House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-48.

Topics

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, in its May 2005 report, the UN committee against torture criticized Canada's lack of civil remedies to compensate victims of torture on foreign soil. Canadian courts had found, in fact, in the Bouzari case, that there is no recourse against a government guilty of acts of torture, in accordance with the State Immunity Act.

Does the Government of Canada intend to afford justice before Canadian courts to victims of torture in foreign countries, as the UN committee recommends?

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Mount Royal
Québec

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I respect commitment. Now, we are studying this matter, and I hope we will have a response in this regard.

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, Zarah Kazemi is dead; William Sampson, Maher Arar, Houshang Bouzari and many more have suffered physically and mentally from torture on foreign soil.

Is the minister aware that Canada cannot not protect its citizens who have dual nationality against torture and cannot even give them the right, in Canada, to seek compensation from foreign governments responsible for torture?

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Mount Royal
Québec

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, we are looking at ways to see how we can provide recourse.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Charleswood—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, the health minister has claimed that private delivery of health care will rob the health care system of personnel, yet the defence department hired a private company to provide supplementary medical personnel at military facilities. The contract is worth almost half a billion dollars. The government says it is against private delivery, but then it contracts out to private providers.

Could the minister explain that contradiction?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Toronto Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I have explained in the House on several occasions, the defence department, for reasons of operational needs of the defence department, is not subject to the Canada Health Act. When our troops are in Afghanistan or when they are in Bosnia, they do not check into a local provincial hospital. They need to have the services of medical care for themselves when they need it.

They are putting their lives on the line for their country. Let us support them rather than attacking them, as in this absolutely ridiculous way by the member.

Health
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Charleswood—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, what is ridiculous is the minister's answer. We are talking about Canadian soldiers on Canadian land, soldiers in this country.

The private company of which I speak uses doctors from the public system. Essentially, the government is using public personnel to provide a private service. If one follows the health minister's logic, this will deplete the public system of needed health practitioners. Why does the health minister speak out against private delivery when his own government contracts out medical services to private companies?

Health
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Toronto Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows full well that the Canadian Forces have had a proud tradition of being able to make sure that they give the medical services necessary to our armed forces, our men and women in uniform, so that they can do their jobs.

The forces have always been called upon to do that. In recognition of that, they are called upon to do it outside the normal procedures of the Canada Health Act. That is required by operational necessity. It is required for the well-being of our troops. It is required for the well-being of our country. I think everybody on this side of the House recognizes that.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

June 23rd, 2005 / 3 p.m.

Liberal

Wajid Khan Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, in early 2006 a brigade HQ and an army task force will be deployed in Kandahar as an ongoing commitment to ISAF in Afghanistan. Given the ongoing grave security situation with regard to the Kandahar region, can the Minister of National Defence tell the House, within the constraints of operational security, what preparations are being taken in the way of equipment and training provision and for force protection for CF units due to be posted to Kandahar?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Toronto Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. He is extremely knowledgeable in military matters. He comes from a country in the region. He knows, and hon. members of the House know full well, that our members of the Canadian Forces have extraordinary experience in the country of Afghanistan.

I can assure him and other hon. members in the House that under the leadership of General Hillier, who was the ISAF commander in Afghanistan and is a recognized expert in the area, that our forces will be trained, they will be equipped and they will acquit themselves well in what will be a dangerous but ultimately successful mission for this country and for the development of peace in the world.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Pursuant to order adopted Tuesday, June 21, the House will now proceed to statements. I now call upon the hon. Deputy Prime Minister.

Air-India Flight 182
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remember the loss of 329 people on Air-India flight 182, which was destroyed in a heinous act of terror 20 years ago.

Today many of their relatives have joined the Prime Minister, the leaders of the three opposition parties and the premier of British Columbia at a special commemorative service in Ireland. Others have joined us here this afternoon in Parliament.

I am honoured by their presence here today, and I thank them for coming. I too join with all of my colleagues in Parliament and all Canadians in offering our condolences.

