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House of Commons Hansard #134 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know whether Canada has handed prisoners over to the Americans without first determining their status, as required by the Geneva convention. Who determined this status, and on what basis?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, this matter has been conducted entirely within international rules and Canadian law. We have transferred those detainees to the United States as is covered in international law. They are the ones who have to determine through a competent tribunal the status of the particular detainees. They are the ones who establish the military commissions.

All of this needs to and will be done in a fair and humane way. That has been understood right from the beginning.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

But Mr. Speaker, right from the beginning, from the time the detainees were captured, Mr. Rumsfeld was saying that they would not be respecting the Geneva convention and Mr. Powell was saying that they should. Saturday, what was said was that Mr. Bush would be the one to make the decision.

Am I to believe that, when the detainees were taken prisoner and handed over to the Americans, the Canadian soldiers knew, when Mr. Powell did not, nor Mr. Rumsfeld, and the decision had not been made by President Bush? Is that what we are meant to swallow?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, that is not the case at all. The United States has made it clear from the beginning that it would follow international law.

There is a difference in terms of the classification of people who are prisoners of war versus those who in fact are unlawful combatants. That is to be determined by an appropriate tribunal. That is clearly the law, the law that Canada follows and the law that the United States will follow.

Crown CorporationsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Peter Goldring Canadian Alliance Edmonton Centre-East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister of everything stated yesterday that crown corporations relied on their appraisers to establish the value of property. Then they liberally appraised and sold $12 million worth of property for only $4 million.

It is not hard to sell land for one-third of its value. It is kind of like selling $100,000 homes for $33,000. Why is the minister's office not investigating this creative Liberal fire sale?

Crown CorporationsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Crown Corporations

Mr. Speaker, if the member is interested, I have a bridge that he might like to purchase. Frankly on the property he is talking about, this property was advertised in many newspapers. Six proposals were received. The best one was negotiated up from $3.3 million to $4 million. The amounts were consistent with appraisals that were obtained.

As I said yesterday, it sounds like he expects us to have sold the property for more than the best offer.

Crown CorporationsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Peter Goldring Canadian Alliance Edmonton Centre-East, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister of all stated that he had reviewed the facts in the Canada Lands file and that the Liberal rules were followed.

Canada Lands sent to the minister answers to questions that I have requested under House rules of proceedings. The rule is that an answer be given within 45 days.

Why did the minister break this House of Commons rule, and what other House rules are being broken in order to hide this fact from the House?

Crown CorporationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Crown Corporations

Mr. Speaker, perhaps they tried to find me in Kabul with the answers but failed to do so. If the documents were prepared I would have received them as soon as possible after the cabinet shuffle.

I am sure he can expect to get the response in an appropriate timeframe, but I can assure the House that there is no intention on my part to withhold any appropriate information from the hon. member.

AfghanistanOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, even before the September 11 terrorist attacks the people of Afghanistan were facing a severe humanitarian crisis as a result of two decades of conflict, violations of human rights, poverty and drought.

Would the Minister for International Cooperation inform the House how her department and the Government of Canada will be involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan?

AfghanistanOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Essex Ontario

Liberal

Susan Whelan LiberalMinister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to represent Canada at the Tokyo conference on the reconstruction of Afghanistan where I pledged on behalf of Canada $100 million as part of the international effort to rebuild Afghanistan. This is in addition to the $16.5 million we have provided in humanitarian assistance since September 11.

It will allow Canada to continue to build on its long history of support for the Afghani people in areas of health, child survival, gender equality, security and protection. We will be there to assist the people of Afghanistan.

National SecurityOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister in his capacity as the minister overseeing security matters.

I wonder if the Deputy Prime Minister is aware of the suggestion being made by United Steelworkers and others that there is a need for the federal government to show leadership in establishing a regulatory framework for security guards and the provision of security services in this country, for training and for standards.

I wonder if the minister could tell us whether he is willing to meet with stakeholders in that industry to discuss such a strategy and whether any of the money, that $12 or $24 a trip, will go to establishing that kind of regime with respect to security.

National SecurityOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we shall shortly be introducing legislation to deal with the new security agency. It mandates a number of changes. There will be federally regulated employees discharging security rather than what is done now.

We believe that this allows airport authorities and various security regimes across the country the flexibility that is required to operate a very good and safe system but, more important, the security oversight, which we maintain has always been very good, of airport security will be enhanced by this new agency, financed by this new charge.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, my supplementary question is for the Prime Minister. The government's position on prisoners in Afghanistan is not only legally indefensible but it is morally bankrupt.

