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House of Commons Hansard #16 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was problem.

Topics

AirbusOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, that is a fascinating suggestion by the hon. member, but I can point out to the House that any criminal investigations are carried out by the RCMP without interference from the government--or at least this government. I want to make that clear.

AirbusOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, apparently the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice did everything they could to be kept in the dark in order to be able to plead ignorance.

Why did one of the minister's representatives say: “A decision has been made and this note concerning Mr. Schreiber will not be forwarded to the minister's office”?

Did that order come from the minister? Where did it come from? From the Prime Minister?

AirbusOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the government has taken a very reasonable approach to this. With the appointment of Dr. Johnston and the mandate that he has been given, I think Canadians will appreciate this openness and they will appreciate the decisiveness with which this government has acted.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, when questioned in the House yesterday about the fate of Afghan detainees, the Minister of Foreign Affairs' reply, as usual, was utter nonsense. When asked by the Bloc to stop transferring Afghan detainees, the minister talked about the improvements to Afghan prison infrastructure. Although the prisons may have been spruced up, inmates are still being tortured.

Will the Prime Minister acknowledge that these allegations do not come from the Taliban but from President Karzai, and that he must stop transferring prisoners?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has a new agreement with the government of Afghanistan to ensure the monitoring of these prisoners. If serious allegations are made and proof provided, there is a process for verifying and managing these cases. The agreement with the Afghan government works well.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this agreement is working so well that the President of Afghanistan continues to state that torture does occur. And, as of yet, we have had no allegations that Hamid Karzai is a member of the Taliban.

Is the Prime Minister— who always waits for a new turn of events— waiting for Hamid Karzai to pull a Brian Mulroney and demand an inquiry on what happens to Afghan prisoners?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have an agreement that works. We take our international obligations and responsibilities seriously. Our soldiers respect these international obligations at all times.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, since I did not get an answer yesterday, I will ask my question again and I hope the Prime Minister will answer me. On the heels of the admissions by the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, that there continues to be torture in Afghan prisons, Amnesty International is telling us today that there is indeed a risk that detainees will be tortured when they are transferred.

The Prime Minister cannot continue to deny the allegations of torture. There is ample evidence. Does he realize that his ineptitude and that of his Minister of Foreign Affairs is putting Canada in direct contravention of the Geneva convention?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday to the hon. member from the Bloc Québécois, I am pleased that he is here in this House and that he decided to stay with the Bloc Québécois and not join the Parti Québécois, as his colleague from Saint-Lambert did.

That said, we have signed an agreement with the democratically elected government of Afghanistan. We are respecting our international commitments and we are doing our best to support the duly elected Afghan government to respect these international obligations. This agreement is proof that the process is working. If there are allegations of mistreatment of Taliban prisoners, investigations will be held in due course.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, Amnesty International is calling for the end of the transfers. This is no trivial matter. It also regularly reports allegations of torture. That is not trivial either. Mistreatment is still occurring and there are currently no effective guarantees to prevent such a thing from happening.

Out of respect for the detainees, will the Prime Minister announce today that he will immediately stop their transfer, as Amnesty International is calling for?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as a result of the agreement that was signed with this government, an agreement that is an improvement over the agreement with the previous Liberal government, the representatives of my department have conducted 32 interviews so far. A NATO spokesperson said:

“We have no evidence of systematic torture of detainees”. Yes, systematic torture.

We have the process in place and the process is going well. If we have evidence, the Afghan government will do an investigation.

AirbusOral Questions

November 14th, 2007 / 2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the endless saga of Conservative and Liberal scandals around here, the Prime Minister this time claims to want to get some answers. However, it is a lot like pulling teeth around here to get any action from the government.

The Prime Minister knows there is a whole series of steps that have to be followed to get this investigation underway and he is dribbling them out one at a time.

Let us get to the next one. When will we get the terms of reference for Dr. Johnston who will then set the terms of reference for the full public inquiry so we can get on with the job?

AirbusOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government has announced that Dr. Johnston will fulfill the role of the independent adviser to the government. His terms of reference have been released publicly.

Dr. Johnston has been given a wide mandate to propose, independently, terms of reference on a public inquiry or any other actions that he deems are necessary, and the government will follow those recommendations.

AirbusOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, this reeks of improvisation. When will we have a plan? This is really just improvisation. This is unacceptable. Where are the timelines? When will we have an answer regarding the inquiry? We hear all the noise being made by the gang here beside me. They are like little schoolchildren.

I have a question for the Prime Minister. When will we have an answer or a final decision from this inquiry?

AirbusOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, clearly, improvisation is the specialty of the leader of the NDP. It is clear that this government can answer questions much faster than the NDP leader can ask them.

AirbusOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, now that the government has decided on a full public inquiry, will the Minister of Justice, who has superintending authority under the Extradition Act, assure the House that the principal witness, Mr. Schreiber, will be present in Canada, whenever necessary, to testify before this inquiry?

AirbusOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am actually surprised to be getting that question or that advice from the hon. member. As a former minister of justice, he would know that it would be highly inappropriate to make any comments on a matter that is presently before the courts.

AirbusOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I understand that but the issue at this point--

AirbusOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

AirbusOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. The hon. member for Mount Royal has the floor and we have to be able to hear his question.

AirbusOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should not confuse the House. What is at stake here is the question of the integrity of the inquiry and of due process before the inquiry.

If the court upholds the minister's surrender order, will the Minister of Justice, pursuant to his authority, postpone the implementation of the order of surrender so that the inquiry may proceed, truth will be pursued and the oath of justice will be served?

AirbusOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is asking us to presuppose or he is posing a hypothetical question. He knows, of course, that would be highly improper and, again, anything before the courts would be improper to comment on.

AirbusOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, through access to information, we know that the Department of Justice produced files on the Airbus affair. Furthermore, we learned that the minister refused to look at those files. Yet, the minister wrote to Mr. Schreiber twice, informing him that there was no new evidence to delay his extradition.

If he never agreed to receive information about the file, how can the minister affirm that there was no new evidence? How can he make such an important decision without even examining the file?

AirbusOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, with respect to sworn allegations in an affidavit, the Prime Minister and the government have set in place a process that will be conducted, at this particular time, by Dr. Johnston who will make recommendations to the government.

However, with respect to the extradition proceedings, again, it would be highly inappropriate to comment.

AirbusOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in less than 24 hours, a decision will be reached that could mean the removal of the key witness in this matter. The Minister of Justice has the authority and the power to ensure that Mr. Schreiber remains available to testify during a judicial inquiry.

Can the government assure us that Mr. Schreiber, the most important witness, will remain available, in person and in Canada, to testify during any inquiry or any judicial proceedings?