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- Mr. Discepola 1461
- Bill C-217. Motions for introduction and first readingdeemed adopted 1461
- Mr. Nunziata 1461
- Bill C-218. Motions for introduction and first readingdeemed adopted 1461
- Mrs. Venne 1461
- Mrs. Cowling 1462
- Mr. White (Fraser Valley West) 1462
- Mr. Milliken 1462
- Motion for concurrence 1462
- Mr. Robichaud 1462
- (Motion agreed to.) 1462
- Mr. Collenette 1462
- Mr. Jacob 1467
- Mr. Frazer 1471
- Mr. Jackson 1473
- Mr. Williams 1474
- Mr. Rompkey 1475
- Mr. Fillion 1478
- Mr. White (Fraser Valley West) 1479
- Mr. Bergeron 1479
- Mr. Mifflin 1482
- Mr. Duceppe 1485
- Mr. Williams 1486
- Mr. Godin 1486
- Mr. Hart 1488
- Mr. Deshaies 1490
- Mr. Richardson 1491
- Mr. McKinnon 1491
- Mr. Mifflin 1491
- Mr. MacDonald 1492
- Mr. Fillion 1496
- Mr. MacDonald 1496
- Mrs. Dalphond-Guiral 1496
- Mr. Schmidt 1497
- Mr. McKinnon 1497
- Ms. Whelan 1497
- Mr. Anawak 1497
- Mrs. Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata) 1497
- Mr. Mayfield 1498
- Mr. Assadourian 1498
- Mr. Finlay 1498
- Mr. Murphy 1498
- Mrs. Guay 1498
- Mr. Duncan 1499
- Mr. Arseneault 1499
- Mr. Caccia 1499
- Mr. Strahl 1499
- Mr. Bouchard 1500
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 1500
- Mr. Bouchard 1500
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 1500
- Mr. Bouchard 1500
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 1500
- Mr. Gauthier 1500
- Mr. Gray 1500
- Mr. Gauthier 1501
- Mr. Gray 1501
- Miss Grey 1501
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 1501
- Miss Grey 1501
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 1501
- Mr. Brien 1501
- Mr. Anderson 1501
- Mr. Brien 1501
- Mr. Anderson 1501
- Mrs. Ablonczy 1502
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 1502
- Mrs. Ablonczy 1502
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 1502
- Mr. Loubier 1502
- Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard) 1502
- Mr. Loubier 1502
- Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard) 1502
- Mrs. Jennings 1502
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 1503
- Mrs. Jennings 1503
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 1503
- Mr. Laurin 1503
- Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard) 1503
- Mr. Laurin 1503
- Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard) 1503
- Mrs. Kraft Sloan 1503
- Ms. Copps 1503
- Mr. Manning 1504
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 1504
- Mr. Manning 1504
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 1504
- Mr. Jacob 1504
- Mr. Ouellet 1504
- Mr. Jacob 1504
- Mr. Ouellet 1504
- Mr. Strahl 1504
- Mr. Anderson 1505
- Mr. Strahl 1505
- Mr. Anderson 1505
- Mr. Boudria 1505
- Mr. Dingwall 1505
- Mrs. Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata) 1505
- Mr. Dupuy 1505
- Mrs. Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata) 1506
- Mr. Dupuy 1506
- Mr. Hanger 1506
- Mr. Marchi 1506
- Mr. Hanger 1506
- Mr. Marchi 1506
- Mr. Lebel 1506
- Mr. Dupuy 1506
- Mr. Lebel 1507
- Mr. Dupuy 1507
- Mr. Harper (Calgary West) 1507
- Mr. Gagliano 1507
- Mr. Verran 1507
- Mr. Collenette 1507
- Mr. Bhaduria 1507
- Mr. Milliken 1507
- Mr. Duceppe 1508
- Mr. Hermanson 1508
- Mr. Nunziata 1508
- The Speaker 1508
- Mr. Gauthier 1508
- Mr. Gray 1508
- Consideration resumed of the motion 1508
- Mr. MacDonald 1508
- Mr. Arseneault 1509
- Mr. Rocheleau 1509
- Mr. MacDonald 1511
- Mr. Culbert 1512
- Mrs. Brown (Calgary Southeast) 1512
- Ms. Clancy 1513
- Mr. Plamondon 1515
- Mr. Kerpan 1516
- Mr. Harb 1517
- Mr. MacDonald 1518
- Mr. Calder 1519
- Mr. Proud 1519
- Mr. Péloquin 1521
- Mr. Hopkins 1522
- Mr. Sauvageau 1522
- Mr. Lavigne (Beauharnois-Salaberry) 1523
- Mr. Mifflin 1524
- Mr. Leroux (Shefford) 1525
- Mr. Mifflin 1526
- Mr. Plamondon 1526
- Mr. Scott (Fredericton-York-Sunbury) 1527
- Mr. Mercier 1529
- Mr. Proud 1530
- Mr. Mifflin 1530
- Mr. Hopkins 1530
- Mr. Calder 1533
- Mr. Regan 1534
- Division on motion deferred 1534
- Mr. Gauthier (Ottawa-Vanier) 1535
- Mrs. Catterall 1535
- Mr. Paré 1536
- Ms. Guarnieri 1536
- Mr. Althouse 1537
- Ms. Guarnieri 1537
HOUSE OF COMMONS
The House met at 10 a.m.
In accordance with its order of reference of Friday, February 4, 1994 your committee has considered Bill C-2, an act to amend the Department of National Revenue Act and to amend certain other acts in consequence thereof, and has agreed to report it without amendment.
* * *
He said: Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank the hon. member for Leeds-Grenville for seconding the motion to introduce this bill.
During the election campaign Canadians made it clear that they would like to see some fundamental changes to our criminal justice system. It would appear that the Young Offenders Act has acted as a lightning rod for a lot of the concerns in the community. This bill in my view would address some of the very serious flaws in the Young Offenders Act.
The bill has three purposes. First, it would lower the age limits that define a young offender. A young offender would be defined as a young person between the ages of 10 and 15. As a result, 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds would be held responsible for their criminal acts and prosecuted in adult court.
Presently, 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds are subject to the Young Offenders Act and not the Criminal Code of Canada in adult court. In my view, 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds are old enough to understand the nature and consequences of their acts and should be held responsible as adults.
The second purpose of the bill would be to increase the maximum, I stress maximum, penalty for first and second degree murder from five years to ten years. I believe Canadians want to see some changes to the maximum penalty provisions for murder under the Young Offenders Act. Any persons between the ages of 10 and 15 who commit first or second degree murder would face a maximum penalty of 10 years.
Finally, the bill would allow for the publication of the name of the young offender after the young offender's second conviction for an indictable offence.
In conclusion, I believe if this bill is carried by this House it will go a long way to satisfying some of the very serious and reasonable concerns of Canadians with regard to problems in our criminal justice system.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)
* * *(1010)
She said: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the hon. member for Laurentides for supporting this bill and would also like to give a short explanation about this legislation.
The purpose of this bill is to exclude from the excepted employment category those jobs that are characterized by a dependant relationship between the employer and the employee.
At this time, the employment of women collaborators is not insurable unless, as it says in clause 3(2)(c) of the Unemployment Insurance Act, these women can prove they would have gotten into a similar work contract had they not been their employers' spouses.
This clause of the Unemployment Insurance Act is discriminatory, because it creates a different burden of the proof, especially for women collaborators.
That is why I hope that my bill will be debated as soon as possible.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)
* * *[English]
The citizens of Dauphin-Swan River are asking the federal government to seek approval from the Canadian people for Canada's policy with reference to official languages.
This petition of well over 1,000 names expresses the concern of installing supermailboxes in our heritage community of Port Langley, the birthplace of British Columbia. Supermailboxes would not be in keeping with the historical traditions of this heritage community.
Therefore, the petitioners request that Parliament designate Canadian heritage communities to be exempt from Canada Post's supermailbox program.
This petition is submitted with my full support.
* * *
The Speaker: Shall all questions stand?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
That a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons be appointed to consider Canada's Defence Policy;
That the document entitled ``Review of Canadian Defence Policy, Minister of National Defence Guidance Document'', be referred to the Committee;
That the Committee be directed to consult broadly and to analyze the issues discussed in the above-mentioned document, and to make recommendations in their report concerning the objectives and conduct of Canada's Defence Policy;
That eleven Members of the House of Commons and five Members of the Senate be Members of the Committee;
That the Members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs be appointed to act on behalf of the House as Members of the said Committee;
That the Committee have the power to sit during sittings and adjournments of the House;
That the Committee have the power to report from time to time, to send for persons, papers and records, and to print such papers and evidence from time to time as may be ordered by the Committee;
That the Committee have the power to retain the services of expert, professional, technical and clerical staff;
That the Committee have the power to adjourn from place to place inside Canada and abroad and that, when deemed necessary, the required staff accompany the Committee;
That a quorum of the Committee be nine Members, whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken, so long as both Houses are represented and that the Joint Chairmen be authorized to hold meetings, to receive evidence and authorize the printing thereof, whenever six Members are present, so long as both Houses are represented;
That the Committee or its representatives meet on occasions it deems fitting with the parliamentary committee or its representatives charged with reviewing Canada's foreign policy;
That notwithstanding the usual practices of this House, if the House is not sitting when an interim or final report of the Committee is completed, the Committee shall report with the Clerk of the House and that it shall thereupon be deemed to have been laid upon the Table;
That the Committee present its final report no later than September 30, 1994; and
That a message be sent to the Senate requesting that House to unite with this House for the above purpose, and to select, if the Senate deems it advisable, Members to act on the proposed Special Joint Committee.(1015 )
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to address the House formally and launch the defence policy review.
For the next few minutes I will outline the terms of the process that will be involved in the final product which will be the new defence policy for Canada.
The need for a thorough review of Canada's defence policy is generally recognized. In fact, during the election campaign, all parties called for a review of the present policy to ensure that it really meets the needs of today. The attention given to defence issues should surprise no one. Defence is a fundamental duty of the government and has major impacts in Canada and abroad.
Furthermore, the maintenance and operation of our armed forces account for a considerable share of public spending. Therefore we must have a clear and realistic defence policy which defines what we expect of the Canadian forces and how we intend to equip and train them to carry out their tasks.
During the election campaign, my party maintained that it was urgent to review Canada's defence policy in order to take account of the country's new needs and the financial reality we are facing as well as international instability.
I would now like to describe how the government intends to conduct this most important review.
We have had some discussions in the last few months on the issues that have arisen, and the public consultation process is a central priority for this government. In the election campaign this was outlined by all parties that felt that Parliament should take a greater role in the formulation of policy development. Parliament has always historically had that essential role, but in recent years governments have moved away from listening to members of Parliament in a full and timely way in the formulation of policy.
Since we reconvened in this Parliament in January, we have had debates on two very important issues, our maintenance of peacekeeping in the former republics of Yugoslavia, and cruise missile testing.
In this same spirit of consultation, we are proposing today the establishment of a special joint committee of Parliament to consider the future of Canadian defence policy.
In something that will be unique and to avoid unnecessary taxing of individual members who will be very busy with a number of committees, we are going to have the House of Commons membership in this special joint committee mirror the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs to join with nominees from the Senate. That means the same members involved in daily defence related matters, those studying the estimates, will be dealing with the defence review. The most knowledgeable people on defence matters will be carrying through both exercises.
Through this committee we hope to receive the broadest input possible; in other words, not just from experts and interest groups, but from a wide variety of Canadians concerned with this vital national issue.
Ever mindful of the somewhat travelling road show that became a circus on the Constitution which the previous Conservative government put into place a year or so ago dealing with the Charlottetown accord, we would not wish the committee to follow that unsavoury precedent. We would, hopefully, wish the committee to hold hearings in different parts of Canada so that people who otherwise could not afford to travel to Ottawa will be able to get to some regional centres. I hope that does not become an undue expense for the House and that there will be selected communities, large communities across the country, in which representations can be made.
We would like this report from the committee to be made no later than September 30 of this year. Why September 30? We are trying to keep to our red book timetable. I know members of the other parties are going to become tired of the red book. However we have to emphasize to Canadians that they can expect this government to keep its election promises as much as possible. This is one we are trying to keep. We want the review to be completed by the end of the year so that Canadians will at last know where defence policy is going in this very turbulent time.
We will monitor the progress of the public debate as it proceeds in the journals and conferences and in the media. Once the committee completes its work we will study it very carefully. The public component of the policy debate on defence will be conducted as it should be, by the House of Commons and the Senate. That is the true vehicle for public input. If members of Parliament and Parliament itself cannot be the vehicle for expressing the will of Canadians, I do not know what else can.
The report will play a major role in shaping the government's response. By that I mean there will be a white paper on defence probably within a few months of the committee issuing its findings. The completion of this should be at the end of the year. I do not want to mislead hon. members of the Senate and the House. The report they will issue will not constitute the new
defence policy but we will ignore many or most of its recommendations at peril.
As I said Parliament is the unique place to bring a certain dimension to the debate that one cannot otherwise get through private consultations. I hope to engage in consultations with experts, officials and other people in the defence community as well as to have discussions with our allies based on their experiences. All of our allies are going through a similar turbulent period in developing foreign policy and defence policy. I will be having those conversations with them but certainly public participation and the role of members will have a heavy bearing upon the eventual outcome of this policy.
In the interim, government is going to have to make decisions. The world does not stop because Canada is having a defence review and I hope that members will take that into consideration. I can imagine some of the things that will come up in the next few weeks and months. I hope members then do not ask why we do not leave things until the end of the defence review. The fact is we have to make some tough decisions.
A very tough decision we made, which was another red book promise, was the cancellation of the EH-101 helicopters. We have had some difficult discussions with our NATO allies both at the summit in Brussels and over the last few weeks by telephone. My colleague the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister and I have had discussions with our allies on the very difficult situation in the former republic of Yugoslavia and the potential of air strikes. Some of the ongoing discussions have led to lengthy consultations in the House. I mention peacekeeping and cruise missile testing.
One could envisage for example the government being asked to consider how to respond to events in Bosnia, a request to send additional peacekeepers to that location. Obviously we have to make those decisions very rapidly as events occur. They cannot wait.
We will keep Parliament, especially the committee, fully informed of any significant decisions as long as we do not betray any confidences with our allies in the process. We will strive to make sure these decisions which have to be taken on a day to day basis do not prejudice the outcome of the review. We will do all we can to ensure that any decisions we do take on an ad hoc basis in response to developments as they occur will have the broad support of Canadians.
During the same period, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will review Canada's foreign policy. The minister will provide details on this subject to Parliament in a few weeks. Since the country's foreign policy and defence policy overlap in several areas, my colleague and I have developed a process to allow both reviews to proceed in harmony.
Under the terms of reference of the parliamentary committee reviewing defence policy, this committee will meet with the one responsible for reviewing Canada's foreign policy.
I also accepted the invitation of my colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to co-chair the national forum on international relations, which will certainly consider questions related to defence.
A national forum on matters, whether they be defence policy, foreign policy, overseas development aid, or trade policy will be hosted by my colleagues, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister for International Trade and I in a few weeks. That again is another promise in the red book.
The fundamental issues in the defence review to be considered are set out in a guidance document the government has put together. If I have the agreement of hon. members, I propose to table it in both official languages pursuant to Standing Order 32(2).
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): Is there agreement to table the document?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Collenette: It is the guidance document that will be provided to all members of the committee to help them in their deliberations. It does not set out any prescriptions; it simply identifies the issues and helps them frame their deliberations. It is intended to stimulate discussion and focus the work of the committee on the critical issues to be resolved.
To give members a sense on how the government intends to approach the substantive aspects of the review I would like to spend a few minutes reviewing the broad outline in the document I have just tabled.
The document begins an examination of the Canadian defence issues by setting out the international and domestic context of Canadian defence.
In it we note that the cold war has yielded some very real improvements in international security relations. Since 1989 we have seen an astounding chain of events occur, especially in eastern Europe with the dismantling of the former Soviet Union and the re-emergence of states that have not been independent for many years, in some cases for centuries.
There has been significant progress in arms control and the resolution of some of the long-standing regional conflicts. Beyond this we have the rapidity of events unfolding especially in Europe to caution us as to how we deal with the formulation of defence policy.
The guidance document talks about the unpredictability, the volatility and the violence in the international environment. We see this obviously in the former republic of Yugoslavia and the disintegration of that country. However, it is being played out in
the bordering states, the former republics of the Soviet Union, both in Europe and in Central Asia.
I have become much more alarmed at the pattern of events that are occurring in that part of the world with smaller states potentially having the ability to operate nuclear weapon systems which have come into their hands directly because some republics of the former Soviet Union have them on their soil. However, I must admit I am very happy with the agreement which seems to have been put in place in the former republic of Ukraine, now an independent state, for control in dismantling and dismemberment of these weapons.
Many people have been involved in the arms business and the nuclear development business in that part of the world. We know there are regimes that for whatever reason through territorial expansion or other designs of hegemony in the region want to use nuclear weapons to improve their case. We see a very disconcerting scenario unfolding and that should make us vigilant in formulating our defence policy.
What I am trying to say is that the events, the hope and the euphoria in 1990 and 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet empire has given way to a bit more realism, a bit more pragmatism. Yes the world potentially is a better place. We do not have this terrible arms race between the two superpowers, but the fallout, especially in the Soviet Union, in Russia and that area has created a degree of instability we have to be very mindful of. We shall watch the situation in Russia very carefully. Of course Canada is fully behind attempts in that country to organize itself in the most democratic and fair-minded fashion in its new role as an independent country free from any ideology.
From a military point of view Russia does remain a power. It has nuclear weapons. It still has a large armed forces, much of which has been repatriated from the former eastern European states. Events such as the second coup attempt last October and the outcome of the recent elections are of concern to us. They reflect the precarious state of reform in a climate of serious social and economic problems.
Making long-term decisions about the Canadian Armed Forces is difficult enough at the best of times. It is even more difficult when the future of international security is so complex and so uncertain.
The guidance document reminds us of the importance of the national dimension of Canada's defence. As a bare minimum, under the National Defence Act, the forces are required to take action in situations that threaten public order in Canada. The forces still have a role to play in defending Canada and protecting Canadian sovereignty, and this role includes assisting other departments and other levels of government.
Over the years, the government has asked the forces to assist certain government agencies in search and rescue activities and with relief in cases of national disaster and the protection of our marine resources.
In its deliberations, the committee will have to determine what the appropriate national roles for the Canadian Forces are and what level of capability our military people need to fill these roles.
One of the most significant domestic issues affecting the Department of National Defence and Canadian forces is fiscal restraint. This is addressed in the foreword of the guidance document. I have stressed that we have to develop a policy that is realistic and affordable. I want to re-emphasize that point today. Because of the urgency of fiscal restraint, we must set priorities and focus on plans, procurement and operations that are most essential to our needs.
The guidance document sets out three areas where the committee and Canadians need to think carefully about defence priorities in an attempt to design an appropriate defence posture for the 1990s. However in doing so we cannot forget the cost implications.
In that context I would like to address a comment which has been raised by the other parties and by some of my own colleagues. That is the logic of having a defence review when we are about to cut a massive amount from the defence budget. This is something which again was outlined in the red book.
With respect to defence we agreed to eliminate the EH-101 helicopter program. It was a sound decision. It was a good decision. That particular piece of equipment was too expensive for our needs. We felt that the former government erred. We said so in the campaign and we have discharged our obligations.
At some point in time our need for replacing the Sea Kings to carry on search and rescue and other naval operations for which some of the EH-101s were intended will have to be addressed. Committee members can help us along when they discuss the role for the forces and their policy suggestions as to the kind of capability we need in search and rescue, in maritime surveillance and the naval force generally where the EH-101 was to be deployed.
Our other promise was to cut $1.6 billion from the defence budget. It is there in the red book. It is not a budget secret. This is public. Of course the Minister of Finance when he brings forward his financial projections will obviously take that into account.
That is a promise we will discharge. I am on the record saying that in speeches and I have mentioned it in the House.
In dealing with this urgent fiscal situation, because the savings have to start clicking in April 1, at the beginning of this fiscal year 1994-95, we had two options. We could have decided to curtail operations. We could have decided to, as I have said not facetiously but honestly, do something that would have seen our F-18 fighter planes fly every seventh day.
We could have our great new frigates which are admired by naval experts around the world just give tours of the Grand Banks instead of going any further and, again being somewhat tongue in cheek, having guns without bullets or armoured personnel carriers that do not function.
We cannot afford that because defence of our country and our vital interest is crucial. We must do this in the best way possible. What we decided to do is to try to take the tough decisions that governments have ignored in the past. They have ignored them in a most irresponsible manner.
As the armed forces budget as a proportion of government spending has decreased from about 24 per cent in 1963-64 to about 8 per cent today and going lower, the number of actual uniformed personnel has decreased from 130,000 to about 77,000 or 78,000. It is going lower because of the cuts that were announced by the previous government. Those are working their way through the system.
We have to decide. The government would be interested obviously in hearing from the committee as to how low we can go to have a real credible defence. If one goes too low, what can one do and what can one not do?
Along those 30 years as we were shedding uniformed personnel we were not in a commensurate way dealing with infrastructure and capacity. We have an administrative and physical infrastructure and capacity which is too much for the more modest armed forces we have today.
As anyone in business knows, if one's market share declines radically one has to cut one's overhead if one wants to stay in business. Unlike some in the House who tried to equate exclusively business with government, we do not do that because government is not a business like any other business. It is a unique institution that has to balance many competing interests.
However, we do owe it to Canadians to try to operate ourselves in a most efficient manner. When we announce our defence cuts, we will do so in such a way as to address this infrastructure imbalance, this inflated administrative overhead that does not really conform with the actual role being discharged by the armed forces today.
It will be very controversial. It will impact on every region of the country. I cannot over-emphasize enough the severity of what we have to do. If we do not do this and do this fast, that is in the next few weeks, then we will have to take the cuts in the operational end which in effect will grind us to a halt. It could even mean that we would have to, notwithstanding the decision of the House about deployment in the former Yugoslavia, the government's decision and the views of the House, concede external operations.
I do not think Canadians want to do that. We have to discharge our obligations whether it is there or elsewhere. We have to continue to operate the business, the plant or service for Canadians that the Canadian Armed Forces brings forward.
It would be very difficult. It would be very controversial and I would ask the members not just in the opposition parties but also my own party to understand the difficulty that we have to face.
In doing it we will deal with individuals affected in a way which is extremely sensitive, which will go beyond what is required in terms of collective agreements and with our personnel. I believe that we will be able to put as good a face on what we are going to do from a human impact position as possible, as realistically as we can. With respect to communities that will be affected, this will be very difficult. Some can absorb job losses, some can absorb the decline in economic activity, but others will not be able to do so readily. We do not want to preside over the dissolution of entire communities in the country.
Even though the government's financial means are severely restricted, we will work with provinces and communities, members of Parliament affected and businesses to try to ensure that the very good plant and capacity that we have in many of our facilities-office buildings, bases, other structures-are used for other purposes. Whether it is business, community projects or provincial government works, we will try as best as is possible to ensure that the economic activity in those communities is not gutted but is maintained to some degree.
Having said that, there will be no more Summersides. We cannot afford it. The former government-no disrespect to my colleagues from Prince Edward Island, there may be one or two in the House today-closed that base and there was an outcry. I understand the outcry. The compensation that the people in Prince Edward Island received was generous by comparison with what we can do today. We just do not have the hundreds of millions of dollars to replace the economic activity.
I want to take the opportunity in this debate to tell my colleagues why we are proceeding in this way. We have to do it now to preserve the fighting edge of the forces, but not to prejudice the outcome of the defence review.
If we mothball equipment and curtail operations, it is still going to mean jobs. If when the defence review is complete, the members have worked hard in their committee and they advocate a certain direction, we may have to say: ``Well, we cannot do that any more because we got rid of that piece of equipment, we cut out that unit from the armed forces and to restore it is going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars''.
By acting now I believe we are going to preserve the ability of the joint committee and others participating in the review process to effect policy in a meaningful way and at least be able to have a fighting capability at the end of this year that can discharge any obligations the committee thrusts upon it.
I would ask for the co-operation of members when we announce our budget cuts. My colleagues and I will be available on a regional basis to explain what we are doing and to try to mitigate somehow the impact. We will do everything we can to help various communities. But the time has come to address some of these very difficult questions and it must be done now. It cannot wait.
I am going on a little bit longer and I must apologize to my critics on the other side. I have probably told the House more than I have told the cabinet. It is meeting upstairs and I have to go and face the music, which is somewhat unusual in the sense of the House hearing a longer speech on defence than cabinet has already heard. It is meeting now and I apologize to my critics because I will not be here to listen to them. My parliamentary secretary is here. As members know, he is a former distinguished member of the Canadian navy. He will be making notes, plus our officials will be watching the debate on television. Everything that is said here today certainly will be brought to my attention.
In conclusion, the government wants to hear about every aspect of defence policy-our multilateral relations, NATO and NORAD. I think NORAD is up for renegotiation in 1996. We want the committee to be completely unfettered in what it looks into. We want it to be reasonable, obviously, and I think the members will be reasonable. We will be meeting jointly with the foreign affairs committee. I see my colleague from Toronto, the parliamentary secretary of foreign affairs, listening to the debate. There is obviously overlap in some areas but we could hold joint hearings to make sure there is no duplication of work.
I have confidence in the quality of the members that I know are on the House of Commons committee from the three parties. They are knowledgeable, they have spoken in the debates on cruise missile testing and on Bosnia and our role in peacekeeping. They are knowledgeable people and they are sincere. They want Canada's defence policy not to be one of partisan bickering but something upon which we can all agree and something about which we can all feel the kind of pride that we should feel.
The Canadian Armed Forces has a terrific reputation. It goes back decades. It goes back to our participation in world wars, the Korean war and all our peacekeeping ventures. We have just sent over a fact finding tour led by people from foreign affairs. We have one of our senior military people assessing the situation in Bosnia because we have to make a decision very quickly about our engagement. The comments about the conduct of Canadian troops are absolutely outstanding.
I hate to quote one of the belligerents, but one general on the Serbian side when talking about our troops in Srebrenica said: ``We want the Canadians to stay. We trust them. We like them''. That is probably the only thing the three factions agree on in Bosnia, that the Canadian troops are probably the best that are deployed there under the UN command.
We have a proud institution, terrific people. In many respects it is a shame that we have allowed our armed forces to work hard without having paid much attention to them over the years. The last government dealt with the armed forces in a most reprehensible manner in terms of policy. It issued a white paper without public consultation. It slashed here there and everywhere with no military, operational or logical reason to do so. It certainly shocked the morale of the armed forces.
However, we have professionals. They know what is coming in terms of defence reductions but they have a real faith in this Parliament and the changing attitudes of the Canadian public and the government to try and be fair and honest with them so that they can discharge their obligation in the best interests of everyone in this country.
Mr. Jean-Marc Jacob (Charlesbourg): Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by congratulating the Minister of National Defence on his presentation. In the course of my speech, however, I will show there are a number of points on which we differ with the minister.
I am not sure whether we should be grateful to the government for initiating a review of our national defence policy, as part of a motion to appoint a special joint committee to consider the document from the Department of National Defence entitled Review of Canadian Defence Policy.
I do not intend to dwell on the pros and cons of appointing a special joint committee. The role of the Standing Committee on National Defence happens to be to deal with the items that together form the mission of this new committee. Without wishing to seem repetitive, is this not just another form of
duplication and overlap, a waste of time better spent making the decisions that are so important to Quebecers and Canadians?
The new committee will have the same consultative powers: the power to summon witnesses, to hire consultants and to print documents. It will also, as the minister said, adjourn from place to place inside Canada in order to get the advice it needs to make informed decisions.
Everything in the committee's structure and operations is a duplication of the Standing Committee on National Defence, thus generating additional costs that, although not necessarily excessive, will not be well received by the Quebec and Canadian public.
It has been said repeatedly that we must reduce public spending, make government more effective and, what all taxpayers would like to see, simplify the parliamentary process to make it productive and cost effective. And lo and behold, here we have one more addition to the government apparatus, and I find that very difficult to accept. All members in this House should try, to the best of their ability, to reduce all unnecessary spending, even the smallest amounts, to prove to our constituents that we realize the financial situation is very serious and that our actions must reflect the commitments made by all parties to their constituents.
I am afraid that, all things considered, I cannot accept the duplication of time, energy and money this special joint committee will represent. The Minister of National Defence said earlier that hon. members were very busy, and now he wants to make them even busier by striking another committee that would have the same mandate as an existing committee.
I repeat that it is the responsibility of the Standing Committee on National Defence to review the document tabled by the hon. minister and to make the best possible recommendations. The standing committee can invite any expert on military or foreign policy issues, and ask pertinent questions so as to develop a defence policy and submit it to the government. Again, members of the standing committee who will sit on the joint committee will have access to the same experts, will ask the same questions and, no doubt, will get the same answers. If this is efficient decision making, then I understand why Canada's debt is so large.
However, the tabling of this motion has one definite advantage: it will force members of this House to discuss the motion itself, but also Canada's defence policy, which is often criticized by the public, the media, some elected representatives, as well as the Auditor General.
I think we all want an exchange of ideas, but also an in-depth review of the role of our national defence establishment. We must look at every aspect of defence policy. Commitments to NATO, the United Nations and the United States are all important elements in this review. Some major changes have occurred on the international scene in recent years; all NATO allies have modified their defence policy and the United States, Great Britain and France have adopted new approaches. Canada has, to some extent, followed the same process by coming up with a new defence policy statement in 1992.
This trend has triggered three patterns in the readjustment of defence policies. First, all countries reduced their defence budgets, which translated into reduced demand and production for the defence industry. This situation severely affected arms producing countries, including Canada, where thousands of jobs disappeared. Quebec also paid a heavy price, since a good part of the Canadian defence industry was centralized in the Montreal region.
The second pattern is more of a strategic nature, since it has to do with evaluating possible external threats, following the reduced risk of east-west conflicts. This risk being now almost non-existent, the threat of regional and even local conflicts has taken a new importance which defence policies must now take into account. Canada shares this view with its allies.
The third pattern is the progressive transformation of international institutions such as the UN and NATO, whose political and strategic missions are being fully reviewed.
In the context of our relations with other countries, we must remember that the role of Canadian peacekeepers was examined during those long debates on the situation in Bosnia and on Canadian peacekeeping missions. The Minister of National Defence also referred to that role in his speech this morning. Consequently, I will not discuss this issue at length.
Other aspects concerning the review of our national defence policy are just as important, but they affect us and our constituents much more directly. I am referring to the national and financial aspects.
The national aspect has to do with internal activity. What role do we want our military personnel to take on inside the Canadian territory? Will our armed forces play a more significant role to ensure our internal security? Will they be called upon to patrol the Canadian coastline to protect us against possible intruders? Will they be called upon to play a more active role in the fight against drugs? Will they be called upon to help monitor fishing activities in our territorial waters? Will they be called upon to be more involved in sea and mountain rescue operations? Will they be called upon to help the public in case of a natural disaster?
Only when the role and the mandate of the Department of National Defence are clarified will we be able to determine the human resources and the material required to fulfil that mandate.
It would be premature to evaluate and analyze possible changes in our defence policy until the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in co-operation with the Minister of National Defence,
takes a close look at our commitments to NORAD and NATO, and also at our involvement in UN peacekeeping missions. In fact, the minister said earlier that officials from those two departments would meet to discuss those issues. So, until the House is informed of the outcome of these meetings, it is difficult to predict what Canada's new defence policy will be.
Only then we will be able to determine the personnel required. Moreover, future needs should be determined in co-operation with military authorities. Given the circumstances, we should not focus on major policy directions, but rather on administrative aspects, in order to find out what the real implications are.
For starters, the Bloc Quebecois suggests that reduction programs already initiated be evaluated. This includes an evaluation of the decision to cut back on staff, reduce the number of officers and close certain bases. We should know why military equipment is being procured or maintained and determine, with the help of the military, whether such equipment is relevant. We have to make the necessary choices and avoid spending billions of dollars to procure equipment solely for regional development purposes. Often, the costs are higher than if we had relied solely on ability and expertise. Finally, as the Auditor General has repeatedly pointed out, the minister should be made to completely rethink his military procurement policy.
At this juncture, I cannot help but give several examples of this procurement policy which has cost the taxpayers dearly. If this policy is not amended, it will prove to be even more costly.
Take, for instance, Litton Systems of Toronto which was awarded the contract to modernize destroyers, even though it had no expertise in shipbuilding. The $2 billion contract awarded to Litton Systems represented a waste of money since this company was unable to fulfil its commitments owing to its lack of expertise in this field.
Logically, why was the contract to modernize these destroyers not awarded to MIL Davie of Lauzon, the company that built these ships, was totally familiar with their components and had the necessary expertise to fulfil the terms of the contract?
Another example is the $250 million contract awarded to a British Columbia firm for the construction of tracked vehicles. The company based its design on a Swedish model, whereas Bombardier has been building this type of tracked vehicle for decades now. Had these contracts been awarded to companies with expertise in these fields, the government would have saved money. This is what it should be aiming for.
In his 1992 report, the Auditor General refers to major operational problems, in particular with regard to the weapons management policy or military equipment procurement programs. Because of the numerous problems and difficulties that arise, the processing of proposals is delayed and a large number of staff are tied up. Several recommendations make mention of staff problems and specifically, of DND's defence program management system.
In section 17.25 of his report, the Auditor General is openly critical of the program management system, noting that in addition to being ineffective, it generates an enormous amount of work for staff. The Auditor General proceeded to say, and I quote: ``The first problem relates to the enormous staff workload needed to implement this cumbersome process. Our analysis of all projects over $10 million identified in the defence services program as of February 1991 revealed that it takes an average of 1,109 days from the time a project is first identified in the DND database until the statement of capability deficiency document is approved. It takes an average of 1,107 days for the program planning proposal to be approved, 1,608 days for the program development proposal, 1,332 for the program change proposal, and 394 days for effective project approval by the Treasury Board. These average times between individual stages of the defence program management system and the number of times these documents are amended and recirculated provide a good indication of the amount of staff effort involved''.
