House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the issue here is getting to the bottom of this matter.

Justice Iacobucci has no mandate, no subpoena powers and no tools to do the job. Allegation follows allegation, including the allegation that the government allowed rendition to occur. This is a serious matter.

We have now learned that the government was more concerned with preventing political fallout, with the media management of this, than preventing torture.

Justice Iacobucci is ready to serve. Why will the Prime Minister not give him the powers to hold a full public inquiry?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, from the opposition, unsubstantiated allegation follows unsubstantiated allegation, including the fact, which on this particular story the Leader of the Opposition was not aware of, that this had already been discussed months ago.

The fact is that Justice Iacobucci will have access to all relevant documents, all documents referenced in the opposition motion as well as other documents. This government will ensure that everything is looked at and that public confidence in the work of our public servants can remain high.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned that the government had a plan to manage the media regarding the Afghan scandal months before it came out.

The government was more concerned with protecting its image than preventing torture. Now it is concealing the truth from Parliament and from Canadians.

Why is the Prime Minister not asking Justice Iacobucci to hold a full public inquiry?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, clearly the Leader of the Opposition has been misinformed in this matter, which was reported months ago and has already been discussed by senior departmental officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs. It was part of their efforts to establish a new agreement or strengthen the existing one with the Afghan government.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, the recently revealed information gives rise to some serious questions that deserve serious answers.

The Prime Minister can always try to hide, as he has been doing for some time, but Canadians want answers.

Did the government authorize the transfer of detainees to the Afghan authorities knowing that they would be tortured? Did the government agree to a transfer policy that involved interrogation and torture?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the government has already indicated that it would make all the information available to the committee as quickly as possible and in a responsible manner. To that end, we have asked Mr. Justice Iacobucci, who has an impeccable reputation in this area dealing with documents, to lend us his assistance, and that should have the support of all hon. members.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, as government excuses grow weaker, the evidence continues to grow stronger that the government was fully aware of the risk of torture in Afghanistan. Rather than preventing torture, it was more concerned with its talking points.

Given recent revelations, did any minister ever receive information that indicated that Canadian officials were handing over Afghans for the specific purpose of extracting information, information that Canadian interrogators could not obtain?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the priority of the government has never changed, and that is the safety and the security of the men and women serving in the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. That has never changed.

In an effort to ensure parliamentarians have all the documents they need, the public servants are working very hard on this. They will be getting the able assistance of Mr. Iacobucci. Again, this should have the support of the hon. member.

Government Spending
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the government announced that it was abolishing vacant positions. Now that is really something.

Meanwhile, the same government is announcing and creating new layers of bureaucracy such as a body to review bureaucratic spending and a Canada-wide securities commission, which will cost $165 million starting this year.

Does the Prime Minister realize that by creating more bureaucracy, he is adding to his budget spending? Is that how this government proposes to save money?

Government Spending
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board announced yesterday that several hundred positions and government appointments would be eliminated. This is the first time this has been done in years.

As for the Canadian securities commission, all around the world, governments are working to strengthen the systems that monitor financial institutions and operations. It is our duty to do the same thing in Canada. We are working with the provinces that want to work with us.

Government Spending
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is quite right to say that this is a first: it is the first time I have seen a government abolish vacant positions.

The government could recover $3 billion if it prohibited the use of tax havens, but it prefers to abolish vacant positions. It could do away with tax benefits for the oil companies, which would save $3.2 billion, but it prefers to abolish vacant positions. It could cut military spending by $1 billion, but it prefers to abolish vacant positions.

Will the Prime Minister admit that what is lacking is not solutions, but political will?

Government Spending
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, obviously, the first step in abolishing positions is not to fill them. If the leader of the Bloc would care to suggest any other positions that should be abolished, I encourage him to do so.

The Bloc leader talks about subsidies for the oil companies. This government has cut taxes for all businesses in Canada, not just the oil companies. This is another example of grandstanding by the Bloc.

Government Spending
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is fooling the public by announcing that it is cutting vacant positions.

To achieve a balanced budget, the Bloc Québécois has proposed a surcharge on the richest taxpayers, those whose taxable income is greater than $150,000 or $250,000.

Instead of making bogus announcements at Tim Hortons everywhere in Canada, when cutting a modest $1 million, why does the government not tax the richest to the tune of $4.8 billion?

Government Spending
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc's position on Canada's finances is clear: it wants to increase taxes for everyone. That has always been the policy of the Bloc and its coalition partners, but that is not the Conservative's policy.

Government Spending
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, instead of cutting $1 million worth of nonexistent positions, the government should tax the bonuses of the top earners. Just by taxing total capital gains on stock options the government could collect $1 billion. That is 1,000 times more profitable than the bogus announcement it made yesterday.

Why is the government refusing to increase taxes for top earners?