Mr. Speaker, I want to also join colleagues who a few minutes ago remarked on the very high level of debate in this place with regard to this motion.
Yes, I have been here for some time and I want to corroborate that and say I am equally very impressed by the quality and the contribution of members on all sides of this House. In fact, it is very impressive to hear some of the new members of this place who are making very thoughtful contributions to an issue that is not an easy one.
I do not want to dwell on the history of all of this. Today, the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other members of this place have talked about how important peacekeeping and now what we call peacemaking has been for Canada.
It is truly a hallmark of our country. It is related directly to the contribution of a great Canadian who was our Minister of Foreign Affairs and went on to become a Prime Minister of this country. It is something that to members and citizens of this country is a matter of pride that we all share in that accomplishment and to the fact that this role that Canada has played has enabled our country to take an important place in international affairs.
Mr. Speaker, Canada plays a very important role in several international forums. It is something that defines us as a nation. Canada is a member of the Commonwealth, the Francophonie, the Organization of American States. Our membership in the OAS is quite significant in terms of our participation in efforts to resolve the Haitian conflict. Our involvement in all these forums reflects our view of the world and the role we hope to play in it.
Today's resolution is about Bosnia. I would like to briefly state our party's position on the main issues we are facing at this time, not only because we will have to make a decision regarding our participation as early as March 31, but also within the wider context proposed by the government.
Generally, there have been three issues raised with regard to our participation in peacekeeping, now peacemaking, efforts not only in Bosnia but around the world. The first one is the risk factor which has become greater than we have previously known it to be.
The second issue is whether or not we are doing our fair share. That has been raised many times today in this House. The third one is whether we can afford to continue to do it.
On the risk question, let me offer a quote by a prominent Canadian, General MacKenzie, who was the first person to go into this theatre for Canada leading our efforts there. He was asked, before a committee, whether Canada should restrict itself to chapter 6 traditional peacekeeping only. His answer was quite elegant. He said: "You could do that, sir, but as a professional soldier I would be mightily embarrassed if you did".
The context of that reply is a view that I share. When we started with peacekeeping we experienced great birth pains through that period. We tend to forget them, but it was also a very high risk proposal back then. However, we persisted and Canada led the way. We forged a place for ourselves and we developed a concept that went on to serve the world. I say that because my sense is that today peacemaking is also experiencing its birth pains.
Yes, the risk may be different and greater, but, as General MacKenzie has said, if it is our commitment and our destiny to take this on and to forge that concept, then we must accept the fact that the risk is there and we as a country are willing to meet it.
In fact, when we look at Bosnia it is important to appreciate that we have accomplished a lot. Yes, I join with other members in this place in speaking about the contribution of all the men and women who have been active in that theatre. Some of them have been from my home riding.
Our previous Secretary of State for External Affairs, Barbara McDougall, wrote an article recently for the Globe and Mail on what this contribution has been about. I take from her comments some of the things that we should recognize and some of the successes we have had that have been quite significant. ``The strategic objective of preventing the spillover of hostilities into other regions, such as Kosovo, has so far been achieved''.
Second, "UN peacekeepers, including Canadians, have helped hold together an uneasy truce between Serbs and Croats in the disputed areas of Croatia". I do not want to seem to diminish the risk in what is happening there, but we have been fairly successful.
Third and most important, "lives are being saved in the humanitarian effort".
Here are three areas of real successes for us in this effort. I think we need to keep a perspective these.
As we move on to this risk that is truly greater, I think we will want to work toward continuing the efforts that others have started.
There are very few countries in the world that can take credit for developing the command, control and supply solutions to inherent problems of operating a multinational mission in the field such as multiple languages, cultural differences and different command structures.
If there are very few countries in the world Canada is among those few. For that reason I would like to think that we will continue in that area.
In a document, "Agenda for Peace", the Secretary General laid out the issues and proposed possible solutions.
The Secretary General's "Agenda for Peace" draws a picture and proposes ways to intervene: preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping, the establishment of conditions favourable to a durable peace.
In the document, "Agenda for Peace", put forward by the Secretary General of the United Nations, there was also some discussion about a standby force that the United Nations could put together. In this same document, it is not held as being one of the solutions that they would like to contemplate.
After the experience in Bosnia, I would think that maybe we would want to revise that position. My party believes that, if anything, we would want to think very carefully about our experience there and whether or not the United Nations, as it contemplates its 50th anniversary, would want to revisit this matter and consider it very seriously.
We also know from our experiences that what we will need is a very strong commitment to multilateralism. The experience of other countries in Somalia, for example, seems to indicate that there is some way to go. I am thinking in particular of our American friends who have had some difficulty in making and adapting to this new context of multilateralism-and we know that from our experiences in the gulf war-that is a reflection of what has happened over the last few years with the decline of the superpowers and the change in the structure around the world. That challenge is also very relevant to peacekeeping.
We believe the United Nations should contemplate the reforms that are going to be important in this area. In fact there are about eight reforms. Let me first stress that these reforms happen around the UN as a cardinal instrument in this new world order that we hear so much about.
We must rationalize UN operations and rethink its role in promoting peace and security.
Our party thinks that the United Nations must implement a number of changes. First, create a permanent strategic headquarters to enhance the management, planning and operational capacity of the UN. Second, improve its preventive diplomacy capacity and undertake an independent policy analysis of volatile situations. Third, obtain from the member states formal commitments to put at the disposal of the UN troops ready to intervene if necessary, just like Canada does. Fourth, set up a training program aimed at high-level officers who will be commanding the troops in complex, difficult and dangerous situations. Fifth, introduce a code of conduct and common method of operation for all soldiers serving under the UN flag. Sixth, rationalize UN institutions wherever possible to streamline them and make them more efficient, more concentrated, more responsible and more attuned to needs. Seventh, secure a commitment from member states to pay the full amount owing to the UN on time. And eighth, enforce more stringently the provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and impose harsher sanctions on violators.
Mr. Speaker, I see you signalling to me that my 10 minutes are up. Very quickly, in conclusion there was a second point I wanted to comment on, namely whether Canada was paying its share. Very briefly, I would just like to make the following comment.
On the old issue of fair share, it is worth reflecting just a second in relation to our contribution to NATO where traditionally we have not been the highest contributor. However, if we weigh that against our contribution to peacekeeping, Canadians may find a perspective, as is the case on the world scene with other countries, a pretty fair contribution by Canada to this effort.
On the issue of affording it, we have to be very creative in how we deal with this and be mindful of it. The 10 per cent share may be something we would want to reflect on, but I would certainly encourage the government, the minister and this Parliament to support our efforts there.
I have no simple answers on whether we should continue or not, but our party is inclined to continue our support as long as the international community is also living up to its commitment. We could then set reasonable objectives to be met in regard to what our contribution is, when and how we should be there and when we should be pulling out.