Mr. Speaker, I too would like to thank my hon. colleague from the British Columbia Southern Interior. I know that he is not going to be running next year, so I wish him all the best in his retirement. We have had many opportunities to spend hours in the air together and chat as we have crossed back and forth to our ridings.
Philosophically, the aspect the New Democrats need to understand is investor protection. Our government believes that it is important that Canadians investing in another country are protected through a neutral third party, just as another country's investors who are investing in Canada would expect to be protected by the rule of law. What we would have is an independent third party that would protect the investments and look at them from an objective, neutral perspective. That is the challenge. Anyone doing business would expect to be treated fairly. I do not think it is unreasonable to have the expectation, whether it is Canadian investors investing in another country or people from another country investing in Canada, that they will be treated with respect and objectively and with fairness.
That is what we would have with the investor state provision. It has been around. It has been a cornerstone of trade agreements since NAFTA. It is an important cornerstone of modern trade agreements that we recognize around the world.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my friend from British Columbia Southern Interior.
I looked forward with some trepidation to being a part of this important debate. It is with trepidation only in the sense that the time is so limited, particularly because the government has now moved to shut down this most critical debate. It is with trepidation because the complexity of this issue requires all of us, as members of Parliament, to rise to our very best and attempt to decipher and interpret one of the most complex regions of the world and what Canada's role should be.
I represent the northwest of British Columbia. It is a beautiful part of the world that often knows peace. It has proud and courageous people. It has a history and stories that invoke great pride for me as a Canadian. These people are proudly Canadian. They sent me here to speak on their behalf as best as I am able.
When I think of the people of northwestern British Columbia and how proud they are to be Canadian when they travel both abroad and here at home, I speak with a voice of the deepest held Canadian values of compassion, courage, understanding and engagement for the world.
I seek not to degrade the debate, as some of my friends across the way have, by talking about those who have no spine and no courage for simply opposing the government's intentions and plans. To rise up and stand against the government's intentions if we think that they would do harm to our country is a courageous thing to do.
For those who have spent any time in a refugee camp or with international aid workers who have, under cover of darkness and under the threat of their own lives to deliver aid to those most needy, to suggest that delivering such aid is not a courageous act, I say shame. Shame on my friends across the way. Shame on all those who suggest that the only courageous thing Canada can offer the world is a bombing mission in Iraq.
Let me show the government's sense of disproportion around this issue. The rhetoric that it offers in this place is that it is a global threat, a threat that is a direct and immediate danger to Canada. Then it suggests that to counter such a threat is some allegory to the Second World War, as was purported here just minutes ago, and the equivalent of what is going on in Iraq today. Then it suggests Canada's military response will be six planes. That is incoherent.
If ISIS represents a clear and present danger to our country on the order that was represented by the Nazis in the Second World War, as was just suggested, one logically would conclude that Canada's response would be more than six fighter jets over six months. That is what the government is suggesting.
The government is also making another false suggestion between false choices. It says that the only way in which Canada can offer aid is in conjunction with a military bombing mission and that there cannot be one without the other. That is false. Canada has a proud and noble history of delivering aid into war zones around the world for generations, without the assistance of Canada's military performing bombing missions at the same time.
What we have is the repetition of history. It has often been said that the first casualty of war is the truth. When the Prime Minister stands in the House of Commons, in our Parliament, and says, “I have neither the will nor the desire to get into details here” on the eve of an engagement of war, it is shameful. He may be frustrated with the questions. He may find it frustrating when the opposition leader asks such tough questions as: How many military personnel do we have on the ground in Iraq? What is our exit strategy in Iraq? What will the cost of the mission likely be in Iraq?
The Prime Minister may grow frustrated with that. He may not have “the will nor the desire” to answer such questions, but Canadians deserve answers to these questions before we send our troops into harm's way.
The U.S. has provided such answers. It has costed the war out to this point and made projections for the American people. We cannot even find out where our planes are going to be based. The U.K. government has told its people that, yet we find the Canadian government unwilling and unable to offer the truth. It simply says “trust us”.
The New Democrats will not rubber-stamp a mission into the Middle East. There have been hard fought lessons just learned over the last decade that it is easy to get into an incursion, but it is very difficult to get back out. A mission that starts off as a 30-day non-combat role turns into a six-month bombing mission, which turns into something else.
The other contradiction in the so-called plan offered up from the Conservatives is that, as every military expert has said, we cannot defeat ISIS by bombing from 35,000 feet alone; there must be boots on the ground. However, the Conservatives have promised not to offer that; the Iraqi forces in Iraq will take care of that.
