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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

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, many times in the House we have asked for a vote, and we always thought we would probably end up voting against the government, but I wonder, given what the government has said today and what the Prime Minister has said today, would he be willing to put down a motion outlining the government's position on the insufficiency of 1441 and the illegitimacy of an attack on Iraq without a second resolution? Put down a motion, let us have a debate and let Parliament express itself on this. Would the Prime Minister not like to have the support of Parliament in his position?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we do not usually put a motion in support of the government. The government has stated a very clear position that all this side of the House is supporting.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the Prime Minister. He said that Canada would support action only if it was justified by a Security Council resolution. He would know that some in Britain and elsewhere argue that that authority exists in both 1441 or earlier resolutions.

Canada would have secured a legal opinion as to whether such an attack is justified in international law. Has the government secured such a legal opinion and does the government believe that such an attack would be justified in international law?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I know that the leader of the Conservative Party is always very preoccupied about process. He should just listen to what we said. Our position is very clear.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

So, Mr. Speaker, international law does not matter. That is consistent with this government.

Today the Wall Street Journal has outlined a United States plan for rebuilding Iraq after a conflict. The American plan would sideline United Nations agencies and rely heavily on U.S. companies. The Prime Minister would know that any initiative by the United Nations to reconstruct Iraq would require a new Security Council resolution. Is it the position of the Government of Canada that a reconstruction of Iraq after any conflict should be left to the United States? Is the Government of Canada proposing any alternative plan and would the Prime Minister tell us what that plan is?

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, before reconstruction, we should see if there is a war, but if there is a war of course Canada would participate in reconstruction. It is something we have always done, and we will do it if there is a war, but we still hope that there will be no war. I am not very optimistic, but if there is a war of course Canada will be there to help the victims of the war.

EthicsOral Question Period

March 17th, 2003 / 2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Canadian Alliance Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, on April 2, 1996, Brian Tobin, then premier of Newfoundland, wrote to the Prime Minister concerning Hibernia. A month later, the Prime Minister wrote back to the premier indicating that the Hibernia matter had been referred to the former finance minister. By that time, Canada Steamship Lines had already received a major contract to work on the Hibernia project. Could the Prime Minister tell the House why the former finance minister was involved in Hibernia decisions?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said that the former minister of finance followed the guidelines that existed for conflict of interest when he was minister of finance, and never did I receive any information to the contrary. I have said, and I repeat, that he made sure he did his best to follow all the guidelines, and I have never heard any complaints from anybody about it.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Canadian Alliance Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, there is a pattern here that seems to suggest that the former finance minister was regularly involved in decisions that could have benefited him financially. We now know that on at least 12 occasions the former finance minister was consulted, through the ethics counsellor, on matters concerning the health and well-being of Canada Steamship Lines.

Could the Prime Minister confirm today whether any of those meetings pertained to CSL's relationship with Hibernia?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have replied and I will say the same thing. When he was the minister of finance in 1993 he did like the other ministers, he conformed to the regulations that existed at that time. He reported and organized his finances with the registrar general so that he would follow all the guidelines that existed for all the ministers. I never heard any complaint from the registrar general or anybody else about the former minister of finance.

Today I cannot comment more. I never had any complaint from anybody so I cannot today go back to that day. According to what I know, every guideline--

EthicsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Saint-Jean.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, the Minister of National Defence said that the ships that were en route to the Persian Gulf could head for Iraq if there were a conflict.

This afternoon, the Prime Minister told us that the ships will just do their job, which is to monitor terrorists in the Persian Gulf. However, Commodore Girouard will lead a flagship, the Iroquois , and a tactical group of 20 ships. These 20 ships will surely have to get involved in the theatre of operations in Iraq.

Will the Prime Minister agree that, in order to avoid any confusion, what should be done this afternoon is—

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of National Defence.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, first, the hon. member should know that this is a multinational operation. It is not just Canada that is there, but France, New Zealand, Greece and the Netherlands are also there.

I am in contact with my counterparts from each of these countries. We are discussing the situation and I have had no indication that these countries will withdraw. For Canada, the war against terrorism is very important. We are fully involved in this respect.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister's reply is far from reassuring. Basically, if we send a Canadian flagship in charge of a tactical group of 20 ships, it is not true that this is justified by an increased terrorist presence in the Persian Gulf.

What I am saying is that any ambiguity must be avoided. As for the unified command, it is the same thing. We currently have at least 25 Canadian officers working with the Americans on war scenarios in Iraq. To allow these officers to stay there would be completely inconsistent with the statement made today by the Prime Minister. The officers at the unified command should also be called back.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, this is not at all inconsistent with the Prime Minister's position. It is precisely the Prime Minister's position. Canada is not the only country involved. As I said, France, New Zealand, Greece and the Netherlands are involved with us in the war against terrorism.

Because of the very sad possibility of a war, the threat of terrorism is greater than before. Would the hon. member want the other countries and Canada to renege on their commitment to fight terrorism when the risk is very high? The answer is no.

Member for LaSalle--ÉmardOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the former finance minister's company, Canada Steamship Lines, received at least one multi-million dollar contract relating to Hibernia at the same time as the former finance minister was the cabinet's point person on the project; a clear conflict of interest.

Could the Prime Minister tell Canadians how many times the former finance minister excused himself from the cabinet table to avoid these kinds of clear conflicts of interest?

Member for LaSalle--ÉmardOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am not in a position to reply to all these questions. I know that in some circumstances, rather than handle the file himself he would give the file to the minister for financial institutions to handle the file. I did not keep account of all that. I knew the registrar general was dealing with the problem, there were no complaints and I had confidence in the integrity of the former minister of finance. I did not keep tab of when he was coming in and out of the cabinet and for what reasons.

Member for LaSalle--ÉmardOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, when there are projects that are in a clear conflict of interest perhaps the Prime Minister could put the interests of Canadians first and maybe pay attention when there are these absolute conflicts of interest.

From 1994 to 1997 three Canada Steamship Lines ships were involved in Hibernia's construction. At the same time the former minister of finance was in charge of the federal interest in Hibernia.

Could the Prime Minister tell Canadians whether this conflict of interest was ever investigated at all and, if it were not, why not? Do Canadian taxpayers not deserve better?

Member for LaSalle--ÉmardOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have said this before and I will repeat that the former minister of finance always respected the guidelines. No one ever mentioned any problems with that to me, either himself, other ministers or the press. Nobody ever mentioned any conflict of interest in these circumstances.

IraqOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, the people want peace. This past Saturday's demonstrations have shown that clearly. In Quebec City, 18,000 people assembled, another 250,000 in Montreal, and another 5,000 in Alma. They also want their elected federal representatives to be able to voice their opposition to war through a vote in Parliament.

My question is for the Prime Minister. is this: When are we going to vote?

IraqOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat in French what I have already said in answer to the hon. member's question.

I wish to make the Government of Canada's position clear. We believe that Iraq must comply fully with the United Nations Security Council resolutions. We have always made it clear that Canada would require Security Council approval as a condition of any participation in a military campaign.

In recent weeks, the Security Council has been unable to agree on a new resolution authorizing military action. Canada has expended every effort in seeking a compromise solution which would close the gap between the various members of the Security Council. This initiative has, unfortunately, not been successful. If military action is launched without a new resolution, Canada will not be part of it. Our ships—

IraqOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

IraqOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Order please. Not during oral questions. The hon. member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans.

IraqOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, would the Prime Minister not agree with us that the government's position would be a great deal more solid if there were a vote by all members of this House, who have been duly and democratically elected by the population?