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House of Commons Hansard #130 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

CultureOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, how typical of a member of the Bloc to think that promoting Canada abroad is undemocratic. That is what the hon. member opposite said.

I would urge him to think about what he said. I am sure the hon. member knows perfectly well, as we all do, that promoting Canadian culture includes promoting Quebec culture and, of course, this is also a cause all Canadians, I believe, should fully support.

If the reverse occurred, I am sure all members and taxpayers in this country would see this as totally inappropriate. The role of the Government of Canada is to promote Canada. That is clear.

CultureOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, I may remind the minister that is not what they said on the Canadian heritage committee to, for instance, Marie Laberge and our Quebec film makers when they accused them of making anti-Canadian films.

The government should set its sights a little higher and allocate money for promoting culture abroad on the basis of the quality of the works and projects submitted by the artists and not in terms of the political propaganda sought by this government.

CultureOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member did not ask a question. However, I would like to comment on what he said.

The hon. member is apparently suggesting to the members of this House that it is totally correct and appropriate, in his view, for the government to subsidize or otherwise advance money to artists who are sending messages that do not support Canadian unity and that proposals supporting Canadian unity would be unacceptable to him. I have trouble understanding the hon. member's logic.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, the defence minister is trying to rewrite history in the Somalia scandal. Yesterday he said:

There is no one in Canada who believes that there was or there is today a cover-up of a murder.

The minister's arrogance knows no bounds. Does he think that documents shredded themselves? Why does he think the Somalia inquiry wanted to hear from Bob Fowler, Kim Campbell and John Anderson?

How can the minister possibly claim that no one tried to cover up the beating, torture and murder of Shidane Arone?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, there have been a number of results where people have paid a significant price as a result of judicial processes arising out of the shootings and the beating of Somalian citizens.

What I said yesterday and what I am sure the hon. member knows I said is that Canadians who are interested in this matter know what happened on the ground in Somalia when these incidents occurred that resulted in the death of Somalian citizens.

I also went on to say-and the hon. member does not make reference to it-what happened subsequent to that. Not just the courts martial and the fact that individuals who were directly involved in the killings and the torture were dealt with, but it was totally unacceptable how the institution and the organization reacted subsequent to those incidents.

That is why we are taking very dramatic action to try to develop systems and procedures to ensure that when any intolerable or unacceptable incident occurs there is a proper and appropriate response by the Department of National Defence and by the Canadian forces.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, what the minister does not say is that he is shutting down the inquiry, thus covering up what happened at the top. That is what Canadians are saying the problem is.

We know the documents were hidden, shredded or altered. Military police were misled and senior officers and bureaucrats tried to intimidate cabinet ministers and keep the Canadian public in the dark.

If that was not an attempt to cover up a murder I do not know what was. There was a murder. There was a cover-up and this government is trying to cover up that cover-up by shutting down the inquiry.

Why is the government so afraid of the truth? Why will it not let the Somalia inquiry get to the bottom of the murder cover-up?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are dealing with an extremely serious and complex situation.

If the hon. member is suggesting the incidents that occurred on the ground are unknown or were covered up, he should know, as do most Canadians who are interested in the matter, exactly what happened. It has been written about in books. It has been reported in news coverage. It has been discussed at the Somalia inquiry.

Somalian citizens were shot. A Somalian citizen was tortured to death. Murders occurred. Action was taken through the military justice system to deal with those issues. That is well known.

It is totally unacceptable to Canadians and we must at some point come to grips with it. The government is prepared to ensure that what happened subsequent to the murders and the torture not ever be repeated in the Department of National Defence or in the Canadian forces.

The hon. gentleman refers to a number of allegations of shredding and of attempts to disguise what had taken place and to cover up, to use his term. That is what happened after the murders were very much made aware of, when the murderers or the people involved in the act that resulted in the death of Somalian citizens were dealt with.

We have always said-and I continue to assure my hon. friend-that the government is absolutely committed to cleaning up a system that did not respond appropriately to the murders and the torture that occurred in Somalia.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister only goes so far. As soon as we start moving up the ladder we shut it down. That is the point and he is missing that point.

When the defence minister said yesterday that there is no one in Canada who believes there was a cover-up, did he actually expect Canadians to believe that? Does he not understand the gravity of what is happening or that he will never get the military reformed if he does not deal with the whole situation at this point?

In my office we are hearing from Canadians. They are concerned about the cover-up and now the whitewash of the cover-up. Will the minister stop blustering, come clean with the Canadian people and let the inquiry get to the truth?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we also are getting calls. I received a call at my office from a gentleman in Smiths Falls who said that he supports what we are doing in bringing the Somalia inquiry to a conclusion.

He also said that he had been talking to some people in the hon. member's party who said there should be an inquiry into why the Somalia inquiry was closed. If an inquiry was not appointed to do that, there should be another one appointed into why there was not a second commission appointed, because apparently Reformers are into inquiries these days.

Aéroports De MontréalOral Question Period

February 14th, 1997 / 11:30 a.m.

Bloc

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

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

In response to a decision throwing out the transfer of flights from Mirabel to Dorval, the Minister of Transport once again insisted that ADM, a local administration, was responsible for managing the Montreal airports and not the federal Department of Transport. For almost a year now, the federal government has been hiding behind ADM to avoid public consultation and to avoid committing itself in this matter where its record for the past 30 years has been pitiful.

Is the minister aware today that his inaction and irresponsibility are leading us once again to a standoff in the matter of the Montreal airports?

Aéroports De MontréalOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is well aware that the policy on the airports gives local authorities the opportunity to reach important

decisions regarding airports specifically and the regions where they are located.

