June 14, 2000

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The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on the main motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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Some hon. members

No.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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Some hon. members

Yea.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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Some hon. members

Nay.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Pursuant to order made earlier today, the division stands deferred until Thursday, June 15, 2000, at the expiry of the time provided for Government 0rders.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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LIB

Raymond Chan

Liberal

Hon. Raymond Chan (for the Minister of National Defence)

moved that Bill S-18, an act to amend the National Defence Act (non-deployment of persons under the age of eighteen years to theatres of hostilities), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Defence Act
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LIB

Robert Bertrand

Liberal

Mr. Robert Bertrand (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to lend my support to this important proposal to amend the National Defence Act. This government is determined to send a strong message of opposition to the use of child soldiers in conflict.

Our concern over the use of young children for purposes of violence, exploitation and warfare stems directly from our commitment to human security. In the Speech from the Throne, the government pledged to give increased prominence to human security in Canadian foreign policy.

This commitment is an important expression of the values held by Canadians. Values that this government has pledged to promote and protect.

We all recognize that the threats to human security are many. We know that all too often, and in too many parts of the world today, governments ignore basic human rights. In societies wracked by civil conflict there are warring factions all too ready to exploit, intimidate and threaten the most innocent, the most vulnerable. Our television screens are filled with terrible images of people who are so victimized.

No one would argue that the international community has the resources or the ability to bring an end to all of these terrible deeds. But this does not justify inaction or indifference. We must take action where we can.

This government believes that the shameful use of children in conflict is as distasteful a practice as anyone can imagine. We can show leadership on this issue. We must.

I am pleased to inform this House that Canada is showing leadership and action. We will host a conference on child soldiers in Winnipeg this September. It will focus on ways and means to prevent such conflicts and to protect the children caught in the middle of hostilities. It will also examine how to reintegrate the children of war into the post-conflict environment.

While this conference is an important contribution, we in Canada and in the international community nevertheless have our work cut out for us.

The statistics tell a chilling tale. The UN reported in 1996 that during the preceding decade, nearly 2 millions children were killed and more than 4 million were disabled from violent conflict. Another 1 million were orphaned. More than 10 million were left psychologically scarred by the trauma of violence committed against them and their families.

Today, an estimated 300,000 children are serving in regular armies or as guerilla fighters. They are also pressed into service as mine layers, spies, sexual slaves, cooks or porters.

While the problem of child soldiers is a global one, the worst cases are in Africa and Asia. The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers estimates that, in Africa alone, 120,000 children under the age of 18 are direct participants in armed conflicts.

These young people are being denied the kind of childhood that we in Canada expect our children to have as a matter of course.

There can be no doubt that this is a problem that demands our attention.

As appalling as the child soldier problem is, I am heartened by the efforts of the international community. The UN has been working diligently to focus attention on the problem.

In 1989, the UN developed a convention on the rights of the child. This convention established the age of 15 as a minimum standard for the voluntary and compulsory recruitment of children into military forces and participation in hostilities.

In 1994, the UN Human Rights Commission established a working group to prepare a protocol to the original convention in order to raise this minimum age standard. This effort has met with success, thanks to the efforts of Canada and other like-minded nations.

On May 25 of this year, the UN General Assembly adopted the optional protocol to raise the minimum age to 18 years of age for compulsory recruitment into the armed forces of state parties.

In addition, state parties commit to taking every feasible measure to ensure that any member of their armed forces under 18 years of age does not take part in hostilities.

The protocol also sets standards for 16 and 17 year olds who join voluntarily. This form of recruitment is to take place only with parental consent and reliable proof of age. And each recruit is to be made aware of duties involved in military service.

Finally, the protocol urges all state parties to co-operate in ensuring that the victims of acts contrary to the protocol receive appropriate physical and psychological assistance to deal with their trauma.

Canada has worked hard towards agreement on this protocol and we fully support it. And we have made our support clear by our actions. I am pleased to inform the House that on June 6 Canada became the first country to sign the optional protocol.

Our signature on the protocol will not result in any change to current recruiting practices by the Canadian forces. Canada does not practice conscription or any other form of compulsory service.

However, the Canadian forces do recruit volunteers under the age of 18. I want to assure all hon. members that our practices in this area do not contravene the protocol in any way.

Let me first provide some background on our recruiting activities for those under 18.

