House of Commons Hansard #77 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was british.

Topics

The Referendum Question
Oral Question Period

2:25 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, there are polls, there are statements made by the moral authorities of this country, by various public figures. Obviously in Canada there is a convention that a population is not to be forced to remain against its will. The Minister of Justice has explained this in his speech.

We are, however, entitled to the assurance that this is what a given population wants, and in that connection, yes, PEI is entitled to its say.

The Referendum Question
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, talk about total ambiguity-I thought the minister was at least in agreement with himself, but even that is not the case. I will therefore direct my question to the Prime Minister.

Does the Prime Minister agree with what his Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs had to say yesterday, or today, depending on which version one chooses: that it is not reasonable or democratic for a single province to prevent Quebec from leaving the federation? Which version is the right one?

The Referendum Question
Oral Question Period

2:25 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 thank the hon. member for providing me with the opportunity to repeat my statement. Perhaps then she will understand that we in this country have accepted the idea that the country could break apart, if a population were to indicate very clearly that it no longer wished to remain in the federation.

There will, however, have to be assurances that this is clear and fair for everyone. Prince Edward Island, therefore, is entitled to assure itself that the people of Quebec have been consulted in a clear process, acceptable to all, with terms of negotiation that are also acceptable to all.

It is clear that the decision to break up Canada would have serious consequences for the people of Prince Edward Island. I am very confident that Quebecers and other Canadians will to avoid negotiations as painful, lengthy and difficult as those on the breakup of this country would be.

Somalia
Oral Question Period

September 30th, 1996 / 2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, today's Globe and Mail reports that members of U.S. special forces teams wore Canadian uniforms in covert operations in Somalia, and one of them ordered a Canadian soldier to ``fire at a guy, shoot him, drop him, take the guy out''.

Is this report true and if so, when did the minister become aware of this covert operation?

Somalia
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, the hon. member should realize that the specific allegation contained in the newspaper report to which she referred occurred during the Canadian forces deployment to Somalia in 1993. Therefore it would only be reasonable that the commission may wish to look at this matter to see whether it is true.

With respect to the concept of sharing equipment and uniforms, there are a number of joint exercises that are taken on an annual basis between Canada and our allies. But the kind of thing that has been described in the article is something unusual. The chief of defence staff is going to look into it on a conceptual level. But on the specific level, because it does relate to Somalia in 1993, this may be of interest to the commission.

Somalia
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe it. Talk about joint exercises. What about joint uniforms? Certainly these people have their own uniforms to wear. We do not do a complete swap on that, heaven help us.

Canadian forces have not been under foreign command since World War I. The terms of the 1992 memorandum of understanding of orders, signed by former Chief of Defence Staff John de Chastelain, clearly state that the complete operational control of the Canadian forces will be under Canadian command. Yet these direct orders were disobeyed regardless of how he tries to explain it away by talking about joint exercises.

What has the minister of defence done to ensure such an incident will not recur? He cannot just stand behind the fact that this was in 1993 long before he was elected. What is he going to do about this and how will he enable the Somalia commission to look into this and investigate it?

Somalia
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, we first have to ascertain whether the allegation in the newspaper is actually true. And I am sure that will be of interest to the commission.

The commission has all the means at its disposal to look into the deployment of the Canadian Armed Forces to Somalia in 1993, and the department will co-operate in every way.

Somalia
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is the toleration of this kind of behaviour. We have had somebody admit on the news nationally here already that he ordered that this person take him out, drop the guy and shoot him. I hardly think that is something the minister needs to look into a great deal more.

Jean Boyle said: "We were aware that the Americans were working with Canadians jointly in terms of intelligence and support in Somali" and added to nobody's surprise that he had no knowledge of any behaviour outlined by a former Green Beret.

This is a pattern we are seeing develop with this minister, blaming things off on cuts and blaming it off to a subordinate. Also with Jean Boyle, again and again say "hey, I had absolutely no knowledge about it". Why did Jean Boyle have absolutely no knowledge about it? Just what does he have any knowledge about?

Somalia
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, if the hon. member could only listen to herself.

First of all, General Boyle was not the chief of defence staff in 1993. Second, she talks about a pattern. The only pattern I see is the pattern of her party not allowing the commission to do its work.

This party in opposition called for the inquiry. We set it up. We want the inquiry to do the job. I believe Canadians want answers. They do not want answers from the Reform Party because they know they cannot trust those answers. Canadians want answers from the commission.

The Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

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

We were astounded to learn today that U.S. army soldiers belonging to commandos sent to Somalia apparently deliberately represented themselves as soldiers of the Canadian armed forces. According to the Globe and Mail , a U.S. army captain even ordered a Canadian forces soldier to kill a Somali, which he did.

How can the Prime Minister explain that U.S. army officers could have dressed in the uniforms of Canadian soldiers and even given them orders?

The Somalia Inquiry
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, as I have just answered to earlier questions, this is an allegation that has come to light today. It is something that obviously concerns everyone, but to get to the truth of the matter I think we should perhaps wait and see if the inquiry wishes to pursue it because it does raise certain troubling questions.

With respect to the whole concept of joint exercises and as to whether there is exchange of equipment and that type of thing, the chief of defence staff is looking into it. I will be able to have something more to say at a later date once we look at the conceptual question. On the specifics, we have to wait for the inquiry.

The Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, in order for the commission to be able to get to the bottom of this, the documents that have gone missing may have to resurface. That would be the first requirement.

My supplementary is for the Prime Minister. While his chief of staff is looking into these new revelations, can the Prime Minister assure us or not that such practices did not take place under his leadership and that they are not now taking place?

The Somalia Inquiry
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, the practices are clear of the Canadian Armed Forces. Canadian soldiers operate under Canadian control. There is some sharing of individuals on specific missions, and those are bilateral agreements with our NATO allies, specifically with the United States on air crews. That goes on all the time.

The allegations to which the hon. member referred which appeared in the newspaper this morning have just come to light. It is something we are going to look at in a general nature, but specifically this may be of interest for the commission.

Quebec
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians agree that any attempt by Quebec to secede would have to proceed by the rule of law.

On another constitutional front we are equally adamant that the government not offer distinct society status to Quebec as a way to try to buy constitutional peace. In fact, in some provinces, including my own, such a constitutional proposal would have to pass a provincial referendum. I can assure you that in British Columbia that concept will never fly.

Does the government understand that the distinct society proposals contained in the throne speech will be totally unacceptable to the people of British Columbia and to the people of Canada?

Quebec
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, what strikes me is the absence of any argument to support the idea that the distinct society clause or whatever you may call it is against Canada. I think it is a great thing to do for Canadians to recognize that in an anglophone North America there is a strong francophone society and we are proud of it.

We explained that this does not mean more money for Quebecers, privileges for Quebecers. Other Canadians will be so proud to recognize the great Quebec society.