Elsewhere

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Papineau (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2006, with 38.48% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Foreign Affairs November 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, first, I think the opposition should acknowledge the leadership that this government has been playing at the United Nations. For the third year in a row we have been winning this resolution on the human rights abuse by Iran. This was an extraordinary achievement by our government last week at the United Nations.

On the nuclear issue, we have absolutely condemned the words of the Prime Minister of Iran on the wiping out of Israel. We have rejected that. We have condemned it. We are working with our allies, the United States and the European Union. I am one who believes that soon we will have to take Iran to the Security Council over this nuclear issue.

Global Partnership Program November 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I am pleased to table, in both official languages, the first annual report of the Global Partnership Program.

Premiers of Quebec November 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have the greatest respect for each of the former premiers of Quebec, even those rejected by the PQ and the one they booed the other evening.

Political life is so demanding that anyone who devotes himself to it deserves our admiration. I am very sorry to think I may have hurt the feelings of one of them. I was referring to the losing speeches by the PQ—their speeches in defeat—when I passed comment on the tributes being paid one after the other, the other night. I certainly do not think that the people who held such office were losers.

Dairy Industry November 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, if there is one government that has taken responsibility for supply management it is the Liberal government, which established the system. We want to go to Hong Kong. My colleagues, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Minister for International Trade, have just said we intend to protect farmers in Quebec and supply management throughout Canada.

And this is the party that wants to overturn the government and weaken our colleagues who want to go and negotiate matters of agriculture and supply management. They are more concerned about their totally partisan issues than about defending agriculture, just when we are going to Hong Kong to defend a strong Canada.

Canada's military mission in Afghanistan November 15th, 2005

Mr. Chair, my colleague the Minister of National Defence, who has kindly agreed that I open these discussions tonight because I have some other obligations, will deal with this more extensively.

I want to reassure the member that this is the reason why we are having this debate tonight. We will begin discussing this issue. This is a realignment of our presence in Afghanistan following our commitment of a few years ago, and in deep discussions with our international partners in NATO and with the other countries that are involved there.

We discussed who should do what in Afghanistan. We distributed the roles among ourselves. It was thought that Canada could do the best job there. The Minister of National Defence will have the opportunity to explain this more extensively.

Canada's military mission in Afghanistan November 15th, 2005

Mr. Chair, I appreciate our colleague bringing this matter to our attention. I am not privy to the information to which he is referring. I have never heard that the Americans would have done the dirty work sort of thing around our own camp. Therefore I will take note of his question because the government would be concerned if that were a reality. We certainly will look into that and we will have the opportunity of chatting together about this for sure.

Canada's military mission in Afghanistan November 15th, 2005

Mr. Chair, the PRT concept was originally based more on the American model. Since this was our first experience, the Provincial Reconstruction Team was later improved and reinforced. Some new elements were introduced, particularly when the Europeans became involved in this type of exercise.

I can say that the Provincial Reconstruction Team reflects precisely what we have in our international policy statement. We want defence, diplomacy and development to work in a more coordinated and integrated way. It is clear that for now, the work is focussed more on stability, with a significant military presence. Eventually we expect elements of diplomacy and development to become more of a priority.

It is essential that we take responsibility for a territory. However, in addition to the military effort, we must ensure that other aspects of development are included. That is why CIDA is very involved in this exercise.

Canada's military mission in Afghanistan November 15th, 2005

Mr. Chair, that is a very important question and I appreciate it. I am sure my colleague, the Minister of National Defence, when he addresses the House a little later, will certainly provide further information.

As a government, it is very clear that we would not have embarked on such an important mission if we were putting the lives of our Canadian citizens at risk in a way that is not absolutely necessary. Yes, of course, lives are at risk in the military but obviously we want to ensure we put all the chances on our side. This is something the Minister of National Defence has looked into personally when we were going through the decision making process in the government.

It was a very important priority for the Minister of National Defence and the government in general to ensure that we were sending our Canadian soldiers with the appropriate training and equipment to do the best possible job. I do not think General Hillier would have accepted any such risk either if he had not been confident that we were taking the appropriate actions before sending our Canadian soldiers there.

Canada's military mission in Afghanistan November 15th, 2005

Mr. Chair, I am very pleased that my colleague, the Minister of Defence, proposed this evening's debate here in this House. I am grateful to him for allowing me to speak so soon even though he was the one who proposed this very important debate.

I am addressing the House today to speak about the remarkable work Canada has accomplished in Afghanistan.

Our country plays a leading role in the international action to help Afghanistan become a stable, democratic, self-sufficient state that respects human rights and that will never harbour terrorists again. Achieving this objective is essential to maintaining peace and international security, and to bringing about a secure and prosperous future for the people of Afghanistan. Afghanistan, which is recovering after more than 20 years of conflict and drought, remains one of the poorest countries in the world, a major source of narcotics and therefore a fragile state. Canada provides an essential contribution to this country.

In order to optimize our intervention in Afghanistan, we must adopt a strategic approach based on the unparalleled added value Canada can offer. Our commitment in Afghanistan is a concrete manifestation of the international policy statement that calls for a government-wide approach based on pursuing our strategic interests abroad.

Canada's commitment in Afghanistan is based on specialized knowledge and the contributions of various federal departments and agencies, such as Foreign Affairs, National Defence, CIDA and the RCMP, or what we call the three d s, meaning diplomacy, defence and development assistance, in a coordinated and integrated manner.

