House of Commons Hansard #210 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.

Topics

Bosnia
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada does not negotiate with the Bosnian Serb government.

Bosnia
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Deputy Prime Minister should say so to the Minister of National Defence who said yesterday in the House, as did the Prime Minister-just read Hansard -that negotiations were being conducted locally to obtain the release of hostages.

In any case, the Prime Minister was delighted with the position taken by the UN Secretary General on redefining the mandate of the peacekeepers in Bosnia, and he went on to say that this had been Canada's position since last Sunday. However, need I remind members that although it has been questioned about this all week, the government has steadfastly refused to announce its intentions?

Since tomorrow there will be a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Paris, mainly to discuss the French plan, and since a NATO plane was shot down this morning, while flying over Bosnia, could the government tell Canadians now, before tomorrow's meeting, what Canada's position will be on the French proposals?

Bosnia
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I would like to underscore that the claim made by the hon. member is simply not true. In comments made to date we have stated quite clearly that we are not negotiating with the Bosnian Serbs.

If the hon. member's question is reviewed, he speaks about the issue of rotation. In the normal activities of the team on the ground there is a rotation of troops. That rotation is being discussed on an ongoing and soldier to soldier basis in Visoko. That is certainly consistent with the position we have taken as a government.

Agusta
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. Defence and Industry officials confirmed yesterday that the government is preparing to spend $2.6 billion on the purchase of 47 new helicopters. The main supplier of this equipment vying for the contract is no other than Agusta, the very company facing accusations of bribery in Europe.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister, who is responsible for enforcing the government's code of ethics in this House. Will the government commit to excluding Agusta from all new contracts until we get to the bottom of the circumstances surrounding the EH-101 contract, as demanded by her colleague, the Minister of Human Resources Development, in 1993?

Agusta
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, no contract has been authorized by the government.

Agusta
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is again for the Deputy Prime Minister, who is responsible, as I said earlier, for enforcing the government's code of ethics in this House when the Prime Minister is away.

Given that Agusta just hired the Liberal Party of Canada's former communications director, Daniel Despins, to lobby for the sale of new helicopters to the Canadian government, and given that all cabinet members know him well, how can the Deputy Prime Minister not commit to launching an investigation into the awarding of the EH-101 contract to Agusta before the government does any more business with the company, which is, as I already said, currently facing corruption charges in Europe?

Agusta
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I thought I made it quite clear to the member. No contract has been approved either by the Minister of National Defence or by the government.

The member quotes unnamed sources within the bureaucracy. It is not the bureaucracy that will make this decision and no decision has been made about any contract by any member of cabinet.

Bosnia
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the defence minister said he was looking forward to finding out how the U.S. forces would be deployed in Bosnia. Today the world got a clear indication of where the U.S. is headed when one of its F-16 fighter planes was shot down over Bosnia earlier this morning. Everyone knows this act could escalate the conflict even further.

For the second day in a row, my question is this. Will the government assure the House that it will not let our troops get dragged into a war for which they are neither equipped nor mandated?

Bosnia
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, we have confirmed that an American plane was shot down. Obviously the situation is very volatile.

A number of Canadian hostages are being held in various parts of the territory in question. The prudent thing for the Government of Canada to do to protect the safety of the hostages is to go to the meeting in Paris tomorrow with a clear mandate. Our number one priority will be to protect those Canadian soldiers and to ensure that any action taken in a collective way will ensure the safety of the hostages and the soldiers who are on the ground right now.

Bosnia
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, civil wars are very messy and they get even worse when other countries join in the fighting, and the situation is escalating in Bosnia.

Given that our troops are not equipped for a high intensity conflict, what is the exact position the Canadian government will take tomorrow in Paris? Will it be the position of the foreign affairs minister or the defence minister, because a definite question has to be asked?

Bosnia
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am not quite clear as to the options the hon. member is offering. I have underlined how concerned we are about the more than 50 Canadians either being detained or being held hostage.

At this point our main concern when we go to Paris tomorrow is to ensure that any collective action decided on by all of the participating parties will first and foremost ensure the safety of those soldiers who are on the ground.

I am sure all Canadians want the Government of Canada to ensure the safety of those troops who are currently being held hostage and others who are on the ground.

Bosnia
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are all concerned about the hostages. We want them released. We want all Canadians withdrawn, including the hostages.

We welcome the news that Bosnian Serbs will be releasing the hostages tomorrow without condition. The Reform Party hopes that will happen. There would not have been hostages if we had acted on this much sooner.

Given the escalation of the situation in Bosnia and the potential for further hostage taking, will the government make a commitment to withdraw our troops once the hostages are released?

Bosnia
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I did say that at about 11.13 a.m. we had the opportunity to check the status. At the moment we have no confirmation of the release of hostages. We hope that news is forthcoming.

Our first responsibility should not be to outline our negotiating stance for political gain. Rather it should be to ensure that when we go to Paris, all the parties that have troops on the ground have a chance to make a full exploration of all of the possibilities on the table.

That is certainly what the Minister of National Defence will be doing in Paris tomorrow.

Human Rights
Oral Question Period

June 2nd, 1995 / 11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

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

In its decision last Friday in the case of Egan v. Canada , the Supreme Court of Canada found that sexual orientation is a profoundly personal characteristic, which is either immutable or alterable only at unacceptable personal cost and which, therefore, comes under the protection of section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Since the Supreme Court of Canada considers discrimination based on sexual orientation unconstitutional, will the minister not acknowledge that he has a duty to table his bill to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act by the end of the present session and thus make all discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal? A little courage, Mr. Speaker.

Human Rights
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has referred to the recent judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada in which the court considered the equality provisions in section 15 of the charter as they relate to sexual orientation.

For the first time the court pointed out that sexual orientation is an analogous ground under the charter for the purposes of that section. We are considering the judgment. More than one judgment was issued by the court in its analysis and the judges expressed a variety of views.

Quite apart from the judgment, the government has long recognized the importance of amending the human rights act to provide that sexual orientation cannot be a basis on which discrimination occurs. We have long since made the commitment to do just that.