House of Commons Hansard #130 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

Aéroports De Montréal
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is well aware that the policy on the airports gives local authorities the opportunity to reach important

decisions regarding airports specifically and the regions where they are located.

Yesterday, the Minister of Transport said, in response to a question, that the intent of his policy was to enable local authorities to make these decisions. The court expressed a different opinion, and the authority is the one before the courts.

Aéroports De Montréal
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the minister that the federal government is the tenant in this contract, and that the judge himself appealed to the federal government to act and to assume its responsibilities.

Are we to understand that the minister is saying he still does not want to resolve a problem the federal government created through its own inaction?

Aéroports De Montréal
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I think that even the hon. member understands there is a problem in a number of airports in Canada. Does he think a central government should make all these decisions? Or can a local authority resolve the problems of a given region? Is it not better placed to make these decisions?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence recently quoted from a document. I would ask that he table that document in the House.

Yesterday the defence minister stated in the House that there was no cover-up of the murder in Somalia. Let me remind him that his department shredded documents, intimidated witnesses, withheld truthful information from the military police and withheld evidence.

This points to a cover-up but we will never know the truth because the government is covering up the cover-up by shutting down the inquiry.

When the defence minister says that there is no cover-up, how does he know? Does he have evidence or facts to base that on? Or, is he just politically interfering with the inquiry once again?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, obviously we would not want to interfere in the work of this inquiry. The hon. member knows we are very conscious of our responsibility of not interfering in any judicial or quasi-judicial process.

The government has decisions to make. I want to say to my hon. friend it is true that yesterday I referred to a document during question period. I have subsequently tabled that document with the Chair prior to the commencement of question period.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Today's letter.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Douglas Young Acadie—Bathurst, NB

I hear the other member saying there are other letters or today's letter. Just to make sure there is no misunderstanding, that is one letter among several sent by the commissioners of the inquiry to the government asking for extension of time.

To be fair and rather than to quote from the documents and add to more confusion in the hon. member's mind, I would prefer when it is appropriate to also table the three other letters that were sent from the commission to the government requesting extensions of time and explaining how they function. I will be happy to do that for the edification of the member and his colleagues.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. minister may table the documents during question period with a page.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was referring to the letter he quoted from today. I asked him if he would table that document.

The minister stated in the House yesterday that there was no cover-up of the murder. Does he wish to withdraw that statement? He is drawing conclusions about events before the commission even produces its report. This is political interference with a judicial inquiry. Either the minister has evidence that he has not made public or he is interfering with the inquiry. Which is it? Is the minister interfering or hiding evidence?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as to the first part of the question I would like to be able to comply with my hon. friend's request that I table a phone call but it is tough to do that. I made it clear that I had received a phone call this morning and I simply indicated to the hon. member what the conversation was about.

Going to the second part of his question and discussing the specific issue of whether or not Canadians understand what happened on the ground in Somalia, the Somalia commission of inquiry has been going on now for nearly two years. It has heard over 100 witnesses. There have been hundreds of thousands of documents presented to the commission for its review.

There have been courts martial. There have been appeals of those courts martial. There are people who are and who have been clearly identified as having been involved in the specific incidents that occurred on the ground in Somalia.

What I have said and what I repeat is that Canadians who are interested in knowing what happened in those incidents are fully aware of what took place with respect to the murders by shooting or by torture.

What I have also tried to explain-and I will continue to try to do this-is that subsequent to those incidents occurring many, many things took place which were unacceptable, which are intolerable and which cannot be allowed to be repeated.

We are moving to try to correct those problems and those kinds of approaches. The hon. member and his party would like to have it go on until 1998, 1999 or maybe the year 2000. He can accuse us of many things but he will not be able to make it stick that we are going to procrastinate on as important an issue as what we are facing in this particular situation.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

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

The former director of the military police testified before the Somalia inquiry that, on three separate occasions, the current Chief of Defence Staff, who was the third top ranking officer of the armed forces at the time of the events in Somalia, refused to have the military police investigate the suspicious death of a Somali, on March 4, 1993, in attempt to cover up the circumstances.

In light of the troubling and contradictory testimony of the Chief of Defence Staff and the former director of military police, could the minister tell us if he continues to support the current Chief of Defence Staff in spite of the fact that he was at the heart of the Somalia scandal?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I always have been bery careful not to comment on testimony heard by the inquiry.

The hon. member referred to evidence given by a person who appeared before the inquiry. I will let the inquiry draw the appropriate conclusions after it has heard not only the person the hon. member referred to, but also Admiral Murray, who is the Acting Chief of Defence Staff at this time.

Of course, with all we have managed to accomplish since my appointment to National Defence, it is essential that those who hold positions in the Canadian Forces have the support of the Minister of National Defence, and that is the case for Admiral Murray.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would point out that the exact same thing was said about General Boyle. History is repeating itself.

Since, when he appointed Vice-Admiral Murray as Chief of Defence Staff, the minister knew about his involvement in the events in Somalia and since he made sure the inquiry will not be able to determine whether or not there was a cover-up, how can Quebecers and Canadians be sure of the vice-admiral's integrity?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Vice-Admiral Murray has testified before the inquiry. He gave evidence for several days.

I have no doubt that, at some point between now and June 30, the inquiry will be able to table a report based on all the evidence and information before it. This is one of the reasons the government saw fit, after granting three extensions, to ask the inquiry to wrap up its hearings by June 30, so that we can obtain its findings and recommendations on a number of matters that have been under investigation for almost two years now, two years during which more than 100 witnesses were heard.

No decision will be made on the evidence given by one witness or another until the inquiry has presented its findings.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the defence minister tried to blame the murder cover-up on the Somalia commission by quoting very selectively from a letter that he tabled only this morning.

What the minister did not tell the House is how the letter proves that the minister knew his decision to shut down the inquiry would hide the truth and protect Liberal friends like Bob Fowler.

Canadians want to know who the minister is protecting and why he is afraid of the truth.