February 19, 2004

NDP

Alexa McDonough

New Democratic Party

Ms. Alexa McDonough

Madam Speaker, I want to honour your intervention but I must tell you, and I say this in all sincerity, that I do not know how one expresses the behaviour that the government is exhibiting when the facts are one thing and what the Liberals are saying about the facts is something fundamentally different, other than to call it a misrepresentation of the truth or playing fast and loose with the truth. Maybe I need some help from the Speaker in finding the right language to describe that despicable behaviour.

I am not addressing an individual member when I say that they are playing fast and loose with the truth. I am saying that the government, the Minister of National Defence, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the former minister of defence are all playing fast and loose with the truth when they say that this is only about a discussion around a kitchen table, for heaven's sake, about whether we might participate in something in the future, when there is a letter that shows otherwise. The letter is the proof that they are playing fast and loose with the truth.

They say that this has nothing to do with the weaponization of space but evidence has been presented to them in this debate. I do not believe for a minute that have only received this information from the NDP over the last couple of days. They must have the evidence, and if they do not, that would be the most terrifying thing of all.

What do we call that other than being less than fully truthful? Maybe the Speaker could give some guidance on how one describes what is happening here that will in fact be within the rules of Parliament of civility in debate.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

Resuming debate. The member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier.

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NDP

Brian Masse

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brian Masse

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member for Halifax and myself are splitting time. I have not been allocated my time.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

I have just verified that unfortunately the previous member did not split her time. Therefore, we will move forward to the next speaker who is the hon. member for Charlesbourg--Jacques-Cartier.

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NDP

Brian Masse

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brian Masse

Madam Speaker, she specifically said that at the beginning of her statement. There is no doubt about it. Hansard will show that.

I have left a committee meeting to participate in this debate and there was specific mention to that at the very start of her speech. We proceeded to questions and answers after 10 minutes. If you check the time, I am sure that is what happened. Since there was no halting of the answer, it is not part of debate. Only 10 minutes of debate has transpired so far.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

I have checked with the clerks of the House and that is not their interpretation, but to ease the member's mind we will continue debate, going to the member for Charlesbourg--Jacques-Cartier, and if in fact we find that there has been an error the member will be allowed to speak at a later point.

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BQ

Richard Marceau

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Richard Marceau (Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, BQ)

Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I speak today on the motion by the hon. member for Saint-Jean, a member of the Bloc Quebecois, who has been doing excellent work on this file, on which I congratulate him.

This is an issue that worries many Quebeckers, all over Quebec. In my riding office, I have received many calls and e-mails. In the riding of Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier last week I launched a local campaign against the missile defence program the federal government wants to get involved in. People are calling me; they are talking to me; they are seeking a way to show their disagreement with the Bush government's missile defence shield that the Canadian federal government wants to join. For this reason I launched this campaign and it is already bearing fruit because I have received a number of postcards and petitions, which I will be presenting in the House later.

There are many good reasons to oppose the missile defence program. There are political, philosophical, economic and moral reasons. I will be discussing the following reason: the missile defence shield, as designed by the Bush government, is based on a faulty reading of the international geopolitical situation.

There is no conflict today between the countries of the West, or North America, and any other state, whether it be a superpower, a small or large power, or a rogue state. There is none. The conflict of today is between the open societies of the West—mainly, although there are others—and the angry men and women who are rising up against us, many of them from weakened, overthrown or broken states. They often come from the third world and from the Arab or Muslim world. I will come back to this later.

The defenders of the missile defence shield idea think that states, even rogue states, are so crazy and their leaders so out of touch with reality that they would be prepared to attack the United States or North America, even if such an attack would automatically and inevitably lead to their destruction. The idea that any leader, even of a so-called rogue state, could be crazy enough not to be dissuaded by such a threat of destruction, is in itself a completely crazy idea.

Who in this House would think that these leaders—whether of North Korea or other countries that have been mentioned in our debates—have stayed in power so long because they are suicidal fanatics? Is there anyone in this House who thinks, for example, that the family in power in North Korea has been leading that country for more than 50 years, because it has an instinct for survival? Of course it does.

Currently, there have not been any direct attacks on what I will call the West, for a lack of a better word, by a nation, a government or any entity claiming statehood, but rather very indirect attacks, often by terrorists and on easy civilian targets.

The proponents of the missile defence system seem to have forgotten that the main characteristic of these leaders of so-called rogue states is their survival instinct. They want to survive and, naturally, they want their regime to survive.

