House of Commons Hansard #104 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was training.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Mission in Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister of International Cooperation

Madam Speaker, it is good to know that the Liberal Party is not supporting this motion and has quite clearly outlined why we should stay in Afghanistan. Perhaps the hon. member can say what the Bloc and the NDP are inferring, too, which is that we should be in Afghanistan but without the security. How is that possible, that we do not train the people of Afghanistan to take care of themselves? As the foreign affairs critic said, it is critically important that Afghans take over the destiny of their country. We all agree with that.

So why does it feel as though the other two parties are saying things like we should be leaving, but the security blanket should be left alone? If it is not done by us, then by whom, may I ask?

Opposition Motion—Mission in Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Dryden York Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I think the challenge for everyone in the House is to see that in fact we fulfill the commitment that we say we are making, a commitment that is for development, a commitment that is for training, a commitment that is not in a combat role.

I think the challenge and the record of governments in lots of places in the world is a very sketchy one in terms of maintaining those kinds of promises. When a country is in a war environment, it is very difficult not to be engaged in a combat role.

That is why, as I was trying to say in my remarks, we have to be really vigilant, each of each other, each of ourselves, because it is so easy to slide into a different role.

That is what we are voting on today, the literal support of that mission, of training and of development and not a combat role.

Opposition Motion—Mission in Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am trying to understand the position taken today by the Liberal member, who made a sober speech. I remind him of today's motion. What does it say? It calls on the government to respect two commitments. The first is the commitment made in May 2006 that any extension of Canada's mission in Afghanistan would be put to a vote in Parliament. The second is the commitment to ensure that if the mission were to continue after 2011 that it would be a civilian one. That commitment was reiterated in January 2010.

My question for the Liberal member is simple. Why is the Liberal Party refusing to demand that any extension of Canada's mission in Afghanistan be put to a vote in Parliament, as the government committed?

Opposition Motion—Mission in Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Dryden York Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, my understanding is that this not an extension of a combat role.

If it is not an extension of a combat role, then that is a very different story than what was brought up in the member's question.

Opposition Motion—Mission in Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be brief. I always enjoy listening to the comments of the member for York Centre. I know he is the ultimate team player. His speech today was articulate.

I just want to ask the member a question. The papers today quote his colleague from Saint-Laurent—Cartierville as saying that Afghans do not need training, that the military that defeated the Soviets in the 1980s does not require our help.

That was his former leader, as I said, the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville. His current leader, of course, is on a different page. I wonder which one of his colleagues he agrees with.

Opposition Motion—Mission in Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Dryden York Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I have not been to Afghanistan. I have not seen up close what the needs are.

I am going on the basis that in fact there is an ongoing need, in order to take on that larger role. As more soldiers from other countries leave or those ones stay in non-combat roles, there is that much more responsibility and a much larger task for those Afghans who remain, and therefore the training of them.

Opposition Motion—Mission in Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

Madam Speaker, I am delighted to participate in today's debate.

First, having travelled to Afghanistan on three different occasions, I have had an opportunity to see our men and women in the field, in the OMLT, in Kandahar, working with Afghans and assisting the Afghan national army in a support role. There is no question in my mind that Canadians are making a significant difference in Afghanistan and they are making that significant difference under the UN resolution and as part of NATO.

Canada has always been, and will continue to be, a country that responds when the need is there. On the issues of international terrorism and dealing with and creating a stable and productive Afghanistan, Canada does not take second place to anyone. We have done an outstanding job there. Every Canadian soldier, every aid worker and every contractor there will tell us that they are making a difference in the lives of the average Afghan.

The discussion before the House deals with whether we should have a training mission, what is commonly known as inside the wire, after the combat role ends in 2011.

In my view, there are two ways we could go. We could simply say that the combat mission ends, therefore our responsibility ends and then we go home and let somebody else do the job. I believe Canadians, by and large, do not take that view. They take the view that 152 Canadians have lost their lives there, 152 Canadians have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

What else can we do? Our party has always supported the 3-D approach, which is defence, diplomacy and development. However, clearly one of the elements is in the area of training the Afghan national army, so it not only can it defend itself, but it can also train other Afghans so they will not need international assistance.