Considering the many pitfalls and obstacles, the Auditor General estimates that only a very small percentage of projects proceed through the entire, amazingly ineffective process.
He pointed out, among other things, that all the change proposals to the defence procurement program -and there are many; just think of the frigate contract and the disputes between National Defence, St. John's Shipbuilding in New Brunswick and MIL Davie of Lauzon, in Quebec- are making even more cumbersome a process which already takes too much time and costs taxpayers too much.
The costs associated with such a management process cannot be considered in isolation. Large amounts are involved and, instead of making things easier for the government, it is making things harder, so much so that the government is now avoiding this complicated process and granting gainful contracts directly to companies, like Bell Helicopter of Mirabel for the tactical transport helicopters and Western Star for the light off-road transport vehicle.
I think that if the Auditor General points out serious deficiencies, it is worth looking into the matter. Why is the Liberal Party not acting? No business could survive such methods, it would go bankrupt.
The abnormally high number of higher ranking officers in the Canadian Armed Forces is another example of an overly liberal
and incredibly costly process. How can we justify having 32,999 corporals and 7,631 captains when there are only 9,370 soldiers in our armed forces? There are just about as many captains as soldiers. With only 9,370 soldiers on a total strength of 77,975, the Canadian forces are the most top heavy in the world, relatively speaking, and also the most expensive to maintain.
Would we not be justified in questioning the suitability, the desirability of such an expensive top level? Would it not be better to have fewer officers and to apply the savings to equipping our soldiers? Unquestionably, such a situation calls for corrective budgetary action.
I would now like to move from the personnel problem to the infrastructure problem, specifically to the closure of military bases. This is not the first time in our history that the government has had to close down military bases. Several were closed after the second world war, and again in the sixties, in the seventies and, more recently, in 1988-89 when the Conservative government closed over 13 bases and stations across the country.
In spite of it all, the defence infrastructure remains far too big for the size of the forces. With a strength of merely 78,000 members, the Canadian Armed Forces are maintaining from coast to coast facilities that could accommodate 140,000. Obviously, more cuts are needed, especially since several of our bases are obsolete and increasingly expensive to maintain. Also, their strategic value is not the same as it was at the time they were built. So, for all these reasons, the government will have to make a choice and impose a new round of closures.
During the last days of its mandate as the Official Opposition and again during the election campaign, the Liberal Party took a stand for base closures in return for real, concrete guarantees to the communities affected by these measures. As a matter of fact, the Minister of Defence said a few words earlier about the applicable procedure.
Promises were made in the red book to convert surplus military bases in Canada to peacekeeping training and staging centres. The Liberal defence conversion plan reflects a strategic direction based on Canada's foreign policy, a policy in which peacekeeping is viewed as a political basis that the Liberal Party will rely heavily on.
The plan to convert surplus military bases to peacekeeping training and staging centres seems to be an important part of the Liberal Party's foreign policy and their March 26, 1993 press release was very explicit in that regard. So, this policy direction should not be overlooked and action in this area is to be expected.
It is important at this point to denounce holding a special debate on Canada's defence policy when the government has not yet tabled its new white paper on defence.
This position applies not only to the issue of cutting military bases but also to that of training centres for peacekeepers.
We, in the Bloc Quebecois, cannot approve the peacekeeper training centres initiative for several reasons.
First, it would be unrealistic to believe that countries from around the world or NATO members will send their troops to such centres for training. Who will pay the travelling expenses of international troops coming here to train and the costs of transporting their equipment? The UN does not have the resources to pay such costs. Furthermore, these international missions always have extremely tight deadlines. How can one reconcile these deadlines with a stay in Canadian training centres that will cause even further delay?
Second, as the minister was saying earlier, it has been demonstrated that Canadian peacekeepers are among the best trained in the world. So why create a training centre when our troops already enjoy exceptional training conditions on their existing bases? Why should we spend new money to move our troops, who are already training in the field, at less cost, for international missions?
Third, it is dishonest and hypocritical to argue that the creation of a training centre does not entail extra costs for the Canadian government. How can we say that, on one hand, we are cutting spending by the Department of National Defence and that, on the other hand, we are keeping military bases which should no longer be in use open for peacekeeper training. This contradictory message deserves to be challenged by the Bloc Quebecois.
Fourth, Quebec's military bases, Valcartier in particular, play a very important role in preparing Canadian troops for international peacekeeping missions. Encouraging the creation of training centres for peacekeepers-in Cornwallis, for example-effectively means the end of this type of activity on Quebec territory and the loss of significant economic resources. We have no choice but to oppose such measures, for the very foundation of defence department activity on Quebec territory may be affected.
The real solution to compensate communities that will be affected by defence spending cuts remains the establishment of defence conversion committees. The success of these conversion projects is totally dependent on local people taking in hand the economic resources offered by the government to compensate for losses caused by the termination of defence activity and to stimulate the economic diversification of the region affected by these changes.
We are proposing that priority be given to local and regional stakeholders in the military base conversion process. These local stakeholders are in the best position to know how to optimize resources and how to decide on economic diversification projects. We are also proposing that a plan be developed for the economic reallocation of buildings and facilities that will be closed by the Department of National Defence, and then that existing infrastructure be integrated into economic renewal projects put in place by local stakeholders.
Program management, preparation and planning must be transferred to local stakeholders to prevent the federal government from over-centralizing once again. In any case, it is likely that projects favoured by local people would be more valid than those coming from the federal government. In fact, a centralized approach may lead to excessive costs and again to the bureaucratization of government action. The federal government's action plan should not hinder local and community initiatives.
In conclusion, the Bloc Quebecois is reiterating its commitment to the cuts that must be made in the defence department's budget. In my speech, I pointed out several questionable expenses in a costly and demanding management system, and it would not be unreasonable to believe, like the Auditor General, that drastic changes must be made in this area.
Finally, the list of criteria for military base closures was compiled many years ago. Such closures must be done in a rational and irreproachable fashion. When we look at infrastructure, it is important to remember that Quebec only has 13 per cent of the defence department's capital assets. It would then be ill-advised to believe that Quebec bases can be reduced even further, as this would only aggravate Quebec's current disadvantage in this area. In addition, the bases in Bagotville, Valcartier, Saint-Jean and Montreal are operational and essential to military operations as they represent the minimum needed in Quebec.
In closing, I want to state once again my disagreement with the motion to create a joint committee. I would urge instead the government and the department of defence to simplify, instead of complicating, the defence policy review process.
I hope that the minister will have the political courage needed to rationalize the management of his department with intellectual honesty and the enlightened co-operation of all stakeholders.
I would like to commend, in closing, the commitment made by the hon. minister in his speech to carry out the rationalization everyone is hoping for.
Mr. Jack Frazer (Saanich-Gulf Islands): Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Minister of National Defence on his presentation this morning and my colleague from the Bloc Quebecois on his presentation, although I must say there are some portions of his presentation with which I disagree.
I would like to reiterate the Reform Party's support for the conduct of a defence review. We think it is long overdue and vitally necessary that our country revisit the requirements of Canadian defence.
We also support the establishment of a joint committee of the House of Commons and the Senate. It is my understanding that there would be two committees dealing with this matter if it were not for the consolidation into one.
Senate expertise as evidenced in the 1993 Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs report on Canadian involvement in peacekeeping is but one example of the expertise the Senate brings to bear and can offer. Within reason more heads, particularly knowledgeable heads, are invaluable. It provides for broader input.
The committee at the moment is skewed somewhat eastward, in that there is a lack of western representation on it. I am hoping that perhaps in the representation from the Senate we will see some more western representation to provide a more national mandate.
We are very much in favour of the document's support for consolidation with other parliamentary committees. We think it is important that defence be taken in conjunction with foreign affairs. Obviously it is an adjunct to it. We also think a consolidation with the industry committee to involve defence conversion will best benefit Canada in the conversion from our current defence posture to a different one.
With the end of the cold war, as the minister said, there was great relief throughout our country and throughout the world because it appeared the great menace that had faced us for many years was gone. That to a large measure is true. The Warsaw pact collapsed and there was no hovering menace that appeared to be ready to consolidate or to take over the west.
However more recent happenings have indicated that is not quite the case. We now have a much more volatile world. Nationalism has risen in many areas, including the previous Soviet Union, and there is danger that local conflicts or extended conflicts could erupt in that area.
We have seen the dire consequences of ethnic and religious clashes. They are going on at this moment in the former Yugoslavia. It would be a misnomer to say the world is a safer place now. In fact it is probably more dangerous without the iron fist control we used to see in the Warsaw pact.
A rising threat which we must be concerned with and take account of is the terrorist threat. With the sophistication of modern weapons and the ability to distribute those weapons throughout the world by countries which are a little lacking in foreign exchange and therefore vulnerable to offers of remuneration for the weapons, they are virtually everywhere or can be virtually everywhere in the world. We as an independent country
have to be very conscious of this point and prepared to deal with a terrorist threat.
I guess we should be asking ourselves the following question right now: Are we entering an era of continued instability, or are we simply transiting a time of turbulence and discord? The answer to that question is not readily available. I think we have to await the outcome to see just what is going on. I fear that it may be a more extended period than we would wish.
Traditionally Canada's defence priorities have been, first sovereignty, then mutual defence alliances, aid to the civil power, peacekeeping, and search and rescue. In this defence review nothing should be sacred. Everything should be examined to decide whether or not we want to continue with it, whether we want to reallocate priorities, and whether we can afford to do what we say we are going to do.
For instance, search and rescue is almost a given. People consider that if we have defence forces they will be there to help people at sea, to help people who are lost, to help survivors of air crashes, and so on. However, is this better done by the military, or could it possibly be done by contract with a civilian agency in a cheaper fashion? I think that question must be considered.
We must consider Canadian national needs: the ability to control our air space, to detect and monitor people who enter it, to control our seashores and the approaches to them, and to control our borders. We must be able to provide protection from smuggling, from deliberate pollution, from illegal immigration, from drug trafficking and from overfishing. The question we must deal with is: How much of these tasks must be accepted by the armed forces and how much can be assigned or co-operated with other agencies?
We must look to Canada's international needs and desires. Our mutual alliances come to mind. We have been involved in NATO since 1949. It has been a very successful involvement because in my mind this is what brought the Warsaw pact to its knees. It is what stopped the encroachment into western territory from the east. Although NATO could be recognized as a large relatively inefficient and very expensive enterprise, it has accomplished its purpose. It should be recognized as that.
NORAD is almost considered by some to be an agency we no longer need. We must be very careful in our assessment of NORAD because it also has a space adjunct to it that I think we would ignore at our peril.
Going to the proliferation of various weapons of sophistication in the world right now, there is a very great likelihood we will see strategic missiles in hands we would prefer not to see them in. While NORAD is not in the business of providing a defence against it, it could certainly plot the launch of these missiles and the projected strike zone, where it is going to hit. This was used to some effect in the Persian gulf war when the Scud missiles were tracked from their launch. Their impact was passed as information to our naval vessels in the Persian gulf.
We have to look beyond those two mutual defence alliances to our burgeoning involvement in the Pacific Rim. Is it going to involve a requirement for Canada to join in with some defence alliance with the people in the Pacific Rim area?
Since the beginning we have been involved in UN peacekeeping activities. Probably Canadians in the majority would vote for continuation in these activities. But we have to question very seriously in which ones do we wish to be involved. How much are we willing to commit in funds to providing those? Those funds not only involve the actual deployment of the people who are there. They involve the cost of training those people, of transporting them and of looking after them after they come back.
Again referring to the gulf war and other commitments we have had, we have had naval vessels in the Persian gulf, in the Red Sea, in the Gulf of Aden, in the Indian Ocean, and currently we have vessels deployed in the Adriatic.
It is important to realize that at this moment there are over 700 submarines employed by over 44 different countries in the world today. There are another 150 being constructed at this moment.
The submarine has become the weapon of choice for many nations because it is relatively inexpensive to operate and relatively devastating in its ability to control what goes on. For instance, in the Falklands war, one British submarine tied up the entire Argentinian fleet and kept it out of the action.
Therefore we have to very seriously consider when we deploy our naval forces into other spheres whether we go there as an independent nation capable of providing our own protection or with a force that can add this protection to us. That is a decision we have to take.
We are involved at the moment in a humanitarian assistance mission in the former Yugoslavia. There are many misgivings among many Canadians about the mandate, the effectiveness and the actual involvement of Canadians in this type of theatre.
Finally, of course, we must consider the requirement for Canadians to intervene on ideological grounds where we see a human rights violation situation going on in a country and our
people think there is a requirement for Canadians to be involved. The mission in Haiti at the moment comes to mind.
Finally, we have to consider the terrorist threat that I referred to earlier. It is very likely that at some time there will be a serious terrorist threat posed not necessarily against Canada but perhaps against one of our neighbours or our allies. It could also be posed against us and we must be prepared to deal with that.
To paraphrase from the guidance document, the question that we need to examine in this defence review and answer is should Canada establish and maintain at the lowest possible cost a combat capable total force of naval, land and air forces which is adequately equipped, appropriately supported and properly trained to protect Canadians, their values and their interests at home and abroad.
I suspect the answer to that is going to be yes, although we may be seeing a change in the priorities that we have allocated in the past to those that we will allocate at the finale of this defence review. Our aim should be to give Canadians the defence forces they want and are willing to pay for.
My perception of our task in this defence review differs somewhat from our colleagues in the BQ on one item and maybe with others. I do not know. The bottom line as far as I am concerned should be that within those forces and within the budget that Canadians approve, Canadian defence dollars should be spent on defence and not on ancillary items.
The social benefits traditionally associated with defence establishments which come from employment and military payrolls must take second place to defence requirements.
Finally, the outcome of the defence review should be to answer the needs of Canada as a whole, not those of any one area or region within the country. To my mind we are trying to establish the requirements for Canadian defence forces from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland and from the American border to the North Pole.
We should concentrate on achieving what we think is needed and what we can afford to do. That should be our final game. It is my hope that when the white paper is produced some months after the conclusion and the submission of our final defence review, it will reflect very closely the findings that we come up with in this review.
Mr. Ovid L. Jackson (Bruce-Grey): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to participate in this debate and to say to members opposite that I appreciate their input.
The last intervention by the member from the Reform Party was quite good. It was balanced. It said that there were imperatives that we have as a nation whether it is an insurrection, smuggling or looking after our territories or whether or not search and rescue is something that the military should have or whether it should be privatized. Canada has a unique tradition with respect to its role as played in World War I, World War II and in conflicts. I think our size, our economic base and our geography along with those traditions have placed Canada in a particular position that cannot be ignored, and that is that we are well-known for our peacekeeping roles. Some people would ask if it is peacekeeping or peacemaking. Whether or not we want to get into that argument is really not a problem since our major role is probably to help stop conflicts.
The member opposite made a very good point when he spoke about submarines. Submarine warfare as well as cruise missiles and F-18s have changed the way that wars are traditionally fought. The Suez Canal was something very strategic until there were submarines. Submarines could be in any place in this world. There is something called MIRV which comes out of the water with a propeller and rocket fire. It can break into seven warheads and each one can be independently guided. That changed the whole perception as to whether or not a base was needed in any particular locale.
I for one would like an answer to the question of the hon. member, what exactly is our role, and then try to deploy our people based on that role. Of course that role would involve not only the defence standing committee but also military experts.
The minister of defence said that we do not operate our system like a business. He was right. I listened to the member opposite who said that we should not be engaged in deadly war equipment. It is a fact of life that for our own protection we may have to do it and since we have a surplus, we sell to people globally. Then there is a fight within the country about whether it goes to Montreal, Quebec City, British Columbia or Ontario. That is probably something that should not be in this debate since we are talking about what our position is, what kind of equipment we require and how are we going to carry it out in the realities of the amount of money we have.
I would like to make one point and I hope that it is considered. The member for York South-Weston and others have looked at defence spending and have said that it is top heavy with generals and people in the upper echelons.
We hear the argument that these people are required since our standing army is not very large and if we have to get up and go, these people can train troops, that they are in positions strategically in order to make that happen.
One suggestion that is probably appropriate involves the great tradition of taking people from the private sector who were in the military, taking their years of experience, counting them in the pension funds and so on. That is one area where the private sector could probably help. Strategically we need those people. However, in reality I do not think we can pay for generals and so on. To keep these people motivated, they take exams and keep moving up, so there is a top heavy army. One innovative technique might be to let them be in the private sector and do their managerial work which involves some of the skills we need, whether it is logistics or whatever special expertise they
have, and allow them to interact with the military from time to time to keep them combat ready.
I applaud members opposite for their interventions. I know there is another subcommittee. I am not sure why that is happening. As far as I am concerned I do not care which committee studies it. I just hope the focus is on the reality.
Bismarck said once that countries should only make alliances with countries of their own size. Once you start with one bigger, you are going to get into trouble. You cannot go around saying that you are neutral. You can be neutralized but you are never neutral. It is the brutal reality about power and power relations in this world. Canada is unique. We do not want to fight with anybody. We happen to be next to the United States which is a global force and deploys itself. Because we are in the global spaceship called earth, everything is interconnected with everything else. There might be a hot spot and it may be that the conflict could spread, which we have seen happen time and time again, and then it affects us.
We have to look at it strategically and come to grips with that within our own reality. I think that is the way we should go.
Mr. Frazer: Mr. Speaker, I do not think there was a question there. It was mainly a comment. I would agree with much of what the member said.
Mr. John Williams (St. Albert): Mr. Speaker, first I would like to comment on the points raised by my colleague from the Bloc Quebecois who argued against creating another committee because it was duplication. Last week they were taking the exact opposite point of view when they said: ``Let us form another committee to examine the waste and duplication in government''. Now they are opposed to the creation of a committee that is going to do some additional work.
I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence-
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): I would just like to remind members that in the question and comment period, comments or questions can only be directed to the last spokesperson. In this case the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands was the last member to speak to this motion. So I would ask the member for St. Albert if he would direct his comment or question to his colleague from Saanich-Gulf Islands.
Mr. Williams: My question therefore is for the last speaker. The riding of St. Albert where I live is on the edge of a major military installation, CFB Edmonton, which employs approximately 3,300 people. That is a major installation.
I would like to give a bit of a background on how much is actually involved in that installation. The base provides administrative and technical support not only for the elements of air command but for those units located in Edmonton from the National Defence Headquarters, Land Forces Command Headquarters, Maritime Command, Training Systems Headquarters and Communications Command. It is a tactical aircraft centre for the Canadian Air Forces as well as a parachute training centre.
In addition, it is the home of such units as the Canadian Airborne Centre, Parachute Maintenance Depot, Survival Training School plus four flying squadrons. Not only that, but the search and rescue for western Canada for the the north is located in Edmonton.
A couple of years or so ago we had a horrible crash in Resolute Bay where we were unable to get our search and rescue people in to perform a rescue without the loss of life. I think it is absolutely important that we have a military installation in Edmonton that can serve the north.
The Minister of National Defence has said that there will be major cutbacks announced within the next few weeks prior to the defence review taking place. I would like to suggest and ask my colleague from the Reform Party who was speaking whether he agrees with me that no cuts should be made, especially on a major military installation of 3,300 people, until such time as a defence review has taken place and we can find out whether or not this is really needed. How can it be decided that a hub of military installations that serve all of western Canada, employing 3,300 people, is no longer relevant?
I would like to ask the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands if he agrees with that point of whether we should wait until the review is finished before we make any major decisions of that kind.
Mr. Frazer: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
I am already on record with the minister as reflecting the view that I believe that closure of bases and so on should better await the outcome of the defence review. I think it most important that we know what we are doing and why we are doing it before we do it. It is far more expensive and time consuming to try to recover a capability that we have given up than it is to maintain it for just another few months and then say: ``All right, now we do not need it''. I do agree that we would be wiser to wait until the defence review is completed before we announce base closures and so on.
On the other hand I am assuming because of the multitude of activities that take place at Edmonton perhaps it might not be one that is considered for closure. However, if in the course of the defence review it is revealed that the capability that is vested in Edmonton can be diversified to other bases and the capability that is required is still available then I would say that I would have to opt on the side of Canada and its defence force as a whole rather than leaning toward supporting any particular area in the country.
Hon. William Rompkey (Labrador): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in this debate today and I want to talk a little at the beginning about the timeliness of the debate and I do so as the recently elected chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs.
In that capacity I am looking forward to the review and to hearing from people all across the country. I want to thank the government for bringing forward the review in the way that it has. When we were in opposition we called time after time for the government to do exactly what is being done today.
As the official critic for the opposition at that time, I recall asking the Minister of National Defence if he would refer this matter to the House of Commons standing committee. Now we have a reference and I am very pleased with that.
It seems to me that we need to go about it in this way. We have seen defence cuts over the last several years and we all know that the cold war is over, that there is a peace dividend and that restructuring has to take place.
We also are very much aware of the fiscal and monetary situations. We are aware of the deficit and the need to restrict and cut that deficit and keep it in line. Obviously, defence has played and will continue to play its part in the reduction of the deficit.
We felt quite correctly as an opposition that to drive defence policy from the Department of Finance was not the way to have an armed forces for Canada for the future.
We felt that we really should proceed by examining the aims and objectives of the armed forces. What do we want Canadian armed forces to do for the foreseeable future and for the next century?
That is the way we are proceeding now and it is the right way to proceed. Defence cuts can and should be and have been made but there is a critical mass to be maintained within the armed forces. If we fall below that critical mass we remove our ability to respond to the challenges of the future and to equip the armed forces however that may turn out to be for the task ahead.
To drive defence policy from the Department of Finance we felt and feel now was not the way to proceed. I am very pleased that we are going about this examination, this review, with an open mind and questioning all the underpinning assumptions of national defence for the future.
I am also pleased that the House of Commons, the representatives of the people, is being used as a vehicle to include as many Canadians as possible in this debate. We will want as parliamentarians to hear from Canadians all across the country who have an interest in defence matters and in the security of Canada. I hope they will come forward and I invite them to come forward. Perhaps we can even use the vehicle we are using today of television to include as many Canadians as possible in this review.
We want their ideas. We want them to feel that this is their debate, this is their review, these are their armed forces, the armed forces of their country. I hope that many Canadians will participate.
We will be doing it as well in conjunction with our colleagues on the committee on foreign affairs because obviously there is a very integral relationship between the armed forces and the foreign affairs of Canada. That is a component of the armed forces and we will be looking at that. We will be exploring our membership now in NATO, the development of the CSCE, our partnership in NORAD and the alliances we have formed and may continue to form and explore on both coasts and in other continents.
I am looking forward to this and I want to talk a little about my own experience with the armed forces. It may underscore an aspect of the armed forces that we have not heard about and perhaps do not always consider.
I remember joining the naval reserve when I was at Memorial University in St. John's. I was 19 years old. As a matter of fact, I had been a Canadian for seven years at that time. I was not born a Canadian. I have a great deal of fun sometimes by telling other people that I am a new Canadian. I came to this country when I was 13 years old.
We in Newfoundland, it is important to underscore, were not part of this country until 1949. When I joined the navy reserve I was a new Canadian of seven years. I had rarely been off the island. My friend from Summerside knows that those of us who are born and live on islands live a pristine and surreal existence that is the envy of many other people all over the world. One thing that it does for us is create a bond between us, but it does not introduce us always to other people in other areas.
When I joined the Canadian navy I met for the first time other Canadians. I discovered what they were like. I got to know them. I trained in Halifax, I trained in Esquimalt, British Columbia. I saw both ends of this country and all places in between. That introduced me to Canada.
I make that point because I do not think we should underestimate the role of the armed forces in Canadian citizenship in the broad sense.
As we question what is happening in the world and as we question what is happening in this country and as we look for the kind of Canada we have had, the kind of Canada that we want now and for the future, let us not underestimate the role of national institutions.
As we see many national institutions fading, disappearing and changing it seems to me that the Canadian armed forces are one of those national institutions that is still with us and that still provides a very important role in this country for national citizenship in the broad sense of the word.
It helped me to educate myself. It taught me a few things. I suppose if war were to be declared and were called up, I would be called upon to remember some of those things that I learned over 30 years ago. God help the country if that were the case.
However, it taught me more than just navigation, seamanship, semaphore and that sort of thing. It taught me about people, how one responds to people, how one works with people, how one lives with people and about this country as well.
I do not think we should underestimate the value of the armed forces for education and citizenship in the broadest sense of the words. I am not saying that may be the primary role of the armed forces but I think it is an important role.
We should ask in this review how the armed forces reflect Canada in other ways. How many aboriginals are there in the armed forces, for example? Is it commensurate with the percentage of aboriginals in this country? How do the armed forces reflect the bilingual and bicultural nature of Canada? We do have bilingualism within the armed forces. As a matter fact, we have components of the armed forces that operate in either official language.
I had the privilege last spring, as a matter of fact, of spending some time at Valcartier with the Vandoos before they went to Bosnia. I was impressed once again with the competence, the professionalism and the dedication of that particular fighting unit which is so renowned not only in this country but around the world. I was impressed as well with its ability to respond to new circumstances.
It does not simply have a tradition. When I saw the simulation of events it was to meet in Bosnia going on at Valcartier I realized that particular unit not only had traditions but had competence in anticipating new situations that it would find itself in and was developing an ability to respond.
We should ask ourselves in this review how the armed forces reflect various aspects of Canada in the inclusion of aboriginals, in the inclusion of people of both official languages.
There are other components as well that we should be looking at to see whether our own armed forces effectively reflect the kind of Canada that we have and that we want.
Then we should ask what do we want the armed forces to defend against? Should we be talking about defence or should we be talking about security, the security of Canada, and how we want Canada to be secured? Are our borders secure against the incursions of illegal drug pedlars, for example? Are we secure against foreign overfishing? I have to say that recently, as a matter of fact within the past few days, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has been in Brussels trying to convince the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization that we do have a serious crisis in this country.
I have to say as well that the reports this morning were not all that encouraging. The CBC reported that European countries still do not accept, as I heard the news, that there is a crisis and that there has been a dramatic decline in fish stocks, even over the past year.
If we have not been able to adequately defend ourselves and our resources through discussion and through international forums, and I consider myself a moderate, I have to say very clearly that these resources are important enough to us that we should consider taking extreme measures if we have to defend those resources.
We have to see the future of the Canadian navy in that context, not just in the context of search and rescue. That has been alluded to already by my colleague from Saanich-Gulf Islands, and quite rightly. I have known SAR Techs over the years and they are among the most competent and effective that we have anywhere in the Canadian forces. We have to make sure that we give them the appropriate tools to do their job.
Particularly for those of us who live on both coasts, search and rescue is an essential and fundamental component that must be protected.
How do we secure our towns and our cities in emergencies across the country? As my colleague has quite rightly said, that has been a historical role of the Canadian Armed Forces and will continue to be for the future. How do we secure this continent of North America in co-operation with our very powerful neighbour to the south? How do we secure air space? How do we secure the seas around North America? How do we secure our towns and cities within North America?
There is a role there for the armed forces, it seems to me. We should be asking questions and comparing some of the things that are going on in the United States. For example, in the United
States there is a national guard. Is there a need or a role for such an organization in Canada? I do not know. These are interesting questions that we can explore as we explore the security of our towns and cities and our coasts and the role of the armed forces in doing that.
Finally, apart from securing the continent and looking at the defence organizations that we have had such as NORAD, do we need a NORAD of the Pacific as well as a NORAD of the Atlantic?
What about the Arctic sea? As the Prime Minister and others keep reminding us, this is a country that runs from sea to sea to sea. I just saw my colleague from Iqaluit here in the Chamber and he and I both understand that quite often traditionally Canadians see the coast as being east and west, but there is a northern coast as well. In my riding I come very close to the Arctic sea, to Baffin Island. I am just south of Baffin Island and I know that northwest passage is important to us as well.
Canada runs from sea to sea to sea and we have to make sure that all of those coasts, all three of those coasts, are secure in the future. That is our mandate.
How do we want to do that? We have to realize also that the world has to be made secure. Canada has a role in that as well.
The world has shrunk and is smaller than it ever was. Even if we wanted to and even if it was not in our best interest, I think we would be called upon to play a role within the UN. There is a growing need now, it seems to me, to look at the international structures we have created for ourselves to see if they are effective in decision making for keeping peace in the world. Once we ask about structures like the UN, NATO, the CSCE and so on we then have to ask: What armed forces do those structures need and how can Canada contribute?
We have been called on over the years to be peacekeepers for the world. We have an international reputation, and quite rightly so. We will have to ask ourselves in this review: What is the level we can sustain in terms of peacekeeping? There has already been another call for more Canadian troops to go to Bosnia as the ceasefire seems to be taking hold and to be effective.
How much can Canada sustain? We have troops in something like 17 different peacekeeping operations all over the world, something like 2,700 Canadians at last count, almost 2,000 of whom are in Bosnia, in the former Yugoslavia alone. Can we maintain 2,700 people in 17 different peacekeeping operations all over the world? It is not just our armed forces but our RCMP is taking part in those operations. Sometimes our customs officers are taking part in those operations. What level can Canada sustain? What role should Canada play?
We will have to examine that. For all those roles how may people do we need in the armed forces? How many soldiers? How many airmen? How many naval personnel? How many naval ratings do we need? Those are the questions we have to ask.
How will they be trained? Do they have to be combat ready? There is a theory proposed by the people to whom I talked at Valcartier last spring, the generals who were training the peacekeepers going to Bosnia, that the most effective peacekeeper is a fully trained combat soldier ready to meet any emergency. Only if we are ready to meet any emergency can we meet the lesser emergencies.
We will have to ask: How do we train and what do we train for? Finally how will we equip the armed forces? What level of armaments will we need? How will we get those armaments? How much will we produce in this country? How much should we buy off the shelf? These are questions we will have to ask.
What will be the impact of that on Canadians now? Obviously we will not take as thorough an assessment of the arms production industry in Canada, but it is relevant to the armed forces and it is relevant to the economy of Canada at this time. Those are questions the committee will have to ask as well.
How much will we build in Canada? We are building now. We are building in Halifax. We are building in Saint John. We have some of the best in Quebec. We have some of the best and most competent shipbuilding operations anywhere in the world. We are building in London, Ontario. General Motors has an important plant for the construction of armoured vehicles.
How much of this are we going to need? How much of this are we going to continue to build as Canadians? How much can we purchase elsewhere? Finally what level of funding will there be for the armed forces?
In his statement the minister has quite rightly pointed out that this is an important part of our study too. In the document he tabled today, the guidance document, paragraph 6 says that the Department of National Defence has been and will continue to be supportive of efforts to improve Canada's overall fiscal situation. Planned outlays have been cut back by more than $14 billion over the period between the fiscal years 1989 and 1997-98.
The cancellation of the EH-101 helicopter program and defence budget cuts called for during and since the recent federal election campaign will lower defence spending by well over 10 per cent in the next four years, from a high of 40 per cent some years ago to perhaps less than 7 per cent in present circumstances. Defence expenditures today account for less than 8 per cent of the federal budget as opposed to about 20 per cent in 1964. The defence estimates have taken a hit. There has
been a reduction in defence estimates. There will be more as we fight the fiscal situation and as we fight the deficit.
I end where I began: We must not forget there is a critical mass to the armed forces and there is a level below which we cannot pare. If we go below that level whatever it turns out to be, we may not have an effective armed forces in the country to do the kinds of things we want them to do. That is the kind of question we will be asking in this review.
Mr. Gilbert Fillion (Chicoutimi): Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the previous speaker. He gave us a very eloquent overview of national defence. However, I do not fully agree with him, especially since he did not stick to the motion before us today.
As for the motion tabled this morning by the Minister of National Defence, I do not see the need to hold a special debate on our national defence policy, since the government has yet to table its white paper. With this debate, is the government playing for time and trying to bring the public on side? What I just said also goes for the cutbacks affecting military bases and for the peacekeeper training centres.
I was hoping the debate would focus mostly on ways to lower defence spending, even before the budget is tabled, rather than on a joint committee made up of a specific number of people, with specific terms of reference, which will undoubtedly cost Canadians an unknown amount of money. Earlier, the hon. member raised many questions, and I think that we have received enough information from our military strategists and our military staff and we have had enough discussions with these people to know where we should be going with our national defence policy.
I wonder of course how much this review will cost. I also wonder about the committee membership. I do not see why we need five senators on this committee, since they would only increase costs. But anyway, I am against such a committee.
In this debate on national defence, I have much more confidence in our military strategists. We have to trust someone, otherwise we should stop sitting in this House and start spending all our time consulting department after department. For example, CFB Bagotville is designed to be involved in Canada's territorial air defence, airspace control, drug enforcement, international forces as well as support for our land and naval forces.
CFB Bagotville can provide air defence since it already has all these elements. It can respond to all our anticipated needs in relation to NORAD. Bagotville is located 245 miles from Gagetown, 240 miles from Tracadie, 370 miles from Clearwater, 85 miles from Valcartier and 290 miles from Petawawa. Its central location makes it ideally suited to provide, with optimum efficiency, the services to which Canadians are entitled. The only thing that this base, which is 99.9 per cent francophone, needs to be really efficient is an air to ground weapons range.
I hope that the government will take these remarks into consideration and will take action instead of constantly telling us to wait, to wait for the creation of jobs, to wait for the budget. Communities that are concerned about base closures want to know. This is the question that I want to ask my colleague: How long they will have to wait before the government makes a decision. Will they have to wait one more year or even two more years? Will the government let this uncertainty drag on? If they knew that they were going to lose their base, they could start working right away with labour unions, with the industries that will be affected and with the people themselves in order to come up with a new project to replace that base. That is my question.
Mr. Rompkey: Mr. Speaker, I tell the hon. member that Bagotville is very important to me because CF-18s from Bagotville are staged into Goose Bay from time to time. In my riding we have a very direct connection in Goose Bay to Bagotville. I do not know what the future is for that base or other bases. I know the government will very soon make clear its intention in that regard, in keeping with the promises made in the red book during the campaign. Very soon Canadians will be apprised of the intentions of the government in that regard.
I just want to make two other comments. As I understood the hon. member he seemed to want to have the government's intentions first. As a member who has been around here for some time, I have to say I have been very impressed by the way in which this particular Parliament has proceeded, that is by actually asking members of Parliament what they thought before the government made some decisions.
