Skip to main content
Start of content

FAIT Committee Meeting

Notices of Meeting include information about the subject matter to be examined by the committee and date, time and place of the meeting, as well as a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear. The Evidence is the edited and revised transcript of what is said before a committee. The Minutes of Proceedings are the official record of the business conducted by the committee at a sitting.

For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the accessibility of this publication, please contact us at

Previous day publication Next day publication




[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

Tuesday, February 22, 2000

• 0937


The Chairman (Mr. Bill Graham (Toronto Centre—Rosedale, Lib.)): Colleagues, I call this meeting to order.

We have a couple of housekeeping matters before we begin. We have Mr. Coombes and Mr. Mandel with us this morning. We were to have Professor Stein from the University of Toronto as well. She is unable to come because of a personal problem in her family. Therefore, this panel will be shorter than it was originally intended to be. This may turn out to be a good thing, because I'm told there may be votes at 10:30 or 11. So let's get things going, because votes have a nasty way of confusing and generally disrupting the whole process.

We'll just take you in order as you are on the paper, Professor Mandel and Mr. Coombes. We'll start with Professor Mandel.

Mr. Michael Mandel (Individual Presentation): [Professor] Thank you, Mr. Chair. I guess you can hear me... This is not amplified.

The Chairman: People can listen on their earphones if they can't hear you, but just pretend we're one of your law school classes and nobody listens anyway.

An hon. member: Speaking from experience...

The Chairman: Speaking from experience as a former law teacher.

Mr. Michael Mandel: I'll pretend it's not a law school class, then.

Good morning, and thank you. I want to thank the members of the committee for inviting me. I'm very honoured to be here at this very important set of hearings.

I want to start with a personal note, to tell you a little about myself and how I became involved in this. I'm a professor of law at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto. I've taught there for 25 years. I specialize in criminal law and in comparative constitutional law, with an emphasis on domestic and foreign tribunals, including United Nations tribunals such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

I have no personal interest in the conflict in Yugoslavia. I have no Serbs or Albanians in my family. I'm not being paid by anyone for this.

I became involved in this as a Canadian lawyer who witnessed a flagrant violation of the law by my government, with unspeakably tragic results for innocent people of all the Yugoslavian ethnicities. I became involved as a Jew, appalled by what I believe to be a grotesque and deliberate misuse of the Holocaust to justify the killing and maiming of innocent people for what I am convinced were purely self-interested motives, the farthest thing in the world from humanitarianism, and a cynical attempt, really, to manipulate the desire of Canadians to help their fellows on the other side of the world.

• 0940

The first thing to note about NATO's war against Yugoslavia is that it was flatly illegal, both in the fact that it was ever undertaken and in the way it was carried out. It was a gross and deliberate violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. The charter authorizes the use of force in only two situations: self-defence, or when authorized by the Security Council. I have citations in my remarks, and I've provided you with a copy of my remarks. I'll leave the citations in the interests of brevity.

About this, it should be noted that the preliminary decision of the World Court last year in Yugoslavia's case against ten NATO countries, including Canada, does not in the slightest contradict the violation of international law that took place. Mr. Matas has pointed out to you in his statement that this decision taken by the World Court was taken on purely jurisdictional grounds, first, the United States' characteristic and rather shameful refusal to recognize the World Court's jurisdiction in general, and second, Canada's objection to jurisdiction in this specific case.

It's worth quoting some paragraphs from the World Court's decision. These are the preamble to the World Court's decision:

    15. Whereas the court is deeply concerned with the human tragedy, the loss of life, and the enormous suffering in Kosovo which form the background of the present dispute and with the continuing loss of life and human suffering in all parts of Yugoslavia;

    16. Whereas the Court is profoundly concerned with the use of force in Yugoslavia; whereas under the present circumstances such use raises very serious issues of international law;

    18. Whereas the Court deems it necessary to emphasize that all parties appearing before it must act in conformity with their obligations under the United Nations Charter and other rules of international law, including humanitarian law

To repeat, in the case of NATO's war on Yugoslavia, neither of the two exclusive bases for the use of force, that is, Security Council authorization or self-defence, was even claimed by NATO.

As a violation of the United Nations charter, the attack on Yugoslavia was also a violation of the NATO treaty itself and Canada's own domestic law.

The NATO treaty, so far as it is relevant, reads as follows:

    Article 1: The parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

    Article 7: This treaty does not affect, and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations under the charter of the Parties which are members of the United Nations, or the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.

The National Defence Act of Canada, insofar as it is relevant, reads as follows:

    31.(1) The Governor in Council may place the Canadian forces or any component, unit or other element thereof or any officer or non-commissioned member thereof on active service anywhere in or beyond Canada at any time when it appears advisable to do so

      (a) by reason of an emergency, for the defence of Canada; or

      (b) in consequence of any action undertaken by Canada under the United Nations Charter, the North Atlantic Treaty or any other similar instrument for collective defence that may be entered into by Canada.

As you can see and as I said, the North Atlantic Treaty subsumes the United Nations charter.

The war's illegality is not disputed by any legal scholar of repute, even those who had some sympathy for the war, such as Professor Mendes, for instance, in his presentation to this committee. Of course, Mr. Mendes and others think this is a fatal flaw of the UN charter. I don't believe it's a flaw at all, for reasons I'll elaborate, but I don't think the seriousness of this can be glossed over one bit. The flagrant violation of the law by our government is no small thing. Democracy is quite simply meaningless if governments feel they can violate the law with impunity.

We all know that the leaders of the NATO countries sought to justify this war as a humanitarian intervention in defence of a vulnerable population, the Kosovar Albanians, threatened with mass atrocities. A lot turns on this claim, but not the illegality of the war. In fact, the reason why there is such unanimity among scholars on the illegality of this war is that there is no humanitarian exception under international law or the United Nations charter.

That does not mean that there are no means for the international community to intervene to prevent or stop humanitarian disasters, even to use force where necessary. It just means that the use of force for humanitarian purposes has been totally absorbed in the United Nations charter. A state must be able to demonstrate the humanity of its proposed intervention to the Security Council, including, of course, the five permanent members possessing a veto.

• 0945

Nor has the Security Council shown itself to be incapable of acting in these situations. It issued numerous resolutions authorizing action in this very conflict. The Security Council has also shown itself capable of authorizing the use of force. For example, its authorizing of “all necessary means” to restore the sovereignty of Kuwait in Resolution 678 of November 29, 1990, gave Iraq until January 15, 1991, to withdraw from Kuwait.

NATO did not even move a resolution before the Security Council over Kosovo. Nor did it use the alternative means of demonstrating to the international community the necessity for its use of force in the General Assembly's Uniting for Peace Resolution, which allows the General Assembly to recommend action to the Security Council if two-thirds of those present and voting agree.

There are two basic reasons why these procedures were not utilized by NATO in this case. In the first place, in my opinion the most plausible explanation of this whole war was that it was, at its foundation, nothing less than an attempt by the United States, through NATO, to overthrow the authority of the United Nations. In the second place, NATO could never have demonstrated a humanitarian justification for what it was doing, because it had none.

In law, as in morals, it's not enough for humanitarian justification to be claimed; it must also be demonstrated. To use an odious example, but one which makes the point clearly enough, Hitler himself used a humanitarian justification for invading Poland and unleashing World War II. He claimed he was doing it to protect the German minority from oppression by the Poles.

In the case of NATO, what had to be justified as a humanitarian intervention was a bombing campaign that in dropping 25,000 bombs on Yugoslavia directly killed between 500 and 1,800 civilian children, women, and men of all ethnicities and permanently injured many others; a bombing campaign that caused $60 billion to $100 billion U.S. worth of damage to an already impoverished country; a bombing campaign that directly and indirectly caused a refugee crisis of enormous proportions, with about one million people fleeing Kosovo during the bombing; and a bombing campaign that indirectly caused the deaths of thousands more by provoking the brutal retaliatory and offensive measures that are inevitable when a war of this kind and intensity is undertaken, and by giving a free hand to extremists on both sides to vent their hatred.

The ethnic cleansing that has occurred in Kosovo since the entry of the KLA, fully backed by NATO's might, also has to be justified. It has seen hundreds of thousands of Serb, Roma, and Jewish Kosovars driven out and hundreds murdered, with a murder rate that is about ten times the Canadian rate per capita.

These results were to be expected, and they were predicted by NATO's military and political advisers in their very careful planning of the war, which went back more than a year before the bombing commenced. A humanitarian justification would have to show that this disaster was outweighed by a greater disaster that was about to happen, and would have happened but for this intervention.

The evidence for this, which must be very carefully scrutinized by all of us, and especially this committee, is meagre, to say the least. Nobody could seriously maintain that the conditions for a repeat of the Bosnian bloodbath were there. This was not an all-out civil war with well-armed parties of roughly equal strength on each side and huge ethnic enclaves fighting for their existence. These conditions simply did not exist in Kosovo.

Nor do the facts themselves indicate a humanitarian disaster would have occurred but for NATO's bombing. A total of about 2,000 people had been killed on both sides in the prior two years of fighting between the KLA and the Serbs, and the violence was clearly declining in the presence of the UN and OSCE observers.

The alleged massacres of 45 ethnic Albanians at Racak must be regarded with the greatest suspicion, not only because of the circumstances but also because of the involvement of the American emissary, Mr. William Walker, with his history of covert and illegal activities on behalf of the Americans in Latin America.

