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House of Commons Hansard #77 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was registration.

Topics

GreeceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, March 25, 2003 marks the 182nd anniversary of the independence of my country of origin, Greece.

I invite all members of the House to join all Hellenic Canadians in celebrating this anniversary in their respective ridings.

I am pleased and honoured that today's anniversary coincides with the first ever commemorative stamp issuance by Canada Post honouring Hellenism and celebrating the 75th anniversary of the American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association, AHEPA, in Canada. This commemorative stamp will be unveiled in West Block this evening and I invite all members of the House to come and participate with our right hon. Prime Minister. There will be over 400 Canadians and Americans of Hellenic origin at this historic event.

I am proud of my Hellenic heritage, just as I am proud of being Canadian. Here in Canada, my second patrida , we uphold the very same ideals born from Greece, my country of birth: the ideals of freedom, democracy, justice and the promotion of peace worldwide.

Mr. Speaker, I wish everyone:

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Greek as follows:]

Zito i Ellas! Zito o Kanadas!

Firearms ProgramStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, today the Liberal members have an opportunity to right an eight year wrong. Those members of the Liberal caucus, along with members of our party, whose principles led them to oppose gun registration in 1995 are proven correct.

Since its inception, the gun registry program has been ineffectual, unenforceable and wasteful. It is time to stop the bleeding. Gun registration has already cost Canadian taxpayers $1 billion and will cost another $1 billion over the next number of years. Many Canadians feel this money could have been better spent.

The Liberal member for Nipissing stated today, “I think we are just in too far; you get in so far then you can't get out”. He is wrong. They can get out.

Do not throw good money after bad. The next $1 billion should pay for nurses, MRIs and marine patrol helicopters, not a Liberal policy black hole.

Also, Mr. Speaker, please join me in wishing my very dear friend and colleague, the member for St. John's West, all the best today on his 60th birthday.

Middle EastStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Liberal Brampton West—Mississauga, ON

Mr. Speaker, while the world's attention is turned to Iraq, an Israeli member of parliament is promoting the transfer or expulsion of Palestinians out of the West Bank and Gaza into Jordan.

MP Benny Elon is promoting the idea in a glossy brochure distributed to the U.S. Congress. Mr. Elon appeared at the annual convention of the Christian Coalition where he promoted the relocation of Palestinians.

Over 100 Israeli academics are circulating a letter warning about talk of transfer, a sanitized term for ethnic cleansing. The current ruling coalition government in Israel includes Mr. Elon's National Union Party which actively promotes the idea of transfer.

There is concern that the Israeli army might use a U.S.-led war on Iraq as a cover to expel segments of the Palestinian society from their homes. The international community must ensure that crimes against humanity will not be tolerated and that the fourth Geneva convention is not breached.

Canada-U.S. TradeStatements By Members

March 25th, 2003 / 2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, it is fortunate that despite the outbreak of war in Iraq and increased security at the border, Canadian commerce still flows across the border to the United States.

The importance of our trade with the U.S. cannot be underestimated. Despite a slight drop in exports last year, one-third of our economy is still based on Canada-U.S. trade. That equates to over five million jobs.

Our reliance on the U.S. as a trading partner continues to grow. Without our trade surplus with the Americans, Canada's $54 billion surplus would have been a $40 billion deficit.

What is truly astounding about these economic numbers is that they come at a time when the Canadian government's influence on Washington is at a historic low. Meanwhile, ministers and members opposite think that it is acceptable to bad-mouth the American people and the American government.

Our trade disputes over the last few years are just the tip of the iceberg. It should come as little surprise to Canadians that when decisions are made by the Liberal government, they will come back to haunt us.

IraqOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, last week the Prime Minister said he was against regime change in Iraq from the outside. Yesterday the foreign affairs minister said, “We as a government are supportive of the United States' desire to get rid of Saddam Hussein”.

What is the government's position today on Saddam Hussein?

IraqOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I always said that we went to the United Nations because since 1991 Saddam Hussein did not comply with the obligation that he took at that time to destroy the armaments of massive destruction. That was the purpose of resolution 1441 that we supported and that we were working on with the United Nations. That was the way that it had to be done, through the United Nations with the support of the United Nations. Those who have decided to go to war at this time have used 1441 as a reason.

IraqOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister failed to answer my question. Canadians want Saddam Hussein removed and the Prime Minister should stand with them.

I will give the Prime Minister one more chance to answer this question clearly. Does the Prime Minister hope to see the allies remove Saddam Hussein?

IraqOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, when he is threatening me I am very frightened. I am shaking in my boots.

