House of Commons Hansard #138 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

April 23rd, 2007 / 2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, today's Globe and Mail raises shocking allegations about the treatment of Canada's Afghan detainees, including savage beatings, electrocution and extreme cold.

Before the Prime Minister smears those who dare raise questions about our mission in Afghanistan, he might consider the simple question on the minds of Canadians today: Are these detainees being tortured?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, obviously we are aware of these allegations. In fact, very recently, as the Leader of the Opposition knows, the government signed a new detainee transfer agreement with the government of Afghanistan, with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

Obviously, officials of our government will be following up these allegations with officials of the government of Afghanistan. What we will not do is what the Leader of Opposition suggested earlier, that we bring Taliban prisoners to Canada. That will not be the position of this government.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister will certainly say that, as things stand at present, we cannot turn detainees over to the Afghan authorities. Even the chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has said that his agency is unable to monitor the treatment of Afghan detainees.

How can the Prime Minister be sure the local authorities will honour the Geneva convention?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, we recently signed a new detainee transfer agreement with the Afghan government. We are going to hold talks with the Afghan authorities to monitor progress and make sure the new standards are met.

At the same time, we are not going to consider the proposal made by the leader of the Liberal Party to bring Taliban prisoners here to Canada.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in that case, we will have to keep them under our control in Afghanistan. The Prime Minister cannot tell Canadians that he will continue to turn human beings over to the Afghan government as things stand now.

As for his Minister of National Defence, first he tells us that the Red Cross will monitor the treatment of detainees. Then, he tells us that the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission will do the monitoring. But the commission says that it is unable to do so. And now, despite these statements, there are more and more signs that detainees are being tortured.

Will the Prime Minister demand that his Minister of National Defence resign?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, these are serious allegations, and the government takes them seriously.

Once again, we take such allegations seriously. That is why we have concluded an agreement with the Afghan government. It is why we will be in discussions with them to pursue this matter and to ensure that they have the capacity to undertake their terms of the agreement.

At the same time, I am not sure precisely what the Leader of the Opposition is suggesting. We are not going to bring Taliban prisoners to Canada.

As for the Minister of National Defence, his job is to make sure our forces in Afghanistan have the tools needed to do their job, and he is doing that job.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, first the Minister of National Defence said that the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission would guarantee the treatment of detainees. The minister must have known that the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has no capacity to do any such thing. Then the House leader said that the government had given the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission $1 million to carry out its duties. The government had done no such thing and CIDA had to contradict them.

This is just one part of a staggering picture of misinformation and mismanagement. What is being done now to get the situation under control?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

In fact, Mr. Speaker, as the deputy leader of the Liberal Party knows, the government has signed a new agreement.

The previous Liberal government had an agreement in place that has proven to be inadequate despite the Liberals' assurance, and despite what the deputy leader of the Liberal Party himself said last year. He said:

I have been in places of Afghan detention myself and have seen the work that the International Committee of the Red Cross does, and I believe it is the best guarantee of their safety and freedom from abuse.

He gave that assurance himself.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been in Afghan places of detention and I have no confidence in the capacity of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission to protect prisoners.

They were beaten, whipped, starved, frozen, choked, electrocuted. These are very serious allegations, and Canada's honour is at stake.

When will the Prime Minister replace his incompetent Minister of National Defence with a minister who can make sure our allies and Canada itself respect the Geneva convention?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, everyone knows that our forces in Afghanistan treat the detainees with proper care. They follow all the rules.

We have made a recent agreement with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and it has guaranteed that it will report to us any abuses of any detainees we transfer. I have the personal assurance of the leader of the human rights commission in Kandahar and the national level.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, 25,000 people demonstrated in favour of complying with the Kyoto protocol by taking part in the “Kyoto pour l'espoir” march in Montreal. Meanwhile, the Minister of the Environment waged a fear campaign against the Kyoto protocol, based on a study that predicts an economic apocalypse, no less, if Canada goes ahead with meeting the Kyoto targets.

Does the Prime Minister realize that what is more likely to cost Quebec and Canada dearly is his government's inaction on climate change?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it was the opposition parties that asked the government to detail the costs associated with the Kyoto protocol. It would cost a great deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a third immediately. This government will soon announce real greenhouse gas emission reduction targets that will preserve jobs and the health of Canada's economy.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the basic premise behind the Minister of the Environment's report is biased. Whereas his study says that a carbon tax of $195 a tonne would have to be imposed on businesses, a far more serious UN study refers to a tax of between $25 and $50 a tonne.

Will the Prime Minister admit that his fear campaign against the Kyoto protocol is baseless and will benefit only his friends, the oil companies, who want to keep on polluting the environment with impunity?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, a tax of $25 a tonne will not allow us to meet the Kyoto targets by the dates set by the opposition. The challenge is simple: if the opposition has such a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it should table that plan. But up to now, it has been asking the government to table a plan because it does not have a no-cost plan for complying with the Kyoto protocol.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Kyoto protocol uses 1990 as the reference year for calculating greenhouse gas reductions. Now the Conservative government is planning to use 2006 as the reference year.

Does the Minister of the Environment realize that by selecting 2006 as the reference year, he is penalizing Quebec, especially the province's manufacturing sector, by wiping out 16 years of environmental efforts, and rewarding those who have done nothing, such as big oil companies?