Each year, approximately 1,000 16 and 17 year olds join the Canadian forces. The majority of these men and women serve in the Reserve. Of those in the regular force, most are taking their university education at the Royal Military College of Canada.

These young Canadians are given a valuable range of educational experience in both military and non-military subjects. The leadership training they undergo exposes them to concepts of accountability and ethics. Their military training provides them such valuable skills as fire fighting, basic medical training and mechanics.

These kinds of employment opportunities are important for our youth. In the Speech from the Throne, the government also pledged to provide young Canadians with access to work experience and learning opportunities.

Few people realize that the Canadian forces are, in fact, the largest youth employer in Canada. For example, members of the Canadian forces reserve parade daily on Parliament Hill during the summer as part of the prestigious Ceremonial Guard. And hundreds of 16 and 17 year old reservists—part of a primary reserve of over 20,000—take part in military training from coast to coast.

Recruiting these young Canadians for the regular force and the reserve is vital to ensuring that the Canadian forces can attract top quality high school and university graduates. Their recruitment complies with the provision of the optional protocol. They join voluntarily with the consent of their parents. They are made aware of the responsibilities of military service. And unless they have reached 18 years of age, they are not considered for deployment to hostile theatres of operation.

These are long standing practices for the Canadian forces. They clearly demonstrate Canada's already existing full compliance with the terms of the optional protocol.

The government's proposed amendment to the National Defence Act would strengthen the Canadian forces' policy of not deploying anyone under the age of 18 to a hostile theatre by including it in legislation.

Canada has never been part of the child soldier problem but we believe that it is vital to take a strong stand on this issue.

The government is intent on making it clear to the international community that our refusal to send children into hostile theatres is not merely our belief or our policy, it is against our law.

I urge all members of this House to support this amendment. Such support will send a strong unmistakable signal that Canada and Canadians will never condone the use of child soldiers and the victimization of children in conflict neither morally nor, with this amendment, legally.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Defence Act
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REF

Jim Hart

Reform

Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan—Coquihalla, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Okanagan—Coquihalla to speak to Bill S-18, an act to amend the National Defence Act. Of course this follows the government agenda as we have heard the parliamentary secretary speak about soft power. In this debate I want to make sure that we also do not lose sight of the fact that in order for soft power to work, we have to make sure that we maintain our military and have hard military assets available to use when needed.

Bill S-18 amends the National Defence Act by preventing the Canadian armed forces from deploying a person under the age of 18 to a theatre of hostilities. This is a personal thing for me and maybe for you too, Mr. Speaker. I joined the Canadian armed forces when I was 17 years old. I was an ordinary seaman in the Canadian navy. I think my hon. friend Mr. Speaker was an ordinary seaman as well. I enjoyed that experience in the Canadian armed forces and in particular in the navy.

Usually it takes about a year to train a 17 year old to a combat capable standard. In my case I think it was at least a year. The point I want to make is that my ship was deployed to Vietnam. In 1974 the HMCS Gatineau was on its way to oversee the removal of American troops as part of that UN mission. Unfortunately I was in Halifax on marine electrical training and had two weeks left on course so I was not able to go. When I came back to Esquimalt, from where my ship was being deployed, I had to go on another ship that was in refit, the HMCS Kootenay . I will never forget it.

It was a very depressing time in my life because in my eyes, at just 18 years of age, I was ready to go. I wanted to serve my country and be part of that. Therefore I have a special interest in this bill.

I want to make the point that the Canadian Alliance does support the spirit of the bill. We support the idea that it is unthinkable, especially now that I am 44, that we would agree to send a 17 year old into hostilities.

The intent of Bill S-18 is to strengthen Canada's position with respect to the optional protocol to the convention on the rights of children on the involvement of children in armed conflict which was finalized by the United Nations working group in January 2000. The optional protocol is intended to address issues of child soldiers, those children in less developed countries who are often sent into battle as soon as they are able to lift a weapon. Although I support the concept and the spirit of the bill, I wonder, and I think Canadians are probably asking themselves, how do we enforce this and make it work?

In 1994 I had the opportunity to travel with the special joint committee to Bosnia and Croatia. That was at the height of the war. The experience there was that entire villages were being attacked by militia groups and ethnic groups. Ethnic cleansing was going on. Oftentimes young men were taken out and they and their families were killed. Or the other circumstances were that the militia would come in, take the young men and tell them they were now in the army. That situation is one of fight or die. I just wonder if the government has really thought this one through.

