January 25, 1994


Paul Crête

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup)

Mr. Speaker, I enter this debate as the member for a riding and a region represented by people named Côté, D'Amour, Babin, Dumas, Gagnon, Grand'maison, Laliberté, Landry, Morel, Pelletier and Paré in the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia.

Soldiers from the riding of Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup and Rimouski-Témiscouata are in Bosnia on a voluntary basis, with the Fusiliers du Saint-Laurent, of the Rivière-du-Loup and Rimouski garrison.

The questions people ask themselves, especially the relatives and friends of the soldiers who represent Canada in this very complex international operation are: is the safety of our troops ensured? Is their role well-defined? When will they come back? In short, is it worth it?

The question regarding the safety of our troops is an obvious one, especially since the operation in the former Yugoslavia is totally different from the previous ones in which the Canadian Armed Forces were involved.

Indeed, maintaining peace like we did in Cyprus and like we are now doing in Croatia is very different from escorting humanitarian aid convoys and protecting Muslim areas, as is the case in Bosnia. Those are totally different operations.

Moreover, the voluntary participation of militia members raises the issue of the role of the regular force and the militia in the context of international operations.

In that regard, the government should take a close look at the recommendations made in 1993 by the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs.

This committee recommended providing our military with the kind of training that would prepare them for their role in international missions, by creating reserve units for logistics, transport and communications, that would be used for peacekeeping operations rather than strictly war-time operations.

The issue of the security of our troops cannot be dissociated from the transparency and relevance of the mission with which they are entrusted. I believe that we have here the reason for the uncertainty among Quebecers and Canadians about the effectiveness of our operations in Bosnia. Canadian diplomacy which, in the past, has been instrumental in developing the image of Canada as a peacekeeper in the international community, would do well to learn from the past and return to a genuine defence of the cause of peace.

I believe the mission in Bosnia should continue until negotiations are able to reach a settlement. However, it is important for our operations to contribute directly to resolving the crisis and above all to avoid perpetuating the current imbroglio.

I wish to point out that the people in my riding support the Canadian government's involvement in international missions if there is evidence such operations are necessary, our troops are adequately prepared and our diplomatic efforts are effective, because the diplomatic front is also very important.

The people in my riding, and especially the families of the soldiers involved, hope there will be no more of the uncertainty that arose as a result of the Prime Minister's comments that it might be appropriate to withdraw Canadian troops, comments he made in public on his last trip to Europe. Any statements on the subject should not be the kind of improvised remarks that raise doubts about the relevance of operations and their duration.

In the broader perspective of the current debate on our policy on peacekeeping operations, I would favour setting up a multinational force, with Canada contributing more specifically to the mission logistics, an area in which we have developed expertise and which would give us a defensive rather than an offensive mandate.

I believe it would also be appropriate to table regularly a clear and detailed report on our participation in international missions.

Finally, by giving our troops better instruction in the history, culture and traditions of the countries where they will be sent on peacekeeping operations, we can avoid situations of the kind we experienced in Somalia and also in the former Yugoslavia, where not knowing the customs of the country is a major source of friction and undermines the effectiveness of the operations of our troops.

I want to thank you for your attention, and I would like to take this opportunity to commend those members of my riding who have volunteered to help resolve a crisis situation that requires patience, tact, a profound sense of history and, we might as well admit it, a little luck.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

Harold Culbert


Mr. Harold Culbert (Carleton-Charlotte)

Mr. Speaker, I extend my very best wishes as you confront the many challenges ahead in this 35th Parliament of Canada. I offer my personal congratulations on your election and appointment as Deputy Speaker.

I also extend my warmest appreciation to the many helpful members and staff of the House who provided assistance to me and my staff as we prepared to represent the constituents of my riding of Carleton-Charlotte. I am very proud to stand here today as their elected representative. I am humbled to have been honoured with their trust. It is with great enthusiasm that I look forward to working together with my colleagues in the House of Commons as we attempt to build a better tomorrow for all Canadians.

On behalf of the constituents of Carleton-Charlotte I wish to recognize the many Canadian veterans for their distinguished service. There are many veterans and active duty servicemen and women from the Carleton-Charlotte riding who have served our nation with pride. These men and women have been instrumental in establishing our leadership role in United Nations peacekeeping efforts. It would be negligent and irresponsible for us to turn our backs quickly on these achievements and the fact that our servicemen and women continue to work to maintain this leadership role made possible by our distinguished veterans.

After careful consideration of the many occasions where Canadian servicemen and women have fulfilled their peacekeeping obligations, I encourage my colleagues to recognize the many international successes they have achieved. They have successfully promoted international democracy while being recognized around the world as partners in peace.

Canada is a peaceful nation which commonly provides humanitarian aid. Let us not lose sight of this priority. We may have to review our role with the United Nations. We may have to review concerns with our Canadian defence and foreign policies, but I hope we will continue to respond to the needs of troubled nations for many years to come.

I respectfully request that my hon. colleagues give due priority to the most important concern of the day, and that is the safety and security of Canadian peacekeepers. When we are confronted with a threat to their security we must immediately protect Canadian servicemen and women and we must assure their families of their safe return.

This is certainly not the first time, and I sincerely doubt it will be the last time, there has been a threat to the security of Canadian peacekeepers abroad. Although I would like to encourage the House to give due consideration to the defence and peacekeeping policies, I believe we must first protect those who made sacrifices for us all.

Recent events in the former Yugoslavia have clearly demonstrated the importance of ensuring the protection and security of Canadian peacekeepers when considering future commitments. As many nations forge ahead in search of peace and democracy economic repression often causes hardships which require humanitarian aid. We must address these needs of our global neighbours with a sense of steward-like responsibility.

As a partner in the effort to bring peace and democracy to the citizens of Bosnia-Hercegovina we must give consideration to this tragedy by continuing to provide humanitarian aid to those in need, not by professing to be an expert on this international crisis but by assuming a responsibility for our servicemen and women and for our role on the international stage as partners in peace.

