House of Commons Hansard #167 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, there was a particular incident to which the hon. member refers and that concerns the misinformation in a report on the videos. That matter was dealt with by the chief of defence staff who relieved a general officer of his post as a result of not providing both the CDS and myself with the details.

I have full confidence in the chief of defence staff and the military command who work pretty hard at their jobs, as I have confidence in all of the men and women who serve Canada proudly in the armed forces.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Stephen Harper Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have obtained a leaked report written by Brigadier-General Jeffries and submitted to land force command headquarters.

According to General Jeffries, the troops believe that, quote: "Political agendas and careerism have replaced leadership in the defence hierarchy and, furthermore, that the loyalty and focus of senior military leaders is directed upwards and not down". This is a very serious evaluation of the state of affairs.

Is the Minister of National Defence aware of this report? How does he plan to deal with the leadership crisis in his department?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am not privy to all communications that are made between the chain of command throughout the country.

If the hon. member has such a document that he describes, I will certainly raise the matter with the chief of defence staff to see if the concerns allegedly addressed by Brigadier-General Jeffries have been brought to his attention. Then we will decide how to proceed from that point forward.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Stephen Harper Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time that an internal report has pointed out leadership problems in the Canadian military. To date, however, the Minister of National Defence has promised only cosmetic changes and has put off major decisions with the promise of future inquiries.

Is the minister prepared to address these failings in the leadership and elsewhere in the military or do we have to wait for more videos?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I have just made the statement that the government and I have full confidence in the chief of defence staff and all those in command of the Canadian Armed Forces.

With respect to the renewal of any organization, there are changes made every year. I announced a couple of weeks ago we would be streamlining the general officer ranks by about 25 per cent. Some new people have been brought into key positions at

national defence headquarters. I believe this will allay any concerns the hon. member has that we at national defence headquarters do not have dynamic, vibrant leadership.

Burundi
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The situation is very tense in Burundi since the murder, in October 1993, of the first democratically elected president of that republic. In recent months, some 50,000 people have died in the conflict between the two main ethnic groups, and there is every indication that another crisis is looming. The recent assassination of the minister of energy and mines has exacerbated the situation and there is a great deal of insecurity in the country.

Can the minister tell us about the current situation in Burundi and the means being considered by the UN and Canada to prevent a crisis?

Burundi
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

André Ouellet Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the concerns expressed by the hon. member are well founded. It is sad that the ethnic conflicts which occurred in Rwanda and ended in terrible bloodbaths could now surface in a neighbouring country and trigger a similar tragedy.

This is why Canada has repeatedly asked the United Nations, and also the Organization of African Unity, to immediately get involved and try to find a solution to this increasingly menacing situation.

Burundi
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in committee, the minister informed us of the representations he made, among others, to the UN secretary, for sending additional troops to Rwanda in order to restore a balance in the region. As you know, the Security Council rejected Canada's request.

My question to the minister is: Will he pledge to again ask the UN Security Council to quickly organize the multinational forces required to prevent a conflict?

Burundi
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

André Ouellet Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the answer is yes. In the event that the United Nations are not in a position to intervene, we also contacted the Organization of African Unity to see if a regional approach might be more appropriate. A number of countries concerned by the situation in Rwanda and in Burundi could intervene, with the support of the UN, but they would do so on a regional basis, rather than in the context of a global operation under the UN.

Canadian Armed Forces
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would have thought that with the contents of the report being so serious the minister might have had them before now.

Further to my colleague's questions regarding leadership, General Jeffries' report says the troops believe: "Senior leaders are seen to be unwilling or unable to speak to soldiers' needs on their soldiers' behalf. For example, the airborne trial by headlines left personnel feeling disillusioned and abandoned".

Has the minister yet realized how serious the leadership problem in his department is? If so, can he give the House some specifics as to how he intends to deal with it?

Canadian Armed Forces
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we have to realize the armed forces has been under considerable pressure for the last few years since the events in Somalia became public. This has posed a great problem and a strain.

The armed forces has enjoyed an enviable reputation for many years. The work discharged by the armed forces is exemplary. The Canadian Armed Forces is universally respected.

This week we are preparing to send the first of about a 470 contingent to Haiti. These people are outstanding. They are well led. That does not mean to say that from time to time problems will crop up. Where specific examples of management or leadership are brought to the attention of the government, they are dealt with.

With respect to the issue of Somalia, the whole chain of command and how the troops were deployed to Somalia will be the subject of an inquiry.

For the Reform Party to make blanket accusations about the morale of the troops and about the high leadership of the armed forces is not borne out by the facts. There was considerable disappointment regarding airborne matters and may have been reflected in the alleged report.

Canadian Armed Forces
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

I would ask members once again to keep questions and answers short.

Canadian Armed Forces
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is not the Reform Party that is accusing the minister of leadership problems.

The report also says: "Soldiers perceive their interests and welfare are being sacrificed so that senior leaders can be successful in delivering the same bang for much less buck. Unpalatable though it may be, we will have to cut our suit to fit the available cloth if we are to avoid a hollow army and burnt out soldiers".

Considering the contents of this report, is the minister prepared to institute an immediate inquiry to determine the cause and extent of the problem and propose remedial action to avoid a burnt out army?

Canadian Armed Forces
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I find it odd that the hon. member wishes me to institute an inquiry based on one memo.

The hon. member was a member of the joint committee of the House and Senate that looked into all aspects and operations of the Canadian Armed Forces. He signed a report concluding that the leadership of the armed forces was top flight.

Now he comes forward based on the contents of one memo, perhaps generated by the very emotional situation of the closing of the Canadian airborne, and wishes to reverse the assessment to which he subscribed less than three months ago. That is not logical.

Irving Whale
Oral Question Period

March 15th, 1995 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. In December 1993, officials of the Department of the Environment gave their minister an internal document which seriously called into question the conclusions and quality of the study on which she based her decision to refloat the Irving Whale .

Was the Minister of the Environment aware of that document and will she tell us why she picked the most risky and controversial solution, which was to raise the Irving Whale , despite her officials' advice?