House of Commons Hansard #25 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was debt.

Topics

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Saint-Maurice, QC

Indeed, he would tell the people of Quebec that he has always voted against recognition of Quebec as a distinct society, whereas we Liberals have always worked to achieve this end.

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

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

At the general membership meeting of the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party, the minister stated in connection with the place Quebec holds within Canadian federation that the words themselves were of no importance, what counts is the reality.

Well then, can the minister tell us whether, in his reality, Quebecers constitute a people?

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, this is the first question asked of me as a member of Parliament, and I must thank the hon. member for it.

Anyone wishing to properly describe public opinion in Quebec is obliged to admit it is not a society in unanimity, but a society where various opinions are voiced. The best way to illustrate this is with a poll that came out a week before the referendum. Quebecers were asked how they defined themselves. Twenty-five per cent said they defined themselves as Quebecers only, and all the rest defined themselves as Canadians, many of them as Quebecers first, because they felt more at home in Quebec, but Canadians also.

These people are Canadians. The hon. member would like them to stop being Canadians, and that is where the problem lies. The answer is this: in Quebec we have differing opinions, but the large

majority of Quebecers want to remain in Canada. We are going to work to ensure that everyone in Canada may be reconciled.

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

It would have been far wiser, Mr. Speaker, for the Liberals to find out what the minister's answer was before applauding.

Is the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs not demonstrating through his reply that, just like the Prime Minister, he has absolutely no grasp of the Quebec reality?

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am not much versed in how things are done here, but if I understand the hon. member correctly, he wishes me to repeat what I said, because he did not understand it fully.

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

An hon. member

That is right.

Distinct Society
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

I thought I had been very clear. We have a pluralistic society in Quebec, one in which a number of different points of view are expressed, one in which people need to be left to define themselves as they wish. Some wish to define themselves as primarily Quebecers, others as primarily Canadians, and what is so wonderful in Canadian federation is that no one forces anything on anyone else.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

April 15th, 1996 / 2:35 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, this morning's revelations in the growing Somalia cover-up are deeply disturbing.

Documents from Two Commando Unit have miraculously reappeared in a Petawawa filing cabinet. Vital operational logs from One Commando were apparently the victim of a Mogadishu mud puddle or Somalia sea water, and the RCMP is now examining DND's tampered with hard drive for electronic fingerprints.

Given all of this, how could the Prime Minister still have full confidence in the chief of the defence staff and his own Minister of National Defence?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is because I have known the Minister of National Defence for a long time. He is a very good man and a very competent minister.

When he became minister he was confronted with a file that was created before the coming of this administration. He has worked with this problem and he has decided to do something unprecedented: to have an inquiry into the operation of national defence. Not only that, but he recommended that we disband the regiment that was involved in that.

He took some extremely courageous actions and he has decided this inquiry will go to the bottom of the file, a file that was started perhaps by an incompetent administration before we arrived.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, this trouble may have started before but what we need is for this minister to truly get to the bottom of it and clear it up once and for all.

The lawyers for the Somalia inquiry were quite clear in who they think is responsible for this whole mess: the Somalia inquiry liaison team, the public affairs division of DND and this Liberal government.

The lawyers did not say that General Jean Boyle is the common link between all three of these problem areas. He had a hand in SILT and he headed up public affairs at DND before he was hand picked for this current position by this minister.

Will the defence minister ask his friend, General Jean Boyle, to step aside until the Somalia inquiry gets to the bottom of his role in this attempted cover-up?

National Defence
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 certainly will not ask the chief of the defence staff to step aside.

It seems the members of the Reform Party are intent on making accusations, not allowing individuals to state their cases before the commission and drawing their own conclusions. This is foreign to Canadian justice which has served us well for over a century as a nation.

I think the inquiry process is working. The chairman of the commission has noted a problem with documentation and has set aside a couple of weeks to look at this specific issue and hopefully will draw some conclusions.

If it is apparent, as the chairman said, that outside help, whether the military police or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, should be involved, that is the job of the commission to identify.

I cannot reply every day to accusations that come forward at the commission. That is why we set up the commission, to take it out of the political arena and put it where it belongs, in front of three independent people to evaluate the facts.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of people who do want to state their cases. Instead they have been stifled, which is the unfortunate part of this whole thing.

I guess it is easier to blame subordinates than it is to fire a hand picked appointee. If this minister had done his job the military brass would not be leading him around by the nose. If this minister had done his job, General Boyle would not even have been named

chief of defence staff. If this minister had truly done his job the Somalia inquiry would not be scrambling around looking for operational logs and missing documents.

Since the minister is obviously incapable of doing his job and has lost the confidence of absolutely everybody but the military brass, will he resign?

National Defence
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 think the Prime Minister has dealt with that on a number of occasions.

This has been a particularly troublesome file for all of us in government. The Department of National Defence is under instructions to make all documents available to the commission. There have been some problems. I welcome the commission's deciding to set aside these two weeks to look at the documentation problem.

Obviously by what has transpired this morning the commission still requires further answers. Departmental officials will give those answers. However, it is very important that individuals, whether the chief of defence staff or others who have been named publicly by the Reform Party or others in the media, have an opportunity to go to the commission, state their own case and be judged in the eyes of all Canadians fairly and justly because that is what Canadian justice is all about.

Department Of National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Marc Jacob Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

Contrary to what the minister just said, the commission adjourned this morning because it was dissatisfied with the level of co-operation from the Department of National Defence and the minister himself. This is unacceptable.

Does the Prime Minister feel his defence minister is still trustworthy despite his lack of co-operation in the Somalia inquiry and the fact that the minister himself had General Boyle appointed to the position of Chief of the Defence Staff, supposedly to restore public trust?