Somehow contradictorily, the Prime Minister of Canada has said that we will not bomb Syria, even though that is where many of ISIS actions are taking place, without the permission of Assad, a dictator and despot whom Canada has been forcefully trying to remove from office. We will wait for his permission to conduct a mission. The contradictions that are rife in the Conservatives' proposal to this point fill us with grave concern over Canada's role.
As we have seen in Afghanistan and we have seen in other places, when military aid and humanitarian aid are offered by the Conservatives, the ratio comes in somewhere about 10 to 1. For every $10 we spend militarily, we spend about $1 on the humanitarian side. That is a ratio with which the Conservatives might feel at peace, when 1.7 million refugees have left Iraq.
I was in Turkey before the summer, meeting with Turkish officials there who were pleading with Canada to get engaged, because the more than one million refugees from Syria and Iraq who were in southern Turkey at that time were receiving no assistance from the Canadian government. The Turks' concern was that people in those refugee camps without shelter, without assistance, and without hope can very easily be turned into soldiers for ISIS. Canada showed no concern for that. The disproportion of response and the inadequate response do not match the rhetoric that has been offered by the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister to this point.
The fact is that we are shutting down the very debate that is being held now. Some Canadians might ask why a debate around six planes going to Iraq should matter and why they should have so much concern about that. We concern ourselves whenever we send our military into combat, but we also know that this is the first step of likely many, because it has been a moving target.
The Conservatives have claimed that the Liberals have had a position that has also wavered, and I will not argue with them on that, but when we ask a simple question of the Conservatives and of the Prime Minister—how would he measure success, how would his government measure success—we have three distinct answers when it comes to ISIS. We will contain them; that would be a success for Canada. No, not contain them, we will degrade them, so that they cannot attack anymore. At one point, we were to eliminate them.
Those are all three very different things, when we are dealing with a guerrilla group that commits such horrific acts as this one does. If elimination is Canada's term for success, then let us all agree on one thing. A six-month bombing campaign with six planes, Canada's contribution, will not satisfy that, and we cannot pretend otherwise.
Clearly, the humanitarian crisis that is happening in Iraq and Syria right now is not the only qualification for Canada to get involved, because clearly, we would have been in the Congo, we would have been in Darfur, and we would have been in Syria before this. Five million people were killed in the Congo. Did we talk about bombing missions then? Did we talk about Canada's military getting involved then? No, so clearly this is a combination of events that has drawn this Conservative government into a war in Iraq.
We all know that, when Canada was debating the first Iraq war perpetrated by George W. Bush, the Prime Minister, as opposition leader, actually went into the United States and chided and scolded Canada for not going into Iraq with the U.S. in its ill-fated mission. That was the Prime Minister's position when he was in opposition. He thought Canada was wrong to stay out of Iraq the first time. Now he thinks he has the terms and judgment to dictate a new war in Iraq.
I must ask one question about the politics of this. My friend across the way alluded to our position, having something to do with a reach-out to a base or against a base. We have seen the Conservatives actually launch a fundraising campaign on this issue. Because of the insensitive and ridiculous comments from the Liberal leader, the Conservatives have now sent out a fundraising email.
We question the tactics of this party. Could the Conservatives, for a minute, take this option to remove the narrow-minded base-playing politics and do something that is right for this country, and bring forward a resolution that can be supported by this country? Bring the opposition leaders into the room. Find common ground for Canada's role in the world, rather than the divide-and-conquer strategies we so often see from the government.
We can do better. New Democrats demand better of this government. We see a better role for Canada in this world, and we will insist on it and form that government in 2015.
I would probably say that the member for Malpeque's question perhaps was not on point. I do recognize, though, that the member for British Columbia Southern Interior did make some comments in that regard, so it is certainly in order.
The hon. member for British Columbia Southern Interior.
The hon. member for British Columbia Southern Interior.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for British Columbia Southern Interior. I would just advise the member that we will end this debate today at 6:30 p.m., so he will have about 17 or 18 minutes as opposed to his full 20 minutes.
Resuming debate. Accordingly, I invite the hon. member for British Columbia Southern Interior for his five minute right of reply.
The hon. member for British Columbia Southern Interior.
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank my colleague from British Columbia Southern Interior, whom I have known for many years as a very great member of Parliament in the House, for bringing forward this bill. I know that the member is very diligent in his work. He is a member who has a long history in the agricultural industry. He was the agriculture critic in the NDP for many years, and I know the riding he represents has a number of agricultural producers, so it is an issue he is very familiar with.
