This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #25 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was afghan.

Topics

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-296, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (arrest without warrant).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to reintroduce this bill which was introduced in the last Parliament and which had broad support. It would provide peace officers and police the power to arrest without warrant a person who is in breach of a probation order or binding a person who has breached their condition of parole.

Many times the police notice people who are breaking the law, their probation and parole, but are unable to make an arrest. This would enable them to do so to better protect the public. The police have requested this for a long time and I am happy to table the bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

National Colorectal Cancer Month ActRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-297, An Act to designate the month of March as National Colorectal Cancer Month.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table a private member's bill that calls on the government to recognize the month of March as National Colorectal Cancer Month. This year alone roughly 20,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. An estimated 8,500 will die from this terrible disease. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer and the third most common form of cancer among men and women.

I had the opportunity to attend a breakfast lecture hosted by the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada. I would like to commend the organization for its hard work in promoting the cause and I would like to extend special congratulations to Alain Gourd, Barry Stein and Garry Sears for their timeless efforts. On their behalf and on behalf of thousands of Canadians, I would like to introduce this bill, an act to designate the month of March as National Colorectal Cancer Month.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Virtual Elimination ActRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-298, An Act to add perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) to the Virtual Elimination List under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

Mr. Speaker, the bill would require the Minister of the Environment to add perfluorooctane sulfonate to the virtual elimination list compiled under subsection 65(2) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act within nine months of the bill becoming law.

The bill would also require the minister to make regulations prescribing the quantity or concentration of the substance that may be released into the environment, either alone or in combination with any other substance in order to achieve the virtual elimination of the substance.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-299, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Competition Act (personal information obtained by fraud).

Mr. Speaker, the bill is intended to address some of the serious challenges related to the theft of personal information. The bill would amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Competition Act in order to protect individuals against the acquisition of their own personal information through fraud and impersonation. I encourage all members to examine and support the bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canadian Wheat Board ActRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-300, An Act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act (direct sale of grain).

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to rise on behalf of all the farmers of western Canada under the Canadian Wheat Board block to present a private member's bill to do away with that arcane and punitive buyback provision in the Canadian Wheat Board Act.

That buyback would not proceed on processed grain produced by the producer, directly taken to an association or a firm engaged in processing as long as that firm was majority held by producers themselves.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Kadis Liberal Thornhill, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-301, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (blood alcohol).

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table a private member's bill that is long overdue in Canada.

MADD Canada estimates that just under four Canadians are killed each day and just under 190 Canadians are injured each day due to crashes involving alcohol or drugs. Approximately 75,000 Canadians are impacted by impaired drivers annually, and there are an estimated 12.5 million trips of impaired driving each year in Canada.

As such, this private member's bill calls on the government to amend the Criminal Code to reduce the legal limit of alcohol permitted in the blood while operating a motor vehicle from 80 milligrams or 0.08% to 50 milligrams, or 0.05%.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Pest Control Products ActRoutine Proceedings

May 17th, 2006 / 3:35 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-302, An Act to amend the Pest Control Products Act (prohibition of use of chemical pesticides for non-essential purposes).

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the House debated a motion to place a moratorium on the non-essential, cosmetic use of pesticides until the safety of those chemicals is proven by scientific and medical experts. Members of the House cynically rejected the motion, refusing to protect the health of Canadians against the risks posed by entirely unnecessary chemical exposure and refusing to protect the environment.

I, and my NDP colleagues, believe that Canadians want pesticides to be proven safe before they are sprayed on their lawns and playgrounds. Today I am pleased to introduce an act to amend the Pest Control Products Act that would prohibit the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes until their safety is scientifically proven. I encourage all Canadians to remind their MPs and insist on greater medical precautions when it comes to the health of our children.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Early Learning and Child Care ActRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-303, An Act to establish criteria and conditions in respect of funding for early learning and child care programs in order to ensure the quality, accessibility, universality and accountability of those programs, and to appoint a council to advise the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development on matters relating to early learning and child care.

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon I am proud to present to Parliament, on behalf of the NDP, our bill on early learning and child care.

We in the NDP believe this may be the most important piece of new legislation, not just in this Parliament but in every Parliament since the Canada Health Act was established. The legislation we are introducing today is based on the principles of quality, universality, accessibility, accountability and educational development.