Nor is the recent report released by the OSCE of much value in assessing the situation, since it was written and paid for by the NATO member countries. I caution you to read the introduction to that report, and you'll see who wrote it and who paid for it.

Most importantly, the evidence is overwhelming that NATO did not make serious efforts at averting a disaster and was not at all serious about peace. If we look at the Rambouillet negotiations, of which you've no doubt heard a lot, a number of perplexing questions are raised. Why was the irredentist and insurrectionary KLA preferred as the NATO interlocutor to the only popularly elected leader, the moderate Ibrahim Rugova? Why, for that matter, was Rugova ignored during the war entirely? Why did the U.S. insist on a secret annex to the Rambouillet accord, annex B, that would have allowed it to occupy all of Serbia? Why did the final peace agreement look so much like what the Serbs had agreed to before the bombing?

• 0950

Do we really think that NATO could not have put the $10 billion worth of bombs it dropped into working out and underwriting a peace agreement that would have accommodated and protected all sides if it were really interested in humanity and not war? Why are NATO countries so unwilling to spend money on the reconstruction of Kosovo, claiming that they have run out of money with less than $1 billion spent when they spent $10 billion on dropping bombs? And where, to resolve these enormous doubts about whether NATO acted out of humanitarian motives this time, is the evidence that these people have ever acted from humanitarian motives before?

With such huge holes in its argument we're entitled to cross-examine this leopard on its spots. What about the failure to intervene with force in Rwanda? What about the United States' own bankrolling of the repressive Suharto regime in Indonesia? What about Turkey's violent repression of the Kurds, a humanitarian disaster that's claimed 30,000 lives, not 2,000? What about the United States itself, the richest country in the world, which creates social conditions so violent and racist that its normal murder rate is in the realm of 20,000 per year, almost as high per capita as Kosovo right now? This is a country, let me remind the committee, that puts two or three of its own people to death by lethal injection every week. NATO has no humanitarian lessons to teach the world.

Finally, and very importantly, we ask some serious questions about the way in which the supposed humanitarian intervention was handled. With the Kosovars supposedly in the hands of genocidal maniacs, NATO gave a five-day warning between the withdrawal of the observers and the launch of the attack. This was followed by seven days of bombing that mostly ignored Kosovo itself. In other words, it was an invitation to genocide that was thankfully not accepted but one that was guaranteed to produce a refugee flow to legitimate a massive bombing campaign.

Ambassador Bissett told this committee last week that NATO leaders have no respect for the truth. This should startle no one. What of the claim by Jamie Shea that it was the Serbs who bombed the Albanian refugee convoy until independent journalists found that the bomb fragments were made in the U.S.A.? What of the claim by a NATO general with a video on the screen that the passenger train on the Grdelica bridge was going too fast to avoid being hit until somebody pointed out that the video had been speeded up to three times its real speed? What of the claim that the Chinese embassy was bombed because NATO's maps were out of date? Let alone there were the claims by Mr. Clinton and Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Cohen that a holocaust was occurring in which perhaps 100,000 Kosovar men had been murdered. In fact, most people in the world simply did not believe—

The Chairman: Sorry, excuse me for interrupting you. I know you're trying to get it all in as quickly as you can. We try to hold you to ten minutes just because we won't get questions otherwise, and there is a vote coming along. Normally I wouldn't interrupt, but I see you're only about halfway through.

Mr. Michael Mandel: I'm going to skip some citations.

How much time do I have?

The Chairman: You're already two and a half minutes over, so you're committing a violation of the rules of the committee.

Mr. Michael Mandel: Could the committee please give me two and a half minutes more?

The Chairman: You may not be in violation of the rules of war, but it's a violation of the rules of the committee, so like all things, they have to be sanctioned.

Could you wrap up in about a minute, because we want to hear from Mr. Coombes, and then we'll see how we're doing.

Mr. Michael Mandel: Okay.

As I pointed out here, most people in the world didn't believe NATO's humanitarian claims. The opinion polls showed a third of Canadians didn't believe it. Most of the world didn't believe it.

A more plausible thesis than the humanitarian one is that the United States actually deliberately, or at least recklessly, provoked this war. It exploited and exacerbated another country's tragedy, and a tragedy partly of its own creation. We shouldn't forget the west's aggressive and purely selfish economic policies that have beggared Yugoslavia over the last ten years.

NATO exists to make war, not peace. By virtue of its military might, the United States dominates NATO the way it does not dominate the United Nations. The most plausible explanation then is that this attack was not about the Balkans at all. It was an attempt to overthrow the authority of the United Nations and to make NATO and the United States the world's supreme authority, to establish a precedent.

This was an illegal war in the way it was undertaken. I'm not going to go over what I have in my document. Basically, thousands of people around the world, myself among them—many lawyers and law professors—have complained to the International Criminal Tribunal about war crimes. I particularly have been involved in that complaint. I have materials here to give to the committee that charge the 68 NATO leaders with very serious war crimes, and I've outlined them in the report. These have recently been corroborated by a Human Rights Watch report, which puts a conservative estimate of civilians killed by violation of the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law at about 500.

• 0955

I want to say the implications of this are very, very serious. The fact that the war was illegal and unjustified means Mr. Chrétien, Mr. Axworthy, and Mr. Eggleton, along with all the other NATO leaders, planned and executed a bombing campaign they knew was illegal. They knew it would cause the death or permanent injury of thousands of civilian children, women, and men. Hard as it is for us to accept or even to say, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians knowingly and without lawful excuse is nothing less than mass murder.

Milosevic was indicted in the The Hague for 385 victims. The total number of victims of the 98 people executed for murder in the United States last year was 129. Our leaders knowingly and without lawful excuse killed between 500 and 1,800 people.

We've gone to the International Criminal Tribunal, and as I say in my remarks, serious doubts have been raised about the impartiality of this tribunal. It's going to come out with some decision on this case, but I want this committee to scrutinize very carefully any decision that comes out of the tribunal. I don't want this committee to delegate the judgment of these very serious violations of international law and domestic law, Canadian law, with these terrible results, to anyone but itself.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The Chairman: Thank you, Professor Mandel.

Mr. Coombes.

Mr. Peter Coombes (National Organizer, End the Arms Race): Thank you. My name is Peter Coombes and I'm the national organizer for End the Arms Race, which is one of the largest peace groups in Canada. We're based in Vancouver.

I just want to note that I now understand what they mean by Ottawa-osis in this city. I was walking here and I could feel my feet freezing and slowly was freezing up, and then my brain froze by the time I got here. That's Ottawa-osis.

The Chairman: That happened to you outside or inside?

Voices: Oh, oh!

Mr. Peter Coombes: Outside, walking here.

The Chairman: Sometimes that happens inside here too, but don't worry about that.

Voices: Oh, oh!

Mr. Peter Coombes: I intend to be fairly straightforward and a bit blunt with some of my remarks today. Before I even start, let me say it's not to be disrespectful to the committee or the committee members in any way whatsoever. I have quite a bit of respect for the people sitting around this table and the work you do.

I decided to come to the committee meeting today not because I expect to have any personal impact on government policy. I expect to have, to be blunt, very little impact or no impact on Canadian government policy. I came here today to be on the record—to be on the record saying thousands of Canadians, a large constituency of Canadians, opposed the war against Yugoslavia. I came to be on the record to make sure it's understood that thousands of Canadians oppose the current Canadian policies against Yugoslavia.

I also came here today to make it very clear that when the Yugoslavia war started, people like me, people across the country, knew exactly what was going to happen when we decided to start bombing the crap out of Yugoslavia. We knew it would lead to more refugees; we knew it would lead to civilian deaths; we knew it would cause a humanitarian catastrophe in the region.

Let's face it, I'm not a particularly intelligent person. I don't have access to government documents or to secret intelligence reports of any sort. Yet here I am, a small-time peace activist out on the west coast, and I was able to write a press release entitled “B-52 Diplomacy Will Only Hurt More Civilians”.

• 1000

I wrote a letter to Prime Minister Chrétien on April 8, and after outlining about eleven major concerns we had, I said:

    The outcome of NATO's bombing campaign is an unmitigated disaster that must be immediately stopped. Further bombing will only exacerbate and prolong the problems already outlined: more civilian deaths and refugees, destabilization of the region, worse relations between Russia and NATO members, and increased international anarchy.

This committee has to ask itself, why is it that the most intelligent people of our society, the leaders of our society, the political leaders of our society, didn't admit this publicly at least? We know they didn't admit that the action we were going to take was actually going to cause further problems in the Balkans.

Before NATO started bombing Yugoslavia, there was no humanitarian catastrophe. Let's face it. There were problems. There was a serious conflict in Kosovo. People were being killed. That happens in conflicts. But let's compare it to conflicts that were taking place around the world and look at what a real humanitarian catastrophe was.

What was Canada doing with regard to Sudan at the time? How were we dealing with Talisman in Sudan at the time? In Sierra Leone, people are getting their hands chopped off for being twelve months old, for being six months old, for being five years old. They get their hands and feet cut off. That's a humanitarian catastrophe. There are millions of refugees throughout Africa, yet we ignore the refugees in Africa. The humanitarian catastrophe was caused by us, caused by NATO, and we are prolonging a disaster with our policies today.

I'm not sure why in the end we did go to war with Yugoslavia. People have suggested lots of reasons we went to war. Mr. Mandel gave a great example or great reasoning for why we went to war. You'll hear other people explain it. I guess over time we'll find out why we went to war. But I can tell you one thing: we sure as hell didn't go to war with Yugoslavia because of humanitarianism.