While protecting Canadian interests we must also consider the interests of the citizens of the former Yugoslavia who are without security, electricity, food and water. If there remains a possibility of being a partner in this effort under more secure conditions, then we must continue on.

We have the good fortune of being protected by the Canadian Armed Forces, one of the most respected and well-known peacekeeping forces in the world. We should recognize this good fortune by giving proper consideration to the advice of our military leaders. Perhaps it is time we stood behind those who stand behind us. We should work with our military leaders to facilitate the protection of the Canadian peacekeepers so that

they maintain our international responsibility and may complete their duties as assigned to them by the United Nations.

The United Nations is an organization which contributes greatly to the development of the global community. We must continue to be a full partner within the organization and continue to maintain a positive relationship with our international neighbours.

We must also continue to fulfil our leadership role in promoting the importance of the United Nations to the global community. We must encourage the United Nations to fulfil its responsibility to the international community and continue to promote peace and democracy while delivering aid to those in need.

We can be proud of our historic relationship with our United Nations partners. If we intend to maintain our leadership role with the United Nations we must continue to uphold our peacekeeping and humanitarian responsibilities. We cannot expect the United Nations to do its part unless we are prepared to do ours.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

John Richardson


Mr. John Richardson (Perth-Wellington-Waterloo)

Mr. Speaker, may I take this opportunity to congratulate you in your appointment to such a prestigious position. At your convenience would you please pass on my congratulations to the Speaker on his election to his position.

It is a pleasure for me to speak to the debate on our participation in the Bosnia-Croatia situation and pay tribute to our fine soldiers who are serving in the UN and the role they play.

Since 1949 our Canadian soldiers have acquitted themselves well at each and every opportunity where they have been asked to serve their country through the United Nations. It is my pleasure to hear so many members speak so highly of the quality of the Canadian soldiers who serve with valour and honour.

Tonight we discuss and give legitimacy to our soldiers being in Bosnia-Hercegovina as part of the UN operations. Canadians did not have the opportunity to debate their soldiers being sent abroad potentially into harms way. For that I am pleased tonight to see that some legitimacy is now being given to them through the Government of Canada in this open debate.

Two or three things have been brought forward in the debate. Most Canadians have taken great pride vicariously in the activities of our UN operations since their inception. The Canadians have been received warmly and fairly because of their even-handed approach to their duties in the UN.

I have some concerns about Canadians serving in the UN and each operation and each after action report highlights the shortcomings of the United Nations.

The Security Council is quick to identify the need and requests volunteers. The operator is the Secretary-General for all operations of this type. When on UN operations or when decisions have to be made backtracking through the network to get to the Secretary-General is often necessary. It is often arduous and tedious to get a decision on what should take place, whether it is in the Golan Heights, the Sinai, in Katanga or whether it is now in Yugoslavia. We have seen two generals resign over the very same thing: the command and control of the operation.

I would like to take a moment this evening to recommend that our government look to this as a future opportunity for our defence forces, whether they are sailors, soldiers or airmen that they will know they are going in on an operation that has a task force established at UN headquarters to plan the operation and the logistics on a permanent basis. That type of planning would put our soldiers at risk but would ensure that there is a chain of command, a logistic channel and that it is in place before the operation takes place. The present system of an ad hoc chain of command and logistic organization is not good enough.

We have heard time and time again in the debate today whether we should be involved in the UN operations. We can participate fairly if the United Nations at the insistence of Canada establishes a permanent planning or task force headquarters as part of the Secretary-General's office.

Presently we have Major General Maurice Baril as an advisor. That is certainly not enough liaison. Other countries have advisors. However, if we are going to be there, there must be a method of setting up standard operating procedures, methods of logistic support and command and control. I think our soldiers would feel much more comfortable. Canadians would feel much more comfortable that we were sending our troops into an organization that is established to handle them in an operational theatre and could give direct and quick response to a situation in that theatre.

We know the UN lacks the human and technical resources at the moment. I hope our government will see fit in its future planning to recommend the establishment of such a task force and an operational headquarters to oversee such tasks as we have undertaken in Bosnia, certainly the humanitarian effort and the peacekeeping operation in Croatia.

This task force would have a permanent operational staff to establish some form of standing operational procedures, both in the area of communications and operating techniques or tactics.

Such an international agency designed by the UN and under the control of the UN would go far to improve the facilitation and execution of the task of our soldiers and our country in undertaking the assignment by the UN.

I will sum up by stating how proud I am of our Canadian troops. I am pleased to see how well they participated in the Gulf War, our sailors, soldiers and airmen.

In the future I can see that as a major task for the Canadian forces as we extricate ourselves from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and possibly NORAD and focus our resources on UN operations.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

David Berger


Mr. David Berger (Saint-Henri-Westmount)

Mr. Speaker, before getting into the subject of the debate, I would like, in this first speech in this Parliament, to thank the voters of Saint-Henri-Westmount for their confidence.

With the enormous challenges facing Canada and the world, I am very privileged once again to represent Saint-Henri-Westmount in this House of Commons.

The question we ask ourselves today is whether Canadian soldiers should remain in Bosnia. Ultimately, this decision must be made by the government, after consulting our allies.

To begin, I would like to mention that many reservists from several regiments in my riding have served in Bosnia and many are still there. These soldiers belong to the Royal Montreal Regiment and the Maisonneuve Regiment, among others. I wish to point out their courage and their desire to serve the cause of peace and I hope that they return safe and sound from their mission.

Earlier today, the Minister of Foreign Affairs told us about some of the factors that the government will consider in making its decision.

I believe that in the final analysis, there are good reasons for continuing our humanitarian mission. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Red Cross have both confirmed that aid is arriving in spite of the difficulties. People who would have died without protection and international aid are still alive today.

The international effort has also successfully prevented the conflict from spilling over into the neighbouring republics of Macedonia and Kosovo. Canada also has a long-term commitment to peacekeeping and international institutions like the United Nations.

We contributed, we tried to contribute to European security when we took part in two world wars, in NATO and in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Since Canada's decision will probably influence other countries, we must ask ourselves if the international community has a role to play in Bosnia. I believe so, Mr. Speaker, for the reasons I just mentioned.