With the challenges currently facing our society, child care should not be an afterthought or luxury. With this act we aim to enshrine national child care into legislation to protect and build child care for future generations.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

National Strategy for the Treatment of Autism ActRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-304, An Act to provide for the development of a national strategy for the treatment of autism and to amend the Canada Health Act.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce a bill that would provide much needed support for many Canadians and their families who are affected by autism spectrum disorder. This bill would see that two forms of very effective treatments, applied behavioural analysis and intensive behavioural intervention, be covered under the Canada Health Act.

It would also compel the federal Minister of Health to work with his provincial counterparts in developing a national strategy for the treatment of autism. The bill would require that a first ministers conference would be held this year before December 31, 2006, and that a national strategic plan be developed and tabled in the House before December 31, 2007.

I hope my colleagues in the House will join me in supporting this very important issue.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-305, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (exemption from taxation of 50% of United States social security payments to Canadian residents).

Mr. Speaker, this bill is designed to restore tax fairness to Canadians, especially Canadian seniors who worked in the U.S. but lived and invested in our communities across Canada. Ten years ago they received a 70% tax hike. This bill seeks to reverse that. This bill received broad support from members in the last Parliament and was sent to committee. I look forward to their support again to ensure our seniors receive their deserved tax fairness.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada Pension PlanRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-306, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan (early pension entitlement for police officers and firefighters).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this bill on behalf of our hard-working police and firefighters. Firefighting and policing are physically and emotionally demanding and, as we learned with the recent death of Senior Constable John Atkinson of the Windsor Police Service, it is very dangerous as well.

Early retirement has long been accepted as being in the best interests of officers, their families and the public they serve. Our Income Tax Act permits police and firefighters to retire early at age 55. The officers and firefighters who retire early do not currently have the ability to make CPP contributions from 55 to 60 years of age. This bill is intended to address that concern.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Phthalate Control ActRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-307, An Act to prohibit the use of benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) in certain products and to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

Mr. Speaker, this bill seeks to ban a collection of chemicals known as phthalates that end up in products, particularly products used by young children. This would be one of the first times in Canadian law that the onus of responsibility would be shifted on to the manufacturer to prove that a product was safe prior to its arrival in the marketplace. This is a bill that addresses the most vulnerable populations in our society, particularly children and pregnant women. There are similar bans in Europe and many of the United States.

Support from the environment groups and health groups across the country has been strong. I look forward to support from members across the aisle and around this House.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

SudanPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition signed by many that calls on Parliament to take immediate action, with the help of Canada's allies, using all means necessary to increase intervention efforts regarding the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, so as to actively prevent the ongoing crisis there.

Today we learned that the Security Council voted unanimously yesterday to begin the process of establishing a UN chapter 7 peacekeeping force to end the slaughter of civilians in the Darfur region of Sudan. We, as parliamentarians and of course as government, have to act on this very immediate crisis that is taking place. Also we should send peacekeeping forces and in fact work with the International Criminal Court to arrest the 51 Sudanese individuals so far identified as being responsible for crimes against humanity and other gross human rights abuses.

Older WorkersPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of tabling in this House a petition signed by over 600 citizens from Drummond riding, informing the House: that the textile industry has been in decline in Quebec for a few years;

that several massive lay-offs have taken place during this time;

that the majority of individuals who have lost their jobs are over the age of 55.

Consequently, they ask Parliament:

to intervene so that the government reactivates the POWA program or any other equivalent program in order for these workers to continue to receive a decent income.

Child CarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have in front of me hundreds of signatures of citizens from Windsor, LaSalle, Tecumseh, London, Duncan, Wallaceburg, Kingsville and Leamington pleading with the House of Commons to have a high quality and accessible universal child care program. They urge the House to enshrine the child care act in legislation and that it be a cornerstone of Canada, as is the Canada Health Act.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Some hon. Members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada's Commitment in AfghanistanGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

moved:

That,

(1) whereas the House on April 10, 2006 debated a motion in support of Canada’s significant commitment in Afghanistan;

(2) whereas Canada’s commitment in Afghanistan is an important contribution, with that of more than 30 other countries, to international efforts under the auspices of the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO);

(3) whereas these international efforts are reducing poverty, enhancing human rights and gender equality, strengthening civil society and helping to build a free, secure and self-sustaining democratic state for all Afghan men, women and children; and

(4) whereas Canada’s commitment in Afghanistan is consistent with Canada’s support of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights around the world;

the House support the government’s two year extension of Canada’s deployment of diplomatic, development, civilian police and military personnel in Afghanistan and the provision of funding and equipment for this extension.