I was quite surprised to see that those in favour of the missile defence shield have not asked themselves the following question. If these leaders wanted to attack North America one day, why not do it now, before the shield is built and everything is in place? If they wanted to, they would do it before.

What is deterring these leaders or states, be they rogue states or not, is the knowledge that if they attack North America, the United States or Canada, with one or more missiles, their regime will not survive. That is what is stopping them. The thing they want most in the world is to stay in power and to continue to rule over their society.

Consequently, saying that a rogue state might attack us to justify this insane multi-billion dollar investment is not a valid explanation of or justification for the missile defence program.

I challenge everyone who spoke in the House in support of the missile program to answer the question I asked earlier: If anyone wanted to launch a missile attack on us, why not just do it now, before the shield is in place.

The real threat is not from any state or regime. The primary threat for North America, the West, is groups or individuals who are disappointed or angry, often with regard to their own country's leaders.

In my opinion, this is especially true in the Middle East. The Middle East is a real powder keg and is producing masses of unemployed youth who have no future and often, unfortunately, no democratic outlet. They live in repressive regimes. These men and women, these angry and frustrated individuals, will never launch ballistic missiles on the United States, Canada or North America. But they may blow up a suitcase containing a weapon of mass destruction, in the middle of one of our major cities.

This terrifying possibility is becoming all too real with the rapid development of new technologies, like the Internet, that permit the ready dissemination of information on the manufacture of dangerous and easily produced weapons.

That is the threat we should be worrying about. The billions of dollars invested in this shield, the facilities throughout northern Canada, Greenland and North America, cannot stop individuals who have nothing to lose by launching another 9/11 attack, by hijacking a plane and dropping a nuclear bomb, dirty or otherwise, on Manhattan, Toronto or Montreal, or even using biological warfare.

The shield would never protect us against that kind of threat, which is, I think, far more pressing than that of missiles launched from another country.

So, what should we do? What should we do instead of—how should I put it—throwing billions of dollars out of the window? The best way to deal with these threats, with these unemployed youths who have no prospects, who have been so far disappointed by democracy and development in their countries, is to support these countries.

We should insist in very specific terms, using a carrot and a stick if need be, on democratization and true respect for human rights, the rule of the law and true equality between men and women.

We need to help these closed and totalitarian societies set in place democratic governments that are untainted by corruption, governments that would meet the needs of ordinary citizens instead of serving the interests of a small group of leaders who usually benefit from totalitarian regimes.

It is about helping societies cope with the new economic world order, which is led, among other things, by globalization.

It is about providing tangible assistance to these societies in restructuring their economies so that economic development benefits their entire populations, not just a few friends of the regime.

It is about opening respectful and understanding dialogue with these societies, particularly Arab countries where unfortunately we do not have enough ties with their leaders.

Far too often, we in the West have accepted the dictatorships in that region. Far too often, we have accepted totalitarian societies because it has served our economic interests. Far too often, we in the West have turned a blind eye to human rights abuse for the sake of oil, for instance.

Far too often, we have turned a blind eye to the development of totalitarian ideologies that are conducive to terrorist potentials, because this affected trade.

I will conclude by saying that a foreign policy based on our values—democracy, human rights, women's rights, peace, the rule of law—would allow us to eliminate the threat posed by these angry people.

We who live in a free and wealthy society owe it to those who do not have the fortune to live in a society like ours. In doing what I have suggested, instead of investing billions of dollars in an antimissile defence shield, we would be helping these societies and these countries and helping ourselves.

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LIB

Julian Reed

Liberal

Mr. Julian Reed (Halton, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I heard my hon. friend deliver a persuasive argument that totalitarian regimes are not likely to attack North America because of their self-interest, the interest in staying in power and keeping their people in subjugation and so on. That in itself would be a persuasive argument, if that were the only thing that we might be concerned about. However, what we are living in now, and I hope it comes to an end in my lifetime, is this age of active terrorism.

As we have found out to our horror, the terrorists who are active in the world are well financed. They have lots of money and lots of capability to do just about whatever they want to unless they are defended against. While I can agree with my friend that these regimes are more interested in self-preservation than risking physical annihilation, I would argue that there are other areas of concern.

As I said, they are well financed, access to technology does not seem to be a problem, and so on. The defence from missiles and that supposed threat which we hope never ever happens is a real one. Canada, being a close neighbour to the United States, should be at the table and should be working through Norad to have our voice in that debate.