Future peacekeeping missions will probably experience problems similar to those in Bosnia. Since Canadians have played a leading role in developing peacekeeping, we surely have a role in finding solutions for these problems.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs said that one of the questions we must address is whether the danger to our troops outweighs the benefits of the mission. Like all Canadians and all members of this House, I would not want our troops to be exposed to needless risks and certainly they need to be able to defend themselves.

There is uncertainty about the rules of engagement and command and control. But I would like to suggest that these are questions that should be debated in perhaps a more expert forum than on the floor of the House, in committee. The ultimate decision as to when the risks or the dangers outweigh the benefits must be left to the government and the military.

Another important question we must address is whether there is a reasonable prospect for progress in the peace process as the minister mentioned. As I have said, one of the reasons for remaining in Bosnia is our desire to contribute to European security. I think Canadians would insist that there be a clear link between our role as peacekeepers and a place at the table. In fact Canada has had problems in getting the Europeans to the table. I understand it has been difficult even getting information about what is discussed at Geneva, let alone getting some input.

The House of Commons and the government should insist that our military role be accompanied by a diplomatic one. The international community has made serious mistakes in dealing with the crisis in the former Yugoslavia. One such mistake was the recognition of Croatia without considering the position of its Serbian minority which made up anywhere from 12 to 20 per cent of the population. While a ceasefire has been established in Croatia the threat of renewed war looms large.

Bosnia also was an ethnically heterogeneous republic. Although some Bosnians lived in ethnically distinct areas, most did not. History and intermarriage had created an ethnic jigsaw puzzle. The Europeans, followed by the international community at large, also recognized Bosnian independence without considering the objections of its Serbian minority. Similarly, various attempts to broker peace between the parties have

revealed serious shortcomings. The Vance-Owen plan was criticized for rewarding Serbian aggression.

The Washington agreement of May of last year which provided for so-called safe areas or enclaves was widely criticized in the western press for accepting ethnic cleansing and herding Muslims into small areas in which living conditions are horrible. The Owen-Stoltenberg plan to divide Bosnia into three ethnically pure states has also been widely criticized.

I spoke yesterday with the former Yugoslav ambassador to Canada, Goran Kapetanovic. He is a Bosnian Muslim and today a refugee in Canada, a fellow with the Canadian Centre for Global Security here in Ottawa. He believes that international forces will not accomplish much in the absence of a viable plan or framework for peace. He believes the major drawbacks to solutions being negotiated at Geneva are that they accept the idea of ethnic purity and are partial solutions which do not address the problem that I referred to earlier of Croatia. All of the former Yugoslavia has to be dealt with in a settlement.

The former ambassador asks how at the beginning of the 21st century the international community can accept introducing apartheid to Europe. What precedents would we be setting for future conflicts and for existing conflicts in eastern Europe? He believes that as a prerequisite to peace the UN Security Council must decide the pre-conditions of a viable peace. By way of example he suggests the following principles: that nothing can be achieved by violence; that refugees should be able to return to their homes; that people should be able to move freely and meet their family on one side or the other of borders, in essence that minority rights should be secured.

These are principles which are upheld or which are spoken about pretty well every day of the week in the United Nations. It seems to make good sense to me that they form the basis of any peace proposal.

I remarked earlier that Canadians see a clear link between their role as peacekeepers and a place at the diplomatic table. I urge the government to take up the challenge of assuming a greater role in seeking a negotiated solution to the conflict. As a successful multicultural country with a constitution that contains elaborate guarantees for minority rights, we Canadians have much to contribute.

The government is launching a foreign policy review. In the context of that review I believe that the government should convene a meeting bringing together the best minds in the country to develop proposals to end the conflict.

The world community needs leadership. Indeed it is crying for leadership. Let Canada provide that leadership.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

John English


Mr. John English (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs)

Mr. Speaker, I represent the constituency of Kitchener, an urban southwestern Ontario riding that possesses, like Canada itself, a diversity of industry and people.

Like so many constituencies in this country it has been profoundly affected by events in Bosnia, the former Yugoslavia, today and was affected also in the past. In the summer of 1914 a shot was fired in Sarajevo and World War I began. Two years later in 1916 Berlin, Ontario, which was called Canada's German capital became Kitchener and Kitchener changed profoundly after that date. After 1945 Kitchener riding received thousands of immigrants and refugees from what was Yugoslavia.

I take these examples to illustrate that nearly all Canadians were affected by those two terrible wars and those two terrible wars were concentrated in the area where we are looking at such carnage today.

I think everyone in Canada took the same lesson from World War I or World War II and that was the notion that Canada's foreign and defence policy should have as its fundamental principle the notion that its national interest was best served by the construction of an international order based on law and strong multilateral institutions.

From that commitment came Canada's major contribution to the world after 1945. This period which is known as Canada's golden age of diplomacy was marked by a strong Canadian commitment to the United Nations, and a belief that the cold war had created a special middle power role for Canada. Of course the best example of this was the role of Lester Pearson in the Suez crisis of 1956.

It is often said that Pearson invented peacekeeping in 1956 but I think it is more properly said that he codified the procedures of peacemaking. The concept was simple and has been extraordinarily useful not simply for Canada and the United Nations but for the interests of world security.

It was held by Pearson at that point that the UN should use the armed forces of nations that were not major powers and those nations should supervise peace settlements. Furthermore such supervision should be carried out with the consent of and through continuous negotiations with the parties in the dispute. This was a central character of peacemaking as it was defined in 1956-1957.

In fact Pearson was disappointed with the outcome of the negotiations in 1956 because there were limits on what Israel

and Egypt would accept. He had wanted more carefully defined terms and conditions but he was unable to convince others, including the Secretary General at the time, that these arguments had validity.

Ten years later, however, in 1967 we saw the validity of his arguments when the United Nations emergency force was forced to withdraw when the agreement made among Egypt, Israel and the United Nations did not hold.

