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House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was penalties.

Topics

Export Development ActRoutine Proceedings

Noon

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-368, an act to amend the Export Development Act.

Mr. Speaker, this bill flows directly from a chapter in the red book which is dedicated to sustainable development. It is intended to encourage the Export Development Corporation, ministers of the crown, and the governor in council to exercise powers under the Export Development Act and when they do so to promote sustainable development in the exercise of their respective powers.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

Noon

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I wish to table a petition on behalf of residents of my riding of Richmond-Wolfe, Sherbrooke and Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead asking for a better highway system.

The petitioners call the House's attention to the fact that the national highway policy study identified job creation, economic development and, more importantly, saving lives, preventing injury and much lower congestion as benefits of the proposed national highway program.

I wish to table this petition on behalf of all petitioners.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gar Knutson Liberal Elgin—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions.

The first one is signed by 75 constituents of my riding. They are asking Parliament to support a binding national referendum to be held at the time of the next election to ask Canadians whether or not they are in favour of federal government funding for abortions on demand.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gar Knutson Liberal Elgin—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by 25 people from my riding. The petitioners are requesting Parliament to not increase the federal excise tax on gasoline in the next federal budget.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gar Knutson Liberal Elgin—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, the third petition is signed by approximately 60 people from my riding. The petitioners are calling upon Parliament to urge the federal government to join with provincial governments to make the national highway system upgrading possible.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I have the honour of presenting a petition that Parliament ensure that visitors who abuse the privilege of a member of Parliament by filing a refugee claim be deported and that their accomplices face legal proceedings.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting a second petition pursuant to Standing Order 36, that Parliament encourage the establishment of an energy pricing review commission to keep the pricing of gasoline and other energy products in check.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, this petition concerns the national infrastructure program and is supported by the Canadian Automobile Association. The petitioners are calling on Parliament to urge the federal government to join with the provincial government to make the national highway system upgrading possible.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Liberal Erie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions asking that the national highway system upgrading be made possible through government measures.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Liberal Erie, ON

Mr. Speaker, my second petition asks the federal government to not increase the federal excise tax on gasoline in the next budget.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Liberal Erie, ON

Mr. Speaker, my third petition opposes the addition of the term sexual orientation to the Canadian Human Rights Act.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Liberal Erie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two more petitions. One is that the federal government take back its power to create money without interest or debt.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Liberal Erie, ON

Mr. Speaker, my final batch of petitions requests that Parliament nullify article 21 of the Canada-U.S. tax treaty as it pertains to the taxing at source to pay credit to non-residents.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Perth—Wellington—Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

John Richardson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Excise Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

February 7th, 1997 / 12:05 p.m.

Saint-Léonard Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano LiberalMinister of Labour and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, an agreement could not be reached under Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the report stage and the third reading stage of Bill C-70, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, the Income Tax Act, the Debt Servicing and Reduction Account Act and related Acts.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stages.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

SupplyRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Edmonton Southwest was completing his question.

SupplyRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, to refresh the memories of hon. members, this debate has to do with the events which took place in Somalia.

Specifically, I was asking the minister in response to his speech in this debate questions pertaining to ministerial responsibility, the relationship between defence command headquarters, the deputy minister, the chief of defence staff and the then minister of defence, Kim Campbell.

The terrible events of March 16 were reported to the minister by the chief of defence staff, John Anderson, and the deputy minister, Mr. Fowler, on March 18, two days later. At that time the minister of defence was not informed that there was a potential problem with criminality.

The minister of defence subsequently read that at that very time, on March 18, John Anderson had been reported in Maclean's magazine as saying that there was a suspicion of criminal intent from the beginning. That means either the chief of defence staff or the deputy minister misled or were totally incompetent in advising the minister, the civilian authority to whom they were responsible. It was not until March 31, almost two weeks later, that the minister of defence was informed of the events that took place.

That may be incompetence on the minister's part. It may be incompetence on the deputy minister's part. But there was incompetence. It was either gross incompetence or a cover-up to protect the minister.

The deputy minister, Mr. Fowler, retained the confidence of the government and was appointed to a high ranking position at the United Nations. Now either Mr. Fowler was lying or covering up, or he misled, but why would this cover-up have started in the first place and be allowed to continue? And why would a person who was involved in it enjoy the continued confidence of the government?

SupplyRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Douglas Young Liberal Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. gentleman who has put the question is a very, very serious member of Parliament and understands the implications of my trying to comment on the events he has explained. Please let me try to respond. I do not want to be evasive in any way but there are implications to the

statements made by the hon. member that obviously are troubling to the member and to others.

I want to reiterate to the hon. member that there is absolutely nothing which precludes the commissioners of the inquiry calling the current ambassador for Canada to the United Nations, or the former Prime Minister of Canada who is now consul general in Los Angeles, or anyone else. I know it has been suggested that there is not sufficient time. However, even as we speak today there is still a lot of time between now and the end of March with the commission of inquiry to report by the end of June.

Although I have been extremely meticulous in not getting involved in trying to set the agenda in the sense of recommending that witnesses be heard, or commenting on testimony that may be heard or allegations that may have been made, I understand the hon. member's concerns. I think that the appropriate approach to this is for him and members of his party to make clear who they think should be heard from because of the importance of the testimony that might be forthcoming.

I would simply conclude my response to the hon. member by saying that the Minister of National Defence at the time this incident is alleged to have occurred subsequently became the Prime Minister of Canada. Let us be clear that the Prime Minister of Canada at that time, prior to the election of our government in late October of 1993, continued to provide support to that same deputy minister who remained in the position where he was when she was Minister of National Defence. I really do not think I can comment on why that occurred or whether or not there was any fault in the way the deputy minister communicated with the then Minister of National Defence who subsequently became the boss of everyone as the Prime Minister of Canada.

SupplyRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, to the minister, I would like to quote Justice Létourneau yesterday with regard to their ability to hear any witness they want to hear. He said: "It is not true in this respect that we have plenty of time to call witnesses such as Mr. Fowler and Mr. Anderson. Evidence on such important matters presented without the possibility of real or substantial testing risks producing a whitewash of the alleged cover-up rather than an investigation of it".

I equate the inquiry somewhat to a jigsaw puzzle. In a jigsaw puzzle there is a key piece and once that key piece is in place, the thing makes sense and comes together.

I suggest to the minister that it is not reasonable for the inquiry to go to the witnesses at the end of the chain before they have established the rest of the pattern, so that when they ask their questions they are based on evidence that is directly related to the individual they are questioning.

SupplyRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Douglas Young Liberal Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I understand this hon. member as well and his deep interest in this matter.

I am very concerned that perhaps there is an implication, and if it is not correct I am sure the hon. member will have ample opportunity to clarify it, that somehow at this stage in February 1997, a long time after the incidents occurred in Somalia, we should still be proceeding on the basis that every witness, every document, every incident should be pursued until all of the parties involved have been included by the commissioners. As the hon. member knows, there are a huge number of witnesses who have been heard, in excess of 100. There are over 50 or 60 lawyers involved on a continuous basis.

I do not believe I can comment on the justices' remarks with respect to how much time they have to call witnesses. There have been witnesses who have been heard for very lengthy periods of time. There have been efforts made to pursue certain avenues that I have never commented on. Surely Canadians understand one thing, that between now and the end of March nothing precludes the commissioners' hearing those people they feel are appropriate in that timeframe based on their own agenda.

If they feel that somehow that would distort or convolute the process that is entirely their prerogative. It is not the view that I hold, nor does the government hold that view. Seriously, if anyone is suggesting that this commission of inquiry should continue until everybody is totally satisfied that every question has been answered to their satisfaction, I do not think anyone believes it would end before the end of this century.

SupplyRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to carry on from the minister's comments. I, as much as anyone, wish this inquiry had been concluded a year ago. I certainly do not want to see it extended forever but I do want to see the answers come out. I think it is vital that the inquiry be allowed to complete its business.

I want to go on record and recognize the excellent work our armed forces do. They have been committed in any number of places, uncomfortable, dangerous and far flung. They have committed themselves time and time again to the duty to which they have been assigned. When they commit themselves, they commit themselves very well. It works.

Therefore I think it is a shame that unhappily the Somali debacle has cast a cloud over the whole military force, even for me. After 36 years of service in the air force I left very proud of my service there. I was a senior officer when I left and now I find that people who know this almost ask the question "were you one of those who covers up and does not accept responsibility and does this?" Most

senior officers do accept their responsibilities. They are good leaders.

The people who have unhappily been accused in this instance are left sort of hanging out to dry unless their case can be heard in completeness and therefore they can be found either absolutely innocent of any wrongdoing or be found to have been inadequate in some way.

The Liberal government initially resisted the inquiry being compiled at all. It said no, the situation is being investigated by the defence department. It was only when Major Armstrong came forth in November 1994 that the Minister of National Defence at that time was forced to order an inquiry. Even then with the interlude of the Christmas break it was sometime in the following year before he did it and he announced it as an inquiry under the National Defence Act. This means that once again the inquiry would be conducted behind closed doors. It would not be open to the public.

On March 20 I demanded in this House that the investigation be held under the Inquiries Act rather than the National Defence Act. The next day the minister, and I congratulate him for doing so, saw the wisdom of this and changed the inquiry to come under the Inquiries Act, which made it open to the public.

Now we are having the inquiry curtailed when it gets into the final stages of its job. First of all, it was supposed to investigate the deployment to Somali before the predeployment phase, the during phase and the post phase, the after phase. It has completed the predeployment phase. It is nearing the end of its investigation into the deployment phase. But it will not be able to investigate the post-deployment phase because of the arbitrary curtailment of the inquiry put in by the Minister of National Defence.

I see this as blatant political interference in a judicial inquiry. The minister by his action is denying people who have had accusations flung against them to be heard in full, to have justice done them. That seems unfair. Justice Latourneau has said that if he cannot hear people, he will make no judgment. I think that is absolutely right. If we have not given people a chance to testify to be heard, to be examined, then it is not fair to find them.

What this means is that there may be people who are responsible and were responsible who will not be held accountable for their actions. I think that is not fair.

Also, look at what this decision is going to mean to future inquiries. What will people say when they are asked to participate on an inquiry? They will say "Am I going to get two-thirds of the inquiry? Will I involve myself in this thing which might turn out to be a fiasco that is cut short because of the arbitrary whim of some political minister?" If that does happen, we are going to lose in Canada a tremendous capability to examine and assure that justice is being done in all aspects of government. It goes to the integrity, the impartiality and the independence of the commission.

The minister mentioned in his comments if the Reform Party wanted to suggest to the commissioners some witnesses we think they should hear. To me that is me interfering with the inquiry. The commissioners have established a standing for various people. I assume they have done that in recognition of the information and the facts this individual has to present to the commission and others have been denied. It is not for me to tell the commissioners how to do their job.

Mr. Speaker, I neglected to mention that I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Southwest.

SupplyRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member then will have about four minutes left.