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House of Commons Hansard #73 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was transportation.

Topics

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow will not be this time. For me we have a policy. Our policy is so clear that we were the first ones in the spring of last year to say that we would not participate in a war in Iraq without the approbation of the Security Council.

We have been very clear from the beginning. It is the leader of the fifth party who is always confused.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, in 1998 Canada asserted the independence of our foreign policy when we refused to allow a Russian veto at the UN to stop us from acting in Kosovo. However, today the government has sacrificed the independence of our foreign policy to a threatened French veto against implementing 1441.

How exactly can Canada still claim to have an independent foreign policy when we allow the Elysée Palace in Paris to dictate our actions? Is it now the position of the government that Canada will never again act to protect international security if a veto is threatened by a permanent member?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is a bit presumptuous to say that Canada will go and tell the Americans to use or not use their veto, the French to use or not use their veto, the Russians to use or not use their veto, the Chinese to use or not use their veto or the British to use or not use their veto.

It would be very different if we had that power but, unfortunately, we do not have that power. Usually they make their own decisions.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, in 1998, and we ignored them, rightly, but today Saddam's Baath regime in Iraq has killed more than 100,000 of his own citizens. He would have killed thousands more were it not for the no fly zones being operated by U.S. and U.K. forces without a UN mandate.

Is the Prime Minister telling us that Saddam's regime is not a humanitarian disaster, does not pose an immediate threat to the Kurd and Shiite population and that they would face imminent disaster were it not for U.S. and U.K. military action today?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

No, Mr. Speaker. The government's policy has always been clear. Many governments around the world do not conduct themselves in ways in which we approve. We have fundamental disagreements with many governments around the world. I can name many in the House, Zimbabwe for one and others. We have mentioned them in the House.

What the Prime Minister has clearly said and what the government has said is that we have created an institution to manage these relationships. We have created a world system that justifies intervention in certain circumstances.

We chose not to intervene in these circumstances because we have a principled position and conditions which justify it. We will stick by our position and not be driven off by these false analogies.

IraqOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, Spain, which supports the U.S., is not sending any combat forces to Iraq. Oddly, Canada, which refuses to support the U.S. in its unilateral decision, has sent troops and military equipment. It makes no sense.

Should Canada not try to be consistent like Greece, which is withdrawing its frigate, and withdraw its troops and equipment from the region?

IraqOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister and my colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, just explained, it is clear that Canada does not agree with the U.S. when it comes to Iraq. The Bloc Quebecois needs to understand that on other issues, the U.S. remains Canada's friend and ally. We have an agreement on the joint defence of the continent, on the war against terrorism, and this war is also taking place overseas. The Bloc Quebecois needs to understand that Canada is proud to be in the gulf to fight terrorism with its ships.

IraqOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence and the Prime Minister keep saying that Canada's military resources are being used in the fight against terrorism. Yet some of the foreign ships that will be escorted by Canadian ships are in the region to go to war.

No matter what the Prime Minister says, Canada's presence is not neutral. What is Canada waiting for to follow Greece's lead and withdraw its ships and troops?

IraqOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the member seems to forget that France is part of this group of ships against terrorism.

Furthermore, we are proud to be part of this defence against terrorism here or anywhere. We are working with France and other countries to achieve this goal, which is very important for Canada.

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith Canadian Alliance South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have decided to stand with France regarding the situation in Iraq instead of with our largest trading partner.

Yesterday the U.S. increased its domestic security by advising the Canadian government that it was going to immediately implement the entrance and exit requirements at all the southern Ontario borders.

Why is the government jeopardizing millions of Canadian jobs that depend on exports to the United States?

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the American government announced that in terms of its own national security. Whether we had joined them or not in an action in Iraq would have made no difference in that decision. That decision is in relation to who goes across the border or not. These are two completely separate issues.

An attempt by the opposition to confuse the Canadian people in a way that makes it look as if we are losing influence with our American colleagues is just playing into their hands. It is cheap politics in an attempt to disparage the government instead of looking at the real interests of our country.