Canadians at the time who would express great pride in our peacemaking participation and tradition were bitterly disappointed and many then began to speak about Canada no longer being the helpful fixer, no longer going out and serving in peacekeeping missions.

After the early successes, as in the Middle East, there had been a series of failures. It was not simply the United Nations emergency force in 1967 but also failures in Congo and to some extent a failure in Cyprus. We hear such sentiments today in similar circumstances and we need to remind ourselves that we faced such challenges to our peacekeeping commitment before.

In the Saturday edition of the Kitchener-Waterloo Record Pam Goebel, a Kitchener native and a reserve army captain who had recently returned from Bosnia, described our work in these terms: ``It is a waste of soldiers' lives, a waste of taxpayers' money. Basically the soldiers feel they are keeping someone alive today so they can be killed tomorrow''.

Captain Goebel's reaction is understandable and seems to be shared by many other Canadians. Bosnia has been an enormous tragedy not only for its own people but also for the United Nations, for NATO, and for us.

What happened with the end of the cold war is that the original concept of peacekeeping has been stretched far beyond its original concept and limits. First, the number of operations is so much larger than it was before. In fact, there has been, as we heard earlier today, as many UN peacekeeping operations after 1989 than in the previous 43 years of the United Nations. Most of these have been successful, a few have not.

Second, it has become clearer, as preceding members have suggested, that the United Nations is unable to meet the demands either physically, conceptually or financially.

Third, and I think this is Canada's major difficulty with the new kind of peacekeeping, peacekeeping is no longer a middle power phenomenon. It is forgotten that in 1956 the peacekeepers who wanted to be there were the British and the French, who after all were the invading armies. It was Pearson's job to tell the British and the French that peacekeeping was not a job for great powers or for super powers, it had to be a job for middle powers. That definition held for many years. But after 1989 and the end of the tensions of the cold war, suddenly the question has to be asked: why are the great powers not there? Britain and France are, but of course Russia and the United States remain outside.

All of these factors deeply influence our position in peacekeeping operations, but I do not think they change the basic precepts. We have participated in every peacekeeping operation but I do not think we can do so in the future. Our resources are limited, the missions are too many.

As we have heard earlier from several speakers, the weakness of the existing UN structure suggests that it would be better for Canada to concentrate on efforts at preventive diplomacy rather than on peacekeeping itself. In the last few years I think it is fair to say that peacekeeping has dominated too much of our foreign policy agenda.

Our skills and knowledge in this country are not simply military. Lester Pearson, after all, the father of peacekeeping, was a poor soldier but an outstanding diplomat.

We should keep in mind that in Bosnia the mistakes that have been made were not made in Sarajevo but rather in New York and Washington and other European capitals.

Canada at one time last year accounted for approximately 10 per cent of the world's peacekeepers, even though our UN assessment was roughly 3 per cent. The United States, whose assessment is 25 per cent, arguably too high, had no soldiers participating under UN command in peacekeeping operations.

We should impress upon the Americans the importance of accepting their responsibilities. It is not enough to issue idle threats of air strikes and pull back from the kinds of commitments to multilateralism that we heard the United States talking about two or three years ago. Indeed there are troubling signs in the United States that recent international events are leading to a resurgence of unilateralism and even isolationalism. That would be a tragedy for the world and especially, I think, for Canada.

What then should we consider doing about Bosnia? We should recognize, above all, that we must do everything possible, politically and diplomatically, to bring an end to this terrible war. However we should not become embittered with the United Nations or relax our involvement with it.

I would argue, as several other speakers have, that we should in fact devote more effort to strengthening that institution. It is not so much the United Nations that has failed but rather the European nations who failed to take responsibility as a regional entity with an event that has such terrible consequences in their own back yard.

I also think that we should, as much as possible, try to make peacekeeping less of a national affair where individual military officers, whether Italian, Canadian or French, are identified as national officers rather than officers serving under the UN command. I think the previous government responded too

quickly to the glamour of peacekeeping and did not recognize the dangers that are so clear today.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the parliamentary secretary but his time is up.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

John Nunziata


Mr. John Nunziata (York South-Weston)

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this discussion. I only regret that it did not take place in the last Parliament prior to the sending of troops to the former Yugoslavia.

The Prime Minister ought to be commended for giving members of the House the opportunity to express their opinion individually as to Canada's role in the former Yugoslavia and in peacekeeping missions around the world.

Parliament has been called upon today to consider the following statement:

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

I have to say how impressed I have been listening to the debate take place today, especially with the quality of speeches from the new members of Parliament. It bodes well for the future direction of the House and the importance of individual members of Parliament.

I had the opportunity to visit the former Yugoslavia before the conflict began. I cannot say how distressed I have been over the last several years to watch the constant bombardment of Dubrovnik and Croatia and the bombardment and the loss of life in Sarajevo. I cannot say how distressed I am as well to read about our Canadian troops being shot at and humiliated in Bosnia. Parliament has to come to grips with this issue and determine whether the risk involved and the cost of this mission warrant our continued participation.

Canada has made a commitment to be there until April. We ought to discharge that commitment to April and not renew our commitment given the danger faced by our troops presently in that region. As has been pointed out by a number of speakers, there is no ceasefire in Bosnia. There is no peace and there is no desire for peace. There is no peace to keep. Therefore Canada is not discharging its traditional role of peacekeeper. It is clear that we are discharging a humanitarian responsibility there to ensure that much needed aid reaches distressed regions.

In Croatia, Canada is playing its traditional role in keeping the peace in that region. I should note with interest that all members of Parliament of Croatian origin who have spoken in this discussion called for the withdrawal of troops from the former Yugoslavia. I found that rather interesting. I did not expect those individual members to be taking that position.

In any event it is clear our troops in Croatia are serving an important function. There is no doubt our troops in Bosnia are serving an important function, but it is also true that the nature of the mandate is unclear. There has been a series of incidents that would suggest our troops are not safe.

It is also clear that the cost of the mission is rather significant. There have been estimates of upward to a billion dollars having been spent in the last several years on this mission. The incremental cost is close to half a billion dollars.

