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House of Commons Hansard #55 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cuts.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

The reality, Mr. Speaker, is that President Musharraf's remarks were incorrect. We have lost 36 soldiers. We have lost one diplomat from my own department.

It is absolutely untenable for that member or any member opposite to suggest that we do not have to work with Pakistan in our effort to secure the south. This important region is critical to the fight against terrorism.

That is why we have to work in a constructive way with all countries to see that this work can continue so we can get on with the important development, the humanitarian work and the stability that will bring about a lasting peace in Afghanistan.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the real question is whether or not the minister told him about how many soldiers we lost.

Earlier this month, we saw the Minister of National Defence publically musing about the possibility of Canadian troops patrolling the Pakistani border. Now we see the President of Pakistan demonstrating that he is not even aware of our concerns in this respect.

Where is the foreign affairs minister in all of this? Why has the government all but abandoned the diplomatic component of our efforts in Afghanistan? Does the Prime Minister truly believe that our efforts can be successful only by military force?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, I can tell the House where the foreign affairs minister was. He was speaking directly with President Musharraf last week in New York. We had discussions about Canada's role. We had an important discussion about the need to secure the area in the south of Afghanistan. We talked about the sensitivity around the issue of Canadian soldiers and the effort that is being put forward on behalf of the Afghan people to bring about stability.

I do not expect the member to get that, but we are not going to take any lectures from a member who would stand with her government in sending soldiers into harm's way to do important work and then back away, slink off and suggest we should come home and simply abandon the cause.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, to our astonishment, the Minister of Public Safety is proclaiming publicly that the government has full confidence in Mr. Zaccardelli, even before he has testified before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

Yet the commissioner has admitted that while Mr. Arar was rotting in Syrian prisons, the victim of false information from the RCMP, he himself was convinced of Mr. Arar's innocence.

How can the government have full confidence in someone who can find nothing better to do than congratulate his officers whose mistakes and false information had such disastrous consequences for Maher Arar?

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, as we have already said, we are going to accept all the recommendations in Justice O'Connor's report. RCMP commissioner Zaccardelli has also said that he will accept all the recommendations made to the RCMP. I think that 11 concern the RCMP directly. There are others as well.

In light of his answer, we are confident that the RCMP will make changes to improve the process.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, RCMP officers made false reports, passed on false information that meant that an honest man was tortured and incarcerated for an extended period in squalid prisons. They created doubt in the minds of the public and even of some ministers about Mr. Arar's relationships with terrorists. As punishment for what they did, some were promoted and now are being congratulated by the RCMP boss, Mr. Zaccardelli.

Does the minister realize that by placing his confidence so readily in Mr. Zaccardelli, he is sanctioning what was done and joining in the congratulations to those who are responsible for this tragedy?

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, no one has applauded the misdeeds of officials of the former government or RCMP officers. In addition, the commissioner said this morning that he did not accept the damaging or improper actions. He said it was unacceptable. He is going to improve the situation and the entire process in the RCMP system.

Maher ArarOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government reiterated its trust in Mr. Zaccardelli, the RCMP chief who knew about the mistakes made in Maher Arar's case, but did nothing about it.

How can the government refuse to officially apologize to Mr. Arar, as the O'Connor report asks it to do, knowing that he was abandoned to his fate, even though the RCMP Commissioner knew about the error made in his case?

Maher ArarOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, as far as an apology is concerned, Justice O'Connor was clear. I have the report here in English and I will read what it says specifically.

Justice O'Connor was very clear on the item of apology, saying that “if the Government of Canada chooses to negotiate with Mr. Arar”--which we do--“negotiated arrangements can be more creative than a mere damage award. A compensation agreement could involve anything from an apology to an offer of employment or assistance in obtaining employment”.

We want to satisfy Mr. Arar and his family and we are going to do it according to the guidelines laid out by Justice O'Connor.

Maher ArarOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the O'Connor report asks that the government file an official complaint with the U.S. and Syrian authorities concerning the Arar affair, but the government still refuses to tell us when it will do so.

Can the government confirm that such a complaint will be filed as early as next week?

Maher ArarOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, we are not looking at next week, but last week. I have sent a letter to Michael Chertoff, the United States Secretary of Homeland Security. I indicated that we have cleared Mr. Arar and his family. I also indicated that we would appreciate it if the United States did the same and took the same measures.

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is no longer just the opposition in this House that is accusing the Prime Minister of going back on his promise to fix the fiscal imbalance. The Prime Minister has brushed aside his December promise and is now saying that he does not have any intention of addressing+ the fiscal imbalance in his next budget.

Will the Prime Minister of Canada finally admit that he never intended to honour a promise made for base electoral reasons and designed to mislead Quebeckers?

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we firmly intend to fulfill our election commitments with respect to equalization and restoring the fiscal balance in Canada.

