Mr. Speaker, sometimes we hear all kinds of things in the House. From time to time, we have to show some humility and move forward to debate a matter as important as this one. This is an important subject for us and for many of our constituents.
In recent weeks, I have spent time with a number of World War II veterans, including those who took part in the Normandy landing. One of them honoured us with his presence in the House a few weeks ago.
When these soldiers go to war, they do not want to kill anyone. The only thing they think about is saving lives and ensuring that the country they are fighting for, whether their own or an allied country, can live in peace. It is not true that Canada is not a pacifist country. That is absolutely and utterly false. It is insulting to hear such words. When soldiers go to war, they do not go to start a war; they go to end a war, to live in peace and to secure democracy in a modern and prosperous country. Canada is a modern and prosperous society.
When our soldiers went on a peacekeeping mission in Cypress or Sarajevo and had to engage in combat, they did so in order to protect themselves and return home after completing their mission. These soldiers leave on a mission. They are not always aware of the collateral damage of their battle or their fight, and that is probably what is most perverse about cluster munitions. When soldiers leave the battlefield, what is left behind? That is what we have to examine. We have to look at that more than the Oslo convention or the bill. We have to know what the collateral damage is. Why do we have to ensure that the weapons we use cause the least amount of collateral damage? It is difficult because at that point, soldiers are on the front line, in an industry of war.
There was Agent Orange in Vietnam, and then everything that happened with the attacks in Iraq. There was collateral damage. I am talking about nuclear enrichment and weapons. They always create collateral damage. Canada is a country that promotes peace. It has often been involved in talks and was even a leader, notably with Princess Diana, when it came to establishing specific rules to combat the use of landmines. Despite all those efforts, our soldiers and the local population in combat zones are often victims of collateral damage.
I will say it again: that is the worst part of all of this. That is what we need to address, instead of trying to pass a bill that contradicts itself. According to clause 11, our soldiers could come into contact with these weapons, which are prohibited under clause 6. That is both absurd and worrisome. When our soldiers are engaged in combat alongside our allies, no matter who they are—most times it is the Americans—they obey their orders. On the ground, soldiers must obey any orders that are given. Soldiers want to be sure that at the end of the mission, there is peace. It does not matter where on the planet they are.
It is important to point out that Canada is a leader and always has been. Just think about Lester B. Pearson's peace missions. He even won a Nobel Peace Prize for his involvement. It is important to remember that. That is leadership.
It is important to say that because leadership must be perpetuated. We must perpetuate it. In spite of everything, we live in quite a prosperous country. There may be controversies, and we may debate economic development issues, for example, and hold contradictory opinions because we do not agree with each other. However, when the Canadian Armed Forces go into combat or on a mission, their purpose is more to save than to destroy.
I was astounded by one figure I heard: global stockpiles of these weapons amount to approximately four billion bomblets. Four billion. One-quarter of those bombs are held by the Americans, with whom we often go on peacekeeping or combat missions, and there will be other similar missions. Let us look at what is going on in Syria and Africa. Who knows when we will be called upon to take part in a future mission? Once again, our soldiers will be in contact with these weapons. It is therefore somewhat meaningless for a bill to include one clause that contradicts another. I do not understand that based on what little law I studied. A bill must be completely harmonious. However, this one contradicts itself.
As regards collateral damage, 22 members of the Canadian Armed Forces were killed in 2006 and 112 were seriously wounded in Afghanistan by these kinds of weapons, either cluster munitions or anti-personnel mines.