House of Commons Hansard #66 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was troops.

Topics

Afghanistan
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have to tell my colleague that I have never been to Afghanistan. I wish I had so I could see firsthand what is happening, but I must rely on the good information of my colleagues, like the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam in British Columbia, who is our party's defence critic and has given us very accurate reports.

She and others will repeat over and over that, yes, aid and international development projects are important to the people of Afghanistan, but at the rate we are going, we are not going to be able to make a difference or stop the despair and destruction that is happening in that country. We are talking about a ratio of 10:1; for every $10 spent on military activities and countering the insurgents, we are spending $1 on aid.

If we could put some of that money toward international aid and development, we could multiply what the member is talking about. We could make a real difference if we could get some of this money and involve the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNICEF, the UN Development Programme, the Peacebuilding Commission, all of these organizations that are determined to make a difference.

We could make such a difference, if we only had a new approach and a different set of priorities.

Afghanistan
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part today in this debate on Afghanistan. It is a debate that will have significant impact on future generations, the direction of future international relations, and determining the role that Canada should play in our relations with other states with respect to a process that requires that there first be peace.

Today, as the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, I have the pleasure of rising in this House on behalf of the approximately 105,000 citizens whom I represent and proudly opposing the extension of this mission which, we believe, should end in February 2009.

This is not the first time we have had such emotional debates in this House. I remember the debate about whether or not Canada should participate in the war in Iraq. The Bloc Québécois was the political party in this House that was vigorously opposed to Canadian participation in the Iraq conflict.

I also remember the vote of May 17, 2006, on whether or not to extend the mission in Afghanistan by two years. I remember that in the hours before the vote, I asked myself four questions. Although they were simple questions, they allowed me, as a parliamentarian, to take a decision on whether or not we should extend the mission.

The first question I asked myself on May 17, 2006, was: is Canada's intervention justified, realistic and useful? My second question before voting on May 17, 2006, was: what is the exact nature of Canada's commitment—military or humanitarian? The third question I asked myself on May 17, 2006, was: are the people who are going to risk their lives appropriately equipped to succeed at the mission we want to give them? And the fourth question was: is there a specific strategy for this mission?

Those were the questions I asked myself, as a parliamentarian, before voting in this House on the need to extend the mission in Afghanistan by two years. What was the answer from the Bloc Québécois and the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie? The answer was no to extending the mission.

In reading the questions we asked ourselves at the time of the vote, we find they are echoed in a certain number of reports—published today—on the progress of this mission. The Manley report is very critical of this government's military approach. It clearly says:

It is essential to adjust funding and staffing imbalances between the heavy Canadian military commitment in Afghanistan and the comparatively lighter civilian commitment to reconstruction, development and governance.

Accordingly, our concerns of May 2006, have been validated by the Manley report, which recognizes that there is an imbalance between the military and humanitarian aspects.

In the meantime, should we do nothing? No. We should send a clear message in this House that this mission must end in February 2009. We must pressure this government to take some decisions. First, the government must advise its NATO allies of its intention to withdraw from Afghanistan in February 2009. The message to our allies must be clear. There is no room for compromise.

Canada will leave Afghanistan in February 2009, and our NATO allies need to be informed as quickly as possible.

Second, we need an exit plan. The government must develop a plan, because we cannot just pick up and leave Afghanistan, as though we are packing up our tent after a weekend at Mont Tremblant. That is not what we should do. A responsible government must immediately present a plan for the withdrawal of our troops in February 2009.

Third, in the meantime, we must rebalance the mission to put more emphasis on development assistance resources. According to DND reports, the operating costs for Canada's mission in Afghanistan are upwards of $7.718 million, from 2001 to 2008. We need to reallocate this money to humanitarian assistance. We need to develop capacities for the citizens and for civilian populations. We need to give them the means. In so doing, we will not only succeed in transferring and giving capacities to Afghanistan, but by transferring the money from the military sector to the humanitarian sector, we will also most certainly be able to meet the objective of 0.7% of the GDP for development assistance. This is yet another commitment that Canada is not currently fulfilling.

We must therefore inform our NATO allies that we want to and will withdraw from Afghanistan in February 2009; establish a plan for withdrawal and introduce a plan for immediate withdrawal; transfer and rebalance funding from the military sector to the humanitarian sector; place greater emphasis on diplomacy, because political discussion, dialogue and the exchange of ideas are most certainly where Canada should be focusing its efforts, not only regarding the problems in Afghanistan, but also regarding solutions that Canada should consider to resolve the conflicts.