Let's face it. The bombing of a country, bombing the crap out of a country, blowing up its bridges, roads, water supplies, electrical power grids and stations, communications, factories, passenger trains, refugee convoys, hospitals, homes, towns, and cities is not humanitarian relief. It's war. Canada went to war.

A humanitarian response would have been much different. We would have spent the hundreds of millions of dollars on propping up the OSCE in the region. Why didn't we make efforts to double or triple the number of OSCE observers? We were willing to spend billions of dollars to go to war. We were willing to send thousands and thousands of troops to war, as quickly as I can flick my fingers. Yet we were not willing to spend the resources it took to prevent the war, to have peace in the region. I hate to say it, but my country participated in an evil act.

• 1005

The consequences of the war against Yugoslavia have been to undermine western cooperation with Russia, to undermine the authority of the United Nations, to further exacerbate conflict in the Balkans, to impoverish millions of more people, and to create enemies for Canada where there were none before.

In the end, we have set Yugoslavia on the same path we set Iraq on in 1990. We go into the country, we bomb the infrastructure and destroy the infrastructure, and then we deny a whole nation provision of its basic needs: water, food, homes, health care, education, and jobs. What makes it particularly evil on the part of Canada is that we wrap it in a cloak of moralism, such as humanitarian intervention and so-called soft power.

In the end, I guess, for every dark cloud there is a bit of a silver lining. The silver lining may not be as obvious as we want, but it's there. The war united two communities in Canada, Iraqis and Yugoslavians, who are now working together to fight western militarism. The war has helped educate thousands of Canadians, particularly young Canadians, that NATO is a military alliance, and an expansionary one at that. The war helped those opposing corporate globalization understand the full extent the west will go to to protect and expand its political, strategic, and economic interests.

The war against Yugoslavia has reinvigorated and radicalized a new peace movement. On April 29 in Vancouver there will be a protest through the downtown core of the city, organized by my group, the labour movement, and church groups, against corporate globalization. I tell you right now that Yugoslavians, Iraqis, and the peace movement will be out in full force on the streets, shutting down the city's downtown core to let people in this country know we oppose western militarization.

We will continue to work in cooperation with our government, but we will get out on the streets.

Thank you.

The Chairman: Thank you very much, Mr. Coombes. We appreciate that.

We'll go to questions now. Mr. Martin.

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Thank you very much, Monsieur le Président.

Thank you very much, both, for coming here today.

A colleague of mine is working as a doctor on the border in Albania and had to deal with the civilian population fleeing Kosovo, including pregnant women who were shot through the ankles by Serbian troops and had to drag themselves over the border. None of the people he treated—none of them, all Kosovar Albanians, none of them—had anything but good things to say about the bombing. None of them had anything but good things to say about NATO's involvement there—they on the sharp edge of the conflict that was taking place there.

The scholars you mentioned, Professor Mandel, who were complaining that the rule of law was broken, are scholars who are out of harm's way. They have the comfort of saying such things in a country such as ours, out of harm's way.

The rule of law was broken based on the Security Council, yet we know how effective the Security Council has been, as you both mentioned, in Rwanda and Burundi. Do we hear them complaining about what's taking place today in those countries, or about Angola and what's taking place today in that country, or about Srebrenica and Bihac? We hear nothing or very little. Is anybody going to go to the defence of those people down there, who are having their babies tossed in the air and balanced on the edges of bayonets? Is the Security Council going to go to their defence? The world is littered with people, innocent civilians, who have been slaughtered while the Security Council sits on their hands. So we know how effective they have been.

• 1010

Mr. Coombes, you said this was not a catastrophe. People were being killed, yet against the backdrop of what had taken place in Bosnia, against the backdrop of Mr. Milosevic's actions in the area, I wonder what options or what actions you feel the western world, NATO and others, could have taken when you balance off the defence of innocent civilians with the rule of law as it stands today.

Thank you.

Mr. Michael Mandel: I would like to respond.

The NATO countries sit on the council. The United States, France, and Britain sit on the Security Council. The Security Council hasn't been ineffective. It has passed a lot of resolutions. It passed resolutions that ended this particular conflict. If the United States really had humanitarian concerns, it should have gone to the Security Council, but it didn't. It should have gone to the General Assembly.

I agree that these are horrible things that are going on. What I'm trying to ask is whether this action, which violated not only international law but humanitarian law in its attack on civilian targets, its attack on children... If you see what a cluster bomb does to a pregnant woman in a marketplace, these are all horrible things. I'm not suggesting for a minute that what the Albanians suffered was not horrible. I'm asking whether NATO, the United States, acted out of humanitarian reasons, or whether, as everybody agrees, it actually encouraged these things, and if it's inactive and all the humanitarian disasters going on around the world were indeed backing the governments that are actually carrying them out, whether we can trust that they acted for humanitarian motives in this case. That's the question.

It's not to take sides on who suffered more. It's not a debate about whether the Albanian or Serbian suffering was worse. They all suffered horrible things. We know what happened most happened after the bombing started. So the question is the sincerity or the plausibility of humanitarian motives, not that there aren't humanitarian things that have to be done.

Mr. Keith Martin: Professor Mandel, I suppose what I'm asking you, in your expertise, is when you balance off and when you have as a backdrop an improper international legal system that will go to the prevention and to the protection of innocent civilians, what are we to do in the face of the killing of innocent civilians under those circumstances? If you go to the Security Council, recognizing the veto powers that some groups, particularly the Russians, had during the time of this and their intransigence over the situation, what are we to do? Are we to sit there in the face of what we've seen in the past, the slaughter of innocent civilians in Bihac and Srebrenica and others, or are we going to intervene?

Mr. Michael Mandel: I think about 85% of the vetoes in the last ten years in the Security Council have been American vetoes, vetoes by the United States. I'm not asking whether the Russians are better than the Americans; I'm asking in this case whether the Americans had any humanitarian concerns at all. Their record on the Security Council shows the precise opposite.

I'm not taking sides between the Russians and the Americans; I'm just saying our only defence against these great powers is international law and international humanitarian law. We have to insist that it be observed. If there's something wrong with the United Nations to be fixed, it shouldn't be disregarded and thrown into the dustbin with impunity.

If I could quote Justice Robert Jackson from the Nuremberg tribunal in 1945, he said something very important. He said:

    The ultimate step in avoiding periodic wars, which are inevitable in a system of international lawlessness, is to make statesmen responsible to law. And let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors [at this time], the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment [the United States, the Russians, the British]. We are able to do away with domestic tyranny and violence and aggression by those in power against the rights of their own people only when we make all men answerable to the law.

All I'm asking is that we insist that the United States and NATO obey the law and that it use the legal procedures to demonstrate the legitimacy of what it's trying to do. It can't be judge, jury, and executioner with the kind of humanitarian record the United States has. That's a disaster for all of us.

• 1015

Mr. Peter Coombes: You're asking how we should be intervening. Let's look at intervention.

In the western world, because we have the largest military capabilities ever existing, we assume that intervention has to be on a military basis. We were already intervening in the conflict in Kosovo. We had a thousand observers sitting on the ground doing work there. Some of those observers have come out of there saying the conflict was being reduced by their presence. We could have encouraged having more OSCE observers there. There were political solutions.

On April 8, in my letter to Chrétien, I wrote:

    Political solutions are available but will only be found if all sides involved are willing to negotiate. This means that NATO, its members, and in particular the United States, cannot dictate the terms of peace as was done prior to the bombing campaign of Yugoslavia. Madeleine Albright publicly committed NATO to bombing Yugoslavia if the President refused to sign the peace deal. No country, including Canada, would have accepted this type of bullying tactic. Instead of helping, the threat of bombing hardened positions on all sides.

    The peace deal was flawed from the beginning. Even the most casual observer realized the stationing of NATO troops in Kosovo would be unacceptable to Yugoslavia.

It was obvious back then that we were making a mistake, and I think it's still obvious that military intervention was a major mistake.

The Chairman: We have to move on. We have to end at eleven o'clock.


Ms. Lalonde.

Ms. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Thank you for coming here this morning. I took part in some debates in the Council of Europe where all the countries of Europe are represented, debates on the situation in Kosovo before the bombing actually started. I am not inclined to favour a military action but according to all the news we heard...

I remind you that the rapporteurs of this organization are from different political groups and that there were representatives of the Federation of Yugoslavia at the meetings. So a debate did take place. Each of these reports established that the plan to drive the Albanians away was eased off by the OSCE. They were in contact with people from the OSCE.

If we had met before the NATO action, what recommendation would you have made, in view of the number of displaced persons driven from their homes along with the exactions, rapes and the disappearance of men? What should the response have been?

If you are saying that it was not a real humanitarian problem, I'd like to know where such real humanitarian problems can be found. What should have been done?


Mr. Michael Mandel: I wouldn't for a moment deny that there was a humanitarian problem. The question was whether what NATO did, the 79 days of bombing, something we've never seen before, with the killing of civilians, the targeting of civilian targets and this exacerbation of everything, was the appropriate response. Nobody would deny there was a humanitarian problem. We want to understand this humanitarian problem. We want to look at the last ten years of Yugoslavia, at what the west has done to encourage a decline of about two-thirds in Yugoslavia's standard of living. We want to look at the encouragement of the KLA itself by the United States.

