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House of Commons Hansard #80 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Canadian ForcesOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Beauséjour—Petitcodiac New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the government has replied ad nauseam, as have the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of National Defence, that our soldiers are there in the context of exchanges with our allies.

We, on the government side, were very proud that the House strongly supported our soldiers on exchanges who will remain with our allies. Pulling them out in such an irresponsible manner, as the Bloc Quebecois is suggesting, will not protect our military, who are doing an excellent job.

Canadian ForcesOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the more time goes by the clearer it becomes that Canada is taking part in a war that the Prime Minister has called unjustified.

How can the government reconcile this statement, made before the war, about respecting multilateral institutions and the UN framework, with the participation of Canadian troops in combat in Iraq?

Are we to understand that the values Canada upholds are subject to change? One set for before the war and one set for after war has been declared?

Canadian ForcesOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, our values have remained consistent. What is also consistent is that we are smart enough to realize that circumstances evolve, and that our values must be the right ones in all circumstances.

Our values have not changed. The circumstances have changed. We are, and will remain, at war against terrorism.

Canadian ForcesOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, what can the government possibly say? On March 17 the Prime Minister said that Canada would not participate in Bush's war. On March 20 he said that we did not have any troops there and that there would be no troops.

Clearly Canada and our troops are participating there. About 35 members of our troops are with Bush's coalition.

Did the Prime Minister deliberately mislead Canadians about the troops in Iraq?

Canadian ForcesOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Beauséjour—Petitcodiac New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst knows that the Prime Minister would never mislead the House of Commons.

The only thing that perhaps the member is having trouble understanding is the answer that has been given time and time again. Our forces are in the region in support of a campaign against terrorism, that is very clear. The House and the government has supported that initiative since the beginning.

The exchange officers who are currently serving with British, American and Australian forces are doing a wonderful job and they will remain there.

Canadian ForcesOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, Parliament asked that the government not take part in the war, period.

Canada has more soldiers in Iraq than Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands or Italy. It is a good thing we are not taking part in this war. However, as unbelievable as this may seem, Canada refuses to comment on the legality of Mr. Bush's war.

Given the presence of Canadian soldiers in the combat zone, will the Prime Minister tell the House whether George Bush's war violates international law?

Canadian ForcesOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Beauséjour—Petitcodiac New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as we have said many times, the soldiers who are there right now are taking part in exchange programs. They are not there for direct combat.

Perhaps the member has difficulty understanding this because he may not have realized that the House clearly stated that it was in favour of keeping our soldiers—who are there on exchange programs—in auxiliary positions. If the member thinks that this House was not very clear about the support we are giving these soldiers, then he is wrong.

Canadian ForcesOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, despite the defence minister's insistence on the contrary, a senior British officer has confirmed that Canadian troops are involved in combat.

Will the Minister of National Defence tell the House whether the government's denial of their involvement affects their status, their pensions or their benefits if they are injured, captured or worse? What is the government doing to ensure that these soldiers do not become the forgotten soldiers?

Canadian ForcesOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Beauséjour—Petitcodiac New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member poses a question that is entirely hypothetical as to what may happen to our exchange officers.

If members perhaps would stop shouting and listen, what I can tell the House is that the Canadians forces have always looked after personnel who have been involved in operations in theatre, including exchange personnel. Obviously the Canadian Forces will do whatever is appropriate to look after Canadian forces at all times.

Canadian ForcesOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, for weeks now my party has been asking the Prime Minister to tell the House whether Canada would play a leadership role in ensuring it is the United Nations and not the Pentagon that is mandated to lead reconstruction in Iraq.

Yesterday Canadians finally got a response. It came in New York, not in Canada, not in Ottawa.

Would the acting prime minister confirm what Canada's ambassador told the UN Security Council yesterday and would he explain why the Prime Minister chose not to make a similar statement here in the House?

Canadian ForcesOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member wants to talk about leadership. Let us talk about the leadership of his own leader on this matter.

This is the individual who has criticized the Prime Minister and the government, yet he made a speech a few days ago and said:

I think the world has rarely seen more skill than was mobilized by the first President Bush... They took extreme care. They were highly sensitive. That has not characterized what has happened in the approach to potential allies taken by some members of the Bush administration, most notably...[Mr.] Rumsfeld.

This is the leader of the fifth party raking over the coals the American leadership. Shame on him.

Divorce ActOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday at committee the Minister of Justice said that parents did not have rights, they only had responsibilities. It is just unbelievable.