With regard to our diplomatic commitment, which I will focus on—my colleagues from National Defence and Development will follow—Canada opened an embassy in Kabul in September 2003.

This embassy provides the diplomatic presence needed to ensure effective support for Canadian defence and development efforts in close collaboration with our Afghan partners and the international community. Canadian diplomats elsewhere are also working to support the work being done in Afghanistan, particularly at NATO and the United Nations, and through the G8.

Thanks to recent provincial and parliamentary elections, Afghanistan has fulfilled the initial requirements of its democratic transition as set out by the Afghans and the international community, when they met in Bonn in 2001. Other achievements. within the framework of the Bonn process, include the adoption of a constitution and presidential elections.

Canada has been a key supporter of the transition to democracy in Afghanistan. The resources deployed at all levels of government in support of the recent elections there are clear evidence of this. The contribution comprised financial support, the sending of election observers, and assistance to the Afghans in maintaining security throughout the electoral process from the beginning right through to election day.

By declaring themselves as candidates, a decision liable to put them in danger, by going to the polls despite the risk to their safety, by speaking out in favour of reform, the Afghans have shown their support for change.

Democracy has now taken root in Afghanistan and is starting to bear fruit, particularly in establishing the people's confidence and pride in their own country.

Canada's efforts have helped Afghanistan achieve real results in other areas as well, in particular in reforming the security sector. The demilitarization agenda is critical to stability in Afghanistan. The successful completion of the first two phases of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration program in Afghanistan this past July saw some 63,000 former combatants lay down their arms.

Canada has played an important role in this process, fostering political support through diplomatic channels, the second largest donor, disbursing close to $21 million in support of the program and providing a secure environment for former combatants to disarm.

We remain committed to the final phase of the process, reintegration, and we will continue to work with the United Nations and our international partners to ensure its successful completion.

Canada was instrumental in the establishment of a highly successful heavy weapons cantonment process in Afghanistan, the same weapons that were used to destroy much of the country. Our top military officials, working closely with the Canadian embassy in Kabul, helped to create the momentum and will for a program that many thought was impossible. Thanks to Canadian efforts, over 10,000 tanks, heavy artillery and other weapons are now safely secured.

Afghanistan is one of the most mine affected countries in the world, with over 800 victims per year. In 2003, Afghanistan acceded to the Ottawa Convention on Landmines. Canada is a lead donor in mine action, having contributed approximately $47 million to mine action assistance in Afghanistan since 1989. These funds have helped to clear 10 million to 15 million mines in Afghanistan.

There is no question that important progress has been made. Afghanistan is on the road to recovery. The challenge now is to ensure momentum continues. We will work with Afghanistan and our international partners to consolidate and build on the achievements of the last four years.

An example of this is the recent deployment of Canada's provincial reconstruction team to Kandahar. In order to respond to the multifaceted and complex nature of reinforcing the authority and building the capacity of the Afghan government in Kandahar, the provincial reconstruction team brings together Canadian Forces personnel, civilian police, diplomats and aid workers in an innovative and integrated Canadian effort of the three Ds of diplomacy, defence and development.

With the provincial reconstruction team and the February 2006 deployment of a 1,500 strong task force and brigade headquarters, Canada has positioned itself to play a leadership role in southern Afghanistan and provide an enabling environment for Afghanistan's institutional and economic development.

In order to effectively approach outstanding challenges, the first step is to recognize and empower Afghan leadership. This requires a commitment to take the necessary steps to ensure that Afghan authorities have the capacity to carry out their required functions. We support an intensified focus on institution building and emphasize the need to ensure that international community efforts result in systemic changes. It is only by building lasting capacity that we can ensure that our investment lasts long beyond our engagement.

Canada has emphasized the need to deal with the recalcitrant commanders who continue to challenge the authority of the central government by adhering to illicit pursuits. These non-compliant power brokers must be made aware that there are consequences to their actions. Their continued involvement with narcotics, illegal armed groups and human rights violations must be addressed. Without a commitment to take decisive action against those who most overtly defy the rule of law, they will continue to subvert our best efforts and contribute to instability.

We have continued to stress the necessity of a global view if past injustices in Afghanistan are to be put behind us. Any government needs the trust of all its citizens. The inclusion of those responsible for serious offences in the past against either Afghan law or international law would cast doubt on the government's credibility. Although the process of addressing past wrongs will no doubt be fraught with emotion, as is the case with any post-conflict situation, this political sensitivity can be mitigated by a process that is transparent, objective and founded in law.

Canada supports the work being done at this time by the Afghan authorities, in close collaboration with the Afghan human rights commission, with a view to drafting a national transitional justice strategy.

I must say how very pleased I am to take part in this evening's very important debate on Canada's role in Afghanistan.

Mining Industry November 14th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, our government is trying to work very closely with mining companies, which are found throughout the world. However, it is obvious that we cannot impose Canadian laws or regulations on these Canadian mining companies. That would be an issue of extraterritoriality, which we condemn in numerous other cases throughout the world.

We do hope, however, that Canadian companies, along with the Government of Canada, will develop codes of conduct and corporate responsibility through a developed social conscience. That is what the government is doing with companies throughout the world, while respecting Canadian legislation—