Mr. Speaker, as members of the House know, we made a pledge during the last election campaign to put international treaties and military engagements to a vote in this chamber.

If we made this promise, it was because before we send diplomats, relief workers and soldiers on dangerous missions abroad, it is important to be able to tell them that Canada’s parliamentarians believe in their objectives and support what they are doing.

This is an opportune time for such a debate and such a vote. Last week the Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Afghanistan. During his visit to Afghanistan, President Karzai requested that Canada extend its peace and security operation in his country beyond our existing commitment which expires in February 2007. This operation of our national defence personnel is fundamentally linked with our other diplomatic and humanitarian efforts. President Karzai and the Afghan people are waiting for our response.

This evening we will vote for a renewed commitment.

It is a vote that is long overdue. It is a vote that all parties in the House have asked for and have agreed to. As members know, our diplomats, aid workers and soldiers have been deployed in Afghanistan for almost five years.

Despite the fact that members of three of four parties in the House have consistently voiced support for a mission in Afghanistan, Canadians on the ground in Kabul, Kandahar and in the PRT have never received a clear mandate from this Parliament. That is not fair to the brave men and women who wear the maple leaf. They need to know that their Parliament is behind them.

President Karzai's request provides us with an opportune time to explain our next moves forward and to renew our commitment. Today we will debate and tonight we will vote.

President Karzai is not the only person waiting for Canada to decide. Our international and NATO allies will also be watching. They, too, want a renewed commitment. As members know, both the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, our two primary partners in southern Afghanistan, have recently renewed their commitments, two year and three year commitments respectively. The Dutch and the British have made their commitments.

Our rationale for being in Afghanistan is clear. It is in the interests of this country.

We are there as well at the invitation of the Afghan government. We are taking part in a multinational operation sanctioned by the United Nations.

Our mission there is not some sort of throwaway option among competing alternatives. It is not a manufactured make-work project to keep soldiers and diplomats busy. It certainly is not a unilateral effort on Canada's part.

The events of September 11, 2001 were a wake-up call not just to Americans but to people in all free and democratic nations. Two dozen Canadians were killed as a result of the attacks on the twin towers. They were our ordinary fellow citizens, people with stories, families and dreams. The attacks in New York and Washington have been followed by others in Madrid, Bali, London, Turkey, Egypt and elsewhere.

We should be clear. Canada is not safe from such attacks. We will never be safe so long as we are a society that defends freedom, democracy and human rights.

We have known as a nation since the beginning that as long as we defend the values of freedom, democracy and human rights, we will not be safe from attack from those who oppose them. Not surprisingly, al-Qaeda has singled out Canada along with a number of other nations for attack. It is the same al-Qaeda that together with the Taliban took an undemocratic, failed Afghanistan and made it a safe haven from which to plan terrorist attacks worldwide.

We just cannot sit back and let the Taliban backed by al-Qaeda or similar extremist elements return to power in Afghanistan. It cannot be allowed to happen. The continued existence of Taliban pockets following defeat of the regime means our efforts in Afghanistan have never been peacekeeping in the traditional sense.

Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are not interested in peace. They target civilians. They target women and children in a quest to impose once again their will and their dark and backward vision of life on the Afghan people. They promise their followers heaven in the afterlife. What they deliver is hell on earth.

The previous government recognized this.

In fact, the leader of the official opposition never shied away from voicing his support for fellow Canadians in Afghanistan. In the debate just last month on our mission to Afghanistan, he stated, “I want to start by echoing the minister's words.... We are very proud of them”. On numerous times he corrected misinformation about our role in Afghanistan. I quote:

We are in Afghanistan because the Afghans want us in Afghanistan. This is not an invasion or occupation. This is going to help people.

Support for the mission was echoed last month in the House by the member for Vancouver South, who stated:

Our government agreed to this deployment. We believed then and we believe now that destroying root and branch the agents and infrastructure of supply and training that made Afghanistan into a safe haven for international terrorism is in Canada's vital national interest.