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BQ

Richard Marceau

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Richard Marceau

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, and I thank him also for finally agreeing with me.

When we talk about terrorism, we are not talking about state terrorism. These angry groups and individuals are not acting on behalf of a particular state. They are members of al-Qaeda, Hamas, Jihad or other groups. The real danger is not that these groups will fire a missile from a particular state. Like the hon. member said, the real threat is that one of these groups with good financial means and technological expertise will bring a suitcase or drive a car full of explosives in the centre of a North American city.

This is the kind of threat we have to fend off. This is the real threat. The hon. member himself pointed it out, and he agrees with my premise. No antimissile defence could counter the threat of these angry groups and individuals. First, we must combat terrorism fiercely, of course, but we must also see to it that these young people who have no future, and no democracy, who live in totalitarian regimes—because that suits us and our economic interests—can live in democracies. Then they will have legitimate and acceptable means to express their feelings. These young men and women often live in repressive societies. By helping them, we will eliminate the threat against us.

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BQ

Claude Bachand

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Claude Bachand (Saint-Jean, BQ)

Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on his speech, because I think he went right to the heart of the issue when he talked about poverty and the breeding ground for terrorism. I want to ask him about the democratic deficit in the debate we are having.

Last week, the government House leader introduced a bill and a series of measures and said that we had to democratize the debates in the House of Commons. He said that, in Parliament, members should be more proactive and there should be more transparency.

In the debate that we are having regarding a major change to the foreign affairs and national defence policy, does he not find it surprising that we have to ask for opposition days with a votable motion to take a closer look at this issue, which so far has been the sole responsibility of a few officials at the foreign affairs and national defence departments?

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BQ

Richard Marceau

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Richard Marceau

Madam Speaker, indeed, I find it unfortunate that this debate had to be requested by the opposition. The government may boast about having had a take note debate on Tuesday, but no vote took place. The government should wake up. We want a vote. We are certainly prepared to debate this issue, but at some point these discussions must lead to a concrete measure, namely a vote.

Based on the position that I explained, it would be logical to be much more determined in our will to see all the countries of the world embrace democracy and to see them respect human rights. There is no moral relativism in this.

We must insist on the respect of human rights, on gender equality, on democracy and on the rule of law. We must show how democracy works. In a debate as important as this one on the geopolitical realignment of Canada's role, we must absolutely be exemplary in our democratic process by having debates in the House that lead to free votes.

I see that the former government House leader is smiling ironically, but I know that he is a great democrat. In any case, I hope he is an admirer of Churchill. We have few things in common, but at least we have that. Churchill was a great democrat who was never afraid to speak up, including against his own party—and he belonged to two different ones. In the thirties, when he was campaigning against Neville Chamberlain and his predecessor because the governments of his own party were in favour of appeasement, Churchill was opposed to that option and he spoke against it.

So, I hope that the former government House leader, who is an admirer of this great politician of the 20th century, will be able to promote the idea of a free vote, so that his colleagues around him will have the right to say, “I too am opposed to the antimissile defence shield, regardless of what the Minister of Foreign Affairs thinks, regardless of what the current Prime Minister—who is in the process of bringing his policy in line with that of the United States—thinks, because the overwhelming majority of Quebeckers do not want this shield”.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

We will resume debate in a moment. I have some clarification for the member for Halifax. As the House knows, the Chair changed during her speech. I consulted with the clerks and they have said that three minutes into her speech she indicated that she would be splitting her time. Unfortunately, they missed that, but it has been corrected.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Windsor West.

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NDP

Brian Masse

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP)

Madam Speaker, I thank you for the prompt action on the change. I appreciate it.

I would like to start my comments with an acknowledgement of the member for Halifax and her hard work on this file for the New Democratic Party, for Canadians and also for people abroad throughout the world. This is being debated throughout the world, as Canada considers entering into a national weapon defence and the weaponization of space with the United States.

It is important to note that our party has a former leader who has not only stayed on during a change in our leadership, but who also will be running in the upcoming election. He is doing a great job on files and the work in a very progressive way. We are happy to work within that environment. As well, it leads to a sound ability to put forth arguments on this side of the House which we feel are very necessary to debate.

Being part of a border community and having American relatives who are very much integrated in terms of social, cultural and employment exchanges at the border, we find that having a credible position that is sound, upfront and honest is the best way to negotiate and build our relationships with the United States.

