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House of Commons Hansard #128 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was police.

Topics

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

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

Time and time again, the Prime Minister has told this House that the Somalia commission can hear any witness it wants concerning the cover-up in the Somalia affair, although Justice Létourneau said this morning that the government had in fact been advised that imposing a June 30 deadline would prevent the commission from hearing a number of key witnesses, including Ms. Campbell.

How can the Prime Minister maintain that it is business as usual for the Somalia commission, when, this morning, Justice Létourneau described the Prime Minister's statements as "misleading and unjust"?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the chairman of the Somalia commission of inquiry made a statement this morning. Thus far, I have refrained from commenting on the evidence heard by the commission, and I am not about to comment on remarks made by the judge who has judicial authority over the whole process.

I think it is very important, in such matters, to always try to strike a balance between the role of the players in a judicial inquiry and the role of the government. Not only is it a custom and a tradition but it is also a Canadian reality that I intend to respect.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, this role is viewed by the public as government interference in a commission trying to shed light on the matter.

I must point out that, last April, the former Minister of National Defence announced that the worst was still to come in the Somalia affair. Clearly, this government knows things it does not want the commission and the public to know.

Is the deadline imposed on the commission by the government not designed to ensure that the public will never know what the worst is?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am convinced that the Canadians who have been following the commission's proceedings realize full well that, the incidents in Somalia that resulted in the death of a number of Somali are basically unacceptable to the people of Canada.

What is of interest to me in the hon. member's question is whether he thinks that, while the commission has already heard in excess of 100 witnesses, we really must comment on the witnesses who were invited to testify? Or that we should have set the commission's schedule?

The hon. member is no doubt aware of the fact that, originally, hearings were scheduled to conclude by the end of December 1995. The government has agreed to extend the commission's mandate three times already. And, the last time, it was extended to the end of June.

If the hon. member and his party believe that commissions of inquiry should have carte blanche and that, once they have begun, they should carry on until everyone is happy, the hon. member should propose this to the Canadian public and see how it reacts.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, in communities across Canada there are a large number of young people, university graduates, who cannot find jobs and who are seriously underemployed. At the same time, companies in my riding cannot fill job openings because the right skills or the right trades are not available.

My question is directed to the Minister of Human Resources Development.

While recognizing and respecting provincial jurisdiction over education, can the minister tell the House how the federal government can get involved to find a solution to this thorny issue, and what it intends to do in this regard?

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his excellent question. This morning, along with 13 of my colleagues, I had the very great privilege of announcing the strategy for youth employment that we are offering to Canadian youths who face a very challenging situation in entering a complex and difficult labour market.

We are working very hard at plugging these young Canadians into the new economy. This morning we created a web site to give them information on all available programs. We are doing this in partnership with the private sector and non-governmental organizations.

They will have internships in the growth sectors of the economy that will allow them to get jobs. We are building on programs that have been demonstrated they work well. Sixty-eight per cent of young people who have participated in an internship program have got a job within six months.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, here is a summary of this case to date. There was a murder. There was a cover-up of that murder. The Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence are contributing to the cover-up and the whitewash by ensuring that the Somalia inquiry cannot complete its original mandate.

Why would ministers of the crown contribute to the obstruction of justice in a cover-up, as Justice Létourneau has said?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

I think your questions are going a little over the line with accusations. I would ask the hon. member to rephrase the question please.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is, why would they not let justice be done by letting the Somalia inquiry finish the mandate it was given originally?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member is capable, and I am sure he is an honourable member, I would appreciate if he would step outside, not like his hon. friend who wanted to step across the floor last week because I am too timid for that kind of activity.

I would like to see him come outside and accuse me of obstructing justice. I would like to see him do that. He is very free with words. It is obvious from the line of questioning he has been using in the House for some time now that it is not justice that is being obstructed, it is just the area above his shoulders.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, whether the hon. minister wants to hear what I have to say or not, he should listen to the words of Justice Létourneau. Justice Létourneau said that he and the Prime Minister both knew ahead of time that shutting down the inquiry would result in a cover-up and a whitewash. What more does he want to know? There is a murder involved. There is a cover-up and he is involved in the cover-up. Why does he not just let the Somalia inquiry do its job so that it can get-

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Order.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

I judge that question to be out of order and I am going to pass. The hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup.

Aéroports De MontréalOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.