When we lose loved ones, we often gather together as family and friends to share recollections about them. These stories help us to remember and, perhaps, to begin the healing process.

I have with me today a book that tells the stories of the people on Air-India flight 182, entitled Love, Honour, Respect: The Memories of Our Loved Ones . It was produced by some of their families to honour the wives, husbands, children and parents who were lost that day off the coast of Ireland. A copy of it was presented to the Prime Minister when he met with families on June 7 in Toronto.

When I met recently with family members, both in Toronto and in Vancouver, their personal words went beyond the stories in this book. No one could be untouched by the sense of loss, the pain, the hurt and, yes, the anger of those who lost loved ones. Family members helped me understand the many lives that were changed forever by this tragedy and the contributions that those who died might have made to our country and our world.

We cannot bring back these innocent victims, but we can honour their lives by ensuring that events such as the one that took them from us never happen again and that we do all we can to prevent terrorist acts around the world.

Above these chambers and across Canada today, we have lowered flags and have declared a national day of mourning to show that we remember those who were lost. It is in this same spirit of commemoration that the government will work with family members on how best to commemorate permanently the Air-India victims and the lives of their relatives.

Yesterday the Prime Minister announced that June 23 will be a national day for Canadians to remember the victims of terrorism. It is fitting that this day should be June 23, the day of the first mass terror attack in our history. In this way, we will ensure that Canadians will always remember the costs of such terror and the lives and loved ones lost.

The writing of the late Rabindranath Tagore, one of modern India's greatest poets, is found on several pages in the memorial book with me today. In one verse, he writes:

Let the dead have the immortality of fame, but the living the immortality of love

I hope that by our actions today and in the future we can offer compassion and support to the living, whose lives were changed forever by this event.

As the Prime Minister said this morning in a moving service of commemoration in Ireland:

--never forget that remembrance is in itself a timeless act of love. In so doing, we keep alive the memory of those who are missed. We feel them in our hearts. We mourn them, we celebrate them. And always, and forever, we remember.

Air-India Flight 182
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, on this national day of mourning, we remember the lives of those lost on flight 182, 20 years ago today. On behalf of the Conservative Party, I want to offer our sympathy, condolences and prayers for the families of the 329 victims of this horrific terror.

We offer our condolences to the families of the victims of this tragedy.

Neither the passing of years nor the machinery of state have provided answers to those whose lives who were changed forever on June 23, 1985.

Twenty years ago, families were ripped apart and forever altered by that deadly explosion over the cold North Atlantic waters off the coast of Ireland.

It was the worst terrorist act originating in Canada in our nation's history. An evil act of indiscriminate terror killed someone's child, someone's mother, someone's father, someone's family. Over 80 children were killed. Six parents lost all their children and over 20 complete families were killed.

An act of pure evil and indiscriminate terror still wounds the entire Canadian community. This assault on sensibility is an open wound with no answers still, and no justice for those whose family members or friends we remember at this time.

We share with the families in the memory of their lost loved ones.

We do so in full frustration that many questions still remain unanswered. These questions deserve to be answered and all of us need to know that our government, our country, has done its all to find out what happened.

Most important, who committed this crime? Who caused this slaughter of innocents? Were there any failures by anyone in authority who might have altered this sad history?

In recent years, we have come to realize that not all matters of security can be examined in public, but they must be examined by competent and trustworthy individuals. Important questions have to be answered, and whenever possible, they must be answered publicly.

People in my home province of Nova Scotia, particularly around Peggy's Cove, were similarly confronted with a tragic disaster in 1998, which also resulted in a great loss of life. The Swissair crash forever changed the lives of families of victims but also of those who lived in surrounding areas.

Therefore, I want to remember and thank the people of Ireland, who cared for the remains of the victims of this murder and honour their memories still. They have for 20 years cared for the families of the victims. As they gathered with family, friends and officials, the people of Ireland demonstrated again at the service, as they have for over 20 years, their sympathy and support at a critical moment of remembrance. Today we thank them for their compassion and their humanity.

