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House of Commons Hansard #77 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was vancouver.

Topics

The Leader Of The Bloc QuebecoisStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, at his party's general council in Beauport during the weekend, the leader of the Bloc once again changed his position on the issue of partnership. He told his supporters on the weekend, and I quote: "Just because a federal minister will not consider partnership does not mean we will stop talking about it."

This is rather surprising, because we all remember that the same leader of the Bloc said a week earlier, and I will quote him again: "As far as I am concerned, we are not going to make it the Bloc's mission to sell partnership in the rest of Canada".

The question that arises today is whether the leader of the Bloc Quebecois believes that to follow in the footsteps of Lucien Bouchard, he will have to make as many quick changes in politics as he did.

The Bloc QuebecoisStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to a SOM-La Presse poll, 57 per cent of the population of Quebec wants a ten- year respite until the next referendum on Quebec's independence. I hope you are listening.

This poll is a clear indication that the majority of the population has had enough of the disastrous economic impact that the PQ and the Bloc are having with their threats to hold another referendum.

When asked to comment on this poll, the leader of the Bloc decided, as he usually does when at a loss for a reply, to put the blame on the Canadian government, claiming that his party's priority is economic issues. Hansard is a faithful witness to the subjects that interest the Bloc Quebecois, and anyone who bothers to read Hansard will soon realize that economic recovery and job creation are not among the top priorities of this separatist party.

JusticeStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, the following is a copy of a letter received from Darlene Boyd to the justice minister: "The minister has said he is listening to the Canadian people. C-45 does not demonstrate this.

"You have referred to us as the victims industry'. We never classified ourselves as part of any industry. We are ordinary people who have paid a price, far too great, to establish such a petty organization. We never asked for this fate, and we are not victims, we aresurvivors'.

"There is one thing I need advice on, that is how I tell our son, who has not yet put his life back together since his sister's murder, that the man convicted and sentenced to life in prison will be applying and probably be granted his day in court, to tell everyone what a good person he has become in the past 15 years.

"Who will take responsibility when he falls apart? C-45 will be guilty of this crime!

"Does the charter of rights protect us, or was it written for just murderers?

"I appeal to you not as a politician, but as someone who holds family and friends dear. Because murder shows no bounds, please reconsider repeal, and make it impossible for these killers to once again exploit my family and the families of others".

The Referendum QuestionOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, with the passage of time, the government becomes increasingly confused about its decision to stop a future referendum in Quebec by asking the Supreme Court's opinion on Quebec's

right to determine its own future. None of yesterday's allies on the no side are on side of the Prime Minister as he makes this clumsy attempt to get all of Canada up in arms against Quebec, as he did so successfully in 1982 and 1990.

What kind of answer does the Prime Minister of Canada have for Daniel Johnson, the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party, who has invited him to resign and run for a seat in the Quebec National Assembly if he wants to draft the referendum question?

The Referendum QuestionOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Johnson is entirely correct in saying that the National Assembly is free to ask any questions it wants. But when such a question involves negotiations on an issue as serious as secession, the question must be such as to elicit a clear response from the people. What is needed is a clear question. And to have a clear question, we need a clear process. To have a clear process, there must be a commitment to make it that way.

So far, however, the Quebec government has given us no guarantees to that effect. We are asking the Supreme Court to clarify matters, and the Quebec government does not want to go before the Supreme Court. Why? Because it knows that confusion works to its advantage. The forces of division gain from confusion; the forces of reconciliation gain from clarity.

And if we must quote Mr. Johnson, I will quote him, in concluding: "Mr. Bouchard and other sovereignists, who for three or four years have been telling us that international law is clear on the subject will have a forum to explain why it is clear. If the train is there, they can always get on board and tell Quebecers what their theories are about", but they will not go, because they know they are wrong.

The Referendum QuestionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, you will allow me to point out to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs that, on the subject of clarity, he is the one who has constantly contradicted himself. He and the Minister of Justice are sending two completely different messages. He is certainly in no position to talk to us about confusion. He is creating confusion.

Seriously, I realize the Prime Minister wants to give his Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs a chance to make his mark in the House, but my question was directed to the Prime Minister.

I would appreciate it if the Prime Minister would tell us whether he realizes that, by insisting on his reference to the Supreme Court and by wanting to assume the powers of the National Assembly, he no longer enjoys the support of any of his federalist allies who were with him during the last referendum? Does he realize he is isolating himself, even from the Quebec federalists who supported him during the last referendum?