As a member of Parliament, I have had a couple of instances that highlight the duplicity of the government on this matter. I was part of an all-party group that went to Washington. At that time, a Liberal member said to the Washington representatives that we would not join the Americans in the war in Iraq . Rather, we would go to Afghanistan and take care of that so the Americans could go into Iraq. The member said that we were really with the U.S. in spirit, in heart and in physical resources and by putting our people in Afghanistan, that was how we were helping with the U.S. on the war in Iraq.

That message was not well received. It was not open, honest and accountable in terms of the decision in the House of Commons, that we had dragged the government away from going to war.

Second, an Alliance member presented packages to American congressmen and senators. One thing which was said to a Republican congressman was that there were many people in Canada, including the official opposition, who wanted to go to war in Iraq with the Americans. The Republican congressman replied that he had voted against going to war.

That is important when we talk about this issue. The New Democrats have been painted as fearmongers, that we are the only ones speaking about the lack of clarity and, more important, commitment from the government to ensure that weaponization of space is not on the table.

The mere fact that the minister could not put that in his document, in terms of the agreement to go forward, was very disconcerting. We want to have a very clear understanding of what this will mean in our commitment from a research and development side to a personnel side, as well as a financial commitment.

It is dishonest to go to the table and say that we will not bring resources there or that we will not provide funding. That will not be very influential in developing United States-Canada relations.

Quite frankly, if we said to the American public that Canadians wanted to participate in national defence, in missiles and in the weaponization of space, but we were not willing to pay for it, the Americans would say overwhelmingly that Canadians should pay their fair share.

Part of this debate, in which there has been an attempt to sweep it under the carpet, is the mere fact that if we decide to take actions and so-called partnerships, we need to bring something to the table other than just our bodies. We have to come with something else.

I do not think Canadians buy the notion that it will cost us nothing. The reality is it will cost us financial resources. Otherwise we are saying to the U.S. that we want a free lunch. That will not be a very good strategy in building our relationships with those who either support or do not support this in the United States.

It is important to note the concept of the rogue state, that the issue is just between Canada and the United States and isolationism. It is not. It is about the world. Some of the rogue state arguments have been talked about by researchers, scientists as well as think tanks. One of them is the Cato Institute.

In a study done by the Cato Institute, one conclusion was:

Policymakers must examine closely the changing nature of the international security environment before making any decision to deploy a limited land-based NMD. Given the importance of political factors in the international security environment, policymakers must take into account recent changes in so-called rogue states. Looking only at the technical capabilities of those states is insufficient. Positive developments in the nations most likely to develop long-range missiles--North Korea, Iran, and even less-capable Iraq--should give the United States more time to develop and test an NMD system, which would be the most technologically challenging weapon ever built, to address only a narrow range of threats.

That is important because it looks at a narrow range of threats. We have to focus on these types of strategies alone and the cost of resources. We know that billions of dollars are required to ramp up this whole system. It will cost opportunities to work on world peace, poverty and diffusing other threats by ensuring that democracy flourishes in other nations that do not have them.

One of the criticisms that has come out about the New Democratic Party is that we are alone on this issue, that people around the world are not talking about this. I will point to a discussion on the BBC newswire and some of the comments related to the opinions of people on national defence as to whether it will lead to global peace or to an arm's race.

David Smart of the United States wrote:

The vast majority of responses are strongly opposed to the anti-missile system, and George Bush is being attacked for being out of touch with the times. Do not fear the USA is a democratic country, the majority of the people here share the same feelings as the rest of you, George will be voted out next time round. I am surprised that nobody has mentioned the Maginot Line or even Vietnam. Remember, the people of the USA are not stupid.

There are other examples.

A gentleman from Grand Rapids, Michigan, wrote:

Many of you have hit it on the head. The bottom line is that biological and chemical weapons are as much of a threat as nuclear weapons are. The real losers in this are going to be us, the American people, who will see our economy suffer over the next four years from erroneous government spending such as the missile defence program coupled with massive tax cuts. I didn't think it was possible but I think Bush might be even more clueless than Regan was.

There are comments from other places around the world, such as Germany and Kuwait and from many different individuals.

It is important to note that New Democrats believe in talking about this in an open and accountable way. We believe in looking at the possibilities. Once we start to explore and go down a certain road, it will take us to commitments. Those commitments are going to be financial, social and cultural. Those commitments are wrong with the way the government is handling this file. We need to be open and honest and accountable to all the possibilities to which this will lead us.

