy. Therefore I am sure that the parliamentary committees in the general context of peacekeeping operations will certainly want to pursue debate and discussion and give advice to the government.

On the more immediate question of whether or not in March we should stay in Bosnia or leave is one on which we would ask parliamentarians to express their views today because this is a decision the government will have to make in the coming weeks. We will want to make this decision having assessed all the aspects as I indicated in my earlier remarks. We will obviously make a decision after having consulted with our allies. It is important to realize that Canada is playing a very important role through the UN and a very important role through NATO and such a decision cannot be taken in isolation.

I am pleased to move this motion today, seconded by my colleague, the Minister of National Defence, calling for a debate on peacekeeping. In particular, the government seeks the view of this House in two general areas: Canada's future in peacekeeping and our future commitment to Bosnia.

Although we are very much interested in knowing the views of members about Canada's future in peacekeeping, there will be other occasions to talk about it at a later date, but it might be the last occasion to express their views on our future commitment to Bosnia before a decision is made by the government. Therefore I invite members to express openly, candidly and in a very constructive way their advice and suggestions in this regard. We are open to advice. It is a difficult decision and we welcome their input in this debate.

Human Rights January 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I already said to the House in response to a question that we had expressed our views and our concerns to Mexican authorities in this regard. Our ambassador has made representations on behalf of the government. I myself have had discussions with the Mexican ambassador in Ottawa and I also intend to meet her next week. Following those discussions with Mexican authorities we believe that they themselves will be able to make a decision regarding this issue.

I mentioned the fact that for the first time a human rights commission was established through the Mexican legislation and that President Salinas was adamant that every Mexican citizen must receive equal treatment before the law.

Human Rights January 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I was very disappointed when I read the article in the Journal de Montréal of this morning which refers to comments made by Mrs. Marthe Lapierre and which probably prompted this question. I believe on the contrary that the secretary of state paid great attention to the representations made by the delegation returning from Mexico.

Moreover I must point out that that the secretary of state has made public statements which were reported in several newspapers-and I am surprised that the hon. member did not read those-and which confirm my colleague's great concern regarding the respect of human rights. The article published in the Journal de Montréal is absolutely unfair to the secretary of State.

I can assure the hon. member that we on the government side are all listening to those who are willing to make suggestions concerning this issue. I myself met this morning with the head of another delegation, Mr. Ovide Mercredi, and in the next few days, we will state on behalf of the government our position regarding this issue.

Hockey Team Canada January 20th, 1994

The teams are different.

Speech From The Throne January 19th, 1994

I am delighted to see those members applaud. I am glad they sit in this House because their contacts with other members will help them do away with parochialism, widen their horizons and understand that there is a place in Canada, and a good one at that, for Quebecers who want to be part of this country and be respected in it.

Speech From The Throne January 19th, 1994

I welcome the hon. member's response to my comments. He speaks just like all other people in Quebec who resent Quebecers being told they stand to gain from being part of Canada. Each and every time we tell Quebecers there are benefits for them in being part of the Canadian federation, the proponents of Quebec independence always try to delude people into believing that our comments are inappropriate and inconsistent. Mr. Speaker, an enlightened debate on the consequences an independent Quebec would have is certainly in order.

Speech From The Throne January 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to answer the member and to remind him that I am not questioning the legitimacy of the Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament. I congratulated him for being elected and bringing with him fifty or so members. What I said is that, once here, he cannot claim that he won strictly on the strength of his separatist platform. In this respect, I quoted his own speech in which he said that he came here because there was a problem with the economy. People voted for him and for BQ candidates not because of their political message but because of the economic situation. What I do not like is for the Leader of the Opposition to claim, as he just did in his remarks, that the referendum debate has started.

If he wants to have a referendum debate here in this House, he might have the opportunity to do so. But above all, what is really important is for him to have a real dialogue on the ins and outs of such a process, and that is what I urge him to do. Bélanger-Campeau did not conduct such an in depth study. I sat on that commission and I saw how those who appeared in front of it and those who were leading the debate were all of the same mind and going in the same direction.

As a matter of fact, all those supposedly non-aligned people are now joining the ranks of the Parti Quebecois, starting with Mr. Campeau and his cohorts. We now know that all those who then claimed to be non-aligned were indeed biased.

