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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was countries.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Edmonton East (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 53% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Middle East February 9th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to contribute to this debate on the potential role for the Canadian forces against Iraq. As Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition critic for veterans affairs and based on my own military experience, I am sensitive to the nature of Canada's military involvement against Iraq.

Canada was built by immigrants from around the globe. Who better than Canada to defend world peace. Canada was one of the first signatories to membership in the United Nations and we are most admired internationally for our peacekeeping role in international conflicts. This peacekeeping role has been assumed notwithstanding significant inadequacies in funding to our military forces.

Our military performed admirably in the first gulf war. Our Canadian Armed Forces are ready, willing and able to serve with distinction and honour once again. Canada is willing to support the United States and Britain in addressing concerns associated with global security. Our neighbour to the south has long been a major defender of world peace and is deserving of our respect and support but first we wish to list the criteria for involvement.

Criteria are required to assist in deciding how Canada should respond to requests for our participation in military operations to establish or maintain peace in the world; that diplomatic efforts to resolve it have failed; that there is multinational support for military action; that there is a workable strategy for military action to resolve the issue; that the plan includes a clear definition of Canada's role; that the role expected of Canada is within our military capacity; and that there is a command and control structure satisfactory to Canada.

Canada has an obligation to support its allies in stopping terrorism by Saddam Hussein. Our support should be military as well as moral and political. The focus of our military actions should be on putting Saddam Hussein's weapons factories out of business and allowing UN inspectors to do their work. As parliamentarians we should make the political decision to support. We should then let the defence department make the recommendations concerning the form and scope of our military support. The reason for supporting military action is our moral obligation and our national interest in stopping terrorism and war on innocent civilians.

We must be mindful that our Canadian forces may once again be exposed to chemical and biological contaminants during the course of the mounting conflict and that such exposure may have far reaching and longstanding effects on their health.

Ask Louise Richard what unknown dangers await in the battles of the gulf region. Louise was a member of the Canadian forces in the first gulf war and today, in her early thirties she is debilitated by multiple health problems believed to be gulf war syndrome. While Louise acknowledges there are necessary risks taken by our military when serving in battle, she is disappointed of the current government's inability to help our veterans with the problems they are now left with.

Many of our gulf war veterans have had to rely on other countries to aid in their treatment. This must not happen again. If we decide to send our men and women to battle, we must also assume the responsibilities associated with their health and well-being when they return home. Ms. Richard who suffered as a veteran of the gulf war still agrees that risks must be taken to stop war's tyrants.

Iraq, defeated in the gulf war, committed crimes against its citizens and others and had to be stopped. Part of the terms of the ceasefire was to accept the monitoring and destruction of its weapons of mass destruction. Clearly, Saddam has not allowed this to happen and in fact has hidden an arsenal of warheads and chemical weapons. In the past, Saddam has used these chemicals of death against citizens of his country and others. The weapons must be destroyed and the capability to produce more be removed or there will forever be a threat to others.

It is very clear to me that an effective inspection for chemical and biological weapons could not be conducted without U.S. observers. I believe that political pride should be of secondary concern to the avoidance of the escalation of international military conflict. The only exception to this view would be where avoidance of international military conflict leads to the fruitless efforts at appeasement so well demonstrated by England's Neville Chamberlain before the commencement of World War II. We soon learned that there is no piece of paper to wave that will stop men like Saddam Hussein and Hitler.

Saddam lives by weight of arms and might. He will only submit to the same.

We have only to review the recent past threat and carnage unleashed by this committed tyrant of war seven short years ago. It was only the combined will of two dozen nations that clipped his military might and sent him home, but it left his chemical and biological threat alive. These two were scheduled for inspection and destruction until Saddam intervened once again. This is the threat that Saddam could build on to the point of regional threat again.

Saddam's legacy of 1991 in the mother of all wars left over 100,000 dead, oilfields set to torch, cities in ruins, his country in tatters. Yet seven years later the world might face more. Canada must do its part to stand and help extinguish this threat to the nations of the world in the name of world peace.