It is quite clear from the information coming from the United States that this will be the weaponization of space at the end of the day. That is why we should stay out of this. That is why we need to work on foreign policy that will be multinational and that works on progressive policies which will end these threats from the supposed rogue states. We can only come up with North Korea as an example. Very few others are thumbed as having specific abilities to target.

This is the wrong decision, and I am proud to stand on the side that is fighting this.

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CA

Jay Hill

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I listened to the member of Parliament from the New Democratic Party and his comments about the motion before the House today, which basically states that the government should oppose the proposed American anti-missile defence shield and therefore cease all discussions with the Bush administration on possible Canadian participation.

I note he showed his true colours when he made the statement, and I think it is a direct quote from his remarks, that “Bush might be even more clueless than Reagan was”. He went on following that to talk about commitments. I would offer the following thought. What about the commitment of Parliament and all parliamentarians to the protection of Canadians? That is what we are talking about today.

The NDP is trying to confuse this issue by talking about star wars and what may or may not happen in the future. However, what we should be talking about, when we are talking about the missile defence shield, is the protection of North Americans by working in concert with our American allies, because despite the best efforts of the New Democratic Party, they still are, I hope, our allies. They are our best neighbour. Yes, we have a lot of problems with the Americans and different times we have to take strong stands with them on trade issues, but they are our ally and we should not make any mistake about that.

What about the commitment to protect Canadians?

I am in receipt, fresh off the news service, of a news story that the Russians have just completed a new weapon that they put into orbit in the last day or so. They have proved that this vehicle can get around the existing defences, can manoeuvre while it is in orbit and poses a serious threat not only to Americans but obviously to Canadians because of our close proximity to our neighbours.

In light of this new evidence that the member may or may not have seen, would the New Democratic Party want to reconsider its commitment to protect Canadians?

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NDP

Brian Masse

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brian Masse

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to respond to that. First, the comments that I made related to George Bush and Ronald Reagan were not from myself. They were directly from a quote from a citizen of the United States from Grand Rapids, Michigan, so let us be clear about that. The issue we want to highlight is that even in the United States there is no solidarity of this issue. That is very important.

With specific reference to the Soviet Union, it is quite obvious what is happening. When Bush cancelled the anti-ballistic missile treaty and tore it up unilaterally, it sent the Soviet Union into a different level of discussions than it ever had before. Therefore, we see the escalation that will happen from this, and we hear this across the globe, not just from the Soviet Union but from other European nations and countries that are concerned about this escalation.

I want to point out that the member for Hamilton East the other night talked about the fact that we have embedded soldiers from the last war in Iraq. Therefore, once we started to get into this together, because we had Canadian soldiers serving during the last war in Iraq, we started to have this integration. We have to be honest with people.

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LIB

Don Boudria

Liberal

Hon. Don Boudria (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, let me start by disagreeing profoundly with what I have just heard.

The hon. member who just spoke said the comments, comments that I thought were insulting toward the President of the United States, were justified because he was quoting someone else. In a country of three hundred million people south of us, we could probably find a quote on anything about anyone at any time. A critical mass will achieve that.

I do not think that is the point. The fact that the hon. member used those comments in support of his argument makes it equally insulting, and I as a member of Parliament, and hopefully the rest of us in the House, want to dissociate myself from that. That is the first thing.

I would like to continue with the debate on the opposition day motion.

I have heard in a previous speech, or was it during questions and comments, a member of the Bloc Quebecois saying that they had to use an opposition day.

As a long time parliamentarian, I would like to say that I really have a problem with that. The use of an opposition day does not diminish in any way the House of Commons. In our parliamentary system, it is the duty of Parliament to challenge the government before approving the budget allocations. This is done through opposition days and at the end of the whole process, a vote is taken on the government's estimates and on the supply bill. The primary role of Parliament is to keep the government accountable before the allocations are approved.

I do not know why the member feels that such a motion would be of a lesser value coming from an opposition member. I was once an opposition member and I never thought that my motions were less valid that the ones coming from the other side of the House.

We are now discussing this motion presented by the Bloc Quebecois, which says: “That, in the opinion of this House, the government should oppose the proposed American antimissile defence shield and, therefore, cease all discussions with the Bush administration on possible Canadian participation.” I think it should have read President Bush.

It is a bit like asking a waiter if there is soup on the menu and having to eat it, whether we like the taste or not, which is totally illogical.