We have to be cognizant of the expense given the open-ended nature of the commitment some hon. members are suggesting. There is a clear consensus that the role of peacekeeping has changed and there is confusion of the exact role of Canadian troops in Bosnia.

Canadians are justifiably proud of and committed to our tradition of peacekeeping. They are less sure about the current efforts of our troops in Bosnia because it is not a peacekeeping exercise. We ought to take note that a significant majority of Canadians in a poll that was released today expressed some very serious reservations about our continued involvement in Bosnia.

Canada has done its part over the years as has been pointed out. Canada has participated in every peacekeeping mission in the last 30 years. We have certainly done our part. We have contributed to the humanitarian cause in Bosnia and in other parts of the former Yugoslavia.

It is clear that a diplomatic resolution to the problem is not imminent. I do have concerns about the length of time that Canadian troops will be called upon to "keep the peace" in that particular region. It seems to me that the diplomats have failed at the UN in trying to achieve a peace there. It was clear three years ago there would be significant conflict.

For those reasons I believe at the conclusion of our commitment in April we ought to bring our men and women back home. It is not to suggest that all peacekeepers, the British, the French and others, will withdraw. There is the assumption that if Canadians withdraw then other peacekeepers or UN forces will withdraw. That is certainly not clear.

We have an obligation. We have discharged that obligation but we must recognize as well that there will continue to be conflicts all over the world. Are we suggesting that we ought to continue to participate in every conflict? There is so much we can do as a nation both fiscally and in terms of other commitments. I would call upon the government to continue our

obligation until April and thereafter bring our men and women home.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

John Bryden


Mr. John Bryden (Hamilton-Wentworth)

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to represent the people of Hamilton-Wentworth both in the House and in this debate. I must say too, as this is my maiden speech, that it is somewhat daunting to follow such eloquence as we have heard here for most of the day.

I would like to convey to you, Mr. Speaker, and hon. members an anecdote that pertains to the debate we have heard in the House. I come from the village of Lynden, a rural community of some 500 in southern Ontario, which has always managed to send some of its sons and daughters to the great wars of this century.

On the wall as one enters the village church there is a roll of honour commemorating those who died in the service of their country. The village also has a branch of the Royal Canadian Legion which over the years has served, especially on November 11, to keep alive the memory of those who were willing to defend their lives, not just for Canada but for what Canada stands for.

Shortly before Christmas I attended a social at the legion centred on the giving out of service pins. The event was well attended for the branch is well supported in the community. What was unusual however was to see someone there who was actually on active service, to see the green uniform of today's Canadian forces. It was a young man in his early twenties named Chris Kivell. I talked to Chris whom I have known since he was a little boy. He had just been accepted into the Canadian forces, into the artillery. He was following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Owen Kivell, who had served in the navy during the second world war. Owen had survived the torpedoing of a ship in the north Atlantic. Young Chris looked very fine in his new uniform which he wore with pride.

Nevertheless I asked if he was not scared about the prospect of being sent to a hot spot like Bosnia and he said that he was. He had talked to other young men who had been there and who had recited the frustrations and dangers. Then he said to me suddenly, perhaps remembering that I was an MP: "But, Mr. Bryden, don't let them pull the Canadian troops out of Bosnia. We want to be there". I have since had time to reflect on his comment. A whole generation separates us so I cannot be sure that I am reading his feelings accurately. However I know my village. I know the people in it. I know the values he grew up with.

My conclusion is that Canada has a fine military tradition both francophone and anglophone going right back to the French and British struggles of the 18th century. In the 20th century in the Boer War, the Great War and World War II, Canadian soldiers both French and English speaking incurred the admiration even of their enemies for their bravery and devotion at Dieppe, at Normandy and during the liberation of Europe.

In the post-war years the Canadian forces became specialists at peacekeeping. Again our Canadian soldiers garnered the admiration of the world for their firmness, their bravery and their non-partisan ability to keep warring parties apart. The book perhaps has yet to be written that fully describes their accomplishments but the world knows. Canada and peacekeeping: that is the legacy that has been created by Canada's soldiers over the past 40 years.

Now the world is a darker and more threatening place. The breakup of federated nations like the former Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia has unleashed hatreds that go back centuries. Peacekeeping as we used to know it is all but impossible in these terrible tribal conflicts. The hate runs deep and it has no respect for women and children.

Our soldiers in Bosnia are there for humanitarian reasons only. At the risk of their lives they are there to guarantee that people be fed. The UN intervention has saved hundreds of thousands from starvation. Canada is an essential part of that intervention. Canadian soldiers have died in Bosnia. Others have been injured but thousands of people, mainly women, children and the elderly, have been saved.

I submit that the international role of Canada's military has advanced rather than regressed, advanced at least in spirit. Instead of fighting to win wars and instead of fighting to prevent wars now in Bosnia we are simply fighting to save lives. Is there a nobler purpose for a soldier? I think not.

I look across the floor in the direction of members of Bloc and Reform. I was most impressed by the compassionate content of their remarks during the debate. Their comments reveal that no matter what separates us in ideology, no matter what separates us in history going back to Lord Durham's report or to the Plains of Abraham, we are united in our desire as Canadians. Call us what us what you will, Saskatchewaners, BCers, Acadians or Quebecers, we are united in our desire to rescue those in the world who are defenceless, those who are hurt and hungry.

Let us not be deflected from doing what is right because of opinion polls. The trouble with always doing what a majority seems to want is that majorities can sometimes be poorly informed. There is no regular news coverage of the Canadian forces in Bosnia. Their story is not being told by the Canadian media. We cannot judge the Canadian situation in Bosnia by watching CNN or reading a newspaper. We must therefore take guidance from the only people who really know, who are right on the spot: our own soldiers, the Vandoos and the Princess Pats for instance. They believe in what they are doing. We on all sides of the House should be very proud of them.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

Andy Scott


Mr. Andy Scott (Fredericton-York-Sunbury)

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to rise in the House to represent the citizens of Fredericton-York-Sunbury. It humbles me when I consider just how many people will be affected by the outcome of the government's decision around this debate.