It is important that we have a force there, which is now over 170,000, an Afghan army that is able not only to secure the territory, but also to defend that territory and defend the sovereignty of Afghanistan, not just from the Taliban but also from outside sources, such as al-Qaeda.

I believe that the training inside the wire, on which the government has enunciated although I know more details will come, in Kabul and in the military academy, will allow Afghan soldiers to continue on in defence of their country.

Some would argue that this is a continuation of the military mission, but clearly the focus of this mission will change. What we are expecting of our forces is going to change. We are not going to be out in the field in a support role. We are not going to be out in the field in any combat role. We are training and we are going to train individuals.

On my third trip to Afghanistan, we asked all key Afghan officials, the foreign minister, U.S. General McChrystal and others what their biggest need was. Clearly the biggest need, which we came back and enunciated, was for training, not just for the Afghan national army, but for the Afghan national police. We have now heard from the government that it believes, in concert with our allies, that training is a necessary component and that Canada can contribute in a very valuable and specific way to the training of the Afghan national army.

It is not only about training however. It is also about support for development, for more and more students to go to school. Six million young people have gone to school who did not go before. However, we cannot build schools and clinics unless there is security. We cannot have security unless we have forces that are trained in order to secure those towns, villages and cities.

Therefore, I believe we will play a role which will improve the quality of life for the average Afghan. It will allow young girls to go to school. A few years ago, when we had the opportunity to meet with President Karzai, he indicated that, for the first time in Afghan history, 600 doctors would graduate and 300 of them would women.

When we think of where Afghanistan was just over 10 years ago, young children, particularly girls, did not school and women did not go out of the house. They were confined. They could not get an education. Think of the development next year when the Dahla Dam is completed, which is one of the three signature projects in which Canada has been involved. It will not only provide clean running water but electricity, it will also help irrigate significant areas of southern Afghanistan for the growing of wheat in particular.

If we really want to change the lives of individuals, the only way we can do that is to provide the kind of skill sets that, in this case, Canada is good at. We have significant aid workers there and they have to be protected. Again, the training of the Afghan forces and providing those skill sets will assist in terms of the protection of aid workers, whether they are ours or someone else's.

Advancing security and the rule law is another area in which Canada has been involved. It is embedded in the ministry of justice. As a vice-chair of the Afghanistan special committee, I have been able to witness that. With some of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, we were able to see those kinds of changes.

The rule of law is absolutely important, as well as training people on human rights.

Opposition Motion—Mission in Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I regret interrupting the hon. member. He can continue his comments when debate resumes after question period. We will now move to statements by members.

National Holodomor Awareness Week
Statements by Members

November 25th, 2010 / 1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Madam Speaker, in 1932 and 1933, millions of Ukrainians died because of a politically instituted famine known as the Holodomor. The direct translation of Holodomor means death by starvation, a genocidal policy put in place by Joseph Stalin.

At the peak of the Holodomor, 25,000 Ukrainians were perishing from hunger each and every day. A full third of these were vulnerable and innocent children.

The suffering caused by the Holodomor is, without question, one of the worst peacetime tragedies the world has ever known. As this is National Holodomor Awareness Week, I implore all my fellow members to honour the victims of this genocide by learning more about the Holodomor so tragedies like this will never be permitted to be perpetrated on the innocent in this world again.

Boys and Girls Club of LaSalle
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac LaSalle—Émard, QC

Madam Speaker, last month, during a ceremony in celebration of LaSalle's volunteers, the Boys and Girls Club of LaSalle won the 2010 Moulin d'or award for organization of the year. This award, which is presented by members of the borough council, acknowledges the generosity and exceptional value of an organization's involvement in its community.

The Boys and Girls Club of LaSalle has worked with youth for many years to develop their self-esteem, leadership qualities and sense of belonging in the community. Through quality programming, these young people are given every opportunity to realize their full potential.