Allow me to elaborate a little bit more on this issue. Of course the government rejects the argument that discussions with the United States on cooperation in antimissile defence weakens Canada's commitment to promote the current international framework of non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament agreements.

As the defence minister pointed out in the letter of intent to Mr. Rumsfeld, which was partially read earlier today in the House, the government considers ballistic missile defence to be a complement to other international efforts toward non-proliferation and, of course, disarmament. It does not exclude such efforts.

A solid multilateral architecture in this sector is essential to Canada's security. Even if we do one thing, it does not mean we are unable to do the other. This is why our country is firmly committed to working toward the reduction of nuclear weapons and the elimination of other weapons of mass destruction. We talked about this in the Speech from the Throne. I could even provide you with several examples of Canadian initiatives.

I will show you that our reputation with regard to disarmament, peacekeeping and so on is well known.

In 2002, at the Kananaskis summit, under the leadership of our country, of our former prime minister, the G-8 countries launched the global partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction. We did this with the other G-8 countries and with Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland and so on. All these countries invested $20 billion in this partnership.

For its part, Canada will invest $1 billion in this sector. Within the global partnership, Canada will invest $33 million in the upgrading of one of Russia's main plants for the destruction of chemical weapons to help that country, which has far too many weapons, to safely eliminate an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

Canada has directed the work of the G-8 expert group on non-proliferation, which was involved in drafting principles to govern the measures to be taken to prevent chemical, biological, radiation-emitting and even nuclear weapons from falling into terrorist hands.

We have the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, or NPT, which is the legal and policy framework for Canada's international efforts around disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. Canada intends to pursue its efforts to bolster the integrity and viability of the NPT. We will continue to implement the principle of ongoing responsibility, which made it possible to prorogue the treaty indefinitely in 1995. As hon. members are already aware, Canada will be working in favour of increased transparency and responsibility in connection with the NPT.

As well, our country plays another lead role in the efforts to deal with certain countries' recent violations of the obligations set out in the NPT. More particularly, it is helping the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, to gather information on the suspected existence of clandestine nuclear programs in North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere.

Canada's contribution, second ranking only to the United States, to the IAEA Action plan on nuclear safety, a new program which will make it possible to address a broad range of international issues relating to nuclear safety and security.

Canada also plays a vital role in all of the mechanisms governing exports of weapons of mass destruction, within the Nuclear Suppliers Group and several others. As well, we headed the Missile Technology Control Regime, the MTCR, from September 2001 to September 2002, which enabled us to promote international action against missile proliferation.

As hon. members can see, we are working against proliferation. Of course we want to see peace maintained, and we are contributing to the efforts to ensure that it is. I will go into this in further detail. Canada, and other like minded countries, given the concerns raised by the lack of a legally binding treaty setting out standards for non-proliferation of missiles and disarmament, have negotiated a code of conduct. That code is, moreover, one with strong political constraints. It is the first step toward the adoption of the instrument known as the international code of conduct against ballistic missile proliferation, known as the Hague Code of Conduct. This sets out a series of principles, transparency measures and other commitments relating to ballistic missiles. Since its inception in November 2002, 110 countries have signed on. This is a highly significant document.

Do I have to remind the members that the Canadian Landmine Fund was extended for the period from 2003 to 2008 with a $72 million budget? One of the purposes of that fund is to promote the implementation of the Ottawa Convention. Why was it so named? Because it was an initiative sponsored by the honourable Lloyd Axworthy when he was our Minister of Foreign Affairs. The fund also helps with the destruction of mine stockpiles and mine clearing activities, and it provides assistance to victims.

When I was minister for international cooperation, I went to Croatia and I visited mine clearing sites. We saw those devices, which are so very small and cost so little to produce, but so much to get rid of. And I am not even talking about all the victims.

It is Canada which initiated the landmine destruction programs. As I said, I do not think our reputation is bad at all. We are the only country in the world to have taken part in all UN peacekeeping missions. This is no small feat.

As you know, I am president of the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas and, a few days ago, I asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs what role Canada would play in bringing some sort of peace to Haiti. This is a completely different subject, but it is relevant just the same.

Of course, a few days later, the minister met his American counterpart in Washington. This is proof yet again that Canada is actively participating in peacekeeping.

Also in cooperation with the United States, Canada played a major role in the adoption, in November 2003, of the Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War as an annex to the Convention on prohibition or restriction on the use of certain conventional weapons. This was another important initiative.

