House of Commons Hansard #151 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was police.

Topics

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, would you be so kind as to call Starred Question No. 259.

*Question No. 259
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Fundy Royal, NB

With respect to Canada's vote on April 22, 2002, during a meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, can the government explain why Canada voted “no” to the question about whether it should be a human right to have access to clean drinking water, and how the decision was arrived at?

*Question No. 259
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, Canada strongly believes that countries have an obligation to provide access to safe drinking water for their residents. However, Canada had a number of serious concerns with the resolution on the promotion and the realization of the right to drinking water and sanitation, which was introduced at the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2002.

Canada's main concern was the introduction of language in the resolution on an international dimension to the “human right to water”, which could lead to the interpretation that states do not have the sovereign right to manage their own resources.

When the right to water is discussed internationally, Canada works to ensure that there is no encroachment on Canada's ability to control the water within its own territory and that other states do not have a claim on that water.

I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

*Question No. 259
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

*Question No. 259
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

November 5th, 2003 / 3:50 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to be so kind as to call Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers No. P-43, in the name of the right hon. member for Calgary Centre and No. P-44, in the name of the hon. member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie.

Motion P-43

That an Order of the House do issue for copies of all documentation, including reports, minutes of meeting, notes, e-mails, memos and correspondence since January 1, 2003 within the Canadian International Development Agency that relates to any infectious desease outbreak in China.

Motion P-44

That an Order of this House do issue for copies of all documents, memorandums, e-mails and other correspondence among or by Environment Canada, Communications Canada and Public Works and Government Services Canada leading to the awarding of one or more contracts to Acart Communications Inc. for “Clean Air Day 2003”.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that both of these Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be transferred for debate. I think you might find the agreement of the Minister of Labour to that idea.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe
New Brunswick

Liberal

Claudette Bradshaw Minister of Labour

I would ask that both Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be transferred for debate.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The motions are transferred for debate pursuant to Standing Order 97(1).

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all other Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester has given the Chair a notice of a request for an emergency debate.

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, this is an application for an emergency debate concerning the allegations surrounding the arrest, deportation and imprisonment of Mr. Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen who was held without charge and tortured in a Syrian prison for one year.

There is ample evidence that officials of the Government of Canada were involved in his arrest and in the decision by the United States to deport Mr. Arar to Syria and not to Canada.

In deciding the merits of this application, the Speaker I know is required to take into account several criteria found in Standing Order 52. I would like to address those.

First, it must be a specific and an important matter requiring urgent consideration. I would argue that it is urgent because just days ago leaks came from certain government agencies, unnamed agencies, that actually put Mr. Arar and his family at risk now.

It is also urgent because there is another Canadian in the same prison. We have learned from Mr. Arar's presentation that there is another Canadian in prison by the name of Mr. Abdullah Almalki. He could be being tortured right now as we speak.

Yesterday, Mr. Arar spoke publicly for the first time since his release from prison and his return to Canada. What requires immediate attention by the Parliament of Canada is the suggestion that Canadian officials, or rogue elements in the employ of Canada, were complicit in his deportation to Syria for torture.

There are now indications that information that was leaked by Canadian officials, while Mr. Arar was in prison, points to the fact that Canada was receiving intelligence reports based on confessions that were extracted by the torture of a Canadian citizen. This requires immediate consideration by the members of the House. The responsible ministers of the crown should make full and complete statement on this issue. It cannot be defended by a scrum and sound bites.

Second, consideration should be given to the degree to which the matter comes within the scope of ministerial responsibility.

It is evident that ministers are responsible and answerable for the actions of all agents of the Government of Canada, including officers of the RCMP and CSIS and other intelligence agencies. The Minister of Foreign Affairs is answerable for the actions of Canada's diplomatic and consular services that were involved in this case in New York, Syria and elsewhere. The Prime Minister has told the House that he made representations to the Syrians.

Third, the Speaker is to consider if there are other opportunities to raise this issue. Just a few minutes ago the foreign affairs committee tabled a motion that was passed in committee asking the government to hold an inquiry.

There are no allotted days available to members until the new supply cycle begins in 2004. I believe the Speaker has also noticed that there are certain political activities afoot that could lead to a prorogation of the House. In any event, it is clear that the ministers who were in office during this incident may not be in place much longer. The House needs to hear from them while they are still in office.

The Speaker may note that this case has been the subject of examination in committee. Mr. Arar's statements of yesterday are such that the entire House should be seized with the issue, rather than just a few members who are participants in the committee.

I respectfully request, Mr. Speaker, that you allow this emergency debate because it is an urgent situation.

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The Chair thanks the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester for the arguments he has put forward in advance of this case.

I point out that one item that he left out of his list of considerations that might make the matter urgent is the possibility for other debates in the House on the same subject.

I note that today a report was tabled in the House dealing with this very matter. A motion for concurrence in that committee report could be moved at the next sitting or two of the House, but very shortly. In my view that would provide ample opportunity for a debate on the very subject that the hon. member is seeking to have raised by way of an emergency debate.

Accordingly, I do not find that his request meets the exigencies of the standing order at this time.