House of Commons Hansard #112 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was office.

Topics

Hélène Pedneault
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, Hélène Pedneault was honoured posthumously as “patriot of the year” by the Saint Jean Baptiste society. Although she has been gone for a year now, this compassionate and articulate woman of great intellect still lives on in our memory. Until the end, Hélène Pedneault's trademark indignation continued to drive her to take up causes and fight for what was right.

She was an activist of conviction and a convincing activist who waded into many a battle. She fought for equality between men and women. She co-founded the Eau Secours organization to ensure that water remains public property and accessible to everyone. She worked tirelessly within the Bloc Québécois in Joliette and on the Conseil de la souveraineté in order to help Quebec become its own country with its own voice on the world stage.

Her literary accomplishments and her work as a journalist show that the written and spoken word can become tremendous tools for social and political change. We will remember Hélène Pedneault as a friend, an activist, a humanist and, most of all, as a patriot.

Courage Canada
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a day when we recognize the tremendous contribution of the CNIB, I rise to extend our congratulations to Courage Canada founder, Mark DeMontis.

Raised to never give up, Mark has achieved a great deal in the five years since he was diagnosed with Leber's optic neuropathy. Able to see nothing directly in front of him and only making out shadows and outlines in his periphery, he has never driven a car again or read a book, but he has still found a way to skate.

He joined one of six teams in Canada with blind players, while pursuing his education at the University of Western Ontario. Noticing that blind hockey was only available to a small group of adults, he decided to found Courage Canada to raise awareness of blind hockey.

After gruelling and difficult training, he began a journey across Canada and completed 5,000 kilometres on in-line skates. It took him three months to cross five provinces, and with the help of Lions Clubs and volunteers, he raised $60,000 to support his not-for-profit organization, Courage Canada.

I invite the House to join me in congratulating Mark DeMontis, a great Canadian.

Liberal Party of Canada
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader shows just how disconnected he is from the priorities of Canadians with each passing day.

While we are focused on the economy and helping Canadians, he continues his pursuit of forcing an unnecessary and unwanted election that will harm our economic recovery.

Yesterday his party stood alone in the House in voting against Canada's economic recovery, for an early election again.

The Liberals voted against the popular and recession-fighting home renovation tax credit, assistance for first-time home buyers and Canadian businesses, tax benefits for low-income workers and help for farmers in drought and flood regions.

It is the same old game with the Liberal leader, which highlights a key difference between our government and his party.

Canadians want us to fight the recession; the Liberals want to fight the recovery. Canadians want us to govern; the Liberals want an unnecessary election.

It is yet further proof that the Liberal Party members are not in it for Canadians. They are in it for themselves.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

November 18th, 2009 / 2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the question I have is for the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas.

When Richard Colvin, who is a foreign service officer of great distinction, went to Kandahar in April of 2006, he said that he found the condition of Afghan detainees, and I quote from his affidavit, to be “serious, imminent and alarming”, as a result of which he wrote what he described as an “action memorandum” to his department, as well as to other departments.

I would like to ask the minister, given the fact it was an action memorandum, why did it take the government 18 months—

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of National Defence.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, in fact, two and a half years ago, we did action this particular file. We received concerns about conditions in Afghan prisons. As a result, we instituted a more robust system of visitation. We instituted investments to improve those conditions. We instituted a more rigorous process of assisting Afghans with respect to human rights.

We inherited an inadequate transfer arrangement that had been left in place by the previous government. We improved upon that two and a half years ago. We continue to work both with local officials and members in all departments to improve things.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Colvin went on in his affidavit to say, “I also obtained firsthand reports of torture and personally saw evidence of injuries related to torture suffered by detainees”.

No matter how much the Minister of National Defence might huff and puff, the simple fact of the matter is that there was an 18-month period, not a month, not 6 weeks, not 8 weeks, but 18 months in which the government had information and did nothing and performed no action whatsoever.

How can he explain 18 months of inaction dealing with something as serious as firsthand evidence of torture from a Canadian public official?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I think we all know here in the House who is doing the huffing and puffing and hyperventilating and pontificating. It is the member opposite.

What I have already said and will repeat is that we acted upon recommendations that were coming from officials within the department from numerous sources. We improved upon regular visitations to see that conditions were in fact improving. We invested in the prison system and infrastructure itself. We improved upon the transfer arrangement.

We continue to make those investments. We are there to help the Afghan people do more for themselves and improve the human rights in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

But the question remains, Mr. Speaker. The fact is that the Government of Canada took 18 months to change the conditions and respond to Mr. Colvin's affidavit, which is very clear on the subject of torture.

Can the minister explain—this is a very simple question—why it took 18 months, a year and a half, for the Government of Canada to respond to the recommendations made by its own employee, Mr. Colvin?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, once again, we actioned this file where the previous government had failed. In fact, it was not—

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

You're late.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Eighteen months.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, if the bobble-heads and the Muppets would just let me answer the question, the reality is that the previous government did not even have a transfer arrangement in place until one month before it left office. We improved upon the transfer arrangement, invested significantly in the prison system, in training officials, in having regular and rigorous visits. That is an improvement upon the record of—

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Vancouver South.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is being reported that in 2007, Canadian diplomats were ordered to hold back information in their reports to Ottawa about the torture of Afghan detainees in the hands of Afghan authorities, and that the public servants were threatened with sanctions if they did not comply with that order.

Who in the government issued that order? Why is the government creating an un-Canadian culture of secrecy and cover-up about an issue as abhorrent as torture?