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House of Commons Hansard #135 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was system.

Topics

Canada Customs and Revenue AgencyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question was not for the revenue minister. It is not about the administrative error, it is about the policy correction.

The finance minister said yesterday that he may change the equalization formula which has been affected by this $3.3 billion mistake. We want to hear clearly as a matter of policy from the Minister of Finance, will the poorest provinces be hit in terms of a change to their equalization entitlement as a result of this $3.3 billion mistake? We want to hear from the finance minister.

Canada Customs and Revenue AgencyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, what I did yesterday was to simply point out the linking between certain transfers to the provinces.

The Minister of National Revenue has spoken exactly the way that the situation should develop. She is in the process of ascertaining the facts, as is the auditor general. When we have those facts we will make the decisions that are required. We will do so in conjunction with discussions with the provinces.

Young OffendersOral Question Period

January 30th, 2002 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a responsible person, the Minister of Justice should have taken the time to meet with Quebec stakeholders involved in the rehabilitation of young offenders, before dealing with this bill.

But, after being in office for just two weeks, the minister claims to know everything, is going ahead with his bill, and is even arrogant to the point of wanting to explain the impact of the legislation to people who, in Quebec, took 30 years to set up a system that works well.

Out of respect for all the work done in Quebec, could the Minister of Justice pledge to meet Quebec stakeholders before the debate on this bill is concluded?

Young OffendersOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in recent days I had the opportunity to recognize that, in the past, all the provinces worked with the same legislation. I also had the opportunity to state that Quebec implemented good solutions with regard to a justice system that is very forward looking.

What I am saying in the House is that it is now time to take action and to go ahead with a reform that has been pending in parliament for several months.

Also, there have been been 160 amendments to the bill, so that we can have an adequate system that is sufficiently—

Young OffendersOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

Young OffendersOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this minister has denied Quebec's distinct character in this area. All the stakeholders in Quebec, who are much more familiar with the issue than the minister is, are condemning him for trying to standardize everything.

Would the minister be prepared to let the Quebec system continue to operate the way it has been by specifying in the act that Quebec can continue to do things like before? It is not enough to say so, he must include it in the legislation.

Young OffendersOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, that is not at all my way of looking at Canada's justice system. This is essentially a matter of principle.

Bill C-7, which is pending and which is coming back before the House of Commons, is a good piece of legislation that will promote rehabilitation. It will also provide diversion methods, because the system is overjudicialized.

As far as I am concerned, this is a matter of principle. And if I believe in the values set out in this bill, I also believe that they apply to all of Canada.

Young OffendersOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice decided to bring the controversial young offenders bill back to the House today, thereby dismissing out of hand the consensus in Quebec.

How can the Minister of Justice, who believes that he has learned all there is to know about youth justice in 15 days, ignore the fact that his bill requires that sentences and procedures be standardized, thereby destroying the rehabilitaion oriented focus of the Quebec system, which made it so successful?

Young OffendersOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, indeed, Bill C-7 is a bill that places the emphasis on diversion, on rehabilitation. I answered earlier that Quebec had found very avant-garde solutions. Bill C-7 makes certain provisions.

Also, Bill C-7 is flexible enough to allow all of the provinces to adapt. It is, in fact, a reform. Reforms always cause a bit of a stir. This is why I am saying that now is the time to proceed, to act and move forward with the implementation of this bill.

Young OffendersOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, at least the previous Minister of Justice had as an excuse the fact that she came from Alberta. But does the current Minister of Justice, who is a Quebecer, not realize that judges, lawyers, social stakeholders, the police, basically everyone involved in the system in Quebec, reject his bill, as Quebec's national assembly has done on two occasions.

Young OffendersOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is important to understand that Bill C-7 is a reincarnation of other bills. Let us take the previous version, Bill C-3.

Indeed, many people provided input on Bill C-3, with the result that more than 160 amendments were made to it. A great number of the requests made by all the different stakeholders have been met by Bill C-7, which is, once again, a flexible piece of legislation.

Bill C-7 no longer allows for referrals to adult court, this is a fact. It is also a fact that it will divert—

Young OffendersOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Halifax.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, this government is not answering questions on the JTF2 affair.

This is incredible. It took eight days for the Prime Minister to be informed on what our soldiers were doing. The Americans knew before our own government did.

