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House of Commons Hansard #71 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

National DefenceStatements By Members

March 17th, 2003 / 2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the latest Angus Reid survey on the views of Canadians confirms what members of the Progressive Conservative Party have been saying for years: our military requires solid support from the government. In fact, three out of every four Canadians now feel that the defence budget needs to be increased. An even greater majority believes we are not even equipped to defend ourselves any more.

Recently, Canadians saw the Iroquois limp home with a broken Sea King aboard. Now the Iroquois is headed back to the gulf in the midst of a war minus a helicopter. What will it take for the government to wake up and supply and support our Canadian Forces? When asked how they felt about our military, less than half of Canadians said they felt proud. This is a shame and this is the real legacy of the Prime Minister.

Canadian Learning InstituteStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, the budget provides $100 million for the Canadian learning institute. This will be an organization that will help give a national overview of education and training in Canada. It is my hope that it will help us capture the best practices of education and training developed in the wonderful diverse regions of this country.

It is also my hope that it will help identify and deal with problems in education and access to education wherever they occur. I urge that, among other things, the new institute make a particular effort to focus on community college issues and on the special challenges aboriginal people face in education and training across Canada.

The Canadian learning institute will further strengthen Canada, which already has the best educated population in the world.

Amber Alert ProgramStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week Elizabeth Smart was rescued after nine months in the hands of kidnappers. Her father is pleading for the U.S. Congress to institute the amber alert program nationally.

Amber alert uses radio, TV, electronic billboards and emergency broadcast systems to immediately alert the public about abducted children whose lives are in peril. Over 70 amber alert programs have been established in the United States since the first one appeared in Texas in 1997. About 40 children have been rescued to date.

About a year ago, Toronto became the first Canadian city to introduce amber alert. Alberta, the first province to adopt the program, has committed resources. Earlier this year, Ontario adopted amber alert. Manitoba and my home province of British Columbia are about to follow suit. Unfortunately, however, provincial programs stop at provincial borders.

A truly effective program must be national. Canadians want the federal government to show leadership by instituting a nationwide amber alert program for the sake of our children.

International Women's DayStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to draw attention to International Women's Day, which was March 8.

Canadian women have, through sustained efforts, taken charge of their futures and have brought our society to where it is today, and will help it continue to advance.

This day offers us an opportunity to focus public attention on women who have influenced others, among them Parasketi Hatzis and Demitra Thomakou. These two Canadians of Greek origin have been involved for more than 30 years in the educational field and have left an indelible mark on their families, their community of origin and the Canadian community as a whole.

We all know one or more such remarkable women who have left their mark on their communities. I join with all my colleagues in this House in paying tribute to all these remarkable women.

IraqOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the situation in Iraq is moving toward imminent crisis and military action. Canadian Forces have been on the ground there for some time. In fact, 150 military personnel are involved in joint command arrangements with British and American troops on the ground. Is this deployment continuing? Will these personnel remain in the event of war with Iraq?

IraqOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I want to set out the position of the Government of Canada. We believe that Iraq must fully abide by the resolution of the United Nations Security Council. We have always made clear that Canada would require the approval of the Security Council if we were to participate in a military campaign.

Over the last few weeks the Security Council has been unable to agree on a new resolution authorizing military action. Canada worked very hard to find a compromise to bridge the gap in the Security Council. Unfortunately, we were not successful. If military action proceeds without a new resolution of the Security Council, Canada will not participate.

We have ships in the area as part of our participation in the struggle against terrorism. Our ships will continue to perform their important mission against terrorism.

IraqOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in the past we have seen nations support a military action without sending forces, but this is the first time we have ever seen a country not support a military action and send forces anyway. What a bizarre position.

Let me get the Prime Minister to answer my first question. We have troops on the ground in the Iraq theatre, with British and American soldiers, being deployed. Are they going to stay there or not?

IraqOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have a certain number of people who are in exchange with the British and the American troops and they are doing some activities there. It is not in a combat situation. I think that they should respect the undertakings they have made to the other governments as their troops are doing that. The number is quite limited. Some are involved in surveillance in planes and so on, and they will carry on their duty that they started some months ago.

IraqOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I guess we have a government here that is indeed half-pregnant.

The government says it will only support military action if there is a second United Nations resolution, but I will quote from the January 31 edition of the Charlottetown Guardian . The Prime Minister said, “...Resolution 1441 will authorize action”.

Is he saying today that it does not authorize action or is this yet another flip-flop in the Canadian government's position?

