House of Commons Hansard #73 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was rail.

Topics

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the American government announced that in terms of its own national security. Whether we had joined them or not in an action in Iraq would have made no difference in that decision. That decision is in relation to who goes across the border or not. These are two completely separate issues.

An attempt by the opposition to confuse the Canadian people in a way that makes it look as if we are losing influence with our American colleagues is just playing into their hands. It is cheap politics in an attempt to disparage the government instead of looking at the real interests of our country.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government has constantly antagonized the current American administration with its anti-American comments and policies. Defence suppliers are being asked to transfer production to the United States because of Canada's opposition and the potential delays at the border.

How many more Canadian jobs is the government prepared to lose because of its anti-American policies?

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member pretends that we are not doing well in terms of jobs in Canada. She has given me the opportunity to say that Canada created more than 560,000 new jobs last year while the Americans lost 200,000.

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence announced yesterday that he would be withdrawing officers from the unified command in Qatar because they could possibly take part in the conflict in Iraq and that he did not want that. However, the soldiers that are integrated with both American and British combat units will be directly involved in combat.

Why remove officers so that they are not involved in combat, and let soldiers remain involved in combat?

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the reason we are reducing the number of persons we have in Qatar is because Canada will not be sending an army, or aircraft or other forces for the war because we are not taking part in this war, as the Prime Minister said.

The reason there is a small number, some 30 personnel, in non-combat roles is because there is a decades-old tradition of exchanges with our allies, and this will continue.

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the circumstances are exceptional. The officers who leave the unified command will no longer be there, in a way, for the Canadian soldiers that have been integrated with combat units.

My question for the minister is as follows: since he believed it was wise to withdraw the officers, how then, using his own logic, can he explain leaving soldiers there, with no one responsible for them, and under the sole authority of American and British officers? That is the problem his decision has created.

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, with respect, I think it is the member opposite's logic that leaves something to be desired.

For decades now, we have taken part in exchanges with our allies, Britain, the United States and others. When these soldiers are with British troops or American troops, they are under British or American control. Therefore, there is no need for Canadian officers. However, ultimately, these soldiers are under the control of the Government of Canada.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that is cold comfort to those people.

A military report last night has stated that our 40 year old Sea Kings lacked the appropriate night vision sensors required for their missions. Consequently, they have been unable to complete their given tasks while enforcing UN sanctions against Iraq and during Operation Apollo. In fact, our Sea Kings have even been excluded from participating in night operations with the U.S. navy.

I would appreciate it if maybe the minister could focus his dim vision on this problem right now. Why does the Liberal government continue to send our Sea Kings into missions it knows they simply cannot perform? Is it bad judgment or simply bad politics?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the Sea Kings have performed admirably in the region. They have carried out 2,000 missions in Operation Apollo in the gulf. As I have said a number of times, they have done approximately one-half of the hailings--

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I know that certain hon. members like to assist the minister by providing words to include in his answer to questions, but the minister seems quite capable of doing this on his own. And while I am sure he appreciates the offered assistance, we must be able to hear his answer. When members make so many suggestions at once, the Speaker cannot hear.

The Minister of National Defence has the floor. We want to hear his answer.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I was attempting to say, we have approximately 10% to 15% of the assets including helicopters in the region and we have done literally half of the hailings which are done by helicopters, and the boardings which are done by sailors from ships.

I would say that our navy including the helicopters have performed in an exemplary fashion.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, we know that those are dangerous missions and they simply are not equipped. Because of the Sea Kings' inadequate sensors, our choppers have to fly close enough to unidentified ships to read the writings on their sides. This leaves our crews wide open to being shot down.

It is high time the Prime Minister read the writing on the wall in great big letters. He had the opportunity to replace the Sea Kings 10 years ago. When will he admit that trying to save his political face could cost military lives?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the lives of our helicopter pilots are extremely important to the government and to Canadians, so it would be a good idea if the hon. member would get her facts straight. They do not move close to the ships as she claimed. They stay always within five miles from the ships. Indeed, their night vision equipment is in the process of being upgraded.

This morning I had the opportunity to speak to three helicopter pilots who explained to me these procedures and how their operations were indeed entirely safe.

Persons with Disabilities
Oral Question Period

March 19th, 2003 / 2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Cambridge, ON

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

Leading associations advocating for persons with disabilities and their families have been raising concerns about access to the disability tax credit. What steps is the government taking to address the serious concerns of Canadians with disabilities?