Those of us who were around here before know that was not always the case. Decisions were made. They were a fait accompli. They were handed to people whether or not they liked them. This way is a much better way to proceed. Not only are parliamentarians being asked their opinion before long-term government decisions are made, but the people of Canada are having a chance to participate. When we were in opposition we called for this and I am very happy to see it is taking place.
With regard to an increase in spending, whether or not the member agrees with a joint committee I do not see a great increase in spending. It seems to me the committee will have to travel whether or not it is both Houses. The salaries of senators as well as members of Parliament will be paid on whatever committee they happen to sit on any particular day. I do not see a
great increase in spending as a result of having a joint committee rather than a House of Commons committee.
Mr. Randy White (Fraser Valley West): Mr. Speaker, I will try to be a little more brief in my question. I suspect many of us in the House have been touched at one time or another in some way by the military as I have been. I have friends still in the military all over the country whom I knew 20 years past.
I agree with many of the comments made by the hon. member for Labrador concerning national pride. People today are somewhat confused about the role of the military. People within the ranks of the military are also somewhat confused about it which does not do much for their morale.
I do believe we should study first and take action second, as my friend from Saanich-Gulf Islands has said. I also believe we should end the political football that has been evident within the military for 20 years at least. It seems to become an issue every year at budget time.
I would like the hon. member to comment on three areas. When the minister made his opening statement he said that public consultation is a priority with the government but the report that will ensue from the consultation will not constitute the new defence policy. I wonder if that is some form of disclaimer to the findings of the report itself or if it is just another way of saying the committee does not have as much teeth as we think it may have.
Another comment is on the selected communities where representations can be made. It is important to realize that some of these communities should be places like Summerside which has already gone through this type of situation. That community may offer some very good comments on this particular situation now that the deed has been done down there. The locations of these representations should be very carefully assessed and selected.
One other comment I would like to have made by the hon. member is the role of the reserves. I well remember growing up in the maritimes in the mid-1960s. I joined the military in Halifax, virtually having left school at a predetermined age. I had very few opportunities but I received a very good opportunity with the military and made a home there which led to a career.
What role does the government see for the reserves? There is a great opportunity for expansion. Perhaps the hon. member could comment on the future of young people in the reserves.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): Before I recognize the hon. member for Labrador, the member for Fraser Valley West reminds me that like all new members in this 35th Parliament he has learned his lessons well in a very short period of time and that within one question there are many questions to the hon. member for Labrador.
Trying to respect the standing orders with regard to time limits of speeches in questions and comments, particularly in a debate such as this one which is of great importance to all Canadians, and wanting to give as many members as possible the opportunity to participate, I would ask the co-operation of everyone so that we might be able to get on the record the participation of as many members as possible.
Mr. Rompkey: Mr. Speaker, I take your point and will be brief.
On the last point, let me just say that I would foresee an increasing role for the reserves in the Canadian Armed Forces. We are committed to the total force concept, as was the previous government. We will be studying the comments the Auditor General has made on the inadequate integration of the reserves. However, suffice it to say that I see a continuing and increasing role for the reserves in the Canadian Armed Forces. Indeed, approximately 30 per cent of our people in Bosnia are reserves.
I take the point concerning locations of representations. I assure the hon. member that the committee will want to travel all across the country. The committee wants to hear from as many Canadians as possible, including those who traditionally have been part of the armed forces establishment and those who are simply interested.
With regard to the minister's comments this morning about the white paper following on from the committee report, if the member reads the blues, he will see the minister said that the government would not necessarily be totally governed by the report of the committee. He did go on to say, I think if the blues are checked, that the government would ignore the committee report at its peril.
I simply took that as the minister giving himself enough latitude to be the government, as is his role, but saying very clearly that this is a serious process and that we do want to hear recommendations and to hear policy formulated from the parliamentarians of Canada after listening to the people of Canada.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères): Mr. Speaker, the government is inviting us today to a third debate on Canadian defence policy. Going against all logic, the government started this series of debates by asking the House to reflect on two special aspects of such a policy, namely the role of Canadian peacekeepers in Bosnia-Hercegovina and in Croatia, and the
testing of cruise missiles over Canadian territory, before letting us know the general direction of its intended defence policy.
Today, without any warning, the government is asking the House to debate the main thrusts of our new defence policy using as a base a vague and general document which has been handed out to members at the very last minute. Moreover, the government assumes that a defence policy can be considered independently from foreign policy, which is not the case. There again, the government carefully avoided to unveil its intentions regarding the direction it will give to this new foreign policy.
However, since we must accept the general format decided upon by the government for this debate, I will say that we first need to put this question in the general geopolitical context of the day, because it is this context which determines the choices Canada will have to make when defining its defence policy.
It might be useful to recall that at the end of the second world war, the world split in two distinct blocs, the western bloc and the eastern bloc, which set up two competing military alliances, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, that Canada joined in 1949, and the Warsaw pact.
At the end of the cold war, toward the end of the eighties, this polarized political situation changed drastically. The Warsaw pact dissolved, leaving NATO without any apparent rival. Therefore, western countries do not seem to be facing any readily identifiable threat. World stability is no longer the result of a balance of power between two groups. New nuclear powers are gradually emerging, and they often are politically unstable. Under such circumstances, it became difficult for Canada and its allies to question the collective security system which had determined their defence policy during the cold war.
On another level, the decreased influence of the east bloc countries and Russia on international issues had a direct impact on the political and military stability in several regions of the planet. Yugoslavia and the ex-Soviet republics are the most striking examples of that.
Some regions have also tried to take advantage of the new division of strategic powers to assert their political and military presence in their part of the world. The Persian Gulf war remains the most striking case, in line with the new configuration of global politics.
In response to the emerging political balance, NATO countries reviewed and then modified their defence policies. The same process went on in Canada and, in 1992, the government presented a new political statement to replace Perrin Beatty's white paper dating back to 1987.
The defence policy of western countries was readjusted in several ways. First, the most important measure in my view was to reduce the defence budgets; since exterior threats were no longer comparable to those that prevailed during the cold war, defence did not require as many resources as it did in the past. The armaments industry was affected directly by that readjustment because its markets shrunk considerably. In arms producing countries, hundreds of thousands of people were laid off and Canada was no exception.
Second, on a more strategic level, was the review of potential sources of outside threats. Under the new international order, the danger of an east-west conflict has greatly diminished. The new dangers, as identified by NATO members, stem from the regional conflicts which have been emerging in various parts of the world over the last few years. Canada shares this point of view, as attested by its 1992 policy statement.
Third, the political and strategic mandates of the major international organizations are being totally redefined. The UN and NATO are two cases in point.
The United Nations organization, through the Security Council, is increasingly being asked to take action in conflicts arising in various parts of the world. The latest ones, the gulf war and the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, herald new trends which have a significant impact on the national defence policy of western nations.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, for its part, seems to be willing to take on a much bigger role since the disintegration of the Warsaw pact. Originally designed to ensure the mutual defence of its member countries, NATO is now seeking to modify its defence mandate in the north Atlantic to become more closely associated with the United Nations organization, as its military arm whose role would be to enforce the mandates given the UN by the Security Council.
This trend is reflected in negotiations on the use of air strikes against Serbian troops in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
As a member of two major international organizations, NATO and the UN, Canada cannot and must not withdraw from discussions on these issues. The international situation is very unstable, and it would be extremely dangerous to renege on our international commitments.
As you know, Canada does not have the necessary resources to provide for the security and full defence of its vast territory.
This given has had a decisive factor in Canada's defence policy for several decades, as can be seen by this country's participation in joint security systems established through NATO and NORAD. It would also be unrealistic to think Canada is not affected by changes in the global political situation. We must realize that Canada can play a strategic role at the international level and, in return, rely on its international
alliances to guarantee the security of its territory. That was the gist of the 1992 policy statement.
The statement replaced the 1987 white paper which, as I said earlier, was drafted in a cold war context. The new defence policy was intended as an adjustment to the new international situation. It pointed out the risks that continued to exist from a strategic point of view, despite the collapse of the Warsaw pact, and perhaps I may quote the following:
The nuclear arsenals of the former Soviet Union remain sufficient to devastate this continent. At a time of ongoing instability in the Commonwealth of Independent States, prudence requires that we take these capabilities into account in the formulation our defence policy.
The size of our country, its strategic location, and the limited resources that we can devote to defence mean that, for the foreseeable future, Canada will maintain its long-standing relationship with the United States.Until further notice, this policy statement is still the Canadian government's official policy on national defence. A few adjustments have been made, however, including the renewal of the Canadian-American agreement on cruise missile testing. Furthermore, with its contingent of peacekeepers, Canada has also helped redefine its role within our international institutions.
As far as strategy is concerned, we have seen that the geopolitical context is changing very fast. As I said earlier, this development should not necessarily be interpreted as a portent of a new era of peace. The carnage taking place in various parts of the world should give us some indication that is not the case.
It would be illogical to think that just because the world is no longer divided into east and west as it was after World War II, we should abandon our role within the joint security systems.
The concept of threat should not be perceived only as being inherently linked to the concept of territory. Should the conflict in the former Yugoslavia spread beyond its borders, for example, Europe and NATO would be directly involved. The catastrophic consequences of such a scenario are serious enough to make us realize how important it is to have a defence policy which is not only intended to protect the territory of Canada or Quebec, but also takes into consideration the security of our strategic and traditional allies.
During the last election, and many times since October 25, the Bloc Quebecois has reaffirmed its support for cuts in the budget of the Department of National Defence. Despite the international context I have just described, we believe that we could cut that budget by some 25 per cent without dramatically impairing the operations of that important department.
Reducing the budget of the Department of National Defence by 25 per cent does not mean that we should withdraw from our obligations. On the contrary. The Bloc Quebecois is not advocating the total elimination of all major equipment procurement programs, though we believe some should perhaps be abandoned.
These programs remain important if Canada is to live up to its international commitments, but the rapid changes on the political scene worldwide make it necessary for western countries to redefine their defence policies on an ongoing basis. Canada is no different.
A new government has been elected and it is now its responsibility to propose new directions, in terms of defence, that can adequately address these rapid and fundamental changes that are occurring throughout the world. In this regard, you will note that the Liberal Party of Canada had already stated some of its positions while sitting on this side of the House, in the opposition, and during the last election campaign.
But it is worth pointing out, Mr. Speaker, that this is not the first time that the Liberal Party sends conflicting and unclear messages about its defence policy. Let me just remind you that, in the early seventies, under Pierre Trudeau, the Canadian government tried at first to distinguish itself from its American neighbour, but later, in the early eighties, its positions got considerably closer to the Americans'. As evidence of this, it is interesting to note that it is the Pierre Elliott Trudeau administration that first authorized cruise missile testing on Canadian soil in 1983.
Let me also remind you that Prime Minister Trudeau had taken on an international peace mission while at the time increasing considerably national defence budgets and authorizing the purchase of sophisticated equipment in order to support Canadian defence policy. I am thinking, for instance, about the acquisition of CF-18s and the first order for new frigates intended for the Canadian navy.
While sitting in the opposition, the Liberal Party often blamed the Conservative government for being too conciliatory with the United States. It did not keep the Liberal Party from reaffirming its support for the cruise missile tests last January, even though many of the top members of the party had objected to such tests. It is not easy therefore to anticipate what the main orientations of the government will be on the issue of national defence.
Yet, on a political level, it is important that we make sure the government determines in the very near future the thrust of new defence and foreign affairs policies that will be credible, clear and feasible.
It is too late to go on listing platitudes like they have been doing in the red book until now. The Liberal Party is in office; it must act responsibly and stop pretending it is consulting people
in order to gain time. Consultation is definitely a good thing, but it does not relieve the government from its obligation to reveal its intentions and the general principles of the policies it wants to implement. Discussion is valuable only if it is based on solid grounds.
The House of Commons is now in its third emergency debate on issues that are not supported by an honest and concrete national defence policy. What is even worse is that those debates do not seem to lead to any well defined policy.
Such an attitude is totally inappropriate. At this stage of the discussion, we denounce resorting to emergency debates on a national defence policy when the government has not even presented its new white paper on the subject.
I also seriously question the creation of a joint committee of the House and of the Senate to study and define the direction Canada's new defence policy should take. I doubt it is pertinent and financially sound as an operating procedure.
Since there is already a House standing committee which has been given the mandate to study defence issues, we believe a joint committee would only duplicate its efforts, with all the expected drawbacks as far as efficiency and cost effectiveness are concerned. We think the government must avoid such expensive practices which only go to demonstrate that the Senate of Canada is useful and its existence fully justified. This inference alone should lead us to question the relevance of keeping this antiquated and archaic institution.
Mr. Fred Mifflin (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs): Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few comments on what the hon. member for Verchères had to say and pose a question to him.
He made reference to the fact that this is the third debate we have had in the House on the armed forces in a hundred days. He spoke of this in a negative sense. I suspect there are those in the country and many members in the House who would look on that fact as being very positive. Certainly members of the armed forces welcome a discussion on their business. Three discussions in a hundred days is more than we have had on national defence in the House in the last 10 years. I see that as positive.
The member says these discussions are about defence policy, that we are going to have a defence policy today. I remind him that in the case of Bosnia the fact that we have a peacekeeping capability and would peacekeep is defence policy. Whether we would continue to leave peacekeepers in a particular location is a national operational decision. It is not a policy decision.
On the business of cruise missiles the minister made it quite clear on February 3 when he answered a question that we had agreed to participate in the cruise missile testing, but on the understanding with the American government that future testing would be determined by our defence policy. It is unfair for him to do that.
I have a question for him. He says that we are buying time. The red book said that we would have a defence white paper by the end of this year. That is what we are doing. It was clear. It was telegraphed months ago, almost six months ago. By the same token he says this is all wrong because we cannot make policy in these decisions; we have to study it properly. Then he says we are just biding time and goes on to say that what we really need to do is to cut defence by 25 per cent.
Does the hon. member want a policy to decide what we want to do, or does he want to cut it by 25 per cent? He cannot have both.
Mr. Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, listening to my hon. colleague, I hear a lot of things I never said. First of all, I would like to say that I went out of my way to point out that such a debate was highly desirable, and highly praiseworthy, but that we cannot have a discussion just for the sake of it. To have any productive discussion, we need a policy paper to give a direction to the debate.
When we had the debate on whether Canadian peacekeepers should stay in Bosnia-Hercegovina and in Croatia, and the debate on allowing further cruise missile testing in Canada, we, on this side of the House, criticized not the relevance of the debate nor its very nature, but the fact that the debate was going on before the government had presented its overall policy or the general direction of its defence policy.
My hon. colleague is quite right when he says that cruise missile testing and peacekeeping are part of Canada's overall defence policy. Consequently, as far as we are concerned, it is totally illogical to proceed backwards and, as I said before, put the cart before the horse by debating certain specific aspects of the defence policy before we even had a chance to discuss that policy as a whole.
In view of such criticism, we thought that the government had gotten the message. Obviously, it has not. It is back today with this debate on Canada's defence policy, without any policy paper or guidelines, except for this short paper we were given only this morning.
I think that we should have received this document much earlier so that we could have been apprised of the government's concerns and questions regarding defence policy. They only gave it to us this morning. How are we expected to have a
worthwhile debate under such conditions? What I was criticizing in this debate was not its relevance but the way it is taking place.
Mr. Fred Mifflin (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs): Mr. Speaker, in my introductory comments on welcoming this opportunity to speak I said how great it was that we had three parliamentary debates on national defence in a hundred days which was more than we had in 10 years. Certainly I welcome that. I know members of the armed forces and members of the House welcome it. I see it as very positive.
The premise under which we are discussing today is that for the first time, certainly in my memory, parliamentarians are having a look at and listening to what the country has to say to determine what will be the defence policy. In my memory a white paper has not been written as a result of a parliamentary committee. I welcome that. It is the way it should be done. Instead of people behind closed doors putting together documents on premises that may or may not be right, I believe this is the right and proper way to produce a white paper.
By way of introduction I want to give some indication of how I plan to organize my thoughts today. I want to have a look at the traditional way we have gone about producing defence policies in Canada. Then I want to expand and have a look at some of the factors that have changed which may cause us to rethink our traditional way of producing our defence policies. Then I want to give some examples of those general discussions in the time I have.
To begin with, Canada's traditional approach to defence planning has been affected by many factors. Many of them cannot be changed. We have the country's political evolution and, to a certain extent, our post-colonial sense of dependence. This was thrown off at Vimy Ridge but it still remained for a few years after. We have our vast expanse and remoteness. We are the second largest country in the world. We have three oceans. We have the world's largest coastline. We have our physical contiguity with the world's most powerful state and, above all, our own peculiar political culture and the effect on how we govern ourselves.
The formulation of a clear policy in Canada is never a simple or easy matter. In my opinion Canadian defence policy has seldom represented a deliberately chosen course of strategic direction or a fully integrated element of national purpose and object.
For more than four decades the basic premise on which Canada's defence policy was based was the cold war. That was the background against which we defined our security interests. That was the reference point for the setting of priorities and the making of decisions.
The 1964 white paper was based on the view that if there were a war it would be nuclear and over quickly, thus precluding the practical use of conventional or reserve forces.
The 1971 white paper cut back military numbers but expanded their roles: protecting our sovereignty, defending North America, upholding NATO, domestic emergencies and UN peacekeeping.
The 1987 white paper considered nuclear powered submarines, new tanks, bases in the north and forward operating bases for F-18s as essential to our defence, at a time when the cold war premise was about to come to an end.
It also, incidentally, seriously considered the total force concept, calling up a force in reserve to complement forces in being.
The latest policy statement issued by the minister of defence in September 1991 represented a useful, but I believe long overdue clarification of a change in orientation. If one really views it in its pure terms, the document was more of a rationalization of incremental decisions that had already been taken more than a suitably thoughtful re-examination of the basis for future policy development and planning.
The premises have changed. It is now time to measure policy against those changes and on that basis work our way to decisions that will serve our national interest.
To begin with we are now living in a period of technological change that can justifiably be called a second industrial revolution. Advances in microelectronics, genetic engineering, materials, space and telecommunications have turned industrial planning upside down.
When we factor in the deeply embedded and substantive trends in the physical environment, human rights, demographics, trade and economic patterns, it suggests a climate in which the traditional business as usual view of defence planning is unlikely to work.
I believe also the concept of national security is changing. Today it must be recognized that military might does not wield the same amount of national power it did yesterday. Indeed, the relative power of countries is now determined by an increasing interplay of economic and military factors which together with the fragile disposition of modern political systems is a major consideration.
The emerging democracies in eastern Europe for example, in Latin America and elsewhere will only add stability to their respective regions if they are seen as capable of tackling their domestic problems.
National security in the future may be just as concerned with environmental issues and the ability of a nation to feed itself as it is with the size, nature and structure of the armed forces
shaped from the time honoured need of maintaining territorial sovereignty and security.
The Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska comes to mind. So does the collision early in this decade between a U.S. and a Russian nuclear submarine near Russia's Arctic naval base in which some experts suggest that had the submarines collided at a different angle, both may have sunk instantly before their nuclear reactors could have been shut down.
Economic and social developments, while traditionally considered important in determining national interest, have today taken on a new significance for military planning as states struggle for independence and to protect markets and access to resources vital to their domestic economies.
Interruption in the flow of oil out of the Middle East for example was a major consideration in Canada's going to war for the first time in 40 years in the Persian gulf in 1992.
Similarly, the concern of Atlantic Canadians, my own province and the Atlantic provinces, over the survival of their northern cod stocks may very well involve maritime forces responding to foreign overfishing on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks in a big way.
The hon. member for Labrador this morning spoke of this and other national and sovereign imperatives that we will have to consider. Therefore I will not cover that.
I now want to cast my eye internationally. At the end of World War II we ended up with 60 countries in the world-recognized entities as countries. As a result of revolutions and decolonialization, countries breaking up, today we have three times that many countries in less than 50 years.
In these 180 countries of the world, there are 4,000 languages and as many religions. What is interesting about the composition of the countries is it is responsible for the trend that we see today. That is that 60 of these countries have populations of one million or less and 40 of them have less than 200,000, less than most of the smaller provinces in Canada.
More important, and I think it is germane to the argument I am making, less than 10 per cent of these countries have a homogeneous ethnic population and less than 5 per cent have an ethnic group that accounts for more than 75 per cent of the population.
I believe what we are seeing is an explosion of nations downward and inward to the point where they are really comprising the smallest ethnic and religious groups.
In the last four and half years we have been involved in the world and in Canada in more peacekeeping operations than we have in the last 40 years. If we take the trend that I spoke of earlier and look at the increasing intolerance of religious, social and ethnic groups one for the other, it is my thesis that the demand for peace operations is going to increase in scope, in number and in complexity.
Let us look at some very simple examples. Political instability has us involved in Cambodia. The inability of Somalis to provide food for themselves had us involved there. Ethnic wars in the former Yugoslavia has us involved there. Canadians are asking why, why? These are some of the things that our defence policy will address.
The simple answer is that Canada is a major trading nation with a multicultural make-up and it is in our national interest to invest our national resources to maintain a more stable world.
The traditional concept of national security is also affected by the uncertainty as to what might be a new pattern of world order to emerge following 45 years of a relatively stable cold war environment. I would suggest that history tends to work that way. History tends to work in pattern, certainly in my lifetime.
The most recent example I suppose I can quote is that after the end of World War II it took a few years for a pattern of the cold war to emerge and for east and west military and political alliances to polarize on either side of the iron curtain. We had the Warsaw pact versus the NATO alliance. The cold war is now over and the security systems that we have known all our lives are in question. We are waiting to see what will eventually replace them.
On top of that the traditional alliances, the Middle East order, has changed. Trade patterns have changed and we are not sure what is going to replace them. We are still getting used to the idea of a single superpower and what that means to the outcome of regional disputes, although the recent Persian gulf campaign does provide some tangible evidence of how future blow-ups may be managed.
What happens in the Middle East will in many ways impact on Europe and what prospects there may be for global order in coming decades. The same argument applies for Asia where the changing power balances are affecting the positions of China and Japan as well as the smaller economic tigers such as Korea and Taiwan.
Superimposed on all of that of course is the compelling need to refurbish the operating mechanisms of the United Nations. That I do not believe needs any elaboration in this House to the members present.
Until a clear pattern emerges which if we are to believe history it will in a few years, hasty decisions on defence services programs for a 15-year period based on an outdated defence policy of the past five years may prove very, very risky.
Another consideration comes to mind. It relates to the need in responding to these factors of change within the parameters of national pressures for immediately shrinking defence budgets. As identifiable enemies disappear we do not have an identifiable Warsaw pact, we do not have an identifiable Soviet Union; as a perceived identifiable enemy disappears, the constituency for defence cut funding in this country and in other countries will by natural order and natural trends diminish and the call for peace dividends and conversion will increase.
The Canadian Peace Alliance, for example, is already calling for the budget to be cut in half. I am still seeing editorials in national newspapers citing the importance of identifying the industrial parameters and the national imperatives related to the conversion of defence industries. Conversion of defence industries is a big thing in the United States and in the U.K.
They may not agree with them, and there are members in the House whom I see nodding and shaking their heads, but I believe they have to be addressed by proper defence policy review.
In summing up what I have said, let me repeat that this is a time when it is particularly important to base defence policy on a truly vigorous appreciation of the complex global situation, on the broader meaning of national security and on a focused effort to be prepared to dispense with the traditional methods in the interest of effectiveness. As I said earlier, the fact that the genesis for this white paper is coming from political committees, parliamentarians studying the issues, I believe is an indication that we have agreed and are prepared to digress from the age-old traditional methods.
Canada is committed to peace. That after all and above all is our national interest. Our national goal is to promote a more stable international environment as I spoke of earlier. The role of our armed forces is to defend this country and to contribute to the preservation of peace and stability throughout the world. Our defence policy must support these objectives.
To do this effectively it must be based on a clear-eyed perception, one that recognizes the achievements of the past but also the continuing dangers of the present.
Sir John Hackett, a very well-known and highly respected military person and author, once said: ``When a society looks at its armed forces, it is looking in a mirror and if the reflection of that mirror is a true one, the face they see will be their own''.
Our armed forces have always acquitted themselves admirably. Their reputation as true professionals is unsurpassed be it in NATO, peacekeeping, national efforts, search and rescue or any conceivable operation that is within the purview of the military inventory.
Our policy review must be correct in order that when our young men and women in uniform are committed to an operation and sent in harms way, as many of them are today, their government and their country will know that they need to be there and they have the proper equipment and logistics support to make sure that they will do their job as well as they can under the circumstances.
In conclusion the decisions we make about Canadian policy must be guided by commitment, by focus, and by prudence.
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie): Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech of the hon. member. It seems he has disregarded an aspect of the national defence policy review and consequently of the Canadian Armed Forces, and that is the work language in the armed forces.
I know that the former Conservative minister, Mr. Masse, had deplored the fact that French language was rarely used in the armed forces and that few francophones got promotions.
I know that in my own riding some members of the reserve cannot take courses in French and, therefore, find themselves barred from getting promotions.
Therefore, I wonder if the government will consider this matter in its review of the general role of the armed forces, and consequently of the operations of the Canadian Armed Forces. I would like to know the government's position on the matter because the present situation appears quite deplorable.
Mr. Mifflin: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question. Whether it has applicability and relevance to the particular discussion I just had I suppose is immaterial. I will grant him that it is an aspect of our policy we should be looking at. I did not mention it of course. He appreciates that in a 20-minute presentation we are all constrained to present factors determined by a number of things.
It is a fair question. What I will say to the hon. member is something the Prime Minister has not said. I am sure he would agree with what I am about to say but I have not checked it out with him.
There are no sacred cows. We have assumed nothing in that sense. Clearly there have to be parameters in what it is we do. I speak generally and from personal experience. Considerable progress has been made in that area. More progress has yet to be made.
One example for the hon. member of an ongoing project in his province is a centre of excellence for the naval reserve force. He is aware of course that the headquarters for naval reserves is in Quebec City. This centre of excellence will be used for training
reserves. It is meant to address the ability for naval personnel who tend to be posted to the east and west coasts to be given the opportunity to participate in their second language.
I use that as one example of the ongoing efforts by National Defence. However, the general answer to the member's question is that I am sure it will be addressed.
Mr. John Williams (St. Albert): Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence for his eloquent defence of the defence department.
At the edge of my riding are CFB Namao and CFB Edmonton. We heard the defence minister speak this morning about how there will be cuts. I understand that cuts have to be made. However, today we are debating the need for a defence review. I am quite concerned that the minister intends to make some serious cuts to the defence establishments.
Prior to the commencement of the review or right at the very beginning rather than at the end, CFB Edmonton now employs about 2,800 military personnel and quite a number of civilians in addition to that. It is the base for search and rescue for Canada's north. As I mentioned, there was the plane crash in Resolute Bay where there was loss of life because we were unable to get people in there quickly enough to save those lives.
Can the parliamentary secretary give any assurance whatsoever to me and my constituents, if the rumours are true that CFB Edmonton is perhaps on the chopping block, that their jobs are secure? This is a major defence installation. We cannot just say that all the things they were doing yesterday are now totally superfluous and just close the whole place down. This is the hub of the western forces in Canada and many headquarter facilities are there.
Can the parliamentary secretary give his assurance that CFB Edmonton will be maintained so that these people can be assured they are performing a vital role as they have been in the past toward the defence of Canada?
Mr. Mifflin: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the hon. member feels constrained by this in response to his constituents. I would do the same thing and I appreciate his concern.
I would just like to repeat what the minister said this morning. I have heard him say it many times. That is that we have to be very clear that the infrastructure rationalization is separate from the defence policy.
The hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands will remember as I do that whenever cuts and reductions in the military force came up those of us in uniform would reach for a thing called the infrastructure study. We would give it to the politicians because we knew they would never cut back on infrastructure. It was politically dangerous to engage in infrastructure rationalization.
We-not just any side of the House, but all politicians and I am one of them-cannot engage in that any longer. We now have an infrastructure for 75,000 people that we had for 130,000. We may get away with plus or minus 10 or 20 per cent but we cannot get away with 100 per cent deficit. We have one building for every two people in the Canadian forces. We cannot rationalize that. We cannot agree with that and cut the operational edge of the armed forces. It would not be fair to our men and women in uniform.
We have an operational capability right now. That is essentially to send a task group to sea, to send two squadrons of fighter aircraft abroad and to send a battle group. We want to honour the commitments we have made in the red book but at the same time maintain our operational commitment until we decide in a defence policy review what we want that commitment to be.
The hon. member knows I am unable to comment on the question he has asked me. I hope the overall perspective I have given him will put it in the context of what we are discussing today and why the policy review will be in the future and infrastructure decisions will have to be made before that.
Mr. Maurice Godin (Châteauguay): Mr. Speaker, I have been listening for some time now to what the member opposite has to say about defence. I must say I have serious reservations about the need for such a new committee.
Earlier, some members told us how pleased they were because this is the third time the issue has been raised in the last 100 days. That, in my opinion, does not mean we will get better results. If we had been better prepared, we might have needed to address the issue only once.
Also, we have heard a lot about the way this government is doing things, about the way it consults before taking action. I agree that members should be consulted. However, when we are asked to set up a committee without knowing how much it is going to cost, we need to consider the proposal very carefully. Earlier, a member talked about the Charlottetown circus which cost, as we know, millions and millions of dollars.
What bothers me beside the costs of the project is the way they keep quoting the red book. It seems that the red book contains all the solutions needed to improve government management. If that is true, why not simply implement the red book; let the government implement it and we will be able to decide for ourselves. We might not need this committee after all, which plans to travel throughout Canada.
We also heard about cuts and streamlining measures. But what will we do? We will travel throughout Canada to gather suggestions without knowing whether we will get the money and the budget to implement them.
To sum up, I would like to ask my colleague how much he thinks this committee will cost us? What will we get from it? You have to remember that less than a week or 15 days ago, we, in the Bloc Quebecois, were suggesting that a committee be set up to review government expenditures, and that our proposal was turned down. Such a committee was not deemed necessary, because the government thought it had all the tools it needed to do that review.
I think that today the government is not looking just to set up another committee, but it also wants to travel throughout Canada to sound out public opinion. We just came out of an election. First, we should let the government implement the red book, and then, we can see what more can be done.
Mr. Mifflin: Mr. Speaker, I am going to run out of time. May I have the unanimous agreement of the House to answer the question? It will not take too long.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): There is some time remaining for the parliamentary secretary to respond. If he should go beyond the allowable limits we are prepared to take into consideration his request at that time.
Mr. Mifflin: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member had a number of questions but I think the focus was why we need to have this committee. I have to presume he means the combined committee because I do not believe the hon. member would object to the defence standing committee studying the defence issue. I am going to assume he meant the combined committee.
I am not sure where the Bloc is coming from because I sat in this House a week or 10 days ago while the Bloc argued for a committee to look at issues the Auditor General had raised. On the one hand it wants some committees. On the other hand it now objects to the fact that a committee is struck for a substantive purpose, that is to look at what it is we are doing in defence.
The hon. member asks why we do not just apply the red book. That is precisely what we are doing. We are applying the red book. The red book says we are going to have a defence policy review by the end of the year. That is what we are doing. It should be no surprise.
The hon. member talks about preparation time. My gosh, people with the backgrounds they have should not need much time to prepare on such an issue as defence policy. God knows members spoke about it enough during the election so they should have enough preparation time to talk on the general subject. This is not a specific issue. Any member can get up and talk about anything on defence related to a defence review. I am not sympathetic to that problem quite frankly.
I will address the substantive issue. The substantive issue the hon. member has put to me is how the parliamentary secretary and the minister can support a combined committee. I will give him the answer; it is not that complex.
In the bad old days the traditional method I talked about in defence planning was relatively simple in the sense of how it was done. We asked: Who is our enemy? We looked across the ocean or up in the sky and we identified a potential enemy. Once we identified the enemy, we asked: Okay, what are his capabilities? There are satellites now that can hover 200 miles above and can read not only the licence plate number on a car but also can give the pigment in the paint. We knew more or less what the enemy had. We had the enemy identified and the enemy's capability.
The third aspect was: What is the intention of that enemy? Does he intend to surprise us by lobbing ballistic missiles? Does he intend to have a landing force in the Arctic? What are his intentions?
Determining intentions was more difficult than determining the capability or identifying the enemy. If a country had more armed forces than it justifiably and reasonably needed to defend itself, then it could be concluded it had an intention other than its defence. It had an offensive intention. Depending on how much excess defence capability it had could determine more or less how aggressive those intentions could be.
We cannot identify the enemy now. Therefore we do not know what his intentions are and we do not know his capabilities. When faced with that kind of situation as we are now that the cold war is over, we tend to fumble and do not know how to go about it.
However, what we are faced with, as many members in this House know, is the sitting down of reasonable men and women to take a look at a situation that is peppered with uncertainty. In a case like this the more people within the confines of an institution, in this case the parliamentary institution, we bring to bear, the better our judgment is likely to be.
In bringing two sides of the House together we not only get the perspective of members of the House of Commons, a certain age group, a certain philosophy and a certain commitment because of their requirement to campaign and be re-elected, we bring into call the upper chamber, the other place, which brings another dimension to those factors I mentioned.
The salaries are there anyway. On the cost of travelling, the numbers of dollars are so marginal as to be almost inconsequential.
Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt): Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by apologizing to one of my constituents. I came to this House today certain that we would get unanimous approval from all corners and every party in the House on this defence review. Therefore, I have to apologize to that constituent in Penticton who said: ``I watch the CPAC channel but it is always so negative''. I thought today we would have something positive. I hope to address this issue with some very positive comments because I am in support of it.
A review of Canada's defence policy is long overdue. Although emphasis and approach have varied from time to time, Canada's defence policy remains much as it did 30 years ago. Therefore, I support this motion.
I look forward to reviewing the guidance documents referred to in the motion that the minister tabled this morning to determine exactly the scope of what our review will be.
I would also like to commend the government for using the committee system to undertake such an important policy review. The effective use of committees is an important means by which an individual MP can represent the views of his or her constituents in developing national defence policy.