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, last week there was a very important development. The Americans, the British and the Spanish introduced a resolution in the Security Council to authorize action, and it was not voted in, so they have superposed this resolution over 1441, and they did not get the authorization from the Security Council.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, it appears that an allied coalition of some 30 countries is about to intervene in Iraq to enforce resolution 1441. A coalition of nations and exiled Iraqis has also been hard at work on plans to build democratic institutions in Iraq, but Canada has largely been left out of these planning groups that are working towards freedom for the Iraqi people. Why has Canada been left out?

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, a year ago I said to the President of the United States that Canada would intervene in a conflict with Iraq only if we were to have a resolution authorizing intervention by the Security Council. They have known my position and the position of the government since the first day. We have always stuck with that position. Today we have the conclusion that the Security Council does not have a resolution to authorize action, so we are not participating.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

He was not paying attention, Mr. Speaker. That was not the question.

It is very clear that Canada has lost influence and is not vitally included in the planning discussions to liberate the people of Iraq, post-Saddam. We are not there because our allies know we have underfunded our military, we are dragging our feet on banning terrorist groups that our allies banned a long time ago, and we have troops over there but we are not going to commit them.

When will the federal government address these unacceptable deficiencies in our foreign policy commitments so that we can restore the international confidence that we once enjoyed?

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, our commitment to fight terrorism is very well known. We have agreed to send troops, thousands of them, next summer, to fight terrorism in Afghanistan. We will keep our duty to do that.

On the question of Iraq and military intervention in Iraq, we said that we could not participate if it was not approved by a resolution of the Security Council. It is what I said a year ago and am repeating today.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are pleased and supportive of the fact Canada will not take part in this coalition that is not backed by the UN.

However, the presence of Canadian ships in the Persian Gulf or Canadian soldiers as part of American or British battalions, or even Canadian officers as part of the joint command means that Canada might end up doing indirectly what it does not want to do directly.

It is hard to believe that Canadian soldiers or materiel will not be used in the conflict against Iraq, even if they are there as part of the fight against terrorism.

Would it not be more consistent to withdraw all of the materiel and soldiers from the Persian Gulf and the region?

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we still have many soldiers in Afghanistan and we will have thousands there this summer. It is our duty to maintain our presence in the gulf to protect them and to provide them with the materiel they need to carry out their job, to keep the peace in Afghanistan and to try to help rebuild the country.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the joint command in Qatar, which used to be in Tampa, does the Prime Minister seriously think that it will only be involved in what is happening in Afghanistan and ignore the British and American offensive in Iraq?

We know quite well that the joint command will be involved in the intervention in Iraq. It does not take a military genius to figure that out.

My question for the Prime Minister is this: would it not be more consistent and logical to withdraw from the joint command, maintain our troops in Afghanistan, but not allow our ships to be used for purposes other than the operation in Afghanistan?

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the mandate of the Canadian military in the region is to take part in activities in Afghanistan only.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the international community as a whole is massively opposed to the use of force in Iraq at this time.

Given that such an aggression, if it took place, would be illegal and illegitimate, does the Prime Minister intend to go further and go to the UN and to the U.S to demonstrate that it would be illegitimate and illegal, and to protest with all his might?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, while not sitting on the Security Council, Canada has been more active than any other country in the world in trying to bridge the gap between Security Council members. We have maintained a clear position over the past year, and that has been our contribution to efforts to avert war.

In fact, I myself stated on American television eight days ago that war is not warranted at this time because, to all intents and purposes, Saddam Hussein is completely surrounded; he cannot cause much trouble with 250,000 troops surrounding him. And we must thank—

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Roberval.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like the Prime Minister to tell me whether he intends to go any further? I mean, he has some credibility with the United States; he has always stood very close to the American position.

Does the Prime Minister intend to use Canada's status as a neighbour, to now condemn an illegitimate and illegal intervention that is tantamount to an aggression? Will Canada take steps to condemn such a thing?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I clearly stated our position when I set out the government's policy, in response to the first question in oral question period today.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, we welcome the initial clarity of the Prime Minister's responses this afternoon to questions about the possibility of a war in Iraq, but I wonder and I ask if the Prime Minister does not see that the clarity of his position is put at risk by his willingness to leave Canadian forces participating with American units that are participating in the war in Iraq. So I ask the Prime Minister, will he not commit today to withdrawing Canadian troops that are on these particular exchanges in the event of an outbreak of a war with Iraq?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I was very clear. The troops that are in that area at this time are helping the Canadian soldiers who are working and will be working next summer on the mission we have accepted to help in the situation in Afghanistan. All the soldiers that are there participate in that. They are not participating in the war against Iraq, if there is a war.