It is interesting also that the government would introduce this bill in the dying days of this session of parliament. The designation S on the bill denotes that the bill is from the Senate; it is not from the House of Commons. The Senate is the place of sober second thought when it comes to looking at legislation. Senators are not really there to write legislation and introduce it for us to debate, but here we are tonight. I simply make the observation that if the government had as its number one priority only to allow people who were 18 years old and over to go into an area of conflict, probably the Minister of National Defence would have introduced the bill.

The parliamentary secretary also mentioned that approximately 1,000 16 and 17 year olds join the Canadian armed forces through the reserve or the regular force. I know he cannot answer a question, but I want him to think about this issue. If we have limited resources in the Canadian armed forces, which everyone knows we do, why would we put our efforts into training 16 and 17 year olds for combat missions?

The parliamentary secretary did point out that they are trained in the medical fields, they are trained as mechanics and they are trained in all kinds of support positions. The fact is those support positions go into combat. Let us look at our history in Croatia and Bosnia. During the battle of the Medak pocket in Croatia, the worst firefight that Canadian soldiers have witnessed since the Korean war, 50% of those people were reservists.

We have limited resources. This bill has been introduced through the back door, through the Senate. The government has a history since 1993 of cutting defence expenditures and reducing the number of personnel. I really wonder, and Canadians do too, if this is really a priority of the federal Liberal government.

It is really motherhood and apple pie, is it not? Would we rather see our 16 and 17 year old in schools or going off to Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo or somewhere else? Of course every member in this House is going to support this initiative. Sure we are.

The hair stands up on the back of my neck when I see a government that has a history since 1993 of not supporting our Canadian armed forces. Now it is supporting a bill to ensure that people cannot get into the armed forces if they have a desire to. Enough said on that issue.

That we are talking about youth and the Canadian armed forces gives me the wonderful opportunity to tell Canadians about one of the most fantastic programs Canada has. It is the cadet program.

The aims of the Canadian cadet program are to develop in youth the attributes of good citizenship and leadership, to promote physical fitness and to stimulate the interest of Canadian youth in the land, sea and air elements of the Canadian armed forces. It is a unique program. No other country in the world has a program like it. It is a partnership between the Department of National Defence and civilian organizations, such as the Air Cadet League of Canada, the Sea Cadet League of Canada, the Navy League of Canada and the Army League of Canada.

As a matter of fact, for five years I had the distinct privilege of being a commanding officer and I started a cadet program in my hometown of Summerland, British Columbia. That organization was an air cadet corps and had the privilege of being sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Summerland. Currently I am trying to start a sea cadet corps in Penticton, another town in my riding. Another civilian organization, the Army, Navy, Air Force Association of Penticton has said it will financially support the sea cadets in Penticton.

The cadet program is a fabulous way for Canadian youth to get experience about the Canadian armed forces. It is not a way to recruit young people into the armed forces. It is very separate from that. It has a very distinct and different approach to how it attracts young people between the ages of 12 and 19.

These cadets participate in mandatory weekly training. There are 1,140 sea, army and air cadet squadrons for coast to coast to coast. This means that there are over 54,000 cadets in Canada. Each squadron is led by a group of officers who are usually but not always employed in other professions. I was in the advertising profession, but for five years I worked part time as a commanding officer of an air cadet squadron.

Here is another area where I think the government is failing Canadians. This is a fabulous program. The government should be putting more money and resources into cadet training. It should also be looking very closely at the issue of these officers. There are some 4,500 cadet instructors-cadre officers in Canada. In fact the parliamentary secretary can check this, but I am sure it will be found that out of the officer corps in the Canadian armed forces there are more officers in this segment of the armed forces than any other.

It is quite a responsibility to step up to the plate and be a real supporter of youth projects in this way. They are responsible for safety, supervision, administration and the training of cadets.

I wanted to bring this issue forward because there are so very few times that we have an opportunity to talk about the cadet program and that wonderful interaction between the Canadian armed forces and the youth of the country. It is very important.