As this is my first opportunity, Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate you on your appointment. I also wish to pay tribute to the Hon. Milton Gregg, the last member of both my riding and my party to be in this House. He was a representative of the government of the day and won the Victoria Cross in the Second World War.

I would also like to pay tribute to my immediate predecessor, Mr. Bud Bird. Mr. Bird has long served our region with dignity and diligence.

Finally I would like to note the recent passing of my Reform Party opponent. Jack Lamey was a worthy representative of his party. On behalf of all the residents of the riding I express sympathy to his wife Addie and the family.

CFB Gagetown, the largest military training base in Canada and by land mass the largest base in the Commonwealth, lies within my riding. I am sure members of this House can appreciate the significance of this debate for the people of Fredericton-York-Sunbury in general and for the people of CFB Gagetown in particular.

It is one thing to be concerned for family and friends serving in dangerous circumstances halfway round the world. It is appreciably worse when that risk is not accompanied by a clear sense of purpose or measure of effectiveness.

Hopefully this debate will serve to clarify Canada's position on the role of our country and others within the UN peacekeeping forces generally and in Bosnia-Hercegovina in particular.

I should say that we in Fredericton-York-Sunbury are pleased with the government's decision to have this debate. I would also like to commend the other parties and their leaders for both their co-operation and their participation. Their early intervention did much to establish the tone for this debate and I am certain Canadians will find it refreshing to know that we want to get things accomplished.

As I acknowledged earlier, constituents within my riding are particularly interested in this debate because so many of CFB Gagetown have, are, or probably will participate in peacekeeping engagements.

In light of this level of concern I wanted to ensure that I did not deal with the situation superficially. Sunday night I met with a number of interested parties wanting to advise me of their concerns. Participants ranged from former peacekeepers, one of whom was stationed in Sarajevo, students from the region attending the University of New Brunswick, and others of the public who had called or written to express concerns.

Of particular note, we received a detailed presentation on a situation in Bosnia from a member of the military recently stationed in that region. I would like to thank Lieutenant Colonel Yann Hidiroglou, the deputy commander of the United Nations military observers, for his thoughtful and comprehensive briefing.

It was repeated throughout the meeting that the debate surrounding the situation in Bosnia has become too polarized. Arguments are generally aligned at one of two ends. Canada must be in Bosnia under any or all circumstances, or we must remove our troops because the situation is either too dangerous, too costly, or ineffective.

We must work together to find a more moderate middle ground solution. There are no easy answers but in identifying the balance we need to consider what the consequences could be if we decided to remove our troops entirely. We are after all citizens of the world.

We must recognize the possibility that a withdrawal might only be temporary. Troops might have to intervene again under conditions far worse than those that currently exist. As well, it is clear that our troops are able to get humanitarian aid through to those in need. The UN Commission for Refugees and the Red Cross are both on record as having stated that the food is getting through.

What about our international reputation? If the UN withdraws what impact will this have on future peacekeeping operations? Would this make it politically impossible for governments to keep forces in foreign regions? In the same vein how do we want to be remembered by history? We must consider what the scenario might be if we were not involved in Bosnia.

I believe a balance must be struck in order to achieve our desired middle ground. That balance begins with the recommitting of our troops. We must however recommit as a government that is willing to improve conditions for the men and the women on the ground.

I see a number of ways we can accomplish this goal. First, Canada as a country has great credibility as a nation of peace and peacekeeping. I believe we should rely on our knowledge and reputation in these areas and call upon other countries, many of which have closer ties than we with the belligerents to launch an appeal to warring factions and seek diplomatic solutions.

We must also review the criteria under which we have committed our troops and make amendments where possible to improve conditions, again calling upon our historical reputation and record. People are uncertain about our role in Bosnia, our purpose for participating and the value of the exercise. We need

to bring clarity to the situation and let people know everything which can be done is actually being done.

I conclude by stating that we need to recommit our troops to their involvement in Bosnia but not necessarily under present conditions. We must also commit to ensuring members of the military are properly and adequately trained, that UN field operations are politically supported by member nations. We must commit to provide the support needed to reduce risk.

As well both the government and the military need to communicate their purpose and decisions clearly so that everyone is aware of the objectives for both our troops in Bosnia specifically and UN forces generally. We will be holding future debates about Canada's military and peacekeeping roles. It is my hope that the precedent has been established for these debates.

I salute forces both now and in the past which served Canada for what will soon be 50 years in the area of peacekeeping. I also salute the families and friends of those involved in peacekeeping missions. I am sure they join me in acknowledging the excellence of our Canadian troops. Their excellence is why Canada's role in Bosnia is so critical.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

Jean Augustine


Ms. Jean Augustine (Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister)

Mr. Speaker, I am indeed honoured to address the House today on behalf of the riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore. I think the people of Etobicoke-Lakeshore will join me in this debate and in the expression of congratulations to you, Mr. Speaker, as well as to the Prime Minister for providing the opportunity for debate.

Peacekeeping is an activity Canada does as a country. It is an activity which gives us world-wide respect and makes us all proud to be Canadians.

Canadian soldiers have been involved in every United Nations peacekeeping operation since 1947. We have sent approximately 90,000 men and women to war-torn countries around the world. Peacekeeping and peacekeepers have represented us in areas like Korea in the 1950s; Egypt, 1954; the Congo, 1960-64; Nigeria, 1968-70; Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia in the early 1970s; Iran in the late 1980s; and in many Latin American countries between 1989 and 1992.

Canadian peacekeepers are currently in El Salvador, Cyprus, the western Sahara, Angola, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Korea and Cambodia. Of course they are currently involved in the former Yugoslavia. There are some 4,700 Canadian men and women with United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world. They comprise approximately 10 per cent of all peacekeepers on duty.

We greatly value our peacekeepers and take pride in our peacekeeping activities. We treat that very seriously. Obviously we have very practical reasons for being involved. Canada can prosper only if we are living in a stable and reliable world environment. I think most Canadians believe that peacekeeping is a valued activity. We had two Nobel peace prizes awarded, one to the late Lester B. Pearson and the other to the peacekeepers in 1988.