We must be clear on this. The approach we favour would allow Canada to assume its responsibilities. However, we must bear in mind that there are limits to Canada's responsibilities. Canada's firm commitment, which involves withdrawing from Afghanistan by February 2009, is in our view non negotiable. I would remind the House that the Conservative motion extends the Canadian mission in Kandahar until 2011. In light of the debate here today, we see two forces at work. We see not only the Conservative force, which wants to keep our troops in Afghanistan, but also the Liberal force, which decided to side with the Canadian Conservative military approach in order to resolve this conflict.

I do not think this is the approach that Quebeckers want. We are a peaceful people who wish to see a speedy resolution to the conflicts through dialogue, diplomacy and political discussion.

Afghanistan
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie will have 10 minutes remaining following oral question period.

We will now move on to statements by members. The hon. member for Kelowna—Lake Country.

Global Citizen Week
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have all heard so many times that people want to make a difference, feel like they are part of something and be connected personally to something they can support and care about.

Last week in my riding this was the key message during Global Citizen Week and it is one that the constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country have taken to heart.

A partnering relationship has been created between Kelowna and the village of Senanga, Zambia. All sectors of our community, from health and education to agriculture and transportation, are sharing their knowledge to help Senanga become a vibrant and economically viable community.

I express congratulations and thanks to all those who are making this global partnership happen, people such as Dr. Nelmes and the many tireless volunteers who are committed to this project.

As Sheila Olcen, chair of the community group, reminds us, it is so important to understand that we are one world and that what we do in our community has an impact on the lives of people thousands of miles away.

Rosalinda Cantiveros
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a distinguished citizen of Winnipeg and of Canada, the late Rosalinda Cantiveros, who died in Winnipeg on March 4.

Linda was a popular leader in the Winnipeg Filipino community and her influence in the city was far reaching.

Arriving in Canada 30 years ago, Linda worked with a host of government and community agencies to provide services to local communities. Linda emerged as one of the pre-eminent leaders of her community.

A teacher in the inner city of Winnipeg, she was the founder and editor-in-chief of the Filipino Journal, a founding member of the Filipino-Canada Business Council and president of the Philippine-Canadian Centre of Manitoba. Many acknowledge that her greatest accomplishment was her role in the construction of this centre, now the hub of the community in Manitoba.

Linda was many things to many people: a wife, a mother, an activist, a political candidate, a teacher, and a journalist.

To her husband Rod, her sons Ron and John, and her many family members and friends, we offer our sincerest condolences. Her legacy will endure for decades.

Morin Heights Tragedy
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, we wish to express our most sincere condolences to the family and friends of the three women who were killed yesterday at their workplace in Morin Heights, Quebec. The victims were Barbara Morrisson Elliott, Sharon Kirkpatrick and her daughter-in-law, Marlyn Osiaza.

In this day and age, it is essential to bring all of our knowledge to bear to ensure that people are safe in their workplaces. This winter's exceptional snowfall calls for increased vigilance. That is why we are asking those responsible for workplace safety to redouble their efforts. In addition, we are asking the Minister of Public Safety to work closely with all of his provincial counterparts to ensure adequate preparation for the possibility of flooding this spring.

Marouane Aboudraz
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Lussier Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Marouane Aboudraz, his wife and their two sons, aged 3 years and 13 months, left Montreal to visit family in the Gaza Strip in April 2007. The visit was supposed to last a few months, but it turned into a nightmare in June 2007 when Hamas seized control of Gaza, and Israel cut off access to the Palestinian territories, thereby preventing the Aboudraz family from returning home.

The father managed to escape when the border with Egypt opened at the end of January. He was able to return to Montreal, but without his wife and children. The children need asthma medication, but everything has become very scarce in Gaza.

My colleague from Papineau received assurances from the Department of Foreign Affairs that the family will be able to leave the Gaza Strip within the next few days. The Bloc Québécois is asking the minister to do everything in his power to make that happen.

Royden Taylor
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, volunteer and professional firefighters serve a vital role in ensuring our public safety.

Ninety-one per cent of fire services are provided by volunteer fire departments. Their technical training demands are growing in complexity and range. Attracting and keeping trained volunteers is difficult for small communities due to family and job demands and lost wages, as well as personal risks.

In January, Caronport's mayor and volunteer fire chief, Royden Taylor, perished fighting a fire. He was instrumental in housing, equipping and boosting the ranks of firefighters serving an area that spans 1,300 square kilometres.

We will never forget Chief Taylor's tremendous service to his community and province.

Therefore, we must work together at all levels of government to find and implement solutions for the challenges facing firefighters, both volunteer and professional alike.

Kidney Disease
Statements By Members

March 13th, 2008 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wear a green ribbon today to mark World Kidney Day. Kidney disease can hit at any age. Today and every day about 14 Canadians find out their kidneys have failed. If not treated, they may die within days or weeks.