• 1020

We want to look at all of those things to see if the people who then proposed a solution of bombing had another solution. Maybe if instead of spending $10 billion on bombs they'd tried to reconcile the parties, if they'd invested in Yugoslavia, if they'd invested in peace... If they'd worked as hard on peace there as they work in Northern Ireland or they work in Israel, instead of bombing everybody...

It's hard to believe how we can go... It seems like a peculiar American thing. You have a problem. In the United States you have a murder rate that is out of control, and their solution is to kill people.


Ms. Francine Lalonde: But you are not answering the question.


Mr. Michael Mandel: There's something between doing nothing and dropping 25,000 bombs and killing children and women and men. There's something between doing nothing and doing that.


Ms. Francine Lalonde: But what would you have recommended in this specific situation, the situation we were actually faced with?


Mr. Michael Mandel: I'm not a diplomat. What I would have done seems to be obvious, to encourage the peace force. You encourage Rugova, not the KLA. You encourage the popularly elected person of the Albanians, not the guerrilla army that—


Ms. Francine Lalonde: While accompanying Mr. Axworthy, I distinctly heard Rugova say that fortunately there was NATO because otherwise there wouldn't have been anything. This was a remark I heard from Rugova the pacifist, the moderate. So it is difficult to accept that the only thing the powers should have done was to stand by and not intervene.

You said that the United States encouraged the UCK. How did the UCK come into existence? From the problem that began in 1989 when the Albanians were eliminated from the entire administration. You must realize that the present problems are not only the result of the war but also of the 10-year period in which everything that had been build up before was allowed to deteriorate.

I can certainly sympathize with your passionate stand but you must have some answer to our questions. If there had been no action, what would have taken place? I am not pleased with what is taking place in Sierra Leone and in lots of other countries. I am worried at the state of the world in this post cold war period where we seem unable to prevent such horrible situations. By not acting would we not be giving free rein to all the Miloseviches in this world?


Mr. Michael Mandel: If I could repeat, Madame Lalonde, I don't see how you get from doing nothing to dropping 25,000 bombs.


Ms. Francine Lalonde: But you haven't suggested anything.


Mr. Michael Mandel: I don't see how you can get from doing nothing to a bombing attack. There are a million miles between doing nothing and bombing, as my friend said, the crap out of the country and killing all these civilians. There's a lot. With these $10 billion that NATO wanted and the arms manufacturers wanted NATO to drop, couldn't we have invested, couldn't we have done something for that country?

The country has had its standard of living decline by two-thirds in the last ten years. It's not an accident there's a civil war in Yugoslavia. It's not an accident that the west imposed these aggressive economic policies and impoverished the country. These people had the power to make peace. Between doing nothing and killing thousands of people, there's a lot that can be done with $10 billion.

The Chairman: What? Tell us what. Would you have given the $10 billion to Mr. Milosevic? Just send him a cheque and say here, put it into your army?

Mr. Michael Mandel: You bring together the pieces. You invest in peace. You invest in prosperity.

The Chairman: Is that what you would have done? You would have said here, increase your army with $10 billion of our money—is that what you would have done?

Mr. Michael Mandel: You try to reconcile the differences the same way you do between Palestine and Israel. How opposing a position between the Jews and the Arabs in the Middle East can there have been? The solution, as they say, with Arafat and with Barak is to invest in prosperity, in an infrastructure, in reconciling these people and working out their differences, and not to cherry-pick the country apart for your selfish reasons and then when the effect is something you don't like to bomb everybody.

The Chairman: Nobody went into the bombing with any degree of—

Mr. Michael Mandel: Between doing nothing and bombing, Madame Lalonde, I sympathize with you. We can't do nothing. But if the only solution we have is to bomb—

The Chairman: But I think Madame Lalonde's frustration and our frustration with your position is you're starting with the assumption that nothing was done.

I'm a vice-president of the OSCE parliamentary assembly. I've been one for years. Do you think we did nothing in the OSCE? Do you think we spent none of our time working on this? Do you not think people spent their lives trying to avoid this huge humanitarian catastrophe that occurred? Nobody went into this with some sort of légèreté. This was done with a sense of anguish and despair that the system had failed, and failed all of us.

• 1025

Do you think Professor McWhinney, who taught public international law for 40 years, and myself, who taught public international law for 15 years, didn't wrestle with this? If you're going to say Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Axworthy are war criminals, we're equally war criminals. We wrestled with this as legal scholars trying to understand what we could best do in these terrible circumstances.

When Madame Lalonde asked you a simple question, what you would have done, you throw up the execution rate in the United States. You don't think we know the execution rate in the United States? You throw up Israel and Palestine. The question is—

Mr. Michael Mandel: It's not a question of throwing up examples—

The Chairman: Are you seriously saying that what you would have done is you would have had a way of preventing the destruction of the society in Kosovo by means that you proposed, that there were ways you proposed by which we could have constructively done that? If you are, you're a wonderful person, because we all wrestled with that and failed.

Mr. Peter Coombes: You see, that's where we fundamentally disagree. I don't think that Yugoslavia or Kosovo were on the road of destruction at that point. What I would have to say is... Pardon?

The Chairman: Mr. Mandel, the question was... It's Madam Lalonde's question.

Mr. Peter Coombes: From the outside, as I said before, I'm just some diddly little old peace activist back in Vancouver. Yet I look at what our world does every day and our country does. We're willing to make a decision like that to send in thousands of troops to go in and bomb and to spend billions of dollars, but we're not willing to spend the money and the resources to prop up the OSCE, to prop up the United Nations. We're constantly complaining about how the United Nations is wasting money, how the OSCE wastes its money. These are peaceful means of trying to resolve conflict.

The Chairman: Sorry, the question is directed to Mr. Mandel, but I can't let pass your thing about this... That is just not true.

When we had Václav Havel, who was not an American puppet—I'm sorry, Mr. Mandel—stand in the House of Commons in front of us and tell us this was something we had to do or we would be allowing a new dark period to go into this world, we were impressed by that. This wasn't some wacko Dr. Strangelove creature that you're describing in your evidence. This was Václav Havel, who suffered under totalitarianism for years and came and told us before we decided what to do, when we were wrestling with this in our conscience, that this was the right thing to do, the just thing to do, the appropriate thing to do. And now you come and tell us that we're all war criminals because we followed a bunch of crazy Americans who were out to destroy the world.

I tell you that for Madame Lalonde and everybody, this is the frustration. What would you have done? That was her question. What would you have done to assure that this catastrophe would have stopped?

Mr. Michael Mandel: First of all, in regard to Václav Havel, 65% of Czechs didn't believe NATO; 65% of Czechs opposed this war. So I don't know who he was representing when he came here.

The Chairman: He certainly was representing the Czech Republic.

Mr. Michael Mandel: Not according to the Czechoslovakians. Most of the world did not believe NATO. I wouldn't impugn for a moment your motives and your sincerity, but you know what goes on in NATO and what goes in the Pentagon and what is decided in there. You're not privy to those things. You're not privy to their motives.

It's quite incredible that this bombing attack, which is very convenient for NATO and very convenient for the arms manufacturers who bankrolled the NATO meeting in Washington in April, this is the way they like to solve things, because that justifies their existence. But if there's nothing between that and doing nothing, if these billions of dollars...

I don't know what's so difficult to understand. If you invest in prosperity in a country, if you invest in reconciling the people as you do in Israel and Northern Ireland, if you try to do that instead of deliberately beggaring a country for ten years and picking it apart, resulting in ethnic enclaves... I'm sorry, I see a failure of imagination. I'm surprised in this committee, that you think there's nothing between doing nothing and bombing.

The Chairman: We saw a great deal on the other side, but nothing worked. That was the problem.

Anyway, we'll have to move on to Mr. Robinson. We're obviously going to agree to disagree on this extremely difficult problem.

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

• 1030

I'm feeling very much torn myself. As Mr. Martin recounted the very moving evidence he heard from doctors on the border with Albania, it brought back to me as well the quite horrifying stories. I heard many eyewitness stories firsthand, from people who had fled that terror themselves, when I met with those families in camps in Macedonia. People talked with tears in their eyes about how relatives were shot in front of them, how many members of their family had fled up into the hills in terror.

I don't think there's much disagreement that before March 24, perhaps as many as 200,000 people had fled within Kosovo. They had fled terror, and that terror was largely the terror of Serb paramilitary forces.

Did the bombing make things better? Absolutely not. It was an unmitigated disaster, a humanitarian and environmental disaster.

I heard from people after the bombing started as well. They talked about how these same thugs would come to their homes and with great glee point to the sky and to the bombers and say “You're responsible for these people”. Then they would murder people in cold blood. Of course there was nobody on the ground to defend them. I think Mr. Mandel and others have referred to it as a coward's war. When you're 15,000 feet up in the sky, there's not much protection for people who are on the ground.

I also walked through the rubble outside the Chinese embassy and the television station in Belgrade. I was at the site of a bus that was bombed with innocent civilians. We stopped. They asked if I wanted to see the hand of one the civilians who had died. I said “No, I don't need to see the hand”. I saw fields with cluster bombs in them, where children were playing. I walked through the rubble of an apartment building in Pristina that had been bombed. Innocent civilians.

I guess it would have been nice to have been absolutely certain on March 24 either that this was a disaster or that it was the right thing to do. I didn't feel that certainty. I felt torn with anguish to what the appropriate response was.