As a member of the standing committee on defence, I look forward to the task ahead of us with the wealth and experience including military, academic and business backgrounds of those who sit on the committee. I endorse the concept of combining it with the Senate as well. The reason for this is that while we have a large number of people on the committee from eastern Canada, we only have a few who will bring a western perspective to the committee. Hopefully, with the five Senate members there will be some representation from the western provinces.
The work of this joint committee will be extremely important. Three questions have come to my mind and I am sure many Canadians have asked themselves the same questions. First, are our current Canadian forces suited for the post-cold war era? Second, do our international commitments meet our military capabilities? Third, how effective is our current defence spending? These are questions to which all Canadians would like answers.
I am reminded of during the campaign when I was in the town of Keremeos in my riding. A gentleman stood up at the back of the hall and said: ``I do not believe in having a military in Canada and I do not think I should have to pay taxes for such a thing as encouraging people to go off to war and fight''. My question to him at that time was: ``If you do not believe in a military, do you really know what it does? Do you know the role it plays? For instance, would you object if the military were a part of an exercise to capture people who were bringing in a shipment of cocaine off the coast into Canada to sell to our youth? Would you be against a military if you were capsized on the ocean and the search and rescue technicians from Vancouver Island came to your rescue? Would you be against the policy at that point? Or would you be against a military that made certain that our sovereignty and our natural resources were not taken away by other countries like we do with our fisheries patrols?''
These are the things I do not think Canadians really sit down and think through about what the Canadian military role is and the actual importance of the things it does. It is one of the downfalls that the Canadian forces really can accept some responsibility for because they have not communicated all of their roles to all of the people of the country. That is one of the things we have to look at. These are extremely important questions and the committee must deal with them.
I have a little background in the military. I spent some time in the Royal Canadian Navy in the early 1970s and I remember at that time the military experienced a time when we were not upgrading our equipment. We were dealing with the equipment that we had and did the best we could but the government was not spending money on upgrading equipment.
I remember one story when we were called out. I was stationed on a ship on the west coast in Esquimalt and we were called out because there was a Russian destroyer just off the coast of British Columbia and our task was to go out and follow it and make sure it did not get into any mischief.
During this excursion we went out and found that this destroyer was a vessel that was much more capable than we were. It was a very technologically advanced vessel. We could not even keep up with this particular vessel because of the ships we had at that time.
The captain of the ship turned to one of boatswain mates and told him to go down to the leading seamen's mess and get the bingo crank for playing bingo on board. Everyone wondered what he was talking about but he did it. He got this bingo cage that holds the balls with a handle on it. The order was given to hoist it up the mast. Of course, everyone was wondering what the captain of the ship was up to. He looked at it and was very happy with his accomplishment and he said that the destroyer would be taking pictures of it for the next two hours and for three weeks it would be busy trying to figure out what it was.
The point I am trying to make is that although our equipment was not always the best, we certainly adapted to the situation we were in.
One of the areas I would like to talk about today, and nobody else has talked about it too much, is personnel and how we are going to cope with the changing armed forces. In particular, I would like to talk about the total force plan, the concept introduced in 1987 which I understand the hon. member for
Bonavista-Trinity-Conception participated in which has made our reserves a key component of Canada's defence policy.
The total force policy concept aims to integrate regular and reserve forces to give reserves a greater role in military capability. The total force concept was also designed to allow Canada to maintain the same level of military capability while cutting costs. Reservists are paid only when they are on active service or in training and are therefore less of a drain on the public purse.
As a result of this policy's greater reliance on reservists the levels of regular troops have declined while the numbers of reservists have increased.
In 1990-91 Canada had 88,000 regular force personnel. These numbers are projected to decrease to 75,000 in 1995-96. On the other hand, today there are about 38,000 reservists and by the year 2000 this is projected to grow to 47,000.
Presently reservists play an increasingly important role in Canada's peacekeeping operations. Reservists make up a much greater part of the replacements going on overseas missions.
As we heard today, I think the latest rotation to go overseas was composed of about 50 per cent reservists.
Some serious concerns have been raised about the increased reliance on the reserves and I hope this joint special committee will look in more detail at these issues.
In the past few years some concerns have been expressed that we are placing too many demands on reservists, especially those who have not been trained to the same extent as our regular forces.
In his review of reserve forces in 1992, the Auditor General pointed out that as reservists move up in rank, and this is through no fault of their own, they lack the training and skills as compared with those in the regular forces at an equivalent rank.
He found that reservists lacked practical experience. As an example, when a combat arms officer reaches the rank of major, it amounts to approximately 750 training days difference that the two people have attained.
We must ask, therefore, whether we are placing reserve forces in situations for which they are not adequately trained. In response to these concerns the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs recommended in 1993 that in Canadian contingents deployed in dangerous UN operations such as Bosnia, the number of reservists be limited to no more than 10 per cent of the total force. So far, there has been no problem on the ground due to lack of training, and our troops have properly carried out the tasks which have been assigned to them.
I would like to say that everyone in Canada should admire the work and courage and dedication that these reserve forces have displayed in these dangerous operations.
However, we must ensure that we are not placing unfair demands on our reserve forces. Serious concerns have been raised about the readiness of the reserves. Also, in the 1992 report the Auditor General found that only one-third of reservists would turn out during an emergency and many of those who would turn out would not be properly trained to the necessary standards. This joint committee must ensure that Canada does not sacrifice its readiness.
One major reason why reservists do not receive enough training and experience is their lack of security in their civilian employment. It is extremely difficult and a risk for many reservists to participate in training exercises because they may lose seniority at their jobs, they may be subject to losing promotions or their vacation time and in some cases they may even lose their jobs to serve the country in the reserve force.
This is an issue that I am deeply concerned about. I have a tremendous admiration and respect for reservists who have put their jobs on the line to serve Canada.
This is also a very important hurdle for the effectiveness of a total force concept. The Conference of Defence Associations has recently pointed out that if the issue of job protection is not addressed it is doubtful the total force will reach its top level of effectiveness.
The Canadian Forces Liaison Council is concerned. It is currently trying to solve this problem by emphasizing to employers that the training and discipline the reservists gain will actually benefit the employer and will far outweigh the loss in employees' time.
We must consider the point and the viewpoint of business owners very seriously. After all they face additional costs and inconveniences when their reservist employees are called for training or active duty.
This may prove to be particularly trying to small and medium sized businesses. Everyone in this House has recognized that small and medium sized businesses are going to be the areas in which we create the employment in this country. Therefore, if we are looking at a defence review we also have to realize that a number of these jobs that are created through small and medium sized businesses will also have this additional strain that some of those people will probably be reservists.
The real test of this policy, however, is yet to come. Presently many reservists serving overseas are students who are willing and able to take the time off from their education. Replacements for many of these student reservists may have to come from employed reservists for whom it will be much more difficult.
This special joint committee will, I trust, consider ways to encourage employers to permit reservists to serve in Canada. In many other countries there are laws requiring reservists to be allowed time off to train and to serve, while preserving their jobs and their seniority. The problem is that this could discourage employers from hiring reservists. We ought to be very cautious about any legislation that may do that.
In this defence policy review we should also consider ways to protect the employment of reservists, whether called up for training or active service. At minimum, I would hope that we set an example for the private sector and take measures to protect federal employees who actively serve in the reserves. By addressing this issue we can show our support to the increasing role we are asking reserves to fulfil in our defence policy.
Canada's armed forces have a commendable history of providing a well run, effective military which has performed the many tasks required of it with distinction and with honour. Whether on cold patrols, fisheries patrols off our coasts or peacekeeping duties in the war torn corners of our world, the men and women who serve Canada so well deserve our admiration and support. The realities of the present day debt and deficits however mean we have to be concerned that we are getting the best value for taxpayers' dollars.
In his 1992 review the Auditor General stated that the problems related to the ability of reservists to respond when called up have reduced the savings possible under the total force concept. I hope the special joint committee will make this one of its primary focuses.
Finally I would like to take a moment to talk briefly about a program that is close to my heart and falls under the defence budget: our national cadet program. This program with which I have been involved for several years is a useful and productive program that instils a sense of civic responsibility and national pride in young Canadians. It does not matter if they are from Valcartier, Quebec, from Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan or Alberta, they all undergo the same training program. It helps to strengthen the unity of our country.
While the program grows in popularity its budget has been decreasing. I believe it comes back to the issue of effective government spending. How many inefficient projects are we saving at the expense of this program which trains 65,000 young Canadians in leadership, citizenship and physical fitness?
This is the type of program we should encourage. It is uniquely cost effective for the government because it is a partnership between the Department of National Defence and civilian organizations like the Navy League of Canada, the Army League of Canada and the Air Force League of Canada. In communities where they are located there are local organizations that also support them through funding. In my own community of Summerland, British Columbia, the Kiwanis Club is a supporter of the cadet program.
The government has expressed a concern for youth. In the national cadet program Canada already boasts the finest youth program in the world. Over the next year I will certainly make the joint committee aware of the important role the cadet program plays in the lives of Canadians.
These are some of the issues I look forward to addressing in the upcoming defence policy review. I support the motion and I commend the government for allowing the special joint committee to consult broadly in making recommendations. I am eager to hear the input of Canadians on the issue. I hope we will respect the views of all Canadians. Through public consultation we can have an effective review of our defence policy.
Mr. Bernard Deshaies (Abitibi): Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank my colleague from the Reform Party for his excellent and very instructive speech on the work of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Since he did not say why he had decided to support the government's proposal to create an ad hoc committee for this review and since there is already a parliamentary committee on National Defence, could he tell me why he thinks this committee is necessary? And how can he justify these additional expenditures? There is no doubt that with the creation of this ad hoc committee the regular committee will be free to study other issues, but why this ad hoc committee? Why would we allocate special sums of money for travelling across the country? It seems to me that the Reform Party has repeatedly asked that we cut spending. Why does the hon. member think that we should put extra funds at the disposal of this group of parliamentarians and senators to consider a new approach, a new Armed Forces policy? How can he reconcile this with his party's position?
Mr. Hart: Mr. Speaker, I addressed that in my speech. I feel it is important because of the make-up of the House standing committee. We have two members on that committee who represent the views of westerners. My hope is that with the additional five members from the Senate we will see representation from all parts of the country. That is why I support it.
I do not look at it as a duplication. They have their committees and are doing some work. By putting the committees together there is an actual saving. We are talking about the things the member was talking about in making sure the right hand knows what the left hand is doing.
I do not want to cover any ground that I have already covered. However on the question regarding expenditures as far as travel in the country for consultation is concerned, the other member of the Reform Party on the committee and I will certainly make our views known that these trips in Canada must be justified. The work when we go on these trips will be work. There must be a reason for undertaking them. Otherwise we would be opposed to doing it.
Mr. John Richardson (Perth-Wellington-Waterloo): Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the hon. member for Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt on his positive attitude in seeking a resolution to the very serious problem presented to Parliament, the very serious debt crisis we face. The turn of events in the world requires us to assess our alliances and commitments to alliances and to look at how we have allowed our armed forces to be stretched from sea to sea in bases that no longer have relevance to their initial establishment. We will have to do some evaluation on a merit basis of whether they need to be done because this is a political decision.
The people in the armed forces can tell us about their needs, their training, their numbers, et cetera. Every time when it comes to making decisions the presentation from the Canadian Armed Forces has been that this is where we can cut without affecting our effectiveness.
These are some of the decisions we will have to make on behalf of the people of Canada so that we can keep our armed forces in a strong position to undertake the tasks the government always places upon them. They are spread thin because this is dictated to by the nature of the base policy the political decisions have made on.
Like the hon. member for Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt I hope we will look at these situations. Some of the bases will stay and probably be enlarged. We do not know that. Certainly if we are to make decisions we need all the relevant information. As the hon. member said, in some cases we may have to go and look at them and when we speak we can speak with some sense of reality on behalf of the armed forces.
Again I would like to thank the member. We must keep in mind that if the armed forces were in need of overhauling, the decisions were delayed, delayed and delayed in this place. It was not the fault of Department of National Defence, because that was offered as a cut year after year after year.
Mr. Hart: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments and I concur.
Mr. Lavigne (Beauharnois-Salaberry): Mr. Speaker, I would like to know if we are still in the questions or comments period or if I am beginning a 20-minute speech.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): No. We are still in the period for comments and questions, with a few minutes left.
Mr. Glen McKinnon (Brandon-Souris): Mr. Speaker, I commend the previous speaker on his quality of presentation and his obvious knowledge of the subject. I would suggest that much work has gone into the preparation of his talk today.
Does the member opposite feel that militarily there was any advantage in looking at a possibility of having a consistent movement of personnel from cadet to reservist to regular force in terms of the armed force component of training?
Mr. Hart: Mr. Speaker, under the current guidelines the cadet program follows they do not promote advancement to the regular force or reserve force. One main reason for that is that it encourages not only young people who are interested in a military career. It encourages young people who have an interest in aviation, leadership training, their communities and getting involved in civic responsibility. It is not just a military focus. I am not sure it would benefit the program if we added that element to it.
Right now many who have joined the cadet movement go on to many other careers. It has been a positive experience. The experience the cadets gain through participation is very important. It makes them better citizens no matter where they go.
I am not sure making advancement to the regular force or to the reserve force part of the program is the answer for the cadet program. It certainly is a positive experience wherever they go. Some do go on to the military.
Mr. Fred Mifflin (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs): Mr. Speaker, by way of comment on that subject, the hon. member is right. The purpose of the cadet organization is not to induce young Canadians to join the Canadian forces.
Having said that, there is a natural affiliation. I regret I do not have the numbers, but several times in the last 10 years I have looked at military colleges, military units and officer corps. Without question if we go to one of these units, particularly the military colleges, and ask ``how many of you have had cadet experience'', we would be absolutely astounded by the number of hands that would go up.
I seldom get personal in the House, but my introduction to the navy really came directly as a result of being involved in my local sea cadet corps, RCSCC Matthew, where I was the chief petty officer. As a result of one of the annual inspections the inspecting officer had literature and discussed what we planned to do for the future. It was a direct result of my association with the cadet organization; it certainly helped me make a decision
to have a career in the military. It is important to make that correlation.
As a final comment, even if a cadet never goes anywhere near the recruiting office, the cadet organization in the country is one of the finest, if not the finest, youth organizations and one of the most unsung and unpublicized. Whether or not it is intentional most Canadians do not know about this tremendous program that is so responsible for making our young Canadian men and women much better citizens.
Mr. Hart: Mr. Speaker, at the start of my speech I said I was hoping for a positive experience. I certainly am getting it in the House today.
As a former commanding officer of an air cadet squadron I have seen two of my cadets go on to Royal Roads Military College. I would agree there is that element to it.
There is no question that with a program that encourages unity in all regions from every spot in this country, every area has the benefit of a cadet program. Those cadet programs are of vital interest to the Canadian people.
People will I hope start to take notice and participate in the cadet program.
Mr. Ron MacDonald (Dartmouth): Mr. Speaker, I have waited a long time, probably close to five years, for a debate like this to take place in the House of Commons.
I was first elected in 1988. It should be fairly clear to anybody who has been to or lived in Nova Scotia and knows anything about national defence that the contributions made by the Canadian Armed Forces in Nova Scotia and indeed all of Atlantic Canada are extreme not just in dollars spent but also in contributions to communities.
When I was growing up, when we would see somebody in uniform on the main street of my home town, including my father who had served in the armed forces during the second world war, we would look to these people with a great deal of respect. It was bred into us. Of all the places in this great country, I believe there is no place where a service man or woman would feel more welcome than in a place like Nova Scotia because today we still harbour the same degree of respect for the men and women in uniform that we did during the Second World War and in times since then.
Places like Nova Scotia have benefited greatly financially because of the contributions and placement of bases of the Canadian Armed Forces. It is important when talking about the motion in front of us that we look at this from a bit of a historical perspective.
CFB Shearwater and probably half the Canadian navy on the east coast are in my riding. When I was elected in 1988, one of the big concerns that I heard over and over again was that these people in uniform who chose to serve their country so proudly and so well felt that once their representatives were elected, they forgot that they too were constituents who needed to be heard.
They were fed up in 1988 with what they saw as a series of government initiatives that clearly did not care what the job was that they were asked to do, that clearly were not policy driven. They seemed to be driven by an imperative first to get elected. Therefore they promised anything. However, once they were elected, they said they had a debt, a deficit and other things to consider. These were tough decisions. Guess who got the biggest cuts every time something came around? It was the men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Somebody may ask why that is. Perhaps one of the reasons is that when one becomes a member of the Canadian forces and is a good soldier, seaman, air force pilot or working on the Sea King helicopters, one gives up many of the fundamental rights that every other Canadian has come to expect. One gives up one's right to publicly criticize government policy.
Many men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces immediately become an easy target for indiscriminate non-policy based cutting in the area that they have chosen to make a living, national defence.
In 1988, it was tough for me to canvass. When knocking on doors in Dartmouth, career naval officers said to me that my party was against the nuclear submarine program. How can you say your government will look after the interest of the Canadian military establishment, the defence industry establishment and indeed the interest of Canada as a sovereign state if you do not support this initiative?
I said to them that I believed the Canadian Armed Forces had to be given the tools to do the job that they were mandated to do. First and foremost, before we went into these major expenditures we had to have a defence review. We needed to have a white paper that had some teeth, that took into account the fact that the world had changed dramatically since any government had made a fundamental policy review in national defence.
People said to me at the time that Mr. Beatty, then Minister of National Defence, had a paper that went to the floor of the House of Commons. I told them that he had not acted on it, that we were still talking about it. They said that nevertheless it was a paper. I had a heck of a hard time convincing those individuals that the Liberal Party was committed to having a fundamental review of defence policy and that we would modernize our national defences for a changing world. I suppose a lot of them did not vote for me.
About six months after that when the Conservatives were re-elected in 1988, all their plans, policies and great promises of what they were going to do for the Canadian military establishment got shuffled away because of the debt and deficit. All of a sudden Mr. Beatty's white paper on defence was shredded. Once again we had a haphazard approach on how to deal with Canada's national defence forces.
In 1989 when the budget was brought in, after many men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces voted for the Conservative Party, voted for that government because they believed what had been said in the pre-shredded document of 1987 white paper, the Tories came in in 1989 and cut nearly $3 billion, $2.75 billion, from national defence over four years. They did this without any review of the impact that would have on the role that we asked the men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces to perform for us as Canadians both domestically and internationally.
We also saw base closures, again without a fundamental review. What is it that you want the men and women in the forces to do? Tell the generals and they will do their best. Do not come in and say: ``We want you to do exactly the same today as you did yesterday, and by the way we are going to send you to three or four more peacekeeping hot spots in the world, but you are going to have to do it with $2 billion, or $3 billion, or $5 billion, or $7 billion less''.
It was ridiculous. It was impossible to do both things at the same time. However the military did their best. Then we had what I consider to be an attack on regional realities in Canada.
Because the Tory government did not have a lot of seats in Atlantic Canada, it decided in the 1989 defence cuts that we would share a greater burden of defence cuts than any other part of the country. With 22 per cent of the personnel of the Canadian Armed Forces in Atlantic Canada, we received 55 per cent of the cuts in that 1989 budget. Forget what the mandate was. Forget what those bases were doing. Forget how that would impact on the ability of the Canadian Armed Forces to do their job. It was cut. A political decision was made to cut in Atlantic Canada because the Tories had very few seats there.
The Tories were not going to look anywhere else and we lost bases. We lost CFS Sydney, CFS Barrington, CFB Summerside. I still cannot believe that one. We had reductions in Gander, in Chatham, New Brunswick and on top of all that CFB Moncton, our supply base. I have talked to the generals who say it makes sense to have CFB Moncton, it makes sense to have CFB Chatham.
Political decisions were made at that point in time. The best advice of the generals was thrown aside. That government which had a lot of seats in one province, the province of Quebec, made some decisions about where supply bases should go. That is what it did.
It is little wonder that the men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces started to view all of us that practise politics in this place with a little bit of suspicion. They had been fooled once more.
The other thing that we saw in subsequent budgets was about $11 billion cut over the long term from national defence expenditures in Canada, all without a policy in place. Each and every time the government mismanaged its financial dossier, it hit national defence for the reason I said earlier. The men and women in national defence really do not have a voice. They are not allowed to speak up. They give up that fundamental right that every Canadian comes to expect because they have chosen to serve their country.
We are once again faced with the big bogeymen of the national deficit and debt. Where is government most likely to look first for cuts? National Defence. I have done my homework. I have done my research. I have come to a conclusion. We have a major debt problem in this country. We have got a deficit problem.
The one area of expenditure that has not contributed in any great way to the debt and deficit of this country is national defence. Since the mid-fifties we have seen the expenditures on national defence, not rise like in almost every other area of expenditure but go down steadily from about 25 per cent to about 7 per cent. We have seen the standing forces of the Canadian Armed Forces almost halved in the last 10 years.
National defence, I understand, is a big budgetary expenditure item. I am not saying that it is not. I think that in the absence of a fundamental wholesale full policy review that any further cuts to the Canadian military at this point in time would not only be stupid, would not only be dangerous but would be disastrous for the capability that we may be asking for in 12 months or 14 months' time, that the men and women and their generals and planners undertake for the Canadian Armed Forces.
I want to debunk another myth because some of it is coming from this side of the House and that is kind of hard for me to take. There is a myth that somehow when governments need to cut that we do not look at the strategic reasons why bases are in certain places but we say: ``Well, we have to somehow equal pain''. As an Atlantic Canadian who has been here for five years, when I hear equal pain it usually means more pain down in my neck of the woods than anywhere else. I hear this coming from some people in the department and some people in the government and it scares me.
Somebody said to me the other day: ``Well, you know, Ron, you have $1,240 per capita being spent in Nova Scotia on national defence and the average is about $388 or $389 nationally. So I guess you can take a bigger hit than anybody else''. The last time I checked, Canada had one of the longest coastlines of any state in the world. Of all the provinces in Canada, I would
put forward that when we take all of those coves on that craggy shore of Nova Scotia together, we probably have the longest coastline of any province in Canada.
The last time I checked, a sovereign state that had a navy had to put it on the coasts. It does not put it on the prairies. It does not put it in central Canada. I suppose it could try to put it on the Great Lakes but it might have trouble getting out sometimes. The last time I checked, if you are a maritime state, you have to put your navies on your coastline. We have the largest coastline of any state in the world. Nova Scotia has the largest coastline of any province.
British Columbia is on our Pacific side. Where do we put our navies? We put them on our coasts. That is why Victoria, Esquimalt and Halifax harbour are the homes to Canada's navy.
Yes, it costs to have a navy. It costs about a billion dollars per coast to have that small, paltry navy that probably needs a lot more equipment than what it has, but it does a damn good job with the equipment that we have given them and the resources.
I am not going to apologize and say because Halifax is the best ice-free Canadian port on the east coast of Canada that somehow we should shut everything else down in Atlantic Canada that has to do with the military because we have the navy. I am not going to do that because it does not make any strategic sense. The argument is full of vile subtleties that I am not going to debate in this place.
If we take out the Canadian navy and its contribution in Atlantic Canada, suddenly Atlantic Canada and all of the other defence establishment expenditures are below the national average. Is that not shocking? The member for Chatham knows that. I look at the member from Summerside and he knows that. However, past governments have said: ``Well you have more than the rest, therefore you have to suffer a little more''. Well, we have suffered quite enough from poor planning on defence strategy and poor economic planning of the last government. I am hoping that my government today is not going to do the same thing.
One thing I do know is that we do have a surplus of infrastructure in the Canadian Armed Forces. I know that. That is fundamental. It is reality. What I do know is that when planners over at finance start to determine what they think is sound infrastructure for defence then our defence policy hits the shoals. I know that defence planners are no more capable of dealing with science and technology planning perhaps or the post-secondary educational area in Canada than finance planners would be in defence.
That is why we need first-and I underline first-and foremost a fundamental review of what it is that we want our Canadian Armed Forces to do. Do up the list, priorize it, put our expenditure lines down, tell us how much it will cost and then sit down as a government and determine which of those priority options we are going to undertake.
I think to go the opposite direction would allow us to fall into the same trap as the previous Conservative government. It would allow the state of our Canadian Armed Forces to further erode to a point perhaps from which they will not easily be able to return.
It was not easy in this election to be canvassing with our red book. I supported the red book but it was not easy. The red book said that if we became government we would cancel the EH-101 helicopter contract.
CFB Shearwater is in my riding. It employs a lot of people and does a tremendous job for Canadians. There is the navy at Halifax harbour. Therefore, it was not easy for me to tell people at national defence that I supported new helicopters but I did not support that acquisition. I did it because I believed in the larger policy that we put forward as a government.
I said it before and will say it again to put it in Hansard that as long as we have the Canadian navy on both coasts, it is going to need shipborne air support. As long as we have ships and a navy and we need air support we are going to have to have good equipment to send our pilots up in.
The Sea King helicopters currently at CFB Shearwater are old. They are aging. We have great maintenance crews to keep them flying but they are still old and aging. This or some other government is going to have to make a decision on replacement because those helicopters must be replaced.
The argument then is as to whether or not the choice of the previous government was indeed a sane one. I do not think it was. It was a helicopter based on the premise of an old white paper in the absence of any modern defence policy saying that what we needed was a cold war helicopter. I know it does other things but essentially it was a cold war helicopter.
What I said to the people in my riding was that if they elected me as part of a Liberal government I would ensure there was a voice for the Canadian Armed Forces in my caucus and on the floor of the House of Commons. I would ensure there was a fundamental review of defence policy. I would ensure when that defence policy review was completed that somebody would be there to fight for the resources for the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces to do the job we ask of them, which they do so willingly and so proudly on behalf of each and every one of us.
We are at that point now. I have read the red book. I had a little bit of say in how it was put together as some of us on this side did. We knew there would be cuts to national defence, but we said two things. We said we would fund the infrastructure program in the red book through cuts to the existing programs and we identified national defence as one of those departments.
We said we would take $360 million from national defence. We also said we would not take it in the same manner the previous Tory administration had, but that we would take it after consultation. I underline after. We indicated that any further cuts in national defence would flow from this fundamental policy review for defence.
I hope that on Tuesday we find that those commitments we made and that I and every one of us canvassed on are upheld in the budget.
Nobody in the Canadian Armed Forces I have met thinks times are easy. They know times are tough because they are taxpayers too. They know that the debt and deficit are spiralling out of control. However they also know that government has a responsibility to maintain a defence force.
What are the things I would like to see in the review? First and foremost we have to look at what our domestic requirement is. There is the navy on the east coast of Canada. We send those frigates and supply vessels out. We send them on exercises in the north and south Atlantic. It costs a lot of money to do that, but as long as we are involved in things like NATO then that is part of our commitment.
I hope that the defence review looks at what is the best and most efficient use of the limited naval resource we have on both coasts first and foremost looking at what it is we need as a sovereign state.
I have mentioned four or five times that we have the largest coastline in the world. I do not have to remind any Canadian that we have a major crisis in the Atlantic fishery. We cannot even police our own 200-mile limit. We have had a problem with too many Canadian fishermen taking too many fish because we could not watch them. We have had a problem with too many foreigners coming in and taking too many fish. Because we could not even police our own sovereign fish resource on the east coast the result is that we have about 40,000 people out of work down there.
We have seen an ecological catastrophe of biblical proportions with the virtual elimination of the northern cod stock. Surely to goodness we have learned our lesson and the defence review will look very closely at what it is we can do with our naval resources to ensure that our renewable fishery resource and which has employed so many hundreds of thousands of Canadians over the centuries is protected once those cod stocks return. That is a role we can look at.
There is another thing we have to look at. There is another war going on in our waters. That is the illegal drugs which are going into far too many coves, nooks and crannies, all along the east and west coasts of Canada. It is destroying our young people. Surely to goodness one of the things we must do is look at our defence resources and apply them in such a way that we combat this crime wave.
I hope we also look at the defence forces for other things. Domestic security also includes environmental security in this day and age. I do not know why we could not use the expertise of the men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces to have a first and ready strike force. Any time there is an environmental or ecological disaster in Canada these highly trained individuals could go in and secure the area and mitigate against environmental catastrophes as much as possible for Canadians.
On the international scene we are going to have to fish or cut bait. We cannot have it both ways. We are a small nation of around 28 million souls. We do our very best. Canada has participated in every peacekeeping venture since the second world war. Think about it. We are spending over $1 billion in our efforts in Bosnia at a time when the government has a $45 billion deficit and we are talking about cutbacks to programs and transfers to individuals.
These are not easy times for us. However surely the defence review will look at these things and will look at what it is we want our armed forces to do in domestic security. It will also look at what we should be contributing as part of our international collective responsibility. Maybe it is peacekeeping. Maybe we will decide there are other things we should do.
What I do know is that the framework established in the red book must be completed. This defence review we are debating today is absolutely essential and has been far too long in the offing. I am very pleased one of the first things our government has done is to choose to set this committee up as quickly as possible so it can go out and consult and come back with the framework for a modern policy for the Canadian Armed Forces.
I am no seer; I do not have a crystal ball. However I hope that on Tuesday the actions the Minister of Finance must take in order to try to control our spiralling debt and deficit will not adversely affect or prejudice this review. I hope the Minister of Finance and the Minister of National Defence will be able to effect as much of the savings as they must for this current year internally, without laying waste too much of the infrastructure of the Canadian Armed Forces.
In conclusion, this has been a great debate and I look forward to participating further as the day rolls on. The men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces have waited a long time for a government that lives up to its commitments on defence. They will be proud and pleased this defence review is now finally under way. At its conclusion they will find that yes, democracy
does work and that yes, sometimes political parties and prime ministers do keep their word to the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Mr. Gilbert Fillion (Chicoutimi): Mr. Speaker, I hope that I will have the time to make my comment.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): Order, please! I simply want to remind the hon. member for Chicoutimi that we do have three or four minutes left, but that the hon. member for Dartmouth would like to be able to answer.
Mr. Fillion: Mr. Speaker, I have the feeling that the member had a little more time than planned. I do not know if I am mistaken.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): I must say that I have followed all the speeches closely this morning and that I have complied with the Standing Orders to the best of my abilities.
Mr. Fillion: Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the speech which was just made and I must say that for the first time this morning we seem to be hearing a different tune from the other side of this House.
The hon. member spoke of a white paper, a question that was raised this morning. I would like to remind him of a statement the present Prime Minister made when he was Leader of the Opposition in March 1993: ``Canadians deserve a government which can lead the way, a government which brings new ideas and new strategies, a government which helps them adapt to change''.
This debate and the approach which this government has taken in the past 100 days are at variance with what the Prime Minister said. So that my colleague can answer about what he said on the white paper, I ask him whether he is prepared to ask his caucus to have the Liberal government table its white paper on national defence as soon as possible and let the existing parliamentary committee on defence do its job and not create a new committee.
The Speaker: The hon. member for Dartmouth has about 30 seconds.
Mr. MacDonald: I will be very quick, Mr. Speaker.
I can understand, the hon. member opposite is probably used to watching Conservatives on this side of the House who make their decision first and then consult later. We are a government of a different stripe. We believe fundamentally that the people of Canada have a right to be heard before decisions are made.
The white paper will flow from the discussions that will take place in our caucus, in national defence, in the Parliament of Canada and in the standing committee that has been struck today.
If the hon. member will just give us a little time and give Canadians a chance to be heard, that paper will be tabled at the appropriate time in this House.
The Speaker: It being two o'clock p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to statements by members, pursuant to Standing Order 31.
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS[English]
The front page article describes the problems that plagued the Winnipeg blood fractionation plant when political manoeuvring became more important than proper technology and business practice. The Canadian Blood Committee, forerunner of the Canadian Blood Agency, currently trying to derail the Halifax fractionation plant and take over the Canadian blood supply, squandered millions of taxpayers' dollars before virtually giving the obsolete plant away.
In contrast, the proposed plant in Halifax will be built, financed and run by the private sector. Miles Pharmaceutical, which runs fractionation plants around the globe, has guaranteed the full output of the plant.
I call on the provincial ministers of health to learn from history, put petty politics aside and support the Halifax fractionation plant for what it is: good sound economic development in an area that is desperate for good economic news.
* * *[Translation]
I will remind the secretary of state that Quebec, more than any other jurisdiction, has always shown very great respect for the First Nations. Indeed, on March 20, 1985, the Parti Quebecois government was the first to recognize the principle of self-government for them.
The recent declarations of the Official Opposition never challenged the bonds created over time with the native people. Their sole purpose is to end illegal activities carried out with complete impunity by a small group of individuals.
We are extremely sorry that a member of this government refuses to recognize that the only demand-
The Speaker: I regret that I must interrupt; the hon. member's time has expired.
* * *[English]
I am referring to Michael Drake, a convicted child molester who was released on bail while he awaited his deportation hearing. That deportation hearing was held yesterday. Today, Michael Drake is again free on bail as his lawyer prepares to appeal the immigration board's decision to deport Michael Drake to the United States.
How many times will this happen before something is done? How many innocent people will have to become victims before the minister of immigration will ensure that offenders like Drake are not released on bail during the appeals process?
* * *
On behalf of those students I would encourage all members of the House to participate in supporting changes to the program which would include the reintroduction of a six month interest free period, no privatization and a full re-evaluation of eligibility criteria and of the weekly loan limits.
Mr. Speaker and all hon. members, if you love education this Valentine is aimed at you.
* * *
Fermi II, a U.S. nuclear power plant, planned to pump 1.5 million U.S. gallons of radioactive water into Lake Erie.
Plant officials and the U.S. government nuclear regulatory commission insist that this water is only slightly radioactive and well below legal limits.
I want to assure the residents of Essex-Windsor that the Minister of the Environment instructed her Ontario regional officials to conduct on-site field testing at Fermi II before the water was released to ensure that the levels of radiation are within legal standards and no other contaminants are present. Those tests are currently under way.
I am very concerned and so are the citizens of Essex-Windsor. Lake Erie is a shared body of water and the Canadian public has a right to be informed of potential threats to our drinking water. The levels of radiation may very well be within legal and even within Canadian standards, but Canada should be given ample public warning of such releases.
* * *
Congratulations to all for inspiring and enriching our communities, our peoples and our country.
