House of Commons Hansard #97 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pope.

Topics

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Toronto—Danforth.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs stated yesterday that a vote did not have to be held on extending our mission in Afghanistan and that it was the same as deploying our troops to Haiti.

Can the Prime Minister show us that he truly understands the difference between a humanitarian mission to Haiti and the war in Afghanistan?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in future, our mission in Afghanistan will be a development mission, a humanitarian mission and a mission where we will train Afghan forces. We have never had to vote in the House on non-combat missions. We respect the motion passed by this Parliament.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker,

You can come up with all kinds of schemes to hide away in a camp and train people for the Afghan army or police, but they lack credibility. If you try to help train and develop the Afghan army or police in...Afghanistan, you are going to be in combat.

Those are not my words. Those are the words of former General Hillier.

Can the Prime Minister tell us, why did he break his promise to bring our troops home?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. The mission that we are authorizing going forward does not authorize combat. Our soldiers will be training Afghan personnel on bases and in classrooms. We are very clear on that.

Our Canadian Forces have served in Afghanistan for almost 10 years. They have taken a lot of casualties. It is important that we honour the sacrifice they made, important that we do things to make sure that we consolidate those gains. We are very proud of the work that our Canadian Forces have done and will be doing in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister campaigned on a promise, and that promise was that when we were to send our troops abroad there would be a vote in the House of Commons. He did that in 2006, and he did that in 2008, but now the government is combining with the Liberals to break that promise to allow Canadians the right to have their Parliament vote on whether we put our troops in harm's way.

If it is the right thing to do, why not bring it to a vote in this chamber?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have never in this House of Commons put to a vote missions that do not involve combat. The government's actions here respect the parliamentary motion.

The fact of the matter is this: The NDP has a very extreme position on this issue. That party has opposed any Canadian involvement in Afghanistan since 2001, even though it was held with NATO, even though it was held under a United Nations mandate.

Because two dozen Canadians were killed in the 9/11 attacks, it is important that we work to ensure that Afghanistan never becomes a safe haven for terrorists. That is what we are doing and we are respecting the parliamentary motion.

Member for Central Nova
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence must share our disappointment at the disappearance of the once progressive wing of his party.

First, the Minister of the Environment left for Bay Street, and now we understand that the defence minister, the second half of that progressive wing, is planning to join him.

This is a critical time for the defence department and it deserves a full-time minister.

Can the Minister of National Defence confirm that he has had discussions directly or indirectly with a law firm in Toronto about a job, and what has the Ethics Commissioner told him about this?

Member for Central Nova
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am not sure this question has much to do with the administrative responsibilities of the government, but if the Minister of National Defence wishes to respond, we will of course hear him.

Member for Central Nova
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, to paraphrase Mark Twain, “Rumours of my political death are greatly exaggerated”.

I really appreciate the genuine and sincere concern being expressed by the member opposite and some of the soothsayers and prognosticators who are with us today, but I can assure the House that I have every intention of continuing in my job, if the Prime Minister so wishes, and I continue to serve my constituents, the Canadian Forces and all Canadians to the best of my ability.

Member for Central Nova
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

More, more.

Member for Central Nova
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, we understand—

Member for Central Nova
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Member for Central Nova
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. We are getting more, but we will have some quiet so we can hear it.

The hon. member for Beauséjour has the floor.

Member for Central Nova
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, we understand why the current minister wants to quit.

He was excluded from discussions on the new mission in Afghanistan and was shaken by the Camp Mirage fiasco in Dubai.

The minister did not answer the question. Can he confirm, directly or indirectly, that he has had discussions with a law firm in Toronto, or are those lawyers not telling the truth? If he has, what did the Ethics Commission have to say about these negotiations?