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House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was endangered.

Topics

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has it quite wrong. In terms of who has strategic airlift capacity, only the United States with the U.K. have it. All of the other countries now going into Afghanistan, Germany, France, Italy, all of them, are chartering commercial aircraft to get themselves in.

We have a project office. There are various options we are looking at with respect to dealing with the question of transportation.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the 1994 white paper committed Canada to being able to deploy a brigade of at least 5,000 within 90 days. The minister says we can do this, but now in the midst of a war we cannot even send 750 members of a battle group abroad for more than six months and we have to rely on our allies to get us there.

Is the minister's proposed new white paper not simply a way of admitting that we have gutted our forces so much that we cannot even live up to the old one?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member does not seem to recognize that we have almost 5,000 Canadian troops overseas at this point in time. Almost 3,000 are involved in the Afghan campaign alone. We have troops in Bosnia, the Golan Heights and numerous other operations. We are contributing in a very major way to international peace and security.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is not a single defence expert who believes the minister's line about being more combat ready than we were 10 years ago.

Under the Liberals, Canada spends less of our GDP on defence than any NATO country except Luxembourg.

Will the minister commit that any new defence white paper will lead to increases in the defence budget and not simply leave in place the massive cuts his government has already made?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, how much in the way of resources is put into defence is determined by the government. Let me point out that for the last four years there have been increases in the budget. Over the next five years there will be over $5 billion more put in the budget. Just about every major piece of equipment is either being upgraded or replaced.

When it comes to NATO, maybe the hon. member did not hear the remark I made a few minutes ago. Of the 19 NATO countries, we are the sixth largest spender. Once again, look at the outcomes. Let us look at the outputs; let us look at what we are able to produce. We are able to produce a great deal in terms of the campaign against terrorism.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, last December the government chose to sent a Canadian commando unit to Afghanistan. We trust that this decision was not taken lightly.

Can the Deputy Prime Minister tell us whether compliance with the Geneva convention by Canadian forces and their allies was thoroughly discussed between the government and the Bush administration before the first Canadian commando unit was sent to Afghanistan?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Yes, Mr. Speaker.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Defence tells us that this is an important matter, on which there were discussions.

Yet the same minister yesterday said that on January 21 knowing whether or not the Geneva conventions were respected was not a matter of major importance.

How can he tell us today that it is important, that there were discussions with the U.S., yet on January 21 it was not of major importance to know whether or not the Geneva conventions were respected or not?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member is misconstruing what was said here. I said right from the beginning that we keep in close contact with our American allies. We have always had an understanding that the Geneva conventions are being followed.

The Americans have always said that they are operating in a way that is consistent with those conventions and are treating people in a humane and fair way. That has been consistently their position.

There has been some confusion coming even after January 21 with different comments from the U.S. administration but the president of the United States has now cleared that up.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the 17th at the meeting of the defence and foreign affairs committee, there were debates on the matter of the Geneva convention involving not only opposition MPs but also some from the government party.

Is the minister trying to have us believe that he was not aware that this was being debated, when it was also being debated in the U.S.? Did this not cross his mind on January 21? It took eight days for him to wonder whether in fact the Geneva convention was or was not being complied withy.

Is this, seriously, the minister's version?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, there has been some controversy over legal interpretations but there has never been a doubt in my mind that the United States would follow the Geneva conventions. The Americans said they would act in accordance with the Geneva conventions and they would treat people in a fair and humane way. Certainly every observation by the International Committee of the Red Cross, by our own legal adviser who has checked out the facilities in Kandahar, by the British who have also checked out the facilities, would indicate that is exactly what they are doing.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, between the 25th and the 29th, Colin Powell appeared on TV saying that the agreements must be complied with. Rumsfield told us they did not. President Bush had not reached a decision. A special cabinet meeting was held, two days of caucus meetings. Now the minister is telling us that it did not cross his mind, knowing there was a debate about this, to inform his colleagues, and the Prime Minister above all.

