House of Commons Hansard #147 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

War Criminals
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Ontario, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice.

On this the 10th anniversary of the release of the Deschenes commission report on war criminals in Canada, will the minister inform the House about the status of his department's efforts to bring to justice suspected Nazi war criminals who have sought to avoid persecution for their acts and who obviously believe that Canada is a safe haven?

War Criminals
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am among those who believe that after the second world war too many governments did too little for too long to deal with the presence of alleged war criminals in Canada. What I can do today is provide an accounting of the efforts made by the government since it took office in late 1993.

Immediately after taking office we intensified efforts to prepare for prosecution those cases we felt were appropriate for criminal proceedings. In 1994 a Supreme Court of Canada judgment in the case of Finta made criminal prosecution a very remote prospect and very difficult practically.

As a result, in January 1995 the then Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and I announced that we would commence 12 cases within the following three years, civil proceedings asking the court to denaturalize and deport those against whom we would allege that there was a lack of candour when they applied for entry into this country and those against whom we would allege there was evidence of complicity in war crimes during the second world war.

We will do better than the 12 over three years. By the end of this month we will have commenced all 12 of those cases. That is not to say we have done enough because we have not. We will continue to work on other cases where there is evidence to justify proceedings.

The government will continue to work because there is no statute of limitations on the moral imperative to act where there is evidence that there are such people among us.

One last thing, if I may, there are those in this country with information to assist us. I urge them to go to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and provide that evidence so we can act on it.

War Criminals
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, today the Canadian Jewish Congress has accused the RCMP of not taking action or even taking seriously information that was given to it on Nazi war criminals living in Canada.

Over the past 50 years successive Liberal and Tory governments have ignored the existence of Nazi criminals living in Canada. Why?

War Criminals
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I will deal with those aspects of the question other than the RCMP. I can answer for the Department of Justice.

In the period since we took office the Department of Justice has proceeded with cases where there is evidence to justify initiating proceedings. As I have just told the hon. member for Scarborough, we will continue in those efforts. The government believes as a matter of moral imperative that we must act where there is evidence to justify it.

As I also said very hurriedly a few moments ago, if there are those, whomever they may be, who have evidence that is relevant to this matter I urge them to turn that evidence over to the RCMP so that it can be evaluated and acted upon.

War Criminals
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I understand there are over 1,000 names of suspected Nazi war criminals living in Canada. I also understand that the Canadian Jewish Congress has provided over 220 names to the RCMP and it has not responded. The department of immigration also has a list of over 200 suspected modern day war criminals.

What action will the government take beyond the 12 it is taking through civil proceedings to ensure that more war criminals are deported? One Nazi war criminal in the past 50 years has been

deported. What will the government to do ensure that not only Nazi war criminals but modern day war criminals-

War Criminals
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Justice.

War Criminals
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying to the hon. member for Ontario earlier this afternoon, the government is acting or there is evidence to justify action.

Before the hon. member becomes misled by claims of thousands of cases where action should be taken, I want her to bear in mind that the Deschenes commission, the 10th anniversary of which we are marking today as the member for Ontario said, identified far fewer cases. It identified about 29 or 30 priority cases where there was urgent evidence that action should be taken immediately.

It is from that list of cases that we have taken the ones on which we have acted immediately. We are not stopping at 12. There is no magic in that number. We will continue to prepare and proceed in cases where we believe there is evidence to justify it.

We do not have all the evidence from those who claim to have it in hand. I urge anybody who has evidence to give it to the RCMP so it can be evaluated and where appropriate acted upon.

Middle East
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères, QC

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

Yesterday, the Government of Israel authorized the start of construction for a new Jewish colony in East Jerusalem, despite strong Palestinian opposition. Yet a UN resolution has condemned this act, which may jeopardize the Middle East peace process.

Can the minister tell us whether he has contacted the Israeli ambassador, or plans to do so, in order to inform him of Canada's strong disapproval of the plan to set up a Jewish colony in East Jerusalem, an Israeli-occupied territory since 1967?

Middle East
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows well that the traditional and longstanding policy of the government is to oppose the expansion of settlement in those territories.

Our real interest is in trying to find ways of bringing about a peaceful process in the Middle East. We think the Oslo process that was set up is the best way of following that and therefore our stance has been very clear.

Middle East
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell us clearly what the Canadian position is with respect to Israel's announced intention of surrendering only 9 per cent of the West Bank, rather than the 30 per cent the Palestinians were initially expecting?

Middle East
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I said, the Oslo process has clearly indicated the formulas for reconciliation between the two parties. We support the development of an agreement of understanding between the two parties in order to actively pursue the development of an agreement on the transfer of territories in this region.

Young Offenders Act
Oral Question Period

March 19th, 1997 / 2:55 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, in November 1993 my colleague from Calgary Northeast and I met with the justice minister to encourage him to make significant changes to the Young Offenders Act.

Since then he has tinkered here, has tinkered there and has virtually accomplished nothing that reflects the wishes of Canadians, like lowering the age or publishing names.

Will he admit today that the latest dog and pony show costing several hundreds of thousands of dollars is a sham and that there will be no changes to the Young Offenders Act before the next election?

Young Offenders Act
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I remember clearly the very pleasant meeting I had with the hon. member and his colleague. I have a vivid recollection of the force with which he expressed his position.

Among other things he urged the government to change the Young Offenders Act to deal more effectively with violent criminals, particularly those aged 16 and 17. He urged the government to introduce stronger penalties for the most serious crimes of violence. He urged us to do something about safety in schools.

In June 1994, following my meeting with the hon. member, I introduced Bill C-37 which was subsequently adopted and proclaimed in force. Among other things that legislation doubled the maximum for first degree murder in youth court; provided for the transfer of 16 and 17 year olds charged with the most serious crimes of violence, except where they could satisfy the onus; and provided for the free sharing of information between police and school officials for safety's sake.

The hon. member and his colleagues in the Reform Party voted against that legislation. Mr. Speaker, you could imagine my

surprise. Perhaps the hon. member would explain to his constituents why he did not support us when we acted.

Young Offenders Act
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, the sad part about it was that when the legislation was brought forward we were here to support justice. This social engineer does not know the meaning of the word. He has not figured it out yet. That is his problem.

Could the champion of social engineering explain to the House today why after 10 or 12 years of Liberal law regarding young offenders it is 400 per cent worse than it was in the beginning?

Young Offenders Act
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I have always preferred engineering to demolition. What we are really talking about here is more in the nature of architecture, building a better Young Offenders Act. We have been doing that.

Quite apart from the work we did with Bill C-37 which did not meet with the favour of the hon. member, we also had the justice committee spend the last 18 months travelling the country speaking to police, parents, school principals and young people themselves, and preparing architecture that will improve the Young Offenders Act into the next century.

One of the hard working and contributing members of that committee is the colleague of the hon. member, the member for Crowfoot. The member for Crowfoot would have hurt feelings to hear what the hon. member says about the work of that committee. The fact is that it is working hard. It is preparing a report. When we get that report we will give it the attention it deserves.