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith Canadian Alliance South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government has constantly antagonized the current American administration with its anti-American comments and policies. Defence suppliers are being asked to transfer production to the United States because of Canada's opposition and the potential delays at the border.

How many more Canadian jobs is the government prepared to lose because of its anti-American policies?

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member pretends that we are not doing well in terms of jobs in Canada. She has given me the opportunity to say that Canada created more than 560,000 new jobs last year while the Americans lost 200,000.

IraqOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence announced yesterday that he would be withdrawing officers from the unified command in Qatar because they could possibly take part in the conflict in Iraq and that he did not want that. However, the soldiers that are integrated with both American and British combat units will be directly involved in combat.

Why remove officers so that they are not involved in combat, and let soldiers remain involved in combat?

IraqOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the reason we are reducing the number of persons we have in Qatar is because Canada will not be sending an army, or aircraft or other forces for the war because we are not taking part in this war, as the Prime Minister said.

The reason there is a small number, some 30 personnel, in non-combat roles is because there is a decades-old tradition of exchanges with our allies, and this will continue.

IraqOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the circumstances are exceptional. The officers who leave the unified command will no longer be there, in a way, for the Canadian soldiers that have been integrated with combat units.

My question for the minister is as follows: since he believed it was wise to withdraw the officers, how then, using his own logic, can he explain leaving soldiers there, with no one responsible for them, and under the sole authority of American and British officers? That is the problem his decision has created.

IraqOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, with respect, I think it is the member opposite's logic that leaves something to be desired.

For decades now, we have taken part in exchanges with our allies, Britain, the United States and others. When these soldiers are with British troops or American troops, they are under British or American control. Therefore, there is no need for Canadian officers. However, ultimately, these soldiers are under the control of the Government of Canada.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that is cold comfort to those people.

A military report last night has stated that our 40 year old Sea Kings lacked the appropriate night vision sensors required for their missions. Consequently, they have been unable to complete their given tasks while enforcing UN sanctions against Iraq and during Operation Apollo. In fact, our Sea Kings have even been excluded from participating in night operations with the U.S. navy.

I would appreciate it if maybe the minister could focus his dim vision on this problem right now. Why does the Liberal government continue to send our Sea Kings into missions it knows they simply cannot perform? Is it bad judgment or simply bad politics?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the Sea Kings have performed admirably in the region. They have carried out 2,000 missions in Operation Apollo in the gulf. As I have said a number of times, they have done approximately one-half of the hailings--

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I know that certain hon. members like to assist the minister by providing words to include in his answer to questions, but the minister seems quite capable of doing this on his own. And while I am sure he appreciates the offered assistance, we must be able to hear his answer. When members make so many suggestions at once, the Speaker cannot hear.

The Minister of National Defence has the floor. We want to hear his answer.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I was attempting to say, we have approximately 10% to 15% of the assets including helicopters in the region and we have done literally half of the hailings which are done by helicopters, and the boardings which are done by sailors from ships.

I would say that our navy including the helicopters have performed in an exemplary fashion.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, we know that those are dangerous missions and they simply are not equipped. Because of the Sea Kings' inadequate sensors, our choppers have to fly close enough to unidentified ships to read the writings on their sides. This leaves our crews wide open to being shot down.

It is high time the Prime Minister read the writing on the wall in great big letters. He had the opportunity to replace the Sea Kings 10 years ago. When will he admit that trying to save his political face could cost military lives?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the lives of our helicopter pilots are extremely important to the government and to Canadians, so it would be a good idea if the hon. member would get her facts straight. They do not move close to the ships as she claimed. They stay always within five miles from the ships. Indeed, their night vision equipment is in the process of being upgraded.

This morning I had the opportunity to speak to three helicopter pilots who explained to me these procedures and how their operations were indeed entirely safe.

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Question Period

March 19th, 2003 / 2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

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

Leading associations advocating for persons with disabilities and their families have been raising concerns about access to the disability tax credit. What steps is the government taking to address the serious concerns of Canadians with disabilities?