House of Commons Hansard #95 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

Aboriginal Affairs
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to note today the recent initialling of two landmark final agreements with first nations in British Columbia.

Like the Nisga'a treaty before them, these agreements set the foundation for economic growth and prosperity for first nations and for neighbouring communities as well. These agreements are real, tangible proof that the process is working and that with patience, determination and compromise, we can reach agreements that benefit not only first nations but all Canadians.

I would like to congratulate the federal, provincial and first nations negotiators on these remarkable achievements. Once these agreements are ratified, they will balance the first nations' rights with the interests of third parties and all Canadians. The treaties will provide clarity about the aboriginal rights of the first nations and provide certainty over ownership and use of land and resources in the province of British Columbia.

I am looking forward to the conclusion of more agreements with first nations in British Columbia and, indeed, all across this nation. It is through initiatives such as these, working with our provincial and first nations partners, we can ensure a brighter future for first nations and a more prosperous future for Canadians.

RCMP
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, while last week's resignation of Commissioner Zaccardelli helped to remove some of the tarnish on the RCMP's image, it did little to put the matter of the Arar affair to rest and little to address the concerns of the other three Canadians falsely deported and tortured.

On the eve of the release of Justice O'Connor's second report, will the new government act to address this issue?

I earlier asked the commissioner to conduct investigations into the leaks but that they be done by independent persons. He refused to do that. We call once again on the government to initiate those independent investigations to get to the bottom of the leaks that so damaged Mr. Arar.

The government must act to create a parliamentary committee to oversee our security intelligence activities. We continue to hear of anecdotal evidence of people being detained improperly based on false accusations, some of which are coming from our intelligence agencies. We must ensure that what happened to Messrs. Arar, Almalki, El Maati and Nureddin does not happen to other Canadians.

The new government should do what the previous Liberal government failed to do, issue an apology to Mr. Arar and--

RCMP
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Merasty Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, Canada is the home of the just society, a noble vision that affirms the rights of Canadians, including the rights of minorities and the most vulnerable.

We have seen the terrible cost of ignoring basic human rights, such as the internment of Ukrainian Canadians in World War I, and the injustices of the residential school system.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is an enduring solemn oath to Canada. These historical abuses and shames must never happen again. The courts safeguarded these charter rights and freedoms, which are sacred to all Canadians.

The charter and the courts have protected many, including in Eldridge where deaf Canadians were found to have a right to sign language interpretation to avoid medical misdiagnosis; in Wu, which determined that imprisonment should not result simply because someone is too poor to pay a fine; in Williams, which found that an accused has a right to be judged free of racial bias; and in Mills, which asserted that victims of sexual assault have a right to maintain their privacy.

All court affirmed charter rights promote the vision of the just society and it is our duty as members of Parliament to respect diversity and maintain the rule of law.

Augusto Pinochet
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator, died yesterday. He overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973, in a coup d'état. His 17 years in power were marked by a merciless battle against the democratic aspirations of Chile, resulting in over 3,000 political assassinations and 1,000 disappearances.

During those difficult years, Quebec welcomed many Chilean exiles. We supported our South American companions who fought for greater social justice, democracy and respect for human rights.

Pinochet died without justice being served. We regret that he was not judged for his past actions.

The Bloc Québécois is not shedding any tears over Pinochet's death and, on this day, we would like to say that we grieve for all the victims of that regime.

Grammy Awards
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, last week, the 49th annual Grammy Award nominees were announced in Hollywood, California. Nominated for best country song and song of the year was Jesus, Take the Wheel, co-written by Gordie Sampson of Big Pond, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

The song was inspired by the tragic death of an acquaintance of Gordie's who died in a car accident back in Nova Scotia. Sung by Carrie Underwood, it spent six weeks on top of the Billboard music charts and has won a long list of awards, including song of the year from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, and song of the year from the Academy of Country Music Awards.