War February 6th, 1998

Mr. Speaker,

Millions of lives lost in war. Soldiers fight, spill blood and lose life. They live or die in honourable service. Our veterans have our grateful thanks and respect beyond mere words. But others who die in camps of hell are victims of war as well. Unlike combatants, they have no swords to defend their souls. How we recall the horrors of war is a measure of our national conscience. We must remember all who die to reflect on the true carnage of war. The lessons to be learned are not only from the field of battle. Lessons too are learned from humanity's dark side. That's why two museums are of such importance. To properly display each face of war. Lest we forget.

Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion December 11th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I rise today in my duty as the loyal opposition critic for veterans affairs. It is an honour for me to address the motion before the House. I begin by thanking the hon. member for Kamloops for moving the motion.

It is essential for us to remember our history. As we have heard so often, those who do not remember their history are doomed to repeat it. As parliamentarians we have a special duty to ensure that the past informs the present and helps to shape the future.

I take this opportunity to celebrate the memory of those Canadians who fought in Spain in the 1930s. They took part in a pivotal part of our history. I believe it is appropriate that we recognize their valour and ensure their memory as part of our history, but I cannot agree with the motion put forward for the simple reason that it would not be appropriate for the members of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion to have the status of Canadian war veterans.

Canada was not a combatant in the Spanish Civil War. Indeed the Liberal government of the day enacted legislation to make participation on either side an offence. With the 20:20 hindsight provided by almost 60 years, we may object to this and feel that it was unfair. However this does not change the fact that these brave men were not members of a Canadian official force.

We need not think too long or too hard to see what a difficult precedent could be set by such an action. At any time there are unfortunately dozens of declared and undeclared wars being fought around the world. More than almost any other people, Canadians recognize the importance of world events in their lives. As a multicultural country, most of us have connections to some part of the world where conflicts occur.

I would not in any way want to encourage Canadians to feel that they have some sanction to take part in the conflicts in places such as Afghanistan, Algeria or Angola, or to promote violence in places like Ireland.

We need only to think back a few years to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Canada has strong and vital communities of people of Serbian and Croatian heritage. We certainly did not sanction any reflection of ethnic tensions here. We value our role as a sanctuary of peace and democracy. We gave generously to charities that sought to help the victims of the war. As always, Canada played a central role in the international effort of the United Nations in trying to prevent conflict and protect civilians in Croatia and Bosnia.

I hope we are more enlightened today than in 1936. Canada is deeply involved in the work of the United Nations peacekeeping forces that have played an important role in avoiding conflict in the Middle east, Cyprus, Croatia and Bosnia to name a few. Even today we insist that those Canadians who want to help should do so through the proper channels of the United Nations. In matters of war we do not freelance.

As the opposition critic for veterans affairs, I am proud to play a role in remembering the sacrifices of the veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces. This past November I participated as a member of the delegation of veterans, young people, military and government representatives that travelled to France and Belgium. We attended the ceremony and remembrance at the Newfoundland Beaumont-Hamel Memorial to commemorate the war dead of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. We also attended the Ceremony of Remembrance at the Vimy Memorial.

The ceremonies were very moving and emotional and I would be proud to participate in efforts to ensure the memory of the Mac-Paps is part of this heritage. Our level of knowledge about the first and second world wars is fairly good. Places and names such as Vimy, Flanders and Dieppe resonate in the Canadian mind. But Canadians played a role in other international conflicts going back as far as the Boer War in South Africa. These efforts are not as prominent in our history books.

The hon. member for Kamloops has provided us with an opportunity to reflect on one of the pivotal points of the 20th century and the part played in it by Canadians. The Spanish Civil War has a special place in the art and literature of the western world as well as the history. Anyone who has read Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls or Orwell's Homage to the Catalonia has an idea of the passion that motivated these Canadians to take part in fighting the forces of fascism.

For many people on the left of the political spectrum, such as the hon. member for Kamloops, there is a romantic element in the principled fight against overwhelming odds. This same spirit prevailed in 1936 when 1,239 men went to Spain with the full knowledge that they were bucking the system and going against the wishes of the government of the day.

What is not so well remembered is what is documented in the second half of Homage to Catalonia where the communists, anarchists and socialists turned on each other and destroyed any chance they had to effectively oppose Franco's nationalists. The dream of international communism was betrayed by Stalin and others. Orwell and many other veterans of the International Brigades felt betrayed and only a few short years later Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy used the techniques they developed in Spain like the divebombing of the Basque town of Guernica in the second world war.