But above all, by remembering the victims murdered on Flight 182 on June 23, 1985, we accept our collective responsibility to them and to their families to see that difficult questions are asked and answered.

Today we honour the memory of their souls. We offer our compassion to those who have experienced enormous grief and heartbreaking losses yet have carried on with courage and conviction, determined to seek the truth and find justice, and ensure, as the Deputy Prime Minister has said, that a tragedy such as this never happens again.

I am reminded of a poignant expression which tells us that in order to lose someone we must first have had them, and so the magnitude of one's loss becomes the measure of life's gifts.

Air-India Flight 182
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, 20 years ago today, 329 passengers on an Air India Boeing 747 died in intolerable circumstances. Among the victims were 278 Canadians.

This tragedy, the most devastating terrorist attack in Canadian history, is still wrapped in mystery and many questions remain. No one has yet been sentenced or held responsible for this unspeakable tragedy.

Only one thing is certain: this was a terrorist act. Although a pure accident can cause as much loss of human life and tremendous pain for the victims' loved ones, I think that when a tragedy like this is intentional, planned in full knowledge of the fact that the victims were innocent people who could not do anything about the situation that someone wanted corrected and were in no way responsible for it, the pain is even harder to bear. Our sympathy for the afflicted families is all the greater in that the pain we share is commingled with a tremendous sense of horror.

The terrorists' motives were apparently at least partly religious. But in all the great religions, the supreme being is believed to be infinitely good and infinitely just. Is it possible to believe such a being could approve of the summary execution of hundreds of innocent people? Is it possible to believe that the response to injustice is even more injustice? Is that one of the cornerstones of the new society we are trying to build, in which the most important rule, as in all the great religions, is to love one's neighbour? Do people not realize how greatly they discredit the cause they claim to advance in this way?

Unfortunately, there is an absurd belief that terrorist acts can be justified in today's world. Any one of us could be a victim of such acts. At this time, we can only express our deepest sympathy.

However, more must be done. We must try to comprehend the incomprehensible. And for that, we must first know everything that can be known. While the explosion of the Air India Boeing 747 was a terrible tragedy for everyone, nothing can compare with the suffering of the victims' families for the last 20 years and the permanent void left in their lives. Today we think of them. It is to them that we extend our heartfelt sympathy. It is because of them, the anger they still feel, their constant pain, that we ask the government to finally shed light, once and for all, on this tragic event.

Twenty years ago, 329 people died for being on the wrong flight at the wrong time, collateral damage in a crisis about which they could do nothing. We members of Parliament have the ability and therefore the responsibility to act and do all we can to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.

To the families and friends, to those still affected by the events of June 23, 1985, I offer once again my most heartfelt sympathy on behalf of the Bloc Québécois and the people we represent.

Air-India Flight 182
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the New Democratic Party of Canada, our leader, the member for Toronto—Danforth, and members of the caucus to join with our colleagues in the House of Commons in remembering the Canadian tragedy that took place 20 years ago today off the coast of Ireland.

Two decades have passed since that horrible night when 329 people died aboard Air-India flight 182, but time has not undone the heartache of entire families torn apart in a moment nor the pain of those left behind. Their loved ones were lost to terror and they are the living victims of its merciless consequences.

For too long in Canada many have looked upon the Air-India disaster as a foreign tragedy rather than what it was, the largest act of terror in our country's history, a Canadian tragedy which claimed Canadian lives and left Canadian victims.

Today, the leaders of the four political parties in the House are in Ireland to share the sorrow, memories and grief of the families affected. Unfortunately, their presence at this memorial will not erase two decades of neglect. However, it is a first step for the families who will finally be able to share their grief with a sympathetic nation, a comfort they were too long denied.

The greatest comfort that Canada can give to those families is answers to the questions that have haunted them for 20 years. It is time the government set right the legacy of neglect. It is time that answers were delivered where justice has not.

On behalf of the New Democratic Party of Canada, I offer our heartfelt condolences to all those who have suffered the agony of loss, and our hope that soon there will be understanding where for far too long there has been only tears and pain.