I stated the position of the government clearly last week. I said, and I repeat, that the intervention there is to ensure that Saddam Hussein is disarmed. The question of changing regime is not a policy that is acceptable under the United Nations charter because it is a position that has been stated by this government and by the previous government, the Conservative government of 1990-91, and other leaders in the past.

IraqOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, these flip-flops will not go unnoticed. The anti-American remarks from the government have not gone unnoticed, neither has its failure to stand by our friends and allies.

Today, the American ambassador stated that the United States would stand behind Canada in a crisis without debate and without hesitation, and he asked why we are not doing the same for our friends now.

When will the government do the right thing and back our American friends and allies because, frankly sir, you are embarrassing us.

IraqOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

IraqOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I am sorry the Leader of Opposition is embarrassed by the Speaker because I am sure his remarks were directed to the Chair, but he will ensure that if there was any suggestion that the Chair was embarrassing him in some way he will want to clarify that later. The remarks I am sure will be properly directed.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I will never be embarrassed when, as Prime Minister of this land, I will show Canadians and the people of the world that Canada is an independent country, and Canadians know that.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the foreign affairs minister told this House, the U.S. embassy has now confirmed that in fact it did convey a formal request to the government to consider expelling Saddam's representative in Ottawa. However, the government says it wants Saddam's front man to stay. Incredibly, the minister says “to keep the lines of communication open with Saddam's regime”.

Is not the real reason the government is keeping Saddam's man about town because the Prime Minister implicitly supports leaving Saddam's regime in place. Is that not the real reason?

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, absolutely not. As I explained in committee this morning and as I explained to the House yesterday, explanations which I hope the opposition is interested in, in fact, we had expelled a diplomat from Iraq at the later part of last year.

We are monitoring the situation and in the event that this person is undesirable or conducting himself in a way that is incompatible with his diplomatic status we will take action, as we always have, in the interests of Canada and in consultation with our allies.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, this Iraqi diplomat speaks only for Saddam Hussein whose outlawed regime is responsible for over a million deaths, attacks on three countries, genocide, the gassing of women and children, an ongoing murder rate of 5,000 people per month since 1991, torture cells and rape rooms, and now the abuse of prisoners of war. Saddam's PR man is an ambassador of evil and should be expelled.

Why does the government have so much difficulty in dealing with issues based on the basic human principles of right and wrong?

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I remember the very sage words of a former foreign minister of Israel when I had this conversation with him about a similar situation. He said to me, “You do not make peace by talking to your friends. You make peace by discussing it and having communications with your enemies”.

The purpose of a diplomatic system is to allow people to exchange views, even in war, so that we can deal with these terrible issues.

The government will not be pushed into taking precipitous actions that are not in the interests of Canada. We will act in the interests in Canada and in a way in which we affirm--

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence acknowledges the presence of Canadian military personnel within American and British units engaged in the war in Iraq, but does not know the whereabouts of these personnel, although they are under his responsibility.

I am therefore asking the Prime Minister to tell us whether there are Canadian soldiers in Iraq at the present time. Where exactly are they, in which batallions, and under whose command?

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, at the start of the conflict, we clearly established a policy that personnel lent to American, British or Australian units, which are perhaps in Iraq at the present time, must fulfill their duties as military personnel, as those exchanged with them here in Canada fulfill their duties as military personnel. Changing that policy at this time would be unwise.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in other words, the Prime Minister is telling us that this war is unjustified, yet Canadian troops are going to take part in that unjustified war, within Australian, British or American batallions. We are told that they are involved in logistics, like the 507th Maintenance.

Is there not something irresponsible and totally inconsistent about the Prime Minister's position? We are not at war, yet some of our soldiers are. This makes no sense.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of this crisis, our position has always been extremely responsible. I do not see the point in the Bloc Quebecois leader's trying to divide Canadians at a time when the large majority of them support the government's decision.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are roughly thirty Canadian soldiers who are currently integrated with American and British combat units. But yesterday the Minister of National Defence candidly admitted he did not know their whereabouts.

Is it not irresponsible of the Minister of National Defence not to know where these soldiers are and not to be able to inform Parliament of the type of mission they are taking part in?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, that is completely inaccurate. We know exactly which units our soldiers are assigned to. For security reasons, we do not want to reveal their exact location at each moment of the day. As the Prime Minister said, this line of questioning from the Bloc over the past few days is a waste of time.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, will the minister admit that Canadian soldiers who are integrated with American and British units are at war under American and British rules and as such, it is accurate to say in this House that the minister has completely relinquished control over his Canadian troops?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, that is utterly ridiculous. As I just said, we know which units our soldiers are serving in. The control is still in the hands of the Chief of Defence Staff. These soldiers are in support positions. They do not have the right to use force, except to defend themselves. I have been saying the same thing for days. That is all.