House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sex.

Topics

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Crown Corporations

Mr. Speaker, it is very touching that the member is so concerned about the condition of al-Qaeda prisoners. However no questions have been raised by the international committee of the Red Cross or anyone else about the treatment of the prisoners.

I also point out what Mr. Rumsfeld said the other day in a television interview. He said:

I think that everyone has agreed that under the Geneva Convention that the United States has been, is today, and will in the future treat them--will apply the Geneva Convention and see that they have the appropriate rights under the Geneva Convention.

That is what we were seeking to obtain clarification about.

Minister of National Defence
Oral Question Period

February 5th, 2002 / 2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

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

The Minister of National Defence has told the House that JTF2 reports only to him and only orally. He has said that he then decides, all by his lonesome, whether the Prime Minister will be informed.

Is the government telling the House that the only way the Prime Minister and his government know about the operations of JTF2 is if the Minister of National Defence remembers what he has been told or deems it important enough to pass on?

Minister of National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it would be my responsibility to tell the Prime Minister, in case there is any deviation from government policy, if anything out of the ordinary happens with respect to any of these matters involving the JTF2.

The JTF2 is conducting itself completely within the terms of the rules of engagement, completely within Canadian law and completely within government policy.

The JTF2 was sent there to be part of the mission to flush out the terrorists and arrests are a normal part of that mission. The fact that they have taken prisoners should not come as a surprise to anybody.

Minister of National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, it will not be a surprise for at least eight days with this minister.

My supplementary question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

The Pentagon has proposed an Americas command that would put Canadian troops and ships under an integrated command. Canada's vice-chief of defence staff, General Macdonald, said that Canada “declared ourselves ready to consider an arrangement that could extend to land and sea”. I wonder if the Prime Minister has been told about this.

I wonder if the Deputy Prime Minister can tell the House whether Canadian officials are now discussing a major extension of Norad. If the Deputy Prime Minister knows this and if he will tell the House what is being discussed, I wonder if he would come before parliament--

Minister of National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of National Defence.

Minister of National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the United States, under its attempts to improve its homeland security, is looking at a change in its command structure. In doing that, it will have an effect on what we do here because we are part of the same continent. We want to make sure we know what it is doing. We want to make sure it will not have an adverse effect on Norad. We have been in consultations with the U.S. No commitments of any kind are being made until there is a whole government discussion on the matter.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, on January 16 the Department of National Defence said that Canadian soldiers would treat any captured prisoners as POWs until a special tribunal determined their status. The next day the minister of defence said that we would hand over prisoners to the United States without holding tribunals, and in fact we did so. Now the Minister of Foreign Affairs is asking the United States to set up tribunals that we did not need.

My question for the Minister of Foreign Affairs is this. If we did not need tribunals two weeks ago why do we need them today?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

What we need, Mr. Speaker, is for the people opposite us in the House to read the Geneva convention instead of interpreting it their way and trying to mislead the Canadian people on what the Geneva convention says. That is what we need.

Article 5 of the Geneva convention, if they would put it on their desks, says “in case of doubt...a tribunal”. We said that our prisoners would be treated in accordance with international law. They are being treated in accordance with international law. We have obeyed international law and we will continue to do so.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, might I suggest a learn to read week for the Liberal caucus and perhaps the new minister could read it to his other colleagues in the front bench. They do not know what it says.

Clearly, handing over al-Qaeda terrorists to face justice is the right thing to do, but the government is second and third guessing its own policies. It has no clue about its own policies. The fact of the matter is DND said it would hand over prisoners without a tribunal, then the minister contradicted that and the foreign affairs minister is contradicting that.

Our troops did great work in capturing al-Qaeda terrorists. If the government believes our troops did the right thing, why is it changing its policies?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for raising the tone in the House. I do not think it is helpful for members of the House to suggest there is confusion where there is not.

We have always said that we would act in accordance with international law. What we have also said is there are differences in interpretation of international law. The Deputy Prime Minister has said that we are resolving that as is proper in an amicable way with our most important ally, the United States of America.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of National Defence said that the Geneva conventions had been written at an earlier time and were therefore not easily applicable to the conditions that exist today.

Why then did the hon. minister tell us on January 28 that Canada would respect not just any international law, but the Geneva conventions?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, what the Minister of National Defence said, if I may put it another way, was that the conditions contemplated when the Geneva convention was drafted have changed considerably. I think this is just plain common sense. Everyone in the House knows this.

Everyone also knows that the interpretation of the convention is being discussed. Members on this side know that we are respecting the Geneva convention and that we are interpreting international law as it now stands. We must respect the fact that discussions are still taking place as to how international law should be interpreted.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the values in the name of which the war in Afghanistan was launched require that these same values be respected in the continuation of that war.

Will the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell us how Canada can have concluded with the United States an agreement which respects the Geneva conventions, when the Minister of National Defence says they are not applicable?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I repeat what I said earlier. The Geneva convention is not inapplicable. It is applied differently. This is where the discussion of international law comes in. Obviously, lawyers can disagree, and the member knows this as well as I do.

What is important is that our values support respect for international law. That is what we have always done in this House and on the battlefields to which we send our troops.

Minister of National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, again today the defence minister said that the JTF2 followed the rules of engagement with respect to the capture of the al-Qaeda terrorists. Yet the minister contradicted himself when he said last week that the rules of engagement had not been finalized.

When were the rules established for the JTF2 and who signed off on them?