Yesterday, the Minister of Transport said, in response to a question, that the intent of his policy was to enable local authorities to make these decisions. The court expressed a different opinion, and the authority is the one before the courts.

Aéroports De MontréalOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the minister that the federal government is the tenant in this contract, and that the judge himself appealed to the federal government to act and to assume its responsibilities.

Are we to understand that the minister is saying he still does not want to resolve a problem the federal government created through its own inaction?

Aéroports De MontréalOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I think that even the hon. member understands there is a problem in a number of airports in Canada. Does he think a central government should make all these decisions? Or can a local authority resolve the problems of a given region? Is it not better placed to make these decisions?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence recently quoted from a document. I would ask that he table that document in the House.

Yesterday the defence minister stated in the House that there was no cover-up of the murder in Somalia. Let me remind him that his department shredded documents, intimidated witnesses, withheld truthful information from the military police and withheld evidence.

This points to a cover-up but we will never know the truth because the government is covering up the cover-up by shutting down the inquiry.

When the defence minister says that there is no cover-up, how does he know? Does he have evidence or facts to base that on? Or, is he just politically interfering with the inquiry once again?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, obviously we would not want to interfere in the work of this inquiry. The hon. member knows we are very conscious of our responsibility of not interfering in any judicial or quasi-judicial process.

The government has decisions to make. I want to say to my hon. friend it is true that yesterday I referred to a document during question period. I have subsequently tabled that document with the Chair prior to the commencement of question period.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Today's letter.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Douglas Young Liberal Acadie—Bathurst, NB

I hear the other member saying there are other letters or today's letter. Just to make sure there is no misunderstanding, that is one letter among several sent by the commissioners of the inquiry to the government asking for extension of time.

To be fair and rather than to quote from the documents and add to more confusion in the hon. member's mind, I would prefer when it is appropriate to also table the three other letters that were sent from the commission to the government requesting extensions of time and explaining how they function. I will be happy to do that for the edification of the member and his colleagues.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. minister may table the documents during question period with a page.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was referring to the letter he quoted from today. I asked him if he would table that document.

The minister stated in the House yesterday that there was no cover-up of the murder. Does he wish to withdraw that statement? He is drawing conclusions about events before the commission even produces its report. This is political interference with a judicial inquiry. Either the minister has evidence that he has not made public or he is interfering with the inquiry. Which is it? Is the minister interfering or hiding evidence?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as to the first part of the question I would like to be able to comply with my hon. friend's request that I table a phone call but it is tough to do that. I made it clear that I had received a phone call this morning and I simply indicated to the hon. member what the conversation was about.

Going to the second part of his question and discussing the specific issue of whether or not Canadians understand what happened on the ground in Somalia, the Somalia commission of inquiry has been going on now for nearly two years. It has heard over 100 witnesses. There have been hundreds of thousands of documents presented to the commission for its review.

There have been courts martial. There have been appeals of those courts martial. There are people who are and who have been clearly identified as having been involved in the specific incidents that occurred on the ground in Somalia.

What I have said and what I repeat is that Canadians who are interested in knowing what happened in those incidents are fully aware of what took place with respect to the murders by shooting or by torture.

What I have also tried to explain-and I will continue to try to do this-is that subsequent to those incidents occurring many, many things took place which were unacceptable, which are intolerable and which cannot be allowed to be repeated.

We are moving to try to correct those problems and those kinds of approaches. The hon. member and his party would like to have it go on until 1998, 1999 or maybe the year 2000. He can accuse us of many things but he will not be able to make it stick that we are going to procrastinate on as important an issue as what we are facing in this particular situation.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of National Defence.

The former director of the military police testified before the Somalia inquiry that, on three separate occasions, the current Chief of Defence Staff, who was the third top ranking officer of the armed forces at the time of the events in Somalia, refused to have the military police investigate the suspicious death of a Somali, on March 4, 1993, in attempt to cover up the circumstances.

In light of the troubling and contradictory testimony of the Chief of Defence Staff and the former director of military police, could the minister tell us if he continues to support the current Chief of Defence Staff in spite of the fact that he was at the heart of the Somalia scandal?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I always have been bery careful not to comment on testimony heard by the inquiry.

The hon. member referred to evidence given by a person who appeared before the inquiry. I will let the inquiry draw the appropriate conclusions after it has heard not only the person the hon. member referred to, but also Admiral Murray, who is the Acting Chief of Defence Staff at this time.

Of course, with all we have managed to accomplish since my appointment to National Defence, it is essential that those who hold positions in the Canadian Forces have the support of the Minister of National Defence, and that is the case for Admiral Murray.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would point out that the exact same thing was said about General Boyle. History is repeating itself.

Since, when he appointed Vice-Admiral Murray as Chief of Defence Staff, the minister knew about his involvement in the events in Somalia and since he made sure the inquiry will not be able to determine whether or not there was a cover-up, how can Quebecers and Canadians be sure of the vice-admiral's integrity?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Vice-Admiral Murray has testified before the inquiry. He gave evidence for several days.

I have no doubt that, at some point between now and June 30, the inquiry will be able to table a report based on all the evidence and information before it. This is one of the reasons the government saw fit, after granting three extensions, to ask the inquiry to wrap up its hearings by June 30, so that we can obtain its findings and recommendations on a number of matters that have been under investigation for almost two years now, two years during which more than 100 witnesses were heard.

No decision will be made on the evidence given by one witness or another until the inquiry has presented its findings.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the defence minister tried to blame the murder cover-up on the Somalia commission by quoting very selectively from a letter that he tabled only this morning.

What the minister did not tell the House is how the letter proves that the minister knew his decision to shut down the inquiry would hide the truth and protect Liberal friends like Bob Fowler.

Canadians want to know who the minister is protecting and why he is afraid of the truth.