I mentioned earlier that the Liberal government had failed the Canadian armed forces since it took office in 1993. While Bill S-18 protects our youth by not subjecting them to combat situations, the Liberal government has failed to protect those over 18 in the Canadian armed forces and reserves through its shameful treatment and inadequate funding of the Canadian armed forces.

The defence budget cuts is a prime example. We can look at that over the last seven years. The Liberal government has pursued a defence policy that has stripped the Canadian armed forces of much of its combat capability. The Liberal government slashed defence spending 24% to just over $9 billion, far below that which was recommended by the special joint committee. Less money, less personnel, less equipment, less training, and ultimately less combat capability.

The government side will argue that there was an increase in defence spending in the last budget, but the fact is all that defence increase did was maintain the status quo. The people at national defence headquarters were talking about putting some of our brand new frigates alongside, shutting them down, taking the crew off and sending them home. They were talking about reducing the size of the army and reducing the size of the reserves. All the increase in the last budget did for the Canadian armed forces was to maintain the status quo.

The Canadian armed forces needs an injection of about $2 billion to meet some of its current objectives. The Conference of Defence Associations said that the Canadian army was only combat capable at the company level, which is about 150 troops. That is very serious.

Another problem we are facing is rust out of our equipment in the Canadian armed forces. Last year the auditor general determined that equipment requirements of the Canadian Armed Forces exceeded the planned budget by $4.5 billion. We only have to look at the situation with the replacement of the Sea King helicopter.

In fact today in the House a report was tabled by the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs. One of the recommendations is that government finalize its procurement strategy and proceed immediately to tender a contract for the replacement of the Sea King helicopter.

I am proud of that report because it was a unanimous report. It was agreed to by all members of the committee on which I sit as vice-chair. It is very important, but let us look at the government's record. Its white paper in 1994 promised and made it policy in 1994 that the Sea King helicopter would be replaced by the year 2000.

From my recollection we are now six months into the year 2000 and to date not even the statement of requirements for the new Sea King helicopter has been issued to the industry that needs to look at it. It must compete for the tender. It probably has 12 to 18 months work just on the contract alone before it gets to actually delivering a Sea King. It will take some three years just to do that.

The government has revised its white paper commitment to the Canadian people. It now says that it will be 2005 before it will be able to meet its commitment to replace the Sea King. All the while young Canadians are flying those machines. It is no joke when we hear the people who train the Sea King helicopter pilots say that the rule of thumb is only to fly them as high as one wants to fall. That is not funny. That is a desperate situation that has been created by the Liberal government.

By the year 2005 those machines will be over 40 years old. The Sea Kings are just one example. The chief of defence staff issued his annual report. There are three pages of priorities for replacing equipment. It just goes on and on.

I know I only have 40 minutes tonight. I do not want to take up the whole time because other members want to speak to the issue, but it is an important enough issue that we must talk about it.

The Canadian armed forces is also faced with the new changing world of technology and what is called the integrated battlefield as we face the costs related to the revolution of military affairs, the RMA. The Canadian armed forces must do it. Otherwise it will be left behind.

We do not operate as a single force when we go into Kosovo or other theatres of operation. We go in as part of an international group usually through NATO or the UN. We must be interoperable. We must make sure we can talk to the people. We must make sure that we have the best equipment.

This is one of the points we heard reported on in Kosovo with our CF-18 pilots. They did a great job. They did the best job they could with the equipment they had, but let us face it. The onboard computers in our CF-18s have been compared to a Commodore 64 computer. Did any member ever have a Commodore 64? It is old stuff. The CF-18s did not have night vision.

We put our fine pilots in peril each and every time we send them on a mission. Yes, they did a great job, but that is not the point. If we are to send young people out on dangerous missions, we had better give them the best possible equipment we can. We in the House have an obligation to ensure that happens.

Another area is the national missile defence program. The Liberals are waffling on this issue. It is vital for Canada to support the establishment of an effective NMD system for North America.

It is required for three reasons. The first is to maintain the effectiveness of NORAD, one of our very important bilateral defence agreements with our closest ally, the U.S.A. The second is to counter ballistic missile threats from rogue states armed with weapons of mass destruction. The international community has recognized that ballistic missiles are now a threat to North America. The third is to ensure that Canadian companies can benefit from future contracts to develop and improve this system.