Given the international importance of Canada's peacekeeping efforts I would like to briefly discuss my two main concerns: first, the priorities in terms of financing; and second, peacekeeping in this international context.

One of the concerns many have with peacekeeping is that Canadian peacekeepers be properly outfitted for the dangerous situations they often encounter.

This means that the equipment should be fully functional. They should have access to proper facilities and have adequate protection. All of this, of course, requires financial support.

The second concern I have is international commitment. If we as Canadians decide it is a priority for us to remain involved in peacekeeping, we must encourage collective, responsible action through the United Nations. I hope we would encourage other United Nations members to pay up their UN dues, to commit troops, to provide logistical and technical support and to honour UN resolutions.

Canadians cannot do it alone as we have seen in Bosnia where replacement troops for Canadians are not allowed to relieve our peacekeepers. We need a strong United Nations to which countries pledge, not only in word but in financial support, troops and technical terms.

Peacekeeping is one area in which we service the world. I sincerely hope we continue to do so. However, I only want us to continue to do so if we provide our peacekeepers with the necessary equipment to protect themselves while performing their duties as well as securing that stronger international commitment.

We live in a global village. We have our responsibilities in that global village.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

Rey D. Pagtakhan


Mr. Rey D. Pagtakhan (Winnipeg North)

Mr. Speaker, please allow me, on behalf of Winnipeg North, to echo the sentiments of those who have risen in this House and congratulated you on your appointment as Deputy Speaker, and also to the Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien, and our fellow members.

I would also like to seize this opportunity to thank the constituents of Winnipeg North for their renewal of confidence in last fall's election. It is a testament to this new Liberal government's commitment to seek the input of its citizens on matters of foreign policy that we begin in the early life of this Parliament with a very public debate on peacekeeping.

At a time when citizens are increasingly concerned about domestic issues, it is pertinent to ask a fundamental question about our involvement in expensive and potentially dangerous peacekeeping missions abroad. Why are we there? Why indeed are we taking an interventionist approach to problems and conflicts which ostensibly lie thousands of miles away in places most Canadians have never even seen?

Why, with the magnitude of economic and social problems facing all Canadians, are we giving the issue of international peacekeeping even a cursory glance? Why, of course, is a valid question.

I propose to offer some very compelling answers. I would encourage fellow members on all sides of the House to share these answers with their constituents.

First, to those who would question what benefits our peacekeeping missions abroad hold for Canada, we must reinforce the idea that Canada is not an island. Rather, we hold a privileged position as a world leader in international diplomacy. We carry the torch of Lester B. Pearson's legacy, a legacy which poses no ultimatum but patience in the search for peace.

If we fail to settle conflicts and unrest abroad, those problems by extension become our own. Conflicts overseas could, if left unchecked over time, expand to engulf our own nation. Indeed, it is in our national interest to be involved in peacekeeping missions abroad. However, national self-interest alone represents only one aspect of the need for our continued involvement in peacekeeping.

I submit to my fellow members that there is a noble interest at stake here. Our humanitarian mission in the former Yugoslavia alone directly benefits 2,750,000 residents of that war torn nation who would have no other means of survival in the face of such appalling conditions. These invaluable relief efforts are best pursued by a team of nations, which is why a renewal of our participation in the United Nations forces in that part of the world and elsewhere is essential, to my mind.

Other nations may waver, but I believe Canada should continue to reassert its commitment to independent foreign policy. I am confident that this government will not waver.

Allow me to call to the attention of fellow members what I feel may be a vital omission in our peacekeeping policy. It is the failure to communicate to citizens the many benefits of these operations particularly at a time when domestic issues threaten to consume us. Successful efforts seldom make headlines the way disasters do. Perhaps that is why an Angus Reid poll released this week indicates that six in ten Canadians support a withdrawal of Canadian troops from Bosnia. I cannot help but wonder whether the figure would be different if citizens were given a different look at the humanitarian function our overseas troops are performing.

Recently we saw on TV and in the print media the photo of an empty wooden sled on a patch of blood-covered snow in Sarajevo, a symbol of the horror and futility of war. We witness by way of the media the slaughter of civilians in their homes, the massacre of women, the senseless killing of children in the playgrounds, the bombing of hospitals and photos of entire village populations deprived of food and clothing. When we witness these human indignities we agonize and our hearts are torn. When this happens these horrors of war assume immediate proximity.

In conclusion, peacekeeping missions are the ultimate challenge to our nation's soul and how we respond to this challenge will reflect our national conscience. The lives of these people in that part of the world are in our hands.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

The Deputy Speaker

There are three speakers left. They are the members for Waterloo, Scarborough West and Victoria-Haliburton. I wonder if they would agree to divide their time since it is so late. Would five minutes each be all right? You can blame the whip if you do not like the order you have on the list. The member for Victoria-Haliburton is first.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

John O'Reilly


Mr. John O'Reilly (Victoria-Haliburton)

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I will keep my comments as brief as I can.

It is with great pleasure that I rise tonight and for the first time speak in the greatest forum of our country. I further wish to express my thanks to the people of Victoria-Haliburton who sent me here and instilled confidence in me to do my best.

The matter we are discussing today is one that is of concern to all Canadians. This discussion is long overdue and I thank the Prime Minister for this opportunity.

Peacekeeping has long been viewed as a made in Canada concept, which is understandable since former Prime Minister Lester Pearson developed the program and subsequently was awarded the Nobel peace prize for his efforts. Canada has long been a vocal and active supporter of organizations for international stability and order and now has in the area of 2,300 troops stationed around the world in various peacekeeping operations.

For the most part, these operations have been peaceful. However, more and more often violent encounters are occurring in day to day peacekeeping. The role of peacekeeping is changing.

In today's debate we must be careful about what is being discussed. We can easily dismiss peacekeeping by saying that we must get our troops out of dangerous peacekeeping areas. However this sort of thinking is short-sighted.