I also know he is a member who is very diligent in the research he does and the issues he brings to the House. I was very interested when he first brought forward Bill C-571, an act to amend the Meat Inspection Act and the Safe Food for Canadians Act concerning the slaughter of horses for human consumption. I know he brought forward this bill because of the research he has done, the people he has spoken to, and the concern he has that the status quo in Canada is very unsatisfactory. Indeed it is not safe and is something that needs to be debated in the House and looked at. It is very meritorious that this bill has been brought forward and we are having the debate in the House. We will vote on it, I believe, tomorrow.
I would like to agree with my hon. colleague from the Liberal Party who spoke before me that for many people it is an emotional issue. He articulated very well the fact that he himself is a horse owner, his family comes from a community where horsemeat is eaten, and yet there are issues that we have to sort out. For parliamentarians, the primary issue is to ensure that the safety of Canadians is paramount, that it is our first priority, and that the food chain is safe in this country.
Due to some of the quite shocking cases of contamination in various plants across the country, we know this is something the federal government must not only have oversight of; but strict laws, regulations, and inspections must be in place to guarantee safety. It is not a chance thing; there has to be a guarantee that our food supply system, the production system, food processing, from beginning to end, is something Canadians can rely on. Our faith in that system has been shaken on a number of occasions, which is all the more reason that, with this bill, we need to look at this issue in the cold light of day and examine whether the provisions we have in Canada that supposedly provide the required protections are actually working.
Having read the material that has been sent to us from many different perspectives, certainly by the member for British Columbia Southern Interior but also by others, I would say this bill is needed. It is a bill worthy of being sent to committee for further examination. We have to recognize that the system in Canada in terms of horses going to slaughterhouses is not foolproof. There are many loopholes. We have an industry where horses, particularly those used in racing but in other activities as well, contain all kinds of medications and drugs that are unfit for human consumption. For those medications to be in our food chain is very serious.
I agree with the underlying and fundamental premise of the bill that it is critical that we ensure there is a separation of streams. If horses are being raised primarily for the food chain, accompanied by a lifetime record such as we see in the European Union, in chronological order with all the medical treatments, that is fine. The issue is not about whether there is consumption of horsemeat and if it is good or bad. That is a matter of choice, and it is a consumer choice, as it is globally. The issue here is whether or not there is a separation and a prohibition to absolutely guarantee that horses being conveyed to slaughter that do not have that full medical record are not then being used for human consumption.
On this issue, we do have to err on the side of caution. We have to take the precautionary principle and ensure that the measures that are in place are foolproof and transparent, not just random sampling, and that there are proper inspections that take place. We have to ensure that these lifetime records, such as those we have seen in the European Union, are valid documents that can be counted on.
I am the health critic for the NDP, and I am very proud to do work as the health critic. I can tell the House that every day, when I speak with constituents, stakeholders, and organizations, the issues of food safety, labelling, transparency and ensuring that our food industry is working in a way that puts Canadians' safety first are things that I hear about very frequently. There is a lot of concern in the country about the fact that the federal government has retreated and we do not have the kinds of inspections, for example, under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
In fact, we know that there are no laws or restrictions in place that exclude racehorses from entering the slaughter system. There is no law that prevents that. Supposedly, we have something called an equine ID document that requires the medications that the horse has been on within the previous six months to be shown. However, that is something that has been so easy to get around.
I know that the member for British Columbia Southern Interior has information from horse owners that shows that the documentation that they get is sometimes non-existent. It certainly does not contain the kind of information that is required to give someone a sense of the record of that particular animal's life. I know this because I just talked to the member a few minutes ago before the debate here tonight.
I am glad that we are debating this bill. There are different perspectives, but it comes down to the need to make sure that there is a clear separation when it comes to horses that are raised specifically for meat. There should be very clear rules around that. For other horses that have been used for other activities, we have to make absolutely sure that they do not end up being part of our food chain and our food system.
I would like to thank the member for British Columbia Southern Interior for having the courage to bring forward this private member's bill to allow us to have this debate. I hope that members will consider the principle on the bill and, on that basis, agree that it should be supported to go to committee. I am sure that there will be all kinds of interesting witnesses who will want to come forward. There will be questions. There will be amendments. That is what our process is about here. That is why we have it.
At this point, we are here debating this bill in principle. On that basis, I support the bill, and I congratulate the member for the work he has done in bringing forward this important issue.
The electoral district of British Columbia Southern Interior (British Columbia) has a population of 95,477 with 74,996 registered voters and 229 polling divisions.
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