An accomplished singer, songwriter and producer with a shelf full of awards from the CCMA and the ECMA, Gordie has written for many of the most accomplished country and folk singers from both sides of the border, including Faith Hill, Keith Urban, LeAnn Rimes and Great Big Sea.

On February 11 in Hollywood, the Grammy winners will be announced, but no matter what the outcome, Gordie has demonstrated immense talent and has made all Cape Bretoners, Nova Scotians and, indeed, Canadians proud of his achievements. I wish Gordie good luck.

Status of Women
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, December 10, we celebrated International Human Rights Day. I will remind the House that December 10 also marks the 25th anniversary of Canada's ratification of the UN Convention on Discrimination Against Women.

Since our government took office, the fight on discrimination against women has been ramped up. Our Minister of Indian Affairs is fighting for aboriginal women by dealing with matrimonial property rights. Our Minister of Health has introduced wait times for prenatal aboriginal women. Our Minister of Justice is protecting our young women from sexual predators.

Our Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is protecting victims of human trafficking. Overseas, our Minister of International Cooperation is dedicating $45 million to UNICEF to provide medical treatment to mothers and their children in Bangladesh.

Finally, our Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women is putting $5 million more into women's programming in 2007.

That is how our government fights discrimination against women.

RCMP Commissioner
Oral Questions

December 11th, 2006 / 2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Prime Minister said he did not know in advance that the commissioner was going to change his story. However, we know that the government had a letter from the commissioner dated November 2.

We know that the commissioner has said he spoke about this in advance with the Minister of Public Safety.

And now, the government has prohibited two senior officials close to the Prime Minister from testifying before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

When did the Prime Minister learn that the Commissioner of the RCMP would be changing his story?

What is the Prime Minister trying to hide?

RCMP Commissioner
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government has already answered these questions and has not prohibited anyone from testifying before the parliamentary committee.

RCMP Commissioner
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I would like the Prime Minister to answer the question: when did he learn of the change in the version of the facts? He is avoiding the question all the time.

These two senior officials are very close to him. They briefed the commissioner before his testimony in September. Now these two officials are refusing to appear before the standing committee. We need to know what the Prime Minister is trying to hide.

RCMP Commissioner
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we made our answers to these questions clear last week. We learned, of course, at the same time as everybody else learned. That is why, obviously, we accepted the resignation of the Commissioner of the RCMP. It was his decision, not our decision.

Officials are not in any way restricted or forbidden from appearing before a parliamentary committee.

RCMP Commissioner
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, “at the same time as everybody” means last week and that the Prime Minister did not know before last week. We need to know, because more and more he is trying to not answer the questions, and it looks more and more like a cover-up. The Prime Minister must tell the truth about when he learned. Was it last week or before?

RCMP Commissioner
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition will have to learn that once we get our questions answered, we have to come here the next week with some new questions, not with the same questions as before.

In terms of any allegation of a cover-up, I would once again note that the events in question occurred under the stewardship of the government of which the Leader of the Opposition was a member. I would encourage the members of that government to come forward with all the information they know about the Arar affair.

RCMP Commissioner
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, we will keep asking questions until we get answers.

We now know that the Minister of Public Safety, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Foreign Affairs urged the Prime Minister to remove the RCMP commissioner in the fall, this long before the matter became a crisis. The Prime Minister ignored their advice, ignored all evidence and protected the commissioner.

Since the public safety minister has refused to answer this question seven times and since the Minister of Foreign Affairs will only admit to statements caught by Hansard, will the justice minister answer? Will the Minister of Justice now admit that he pushed for the removal of the RCMP commissioner prior to last Monday, yes or no?

RCMP Commissioner
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, the issue here is not questions not being answered. As a matter of fact, we have answered those questions. I have answered that question that he has put to me a number of times, saying that it was utterly lacking in any kind of fact whatsoever.

The issue here is not that we do not answer the question. The issue here is that when those members hear the truth, they do not like to accept it. When the member opposite asks a question and gets a response he does not like, he lights his hair on fire and says that nobody will answer his question.