Let me now turn to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. Of course, it is not in force yet. However, as we all know, Canada is aggressively promoting universal ratification of this treaty. Our foreign affairs minister recently wrote to his counterparts who have not yet ratified the protocol to urge them to do so.

This is another example of the work we are doing in this area. With suicide bombings having become unfortunately almost commonplace, the fight against biological warfare is at the top of Canada's priorities in terms of non-proliferation.

Our country is working to address the implementation and assessment deficiencies, which are the biggest flaw of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to urge countries to pass national implementation legislation providing for penalties and more efficient export controls.

Canada is also supporting the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, another example of what we are doing. Of course, I have not given a complete list of the measures we have taken so far, but I think I have given the House some idea of the scope of Canada's contribution to non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament initiatives.

As I said earlier, this is not the issue now before the House. Canada's reputation in not at stake here, although some people have tried to question it today. Canada's track record is very positive, very good indeed.

Here is the situation that we are faced with. The United States has announced that it would begin the implementation of an antimissile defence system. As we all know, we are the United States' neighbour. We share the longest unprotected border in the world. We are the neighbours of the United States, which is just south of us. In fact, for some residents of Windsor, the United States is their neighbour to the south, the west and the north. The Americans are also neighbours to the west for some of us, and to the north for those Canadians who live along the Alaska border. So, they are our neighbours. Of course, north of Canada we have Russia.

I do not want to think that Russia is a threat. It is not, right now. But that is not the point. As the former Minister of National Defence said earlier, the idea is to take the necessary measures to protect ourselves without weaponizing space. We must protect ourselves against attacks on our country and on our southern neighbours or, at least, discuss this issue with them. And why not discuss it?

I totally disagree with the comments made by New Democrats, who said that we would probably disagree with the Americans. According to them, since we will probably disagree with our neighbours, it would be better not to talk to them at all. This is not very helpful in a dialogue. In my opinion, this attitude is totally unacceptable.

I think that we should be at the table with the Americans. I do not think I am naive that we can influence the process. Let us say that I am wrong on all those propositions. Does that mean that we could not walk out of it if we did not like it in the end? It is silly to think that we would have a conversation with the Americans and after having disagreed with them, if that were to be the result, that we could not move away from them.

We do have an independent foreign policy. We have proven that in the past. Surely the latest issue involving Iraq proved that our foreign policy is quite different. It does not mean that it is always different. That is equally ridiculous. Our views converge in many areas. They often do, but not all the time; nor should they.

One hon. member across seems to be suggesting that we should always disagree with them. That is fine and she is entitled to think that if that happens to be her position. I do not think it is.

We participate with the Americans in Norad. I do not know if the hon. member has ever been there. It is quite interesting. It has increased the security for both countries. Our participation with the Americans and several other countries in NATO has equally been of benefit, but that does not mean, for instance, that Canada has subscribed to other things the United States has done, such as the war in Iraq. We do not exactly espouse the Monroe doctrine either for that matter. We never have. It is not part of us.

We have our own values; the Americans have theirs. They are often, but certainly not always, similar. We should be trying to influence the process. Even if we were not their closest neighbour, our role as a peacemaker should mean that we should try to influence that process. The fact that we are their neighbour means that we should try even more.

I do not subscribe to the theory espoused earlier that it will likely fail, and therefore, we should not talk to the Americans. I do not believe that. I think we have a reasonable chance of being successful. If we do not try, I know very well that we will not be successful at much, because there will not be that kind of dialogue between us and them. It is the security potentially of our country that is at stake here as well.

Those are the reasons why I decided to intervene today, to make these remarks, and to say that I do not intend to support this motion. Whether or not it would be a free vote is immaterial to me. I do not think much of those things anyway. I do not espouse the view of the hon. member across and I will be voting in solidarity with members of the cabinet, because I think the government has the right approach to this.

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Subtopic:   Supply
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CA

Jay Hill

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I was pleased to listen to the remarks by the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

I recognize that the North American missile defence shield and whether or not Canada participates and lends its expertise to the American efforts to create such a shield is an important issue. It is an important foreign policy and national security issue. There is no question of that.

I wonder if the member might comment on the fact that the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party in particular always seem quick to say that we do not spend enough time in this place discussing issues like child poverty, employment insurance, the high levels of taxation, and all the social policy issues.

