House of Commons Hansard #152 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

Transport
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, Red Deer airport has local support for airport improvements. It has provincial support. It even has $1 million committed by a commercial airline carrier that wishes to start scheduled service.

How can the government justify denying federal help to Red Deer, while handing out $5.3 million to a rarely used airport at Charlevoix?

Transport
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should know that Transport Canada has divested a lot of airports over the last number of years and is not involved in the daily operation.

We do have ACAP funding which provides for certain safety measures and we have spent nearly $5 billion on various improvements over the years. However, regional development agencies are entitled for regional variations to make certain investments and that is what is done from time to time.

Transport
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, the time is when it suits the Liberals.

In Red Deer, funding commitments have been made by the local and municipal governments and private users. The airport in Charlevoix serves cabinet ministers and the Desmarais family.

When other airports are willing to put up a third, a third, a third, how much money did the Desmarais family contribute to airport improvements in Charlevoix?

Transport
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Beauce
Québec

Liberal

Claude Drouin Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member needs to know is that it is not a one-third-one-third-one-third program; it is a program of Economic Development Canada within the program of strategic infrastructure for regional development, in areas where tourism-related development is very important and 30% of employment is related to tourism. Le Manoir and the casino were important elements to which we contributed in order to help provide employment for the people.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the right hon. Prime Minister.

Yesterday the Prime Minister rightly expressed concern about what had happened to Maher Arar. He pointed the finger at the fact that it was the Americans who actually deported him, yet there remain many unanswered questions with respect to the Canadian role. Did the Americans consult the Canadian government as to whether or not they should deport him to Syria? If they did, what did Canada say? If they did not, what does that say about our relations?

I ask the Prime Minister, is he not willing today on his last day in the House of Commons as Prime Minister to do the right thing and initiate an adequate inquiry into what exactly happened and what the Canadian role was in this particular incident?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

November 6th, 2003 / 2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said yesterday that this deportation was done by the American government and we were not involved.

One official said that they had received advice from the Canadian government. The Minister of Foreign Affairs asked his counterpart who had said so to reveal the name and the information they have about the so-called Canadian participation. We are not to start an inquiry in Canada about something that has been done in the United States, having no facts to justify an inquiry.

If things come from the Americans that demand that we look further, of course we will look at what can be done. Accordingly, at this moment--

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, in my last question ever to the Prime Minister, I would ask him in his answer not to abdicate to the Americans the responsibility for sorting out what happened. Why are we asking the Americans what Canadians did? Why can we not find that out for ourselves, either as the government or through an inquiry?

Would the Prime Minister use this last opportunity to finally give an answer I might be happy with and say that he will do something about this, that he will have the appropriate inquiry? Let Canadians find out what Canadians did. Let us not depend on Americans to tell us what happened.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I like to be nice. It is not that I do not want to be nice.

I know one thing, when we have inquiries of this nature a lot of expenditures are incurred. If there is no Canadian, it cannot be justified. He cannot name one person on the Canadian side who is responsible for anything. We checked with all the departments. We could not find anything. The only accusation came by a statement from the secretary of state of the United States who said that Canadians were involved. It is in my judgment his responsibility to say so.

If there was no Canadian involved, this is not the time to have a fishing expedition.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, hopefully the Arar case will not become a black mark in Canadian history. The way this man was treated goes against basic human rights. Canada's reputation is at stake. Canada is known around the world as the protector of human rights.

Mr. Arar's family and friends, the Liberal backbench, and the opposition are unified in calling for a full public inquiry.

My question is for the Prime Minister. To clear the air, why will the government not hold a full public inquiry?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in fact, we are taking this issue very seriously. The commission for public complaints, on the original allegations raised by members opposite and others, is doing its review under authority granted to it by Parliament.

We are moving ahead and the member opposite should not be portraying otherwise.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, that leads me to ask another question. What is the value of Canadian citizenship?

Citizens of Canada must be assured that the government will do everything possible to protect them if they are detained in another country. Now we hear of Abdullah Almalki, another Canadian, who is imprisoned in Syria without charges.

When will the Liberal government come to the aid of another detained Canadian?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I explained to the press yesterday, we are doing exactly that.

We have requested consular access in respect of this gentleman. Up until now, the Syrian government has taken the position that he is a Syrian citizen and it is not obliged to do that.

We said that this answer was not satisfactory. I am awaiting a reply from the foreign minister as a result of my enquiry to the ambassador as of the day before yesterday.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, we must be dreaming. The Canadian government is holding the U.S. government to account for information provided to it by Canadian sources, which led to the deportation of a Canadian, Maher Arar, to Syria.

Does the Prime Minister not find it odd to ask the U.S. administration to reveal who, in Canada, provided it with information? Is it not up to his government to tell us?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, all the members of this House want to know the truth behind what happened. The Attorney General has launched an investigation into this deportation in an attempt to get answers. In the meantime, the Prime Minister has quite reasonably asked me to ask our American friends, who allegedly received some information, whether they could help us in this investigation. This is entirely reasonable. It is in line with the cooperation we have always enjoyed with the United States. I believe this is a reasonable measure, and completely acceptable under the circumstances.