The award ceremony will be broadcast on CBC March 3. I encourage all members and all Canadians to join us in this celebration of our talent, pride and hope.
* * *[Translation]
Deeply rooted in the region's maritime tradition, the Institute ensures Quebec's ongoing expertise in this area and enables the province to share its knowledge with the entire country. In addition to overseeing the maritime emergency measures training centre for the Canadian Coast Guard, the Institute has, since 1987, helped train Canadian Forces reserve personnel and is involved in many international co-operation projects.
We can only congratulate the Quebec Marine Institute for its initiative and its unwavering pursuit of excellence. May its dynamic spirit help it to weather all obstacles on the road to its continued development.
* * *[English]
We must preserve RRSPs as an essential means of allowing individuals to provide for their retirements rather than becoming dependent on government safety nets. The limited benefit to be realized by reducing RRSP levels compared with the high cost of reducing personal retirement savings plans is not in the best interests of Canadians.
I urge the Minister of Finance not to include changes to the registered retirement savings plan in his forthcoming budget.
* * *
In Canada there are over seven million adults with low literacy skills. In my riding alone, Don Valley North, there are over 12,000 residents with just such a problem. This is not only disheartening, it is absolutely unacceptable.
In keeping with our policies outlined in the red book, the government has promised to restore funding for the National Literacy Program to its original level. Further, I ask the government to increase this funding in order to overcome this difficulty.
I call on my colleagues to make every effort possible in removing barriers that prevent a number of Canadians from enjoying a never ending world of cultural enrichment.
* * *
That the Oxford County Board of Education support all efforts to block the entry and sale of killer cards in Ontario.I would like to say how important it is to me and to many members of the House, especially those of us who have served as educators of our children, that these vile cards that demean the victims of crime not be allowed to cross our borders.
I ask the government to take steps to stop the entry of these cards and once again commend the Oxford County Board of Education for passing such a worthy motion.
* * *
Recognizing the important role of rural post offices, the Liberal government placed a moratorium on further closings immediately following the October election.
I believe that the preservation of rural post offices offers a direct link to the future viability of not only my riding of Annapolis Valley-Hants but of communities across Canada. These post offices provide valuable and necessary services and further closures would cut an important link in the social cohesiveness of rural communities.
By reaffirming our commitment to keeping these rural post offices open, the government can play an important role in strengthening the economic and social infrastructure of rural communities.
I urge the government to continue to demonstrate its commitment to rural Canadians and ensure that these post offices remain open.
* * *[Translation]
As Bloc Quebecois members, duly elected by the people of Quebec and duly recognized as the Official Opposition, we
strongly object to the absolutely blasphemous comments made yesterday by the Deputy Prime Minister.
How can the Deputy Prime Minister suggest that ``the Mohawks are right to be offended by the Bloc's comments'', when we have always made a clear distinction between certain warriors involved in smuggling and the other Mohawks who live in a climate of terror created by the warriors.
Who is the real culprit here: the Deputy Prime Minister or Bloc members who are just doing their job by representing their constituents?
* * *[English]
A community report was submitted which recommended 12 per cent of Vancouver Island be protected with minimal loss of employment, the creation of nine new parks and a continuation of community planning initiatives.
The commissioner's report was released last week. Virtually every community within the North Island is opposing the recommendations which will displace workers and create major unemployment.
This report is top down decision making and the affected communities want to send a strong message to government that it is unacceptable and to listen to the people.
* * *[Translation]
The government and CN must maintain the railway line through northern New Brunswick to ensure the development and the economic viability of the region and the province.
The CN line through northern New Brunswick is one of the most profitable lines in eastern Canada. This line is one of the major factors in the present and future development of the forestry and mining industries in the region and the two major international ports of Belledune and Dalhousie.
I call upon CN to recognize the economic importance of this line to northern New Brunswick and therefore urge it to maintain its full operation.
* * *
The commission urges Canadians and Americans to deal with these toxic substances. They are damaging the economy, human health, wildlife and all other forms of life.
The commission recommends that governments, businesses, communities, labour, educators and the media act together in order to stop the damage, restore the integrity of the ecosystem, and protect the health of millions of people whose well-being and economies depend upon these beautiful bodies of water.
* * *
The Minister of Industry is sending mixed messages about KAON. Federal government support appears to be wavering which is causing our international partners to lose confidence.
The Americans are enthusiastic about this proposal, and I quote from a statement by their KAON study panel:
Mixed messages from Canada appear to have been received. A request now from Canada at a ministerial level-for a U.S. response might be very helpful to enable the early completion of the process.We need to know, potential international investors need to know, as do the B.C. government and the scientific community, whether the minister is going to press ahead with this project.
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD[Translation]
RCMP accounts and sources reported daily in the media are gradually revealing the extent of criminal activities connected with the smuggling operations of the warriors. The problem has become a very serious one, as we read this morning in the Montreal daily La Presse, which reported that smugglers operating on the reserves were also involved in money laundering, along with, and I quote: ``-Italian organized crime, motorcycle gangs and even a number of Colombian families''. According to the officer responsible for RCMP operations in Quebec, the RCMP cannot stop criminal activities on the reserves without the co-operation of the Mohawk authorities.
Considering that the situation has gone beyond the limits of what is admissible under the rule of law, will the Prime Minister acknowledge he has a duty to meet the Mohawk chiefs in order to obtain their co-operation in stopping the activities of the warriors, as requested by the RCMP?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, we have given the RCMP a clear mandate to do its job and wipe out all smuggling in Canada, including on Indian reserves.
As I explained to the House, the whole issue of policing on Indian reserves is very complicated. We have the local Mohawk police which is authorised by law and has a mandate delegated either by the Government of Ontario or the Government of Quebec. We have the provincial police which is involved in general law enforcement, in other words, the Quebec Provincial Police and the Ontario Provincial Police.
As for the federal police, its role on Indian reserves is to deal with smuggling. That is what it is doing now, and I have nothing more to say. The RCMP has a clear mandate to do its job as prescribed by law.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, it is common knowledge that any police, effective and prestigious though it may be, and we acknowledge that is the case with the RCMP, needs the support of the government. In this case, the RCMP does not have that support. That is pretty obvious.
I want to ask the Prime Minister whether he will admit that my question, which he failed to answer, is very relevant, in other words, we should ensure that the RCMP can count on the co-operation of the chiefs on these reserves and consequently, the Prime Minister should see them himself and not let people see ministers when they come out of these meetings and the parties are contradicting each other.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, if the Leader of the Opposition really wants to solve the problem, he will ask his members not to play the game of dragging the problem of the Mohawks into their questions all the time.
We are fighting those who are criminals. Some are outside the reserve; there might be some on the reserve. But the impression of the Mohawks at this time is that it is a campaign by the Bloc Quebecois to tarnish their reputation, and this is not useful.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, there is quite a difference between tarnishing a reputation and sticking to the facts. The Bloc never asked any questions that were not close to the facts, and the Bloc relayed allegations which were made and published in very respected newspapers in Quebec: Le Soleil, La Presse, Le Droit, et cetera.
The answer of the Prime Minister is equivalent to abdicating the authority of the law. If the Prime Minister would like to discharge his duties he would meet the chief of those villages and localities to make sure they provide their full co-operation to the government.
Since there are links with international activities on this question, would the Prime Minister get in touch with the American government to get the full co-operation of that government so as to implement an international police action plan which would be efficient and professional?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, the RCMP has been in touch with the American authorities.
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval): Mr. Speaker, the press is also reporting this morning that the RCMP is in a position to prove that in 1993 alone, at least $700 million in cash passed through the Akwesasne reserve, that many other items in addition to cigarettes are smuggled and that many other groups associated with organized crime are involved.
Will the Prime Minister undertake to put an end to the activities of organized crime groups who are taking advantage of a protected area just a few kilometres away from Montreal to launder money and conduct their illegal activities without fear of being stopped?
Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, the matter of money laundering the hon. member refers to is already under active investigation by the RCMP. It has the full support of the government in doing whatever it considers
necessary to put an end to the smuggling rings wherever they are in the country.
I wish that the RCMP had the same support from the Bloc.
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval):Mr. Speaker, my supplementary is for the Solicitor General, since he is answering for the Prime Minister.
Can the Solicitor General, who is privy to all kinds of information, explain to us why he is always the only one in the dark, when in fact these allegations come directly from RCMP investigators? Is the Solicitor General living on another planet, or does he simply prefer to turn a blind eye to what is going on?
Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, I am dealing with reality, not like the Bloc that says that it asks questions that are only ``close to the facts''.
If the Bloc were serious it would ask questions based on facts because that is the kind of answer the government is giving. Our answers are based on facts, based on full support for the RCMP and its work everywhere in the country.
* * *
Yesterday the Prime Minister told Canadians that the whole idea of members voting solely on the basis of what their constituents want or believe is revolting.
At a time when Canadians are seeking better representation in Parliament, could the Prime Minister please explain why this is so revolting to him?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, I said that we could not run a country through referenda. That is what I said.
If some members of Parliament do not think they can pass judgment when a law is in the House, they do not belong in the House. That is what I said. We cannot go to the electorate and have a referendum every time a member cannot make up his or her mind. ``If it is too hot in the kitchen'', as Truman said, ``get out of the kitchen''.
Miss Deborah Grey (Beaver River): Mr. Speaker, we are in the Chamber. This is what concerns us today. I quote: ``The erosion of confidence in politicians is partly a result of an arrogant style of political leadership. The people are irritated with governments that do not consult them or that disregard their views''. Those words come straight from the Liberal red book.
When did the Prime Minister begin to disregard this section of his red book?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, that is democracy. Canadians read the red book and they voted for the Liberal Party. That is democracy at its best.
* * *[Translation]
Can the Minister of National Revenue tell us whether he has arranged for tight controls during the selection process to avoid hiring people with links to organized crime and whether he will report back to the House after the investigation is completed?
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of National Revenue): Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member and the whole House that when we hire the new customs officers they will be subject to normal procedures, which are very strict, for choosing the very best people.
We are fortunate we have a large number of people in Canada who have worked for the department on a part-time basis during the summer and who may be a potential pool from which we can recruit.
I can assure the hon. member that the very high standards the customs service now has will be maintained with the new people who join as a result of the increase in customs numbers announced by the Prime Minister last week.
Mr. Pierre Brien (Témiscamingue): As a supplementary, I would ask the minister to say if he will report to the House on his investigation. I would also like to ask him whether he recognizes that the lack of follow-up on goods in transit in Canada is a weakness of Canadian customs and that this weakness is a boon to all kinds of smugglers.
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of National Revenue): Yes, Mr. Speaker, we will certainly follow up. Obviously at this point when we have just asked the commissioner of the RCMP to carry out an investigation there is indeed very little to report.
However, as matters progress and as the commissioner and the RCMP reports back to the Solicitor General, we will be reporting back to the House.
* * *
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
The Speaker: I think the question is acceptable in its form.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, I said yesterday-it is very simple-that this notion we should be replaced by polling is revolting to me. I repeat it today. We have been elected to use our judgment. Members of this party use their judgment knowing they belong to a party which was elected with a program which was distributed across the country. This is what a political party is.
The hon. member should be more worried about the way her party votes than the way the Liberal Party does.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary North): Mr. Speaker, I believe the only way to restore public trust in the judgment of Parliament is for Parliament to show greater trust in the judgment of the people.
Would the Prime Minister agree that one of the most effective ways of doing this is to give the people a direct role in major decisions from time to time through binding national referenda?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, there was a referendum in Canada about a year and a half ago. It can be used once in a while but it cannot be used as a formula to run Parliament. That is not the way to do it. We were elected under a program.
There have been free votes in the House in the past. I must tell the hon. member I voted against capital punishment and abortion twice. This was not what my electors preferred but they continued to vote for me because I used my experience and judgment in those cases. It was a matter of conscience for me. I took my responsibilities and I went back to them. The hon. member will be facing the same thing.
Democracy is using your judgment and if the people are not happy they will vote against you.
The Speaker: The Chair sometimes has difficulty when a finger is pointing one way but I know you are referring to me over here.
* * *[Translation]
Is the Minister of Finance aware that middle-income taxpayers have been overtaxed for ten years? Can he reassure them by promising to spare them this time around?
Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is aware that the previous government has imposed something like 38 or 39 consecutive tax increases. And it is obvious that the middle class, in fact all Canadians, have been crushed by the tax burden imposed upon them by the previous government, of which the leader of the opposition was a prominent member.
Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot): Mr. Speaker, I look forward to having a little fun myself next Tuesday.
Just days before the budget, I ask the minister again, can he reassure families in Quebec and Canada by denying rumours of tax hikes for middle-income taxpayers, rumours of taxes on group insurance plans and rumours of a lower ceiling on RRSPs?
Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec): Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois critic for Finance is an economist who is very familiar with the rules of the game. He knows full well that three or four days before tabling a budget, it is not the place of the Minister of Finance to disclose its content. He knows full well that he will have to wait until Tuesday, and I do not see why he is not using more common sense.
* * *[English]
My understanding is that the Prime Minister and indeed his party supported and actually pushed the previous government to enact the National Referendum Act in 1992, a special situation. Yet in his answer to me yesterday he said no to a referendum on the issue of physician assisted suicide.
Has the Prime Minister lost faith in the people of Canada so as not to entrust them with making a decision on this matter through a national referendum held at the same time as the next election?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, I would like the hon. member to check something. What was the cost of the last referendum? They are always talking about who is spending too much money. Is the hon. member saying that whenever members are traumatized and cannot make up their minds, they should spend half a billion dollars to help them do it?
We will use our best judgment and the people will have the occasion to judge us at the next election. I know we will win it.
Mrs. Daphne Jennings (Mission-Coquitlam): Mr. Speaker, I would like to reiterate I am actually speaking of a referendum at election time which of course defrays the cost.
The National Referendum Act covers more than constitutional matters. Surely the Prime Minister must have known that when he pushed the Right Hon. Joe Clark in a letter dated November 12, 1991 and I quote: ``to give the federal government the power to hold a referendum''.
Why is he then denying to the people of Canada that right on this special issue similar to the Constitution?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, we will be in Parliament for four and a half years. During that time we might have 25 questions for the people of Canada. Because members of the Reform Party have no platform and no direction from anybody they want to ask their electors rather than having the guts to have a program and get elected on it.
* * *[Translation]
Yesterday, appearing before the Standing Committee on Finance, the Auditor General warned the government about the high cost of replacing the GST by some other tax of a yet unknown nature. He pointedly noted that the implementation of the GST had cost government and businesses a total of more than $800 million.
Does the Minister of Finance share the view of the Auditor General that replacing the GST would needlessly cost millions of dollars to government and businesses, when those businesses are not yet totally familiar with the tax?
Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional-Development Quebec): Mr. Speaker, it is really up to the committee to determine what is going to replace the GST. I believe that it is a very important exercise in democratic judgment. If the previous government had done so, perhaps we would not be in the mess we are in now.
This being said, the hon. member must know that I share most of the views of the Auditor General, and in particular the one which deals with the elimination of overlap and duplications between departments and agencies. The role of the Auditor General is to audit the books, while the role of the committee and the Department of Finance is to set the fiscal policy of the country.
Mr. René Laurin (Joliette): Mr. Speaker, would the Minister of Finance not agree that, instead of replacing the GST, it would be wiser to simplify it, to iron out all its administrative problems and to take the necessary steps to collect all accounts in arrears which total more than $1.5 billion?
Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional-Development Quebec): Mr. Speaker, simplifying the sales tax, reducing the cost, lowering the administrative burden, all that is part of our goal when we consider replacing the GST. And up until now I thought that was an opinion we shared, at least I thought that was the opinion of your critic for finance. If you have changed your mind, you should tell the committee.
* * *[English]
My question is for the Minister of the Environment. Does the government have any specific plans to resolve this serious problem?
Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment): Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her question. I know she will acquit herself of her new responsibilities as the vice-chairman of the environment committee because she has a good record of concern about these issues.
The fact is that the IJC report is bad news for the 45 million people who drink water from the Great Lakes. It reconfirms our concerns that human health is affected both directly and indirectly.
In fact there is an international meeting to which I will be sending officials next week to continue the process of virtual elimination of toxins.
We expect to have a timetable and a framework in place within the next six months. We are very concerned that we sign the second phase of the Canada-U.S. water quality agreement to ensure that the decrease in sperm levels and the increase in breast cancer are dealt with very directly by elimination of toxins.
* * *
The CBC reports liquor smugglers to be making profits of $105,000 per truckload and bribing Canada Customs officials to facilitate their trade. The finance minister talks of closing minor tax loopholes while smugglers are finding huge loopholes big enough to drive trucks through.
Does the government intend to expand the principles of its action plan on cigarette smuggling to include a broad attack on all sectors of the growing underground economy?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member had listened to the announcement I made in the House of Commons last week, he would know we referred to the fact that the task of the RCMP was not to act only against cigarette smuggling but also against the smuggling of alcohol, drugs and armaments. That is the mandate of the RCMP and the Department of National Revenue.
In order to succeed we have to spend more money. We gave more money to the RCMP and the Department of National Revenue to be well equipped to do the job.
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest): Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary question.
The government knows there is a direct link between high tax levels and the growth of smuggling in the underground economy. The government has set targets for deficit reduction and job creation.
I ask the Prime Minister: Has the government set a long-term target for tax reduction and can he tell the House what it is?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, we said we wanted to reduce the deficit to 3 per cent of the GNP. I do not think I can add to what the Minister of Finance will have the pleasure of giving as his plan for this fiscal year, Tuesday next. The hon. member has only to be a bit more patient and he will have his answer.
During a scrum yesterday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated that he is considering sending more Canadian peacekeepers and that the government would make a decision in the next few days.
Given the urgency of the situation, will the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell us clearly if Canada can give a positive reply to the UN's request to send more Canadian peacekeepers to Sarajevo?
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should know that Canada is third in terms of the contribution made to the UN force in the former Yugoslavia. We think that we have already done more than our share in this regard.
Obviously, the United Nations are trying to get additional troops to ensure an effective ceasefire and to maintain peace in that region.
I believe that other countries can make a greater effort and we hope that they will follow our example and reply positively to the UN Secretary General's request.
Mr. Jean-Marc Jacob (Charlesbourg): Mr. Speaker, unless I am mistaken, the minister just said that Canada is doing more than its share regarding this mission. Consequently, if it cannot get additional troops, the UN could soon be unable to maintain the permanent ceasefire which we were all hoping for.
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I understood the question, but I presume the hon. member wants to know if I agree with the UN request to increase its force. I believe the answer is yes. We have told other countries that we feel we are doing more than our share and that they should make an extra contribution.
* * *[English]
The Customs and Excise Union opposes an integration of custom officials into Revenue Canada, saying that their focus will shift away from border protection to tax collection.
The minister says that he is taking steps to ensure the security of our borders. Will the minister also assure the House that in this process the wording of customs officers' present job descriptions will not change?
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of National Revenue): Mr. Speaker, the issue was discussed at some length in the House when we had second reading of Bill C-2. It was discussed again at the committee stage in the finance committee a short time ago.
The fact is that we intend to continue to have what I regard as one of the best customs services in the world for the non revenue aspect at the border. On the revenue aspect, that is collecting money, they do very well too but other things such as attempting to find children who have been kidnapped, attempting to pick up smuggled goods-drugs, arms, liquor or whatever-they do very well.
I can assure the hon. member that there is absolutely no intention on the part of this government of changing the fundamental role of the customs service at the border.
Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley East): Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer.
Just for clarification, because of the integration process and because of the PS-2000 initiative the job description will have to be rewritten. I need assurance from the minister that the new wording on the job description for the customs officers will retain its present emphasis on law enforcement and border protection rather than merely tax collection.
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of National Revenue): Mr. Speaker, I thought I had answered the question.
I can assure the member that when it comes to rewriting job descriptions, we will have first and foremost in our mind the excellent job currently done by customs and the perhaps increasingly very important role that we see for them to perform at the border.
I obviously cannot at this time, given the negotiations that will take place with the union and given the negotiations that will take place within the department, commit that the exact wording will remain there in the future as it has in the past.
In terms of emphasis, which I believe to be the hon. member's question, I certainly do not envisage any change whatsoever.
* * *
As a result of the previous government's policies, some 1,300 rural post offices were shut down between 1986 and 1993. The minister announced a temporary freeze last November on such closures.
Will the minister now tell us what he will do to keep rural post offices open in Canada.
Hon. David Dingwall (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question. I am pleased to announce today that the government of Canada is putting in place a moratorium with regards to the closure of rural post offices.
As hon. members will know, before the election campaign, during the election campaign and after the election campaign this party and the Prime Minister stood clearly and firmly against the closure of rural post offices in this country. I wish to announce today that effective immediately a moratorium is in place with regard to the closure of rural and small town post offices across this country.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Dingwall: Mr. Speaker, at three o'clock I hope I can get the concurrence of the House in order to provide additional detail to all members.
* * *[Translation]
I understand that the Minister of Canadian Heritage has ordered an assessment review on the possible merger of the National Film Board and Telefilm Canada. My question to the minister is: Can he confirm that the government intends to amalgamate the National Film Board and Telefilm Canada into one agency?
Hon. Michel Dupuy (Minister of Canadian Heritage): Mr. Speaker, I can confirm that there is, in fact, a study underway. We have yet to receive its findings. There will undoubtedly be some findings and recommendations coming out of this review. I cannot anticipate what the recommendations will be, but once we get them, we will make the appropriate decisions.
Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata): Mr. Speaker, I have another question. Should the merger be recommended, will the minister acknowledge that such a merger, which would result in the integration of the National Film Board
within Telefilm Canada, would erode and threaten any assistance being provided to the documentary and animated film industry?
Hon. Michel Dupuy (Minister of Canadian Heritage): Mr. Speaker, I am of course very concerned about the public. I am also concerned about quality productions and the information provided by these two wonderful institutions. The National Film Board has been in existence for a long time now. You can rest assured that, before we make any decision, we will take into consideration the public interests and the quality of the service.
* * *[English]
Mr. San Martin Pedro Hugo, an admitted Peruvian terrorist and conspirator to the murder of government officials, was denied refugee status in Canada and deported. Now that same individual has been granted a minister's permit and flown back to Canada. It will cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars to send him through the entire refugee process a second time.
When will the minister halt this hearing and have this terrorist deported?
Hon. Sergio Marchi (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I have discussed this case with him.
Concerning this case of the refugee claimant who was denied refugee status, it was the feeling of my officials that the individual posed a threat to the Canadian community. Therefore the immigration officials had this individual flown back and deported to Peru right away.
Subsequent to that, the individual's lawyer appealed the case to the Federal Court of Canada. It was the Federal Court that ordered a new appeal hearing in front of the Immigration Refugee Board. There is something called due process, and therefore immigration was simply obeying the Federal Court, which is the law of the land.
Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast): Is it in the best interests of Canadians is my question. Since the election of this government, the minister has been made aware of numerous flagrant abuses of the refugee process. Canadians are concerned that the system is out of control.
How many more examples of abuse will the minister allow before he responds to the legitimate concerns of Canadians who want the refugee determination process overhauled?
Hon. Sergio Marchi (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration): Mr. Speaker, this government has moved very swiftly to try to deal with the concerns of Canadians in terms of ameliorating the Immigration Refugee Board. In fact, we moved on appointments that spoke to quality of experience and expertise. That was in fact concurred in by the press secretary to his leader who stated that finally these appointments are in the right direction.
Second, we also have reviews under way that are going to balance the whole question of tolerance with the question of criminality. The member should be cautioned not to inflate and inflame the situation, that it is out of control and that somehow criminals are certainly in the majority. That simply and factually is incorrect.
Third, immigration officials did airlift this individual. It is the Federal Court that through this individual's appeal granted a rehearing. That is simply the law of the land.
I would ask this member to work within the law. If he is advocating a change in the law, that is another question.
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On Friday, February 4, just before the Gorecki brothers left to represent Canada in snow sculpting at the Lillehammer Games, I received assurance from the minister's office that the Canadian delegation would receive the Gorecki brothers with all the respect due them. Such was not the case, however, and were it not for the generosity of the Norwegian people, the Gorecki brothers would have spent their time in Norway out in the snow.
Can the minister explain to us how he, warm and comfortable in his suite, could let such a faux-pas happen, knowing his legendary diplomatic courtesy?
Hon. Michel Dupuy (Minister of Canadian Heritage): Mr. Speaker, I would be extremely sorry to lose my diplomatic courtesy by taking part in politics. I believe that we have something called Canada House in Lillehammer and it is open to all Canadians who go to the Olympic Games and especially to our athletes.
The people to whom he referred were certainly welcome to go there and I am bitterly disappointed that they did not have a chance to do so. I should add that I stopped to see their snow and ice sculptures and I would be pleased to congratulate them.
Mr. Ghislain Lebel (Chambly): Mr. Speaker, I would like the minister to tell me the hours that Canada House is open. I believe that the Gorecki brothers are entitled to an apology from the minister, at the very least, because they went there and were not even received as they should have been.
The Speaker: Does the minister have an answer?
Hon. Michel Dupuy (Minister of Canadian Heritage): There was no question, Mr. Speaker.
The Speaker: I did not hear one.
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The hon. whip will know that in recent years the board which manages the business affairs of the House and its $240 million a year budget has met in private and has refused to publish its decisions, including decisions related to financial matters, often for up to two to three years after those decisions took place.
I wonder if the hon. whip could inform the House as to what actions are being taken in this regard, what actions are being considered, when we might expect a reform and opening of this process and when that might begin to take place.
Mr. Alfonso Gagliano (Saint-Léonard): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Calgary West for his question.
Two years ago in January 1992 when my leader, now the Prime Minister, appointed me to the board, I said that the board should be more open. I am proud to inform this House and through this House all Canadians that at the last meeting the board decided to table its minutes once they are approved by this House so that all members and Canadians can see all the decisions that we take.
I want to thank all the members of the board and you, Mr. Speaker, for permitting this decision. I am sure this is the right step in the right direction for more open government.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
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CFB Cornwallis has been a recruit training centre for nearly half a century. Now we learn that Canadian troops training as peacekeepers for deployment in the former Yugoslavia are training in California.
Will the minister please tell the House why this training is being done in the United States instead of at Canada's foremost training centre, CFB Cornwallis?
Could the minister also tell us that no extra costs will be incurred by the Canadian Armed Forces in order for this undertaking and this training to be done in the United States?
Hon. David Michael Collenette (Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for South West Nova for his many questions.
First, training for our peacekeepers in Bosnia is being done at the moment in California. This group is the Strathconas from Calgary. It is being done there because we have to guarantee adequate climatic conditions for that training. We cannot guarantee that at any base in Canada including Cornwallis, Gagetown or Valcartier because of the weather.
Second, with respect to Cornwallis, the outdoor training facilities would not be appropriate. They are just not sufficient for the kind of training that is required.
I should also say that the hon. member has been very diligent in pursuing me around the confines and the corridors of Parliament Hill, advocating his case about Cornwallis. I would say to him and to his constituents that we are very mindful of the promises we made in the red book. We are mindful of our promises for the establishment of Canadian peacekeeping training centre.
I would only hope that he would understand, as we make our decisions known in the next few weeks about budget cuts and the like with National Defence, he has been listened to and that his ideas have received due consideration. I hope he will realize we will try to meet the commitments that we and the Prime Minister made in the election campaign.
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I am making this request to allow me to retain and instruct counsel. It is my desire to have my conduct judged by my peers in a fair and open process, namely at the elections and privileges committee.
I wish to give my personal undertaking that I will honour and abide by the verdict of my peers after a fair hearing. I am convinced that due process will clear my name of all accusations and innuendoes.
ters for the minister of government services to make the statement he referred to in Question Period concerning rural post offices.
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie): Mr. Speaker, I had indicated to the government House leader and the whip that I agreed to have the minister's statement and that we would give our unanimous consent, even though we received the information and the document very late.
Also, we on this side of the House would have appreciated a little more restraint on the part of the governing party in question period, so that there would really be a statement and not a sneak preview of a statement, as happened in question period. Perhaps the minister could have refrained from asking another member to ask him a question which had been well prepared by his department. We give our consent.
Mr. Elwin Hermanson (Kindersley-Lloydminster): Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to the same point of order.
We would agree that the use of ministers' statements in question period is not proper use of our time and would not give unanimous consent for the ministerial statement at this time.
The Speaker: I will defer my decision to a future date. I thought I had made that clear. I will defer my decision.
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Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, today the House will continue its consideration of the motion to establish a special joint committee on defence policy. On Friday the House will consider Bill C-5 regarding the customs tariff and Bill C-7 concerning certain controlled drugs.
Monday shall be an allotted day. On Tuesday the House will consider Bill C-11 regarding tobacco and, as we know already, at 5 p.m. the Minister of Finance will make his budget presentation. The budget debate will begin on Wednesday and continue on Thursday of next week.
The business for Friday, February 25, will be legislation to be determined later after some further discussion with the opposition House leaders. We also hope that later next week we will be able to discuss with them some of the business we will be calling once the House returns from its weeks break.
I want to make one further comment. While today I said that Monday shall be an allotted day-and I assume this will be understood by the Table to mean I am designating the day-I also want to say that if by chance I say that Monday or any other day of the week will be an allotted or is an allotted day then it means I am allotting it formally. I hope that will be understood by those concerned.
By the way I am not referring to my colleagues, the opposition party House leaders, but others who are charged with recording the business of the House.
Mr. Ron MacDonald (Dartmouth): Madam Speaker, before we broke for Question Period the hon. member had asked me a question concerning the defence white paper. I would just like to elaborate.
The question basically was: Would I support the government tabling a white paper on defence policy? He seemed to think that should be done prior to consultation. I had indicated to him very clearly that this is a different government on this side of the House. We consult first and then act. We do not act and then consult.
We committed in our red book to a period of consultation. We have said to the Canadian public and we have said to the men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces that no more would there be a slash and burn approach to defence policy. We recognize there is a fundamental responsibility as a government to modernize our defence establishment. We recognize we have certain fiscal restraints which we have inherited from the previous government. Over all, we recognize our fundamental responsibility to Canadians that when we get into areas such as national defence policy, social policy, fisheries policy, whatever it is, we have a responsibility to consult. What we have started here today with this debate on the floor of the House of Commons is to get that process going, to put it over to a standing committee
of this House and to ask that committee to review what we should be doing in a modern, geopolitical world context.
In conclusion, we will come back at some point. I will support our government, this party, putting forward and tabling in the House of Commons a white paper on national defence. It will not be done, and I underline this, until the work of the committee has been done and all of the interest groups and all Canadians wishing to be heard on this issue are heard.
Mr. Guy H. Arseneault (Restigouche-Chaleur): Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague from Dartmouth and I know he has a keen interest in national defence affairs. He has spoken quite profoundly today and a number of times in the House and in caucus. He is certainly a defender of national defence. I would ask him today if he could comment further concerning his opinion regarding base closures.
Mr. MacDonald: Madam Speaker, I would make a few more comments on base closures.
If we talk to members of the Canadian military who know what they are talking about, who should be the people who drive the defence policy, and ask them what they need to do the job we have asked them to do, they will say that since the Conservative government slashed the standing forces, there has not been a corresponding cut in redundant defence infrastructure. We all know that is the case.
My premise in the arguments I put forward today is simple. If we are asking a House of Commons committee to go forward and consult across this country about what our defence policy should be, we should not if at all possible, and I underline this, prejudice the outcome of that report.
What we should do in keeping with the commitments we have made in the red book is try to realize as much of the $360 million in expenditure cuts to national defence without adversely affecting the infrastructure that is left in the country.
We just heard my colleague from the Cornwallis area, from South West Nova, ask a question of the minister in the House about CFB Cornwallis. We have heard that CFB Cornwallis, which is in Nova Scotia, is the English speaking recruit training centre for the Canadian Armed Forces. Even though our forces had been reduced, I would anticipate that the result of a review would show that we are still going to have some new English speaking recruits coming into the system.
My colleague from South West Nova asked specifically about peacekeeping.
My point is if we can leave as much of the infrastructure intact at this point, pending the outcome of the defence review, we will be leaving every available option open to that defence review committee as far as what role it believes our armed forces should be mandated with.
It is never easy to close a base. I want to say that. It is never easy to close a base. It can be unconscionable, however, for a government to close a base without first and foremost looking at the defence priorities and the requirements and how that base closure would affect those requirements.
I would hope that the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Finance in their wisdom will look internally at operations, will look at things such as lowering the hours of flying time for the Sea Kings at Shearwater. For every hour that the Sea Kings are in the air out of CFB Shearwater they take about 21 hours of maintenance. If they could cut the number of air hours by 30 or 40 or 50 per cent for a year without affecting the mandate and the requirement to be flying for certain manoeuvres it would be a substantial saving.
Perhaps there are things like that which can be done by reducing flying time for the Challengers currently out over the Atlantic doing fisheries patrol. My understanding is that fully 40 per cent of those flights are really not fisheries patrols. In the short term, perhaps a year, until this defence review is completed those reductions in expenditures could be made without adversely affecting the realm of possibilities of defence policy.
That is my position on defence reviews. I am hoping that on Tuesday when the budget comes down the ministers who are charged with this responsibility will be able to find savings internally without taking too sharp a knife to bases and infrastructure.
Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières): Mr. Speaker, I am relatively pleased to speak in the House today on this matter.
This special debate initiated by the government on Canada's defence policy bears a strange resemblance to the other special debates that have taken place in this House since January 17 last. We have had debates on social programs, on Canada's role in Bosnia, on cruise missiles, on parliamentary reform, on pre-budget consultations, and so on and so forth. All of these debates, which appear to have no common thread, illustrate the extent to which the newly elected government lacks the political will to see things through.
Strangely, the government's actions seems to contradict the claims in the Liberal Party's red book. Page after page, the Liberals led Canadians and Quebecers to believe that they were capable of grasping and resolving the enormous economic and social problems gripping the country today.
This debate does not seem to fit in with any particular plan. Yet, it should be part of an overall review of Canada's foreign policy, of its role with respect to the Third World and disarmament, of its relations with the United States, of the relationship between foreign policy and defence policy, and so forth.
