House of Commons Hansard #8 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was taxes.

Topics

Elections Canada
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, when we thought there was crime taking place in a political party that stole money from the taxpayers we took it to the electorate and they passed judgment. That is why that party is not in government any more.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

October 25th, 2007 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister did not have much to say in response to questions about Saladin and Blackwater, the security firms his government has hired. But some disturbing facts are known. For example, according to Colonel Oliver North, Saladin was involved in the Irangate scandal in Nicaragua. Saladin mercenaries also allegedly took part in the civil war in Sri Lanka. And Saladin mercenaries allegedly trained mujahedeen in Afghanistan, including members of the Taliban.

Knowing what he does about Saladin's past, does the Prime Minister really believe that these officers can serve the government and the people effectively?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, these are contracts under which local security officers are hired for basic security duties. This is a long-standing practice. We take the security of our personnel very seriously. Perhaps it is the leader of the Bloc Québécois who is not taking this issue seriously.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I take basic security duties seriously.

Last December, a drunken Blackwater security officer killed the Iraqi vice-president's bodyguard while the firm was under contract in Iraq to protect various public figures.

Does the government believe that this is the sort of exemplary conduct that should be taken seriously, that these people should be hired, as this government has done? Does the minister, who says we are not taking things seriously, believe that this is safe behaviour? That is the question.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the armed forces have sent personnel to the facilities solely for training in very specific areas, such as defensive driving. We have used training services in this area since 2003, because the armed forces do not offer this training. We want the best training for our troops. I believe that all the members of this House want that as well. We take the security of our forces seriously.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, not only are Saladin Security and Blackwater not recommendable, but the competence of the personnel employed by these companies is very questionable.

It is so bad that, last year, Blackwater was forced to dismiss 122 employees, mainly because of inappropriate use of their weapon. The American lieutenant colonel who spoke to the Washington Post said that these sad individuals shoot first and ask questions later.

Does the minister not find it scandalous and unethical to have Canadian soldiers trained by such mercenaries?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Beauce
Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, for the embassy in Kabul, we hired security officers who conduct their operations like all security officers. These are not military-style operations.

That being said, we care about our diplomats and the Canadians who visit the embassy in Kabul, and we want to ensure their safety. Those people are well trained and perform the duties of security officers.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, those agencies are unsafe, not only for the protection of our diplomats, but also for training our soldiers.

Given all these allegations, is the minister not left with only one choice here this afternoon, which is to immediately cancel the Blackwater and Saladin Security contracts? The minister must promise to table them in this House, so that we can examine them. Will he have the courage to do so?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Beauce
Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, by asking me to table security contracts in the House, my hon. colleague is asking me to jeopardize the safety of our diplomats at the embassy in Kabul.

As we all know, the previous government also signed contracts with security agencies. We also know what is in those contracts: the protection of the embassy by security officers. These are not military operations.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, in a throne speech that is very clearly going to continue to take Canada in the wrong direction, the government stated that we would be involved in the training of the Afghan police and military up until 2011, but this morning we learned that the Chief of the Defence Staff believes this project is going to take 10 more years.

Our brave soldiers and their families deserve some clarity. I invite the Prime Minister to end the speculation about how long we are going to be involved in a combat mission. Is he right when he says four years? Or is General Hillier right when he says it will be 10 years?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, we take our commitment in Afghanistan seriously. We set out in our throne speech an approach that the government prefers, but members also know that the government has established an independent commission to study the issue and provide advice to the government. It is headed up by former deputy prime minister John Manley.

We anticipate a report to this House, which will give the House an opportunity to vote on the best course forward to secure the commitments we have made in Afghanistan while at the same time respecting the tremendous progress and sacrifice of our troops.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, that answer further confuses things. Clearly, NATO has rejected our government's requests for more troops. Germany, Belgium and France can see what this Prime Minister cannot: the mission is not working. It is not making people safer, and it is not leading to long-lasting peace. That is why the NDP is demanding that our troops be brought home right now.

Why is the Prime Minister letting this mission go on even though it is not working? Why?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, that is not true. The mission is working. A poll taken last week found that many Afghans support the mission and are grateful for the major contribution of our troops and our development workers.

We hope that all members of the House will also support the work being done by our development workers and our troops.

Elections Canada
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives created a form as part of the “in and out” scheme. It had to be signed by the candidates, and without it they would not receive any money. The point of the form was to guarantee that the money would be returned to the party immediately that same day.

Can the minister confirm that this form was not created or approved by a current employee of the government?

Elections Canada
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I have answered these questions so many times. Our practices are legal. If those members took it seriously they would have acted that way this week. They did not.