House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was accused.

Topics

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence and the Prime Minister promised that the Somalia inquiry would get to the bottom of all this. They have once more broken their promise by imposing a deadline on the commissioners. The minister tells us there have already been three extensions. If the army had not tried to conceal the documents, there would have been no need for an extension.

By muzzling the commissioners, is the government not interfering politically in a judicial process? In other words, is the government not acting both as judge and jury in this case?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that, as I see it, when a commission asks for an extension the first time, it is okay for the government to say yes. At least I hope that was the case.

They ask for a second extension, and the government says yes. That is entirely above board. It is not interference, and everything is okay. They ask for a third extension, and the government says yes. But when the government adds: "However, we want you to finish your work by a certain date", in that case, it is interference.

Is it interference when we say no but not when we say yes? If that is the case, why ask for an extension in the first place, if it should be automatic, according to the hon. member?

We must have some logic here. If people ask for an extension, they should realize that the answer may be yes or no, or yes with an extension but with a deadline set by the government.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister says he granted an extension because he saw a number of requests. The commissioners asked for extensions because there were a lot of things they did not see. They were concealed by the army. Obviously, if there had been no concealing, there would have been no request for an extension.

The Minister of National Defence said a few months ago that he wanted to know about everything that happened in Somalia. He may have heard some very important news, so important he no longer wants to know everything.

I want to ask the minister whether, when he made his decision, he was perhaps thinking about the next election campaign, and whether the true intentions of the Minister of National Defence were to ensure that what comes out of this report will be only what happened under the Conservative government and then to conceal from the public what happened under this Liberal administration?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, no, this is not about trying to conceal or bury anything whatsoever.

What is important in my mind, and I hope it is in the minds of Canadians, is that we must proceed so as to ensure that the Government of Canada takes steps to prevent such situations from recurring in future.

Regarding what happened in Somalia, the two incidents that occurred within a rather short time frame, everyone is aware that these elements were very carefully examined by the commission. We never required the commission to follow a schedule set by the

government. We refrained from suggesting who should be heard as witnesses.

When the commission has finished its work, it will be able to make recommendations and reach any conclusions it feels appropriate, and the government is committed to take these into consideration.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have direct allegations that Robert Fowler and General Anderson shredded important documents relating to the murder investigation of Shidane Arone, and that Mr. Fowler did not keep Kim Campbell informed during this entire thing. But the Prime Minister protected his friends, appointed them to positions outside of the country and now he is trying to bury the inquiry before we find the smoking gun.

Will the Prime Minister explain this abuse of trust?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, one of the difficulties is in dealing with this whole area of the inquiry that the hon. gentleman is pursuing. I want to make sure that I understand because I do not know quite what type of response the hon. gentleman wants.

In the ethics bible of the Reform Party it says: "Questions should not be used to get straight information".

What I am trying to find out here is: Are you asking straight questions or do you want straight answers?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, you will please address all of your remarks directly to the Chair.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the Prime Minister that we asked these questions about Mr. Fowler two years ago and then he was hustled off to New York.

My business experience says that if you want to rebuild something that is not working you start from the top, not from the bottom. The problem is the Prime Minister has been protecting the people at the top. When things went wrong for the Prime Minister's friends in positions of responsibility he shut down the inquiry and let the people at the bottom take the blame.

When will the Prime Minister stop shielding his buddies at the top and show some integrity by holding them accountable?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, if my hon. friend's business experience is going to do his party any good he has some mighty tough work to do at the top.

We are dealing now with whether or not the hon. member understands that there have been three extensions given to the commission. The commission is free to ask any witnesses it wishes to appear before it. It can determine who it wants to hear. It has until the end of March to do that and it can determine in its own good time as it always has.

Far be it for us to suggest to the commission or to the hon. gentleman who should be called. If the hon. member wants to make recommendations to the commission on who should be heard as witnesses then he is free to do so.

Airbus Affair
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister refused to question the integrity of his ministers, who obviously goofed in the Airbus affair. Perhaps he might be less forgiving of the obvious incompetence of the RCMP Commissioner, Philip Murray, who took two years to realize that his men were investigating a former Prime Minister.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Everyone agrees that it makes no sense for the top man at the RCMP not to be aware of the famous letter to Switzerland. Under the circumstances, does the Prime Minister continue to have faith in the RCMP Commissioner?

Airbus Affair
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the commissioner under the act passed by Parliament is responsible for the management and control of the RCMP. He is carrying out this work. He is assuming his responsibilities and I think that is the answer to my hon. friend's question.

Airbus Affair
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, what is left of the Liberals' wishful thinking, of this government's accountability, when a senior bureaucrat supposedly in charge of the RCMP can make mistakes costing taxpayers millions of dollars and yet continue to hold the respect and trust of this government and this Prime Minister?

Airbus Affair
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I reject the premise of my hon. friend's question because the investigation in question is active. It is ongoing. Brian Mulroney in agreeing to the settlement of the case against him said: "The parties have always acknowledged that the RCMP must continue investigating any allegations of illegality or wrongdoing brought to its attention". That is exactly what it is doing.

I do not know why my hon. friend questions this proper work of the national police force.

Indian Affairs
Oral Question Period

February 4th, 1997 / 2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Elijah Harper Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister of Indian affairs. Last November, the royal commission on aboriginal peoples issued its final report. The commission urges us to end decades of jurisdictional uncertainty and deal with aboriginal peoples on a nation to nation basis within the Canadian federation.

The minister has had two months to study this report. Will he tell the House what actions the government has taken toward considering the recommendations in the royal commission's final report?

Indian Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie
Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the member has an easier question. The royal commission has spent five years with many ups and downs. In the end it has created a very scholarly report. The commission should be commended. It is a living document, a touchstone as has been evidenced by 600 people who met in Montreal last week to discuss the pros and cons.

We could not wait for the report to be finished during our tenure. So many of the things that it recommended in the end we were already doing as they were being discussed: inherent right, general policy, specific policy, the Inuit Grise Fiord package, the contemporary treaty in B.C.

I know the Reform Party has no interest in aboriginal affairs. The 150 tables we had going across the country were interested in what happened to royal commissions. This is what happens. There are 150 tables. This will be a touchstone for our negotiators. It will be a light.

There are 440 recommendations of which 89 touch us. I hope all provinces and territories where they are affected will use that same report as a touchstone, as a light to get to do the job better.