We are being subjected to a special debate on Canada's defence policy, and one of the primary objectives of this debate is to propose the appointment of a joint committee on which the other house would be represented, no doubt to ultimately make it appear more useful and justify a little more its existence in the eyes of the Canadian public.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Rocheleau: This committee, which obviously will cover the same ground as the Standing Committee on National Defence, will be a superb example of wasted time, energy and public funds, and of overlap.
This debate is even more useless in that it does not even reflect-and that was the least we could have expected-what is stated in the red book with respect to industrial conversion, an area that especially interests me as industry critic.
The red book was clear and explicit, and I quote from page 55: ``The defence industries today employ directly and indirectly over 100,000 Canadians. The end of the Cold War puts at risk tens of thousands of high-tech jobs. A Liberal government will introduce a defence conversion program to help industries in transition from high-tech military production to high-tech civilian production''.
But today, not a word. Not a word either in the throne speech, in the address in reply to the speech from the throne or in the defence minister's opening remarks in this special debate on Canada's defence policy. The issue of industrial conversion was entirely left out of the discourse and concerns of this government.
Most armament production industries are high-value-added manufacturing industries. This makes jobs in defence production valuable. It is therefore important to preserve theses jobs because a decline in the manufacturing industry of Canada and Quebec could be extremely detrimental to the economy.
An estimated 46,000 workers depend on armament production in Quebec. Over 32,000 of these jobs are listed in industrial fields. This is to say that industrial conversion is of particular relevance to Quebec. From 1987 to 1992, sales of weapons produced in Quebec have dropped by over 48 per cent, from $1.6 billion in 1987 to $810 million in 1992. During the same period, 11,000 jobs were lost in that industry.
The geopolitical situation, combined with a decrease in defence procurement contracts have resulted in a substantial drop in defence production, particularly in the Montreal area. Businesses associated with this kind of production are going through an extremely difficult period, and the transition does not guarantee the preservation of many jobs.
For example, the cancellation of the EH-101 helicopter contract translates into a significant shortfall for the Quebec economy. Defence companies work in very high technology sectors where costs are high. In other words, if conversion is to be achieved, it must favour civilian production with a very high added value and a very high technological content, and certainly not the manufacturing of stove pipes or common consumer goods.
If there was a real political will in this government, it could act almost immediately in two areas where industrial restructuration could be achieved in a tangible way. I mentioned earlier the helicopter deal and the government's decision to cancel production, with the support of the Bloc Quebecois. We must remember, however, the compensation suggested at that time by the Official Opposition to soften or completely avoid the negative impact of this decision. It was to transfer the scientific and technological budgets and expertise associated with the helicopter production project to the high-speed train project between Quebec City and Windsor, which has very important economic and technological benefits and the tremendous advantage of meeting a need of the civilian population, and whose technology could then be exported.
So far, the Liberal government has turned a deaf ear to this suggestion despite the statements in the red book. It took the same attitude toward the MIL Davie shipyard. This shipyard, which used to specialize in military shipbuilding, is now threatened with closure. In fact, it had to lay off 600 workers since the beginning of 1993. If nothing is done, it could be forced to close after delivering the last ship to the Canadian Navy. This shipyard has embarked on a process to convert from military to civilian production. It has started this process. In this context, in order to survive, MIL Davie must be awarded the contract to build the Magdalen Islands ferry and receive assistance in developing a new kind of multifunctional ship called smart ship.
In fact, the MIL Davie case was the subject of a unanimous consensus during Rendez-vous 93, an event held in Montreal by the private sector on September 15 and 16, 1993. Eighteen associations were gathered at this meeting on the economy, which took place at the suggestion of the Conseil du Patronat du Québec, including the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Front de solidarité des travailleurs du Québec, as well as the four main labour bodies in Quebec.
During this Rendez-vous, a resolution proposed by the École polytechnique de Montréal, regarding the opening of a high-speed train line between Quebec City and Windsor, was also unanimously passed by the participants. In the same vein, I would like to mention that, last week, residents from my riding and from the Trois-Rivières region sent me a petition signed by close to 6,700 people asking for a substantial reduction of military expenditures and the reinvestment of a good part of the resulting savings in the creation of good jobs. Those 6,700 petitioners are to be added to the 5,000 who have already expressed their disagreement regarding the helicopter contract. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the tenacity of all those who participated in this initiative, and I will be proud to table their petition in this House in the weeks to come.
If industrial conversion is necessary, it will be done on a case by case basis. There are already a few success stories, one of which I find particularly interesting, that is the Expro plant in the Montreal region. I want to tell you briefly about the instrument which brought about this success, namely the setting up of a manpower adjustment committee.
I am all the more pleased and comfortable to discuss this issue because I worked with these committees for 11 years in my region, when I was with the Quebec Department of Manpower. I can therefore attest to the strength and the power of these committees in a business, when their presence and their role are well understood. That strength is gained through the information, often confidential, which circulates within the committee, and is also linked to the common cause at stake and to the interest for the parties of finding common solutions to common problems.
It is very rare that a situation does not improve when employers and employees work together, are supported by governments, and are assisted by a neutral and independent third party who diagnoses the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the company and who, after the two sides have approved that diagnosis, proposes a binding work plan.
As in the case of Expro, this should be the government's preferred structure if, some day, it should decide to make good on its election promises regarding industrial conversion.
In conclusion, we have to realize that a whole sector of the high-tech manufacturing industry is in jeopardy. The economic future of Canada and Quebec is largely dependent on our ability to react positively to this structural change. The government must get its act together and clearly show its political will to take energetic and consistent measures to ensure the industrial conversion of our military businesses.
Mr. Ron MacDonald (Dartmouth): Madam Speaker, the hon. member just gave a speech, indicating some of the ideas that he has as to where the government could effect some savings in national defence expenditure.
Somewhere out there is a misnomer that perhaps some provinces do not get a great economic impact from national defence expenditures. One place that is fairly great is in the province of Quebec. Indeed colleagues on my side of the House and employees of members that I know from the province of Quebec have little understanding about the great and very positive economic impact of national defence expenditures in that province.
I remind the member that for 1992-93 according to the data I have received from national defence, in excess of $2 billion-that is a lot-is spent directly in the province of Quebec by the Department of National Defence.
I would ask him to go a little bit further. One of the things that sometimes is not put into the right envelope as far as benefits are capital projects from Atlantic Canada. We have the frigate replacement program which is out of Saint John, New Brunswick. Many of those vessels are being built in the province of Quebec. Indeed the Department of Industry has indicated clearly that for every dollar that is spent in Atlantic Canada on capital projects, about 44 cents of it goes to Ontario and Quebec.
Therefore the major impact of defence may be at least 50 per cent more and perhaps even double. There is about $3 billion to $4 billion in that economic impact in the province of Quebec.
The member from Trois-Rivières indicated that he had a petition from some people in his riding. They basically said that they thought there should be even further cuts.
The hon. member knows that there are both civilian and military personnel employed in his riding and that his riding benefits to the tune of at least $4 million to $6 million. Would he be willing to forgo that $4 million to $6 million infusion from national defence, both civilian and military employees, grants and other purchases, to put into other ventures in his riding? Would he agree with the petitioners that he mentioned that we should slash $4 million or $5 million from Trois-Rivières?
Mr. Rocheleau: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I think that we must see the question in a broader perspective. Major geopolitical changes are taking place on this planet, and within Canada, budget cuts have already been under way for several years. I illustrated it in my statement. Spending decreased by about 48 per cent, with the effect of cutting about 11,000 jobs in Quebec, including high-tech jobs.
Governments and politicians must develop a broader vision. I do not think that we can limit ourselves to the short term; we must consider the medium and long term. Of course, some sacrifices may have to be made, but one thing I want to emphasize is that it will be done case by case. I do not think that it will be big government programs designed here in Ottawa; it will be decided case by case, factory by factory, using an instrument with which I am familiar, labour committees. These have been successful in all kinds of situations, especially one case which I am told is already a model for this planet. All kinds of people, including academics, are studying how Expro, which was known for labour conflicts of all kinds, strikes, lock-outs, all sorts of rather negative things, became a company with exemplary labour relations that is once again profitable.
I think that we must favour this kind of approach, which is not magic, but is necessary: maintain good labour-management relations. The secret of this mechanism is information, no denying it.
Mr. Harold Culbert (Carleton-Charlotte): Madam Speaker, I am certainly glad to see that my hon. colleague across the way has read the red book so faithfully. We are pleased to see that.
After listening to his comments with regard to economic and social programs and all the things we should be doing today, I assure the hon. member that they will be done by this government.
With regard to the defence committee and the subject matter of today and his comments, the hon. member made several comments with regard to alternatives and suggestions as to how government should be working with and for the people and providing the opportunity for input.
The committee he is talking about actually provides opportunity for additional input. I would certainly hope the hon. member will provide that committee with the opportunity to tap into his expertise to provide that input and those suggestions. That is exactly what it is for. It is a forum to provide as many people as we possibly can in this area with an opportunity to provide their expertise and their input to assist the department in making the best possible decisions in the final analysis.
I think we should indeed be pleased that this government continues to provide the opportunity for that input. That was not always the case with previous administrations.
Is the hon. member prepared to provide the benefit of his expertise and input to this committee to assist in the long term and short term as well to make those decisions that are going to be made and recommendations that will be made back to the department of defence?
Mr. Rocheleau: Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his comments. I am flattered that he noticed. Of course, if ever people in certain places thought that my contribution could be valuable, I would be only to happy to oblige. But the point I was making, what I was objecting to in my speech is the fact that the special joint committee in question will cover the same ground as the Standing Committee of the House on National Defence. Personally, I do not see the point. Perhaps it is as good a way as any to keep the people in the other place busy. However, given the costs involved-and the member on this side of the House will agree-I think that the money might be put to better use, as the case may be.
I also object to the fact that this debate has no framework. As the Official Opposition, we would have expected a plan of action, a master plan, an overview of defence and foreign policy, a white paper, something. But no, the proposal is to set up a joint committee, period. Very disappointing!
On the other point, I will be pleased to oblige if ever people in certain places should see fit to call on me.
Mrs. Jan Brown (Calgary Southeast): Madam Speaker, I will be as brief as I possibly can.
I would like to thank the hon. member for his presentation. He included significant detail in his speech of those projects in Quebec that are defence oriented and within the manufacturing sector. They do indeed provide employment to many. He cited the figure of 46,000 jobs.
He indicated in his opening remarks his concern for the lack of a thread to link together our debates in this House. This is a legitimate concern demonstrating a desire to seek coherence, which I think is the word the hon. member used, through national program development. He then moved to provincial domain, highlighting a narrower level of concern.
How can he reconcile his role as a national representative while at the same time working on a case by case scenario within and for Quebec? This does not provide the national coherence that he identified in his opening remarks.
Mr. Rocheleau: Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Calgary Southeast for her comments.
In this case, and this is perhaps where my experience comes in handy, I know with regard to government programs that problems within a company are best dealt with within the company, through an in-house program. The key players, that is to say an employer and the workers, unionized or not, must be involved. They must learn to speak to each other, whatever the situation. Expro is a perfect example. It can be done, in terms of defence
conversion as well as in other areas where the situation has improved considerably.
Ms. Mary Clancy (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration): Madam Speaker, I cannot tell you what a delight it is for me to rise today. It is the first opportunity that I have had to speak in this House when you are in the chair.
I want to make special note. My congratulations to you on your appointment as the deputy chair of committees of the whole. I know that the whole House benefits from your wise counsel in chairing us here today and in the future. My deepest and warmest congratulations to you.
It gives me pleasure as well to rise to speak in this debate and to talk for a few minutes about an issue that is of great concern to me and to my constituents. For over five years now it has been my very great honour to represent the people of the city of Halifax.
Halifax has many names. It is known as the city of trees. It is known as the city with more green spots than any other city in North America but primarily and perhaps most widely it is known as, thanks to Hugh MacLennan, Halifax the warden of the north. It was known throughout World War II in many dispatches and many news bulletins as a small east coast Canadian port.
From its founding in 1749, Halifax has been a city of great military significance in the defence of North America, most particularly in the defence of the north Atlantic. It is Canada's eastern naval base and the largest naval base in the country.
There are a variety of reasons why Halifax was chosen. Probably first and foremost is that we do have one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world. Up until this winter it had been ice free for most of the time, but this winter has defeated many of us with its severity. Even Halifax harbour had a little bit of ice this winter. Normally we are and claim to be the largest natural ice-free harbour in the world.
We also have a distinct advantage in that we are the closest port in North America to Europe. We are also close to the major ports on the eastern sea coast of the United States. Behind the harbour itself we have Bedford basin. It has been said many times by me as well as by others that every navy in the world could ride at anchor with room to spare in Bedford basin.
We have been home to the Royal Canadian Navy since our founding. It might not have been called the Royal Canadian Navy at that time. I am sure the hon. member from Bonavista can tell me exactly what it was called in 1749, not that I am suggesting he was there, but he would know.
Mr. Mifflin: Sir Edward Cornwallis.
Ms. Clancy: Yes, indeed, he was the admiral of the day.
On a more serious note, Halifax has been a focal point of the Canadian navy as long as there has been a Canadian navy. Haligonians, though perhaps not always so, are now proud and happy to be home to the Royal Canadian Navy.
We have had some differences at some times over our history, as my colleague from Newfoundland would agree, but those differences have been settled for a long time. As I said, the location of DND in the city of Halifax and its environs is of tremendous importance to the healthy economy of Halifax, to the healthy economy of Nova Scotia and to the healthy economy of Atlantic Canada. However, it is also tremendously important to the historical and cultural life of our city.
We are and we define ourselves by that port. We know that the military presence there is of tremendous significance. We know also that not just the ships and their personnel but the work done at the naval dockyard is of tremendous importance to the economy of our city.
We are, and people are always surprised when I say this, essentially a city without an industry. We are the regional centre of the federal government and the provincial capital of Nova Scotia. We have five universities-six, excuse me. My hon. colleague from Halifax West would remind me that within the environs of our two ridings we have six universities. We also have that most important element to our economic health, the Department of National Defence.
Consequently, as the review of the armed forces and of national defence is taking place it is of supreme importance to the people of Halifax that the continued health and survival and indeed the continued thriving of DND be reiterated in this House. It is a matter of importance for all the people of Canada but most particularly for the people of Nova Scotia.
There are several things I want to talk about with regard to the areas I hope will be covered in a review. For the majority of the five years I have had the good fortune to be here in this House I had the responsibility to speak on behalf of women. Although I have different responsibilities today, one never loses the feeling for work one has done for a long time. As a woman and as a member of Parliament there are certain messages that every one of us knows we must carry as women represent 52 per cent of the population in this country.
Last year under a different government in this House a report was tabled by the then Minister of National Defence, the then member for Vancouver Centre, on elements within the Department of National Defence and activities relating to sexual harassment and gender bias. At the time I and other members of
my party spoke out very strongly on the need for reforms within the Department of National Defence.
I want to state at the beginning of my remarks that when I talk about problems of gender equality, sexual harassment, and discrimination on the basis of gender, by no means do I consider the Department of National Defence to be the only offender or the worst offender.
We live in a society that sadly in 1994 is still basically sexist. We live in a society where women are still generally discriminated against. They deal with a lack of recognition in the value of the work they do. They deal with harassment and glass ceilings which prevent their promotion and prevent their attaining the goals many of them richly deserve.
Consequently it is incumbent upon all of us in this House, men and women alike, to remember when we deal with any matters of national policy that questions relating to fairness and equality in gender must always be on the table.
As the member for Halifax, as all members do, I have office hours every Friday in my riding and when the House is not sitting, throughout the week. Over the past five years I have had a number of young women come to see me. Many of them were DND personnel, either in the services or civilian workers. Many others have come to see me from other federal and provincial government offices and whatever.
However, because this review is taking place I want to make a very special plea. I know that special plea will not go unheard by the minister, his parliamentary secretary, the members of cabinet or indeed by the Prime Minister because I know this is a government of fairness and a government that intends to establish fairness. I want and hope that in this review the report that was tabled last year on gender inequality and sexual harassment within the Department of National Defence will be looked at. I hope that the proper and appropriate systems will be put in place.
Again as the member for Halifax, when these young women would come to see me there was a common thread with regard to the problems particularly of sexual harassment. A number of people who have not dealt with the problem or have not been faced with this particular form of discrimination sometimes find it hard to believe. It has always been my experience in dealing with good men and true-and I find that the vast majority of gentlemen in this Chamber can be classed as good men and true-that there are two problems. I am trying to explain the problems of sexual harassment.
One problem is the vast majority of men that women deal with would never even consider activity of this nature so they cannot believe it actually happens. The other is that for a small number they do not want the light of day shone on it and have themselves found out. Therefore, again they do not want to hear about it. However, I think the former is most generally the case.
Let me assure those who think this kind of activity is unusual or the exception that it is not. It is very difficult for women who are victimized in this way to come forward. All the standard reactions of women are not to rock the boat, not to disturb the status quo, not to anger their superiors. That is because for many of them, the jobs they hold are absolutely crucial to their families, to their standard of living and to maintaining their place in life. Frequently when these matters take place they think: ``I imagined it,'' or worse: ``I did something to engender this response''.
That is usually not the case. As a matter of fact, empirical research in this area is that it almost never is the case. Along with that equally unacceptable practice, that of racism, it stems from the unconscionable behaviour of the perpetrator and not from the behaviour of the victim.
Consequently I make this plea today. In the review and in the decisions as to where the Department of National Defence is going, as to where we are going as a country on defence policy, I will do something I rarely do in this House and that is to quote an American source.
My American source is one of the first great feminists of North America, Abigail Adams, the wife of the second president of the United States, John Adams. She was the mother of, I think it was the fourth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams. When her husband with his colleagues was crafting the declaration of independence and later the constitution of the United States, she said: ``Remember the ladies''.
Well, I would paraphrase it for the 1990s. I would say to my colleagues and to those people who will be doing the review in the Department of National Defence, that policies relating to gender equality must be part and parcel of the new armed forces, of the new Department of National Defence.
Women in this country have earned the right and deserve to be full partners in all our endeavours. Women can serve in the armed forces and serve with distinction as they have done over many, many years. However they must be able to enter that milieu as they must be able to enter any milieu, particularly one that is governed by the public policy of this country, with the knowledge that they will not be victimized, that they will not be treated as second class citizens, and that if anyone attempts that kind of behaviour proper systems will be in place to answer and deal with those complaints.
The difficulty we have had with both sexism and racism, not just in this country but in democratic societies generally, is that we have tended to deal with them as individual cases before well-meaning and well-acting human rights commissions. An individual goes to the system with a complaint based on a breach of human rights law. That individual might get redress in one
particular case, but the system that allowed the offence to occur in the first place has not changed. It has not removed the ability for such acts to occur. That is what we must do right through our government, right through our public policy.
The fact is that this review of the Department of National Defence is a golden opportunity. It is an opportunity that must not be missed, that can go forward again-and this is something we are all concerned about in this week before the budget is about to come down-without costing a whole lot of money.
It is my belief that systemic discrimination can be eradicated from federal government agencies generally without costing a whole lot of money. That is not the case for some of the other things that I am very keen on, such as pay equity and a few other things. Those are going to cost money and the piper will have to be paid and he will have to be paid soon as well.
The question of systemic discrimination and the question of setting up within our current institutions, defence and otherwise in this country, can be done and has been shown that it can be done by a variety of reports under human rights commissions, under royal commissions. I refer, for example, to the Abella report on employment equity which shows certain ways that systemic discrimination can be dealt with.
I can remember some 12 years ago when you, Madam Speaker, and I were both present at a meeting here in this building sponsored by what was then known as Employment and Immigration Canada during which we discovered that CIDA Canada marketed a program to other countries across the world that showed them how to eradicate systemic discrimination from private sector companies and government offices at very low cost.
We have the program. It is available. I believe that we can implement it within our own public service, within our own Department of National Defence.
While we permit the evils of racism and sexism, while we permit discrimination in any form in this, one of the most pluralistic and multicultural societies on earth, we have no right to stand proudly as Canadians and claim it as we know it can be and should be the greatest nation on earth.
We tend to be rather quiet as Canadians, but we are also accused from time to time of being rather smug because we are so very fortunate. In spite of the ills that beset us in times of economic downturn, in spite of the difficulties and in spite of the world's worst weather, at least here in Ottawa, we do not deny the fact that we are among the luckiest people in the world.
Until we solve the problems that beset 52 per cent of the population, until we do this, we as Canadians carry a burden that we should not pass on to our children.
Mr. Louis Plamondon (Richelieu): Madam Speaker, the previous speaker, the hon. member from the beautiful province of Nova Scotia, is to be commended for introducing into today's debate the subject of discrimination in the Canadian Forces, although she made it clear this was not the only department where major changes were necessary.
The motion before the House today to appoint this special joint committee could, of course, include discrimination, but I wonder whether this would not be duplicate a previous exercise. Perhaps action, not more studies, is what we need. You referred to the Abella report and the report released last year which made it clear that discrimination existed in several sectors at National Defence.
The facts are there, recommendations have been made, the various parties have responded to the reports that were published, and the only one that is not moving at all is the government. I think it would make sense for the government that has been in power since October 25 and whose members has been familiar with the problem for years, and especially considering the report released last year, to immediately table specific measures to deal with this discrimination.
You mentioned this earlier, quite rightly, and it surprised me as well last year, when I heard that the government was giving other countries advice on how to eliminate discrimination in certain agencies, even private agencies, and that it did not consider implementing its own recommendations.
Although I applaud your comments on the subject, I think you were rather soft on this new government by failing to state quite frankly that it was time to do something specific, since the report and the recommendations are known. All it takes is for the parties involved, meaning the government, to make a decision so that, as you pointed out, this kind of discrimination on military bases is abolished.
I do not think a committee, especially not a committee of both Houses, which means a very big committee, which would be asked to discuss conversion, to reflect on the potential need for a new base for training peacekeepers, to consider the advisability of closing certain bases or what Canada's contribution should be as an international force, in multilateral forces, I do not think it could also talk about discrimination. This committee will already have too much on its plate. A debate on this particular issue would not be appropriate in a committee that is supposed to make recommendations for future policy. It seems to me we do not need any further debate on this issue. The public realizes
that changes are necessary. Changes must be made, and the government can make them without a committee, on the basis of existing reports.
In any case, this committee seems to be one committee too many. We already have a National Defence committee, which is supposed to consider future policy and the estimates and hear testimony from the military and civilians. The hon. member for Trois-Rivières said earlier in his speech that he had a petition signed by nearly 7,000 people from Trois-Rivières who objected to the fact that National Defence and the defence sector are so generously funded and said that conversion was necessary. We already have a committee that can hear these witnesses and make recommendations to the government.
I have known the hon. member as an ardent activist for women's rights. I applaud that, and I know she will keep up the good work, but she will realize it is much harder now. A great politician once said that power imposes its own constraints. I want to ask whether she is prepared to rise in caucus and here in the House, not to ask members to think about discrimination but to ask for immediate implementation of the recommendations of the Abella and other reports, which tell us exactly where the discrimination is and how it should be corrected.
If she wants to accomplish anything, it will have to be done through government decisions. I also think that the proposed committee should not be struck. In other words, the committee is unnecessary because we already have a National Defence committee that could examine all the items the minister mentioned this morning and which the red book, which you praised so highly during the election campaign, mentioned as well, although far more clearly than the minister did in his speech this morning.
Would the hon. member agree that it is time to do something about discrimination instead of taking this issue back to committee?
Ms. Clancy: Madam Speaker, I must say I am truly delighted to see the hon. member's conversion on the road to Damascus because as he has kindly recalled my history on the opposition benches as an activist for women's rights, I too recall his original incarnation in this House as a member of a government, indeed as a member of a government that had full access to the Abella report which was tabled in this House in 1984 when the hon. member was part and parcel of that government.
I am sure that his desire for quick action has come since his, shall we say, change in circumstance. I will, however, say that I am a little disappointed at the hon. member's wish to debunk a committee that has not yet been struck. Certainly there is a committee for national defence, a standing committee of this House, and it has a particular mandate.
The joint committee that is being talked about in this resolution has a specific mandate that was promised, I might add, in the red book. We on this side of the House will always keep our promises. That is a promise we made. It is a promise we are going to keep.
What I want to see done and what I know will be done by this committee is that the systemic changes necessary to prevent further discrimination within the armed forces will be dealt with by this joint committee as part and parcel of its long-term mandate. To say that this work can be left to the committee on national defence is to be unrealistic. I know the hon. member would never be so with regard to the duties of the standing committee here in this House.
For example, the standing committee on defence will have to deal with estimates and with various and sundry other matters as they come up in the daily business relating to the minister of defence and his responsibilities.
This joint committee is to do a very special job within a very special period of time. As I said before, it is one that is absolutely necessary to the health and future of the Department of National Defence.
With regard to the need for action, I want to make perfectly clear that in my remarks I was certainly not calling for any more studies, no more studies. We know what the problems are. We know where they are. We know how they exist and we also know how to fix them.
What remains to be done now is for this committee to take as its mandate, which I am quite sure it will, this problem and work it in with the review and its recommendations for changes within the armed forces that the Department of National Defence will carry forward into the next century.
Mr. Allan Kerpan (Moose Jaw-Lake Centre): Madam Speaker, today I would like to join some other members of this House in supporting the motion before us to strike a special joint committee of the House of Commons and the Senate to consider Canada's defence policy.
It is the conviction of many within our country and among our international neighbours that the last decade of this millennium presents an urgent and opportune moment to re-examine defence policy and national security.
The international, regional and internal factors compelling us as Canadians to review our policy are well articulated by people within and out of the defence industry. I am sure they will be thoroughly addressed by the joint committee we are proposing to strike today.
For my part, the issues of fiscal constraint, international political instability and the safety and adequate resourcing of troops we send abroad in service are priorities.
I wish to contribute to the current debate by emphasising the process of review. I want to encourage the proposed joint committee to consult carefully and widely with Canadians during this review process for two basic reasons.
First, the federal government has a unique and special role in educating Canadians about national defence and security. Defence is totally within the constitutional jurisdiction of the federal government. We must discharge our duties in this regard.
This review process is one opportunity to make younger and newer Canadians in particular aware of the role that our armed forces play and of the service they provide for us. I also hope that the joint committee will consider in its deliberations other ways and means for Canadians to be made fully aware of the importance of defence.
Developing educational and training programs will also ensure that we have a secure pool of future personnel for our armed forces service. While a consultative process will no doubt reveal various opinions and philosophies about the role of defence, the open and frank discussion should be of great educational value and should contribute to a national consensus for defence policy, one that would be sufficient to guide us into the next century.
The importance of achieving such a national consensus is the second reason for a broad and careful consultation process among Canadians. The best policy and legislation that governments can bring forward is that which commands lasting public support.
I believe that Canadians not only need to understand but that they want to understand defence policy. I believe that they will support policy that they understand and have had a hand in crafting.
It is with this in mind that I offer some constructive criticism of the timing of this review. It seems to me that the Liberal Party red book makes a number of policy decisions that may prove to be premature. These include increasing the priority of peacekeeping, establishing peacekeeping centres at surplus bases, forcing defence industry conversions, creating a peacekeeping brigade of volunteers and cutting the defence budget by $1.6 billion over four years.
Others have made this point as well. I as well feel that piecemeal change to defence policy before a thorough review is completed is a case of putting the cart before the horse. We cannot be sure of what our requirements will be, for example, in the area of base reorganization before the review process is completed. In other words, I would encourage the government to be as objective and open minded as possible when going through this review process.
The two crucial functions that the joint committee on Canada's defence policy can fulfil by developing a good process of consultation are education and consensus. The government must continue to find ways to accomplish these objectives.
I would also like to present an idea to this House which I have suggested to the minister of defence privately regarding the potential closure of Canadian forces bases. I recommended that the minister strike an ad hoc caucus of members who have CFBs in their ridings to participate fully in the base closure review process.
The benefits of such a process would be as follows. First, the minister may be provided with information from each base and surrounding community that he might not otherwise have had the benefit of receiving. This information, along with expert opinion, would be shared and debated openly in an ad hoc caucus resulting in the best analysis and decisions possible.
Second, it would allow the MP to more ably and effectively represent the views of his or her constituents. Third, it would increase the ownership level of the decision among parliamentarians and, therefore, among Canadians.
It is important for the government to have the respective MPs regardless of the future of any given base as allies rather than adversaries of the decision.
Having been fully informed of all the factors in the decision making process and having had the opportunity to contribute to the discussion on behalf of constituents, an MP would be a great help in communicating, gaining support for, consolidating and monitoring the outcomes of the decision.
In conclusion, a consultative, co-operative approach relating to the whole defence policy or to a subdepartment of it seems to be very much in line with the government's stated agenda for a more open and effective Parliament.
I am sure that we would all admit to some uncertainty about what the next century will bring in terms of internal, regional and international stability. I would argue, however, that the best way to face such an uncertain future is with careful planning. The future will surely come. The question is will we drive into it or will we drift into it?
Canadians will feel most secure with the future if we as leaders involve them, help to educate them, listen to them and together come to the best possible decisions.
Mr. Mac Harb (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade): Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence and the government on this long overdue review of our national
defence policies, the way we provide services as well as the role of national defence. I would also like to congratulate the government on involving once and for all national defence staff, the armed forces and all those who have anything to do with national defence policy.
I believe it takes a lot of guts to undertake such an overall review. I am very happy and delighted to see this review taking place. In particular, unlike my colleague on the opposition side, I am encouraged by the fact that our role internationally will be enhanced through this review and also through the fact that some of the bases that we have here in Canada might be used as training bases for other forces around the world that might be interested in peacekeeping roles.
When it comes to the closure of bases, the hon. member is saying that MPs should be consulted in order for them to go back to their constituents and tell them about the issues so that they may bring back the views of their constituents. It goes without saying any MP who tells me that his or her constituents support the closure of a base is mistaken. No constituent would like to see a base in their neighbourhood or their surrounding being closed.
What we have to do is involve those affected by doing a review to ensure that whatever action the government takes would have a minimal or no affect on the surrounding community. The government is doing just that.
I am informed that this member in his home province of Saskatchewan undertook an initiative to have a look at one of the bases that is under consideration, I presume, and invited everybody but the member for the area in which this particular base is involved. I want to ask him why he did not practice what he preached. When he undertook this initiative why did he not involve all of the different partners rather than just picking and choosing the people he wanted to invite to that particular meeting or event?
Would the member not agree that it would really be wrong to prejudge the government decision on an initiative which has just now been launched? Would he not agree that it would be wiser to wait until such a time as the committee is struck and has had a chance to undertake a review? Does he not think that would be the best time and place in order to make any kind of presentation on behalf of his constituents? That would be the proper time for the member to tell the government and the minister the kind of things he would like to see the government do when it comes to national defence issues.
Mr. Kerpan: Madam Speaker, I have two points. First of all, the base that is apparently in question in Saskatchewan happens to be the base which is in my home riding. Second, in any attempts or meetings that we have had as a Saskatchewan caucus we have invited everyone to be present and to take part in those.
The question that the hon. member raises is a good question and one that I talked about in my presentation. There can be no way at this point that we can go out and make piecemeal cuts or changes to any part of the defence without the full review process. We have to give the review process a chance to work.
I look at base closures as one perfect example. If we close or drastically change base x in province y today and pending the outcome of the review this fall we may say that base x in province y should have been kept. One cannot make a judgment as to what the long-term mission or the long-term goal of our defence should be without giving the process a chance to work.
Mr. Ron MacDonald (Dartmouth): Madam Speaker, I was in the lobby but I was listening to the speech by the member. I fully understand the angst that he must feel knowing that with the base and with cuts pending he may have to deal with that in his riding. I certainly wish him well. I certainly hope that he does not have to deal with that at this point.
I have a fundamental question. During the election campaign the Reform Party in my riding-I have one of the largest military ridings in the country-would go around and say that it was its party's platform to eliminate the deficit in three years. However, at every all-candidates meeting on my side of the harbour and on the side of the harbour of my colleague from Halifax, whenever asked about defence policy we never received an answer.
The hon. member is now speaking for his constituents and I think that is the right thing to do. I want to know what the party's position is? The Reform Party platform said that in three years it would eliminate the deficit. With 37 cents of every discretionary dollar left in the budget going to defence, how would his party approach cutting the deficit to zero without going around and laying waste to most of the national defence infrastructure?
What I am saying is maybe he cannot have it both ways. I have never seen it like that. Maybe he can explain how it is done.
Mr. Kerpan: Madam Speaker, first of all if anyone would take the time to look at our famous blue book they would see that we have not advocated any major cuts to defence from the $12 billion budget it is currently working under.
Having said that, we also believe that sooner or later we have to make infrastructure cuts. I am not opposed to cutting back or to making changes in defence. What I am saying in the whole gist of what I did say was that we have to get the process finished. I agree with the member's side of the House to have this review process but let us not make any changes until we have a look at it.
There may be a situation in which something very close to me is necessary to be cut. I would not like that. My constituents would not like that but that is part of the tough talk and the tough things that have to happen over the next few years.
Mr. Murray Calder (Wellington-Grey-Dufferin-Simcoe): Madam Speaker, I would like to compliment the hon. member on his speech.
I listened with a lot of interest because obviously something we are going to have to do is revise the role of the military for the 21st century. Things have changed. The cold war is over.
What I am interested in here and now is process of review. I would like to know what the hon. member's vision is of how this process of review is going to work, how this committee is going to be put together. Obviously one of the things we will be looking at is the cost part of it and the Reform is definitely looking at the cost of operating government.
I would like to know how the member is going to put together this committee.
Mr. Kerpan: Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question. It is a good question.
The vision I probably have for this review is that there would be a committee of members who have CFBs in their ridings. That would give all of us, and I have a CFB in my riding, a chance to sit down and make the case or tell the minister or tell the committee of people that this is what makes Moose Jaw wing 15 very good, very important.
I would talk about things like the low cost of operating this service in Saskatchewan, for instance. We would do this in conjunction with expert opinion, people who are in our defence industry at this time. There has to be some give and take so that we can look at what is best for the industry and for the country as a whole and not necessarily what is best for my riding or any particular riding.