While Mr. Coombes may have felt that certainty, he will know that many in the peace movement didn't feel that certainty, including John Polanyi, a Nobel Prize winner we're going to be hearing from on Thursday, and many others whose credentials in the peace movement are just as impeccable and just as respected as Mr. Coombes'. I have enormous respect for Mr. Coombes.

There are a couple of things I want to ask. The first one in a sense comes back to the question Madame Lalonde asked, because it really hasn't been answered. This is the dilemma we face.

It was quite a year for me last year. In addition to being in Kosovo, I was also in East Timor just before the carnage in that appalling situation. There I sat across the table from paramilitaries in Dili who said “After the referendum, if we lose, there will blood in the streets. There will be massacres in East Timor. We will slaughter these people.” All they had to defend themselves with was machetes.

We knew this. Our delegation came back. We pleaded with our foreign minister to take action with the United Nations and the Security Council, to do something, to stop what everyone knew would be bloodshed. And yet the United Nations was paralyzed.

China, of course, would not have allowed any intervention by the United Nations unless Indonesia agreed. Mr. Mandel spoke out about Suharto.

In terms of the lessons we learned from this, how do we respond in a situation in which there is a clear and present danger of massive killing and violence? Defenceless people are being slaughtered and yet the Security Council, the United Nations charter, says we can't go in there. We know China would veto.

• 1035

Do we stand by and simply say the charter prevents us from intervening in this case? Do we watch thousands of people, including the family I stayed with in their home in Dili and others, being slaughtered in front of our eyes because the charter says no? What are the lessons we learn from this and how do we respond to this kind of humanitarian crisis in the future?

Mr. Michael Mandel: I think it's not because the charter says no. Obviously there are alternatives to the charter. There's the possibility of the General Assembly, if you can convince the nations of the world to give authorization. This is the Uniting for Peace Resolution of 1950. You can try to demonstrate the necessity for intervention to the world community, not just to a military alliance of the powerful countries. It has occurred in the past.

There are various forms of intervention. There are sanctions, there are observers. There are all sorts of interventions short of allowing NATO, a partial, partisan, military alliance with its own interests, to take the law into its own hands and not have to demonstrate to anybody the necessity of what it's doing and allow it to violate the law.

If we have to abandon international law, if we have to abandon the United Nations, then I think we're in very serious trouble. I think that's what the United States wants us to do, and that puts it in control of all the decisions on humanitarian and non-humanitarian—

Mr. Svend Robinson: I'm not suggesting we abandon that. In fact, I think we have to strengthen the United Nations as a response.

Mr. Michael Mandel: Of course we should strengthen the United Nations. We should reform the Security Council, we should reform the General Assembly. The way we do it, if we think a law is a problem and we have good reason to believe a law is a problem, is we try to change that law. Look at the National Defence Act or any of those laws.

We don't just allow the people with the bombs to ignore the law and act like a bull in a china shop when other people's lives are at stake. We don't allow that. That's what the law is there for, and if we don't like it, we change the law. We reform it; we don't abandon it. We look very carefully at the person who is coming to us and saying they are the humanitarians, and we look at whether there are other alternatives for them in that situation.

In Indonesia, who backed that regime? Who installed Suharto? Who bankrolled him? Who trained his security forces? The United States did that.

We have to be very careful. We can't just allow somebody to claim they're humanitarians and give up all our critical faculties. We can't allow them to make the solutions. We have to strengthen, we have to work through the United Nations. We have to work through international law. We can't work against it. We can't allow it just to be abandoned because powerful countries find it inconvenient. It's the same with humanitarian law or the Geneva Conventions, which the United States flagrantly violated because it didn't want any body bags.

Planes were flying at 15,000 feet, as you said, so everybody on the ground had the risk and none of the pilots had any risk. These are our humanitarians. They are going to take no risks themselves, but displace it on all the civilians. We're talking about the thugs of the Pentagon and NATO, not humanitarians.

Mr. Svend Robinson: Let me just ask a question, Professor Mandel, with respect to the proceedings that you and a number of others have filed before the Del Ponte tribunal. What is the current status of those proceedings, and what indication do you have that in fact Justice Del Ponte is prepared to seriously consider the complaint you and your colleagues have filed before that tribunal?

Mr. Michael Mandel: Myself and six other professors from Osgoode Hall Law School and about 15 other lawyers in Canada and a group called the American Association of Jurists, which is a pan-American group with NGO status at the UN, filed a complaint with the tribunal in May. I must say we were one of many groups from all around the world that filed such complaints. Thousands of people have written to Judge Del Ponte and to Judge Arbour demanding that they take action.

We went to The Hague twice. We went to meet with Judge Arbour in June, a group of five lawyers from Great Britain, Greece, France, and Norway, to argue before her. We went back to Judge Del Ponte in November.

As you know, Judge Del Ponte said she was studying our brief over the Christmas holidays, and all hell broke lose as NATO then attacked the tribunal. Unfortunately, she made what seemed to be an unseemly retreat from that. I've asked her twice since then to clarify the status of these complaints, not only ours but those of Russian legislators and people all around the world. To answer your question briefly, she says she's still studying the brief and hasn't made any decision. This is as of February 8, 2000. That was the latest response.

• 1040

I must say we have very serious doubts about this tribunal. We have the person who wrote the statute for the tribunal saying it was set up as basically a propaganda tool of the United States. It was set up to legitimate the use of force, and as a way of trumping international law.

I must say—and I say this with great sadness, because Judge Louise Arbour, a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada who is an old colleague and friend of mine and someone you want to be proud of—that in the way she carried out that job, she gave credence to the idea that this is the way the tribunal saw itself. On the eve of the war there was the announcement of the secret indictment against Arkan. There was an indictment against the Serbian leadership during the war, six weeks after the events occurred. There were meetings with Albright, and a lot of things.

The most serious thing, for us, was the way these crimes were investigated after NATO entered Kosovo. The tribunal handed over the investigation of these crimes to NATO itself, when NATO had every reason to falsify the evidence. We were very disturbed by it, and we were disturbed by Judge Del Ponte backing down. She said she hadn't decided whether or not to open a formal inquiry on NATO, but there's evidence there that the world saw on its TV screens. Human Rights Watch reported enough for indictments right now based on the illegality of the war and the way it was carried out in violation of the Geneva Convention.

So we have suspicions about this tribunal, and we have doubts about this tribunal.

Mr. Svend Robinson: Briefly, I have just one last question, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman: Yes, that's all right.

Mr. Svend Robinson: I take it that while you rely on Human Rights Watch for your support in this particular instance, you wouldn't rely on Human Rights Watch's earlier reports just before the bombing started, reports that were calling for military intervention.

Mr. Michael Mandel: Human Rights Watch's report is a very puzzling report, actually. We rely on it for its on-the-scene confirmation of civilian killings and its confirmation of the fact that NATO lied about its attacks on civilian targets. By the way, it says—and you have these books—

Mr. Svend Robinson: I'm just curious, because you rely on some aspects of Human Rights Watch but not on others.

Mr. Michael Mandel: The book also says these are largely credible human rights violations. It's very puzzling as a report, because Human Rights Watch identifies 500 victims of violations of the humanitarian law, yet refuses to call them war crimes. It talks about the use of cluster bombs against civilians and doesn't call them war crimes.

The judgment of Human Rights Watch, in terms of what it calls for and what it wants done, is something that doesn't really interest me. What they've documented and what they've identified—violations of international law, the killing of civilians, lies by NATO, violations of the Geneva Convention—I take as a minimum estimate, a conservative estimate of what happened.

Mr. Svend Robinson: And you'd recall the annual reports of Human Rights Watch.

Mr. Michael Mandel: Yes.

The Chairman: Sorry, Mr. Robinson, but you're over your time, and there are many anxious people trying to get on.

There'll be a debate on scholars, but on the Human Rights Watch report what you're saying is that you disagree with their legal conclusions about the thing. But you're one lawyer's voice against their lawyers' voices.

Mr. Michael Mandel: No, I agree with their legal conclusions that there were grave violations of human—

The Chairman: No, you don't. You just disagreed with their legal conclusions—

Mr. Michael Mandel: I agree with their legal conclusions.

The Chairman: —that there were no war crimes. You don't agree with them.

Mr. Michael Mandel: I don't agree with their recommendations that these people shouldn't be prosecuted. I agree with their conclusions that there were grave violations of international humanitarian law.

The Chairman: But they said there were no war crimes.

Mr. McWhinney.

Mr. Ted McWhinney (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Mandel, I direct my questions to you and I rely on your area of expertise, international law, so we won't concentrate on the other policy issues.

I wonder if you'll allow me to suggest that you take another look at the International Criminal Tribunal. It is not a NATO court. There have been significant changes in the personnel. Judge Wang Tieya was ousted from his job during the cultural revolution in China for thirteen years and was then restored. He's one of the great jurists from a non-NATO country. Judge Shahabuddeen, from Guyana, is one of the most interesting and very radical international lawyers and served in the World Court. The choice of the prosecutor was deliberately a Swiss national, the Swiss attorney general, not someone from NATO.

So it's an interesting tribunal. I myself felt it was not a strong tribunal when it was first selected, mainly because it had no tenure, but the appointments are interesting. I think you should take another look at it. You might find it interesting as well.

Mr. Michael Mandel: Well, I'm very interested in this tribunal because it has this jurisdiction and it has jurisdiction over the United States because of the bombing attack on Yugoslavia. It's quite a unique experiment in international criminal law.