The Referendum QuestionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I repeat, the Leader of the Official Opposition in Quebec urges the Quebec government to come and argue its case before the Supreme Court. He does so, using the same arguments that the Minister of Justice of Canada used to invite his counterpart, Mr. Bégin, to argue his case before the Supreme Court.

The reason they are not going there is that they now realize, after being told by two judges of the Quebec Superior Court, as well as by all the experts, including some U.S. experts last week, that international law provides no basis for a unilateral declaration of independence, that this gospel they believed, because their separatist leaders, Mr. Parizeau, and Mr. Landry kept preaching it all the time, is not true, and that if they want to bring about something as serious as secession, for the sake of the people of Quebec in particular, it must be done within a specific framework that is acceptable to all concerned, and not unilaterally.

The problem is that they now realize that Quebecers and other Canadians will never give up their ties of solidarity in a clear situation. That is why they need confusion, stratagems and other tricks.

The Referendum QuestionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs should be careful because, when he was a university professor, he wrote that in Quebec people would never let the federal government draft the referendum question. To create a diversion, it was necessary to appeal to the Supreme Court so that Quebecers would then agree to let Ottawa be involved in the drafting of the question. So they are not in a position to teach us anything.

Does the Prime Minister realize that by wanting to draft the question for the next referendum, to determine the percentage required for the results of the referendum to be considered positive, and to set the rules for holding this referendum, he is usurping the role of the Quebec National Assembly, which is an attack on democracy? We know he is familiar with this strategy, and we wish he would stop this exercise before launching another attack.

The Referendum QuestionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, first of all, since I entered politics, I have never had to back down from anything I wrote as a university professor and I am prepared to take up the gauntlet.

Second, the official opposition would do well to study foreign cases and international law. It will see that in many democracies, the very concept of secession has been excluded from public debate. In the United States, Italy, Spain and other democracies including France, which the official opposition treats as a good

friend, in fact in section 2 of the French constitution it says that the French Republic is one and indivisible.

Here in Canada we are actually more democratic than average, in this area as in others. We are more conciliatory. We accept the idea that our country can break up if part of our population no longer wishes to remain in the country. However, we have the right to ensure this is done according to the rule of law, in a clear context, since this is a very serious decision which cannot be made if confusion reigns.

The Referendum QuestionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

Yesterday, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs stated: "It is not reasonable for Prince Edward Island to be able to block Quebec's departure from the federation, because that is not democratic, not Quebecois, not Canadian".

Does the Prime Minister share the opinion of his Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs?

The Referendum QuestionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, there are polls, there are statements made by the moral authorities of this country, by various public figures. Obviously in Canada there is a convention that a population is not to be forced to remain against its will. The Minister of Justice has explained this in his speech.

We are, however, entitled to the assurance that this is what a given population wants, and in that connection, yes, PEI is entitled to its say.

The Referendum QuestionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, talk about total ambiguity-I thought the minister was at least in agreement with himself, but even that is not the case. I will therefore direct my question to the Prime Minister.

Does the Prime Minister agree with what his Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs had to say yesterday, or today, depending on which version one chooses: that it is not reasonable or democratic for a single province to prevent Quebec from leaving the federation? Which version is the right one?

The Referendum QuestionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for providing me with the opportunity to repeat my statement. Perhaps then she will understand that we in this country have accepted the idea that the country could break apart, if a population were to indicate very clearly that it no longer wished to remain in the federation.

There will, however, have to be assurances that this is clear and fair for everyone. Prince Edward Island, therefore, is entitled to assure itself that the people of Quebec have been consulted in a clear process, acceptable to all, with terms of negotiation that are also acceptable to all.

It is clear that the decision to break up Canada would have serious consequences for the people of Prince Edward Island. I am very confident that Quebecers and other Canadians will to avoid negotiations as painful, lengthy and difficult as those on the breakup of this country would be.

SomaliaOral Question Period

September 30th, 1996 / 2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, today's Globe and Mail reports that members of U.S. special forces teams wore Canadian uniforms in covert operations in Somalia, and one of them ordered a Canadian soldier to ``fire at a guy, shoot him, drop him, take the guy out''.

Is this report true and if so, when did the minister become aware of this covert operation?

SomaliaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should realize that the specific allegation contained in the newspaper report to which she referred occurred during the Canadian forces deployment to Somalia in 1993. Therefore it would only be reasonable that the commission may wish to look at this matter to see whether it is true.

With respect to the concept of sharing equipment and uniforms, there are a number of joint exercises that are taken on an annual basis between Canada and our allies. But the kind of thing that has been described in the article is something unusual. The chief of defence staff is going to look into it on a conceptual level. But on the specific level, because it does relate to Somalia in 1993, this may be of interest to the commission.

SomaliaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe it. Talk about joint exercises. What about joint uniforms? Certainly these people have their own uniforms to wear. We do not do a complete swap on that, heaven help us.

Canadian forces have not been under foreign command since World War I. The terms of the 1992 memorandum of understanding of orders, signed by former Chief of Defence Staff John de Chastelain, clearly state that the complete operational control of the Canadian forces will be under Canadian command. Yet these direct orders were disobeyed regardless of how he tries to explain it away by talking about joint exercises.

What has the minister of defence done to ensure such an incident will not recur? He cannot just stand behind the fact that this was in 1993 long before he was elected. What is he going to do about this and how will he enable the Somalia commission to look into this and investigate it?

SomaliaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we first have to ascertain whether the allegation in the newspaper is actually true. And I am sure that will be of interest to the commission.

The commission has all the means at its disposal to look into the deployment of the Canadian Armed Forces to Somalia in 1993, and the department will co-operate in every way.

SomaliaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is the toleration of this kind of behaviour. We have had somebody admit on the news nationally here already that he ordered that this person take him out, drop the guy and shoot him. I hardly think that is something the minister needs to look into a great deal more.

Jean Boyle said: "We were aware that the Americans were working with Canadians jointly in terms of intelligence and support in Somali" and added to nobody's surprise that he had no knowledge of any behaviour outlined by a former Green Beret.

This is a pattern we are seeing develop with this minister, blaming things off on cuts and blaming it off to a subordinate. Also with Jean Boyle, again and again say "hey, I had absolutely no knowledge about it". Why did Jean Boyle have absolutely no knowledge about it? Just what does he have any knowledge about?

SomaliaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member could only listen to herself.

First of all, General Boyle was not the chief of defence staff in 1993. Second, she talks about a pattern. The only pattern I see is the pattern of her party not allowing the commission to do its work.

This party in opposition called for the inquiry. We set it up. We want the inquiry to do the job. I believe Canadians want answers. They do not want answers from the Reform Party because they know they cannot trust those answers. Canadians want answers from the commission.

The Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

We were astounded to learn today that U.S. army soldiers belonging to commandos sent to Somalia apparently deliberately represented themselves as soldiers of the Canadian armed forces. According to the Globe and Mail , a U.S. army captain even ordered a Canadian forces soldier to kill a Somali, which he did.

How can the Prime Minister explain that U.S. army officers could have dressed in the uniforms of Canadian soldiers and even given them orders?

The Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I have just answered to earlier questions, this is an allegation that has come to light today. It is something that obviously concerns everyone, but to get to the truth of the matter I think we should perhaps wait and see if the inquiry wishes to pursue it because it does raise certain troubling questions.

With respect to the whole concept of joint exercises and as to whether there is exchange of equipment and that type of thing, the chief of defence staff is looking into it. I will be able to have something more to say at a later date once we look at the conceptual question. On the specifics, we have to wait for the inquiry.

The Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, in order for the commission to be able to get to the bottom of this, the documents that have gone missing may have to resurface. That would be the first requirement.

My supplementary is for the Prime Minister. While his chief of staff is looking into these new revelations, can the Prime Minister assure us or not that such practices did not take place under his leadership and that they are not now taking place?

The Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the practices are clear of the Canadian Armed Forces. Canadian soldiers operate under Canadian control. There is some sharing of individuals on specific missions, and those are bilateral agreements with our NATO allies, specifically with the United States on air crews. That goes on all the time.

The allegations to which the hon. member referred which appeared in the newspaper this morning have just come to light. It is something we are going to look at in a general nature, but specifically this may be of interest for the commission.

QuebecOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians agree that any attempt by Quebec to secede would have to proceed by the rule of law.

On another constitutional front we are equally adamant that the government not offer distinct society status to Quebec as a way to try to buy constitutional peace. In fact, in some provinces, including my own, such a constitutional proposal would have to pass a provincial referendum. I can assure you that in British Columbia that concept will never fly.

Does the government understand that the distinct society proposals contained in the throne speech will be totally unacceptable to the people of British Columbia and to the people of Canada?

QuebecOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, what strikes me is the absence of any argument to support the idea that the distinct society clause or whatever you may call it is against Canada. I think it is a great thing to do for Canadians to recognize that in an anglophone North America there is a strong francophone society and we are proud of it.

We explained that this does not mean more money for Quebecers, privileges for Quebecers. Other Canadians will be so proud to recognize the great Quebec society.