Having said all that, I do know, as I mentioned before, that there are going to be some tough choices. If an MP were asked to be part of that committee he or she could go back to his or her riding and indicate the reasons that base x was changed or base y was closed.
I was part of that and it may make sense. We have to change it based on what we talked about.
Mr. George Proud (Hillsborough): Madam Speaker, as with many aspects of Canadian life, the time has come for a long and hard look at our military policy, where we want it to go and how we want it to be an instrument of our national policy.
I would like to begin by saying how much I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this important debate and I believe it is important because it affects everyone in this country.
After all, Canadians, no matter what their age, their occupation, or where they live, have a stake in defence. For that reason I am especially pleased that the government has formally launched a defence review in the House of Commons. In so doing, the government is once again showing its commitment to consult with Canadians and take account of their opinions in determining the future of defence policy.
The opinions of concerned Canadians will be given voice here today, as they have been already, and they will no doubt influence the structure and the purpose of our military forces in the future.
As the minister noted in his speech earlier today, the aim of the review is to develop a new defence policy for Canada, one that reflects not only an uncertain environment abroad, but our needs here at home and the values we hold as Canadians.
The government hopes that the special joint committee on defence policy will hear the widest possible range of views on the future of Canadian defence.
Once the committee is established I expect that it will make plans to solicit the widest range of opinion on these issues. But before consultations begin we need an answer to a basic question: Is there a need for armed forces in the world today? Many people are asking this question.
In my view, the answer is yes. A glance at the front page of any major daily newspaper on practically any given day will enforce this view. Regrettably, the potential for conflict still persists, both between states and within states.
Armed forces are designed to play many roles in the world today. During the next few minutes I would like to discuss those roles in general and I will describe how the Canadian forces could help Canada meet its domestic and foreign policy objectives.
In doing so I will identify the specific roles that the Canadian forces carry out. They exist as security at home and they exist to contribute to international security and defence through multilateral operations abroad.
Finally, I will describe some of the activities undertaken by the Canadian forces. Those activities stand as solid proof of the asset our military represents due to its great ability to carry out many necessary tasks at home and abroad.
The most basic reason that any country fields armed forces is to protect its people, its territory and its political independence. To provide that protection, armed forces must guard against threats to sovereignty from without and answer threats to law and order from within whenever those threats outstrip the availability of civil authorities to respond.
Democratic governments prefer to avoid using the military to maintain public order but having the ability to do so provides a form of insurance against unacceptable risks.
The Canadian forces have been called upon to respond to threats to public order. We all recall the calm and disciplined performance with which the Canadian forces helped to diffuse a potentially explosive situation at Oka a few summers ago. Providing protection is an important military role, but it is not the sole raison d'ètre for the military.
Most armed forces are also capable of carrying out a variety of civil roles like search and rescue and disaster relief. We do not have to look beyond our own borders for examples of this.
The national roles played by the Canadian forces can be invaluable. One of the most important and most dramatic roles is search and rescue. It is a task that demands professionalism and determination, often under daunting conditions. The crews that fly search and rescue missions enjoy their triumphs such as when a Sea King helicopter lifted two stranded hunters from an island off Nova Scotia or plucked nine Honduran seamen from a sinking ship off the coast of Haiti.
Sometimes, of course, the end result can be far from rewarding, as we saw in the futile search for the missing crew of a cargo carrier lost in the Atlantic last month or the grim discovery last summer of a wrecked plane that ended a 12-day search of the Quebec wilderness. But the point is that our forces are there, they are trained, they are equipped and they are ready to meet Canada's search and rescue needs.
Our forces are also ready to respond to calls for disaster relief. Canadian soldiers, sailors and air crew have fought floods, battled forest fires and evacuated isolated communities standing in the way. For more than 50 years Canadian forces have also played a role in protecting our marine resources. Today Aurora and Arcturus surveillance aircraft conduct fisheries patrols over huge expanses of ocean, taking over where the Argus, the Tracker and the Lancaster left off.
The proficiency of the Canadian forces is the product of their training and equipment. The dedication of our service men and service women in carrying out those domestic roles attest to their status as a national asset. Based on the contribution they make to our national, domestic interests alone, there can be no doubt that the Canadian forces should continue to play a significant role in our collective future.
I have described the role of the armed forces within the nation state. Of course, armed forces also are maintained to respond to serious breaches of international security. Few of us would have to search our memories to think of these examples. The two world wars come to mind immediately, as does the Korean conflict and the most recent war in the Persian gulf.
When the cold war ended, we had hoped this type of threat would recede, but as Iraq's invasion of Kuwait illustrated so forcefully, aggression and conflict are not yet things of the past.
In addition to the many civil wars currently under way, tensions between nations are high and could easily lead to conflict. Think of the uneasy truce that exists between North and South Korea or the apprehension among the states bordering the civil war in the Balkans. Obviously there is no substitute for armed forces to respond to situations where diplomacy and negotiations have failed leading nations to resort to force.
Indeed even the authors of a document as hopeful as the United Nations charter acknowledge that these types of situations would continue to exist and in response they called upon states to maintain armed forces that can be used to defend the principles contained in the charter.
Canada's armed forces are no strangers to operations of this type. We were a major allied power during the second world war. We sent forces to Korea under UN command. In 1990 we were among the first countries to commit forces to the multinational coalition that operated in support of the United Nations and reversed Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
Collective defence is another form of multilateral military co-operation in which security minded nations choose to participate. While sovereign states join organizations like the United Nations, helping to ensure international security on a global basis, collective defence arrangements are more limited and more focused. Essentially collective defence arrangements result when like-minded nations promise to co-operate to guarantee each other's defence.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO is a classic example of that co-operation. Since it was founded in 1949 the alliance has grown to include 16 nations, all of which have pledged to pool resources for the common defence. NATO's primary purpose has been to prevent a major war through the deterrence of aggression and in this it has been very successful.
Considering that the cold war could easily have ended with a nuclear confrontation, we are very fortunate that NATO never had to use its military capabilities. That does not mean however that other than preventing an east-west conflict there were no benefits to collective defence through NATO. Far from it. At a basic level NATO reduced the expense and increased the efficiency of providing for defence within the Atlantic community
and from a political perspective NATO contributed greatly to the reconciliation of countries that only quite recently had been at war with each other.
NATO has also served as a meeting place where nations could discuss security issues and as a catalyst for military standardization and interoperability. In fact the familiarity NATO bred was put to very good use during the gulf war. Many of the allied countries were well acquainted with one another's equipment and procedures, factors that enhance the success of joint operations.
Canadians have been strong supporters of collective defence, not only through NATO but through a longstanding bilateral defence relationship with the United States. We have placed our armed forces at the service of NATO and NORAD and we have actively participated in shaping allied positions. I hope that Canada will continue to play this constructive role.
A third international role for the armed forces and for Canadian forces in particular is the involvement in peacekeeping operations. Most Canadians today are familiar with the contribution we are making to a concept first introduced in the years following World War II. Back then peacekeeping and observer missions were seen as something of an exotic innovation, but today they are widely accepted.
The review will provide Canadians with an excellent opportunity to reflect on the complex and evolving state of peacekeeping. The reality is that many current operations bear little resemblance to the original concept.
Within the last five years alone military forces have stepped into the breach to carry out an ever increasing and changing variety of tasks. Let us consider some of them for a moment.
Peacekeepers have helped to monitor elections in Africa and Central America. They have trained local populations to recognize and disarm land mines in Afghanistan. In Cambodia they helped provide administration on a nation-wide scale. In the war torn remnants of the former Yugoslavia they have ensured the delivery of humanitarian aid and created safe havens for refugees.
In only a few years peacekeeping tasks have expanded exponentially and the demand for qualified personnel to serve as peacekeepers has risen to new heights. No one is more aware of these developments than Canadians. In the past few years we have listened to reports about the activities of our forces in troubled spots around the world. We felt pride when Canadian forces air crews flew humanitarian aid to Sarajevo. We watched on television one hot summer day as a young Canadian soldier risked his life in the same city to save two women wounded by sniper fire. We have read about the difference our peacekeepers have made in Cambodia, in Central America and the Middle East.
There are many other worthy stories that have never, ever received wide circulation. Take for instance the military engineers in Bosnia who lowered the road through a mountain tunnel and straightened hairpin curves to improve a critical route used to deliver humanitarian aid. The Canadian soldiers in Somalia, we hear a lot about them but we did not hear about the ones who improved schools, reopened a hospital and got public utilities up and running in this area.
In essence, the defence review will chart a new direction for the Canadian forces as we enter the 21st century. That role has changed dramatically, even since the end of the cold war. Although sovereignty protection and collective defence remain important priorities, peacekeeping has become a focal point for the Canadian forces. We need to ask ourselves how best to strike a balance between these activities.
In conclusion, the end of the cold war has brought about dramatic reorderings and turbulence throughout much of the world. To meet the challenges of today and those we expect to encounter in the future we must field flexible, capable military forces.
If Canada seeks peace in a time of great transition and upheaval then it follows that we must retain armed forces capable of meeting the challenges to our defence and security at home and abroad.
Mr. Gaston Péloquin (Brome-Missisquoi): Madam Speaker, I listened very closely to the speech by my hon. colleague for Hillsborough and I agree with him that the Depatment of National Defence does many things very well and that it plays an important role.
However, if we examine each of the services in detail, it is clear that each one is important and has a role to play. My question is the following: Since we already have a national defence committee and given that we are asking the middle class and the poor to tighten their belts, what more can a special sixteen-member joint committee accomplish that existing committees cannot?
I would also like to ask my hon. colleague why the sixteen committee members should be authorized to travel from place to place within Canada and abroad to receive evidence?
Would it not be more logical to have witnesses come here to give evidence?
Mr. Proud: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments and his questions. I suppose I could use the saying six of one, half a dozen of another. I assume one of the reasons for the joint committee is to have the two Houses involved and the
16 people. It does not matter to me whether it is 11 or 16 or whatever the case may be. However it is going to be a joint committee of both Houses. There will be expertise on that joint committee from both Houses of Parliament.
We have talked over the years of the other place being an instrument that is not of much use to the country. One of the reasons that has come about is that the other place has not been used enough when we are starting out on such things as this investigation of our armed forces.
The people from the other place will contribute to this committee as well as we will contribute to it. So far as the 16 members going across the country is concerned, why not bring the people here? The hon. member will find in a lot of instances that people will be brought here. The most viable thing to do would be to bring people here.
We remember what happened when other committees went across the country in the last number of years. People were very concerned when the committee did not go to their areas. We have to be cognizant of that. We should visit as many of these areas as we find necessary. With that number of people, we can also split into different committees that can visit at different times in different areas of the country. That would help to speed up the process and not miss anybody in the overall scheme of things.
I do agree that in many instances it would be much more expedient, much more economical, to bring the people to Ottawa to listen to them here.
Mr. Leonard Hopkins (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke): Madam Speaker, the hon. member who has just spoken has broad experience in government. He has been in provincial government and he has been in Ottawa for a while.
Does he not feel it is very important to have a number of members like 16 on a committee including senators and to have breadth and depth from across the country on matters as important as the future defence policy of our large country, a country that has a great name around the world in peacekeeping and in doing more than our share during wartime in the past?
We will have many people with expertise in foreign affairs. We will have people with expertise in the military field. We will have other people with expertise in the industrial and training fields. The Canadian forces is the largest training school in Canada.
Does the hon. member not feel it is important to have breadth and depth from across Canada on the committee, to have the committee going to meet Canadians who cannot afford to come to Ottawa because this is a huge country, and to let Canadians have their say on such matters as defence policy and foreign policy? If we do not have that breadth and depth, will we not have an inward looking attitude instead of a broad, outward looking attitude at the world and nationally in our own country?
Mr. Proud: Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his intervention and his questions. I think they are very relevant.
I spoke just a moment ago about this very thing. This is certainly one of the most important committees I have been on in my time here. It is going to take an in depth look at our defence policy as to where we are going into the next millennium. I believe we have to be committed to it. As I look at the make-up of the committee thus far I am very pleased. We have many good people on it from every party in the House. I think that spells good for the future. I am sure the people who will be chosen from the Senate will add their expertise to it at their own level.
As I said a moment ago, we have to go out to various parts of the country, and probably other places around the globe, to get the whole input of people who have a great interest in our country and in our military as to what we should have in upcoming years.
This is not something that will be a hodge-podge, band-aid situation. I think we have had some of that in the past. I believe the time has come. Canadians have told us that we have to change. Our economics tell us we have to change. I can see the make-up of this 16-member committee. It will split into subcommittees to go across the land and across the world to see what will be necessary for the next number of years. This is very important to the future of the country.
Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Terrebonne): Unfortunately, there are only a couple of minutes left, Madam Speaker, and I think I could do a 20-minute speech because I am so frustrated from hearing what I just heard. I will try to be calm and precise and to ask the hon. member opposite for a precise answer.
On the first opposition day, we had a debate on a special committee to review every item of government spending and to save not millions but billions of dollars. The Liberals were against that committee to save money and to avoid duplication in the mandates of committees, as they said at the time. They are now offering us the same thing in a defence committee, not the same thing but a real duplication with enormous costs on reports we already have and answers we already know, with senators, probably to assess the relevance of their duties and to occupy them to a certain extent, since they have nothing to do, with 16 members, 14 on this committee. I am sorry but I would like some clarifications on the relevance of this committee, an approximation of costs, and I would like to know why you were opposed to a committee to save not millions but billions of dollars where now you are proposing to spend money.
In conclusion, I would suggest that you keep your red book introduction for the next campaign, if there is one, to the effect that voters no longer trust politicians because, with behaviour such as this, they will continue to distrust them.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): I can give the hon. member for Hillsborough about 30 seconds if he thinks he can give an answer in that time.
Mr. Proud: Madam Speaker, this committee was struck by the House. The committee is in place, the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs to study the policy. It is a joint committee of both Houses.
The idea that we are going to spend more money on it is ridiculous. We are given a budget to go forward as a committee and that is what we are going to do. We are going to determine the future defence policy of the country for some time to come.
Mr. Laurent Lavigne (Beauharnois-Salaberry): Madam Speaker, today the government, in a somewhat hasty move, has introduced a motion calling for the establishment of a joint committee which would duplicate the work of the Standing Committee on National Defence. I do not want to expand on the substance of the motion at this time since several of my colleagues have argued against it and stressed that there is no justification whatsoever for setting up a joint committee which would cover the same ground as the Standing Committee on National Defence, increase costs and delay the implementation of a defence program. Therefore, not suprisingly, I join with my Bloc Quebecois colleagues in denouncing the striking of this joint committee, as proposed by the government in its motion.
Instead, I would rather spend my time focusing on the issue of industrial conversion. As we know, defence industries employ a considerable number of people and since the end of the cold war, these factories are getting fewer and fewer orders. They have already begun laying off workers. Therefore, steps must be taken quickly to convert military factories for civilian purposes.
What I do not understand is that the Liberal Party of Canada appears to be saying two different things. When it formed the Official Opposition, it said one thing, but now that it is in power, it seems to be singing an entirely different tune. To confirm my suspicions, I would like to read to you a short excerpt from a March 26, 1993 press release prepared for immediate publication by the office of the then Leader of the Opposition. Therefore the current Prime Minister was Leader of the Official Opposition at the time. He was in Quebec City where he announced to reporters a policy to convert the defence industry for civilian purposes. That announcement appeared on the following day's papers. Three opposition members were also making a similar announcement here in Ottawa at the same time and virtually all of the media in Canada covered the story.
Right now, the Liberal government has all the data it had back when it was in opposition. Why authorize another joint super-committee to conduct further studies and analyses and undertake more trips when we already have a committee, the Standing Committee on National Defence, to do the job? It makes no sense!
I would like to read part of the statement issued by the then Leader of the Opposition at the press conference held on March 26, 1993. ``Today, Liberal leader Jean Chrétien, speaking in Quebec City, and three Liberal MPs, speaking in Ottawa, unveiled the defence conversion policy that would adopted by a Liberal government to bring our high-tech military industry into the post cold war era, while creating at the same time new economic development opportunities''.
Here are the highlights of the announcement made in Quebec City by Mr. Chrétien and in Ottawa by Mr. Axworthy, the External Affairs critic, by Mr. Bill Rompkey, the Defence critic and by Mr. Jim Peterson, the Industry critic.
They proposed to expand the mandate of Industry, Science and Technology Canada's $200 million Defence Industry Productivity Program, known as DIPP, from developing defence technology to helping the industry convert and diversify into areas such as environmental technologies and high-tech peacekeeping technologies. They also proposed the establishment of an Economic Conversion Commission, with the participation of industry and labour, to facilitate and coordinate the process of conversion in the 100,000-job defence industry. Quite a few people work in the defence sector, 100,000 to be exact.
The Liberals urged the opposition and suggested to the Conservatives, then in office, to develop joint conversion arrangements with the United States, the market for 80 per cent of Canada's defence exports. Under the Clinton administration, the United States have embarked on a major defence conversion effort, thus reducing demand for Canadian-built defence products.
``The cold war is over, and Canada must adapt to a changing world'', said Mr. Chrétien at that press conference. He went on to say that ``the Tory government has no defence conversion policy and has been content to let the market dictate diversification''.
Mr. Chrétien noted at that press conference that he had been calling for government action on defence conversion since March 1990. The Liberal leader called the international arms trade, which has shrunk by 25 per cent in the last few years, an industry of the past. He said, ``We need to invest in the economic winners-and the job creators-of tomorrow''. He wanted to invest and suggested to the then Conservative government to invest $5.8 billion in helicopters. He said that it was a cold war policy and that it was no way to develop Canada's high-tech potential. The Liberals believed instead in gearing this shrink-
ing industry towards more competitive military and civilian goods. Government can and must show leadership in shaping change. It was still Mr. Chrétien talking.
He then concluded by saying, ``Canadians are entitled to a government that is prepared to lead, a government that has new ideas and new strategies and which helps them adapt to changing times. Our policy on defence conversion is a clear example of how a Liberal government will respond to the needs of Canadians in the 1990s''.
When we look at, listen to and read what the Liberals were saying when they were the Official Opposition as opposed to what they are not doing now that they are in power, it is clear that they have two languages: one for the left side of their mouths and another for the right side.
The Bloc Quebecois's policy on conversion takes into account the importance of the armament industry and its structural impact on the economy. The Bloc Quebecois proposed during the last election campaign and fervently hopes that the federal government will take steps to facilitate the defence industry conversion process. Such a program is necessary and must be implemented as soon as possible.
The Bloc Quebecois doubts that the Liberal government will pursue a wide-ranging conversion policy. The EH-101 helicopter episode is revealing in this regard and clearly shows that the Liberal government does not intend to pursue a comprehensive strategy on this. It was a perfect opportunity for this government to show its true intentions in this area, but it preferred to single out the helicopter program, without a conversion program in return.
Then how can we launch such a program? Professors Bélanger, Fournier and Desbiens, of the defence industry conversion research group at the Université du Québec in Montreal, did some research and came to the conclusion that a very large number of defence workers live in Montreal, a region where they conducted a more in-depth study on the effects of non-conversion.
The Montreal region is the main defence industry centre in Quebec. More than 500 defence companies are located there and the total value of goods and equipment delivered amounts to a little over $2.1 billion. The region alone generates 63 per cent of defence economic activity in Quebec and accounts for 26 per cent of the Canadian market. The employment picture shows what is happening.
My time has expired, even though I would have liked to go on. I will continue at the next opportunity. I would just like to say that, on this whole issue of industry conversion, many jobs are at stake and there is an urgent need to intervene.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Order! It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier-Public Works; the hon. member for Louis-Hébert-Quebec City Airport; the hon. member for MacKenzie-Grain Transportation.
Are there questions or comments?
Mr. Fred Mifflin (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs): Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to what the hon. member for Beauharnois-Salaberry had to say. He actually said a lot that I agree with. He gave us some good figures on conversion.
This is a legitimate question, it is not posturing but I am not precisely sure whether he meant that the defence review should look at conversion or whether he felt we had precluded conversion from being considered. I can assure him that is not the case. Nothing is being left out of the review. Nothing is sacred and nothing is to be left untouched with respect to considerations.
Also, I gather more from the tone than the statement of what the hon. member said about the decision on the EH-101 helicopters, and of course I am making an oblique reference to the decision of the government to cancel the project, but my understanding was that his party was in favour of cancelling the project as well.
If the hon. member could clarify these two points I would be delighted.
Mr. Lavigne (Beauharnois-Salaberry): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to answer the question raised by my colleague. Of course, the Bloc Quebecois agreed 100 per cent with the cancellation of the helicopter contract, except that it was only half done. Not only should they have cancelled the helicopter contract but they also should have recovered the money that was to be invested in it and put it in an industrial conversion fund. I blame the government for not doing that part of the job. It was only half done.
This second part could have redirected all the money to be saved on the manufacture and purchase of the helicopters-over $5 billion. If this $5 or $6 billion had been invested in converting military companies, we could have stopped the hemorrhage that is going on right now.
I take the example of the Expro plant in my riding. It makes powder and shells. Not so long ago, the Expro plant had over a thousand workers, but with the end of the cold war, Expro's orders from the defence department dropped drastically. Now this plant has only 400 employees. I give you this example because I know that plant particularly well, since it is in my riding, but the same danger threatens some 60,000 workers in these military plants throughout Quebec, over 60,000 if we consider all of Canada.
The Liberals only did half the job when they cancelled the helicopter contract because they did not take the money that should have come back to them and invest it in industrial conversion.
There was a second part to the question, but I spent so much time on the first that I forgot the second. I do not know if my colleague-Oh yes! It has come back to me, Madam Speaker.
The whole issue of industrial conversion should probably be discussed by the defence committee and I hope that we will not have to discuss it as well in the joint committee that you want to set up, because that would further prolong the debate-there would be no end to it. Workers in our factories are now waiting for a conversion program before they are unemployed. That is the threat hanging over us.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Lavigne (Beauharnois-Salaberry): Workers in military plants who are in danger of losing their jobs tomorrow morning do not want to hear about setting up a joint committee that will report in six months or a year or two. The government should take a position before then. It is urgent. Enough discussion-let us act.
Mr. Jean H. Leroux (Shefford): Madam Speaker, my remarks will deal with disparities between Quebec and other parts of Canada.
Quebec is one of the most disadvantaged areas in terms of economic benefits from National Defence contracts. Quebec's per capita share of defence spending is clearly below average. The following figures speak for themselves. An internal document from the Department of National Defence indicates that per capita spending for 1990-91 was $1,217 in Nova Scotia, this province ranking first, followed by New Brunswick in second place with $1,050, while Quebec ranked sixth, with a per capita share of defence spending of only $316.
Updated data for fiscal year 1992-93 indicate that the trends observed with regard to inequities experienced by Quebec in terms of economic distribution have worsened. The latest figures from National Defence, provided by the Minister of National Defence himself when he met with parliamentarians on February 10, confirm that Quebec's share of benefits has shrunk considerably. Actually, 16 per cent of the benefits go to Quebec, while Ontario gets 36 per cent, the Atlantic provinces, 16 per cent like Quebec, and Western provinces, 20 per cent.
Defence spending includes various expenditures. There are infrastructure expenditures, personnel expenditures, equipment expenditures as well as procurement and services expenditures. In terms of personnel expenditures alone, with 25.4 per cent of the population of Canada living on its territory, Quebec received only $773 million in benefits in 1990-91, as compared to $1,821 million for Ontario with 36.6 per cent of the population. Even Nova Scotia got more than Quebec, namely $793 million.
In 1992, the Department of National Defence conducted an in-house assessment of the extent to which Quebec was receiving its fair share of certain types of defence expenditures. This assessment demonstrated how unfairly Quebec was treated by the federal government with regard to defence spending as a percentage of Canada's GDP. Inequities were found under the following budget items: construction, research and development, operations and maintenance, Reserves and Cadets-to supply and equip the cadets-overall defence spending, personnel costs, Regular Force, civilian personnel. In all these areas, Quebec was clearly at a disadvantage.
As far as defence infrastructure in Canada is concerned, it should be pointed out that Quebec's share represents only 13 per cent of the value of the federal government's defence installations, as compared to 34 per cent for the Western provinces, 27 per cent for the Maritime provinces and 26 per cent for Ontario. To remedy the situation, the Canadian government and the Department of National Defence, under Marcel Masse, former Conservative Minister of National Defence, had developed a major infrastructure modernization program for Quebec, building drill halls here and these at great cost. Capital expenditures apparently exceeded $100 million.
These projects have raised Quebec's share of funds allocated to construction up to 19.2 per cent of the total amount of this budget item. However, they are now put in jeopardy in the short term by the upcoming budget, which will be tabled on February 22 as we all know. It is important that Quebec remain a priority because it is clearly disadvantaged with regard to government expenditures in those areas.
Technically, Quebec has four large military bases, which provide jobs for thousands of people: Valcartier, 6,085 employees; Montreal, 3,922; Saint-Jean, 2,031; and Bagotville, 1,782.
The Department of National Defence remains a major employer in Quebec with more than 13,820 employees listed on these four bases. Though the numbers are substantial, we must not forget that comparatively speaking, Quebec is not getting its
fair share, and we object to any cuts at the expense of Quebec's economy.
Another aspect of the regional economic impact of defence procurement contracts is the issue of interprovincial trade in the arms production sector in Canada.
John Treddenick, an economist with the Royal Military College in Kingston, looked into this subject and according to his study, Quebec performed well on direct contracts with the Department of National Defence but was getting less than its share of economic spin-offs, increasingly.
The potential for absorbing defence contracts into the economy in Quebec is not the same as in Ontario. The big winner in interprovincial sub-contracting is Ontario, because it is able to get major sub-contracts from projects managed in other provinces. In this respect, it occupies a unique position compared with all Canadian provinces, with a defence complex that far outweights the size of its direct contracts from the Department of National Defence.
However, Quebec's defence production is still substantial. The Quebec economy, and especially the economy of the Montreal area, is very dependent on National Defence contracts, as was pointed out repeatedly by Professor Yves Bélanger at the University of Quebec in Montreal, who is an expert on these issues. Consequently, an industrial conversion strategy must be prepared as soon as possible.
At this stage, we should not have a special debate on National Defence policy until the government has released its white paper. This position applies both to the issue of downsizing in military bases and training centres for peacekeepers. In fact, there are several reasons why the latter initiative should not be supported by the Bloc Quebecois.
First, it is unrealistic to believe that countries from all over the world would come to train in these centres. Who is going to pay the cost of bringing international troops and their equipment over here? The UN does not have the resources to pay for all that.
Second, it is a fact that Canadian peacekeepers are among the best trained in the world. Why bother setting up a training centre, when our troops already receive excellent training at existing bases.
Third, it would be dishonest and hypocritical to let the public think that creating training centres would not generate additional costs for the Canadian government. How can we tell people we are cutting back on defence spending, and at the same time keep military bases open to train peacekeepers? This does not make sense, it is misleading and the Bloc Quebec cannot support such proposals.
What is my party's position? We received a mandate from the people of Quebec to fight existing inequities and ensure that Quebec gets its fair share.
Mr. Fred Mifflin (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs): Madam Speaker, I listened attentively to what my colleague had to say. Although I was not in the House all the time because I had to take a telephone call, I was listening in the lobby. I agree with a lot of things he had to say; he made some very good points.
Looking at the aspect of the defence policy review to which he made reference, I am assuming he would be interested in the conversion policy. One thing the defence policy review will more than likely look at is the subject of conversion because it is an ongoing matter at the end of the cold war. The U.K. is doing it. The United States is doing it. No matter what happens we have to look at that opinion. The policy review is an excellent time to do it with expert witnesses.
If the hon. member's party is so big on conversion surely it would not want to stand in the way of a policy review taking place purely because of the mechanism of the standing committee. That is almost a technicality in a way. Surely he would look at the bigger subject and have a policy review so that policies that would be beneficial to his constituency could be looked at in a very positive sense.
Mr. Leroux (Shefford): Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his words. I think that we do not need to set up a joint committee to decide on conversion policy. I remember very well during the election seeing programs of different political parties which already dealt with the subject. As my fellow member of the Bloc Quebecois just said, I think that at some point the government will have to act and shoulder its responsibilities.
Now they seem to want to have us discuss all sorts of subjects in the name of a so-called democratization of the House, but one thing is certain: the government was elected to govern and not only to consult.
I think that at this stage it would be advisable for our duly elected government to get to work and make the decisions it must make so that Canada can finally have a policy which reflects the needs of the people.
Mr. Louis Plamondon (Richelieu): Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague who just spoke. I think he brought up a very important point, namely the distribution of funds and Quebec's share of DND funding. The perception is that Quebec is very well served in this regard. Of course, we want to hold on to the jobs we have and of course, we willingly
accept the benefits that come with these jobs. This debate gives us an opportunity to demonstrate once again how Quebec is not getting its fair share.
I believe my hon. colleague said that Quebec has only about 15 per cent of the jobs in the industry, whereas we account for 23 or 24 per cent of the country's population. He mentioned that the province has only 13 per cent of all military infrastructures and is allocated only 15.8 per cent of DND's overall budget. This is a very important consideration for us.
Disregarding for the moment the historic injustice of which we are the victims, I think the hon. member put his finger squarely on the problem, namely that the government is trying to gain some time by holding debates-and this one is particularly untimely and premature since the Department of Foreign Affairs has not yet decided what role the Department of National Defence will be called on to play in international policy.
In closing, I would just like to say that I agree completely with my hon. colleague about the proposed committee. We already have a perfectly adequate national defence committee. To set up a joint committee with senators would be a waste of time. The time has come to take action. The government must make some decisions. That is what it was elected to do. So, it should act and stop setting up committees.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): The Chair recognizes the hon. member for Shefford, but very briefly, please.
Mr. Leroux (Shefford): Thank you for your courtesy, Madam Speaker. At the risk of repeating myself, I would simply like to add that we, the members of the Bloc Quebecois, were elected to ensure that Quebec is not merely a province on the receiving end of social assistance and unemployment insurance. On every issue and in every area of federal jurisdiction, we will ensure that Quebec gets everything it has coming to it. Finally, I would just like to say that in the past, Quebec did not get its fair share and the time has come to put things right.
Mr. Andy Scott (Fredericton-York-Sunbury): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this important debate examining the future of Canada's defence policy both in Canada and abroad. The proposed review is most timely because Canada, along with other nations, has come to recognize that the end of the cold war requires us to rethink the nature and purpose of our military forces.
I add that the timeliness of the debate is significant for another more broadly defined reason. The end of the cold war is not only significant for bringing about change in the defence agenda but in our political agenda as well. Not only is the military's role a broad issue, but as I said it has a role at home. We need to protect the perimeters of our country, but we must consider the military in terms of helping those in need at home.
Having said that, the end of the cold war has not brought a sudden end to the need of our military; quite the contrary. However our focus and priorities must shift in a number of policy areas. In other places, in other committees, we are in the process of redefining how government will better assist the citizens it has been elected to serve. In terms of our military we are redefining how we can better serve the people of our own country, as well as the people of other nations who are in need of its services.
Internationally the focus on peacekeeping training befits changes now occurring at the global level. Emphasis has shifted from one of conflict to conflict resolution. Such change is both welcome and necessary in light of changes happening within society at large.
Citizens both within and beyond Canada's borders now call for greater peace and justice. Greater emphasis is placed on democracy and human rights. When the cold war ceased to dominate the focus of international relations that change brought great hope that our nation would achieve a strengthened spirit built on international co-operation and collaboration.
While we have seen a relaxing of political tensions in some parts of the globe, there are still far too many regions where military conflict is intrinsic, a way of life for people in far too many regions. We still see countries attempting to meet political agendas with military force. This government's plan to strengthen our leadership role in peacekeeping and to commit to Canadian efforts to improve the UN's policies on peacekeeping could not come at a more necessary stage in our history.
It is right for Canada to fulfil the roles of peace enforcement, peace establishment, peace restoration and peace building. I would add to this list the more recent dimension of humanitarian aid protection. Such humanitarian intervention enables aid convoys to reach those people in dire need of assistance. Few can argue about the benefit of such intervention given the number of lives saved by this action.
It is time to reach consensus on the debate surrounding our military and restore our focus to the original UN mandate penned in its charter in 1945 to be a major force for international order and stability.
I would add that it is not only important for us to examine the changing role of our military on the national and international levels. We must also determine how such change should be reflected domestically.
We must continue to train troops to be prepared for any kind of military encounter along with training for peacekeeping initiatives. We need to strike a balance between maintaining armed forces to protect ourselves and participating in international peace operations. I believe the time has come for us to put forward an expanded role for our Department of National Defence, one that is not restricted to military operations alone
since this focus fails to reflect the new reality of the interdependence of foreign and domestic affairs.
Canada has one of the best regarded military forces in the world in no small part because of the training we provide our troops. We need to capitalize on this capability more often and deliver this training to the international community. While we do much of this now, we have the capacity to do more.
CFB Gagetown is the largest military base in Canada by land mass and is situated in my riding of Fredericton-York-Sunbury. As a combat training centre, Gagetown is a land force centre for excellence dedicated to the training of world class soldiers and leaders. Training is conducted within the framework of combined arms operations up to the battle group level. The base provides a most sophisticated and realistic simulation training environment and employs some of the most expert instructors in this field.
The base is responsible for conducting the most advanced courses for the infantry, artillery and armour elements of land force command and the training of troops that have served in one or more peacekeeping missions. The Royal Canadian Regiment stationed at CFB Gagetown participated in two missions within a two year period: Cyprus from October 1991 until April 1992; and the former Yugoslavia from November 1992 to May 1993. In addition there are always a number of soldiers from CFB Gagetown serving with the UN in a variety of peacekeeping missions. The experience and leadership gained while training at CFB Gagetown has had a significant impact on the success of Canadian troops during peacekeeping missions over past decades.
Further members of the reserve force totalling some 2,000 for the Atlantic region and trained at Gagetown have served in peacekeeping missions. As well reserve soldiers provide a valuable resource for emergencies because they are able to work along with the regular force personnel in various situations. The nature of reserve training is an area we may wish to explore in order to further evolve the role of our military in training on the international stage.