Is this really the version the minister wants us to swallow: that the matter was being discussed everywhere, that he was the only one aware that a commando unit had been sent, that the debate involved not only the opposition parties but also the U.S.—

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of National Defence.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we have to be careful about speculation in the media or political controversy versus the actual facts of the situation.

Certainly when I returned from my trip to Mexico I was anxious to find out all aspects of the issue and why it was becoming controversial. Much of the controversy over the Colin Powell versus Don Rumsfeld versions of things came about around the 28th. It was on the 29th that I spoke to cabinet on the whole issue of detainees.

Health CareOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

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

I am sure the minister will have heard that last night the much respected Monique Bégin made a visionary and historic speech to Canadians on the future of health care. Along with a number of important suggestions, she urged that the federal government re-establish itself as a full partner in health care by immediately restoring a 25% cash contribution to health care spending, moving toward 50:50.

Will the minister help restore public health to a state of health by championing that prescription with her cabinet colleagues?

Health CareOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, obviously Monique Bégin is someone who believes passionately in our publicly funded health care system. The speech she delivered last evening is an important contribution to the ongoing debate in the country around the renewal of health care.

I remind the hon. member it was only last September that the Prime Minister and premiers agreed to a cash infusion to the CHST of some $21.1 billion out to 2005-06. That speaks more eloquently than anything to our commitment to the country's health care system.

Health CareOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the health minister's insistence on trotting out that 2000 health agreement is an indication that the government is the only group of Canadians who do not get it, who do not understand that the federal government withdrawal from a full partnership is allowing the privatizers and the profit seekers to pick apart the carcass of public health care.

My question for the minister is this: Does she get the message, does she hear that unless the federal government recommits itself to a more adequate funding base we will not be able to restore public--

Health CareOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Health.

Health CareOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I would think that the leader of the New Democratic Party is probably the only person in the country who would describe $21.1 billion as insufficient or irrelevant.

Let me say again that the renewal of the health care system in this country is an important one. It is one in which we play a collaborative role with the provinces and the territories, but I would hope that the hon. leader of the New Democrats is not suggesting that the long term sustainability of our health care system can be guaranteed--

Health CareOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The right hon. member for Calgary Centre.

National DefenceOral Question Period

February 21st, 2002 / 2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister of defence has now given a third version of the facts. On January 30 he said, and I quote:

--I was first informed about the detention of prisoners...within 24 hours of when it actually occurred.

In committee yesterday he said he did not know for another four days that Canadians had taken prisoners.

In his oral briefing of January 21, why did the minister not ask whether Canadian troops had themselves taken prisoners? Was his purpose to put himself in a position to claim that he did not know?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

No, that is not the case, Mr. Speaker. I spoke to the special committee on this matter yesterday. I took questions for over two hours. I have answered all of this. I do not think there is any need to expand upon it further.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, there is a concept of wilful blindness which is at work here.

I have a question for the Deputy Prime Minister. The Communications Security Establishment exists to give the Canadian government direct access to confidential information that comes from the interception of high level signals intelligence.

Is there a cabinet document that prevents that intelligence information from going directly to the Prime Minister? Apart from JTF2, is there any other field of Canadian government activity where a cabinet document prohibits the direct communication of information to the Prime Minister of Canada?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, these entities, whether they are CSE or JTF2, operate in accordance with government policy. The Prime Minister has regularly reviewed the policy. There is in fact an annual meeting that does that, as he has indicated previously in this House, and it follows government policy.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Alliance obtained government documents that are at the centre of a corruption scandal in the department of immigration. This investigation involves two immigration review board members in Montreal, Yves Bourbonnais and Roberto Colavecchio. These government documents state clearly that “the alleged corruption has benefited individuals from North Africa and the Middle East”.

North Africa and the Middle East, as you know, Mr. Speaker, are spawning grounds for al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

My question for the minister is, how many potential terrorists have been allowed to enter Canada as a result of the corruption in his department?