House of Commons Hansard #150 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was public.

Topics

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the Canadian public expects the minister of defence to take the role of a military police officer, to go to military bases and interview people, to view all kinds of evidence and to be a one man show.

We have a large organization. We have a chain of command. The chief of defence staff was tasked with the report. That report came. Obviously it is not complete because some of the military police investigations are ongoing. I do not think anybody expects the minister to be out there doing all of those things.

With respect to the actual viewing of the tape, we never really got to the bottom of it until I ordered the tape to be dispatched from Petawawa following the question from the hon. member for Charlesbourg on Wednesday.

The tape was viewed yesterday by one of our senior officers. The chief of defence staff viewed it early this morning. He concurs with the interpretation I gave in this House yesterday that the behaviour was not innocuous, that it was offensive and there was infringement. Action will be taken.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, you will notice the minister admits that the opposition is better informed about what goes on in the military than the minister himself. This is disturbing.

What are we supposed to infer from the minister's explanations for his lack of information on the events in Petawawa? Does this mean that General de Chastelain failed to put all the information he had received in his report or does it mean General de Chastelain himself was not aware of all the facts about the situation in Petawawa?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I said subsequently to yesterday's question period that the chief and I were not informed completely about that videotape. We are quite open about that. We want to know why the chief was not informed. I want to know why I was not informed.

I know this is a Chamber of thrust and parry where the government is to be criticized. What really concerns me here is that these events, however horrendous and however unacceptable, are casting aspersions upon the thousands of men and women who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces and are performing their duties in some of the toughest parts of the world. These people serve with distinction. I am worried that the kind of tone which is used by the hon. member opposite for partisan purposes undermines the morale of the armed forces.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is no question of taking issue with the position or activities of young military personnel.

My question is to the minister of defence. Clearly, Canadians' trust has been shaken by the backlash of the events at Petawawa. Not only did the minister make hasty decisions without being fully informed, but it appears, moreover, that not even the chief of defence staff had all the information.

Now that it has been established that a lot of information had been concealed from the chief of defence staff and from the minister of defence, himself, can the minister assure Canadians that he retains full control over the armed forces?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat amused by the question. Obviously if I had had the full description of that tape when I gave the press conference announcing the decision of the airborne, I would have made that public. The existence of the tape with the unacceptable acts as it has been embellished by the viewing by officials yesterday actually confirms the government's decision to disband the regiment.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, clearly the minister is not aware of all that happens in his department.

Since we now know, based on the events at Petawawa, that all levels of the Canadian military can keep information from this House, does the minister not realize that it is absolutely vital in order to rebuild Canadians' trust for him to order a public inquiry, not only on the events at Petawawa, but on the entire system that allows the army to elude parliamentary control?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question is somewhat rhetorical because we do have an investigation. We have military police investigations. Now the military police are investigating the tape on which we have been speaking this morning.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Stephen Harper Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, on January 23 the Minister of National Defence disbanded the airborne regiment even though he had not seen the videotape of the hazing incident. Apparently his department had not even been in possession of a copy.

Several weeks ago DND obtained what is now reported as a third hazing video. The minister says he was not informed. On Wednesday he claimed he had no knowledge. Yesterday he misinformed the House by calling the video innocuous.

After a year and a half, my question for the Minister of National Defence is, why is it that the minister and the House are continually informed of these incidents through the media? Why does the minister not know what is going on in his own department?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to proceed with an answer until the hon. member obeys the rules of this House and withdraws that allegation.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Stephen Harper Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will ask the question again because it demands an answer.

Why is it that the minister does not inform this House of what is going on in his department? Why do we have to learn about this through the media? Why does the minister have to learn of these activities through the media?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I think people know that yesterday I was somewhat agitated having been informed of the extra charges in this video just before question period. In fact as soon as I received the information I informed my staff. I sent a message to the chief of the defence staff saying that I would report this to the House. That was within a few minutes of question period starting.

If hon. members want to proceed with detailed questions as we have had earlier I will try to give the answers. However, if they want to make silly procedural points then there really is no use continuing the discussions.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Stephen Harper Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think Canadians would agree there is nothing silly about these incidents.

On November 16 and 17 I raised questions in the House concerning the allegations of Major Barry Armstrong about events in Somalia, irregularities in the investigation of those incidents and reports that have occurred in Esprit de Corps and other publications about alleged cover-ups.

What steps has the minister taken in the interim to personally inform himself about the allegations of Major Armstrong or others or to better inform himself about what happened in these particular events?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, all the matters dealing with the deployment of the airborne to Somalia in 1992-93 will be the subject of an inquiry. Therefore it is inappropriate for me to comment any further.

Unemployment Insurance
Oral Question Period

February 10th, 1995 / 11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

According to the report on income security in Quebec, the number of households that had to apply for social assistance for the first time increased by three per cent last October, among which a surprising number of young people under 25 years of age.

In all regions, workers who had not yet heard about the unemployment insurance cuts are learning about them the hard way. All the while, surpluses, which will be used to reduce the national debt, are continuing to accumulate in the unemployment insurance fund.

Does the Minister of Finance not realize that his last series of budget cuts have had very dire consequences for the young people who now have to rely on social assistance?

Unemployment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

Mr. Speaker, the situation in which unemployed young people find themselves is certainly of great concern to us, on this side of the House, like it is for the hon. member.

Having said this, I believe that the Minister of Human Resources Development's new initiative to help these young people move away from passive assistance to a more active one is something that even the hon. member will support. To conclude, I must say that the unemployment insurance fund is still in a deficit position and that we will have to find a way to eliminate that deficit.