We also need to explore options for using our military personnel and military facilities for non-military purposes. Too often we hear of the need for better equipment and increased personnel in search and rescue. Were military resources more easily available to assist organizations like the RCMP and EMO the trauma and agony suffered by individuals and in many cases entire families and communities would be greatly reduced.
We also need to explore what roles military personnel and their facilities can play in non-military employment and training programs. As I mentioned in a statement earlier this week during members statements, the Department of National Defence has recently engaged in a co-operative initiative with New Brunswick's Department of Advanced Education and Labour to pilot an occupational and lifeskills training project.
Just Monday of this week 30 unemployed New Brunswickers between the ages of 17 and 24 began a 20 week program of military lifeskills and occupational training and job experience at CFB Gagetown. For the participants selected from youth strategy, aboriginal peoples and social assistance programs, the combination of occupational and lifeskills training will help young unemployed New Brunswickers build new futures.
There is more at stake in such an initiative than just training and employing 30 individuals. Although I do not mean to diminish the significance of that, in this period of fiscal restraint it is important to consider the financial benefits of providing training programs in this manner. Since the Canadian forces provide the training facilities and instructors for the project in New Brunswick, the people, space, materials and facilities are readily available. It strikes me that this amounts to a creative arrangement for both federal and provincial governments.
We must also consider how our military can contribute to environmental protection and clean-up and to border patrol, particularly as it relates to the north and the sea. This places new and increased demands on our military such that it moves the forces' agenda beyond just that of defending the country.
As we consider our nation's place in the global community we must remind ourselves that Canada has had a positive and well established international reputation for decades. We have been admired and emulated by countries around the globe. We want to continue to set examples for other nations. We can do this by redefining our military role to better reflect the social changes occurring at the international level. In many respects we are not only just capable of setting such examples, we are also obliged to do so.
When I first arrived in Ottawa to represent the people of Fredericton-York-Sunbury I was immediately struck by the cultural diversity represented in this House. I have always been proud of Canada's efforts to give equal recognition to all cultures living within our borders. This pride was reinforced when I realized the reality of the vision.
We are citizens of the world living in one country. Within our very own borders we know and represent a multitude of cultures found around the world. Unlike the United States we do not ascribe to a melting pot approach where people must give up their culture; we encourage individuality and uniqueness. Such
a philosophy and approach puts us in the unique position to understand the various interests and cultures of the world.
In our understanding of just how wonderful such diversity truly is, we are in the best of all positions to help others when they are faced with some form or level of forceful conflict. The diversity within our borders has not only taught us to be a compassionate and caring society; it has taught us about the many ways of life embraced by many people. We can use our own enlightenment not only as an advantage to ourselves, but also as an advantage for helping others in need of conflict resolution.
I am fully aware that our desire to accommodate a variety of cultures may be controversial and may need government support from time to time. However that should not mean that we do not want that diversity.
We can use this knowledge and respect. In fact I believe we owe it to the international community to assist the United Nations in its mission for promoting world peace. Our knowledge of ethnic diversity combined with our excellent military training and knowledge places us in an enviable and more than capable position to help achieve global stability.
In closing, I would like to add that the people of Fredericton-York-Sunbury are peaceful people who are proud New Brunswickers and Canadians. This pride is not just defined by the integrity and quality of life at the community level, but is further defined by the international reputation we know ourselves to possess around the world.
People recognize that this positive image carries with it certain obligations and responsibilities we must be willing to extend to those in need. As a country we cannot make excuses for ourselves and stay away from the fray. We are far too socially aware to bury our heads in the sand and hope that volatile situations will somehow resolve themselves, preferably in a quiet fashion.
In light of the need for us to examine and redefine Canada's military, I support the call for the appointment of a special joint committee comprised of members of the Senate and of the House of Commons to review Canada's defence policy.
Mr. Paul Mercier (Blainville-Deux-Montagnes): Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague and I totally agree that changing international circumstances demand that we diversify the role of our armed forces and, hence, that we expand the types of training of our military personnel.
My colleague was right in pointing out the role played by the Canadian Forces in humanitarian aid. As a Quebecer, I could also point out that they had an opportunity to show a total control of the situation during the Oka crisis.
I would like to stress the fact that during the two first wars, our forces were able to show their real capability and, in the last few years, they have won the admiration of the world in peace missions.
I would like to give my personal testimony to my colleague. I was in Belgium during the liberation of some Belgium cities by the Canadian army. I was also in Katanga, now Zaire, in 1963, when the Canadian Forces took part in a UN mission of transition that is quite forgotten now in Katanga. So I had the opportunity to admire the Canadian Forces both in their military role and their humanitarian role.
What I would like to stress is that we should not forget in this diversification that eternal peace is not guaranteed. Nothing proves that our role will ever be limited to separating warring parties or bringing humanitarian aid. Nothing proves that we will not be dragged into conflicts of direct concern to us.
The end of the cold war is certainly a good thing, but, though I am neither a soldier nor a strategist, I do not feel that the present situation in Russia is more reassuring than the situation that existed in the former USSR. There are other potential conflicts in which we could be directly involved. The role we should assign to the bases, in order not to close them, should continue to be partly military in addition to the new responsibility, with which I fully agree, of diversified humanitarian help that they should be taking over.
My question to the hon. member is this: Does he not agree with me that we should continue to consider the strictly military role of defence of the territory and participation in democratic alliances involved in possible conflicts, besides this new and purely humanitarian role?
Mr. Scott (Fredericton-York-Sunbury): Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague and appreciate his intervention. The many issues brought forward merely point to the need for a review.
We mentioned our traditional defence role in terms of international conflict. We also mentioned humanitarian aid and the need to broaden training to include other kinds of activities. I concur on all those points and in fact use that as a strong argument for having this review and striking this joint committee.
I also welcome the opportunity to respond by saying we have to be more focused. We have to be more strategic in where we task troops to participate by virtue of the changing nature of our own military force and the department.
I would also like to speak for a second on the broadening of training. I did not mean to suggest it would just be a broadening
of military training that would be available, but rather a general broadening of training including other kinds of training. We all recognize there is a task force on human resources development that is looking for places for training. It strikes me that these facilities are one.
Mr. George Proud (Hillsborough): Madam Speaker, I want to commend my colleague for his remarks and his interest in this very specific task we are taking on.
We have heard many interventions here in the last number of weeks regarding our defence policy as it stands, our peacekeeping role and the costs that of course are always involved in any major undertaking we get into in this country, be it military or anything else.
I have my views, as does everyone else, on what the role of the military is in the future of our country. There are those in society as I said in my speech who perhaps do not believe we need any participation. Then there are those who believe we should spend the whole budget on it.
I assume somewhere down the line we are going to have to make a decision as to what our future is going to be in this area. There are many situations out there. In the peacekeeping roles we are involved in today the majority of our troops are land forces. We have a navy and an air force. I just want to ask the hon. member his view on what he sees coming out of the machine at the end of the day when we have completed this study and the government makes its decisions. What does he see from his constituency and from his national perspective as to where we should be going.
Mr. Scott (Fredericton-York-Sunbury): Madam Speaker, I think the important feature in terms of this review may very well be the review itself in that in the nature that it is proposed, there was I assume broad consultation. I heard some debate as to the nature of that broad consultation but I really believe, perhaps more than with other programs, that the national defence policy of a nation requires significant public support, public understanding, sympathy and so on.
I believe that support depends on a sense among Canadians that they have the opportunity to have a say as to what the country is doing in those terms.
More than anything else I think what we will have at the end of the day is a concise, thoughtful, national policy that Canadians can understand with clarity, that Canadians can help in fact create through the broad consultation that will take place in the joint committee.
There has been, particularly in the international tasks that have been engaged in, some confusion as to objectives and the nature of missions and so on. I really believe if nothing else at the end of the day we will have a larger understanding of what it is that our troops are sent out to do.
I think that is vitally important.
Mr. Fred Mifflin (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs): Madam Speaker, I will be very fast with this. The hon. member for Fredericton-York-Sunbury spoke about the training program at Gagetown with the government of New Brunswick.
Could he elaborate for a couple of minutes on that because that is a very interesting program.
Mr. Scott (Fredericton-York-Sunbury): Madam Speaker, this program is a co-operative initiative between national defence and the department of advanced education and labour in Fredericton, essentially using the facilities, the trained personnel, instructors at CFB Gagetown, material, equipment and various people. There was a province-wide advertisement placed and a number of applications sent in. Because it is a pilot project this one is limited to 30 but the intention is to see this program grow.
There is a potential at the end of a 20-week program to become engaged in national defence itself. Also, because of the nature of some of the training available through the Department of National Defence, these individuals are trained in life skills, employment seeking skills, basic self-confidence objectives. Either way it is a win-win situation for both national defence and the provincial government in Fredericton.
Mr. Leonard Hopkins (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke): Madam Speaker, I have not had the opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment to the chair. We wish you well. I know you will do a very fine job.
I want to take this opportunity in this debate to thank my constituents for my re-election and for supporting me over the years the way they have. We have the largest county in the province of Ontario. In addition to that in my riding we have a large part of the district of Nipissing.
I live three miles from the base gate in Petawawa township. That base has been in the forefront of peacekeeping activities since day one. The families of the military and the civilian community have been rubbing shoulders. They get along well together. They play together. They work together. They study together and they plan together.
There is a very good civilian-military relationship throughout the entire community. That is very important. It is very important that our civilian community support our Canadian Armed Forces. This defence policy we are talking about today is undoubtedly in the long run going to mean they will be facing challenges of great cultural differences wherever they go in the
world. They will be facing great differences in religious beliefs and customs wherever they go.
It is not easy for personnel in the Canadian forces to be sent to any trouble spot on the face of the earth. They are ready to go, they are professionals, but there will be accidents along the way. When there are accidents we have to support them and when they do an excellent job we support them. If we do not do that then I would suggest to everybody that we are not really living up to that great promise we make on November 11 as we stand around the cenotaphs and say: ``We will remember them''.
Every soldier who goes abroad to do work on behalf of Canada, every soldier who works for this country has the same dedication to this nation and to his or her duty as those who have gone before them. We wish them well.
As we talk about Canada's defence policy in the few months ahead it is going to be very important that we consult those people as well as the Canadian public at large.
You cannot have a debate such as this on Canada's defence policy and have an inward look at it. Defence policy and foreign affairs policy automatically mean that we are not only looking at things in a national perspective here at home but we are looking at the world as an international community and we are going to work with them.
We must be humanitarian in our view of the world. We must be realistic. There is no way we can face the situations in this world today without being professional. Our Canadian Armed Forces are professional. There is a great visiting back and forth between Gagetown and Petawawa. I want to thank my hon. colleague from the Gagetown area for the speech he delivered this afternoon. He obviously has a very good feel for his constituents in the military community. It is very important to have that feeling on the floor of this House as we talk about defence policy and foreign policy for this great nation of ours.
There was a great deal of comment this afternoon about the defence committee. I cannot believe some of the comments I have heard. One would almost think that a standing committee around this place was something new. Standing committees have been going for decades. Standing committees have been meeting some of the best professional witnesses, the professional community and organizations anywhere in the world to come before a parliamentary committee. What is democracy all about? When a government is elected, does that government make decisions without consulting people along the way?
We just finished nine years of a government of that kind. It said it was consulting people all the time but it very seldom did. I ask the question: Where is it today? The leader of the Bloc Quebecois sat right here in the front row on this side of the House under the previous government. It is probably a good thing that he changed parties or he would not be in the House today.
We talk about standing committees of the House of Commons. My goodness, my own county council back home has about 35 or 36 very respected people on it. They have their committees for local government and they do a fantastic job. You save yourself a lot of heartache and trouble in the future. At least you have a feel for what is out there. You have some expert advice.
We in our capacity as individual members in this House of Commons are not all experts. We cannot stand in our place, and I defy any members of the opposition parties to stand in their place, and say that we know it all, we do not have to talk to anybody. That is not the way a good government operates.
A good government works with the people of the nation. It takes advice from the people of the nation. There are cases where you have to stand up and be counted because there is no real consensus of opinion. It is called leadership.
You cannot have a democracy if you do not have leadership. Sometimes you have to make those tough decisions but make them we must. That is why we are here. That is why people are paying us to be here.
We have played a great role in peacekeeping in support of the UN and we have heard a great deal about that today. However let us remember that when we are talking about those two things and when we are talking about a defence policy, what we have been doing in recent years in the international community as well as at home has been born out of our participation in two major world wars and the League of Nations in between those two world wars.
The Korean war came as the really first test of the United Nations. Was it going to stand up and be counted? Were the nations that belonged to the UN going to stand up and be counted or were they going to take the side step as happened to many nations that were members of the League of Nations between the two world wars?
It is very important that we continue as a nation to be good negotiators. It is important in this community that we have a good Canadian Armed Forces that has the ability and the capacity to operate in the international scene and to face all kinds of disasters and challenges. People who are in the forces joined because they know that is what their challenge is. They love the life they are in.
Canada played a major role in the founding of the United Nations after World War II. In that respect, I suppose we built some of our defence policy at that time. If we were going to promote the United Nations and be a member of the United Nations from its founding day onward, we had to support it. That
meant at times that we had to support them in settling international conflicts.
If we do not take that attitude then we not only let ourselves down, we let the United Nations down and we let the international community down. Worst of all, we let the peace forces throughout the world down and we are going to run into a major conflict. There are all kinds of people out there looking for a scrap these days.
Canada played a major role in the founding of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Lester B. Pearson, St. Laurent and King before him played a major role in the NATO organization. We know very well that if it had not been for the NATO forces sitting there ready to do battle, ready to face the Warsaw pact head on, if it had not been for trying to promote a balance of power in the world in those days, and there is no question in my mind as a student of history, we would have run into another major conflict in the world.
What would have happened in a nuclear arms war? We know the answer to that. I suppose we do not want to believe the reality of it but the potential was there. If we do not meet those challenges of today, if we do not have a good foreign policy for Canada and if we do not have a good defence policy for this country, I maintain that we will not be doing our responsible job as a nation in the international community nor will we be doing a good job for our own people right here in our beloved nation of Canada.
The Ogdensburg agreement of 1940 signed by Mackenzie King and President Roosevelt is a good example of the kind of international responsibility that we participated in during the second world war.
The North American air defence was another example of protecting Canada at the same time as helping to protect other nations.
Canada has always believed very strongly in multinational defence operations. Here with a population of 26.5 million or whatever we have today we could not begin to defend our borders, our coastal waters and our far north if we were not members of an international defence alliance. That was the real basis of NATO. That is where we must maintain our relations with other countries in the world.
Canada is a respected country around the world and that is why we can work with other countries in keeping the peace and keeping small battles down to a small roar instead of a big roar.
We were very influential in the founding and the ongoing activities of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. That too is part of our defence organization because if we did not promote it we would not be promoting the well-being in the international community of those involved in that organization.
During the cold war what happened? The cold war was almost a battle to see who would go broke first. Military equipment and new technology cost so much and so dearly that it was a matter of who put the most into it, who had the best tax base and not who could win a war but who could sustain the cold war the longest. We know that the Soviet Union went broke first, but in doing so it certainly put the United States into a healthy debt situation today. We know what our own situation is like here in Canada.
The real basis of a defence policy is not just to get together at home and form a defence policy, but to get along with our neighbours and get along with the world community at large. That demands some expertise and some professionalism.
I would stack the members of our Canadian forces up against any diplomatic organization in the world. We think about them as fighting people. They are ready to do that. They are good soldiers but they are also good negotiators because sometimes they find themselves in the middle of things when they have to negotiate or talk to the enemy or to try to bring parties together under peaceful conditions.
I always say to members of our Canadian forces that not only are they good soldiers, they are good diplomats. They may not like my third definition for them but they are also good politicians because it takes that kind of leadership, that kind of negotiating skills that one requires in politics. We need that in the international community today. Our soldiers need that and our professionals need it when they go abroad.
World problems did not go away with the ending of the cold war. There are some people who think they did. We are only kidding ourselves if we believe that. Look at what has happened in the former Yugoslavia. We call it a humane world. We think that parts of the world have been here so long that today they are very human and realistic in their outlook. What we have seen in the former Yugoslavia is a good example of what took place in the dark ages when there were wars among tribes, et cetera.
Somalia is another good example of a nation divided within itself, fighting within itself and starving its people into doing what the military leaders wanted them to do or the local leaders wanted them to do. It is just a terrible situation.
Our defence policy is going to have to be-and I state this in the strongest, sincerest terms-such that our numbers in our Canadian forces are going to have to stay at a healthy level at which we can carry out our foreign policy.
If our forces are reduced to levels at which we really cannot have an effect on the international community, if we really cannot carry out our duties as effective peacekeepers, if we cannot really carry out our duties to help the United Nations in major challenges that come along, then we will not be playing our role and our foreign policy will not be in place. Our Canadian forces are a large part of the foreign policy of Canada.
Questions have been asked across the floor of the House today of why we do not bring in a white paper now, why do we go to all this trouble of interviewing people and having hearings from experts, specialists and our Canadian forces personnel, and why do we not just bring in a white paper and table it and then have a debate.
The last government, the Tory government that we had between 1984 and 1993, tried that out for size. The Tories brought in a white paper. Where is it today? What part of that white paper is valid today? Where would our nuclear submarines be today? We would have spent billions of dollars under that white paper that was not properly thought out before it was tabled in this House of Commons.
That is not the way this government is going to operate. This government is going to operate in a responsible manner in which we know what we are talking about before we take off on the run with some white paper. That is going to be a very important document.
We write our white paper after we put our policy together. Our policy means that we understand what the challenges out there really are. Our white paper should tell us that we are ready to face those challenges. It should provide for the changing conditions out there.
I want to go back to my home base of Petawawa. On many occasions when peacekeeping groups were put together they were brought into base Petawawa and there we had paint shops set up. Vehicles that were going to serve the UN were all painted white. Then they went through another shop and the big initials UN were painted on them. Then they were loaded on to Hercules, on to flat cars and were taken by ship and by plane to the problem area, wherever it was in the world. That is a great operation. It is run from square one.
We can bring an element of troops in from Calgary, others from Gagetown, others from base Kingston and others from Chilliwack if they are needed. It is a national operation. They are brought all together. The professionalism of our forces, which is going to be very important to promote in our defence policy review, is that they can work together. They train together and they are training together with our allies. Certainly that is going to be part of a defence policy. We have to continue to train with the Americans, with the British, with the Germans and have them over here, people from the international community.
As we know, we have the international community already training in Canada in places like Goose Bay and Shilo, Manitoba and in Alberta. It is a very good operation.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): I am sorry, the hon. member's time has more than expired.
Mr. Murray Calder (Wellington-Grey-Dufferin-Simcoe): Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member on his speech.
In 1988 I ran against the nuclear powered submarine issue because it was an issue that Canada was looking at Cadillacs when we did not need them. The helicopter deal that we had during this election campaign was again Canada looking at Cadillacs.
The member stated that the Department of National Defence is going to undergo review. I applaud that because basically we have to look at what the role of the Department of National Defence is going to be in the 21st century.
Canada has been called a boy scout in the international arena in which we have been solving problems and helping countries that need help. I am watching right now Russia, which went broke in the arms race, selling off at bargain basement prices all its arsenal to different countries that are willing to buy it. This obviously is going to be a problem in the future.
If the hon. member could polish off his crystal ball a bit, after the review in this country where does he see our position on the UN and NATO in the international arena?
Mr. Hopkins: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. In response, I have heard the term boy scout used a great deal when talking about our Canadian forces. All I can say is that if we had more boy scouts like them, we would have a lot less trouble in this world. The term is used in a friendly way, but Canadian forces have always proven themselves, proven that they have metal, that they have courage and that they do their jobs well.
If it were not for the qualities of our Canadian forces to bring people together we would be in a lot worse position in this world today than we are. I applaud the forces for that.
Where do we stand after the review? I know that the hon. member would not want me to upstage the committee that is carrying out the review of the forces, nor would I try to prejudge it at this stage of the hearings which just got under way this morning as we went on with the defence committee.
I would like to say a word, though, about the UN. Not only is Canada having a defence review, but the time is long overdue when we should have a United Nations review. There is no better country in the world to lead up that review and to promote it than Canada because of the role that we played and the support we have given to the United Nations over the years, plus the fact
that Canada had such a major role in the founding of the United Nations to begin with.
We have to watch its operations now and upgrade it as well because that will mean that however the United Nations is upgraded will have an effect on our own defence policy in the future. We want to get better decision making powers out there.
Where do we see NATO? I can give my views on that at this stage. If we are going to continue to have major problems in the world and fires such as we have, then we are going to have to have a good alliance.
It is very important that we keep up the NATO alliance and keep our relationships together in the event that we have to pull that organization together for a major crisis some day. We do not have to be out there flaunting great forces every day of the week, but we have to keep it together and keep a good base for strength there in the future.
I read something the other day that I think is a good example as we start this defence review. It said that we should build on our fires, not on the ashes of our past.
Some of the fires of the past are what we used to organize the United Nations. What this country had was statesmanship in those days to organize the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Let us not lose it, let us build on those fires of the past and keep them there for many years to come. That is the only way we are going to retain any level of peace in this old world that we live in today.
Mr. Geoff Regan (Halifax West): Madam Speaker, I also want to congratulate the hon. member for his speech this evening. I certainly can appreciate, as he does very well, the history and the role of our armed forces, coming as I do from an area in which there is certainly a very strong military component. Although I have no bases in the riding of Halifax West, many people who live in the riding work either at the Shearwater base or CFB Halifax or the dockyard or on the ships themselves.
I am certainly very pleased the government will be reviewing the defence policy of our country. It is certainly long overdue. We do have a strong role to play in peacekeeping. In terms of our foreign policy it is very important that we play a role in the world and continue to do so because the world is facing many strains. The pressures on the world are intensifying in many ways because of poverty growth, population growth and environmental problems world-wide.
How does hon. member see these intensifying pressures affecting the role of the military in future?
Mr. Hopkins: Madam Speaker, the hon. member mentioned lastly the environmental problems. If we could prevent wars such as the one that occurred in the Persian gulf we would be doing that entire part of the world a great favour. The fallout on the environment as a result of the Persian gulf war has been horrendous in that region of the world.
This is why I want to emphasize today that our new defence policy and our foreign policy have to put great emphasis on keeping those types of battles down to a minimum and trying to settle them peacefully before they blow wide open. This is where I think the United Nations comes in. If the United Nations had had more power to move quickly and to act, maybe we could have prevented some of those disasters from happening in the manner in which they did.
I agree with the hon. member that wherever our forces bases are located, the people tend to live in the surrounding communities. That is good because they get to know one another very well. They get to know some of their problems and they have a feel for the civilian community. As we go on with this defence review it is going to be very important to emphasize civilian military relations in those communities and in communities where we do not have a military presence at all.
The hon. member and myself have a feel for it. Other members who spoke today have a feel for it, but those who live in communities that never see the military from one day to the next do not have the same feel for it. That is why this defence review is very important. That is why it is important the defence committee travel Canada to have an impact on those areas and to let them know what is going in the military community.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Is the House ready for the question?
Some hon. members: Question.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): In my opinion the yeas have it.
And more than five members having risen:
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Pursuant to order made Tuesday, February 15, 1994, the recorded division stands deferred until three o'clock on Tuesday, February 22, 1994.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Shall I call it 6.30?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.
These media reports told us that the cost of the proposal would be approximately $175 million over 10 years, while the annual savings for moving to the suburbs are estimated at about $20 million a year. One does not have to be an engineer or an atomic specialist to figure out that it will cost quite a bit. Over a matter of 10 years we will not even recover the cost of the moves.
I am not saying the proposal is being implemented. I have been trying to get some information from the department on it and as of today I have not received any. That is why I am rising in my place today to bring this matter to public attention again. If the proposal were implemented, the equivalent of three buildings the size of L'Esplanade Laurier could be vacated in downtown Ottawa. Obviously this is a large office space component and could have a very detrimental effect on the downtown core of the national capital city.
Media reports also suggest that the implementation of the proposal would involve the departure of 11,000 to 14,000 public servants from downtown Ottawa. I want to address the impact this could have and I want to talk about the spinoff effects the policy could have.
For example, we all know a public service job generates about two or three other jobs in the service sector. This will have a damaging effect on small businesses in the area; it will make it very difficult for them to survive. The downtown core will suffer significantly because of the disparity between the actual requirements of businesses now and the possibility of them not being able to survive in the downtown area depleted of public servants.
The current state of the real estate in my capital, the Ottawa community, is not that great that we want to make a proposal that would make it more difficult to exist. Local taxpayers have invested heavily in transportation infrastructure, including the OC Transpo transit way. It was built on the assumption that there would be and would continue to be a high level of employment in the centre of the city.
Finally there is the green government concept, the environmental impact this would have if thousands of public servants begin to work in the outlying regions but live inside the Ottawa community. I wonder how many will switch to public transportation rather than use their cars and private means of transit. This will mean more vehicles on the road. It has been recognized that exhaust is the main source of air pollution in Ottawa. Therefore it would have a detrimental effect on our environment.
When I first raised this matter in the House in my question on February 1, the minister of public works indicated that no decisions would be made on the matter-and I believe him-until there are wide consultations with members of Parliament as well as with the ministries of industry and of intergovernmental affairs.
The minister's office also offered a briefing to me and my colleagues from the region on February 1. I indicated that in my mind a briefing should be given no later than February 15. Unfortunately as of today I must report that no date, in fact not even a timeframe, has been provided by the minister's office for this briefing.
I raise this out of frustration at trying to understand what is going on in terms of this supposed interim study which would affect seriously the downtown core of my city.
Mrs. Marlene Catterall (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Treasury Board): Madam Speaker, I will gladly answer my colleague's question and explain what the situation is. He raised a few points when he talked about his concern for the economic well-being of downtown Ottawa.
As the Minister of Public Works and Government Services assured him in the House in response to his question on February 1, it is the intention of the minister to listen to the points raised by the hon. member and those of our national capital region colleagues.
The process of consultation is part of the openness we intend to pursue. With regard to recent media reports on government plans for office occupancy related to the national capital region, I would like to reiterate what the minister has said on the subject. The review is preliminary only. It was developed for strategic planning purposes and allows for all options to be considered.
The government restructuring initiative involved the combining of some 16 departments into 8. This resulted in a need to review their space holdings. It is only part of a normal planning process. It is within the mandate of Public Works and Government Services to provide productive and affordable work places for the federal government. Given the magnitude of inventory of crown controlled space in the national capital region, some 2
million square feet of office space, this can only be achieved through long-term planning, the study of various options, and their impact on not only the departments concerned but on other departments, other governments, the economy, the environment, and the private sector.
We recognize the impact that changes in government have on the economy in general and the real estate market in particular.
After salaries, facilities management is the major public service expenditure. The federal government, just like the private sector, seeks the most cost effective accommodations for its employees but also wants their work environment to be conducive to their productivity.
I can only reiterate what the minister has said. It is a preliminary study. All options are on the table. No decisions will be made until full consultations have taken place.
Is the minister aware that the new radar facility of Bernières. . . does not work between the 241st and the 247th degrees, although all of the air traffic between Quebec City and Montreal uses that corridor?What was the minister's answer? The decision was made a while ago, and other cities have lost their radar control terminal and safety was the basic criterion.
My question had nothing to do with the timing of the decision, nor the name of other cities that might be subjected to the same fate, or even the criteria that led to this decision.
I know for a fact that on November 27, 28 and 29, 1993 calibration flights were undertaken to test the Bernières radar facility. I do not have the report in hand, but I am aware of some of the conclusions: first, the area between 241 and 247 degrees does not come under primary coverage; second, the primary north-east coverage of the airport is poor.
Clearly, what it means is that between 241 and 247 degrees, the Bernières radar, which will take over after the Quebec airport radar control terminal has moved, at the latest on September 1st, will automatically be disconnected to avoid ground interference. Planes between Quebec City and Montreal all use this corridor. That means that for a few minutes these planes disappear. How can the minister believe that I can be satisfied with his answer when he says, and I quote:
There is no doubt in my mind that the transfer of the control terminal from Quebec City to Montreal will not jeopardize safety.The fact that he did not answer my question, even though it dealt with public safety, gives rise to all kind of speculations, including the notion that this could be revenge against French-speaking air controllers who fought for language rights 15 years ago.
My supplementary related to the fact that, in his letter to the Official Opposition critic for Transport, the minister claimed that his civil servants' decision was based on a recommendation of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. In my supplementary, I reminded the minister that a report prepared for his department by an American group of experts, the Sypher-Mueller group, recommended not only that the Quebec City and North Bay facilities remain open, but that they be expanded.
Again, the question is quite simple: Which American experts are we to believe? Those from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration whom the minister vaguely alluded to, totally out of context, or those hired by his department to carry out a specific study on the specific project to centralize the terminal control units of Regina, Halifax, Saskatoon, Quebec City, North Bay and Thunder Bay. The latter group unanimously recommended that the facilities in Quebec City and North Bay not be closed.
I am not satisfied with the minister's answer when he keeps arguing that the same criteria apply to all units and emphasizing the fair and equitable way in which all decisions are made.
My question was an important one. It questioned the very basis of the Department of Transport's decision to close down the control terminal in Quebec City.
I deduce from the answers to these two questions that the minister cannot give the people of Quebec, the Association des gens de l'air, the aircrews, the flight attendants and the members of this House the assurance that the new radar facility in Bernières is capable of taking over from the unit in Quebec City. The minister also failed to demonstrate to the people of the Quebec region that the decision to close this unit is based on hard facts provided by the experts. This leaves the door open for all manner of interpretation.
Ms. Albina Guarnieri (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage): Madam Speaker, the Minister of Transport answered the questions and sent a letter including a briefing note and also held a briefing session.
What concerns me in this affair is that my colleague simply does not want to hear the answer.
The member knows that the priority of the Minister of Transport is to provide safe and efficient service to pilots and their customers, Canadian passengers and freight carriers. To do so, we count on a considerable number of sophisticated aviation systems and on highly skilled personnel.
Once again, the air traffic control system has some basic elements. One of these is the control tower at individual airports, as is the case for Quebec City.
Another basic element is the regional control centre, like the one in Montreal.
The member is well aware that the radar in Bernières will be fully operational when the transfer takes place.
The technology exists to give pilots safe and efficient service.
He is trying to convince us that Quebec City was treated differently. That is certainly not the case.
The terminal control units in Halifax and North Bay, which had more traffic than the TCU in Quebec City, were also relocated, as were the terminal control units in Regina, Thunder Bay and Saskatoon.
I hope that the member and his colleagues will take note of the invitation from the Minister of Transport to visit the regional control centre in Montreal so that they can all understand that their constituents will continue to receive safe and efficient service, in French, from a very sophisticated centre equipped with the most modern technology.
Essentially the question concerned the government's intention with regard to the Crow benefit under the Western Grain Transportation Act, something that the red book forgot and which the Liberal Party ignored during the election. It is time the government became more clear as to what its intentions are with that Crow benefit because it is very important to the continued development of the economy of western Canada.
For those who do not know, the Crow rate was established to encourage settlement of western Canada. Settlement would not have occurred at the levels it did at the turn of the century without the Crow rate. In 1982 a previous Liberal government decided to kill the Crow and put in its place a Crow benefit which was supposed to continue into perpetuity.
The previous Conservative government under Brian Mulroney decided to begin dismantling that Crow benefit 10 per cent starting August 1 of this crop year and tabled a bill from the Ministry of Transport which would have the effect of doing away with that financial benefit entirely in four years.
That means the government will save somewhere between $650 million and $730 million annually. I suppose that is why it causes great fear in my heart to think the Minister of Transport would only see it that far.
Essentially this Crow benefit and the Crow rate that preceded it have been the underpinning of land values in western Canada. At the moment farmland values amount to something in the area of $35 billion. Doing away with this benefit will essentially make that land worthless.
If the government wishes to do away with the benefit, it will be taking away about $35 billion of equity in western Canada's economy which cannot be easily replaced and is being used now to finance the restructuring of that western economy. People borrow against farmland to build small and large plants in their own communities to diversify the economy of that part of the country.
If the Department of Transport has its way this opportunity for diversification will be cut off right at the knees. Not only will it be cut off but government will be cutting off all hope of future diversity financed from within the region. It will be killing the hopes and dreams of people and sometimes four generations of work of the people whose businesses will go bankrupt as a result of this policy.
If the government does not understand how the economics of this work, it should simply take a quick look at my own community where the Crow benefit amounts to something like $29 a tonne. We produce about one tonne per acre and the cash rents in that area are about $25 a tonne. Doing away with the Crow benefit means that cash rents have a market value of minus $4 per acre. I can assure the spokesman for the government that minus $4 an acre return means that the land is not worth very much.
Ms. Albina Guarnieri (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage): Madam Speaker, the member for Mackenzie has again raised the issue of the Western Grain Transportation Act.
Yesterday he noted that the previous government had implemented a 10 per cent reduction in the government subsidy effective last August and that proposals for further changes had been tabled. Last year's reduction in the WGTA subsidy was a consequence of the previous government's December 1992 economic statement.
The Minister of Transport yesterday advised the hon. member to wait until next Tuesday when our colleague, the hon. Minister of Finance, will have the pleasure of tabling the first budget on behalf of our government.
This budget will reflect one of the most extensive and open consultative processes that has ever preceded the tabling of budgets in this House. Canadians have reason to be confident that this budget will be seen as a major initiative toward getting people back to work and addressing the financial challenges facing the country.
Last summer the previous government tabled a draft bill on reforming the Western Grain Transportation Act. It set in motion certain processes for consultation with interested parties on two key issues: method of payment as well as grain transportation and handling efficiencies.
My colleague, the hon. Minister of Agriculture, has stated that our government has no entrenched commitment to the draft reform legislation. We recognize that the WGTA is an extremely important issue to all Canadians. We also acknowledge that many people have devoted considerable time and energy to the consultative processes that were under way when we took office.
For those reasons we have decided to complete processes and then determine our next course of action. I understand the ministers involved hope that by the summer they will be in a position to give a more definitive response concerning the government's plans for the Western Grain Transportation Act.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Pursuant to Standing Order 38(5), the motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to be adopted. The House therefore stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 6.33 p.m.)