Support for our troops has also been expressed consistently by the Bloc Québécois and even some members of the New Democratic Party. I could quote the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore on this.

It is an opinion shared by the hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île, who stated: “Why should we be in Afghanistan? Because it is a question of international solidarity that can make Quebeckers feel obliged to be there”.

I can tell you from direct experience that our men and women in Afghanistan are grateful to the many members from such diverse parties who supported what they are doing.

Together, diplomats, workers and soldiers from 35 countries are working with the government of Afghanistan to rebuild that country. We are providing knowledge, financial assistance, security; security that allows the Afghan people to build a justice system, develop and grow their economy, construct schools, hospitals and irrigation systems, and yes, ensure that the rights of the Afghan people are protected.

I am thinking of the right of women to be treated like human beings, of the right to see, read and say whatever one wants, of the right to choose one’s leaders through the electoral process.

There are real risks involved in helping the Afghan people achieve these gains. There are risks for Afghans, risks for our allies, and as we all know, risks for Canadians. We know this because we had again today a combat fatality. These risks, as tragic as they are, and these losses, as tragic as they are, are not unique to this time and this place. There were risks when Canada went to the Balkans, to Cyprus, or during the Suez crisis, and of course, in Korea and in two world wars.

Canadians accept risks when those risks are in the service of a greater good. We honour those who take risks and make the ultimate sacrifice by staying the course and supporting their mission.

In the government’s view, the emergence of a stable, safe, self-sufficient, democratic Afghanistan that will never again be a haven for terrorists or traffickers is well worth the effort.

Canadians, particularly young Canadians, often ask me what I saw in Afghanistan. They want to know what work we are doing there. I tell them the work is both serious and complex.

We are working together with our partners from Afghanistan, the UN, NATO and NGOs in an integrated international effort to support the recovery of this country.

Key to this are the 27,000 troops from dozens of countries, including Canadian Forces personnel, who are helping to stabilize Afghanistan so that vital humanitarian and development work can be undertaken.

The challenges are enormous. There are no quick fixes and success cannot be assured by military means alone.

In fact, Canada and her allies all agree that we need to promote simultaneous support for Afghan governance and economic development to bring about a lasting recovery. This is why we opened a mission in Kabul, in great danger in 2003, and recently doubled our presence there.

Canadians from our embassy are working directly every day with Afghans, the UN, the World Bank, NATO and our other partners to ensure that the reconstruction of this country is a success. This pre-supposes that the resources intended for development are there and distributed equitably among the Afghan people.

Our work is paying off. In little more than three short years, 12 million Afghans, both men and women, have registered to vote in two historic elections. Close to five million children have been enrolled in school, one-third of them young girls. Almost four million refugees have returned and more than half of all Afghan villages have received grants to allow them to begin to rebuild.

All that has happened in a country where, just a few years ago, there were no elections, there was virtually no public education, women had no rights, and the future looked very bleak.

I saw this progress first-hand, and it made me proud to know that Canada was there making it happen.

Working with our allies and the Afghan people, Canada has achieved great things, but there is much more to do.

Afghanistan is still the fifth poorest country in the world. The Taliban are trying to return to power and too many people have to fall back on drug trafficking to meet the needs of their families.

We need to extend our mission so we can work to finish the job the previous government started. We need to improve the security situation in southern Afghanistan to bring it in line with the north and the west of the country. We need to ensure that children in southern Afghanistan will be able to go to school without fear of attack. We need to ensure that the people there can get the things we take for granted, things like clean water, roads without mines and reliable sources of energy.

Stability in southern Afghanistan will also help the Afghan national government focus on improving the country's emerging democratic infrastructure.

That is to say, an independent human rights commission, a new central bank, and a professional police force.

Our mission in Afghanistan is one more example of the Canadian leadership tradition in world affairs, a tradition that crosses party lines, a tradition of which we are all proud, a tradition that favours actions over words, results over process, principle over politics.

The allied governments that have sent missions to Afghanistan are a diverse lot: conservative, liberal, social democrats; people in parties who would normally and naturally disagree on so many other day to day political issues, as we do in this chamber, but who share a common resolve to strengthen democracy, ensure equality rights for women, reduce poverty and make the free world safe from the threat of terrorism.

To achieve these objectives, our allies agree that we must eliminate the threat posed by al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and train Afghan security forces so they are capable of sustaining security in their own country.