• 1045

As you know, the United States has resisted the enactment of the International Criminal Court statute, but it backed the particular UN Security Council resolution setting up this court. As Judge Arbour said, the U.S. surrendered to its jurisdiction when it attacked Yugoslavia, so I think this is a very important test.

We have to examine the evidence. As I say it is, as Human Rights Watch says it is, and as many lawyers say it is, if the evidence is powerful evidence against NATO for the violation of laws, then I say a lot turns on this court.

I have the greatest respect for the judges of this court, especially Judge Antonio Cassese, who I know personally from the University of Florence.

Mr. Ted McWhinney: He has just resigned.

Mr. Michael Mandel: He has just resigned, but he was president of the court. He said very clearly in an article in the European Journal of International Law that this was an illegal war, and that there was no way around that.

I have great respect for Judge Cassese and great respect and affection for Judge Arbour. On the other hand, I think it's quite clear that the inspiration for this tribunal was as a propaganda device. I have the person who wrote the statute saying so. There's every pressure being placed on it by the NATO countries in order to distort it into a propaganda device to legitimate their violation of international law and to say they have a higher law they're following.

Mr. Ted McWhinney: I don't want to divert you from this. You are aware that we have accepted the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. I learned only recently that the French government has accepted it. I believe the British government will. So there is movement there, but let me get on to international law questions.

You are aware that Resolution 1244 owes an enormous amount in its achievement to the work of the Canadian government. The Canadian foreign minister and the Prime Minister of Greece met with the Russian foreign minister and suggested what became the St. Petersburg G-8 Declaration, which was in effect the basis of Resolution 1244. It was adopted by a vote of fourteen to nil with one abstention, and the abstention was an abstention agreed to in advance. That provides eight legal bases for the continued operations in Yugoslavia.

You are aware also that the Uniting for Peace Resolution precedent, meaning the use of the General Assembly, was always available during the pendency of the armed action. As you will know from the history of its invocation in the Korean War, it is easily set in motion and is invoked in a timely way, yet no action is there.

So what we're really saying is that granted the dynamic nature of the international law-making process, international law is not a frozen cake of doctrine. You sometimes start with inchoate principles. Would you not concede that there is in fact now an international law right of humanitarian intervention, and that the discussion really today is over the modalities of its invocation?

Mr. Michael Mandel: Well, I'd certainly agree that there's a right to humanitarian intervention. I thought I said that earlier. And I think we agreed that it is subsumed in the UN charter and the procedures of the United Nations.

International law, as you know, is primarily treaty law unless it's jus cogens. Consequently, the UN charter is a fundamental document of international law. It authorizes humanitarian intervention according to its procedures. Under the Uniting for Peace Resolution, if you can demonstrate to two-thirds of the member nations the necessity for intervention, it's a powerful counterweight to the vetoes in the Security Council. You've already pointed out the activity of the Security Council and the importance of the Security Council.

One thing about international law on which all scholars agree is that this particular war, because of the modalities of humanitarian intervention, was illegal. There's not a reputable scholar who thinks this was legal. That's not to say that humanitarian intervention cannot be legal, but it has to be done according to the procedures of the United Nations.

Mr. Ted McWhinney: You troubled me on the one point. You speak of the unanimity of international law scholars. I've participated in meetings of the American branch of the International Law Association. I'm in constant contact with the Deutsche Gesselschaft für Völkerrecht, la Société française de droit international, and the relevant Russian body. I would have thought the conclusion would be that there was a wide spectrum of opinion, which would include opinions like your own but also opinions the other way. Even in the United States there is a wide spectrum. In other words, where is the unanimity?

When you get into your brief—and here, as a good professor, you exceed the bounds of law as conventionally defined—you get into large policy. It must make for dynamic lectures, but wouldn't you agree that the issue of war crimes is a conclusion of the law as a result of processes rather than an a priori position? In other words, surely there is no base for your assertion, as of now, that there is a war crime present in the particular actions by member countries of the NATO alliance.

• 1050

Bearing in mind that at all times the United Nations, and here we mention the General Assembly in particular, was always able to be seized with jurisdiction, surely the non-action by members, including Russia and China, indicate something, just as the action after the event in Resolution 1244, which is replicated completely in the resolution on Timor, points also to a legal conclusion, remembering again that international law is a dynamic process, not a static group of old rules.

Mr. Michael Mandel: Well, I couldn't agree with you more that it is, and that's why I was so astounded to see the universality of opinion, on this particular case, that this war was a violation of international law. Even for people who think international law should be changed or should be overthrown, the unanimity is quite extraordinary on this particular war, from Judge Cassese to Professor Mendes, who was here, to people who sympathized with the war to people who opposed it.

This is a matter of great concern to us. There is wide agreement, almost unbelievably wide agreement, that this particular war was illegal. Consequently it's being used to establish a new precedence, one that didn't exist before.

As for war crimes, to answer your question, this International Criminal Tribunal is a criminal court. It has a criminal statute. The statute lays out very clearly what the crimes are—murder, wilful killing, destruction and injury, and bombing civilian targets, obviously. Those things were done and admitted to having been done with evidence powerful enough to convict, in any criminal court in the world, the leaders of the NATO countries.

Whether you consider it morally justified or you're willing to give them credibility, the fact is, on the evidence, for most of the world who doesn't believe them, they've admittedly committed very serious war crimes, crimes within the jurisdiction of this tribunal and crimes for which, on the precedence of this tribunal, they should be indicted. I don't think there's any doubt about that.

Mr. Ted McWhinney: Professor, I would not get into the substantive merits at this point. I'm simply saying that on the unanimity rule, you surprise me. I'm in constant touch with lawyers around the world. I've just set up two commissions in a body I'm concerned with to look at these issues, and I must tell you, there is no unanimity. There's an astonishing spectrum of viewpoint.

This is as it should be, because at the end of the process we will have a conclusion. I think one thing that's emerging is that where we had doubts six months ago on whether there was an international right of humanitarian intervention, the conclusion seems clear that there is such a right. All the argument is over the modalities.

I think you should take another look at Russian literature, German literature, French literature, and American. Even in the United States there are those who take positions like the one you take and those who take the other position, with a lot opinions in between.

Mr. Michael Mandel: Well, maybe we don't actually disagree, but I won't pretend to have the facility you have in these other languages. I have the brief we presented to the International Criminal Tribunal for the committee, in which we outlined the authorities on international law—for instance, Judge Cassese and those other references.

We sound like we're disagreeing, but I do think we agree. There's a right to humanitarian intervention, but it must be done in accordance with the United Nations charter. This was not done in accordance with the United Nations charter. That's where there's unanimity—

Mr. Ted McWhinney: But you would agree that, in connection with the international law-making process, when the Security Council has the opportunity for voting; when you get a fourteen to nil, no veto; and when you get the General Assembly, in which no veto at all applies, and an ability to be seized at a couple of days' notice with the issue, no action, then surely that suggests we're dealing with a continuum rather than a black-and-white situation.

In technical terms, what difference—

Mr. Michael Mandel: What this demonstrates to me is the very effectiveness of the United Nations measures for humanitarian intervention.

Mr. Ted McWhinney: And you would welcome the Canadian government action to bring this situation under the aegis of the United Nations, which is in fact Resolution 1244. You would approve that.

Mr. Michael Mandel: I think we could do nothing more for world peace than to support the United Nations. One of the reasons I opposed this war was that it was an attempt, in my view, to overthrow the United Nations.

Mr. Ted McWhinney: Okay. Thank you, Professor.

The Chairman: Members, technically we were going to end at eleven o'clock, but I think we can go a little bit beyond that if the witnesses are able to stay for a few minutes.

As well, I want you to understand that although this is getting into a complicated set of briefs and legal arguments here, the purpose of having these hearings was not, in the end, to try to determine guilt or anything about what happened. The purpose of our hearings was to try to find out where we go forward from here, and how we can make constructive recommendations to deal with both the present situation in the region and these greater issues.

• 1055

If a ventilation of these issues is helpful to us in order to understand, well... I mean, there's Mr. Coombes' position, and we'll get Professor Polanyi saying something different. But this is what we're trying to do, just so that everybody understands.

Now, this is very helpful to us, and I don't like to cut it off, but there are time limits. Maybe we can go an extra ten or fifteen minutes. With that in mind, perhaps everybody would keep it to within their five-minute timeframe.

I'll go to Madame Folco.


Ms. Raymonde Folco (Laval West, Lib.): I have several comments to make. First of all, by blaming NATO, you seem to forget that the reaction of the Canadian government—and I took part in the debate—was to protect a population that had no protection. Let's not forget that there is someone called Milosevich and that this Mr. Milosevich had expelled over a million people and that killings and all sorts of atrocities were taking place.

Unfortunately I have not heard any reference in your presentation to these atrocities. It is because of this that in debating whether Canada should take part in the bombing of Kosovo, I, like a number of others, consider this bombing to be important not to protect those who had already been killed or raped but to protect those who could be killed, raped or driven out of their own country. That is my first comment.

My second relates to a remark made by Mr. Robinson. I also was in Timor just before, during and after the referendum in August of last year. When I went into the UNAMET compound, the United Nations compound, there were only civilians. There were absolutely no policemen from the UN. In other words, the UN officials as well as we strangers were absolutely without protection. That is just a small detail compared to the lack of protection for the population of Timor.

What Mr. Robinson said is quite right. The population knew, and I was also told, that the day after the referendum, there would be mass killings and that the United Nations was not present. There was absolutely no force to protect the people who were going to be killed.