In a judgment delivered this morning, the Quebec superior court prohibited the transfer of international flights from Mirabel to Dorval, and ordered that the work under way at Dorval airport be stopped. Mr. Justice Pierre Viau feels that the decision made by the firm Aéroports de Montréal is illegal and even constitutes an abuse of power.

What does the minister have to say, now that a judge has ruled that the transfer could not take place without changing the lease between ADM and the federal government?

Aéroports De MontréalOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. As the member pointed out, the judgment was just delivered this morning, in Montreal, by the Quebec superior court.

I have not had an opportunity to take a look at it. This decision must be analyzed in depth and in detail before I can comment on it. I certainly hope to do so in the coming days, and I have already instructed my department's officials to take a thorough look at the judgment.

Aéroports De MontréalOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, does the minister intend to hold public hearings to consult with stakeholders from Montreal, as the Bloc Quebecois has been asking, and as was suggested by the judge in his ruling, so as to make a legal decision regarding this issue?

Aéroports De MontréalOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his suggestion but, before making any decision, I must first look at the judgment handed down this morning in Montreal.

I will do so and so will my officials. Once this review is completed, I will immediately inform the hon. member accordingly, and we will take any action required. However, let us not forget that ADM is a local administration and that the Montreal airports come under its responsibility and not that of the federal Department of Transport.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

February 12th, 1997 / 2:50 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, in their responses today neither the Prime Minister nor the defence minister has acknowledged the seriousness of the charges made against the government by the Somalia inquiry commissioners, a commission that they themselves set up: charges of political interference with an independent tribunal, charges of making misleading and unfair statements on the work of the tribunal, and charges of contributing to a whitewash.

Has the government no response to these serious charges other than to ignore them?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I have a great respect for legal procedures. I have great respect for the judiciary. I have been, as the hon. member well knows, very meticulous in never commenting on how the commission conducts its business, what witnesses it calls or what testimony is presented by witnesses before that commission.

I respect the tradition that governments have responsibilities and commissions of inquiry and commissioners who are members have their responsibilities.

I have no intention on behalf of the government of responding to the comments that were made this morning by the commissioners. I fully understand they can be frustrated and concerned about the way they are going to have to do their work over the next several months.

I think I can say on behalf of many Canadians, both inside and outside the military, that some people may have had some concerns about the way the commission has gone about its business. I am not one of them who is going to comment on it today.

I hope the hon. member will understand that at the end of the day we can do all the squirming and twisting about what he meant in September, he can do all the kinds of exercises that he and his colleagues are going through here today, but he had better decide at some point whether or not he is interested more in the next election or in the future of the Canadian forces. Canadians know where we stand on that.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the net result of all that the minister has said is that he is choosing to ignore the charges made by the commissioners against the government: charges of political interference, charges of making misleading statements and charges of participating in a whitewash.

That being the case, how can the public possibly believe that the government will respond to the final report of the commission when it is already ignoring what the commission is saying about interference, deception and cover-up?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member changes his approach to this whole question as often as he changes his hairdo. The whole problem is whether or not he understands what is going on.

If the hon. member is asking us to get into a public debate with commissioners conducting a quasi-judicial inquiry, what would he then say about what we were doing? Would he say that it was political interference or does he understand the concept of separation between what the judicial process is about and what government is about?

TerrorismOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Liberal Brampton, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

According to a recent Globe and Mail article, the Indian government alleges that many Canadian based organizations are funding militants in Punjab. However, the RCMP indicates that this is not the case.

Could the minister comment on these allegations by the Indian government and explain to the Sikh community why he is setting up a working group on terrorism with the Government of India?

TerrorismOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, over the last several months we have seen the tragic consequences of terrorist activities around the world. One way of dealing with terrorism is to increase the co-operation between Canada and a number of countries to ensure that we share information and work together.

Last summer at the meetings in Paris on terrorism we agreed that we would undertake to enhance these kinds of relationships.

The working group between Canada and India is simply to improve our co-operation. In no way is it tied to any one specific group. In no way is it tied to particularly the Sikh community, which we see as making an enormously valuable contribution in this country. It is so valuable that this January we opened an office in the Punjab so we could take advantage of the enormous opportunities for trade and investment in that area between the Sikh community in Canada and their counterparts in India.

It really is an opportunity for us to expand and develop a new relationship where the Sikh community can make an enormous contribution to Canada as a result.