If Canada is not prepared to allow prisoners that are captured to be executed, why is it that we are prepared to turn over those same prisoners to the United States to be tried before a military tribunal and by a majority vote to be sentenced to death? Is that not the ultimate in outsourcing of our moral obligations?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government of the United States has the same obligation as Canada to respect the Geneva convention and other international laws.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Question Period

January 29th, 2002 / 2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, when he was opposition critic the current minister of public works demanded that the RCMP investigate allegations of corruption, patronage and conflict of interest.

Similar allegations are now plaguing his government. Sweeping Alfonso out of cabinet and under the carpet does not hide the truth. Will the minister of public works take his own advice and request an RCMP investigation?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to tell the hon. member it was a pleasure having a conversation with him after I was appointed Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

I indicated to him, I believe, that it was my intention to do the best job possible as minister of public works. I believe my predecessor also did an excellent job as minister of public works and government services for our country.

Obviously all of us on this side of the House strive to always do better, unlike the hon. member and his party who are striving to do worse all the time.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, there are credible allegations of patronage and conflict of interest. There is no legitimate reason the government should refuse a proper investigation.

The Liberals have a clear double standard, demanding integrity and ethics when in opposition but scandal and cover-up when in government.

When he was opposition critic the current minister of public works also advised that allegations of improper political interference should be referred to a parliamentary committee. Why is he now ignoring his own advice?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I am not ignoring my own advice. The hon. member across the way should know that even those like he and some of his colleagues who have made these accusations against my predecessor have never alleged criminal wrongdoing or anything like that.

Yes, that is an excellent example. I am glad the leader of the Conservative Party, and he is in a position to talk, should mention this.

I say to the hon. member that all of us on this side of the House are here to do the best possible for the taxpayers of Canada. We have and we will.

Access to InformationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, on a day when it looks like the government has lost track of $3 billion, it is obvious that the need for openness and transparency is paramount.

John Grace, former access to information commissioner and privacy commissioner, says that Treasury Board's new reading of the Access to Information Act is an ill omen for the future of open government and certainly flies against everything that he thought the Access to Information Act stood for. He also accused the Prime Minister's Office of doing its best to block the Access to Information Act.

My question is for the President of the Treasury Board. Is she telling Canadians that a distinguished expert on access to information and privacy is wrong?

Access to InformationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, what is very clear is that the departments must respect both laws. There is the Access to Information Act, but there is also the Privacy Act, and both are very important and very dear to the hearts of Canadians.

All that we have done is clarify the supreme court decision that we must pay very particular attention to personal information belonging to the minister.

This was the purpose of making clarifications to assist departments in processing requests.

Access to InformationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, let me quote the words of the Liberals in opposition: “the Government has developed an extraordinary obsession for secrecy” and “Paranoia strikes Parliament Hill”.

Paranoia is back, but it is the Liberals who are practising it. I have written to the information and privacy commissioners, asking them to enforce the act.

My question is for the President of the Treasury Board. Is she going to muzzle the access to information and privacy commissioners and demand that they support the government's new position of secrecy instead of access to information?

Access to InformationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I think it is very clear that the information commissioner and the privacy commissioner could speak out and tell parliamentarians what they think about the system.

What I am telling the hon. member is that here we have two pieces of legislation. One is the Privacy Act and the other one is the Access to Information Act. We have to respect both. We have to consider personal information.

The supreme court decision is telling us that in cases of doubt, privacy should prevail. This is what we apply right now.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, how can we take the Minister of National Defence seriously when he says that he did not know whether prisoners were really in the hands of Canadian Forces personnel, and I assume that headquarters did not know either, when the picture appeared on the front page of the Globe and Mail ?

Will we have to call upon Canada's counterespionage services and ask them to read the newspapers and report to the Minister of National Defence? It does not make sense. Could the minister simply explain this to us?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian forces operate under very clear rules of engagement.

The JTF2, which has been in Afghanistan for approximately two months, has very clear rules of engagement. It has been following Canadian law. It has been following international law. The particular arrest in question was done in accordance with those laws.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that we had an agreement with the United States. They had yet to agree on their own position, but we had an agreement.

The reality may be that Washington decides alone, while Ottawa obediently follows and executes orders, even though the Americans do not even take the time to inform the Minister of National Defence or the Prime Minister. They say “Listen and follow. We will tell you what to do. There is no need to inform you, you are not a key player”.