Here is my question. When I took part in the debate on the bombing of Kosovo in February, I could not foresee that in August and September, there would be similar large scale killings in Timor. As I saw it, Canada's contribution to Kosovo was for the sake of prevention. It seems to me that by bombing the armed forces and particularly the militia in Dili in Timor, we might have been able to prevent thousands of people being killed.

Where was the UN in Dili? They had learned their lesson in Kosovo. They could have returned and the Security Council could have decided to send armed forces to protect people. They didn't learn their lesson from Kosovo. As a result, thousands of innocent civilians were massacred in Dili in Timor.

I'd be interested in hearing your answer to that, Sir.


Mr. Michael Mandel: First of all, if we didn't speak about what Milosevic or the Serbs had done, it wasn't in any way to minimize the suffering of the Albanians. Quite the contrary. I'm going on the basis that the Serbian leadership has been indicted for murder, and I just don't understand why the lives of Serbian civilians, of children, women, and men, are worth any less than the lives of the Albanian children, or why crimes can be committed against them and nothing is done, whereas justice operates and the law operates when another side is the victim. This makes me very suspicious of the United States.

• 1100

The situation in Indonesia again makes me very suspicious, because the west, the United States especially, backed this regime to the hilt throughout its occupation of East Timor. It created the conditions. It didn't need to intervene, because the Indonesian government is the United States' government. It is the United States' client.

We can't detach these crimes from their causes or the social conditions that create them, and the responsibility of the powerful countries for these situations—


Ms. Raymonde Folco: Excuse me for interrupting you but that is not what I asked. I didn't asked you whether there had been an American intervention and why there was none. I asked you why the UN Security Council did not send armed forces to Timor. I'm not talking about the United States but the United Nations.


Mr. Michael Mandel: Well, I don't know about a resolution by somebody asking for the bringing forth into Indonesia or into East Timor... I don't know about people opposing that, or whether that was even suggested. You had the United States, which basically backed, bankrolled, and trained the government and its paramilitaries for all these years. So it's not a question of why we didn't back the force. This was not the solution the west wanted.

The main point I want to make here is that you can't look at the end point of a process where you have this terrible violence that occurs without looking at where it came from, and what the precipitating and underlying causes of it were. I'm not saying, and nobody's suggesting, that anybody would go to war and bomb Indonesia and do what NATO did in Kosovo in Indonesia. Quite the contrary. I'm saying that if people really seek peaceful solutions, and if the powerful countries want peaceful solutions, they're at hand. And the responsibility of the powerful countries for these great dislocations, these occupations, these tyrannical governments, can't be be forgotten when in another theatre these same countries want to pretend to be humanitarian and take the law into their own hands.

The point about Indonesia is not the incapability of the international community. It's the question that it didn't suit, in this case, the strategic interests of this powerful military force, NATO, whereas for some reason this terrible tragedy in Yugoslavia did. I'm looking for an analysis of why this happened and how to stop it. That's what this committee should be doing.

I don't think that international law has demonstrated itself incapable when, as I said, in the Security Council, the main government exercising a veto—85% of the vetos in the last ten years—has been the United States. They have no claim to be the people who are frustrated with the United Nations' inability to act. I don't think they're serious about the United Nations. I think they're trying right now to overthrow the United Nations. I think it's our duty to defend the United Nations, to defend the law—Canadian domestic law and the United Nations'—and not say that there's nothing to do that's between doing nothing and doing a massive bombing, or pretending not to understand why NATO bombs in Yugoslavia and doesn't bomb in Indonesia.

The Chairman: Mr. Coombes, finish very quickly, and we'll move on to...

Mr. Peter Coombes: I just wanted to point out that if I didn't speak out against Milosevic, it's not because I'm a supporter of his—far from it. I would say 90% of the hundreds of Yugoslavians I've worked with were Serbians who left Yugoslavia because of the policies of Milosevic and his regime. So they're definitely not supporters, and neither would I be.

I think the problem we face is that we look for simple solutions in our society, whether it's at home or at the international level. The easy solution for the western world is to say let's intervene by bombing. If we had gone into East Timor and started bombing military facilities, that would have been a greater disaster in that country, in that region. Who knows what we could have sparked in the region. How many people would we have killed?

I think Canada took a few steps in the right direction with East Timor, and I have to applaud our country there. We did take a few steps in that direction. We did try to send in peacekeepers. We were a bit late in doing it. I think we need to do it quicker. We need faster response times. I think over the past two decades we failed in supporting the Indonesian government.

• 1105

I have on video Raymond Chan being questioned about Canadian exports to Indonesia, and he says we export only $1 million worth of military goods to Indonesia. Well, $1 million can be used for a lot when you're repressing your people.

So we can't put it as do nothing or bomb. I think it's a ridiculous notion. In fact I would even say that in the case of Yugoslavia we probably would have been better off doing nothing than bombing, if you want to compare the two extremes.

The Chairman: Mr. Speller.

Mr. Bob Speller (Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Coombes, you do understand that using that word “crap” means something different here from what it means when you were saying it.

Mr. Mandel, you say a couple of things. You seem to suggest that the tribunal has no credibility because people from NATO seem to be the ones investigating. But then you say also that the Human Rights Watch report says—which I've got in front of me—it has found no evidence of war crimes. Are they also biased by the United States, or NATO? I don't know how you can argue and call us all war criminals when this independent group has actually found no evidence of war crimes.

At the same time, you seem to suggest that there are humanitarian grounds under which you can go to war, and that you must prove that the impact of your actions would be less than what would have occurred had you not taken that action. Is that actually what you said?

Mr. Michael Mandel: The necessity of defence is... That's a basic moral justification for any interventions you do—that your actions can reasonably be expected to do more good than harm.

Mr. Bob Speller: Yes, but how do you do that? I mean, war is hell, and once it gets started it's kind of hard to turn off. Do you just sit back and wait until you think there are all kinds of killings and rapings? I don't know how you expected anybody, or us, to have said “Okay, it's about time now. I guess there's been enough killing and raping. We'll stop only after so many killings and so many bombings.” It's kind of hard to turn it off once you turn it on.

Mr. Michael Mandel: I think before you unleash it you have to realize what you're unleashing. It's like a hostage crisis. The police come in and there's a hostage crisis. They can negotiate, or you just blow everybody to bits. And what NATO did was blow everybody to bits. If police did that, they'd be committing crimes. If they didn't take all the necessary reasonable measures to do the least harm and find a legal and peaceful solution, they'd be committing crimes.

Mr. Bob Speller: Yes, but I think they did. In this report it says also it found that in terms of the use of cluster bombs, they stopped using cluster bombs once they found out the impact of them. So it seems—

Mr. Michael Mandel: The United States did. Britain did not, said Human Rights Watch.

Mr. Bob Speller: Well, yes, it said they might have made one other use. But just reading the report, it seems to me that—

Mr. Michael Mandel: The use of cluster bombs—your anti-personnel bombs—when you're firing on civilian targets such as downtown Belgrade, a marketplace, or a bridge in broad daylight, is just completely indefensible, because civilians are going to die. It's a violation of the Geneva Conventions. And Human Rights Watch said that.

I agree with you that they said that in their opinion there were no war crimes. But they identified what are in fact war crimes and violations of humanitarian law: the deliberate attacking of civilian targets and attempts to terrorize the civilian population, and targets that had no military use and were bound to kill civilians.

They identified only the direct results of the bombing, and let NATO off with the indirect results. I think they were wrong to do that. But their factual observations, the things they confirmed, given their historical position on the war and their sympathy for it, I think should be taken as a minimum number for the number of war crimes committed by NATO.

• 1110

If they don't call them war crimes, they have their reasons for doing that, but in the report they have no legal basis for that. There is no legal defence of that whatsoever. It's just a bald statement. I think it was probably politically motivated, because they wanted their report to be more acceptable. It's very hard for people to believe their governments are committing war crimes when their governments say that they are going to war to prevent war crimes.

Mr. Bob Speller: In that report they also talk about the Yugoslav use of civilians as human shields. In fact it probably increased the number of civilian deaths as a result.

Mr. Michael Mandel: In those cases they didn't attribute those deaths to NATO bombing. They subtracted those numbers. There was a case, for instance, of a prison that was bombed, and the Yugoslavian government claimed that a hundred people were killed. Human Rights Watch says that only twenty people were killed and that the Yugolavians took the opportunity to kill the prisoners. Even accepting what Human Rights Watch says, it's quite clear that those people would have been alive if it hadn't been for the bombing by NATO. It was a very direct result of an illegal bombing. I think it's very important that when we weigh up the costs of this war, we include all of those things as well.

Mr. Bob Speller: Are the numbers you use from the Yugoslav government, or are you taking a mixture—

Mr. Michael Mandel: The minimum number is the number Human Rights Watch identified. It said that those are the ones it could confirm. It gave every benefit of the doubt to NATO. Even on the cluster bombs, it accepted NATO's word that it ordered the end of the cluster bombing. It said that it got that information from a NATO officer. Yugoslavia's estimate was 1,800, which they said was the number of known deaths from it. I assume the number is somewhere in between.

But remember that knowingly killing 500 civilians without lawful excuse is mass murder. The minimum number is more than the number Milosevic has been charged with murdering. So let's put this in perspective. This is very serious. Every life is sacred.

Mr. Bob Speller: What's the minimum number actually to go into a war, then? You say that this would be humanitarian grounds. Would it kill 5,000, 10,000? How many?

