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House of Commons Hansard #8 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was taxes.

Topics

Elections CanadaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, when we thought there was crime taking place in a political party that stole money from the taxpayers we took it to the electorate and they passed judgment. That is why that party is not in government any more.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister did not have much to say in response to questions about Saladin and Blackwater, the security firms his government has hired. But some disturbing facts are known. For example, according to Colonel Oliver North, Saladin was involved in the Irangate scandal in Nicaragua. Saladin mercenaries also allegedly took part in the civil war in Sri Lanka. And Saladin mercenaries allegedly trained mujahedeen in Afghanistan, including members of the Taliban.

Knowing what he does about Saladin's past, does the Prime Minister really believe that these officers can serve the government and the people effectively?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, these are contracts under which local security officers are hired for basic security duties. This is a long-standing practice. We take the security of our personnel very seriously. Perhaps it is the leader of the Bloc Québécois who is not taking this issue seriously.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I take basic security duties seriously.

Last December, a drunken Blackwater security officer killed the Iraqi vice-president's bodyguard while the firm was under contract in Iraq to protect various public figures.

Does the government believe that this is the sort of exemplary conduct that should be taken seriously, that these people should be hired, as this government has done? Does the minister, who says we are not taking things seriously, believe that this is safe behaviour? That is the question.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the armed forces have sent personnel to the facilities solely for training in very specific areas, such as defensive driving. We have used training services in this area since 2003, because the armed forces do not offer this training. We want the best training for our troops. I believe that all the members of this House want that as well. We take the security of our forces seriously.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, not only are Saladin Security and Blackwater not recommendable, but the competence of the personnel employed by these companies is very questionable.

It is so bad that, last year, Blackwater was forced to dismiss 122 employees, mainly because of inappropriate use of their weapon. The American lieutenant colonel who spoke to the Washington Post said that these sad individuals shoot first and ask questions later.

Does the minister not find it scandalous and unethical to have Canadian soldiers trained by such mercenaries?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, for the embassy in Kabul, we hired security officers who conduct their operations like all security officers. These are not military-style operations.

That being said, we care about our diplomats and the Canadians who visit the embassy in Kabul, and we want to ensure their safety. Those people are well trained and perform the duties of security officers.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, those agencies are unsafe, not only for the protection of our diplomats, but also for training our soldiers.

Given all these allegations, is the minister not left with only one choice here this afternoon, which is to immediately cancel the Blackwater and Saladin Security contracts? The minister must promise to table them in this House, so that we can examine them. Will he have the courage to do so?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, by asking me to table security contracts in the House, my hon. colleague is asking me to jeopardize the safety of our diplomats at the embassy in Kabul.

As we all know, the previous government also signed contracts with security agencies. We also know what is in those contracts: the protection of the embassy by security officers. These are not military operations.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, in a throne speech that is very clearly going to continue to take Canada in the wrong direction, the government stated that we would be involved in the training of the Afghan police and military up until 2011, but this morning we learned that the Chief of the Defence Staff believes this project is going to take 10 more years.

Our brave soldiers and their families deserve some clarity. I invite the Prime Minister to end the speculation about how long we are going to be involved in a combat mission. Is he right when he says four years? Or is General Hillier right when he says it will be 10 years?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, we take our commitment in Afghanistan seriously. We set out in our throne speech an approach that the government prefers, but members also know that the government has established an independent commission to study the issue and provide advice to the government. It is headed up by former deputy prime minister John Manley.

We anticipate a report to this House, which will give the House an opportunity to vote on the best course forward to secure the commitments we have made in Afghanistan while at the same time respecting the tremendous progress and sacrifice of our troops.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, that answer further confuses things. Clearly, NATO has rejected our government's requests for more troops. Germany, Belgium and France can see what this Prime Minister cannot: the mission is not working. It is not making people safer, and it is not leading to long-lasting peace. That is why the NDP is demanding that our troops be brought home right now.

Why is the Prime Minister letting this mission go on even though it is not working? Why?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, that is not true. The mission is working. A poll taken last week found that many Afghans support the mission and are grateful for the major contribution of our troops and our development workers.

We hope that all members of the House will also support the work being done by our development workers and our troops.

Elections CanadaOral Questions

October 25th, 2007 / 2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives created a form as part of the “in and out” scheme. It had to be signed by the candidates, and without it they would not receive any money. The point of the form was to guarantee that the money would be returned to the party immediately that same day.

Can the minister confirm that this form was not created or approved by a current employee of the government?

Elections CanadaOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I have answered these questions so many times. Our practices are legal. If those members took it seriously they would have acted that way this week. They did not.

Elections CanadaOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, failed Conservative candidates even state they were bullied to participate in this scheme while those who reaped its electoral rewards sit in this House and at the cabinet table today.

Former candidate Jean Landry says:

I told them that I was not interested. I was continually harassed.

He says he felt he had to do it to stay in the party's good books. Is this what Canadians should expect from Conservative democratic reform?

Elections CanadaOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, all our campaign financing practices are legal. They have been in the past and they will be in the future. It is very different from that party. The Liberals are afraid to admit it but they do not believe their own accusations on this.

Elections CanadaOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, the government has sworn to uphold the law and yet it spends its time trying to find scams to get around it. If the government scam were allowed under the act, it could funnel, let us say, $40,000 through each of its local campaigns in 308 different ridings. This would allow the government to exceed the national spending limits by over $12 million and then give it $7 million in phony rebates after that.

We are wondering if the minister could point to the section of the Elections Act that allows this.

Elections CanadaOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, nobody believes their accusations. They themselves do not believe their accusations, which is why they gave this government a mandate to continue. I do not know why I need to keep answering these questions.

Elections CanadaOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, national party expenses cannot simply be transferred to local campaigns when the election spending limits are reached.

Under the Elections Act, for a transaction to be considered an expense, a candidate must spend money. Elections Canada determined that this was not local campaign spending, but national party spending.

Is the government prepared to ask Elections Canada to demand full disclosure from the Conservative Party about this scheme?

Elections CanadaOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, it is the same answer. All our practices follow the Elections Act. They have in the past and they will in the future.

Unemployed WorkersOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative members from Quebec were elected by promising that once elected, they would help the unemployed workers in the forestry and manufacturing sectors who are currently experiencing an unprecedented crisis.

Twenty-one months later, and during this national unemployment week, can they explain why they reneged on their commitments and did nothing to help them while the employment insurance fund surplus has reached $54 billion?

Unemployed WorkersOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, we are very concerned about the plight of the unemployed in whatever sector it is, which is why we have enhanced benefits and have cut premiums.

I would point out that in Quebec tens of thousands of jobs have been created under the leadership of this government. We have put in place the targeted initiative for older workers. We have an expert panel on older workers which is looking at situations like this. We are acting on behalf of the unemployed everywhere.

Unemployed WorkersOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister's reply is disrespectful of workers.

When they were in opposition, the Conservatives supported the creation of this independent employment insurance fund proposed by the Bloc Québécois and denounced the Liberals for using monies from this fund for other purposes.

Now that they are in power, why are they following in the Liberals' footsteps? Could they not leave the money where it is and use it to help workers by voting in favour of the creation of an independent fund this time?

Unemployed WorkersOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague from the Bloc knows, I have met with him and explained to him that, as we said in the throne speech, we are determined to improve the management and the governance of the EI account.

However, the one thing I will say is that we will never find the solutions necessary for 2007 in the programs of the 1970s.