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

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

The answer is yes to all those questions, Mr. Speaker. As the Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and others have said, we are looking at a non-combat mission that will occur. It will be a training mission that will occur in classrooms, behind the wire, in bases.

The government has been very clear and we do think this is a way of ensuring we consolidate the gains that we have made and honour the sacrifices of Canadians who have served in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we called for an open national debate on this question as far back as June. The government spent five years saying nothing about Afghanistan. In fact, the Prime Minister said very clearly he wanted no post-combat mission. Then he changed his mind. Then there were trial balloons. Then ministers were saying one thing, then another. There was a period of frantic improvisation, and three days before Lisbon, presto, we get the details.

Can the Prime Minister explain and justify this process of frantic improvisation in the making of Canada's foreign policy?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, of course, the current mission does not end until well into next year. That is why the government has taken the time to look at all the facts on the ground before making the decision it has taken.

I note that the decisions we have taken are very close to what the Liberal Party in fact recommended, so I am glad that we actually agree on this particular matter.

Canadian Forces
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, some 13% of the current rotation in Afghanistan is expected to develop anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, but Canadian Forces personnel are waiting up to a month for treatment in the country's five largest mental health clinics. In rural Canada, it is even worse.

How is it possible? How is it possible that the minister did not anticipate these needs?

Canadian Forces
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Quite the contrary, Mr. Speaker. In fact, we did anticipate that we would face challenges with respect to operational stress. That is why we took the unprecedented step of virtually doubling the number of health care professionals currently employed by the Canadian Forces.

We now have roughly 378 full-time mental health professionals. We have others on contract in rural parts of the country. We have a mental health awareness campaign initiated by the Chief of the Defence Staff. Joint personnel support units provide operational stress injury support. We have ongoing programs and efforts. I appreciate the input from the member opposite on this important issue.

Canadian Forces
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no way to track mental health issues among the Canadian Forces and veterans. A national database is critical to understanding the extent of mental health issues and how to best treat conditions.

Can the minister explain why the fully automated medical record-keeping system, which was to be operational in 2008, was delayed until 2011 and now until March 2012?

Canadian Forces
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has to decide whether she will rely on statistics or say there are none.

The reality is that we have now appointed a special adviser for operational stress injuries. As I mentioned, we have doubled the number of full-time mental health professionals. We have, in addition, taken steps to partner with clinics, as we do here in Ottawa with the mental health clinic.

We continue to work with the private sector, as we do with hospitals near many of the bases around the country, and we have a mental health awareness campaign. We provide mental health services through 43 primary care clinics and 26 mental health clinics across the country.

We will continue to invest in this important issue for those personnel and their families.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

November 16th, 2010 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's unilateral decision to extend the military mission in Afghanistan is totally unacceptable. In the 2007 throne speech and during the election campaign, the Prime Minister repeatedly promised, and I quote, to “make Parliament responsible for exercising oversight over...the commitment of Canadian Forces to foreign operations”.

Is the Prime Minister aware that by breaking his promise to Canadians, he has lost his honour?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, the government has kept its promise with regard to the motion that was adopted here in the House. The combat mission will end in 2011, as planned.

In the coming years, as we continue to work alongside the Afghan people and the international community, Canada will continue to play an important role in supporting efforts toward a better future for all Afghans.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is playing word games again, just as he did yesterday. Clearly, a training mission in Afghanistan is a military mission. Moreover, in a recent interview, retired General Rick Hillier made it clear that if we try to help train and develop the Afghan army, we are going to be in combat.

Why is the Prime Minister trying to mislead the public, unless it is to make it easier for him to break his promise to hold a vote in the House and withdraw the troops after 2011?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am not playing word games. It would help if the member understood what the words mean.

Canada's new non-combat, I repeat non-combat, role will focus on four key areas: investing in the future of Afghan children and youth through education and health; advancing security, the rule of law and human rights; promoting regional diplomacy; and delivering humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people. That is what we are going to do.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is trying to justify keeping Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan on the pretext that they will not have a combat role. France has proven that it is impossible to conduct training without being involved in combat missions. France has lost about 50 soldiers, some of them while training Afghan soldiers.

Will the government admit that it is attempting to mislead Canadians by claiming that we can train the Afghan army without participating in combat missions?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, not at all. The member is mistaken.

Canada will continue with the mission until 2011. At that time we will transition to a mission that will involve training in Kabul, as the Prime Minister has pointed out.

Approximately 950 Canadian Forces personnel will take part in that mission to train Afghans, to give them the skill set that they need to provide the type of security for their country, to do the type of work, frankly, that we are doing for them right now.

We are very proud of the efforts of the Canadian Forces and all of the Canadians who have contributed mightily in this mission.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, by announcing the extension of the military mission in Afghanistan beyond 2011 without consulting Parliament, the Conservative government is reneging on two promises. Quebeckers believed that the government would withdraw all Canadian soldiers from Afghanistan by no later than the end of 2011, and that any military mission now had to be debated and voted on by Parliament.

Why has the Conservative government misled Canadians?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the government has not misled Canadians at all. We have to distinguish between a combat role and a non-combat role. In any mission, as we have already mentioned, we are sending Canadian troops to a foreign country for a cause. It is Parliament that decides whether or not to play a role and become involved in a war. In a non-combat role, the armed forces provide advice and give courses in classrooms. This type of work is training and we will—