House of Commons Hansard #52 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was language.

Topics

Official Languages
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are systematically obstructing the work of the official languages committee in order to prevent the committee from inviting the minister to appear.

This counterproductive strategy is an affront to the principle of ministerial responsibility. Disrespectful comments made by the Conservatives to opposition members in order to delay a motion to invite once again demonstrate this party's ideology when it comes to respect for procedure. We are ready to discuss the renewal of the action plan for official languages and the committee needs to hear from the minister.

This coalition of Reform, Alliance, Progressive Conservative and failed Liberal members is letting spite get in the way of its committee work. Not all that long ago, the Conservatives were cancelling meetings to prevent debate of the court challenges program. Refusing to invite the minister to discuss the renewal of the action plan is just more of the same; it is obstruction.

Basketball Tournament
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Nechako Valley Vikings of Vanderhoof, British Columbia, won the 27th annual New Waterford Coal Bowl Classic basketball tournament final at Breton Education Centre in New Waterford.

This year's Coal Bowl was another great success thanks to the many volunteers and sponsors. The New Waterford Coal Bowl Classic is a premiere national invitational boy's high school basketball tournament, but it is more than that. It is a celebration of culture, academics and, of course, sportsmanship.

This year 10 teams in attendance from across Canada volunteered in a local grocery store to raise money for the families of the seven members of the Bathurst High School Phantoms basketball team who were killed in a tragic motor vehicle accident last month. I am pleased to report that the teams raised over $2,000 for the Boys in Red memorial fund established after the tragic accident.

Congratulations to all for a job well done.

Infrastructure
Statements by Members

February 15th, 2008 / 11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are listening. We have listened to the provinces and the territories. We have listened to the municipalities and their desire to have long term, flexible and predictable funding for infrastructure needs.

We delivered the building Canada fund, world class action to provide world class infrastructure for this country.

We must work together to correct the infrastructure deficit left by the previous Liberal government. Building Canada is a $33 billion seven year plan, with $17.6 billion going directly to the municipalities via the GST rebate and the gas tax fund.

Working together, building Canada means a partnership. Municipalities asked us to extend the gas tax fund and in budget 2007 we acted. We extended it to 2014 and raised it to $2 billion a year.

The previous Liberal government left this issue on the back burner. Our menu is clear: building a better, stronger Canada.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, does the government agree that Canada's mission in Kandahar, which must change to one of training, reconstruction and development in February 2009, must also have a clear end date in February 2011, not a vague approximation around 2011 and not just a review date, but a clear end date in February 2011? Does the government agree with that?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:15 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, throughout the process of working on developing our Canadian position on the future of our mission in Afghanistan, we have been trying to build a bipartisan consensus through the work of the Manley panel headed up by a former Liberal deputy prime minister.

We put a motion on the table. We sought input on that and we have since had input from the Liberal Party. We are very pleased to see there is a considerable amount of common ground between the parties.

We now have what I think can be truly called not a Liberal position or a Conservative position but a Canadian consensus. Part of that consensus is a view that the mission should end in 2011.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the House will begin a debate on Afghanistan a week from Monday. It must follow an open and transparent process. It must be serious, thoughtful and substantive.

I would ask the government House leader how many days of debate is the government prepared to devote to this vital topic beyond the two days that have now been scheduled and what exactly will the House be debating?

Will the government accept the terms of the Liberal amendment?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:15 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, with regard to the latter part of the question, we were very pleased to see the input from the Liberal Party and the position that was provided in its motion earlier this week.

As I indicated, there is considerable common ground on the most fundamental questions about the future of the mission in Afghanistan. Of course, the most fundamental of those questions is, do we wish to see the military mission in Afghanistan continue beyond 2009? On that issue there is common ground between the two major parties in the House of Commons.

The other parties, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP, have a different view. That is fine. That is fair, but the important part is that we have worked toward a consensus. We will debate that in the House, but the most important thing is to arrive at a Canadian position that honours the commitments we have made in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the existing commitments run until 2009. It is important to know the change that will occur after 2009.

The government left discussions with NATO about new and additional troops to the very last minute and now there is a mad scramble.

Specifically, which NATO allies have been approached bilaterally so far? Specifically, which ones? What clear commitments have been made to date, if any? When will we know for sure? Parliament needs full disclosure of what the government knows or does not know.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:15 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, there have, as the Minister of National Defence and the Prime Minister have reported in the past, been ongoing dialogues and bilateral discussions with our NATO allies at NATO meetings over the years.

The Afghan mission is of course one of our most important commitments and our commitment to our NATO partners is obviously our most important military and security alliance that we enjoy. We continue to do that.

The Prime Minister has regularly reported publicly and to the House on his discussions with other national leaders like the prime minister of Great Britain, the president of France, the prime minister of Germany and the like. We will continue to do that.

What is important though is that we do have an element of burden sharing from our allies. That is something I know that the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party have in common.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Liberals believe that the key to success in the Afghan mission is honesty and clarity with Canadians. That is a very different approach from what we have seen so far from the government.

Our amended motion calls on the government to provide more frank and more frequent reporting to Canadians about the mission.

Will the Prime Minister commit his government to this kind of transparency about the mission to Canadians?

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 committed to transparency and openness on this mission. We always have been. I believe there have been 10 technical briefings on the mission in Afghanistan and I believe nine of them have been under this government. We have now instituted that.

We will have those briefings on a very regular basis, so that we can provide, in a very technical and open fashion, away from the political debate, in a realm where people are hearing from the individuals who are involved on the ground and running the mission in Afghanistan and elsewhere, the kind of information that the Canadian public would like to hear. That is something that--

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Kitchener Centre.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, Canadians have had only secrecy and cover-up from the government when it comes to the Afghanistan mission.

The issue of detainee abuse and torture is a very good example. Canadians' faith in the Afghan mission is undermined when troubling reports of abuse in the Afghan prisons emerged. What was the response from the government? It was batten down the hatches and mum is the word.

Will the Prime Minister guarantee Canadians that this reign of secrecy about the Afghan mission is over and that he will operate with transparency and openness, both to Parliament and to Canadians?

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, one of the most encouraging elements of common ground between the leader of the Liberal Party and this government on the future of the mission in Afghanistan was his statement earlier this week that he did not believe politicians should be dictating operational decisions to our soldiers in the field.

That has been the government's position on the question of Taliban prisoners and those who have been taken by our soldiers in the field.

I am glad to see that the leader of the Liberal Party now agrees with us on the importance of those decisions and what information is disclosed being an operational question for the armed forces. I think that is an important piece of common ground that we have arrived at.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to a report by Environmental Defence, the development of Alberta's tar sands is the most destructive project on Earth. According to the agency, the pollutants from this project could cancel out all efforts made elsewhere in Canada to reduce greenhouse gases. The main reason for this disaster is the Conservatives' flawed plan that rejects the Kyoto protocol.

Instead of catering to its friends in the oil patch to the detriment of the environment and future generations, will the government finally come up with a real plan to address global warming? Time is of the essence.