We must expand our discussions and ask what we want our peacekeepers to do. We must develop a clear and concise mandate for our peacekeepers. Are we committing troops to a

peacekeeping operation because Canada has never refused to commit troops to a UN operation, or do we commit because it is in the best interests of Canada to have a presence in a particular operation?

We must think of our financial situation and come to terms with the implications of a shrinking defence budget and how it might affect our participation in future peacekeeping operations. Furthermore, when we do commit our troops to an operation we must ensure they have the proper equipment and training to address whatever situation may arise in that operation.

Although we are somewhat isolated here from the realities of peacekeeping, we owe it to those who are risking their lives in frightening situations that they have the best equipment and training available to adequately protect themselves and to ensure the operation is carried out with success for Canada.

I did have 21 pages, but I have condensed it.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

Tom Wappel


Mr. Tom Wappel (Scarborough West)

Mr. Speaker, there are five very brief points I want to make. The motion we are debating today asks us to take into account the political, humanitarian and military dimensions of the possible future direction in Canadian peacekeeping policy and operations.

The five points I wish to commend to our government and to the minister are as follows:

First, Canada is a small country comparatively speaking, with limited resources. As such we cannot act alone. We do know however that there is strength in unity. We can support each other. Therefore, we must in my view maintain our membership in international organizations, including the United Nations and NATO.

Second, we must work to cleanse the hypocrisy of these organizations. What do I mean by that? Contrast the swift action of the coalition forces in the gulf and the billions upon billions of dollars spent in the gulf in a very short period of time with the inaction in Yugoslavia where children are being killed daily, with the inaction in East Timor where Roman Catholics are being slaughtered by Muslim extremists, and the inaction in Tibet where China is committing cultural genocide against the people of Tibet. What about the countries in Africa where tribes are slaughtering each other by the tens of thousands? These organizations are doing nothing in these tragic places.

Third, we must continue to speak out forthrightly and forcefully on behalf of human rights, dignity and the inherent worth of all human life.

Fourth, we must lend our military expertise and reputation where warranted. We cannot be in all places at all times.

Fifth, our military are in the business of warfare. They know the risks. They have chosen their profession. But we cannot ask our military to put their lives on the line unless we are prepared to ensure they are adequately equipped, supplied and supported. As we would not send our children into a full contact hockey game dressed only in pyjamas, we cannot send our sons and daughters into the world's most dangerous and volatile areas without proper protection, training and equipment. Anything less is irresponsible. Anything less is indefensible.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

Andrew Telegdi


Mr. Andrew Telegdi (Waterloo)

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate this day of having gone through the whole Chamber and come down to the last speaker, being me. We are going to be out of here before midnight.

I represent the federal riding of Waterloo made up of the township of Woolwich, Waterloo and a part of Kitchener. We are the home of Project Ploughshares at Conrad Grebel College, as well as a Centre for Conflict Resolution. Of course we have a very strong Mennonite base. The Mennonite community is strongly involved in assisting people in other countries in time of crisis.

When we look at our country, when we listen to speakers and when we see the background we have in the Chamber, we are like a little United Nations. I cannot help but reflect that we represent very much a beacon of hope to a troubled world.

One person in my riding, a Dr. Elmasry, is a professor at the University of Waterloo. He is an active member of a number of human rights organizations. He wrote in his presentation, an article that he sent to me, that the overwhelming fact that confronts the moral fabric of the post cold war era was that the world aggression in Bosnia-Hercegovina was a war of genocide. The second important fact was that there was no decisive international will to stop the genocide. The holocaust prescription never again became meaningless. In this pathetic moral desert the European Community and its security and human rights concerns have become severely tarnished.

I received some quite important communications from some grades six, seven and eight students. It is important to me in my personal circumstances. In 1956 when Canada embarked on its peacekeeping mission at Suez I was a nine-year old boy in Hungary and the Hungarian revolution was going on. I do so very well recall Hungarians felt so abandoned when the Suez crisis took over. Somehow we felt that a right to self-determination of the Hungarians was sacrificed on the altar expediency on the Suez campaign.

The students who wrote to me were in a group called the Urgent Action Team at St. Agnes Elementary School in Waterloo. JoAnne Thorpe is their parent volunteer who works with them. One letter was written by a student, Cheryl Feeney:

In Bosnia they are crushing the skulls of children and slitting the throats of the women and shooting the men as they try to defend their family.

Celene Krieger states:

I am sure that you heard about what is happening in Bosnia, like wars, death and many innocent people dying, being raped just because of their religion. The most horrifying thing is that many of these people are children.

Beckey Curran states:

I believe that Canada should help in peacemaking. I know that some people say we should take care of our own problems before we take care of others. That may be true but we take our freedom for granted and we should realize how it would be if our own country was not free and we were at war.

The letters go on. I guess I am touched by the serious tone of the letters and the fact that our young people have so ingrained in themselves that one of the great roles of Canada in this world is peacekeeping and peacemaking.

I was speaking to Ernie Regehr about Project Ploughshares and I asked him: "What is your prescription to the problem?" One of the points he made was that unless there were people in Bosnia-Hercegovina, unless there are witnesses to human suffering, unless there are people who are ready to assist with the human suffering, we will never know what has gone on there. We will never know what will continue to go on there. In some ways the actions of the Europeans and the United Nations in putting the arms embargo in place have left the Muslims of the region defenceless.

As Canadians, one of the stronger proponents of the United Nations, we must try to establish international law and to fight against lawlessness. It is generally accepted that if there is anything that unites us as a country this is one of the issues. We cannot do it all. We have to work through strengthening the role of the United Nations. We have to make the commitment that we will stand together with the democracies of this world to make sure that law, order and self-determination will prevail.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

The Deputy Speaker

Hon. members will be interested to know that the hon. member for Waterloo was the 50th speaker we have had today in a debate that the member for Labrador said earlier was the best debate we have heard here in 24 years.

It is my duty to say that it being almost midnight. Pursuant to the order made earlier this day the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at two o'clock p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 11.59 p.m.)

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs

January 25, 1994