House of Commons Hansard #25 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was climate.

Topics

Access to Information
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, “totally obliterated” is the phrase used by the Information Commissioner about what is happening to access to information in Canada. She said she has seen “no evidence” of a culture of transparency in the government.

The Prime Minister's chief of staff helped to prove that point at committee yesterday when he refused to answer if political staff had intervened to stop information from being released. Documents about torture have been censored, information requests have been blocked and criminal allegations against a minister have been covered up. Why the secrecy?

Access to Information
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, we appreciate the advice that the Information Commissioner has given. The majority of requests were responded to within 30 days. Some requests took longer than 30 days but we are working to ensure that those numbers improve.

Access to Information
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, a report has revealed that Canadian Heritage received an F on its access to information report card. The report shows that requests take an average of 107 days because the minister wants to control everything. An F is the worst grade you can get. It means fail. It is terrible.

Can the minister tell us why he got this grade? Is it (a) because he thinks he is above the law; (b) because he is incompetent; or (c) because he has something to hide?

What is the answer?

Access to Information
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

James Moore Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing to hide. Our government is very proud of its commitment to arts and culture. We are making unprecedented investments in arts and culture and we are proud of what we have done. During the election campaign we made a commitment and we invested in television, arts, culture, museums, youth and festivals. That is what we have done. I am very proud of it. The doors are wide open on everything we have done. I am very proud of our commitment.

Rights & Democracy
Oral Questions

April 14th, 2010 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the pretext that Rights & Democracy was being mismanaged, the government took control of that organization. Interestingly, in recent months, compensation paid to the board of directors has doubled. Its president, Jacques Gauthier, works five days and bills for 11. Contracts are being awarded to friends without calls for tender. Along the way, the reputation of the former president, Rémy Beauregard, is being tarnished because someone leaked a false report, which should be withdrawn.

Will the government acknowledge that it is turning a blind eye because it agrees with these actions?

Rights & Democracy
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would remind my hon. colleague that Rights & Democracy is an arm's-length organization run by its board of directors and that its staff are not part of the public service. The parliamentary committee is meeting as we speak, giving it the opportunity to ask the board of directors all the questions it likes. I invite my colleague to do so.

Rights & Democracy
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of Rights & Democracy's board of directors must account for their management to Parliament, and it is our duty as parliamentarians to get to the bottom of what is going on in that organization.

In the name of transparency, will the government hand over copies of the contracts they have granted, specifically to Samson Bélair/Deloitte & Touche? We want the contracts, their cost and the accounting reports.

Rights & Democracy
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would remind my hon. colleague that it was not the government that awarded the contracts. If she wants that information, she will have to ask the board of directors, who, as I said, have had an opportunity to appear before the parliamentary committee. And they will appear again if they are called as witnesses.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government refused to see that it was sending detainees to be tortured. Diplomat Richard Colvin's many reports were ignored. When Mr. Colvin suggested putting an end to the transfer of detainees who were at risk of being tortured, the government note-taker stopped recording what he was saying. She simply put down her pen. Every time Richard Colvin sounded the alarm, this government plugged its ears.

Will the government admit that its lack of transparency today is hiding the fact that the former practice was to deny the risk of torture in order to get rid of detainees as soon as possible?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, that is completely false. When the government was able to look at allegations or when allegations were made, it took action. As members are aware, we have put in place a new system for transferring Taliban detainees to the Afghan authorities, who give us access at any time. In the event of a problem, we interrupt the transfer.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, Lieutenant-Colonel Sansterre was in charge of investigating the mistreatment of Afghan detainees. He stated that he took the word of the Afghan authorities, even though they were accused of torturing detainees. He even said he was not aware of the Federal Court ruling that detainee safety was threatened. It defies belief.

How can this government guarantee the safety of detainees when its investigator was given a political order—I repeat, a political order—not to bother the Afghan torturers too much?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, every time allegations were made, they were analyzed and investigated by Canadian army authorities.

We have put in place an improved system, better than the one the previous government had, that guarantees us access and allows us to verify any allegations that are made. And I want to remind the House that these are allegations.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, Richard Colvin told us previously and yesterday that there was actual knowledge at the highest civilian levels in the government of substantial risk of torture. Other memos and all other evidence, including evidence adduced at the Military Police Complaints Commission this morning, indicate the same. Yet the government deliberately set out to obstruct the ability of the Red Cross to monitor the detainees.

Do the Prime Minister and the defence minister not realize that, if true, this means the Conservative government has been in violation of the Geneva convention and the Canadian Criminal Code?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, these allegations have been made previously. There is nothing new in all of these stories. Every opportunity, every time there have been serious allegations we have looked into it.

I will remind the colleagues in the House that we are the government that changed the regime. We are the government that made it a better regime. We corrected the skewed regime that was in place by the Liberals.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, I remind the government benches that they are the government of cover-up and it is a continuing cover-up.

The fact is the unredacted documents of Colvin, other memos, including the evidence adduced at the Military Police Complaints Commission this morning, all indicate the government has been in violation of the Geneva convention and the Criminal Code by forcing our military to transfer detainees to a substantial risk of torture.

It is the government that has to be accountable. If the government believes it has nothing to hide and it is right, why not call a public inquiry and make full disclosure to Canadians?