Speech From The Throne January 19th, 1994

The hon. member may think that sounds incredible, but I would like to say, in concluding, that I realize the Leader of the Opposition has certain responsibilities in this House and that he must act accordingly. I admit that during his speech he spoke at length about economic issues, and I agree that when the Leader of the Opposition talks about the economy, when he talks about unemployment and when he talks about social measures, he is doing what he is supposed to do as the Leader of the Opposition, of what is referred to as Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.

However, when he switches to his role as a supporter of Quebec's independence, he is no longer playing his part as leader of the opposition in a Canadian parliamentary system, under our Canadian Constitution. When he supports secession for Quebec, he is going far beyond the normal role of a leader of the opposition, whose aspirations are to become prime minister of the legitimate government, not to become the head of an independent State.

I do not see how he will manage to reconcile these two roles. I know that he takes 100 per cent of the salary of the opposition leader as well as 100 per cent of all the benefits that go with the job. I can tell him that in his speech, today, he earned only 75 per cent of his salary.

In closing, I would like to say that the debate we must have with the Canadian population regarding the future of Quebec is a very important one. During the hearings of the Bélanger-Campeau Commission, we hardly touched on the problems. The Leader of the Opposition referred to a document dealing with duplication. I must remind him, as he knows for sure, that this document was not prepared by the Bélanger-Campeau Commission, it was submitted to it. It was discussed by the Commission, but not commissioned by it. It was commissioned by Mr. Claude Morin for some students and faculties of the school of public administration (ENAP) in Quebec. Clearly, this is not a document you can consider to be thorough.

Speech From The Throne January 19th, 1994

Let me tell you where I stand in relation to the Leader of the Opposition, who speaks with conviction but whose argument in this debate I cannot accept. While he wants to build a new country, I want to improve mine. It appears to me that his approach is as sincere as mine. Like me, he comes from a Quebec rural area; he is from Lac-Saint-Jean, I am from Saint-Pascal-Kamouraska, in the Lower St. Lawrence region. My father was a country doctor, my grandfather a farmer. I studied in French. In this country of mine, I gained many times the trust and respect of a majority of people who do not speak my language, who do not share my culture and whose traditions are not the same as mine.

Although part of the minority, I was able to work and assume responsibilities without any difficulty in this country. The Leader of the Opposition himself once assumed very important responsibilities within a Canadian government. He himself agreed to represent his country, that is, Canada, overseas. He was even called "Excellency" and he did not complain. This is to say that this country is a country of great tolerance, compassion and opportunities for everyone who wants to take advantage of what it has to offer.

The Leader of the Opposition is a clever speaker. Listening to his argument, I have noticed that he knows how to skip details and caricature the facts.

There is no doubt that when he referred to the Meech Lake Accord and to the Charlottetown Agreement, he not once reminded us that the Parti québécois, which is the head office of the Bloc Quebecois, did not want to see the Meech Lake Accord nor the Charlottetown Agreement passed. At no time. I accept that some people may wish that all possible powers be granted to a State, a country separated and independent from Canada, but, please, do not make us believe that the Meech Lake Accord or the Charlottetown Agreement would have satisfied the Bloc Quebecois or the Parti Quebecois.

So do not accuse those who might have been against the Meech Lake Accord of being traitors to Quebec. Many things have been said about the Prime Minister who had reservations and objections regarding certain aspects of the Meech Lake Accord.

Why would it be more serious for the Prime Minister, Mr. Chrétien, who was an ordinary Canadian at the time, to oppose Meech? Why would he be less of a Quebecer than Mr. Parizeau, who was also against the accord?

In fact, it is obvious that we will never agree in this political debate. As the Leader of the Opposition reminded us, for thirty years some people have been desperately trying to convince Quebecers that they would be better off if they separated from the rest of Canada.

Now I want to remind the members across the way, not those sitting at both ends but those in the middle, that during all that time they have been able to benefit from our democratic system, of the Canadian federal system, to express their point of view, to put forward their arguments in the greatest respect of democracy and of individual opinion.

It is an exceptional situation that does not exist in every country in the world. A few moments ago, I heard the Leader of the Opposition make a comment. The only reason I am mentioning this is because he himself talked about it, and I will be careful since I do not want the media to quote me incorrectly. He said that a number of Central European and East European countries had gained their independence, their national sovereignty, so why would it not be Quebec's turn to do the same. He knows full well the answer to that question.

In my capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs, I had the opportunity to discuss with representatives from all those East European and Central European countries at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. How many of those people-whether they be from Croatia, from Georgia or from other regions of Europe that just became independent-how many of those people would give up their newly-gained independence to become citizens of the province of Quebec in Canada? They would be very happy to be Canadians.

