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House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was international.

Topics

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Defence must realize his explanations lack clarity. I will ask him again: Is the minister telling us that he considers it perfectly normal, in the name of friendship, for Canadian soldiers under American command to violate international rules, as they did in Afghanistan in connection with the treatment of prisoners? Does he think that is all right? That is what I am asking.

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we have been having troop exchanges with our allies, be they British or American, for decades. It is completely normal for soldiers of one country to remain under the command of another in such circumstances. However, their own country, Canada in this instance, reserves the right to order its soldiers home, should it so choose. Since these are good allies and the soldiers are not in a direct combat role, Canada has decided to leave them where they are.

Canada-U.S. BorderOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, border delays are increasing and the United States has no patience for a Canadian government that is openly hostile to it. Business leaders are showing their concern and are worried that the increasing border delays will shut down Canadian exports. Even Brian Tobin has said, “Our special relationship with the United States is by far our most important and vital one”.

What steps is the Prime Minister taking to ensure our trading relationship with the United States is not threatened by recent events?

Canada-U.S. BorderOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite should be aware that we have been working very closely and cooperatively with the Americans for many months to develop contingency plans and have been planning in case of alerts such as we have now.

We have regular and ongoing reports which tell us that non-commercial traffic is moving smoothly and that there are some delays for commercial traffic. But let me quote someone who the member might be familiar with, someone from the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, “It is a problem, but it is manageable at this point”. That is from Perrin Beatty who is the head of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters association.

Canada-U.S. BorderOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is no surprise Canadians are worried about potential damage being done to our trade relationship. The same person the minister quoted, Perrin Beatty, the CEO of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, has added his voice on behalf of industry.

Some $1.5 million worth of goods are carried across the border every minute. That is 14 million trips a year and one crossing every 2.5 seconds. That means 90% of our trade may be threatened by a slowdown at our borders.

What concrete steps is the government taking to curb the hostility against the U.S. and protect this special relationship?

Canada-U.S. BorderOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the only hostility that is trying to be created is by the member and his party opposite. In fact they have been part of the blame Canada crowd trying to tell everyone that our borders do not function, while we have been working with the Americans to ensure that they do, because that is in the interests of both American business and Canadian business. We are working together to keep our borders open and functioning during these stressful times.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Environment, myself, the Caribou Commons Project and the Gwich'in people have lobbied hard for years about not drilling in the 1002 lands of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

There was an important vote in the United States senate yesterday. Could the Minister of the Environment please report to us on this very important vote in the United States senate?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to report to the House that the United States senate, in a 52 to 48 vote, eliminated the authority to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from the draft budget resolution.

I caution members this may not be the end of this issue. I would like to say the Canadian government remains determined to ensure that the views of the Gwich'in people and the people of Yukon are put before the lawmakers in Washington and that we pursue this as hard as we can.

I would like to end by thanking the hon. member for his consistent work on this issue which has been so effective, both here and in Washington.

IraqOral Question Period

March 20th, 2003 / 2:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, there is no justification in law for George Bush's war. The majority of international legal experts agree on that. Article 51 of the UN charter is clear. So is Kofi Annan. Pre-emptive strikes are not in conformity with the UN charter and therefore are illegal.

Does the Prime Minister share this view, and if so, why is he so timid about saying so?

IraqOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States and the United States administration have made it very clear that they are taking steps in self-defence which are authorized under United Nations resolutions which they have cited as legal reasons in support of their position.

The Prime Minister has made it very clear that Canada's decision was made both on the basis of analysis of the legal situation and also the right political climate in which intervention is appropriate in the circumstances.

We have made our decision. They have made their sovereign decision in their right to make their decision about their self-defence. We respect that and we respect the fact that they consider the decision we make is our sovereign decision.

IraqOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the question is about the illegality of this war.

Even Henry Kissinger agrees that pre-emptive strikes are not permitted under international law, but not our Prime Minister and not our foreign affairs minister. So much for being the great defenders of the United Nations.

Thirty-one Canadian professors of international law, the UN Secretary General, and Henry Kissinger for heaven's sake, have no hesitation about saying that the war in Iraq is illegal. Does the government agree, yes or no?

IraqOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, this government made its decision based upon whether or not it was appropriate for us to participate in military intervention in Iraq in circumstances where we considered all legal and all political considerations, including those about the preservation of the Security Council system which we consider appropriate and important. We considered all matters in which we could make a helpful contribution to the preservation of peace in the world.

That is what guides us, not a discussion of legal principles. Those are very important. We regard our legal principles as key, but they are a part of an important process whereby we make decisions in terms of Canada's interests and Canada's sacred--

IraqOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Saint John.

IraqOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, now that our ships tasked to Operation Apollo are in fact operating in a theatre of war, our forces are at risk and deserve the chance to protect themselves from being the target of hostiles.

Will the Minister of National Defence advise whether these troops have been given permission to take pre-emptive action against any and all threats within their sphere of operations?

IraqOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I share entirely the hon. member's concern for the safety and security of our troops in the gulf. We are defending our allies against terrorist attacks. The risk of terrorist attacks has gone up in recent days and we are definitely very concerned about their safety and security. Without getting into operational details, I can inform the hon. member that they do have robust rules which will allow them to defend themselves against a number of conceivable attacks.

IraqOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, it has now been confirmed that Iraq has missiles and possibly drone aircraft that would be capable of carrying biological and chemical warheads.

Will the Minister of National Defence confirm whether or not there are sufficient chemical suits on board the Canadian ships that would protect each and every crew member in the event such weapons were used?

IraqOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is appropriate, given security concerns, to enter into every conceivable threat that might fall upon our ships. I can assure the hon. member as I said before that I share her deep concern that every possible measure be taken to enhance the safety and security of our soldiers, sailors and airmen. These measures have in fact been taken.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, because of their inadequate night vision capability, the Sea Kings are unsafe. In Operation Apollo they must approach within hundreds of yards to identify a ship at night despite the risk of being shot down. This deficiency has also cost lives in search and rescue operations.

The minister says the Sea Kings' night vision equipment will not be replaced until the new helicopters are brought in but that is not going to happen for several years. Why has the minister ignored the life and death concerns of the very people who know best, those who are serving as crews on our Sea Kings?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to answer a question in 30 something seconds when the question is so riddled with factual errors.

I might just say that I have been assured by the chief of defence staff, who himself used to fly helicopters, that the Sea Kings are safe. The same was said by three helicopter pilots that I consulted this morning.

In terms of the hon. member's contention that they are not safe, even the Montreal Gazette yesterday, in response to those criticisms, carried a headline “Sea King criticism 'doesn't fly'”.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the report here. The minister should have looked at it because it is written by those people who are involved every day with the Sea Kings. They say, in fact, that there are several problems.

Let us look at them. The only Sea King with the three ships in the gulf has been grounded. The government is spending a fortune to send over another one. Yesterday, we found out that the Sea Kings cannot fulfill many missions they are asked to fulfill and an internal report says that the lives of our air crews are at risk.

In the face of all of this, how can the minister just stand there and say everything is fine, and continue to put the lives of our Canadian men and women at risk?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it is difficult enough to answer when there are so many factual errors, but when there are about 17 questions, it becomes even more difficult.

For the reasons I have already given, I have received every assurance from sources more competent than the hon. member that these aircraft are indeed safe. It is always a risk when one flies, whatever the vehicle may be. These helicopters have carried out more than 2,000 missions in the gulf area and they have done so with exemplary success.

IraqOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the war in Iraq highlights the immense vulnerability of civilians. The International Red Cross launched an urgent appeal yesterday to collect funds to assist the victims of the war.

Given this urgent appeal by the Red Cross, does the Canadian government intend to become more involved and surpass its usual obligations in order to minimize the terrible consequences of this war?

IraqOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Essex Ontario

Liberal

Susan Whelan LiberalMinister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I said very clearly that Canada has already provided assistance to Iraq through contingency planning efforts, assistance that goes to the UNHCR, to the world food program, and to UNICEF. We have just received the Red Cross appeal today. We are taking it under very serious consideration and we will do more.

IraqOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, what is the Canadian government planning to do to ensure that other members of the international community participate in Red Cross efforts to help the victims of this war?

IraqOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Essex Ontario

Liberal

Susan Whelan LiberalMinister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, as I said, we work with a number of UN partners and we will be receiving a number of appeals. We have just received an appeal from the Red Cross. We are taking a very serious look at that. Canada is doing its part and will do its part in humanitarian aid.