Mr. Michael Mandel: A legal war that was granted by the Security Council and justified as demonstrably necessary, where the Geneva Conventions were scrupulously observed, in which all the risks were not placed on civilians, in which the people who are the humanitarians, the soldiers, also took some risks, which actually is a requirement of the laws of war, if it really were an attempt to minimize civilian death in a lawful war, obviously that wouldn't be a war crime. This was the opposite.

The Chairman: That wasn't the question, Mr. Mandel. You've been saying that we're talking about numbers, and then you always wander off and say the U.S. did this and everything else. You were asked a specific question. Since you're basing the attack on what was done here on numbers, in your view, what is the number that would be required to justify an intervention under international humanitarian law, 10,000—

Mr. Michael Mandel: It's not for me to decide on an intervention, it's for the Security Council of the United Nations. I'm not the Government of Canada. I'm not the Security Council of the United Nations.

The Chairman: Then I don't think you can base your attack on others on numbers if you're not willing to—

Mr. Michael Mandel: I don't want NATO deciding this on its own. I don't want NATO to be the judge, jury, and executioner—

The Chairman: That was the purpose of your question, Mr. Speller.

Mr. Michael Mandel: —and to decide what justifies an intervention. NATO has to obey the law too, I think. The law doesn't apply just to us.

The Chairman: Okay. Well, it seems to me that you can't use numbers one way and then refuse to use them another.

We'll turn to Madam Carroll, and then we have to go. We have another fifteen minutes before we have to be in the House, so I'll hold you to five minutes, Madam Carroll.

Ms. Aileen Carroll (Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair. Much of what I might have brought to the discussion has been brought up by other members, so I'll try not to go over old ground.

Professor Mandel, I have a sense that after the angst the chair has described, had we not proceeded as a member of NATO with the action we undertook, we might be sitting here today with another professor judging us in much the way you are but doing so because of our failure to have analysed the empirical data we had before us and to take the route that empirical data suggested.

Perhaps our role is slightly different from that of the academics, because we cannot take an off-ramp, and we must engage the very process of bringing our experiences and values to a decision-making situation. I don't in any way decry the role of the academic, but I might bring to your attention an article—and it's a long time since I've read it—written by Henry Kissinger while he was still at Harvard called “The Intellectual in the Policy-making Process”. It touches on a lot of what we're touching on today. In the end the buck stops here, and in the end we have to make a decision with the information we have.

• 1115

Although we have slightly touched on it, I think I have to bring up again what we have observed. With regard to Yugoslavia we observed the abject failure of the United Nations to prevent atrocities. We observed it in Bosnia-Herzegovina, with the three-way fight among the Bosnian Serbs, Croatians, and Muslims. From some of the notes I made last night as I thought about coming today, the worst example was in Srebrenica, where, empirically documented, I understand, thousands of Muslim males, from young boys to old men, were murdered, and the UN Dutch troops could do nothing about it. In Sarajevo, which you watched on TV every night, we watched the failure again.

While General Lew MacKenzie has come out against the NATO action, it was General Lew MacKenzie who said that we can't fight a war based on an administration in New York City from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

What that says is that once you decide you have sufficient evidence that you are compelled to initiate a military action, you have to look at effectiveness. You have to ask, can it be accomplished? I think I would have been held to task had I backed off the decision we had to make and instead said it had to go to the UN.

The UN, of course, is going to be vetoed. They're not going to be able to move on this. And, I might say, had it gone to the Security Council and there was a veto from Russia or China or both and then NATO had continued to assess the situation and still had to go forward, then I think the damage to the United Nations' credibility could have been fatal.

The Chairman: You've used up three of your five minutes, so what's the question?

Ms. Aileen Carroll: What compels you to conclude that the United Nations would have been effective here?

Mr. Michael Mandel: I want to say that it was very important for Russia to be involved in the peacemaking process. The actual solution was one that needed Russia's involvement, so I can't say that anything demonstrated Russia's inability to bring peace here.

I agree with you entirely that this is a heavy responsibility you're elected to deal with. You have to assess the evidence, but you can't just take NATO's word at face value.

Ms. Aileen Carroll: But I didn't.

Mr. Michael Mandel: You know what NATO is. You know what the Americans are. You've seen what they've done in the rest of the world. You can't say they're telling me this and therefore I'm off the hook. You have a duty, we all have a duty, to assess the evidence and to try to get to the truth of it.

Ms. Aileen Carroll: None of that evidence was NATO's evidence.

Mr. Michael Mandel: You do have this responsibility, and it's a heavy responsibility. None of us are free from this. We have to decide what position to take, because as academics and politicians, nobody is going to free us from our consciences if we've done something wrong.

So you can't say that whatever you do, you're going to get yelled at. You have to decide what's right. You have to decide what is the truth. It's not enough that NATO is telling you this. You have to look at it carefully. You have to ask, what is the background of this? How sincere is NATO about this? Is there really no other alternative for peace? Is this worth it? Before you authorize something like this, be damn sure that it is a good solution, because if it's not, then there's a lot of blood on our hands.

I haven't been elected to do this, but you have. I have my own position on this. We all have our conscience, but you've been elected, and you have to make the decision. It's not enough to say you would have been yelled at by somebody else.

The Chairman: It's a problem for us.

Before we wrap up, I just want to ask you about the legal issues. You mentioned that we violated Canadian domestic law. Why have you not brought some action in Canada, then? Why wouldn't you let a court resolve this?

Mr. Ted McWhinney: A Canadian court.

The Chairman: You say that we've broadly violated Canadian domestic law. Why don't you bring an action in a Canadian domestic court? Your—

Mr. Michael Mandel: I have my hands full with the International Criminal Tribunal, and I'm working full-time on that brief. It's a very serious one. Also, I think the International Criminal Tribunal is a very important aspect of this war. I think if this war was undertaken—and in my view illegitimately—as a violation of international law justified by the International Criminal Tribunal—

The Chairman: We understand that.

• 1120

Mr. Michael Mandel: It's important to go to the International Criminal Tribunal and say that they have to apply the law to everybody, that they can't sanction Yugoslavia on the basis that it has indicted war criminals when all we have here are unindicted war criminals. I think there's a very good basis; I think some people are trying to move before Canadian courts. But it's quite clearly a violation of Canada law.

Let me say something else—

The Chairman: Wait a minute. Let the court rule on that, okay? I want to ask you the next question.

Mr. Robinson put it to you, and so did Mr. Speller, about the Human Rights Watch issue. You accept certain facts and you draw a conclusion from them that a war crime was committed. Now surely you'll agree with me—as a professor of law—that facts tell you one thing, but the inference from the facts as to whether or not a crime has been committed is a conclusion of law. So that is your conclusion of law, as one person, which has not been affirmed by any court or, as Professor McWhinney said, is not agreed with by many other scholars.

I spoke to Tom Franck the other day. He's the president of the American Society of International Law. In his recent article in the American Journal of International Law, which you no doubt read, he agrees with you, as do many scholars, that the intervention breached the UN charter, but he does not conclude from this that there were war crimes committed. There's a—

Mr. Michael Mandel: There are two separate issues—

The Chairman: Canada violates international law every day in terms of pollution and many other things. That doesn't make them criminal acts.

Mr. Michael Mandel: But it doesn't kill civilians when it does that.

The Chairman: Until a determination of whether a war crime has been committed—you'll agree with me as a conclusion of law, which must be taken from the facts—by an informed tribunal, of which you are one voice putting an argument forth, but not the only authoritative voice... There will be other voices. We must eventually allow that to be ruled upon in a court of law.

Mr. Michael Mandel: There are many law professors around the world, hundreds, who have complained to this tribunal, so I'm sure that my voice, luckily, isn't a lonely one in this case on the question of whether war crimes were committed.

My point about Human Rights Watch is that the tribunal, under its statute, is bound to investigate war crimes when it has evidence of them and it's bound to prefer indictments when there's a prima facie case.

The Chairman: Right.

Mr. Michael Mandel: Human Rights Watch has provided a prima facie case. If Human Rights Watch says “Look, we've given you evidence of crimes, but we don't think they're crimes”, that doesn't absolve Judge Del Ponte or Judge Arbour of their duty, and that's what I'm talking about.

The Chairman: No, but you will agree with me as well that it is up to Judge Del Ponte and Judge Arbour and the judges of the International Criminal Court to make that decision. Your opinion as to whether or not there is prima facie evidence is only your opinion versus their opinion. They are equally qualified legal scholars who are in fact in the authoritative position to make the decision and who have to make a decision on whether to prefer an indictment or not.

Mr. Michael Mandel: That's absolutely right, but—

The Chairman: Okay, that's all I wanted—

Mr. Michael Mandel: —they're bound by law. They have an obligation to enforce the law under the statute. It's my opinion or your opinion as to whether God exists or not, but there's a right answer to that. It's not just a question of opinion.

An hon. member: Oh, oh!

Mr. Michael Mandel: Sorry.

The Chairman: On that note—

Mr. Michael Mandel: I didn't take a position. I said there's a right answer.

The Chairman: In this place, without answering your question about divinity, there is a certain rule that applies to whips, and believe you me, they have a certain authority over us, so we have to adjourn because we have to go and vote in the House.

I do thank you both very much. These are very serious issues. We're trying to wrestle with them. Hopefully when we're finished we can point our way to a better way to deal with these issues. Everybody accepts that there have been huge problems, and let's try to make the system better in the end.

The meeting is adjourned.