House of Commons Hansard #147 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was offender.

Topics

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, when questioned about this matter, the Prime Minister himself repeated the same story and stated that the abuse was nothing but false allegations made by Taliban prisoners.

Was the Prime Minister informed of his own government's case before the Federal Court? How can this government continue to make false statements when a colonel of our own armed forces has confirmed our initial fears?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.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 are proud of the conduct of our troops serving in Afghanistan. Their conduct sets a good example.

I will go on to continue to read in French an element from the agreement:

The Afghan authorities will be responsible for treating such individuals in accordance with Afghanistan's international human rights obligations including prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, protection against torture and using only such force as is reasonable to guard against escape.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, Colonel Noonan also swears that soldiers have had to exercise their own discretion and halt transfers of specific detainees when they felt they might be at risk at the hands of Afghan guards.

Will the government halt all transfers until it can guarantee no detainee transferred by Canadians will be beaten or tortured, or will it continue to deceive the Canadian public?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.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 are very pleased with the arrangement that we have been able to strike. No less than Paul Koring of The Globe and Mail who says this about it:

The new deal transforms Canada into the standard-bearer for all foreign countries in the monitoring of transferred prisoners in Afghanistan.

He goes on to say:

--the deal exceeds the safeguards in other NATO arrangements, including the much-vaunted British and Dutch agreements.

The members of the opposition should for once admit that it was their failure in the past that led to whatever flaws they were unhappy with in the 2005 agreement. There is now an arrangement in place that is satisfactory and we are very pleased with what we have.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, the government knew about the abuse. It knew and yet it did nothing. Worse, the government denied the facts, distorted the truth, and deceived Canadians day after day, week after week. It is appalling and it is shameful.

Canadians deserve some answers. They deserve them from the ministers across the way, not from a Federal Court judge. When did the minister know about the case Colonel Noonan reported?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, Canadians did not do anything. Canadians acted exemplary in the field.

I am amazed to hear the Liberal Party continue on this vein. Fifty-four Canadian soldiers and one Canadian diplomat have lost their lives in the field of battle, fighting a murderous and treacherous regime as part of a UN led mission in Afghanistan. Our brave troops are fighting to bring peace, security and human rights in a war-torn land. We have an excellent agreement in place.

It is time for the opposition to get on side, side with our troops, our good fighting men and women in the field, for once and support the good work they are doing.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite what the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons might think, the new agreement reached yesterday on the monitoring of Afghan detainees does not resolve everything, especially in light of Colonel Steve Noonan's testimony in court this week revealing a documented case of torture. Noonan maintains that the Afghan police had beaten a transferred detainee. The Canadian troops were concerned about the detainee and asked that he be given back.

How could the Prime Minister say that this was nothing more than allegations, when the army had in its possession documented reports confirming that Afghan detainees were being tortured? Does he call that allegations?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.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 current agreement provides some protection. I will read from the agreement. I invite the opposition to listen:

The Government of Canada will be notified prior to the initiation of proceedings involving persons transferred by the Canadian Forces and prior to the release of the detainee. The Government of Canada will also be notified of any material change of circumstances regarding the detainee including any instance of alleged improper treatment.

That is in the agreement and it is working well.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the case of torture reported by Colonel Noonan was in official Canadian Forces reports.

In light of these revelations, how could members of this government stand up in this House one after the other and say there was no torture in Afghanistan, unless they were knowingly trying to hide the truth from the public?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.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 do not understand why the hon. member from the Bloc Québécois is not proud of our troops and their behaviour under the circumstances. This is a good example for Canadians.

We now have an agreement with a lot of protection. Here is another excerpt:

Representatives of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), and Canadian government personnel, including representatives of the Canadian Embassy in Kabul and others empowered to represent the Government of Canada will have full and unrestricted access to any persons transferred by the Canadian Forces to Afghan authorities while such persons are in custody.

This is an agreement—

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has repeated that the allegations of torture are nothing more than the claims of a handful of Taliban prisoners and he is accusing the opposition of destroying troop morale by exposing these cases of torture. Colonel Noonan is not a member of the Taliban. He is a former task force commander in Afghanistan and he confirmed that soldiers did their job by regaining custody of a prisoner who had been tortured.

In the Prime Minister's opinion, what destroys troop morale more, questions from the opposition or the concealment of an internal report that confirms the torture of prisoners?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:25 a.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 are proud of the conduct of our troops, as mentioned in the report. Indeed, it is the questions and behaviour of the opposition that is undermining our troops on the battlefield.

I will read what the agreement says regarding allegations of abuse:

In the event that allegations come to the attention of the Government of Afghanistan that a detainee transferred by the Canadian Forces to Afghan authorities has been mistreated, the following corrective action will be undertaken: the Government of Afghanistan—

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.