Some would argue that the missile defence system will break the 1972 ABM treaty. I would submit that ballistic missiles are as much a threat to Russians as they are to Americans. The Americans have said on several occasions that technology would be shared. The cold war is over. There is no reason these type of things cannot be shared. It is not star wars. The deployment of such a system would not destabilize a strategic balance between the United States and Russia. The Liberal government is failing to protect Canada's vital interest in ensuring the continued effectiveness of NORAD.

Another reason it is very important is that 90% of all Canadians live within 500 kilometres of the U.S. border. If the United States says that ballistic missiles are a threat to U.S. security, they are also, by extension, a threat to Canadians and Canadian security. We must be a part of that agreement.

I know hon. members across the way are wanting to go home tonight and I know that this is very important meaty stuff. I have but a few more pages to relay to the government before we close off and I know other members want to speak.

Let us talk about the reserves. In Service of the Nation: Canada's Citizen Soldiers for the 21st Century is more commonly known as the Fraser report just released last week. Speaker Fraser used to sit in the House of Commons. He is a very well respected person on military and environmental matters and an honorary colonel of one of the units in British Columbia.

Mr. Fraser states that the militia is currently at less than 60% of the strength that was directed by the Liberal government in the 1994 white paper. It is less than 60% of the strength that was promised by the Liberal government to Canadians in its 1994 defence white paper. The Liberals proposed 23,000 by 1999, of which 18,500 were militia. The militia is the army reserves. Now the numbers equal less than 14,500 in the militia, far lower than what was promised by the government.

Of all Canada's allies, excluding Iceland and Luxembourg, Canada has the smallest reserve force. Most of our allies maintain reserve forces several times that of their regular forces. I will give the House some examples. Belgium, with a population of 10 million, has a regular force of 41,000 and a reserve force of 152,000 people. Canada, with a population of 30 million, has a regular force of 58,000 and a reserve force of 32,000. That number includes the supplementary ready reserve list, people long retired from military service who once a year go in for a medical and make sure their uniforms still fit.

That is pretty pathetic, especially when we consider that if Canada were ever forced into a situation where it would have to mobilize its troops and respond to an international crisis with a large number of trained combat capable soldiers, we would not be able to do it. Canada has a four point mobilization plan, but it could not get past point number two in the four point plan. No concrete mobilization plan has been put together by the government.

In conclusion, while Bill S-18 protects our youth by not subjecting them to combat situations, from an international point of view it is impossible to enforce. What is truly embarrassing and a real shame is the fact that the Liberal government has failed to protect those over 18 in the Canadian armed forces and reserves through its treatment of inadequate funding of the Canadian armed forces.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Defence Act
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NDP

Gordon Earle

New Democratic Party

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, very young Canadians have no place in combat. I am sure every member of the House would agree that one of the greatest tragedies of human history is the death and injury of children due to decisions of adults to go to war. No story, no accounting, no photos, no listing of the savaging of our children by war could ever begin to encompass this tragedy, for children who are killed and injured in war are killed and injured by us as adults and especially as federal legislators.

We are the ones in the country responsible for the actions not only of Canada but to some degree of other countries, for it is our actions and sometimes even more so our lack of action that give silent credence to acts of war and aggression by other countries. Children die as a result.

We need to do more to protect all children in the world. Therefore, we should be doing much more to strengthen the capacity of UNICEF in particular and the UN in general to have greater strength and influence in moving toward an end to both the use of children in war—and surely this is the most despicable form of the term “use”—and, in turn, the impact of war on children.

On behalf of the federal New Democratic Party I stand in support of this bill to prevent any person under 18 years of age from becoming deployed by the Canadian forces to a theatre of hostilities.

Graca Machel was appalled that Canada, of all countries, had not raised the minimum military age to 18. In September 1998, when visiting Canada with her husband, Nelson Mandela, she said “This is one of the things that breaks my heart”.

While passing this bill is important, Canada should do much more. We should play a much stronger role in working within the United Nations to raise to 18 the minimum age of recruitment in the convention on the rights of the child. This age is currently set at the absolutely unacceptable age of 15 years.

Graca Machel, as part of her work on the global partnership for children, stated:

We also know that world-wide, some 300,000 children world-wide are involved in some phase of armed conflict. And that each year between 8,000 and 10,000 children are maimed or killed by anti-personnel mines.

