House of Commons Hansard #29 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provinces.

Topics

Somalia Inquiry
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, this minister and the government took its responsibility by setting up the Somalia commission specifically to deal with issues such as documentation.

There were documents altered. There were documents destroyed. Was there a cover-up? These are the matters on which the inquiry will get to the bottom.

What the commission asked us earlier in the week was to produce a cataloguing of the documents themselves. It said that they were dissatisfied at that point in time with the explanations of the department.

I think some real progress has been made. It has been reflected in what the commission counsel has said this morning. I understand the commission counsel has said that the documents which have come forward and which are now being catalogued in the report by the Somalia liaison team together with testimony under the auspices of the mandate of the commission will get to the bottom of it and will address the specific question of the hon. member.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, we were reminded this morning that the military police were told last fall by a second officer, who confirmed the statement of Colonel Haswell, that the army chief of staff along with other officers developed a plan to change the name of documents requested under the Access to Information Act.

As this new information considerably undermines the credibility of the minister and the chief of staff, why is the minister refusing to relieve General Boyle temporarily of his duties, at least for as long as it takes the commission of inquiry to thoroughly examine this whole sad affair and people to regain their trust in the army and the government?

Somalia Inquiry
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 answers to that specific question were given earlier this week in replies to questions put forward by members of the Reform Party. I will not take very much time of the House to go into that except to say that we in this country believe in due process. Due process means that people have a right to give their views, their side of a story to defend themselves against accusations.

On Wednesday the Somalia commission will start hearings on the specific issue. I would ask for patience because I think Canadians understand that all the answers will be forthcoming at the commission, not here in the House of Commons.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

April 19th, 1996 / 11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Finance confirmed that up to a billion dollars will be paid to the governments of the maritime provinces as compensation for their potential loss of tax receipts due to the process of harmonizing the GST and provincial taxes.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Why does negotiating the harmonization of the GST with the sales tax in the maritime provinces require all Quebecers and all Canadians to foot the bill for a portion of the consumer taxes currently assumed by the people of the maritimes?

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday in response to the hon. member's question, there is no announcement yet. We are currently negotiating. I shall be pleased, if the negotiations are successful, to answer specific questions on the agreement, if one is reached.

Nevertheless, the hon. member will understand that I am going to defend the principle that the regions of this country must help each other. Otherwise, this would be a denial of such things as equalization, where three of this country's provinces help out the other seven.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is mixing applies and oranges. If he wants to have an equalization formula with his new GST reform, let him say so. We are talking of two totally different things.

The GST and the provincial sales tax have already been harmonized in Quebec. There was no negotiation on compensation. Do you know what kind of a message that sends to Quebec? That any time you co-operate with the federal government, you end up paying for it. If there is a $1 billion compensation payment to the maritime provinces, that means Quebecers will be paying $250 million to the governments of the maritime provinces, to their treasuries, as compensation for those governments' lower tax receipts. Where is the logic in that?

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's position is totally ridiculous, perhaps because of his lack of understanding of Canada. Canada is a country in which the regions help each other out.

For example, if Canada decides to help out the aeronautical industry, Montreal will reap the benefit, not Saskatchewan or New Brunswick. Or, another example, if it decides to help out the pharmaceutical industry, as in fact it has, Montreal will reap the benefit, not Alberta or Prince Edward Island.

That is the principle of what a country is. We have enormous assets and should place those assets at the service of the country as a whole.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

The minister desperately wants Canadians to believe that the military brass did not try to cover up the Somalia scandal. He desperately wants us to believe that missing and altered documents were simply the result of computer error or clerical error. Twelve boxes of documents. That is what senior defence officials were forced to grudgingly turn over to the Somalia inquiry.

The commission counsel announced this morning that there are still gaps. How much more evidence does the minister need before he takes some action, any action, on the Somalia cover-up?

Somalia Inquiry
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, the hon. member again continues to make very serious allegations which do not reflect what was said this morning by the commission.

I answered his specific questions which were posed a little earlier with respect to the documentation, but I will briefly repeat them.

On the public affairs issue, those documents will be the subject of discussions and hearings beginning on Wednesday. The commission is satisfied that all the documents that have come forward, together with testimony, should enable the commission to reach the goal of its mandate, which is to get to the bottom of the entire-

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister tries to make us believe that this was a timely delivery of documents when he knows full well that these documents should have been delivered a year ago to the Somalia commission.

Along with the 12 boxes of information turned over to the inquiry, we also learned from Roberto Gonzales, a former director general of public affairs at DND, that General Boyle approved of a

plan to hide important Somalia documents. This confirms earlier allegations made by Colonel Haswell who said that Boyle, de Chastelain and Mr. Robert Fowler knew of the planned cover-up.

Can the minister confirm today that General Boyle had nothing whatsoever to do with the cover-up?

Somalia Inquiry
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 really should refuse to answer such innuendo. The hon. member has made selective accusations every day in the House. He has maligned a public servant, who is the chief of defence staff.

All of these matters will be dealt with by the commission starting next Wednesday. That is the place where all the evidence should be submitted. That is the place where people should be heard. That is the place where conclusions should be drawn.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, why will the minister not show some leadership and take the bull by the horns instead of dragging the bull into the House each and every day?

General Boyle said he had no knowledge of a plan to alter, rename and destroy documents related to the Somalia affair. Colonel Haswell and Roberto Gonzales say that is not true. They say that all Somalia information requests had to be approved by General Boyle. Boyle's signature even appears-

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The member will please put his question directly.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Why is the minister allowing Boyle to stay in charge when all of the evidence indicates that Boyle is involved in this cover-up?