Before a divorce, both parents share, and I emphasize share, the rights, responsibilities and obligations they have to their children. This should not change when a marriage ends.

Why does the Minister of Justice not believe that both parents deserve equal rights to parent after divorce?

Divorce ActOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member essentially referred to the notion of shared parenting that was discussed yesterday at committee.

We said that we had decided to move away from that notion of shared parenting because essentially it had been proven, based on some experiences, that shared parenting was referring essentially to a sort of legal presumption. When I refer to experiences, I am referring to a country like Australia, for example. In Canada we have decided to proceed with the notion of parental responsibilities.

Divorce ActOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, concerning the misguided Divorce Act amendment, the minister must understand that he has made a serious mistake by succumbing to special interests and twisted Liberal ideology.

My personal experience as an officer of the divorce courts and my years as a divorce mediator tells me that we have a disaster brewing in this country.

Will the minister listen to the real experts, some of whom are on his own backbench, and the expertise rooted in the experience of Canadians who gave their evidence in the “For the Sake of the Children” report? Will he withdraw his bill and instead choose the wise course of real compassion for children?

Divorce ActOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about family law, we have to understand that one of the most important principles, if not the most important principle which is to be seen in the existing bill, is the best interest of the child.

If we look at our reform, there are essentially three pillars that are very important in order to put in place our philosophy: the question of the social programs that are developed by provinces to which we are contributing as well; the question of the unified family court, which is a very important component; and the legislative modifications that are very important in talking about the--

Divorce ActOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Laurentides.

IraqOral Question Period

March 28th, 2003 / 11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of National Defence said he was looking into whether Canadian soldiers seconded to foreign units had participated in armed conflicts in the past, while Canada was not at war.

Is the government able to provide an answer to this question today?

IraqOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Beauséjour—Petitcodiac New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as has been said on a number of occasions, these military exchanges have been going on for decades.

The minister clearly indicated yesterday that the exact facts on this are being looked into. I can tell you that the minister met yesterday with the department's history directorate and we are continuing to look into this.

IraqOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, will the government acknowledge that its reluctance to answer this question is because it is aware that it is creating a dangerous precedent by having soldiers in combat units when Canada claims it is not participating in the war in Iraq?

IraqOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Beauséjour—Petitcodiac New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Not in the least, Mr. Speaker. The government has stressed that these soldiers are involved in exchanges that have been taking place for some years now.

The House spoke clearly on this matter when it voted not to pull out soldiers on exchange. The only precedent that has been created in this House is to support our military personnel when they are in dangerous situations.

Divorce ActOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Canadian Alliance Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government wants to concede the sovereignty of this nation to the UN.

In 1991 Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. For children who are separated from one or both parents, the convention states that children have the right to maintain direct contact with both parents. However the government's bill to amend the Divorce Act ignores this right of children by excluding shared parenting from the legislation.

Why does the Minister of Justice deny that children have a right to maintain a relationship with both parents after divorce?

Divorce ActOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, essentially the hon. member is referring to what we call the notion of maximum contact. That notion is to be found in the existing bill.

To be more precise, we have decided, when we talk about the best interests of the child, to develop a list of criteria to be used by the judge and both parties if they decide not to proceed in court. That list is an exhaustive list, and the criteria just referred to is found on that list.

Correctional Service of CanadaOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Canadian Alliance Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, Fern Fetterly, an 81 year old constituent of mine, is living on less than $1,000 a month and barely getting by. She is not the only senior facing this problem.

It was tempting to suggest that she commit a felony so that she could be incarcerated in one of Canada's club fed resorts complete with bungalows, three squares a day and tennis courts, but I controlled myself.

Why are prisoners in federal prisons in Canada treated better than Canadian seniors?

Correctional Service of CanadaOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows quite well that there is no such thing as club fed in our Correctional Service system.

What we do have is a responsible system to ensure that when convicted offenders are released into the community, we have done everything we can in terms of education, providing them with work skills, living skills and family skills. They are released in such a way that we ensure as much as we can safe communities.

BanksOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, in its report on bank mergers tabled yesterday, the Standing Committee on Finance completely overlooked the issue of service to disadvantaged urban areas. This, despite the fact that the issue of accessibility to banking services should be a prime factor in any decision regarding bank mergers.

Will the minister assure us that before making a decision about bank mergers, he will assess the impact a merger would have on services to consumers, competition, employees and communities?