It is imperative that we raise awareness about these vitally important organs. We need to bring attention to organ donation because kidney transplantation saves lives and it is not as expensive as dialysis. Yet there is a shortage of kidneys for donation in Canada.

We can all do our part by speaking frankly with our families about organ donation, by informing loved ones about detection and symptoms of kidney disease and, most important, by teaching ourselves about how to keep our kidneys healthy.

Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and its members to the Hill today. Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world. Between 55,000 and 75,000 Canadians are living with this disease, and one of those is my daughter. While rarely fatal, it is a lifelong sentence and has a profound impact on families, health care systems and communities.

In the past few decades Canada has made incredible advances in the understanding and treatment of MS. However, as leading researchers retire, progress towards discovery in the field of MS is at risk. This is why the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and the MS Scientific Research Foundation are undertaking the endMS campaign to attract and retain gifted physicians, scientists and researchers to make MS their lifelong cause. At the conclusion of this campaign, the MS Society will have increased the number of researchers and clinicians in the country, critical steps on the path to end MS.

I encourage all Canadians to stand with those who suffer from the disease and to continue to support MS research.

Canada Post
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the plan to privatize Canada Post's services, the post office in Pointe-Saint-Charles, in my riding, will close at the end of the month.

Workers, members of the public and elected officials in southwest Montreal joined together to make Canada Post see reason and convince the crown corporation to change its mind, but Canada Post is determined to close the Pointe-Saint-Charles post office.

Recently, Canada Post posted a job ad for a public relations officer to manage the reconversion or closure of postal outlets. In other words, there are going to be more closures.

Canada Post is privatizing services with the support of the Conservative government. Whose interests is this government defending? The Bloc Québécois, along with the public, elected officials and workers, is asking that the Pointe-Saint-Charles post office remain open.

Human Rights
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, despite the fact that this House and the other place both gave unanimous consent to making the Dalai Lama an honorary Canadian citizen, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien last week said, “I respect the Dalai Lama very much but I don't think that naming him as an honorary citizen was anything good for Canada”.

That may be the view of the leadership of the Liberal Party, but I can assure people that it is not the view of the Conservative Party, the government and a huge majority of Canadians. The Liberal Party is more concerned about pleasing Liberal connected firms with business interests in China than meeting the wishes of Canadian people.

The interesting fact is that while this government is promoting the Canadian values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law abroad, Canadian exports to China are increasing and tourism from China to Canada is dramatically on the rise. Under the previous Liberal governments, both these figures were steadily declining.

It is clear that Mr. Chrétien and the Liberal Party do not stand for human rights, they do not stand for Canadian exports and they do not stand for decisions made in Parliament. So what do they stand for?

Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are pleased to have in the House today members of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. Since 1948, the society has been providing hope to people living with MS and their families.

Multiple sclerosis is an often disabling episodic illness that attacks the brain and spinal cord, causing extremely unpredictable symptoms that vary from one person to another. Canada has one of the highest incidences of multiple sclerosis in the world.

In its 60 years of existence, the Multiple Sclerosis Society has funded over $100 million in research grants to find the cause, prevention and cure for MS.

By virtue of this dedication, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada is continuing to make significant improvements in the quality of life of people across the country with multiple sclerosis. The society's mission is to be a leader in finding a cure for multiple sclerosis.

The Environment
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, after 13 long years without even a hint of greenhouse gas reductions, our government is finally taking the bull by the horns.

The turning the corner plan applies to all major industrial sectors and will result in greenhouse gas reductions of 20% by 2020 and 60% to 70% by 2050, an unprecedented accomplishment.

Oil sands operations must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 18% immediately and then by 2% annually. Effective 2012, it will be mandatory for new projects to use carbon capture and storage techniques and green technologies.

Our government is a firm believer in the polluter-pay principle and that is why we are establishing a Canadian carbon exchange.

The time for Liberal rhetoric and promises has passed. Conservative members are taking action now to ensure the sustainable development of Quebec within a green Canada.

Health Care
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, London area hospitals are facing a crisis that is placing the lives and health of my constituents of London—Fanshawe at risk. In emergency rooms, patients are waiting over 24 hours for a bed. Ambulances are idling outside hospitals for hours, waiting for patients to be admitted. Surgeries are being cancelled. It is a dire situation.

The federal government must step in immediately. The lives of Londoners are at stake. Government cutback after cutback has dismantled the community health supports that seniors and low income Canadians have relied on for preventative, home and long term care. Community supports, like the Women's Health Clinic in London, are essential because of the quality of care they provide and the reality of the doctor shortage. However, unfortunately, the Women's Health Clinic is another victim of government cutbacks.

When is the government going to start investing in long term care spaces, home care, preventative care and community health supports?