In my case, I have not received one telephone call, one fax, or one snail mail letter on this issue. I have received a few e-mail letters, which are impossible to track as to where they came from. They may be from downtown Toronto, or indeed they may be from my riding of Prince-George--Peace River.

However, other than the few e-mails, I have received very little correspondence in my riding office or my Ottawa office on this particular issue. Yet the House and the Bloc Quebecois are devoting a day of debate on this issue. Yes, it is important, but are there not more important issues out there that the House should be consumed?

I present that to the hon. member and ask, is Prince-George--Peace River an anomaly, is his riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell seized with this issue? Is he inundated with letters, phone calls and petitions demanding that he raise this issue of the distant potential for weaponization of space sometime in the future?

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LIB

Don Boudria

Liberal

Hon. Don Boudria

Madam Speaker, I agree with some of the things the hon. member has raised, but not all of them.

If he is asking me if this is the hottest issue in my constituency right now, of course, it is not. The issues involving mad cow disease, the fear that the avian flu might potentially infect that sector of our agriculture in my riding, the future of a particular steel mill in my constituency, the issues involving the textile industry and how that is going right now, and the jobs related to those areas are definitely raised a lot more.

Issues involving the maintenance and protection of our official languages and their programs are very important to the constituents that I represent. They are two-thirds, by proportion, French speaking in a largely English speaking province that is Ontario. Those are very important issues in my constituency, as are other issues as well.

Having said that, I cannot fault the party across for having brought this issue for debate because, as I said initially in my speech, there is something sacred about that. I think it was wrong for a Bloc MP to denigrate the process of an opposition day, qualifying it as somewhat second rate, which one member did. I do not agree with that either. I think that it is first rate debate. However, in a parallel way, the Bloc has the right to introduce the subject and that is sacred.

Therefore, I must be consistent with my thought here. The Bloc is perfectly legitimate in having brought forth the subject. Maybe it is a big issue for the constituents of those who brought this motion forward, but not in my constituency, at least not that I know.

I note that one member across seems to be very enthusiastic to participate in the debate, no doubt she will get her chance later.

The issue is theirs to raise. In a way, I will be happy to vote on it because it will permit me to state where I stand. That being said, would I have chosen this as the hot topic from my riding today? No, definitely not.

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Subtopic:   Supply
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BQ

Claude Bachand

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Claude Bachand (Saint-Jean, BQ)

Madam Speaker, I cannot believe that a motion containing a few lines can be interpreted differently by everyone. The motion we have today is worthwhile. We said that the government did not take its responsibilities. There is a major change in the defence policy as well as in the foreign affairs policy. There has been almost no discussion, except for a discussion during a take-note debate this week, without any vote.

We submit that we should get some credit for raising an interesting issue. This issue is of major concern in Quebec. In the first part of my speech this morning, I said we are different in Quebec, the country where I am from, and we are glad we are different. We also think that the space defence shield is an important issue. This is my question for the member who just spoke. He talked about a whole series of lists, actions and conventions to limit, eliminate and control armaments. This is great. This is what the government is saying. This has been the government policy for decades, since Pearson, among others.

Now the government is talking about the space defence shield where we go to the weaponization of space. Now there is a breakdown. This is what we have been trying to say from the beginning. There is a major change. The member referred to Lloyd Axworthy earlier. Does he think that Lloyd Axworthy supports the space defence shield? I do not think so. Yet, he is the former foreign affairs minister. He thinks like us. I would like my colleague to comment on the statements I just made.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Don Boudria

Liberal

Hon. Don Boudria

Madam Speaker, first of all, the motion is worthwhile, but it is wrong. I cannot support it. Of course the member has the right to introduce it, and I have said so at the beginning of my speech. I thank him for his congratulatory remarks regarding the initiatives taken by Canada in all the peacekeeping roles.

I have a problem with the member saying that we are headed for a space shield.

First of all, I do not think that we have to decide to endorse the proposed initiative. Second, the issue of the space shield as he called it is not even on the agenda. The star wars that the member for Halifax is talking about are not even in the picture anymore. Just like the movie, it is long gone and forgotten. We are dealing with a completely different thing today. We are dealing with land or sea based measures to prevent states or dissident elements in certain states from attacking us with weapons of mass destruction. These measures should help us defend ourselves without us or the United States having to use nuclear weapons. We are not talking about something that would be based in space nor about weaponization of space. We have certainly not reached the “we are headed for” stage. I have not ordered anything on the menu yet. I have only asked the waiter if there was soup on offer.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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February 19, 2004