I am sure all members of this House support the important work of our veterans organizations in educating young Canadians about their past and about the horrors of war and about the stories of their parents, grandparents and great grandparents. This is a role that has been played by the veterans of the Mackenzie—Papineau Brigade.

Amendment To The Constitution Of Canada (Newfoundland) December 8th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my point of bringing this up was to indicate that if the figures were being used for the first part to establish the 59% of votes from those various communities suggesting that they voted too, therefore we should also utilize a third column of figures that definitely indicates that only 30% of Pentecostals voted in favour of this.

In other words, if the first two columns are okay, the third column must be okay.

Amendment To The Constitution Of Canada (Newfoundland) December 8th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would like to expand on the statement of the hon. member. He was talking about clarification he could not find or that the committee could not find the clarification for how the Pentecostals voted.

On the sheet that the hon. member was referring to, which was produced by Mark Graesser from the Department of Political Sciences Memorial University of Newfoundland, it is very clear. If we extend over to the third column, it indicates very clearly that in Baie Verte, Exploits, Lewisporte and Windsor-Springdale, the areas mentioned, the Pentecostal votes in those communities were respectively 32%, 32%, 32% and 30% voting in the “yes” column. I think it is of import to point out that the Pentecostals in those communities voted substantially against this resolution and that their “yes” vote was in the neighbourhood of 30%.

As a matter of fact, throughout the province the “yes” vote was calculated to be only 32%.

Amendment To The Constitution Of Canada (Newfoundland) December 8th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the member knows of my concerns and the concerns of others about minority rights. We heard earlier that the francophones had set up, with full rights, a school system managed by the francophones, non-denominational. But in accordance with term 17 in and for the province of Newfoundland, the legislature shall have exclusive authority to make laws in relation to education.

Could the member possibly comment on whether he thinks these rights could be affected by the slippery slope of the general, gradual reduction of rights. Would that have any effect on the francophone school board? Clearly that school—

Amendment To The Constitution Of Canada (Newfoundland) December 8th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I will answer the hon. member's question. If the minority is being particularly entrenched in the constitution in a special fashion, which it was by the Newfoundland legislature, particularly mentioning Pentecostal and to be entrenched forever, the way to remove that entrenchment would be to consult that minority and have that minority's agreement or consent in some form to remove it.

Because it is specifically toward that minority I would think that minority must be approached to remove it.

Amendment To The Constitution Of Canada (Newfoundland) December 8th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member. In 1987 the Premier of Newfoundland made specific requests in the Legislative Assembly of Newfoundland to constitutionally entrench the rights of the Pentecostals forever. He made a permanent gesture for the Pentecostals in the province of Newfoundland.

Would the member comment on his impression of what a permanent constitutional entrenchment would be and whether the permanent constitutional entrenchment of a minority as in the case of the Pentecostals should be extinguished by the majority?

Amendment To The Constitution Of Canada (Newfoundland) December 8th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite mentioned the unanimity of the voting of the legislators. I refer to newspaper articles of the time where discussions were reported that the legislators were mentioning that some would be voting no in the referendum. The comment was that after the referendum they would feel compelled to vote in the legislature the will of the voters. This indeed happened.

It was reported in Hansard of that legislature that some members made speeches and talked to the effect that they had indeed voted no, but now they felt compelled to vote yes. Those are the individuals who are on record. I suggest there were probably more. That is the reason for the unanimity. Would the member possibly explain this?

Amendment To The Constitution Of Canada (Newfoundland) December 8th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to comment. I certainly believe, as does everybody, that Newfoundland conducts affairs democratically. Two referendums have been held, one with a vote of 73%. That is a powerful message being passed along through.

I want to refer the hon. member to another democratic instance in 1987. That is when the premier of Newfoundland the legislative assembly of Newfoundland made permanent, forever, entrenched rights of Pentecostals.

I want to know how the member responds to this, how he feels about something that is specifically entrenched, as Premier Peckford's idea was, how this could now be affected when obviously from polls and polling only 30% of Pentecostals agree with changing their rights.