The Leader of the Opposition has the habit of always going back to the 1981 referendum to claim that it is our Prime Minister who, at that time, had-and I can quote him since I took notes-"led the assault against Quebec". Why would he have led the assault against Quebec? The hon. member for Saint-Maurice was simply defending Canada. He was not against Quebec, he was for Canada. Today, many people consider it important and useful to defend Canada.

The Leader of the Opposition makes another error when he tells us that Quebecers will finally have the opportunity to vote for the status quo or for sovereignty in the next referendum. He does not recognize the reality of Canadian federalism when he talks about the status quo. Canadian federalism evolves

constantly; it is transformed by decisions made by both federal and provincial governments.

Over the years, the Government of Quebec has obtained a series of powers enabling it to take on full responsibility for areas under its jurisdiction, and in the past, legislative agreements were often used to give Quebec responsibilities which the other provinces did not have. My point is that the reference to rigid federalism is entirely inaccurate, and I think it is unworthy of the Leader of the Opposition, who favours a sound and structured debate, to say that the federalism we want is status quo federalism.

Finally, let me say that when the Leader of the Opposition starts speaking on behalf of Quebec, he is somewhat exaggerating his mandate and his role. He does not speak for Quebec. He may speak for Quebecers but he does not speak for Quebec.

Just now, he was saying that fifty members of the Bloc quebecois were elected because there was a political and economic crisis and it was therefore the Bloc's mission to try and deal with the recession and later on to deal with the political crisis through sovereignty.

I think he should at least realize this: If he and his fifty or so members were elected because of the economic situation and the political situation, he will have to admit there are people in Quebec who voted for him because of the economic situation and who did not vote for him for his political option.

The votes he got, if what he said earlier is still true, came from people who were fed up with Tory mismanagement, wanted to get rid of the former Conservative government and voted for him instead of for us.

However, in the process they did not give him the power to speak up for sovereignty and Quebec's independence. They gave him a mandate to discuss economic questions.

Speech From The Throne January 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, let me first of all congratulate you on your election as Speaker of the House of Commons. Certainly, your experience in Parliament and your qualities of heart and mind contributed to your being chosen by your peers. I am sure that you will assume your responsibilities with great skill and competence and you can certainly count on my support in the performance of your duties.

I would also like to take the opportunity, as is the custom, to congratulate the movers of the motion in reply to the Speech from the Throne. In their own way, they each reflect what Canada is. With their respective knowledge and abilities, they are both a credit to their constituents and have begun a career in the Parliament of Canada in fine style, and I wish to commend them both.

I would also like to take the opportunity to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition, who is not only a friend and a classmate but also a fellow parliamentarian, who in this last federal election had a very important personal success at the polls. Without a doubt, he won part of Quebec opinion over to his party, the Bloc Quebecois, and at any rate his personal success exceeds what we would have wanted to see in Quebec.

In his new responsibilities as a member of the Parliament of Canada, I wish him the wisdom not only to meet his responsibilities to those who sent him here, but also to discharge the role that he must assume as Leader of the Opposition, which goes far beyond his own aspirations and what he would like to do here in the Canadian Parliament. I do not know how he can reconcile this twofold mandate, but I still wish him much success in this task.

I would also like to congratulate the leader of the Reform Party.

I think it is remarkable to see, at the occasion of the federal election, a party which began as a regional party reflecting the legitimate aspirations of the people of a region more or less becoming a national party. I would like to say to its leader at the very beginning of this new Parliament that we used to have representation by three national parties here in the House of Commons that respected the fabric of our institution and of our country, that fought vigorously from time to time for their respective interests but always understood and fought for a bilingual Canada.

I was very pleased to hear the Reform Party leader speaking in French in his first speech in the House of Commons. I think his

party, which in its creation was regional, might have by his leadership the possibility of becoming a true national party. In doing so it would be in the interest of the unity of Canada and the continuity of a strong and united Canada from sea to sea to sea.

Finally, I want to congratulate all those who have been elected in the last election. Our responsibilities as parliamentarians are obviously significant but the most difficult test to pass is sometimes, in fact always, the election test. And everyone here deserves to be congratulated for having passed this test. I for one would like to thank my constituents from Papineau-Saint-Michel who, for the ninth time, have given me their trust and have allowed me to sit again in the Parliament of Canada.