My question is a simple one. How many prisoners have the Canadian soldiers taken and how many arrests have they been involved in?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, there is only the one occasion where arrests have occurred. I must point out that the JTF2 does operate in a covert fashion and for purposes of its operational security and the security of this personnel, we cannot give details as indeed do the other countries that are involved in special operations.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely against the law for Canadian troops to use or even participate in planning for the use of landmines. To do so is to put our soldiers at risk of criminal prosecution.

Could the defence minister assure us that American forces in Afghanistan are not using landmines? Do Canadian terms of engagement explicitly prohibit our soldiers from using or being associated in any way with the use of anti-personnel landmines?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the only involvement that Canadian soldiers could have with anti-personnel landmines is removing them. They are certainly not involved in putting them in place. That would be against Canadian law. Our troops abide by Canadian law.

There is nothing in Canadian law though that prevents the Canadians from working with the Americans even though they may have a different law and a different policy but, quite clearly, our troops follow Canadian law.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is pretty clear that the Minister of National Defence does not know what rules would apply to the prisoners Canadians take in Afghanistan but those Canadian soldiers could be taken prisoner too.

If the minister does not know what rules apply to the prisoners we take, how do we know what rules would protect Canadians who might be taken prisoner in Afghanistan? What guarantees can the minister give Canadians today about the treatment of our troops who might be taken prisoner in Afghanistan?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it has been said time and time again but the right hon. member in his preamble does not seem to get it right.

We operate under the Geneva conventions. We operate under the law of armed conflict. We ensure that people are treated as prisoner of war status while they are in our possession. We transfer them to an allied country in accordance with the law of armed conflict in the Geneva conventions.

If any of our people, hopefully never, but if any of our people were taken we would expect and demand that they be treated under the same Geneva conventions.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, let us pursue that. The minister said in the debate the other night that prisoners taken in Afghanistan “have the right to a competent tribunal to determine their status and they have the right to be treated fairly and consistent with the Geneva conventions”.

Canada has now captured prisoners. Will the minister tell the House precisely what tribunal will determine their status and precisely what rules that tribunal will apply? Does he know the name of the tribunal? Does he know the rules that will apply? Would he tell the House of Commons?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, those prisoners are in the possession of the United States military. The United States has said through presidential order that in fact it will operate military commissions. This is in accordance with the international law. It is in accordance with what has been done previously, for example in the Nuremberg trials at the end of the second world war.

Those are the kinds of provisions that are being worked on now and we intend to monitor them closely. We want to make sure there are fair trials for anyone who is brought before a military commission.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, we know that United States troops use anti-personnel landmines to defend themselves. The minister has just given a non-answer. It says explicitly in our laws in Canada that Canadian troops are prohibited from using landmines or participating in joint operations where landmines are used.

The official opposition has obtained a memo signed by General Maurice Baril which says “Were Canadian forces personnel to engage in such activities, they would be liable to criminal prosecution under Canadian law”.

Will the Minister of National Defence assure the House with absolute certainty that no Canadian soldier will face prosecution because of--

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of National Defence.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

I can give that assurance, Mr. Speaker, because our people are well prepared and well trained. They have rules of engagement. They understand the laws of Canada. They know in fact that they cannot be involved in any landmines. That is against Canadian law.

However it does not mean they cannot work with the United States regardless of it having another position. That would not lead to any prosecution of Canadian troops because they would be following Canadian law at all times.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, the minister's picture is not next to prepared in the dictionary. Our Canadian soldiers are being sent to the Afghan desert in forest coloured uniforms and they will not be the only ones working in the dark.

The defence minister is in the dark when it comes to the activities of the JTF2. The officer in charge of those troops, which will be deployed in two days, said today that they were still in the dark about the rules of engagement and the rules for handling prisoners. The Prime Minister is being kept in the dark by the minister.

When will the Prime Minister step up and turn on the lights as far as this deployment is concerned? Canadian people want to know.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the rules of engagement were approved yesterday. They are now being dispersed to the troops. Furthermore, they have been training on draft rules of engagement since October. Since they were stood up in November to be prepared within 48 hours, they have been working on the possibility of a mission in Afghanistan, initially on the possibility of one in Kabul, but in the last weeks they have clearly been working on rules of engagement that are relevant to this current mission.

Those rules of engagement, after the reconnaissance mission of two weeks ago, have now been finalized and distributed to the troops.