Madam Chair, I first want to second the words of admiration that the Minister or National Defence expressed for the work that Canadian troops do in Afghanistan and have done in many other difficult situations, such as in the former Yugoslavia and many other missions that they have been sent on.
It is precisely because Canadians do such good work and it is precisely because the Canadians do their work differently that it is so important that the government pay attention to anything that might threaten the differences that other people see between the way Canadians do things and the way other forces do things.
I remember when we raised in the defence committee the question about camouflage and the controversy about the Canadian soldiers when they first arrived in Afghanistan and the fact that they had different camouflage than the Americans. This was supposed to be a terrible thing and it was raised in the House as if the world were coming to an end. When I asked the officer who was before the committee what he thought of it, he said that he thought it was a good thing. When I asked why, he said, “I don't want to go into any detail, but let's put it this way. The fact that the Canadians were able to be distinguished from others in the same theatre was not a bad thing”. Members can read between the lines.
What is important is that the world and the people of the various countries where Canadian Forces operate have come to expect that Canadians do things differently and they do it with the tolerance and the respect for the local cultures and the importance that they attach to the building of schools, the health care system and all those sorts of things.
We have had some exceptions to that rule but, by and large, that is the Canadian reputation and it is that reputation that we want to preserve, which is why I ask these questions in the House of the minister with respect to how we handle those who are detained by Canadian Forces and what conditions we put on those we hand them over to.
Just in that respect, the minister had another chance to say whether, in that Danish model to which he referred, there were any conditions with respect to the Afghan government not handing over prisoners to the Americans. However he did not take the opportunity when he was on his feet to say whether or not that was part of the Danish model and perhaps he could do that now.