Not only do we intend to keep the commitments, we already have started, by putting forward the paper with the budget, by going ahead with the consultations with our provincial and territorial colleagues, and by working toward the fall statement and of course toward the plan for 2007, which will be set out in budget 2007.

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, these are still just words. Rarely do we see the government party follow up on it words with concrete deeds. The Premier of Quebec stated that there would have to be significant progress in the next federal budget. What we have just heard from the Minister of Finance does not indicate significant progress concerning the fiscal imbalance.

Can the Prime Minister explain why he has postponed his commitment indefinitely? Is it because, in the end, there is no solution?

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, in case the hon. member did not clearly understand my colleague’s answer, I will clarify.

My colleague said that, since the recent budget, we have begun to restore the fiscal balance within the federation. A clear plan has been submitted. Moreover I wish this political party had recognized that there is a problem of fiscal imbalance within the federation. We recognized it. We will solve it, just as we have solved other issues to which we are committed.

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Belinda Stronach Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minority Conservative government has not delivered a penny on the fiscal imbalance despite its election promises. Even worse, by cancelling the Liberal child care agreement and the labour market partnership agreement, it has actually taken more than $6 billion from provincial coffers.

Last, the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board said that the federal government already shares more than enough with the provinces.

Let us just cut to the chase here. Does the Prime Minister really have a plan to deal with the fiscal imbalance, and if so, what is it and when?

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would have preferred my honourable colleague to congratulate us on following up on Bill C-48. Particularly for Quebec, $670 million has flowed from this act. And we have already begun to restore the fiscal balance within the federation.

I invite my colleague to read the budget speech and also to await my colleague’s next budget.

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Belinda Stronach Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, that party voted against Bill C-48. It is so obvious that it is all over the map. It promised different things to different premiers and now it cannot deliver them.

The fiscal imbalance has 10 different definitions, one for each province. The Prime Minister has called on the provinces to raise taxes to fix the fiscal imbalance even though the premiers unanimously rejected that a long time ago.

Is this really the Prime Minister's strategy to fix the fiscal imbalance, to force the provinces to raise their taxes?

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is surprising to hear that kind of suggestion from a member of a party that does not even acknowledge that there is a fiscal imbalance in Canada. How can that party complain about a government today that is actually doing something about the fiscal imbalance in Canada, recognizes it and is committed to it, unlike the Liberals opposite who deny the existence of any imbalance in the Canadian federation?

We are addressing it. We are working on it. We have a plan and we will take care of it.

Canada PostOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, last year, many of my rural constituents temporarily lost their rural mail service. After years of having their needs ignored and abandoned by the Liberals, rural Canadians now need and deserve real and effective services.

Could the minister responsible for the post office tell us what the government is doing to ensure real good service for rural delivery in all of Canada, wherever it is needed, including Colchester county?

Canada PostOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the House and all Canadians that the government is strongly committed to rural Canada and that we will take any and all means necessary to ensure the quality of rural mail delivery and to ensure that quality continues from coast to coast to coast.

I met recently with the chairman of the board and with the president of Canada Post to ensure that message was clearly understood.

Maher ArarOral Questions

September 28th, 2006 / 2:45 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, today the commissioner of the RCMP finally apologized to the Arar family. The House has apologized to the Arar family and yet all we hear from the Conservative government is an old cliched line about this being an injustice.

Injustice is a grave understatement. What happened to Mr. Arar is unconscionable and it is unbelievable that the Prime Minister has not yet apologized on behalf of all Canadians.

How much longer does Maher Arar and his family have to wait for an apology from the Prime Minister?

Maher ArarOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, right from the outset the Prime Minister has indicated clearly his regrets that the Arar family went through this awful time of injustice under the previous administration.

Opposition members are asking us to follow the recommendations of Mr. O'Connor and so we are doing that. He says:

If the Government of Canada chooses to negotiate with Mr. Arar--

--and we are--

--negotiated arrangements can be more creative than a mere damage award. A compensation agreement could involve anything from an apology to an offer of employment or assistance in obtaining employment.

We will follow the directions of Justice O'Connor.

Maher ArarOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is exactly that legalistic approach that Justice O'Connor recommended against. Maybe the minister should read the rest of the report.

I believe the Prime Minister does want to apologize and say that he is sorry but the lawyers will not let him do it. They are following this negotiation plan of using the apology as a negotiating chip.

It is very clear that the government is responsible to Mr. Arar for compensation. The government should take the apology out of that negotiation stage, make it unconditional and do it now.

Maher ArarOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, we want to do what is right for Mr. Arar and his family. We want to follow Justice O'Connor's approach. Justice O'Connor did take a legal approach to this and we appreciate that.

We are taking all 23 recommendations. We are taking the recommendation that the justice has given us related to the apology. Now the NDP members, and perhaps others, are saying that they want to pick and choose which recommendations we should follow.

We are following all the recommendations, including looking at the question of an apology and the question of compensation for Mr. Arar. We respect him enough to do that within the context of his lawyers and the government lawyers following this.