Mr. David Dingwall (Cape Breton -East Richmond):
Mr. Speaker, on May 111 put a question to the Minister of National Defence pertaining to the policy of the Department of National Defence as it relates to peacekeeping duties.
This policy, namely section 3, has been used in the past to deny Canadian Jews, Muslims and women the chance to represent their country in peacekeeping activities in the Middle East. The question that I posed to the minister at that time was: Why did the minister prevent Jews, Muslims and women from serving Canada in the Middle East but permit a known white supremacist to serve in Somalia?
The response received from the Minister of National of Defence was totally inadequate, totally barren of any sensitivity to the issue whatsoever.
In point of fact my colleague from Windsor West prevailed in the House two days later and asked questions of the Government of Canada again. I just want to quote my colleague who said:
The high reputation of our Canadian Armed Forces is based in large part on its proud record of battle in the Second World War when it fought against those who bore the swastika flag and the acts of inhumanity and injustice associated with it.
Yesterday the minister was quoted as suggesting that a currently serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces who erected a
swastika flag in a Canadian military barracks and then stood under it
giving the Hitler salute and wearing a Nazi T-shirt was just engaging
in a "boyish prank".
Any reasonable Canadian would conclude that kind of conduct is unbecoming of individuals associated with the Canadian Armed Forces, in particular with the peacekeeping movement of which Canada and Canadians have been proud for many years. In fact, Mr. Speaker, your predecessor who held office in this great Chamber was one of the ones who was very much instrumental in the whole concept of peacekeepers.
To add insult to injury, the government had the audacity to say that it did not approve of white supremacists in the Canadian Armed Forces. The individual in question to whom reference has been made was subsequently promoted and thereafter sent to a country which was primarily a country of black individuals.
I can understand mistakes being made, but this is incompetence at the highest level by the Minister of National Defence. I am not going to accept from the parliamentary secretary, who will be answering on the minister's behalf, that somehow we have misconstrued the facts or misinterpreted the facts.
The facts are very clear. This Minister of National Defence wishes to put the blame on other members of her department, namely senior individuals within the Department of National Defence, in trying to by-pass her responsibility as minister in charge.
It is very reminiscent of an earlier occasion when the minister of constitutional affairs, who was then the minister of external affairs, tried to abdicate his responsibility with regard to ministerial responsibility.
I want the parliamentary secretary to indicate to the House today the reasons this individual was allowed to remain in the Canadian Armed Forces, promoted, and thereafter sent to Somalia in order to serve. This has caused embarrassment for Canadians. It has brought attention to the Canadian peacekeepers that is not in keeping with their good reputation and well deserved honours. I want the parliamentary secretary on behalf of the Minister of National Defence to apologize to Parliament and Canadians for this gross act of negligence on the part of the Government of Canada.
June 7, 1993
Subtopic: SITTING RESUMED The House resumed at 5.31 p.m.