Therefore, this government is seeking Parliament's clear support to renew Canada's mission in Afghanistan. Our men and women need to know that we share their goals and support their efforts and are willing, regardless of polls that sometimes go up or down, to back them for the next few years so they can finish the work they were sent there to do.

We are asking Parliament to make a commitment in three areas: diplomacy, development and defence.

All three are inextricably linked. In a moment I want to go through what we are asking Parliament specifically to support over the next couple of years.

I think I also need to be clear, given the events over the last 24 hours or so, of what the consequences would be if there were a No vote. Let me be clear on this. This would be a surprise to this government. In debates in this chamber up until last month and in private meetings until very recently, we had every reason to believe that three of four parties, which have consistently supported this action, would continue to do so.

Should that turn out not to be the case, this government is not in a position to simply walk away or to run away. What the government will do, if we do not get a clear mandate, the clear will of Parliament to extend for two years and beyond, is proceed cautiously with a one year extension. We cannot walk away quickly. We will proceed with another year and if we need further efforts or a further mandate to go ahead into the future, we will go so alone and we will go to the Canadian people to get that mandate.

We are asking for a two year mandate that extends the elements of the current deployment.

The first part of our commitment entails the construction of a permanent, secure Canadian embassy in Kabul, which will serve Canada’s interests and meet Afghanistan’s needs for at least 15 years.

The second is the approval of an additional $310 million expenditure for development assistance from next year until 2010-11, which will raise Canada’s total contribution to nearly $1 billion over 10 years.

Third and finally, we are seeking to extend the mission of both the Canadian Forces in Kandahar as well as the efforts of Canadian military diplomats, development workers and police in the PRT, the provincial reconstruction team, for 24 more months. This mission extension, if the motion is passed, will cover the period from February 2007 to 2009 when we expect a transition of power in Afghanistan itself.

Extending the mission of the Canadian Forces has operational consequences. We will take on once again a second leadership rotation from November 2007 to May 2008, and this is new. As I said earlier today, we will be prepared to assume overall leadership of the ISAF for one year starting in February 2008.

Near the end of each calendar year, 2006, 2007, 2008, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and National Defence will evaluate the results of our involvement, in concert with our allies, according to the criteria set out at the London conference, and we will share this evaluation with parliamentarians of all parties.

There we have it, the reaffirmation of Canada's intent expressed through a clear and renewed commitment, a commitment that builds on past achievements, a commitment in line with Canadian values, a commitment that allows us to finish the job.

Canada's Commitment in AfghanistanGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the right hon. Prime Minister for elaborating on further details, which probably should be included in the motion to be voted on tonight. Maybe he would agree to an amendment.

My question has to do with process. The Prime Minister will be aware that members are concerned about the swiftness of the requirement for this debate and vote. He indicated in his speech that both the Dutch and the British had already made their commitment to extend their missions for a further two years, but we only found out about this on Monday.

Could the Prime Minister advise the House when he found out about the extension request of two years from either NATO or Mr. Karzai? When was the first time he advised Parliament?

Canada's Commitment in AfghanistanGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, first, I will say a couple of things to that.

In the first place, all the engagements that we are asking Parliament to back, with the one exception of command of ISAF as I mentioned, are all engagements as undertaken at the present time. These are extensions to Canada's current involvement, not changes.

He knows the government, of which he was previously a member, made these commitments. I would assume, as a member of the previous government, he is well aware of the time lines that are involved in terms of expectations of new engagements. We are coming up on an international conference. The fact that our NATO allies have extended their commitments is not a secret fact. This is a publicly known fact.

All I can say in terms of the process is the House was consulted in a take note debate in April. The view of his party at that time was clear, as it had been for the previous few years. His leader was consulted in the lead-up to this, and his party agreed to the process we proposed, which made this debate possible today.

Canada's Commitment in AfghanistanGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two questions for the Prime Minister.

First, is he suggesting that if the House were to oppose the motion before us, that his government would proceed in any event with a further deployment on a mission in Afghanistan after 2007, despite the vote in the House?

Second, is he suggesting that the commitment would terminate ultimately in February 2009 because of a change of administration of some sort in Afghanistan. In his view, if the change, to which he has referred and which is rather vague, does not happen, what would Canada's plan be for the longer term?