On a technical point with regard to this bill, I would be happier if the bill had said that a person who is under the age of 18 may not be deployed by the Canadian forces to any hostility or to a theatre of hostilities. I feel such wording may be more encompassing and inclusive; however, I understand that the wording used in this bill may in the last instance suffice.

This legislation should pass for two reasons: one, to protect our own children and, two, to send a message to the international community. Having said that, I fear that all too often this parliament passes motions and bills about which we can feel proud and good, but the work stops there. In this case, passing this bill is simply not enough. We must do more. For all the children who are suffering and who will suffer in war, we should be doing much more as a country.

Canada has the opportunity to become a leading character on the world stage on this issue. Failure to support this bill would be abominable, but failure to take more action on the world stage would be an atrocity.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Defence Act
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PC

Elsie Wayne

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC)

Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight on behalf of the people of Saint John, New Brunswick, and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada to speak in support of Bill S-18, an act to amend the National Defence Act with respect to the non-deployment of persons under the age of 18 years to theatres of hostilities.

A few hours ago it was my pleasure to help present an all-party unanimous report prepared by the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs. It is the view of our committee and all of its members that where it concerns the Canadian forces our politics must always be placed on the back burner.

Bill S-18 may not seem like a very controversial piece of legislation, but it is extremely significant to our country, our world and our young people.

I have seen firsthand the battlefields of the last century, where our young Canadian soldiers gave their lives for our country and our freedom. I had the honour of going to Vimy Ridge in France to bring back the remains of the unknown soldier. While I was there we went down into one of the trenches. What did we see but a little YMCA mug, a mug where they had picked up all the little pieces and put them together. Yes, one of our young persons in the first world war, who was a member of the YMCA, went overseas so that we could be here with our freedom today.

Too many of our sons and daughters have been taken from their families by war long before their time. This legislation trumpets the end of that old world when our country needed to send every able-bodied person it could find, irrespective of age, to the front lines of armed conflicts.

Bill S-18 legislates the current policy and practice of the Department of National Defence, where young people—and 18 year olds are still children—are not asked to offer their young lives to face the dangers and threats we now thankfully see in decline.

The world is still ripe with hostility and anger, but the type of warfare and the types of enemies we now face are different.

Bill S-18 will also put Canada in compliance with the recently negotiated optional protocol to the United Nations convention on the rights of the child. The United Nations convention on the rights of the child was adopted by the United Nations in 1989 and has been ratified by 191 countries. I am proud that the former Conservative government under the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney was an important actor in these negotiations.

I have spoken in this House in the last two nights and I have seen a House of Commons seized with issues of political concern affecting a small percentage of our country's population. I am, therefore, especially proud to stand here tonight to offer my support and the support of the Progressive Conservative Party for Bill S-18, as I know that we are doing a great measure of good for our nation as a whole and for all of our young people.

Members of the House know very well that I had brothers who fought in the second world war. I will never forget the day that my five brothers came home. My mother was standing in the kitchen and I was a tiny little girl of six years old. They said “Mom, we all signed up today”. She looked at them, and I can still see her little face when she said “Oh, but not Glenny”, and they said “Yes, Mom, Glenny too”.

Glenny was my youngest brother. Glenny would have been one of the ones who would have been protected under this act. He was in the armed forces throughout all of the conflict in the second world war, but God was kind to us and brought Glenny back home.

I am so pleased to see Bill S-18 in the House tonight. Bill S-18 will not end war, but it will end war for our young people under the age of 18. It will keep us from placing our youngest into harm's way at a time of crisis when our judgment might not be the very best.

As I said, we may not be doing more here tonight than confirming the existing practice of our armed forces, but we may exit these doors tonight knowing that what we have done is both noble and right for all of our people.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Defence Act
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?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is the House ready for the question?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Defence Act
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?

Some hon. members

Question.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Defence Act
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?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Defence Act
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?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and the House went into committee thereon, Mr. McClelland in the chair)

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Defence Act
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?

The Deputy Chairman

Order, please. House in committee of the whole on Bill S-18, an act to amend the National Defence Act with respect to the non-deployment of persons under the age of eighteen years to theatres of hostilities.

Shall clause 1 carry?

(Clause 1 agreed to)

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Defence Act
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?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Shall the title carry?

(Title agreed to)

(Bill reported)

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   National Defence Act
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June 14, 2000