I am very proud to offer my heartfelt congratulations for this well deserved, impressive achievement to the Boys and Girls Club of LaSalle, its board of directors, its executive director, Mark Branch, and its incredible team.

On behalf of my colleagues, I wish them every success in the coming years.

Nataly Boulerice
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Madam Speaker, on behalf of all my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I would like to congratulate Nataly Boulerice, a dynamic singer-songwriter from Saint-Édouard who is very involved in her community, on being honoured with a Galaxie Rising Stars award this year.

On September 15, during an evening event organized by the St-Tite western festival, SOCAN, Culture Country and the Galaxie music network, Ms. Boulerice won second prize in the country pop/rock/folk category for her song Veillez veillez. The song is on a compilation album of the 10 finalist songs for this special evening.

I am extremely proud of how committed Ms. Boulerice is to sharing her passion for the arts and culture, and I encourage her to continue growing as a musician and cultural ambassador. But above all, I support her as she follows her dreams. Her commitment to her community is an inspiration to many up-and-coming artists.

Bravo, Ms. Boulerice.

Windsor Goodfellows Club
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as its annual Old Boys Newspaper campaign gets under way, I would like to recognize the Windsor Goodfellows Club, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary of giving.

Founded in 1910 out of the deep concern that no child or family go hungry, the organization has established essential programs to address this need. In the past year alone, over 11,000 food boxes were distributed by the food bank, feeding over 60,000 people, assisting nine area schools with their breakfast programs. More than 1,300 pairs of new shoes were given to children.

All these efforts were made possible by one paid staff member and 152 volunteers. This organization exemplifies volunteer service as it receives no funding from any level of government or not-for-profit agency.

Unfortunately the concerns and issues that initiated the Goodfellows founding 100 years ago are still with us today. Its continued efforts, which have significant support from across the community, display what determination and citizen action can accomplish when we all work together.

I thank the Goodfellows.

Saskatchewan Roughriders
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, this week thousands of Rider fans will descend on Edmonton and turn the streets around Commonwealth Stadium into a sea of green. Households will be without watermelons for their families this weekend as the stores will run dry as Rider fans clean them out.

The Riders truly bring the people of Saskatchewan together. NDP or Sask Party, Saskatoon or Regina, Tim Hortons or Robin's Donuts, John Deere or CASE IH, we all put aside our differences every game day.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Riders. A special loonie was struck to commemorate the event and dozens of communities across the province celebrated to mark a century of Rider football.

Did members know that over half of all CFL merchandise sold in Canada is Rider gear? Every away game sounds like a home game, as most of the fans in Edmonton, Calgary, B.C. and even Toronto cheer for the green and white.

Darian Durant, Wes Cates, Regina native Chris Getzlaf and the whole Rider team will do our province proud this weekend. Redemption is in order as a rematch of the last Grey Cup will give the Riders another opportunity to bring home the trophy.

With a whole province behind them, I know the Riders will do us proud. Go Riders.

Pensions
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are genuinely concerned about their future well-being in retirement. They are undeniably nervous and anxious about whether they will ever be able to amass the necessary resources to live in reasonable comfort. They wonder whether the tools and safeguards for generating those resources are stable enough to ensure that these needs are met.

However, instead of acting to relieve Canadians of these concerns, the Conservatives are acting to worsen that anxiety.

On May 17 of this year, the Conservatives secretly changed the rules and the benefits of RRSPs and registered retirement income funds. As of that day in May, all Canadians who withdraw a lump sum from their RRIF will likely lose their eligibility to the guaranteed income supplement for up to two years.

As it stands now, if a senior citizen with modest means needs to make an emergency withdrawal from his or her RRIF to pay for an unforeseen medical expense, an emergency home repair or any other necessity, he or she will lose the GIS in return. If that is not bad enough, the senior will not necessarily learn of the consequence until the year after because GIS eligibility--

Pensions
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Huron—Bruce