Mr. Nelson A. Riis (Kamloops-Shuswap):
Mr. Speaker, I suppose it is fitting that on the day Parliament rises for the Christmas break we have a discussion on designating December 26 as International Peace and Goodwill Day.
This raises a number of questions for me. For many years in this House I have listened to my good friend and colleague, the Hon. Member for New Westminster-Coquitlam (Ms. Jewett), make many speeches to the effect, I suppose, of setting aside every day for international peace and goodwill.
I am not questioning the intentions of the Hon. Member who submitted this idea, but to set aside one day of the year to focus our attention on international peace and goodwill would be to miss a real opportunity. I think Canadians all believe that Canada has a unique role to play in international peace and goodwill.
Canada is seen by many nations as being a non-aggressor, a nation with no imperialistic tendencies. We have been known for some years for our international peace-keeping forces, for much good works in development, and for playing a role in international peace conferences and promoting the peace movement internationally as well as at home. I would much rather have the Government propose to target every day for international peace and goodwill and take a number of steps toward achieving the goals implicit in that designation.
We just witnessed the signing of a major treaty between the two superpowers, which was a major step toward arms reduction. Yet, the Government continues its policy of testing the cruise missile. It is very clear that we must now take steps to remove ourselves from the testing of this deadly first-strike weapon.
As a matter of fact, the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Clark) made the commitment to the people of Canada that once the treaty was signed and a step toward
Peace and Goodwill Day
arms reduction took place Canada would extract itself from this testing program. Of course, such has not been the case.
The Hon. Member for New Westminster-Coquitlam has, on a number of occasions, urged the Secretary of State for External Affairs to ensure that Canada take a much more significant role in encouraging the peace process in Central America. On many occasions she has urged the Minister to make contact with the United States administration and encourage them to back off in their support for dictatorial regimes in Nicaragua and other regions of the world. Other than lip service, we have not seen very much.
Suggestions were made, again by the Hon. Member for New Westminster-Coquitlam, that the Government now take a leadership role in encouraging the superpowers to continue the process of arms reduction. Again, such has not been the case.
It is, therefore, with some frustration that I speak to this private Member's Bill. I respect the motive of the Hon. Member in wanting to designate December 26 as International Peace and Goodwill Day rather than Boxing Day. I applaud and support the general intention. However, I would much rather see the Hon. Member take the initiative to urge the Government which he represents to take meaningful steps toward international peace and goodwill. I have mentioned only three initiatives which could be taken. There are many others.
I appreciate the motive of the hon. back-bencher of the Government, but it would be much more appropriate to expand this concept to ensure that Canada plays a major leadership role in moving the world toward more peace and goodwill, especially in terms of the reduction of the arms buildup.
Therefore, my feelings are rather mixed. I support the intention, but I do not believe that if we set aside December 26 as International Peace and Goodwill Day we will have made a major step forward. I believe that would tend to divert attention from the real and meaningful initiatives which the Government of Canada should be taking with regard to international peace and goodwill.
Subtopic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-BILLS INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND GOODWILL DAY MEASURE TO ENACT